Curing the Relationship Between Technology and Learning

Media, Serious

The coronavirus has violently thrown the world into utter chaos. Non-essential businesses have shuttered their windows – some for good. Hospitals turn away visitors as a measure of caution. Stay-at-home orders are handed down by the government in hopes that it will slow the spread of the virus. Normalcy is painfully craved but not lived. The coronavirus has also squeezed the breath out of school, forcing it to keep itself alive by means of online learning. Some students prefer this virtual method; some don’t. The positives and negatives of distance learning have been discussed many times over the years. For some teachers and students, the issues of online learning have outweighed the benefits, and so they have shied away from it.  As the pandemic continues, and online learning is thrusted upon America, it is time hunt down some potential solutions. Solutions that will help all students, who each have their own way of learning, to get the education they desire.

 Of course, for a solution to be suggested, the concerns must first be identified. One that is often brought up is the lack of personal interaction with the instructor. Some students find it easier, and quicker, to communicate their lack of understanding to the instructor face-to-face, and it may be easier for the instructor to understand as well. Marcie LePine states in her book, Globalization, Employment & the Workplace, that the,

“… instructor-as-facilitator approach enables the instructor to rely on a variety of cues (body language, tone of voice) to communicate course material, to personalize the material to fit students’ needs, to provide immediate feedback, and to facilitate discussions among students” (LePine 242).

Lucy Debenham also says, “… the tone of voice and body language are combined to become the most powerful form of communication. However, body language … is often used on its own, and is thought to be one of the most ‘telling’ modes of communication” (Debenham).

Pure online learning would eradicate the ability to read silent communication such as body language. Lack of body language, and tone of voice, would make it harder for the student and instructor to communicate on a deeper level. This could potentially slow down learning and students may not fully comprehend the material given by the instructor.

Concepts being misunderstood and overlooked is another grave concern. For example, if a student depends on their calculator to do a permutation, does the student truly understand how a permutation works? Can they solve such a simple math equation without a calculator? Would technology become a crutch instead of a helpful tool?

Michael P. Clough and Joanne K. Olson express heartfelt concern that,

“technology is often a ‘black box’ that either misleads students into thinking they need not understand conceptually what the technology is doing for them or, worse, promotes serious misunderstanding of the concept under investigation … they can perceive the technology to be a necessary part of the concept, or worse, have little understanding about what they are doing” (Clough and Olson 8).

            It is reasonable to believe that this would likely happen. We see this occur in many different areas of life. Map reading is a lost skill. People depend on cash registers to tell them what change to give back; if the register fails to do so, people are stumped. Society, as well as learning, is increasing dependency on technology and decreasing on understanding.

While some fear students will become entirely dependent on technology, others fear it will replace teachers. The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in education is growing in America, and it strikes reasonable anxiety into hardworking teachers. AI is more efficient and can personalize learning material to fit a particular student’s strengths and weaknesses. Time is precious, and AI saves some of it. Teachers, being only human, cannot compete with the AI’s efficiency and speed.

            However, being human is something AI can never be, and that is an invaluable aspect of teaching. Andreas Oranje, general manager of research at the Educational Testing service, was asked in an interview if teachers should be concerned about AI technology. He acknowledged that some aspects would be fully automated but also reassured that,

“teaching is a very complex profession and AI will not be able to automate that much. In fact, I predict that it will lead to an expansion of education, not contraction … I think that the demand for teachers will go up. And, they will be asked more and more to do what they are uniquely qualified to do: instruct, coach, mentor, differentiate, individualize, and inspire” (Oranje).

            Instructors and how they approach online learning are essential into making the virtual method be just as good as the face-to-face method. Instructors can help their students understand basic concepts by making their material concise and easily understood. Avoiding needless technical language will aid this. Teachers should speak to their students as people who are learning instead of people who already know.

Easily understood material emphasizes the need for high quality course design. Whitney Lowe says, “New research in learning shows that the quality of instructional design is far more important than the method of delivery (online versus classroom) when determining outcomes” (Lowe 68).

