Perhaps One of These Days..

Frederick Douglas’s life symbolized an undying fire of hope that set a precedent for future generations to not succumb to the evils brought upon by slavery and to never give up: “The soul that is within me no man can degrade.”

Tick tick tick… “Maybe tomorrow will be the day?” or “Soon but just not now,” said by many slaves during the era of slavery in America and even now in many countries.

You would think that after the abolition of slavery by the British in their region, Union victory in America, and the establishment of the 13th Amendment  that slavery would be unheard of by now. Unfortunately, there are between 21-36 million slaves CURRENTLY according to Freetheslaves.net.

As you read this, somewhere a slave is being overworked, underfed, and deprived of the basic necessities of life. So how can this go on even though slavery is virtually illegal everywhere? Similarly the South’s dependency on cotton in the 1800’s, Thailand is dependent on slave labor for the cultivation of seafood products which means that the removal of its labor forces would devastate Thailand’s economy. Also, slave owners have the resources to act on their own accord and evade the law.  According to the antislavery agencies that operates in several countries known as NGO, people should know that “seafood that they are eating may have been produced with slave labor.”

Many men, women, and children today dream that perhaps one of these days they’ll be able to freely walk without fear. It’s this similar feeling that Frederick Douglas felt throughout his life:the feeling of being chained even when there was nothing on.

Tick tick tick. Another year goes by and your hope begins to dim. Tick tock. 10 years goes by and your hope is weaker than a tiny ember easily extinguishable by a swift blow. At some point, Maung Htay ( a slave), had enough and saw once last chance at freedom. With a phone, he decided that he would “die or be liberated.” Just like with Frederick Douglas, every chance of freedom that he came gave him just a little bit more hope to keep going on.

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Slavery – Human Trafficking

Modern slavery CAN be ended BUT it requires that immediate boycott of goods made from slave labor. The problem cannot immediately just dissolve overnight but will require the will and strength of many people. Many people want change but will not work for it. As Frederick Douglas once said,” Without a struggle, there can be no progress.”

 

Little Hints

Life always throws little hints at you which can be interpreted in many different shapes and forms. When you’re reading a book, things aren’t place there just because, there’s a significant reason behind it. The placement of songs on an album is put that way for a reason, sometimes for chronological order.

After listening to Coldplay’s album Ghost Stories, I’ve realized that each song tells a story of him mourning over his divorce and ultimately fixing his broken heart.

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The picture can be depicted as two things: a set of wings and a broken heart. The album is about taking the broken heart and moving on.

  1. Always in My Head

This song portrays the lead singer, Chris Martin, of his initial response after the divorce, heartbroken. His conscience constantly reminds him of his wife and it seems to always be in his head.

“You’re always in my head. Always in my head.”

2. Magic

Chris Martin dreams that maybe one that their relationship will be fixed , by magic. Even though it seems impossible, it’s better than not trying.

” And I just got broke, broken into two.”

3. Ink

Still heartbroken, Chris realizes that his wife was everything to him. Emotional pain can turn into physical pain if it’s strong enough.

“All I know.. All I know.. Is that I’m lost whenever you go. All I know.. is that I love you so. So much it hurts..”

4. True Love

Whenever we lose something, we always want to have it once more. Chris is no exception from that. He longs to hear his ex just say that she loves him, even if it’s a lie.

” Just tell me you love me. If you don’t then lie. Oh lie to me. Oh lie to me. Call it true love. Call it true, call it true love.”

5. Midnight

At this point, his hopes of the relationship has almost been extinguished. He’s struggle to realize whether it’s worth it or not to keep going.

“Leave a light, a light on..”

6. Another’s Arms

Just seeing your ex with someone else when you’re still in love with them is one of the worst things you can see.

7. Oceans

Chris is ready to do whatever is necessary to keep the marriage going but it ultimately fails.

“I’m ready for it all, love. I’m ready for the change.”

8. A Sky Full of Stars (My favorite of the track)

No matter what she thinks of him, he promises that he’ll always love her. Even if she breaks his heart or tears him apart, he’ll always have that unconditional love for her. She meant everything to time and she still does.

“Cause you’re a sky, cause you’re a sky full of stars. I’m going to give you my heart.. Cause you’re a sky, cause you’re a sky full of stars. Cause you light up the path. I don’t care go on and tear me apart. I don’t care if you do. Cause in a sky, cause in a sky full of stars. I think I saw you..”

This is probably one of the most heartbreaking lyrics from Coldplay but many people don’t realize it since it’s masked behind the electronic beat and  catchy piano.

9. O (Fly on)

He realizes that it’s over and there’s nothing left for him to do. It’s time to move on. It’s time to fly, fly, and fly on…

“So fly on. Ride through. Maybe one day I’ll can fly with you.”

“When you have a broken heart, you’re not suppose to just sit there and be sad. You should take that broken heart and turn it into something that’s better than it was before.” – Chris Martin

(Link to that interview)

Like songs, life has many hidden messages all around you. You just have to figure it out. Notice the small things no one else does and you’ll be rewarded for it.

