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The Ode

This is the post excerpt.

Ode to the Writer

By Tom Foster

 

We are the lords and ladies of creation, yet we are still just players.
In the beginning we are as in the end.
We do not aspire, we simply do.
There is the dream, tempered by the reality, and given form by the thought.
By our thought, by our dreams, and by the reality we impose.
It’s a madness of the sort that only poets and writers can truly understand, and even among those only a few can comprehend.
Comprehension, that is a truly frightening thing.
We play with words, we are those that can immortalize, and those that can do what must be said and say what must be done.
It is confusion, this comprehension, and in the midst of it all, it is the single word that carries power, the one among all that is ever elusive, ever there, always waiting for us to return to, to remind us what it is that drives us, what keeps the fountain flowing.
Every last soul that has ever put ink to paper, ever put finger to key, every vague idea that swirls inward from the maelstrom we call the world, the universe, and everything in between and without.
For everything that could come, for everything that has and will come, we are there. We are the ones that do not deny the voice that tells us, “this must come to pass”, or “this must be remembered”.
It is who we are, what we do, and through everything, it is the lifeblood of those who cherish this timeless art form, this undeniable urge to say, in their own manner, “I AM”.
We are not gods, we create, and yet in the process, we are created. It is our words, penned and copied throughout the ages that have helped to shape the world, to say that, “WE ARE”, that “WE EXIST”.
Whether tyrant or savior, good or evil, saint or sinner, the words that are put to time’s test are those that will come to define the world we know. Memory is not enough, though it serves.
As do we.
We are the lords of creation, the ones whose words will last and echo into the ages, for all to see, and all to remember.
Is it truth?
The better question is: Does it matter?
We are the lords and ladies of creation, and by our words, the world we know is shaped, molded, and given to the next generation, and so on and so forth until the whole mess ends, only to be rebuilt, and to crumble again.
We are the lords and ladies of Creation, and this is our legacy.

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Compare and Contrast: Tom Brady and Russell Wilson

 

When talking about NFL quarterbacks there have been many names that have come to be synonymous with a number of different adjectives, but there are only two that have been consistently spoken of in reverent tones over the past half decade.  Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, and Tom Brady, quarterback for the New England Patriots, have both shown the entire league more than once what it takes to be a top caliber player and an outstanding example for younger athletes to follow.  For all that they have in common however there is one very realistic point that would elevate one of them over the other. Russell Wilson is the future of football.

There is nothing to be taken away from Tom Brady, as he is what is referred to in the NFL as the GOAT, or Greatest Of All Time. His numbers have far surpassed many players both before and after his ascension to the top spot in the Patriots organization, but the fact remains that he is at this time a sixteen-year veteran and is beginning to enter the twilight of his NFL career.  As Blount (2015) points out, the statistics between the two men show that Wilson has already began to show his dominance in the league, surpassing Brady in his first five years starting under center. As with all things in life, eventually the top spot must be yielded to someone else.

It can be argued that Brady is more of a pocket passer than Wilson, who is continually

scrambling out of the pocket in order to make a play.  Critics can also debate that the fact that their football IQ is similar, and that both quarterbacks are continually learning, always trying to find a new way to look at old plays. One very immutable fact that never seems to get much attention however is that Wilson has emerged into a different league than Brady came to know when he became the starter for the Patriots in 2001.  While his numbers have began to eclipse Brady’s in a much shorter time, the game has changed a bit since Tom Brady first strapped on his pads.

As Gdula (2015) points out, the statistics have been continually in Russell Wilson’s favor since his emergence in 2012, and are only getting better as the years go by. Brady is by far and large the best in the league as of now, but even the best have to eventually recognize the changing of the guard. While he continues to hang on and attempt a run at a fifth Superbowl ring, Brady is being continually reminded that he is not only a veteran of the sport, but a man who is continually running on limited time.  In the meantime, Wilson is still hitting his stride, and has appeared in two Superbowls during his tenure with the Seahawks, becoming the youngest quarterback to do so in NFL history.

To compare both of these quarterbacks is almost akin to pitting past, present, and future  against one another in attempt to discover just which is superior.  The popularity of both men is such that their fans will stand by them no matter if they begin to wane in their advancing years, but there is no doubt that time favors Wilson over Brady.  So long as the Patriot’s front man is able to run and gun he will continue to be considered the GOAT, though it will likely not be long before Wilson, a dynamic and popular player in his own time, assumes the mantle of one of the elite and greatest quarterbacks of all time.  In the years to come it will be interesting to see how these two outstanding quarterbacks develop, and who will remain on top the longest.

Works Cited

Blount, Terry. Russell Wilson and Tom Brady had similar career starts. ESPN,

http://www.espn.com/blog/nflnation/post/_/id/159408/russell-wilson-and-tom-brady-had-similar-career-starts. Accessed 17 Nov. 2016.

Gdula, Brandon. Tom Brady vs. Russell Wilson: Comparing the First 3 Years. NumberFire,

https://www.numberfire.com/nfl/news/4253/tom-brady-vs-russell-wilson-comparing-the-first-3-years/ Accessed 17 Nov. 2016.

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Imaginary Friends

 

Many times children who are skilled at imaginative play will have an imaginary friend who comforts them and allows them to play out their fantasies in ways that allow them to be more expressive.  This can then facilitate the rich and engaging environments that are born of their thought process and are as a rule dissociated from their otherwise normal environment. As they grow into adults this dissociation grows stronger and can become detrimental to development if allowed to continue without some form of regulation.  By creating their own fantasy, kids who play with imaginary friends will often learn how to adapt their imaginary world to the real world.