Instructors can force their students to understand basic concept of the course by testing them on it. If students know that they will be tested to see if they can comprehend concepts without computer aid, they will be motivated to learn and understand it. If students have questions, they can contact their instructor.

If email is not satisfactory to either student or teacher, the instructor should have a physical office that a student may visit. If a student is struggling with a concept and needs to be physically shown, the instructor can set an appointment to demonstrate it. If the student lives far away or is unable to meet their instructor for any reason, the instructor may set up an appointment via Skype or any other type of online meeting. If this is still unsatisfactory, a virtual version of class can be created by the instructor through Skype or Zoom. These will help smooth out any wrinkles in communication between student and teacher.

The students, however, have their own part to play as well. Virtual learning may require the student to have more self-discipline since they will be surrounded with more distractions than normal. It will be hard at first, but self-discipline can be learned. Also, by increasing self-discipline, it will seep into other aspects of life, and so help the student succeed even more.

Overall, the relationship between technology and learning is good thing, and most issues can be resolved by teacher and student. Franky Mantiri believes that, “Regardless of the disadvantages and challenges of technology use in education … the benefits of it outweighs when it comes to learning and the much readily available of information and opportunities of varieties of information that are otherwise challenging” (Mantiri 589).

The benefits are undeniable when it comes to online learning but so are the benefits of in-class learning. To reap the best of both worlds, a hybrid of the two would be the best. Some students learn best by being hands on; some do just as well without. By implementing a hybrid of online and in-person classes, it will ensure that all students, who each have their own unique way of learning, will get the education they desire.




                                                                  Works Cited

Davis, Michelle R. Interview with Andreas Oranje. “Dynamic Duo Or Big Problem?” Education

         Week, vol. 39, no. 12, Nov. 2019, pp. 30–31. EBSCOhost,


Accessed March 31 2020.

Debenham, Lucy. “Communication – What Percentage is Body Language?” Body Language 

        Expert. Updated 7 April 2020.

percentage-body-language.html. Accessed 9 April 2020.

LePine, Marcie, et al. “Chapter 12: Globalization, Global Human Resource Management, and

Distance Learning.” Globalization, Employment & the Workplace, 2001, pp. 239–258.


&site=ehost-live&scope=site. Accessed March 30 2020.

Lowe, Whitney. “The New Era of Education.” Massage & Bodywork, vol. 30, no. 2, Mar. 2015,

  1. 66. EBSCOhost,

066&site=ehost-live&scope=site. Accessed March 30 2020.

Mantiri, Franky. “Multimedia and Technology in Learning.” Universal Journal of Educational

         Research, vol. 2, no. 9, Jan. 2014, pp. 589–592. EBSCOhost,


Accessed March 30 2020.

Olson, Joanne K., and Michael P. Clough. “Computer-Assisted Education Can Undermine

Serious Study.” Computers and Education, edited by James D. Torr, Greenhaven Press,

  1. At Issue. Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints, https://link-gale-

=864338f5. Accessed 31 Mar. 2020. Originally published as “Technology’s Tendency to

Undermine Serious Study: A Cautionary Note,” The Clearing House, vol. 75, Sept. 2001, p.

  1. Accessed March 31 2020.

A Mighty Fortress That Still Stands

Media, Serious

a mighty fortressLyrical works never last. After a decade or so, they often fade into oblivion due to the new trendy style of the next generation. The Beatles music has made an impressive run but has yet to be truly tested by time. A couple of band members are still alive and so are many of the people who popularized them as teenagers. The Beatles will surely go down in history, but will their songs still be sung in the generations to come?

            There is one song, however, that has carried through generations, languages, and cultures. To this day, it is popular in this country but was born centuries before the United States of America drew her first breath. A Mighty Fortress still touches the hearts, minds and souls of the world today.