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(Chris Martin, lead singer of Coldplay)

Just smile and everything will be okay. =)

The Magic of Thank You

It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy.” –Anonymous

Being grateful in today’s society seems to be diminishing just like our water reserves in Southern California. It seems that as time goes on, so does our manners. Maybe it’s just me but hearing the word thank you has become a rare occurrence.

So what’s the reason for a the lack of gratefulness? Well, the origin rest in teenagers such as myself. Everything is done and paid for by someone else and it’s the lack of independence that roots the idea in our brains that we don’t have to do anything. When there isn’t a precedent set, people have no idea what the value of things really means. A simple meal with your family can be a regular occasion while to someone else it may be blessing.

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Whether it’s a small or big favor, say thank you. Maybe someone opened the door for you or picked up your papers when the wind blew them off of your hands.  Studies show that people who are grateful are better in health both mentally and physically. Maybe it’s just me but when someone shows gratification to me, I’m going to have a better day.

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Businessman holding conference room door for businesswoman

Essentially, it’s more than just a formal way of gratification. It’s a way you can perceive life. People who are more grateful show more optimism and ambition  than their negative counterpart.

 

So I say to you my fellow homo sapien sapiens, break out of that awkward shell that you’re conformed to and show some gratitude once in a while. In the long run, you’ll improve mentally, physically, and in your happiness.

 

Happiness: One Step at a Time

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”- Gandhi

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I’ve always been the odd one of my group whether it was at school or while I’m out in public. Now I’m not talking odd in the sense of unusual or abnormality but rather I just happened to be happier than most people almost all the time. Whenever my friends asked me how I’m so happy all the time, I always reply,” JUST DO IT!”

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(In case you don’t understand the reference)

I think one thing that distinguishes me from other people is that I appreciate every small thing in life. A simple greeting is enough to brighten up the rest of my day. Studies from the University of Pennsylvania show that a simple token of gratitude in the form a thank you can contribute to the overall happiness of a person’s life. By doing so, you realize that not everything is granted in life;nothing is forever.

JUST FREAKEN SMILE. Evidence from Michigan State University shows that people who smile more often are able to cultivate positive thought allowing for all overall more positive attitude. What does that mean in simple terms? Smiling means you’ll become happier.

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See, it’s as easy as abc

Volunteering has always been a key part of my life. Since I was a young lad, I’ve volunteered at soup kitchens and various organizations such as the American Red Cross. Volunteering brings satisfaction and gives me a reason to keep going in life. There’s a saying that you don’t look for happiness, happiness will eventually find you.

People tend to say that money makes you happy and to that, I say yes and no. Spending money that promotes something good is what truly leads to happiness. Do you ever notice that you feel a lot better about yourself once you’ve given money to a homeless person? Or maybe that feeling of regret and selfishness you get when you do. Well the reason for that is because generosity has proven time and time against that it brings happiness. It’s not the money that brings you  happiness, it’s the new experience of doing something new.

As for me, I like pop in a pair of earbuds and just escape the world even if it’s just for a little bit. Music is something that could help me cope with all the struggles of life and speaks to be on a more personal level than any person has ever. Whatever may be your source of happiness, there are multiple roads to achieve it.

“There is no path to happiness, happiness is the path.”- Allyn Nguyen

Bullying

Back in second and third grade, I wasn’t the brightest kid (that’s an understatement). Tests in our district were scored on a scale of 1-4 so you can probably guess what type of scores I got. Honestly, my average was probably a 2 or sometimes even worse. In terms of percent, I would say that would be around 30-60% that I would score on a test. English, math, science, and history were all foreign to me. It seemed that no matter how hard I tried or how much help I got, it was predetermined that I would fail similarly to how people in the colonial times believe in predestination; there’s no way out.

While the horrible scores were my fault, my teacher, who will remain anonymous, could have just not blurted out everyone’s test score like a deranged woman. While most of the kids did fine, a feeling of dread came over me when I heard my name. I tried to block out the insults and mockery that came from my classmates as soon as my scores were bluntly announced, ” TIMMY 46%!” Nothing could be worse than being known as the class idiot. From that point on, everything changed..

Soon, rumors of my test score spread throughout the school like wildfire. My so-called friend abandoned me like I was some kind of worthless animal. Apparently one’s score determines the decency of that person. From then on, I sat alone during recess and lunch. An overwhelming sadness swept over me during this period of my life. I felt like life wasn’t even worth living anything. Even as a third grader, I was thinking about suicide; something a third grader should never have to think about or any human being in general.

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Why am I so lonely?

Eventually I transferred to a different school where I could start fresh. Luckily for me social media wasn’t a big thing for kids my age so rumors didn’t spread as easily as it would today. On my first day, I made a new friend; let’s call him Frank. Frank was the most down to earth guy you could ever meet. He would put everyone’s happiness before his own just so people could smile. He constantly would ask if I was okay or if I needed to talk about anything. At the time, I didn’t have the courage to tell him that I was an idiot. As time went on, I trusted Frank and he trusted me. At this point, he knew everything about me and I knew everything about him. Being the good friend, he agreed to tutor me when he had the chance. I felt like I could finally settle down, relax, and just try to enjoy life.