Imaginative play is seen by some to be the delusion of a damaged mind in adults.  Those who cling to the idea of fantasy and what is not real can and are often labeled as psychologically unsound. Those who continue to delve into their fantasy worlds after childhood are often ostracized and considered “odd” or “weird” when they either fail or choose not to identify with the world around them.  In truth they are very cognizant of the real world, but choose to dwell within their own fantasy more often as a means of escape from stress or simply because it is preferable to the world they know.

The imagination of children is a very strong and natural instinct that allows children to

fashion their own creative and pleasing world.  It can, as mentioned above, help them escape a

 

situation they cannot control or it can open up a vista that might seem far more favorable simply because it follows their rules rather than the rules that are imposed upon them.  By extension, adults can develop a love of fantasy because it brings to mind that which was so relaxing in their childhood.  Imaginary friends, which are essentially another part of the child who believes in them, do not make demands. In creating an imaginary friend, children are engaging in a self-soothing act of companionship that is liberating and exciting.

Aside from providing companionship, the practice of creating an imaginary friend can

help many children who are dealing with stressful or difficult times to cope and even sort

through their various issues and problems.  This can be stated for adults as well. As stated by Taylor (1999) children often create imaginary friends to grant them a sense of normalcy in a world that is too often changing at a pace that is hard to keep up with.  In this case, imaginary friends can be a positive development in the life of a child that can be continued into adulthood with only a few minor adjustments.

In adulthood the relevance of creating an imaginary friend becomes evident as those

adults who do not give up the habit tend to lean towards the more artistic side of their

personality.  A perfect example of this is the common fiction writer who will begin to talk of

their characters, which are completely fictional, as if they have an actual life of their own with

thoughts and independence on the same level as a real human being.  This is just another form of an imaginary companion. It also grants a strong correlation between the imagination displayed by a child growing stronger and more well-defined as they reach adulthood.

The illusion of independent agency as explained by Taylor, Hodges, and Kohanyi (2010)

displays how those adult writers who create a dialogue with their own fictional characters are

often seen to have had their own imaginary friend as a child.  It is very typical for children and

writers who develop invisible and/or imaginary companions to create a paracosm that allows their creations to take on a life of their own.  For a writer, the experience of becoming immersed in what they do is best explained by the flow theory, which was developed by Csikszentmihalyi.  This process allows for the imagination to create without boundaries and give life to fiction in a way that is both essentially harmless and supportive.

In children, many would call an imaginary friend a pleasant delusion that children create in order to keep themselves entertained and/or amused.  Adults often tend to go along with this development in an effort to keep their child from being disappointed, but the same cannot be said when this behavior is noted in adults. Many adults, even those writers who delve deeply into the subject of their characters, are often considered to be highly delusional when describing how fictional creations can become autonomous characters. A great many within society might call such this practice a sure sign of dissociation from the real world.

The surest test of this would be to expose the subject to the Dissociative Experiences

Scale, which is designed to gauge the level of dissociation that an individual is experiencing.  As

children this test is quite unnecessary, as many children lack the experience to consciously

dissociate from the real world.  Instead, children are subject more to the same practices that adults are known to possess after years of practice and experience.  While they are not in

full control of the creative process that fuels their imagination, they are fully capable of utilizing it in the best way that suits their needs.

As it’s been noted by Trionfi and Reese (2009) children who experience imaginary play

have a similar vocabulary to those who do not, but are often possessed of an ability to offer a

much richer and more in-depth narrative. They are far more capable of telling a story that

contains a descriptive and imaginative background and that seems far more plausible in its

telling.  When given the chance to display their skills at describing their fantasy world through writing, these children are also able to paint a vivid picture with their words of a world that exists in their mind but is no less real thanks to their detailed imagination.  While they do not exhibit dissimilar skills that children without imaginary friends do, the narrative ability of children who engage in imaginary play is often far superior.

As a child matures their imagination changes.  For some this means phasing out the use of imaginary characters altogether, but for others this can mean that their imaginary world gains more depth and richer context thanks to their real world experiences.  Sometimes those adults who are more mentally sound are those who engaged in a rich, story-filled world of imagination that kept them continually busy as children no matter if they were considered strange or unusual.  In fact, some adults would go so far as to say that without an imaginary friend or a fantasy world to experience they might never have found the way to lead the type of life they choose in their older years.  Some people grow up but never allow their imagination to fade.

Those adults who enjoy a rich fantasy life, artists and authors in particular, are often those who were exposed to video games, cartoons, comic books, and various other media that allowed them to let their imaginations run wild. Despite the structured, orderly way that such media is composed and delivered, it can inspire the active imaginations of those who are capable of creating their own impressive array of fantastical settings and characters.  Explaining how the worlds and characters they create become autonomous is very simple; they are extensions of the creator.  The imagination is a reflection of the self no matter how fantastical or unlikely it might be.

The belief of the average adult fuels the belief in the fantasy and gives it “life” just

as a child does, by believing in the process of their creation and placing a bit of their own

personality into its design.  This is as true for imaginary characters as it is for literary characters that are completely fictional.  To an author those characters are their creations, their children, and in some cases, their sense of self.  In the case of a child, an imaginary friend is a playmate who is in complete tune with them because they are essentially the same person, no matter the differences.

Those children who grow into adults that enjoy fantasy are often those who had the best times with their imaginary friends and did not want that sensation to end. There is a type of liberation in the act of imagination, both as a child and as an adult. The mind is allowed to relax, the body benefits from the lack of mental stress, and the spirit is lightened in a way that elevates a person’s thinking.  Imagination is one of the many balms that can help people to relax, and can create a different affect in each person.

Many children use their imagination without any effort or thought beforehand. It is a natural byproduct of how children view the world around them and how they choose to assimilate those experiences.  The creation of imaginary friends is a defense mechanism as well as a means to make sense of situations and the world in general when it seems too big and there is no one around to explain how it works. The imaginary friend is the surrogate self that keeps the child safe, alert, and able to believe in those things they cannot see but still feel are absolutely necessary.