            A Mighty Fortress was penned by Martin Luther – a former monk and the most influential leader of the Reformation. The song was written in the upbeat German folk-style of the 1520s. Originally written in Luther’s Germanic tongue, the hymn was translated many times into English. The most popular translation was provided by Frederick Henry Hedge in 1853. It is unknown when exactly Luther wrote A Mighty Fortress, but it is commonly agreed that he wrote it between 1527 and 1529.  It made its first appearance in the printing of Form und ordnung Gaystlicher Gesang und Psalmen, which was published in 1529. It is theorized to have been written in that same year. However, Louis F. Benson states in his book, A Study of Familiar Hymns, that, “…Scherer, the recent historian of German Literature, states with entire confidence that the hymn was written in October, 1527, at the approach of the plague. Luther’s biographer, Julius Kostiln, in the later editions of the Life, accepts this date as probably correct” (Benson 158).

            It is believed that Luther wrote this hymn in his darkest hour: a plague was coming, Luther’s health was precarious, and a friend of his was martyred. Luther took great comfort in Psalm 46 and so was inspired to write A Mighty Fortress. The inspiration is crystal clear as Psalm 46 begins with, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” A Mighty Fortress opens similarly with, “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing.” Some consider the hymn to be a metrical paraphrase of the psalm. While there are many similarities, the hymn does deviate from the psalm and in doing so becomes its own.

            The hymn is delightfully poetic. The rhyming is rich, and nothing is forced. Each verse flows seamlessly to the next, first stating the helpfulness and mighty power of God before delving into the cruel strength of Satan. One example of Luther’s extraordinary songwriting skills is in the third stanza, where it says,

“And though this world with devils filled should threaten to undo us

We will not fear for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us

The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him

 His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure

One little Word shall fell him.”

            Benson considered A Mighty Fortress to be, “An imperishable hymn! not polished and artistically wrought but rugged and strong like Luther himself, whose very words seem like deeds” (Benson 160).

            The melody is generally upbeat and jovial but has the unique gift of conforming to the emotion of any verse. For instance, there is a hint of sadness to the line, “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also.” However, the tune picks up again at the end with, “His (God’s) Kingdom is forever,” where it becomes firmer, more confident. Lutherans traditionally play the hymn on an organ or, if finances permit, a pipe organ. This type of instrumentation gives the song more power, further amplifying the power of God and the comfort that is drawn from that.

            The hymn clearly rings with its message of God’s sovereignty and help in troubling times. The song is encouraging in the way it tells its listeners that their strength is not enough but they can rest in God’s arms while He fights the battle they could not hope to win themselves. Satan, though evil and powerful, cannot stand against the might of God. The music boosts this emotion – the melody swelling up with joy at the mention of God’s strength and care but softening when realizing the difficulties of life. The brilliant blend of music and words evoke a series of emotions: comfort, elation, and peace. These emotions lead the listeners into a serene but joyful mood.

            While the hymn is not known for its pioneering ways in the musical world, it is famous for its historical role in the Reformation and Protestant Germany. Protestants found solace in it and so clung to it while being persecuted. Benson states, “It was sung in the streets; and, so heard, comforted the hearts of Melchanthon, Jonas, and Cruciger, as they entered Weimar, when banished from Wittenberg in 1547. It was sung by poor Protestant emigrants on their way into exile, and by martyrs at their death” (Benson 159).

Germany eventually grasped the hymn as well – as a source of comradery. C. Michael Hawn writes in his article History of Hymns: “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”: “Often called ‘the true National Hymn of Germany,’ the hymn spread rapidly and was sung on the battlefield of Leipzig in 1631 during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648). Heinrich Heine, the famous nineteenth-century German poet, called it ‘the Marseillaise Hymn of the Reformation’” (Hawn).

             Benson wrote that A Mighty Fortress “is dear still to the German people; one of the hymns lodged in their memories and hearts, ready for the occasion” (Benson 160).

            Luther’s much beloved hymn is nearly five hundred years old – a remarkable stand against time. It has skipped across oceans and languages, assuring millions of God’s loving care in trying times. The hymn is still sung in thousands of churches today, not only in Protestant churches but even Catholic ones as well. It touches the souls of both the elderly and the young and it is dearly loved by them. Perhaps one of the reasons for the hymn’s long life is that it sings of God’s eternal assurances – a reminder that is needed throughout life. Sometimes it can feel as though we are children again, petrified and sorrowful at the trials life has set before us. The song gives a sense of God’s fatherly touch on our shoulders, saying, “It’s okay. I’ve got you.”

