Dear Viewer,
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While there are many things in life that I enjoy doing, the one thing I am truly passionate about is sports. I enjoy playing baseball and soccer but I love all sports in general. In fact, I would say I love any competition or competitiveness no matter what the circumstances. I also have a strong passion for music. I play guitar and I listen to a large variety of music, including anything from country to hip hop. Music brings out inner emotions in me that most things can’t. Sometimes I literally get lost in a song. Music and sports are extracurricular activities I have strength in and passion for but there are other school related things I have strengths in as well. I think in general I am a good writer; however I don’t necessarily have a passion for it. I don’t take particular interest in persuasive writing or informative writing, but I seem to have strength in them. I enjoy writing fictional pieces, and even some poetry. I am also good at creative projects that involve art or some kind of creative, deeper thinking.
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The personal philosophy statement I want to look into is good people do not always do what the government tells them to. However, I want to make a clarification regarding the “government” portion. To me, in this personal philosophy statement, the government represents any kind of ruling body. This means, for example, in The Crucible, the “government” would be represented by the church and their religion. The “government” could also represent something as simple as parents or teachers as well. It could also represent the literal goverenment. I see this personal philosophy statement and my strengths working together in several ways. I don’t see my strength and love for sports applying to this philosophy statement successfully, however, I do see a successful combination in my other strengths. There is insurmountable amount of symbolism and deeper meanings in music. Writing or finding songs that apply to this philosophy statement, along with a written explanation of why it applies to the personal philosophy statement, would create a successful and insightful project. This is the route I will take in this project; an explanation of why good people don't always do what the government tells them to, using music and written explanations as well as connections to other literary works we have looked at.
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The Crucible by Arthur Miller informs the personal philosophy statement I have chosen, in fact, this philosophy is the basis of the conflict in the story. Salem is ruled by the church and everything is based on religion. The girls who participate in witchcraft, which catalyzes the events that occur for the rest of the play, have broken the traditional Puritan rules of their society. However, does this necessarily mean that these girls are bad people? Were they only seeking an outlet for fun? This is something I could address in my project because these girls have gone against the “government” but it is questionable whether they are still good people or not. John Proctor is also an excellent example of a character who symbolizes what my philosophy statement is saying. Proctor knew throughout the play the injustice of the witch trials, and acted several times against the traditional rules of their Puritan society. A great symbol of him fighting against the “government” is when he tears the confession he made to witchcraft. This symbolizes his rebellion against the “government” but again it is arguable whether he is still a good person or not. These are only two clear examples where The Crucible informs my personal philosophy statement, however, many other connections exist between the two. Overall, between my strengths, my personal philosophy statement, and connections to The Crucible and other literary works, this should make for an insightful and meaningful project.
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We also studied a mini-unit on Gothic literature. We read pieces by Edgar Allen Poe such as The Fall of the House of Usher, The Tell-Tale Heart, and William Wilson. We also read The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner, and The Minister's Black Veil by Nathaniel Hawthorne. While studying these pieces, we tried to focus our reading on gothic settings, heroes, villains, secrets, and elements of gothic literature such as the uncanny, doppelgangers, outcasts, and catharsis. Though it’s hard to relate my personal philosophy statement to gothic literature, I believe there were several common themes amongst pieces that may have informed it. I believe that the role of the "government" from my personal philosophy statement would be played by what is expected in a society. That is, in each of these pieces, there was an element that went against what the rest of the society expected and regarded as normal. For example, the family in The Fall of the House of Usher was inbred; an attribute that is not seen as normal by the rest of society. Also, in The Lottery, the village's method of selecting a person to sacrifice may seem unusual and wrong to our society, but does it mean they are necessarily bad people? I believe that other factors in gothic literature cause people to be bad people, such as evil or insanity. However, just because someone lives their life differently than the rest of society expects them to, doesn’t mean they are a bad person. In nearly all Gothic literature, there is someone or something that seems out of place with the rest of society or even seems strange to us because it does not follow the typical rules of our society in real life. However, as my philosophy statement says, I don't believe these people are bad people, I believe there are other factors in gothic literature that makes a character a bad person. To find out more about these other factors, check out my link to Class Activities. as-fire-apb-anim-01.gif