Adults who had imaginary friends as children are often more balanced individuals despite

seeming a bit disillusioned or “unhinged”. They are also far more capable of empathy towards others due to their experience, and are quite capable of deductive reasoning when dealing with other people. Through their use of imagination they have found a way to gain life experience and better insight into the complexities of humanity.

Works Cited

Taylor, Marjorie. “Do Older Children and Adults Create Imaginary

Companions?” Imaginary Companions and the Children Who Create Them. New York: Oxford UP, 199. 134-163.

Taylor, Marjorie, Hodges, Sara D., Kohanyi, Adele. “The Illusion of

Independent Agency: Do Adult Fiction Writers Experience their Characters as Having Minds of Their Own?” Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, vol. 22, no. 2, 2010,

http://ica.sagepub.com/content/22/4/361.short

Trionfi, Gabriel & Reese, Elaine. “A Good Story: Children With

Imaginary Companions Create Richer Narratives.” Child Development, vol. 80, no. 4, 2009,

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01333.x/abstract

 

 

Success

 

The manner by which an individual measures their success tends to vary from one person to the next. Some consider the definition very clear-cut and obvious, while others would offer a differing opinion that begs further discussion and definition of the term. In truth, success is the self-gratification that comes from knowing that an individual has done what they can to enhance the world around them.  Real success is the ability of the individual to understand and recognize what is important in their life.

There are millions of examples of success that can stem from the more personal idea of what it means to be successful to the far more grandiose concept that is recognized by society. Actors are considered successful largely because they earn huge, impressive paychecks, but in some cases also put as much effort into helping the less fortunate through acts of humanitarianism.  An unknown individual can also be considered successful for the same action, but their success will be considered far more low-key due to their societal status.

Those that seek glory are often those whose actions are noticed and lauded as a success,

whereas those who are not noticed must work that much harder to be seen in the same light.

Success is quite typically bound by the definitions of society. Those that are constantly in the

public view, such as actors, politicians, and various other personalities, are continually labeled as

success stories for many reasons.

One reason among the many is the adversity that so many of these personalities

supposedly struggle through in order to gain their current status. While their struggle is just as real as their triumph, they are often lauded as being inordinately strong for having overcome such obstacles in their lives to gain such fame and success. The commoner that struggles in much the same fashion but is successful in their own life is just as much of a success.

Those who must rise from hardship to achieve a life worth living are every bit as successful, no matter if they are recognized or not. The act of being successful is not limited to the presence that an individual shows to the public. The greatest success stories are those that will never be known.

Behind every famous individual sits those who were directly or indirectly responsible for their fame. Those who elevate such individuals rarely, if ever, achieve the type of attention that these individuals are given. Their status is not elevated by those they raise, nurture, and even help every step along the way. They are the unsung heroes that create the rich and famous, and they are among the greatest examples of success.

Leadership in Law Enforcement

 

Becoming a leader in any field is a continuous stage of development that never ends and rarely, if ever, allows for the discontinuation of learning.  To become a leader takes dedication, fortitude, and an ability to adapt and evolve to any situation that might come along. It is the top spot, the most vulnerable and exposed area of any team that can be evaluated, criticized, and held under closer scrutiny than any other aspect of a group.  Being the leader comes with the responsibility of being the individual that everyone will look to in times of need, and who will shoulder the blame for their group when necessary.  The role of a leader is to serve those beneath them by setting an example of professionalism and duty.

Leaders can come from any walk of life. They can be born to families that are influential in their community and well-respected by others, and they can come from less reputable areas and broken homes that have taught them how to empathize with others.   There are many qualities that make a leader, but few that define them as well as the inner qualities that are the core values that an individual needs to possess in order to inspire others.  A leader is not often born to the role, but instead is selected by those who see one or more qualities in an individual that are desired and respected by those around them.

Those who actively seek to lead are often the ambitious, driven types that desire the role

of leadership and are bound to do whatever is required to elevate themselves to such a role.

While such individuals are not inherently bad leaders, they often bear watching as their ambition

can be easily tempted by environmental and societal factors. Such influences can be largely

harmless and do no real wrong, but they can also lead to the individual making morally corrupt

decisions to gain and even retain the authority they seek.  Individuals that seek the role of

leadership are those who genuinely want to help people most times, but can be seen to make

decisions that cause them to be seen as less than efficient role models and morally corrupt mentors.

Leaders who are not drawn by ambition to the role of the leader but by a reluctant sense of duty to their fellow human beings are those who are often hesitant to assume the role.  These individuals typically follow a loose to strict moral code and generally act on what they know to be right and just.  Their reluctance often stems from the fear of responsibility or even the thought of what might happen once they are given a measure of authority over another.  Some might call it humility, but on many occasions it is the realization that they are not emotionally or mentally fit or ready for the role of leaderships that others attempt to foist upon them.

Those leaders that accept their role without reluctance or an overabundance of ambition are those rare few who know what must be done and do not shy away from their duty.  They tend to be strict students of their chosen field and aspire to be greater than what they have been trained to be. Such leaders are often known for pledging their service and life to their ideals and to what they know to be just and right within their chosen field. These types of leaders very often are those who are not the overall popular choice of their peers, but are considered to be the best person for the job.

Another quality that is also quite popular in many leaders is charisma. While to some this

quality is merely the act of being able to draw people forth and gain their attention, to a leader

charisma is a tool by which to both draw people to their cause and to make those same people

believe just as strongly as they do that their ideals are the right ones to follow. An effective

leader will not make demands of their people, but will listen and offer feedback in a continuous

and efficient manner so as to facilitate better communication with those they work with.  In

effect charisma is the quality that a leader must possess and use to such extent that they are able

to convince others that they are worth following.