            And nothing is more comforting than that.

Of Money and Happiness

Media, Serious

money happiness

           The Pearl by John Steinbeck vividly illustrates why money doesn’t necessarily make a person’s life better. Kino and his family, the stars of the novella, find a massive pearl. This glorious discovery turns out to be worth an astonishing amount of money. At first, this appears to be a blessing, but as the story progresses, it becomes more of a curse. Kino, his wife, Juana, and their baby boy, Coyotito, are constantly under attack by mysterious forces. A doctor makes Coyotito sick just so he can treat him for money. A priest encourages Kino to give to the church, but he just wants the donation for himself. The attacks on Kino and his family grow to a point that some ne’er-do-well sets their family home on fire. The most tragic event though is yet to come. Kino and Juana’s beloved Coyotito – innocent and helpless – dies from a gunshot wound to the head as a result of man’s greed.

          There are some who think increased finances will bring luxury and ease, and so bring fulfillment to their lives. But if we take a glimpse at humanity, we can observe that this is a false ideology. The New York Daily News and the Daily Mail wrote a list of people who had won the lottery and described how their lives became worse once money was dumped in their laps. New York Daily News wrote about one man, saying, “(Urooj Khan) The 46-year-old Chicagoan dropped dead the day after he won $1 million in 2012. An autopsy revealed that Khan died of cyanide poisoning. Both his sister-in-law and her father were suspected to be involved in his death but no one was ever charged.”

            Daily Mail wrote about one kind man, Billie Bob Harrell, who used his winnings to support his family and gave generously to those less fortunate. However, Daily Mail states that, “His reputation for generosity caught up with him and he and his family had to move to avoid strangers coming to their home to ask for money … Harrell and his wife divorced and in May 1999, just two years after he won, he shot himself.”

            Winners of the lottery are not the only ones to find that money does not bring happiness. Celebrities have this issue as well. Think For Yourself put together a video of various celebrities telling their personal story about how fame and money didn’t bring happiness. Lady Gaga stated she almost quit music because she wasn’t happy. Eric Clapton said, “I was a millionaire, I had beautiful women in my life, I had cars, a house, a solid, gold career – a future. And yet, on a daily basis, I wanted to commit suicide.”

            John Lennon also said, “As a Beatle, we made it and there was nothing to do. We had money; we had fame – and there was no joy.”

            Alanis Morissete said, “You know, I thought all would be helped and healed and soothed by fame. I will be less lonely, and I will be understood, and I will be loved, and that love will go in and heal any of the broken parts … And then I came to see that it was actually quite isolating.”

           People often look to material things, whether it be money, drugs, or alcohol to satisfy their spiritual life – but it only to intensifies their sense of emptiness. These celebrities and various lottery winners can testify together that money cannot bring peace and joy to your soul. Humans need more than finances, happiness or even love. We need a purpose – one that’s beyond ourselves. It cannot be just a personal goal, for once that goal is reached, men and women tend to ponder if there is anything more to life and so fall into a deep depression.

            However, if we find the purpose that is more and bigger than us and pursue to accomplish that mission to the best of our abilities, we shall always have a sense of meaning in our life. The soul cannot feel complete until its God-sized hole is filled with God Himself.

An Essay on Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Media, Serious

mr. smith           “Somebody’ll listen to me! Some …” This desperate yet strangely confident plea was the last Jefferson Smith spoke before he collapsed from sheer exhaustion. His plea was not so much to the Senate – even though he was speaking before them – but to the people of America. Would Smith’s heartfelt, passionate speech be heard outside the walls of the Senate despite the newspaper’s best efforts for his voice not to be heard? Would the people even bother to try and listen?

              Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a film about heroism but of a more regular sort: Jeff – the hero – has no cape, no superpowers, no special training. He is a regular, honest, decent man trying to live up to his ideals in a corrupted environment. He would find, like most of us trying to wade through this world, that living up to a high moral standard without compromising can be more difficult than anticipated.

              Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a political comedy-drama tale with humble beginnings. Columbia Pictures, a small but growing studio at the time, bought an unpublished story by Lewis R. Foster called The Gentleman from Montana. Frank Capra was brought on as director to bring this story to life on the silver screen. The film was initially meant to be a sequel to Capra’s 1936 film, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. However, once it was realized that Gary Cooper could not reprise his role as Mr. Deeds, the sequel idea was scrapped. Capra then called upon the services of an actor he had previously worked, James Stewart.

James Stewart was born in Pennsylvania in 1908. Shy and a bit awkward, Stewart began his career on Broadway before getting into Hollywood. Impressed by Stewart’s small role in the movie Navy Blue and Gold, Frank Capra hired Stewart to star in his film, You Can’t Take It with You. A year later, Stewart starred in Frank Capra’s next film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. As a result, Stewart was nominated for Best Actor at the Academy Awards but lost to Robert Donat in Goodbye, Mr. Chips.

          By Stewart’s side in Mr. Smith was Jean Arthur. Born in New York in 1900, Arthur began working in the film industry in the early 1920s. Even though she shunned media attention, Arthur began to grow in popularity. Her career took off when she starred in Frank Capra’s film, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. Three years later, she starred as the cynical, funny, and loveable Clarissa Saunders in Mr. Smith.

            Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is about a newly appointed young senator, Jefferson Smith, who accidentally comes head on with a corrupt political machine run by major newspaperman, Jim Taylor. Taylor tries corrupting Smith but to no avail. When Smith is about to bring Taylor and his cronies out to the open before the Senate, Jeff’s fellow senator and idol, Joseph Paine, stands up and falsely accuses Jeff of the very things Taylor is doing. An investigation ensues, and the fraudulent evidence looks convincing. Discouraged, Jeff is about to leave town when his former secretary, Saunders, encourages him and reminds him of the ideals he had taught her. After some intense coaching from Saunders, Jeff prepares to give his final speech to the Senate – and hopes that someone will listen to him with open ears.

            Mr. Smith’s plot may be predictable for the most part, but the ending is slightly different than one may anticipate. Every character has a strong sense of believability with each serving a specific purpose. Jeff is the person the audience aspires to be – honest, respectful, and filled with child-like wonder. However, Jeff is not perfect, which aides in the character’s believability. Joseph Paine serves as a warning to the audience. A man once much like Jeff, Paine compromised years ago and lost most of his integrity in the process. Saunders is the character the audience is most like. While not quite as far gone as Paine, she uses deception when it’s to her advantage. She’s cynical but has sympathy, and a hint of admiration, for a man like Jeff. He inadvertently teaches Saunders how to live again.

One can’t find a flaw in any actor’s execution of their character. James Stewart’s delivery of the passionate, stern speech to the Senate was so inspiring and thoughtful. Stewart ability to portray Jeff’s nervousness when proposing his bill was another stroke of acting brilliance. Not only did Stewart look the part of Smith with his handsome, boyish looks but, most impressively, he was Jeff. A real-life example of this would be what Stewart did after filming Mr. Smith. Cinema Blend stated in their review, “Shortly after he (Stewart) finished filming … he was flying missions over Germany in WWII — and that only happened because he managed to talk a recruitment officer into to throwing away his physical, which initially rejected him because he was too skinny” (“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: Review”).

Jean Arthur was also as equally convincing in her role. From her teaching Jeff how a bill becomes a law to her zinger one-liners, she’s the one who often brings the comedy. Her delivery is superb. Even her encouraging talk to Jeff near the end of the movie was incredibly well-done.

