Category Archives: Ideas

Mckean, My Home

As a college student, you’ve probably been asked the same five questions everyone seems to be infatuate with asking such as: “What is your major?” “What do you want to do later in life?” “Have you studied abroad?” and my favorite “What is your favorite part about college?” For some reason my answer to the latter question seems to bewilder some, but my absolute favorite part about college is the culture of living in a residential hall and the memories I now have that I’m able to look back on and think of the “good ol’ times”. I’ve had the enormous pleasure of living in Mckean Hall for my entire college career (no, I haven’t repeated my first year over and over again, I’ve just happily lived in Mckean my first year and then have worked as a Resident Assistant for the building ever since). Whenever I tell my peers or even new faces on this campus that I live in Mckean Hall or that I’ve lived there for three years now, I always receive a facial expression of pity and hear responses like “Dude that really sucks”. It surely doesn’t help when the official newspaper for the College publishes articles where they identify the Mckean Residential Hall as the one that “smells like mildew, but it’s where the party is at”.

Mckean Hall has had an awful reputation for as long as I’ve been here, and I’m pretty sure it can be dated back even further, but has anybody really tried to understand why? Because I can tell you after living in that hall for three years straight that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the building. The long-standing reputation is the only substance of any kind that fills the halls with its “terror” and “disgusting appeal”, not the infrastructure, not its residents, not its Resident Assistants, and not Rollins College’s buzz of being a “party school”. Every single college or university across the United States faces the dilemma of having underage first years drinking, partying, vandalizing, you name it. This is not a problem singular to Mckean Hall and it is definitely an issue one can experience in almost any other residential hall on this campus.

Every first year dorm on this campus faces relatively the same conflicts, but why is it that people only think of Mckean when they think of first year’s parties? Because with the existence of a reputation, gossiping and bad-mouthing about certain events and certain people becomes easier to do and easier to believe.

Mckean Hall was designed by Hugh Mckean, a former student of Rollins College and a fellow X-club member, and when he designed this building, he did so by keeping future students in mind and making sure that they could have the best possible residential hall experience. He wanted to make sure that all of Mckean Hall’s residents could answer the question “What is your favorite part about college?” with “living on campus, living in Mckean Hall”. I completely and wholeheartedly adore this hall and I’ve been able to create great relationships with friends and residents with all that Mckean has to offer. From its thirteen comfortable living rooms, to the countless programs, to the wonderful Resident Assistants, and to the amazing memories effortlessly made, Mckean Hall you are my home and I wish that everyone could understand you.

Lightness and Weight – Response to The Sandspur’s Fall 2013 Orientation’s Issue

The difference between the journalist and the common citizen lies in a simple distinction: the common citizen has the right to ask questions in the spirit of true freedom of opinion, albeit the journalist has the right to demand an informed answer. The Franco-Czech writer, Milan Kundera, exhaustively ratifies this in Immortality.

I have written as a Freelance Writer in The Sandspur since my first day of classes at Rollins on January 16, 2012. I have continuously voiced my opinion against the status quo, informed the community and have been present recurrently as an irreverent and risky writer. That is why I remember with nostalgia the first issue where I wrote. It was educated. It was informative.

I recall writing an article about the decline of Literature, and collaborated with Amir in a recount of what was going on in international affairs. There were also articles about US politics, Liberal Arts being in peril, Erin Brioso’s provocative reflection about the MLK vigil, and even articles on the Immersion trip, and the Habitat for Humanity collaboration, during Winter Intersession 2012. However, what I found in this orientation’s issue was not what I was expecting.

I will tell you what I found during this Fall Orientation’s issue. I found disrespect towards women in the Sexperts column, which Gaby Cabrera points out in her response. And I found as well a judgment of value against McKean Hall, which Tasha touches in hers.

If you are a first year student and this is what you read in your campus newspaper, then you are already getting a preconceived notion rather than forming your very own opinion a posteriori. A newspaper that uses satire recurrently, and as the most common denominator in tone, should watch out. That is, evidently, because if laughter becomes laughable that is when the joke will become serious. Referring again to Kundera, only what has weight, and is of necessity, has value.  There must be lightness, yes, but not in excess. Gravitas is necessary for communication, especially if it strives to inform.

I congratulate other informative articles such as the LYNX guide and the Disney Rundown, which are of help to the community. But I hope the upcoming issues will stop this certain misinformation to the student body. I also hope that the students that submit their articles for the sake of informing the community will get theirs published, and not rejected. People that have the possibility to do good – especially by writing – have the moral imperative to do so. Accordingly, I will continue to write for the sake of information and journalism.