In the world of law enforcement a leader is the individual to whom other officers and

personnel look to when necessary and the one to whom those same officers will learn from.

Leadership requires a great deal from any individual and is a learning process that can reveal a

great deal about the individual (Willis, 2011). Leaders are often required to put aside their

personal interests for the greater good of the group and to help mentor those who are either their

subordinates or are in need of guidance.  Within the realm of law enforcement the mark of a

good leader is an individual that seeks to perform their duty while attempting to serve the

interests of their fellow officers and the community they are sworn to protect.

Superior officers, or leaders, are those who often reach their rank through long hours, exhaustive effort, and a basic to superior understanding of what it means to be afforded the top spot in their precinct.  Such individuals are by no mean perfect or even respected leaders at all times, but they have gained their position by more than luck and circumstance.  Becoming a superior officer does not make an individual a good leader, but by becoming a good leader it is possible to rise up through the ranks by deed and reputation.  Superiors are typically required to be those with the highest moral fiber and possess a sense of justice that is far greater than those who serve beneath them.

There are unfortunate cases in which an individual that has desired to lead has attained a

superior rank but has done so in a manner that is not befitting an officer of the law who must

keep in mind the best interests of their officers or their community.  It is a rare occasion that

happens in which a commanding officer does not pay attention to such crucial interests, and in

such cases the person placed into such a leadership role does not last long and is either asked or

forced to resign.  Leadership is not about perfection, nor is it a role that can be custom fit to

every individual at all times.

Those who lead are often those who have shown that they have the capacity and the

aptitude to learn and to show behavioral patterns that enable them to assume such a prominent

role.  While leadership is typically a quality that is inherent in many individuals, the adherence to

the many different aspects that define a successful and capable leader are often the result of

intense training. This training is designed to accentuate the leadership qualities of an individual

by applying behavioral science and modern theories in leadership that are designed to test

motivation, performance and satisfaction in achieving organized goals (Leadership In Police Organizations Program, n.d.).  Those capable of finding success in such training programs are then encouraged to learn how to apply and integrate what they have learned throughout their training into their everyday lives to further their commitment as well-developed leaders.

One crucial role of a leader is to take care of those who serve under them (Glennon,

2010). In the case of law enforcement, a leader is not solely defined by rank, but by their ability

to serve those who follow them and to insure that they are at all times watching out for their

subordinates. The role of a leading officer is to insure the safety and security of their fellow

officers, and to set a positive example to follow. There is no “good enough” for a leader in any position, especially in law enforcement. For a leader, there must always be a drive to succeed and to excel, as the leader that doesn’t push themselves and their people for better is bound to eventually fail.

In law enforcement failure can bring about many different outcomes, not the least of

which is an unwanted or unexpected fatality on the job. Leaders must be able to display

knowledge of their environment and community and plan accordingly to insure the safety of their

fellow officers.  They must also be knowledgeable enough to know how to respond to their

community and understand what must be done to alleviate any problems within said community that arise.  The role of a leader is an important fixture in law enforcement, as it is not just a position of authority, but one of great responsibility.

For every good leader that emerges from the ranks however there are several others who

exemplify what it means to be a very poor and maladjusted leader.  These individuals are

typically mean-spirited, callous, and in some cases are quite driven by the need to control and

operate with near-impunity. While law enforcement has long attempted to weed out such

individuals with the application of psych evaluations and other such measures, those individuals who desire authority over others at all costs still manage to secure leadership roles. They are a prime example of what it means to be a poor leader.

Those individuals who seek only personal glory and recognition for their achievements

are the type of leaders that will typically not seek to advance or even recognize their subordinates

under normal circumstances.  Very often they will advance their fellow officers only if they are

granted the attention they desire and are in some way given the adulation that they have not yet

earned but tend to need to massage their ego.  Such individuals are not typically natural born

leaders, but there are the rare few who possess the necessary charisma to lead but not the intestinal fortitude or the will that can easily define a leader.  Many see the role of a leader as being a position that is meant to cater to their every whim, not as a position to do what is best for the team.

A leader understands what it is to sacrifice, to give up their time and effort for the benefit

of those around them.  Such individuals are often quite humble and while they can receive praise

and adoration, they will often allow it to transfer from themselves to their team.  They

understand that without the team and their efforts that the role of a leader would be highly

irrelevant.  A leader whose team does not choose to follow them is an ineffective leader due to lack of communication as well as trust.  Individuals will follow those they know will never ask them to do anything that they would not do themselves.

Real leaders, whether they bear a superior rank or not, are servants as well as teacher and

do not seek to put their personal glory ahead of the team.  In law enforcement rank does not

define a leader, as the actions of an officer can speak louder than their insignia.  There is of

course the need to observe rank and respect the uniform, but leaders are known for exercising

good judgment, sound reasoning, and a dedication to the people around them that can inspire and empower others.  A leader is someone that does not seek personal achievement at the expense of those around them.

Those who seek to lead are often those who do not think of themselves first, all but

abandoning the sense of self when performing their duty.  They are the ones who often show up

early to their shift and do not leave until they are certain that the job has been completed to the

absolute best of their ability. Leaders are the ones who help others to learn, to build, and to

maintain a constant rapport not just within the circle of officers they influence, but within their

community as well.  Real leaders put their own ego in check when it comes to the needs of others and their duty.

There are always rules when it comes to being a leader. However, despite the set code of ethics and procedures within law enforcement there are other codes that both overlap and at times act as core commandments that leaders must pay close attention to (Thin Blue Line of Leadership, 2016), such as:

1) Practice and recognize appropriate culture before following rules and regulations.  The

skill with which a squad handles themselves around others will often facilitate the adherence to

rules and regulations set forth by the law.

