Thursday, June 26, 2014

Inspirational Thursday

Today I awoke, dressed, and went to breakfast as usual. After a few days of trial and error I have decided that the best breakfast for me, size-wise and nutritionally, is a banana and coffee, which is filling but doesn't bog me down or make me feel more tired than I already am. However, I got almost seven hours of sleep last night and can't complain much. 

In class today, Professor Kramnick was not wearing Birkenstocks, nor did he tell us any more horror stories about killing things. However, he did give an interesting, if long, lecture on Plato's life, work, and beliefs. I had not known before that The Republic was intended as a rebuttal to the Greeks' rabid enthusiasm for rule by the people. In discussion, we analyzed the passages we read last night to unveil Plato's elitist views. Despite the fact he believed in the inherent superiority of those who embody intellectualism rather than courage or physical strength, Plato is enjoyable to read. Except for a couple mystifying allegories, the language is straighforward and the ideas clear. 

At lunch today, my black bean and cheese quesadilla with sour cream had a flavor which I couldn't identify but did not appreciate. This, as the fourth bad lunch this week, means the fourth strike against the Trillium. Unfortunately, it's the only place we can eat lunch. I suppose I'm stuck trying different dishes until I find one I like. For the first few days, my newfound freedom overwhelmed my taste buds, but now I know exactly what I'm eating. Boo hoo. 

After lunch we had another guest lecturer, Ray Schlather, who's a partner with Mr. Stumbar at the Ithaca law firm. He, too, told us of cases he'd been involved in involving social justice, specifically three cases involving young people. Professor Kramnick had introduced our speaker as a fervent believer in and defender of the Constitution, and indeed at the beginning of his presentation Mr. Schlather passed out pocket copies to each of us, put us through a trick exercise involving unwarranted search, and explained to us that while Supreme Court Justice Scalia is conservative, we should not profile him so simply because he is a fervent defender of the personal liberties outlined in the constitution - just the other day he voted that a warrant was required to search cell phones. 

When Mr. Schlather told us of his work on a case for a young African-American girl in Ithaca who had been physically and mentally bullied to the point of gun threats by white boys on the bus to school, and whose case had been repeatedly rejected as illegitimate by various courts, he was overcome and started to cry. However, even as his tears for the injustice done remained he told us of the happy ending: the new superintendent of the school district, a young man with who had replaced a blatant racist, cried at reading the lawyers' sixty-four-page case document and agreed that the district would pay every penny of the original $1 million settlement. The young girl, who was only in seventh grade when she was threatened with death on a bus, is now a local hero for her courage. Indeed, Mr. Schlather refers to the case as a "profile in courage" (yes, he admits, stolen from Kennedy). 

Before we were dismissed from his lecture, a student in the back of the hall asked whether our speaker would recommend being a lawyer. The reply was eloquent and passionate: Mr Schlather became a lawyer because he realized that he could make a difference that way. Referring to the Constitution again, he told us that "when people stand up, when they understand what these words mean, it works. It works for all of us... our law is not static, it has life, it's a tool, and it works... Ithaca is a better place because of all the young people who stood up for their rights." He added that while some become lawyers and are unsatisfied, that has never been the case for him. Every day, he says, people come to him and he is able to help them. Ultimately, however, "your greatest asset is personal integrity" and it is our job to find our passions and do related work. 

Mr. Schlather was the single most inspiring speaker I've ever seen (including even the veterans in my World War Two class). I am now even more firmly of the opinion that lawyerhood could be an option for my future. 

By three Sue, Kevin, and I were in a nearby library, working on essay revisions due tomorrow. I had more trouble printing it than revising it. Later, feeling hungry with too much time until dinner, we got a snack before walking back to our respective dorms. 

By the time dinner rolled around, I was ready to eat again. My salad of beans, more beans, and Italian dressing was delicious. I then tried the strawberry fat-free sugar-free frozen yogurt, which was much better than expected. After dinner, I showered and joined June in the ground-level North Balch lounge for blogging and study time. 

Tomorrow we're done with class early, and get to shop for Cornell sweatshirts. Fun awaits. 

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