By writing these responses, Gaby, Tasha, and I are acting proactively to change what we consider should be for the betterment of Rollins. I will continue to provide not only my voice, but one of the students who are here for something more than an exaltation of shallowness.The Sandspur has to get better, and my diagnosis is not new. It has been a persistent topic of conversation with my friends, professors, and colleagues voicing this concern. Thus, find me here asking, as a potential journalist:

Why is it that the Rollins student newspaper is not representing our voice?

And I – respectfully – demand an answer.

__________________________________

*NOTE: The Sandspur did not publish this response in the print edition. You can find it online at: http://www.thesandspur.org/lightness-weight-response-fall-2013-orientations-issue-sandspur/

Message in a Love Song

Music plays a huge role in our culture. It fills uncomfortable silences, speaks to our current emotions, and serves as a soundtrack to our lives. Many songs are about love; falling in love, unrequited love, being happily in love, falling out love, spurned love. I thought I’d take a look at what kinds of messages can be found about different stages of love, with Valentine’s Day having passed and White Day approaching (look it up; it’s like a Sadie Hawkins holiday with white chocolate). This may be the easiest blog to write since I can just turn to my iPod and create my own not-so-random sample. The blog is for the Office of Multicultural Affairs, though, so I will milk my Cuban heritage and Miami upbringing as it is reflected in the music I listen to.

Fool in the Rain by Led Zeppelin
“Now I will stand in the rain on the corner,
I watch the people go shuffling downtown.
Another ten minutes no longer
And then I’m turning around ’round.
And the clock on the wall’s moving slower,
Oh, my heart it sinks to the ground
And the storm that I thought would blow over
Clouds the light of the love that I found, found.”

This has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid simply because of the melody. Now I appreciate the self-doubt, insecurity, and dogged refusal to give up on love all wrapped up in a blindly hopeful Samba breakdown.

Valió Le Pena by Marc Anthony
” Valió la pena lo que era necesario para estar contigo, amor.
Tú eres una bendición.
Las horas y la vida de tu lado, nena,
Están para vivirlas pero a tu manera.
Enhorabuena,
Porque valió la pena, valió la pena…”

A rare song about appreciating the opportunity to love rather than being bitter that it ended. Translation: It was worth it, what was necessary to be with you, my love. You are a blessing. The hours and the life by your side, girl, are there to be lived but by your way. Congratulations, because it was worth it, it was worth it…

Bleed to Love Her by Fleetwood Mac
“Once again she steals away
Then she reaches out to kiss me
And how she takes my breath away
Pretending that she won’t miss me
Oohh I would bleed to love her.”

It’s quite the risk to pursue someone who engages you in a push-and-pull relationship. The challenge can make the grass seem greener on the other side (or the blood seem…redder?) but is it really love and is it really worth it?

Tres Palabras/Without You by Desi Arnaz
“Oye la confesion de mis secretos
A base de un corazon que esta desierto
Con tres palabras te dire todas mis cosas
cosas del corazon que son preciosas
Dame tus manos ven toma las mias
Que te voy a confiar las ansias mias
son tres palabras solamente, mis angustias
y esas palabras son ‘Como Me Gustas’

I’m lost without you.”

This is an old Cuban classic by Osvaldo Farrés that has been covered many times. My favorite version is by Desi. It touches on the trepidation and optimism in pursuing someone. Translation: Listen to the confession of my secrets based on this deserted heart. With three words I’d tell you everything, things of the heart that are precious. Give me your hands, come, take mine. I will trust you with my cravings. They are only three words, my anxieties, and those three words are “I like you.”

Home by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
“Home, let me come home
Home is wherever I’m with you.”

It’s possible to find a sense of belonging and a mutual love. It is apparently such a joyous feeling that you will want to rhyme “Alabama, Arkansas” with “Ma and Pa.”
And “Pumpkin pie” with “Jesus Christ”.

Llorarás by Oscar D’Leon
“Por tu mal comportamiento,
te vas a arrepentir
muy caro tendrás que pagar
todo mi sufrimiemto
Llorarás y llorarás
sin nadie que te consuele
y así te darás de cuenta
que si te engañan duele.”

This is the ultimate ‘70s salsa song about karma and retribution from a scorned lover’s perspective by Venezuelan Oscar D’Leon. Translation: For your bad behavior, you will regret it. You will pay dearly for all of my suffering. You will cry and you will cry with no one to console you and so you will realize that if you are cheated, it hurts.

