I can’t imagine a better place to live in than California.

20150311_190040  This image was taken from my neighborhood park on a regular afternoon at dusk.  Images such as these seem to occur almost daily and in fact, I have become almost impartial to sunsets.  This goes to show that I witness nature’s beauty almost every single day of the week.  Not only is Californian scenery beautiful, but the climate in Southern California is amazing.  For me, below 60 degrees is a jacket day.  I don’t mean to rub it in, but while many states across the east are packed in during a snow storm, I am sitting in my backyard soaking up the sun watching my avocados grow.  The difference between California in the “winter” (we don’t really have winter out here) and other areas of the country is astounding.   For example, I can go swim in the ocean in January while people in New York are stuck in a blizzard.


This beautiful image was engraved into the sand by a receding bundle of kelp.  Things like this don’t happen very often in Oklahoma, do they?  Montana?  Nope.  On a nice winter day, I went running at the beach without a shirt and I managed to get a little tan whilst not freezing to death.  Try doing that in Chicago in the thick of the winter.

Anyways, back to the sunset.

neighbor sun

I hope my neighbor doesn’t mind me taking a picture of their house without asking, but it was for the sake of beauty!!!  Notice the reflection of the sunset in the house’s window.  That was the first time I had ever seen such a reflection, so I thought it was worthy of a picture.


As the sun sets on this blog post, I remind myself how lucky I am to be living in California.  I can enjoy time at the beach virtually whenever I want, and I can watch sunsets almost every day as well.  Being a Californian will perhaps spoil me for the rest of my life if I live elsewhere, but I have to say that I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else right now.



What is the Relationship Between an Individual and a Community?

What is the relationship between and individual and a community? A community is a group of people who have, “A common feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” And an individual is someone who, “Is not part of a group because of their own goals or interests.” In The Scarlet Letter, the idea of and individual vs. community comes up multiple times throughout the story. Hester is seen as the individual who has to try to survive against the rest of the colonists, a community, who use her when needed, otherwise they throw her away as an outcast. For an individual to help a group, they have to think about how they can accomplish their own goals while still improving the community as a whole. History shows that it has always been hard for an individual to live a good and faithful life without becoming part of a community. In The Scarlet Letter, the community is the colonists that live with Hester. Hester is the lone individual who is secluded from society. The community only gives attention to Hester when they need her amazing sowing skills. He talent of being an amazing seamstress was used for funerals, babies, and fashion. In chapter 5 of the book, Hester’s: “Handiwork became what would now be termed the fashion. Whether from commiseration for a woman of so miserable a destiny; or from the morbid curiosity that gives a fictitious value even to common or worthless things…” The community didn’t care about her sin when they needed he talent for their benefit. But once they received what they needed, they again shunned her from their community. This shows the relationship between the community and the individual in The Scarlet Letter; there was only a one way benefit that  supported the community and never the lone individual. And the community didn’t think to care that this was they only way Hester was surviving and making money, while they all had businesses and each other as support in case something horrible happens and one of them goes broke or something. Also, the individual, Hester is never allowed to participate in a joyous occasion for the community. As Hester’s’ products and, “Skill was never called in to embroider the white veil which was to cover the pure blushes of a bride.” This is when they all remember Hester’s sin and decide to bring their society back together. Hester Prynne has no benefits as being the individual in this individual vs. community relationship.

Martin Luther King Jr. wrote the Letter from Birmingham Jail in response to a public statement directed to him by eight Alabama clergymen. The eight Alabama clergymen wrote the public statement to denounce King Jr.’s work and call it “unwise” and “untimely.” As Martin Luther King Jr. writes to these men, he is saying that for these human rights to be granted to African-American people the white people must join with the human rights activists. Something that really caught my eye in this letter was when he says that an African-American’s main: ” Stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season.’ Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” This specific part from the entire letter stands out to me because it takes an objective side to the whole argument of the relationship of an individual and a community than that in The Scarlet Letter. In the Letter from Birmingham Jail the one in need of help from the other is the community. The community needs the individuals who want order and peace but don’t want to stand up for justice. Martin Luther King Jr. is more frustrated with these type of people because they don’t say it, but they are basically rejecting you, your community, a your ideas. This rejection by individual support leads to a loss of supporters to join the community that needs everyone to help them. This letter shows that sometimes the community needs the support of the individuals. In “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For” from Walden by Henry David Thoreau, he talks about his wish to live in the woods. As he ponders about how it would be to live alone and secluded in the woods he comes across the idea of only having individuals and no communities. He comes to t conclusion that this would not work because if everyone had their own ideas, no one would make roads and other innovations important to life. Thee would be no agreements amongst any people who wanted to innovate. Throughout all my research, I’ve figured out that there will always be one side who will attain the upper hand. However, it will not always be the same side, as I showed you in various examples. After all, a community and an individual are very closely related. A community is up of a group of INDIVIDUALS who share a certain idea or interest. Thanks for reading! -Hamza Ayub

Why Are We So Obsessed With Material Happiness?


Photo by Ged Carroll

Different people perceive happiness in different ways across the entire universe. The generation in which my parents grew up was one where kids were taught that happiness was acquired through making an overwhelming amount of money and being able to buy anything you want. I have now come to realize that this is only one perception on the topic of happiness. Some people see happiness as a very materialistic thing, while others see it as something spiritual and optimistic for what they have.

A common theme relating to happiness that has carried over to today is materialistic happiness. As described by a famous French philosopher, Jean Baudrillard, the consumerist choice is expounded by the symbolic of something, not as much the price of this object. And in today’s case this symbol is happiness. When a consumer pays attention to the symbolic side of a material, they are willing to pay as much as ten times the normal price. Current businesses use this idea and advertise how their product can bring happiness to people. A materialistic person is never satisfied; the feeling of happiness is only a temporary one. A person who looks to materials or objects for happiness tends not to care about the happiness of family. People who have a materialistic approach to happiness are generally seen as self-centered. These people focus on trying to waste their money on products that bring them a short-term satisfaction. This is not an approach that society should teach to its youth.

Thanks for reading!