The poems “Directions for Resisting the SAT” by Richard Hague, “First Practice” by Gary Gildner and the short story “Thank You, M’am” by Langston Hughes all portray the influence one can have over others. Hague’s poem depicts an authoritative speaker trying to inflict his beliefs onto readers. “First Practice” is about a coach using his words to motivate his team. Hughes’ short story has a strong female character that helps shape a young boy from being a thief to respectable. When I went to Zen Meditation this week after reading these three pieces and after having conflicts with my boss, I felt overwhelmed at the control that she has over me. Zen Meditation allowed me to reflect on authority and influential figures, and eventually allowed me to clear my mind from all of my external stresses. “Directions for Resisting the SAT”, “First Practice”, and “Thank You, M’am” show the power that authority figures have over younger people.
“Directions for Resisting the SAT” conveys a strongly opinionated speaker that is trying to motivate readers to go against social norms. The speaker is directly talking about boycotting the SAT, which is a test that almost all high school students take. It is a scary thought to go against a test that determines the lives of students and the paths that they take. The speaker is encouraging readers to ignore outside influences and follow their hearts and the paths that they want to take in life. The speaker in “Directions for Resisting the SAT” is against following the same pre-determined path that a large percentage of America follows, and is also against listening to other people, especially those of authority. Authority figures can easily persuade high school students to take the SAT and do other things that that student may not want to do. This poem encourages readers to follow their passion, not directions from above.
“First Practice” by Gary Gildner shows how much of an effect an authority figure, like a coach, has over his team. The coach is intense with his team, yet the speaker does not depict any fear from the boys. The speaker focuses on the speech that the coach gives to motivate them for their game. The fact that none of the team left when the coach said that they could leave shows that none of the boys on the team were afraid. This poem shows the power that a speech has on its audience.
“Thank You, M’am” by Langston Hughes depicts a maternal figure that helps a young boy become respectable and responsible. The young boy attempts to steal Mrs. Jones’ purse, and instead of running, she yells at him and takes him home with her. Mrs. Jones spends time with the young boy, who does not have a mother figure to look up to, and it is clear that the boy is grateful and wants to stay. Mrs. Jones has the ability to change the young boy’s life and turn it around after only being with him for a few hours time. The fact that this boy’s behavior changed so drastically within such a short period of time shows the effect that an authority figure has over younger people.
When I went to Zen Meditation this week, I was eager to have the opportunity to clear my mind from the stress I felt from my boss. After fighting over scheduling conflicts and still being forced to work despite not having enough time to get all of my work done, I craved the opportunity to escape from my mind. I spent the first half of meditation reflecting on the situation between my boss and I. I realized that she is a respectable figure that I not only have to listen to, but also should. Our miscommunication escalated because she was trying to help out the tutees that needed a tutor. Instead of being selfish, I realized that I should try to benefit my tutees as much as possible. Coming to this conclusion allowed me to relax enough to focus on meditation, which further reduced my stress.
To conclude, figures of authority have great influences on those that are younger than them. These influences can be positive or negative – whether the create stress, or reduce stress, the influences are great nonetheless.