“I’ll always be there for you.”- Frank

Like most things, all good things had come to an end for me. Unexpectedly, I found out that Frank was diagnosed with Leukemia and had to undergo treatment away from our area. Like in 3rd grade, I was alone again. I sat alone at recess and ate lunch in a distant corner away from all the other kids. Unfortunately, I moved around a lot as a kid so at the end of 3rd grade, I moved from Huntington Beach to Garden Grove.  Around the end of 6th grade, I was expected to enroll at McGarvin Intermediate. As the school year approached even closer, I feared again that I would be alone. Surprisingly, I was able to make a lot more friends than I had in elementary. Rather than just one friend, I had a group where I could confide all my thoughts to.

As high school came about, I began to make even more friends than ever before. To me, it seemed so unreal that anyone would want to talk to me, let alone be my friend. For once, things looked like it was going the way I wanted it to. The friends I made in middle school were now some of my closest friends in high school. I guess some bonds just last forever. I  believe that if I had just given up, I never would have been able to break free from my shell. Rather than conforming to the social norms of society, I wanted to express my own uniqueness. As a result, people responded positively rather than throwing hate at me. Sometimes your weakness is really what makes you strong.

Now this isn’t a post to brag about how many friends I have. I’ve seen kids who have been bullied go into two directions: complete isolation or transform into a social butterfly. For me, I didn’t want to be known as the downer at school so I would put up at fake smile everyday at school or where ever I went. As time went on, that fake smiled turned into a real one. While bullying is out of your control, you can control how you act and the vibe you radiate around people. There’s a lot of ways to view life. I believe that the love of your friends and family is all you need in life.

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My friend once told me that happiness is something that can’t be given or bought. The key to happiness is to find the path that leads you to it. Sometimes people are misguided and go down the wrong road but occasionally they’ll be knocked back into the right direction. For me, I can happily say that I’ve finally reached my destination in life right here with my friends =).

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About me

I’m currently a student at Fountain Valley High School and set to graduate in 2017. I’m also an active member of the American Red Cross chapter in Santa Ana and I was lucky enough to have been selected to become a delegate at the Red Cross Leadership Camp: Leave a Legacy. I’m somewhat of a computer nerd so feel free to ask or advice whether it’s about how to build a computer or simply upgrade it.

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What is faith?

I come from a Catholic home so you can assume that my parents are very religious and expect me to be too. Sometimes I think they need to be able to understand that religion isn’t something that is taught, it’s something that must be found on your own.

After the fall of Saigon in 1975, my parents fled to the United States in search of sanctuary. When they had no hope, they looked to religion for comfort as many people have throughout  world history. I can understand why they have such a devotion and loyalty to religion but the one thing they don’t understand is that everything needs to be looked at a different perspective otherwise you’re blind by your own ignorance. Luckily for me, I didn’t go through all the hard times that my parents did so I had no reason to look up to religion for answers but my parents still don’t understand why I don’t.

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One of my biggest reason for defying the existence of God is my brother. My brother, Manh, has down syndrome and has the intelligence of about a five year old. So I would always question my parents why an omnipotent,omniscient, and kind God do this to a person and they give me the general answer that it’s God’s will. To me, this answer sounds like something someone would resort to when pushed to a corner with no other answer to give.

After the death of someone very important to me at a young age, I lost all faith. I constantly begged him to answer me; to say something, anything. The idea that an omnipotent and omniscient being would do something horrible to an innocent person made relatively no sense and my faith turned from a strong radiant fire to a small, near-death ember easily extinguishable  by a swift blow.

Say something I’m giving up on you..

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Since then I’ve been heartbroken about life and ultimately confused. One thing that always seems to make it better is the peace and calmness that comes when popping in those earbuds and forgetting about the world for even just a little bit. A Sky Full of Stars by Coldplay is one of the best songs any person could here. It tells the story of a man with a broken heart but rather than being sad about it, he fixes it and makes it better than it was before. Essentially, the song eludes that being sad will do nothing for you.

When it comes to holidays and certain events, I’ll go to church with my family to be respectful and polite. As for going to church on a regular basis, I think it’s a waste of time and my time and efforts could be put towards something more useful and productive. Yet somehow my parents manage to say that I should still go to church even though I’m an atheist which makes absolutely zero sense, completely idiotic to say the least. Now with the extra time I have, I’ve put it towards either studying, sleeping, or volunteer work. As time went on, I could slowly see my grades and attitude improved now that I was no longer kept in religious captivity. Since then, I’ve been extremely involved with the American Red Cross Chapter in Santa Ana going as far as Northern California to attend their leadership program which has been a positive change in my life.

Red Cross

In the end, I understand my parent’s reason for their devotion to what I believe is fake but America is known for its religious toleration and I have no right to take away what makes them happy. At the same time, those rights apply to me as well and I can believe or not believe in anything I want. Whatever makes them happy is what makes me happy.

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