Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Just Saying Thanks

I just want to say thanks for all of the people who have been reading along over the past few months. Please leave comments if you have any; I would love to know what others think. Again, thank you.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Binding Social Contract

I'll blame this next ramble on the fact that I have been reading a lot of Descartes and Locke lately and the fact that I spent the vast majority of the past six years trying to discover truth and what "self" really is. The truth about truth is that it's allusive. And in the moments that I have grabbed it and realized that I was holding the knowledge of life in my hands, I also realized that it would be gone by the morning. Truth of the essence of our existence is what I am talking about: truth about gods, God, love, hate, good, evil, what makes us tick, and most importantly whether or not they are really different from one another or if they even exist at all. As all people do at a young age, I wanted to explore myself. My friends all tell me that I think too much, and maybe they are right. Or maybe they don't think enough. I'm convinced that some of them might not think at all. Because if we could think (I mean really think without the blinders of social taboos or influence of ideas) a lot of us would be surprised by what we believe. Take the time to separate yourself from society, religion, family, friends, and most importantly preconceived notions by which you have not rationally tested. Why do we believe what we do? Gay marriage, for example, is not popular because of religion. It also has a social taboo (even though homosexual relationships have been around since at least the classical age, if not before). I know many young people who have grown up learning to dispute homosexual legitimacy without even considering the basis from which they draw their argument. Is it rationale? Is it religious reasons? And if it is for those reasons, then why is it for those reasons? In my rationale, I cannot condemn something simply because I was told to by either another person or a book (no matter a holy source). I do not mean that in any disrespect. Merely reasoning that I am a human, like other humans. We all reason and experience the world through our own senses, our own minds, and draw conclusions to our own reasons. We are all equal in the fact that we are all breathing mass that is attempting to understand the world around us that we perceive as a concept of reality. We are all equal in death. Not only are we equal, but we are alone. All of us experience life alone. We may think that we have friends, family, pets, etc. Those are just illusions. And if you refuse to accept that they are illusions (I hope by your own means of testing a rationale) then surely you cannot refuse to accept that these people are not with you throughout your entire life. They die, or move away, or have other things to do. The voices in our heads (I assure you that we all have them) are the only things that accompany us through life. We are all utterly alone, living lonely lives, wanting to "have" things, relationships, and careers. Who are we to say what is right and what is wrong? We cannot possibly know for ourselves; we can only believe in what we choose to believe in. We all experience our own lives through our own senses and try to make sense of a "reality" that we perceive. We must keep our physical bodies nourished and protected in order to keep this reality of being alive. So we eat, sleep, look for shelter, etc. But an interesting shift occurred when we formed societies. To save time and space (and your interest) we will fast forward to modern period societies. How strange is it that we have entered this "social contract" without filling out any paperwork (and we all know how much the government loves paperwork), and without consenting to anything. We were inherently prescribed a nation upon our birth, and even if we choose to leave the nation, we must make the conscious choice to enter another. There is no country for freedom. No matter how many rednecks with confederate flags, dip cans, and beer rally through back-country towns with their raised mud-trucks hollering about freedom and the supremacy of "'Merica", we have lost our sense of freedom. We have lost the original American Dream. The dream that there was a land to be explored, new lives to be had, and places to go where the troubles of large societies could not reach you. Hell, we even lost our spot as one of the leading nations in the world (unless you count waistlines, which we take the cake(s)). We still wave our stars and stripes, singing praises to lady liberty and the land of the free, while the corporations and government officials slowly strip away individuality. We concern ourselves with the protection of our rights, complain about how much money the government takes in taxes, and all the while do not stop to think of why we are in this in the first place! It is a choice to be a part of any society. Be warned: there is no way to be a part of a modern day society without inhibiting your own freedom. We must all give up something in the name of our big brother. Now societies aren't all bad. It is nice to go to the store instead of having to provide for yourself. It is much easier to meet women at a coffee shop than roaming the wild. Also, we have access to much more culture and knowledge than we would if we were to revert to the natural state of man. However, we have come to two separate extremes: living by the rules adorned by someone else in a society, or living in nature. Why can there not be a happy medium? I had a professor who told me that, "if you want to use the roads, then you must obey the rules of the roads". This makes sense. I did not build the roads, they are not mine (ownership is another argument entirely). I will obey your rules to use the roads, just like I would obey your conditions if you were allowing me to borrow your video camera. Yet I must retain my individual self. The type of individual self that has been lost in the main culture of America (although the Americans will refuse to admit it). Why must I live by the rules that I do not agree with? Although I do not partake, cannabis use is a prime example of the conflict between the state and the self. Abortion and gay marriage would be other hot-topic examples. The point is, why are these people deciding for us? And why don't we care anymore? We merely accept the law with the notion that if we do not obey it, bad things will happen to us. This is tyrannical oppression of the individual thought that created America. A government is to be supportive of the ideas of its people, the backbone of the society where the creativity and culture of the people provide the hands and feet, moving along the idea flow. This is an issue larger than who the president is. Obama is not a terrible guy, he is not a tyrannical ruler. This is an issue with the culture, the government overall, and the corporations that have taken over America. And if you think I'm crazy, then ask yourself which products have GMO's (Genetically Modified Organisms) next time you're in the grocery store, and why the former VP of Monsanto is now Deputy Commissioner of the FDA. (If you haven't read about Monsanto, then I highly suggest you do so before eating). The protection and freedom of the individual has been lost to our greed and lust for money. Our culture is fading away into the mainstream nonsense that companies promote with advertising. They blind us with the promise of success, then demand that we slave for the sake of the dollar. When we tire, they give us pills for the aches, then it's back to work. And we end up forgetting to really live, because we are too busy trying to live. It's not that they tell us that we are free, and that's a lie. It's that we tell ourselves that we are free, and it's a lie. We are subject to the social contract that we never signed. And I'm sick of it.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Promise to California

