Believe

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Don’t forget to love yourself.” – Soren Kierkegaard

Over the last bunch of days, it’s dawned on me how few people truly believe themselves. It could just be the weird combination of “marriage season”, mixed with “bbq season”, and my recent marathon of True Detective season one. Admittedly, eight episodes is not much of a marathon, and as this paragraph digresses, it’s time to transition.

People tend to project their weaknesses if their faith is weak. This projection is usually an attempt to conceal their weakness. Ironically, it ends up broadcasting their weaknesses. What causes a weakness in faith? Fear, hunger, pettiness? Plenty of variables create weakness in faith.

Many months ago, my friend mocked my thinking on politics. At the time he said, “At least they believe in something.” Knowing my friend, I knew he was just being a contrarian. To me, both sides of the political spectrum are a mirror image. Each has it’s radicals,  and level-headed, and each has their own strong biases. (This idea of mine is exactly what he objected to.)

When it comes to politics, my stance is pretty neutral. Which is to say, wherever I go, it seems that people automatically assume me to be opposite of them. As it so happens, this assumption is always based on little to no evidence, zero previous conversations concerning politics, and my state of origin. Hell, some of my cousins believe me to be a Republican simply because my parents are. Truthfully, I do have a political stance. But “Economist”, isn’t exactly a political option to register.

Anyway my point is that it’s great to have absolute faith. Startlingly few people do. Many more people state that they do, and lie to themselves. Even my friend, who took a cynical jab at me, is right to some extent. Believe in your convictions as long as they don’t hurt anyone. Only the faithless will criticize you.

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Stones

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” You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” ~ Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird

Once upon a time, a bunch of people were going to stone a whore to death. A dude named Jesus stopped this by saying, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Let he who has never sinned cast the first stone.” No stones were thrown.

Sure that is a very spark notes version of the whole story, but it serves its purpose. Also yes Jesus was just called “a dude” by me. Whether he existed or not It’s a great lesson that constantly appears in numerous works of media. Most notably, in To Kill A Mockingbird; a true classic of American literature.

For whatever reason, the portion of persons in the USA who subscribe to the religious-like twenty-four-hour news media are often portrayed as the majority by the news media. The news media’s job has been, and always will be, to incite their fans, get them talking, and get them to throw proverbial stones. In our current iteration of life, money is almost literally generated by the comment section of an article. The news viewing public, generally speaking, is the same as this comment section. Emotion always trumps rationality

Within the span of a few weeks, a famous transgendered person graced the cover of Vanity Fair, a noteworthy scientist said some offensive remarks toward women, and gay marriage became federally legal. Each had a spark of controversy, the only one where it really mattered was where, renowned scientist, Tim Hunt resigned because of offensive remarks he said. Immediately, in the domain of public opinion, his work became irrelevant, and he was forced to resign from a few positions. Certainly every event has had at least one person face such verbal abuse in the name of “tolerance”.

To preach tolerance, doesn’t one have to be tolerant? Shouldn’t we question those who think differently and seek understanding? How is building a resentful person, who can’t voice their own opinion productive to the idea of tolerance at all? Perhaps the U.S. is a bit ingrained in it’s, “Burn the witch, ask questions later approach”, but it’s as harmful today as it was in The Crucible.

Escaping The Past

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Running away and starting fresh often has a romantic connotation to it. Many forms of media including television, and novels express this idea. Some keep the romantic notion alive throughout the entirety of the piece. Others show how the past always catches up.

You can forget the past, and change as a person. Hopefully we all change for the better, but that is only up to us. However, when you run away from longstanding problems, or stuff them in a lockbox, they will come back when you least expect. Sometimes this works out in a great way since we mature…and stuff.

This got me thinking about one of my favorite pieces of media; Cowboy Bebop. If you haven’t watched it, it’s a great series. Also noteworthy is it’s short, and sweet length. (Hundred hour tv dramas be damned.). Oh yeah, there may be spoilers ahead.

One of the themes in Cowboy Bebop is existence. The series features a cast of characters who are all somehow divorced from their individual pasts. Slowly, layer by layer, each character simultaneously develops, and reveals their past. Consequently, they must deal with their issues and tie up the loose ends of the plot. Each character’s arc winds up feeling a bit different, but the real treat is watching the cast grow.

Why I bring up this series is that it captures our romantic fascination of starting over, and then deconstructs our romanticization. But the uncertainty of the past nags at each character similarly to how our own pasts nag at us . Viewers then watch characters who simply must deal with their stuff. Much like life, every character has a different set of results. What will happen when you are forced to deal with the past?

Just Keep Digging

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Perseverance is a weird subject. Everything from self-help, to cynical media has their rationale on perseverance. Furthermore, everyone has their own individual goals. Some people put in numerous, unpaid hours in industries they love in belief that the end goal will justify the means. What if that end goal can’t satisfy your life’s needs? This is something that occurs on almost every reality television show, and frequently occurs for plenty of interns.

Are you a poor schlub for doing an internship just to get a below-average-salary job, because you’re young? Not to say that money buys happiness, or fulfillment, but necessities are necessities. What happens when the goal is achieved and the results are unsatisfactory? There isn’t just one definable path from intern, to worker, to middle management. Also, there are plenty of people who are at the bottom rung of the ladder for their entire lifetimes. Just getting by is not a fun way to live. Whether that is making just enough money, or simply getting nowhere at work.

Sometimes we are told to chase our dreams. It’s a great sentiment, and one I believe everyone should try at least once, but no one has the master plan. Many people make a living telling your how to achieve. Depending on what you want to do, some of them may be correct. Hell, everyone in the United States could use a financial guru.

