Education Holds the Key to All Success

Today we continue our series of the winning essays submitted to Dean of Freshmen, Fred Siegel.  These freshman were selected from over 300 of their peers to attend a dinner with Dean Siegel and author, Thomas Friedman.

Our featured essay of the day is by freshman, Haley Hakimian.

“If you want to save the forests, you have to save the people first.” Thomas Friedman

From what initially began as one of the most depressing and utterly industrially repulsive  books, strategically manipulated its direction and eventually culminated in what could be a motivational self-help book for humanity. The introductory pages, exploding with frightening statistics and horrifying rhetorical questions, sent quivers jolting down my spine as thousands of questions flustered my mind. Inquiries arose from every aspect as I digested just how drastically severe and unimaginably realistic Thomas Friedman portrayed the current global situation in Hot, Flat, and Crowded. Friedman clearly and calmly states the present predicament, advises his opinion on how to salvage our world, careful to include ample researched evidence, and all the while failing to resort to obnoxious rants or name-calling. Listening to politically charged debates on any matter, if a candidate feels the necessity to use vocal volume, vulgar language, or outright, unsupported condemnation of the opposing side, immediately the credibility for that figure’s case drains. Following the preliminary shock and denying disbelief, I allowed logicality to process exactly what Friedman distinctly explained and succumbed to reality. Unfortunately, everything he blatantly stated, and went on to elaborate throughout the book, made perfect, terrifying sense.

As an Iranian-American and second generation immigrant with my father’s entire family still residing in the country, the realization of petrodictatorship proves all too real. Of all the issues addressed in Freidman’s book on the necessity of a green revolution, this point drove the closest to home. Growing up, the idea that oil serves the true poison of the Middle East has been drilled into my head to such an extent that I automatically presume that most issues evolving in Iran, particularly regarding current foreign relations, link to this constant dependance on the crude energy exportation. Documented from recent internet investigations, Farsi, the national spoken language of Iran, took second place to Mandarin Chinese as the most prevalent language used in online conversions. Considering that Iran is the sole surviving country of the Persian Empire and thus the only to retain the indigenous language, the statistic proves rather surprising. However, Iran currently houses one of the highest unemployment rates in the developed world. With oil as its primary export, little has been done politically or economically to encourage entrepreneurship in other, cleaner outlets. As Friedman states as typical of OPEC countries, the government subsidizes gasoline within the country to keep prices at mere cents a gallon. Subsidies such as this allow for the election of leaders such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The government’s tactics allow those who hold a substantial stake in the energy industry to retain the only jobs necessary to meet demand and thus eliminates opportunity for others to advance. Due to this manipulated system, young adults in their late twenties to early thirties comprise the majority of the unemployed. This portion of the population turned to the internet in search of social networks  such as Facebook and occupational opportunities elsewhere (the reason for the inundation), that in this economical time, simply do not exist. Furthermore, and even more disturbing in less developed and significantly more uneducated countries, youths who feel confined by limited opportunities for their individual futures, cease to strive for new innovation and thus become prime candidates for terrorist organizations who advertise patriotism and religious sanctity through manipulated and fabricated interpretations of holy books. Idleness has once again proved itself the root of unsuspecting evi. Combined, the various portions of the population result in a national economy that remains stagnant as they await the end of their sole, oil dependant market. Countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia who rely so greatly on a single, depleting resource will become the breading grounds of even more organizations such as al-Qaeda when the oil exportation bottoms out. As Friedman so alarmingly points out, Americans fund these groups as we continue to import the resources that are rapidly destroying the only Earth to our name. From personal experience, a vast majority of the American population seems ignorantly unaware of this correlation. Exhausted frustation at the inability of fellow Americans to comprehend the interdependance we share with the terrorist network responsible for 9/11 can only be blamed on the reactionary committee of the attacks. If only every individual could understand what Friedman so clearly explains in this chapter: this incessant cycle must be brought to a halt, internally shut down section by section, and ultimately destroyed if any hope for a future can possibly remain realistically feasible.

From the perspective of a declared international business and marketing major, Friedman’s book proves strategic in planning for future markets. Not only does it provide ample marketing techniques, suggesting that being green will equal the importance level of providing quality customer service, particularly in client-based markets, but it also explains the financial practicality on both the supply and demand sides. New concepts enter the market when green becomes an issue among customers. Perspectives and strategy angles of businesses change, and thus the leaders of these companies must evolve as well. Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” becomes crucial as the global market playground widens and the world goes green.

As for the waste accumulation at home in the United States, I have witnessed it first hand as my father used to own and operate a car salvage business prior to investing in the real estate market. I frequently stood amidst fields of damaged cars, stripped to the frame and wondered, even in my adolescence what was to become of all this waste. In my naivety, little did I even consider that this was not even equivalent to a percentage point of the waste created by Northeast Florida alone. Friedman transcribes from a local, personal view to the vast reality of the global catastrophe in waiting. The current world state of affairs, scary enough on its own, he then generously supplies projected rates of increase causing an insatiable desire on the part of the reader to participate in this exasperated struggle.

Throughout the various chapters, Friedman remarks on the different levels of destruction ranging from the backyards at home to the impact of rising developed and developing nations abroad. The “mini-Manhattans” and desert metropolises instantaneously consuming the minute amounts of energy saved from faddish green efforts, to the deforestation of Indonesia and the efforts to preserve remaining orangutan populations display the overall extent of the urgent situation. However, as Friedman maneuvers from the depressing, irrational destruction to the true environmentalists who take the initiative and invest their concern in preservation, he strategically manipulates the reader’s mind into believing that despite what has already been executed, hope for the effectiveness of future endeavors exists. This is not the end, yet. Through the collective effort of logical individuals who recognize the issue at hand and the drastic, inescapable need to address the current state immediately, Friedman leaves his audience motivated to go forth, attend to their local efforts, and lighten the cumbersome burden weighing on tomorrow’s generation.

Friedman’s personal insight, particularly his address to the Chinese people provoking them to please go ahead, take full advantage of an extinguishable resource that will destroy your environment, proves the sheer genius of his thought process. It benefits all Americans to secure our current superpower position, always one step ahead of China. By including excerpts such as this, the author gains trust within his reader base, regardless of political party affiliation, for no American wants our global position to decline. This trust then resonates and allows credibility for his clear and precise outline of necessary change in order to insure that the planet will survive.

Upon completion of the book, the realization that realistically a futuristic world as described by Friedman, can and must exist became pristinely clear. Education on the matter holds the key to all success. People need to know the effects of their actions and must first learn to save themselves as civilizations. He commendably aims to approach the subject in a logical manner designed to appeal to all parties through the usage of blatant necessity and cost effective measures. Taxes on usage of dirty energy proves the most efficient way to insure the participance of the population, and if properly explained to an educated people, should not be the quite political disturbance as some parties would care to make it. Ramifications need to hit society where it hurts the most: their pockets. Education proves key in implementing Friedman’s conceptual blueprint. Yes, initially it will cost more, but with the eventual payoff explained accurately, no man could possibly refuse the opportunity. Ultimately, humanity needs to reach the mental point when simple recycling and reduced usage of appliances are automatics. Solar panels on buildings must become the norm. Selling clean electrons back to the utilities company should be considered yet another form of household income as well as a simple way to save money like using coupons at the local grocery store. I could not fathom a more appropriate book to read as we freshman embark on an educational journey at a highly prestigious university that will undoubtedly mold our careers, thought processes, and lifestyles. Hot, Flat, and Crowded will ultimately serve as a guide book on obstacles that we will soon encounter as we begin our roles in the effort to preserve what remains salvageable in today’s world.

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