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Ashlin Rohbock

Portfolio #1: Long Essay: How Do We Know What We Know?
Everyone knows how it goesGraduating from high school is not only some big
wahoo to remind us that we managed to slum our way through four entire years of public
education; rather, it serves far much more importance. As a freshman, sophomore, and even
junior, I never fully understood the great holiness and utter magnitude that is therefore presented
by the first chance to be an adult (until actually reaching my senior year.) This first opportunity,
is known as this little thing called, Senior Trip (noun) for a week in Newport Beach, with
hundreds of other kids and an apparent lack of proper guardianship, and overall clothing for that
matter. Like every other eighteen-year-old, I looked forward to this moment with every ounce of
my being. This was my first opportunity to prove to the world that I, Ashlin Rohbock, should be
accepted into this new society of freedom and limitless opportunities.
Like all good love stories, or simply in my case, a good story about my love of
freedomnothing can go quite as planned, and that was exactly what had happened. I soon
found myself aboard a thirteen hour flight, headed into one of the worlds most iconic and
influential pieces of land: Israel. Yet, at that moment, I wasnt thinking of the amazing journey I
was about to embark on. Rather, I was focused on the fact that I was about to undergo a thirteen
hour plane ride, which to me, was the equivalent of taking a trip to hell and back. But despite my
negative attitude (that I so openly and frequently expressed), I found myself shocked at the
impact this venture had not only my heart, but my soul.

To many, the Middle East is a land of destruction, terrorism, desolation, weird religions
that no one seems to understand and people, who hate Americans... for whatever reason. Little do
many realize, that this Holy Land is where life started, and where life will end. There are no
words that can describe the overwhelming and miraculous feelings of walking the cobble roads
Christ walked on, just merely 2,000 years prior. Theres nothing like wandering around the
Temple Mount, and seeing hundreds of Muslims passionately pouring their hearts into their
prayers. And nothing more beautiful than seeing thousands of Jews gather, to put their prayers
into the Wailing Wall, in hopes that God will hear their cries.
The question is How do we know what we know? which is quite the thought-provoking
statement. Israel is a country that is centered on religion, and its not just religious tolerance,
rather; it is religious acceptance, and fulling allowing religion to take a central role in society. Its
a land, that despite being surrounded by a dozen other countries (all of which whom very directly
hate Israel) continues to live life, with having no shame in ones beliefs. I learned that there is
beauty and invigorating emotion, when an individual embraces who they are, and doesnt allow
others to change their true identity.
As Americans, weve grown in a society where the American Dream is for someone to
make a name for himself, and take pride in their work and accomplishments, giving one a sense
of self-identity and creating a lasting legacy, for their posterity to come. This is not the case (at
least not anymore) because we live in a time where conformity, neutralizing ones personal
thoughts and beliefs to please the majorities, and lacking a sense of comfortability in standing
out and up for ones beliefs, is an action of the past. This, is where we, as an American people,
have turned so painfully wrong. We are a country which was founded on religious principles, and
were so tragically allowing these traditions and notions to pass on.

History doesnt repeat itself; rather, human inhibitions and behaviors remain the same,
ultimately resulting in similar consequences. I never fully understood the significant magnitude
that this statement proves. The history of Israel is an all-too-familiar tale of rulers and their
people, killing and overthrowing other rulers and their people, whether its over a piece a land, a
difference of religion, or simply because time was all too peaceful for a moment I relate these
times of war, to the current time that we, as Americans, are living in now. If something doesnt
change, we as a people, are going to see similar results as these.
We live in a time of great beauty, where we have limitless opportunities to live life to the
fullest we can. Im talking about becoming a people full of compassion and love, sympathy and
understandingrather than meagerly being tolerant or okay with the fact that an individual
chooses (and has the literal right) to worship whatever God or Gods they do so please. It is my
personal belief, that if an individual would simply take the time to understand someone with
different views (from their own,) that we would see and immediate change in the way individuals
act with one another. Its a basic understanding of human nature that people are scared of things
that they do not know, or are unfamiliar with. I believe that there could be a great harmony and
union amongst us all, if we genuinely took understanding, and saw the greatness of having
religious freedom, and allowing that freedom to be expressed in any aspect of life, as we so
So how does this tie into what I know, and how I know these things to be true? Its
simple I relate my spiritual journey to Platos allegory of the cave. These people lived in the
shadows of a cave, and that was the only life they knew. This sheltered life seemed to be the only
reality known, until one day, a man was released from these bounds, and was able to
experience life outside of this small premise. When the man came back to share of his

experiences (outsides of the walls of the cave,) those around him didnt believe of all his
journeyings. The question that seemed ever so prevalent was How am I supposed to know the
validity of these stories, unless I personally get to experience them for myself? That is exactly
the key to all my personal revelations that I received while travelling the country of Israel.
I can tell of all the beautiful people I saw, countless moments of spiritual fulfillment I
experienced, the blocks and blocks of city streets, filled with merchants selling their goods, the
countless churches, holy pieces of land and crucial bits of biblical enlightenment I learned. But,
that would defeat the point. The point that I am trying to make, is that the only way someone can
ever gain a knowledge and love for a specific period in time, some sort of scientific innovation,
love for architecture or cooking, or even becoming passionate and knowledgeable about a
foreign country, is by experience. I know what I know, and how I know these things, because I
fell in love with a country, that I initially knew little about. All it took was a couple weeks, a little
bit of travelling, and I learned thousands of years of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish history.