Emma Rogers: Miami as Text 2023

Encounter as Text

“Miami from a new perspective” by Emma Rogers

Image by Florida International University

Growing up in Tampa I was constantly surrounded by white people, and only white people. While yes, I too am a very caucasian individual, it was at a very early age in my life when I realized that the place I called home did not reflect the world around me. Much of this I attribute to the privilege I had to do a lot of international traveling from a young age. My parents love to travel, and wanted me to be educated and immersed into the world outside of our little bubble in Tampa, which I’m so grateful for. Not only did my travels help educate me, but I attribute much of my learning to my parents who always encouraged me to learn as much about the world as I could, and to form my own opinions. Because of this, I feel as though I was ahead of the curve compared to my peers in terms of worldliness, and I knew I wanted to get the hell out of Tampa. Not only did I want to get out of Tampa, but I desperately wanted to escape the bigoted assholes from my high school, and since they all planned on attending FSU and UF, I knew those were off my list. Before coming to tour FIU, I had only been to Miami once for a cheer competition when I was young, so I didn’t have the best idea of what Miami was like; but after my tour I had this gut feeling that this was where I was going to be. For so long I had lived in a city that was so ignorant, where people thought living in one story houses meant you were poor, that I wanted to go somewhere that actually had a diversity of culture, and learn and grow as a person. Overall, I am in this class to learn, and I know I have so much to learn about Miami and its history. My goal is to become more and more worldly of a person, so that one day I may be able to move abroad somewhere and be best equipped to adapt to any place. Not only this, but I love learning about the customs and cultures of people. Personally, I did not grow up with basically any connection to my culture and heritage, and I feel like I missed out on a lot. When I hear my roommates and friends talk about their own rituals and fun things they do I do feel a little jealous that I do not have those same roots, but I love to hear about everything they do because it feels like such a wholesome and uniting act. Overall, when I think of Miami I think of a melting pot of culture, and a beautiful yet united display of difference that you don’t get to experience most places. I am so excited to learn more about the history of Miami, both good and bad, and more than anything hope that I grow as a person over the course of this class. 

Enlightenment as text

“In need of more Enlightenment” by Emma Rogers

A philosopher lecturing on the Orrery, Joseph Wright of Derby (1766)

What do I think of the Enlightenment? Well, this is kind of a difficult question to answer for me because there are so many layers to this question, and it’s not so black and white. Prior to reading Candide, I had a decent knowledge of the Enlightenment period, and I viewed it as a necessary and pivotal period for mankind. However, after reading Candide I had somewhat of a change of perspective; not that the Enlightenment was not important, but that we have found ourselves in the same place we once stood, arguing between God and science. In my opinion, when reading Candide I found it to be kind of funny, and very ironic, despite the themes of brutality and murder, etc. I say this because as I was reading it was just one monstrosity after the other it seemed, that it almost became comedic that this poor guy never could seem to catch a break. I recognize that the horrible things that happened in the novel did in fact happen to real people throughout history, but given our current society, I feel a twinge desensitized from it all. And that’s my issue, after reading Candide and brushing up on my knowledge of the Enlightenment, I feel like its a metaphor for today, like a fucked up deja vu. During the Enlightenment the whole point was that we as people no longer had to look to God, or any all powerful being, as an explanation for the events occurring in our day to day lives, because well, science. We talk and learn about the Enlightenment like those people were dummies for believing that the world was flat, or that God caused sickness, and that the Enlightenment was a progression from that. Currently the way I see it, we have not progressed at all. Now, I am personally not religious, nor was I raised religious, but I do believe everyone is entitled to believing whatever they want to believe so long as it doesn’t affect my life, or hurt anyone. All that being said, how really have we changed as a society since the Enlightenment? The hierarchy of society, the crimes committed against men, women, and children, people being hateful, and evil, that all still exists today. And while yes, we have made progress in some ways, I am not entirely convinced we only see progress because the horrors are better hidden, spoken less of, or just turned a blind eye towards. The evils committed that we read about in Candide, that seem so far away, are really at our doorstep. As a woman, I see it every day, feel it every day. So, my opinion of the Enlightenment would be, to put it lightly: bullshit. Still today are these crimes against people committed, still do people turn to God to answer their prayers, or to seek guidance, and ignore the science in front of them. We still wage wars regarding whose God is the real God, who is better, so on and so forth, yet live in the opposite of what they believe God’s image to be. So, do I think faith and reason can be reconciled? No, I do not. Faith does not adhere to reason, that is the whole jist of it, that’s what makes it faith and not fact. Personally, I don’t believe you can participate in most religions without contradicting yourself, and that critical thinking runs you for a loop the deeper you get, especially in Christianity. Alas, because of all this, in addition to the wealth gap here in the U.S. being worse than the French Revolution, I would say we have made minute progress, if any, on our journey to Enlightenment. Perhaps we are still in our own Enlightenment, and I have no doubt we still have much to learn. But, how much do we need to learn in order for people to leave behind the God and religions that cause so many of the world’s heartaches?

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