Not Fire Not Ice by Ben Harper
“The true love is priceless.
For true love you pay a price.
But there’s nothing can keep me from loving you.
Not fire, no not ice.
Not fire, no not ice. “

Love is sacrifice and it’s a choice to remain in love after a certain point. The giddy infatuation stage fades somewhat and you’re left with something more stable and concrete. There aren’t many songs about this stage of love because we glorify the fleeting burst of passion in the beginning of relationships and love. This stage is also worthy of fanfare.

Ten Words by Joe Satriani
Instrumental

You don’t need words to communicate comfort, faith, or hope. Or love. Sometimes words won’t do and sometimes words screw things up. A chord and a physical embrace can touch the same part of your core that makes you want burst with ecstasy or collapse in despair.

Good as Gold

Recently I’ve been pondering the Japanese art of Kintsugi, or the practice of mending broken pottery by filling the cracks with gold resin. There was an image of such a piece circulating around Facebook, and the metaphorical implications were quite profound.

I know no more about Kintsugi than that which was revealed via a quick Google search, but here is the main idea. The goal is to honor the history of the pottery. It makes no attempt to hide its cracks and imperfections, but rather incorporates them into its design and restoration, thus repairing its wholeness and making it even more intricate than before in the process. It’s a very honest way of dealing with something, one that respects the scars that life has thrown at it and even sees beauty in its rough history.

An interesting comparison is how ancient Romans would repair their pottery. They would use wax that can seamlessly blend into the work and be painted over. It’s somewhat of a folktale that this was a way for dishonest potters to cover the flaws of their work, and so a piece that was made without wax (sine cera) or sincerely, was more valuable and honest. However, there is probably little truth to this story, but like Kintsugi, its metaphorical implications resonate with people, which is probably why it’s a popular explanation. Whereas Kintsugi highlights the imperfections of a piece, using wax would hide them, giving the guise of perfection when in fact a pot repaired with wax would be just as cracked as one repaired with gold.

When we relate to people, it seems to me that we have the option to be the mythological unscrupulous Roman potter or the honest Kintsugi artist. We can either try to cover imperfections or embrace and respect them. No one is perfect, and in fact accepting our imperfection can be a great relief with the gift of permission to live authentically. Everyone goes through hard times, some more than others, but that just means that they need more gold to put the pieces back together.

So, why would people use wax instead of gold when interacting? Well, wax is inexpensive. It does not take as much effort to plaster over something. Wax can blend in, helping uphold the impossible image of perfection. However, wax is also a cheap substitute compared to ceramics. Gold on the other hand is a highly valuable heavy metal that stands out. Similarly, interacting sincerely –without wax as the story goes- is valuable, substantial, and beautiful. The cracks will still be clearly visible, but that has become part of the charm rather than something to stress about covering up.

Perhaps even worse than using wax is throwing something away completely. Just look at our society’s collective junk that is bloating landfills, polluting the oceans, and getting shipped to poorer countries. Those could  be valuable resources if we would go through the effort of sorting things out, or, even better, built things that were designed to be reused and recycled in an ecologically respectful manner. However, we keep seeking more and more pristine resources. At some point someone needs to say enough, and many people are because they have had enough.

Saying enough means taking a stand, asserting yourself and your boundaries and reaffirming your individuality. There’s this annoying aether of not-enoughness or scarcity in our culture. Just fill in the blank: I’m not ________ enough. There’s plenty of things I could put in that blank. That same craving for more that is manifest large in how we interact with the environment as a society also exists more or less in each of us. Depending on your circumstances, you may really need more, but if not, it’s time to say no.

Since wax is blends in like make-up, it can create a false image that appears more complete and pristine than reality. If we judge ourselves to this illusion, then that will support the feeling of not-enoughness. So, use gold instead and use it well, because in addition to being valuable, it’s also rare.

And as nice as it would be for the gold in our lives to look like this

Odds are good that it will look like this, where it ought to be, reconstructing beauty out of life’s challenges.

So, what’s your religion?

My initial internal reaction to hearing the above question is usually, “Dang it, what was it again?” I personally don’t feel the need to identify or label my religion, but it helps for the sake of communication. So, here it is just in case I need to remind myself someday.

Ignostiscm
When people inquire about my religion, I get the sense that they’re often really asking if I believe in some sort of supernatural something. When it comes to God, I consider myself ignostic, which means that I don’t know what you mean when you say God. Once we clarify what we’re talking about, then I may be able to commit a different label with respect to that God.