So, when the fuck did anti-depressants come on the scene? I don't mean to be rude, depression is a very serious thing and I empathize with those like me who suffer it. But why do we suffer it? For me, it has a lot to do with feeling stuck. It's like being caught in a rut. And society says I can't pop real medicine like LSD, and force feed me anti-depressants via cheap commercials on their own version of a mind drug- the television. Of course the depressed "need" medicine because society is too busy churning and everyone needs to be a happy part of it. That's what it means to be a citizen. Grow up, try hard in school, get a job to support the economy and your new monogamous nuclear family, raise your children, and hope that there's still imaginary numbers called money in some distant imaginary bank account for you to retire on. Heaven forbid you want something different. That goes against the church.

I say that's bullshit. I don't want anti-depressants. I want LSD. And I want to live in a world where poetry, literature, theatre, language, and music still thrive. Those are the the very heartbeat of culture. ESPN, the Kardashians, the Jersey Shore craze, brand names, money, and all other plaque that our culture misleads people through into conforming and being distracted from the evils of society are quietly slowing our heartbeats. Culture needs a nice, loud shock. A clear signal to restart the heart and fire the veins of America with beautiful literature (both old and new), romantic and entrancing poetry, captivating theatre, and some damn good rock and roll.

That will be happening this summer. The next group of merry pranksters will be taking to the roads -the veins of America, traveling like an I.V. system, straight into the dirty bloodstream that makes America tick, and releasing a powerful alternative way to live. This isn't a commune, it isn't a hippie movement. It's a philosophy. We are the young generation, and we are tired of looking at the real world that has been left for us. We are tired of it, because we do not want it. We have watched the greatest minds of the generations before us befall to sickness of greed or even worse, failure. We will be an example of how to experience the one life that we have- at least in this reality. This trip is about not conforming to society. It's about freedom, independence, love, generosity, and living to the utmost appreciation of our fragile lives. It's about starting up the next renaissance, the next group of bohemians; following the legacy of the beats to truly- as Ken Kesey would say- take our destination furthur than this reality while exploring the fantastic possibilities of life in this country by affirming all that is right, true, and decent in the national character. This trip is about returning America to the goddamn American Dream. And that wasn't built off of economic plans, politics, or the church. The very essential essence of the American Dream was born from manifest destiny; born from seizing life the fucking balls and making the most of yourself every day. And for us, the new generation, it's about appreciating how beautiful the world and cultures around us are. It's about taking the time to adjust our lives to allow for the appraisal of fine yet minimal materials, esteem for living, and the value of life. By taking a leaf from the French, the Beats, Music, and our own ideas, we aim to shock the world. Or at least that's my interpretation of it. If you want to hear someone else's, contact another one of the Merry Pranksters.

Turn on, tune in, and drop out.

Monday, February 25, 2013

8 Days a Week

I would like to speak to the manager of this establishment. It's a Monday, and while I am not one to retweet the stereotypical "I hate Monday" tweet, I have a problem with it being Monday. You see, this weekend was grand. A splendid weekend full of sun friendly days, nights in which the moonlight basked in alcohol (or the other way around, I can't quite remember), and most importantly freedom. There was no reason for it to end. Alas, Monday came, and school and work began. The standard 5-day work/school week is a logical fallacy from the "equality" that America pushes. We accept the work week because it's the way things have been. However, who decided this? I was not present during any meeting, nor my parents or grandparents. Perhaps we should take a poll every few generations to measure people's opinions on the weekly calendar (it's amazing how some people transform anything they can into their little numbers). Business people love numbers, they would love this job. I love weekends. I do, we emotionally connect. Because weekends are about free time, choosing what you want to do, relaxing, partying, playing, smiling, reading, games, and freedom. In other words, weekends are little glimpses of what life is supposed to be like, but we let the week get in the way. We feel obligated to support a mythical creature called the economy, obligated to join in consumerism and indentured slavery, and obligated to sign our lives away in the name of the dollar bill. So, we spend 5 days a week fulfilling these obligations because we've been bamboozled into a calendar corruption. That makes me sounds like a crazy conspiracy theorist, but you come up with a better name and I am all for it. Sure, we get 2 days off, but really Sunday must be spent resting for the week to come, Friday night is the exhaust of the pollution of an entire week, and we are left with 1 real day. 1 day a week to live. 1/7 of our life to do what we want with the day. Life is about living and having fun. If we wanted to be fair, let's split the week into 8 days (some of us already thought there were 8 days in a week *Ringo Star*). Then split the 8 days into 4 week days and 4 weekend days. That is as complicated and numerical as it needs to get. The adults have their numbers and work days; I have my weekends. Everyone wins. So will someone point me in the direction of the manager of this established calendar?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Post-Valentine's Day

