The Lee Woodruff lecture, “A Father” by Bharati Mukherjee, “Serving Up Hope” by Stephanie Shapiro, “Directions for Resisting the SAT” by Richard Hague, and “First Practice” by Gary Gildner illustrate how people react when presented with a demand. Humans have the ability to respond in a myriad of ways to any given pressure or demand, but no matter the response, there are always consequences based off of our decided reaction. People can choose to rise to an occasion or crumple under pressure but how we respond will have a critical impact on our future and can also define what kind of person we are.
Lee Woodruff was put in an unimaginable situation when, while in Disney World, she received the call that her husband Bob Woodruff had been in a vehicle that was struck by an IED near Taji, Iraq. She, like any other person in the world, couldn’t fathom what had happened, but in the blink of an eye, she had been presented with decisions that she didn’t even know to have existed. Lee voiced concern over the caregivers in situations like this and so many others. People seem to recognize those directly afflicted by the disease, those coming back from war, in the hospital, bedridden; no one takes the time to acknowledge those who take care of the injured, those who sit at the side of the bed week in and week out, those who make the journey to the hospital every single day, those who need to keep the household going even when their world has crumbled. A caregiver is presented with innumerable demands and stresses, all seemingly dumped on himself or herself at once. Her husband pulled through and is still alive despite the bleak outlook of his injuries. Despite his survival, however, Lee is still faced with many challenges that she needs to meet on a daily basis. Lee has readjusted her expectations in life and now finds that she is happy that her husband can form a complete sentence. She is strong enough to deal with the constant stress of living with someone who has had a traumatic brain injury. Lee has risen to the occasion and has proven herself to be a noble person, capable of not only an incredible balancing act of a household, family life, and a career, but also being an advocate for those who suffer silently as caregivers.
Shapiro writes about how Baltimore and society as a whole is lucky to have people like Bridget and Galen Sampson who have found a way to reintegrate former drug users as functioning members of society. The Sampsons have overlooked the social stigma that is inherent with the concept of drug addicts and former criminals. It is rare to find two people who are willing to “take a chance on [those dealing with drug addiction].” As a current employee and former addict said, “They made me see that what I think does matter. It makes a world of difference.” With the facilitation of rehabilitation programs, people like Bridget and Galen Sampson show how when presented with an opportunity, you can use what you love (cooking) to better serve society as a whole.
Unfortunately, Mukherjee shows that not everyone rises to the given occasion as Mr. Bhowmick falls apart when faced with the situation of his daughter’s pregnancy. While Mr. Bhowmick grapples with the idea of whether or not his daughter will have an abortion or bring shame on the family name, he does not prepare himself for the actual reality. Though he manages to stop his wife from hitting their daughter with a rolling pin, he ultimately “lift[s] the rolling pin high above his head and br[ings] it down hard on the dome of Babli’s stomach” (914). Whether he cannot process the fact that the father of his grandchild is a bottle and a syringe or he acknowledges this fact and cannot overcome it, he reacts in such a way that not only results in his wife calling the police but also in a way that irreparably damages the already fragile relationship between him and his daughter and ruins any future he has in America.
Both poems “First Practice” by Gary Gildner and “Directions for Resisting the SAT” by Richard Hague offer unique situations in such a way that allow the reader to infer a reaction. “Directions for Resisting the SAT” gives demands as to what the reader should do, how he or she should combat the SAT, “Go down with the ship -- any ship”, but does not show how the reader responds to the given message. Likewise, Gildner instructs the players what to do making them stand in two lines, facing each other, and “across the way, he said, is the man you hate most in the world.” Also, the final word of the poem is now, leaving the poem very open ended as just like before, instructions were offered, though in this case, barked, but the reader doesn’t get a chance to see the outcome. Whatever the reaction is in each case, the reader can form an opinion as to what kind of person makes that kind of decision.
When presented with any kind of demand, any kind of new situation, we as humans have the opportunity to respond in any number of ways. However, it is important that we understand that however we respond can define who we are as people and that response will continue to define us for the rest of our lives. As Newton’s laws of motion state, each action has an equal and opposite reaction. It would behoove us all to remember that fact.