2) Instruct officers to aspire to the role of a leader for the following generation of recruits.  Through strong and decisive mentoring it is possible to create honest, upstanding individuals who will stand as an example for those officers who are looking for an example.

3) Recall the purpose behind entering law enforcement in the first place. Share that

purpose with others to offer inspiration and a desire for something better.  The basic

understanding of law enforcement and why it is important to a leader and to those around them is

vital to their role within the justice system.

4) Those leaders that are trained will only be as good as their training.  When presented with a stressful situation many officers, leaders included, will fall back upon their training. Capable leaders will be able to utilize their training to work through any situation.

5) The value that comes from doing what is right and just is important and must be emphasized.

6) The average leader will recognize that fear does not justify any action or inaction on

their part.  Fear often causes hesitation that in the field of law enforcement can lead to disastrous

consequences for an officer or their squad.  A good leader does not hesitate and inspires others to understand the harsh reality of their duty and to react to it, not shy away from it.

7) It is always important that a leader recognizes and gives a fitting reward to those who operate under them.  This can in turn promote a stronger and more efficient police force that can produce far more capable leaders.

8) Efficient leaders do not waste time when instructing their subordinates and fellow officers. Briefing time is often short and a good leader knows not to squander such instructional and important moments.

9)  A responsible leader will always seek to increase their influence with their squad by keeping in contact, practicing efficient communication, and forming a connection with those under their command. A good way to do this is to step out of the office from time to time and handle calls with the officers who patrol the streets.

10) The success of an efficient and capable leader can be seen through the success of their fellow officers.  A leader will place their own personal gain on hold in order to see to and facilitate the success of their subordinates and peers.

Tradition has a great deal to do with leadership as well, as throughout the ages every leader of any note has possessed many key qualities that include those listed above, as well as several others.  Leaders have always needed to be strong, either mentally, physically, emotionally, or all three at once.  Those individuals seeking this role have typically been highly charismatic, forceful but not abusive towards their subordinates, and in most cases, male.  While the traditional roles of a leader have changed greatly throughout history, male dominance has for a very long time been one of the driving factors behind leadership.

In the current day and age the traditionally male role has been changed quite drastically as women and those of other race, culture, and ethnicity have stepped up to the challenge with great fervor.  Men were at one time considered smarter, wiser, stronger, and more capable of performing the dangerous duties required by a position in law enforcement. During the last several decades the rise of women and different ethnicities has changed the landscape of law enforcement and the roles of leadership as well.  Where once white males were seen as the preferred role models and leaders of the police force, now women and individuals from various cultures have taken over these positions.

It is a definite step forward in the field of law enforcement that equal opportunity is now

being given to those who were at one point and time deemed to be not worthy or good enough to attempt to make a career in this profession.  There have been intense struggles and many issues to be resolved in the push for women and those of other races to be accepted as officers of the law, let alone leaders among their fellow officers.  The upheaval within the police force was such that women and those of other races who enlisted were often discriminated against even by their fellow officers. This was a time when leaders were badly needed.  Unfortunately, this was also a time when many of the more traditional-thinking leaders did not step forward as they sought to cling to their position and their authority.

True leaders are not intimidated or frightened by change, but instead learn how to embrace it and accept new situations as they emerge.  As the police force became integrated and learned to accept women and other ethnicities into its ranks, many leaders began to finally come around and state their willingness to accept the changes and make accommodations for those women and other officers who would be serving beneath them.  This however did not solve the problem, but made it worse as their fellow officers were quick to cite that preferential treatment would make them less than equal, and offer an unfair advantage to those newcomers who would not have to undergo the same experiences as those who had come before them.

Those who have been discriminated against were unfortunate enough at times to

encounter leaders who had in their own time possibly been great and well respected, but had

allowed the prospect of change to sour their way of thinking.  Good leaders are those who help

their fellow officers to build upon and establish a successful and promising career. Great leaders

are those that do not discriminate against anyone for any reason and believe that anyone can

accomplish whatever they set their minds to.  The difference between a good and a great leader is

that the good leaders will reach the top of their profession and cease to learn or be open to new

experiences.  Great leaders will understand that real learning never stops, and only through further learning will they be able to truly serve those who follow them.

In law enforcement a true leader is one that remains diligent and does not allow themselves to cling to old ways and outdated practices. The role of police officers has not changed much over the years, but some of the laws they are charged with enforcing have.  A leader in law enforcement needs to be able to understand what is required of their officers and themselves in order to be effective. By remaining knowledgeable about the law and how to apply it, these leaders can then further insure the success of their subordinates and fellow officers.

Rank means almost nothing when it comes to being a leader in law enforcement.  While it is very true that rank denotes who is in charge and who stands at the head of the pack, the role of a leader is much more than just a rank.  A leader is a person who others look up to and aspire to be like. They are the voice within the system that can inspire others and create or stimulate belief.  A leader could be the newest rookie on the force, or the most wizened and grizzled detective in the precinct.  Being the head of the department does not signify leadership if no one is willing to follow that person’s lead.

In order to lead, a person must first be willing to serve.  To be an effective leader an

individual should know what starting at the bottom is like, as this grants that individual an in-

depth perspective that carries great value if they should ever reach the top of their department.

Leaders of officers are not born to the position. They are forged in the fires of duty and service

that is required of every officer that joins the force.  In order to become a truly effective,

and worthwhile leader an individual must know what it is like to be a lowly rookie with grand ideals and a desperate need to prove themselves to a job that is often thankless, demanding, and sometimes quite dangerous.  To become a leader, an officer must know what it is like to serve.