Overall, the movie is simply made but its themes are not. Integrity was at the forefront with gratitude following close behind. There were various degrees of integrity in the film. Jim Taylor completely lost his integrity and his humanity. Joseph Paine lost most of his integrity but his conscience pricks, however slight, at him for every lie. Clarissa Saunders has some integrity, but cynicism has jaded it. Jeff has integrity so ingrained in his soul that he could be the very definition of it. Jeff doesn’t budge when threatened or offered a bribery. Jeff is also the only main character with a sense of gratitude and appreciation for his country and for life itself. Taylor, obviously, had neither and cared only for his own self-gain. Paine and Saunders lost it after years in the hubbub of Washington chipped it away.

           Mr. Smith is as relevant today as it was eighty years ago. Despite the portrayal of a corrupted set of senators, the film is quite patriotic. The montage of Jeff walking through the sights of Washington gives you a sense of pride for America and all she has accomplished. Especially so when Jeff walks into the Lincoln Memorial and sees a young boy reading the words of Lincoln to his grandfather while an African American man emotionally watches on. Jeff’s eloquent statement to his secretary, “Liberty is too precious a thing to be buried in books, Miss Saunders,” is a sentiment I couldn’t agree with more.

How the film portrays the media and the gullibility of the people bears striking resemblance to how things are today – and it’s worse now. The media, like Taylor in the movie, tells us how to think, what to think, how to feel, what the truth is – and we’re stupid enough to believe every word. And, more alarmingly, we believe what we want without evidence to back it up. In the movie, as soon as Paine accused Jeff of wrongdoing, the crowd in the Senate immediately began booing Jeff, already deciding he was guilty. People do this today and to a far worse degree. Upon hearing an accusation, people often decide someone is guilty and deserves swift punishment even though no actual evidence was given.

The portrayed corruption in the Senate in the movie is also quite fascinating. This aspect was considered controversial – both at home and abroad. Paul Tatara from TCM (Turner Classic Movies) stated in his review that, “Several politicians angrily spoke out against the film in newspaper editorials …. Sen. Alben W. Barkley viewed the picture as “a grotesque distortion” of the Senate” (Tatara, “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington: The Essentials”).

Cinnema Blend noted that, “When the ban on English and American films was made in Nazi occupied France in 1942, the film the theatres picked for their last movie was Mr. Smith Goes to Washington — one particularly patriotic theatre owner reportedly screening the film for 30 consecutive days prior to the ban” (“Mr. Smith Goes To Washington: Review”).

Even though it was controversial at the time, it was depicted correctly. Government today is more corrupted than ever before. One might think that Mr. Smith is for the politicians. I would say that it is for the American voters. We often bemoan the lack of honesty in our government and how little they care about integrity. If we wish to fix this, we must first look at ourselves. We vote the politicians into office. If we care about integrity and honesty, shouldn’t we vote out the dishonest ones and seek new candidates? To change the outlook of our government, we must first change the culture. If we don’t care about integrity and don’t live honestly, why should we expect the politicians to? People often say they love their neighbor, but they don’t. They say they are tolerant, but they are not. Words without the actions to back them up are empty. It is no credit to any of us if we solely love and tolerate people we agree with.

And so, I highly recommend this movie to everyone. It’s a thought-provoking film that will also make you laugh. A rare find these days. Once we finished watching the film, perhaps we can be on a look out for a Jefferson Smith in our country. How will we know if we find him? If his actions back up his words. If he refuses to back down for integrity reasons and not for political ones.



                                                                      Works Cited

Tatara, Paul. “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington: The Essentials.” Turner Classic Movies.

                          Movie Review Query Engine. Ozark Technical Community College Library, Springfield MO. 22 October, 2019. Web.

“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: Review.” Cinnema Blend.

                               Movie Review Query Engine. Ozark Technical Community College Library, Springfield MO. 22 October, 2019. Web.

What Causes Someone To Turn Evil?

Media, Serious

headerWhat causes someone to turn evil? The writers of Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars and Cassandra in Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure had to ask themselves this complex question when creating their characters’ life journeys. Both characters were to begin their quests as heroes but cross the finish line as villains. The writers’ goals were to have you sympathize with the characters and understand why they turned evil. But Anakin’s character arc spectacularly fails whereas Cassandra’s triumphs. Why is this? It is due to these three major differences between them: the subtlety of their arcs, the realism of characters around them, and the relatability of their desires.

