Obama for the Public Good

I know three things about President Obama; he is a good man, he’s an honest man, and he is truly dedicated to “The Public Good.”  That said, he has a curious way to trying to provide for The Public Good by negotiating with liars, bending backward for his enemies, and trying allay the fears of those who have vested their public lives to thwarting him at every turn.  The man is surrounded, and instead of fighting, he is surrendering.

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Private Experience vs. Public Good

Chioma Uzoigwe wrote this article.

“The page comes alive in the life of the mind where it is given a unique private context coupled against a universally shared public concern for the condition of human suffering.” This quote symbolizes the process through which we battle back and forth between what we know vs. what is imparted to us through literature, or the private experience vs. the public good. This paper examines public health crises reflected in poetry, essays, fiction and dramatic literature and purports that the battle of the private experience vs. the public good is won when the private experience becomes the experience of the public good.

The private experience refers to that of the reader. Before reading a work of literature each individual holds within himself his own knowledge, opinions, and life experiences which an author can shape and alter. The author holds within his power the ability to make the reader see what he sees to influence a universal, public perception of his point of view. When the author is able to make the reader’s experience that of the universal experience, he succeeds in turning the reader’s private experience into that of the public good’s. To do this, the author must evoke one simple aspect of human feeling–sympathy. Sympathy is a powerful emotion; it capacitates us to understand the feelings of another. Valentine (1997) states, “Our proper sympathies are themselves rooted in standards of virtue that everyone can understand. This is how we are able to sympathize appropriately when another has been wronged, and check our sympathy for another who has done wrong.” Because everyone can understand the virtue, it is a universal way to effect change. Helen Keller put it best in her autobiography, The Story of My Life, “…our enjoyment of the great works of literature depends more upon the depth of our sympathy than upon our understanding.”

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Cultural Differences vs. Social Deviancy

Imagine this: You’re walking along the lower East Village in New York City on a Friday night and you come upon a baby crying alone in a stroller outside the Dallas BBQ restaurant at 132 Second Avenue. What would you do? Call 911? Flag down a cop? Go into the restaurant and search for the parents?

Last Friday just such an incredible scenario happened in real life, in real time. Two friendly passerbys did all the above mentioned actions in an attempt to reunite the crying baby with her parents. Incredibly, the parents were inside the restaurant having dinner and aware of the plight of their baby. In fact, the parents had purposefully left their baby alone on the sidewalk while they ate.

When Parents Won’t Parent
The parents refused to leave their seats to bring their baby inside the restaurant to sit with them even though the wait staff tried to convince the couple to bring the baby inside in exchange for a bigger table and a place to put the stroller. The parents declined. One passersby called 911 and the NYPD arrested the couple for “endangering the welfare of a child.” The baby was immediately placed in foster care by the city’s Administration for Children’s Services.

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