Maybe no one has the answers and those who found them just kept digging. They just kept doing what they did and life worked out. Some people find achievement easily. For others it’s a lifelong process. Which one will you be? We must all dig our own gardens so it seems.

All In This Together

Narcissism is like a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. Media analysts, and pundits will argue that we live in a narcissistic time unrivaled by any other. Ironically, these analysts, news-writers, and pundits are just doling out their own narcissistic opinions. Hell, speaking from experience, news-writers are barely even a tertiary source anymore. Their job at this point is to frame conjecture as fact.

However, that is a major digression. It seems to me that the older we get, and inevitably more susceptible we become to what talking heads say, the more narcissistic we become.We also become less likely to stick out our necks. With great fallacy, many of us see that our life is best way to live. Trust no one, and don’t expect people to trust you.

Is being so trusting such an awful thing? Despite my nature of being a godless heathen, it’s hard to ignore that Jesus trusted and loved everyone. Sure it’s easy for a smart-ass to say, “He died being crucified by people whom he loved,” but whether or not he truly saved us from sin, he did die for his beliefs.

Every successful person knows that they gained success through the help of many and through having great relationships. Perhaps it’s a naive thought, but wouldn’t life be greater if we built these relationships less grudgingly? Just forget the stupid thing someone said on Twitter, or for once not rant about something on Facebook, neglect the divisiveness of politics, get rid of our social stigmatizations, and so on. We are all going to end up in the same place after all.

State Of Happiness

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When you are in your twenties/late teens trying to figure life out, the word happiness gets juggled around often. Many say you should do what makes you happy. Others say happiness is the key to life. It is hard to say whether anyone’s advice, given that it is genuine and heartfelt, is objectively great or awful. All advice is dependent on the recipient, no?

An individual may not even be ready for life-changing advice. Furthermore, the path to walk down is determined quite often on one’s outlook. In choosing a life, or a life’s goal, the only two things that matter are fear and bravery. The brave have a more difficult time, but reap the greatest rewards. Whereas the fearful have the easiest path, but few if any rewards towards the end. What got me thinking of all the conflicting messages, and our collective future as human beings, is the current state of everyone around me. In other words, my friends are all going to grad school.

A great decision if founded in great beliefs and genuine goals. With this decision, much like college or getting a job, many people are doing it because they have to, not because they want to. Many of these people are intelligent enough to trick themselves into believing whatever they want. Herein lies the flaw with our perception of happiness.

If the “real world” lacks your hearts desires, can grad school be much better? Money does not, and will not buy happiness. Achieving ones goals will not either, but it will bring fulfillment. Is chasing grades, goals, and money really going to bring happiness? It sounds cliche, but happiness comes before the goals, before the money, and before most everything else. It won’t come from a piece of paper, it may not come from your current beliefs, and it won’t necessarily come from achievement.The only place happiness can come from is a sound mind guided by a sound heart.

Perhaps that is the flaw with our logic of happiness. We chase the affirmations of our beliefs, and too often ignore the truth. Happiness should not be a result, but rather the core that energizes our being.

Our Infinite Loop

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Time is a flat circle.”

Something about that quote always stuck with me.

As a fan of the show, it is easy to dismiss Rust’s Nietzsche-esque quotes, and his perspective on the interpretation of life’s meaning. For one, Rust is a die hard pessimist. Granted he is that way for a reason, but his view is that if perspective from another dimension was attainable, we would see that time keeps occurring in an infinite loop. Nothing really changes, and if we have souls,  they jump bodies when we die and leave all previous consciousness behind. In his view we are the same people over and over again.

Over the last couple weeks, while talking loved ones about topical issues, the concept caught a hold of me. Everything seems to be repeating while we sit and let it happen. One could argue that this mass manipulation of the supposed universe is evil. The connotation of this otherworldly manipulation, funnily enough, is really all we may be able to control. You can see it as great, or awful, or be completely indifferent about it. (In fact, a great book that details this omnipresent scenario is called Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.)

For reference, social media has supposedly been and continues to be this hot thing that everyone need to “jump on.” At least one social media advocate has even implied that not being on social media is equivalent to death  Would that mean that everyone over the age of 45-ish is dead? What’s crazier is that there is an implication by many people, like this advocate, that social media is a new hot thing. Social media has existed for as long as the internet has entered the household. AIM? AOL Chatrooms? Friendster? Do any of those services ring a bell?

Currently the major difference between then and now, is that tech companies more powerful now. They can, and have manipulated the narrative to make enough people believe that social media matters and is fresh. More importantly, this is just one of many entities in human history that recycles itself. Do you believe that privacy issues are current? Do you believe that the guy looking for terror-cells is really that concerned with your information? Or is it really the always-present-marketing-guy who is looking for your stuff? Gay equality will shortly be here, and that’s wonderful. But are you as an individual going to react the same when transgendered people have their fight? What if pedophiles have that same urge to be accepted? Certainly it’s a crazy leap, and I may be mistaken in thinking that it could happen, but history says otherwise.

Where the fault in our humanity lies is in our perceptions of events. As a man in his mid 20’s I am now witnessing the birth of all of the things that my generation, and the generation above mine, simply will not understand quite like younger generations will. This blog’s purpose is to document thoughts like these, and to facilitate preemptive discussion. Currently we are the generation where pot was legalized, gay marriage happened, and WEB 2.0 took place for us to easily grasp. But shortly from now, we will have to deal with a newer, crazier drug, transgendered rights, and WEB 3.0. Largely, the differentiating factor is that twenty years from now, most of us will have children. Children who may experiment with that crazy drug, who may be transgendered, and who will understand WEB 3.0. And everything will look wildly different, function slightly different, and may cause us to react irrationally. Our choices however, remain the same : grow wise or grow old.

Time truly is a flat circle.