For most Gods, I’d just be a shade short of atheistic, such as with the God of the Abrahamic religions and gods of other cultural mythologies, many I’m sure I’ve never heard of. I prefer not to use the term agnostic, because that makes it sound like I’m on the fence between yes and no, when I really think that God is highly unlikely. However, atheist is too strong of a devotion, so I guess there’s no nice shiny box to fit this into. Some people may label things that already exist as God, such as the universe, everything, or energy. In that case, I believe these exist, but calling them God is at best redundant. Then there are Gods that are beyond our powers of comprehension by definition, such as simply by saying, “God is beyond our comprehension, so everything that you think God is, he isn’t.” In that case, it’s open ended and over, and I’d rather get to more interesting questions.

Humanism
Now we’re getting to the good stuff. Religion is more than just about a supernatural something or another, but for some reason I get the sense that a religion to many people is a tightly sealed box packed with God, a moral code of behavior, values determining what is important, an understanding of the universe, and our part in it. Some people may be afraid to open the box and examine what’s inside, worried that if one can’t hold its ground, then everything else is threatened. However, just because I don’t believe in God doesn’t mean I don’t believe in morality or live a life void of meaning. Everything is astounding enough as it is, and I don’t need the supernatural to appreciate it.

Might as well start with people. Humanism to me basically means that the well-being of people is important, and it does not really matter if God exists or not. If he does, that’s great. If not, that’s great too. Either way, here we are living in this big world.

Everyone has the same basic needs, such as nutritious food, clean water, clear air, and adequate shelter. We all feel stress from the same types of circumstances: uncertainty, loss of control, lack of information, emotional isolation, and overwhelming conflict. Furthermore, everyone wants to feel like they belong, otherwise we can feel disoriented, rather like a stranger lost in a unknown land looking for something or someone familiar.

Any good religion comes with guidelines, so here are some about being human that I believe in. Note: subject to revision.
1.    Understand
2.    Act with compassion
3.    Do what inspires you
4.    Be courageous
5.    Explore

Environmentalism
In case we were feeling too important about ourselves, environmentalism says to hold on a minute. We exist in a context that’s not all about us, and that’s a good thing. One of the purposes of a religion I think is to tell us about our place in the world so that we can relate with our environment in a meaningful way. Many religions may get this sense of connectivity by a history of tradition, a creation myth, or the simple fact that being part of a religion grants you access to a community larger than yourself.

To really understand our place and where we are, I think that ecology -or the study of interdependence- is the best start. Whenever people describe a spiritual experience, the hallmark is often a sense that there is something greater than ourselves and that we are all connected. Well, that is literally true. The Earth is a single field of behavior. It may be hard to fully cognize since the planet is so much bigger than we are, but every now and then, the awareness may hit you inexplicably and without warning.

To give a small example of how we are connected, imagine a closed system with just you and a tree. You are breathing in oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide, so every time you breathe out, you’re losing mass because there’s a net loss of carbon. The tree on the other hand is taking in that carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, so it’s gaining mass from the carbon in the atmosphere. You are losing mass by breathing, and the tree is gaining mass by breathing, so you are in a way becoming the tree. If you’re worried about withering away, you can eat something. Now, imagine not just you and one tree, but millions of different species linked in a single network along with abiotic components (air, water, earth, etc.), and that’s more or less the something greater that we are a part of within the realm of environmentalism.

Environmentalism even has a moral code. Aldo Leopold, who pioneered the study of ecology and fused ethical philosophy with environmental studies, stated, “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

You can determine the environmental morality of your interactions by which type of long-term biological relationship your own relationships resemble. Let’s start with parasitism, in which one party benefits and the other is harmed. Parasites drain the life out of their environment or otherwise make the life of the host more difficult. This can be beneficial to the environment as a whole when the host species is becoming too overpowering, but let’s ignore that for now. Benefiting at the expense of others is not consistent with the values of humanism, and draining the life out of the environment reduces its ability to sustain the life of other organisms, so parasitic people and their constructions are generally considered immoral.

The next type of relationship is commensalism, in which one organism benefits and the other is neither helped nor harmed. This situation I think is morally neutral. You’re getting what you need without causing harm, which ought to be the minimum standard with which we evaluate our actions. As is the code for medicine, so to it is for us: First, do no harm.

The third type of persistent biological interaction is mutualism. In this case, both organisms benefit from the relationship. This is the most satisfying and moral type of interaction and one that we should be building in multiple facets of how people do things.

