Final Self-Reflective Essay

The Parable of the Sower was a dramatically written novel that shared Octavia E. Butler’s belief that “God is change.”  We read of a world in trouble, serious trouble. There seems to be little choice for people.  It is her vision of the future in 2024. Society has disintegrated. Climate change affected the world. The story begins explaining how to be safe a person needs to live in a strongly walled community, protected by its inhabitants, to have a chance to survive. The wall keeps them safe from the dangerous world outside of their walls. The people living inside the walls are free from rape, arson, thieves and killings. As the story develops the main character, Lauren, finds her community is destroyed by fire. Her family is dead. Lauren and two friends decide they must escape and travel north. Lauren had been curious while growing up and read her father’s books. He was a Baptist minister and the leader of their community. He had a positive affect on Lauren. He also had the family practice survival skills every week. She didn’t agree with all his religious beliefs but she kept her thoughts to herself.  She had a vision and her philosophy did help her to survive. Lauren loved to write. This foundation of knowledge was her choice. She read them in privacy, again her choice. She often wrote verses in her Earthseed.  Lauren’s mindset was that God can change. As the novel develops Lauren and her friends head north. She took her emergency  pack and the money she had put away.  She talks with her friends about seeds and life.  She sees seeds as a symbol of growth, survival and a new beginning.

In 2008 we saw the destruction of a whole group of people when they were approved for subprime mortgages which they could not afford to qualify for or repay.  This was a devastating time for society and its people. This time period was known as the 2008 Housing Crisis. “The subprime mortgage crisis was the collective creation of the world’s central banks, homeowners, lenders, credit rating agencies, underwriters and investors.” (Investopedia) Lots of people were left homeless. The housing boom had caused banks to give out lots and lots of mortgages. They even gave them to people who did not have a job, no income, and no assistance. The lenders were not verifying that people were qualified to borrow the money to buy a home. Many of these people knew they could not afford the home but the lenders convinced them that if they bought now, the home would go up in value and they could refinance it. They sold them on this idea. People loved the idea of owning their own home. This United States subprime mortgage crisis was a multinational financial crisis between 2007 and 2010 that contributed to the 2007-2008 global financial crisis. The housing crisis left the banks holding trillions of dollars of worthless investments in subprime mortgages. This crisis caused banks to foreclose on mortgages leaving the people with no home, many with no job, and no savings. They were destitute. People were crushed by this and they didn’t know how to react or what to do.  The United States government stepped in.  Congress bailed out the banks with a “Bailout Bill” in September 2008.  It was approved for $700 BILLION!  dollars in aid. Things got better for the banks and investors, the poor people who lost their homes had to find a new way to go forward. Their wall came tumbling down when they lost their home. They had to figure out how to rebuild their life and overcome this financial crisis. 

The Big Short was a discussion of minorities and the effects the housing crisis and the 2008 banking crisis had on their community. Minorities, essentially people of color, made up most of this lower financial class. Banks manipulated and took advantage of this group of people without discussing the long term effects of their actions: “…How do you make poor people feel wealthy when their wages are stagnant? You give them cheap loans.” (Lewis, page 14). This quote shows how the banks were giving mortgage loans to the people who could not afford them. The people did not have to have a down payment for the home and many didn’t even have to have closing costs. If you can’t afford the down payment you can’t afford the house. They would do this just to cash in for big money and become rich. Investors were hungry to make large returns. They bought mortgage backed securities at ridiculously low premiums. This made for a demand for more subprime mortgages. The banks launched this mortgage opportunity hoping it would grow. All they wanted to do was to make money as fast as possible. The problem is when this bubble broke the banks were left with worthless subprime mortgages, they were in trouble. “In early October 2008, after the U.S. government had stepped in to say it would, in effect, absorb all the losses in the financial system and prevent any big Wall Street firm from failing…” (Lewis page 247). This quote shows that the “higher-ups” in the financial district of New York City faced no real consequences when their fast money making scheme failed. The U.S. government was there to bail them out when they needed to face the reality of their situation. Unfortunately the people who were tricked into this mortgage crisis lost everything. 

When engaging the Parable of the Sower there are many things talked about that can relate to the 2008 housing crisis. Butler highlights the housing crisis a lot in this novel and it is a very important topic. An example I can touch on is when Lauren is forced to leave Robledo with Zahra Moss and Harry Balter. She comes to the realization that she must change, she must move forward with her life. After her community is destroyed she is homeless. She says “Unless I meet someone from the neighborhood, there’s no one I can afford to trust.” The Parable talks about the complete destruction of our society. It is about rebirth and renewal. Lauren dreams and writes about in her Earthseed. Lauren even incorporates the idea of the Phoenix, which dies and is reborn. Lauren knows the value of seeds. She knows and takes time to plant a seed. Once it is planted in good soil we must give it time to grow. In the 2008 Housing Crisis people were distracted and planted their seeds in rocky soil. Their dream of owning a home was not realistic. In the end we see they lost everything. In the Parable we read about a world of little choice. It gives us insight into how to cope with our life in a changing  world. Lauren made the right choices by planting herb seeds in rich soil, following her vision with people she trusted and finding a positive road for survival. The people involved in the Housing Crisis got distracted by the lies of the banking world and bailed. 

Geneseo students have planted their seed in a rich educational setting. Given four years for this education to grow, I see Geneseo students in a world where they have choices, can cope, and adapt to changes in their world and end up with a good career, success, and a happy life. With good determination and a hard work ethic a Geneseo student can have lots of opportunities in their time here. Working hard and being nice to peers will go a long way in life. This semester was a new change for me personally as I had to adjust dramatically. I got off to a slow start but kept good faith and worked much harder because I wanted to succeed not only at this college but in life as well.