Sports: The Importance of Fans and the Community

On Sunday October 12, I attended my very first NFL game in Cleveland, Ohio. I am from Los Angeles, so there never was a keen focus on the NFL as there is no team in the area. USC football is our version of NFL football. After going to multiple USC games, I though I had gained the feel of the live football experience. There was never really any interest in me to go to any NFL games until I got the offer from one of my new close friends at U of M. As an Ohio native and an experienced NFL fan, my friend really sold the live NFL experience to me. He explained how the intensity of the game and the fans create a unique atmosphere that can only be experienced at an NFL game. I was sold.

As my three friends and I are walking to the stadium and I look around at all the people walking alongside, raging from babies to seniors, I realize that this game is more about the city and the community than just the players on the field. People from all walks of life (socioeconomically and racially) are joined together in this special community.

A view outside the stadium from my perspective
A view outside the stadium from my perspective

I had the privilege of sitting in box seats for my very first NFL game. Given that I am a Los Angeles native and it was around 30 degrees that day, I was especially appreciative that I had a nice, warm, private room to watch this game. But, what I realized later is that the box literally kept me in a box and I was only able to witness the incredible atmosphere and interaction between the fans from afar and not actually experience it. The game was incredible, but watching all of these Browns fans rejoicing in success was an even more sensational feeling. The whole stadium was one, cheering and jeering with one big voice. The Cleveland Browns routed the rival Pittsburg Steelers 31-10, putting a smile on everyone’s face as they left the stadium. Continue reading Sports: The Importance of Fans and the Community

An Insight to “Searching for Sugar Man” and Detroit’s Economy

3-Singersongwriter-Sixto-Rodriguez-from-SEARCHING-FOR-SUGAR-MAN-directed-by-Malik-Bendjelloul.-Courtesy-of-Red-Box-Films-Passion-Pictures.

In Malik Bendjelloul’s powerful documentary “Searching for Sugar Man”, the ultimate reality of modern day Detroit is put on full display and essential life lessons are taught. The story grounds me and keeps me humble and appreciative of all the opportunities that I have coming from a place that is not seen as a hindrance to the American economy. Using the story of Sixto Rodriquez, a struggling musician from the 1960s, Bendjellou is able to fit the mindset of Detroit through the story of this one man.

Based in Detroit, Rodriquez made some of the best music heard by the some the biggest music producers in America, yet barely sold any records in America or in his hometown. Rodriguez will later learn that his music is the sound of the South African revolution during the rise of racial tension. He was an international superstar to the likes of James Brown and Bob Dylan. Detroit never buys into this talent; instead their economy keeps him doing hard labor. Through the documentary, so much can be learned about how Detroit’s one-lane economy is blocking roads in other areas of possible revenue. The valuable part of this documentary is the introduction to Rodriguez’s extremely influential music. Continue reading An Insight to “Searching for Sugar Man” and Detroit’s Economy

The Rise of Political Propaganda in America’s News Media

I was in 7th grade during the historic 2008 election between current President Barak Obama and Senator John McCain. I can vividly remember arguing with a couple of liberal friends, who were trying to convince me that Obama was the right choice. These battles became so heated that a gruff sound would overtake our high- pitched voices and saliva would be visibly spewed. Despite our clear differences in opinion, we had a few things in common: our opinions were completely uninformed and purely based off influence from our parents, peers and the media.

During that election cycle, my dad was a moderate-conservative, who watched The O’Reilly Factor every night. I would watch with him and gain my nightly dose of partisan political information. What I did not know at that time was that I was a victim of the vicious game of politics, where young minds are easily corrupted and swayed.

Bill O'Reilly, host of #1 rated cable news network show "The O'Reilly Factor"
Bill O’Reilly, host of #1 rated cable news network show “The O’Reilly Factor”

Now, 6 years later, thanks to technology and the availability of a variety of media sources, I am fully aware about the partisan games that are being played in the modern political media. I developed a mostly liberal viewpoint on politics, as I finally explored other media resources. But, despite my newfound liberal view, I still find myself wanting to listen to conservative radio and watch right leaning news television. Continue reading The Rise of Political Propaganda in America’s News Media

How the Cookie Crumbles: Machiavellian Influence on Religious Institutions

As I walk down the Diag on a rare sunny day on the University of Michigan campus, I spot, along with a friend, three guys holding boxes of freshly baked, warm, mouth-watering Insomnia cookies. How can such a beautiful day get better? A couple of free cookies can’t hurt.

When I approach these people holding these boxes of free cookies, naturally my cynical sense takes over. With my eyebrows slowly closing in on each other and a slight grin growing on my face, I ask one of them, “Free cookies? What’s the catch?” The man, sporting a large smile, precedes to hand me a cookie from the box and states, “All you do have to fill out a quick survey.”

That’s not too bad. For a couple of cookies that would have otherwise cost $5, a minute of my time is worth it. First I am asked to fill out my name and my unique name. I look at the survey and the first two questions are fun, asking about my consumption of cookies. And then the third question hits me out of left field: “Would you consider joining the New Life Church?”

Not at one point was I ever hinted that this was a ploy to promote the church until I saw that question. They are selling religion behind a product that that everyone loves: cookies!

Many churches all over the world have displayed an unequivocal Machiavellian philosophy. One of the interpretations of Machiavelli’s The Prince is that he is claiming, in a general sense, that the ends justify the means. In this case, the means is the diversion of my attention toward cookies, an easy sell, instead of the church, a hard sell (especially toward a Jewish man). Some may call this deceiving or cunning, but in the Machiavellian sense, this is how power can be successfully accumulated. By the end, I had been introduced to the church and would of have thought highly of it if I wasn’t able to see through the weeds.

Portrait_of_Niccolò_Machiavelli_by_Santi_di_Tito

In my mind at the time, it did not seem too effective because I was easily able to see how they were trying to cunningly self-promote. But, a following event proved me wrong.

As I am walking with my cookie, I spot a couple of men promoting a birthright trip to Israel. Now, as a young Jewish man whose parents have been pushing to go on a birthright trip, this should have been extremely intriguing. I end up being too lazy and reluctant to sign my name just to get information. And I actually say jokingly to this Jewish man selling a product that is right up my ally, “Maybe if you just had some cookies like the New Life Church, I would have put my name down.”

As I look back at this story, I can look at the bigger picture in connecting the institution of religion to the Machiavellian philosophy. One of things that Machiavelli stressed is the idea of fear and love.

He states in Prince, “Here a question arises: whether it is better to be loved than feared, or the reverse. The answer is, of course, that it would be best to be both loved and feared. But since the two rarely come together, anyone compelled to choose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved. . . . Love endures by a bond which men, being scoundrels, may break whenever it serves their advantage to do so; but fear is supported by the dread of pain, which is ever present.”

The institution of religion, especially at its greatest power (the Catholic Church as example) has found the perfect mix of fear and love. In fact, they have found the most polarized mix to bring out the greatest emotion and vulnerability to a mass amount of people. The Catholic Church promotes the fear of burning in hell with the greatest of pain for eternity and at the same time offers the solution for avoiding this pain: extreme love for the God and following the rules of the Church.

I watch videos of millions of people surrounding the pope in Italy hanging on every single word he says. I see the emotion on everyone’s face. And then I then I read about the billions dollars in revenue that the Catholic Church takes in a year.

pope-in-vatican

Will I judge people for being a part of this religious institution? Absolutely not. But, I will judge a religious institution usingMachiavellian tactics in order to gain a mass following, which, whether directly or indirectly, takes their money and sometimes their livelihood.