Cosmology
In case we still feel too important, we are probably more insignificant than we are even capable of imagining. That’s the good news. Try justifying that the world was created just for us. Better yet, try justifying that the shade of your skin, your sex, or how much money you have is even important. Try quibbling over an arbitrary patch of desert when it’s a bit of dust on a tiny speck orbiting around a typical star on the edge of an average galaxy out of billions that only make up 4% of the entire universe that may not even be the only one.

All of our problems just look childish. This isn’t an excuse to not solve social problems, but rather a realization that they’re ridiculous. With the Earth in such a larger context,

“You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.’”
-Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell

In case anyone is feeling small, I leave you this:

“Be humble, for you are made of earth. Be noble, for you are made of stars”
-Serbian proverb

The Meaning of Everything, revisited

Remember back in grade school when you would come across an unfamiliar word while reading a fable about a fox that wanted grapes or something? You could either flip through a dictionary to find its meaning or you could save yourself the hassle and use context clues, which could be rather obvious in a grade school story book.

Context clues can work because things only have meaning in context. It’s easiest to notice when things are taken out of their original context, such as when politicians are quoting each other. You don’t have to watch the news for too long before someone claims that their statements are being taken out of context, and everyone intuitively knows that changes the meaning.

The same is true of the Bible. For some reason, several people who want to make the lives of the LGBT community less awesome often like to quote single Biblical passages, even though religious experts agree that the holy books do not really condemn homosexuality and such phrases are taken out of context, both Biblical and cultural.

Meaning can also be unclear. For example, “I want water or tea with ice.” Does that mean that I want either water without ice or tea with ice, or does it mean that I want ice in whichever drink I get?  It’s a bad English sentence with fuzzy meaning.

Meaning could also be completely absent, such as in Noam Chomsky’s grammatically correct statement, “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.” In this context the individual words contractdict each other and render the total meaning nonsensical.

As the Indian speaker and teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti said, “Action has meaning only in relationship…” For example, let’s say that I throw a punch into the air. There’s very little relationship in this case –just air being moved– so it’s not a very significant action. However, if I punch my roommate’s nose, that action has a much greater relationship, and thus more significance.

So meaning can only exist in context or relationship, but that says little about how it is created or even what it is or if it’s all just a figment of our minds, but lets ignore that for now.

With the understanding that meaning can only exist in relationship, what is the meaning for everything? The question itself breaks down because there is nothing else for everything to relate to. Thus everything simply is as it is, and that is it. No meaning, no purpose, just existence.

Although, you could mention everything’s relationship in respect to nothing or perhaps to itself, but this is getting beyond me.

The Attack on Happiness

When the pursuit of happiness was explained to me in my U.S. government high school class, the teacher said something to the extent that we can’t guarantee happiness, just your ability to try to get it. This may sound like an inalienable right; however, I think that the pursuit of happiness actually makes being happy impossible.

First of all, to pursue something is not to have it, so if you are pursuing happiness, you’re not happy. A quick search through the dictionary defined pursue as “to follow in order to catch or attack.” To me this seems a bit overly aggressive for happiness, and it removes its source from your own self to something that you have to chase down. It’s as if happiness is hiding under a rock somewhere, or more likely at the mall or on that A on your exam or in that pay raise you’ve been hoping for.

Looking back on some of my happiest memories, I was not chasing down anything. It was not in a new computer game or that 4.0 GPA or even in my college acceptance letter. New things can be exciting for a time, and I do feel a sense of pride or relief after achieving something, but not the bubbly human-champagne-bottle happiness that people seem to expect of me.

The new toys and accomplishments are almost good enough, just good enough that people come back for more and just inadequate enough that they need more, but its a pursuit that will never be over. This works great for an economy that depends on the constant flow of money to grow fast enough to out-run collapsing into itself, but not so much for the human psyche, and the pressure to be happy may even make us more dissatisfied.  Therefore, there’s a conflict of interests between what the economy needs and what we need in order to live fulfilling authentic lives.

My happy memories that stand out have been times when I was with a friend or friends who have earned my trust to the point where I can let down my outer persona. I was not jumping for joy, I was not achieving something that can go on my résumé, and I was not buying anything. I may have bought food, but that’s the one exception.

Instead of pursuing happiness as if it is something outside of us, I think instead we ought to cultivate happiness as something within and between us.

The Meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything

To everyone who first thought “42,” you have my respect. Still, lets see if we can find out what the meaning of everything is, which includes both life and the universe.

Step one to creating meaning: have more than one thing.

