Final Reflective Essay–Adam Beaty

What should I say about this class? Well, I suppose I learned how to interact with people in a group setting under extreme duress and completely running on empty in terms of sleep. Though, this class didn’t nearly stretch me to my boundaries for sleep deprivation—that little honor belongs a to a mock trial style class that I took last semester. I definitely learned a lot about the Enlightenment. I learned about gender roles, so many gender roles, oh so many gender roles. I have found that nearly everything during the Enlightenment was in some way influenced by perceptions of gender. Witches, education, sexuality, politics, the list is endless. There is absolutely nothing I could think of that could possibly be more fitting a topic for the final conference. If I take nothing else away from this class, my interest was piqued by its focus on gender roles.

Another thing that I learned was the value of knowledge. Going back to the question posed so eloquently by Professor Gavin at the beginning of the semester, “Is ignorance bliss?” With all of the topics that we have covered in this course, I would have to say that my answer would be a firm no. On the individual level ignorance may well be bliss, but on the collective level this logic falters. Ignorance combined with differences leads to ill treatment between fellow human beings. As they spot the differences in one another, they begin to categorize; as they categorize, they feel the need to oppress, to praise their own idiosyncrasies while oppressing their brethren for their unique characteristics. Ignorance satisfies the individual, but it murders the population. Seeing ignorance in such a way, I can see how it lasted as long as it did. Someone would be hard-pressed to stop doing an activity that makes them feel good, regardless of the consequences for others. As I move on in my life, I hope to shed my own ignorance to create not only a better individual, but a better piece of my community as a whole: the world. In the end, aren’t we all just one body made up of small, unique parts?

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