Etgar 36

Day 8 – Dodge City

By Talya Cohen
We had a later start to the day today, and Billy gave us time after breakfast to pack our suitcases, which was a pleasant treat. Before departing on the bus from the hotel, we engaged in a civil, informational discussion about the environment and climate change to prepare for our speakers on the extreme ends of the spectrum regarding who is to blame for the shift in our climate in recent years. Led by our counselor Sophie, we began by reviewing key terms such as the greenhouse effect and climate change itself. We were also asked to present arguments the opposing side might display, which was extremely helpful in giving me insight into a different perspective on the same issue. Without delving too deep into the topic, one of the details regarding the controversy Sophie presented was the federal cap placed on companies regarding their carbon dioxide emission. Interesting enough, the “cap” doesn’t really exist due to companies’ ability to buy and trade slots within their used or unused federal allotment of their carbon dioxide emissions. I personally believe this specific aspect is not actually protecting the environment as much as a definitive carbon dioxide cap on each company would (meaning a company could not pass a certain limit no matter the circumstances). The issue with this is companies will then be forced to make more eco-friendly strides in their industrializing and manufacturing processes, which could cost more money. This led us to approach the question around what’s more important: the economy or the environment?
We then made our way onto the bus and began our journey to Dodge City, Kansas. On the way, Billy played the movie Bowling for Columbine on the bus to help us prepare for our pro- and anti-gun speakers, one a member of the NRA and the other a father of a gun violence victim from Aurora, Colorado. The film was very interesting for me personally because I was able to see how people in power responded to uncomfortable questions. Some of them acted for the better, such as Kmart representatives who agreed to phase out the sale of firearm ammunition in their stores within 90 days. Others, and sadly this was the majority in the film, simply walked away without looking back. My views on gun control are very moderate in that I have sympathy among the liberal and conservative opinions. For that reason it made it a little frustrating to watch the film because I agreed with both sides, but couldn’t decide which one superseded the other. Personally, I believe Americans have the right to bear arms as outlined in our Constitution. However, I believe the process in attaining a gun is too easy and harsher restrictions must be put into place. It is crazy to me in order to operate a car you must undergo a seeing, hearing, and operating test and a renewal process, but in most states none of those prerequisites are necessary regarding gun possession. In addition, a car’s purpose is mainly transportation, and mistakes can lead to harm but it’s not its sole intention. On the other hand, a gun is not meant for anything except for causing harm. I look forward to engaging with our presenters regarding gun control to see what they present as their arguments.
On the bus ride after lunch, we suddenly stopped on the side of the road by a field in Kansas. Everyone began to freak out wondering if the bus had broken down, until Billy calmly got on the speaker and told us an Etgar tradition. The majority of the kids who come on programs like these do not come from rural areas such as Kansas, meaning that most never see what the majority of our country looks like. For that reason, every year Etgar stops by a field for a few minutes to take advantage of a opportunity that not a lot of us have. The field was absolutely beautiful and I’m extremely glad I got the chance to walk around and learn about the Dust Bowl where it originated because I don’t know the next time I’ll be somewhere like that. 
Once arriving in Dodge City, we got a couple hours of free time until dinner and then Billy surprised us with a sweet visit to Dairy Queen. Back at the hotel, we engaged in a discussion regarding same-sex marriage, led by our counselor Hannah, before going to bed. An interesting thought presented was the difference between the First Amendment and the bill passed stating nobody “shall be punished” for their action resulting from religious beliefs. The question is why is there a necessity for the bill if the freedom of religion and expression is already outlined in the First Amendment? To me, the word “freedom” has a connotation behind it saying you are independent and thus expected to protect yourself to a certain extent. The necessity of the bill from my perspective, while you already have the freedom for religion and expression, is meant to protect you from people.
I am very glad I am on this trip with the people around me because every single person is so well informed that every discussion brings about new perspectives and thoughts I never would have thought about by myself. For that, I am grateful and I look forward to all the other topics we have to cover.