There is no intrinsic meaning to any single thing in particular. It just is what it is, and that’s it. If you want meaning then it helps to exist in a context of other people and things.

Step two: interact

“Action has meaning only in relationship, and without understanding relationship, action on any level will only breed conflict. The understanding of relationship is infinitely more important than the search for any plan of action.”
-Jiddu Krishnamurti

Even solid objects are the sum total of the interactions of all of their particles, making matter a type of action. The significance of something depends on the effect it has in its context, and since you can be both the observer and the participant, you can both interpret and create meaning for yourself and others. I think that connection is really what we want in life, to be active participants in the lives of people we care about and the world around us. However, issues arise when we act without enough understanding, but to acquire such understanding usually requires some trial and error.

Meaning is then created through a web of relationship; however, when we try to conceive of the meaning of everything, there is nothing else for everything to interact with.

Many religions often create their own meaning for everything by inserting other realms of existence or supernatural beings for the rest of the universe to relate to. Such philosophies can provide comfort for people against a meaningless world and give them a greater context for their actions. They can also minimize conflict by giving a code of conduct that relates to the mystical.

Another way to minimize conflict without the supernatural is to simply focus on everything as one. Since there is only one everything, there is no more interaction, and thus no more potential for conflict.

Breasts are best: the story behind the titilation

Just for fun, I though I’d type up my speculations on why the female chest transfixes Western culture. This isn’t about breast size –that needs its own article –just breasts in general.

Cultural institutions play a huge role. People are brought up in a social environment that idolizes female breasts via multiple mediums, passing the fascination on to the next generation and reinforcing it throughout life. I can’t even buy groceries without seeing scantly clad models showing off their assets on magazine covers, which seems a bit overkill to me. I’m just trying to buy food.

The law of supply and demand may also be at play. Since the visual availability of bosoms is in relatively short supply in our daily lives, when such conditions are altered people are captured by this rare opportunity, kind of like binge drinking (I imagine). In a culture where topless women are a normal sight, perhaps in the tropics somewhere, the basis for breast fetishes would collapse because of the flooded market.

The sex drive is a pretty obvious mechanism. Also, the simple act of touching, whether it involves breasts or not, has been shown to promote positive interpersonal effects if done between two people who trust each other enough given the body parts being touched.

However, I think that the most interesting element at play is the neurobiology of human development. As soon as babies are born and most likely before, they have developed the brain structures for implicit, or emotional, memory. The circuits responsible for explicit (recall) memory do not develop for another few years. After birth the nipple replaces the umbilical chord as the primary source of nourishment. Holding babies, in which their head is usually against your chest or such as while breast-feeding, has also been shown to promote healthy brain development. It’s no accident that the word bosom can mean both bust and protection. Thus, the female chest is responsible for the oldest and virtually universal human emotional memory of nourishment, care, and safety, even though we can’t recall being breast-fed.

Given their sacred beginnings from the deepest recesses of our emotional memory, breasts have probably earned some respect in society.

Diverse Diversity: The analysis behind the buzz-word

Diversity is everywhere, and any system needs to be diverse to be resilient enough if it is to survive for long.

In my major of environmental studies, we call it biodiversity, and there are several different levels. The broadest is ecosystem diversity. Next is species diversity (often used synonymously with biodiversity), which is one way of measuring the resilience of an ecosystem. The next is genetic diversity, which measures the strength of a particular species.

In the study of agriculture, a subset of environmental studies, a field planted with many species is called polycultural and is much more environmentally friendly than monocultural farms that deplete water and soil fertility and require chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

If you were studying people, instead of using the term polycultural, you would use multicultural, such as at my workstudy at the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA). So, if agricultural crops got together and formed educational institutions and wanted to promote diversity to stave off the many harms of monoculturalism, they would form an Office of Polycultural Affairs (OPA).

The list goes on. There are diversified diets, diversified profiles (stocks), and diversified economies. The reason “too big to fail” is such a bad situation is the same reason for the Irish potato famine: a lack of diversity. If one sector of a non-diverse system fails –whether in agriculture or economics –you’re in trouble.

In urban planning, diversity is known as mixed usage, such as here at Rollins where there are housing, recreational, and dining areas all within walking distance.

The human immune system is also very diverse and way too complicated for me to comment on it any further.

“Human communities depend upon a diversity of talent, not a singular conception of ability,” said creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson during his 2006 TED talk on education.

So, diversity in its many varieties is essential to the resilience of the natural world, the strength of our institutions, and the richness of our lives; and the one office that actively promotes it on campus every day is under-funded and housed in a condemned building.