References

Glennon, J. (2010). Keys to successful police leadership. Police One. Retrieved from

https://www.policeone.com/chiefs-sheriffs/articles/2832511-Keys-to-successful-police-leadership/

The Blue Line of Leadership (2016). Law Enforcement Leadership Commandments. Law

Officer. Retrieved from

http://lawofficer.com/leadership/law-enforcement-leadership-commandments/

Welcome To The Leadership In Police Organizations Program. (n.d). International Association

of Chiefs of Police. Retrieved from

http://www.iacp.org/Leadership-in-Police-Organizations-LPO

Willis, D. (2011). Perspective: Principles of Effective Law Enforcement Leadership. FBI Law

Enforcement Bulletin. Retrieved from

https://leb.fbi.gov/2011/march/perspective-principles-of-effective-law-enforcement-leadership

 

How Economic Inequality Harms Societies

 

There is inequality in the world and it is as it has always been, that the rich and more affluent rise above the common person and thus a gap is created between the rich and the poor.  What Wilkinson is speaking of is not necessarily just who is rich and who is poor but rather the drastic effects that can take place in a society where economic inequality is allowed to continue.  If there is no measure of equality between a societies class structures then it is clearly seen that problems both economic and social in nature begin to arise.

Crime, life expectancy, and even infant mortality are all highly affected by economic inequality as those who can afford a better class of life are typically those will live longer and stay healthier.  The correlation between countries and who is more equal than others is not absolute, but in accordance with the data shown it is highly probable that countries with higher inequalities between social classes struggle more with serious concerns that eventually begin to affect every social class from the lowest to the highest.  And yet, somehow, several countries have deduced how to maintain that equality and thus improve or maintain their way of life.

In regards to developing countries the inequalities felt are likely to be even worse, as those wealthier countries that Wilkinson highlights have all gone through their growing pains and despite their current inequalities have found a system that is proven enough to work.  Likely as not within developing countries those who are without means to care for themselves will remain that way, and become even more downtrodden as those few who gain affluence do whatever they can to keep it.  The relevance of what Wilkinson has to say is small when concerning still-developing countries, as the correlation between economic inequality and nationwide concerns is very small, almost to the point of non-existence given that such countries are still struggling to find an economic identity.

Physical and Spiritual Fitness

 

Being physically and spiritually fit in the constant hustle of the modern day is highly important. Such practices as strength training and calming, relaxing exercises are vital to maintaining a balanced life.  Staying fit allows the body and mind to endure, withstand, and better relax.  However, being fit and spiritually whole are not enough without the upkeep that comes as a necessity with remaining healthy and in good shape.  To keep the mind and the body sound and hale, exercise is one part of a much needed regimen that most anyone can accomplish.

Many individuals think that heavy lifting, mile upon mile of running, or other extreme measures are necessary in order to gain strength. What is often confused is that in order to truly gain strength one must utilize exercises that are capable of building up muscular endurance and muscular strength.  Muscular endurance is the ability to lift less weight over a longer period of time, whereas muscular strength is the ability to lift mass amounts of weight in a very short period.  There are a few different exercises that help to improve both muscular endurance and strength, which are equally important to physical health.

Another misconception concerning health and the appearance of strength is muscle tone, which many perceive to mean that an individual is strong and fit. In truth this is simply the amount of tension that is shown when at rest.  In order to attain the desired level of tone, the balance of exercise and rest must be observed to avoid serious injury and imbalance within the body.

Isometric exercises, in which there is no movement, tend to work the muscles harder and

create great endurance, such as planking, or wall-sits.  Isotonic exercises involve tension and

eccentric contraction throughout the workout and can provide both endurance and strength. A

good examples of such exercises are dumbbell lifts and any other free weight exercise, as tension

is always present throughout the movements.  Isokinetic exercises can also grant endurance and strength through use variable weight and movements performed over a period of time, such as leg lifts.

Just as important as physical wellness however is spiritual wellness and flexibility.  When defined flexibility alludes to the harmony that one finds within their body as well as the meaning behind the manner in which they seek to balance their health and their lives (Knoerzer, 2015). Not only does being more flexible make it easier to move about, but it allows the life force, the chi, the prana, or whatever definition one uses for their internal energy, to flow unencumbered (Wilcox, 2012). Through gaining an active range of motion through exercise and stretching, an individual can attain a better overall feeling of both physical and spiritual health.

When it comes to stretching, ballistic stretching is great for warming up as it takes the body beyond its normal limits, but when used improperly can be considered high risk.  Passive stretching is among the most common methods used, as it involves stretching a limb or set of muscles and holding it for a certain period of time.  Only removed by a small distinction from passive stretching, static stretching involves going to the limit of one’s flexibility and then holding the stretch, rather than remaining comfortable and relaxed. PNF, or proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, is a means of using both isometric and static stretching techniques to build up strength in joints by using resistance and then working the joint through its new range of motion.  This is quite often used as a rehabilitation technique.

Overall the physical flexibility that can be gained through regular and balanced exercise can help to enhance the spiritual flexibility that allows an individual to feel calm, rested, and in charge of their life.  Physical and spiritual fitness are vital components to any life.  In remaining flexible in body and in spirit an individual attains harmony within their own existence.

References

Knoerzer, A. (2015). Five ways to improve your physical and spiritual flexibility. North Sydney

Yoga. Retrieved from

http://northsydneyyoga.com.au/five-ways-to-improve-your-physical-and-spiritual-flexibility/

Wilcox, J. (2012). Why Flexibility Is Important to Your Health. Mind Body Green.

Retrieved from

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4568/Why-Flexibility-Is-Important-to-Your-Health.html

 

Gangs of New York

 

America was built on a great deal of hardship no matter which story is told.  Those historical tales and fictional dramas that have been pieced together and created to offer insight or even just a bit of entertainment often showcase a world that was far different than what the modern age. In some ways however it is strikingly familiar.  In one such case, the plight of New Yorkers during the late 1800s was particularly tumultuous considering that the country was still reeling from the devastating effects of the Civil War.  “Gangs of New York” blends fiction with historical fact to create an iconic story that showcases the grim truth of America’s earliest years.