            From the get-go, Anakin’s story is dramatic. He was born a slave and had no father. He was separated as a child from his mother. She later dies in his arms – murdered. He lashes out by slaughtering the village of the people who were responsible – including the women and the children. Years later, Anakin feels as though the peace-keeping warriors he’s working with don’t trust him. He’s passed up for a promotion and is excluded from an important mission. He fears the deaths of his loved ones. In the end, he turns to the Dark Side, enticed by the promise of recognition and safety of his family. He begins by murdering his former comrades and their pupils – even killing dozens of children. Anakin’s arc has no subtlety and reeks of tragedy and drama.

            Cassandra’s arc, however, is subtle. Her beginnings are sad, but not tragic. She was adopted as a baby by a single man. She never had a mother. She helps her friend, Princess Rapunzel, on her quest to find a powerful object called the Moonstone. A member is added to the traveling party and Cassandra feels this person is squeezing her out of her rightful role. Rapunzel begins to repeatedly ignore Cassandra’s advice, even resulting in Cassandra’s hand being accidently burned and becoming permanently damaged. Cassandra feels overlooked and a bit ignored but pushes on as if none of it bothers her. When they arrive at their destination, Rapunzel reaches out to grab the Moonstone, but Cassandra snatches it away from her. She taunts Rapunzel by telling her, “I tried to warn you, Rapunzel. Be careful of who you trust.” The journey of Cassandra’s character is a soft, sympathetic one, so subtle that viewers were shocked but not surprised when Cassandra betrayed Rapunzel.

            The other difference between Anakin and Cassandra is the ability to understand the perspectives of the other characters in their respective stories. In Anakin’s narrative, we don’t understand the Jedi Council. According to Jedi regulations, attachments and possessions were forbidden. They believed that the potential fear of loss and jealousy could lead to the Dark Side. However, it is humanly impossible to not have any attachments or possessions, regardless of how meager the belongings may be. It is strange that the Jedi, previously depicted as upright and wise, would have these two outlandish rules with such vague explanations. Anakin and the Jedi both appear to be unreasonable.

            In Cassandra’s story, though, we see something quite different. We get why there was tension between Rapunzel and Cassandra. We can more easily sympathize with Cassandra, but we don’t think any less of Rapunzel. We understood the decisions Rapunzel made even though we may have done things differently. Writers tend to make the good guys look bad for a time, thinking that it’ll more easily explain why the affected character turned evil. In Cassandra’s journey though, the writers made it so that neither Cassandra nor Rapunzel appear unreasonable. This is extremely rare.

            Anakin’s desires are also quite different from Cassandra’s. Like most villains, Anakin lusts for power – over the galaxy and death itself. After his mother died, he vowed he would find a way to keep people from dying. This feeling was intensified after he began having visions of his wife dying in childbirth. He desired to put himself in God’s place.

            Cassandra is ambitious but not power hungry. She never once wanted Rapunzel’s title. Cassandra merely wishes to be the Captain of the Guard someday – just like her father. Cassandra knows her talents far exceed that of being a lady in waiting. She’s craving for a moment to shine but feels as though she’s being unfairly overlooked. Every time there’s a chance she’ll finally get her moment, it always ends up being someone else. So, Cassandra waits – until she runs out of patience. She takes it upon herself to snatch what she believes to be rightfully hers: the Moonstone.

            Putting this all together, Cassandra’s story is far and away more relatable than Anakin’s. Her arc is less dramatic, we understand both her and Rapunzel, and her desires are only human. Everyone wishes to shine at some point in his or hers lives, but not everyone wants ultimate power. Anakin’s personal life swirled with soap opera drama; Cassandra’s own tale had normal life problems. Cassandra, as an ordinary human with common yearnings, can be taken as a stern warning to all of us. What started Cassandra on her path to villainy were just normal human desires. Therefore, we all have the capability of becoming just like Cassandra. Selfishness is a deadly sin. It is often the root of our malevolent actions. So, watch out and be wary: your soul can slowly dissolve away before you realize it.

