Friday, April 13, 2012

back to real life...

instead of lamenting about all the posts i've meant to and haven't made, i'm just going to pop right back in and start up my blog again (: I had a super awesome time in Utah and it made me think of a lot of goals and plans that i have for the future, but more about Utah and about all those goals later...

last night i wrote my youth salute essays and i'm not sure how much i like them. im not good at writing on a limit and i had a hard time saying what i meant especially because i didn't want to make them boring. here they are, definitely some of the worst writing i've ever done, but here goes nothing.

Essay #1: Leader Today, Leading Tomorrow
            In playing basketball I’ve learned lessons that apply to every team I lead: you’re only as good as your worst player and a successful team is made up of successful individuals. “Be the best at being you,” is the mantra I strive to live in accordance with, but, as a leader, I’ve learned that I am not the priority. I’ve learned to take in account the needs, values, strengths and faults of others as I communicate with them as a leader. I care deeply for each individual and strive for the success and fulfillment of the group as well as the individual. In doing this, I’ve learned to balance being realistic and being willing to try something new or developing an idea that at first seems unlikely. Overall, I am a good leader as I help team members be their best.
            However, it is easy to get caught up in reaching goals and lose sight of working as a team. For example, I’ve been working to improve how I delegate. I am a church youth leader and help to plan and carry out many activities. Often, I will be given a list of things that need to be done and do them all on my own instead of enlisting the help of others thinking it’s better that I just “do it myself.” However, I’ve learned overtime that delegation is not merely to make sure everything is done, but also so that others can have the opportunity to serve. I improve as a leader as I am self aware of what I do and set goals as to improve my faults.
            Developing good leadership now is essential as I plan to be a leader throughout life. As a child, I was often asked the ageless question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I never had a solid profession or career to answer them with, but I did know that I wanted to make a difference. Yet, I’ve learned overtime that I can’t do everything alone, and the degree of my success is determined by how well I work with those around me. So in the future, whether I’m leading my voice part in choir, my congregation in church, leading a team to a goal, leading my family as a mother, or doing all of them, I know that I will be better as I make my team better and as I lead others I can help them to become leaders themselves.
Essay #2: Living in Hot Water
                        If a frog is dropped into a pot of boiling hot water it will jump out. However, if a frog is placed in a pot of cool water and the heat is increased gradually it will not notice the slow change in temperature. Eventually, the frog will be cooked unaware that it was ever in danger. Overtime, the standards of society have slowly changed and declined. Value is placed more greatly on money, status, and property instead of family relationships, love, and character. As the standards of society continually decline the heat of the pot goes up. The biggest problem faced by the youth of today is being born into a pot of hot water and not knowing to jump out.
            It is obvious that over time the standards of society have plummeted compared to what they were previously. In Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, Covey cites information from the Congressional Quarterly which lists the “Top disciplinary problems according to school teachers,” in 1940 compared to 1990. In just fifty years the list changed from, “talking out of turn, chewing gum, making noise, running in the halls, cutting in line, dress code infractions, [and] littering” to “drug abuse, alcohol abuse, pregnancy, suicide, rape, robbery, [and] assault.” This change is not only apparent in schools, but there is evidence of a decline in moral standards in virtually every aspect of life.
            Perhaps one of the best ways to see how values and standards of society have changed is to look at the media. Fifty years ago, in the 1960s the tops songs were songs like, “Let It Be Me” and “Lonely Blue Boy.” Neither of these songs contains any crude language, nor do they contain sexual innuendoes. In 2010, some of the top songs were “Tik Tok” and “In My Head.” “Tik tok” sung by the artist, “Ke$ha,” is a song about waking up hung over, going partying, and getting drunk.  “In My Head” sung by artist, Jason Derulo, is about the sexual fantasies he has for a girl.
            It is obvious that the standards of society have declined overtime. Lines of right and wrong that were once clearly defined have over time become smudge, blurred, and are now altogether erased. It is hard to live in a world where such demoralization has occurred. I can seldom walk done the hallway at school without hearing a string of obscene language making its way to my ears. Almost daily in school, some student asks me for the answers to a homework or test. It gets harder and harder to stand up for my standards when most around me don’t have any clearly defined standards for how they will conduct themselves. These students aren’t necessarily aware of what they are doing, but without a standard there is no way for them to be held accountable for their actions.