The film is by and large a fun bit of embellishment on history, as several characters are fabricated from notorious legends and even the settings are created in a style more befitting a drama than a historical documentary.  As Ted Chamberlain (2003) states, award-winning director, Martin Scorsese, is lauded as being far more knowledgeable concerning the history and reality of his chosen site, the Five Points district, but obviously desired a film that would make a statement, not show the actual history of the city.  For all that however the film is quite on point with many of its representations, keeping true to the feel of the era. While Scorsese wanted to make a cinema-worthy drama, he was also intelligent enough to know that people who watched the film would want some semblance of realism.

One of the major plot points has to do with the massive influx of Irish immigrants that

made their way to New York due to the debilitating potato famine that occurred in the 1840s. This led to wave after wave of Irish immigrants leaving their homes to seek out more prosperous opportunities in America.  Unfortunately they were not well-received and were often forced to fight for their place in the city. A great many made their way to the Five Points district, which throughout history has become renowned as being one of the more notorious locations of New York in the mid to late 19th century.

The movie goes into this quite well, but differs on only a few points. For instance, there were several gangs that ran the streets, but instead as Stern (2003) relates, they were far more political in nature than the thuggish, unkempt bands that the film displays. The Irish were in fact considered one of the first lower-class and impoverished peoples during the time period of this film, and were very well-depicted as having to scrape and fight for nearly everything they gained. What is not accurate however is the fact that these gangs did not engage in the usual violence that the film displays so readily.

It is easy to believe that film such as this can be pushed forward by a startling amount of conflict in the form of audience-pleasing gore and bone-breaking action that lends a savage counterpoint to an otherwise historic look at the past. Scorsese’s did in fact admit that his methods were more geared towards creating a fictional drama than a true documentary, though many fans still managed to cry foul when learning the true history of New York.  These gangs did in fact tussle from time to time, but rarely, if ever, on the level that the movie shows. The most violence that was usually show was during election time when each gang attempted to push their candidate into office, as Chamberlain (2003) has attested to.

The characters that drive the story are entirely fictional save for one, the main protagonist

known as William “The Butcher” Cutting.  Portrayed in a masterful manner by acclaimed actor

Daniel Day-Lewis, Cutting is a fictional character based upon an historical figure by the name of Bill “The Butcher” Poole. While Lewis’ acting is on par with the character of Bill Poole, the timeline is not accurate at all.  In the movie, Bill Cutting survived until the post-Civil War era, whereas Bill Poole was shot dead well before his counterpart’s cinematic demise.  Lewis did however display the outward hostility and bigotry that Poole was so well known for, and even managed to speak the last recorded words that Poole uttered before expiring, albeit with a slight modification.

The character of William Cutting drives the film far more than any character or even the scenery can, as he embodies the era, the sentiment towards the Irish, and the feel of the city during this time period.  Scorsese takes a great many liberties with the historical content he uses to bring this movie to life, though he manages to keep the gritty, run-down feeling of the Five Points District and Cutting’s role in its day to day operations as a central feature.  The real Butcher, Bill Poole, was just as ruthless and critical of his fellow New Yorkers, but for all accounts did not have a glass eye or ever feud with more than one pivotal character in history that brought about his downfall.  Instead, he was a pugilist and gang leader that was well known to be violent as well as temperamental according to William Bryk (2003).

His level of violence was a great inspiration to the movie, though his personal gang, the

Know Nothing Gang was replaced in “Gangs of New York” by the Natives Party, which Bryk

(2003) explains that Poole was actually a part of at one point.  In fact, as Evan Andrews (2013)

points out, several gangs depicted in the movie were at one point real gangs that were

represented in the Five Points. This would include the Bowery Boys, of whom Poole was also a

member, the Dead Rabbits, and the Forty Thieves.  While the gangs were not as bloodthirsty nor

as prone to rioting as the movie would suggest, they were decidedly violent towards one another

on certain occasions, as was evidenced between the Dead Rabbits and the Bowery Boys, who were notorious enemies in the movie and in real life.

The main points of this movie are quite obvious, but are centered around the characters that are meant to drive the story and make it a believable moment in history when America was still a young nation still discovering its identity. The Irish immigrants were a very real part of New York’s constantly evolving landscape, and  were treated far worse than many other groups during their transition to American life.  It is even shown in the movie that they were duped into joining the Union army right after landing upon American soil, while their countrymen that had come before were being shipped back home in coffins.  According to Damien Shiels (2014) this kind of recruitment was not only highly illegal, but it was rare.

Despite the belief that the Irish knew very little about the American Civil War, it is far more likely that letters were sent home to those who had yet to make the trip detailing the struggle.  While the film doesn’t go into this detail in any real depth, the idea is that the poor, starving Irish who depart the boat and are of proper age, and male, are given uniforms and rifles after signing their lives away only to be loaded up on another boat bound for parts unknown.  Many of the Irish that came to America came with the express purpose of joining the military, as it was a way earn money that could be sent back home and procure a place for them in America. While the Irish were despised for many reasons, their sense of patriotism was not among them.

Another main point the film likes to make is that the Irish and the New York natives were

constantly at odds. This was true in part, as Bill Poole was at the forefront of this particular

conflict.  While he was not quite on par with Bill Cutting’s representation, he was a very

influential character that heaped abuse and scorn upon the Irish time and again.  He was not

against using them to turn a profit however.  While it is not truly known if Bill Poole ever had an

Irish accomplice or allowed them into his private circle, it is well documented in the film that one of his defeated enemies was among the group that he trusted most.