As the semester comes to a close, our class has been studied transcendentalism. We transitioned from studying gothic, to romantic, to rationalistic, and finally to transcendental literature so that we could better understand each genre and make connections between them. We read and studied pieces such as Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walden and Resistance to Civil Government by Henry Davidson Thoreau. By reading these pieces, I have developed my own personal definition of what being transcendental means. It means to protest against the general state of a culture or society, to ignore the need for material goods, to reduce everything in life to the simplest form, to reject conformity, and to stand up for your beliefs. In a way, this defines my personal philosophy statement. When you are transcendental, you don't do what the government tells you too because you believe in a better, simpler way of handling things. Thoreau is an excellent example of someone who didn't do what the government told him to, yet was still a good person. He was thrown in jail for refusing to pay a tax he felt was unjust. Thoreau was still a good person though because he simply standing up for what he felt was right. The way he chose to rebel against this tax also makes him a good person. Rather than fighting physically with weapons or violence, he chose civil disobedience. In Resistance to Civil Government, Thoreau explains, "If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the state to commit violence and shed innocent blood" (Thoreau 5). Thoreau is saying that if a thousand men followed his example, there actions would be less violent then if they had paid the taxes in the first place. Civil disobedience is a common form of rebellion among transcendentalist. Because it is a non violent, peaceful form of rebellion, I believe that transcendentalist, like Thoreau, can still be considered good people even after disobeying the government.
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The last study we did this semester was over The Narrative Life of Fredrick Douglass. We looked into the life of slavery from a slave’s perspective, and learned about Fredrick Douglass's struggle to gain freedom. Throughout the piece we also made connections back to transcendentalism, and had several small discussions. The Narrative Life of Fredrick Douglass addressed my personal philosophy statement nearly to a parallel. The "government" from my personal philosophy statement, took the form of the slaveholders and the masters in Fredrick Douglass's life. In the South, primarily Maryland where most of the narrative takes place, slavery was tradition. Douglas first rebelled against the customs of slavery by teaching himself to read and write. Teaching himself to read and write was his first step towards freedom. It allowed him the ability to think for himself, and gave him a new perspective of what slavery was. He then stood up to his master when being punished. This action worked in his favor because he was never again punished by his master. He finally achieved his ultimate goal by escaping his master in Baltimore and traveling to the North where he could be free. Some people believe Douglass to be a transcendental. These actions he took against his "government" would suggest that he was. He stood up for what he believed in, and knew, was right while rejecting the common life of the slave. This addresses my personal philosophy because Douglass clearly turned against authority. This however clearly doesn't make him a bad person because he was opposing a "government" that accepted and practiced slavery. By standing up for what is right, and by going against the "government", Douglass remained a good person. Slavery was an undeniable evil in our nations history. Douglass stood up against this, and therefore, was able to turn his back on the "government" while still remaining a good person.
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This semester, our class has researched many genres of literature. We looked into historical fiction in The Crucible. Then we looked at dark romanticism, romanticism, rationalism, transcendentalism, and finally ended with The Narrative Life of Fredrick Douglass. Each of these sources has addressed my philosophy statement that good people do not always necessarily do what the government tells them to. This wikispace started as just a project over The Crucible, but it expanded to all of these genres we studied. Everything we have researched seems to portray a message of agreement with my philosophy statement. This wikispace has become a truly meaningful project, because it reflects one of my strong personal beliefs. Researching these pieces of literature, along with the construction of this wikispace, has helped me project my personal philosophy statement. Do good people always do what the government tells them to? No. A person can still be a good person even if they oppose their government.
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Sincerely,
Brian
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