            Why is this change a problem? With no way to be held accountable and without a standard to be held accountable for, many only work for the minimal requirements society places on them. This leads to an increase in mediocrity and a decline in excellence. Youth are not recognizing or striving for their full potential and society doesn’t progress. Some argue that this decline in standards is a natural change. They argue over and over again that times are changing and those who still hold to the values of the past are old-fashioned or out of date. They overuse expressions like, “things are different now” or “that’s just the way things are, get used to it.” They don’t understand that the world is sick and getting worse. If someone you know is sick, it seems unlikely that anyone would say, “Well, that’s how things are now. You’d better get used to it. You’d better change.” We don’t accept sickness, we seek a cure. So why is it that we as a society allow and accept the ever sick and decreasing standards in the moral and ethical health of the world? Why do we shrug our shoulders when things go from bad to worse? Why do we decide to let things stay the way they are? We choose not to know any better. We were born into a pot of hot water.
Essay #3: How He Teaches Me
            “Therefore what manner of man ought ye to be?” This question found in the Book of Mormon is one that has caused me to reflect upon myself deeply. I wonder who am I, and how to improve myself. Throughout my life, I’ve had a role model whose lifestyle and actions emulate the manner of a person I wish to become. That role model is my best friend and my brother, Benjamin David Brown. Ben is a college student in his twenties who is always helping, happy, and having fun. He is friends with everyone and loves those around him. Ben teaches me life lessons in the way he makes small choices each and every day. He teaches me by example.
            My brother teaches me to make my actions consistent with my knowledge of right and wrong. Ben is willing to delete a song he has purchased if he finds out it is crude or degrading. Ben will turn off a movie he was excited to see if he find out it has inappropriate content. Ben lives by the saying, “All for all!” In other words, Ben commits fully to everything he does because you “reap what you sow.” At our summer workplace, many go out of their way to avoid accomplishing work. Ben goes out of his way seeking ways to help even if he has already done more than anyone else. He has taught me to give my all at living righteously and to be the best you can be at anything you do.
            My brother teaches me to love and serve others. As the oldest of nine kids, it would be easy for Ben to get annoyed with our energetic and excitable younger siblings or to blow them off for “more important things.” However, I have witnessed him take time to spend time with each of them individually. They all adore him, not just because he is their brother, but because he has built a relationship with each of them. I remember many times walking in to find him playing with my two year old sister, singings songs with her, or watching any number of little kids shows with her to spend time with her. Ben continually looks for ways to serve others as well. When he got home from college one break the first thing he did upon getting home was cleaning the kitchen for my mom. This love and compassion for all extends beyond our family. When I went to visit Ben at school it was obvious that he had the love and respect of many of the student body. People would constantly compliment me on something that I did “just like Ben!” He has taught me that to be loved by many, you first show love to many.
My brother teaches me to set goals and make them happen. This is true of large life changing goals as well as small seemingly insignificant goals. Throughout his life my brother had always planned on going on a mission for our church. When the time came to go Ben found out that because of his weight he had to lose forty pounds to be eligible to serve. Not only did Ben do this, but he inspired everyone in my family to seek a healthier lifestyle. Another goal I’ve seen Ben strive for is his goal to dunk a basketball. I spent two weeks with my brother at school in Utah and nearly every time we approached a basketball hoop he would either: try to dunk a ball or take a few jumps and grab the rim. Ben proudly informed me that he had been working on this skill all semester and was better than ever before. He doesn’t get discouraged that he’s been working so long, only excited about the extent of the progress he has already make. This provides an example for me about the positive attitude and determination I should have as I seek to make goals, large or small, a reality. He has taught me that I can reach any goal I strive for.
My brother teaches me that it is worthwhile to get outside of your comfort zone. He always encourages me to try something new and is always willing to stand up or stand out. Whether it be an impromptu musical number or walking into a half-time dance competition. Ben will get out there and give whatever he does all he’s got. He knows that sometimes things may not work out as intended. He has taught me to live life to its fullest capacity, just like he does.

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