Amsterdam Vallon, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, is the son of Priest Vallon, Bill Cutting’s mortal enemy in the film (Gangs of New York, 2002), and is completely fictional. Where Cutting is the antagonist that drives the feel of the movie, Amsterdam is the counterpoint to Bill’s vicious and unpredictable nature, acting as a wild card whose true motives are known only to the viewer, but are revealed later in the film.  Whether or not Bill Poole was an honorable man in any sense, Bill Cutting is without a doubt a man of principle, no matter that he will break them without fail if he is so provoked. Amsterdam on the other hand is a younger, more impulsive character who does not entirely fit with the overall story, and creates a very confusing and anticlimactic disturbance within the historical feel of the film.

From a historical standpoint the feud between Priest Vallon and Bill Cutting makes more sense and is actually closer to the truth. Bill Poole had a longstanding feud with an Irishman named John Morrissey, who was an enforcer for Tammany Hall as Bryk (2003) explains it. Instead of Poole killing Morrissey as Cutting killed Vallon in the film, Poole was mortally wounded by a firearm.  In the film, Cutting despises firearms, as do his adversaries, but in real life this little tidbit was quite different, as firearms tended to provide a much easier way to eliminate one’s rivals. The historical value of the feud between Cutting and Vallon strikes closer to the truth that history tells, even if the content is changed to provide a more gripping story.

The next main point of the film took into account the Draft Riots that occurred near the

ending point of the Civil War. At this time the streets of New York were already admittedly in a

state of unrest as Irish immigrants were flooding into the city by the boatload and the Five Points

District, which was a critical staging point of the film, was becoming dangerously overcrowded.

The riots took place in response to a much stricter draft policy that required men between the ages of twenty and forty-five to be entered into a lottery that would determine whether they would be drafted into service or not.  The only way out of this was to be ineligible due to infirmity or if an individual could pay their way out for three hundred dollars. The Irish were heavily recruited as they were often the poorest of citizens, while African-Americans were given absolutely no choice, as they were not even counted as citizens.

This part of the film is the boiling point to which the rest of the movie builds towards from the opening credits.  As Amsterdam Vallon narrates the story, the audience is introduced to the rough and tumble way of life that dominates the Irish immigration to New York the struggles that result.  The story between Bill Cutting and Priest Vallon is largely unknown in the beginning of the movie, but as already mentioned, it pulls at least in part from the feud that Poole and Morrissey experienced, mimicking the sheer animosity the men had for one another. From that point on it becomes largely fiction as the two men gather their gangs for an all out street war.  The actual war however did not produce the well-developed and thought out carnage that begins and ends the film, but instead was a result of tensions that had been boiling for quite some time between the Dead Rabbits and the Bowery Boys.

The realistic aspects of the film include the continual persecution of the Irish as they

sought to find a place in America, as well as the scorn and discrimination that were heaped upon

them the moment they arrived. The notorious Five Points District was in fact a slum where

lawlessness was the common order of the day. Violence however was not always as prevalent as

the film would indicate, nor were the gangs constantly at one another’s throats in an effort to

carve out their own influence within the city.  Instead, the real gangs of New York in that era did

their best to outdo one another when it came to political maneuverings and placing their own

candidates in power.  With the backing Tammany Hall at one point, the Irish managed to make a very bold move and firmly secure their place within American history.

The feel of the movie, meaning its dark and gritty texture of life as well as the continual

greed and overbearing nature of the politicians, is somewhat overdone, but still fairly accurate. Politicians of that era were not so different from what the American people expect today, but were often known to employ methods of obtaining votes and special interest groups that would be seen as highly illegal in this day and age.  It was all about the votes at one point, and who could attain more (Gangs of New York, 2002), as the politicians in this film are so fond of stating.

In the end of the film it comes down to the simple fact that life on the streets of New York, and the birth of America, was a very tumultuous and dangerous time.  Whether one believes that Scorsese’s vision carries the true feeling of those volatile times or if written history is entirely accurate and unquestionable, the truth of the matter is that the early days of the nation were hard times for everyone involved.  From gangsters to politicians to the poor immigrants and individuals caught in the middle, life was a constant struggle and would often result in hardship in one form or another. “Gangs of New York” is a work of fiction designed to entertain the viewer and offer a small bit of insight into the past, but it raises several interesting questions about how history is written, and who has a hand in the process.

It doesn’t matter if viewers love the film or absolutely hate it.  The point is that “Gangs of New York” is a fictionalized glance into the past that is meant to entertain.  Its more realistic aspects are loosely based representations of a time in American history that was particularly hard to survive and provided a basis for the way the world is now.  While humans have evolved both socially and professionally, the attitudes of the past are still very apparent in the modern era.

Works Cited

Andrews, Evan. “7 Infamous Gangs of New York.” History,

http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/7-infamous-gangs-of-new-york,

Accessed 30 Dec. 2016.

Bryk, William. “Bill the Butcher: he died a true American, but not how you think.” Straus

Media, http://www.nypress.com/bill-the-butcher-he-died-a-true-american-but-not-how-you-think/, Accessed 30 Dec. 2016.

Chamberlain, Ted. “”Gangs of New York”: Fact vs. Fiction.”  The National Geographic,

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/03/0320_030320_oscars_gangs.html

Accessed 30 Dec. 2016.

Gangs of New York. Directed by Martin Scorsese, performances by Daniel Day Lewis,

Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, Brendan Gleeson, and Liam Neeson, Miramax Films, 2002.

Shiels, Damian. “Gangs of New York: Recruiting the Irish ‘Straight Off the Boat’.” Irish in the

American Civil War,

https://irishamericancivilwar.com/2014/07/28/gangs-of-new-york-recruiting-the-irish-straight-off-the-boat/, Accessed 30 Dec. 2016.

Stern, William J. “What Gangs of New York Misses.” City Journal,

http://www.city-journal.org/html/what-gangs-new-york-misses-9983.html

Accessed 30 Dec. 2016.