Stand Still

My Life, Serious

I go through phases in this difficult time. Being discouraged will do that to you. At times I’m optimistic, happy and ready to get at it. “With a little time and more hard work, I’ll get a job,” I tell myself. At other times, it seems entirely hopeless and there’s no real point to my hard work. Perhaps my dreams are not meant to come true. Perhaps I’m not talented enough. Everywhere I look, someone is thirty times better then me, in animation and drawing. Perhaps I’m to go to college and be forced to get a degree in something I don’t like. All things practical I don’t really care for. I’m a dreamer. I can’t help it. Perhaps it’s not time yet. Perhaps, after some time has passed, I’ll dream new dreams and maybe, just maybe, those will come true.

Then I tell myself that I really don’t have it bad. It’s true. I really don’t. I have awesome parents and siblings who love and support me. They are my best friends and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m blessed to be in a situation where I can work hard on my dreams and not have to pay rent at the same time. I live in a country where I can worship God freely. I’m not in want. I’m not in need. I don’t know hunger. Many, many more people have it worse then I do. So many more. I’m no better then anyone. But I’m blessed. Truly, truly blessed. I can’t stress that enough.

My problem is that I feel like my life is at a perfect stand still, no matter how hard I push to move it. As more time passes, the less patience I have. The more I feel, “Did I waste all that time and money for school for a job I will never get?”

Then there’s the personal dream. The part of me that wishes to be married. To have a family. To have kids of my own. Perhaps this too is not meant to be. I’m on a dating website but it feels like sifting through a pile of hay looking for the right needle. Near impossible. I’ve tried local Bible studies but have never really felt at home. They were always good people; we just never clicked. I’m a dreamer looking for a fellow dreamer or a non dreamer who understands. I date to get married (yes, dating is used to try to get know someone better, and that someone may not be Prince Charming, but the purpose of it is to get married eventually); not just to hang out with a guy for a couple hours a day. And at this rate, it starts to feel like maybe there’s something wrong with me. Am I unlikeable? Do I make bad first impressions? Am I not outgoing enough? Is there something wrong with me?

I know none of those are true, but those types of doubts and fears come over you when it starts to seem hopeless. It’s just my emotions talking. They aren’t always right or logical you know. The time has just not come yet to have a husband.

Where does that leave me? I’m not sure. How much longer do I try for my dream job? Should I move on, go to college, get a regular job, and then work on it on the side? When do I move on? Should I try a different approach? What would that be? Am I meant to have a different type of job in the artistic field? What would that be? What am I doing wrong?

So many questions and no specific answers. But this I know:

My God cares for me. My Heavenly Father loves me. He knows my wants, my needs, my hopes, my dreams, my fears. He knows whats best for me. And what’s best for me isn’t always what I want. My dreams may not come true, but perhaps I was meant to try. And even if they never come to pass, God has something better in store for me. He knows my talents and how and where they work best. It may not be in animation or in media; but it could be elsewhere. God understands. He knows I’m just human and I can only do so much. I’m His daughter. He will take care of me. I will be okay. I will be, and am, happy in a way that no husband or job can ever make me. God will use this beautiful mess in ways I can’t imagine that I may never fully know. And that thought brings me joy.

I just need to be patient. I need to keep working but I also need to listen. And sometimes that might mean I need to stand still for a moment and just simply listen.

I will say it again: Jesus loves me. He cares. When I cry at night, feeling untalented and unwanted by the outside world and when I’m dancing in the kitchen for no good reason. I don’t always feel it. I’m human. I just need a reminder every now and then when things seem hopeless. Really though things are never hopeless.

Not with Jesus by my side.

He loves you too. Life is difficult and you won’t be happy all the time. It’s a fantasy to think so. But I know Whom I’ve believed in and I know He is able. I have the joy of salvation. No human, no worldly thing, no nothing can ever take it away from me. It’s a beautiful thing. I hope you know it too.

Zephania 3:17: “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in hear, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Isaiah 40:28-31: “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but hose who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Romans 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height or depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”