Final Self-Reflective Essay

Throughout the semester we have focused a lot on the crisis that has been coined the “Housing Market Crash,” the “Global Financial Crisis,” and many other similar names relating to the events which took place in 2008. The crisis which took place in 2008 was caused by many different factors but the most prevalent was that people were receiving loans that they could not afford to pay back, along with the risky subprime mortgage bonds as well. This, along with many other factors was the ultimate recipe for potential disaster, and this potential disaster would soon become a nightmare for millions of people all across the nation. Throughout the book, The Big Short by Michael Lewis, we are given an inside perspective on those who were well aware and responsible for the situation that was going to unravel in 2008. In the book, Ben Rick Rickert says, “‘I’d come home at midnight and try to talk to my brother-in-law about our children’s future,” said Ben. “I asked everyone in the house to make sure their accounts at HSBC were insured. I told them to keep some cash on hand, as we might face some disruptions. But it was hard to explain’” (pg. 222 Lewis). In this particular instance, Ben Rickert begins to become concerned with the future and the pressure building around the subprime mortgages, and the result it may have on his family. Lewis does an excellent job showing the build up of pressure throughout the book that would later lead the bubble, the economy and housing market, to pop. Once all chaos broke loose, many people lost their jobs and were expelled from their homes as well, ultimately hitting rock bottom. 

When comparing the Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler back to the 2008 Housing Crisis, the similarities between the two are quite evident. Throughout the course of the Parable of the Sower we see the pressure that begins to build around the little, gated community located in Robledo. Lauren, the main character, does an excellent job at journaling the struggles which her family and herself endured while living in the gated community and the growing fears she had of the community not being as safe as it once was. Despite Lauren’s growing concerns for the well-being of the community, not everyone in the community felt the “pressure” growing like Lauren did and if they did, they didn’t want to discuss the topic. In the novel Lauren’s dad, Reverend Olamina, remarks to Lauren, “‘You don’t really understand what’s going on here. The problems we have now have been building since long before you were born’” (Butler pg. 63). In this instance, Reverend Olamina is telling Lauren that despite her fears and how she would like to warn the community about the potential danger that awaits, these things have been going on for years before Lauren was even a part of the community. This exhibits that Reverend Olamina is fully aware of the growing pressure from outside of the gated community but would rather keep the peace within the community then get everyone riled up and worried. Similar to the 2008 Housing Crisis, we can see the pressure that was beginning to build and the events leading up to the potential disaster, which would later become an unfortunate reality for many. 

As the pressure continues to pick up and Lauren’s fears continue to grow, more and more people within the gated community are either killed in and outside of the community, including her father, Reverend Olamina. After the disappearance or assumed death of the Reverend, the gated community as a whole begins to become more fearful and shortly after that, all mayhem breaks loose within the community. The thieves and pyros had finally permeated the walls of the community and this place was unfortunately no longer a safe place to be. In the novel, Lauren journals, “I got up, felt for my pack, found it, and ran. I tried not to see what was happening around me. Hearing the gunfire and the scream’s didn’t stop me. A dead body—Edwin Dunn—didn’t stop me. I bent, snatched up his gun, and kept running” (Butler pg. 154). The bubble around the once gated community had finally imploded and no one within the community was safe from the intruders, who didn’t care about anyone other than themselves. Many innocent people of all ages within the community were brutally murdered before their friends and families own eyes. This forced Lauren along with the rest of the members who were still alive to flee the community and ultimately being expelled from the place they once called home. Similar to the Housing Crisis, the pressure that had been building up finally led to the bubble popping and in result both the characters within the Parable of the Sower and millions of Americans across the country, were both expelled from their homes and were forced to set out on a new journey. 

When comparing and contrasting the Parable of the Sower to The Big Short, the similarities between the two are evident and I believe that this does matter, given GLOBE’s insistence that students should gain practice in the ability to “reflect upon changes in learning and outlook over time.” The way I interpret this is that GLOBE desires students to have the ability to make connections with their current coursework, to content which they have learned in the past. In this instance, I’ve been focusing on connecting what we had learned and covered throughout The Big Short, earlier in the semester, to what we had come across throughout the course of the Parable of the Sower. Since we had just read the Parable of the Sower, the sequence of events are much more fresh in my mind but once I took a look back into The Big Short, I can definitely see the significance of having the ability to connect past learnings to what we may currently be working on. For example, throughout The Big Short, we were able to see the pressure building leading up to the 2008 Housing Crisis and then we were able to see a similar type of pressure within the Parable of the Sower, when Lauren began to have growing concerns about her little, gated community and the dangers that lurk outside the gates. Then once the pressure began to build in each of these books, we eventually saw the hypothetical bubble pop and this resulted in semi-similar results. Once the Housing Crisis erupted, millions of people were expelled from their homes and similar to that, once the thieves had infiltrated the gated community in the Parable of the Sower, Lauren and her family, along with the other families living in the community were expelled from their homes as well and some even killed. The parallels between these two readings are definitely apparent; groups of individuals not fully aware of the growing dangers, which would result in them ultimately losing the place they once called home. When touching back on GLOBE’s insistence of making sure students have the ability to reflect upon changes throughout their learning, I believe the reason that this is so important is because if you are able to show the ability to connect past readings, course concepts, etc., to new materials, then you are truly displaying that you have learned something. When engaging The Big Short and the 2008 Housing Crisis, to the events that take place in the Parable of the Sower, not only was I able to make connections between the two books, I was also able to make connections between these books and my own life.

When I was growing up, I lived in a household with two parents and one sister but eventually the family dynamic I was once so used to would be altered. My parents were always good at getting along in front of my sister and I, however I still was able to pick up on some tension between the two. As the tension continued to grow, there was almost a type of pressure that began to build up in the house, similar to the pressure which we saw in the Parable of the Sower and in The Big Short. As the pressure continued to grow greater within my household, eventually the hypothetical bubble would pop. My parents had a talk with my sister and I about how they’d be getting separated and how my sister and I would spend some time at my dad’s place and some time at my mom’s place. At this time, my sister and I were still pretty young so it was difficult for us to really understand the entire situation but this would ultimately result in our family being expelled from my first, true childhood home. Similar to Lauren and her family, and along with millions of Americans during the 2008 Housing Crisis, I too shared a similar experience by being expelled from the place I once called home. Obviously one can argue that my situation wasn’t as dire as Lauren and her family’s was in The Parable of the Sower or of those who lost their home and jobs in 2008 but I can definitely say it had a big impact on my life. As someone who was once expelled from the place they once called home, it can be a life altering experience but I believe it’s the way you react to the situation is the part that can truly be life altering. When my parents split up, I could have easily just complained about how things were and the new challenges that arose from my parents splitting up but instead I faced reality and was able to figure out how to adapt to my new family dynamic. In Lauren’s case, she was not only expelled from her home but her family was also killed in the same instance, so it is definitely hard to compare our two situationsHowever, one similarity I can make out between our two situations is that both of us were expelled from our homes and were forced to learn how to not only survive but attempt to thrive in our new situations. Despite Lauren never truly reaching her desired destination, her growth as an individual is extremely apparent and I feel that throughout my “journey”, or my life, I have also been able to grow in ways that I would have never expected. To this day, it is easy to look back and think about how things could have been different… but if it wasn’t for that experience, I may not be the person I am today, and I am proud of the person which I have become.