I was recently asked if I had ever been in love.  Like most teenagers would say, I answered yes.  Now, I know that I am a slight romantic and quick to draw out big words with big meanings like the word love, but even still I am hesitant to devote myself towards someone. Once you’re with that one someone, there goes guys’ night every night, dancing with as many girls as possible at parties, and flirting with cute girls in class.  Commitment means giving up a part of your life.  And in a committed relationship, both parties are expected to give up part of their lives to be part of each other’s.  So why are young people so anxious to be in committed relationships-in love- with each other at such a young age with so much to experience? There is no doubt of the allure of a relationship- companionship.  But are the ideas of companionship and love so intoxicating that teenagers are defenseless against it?  Myself, like almost every other teenager, had fallen victim to the subtle but important difference between the idea of love and the ideal of love.  I said I loved someone when I would do anything for them.  I would drive across town on their break at work to bring them Cheerwine, or I would stick my own neck out to get in trouble so that their slate would stay clean.  We call that being in love.  But the simple truth is that people cannot own people.  We are all independent, and we are free to do as we please.  The ideas of duty, responsibility, and obedience are choices.  Everything is a choice.  Even the ideal of love is a choice. However, it is not the choice to do anything for someone and care for them- though that is a part of it- it is much more than that.  Love as an ideal is sharing a relationship with someone without impeding their life to a degree that they feel obligated or mandated to give up a part of it.  Love is walking with someone through life, though not always physically every day.  Love is patient because real love knows that it isn’t about receiving what you feel like you need from a relationship, but it is giving the other person what they need while knowing that you will not always receive the same treatment back. Sometimes people need space in relationships.  That is no sign of a lack of love, merely a sign of abundance in experiences.  The ideal of love is simple: just be.  We fall victim to the idea of love presented by our culture that two people compromise to be together.  While in the ideal of love, there will be compromises-though they come not from a feeling of duty, but from a feeling of graceful giving. The ideal of love is agape: unconditional, patient, giving, and graceful love.  This is the love present in higher realms by the force around us that Christians call God, Buddhists call Dharma, Muslims call Allah, Jews call Yahweh, and I call you.  We are not only subject to this force, but we are part of this force.  The reason for relationships is not for the western idea of ownership of a person, but for the living and loving-ideally loving- each other and sharing experiences together with the regard that while we are young, there are many experiences that the other must partake in without the other.  The idea of love can set hearts on fire, but an emotional fire that can spread to the mind and to the eyes and ears. The idea of love leads to jealousy.  The ideal of love gives a heart a match to hope with, a freshly cool breeze for the mind, and patience to the feet. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

An American Mind Thinking of His Country

Occupy Wall Street failed because no one knew what they were talking about. Most people thought that it was about the 99% rebelling against the 1%, when really it is a movement to separate corporations from state affairs.  The same thing happened during one of the stages of the French Revolution in the 18th century.  The people who thought it up had a brilliant idea, but they needed support.  However, there was a breakdown in communication.  As the idea spread, people twisted it into what they wanted to believe.  For the French, this turned into a disaster.  The revolutionaries won, but could not establish most of their original doctrines because the people who had fought alongside of them did not agree with them.  This induced another bloody rebellion.  Maybe it's a good thing that Occupy Wall Street was not a complete success.  That's the problem with turning ideas into actions, they require a very solid education.  The best two historical examples of the diffusion of ideology come from two figures who are on opposing ends of the collective moral spectrum: Hitler and Martin Luther King Jr.  Their tactics differ vastly, but their end result of their followers being educated in their ideals were concrete.  Hitler preached hate.  King preached love.  Hitler used tricks such as burning down political buildings and planting evidence that put his enemy in the spotlight.  King used classrooms to teach people how to avoid violence and understand what exactly they were standing to represent.  Both men believed that what they were doing was right and good (morality a fun conversation, and perhaps will provide a topic for a future blog post). But the point is that they both had a plan. It is one thing to promote an idea, but another entirely to enact it.

 Action does not always require a plan, but on large scale sociopolitical issues, a rough sketch for a plan would be advised.  A lot of people think that America needs "fixing". They through around big words like gun-control, gay rights, and cancer.  However, America is not a kitchen sink.  You cannot call someone to the other end of a telephone line, arrange a few meetings, gather some tools and new parts, and expect a different outcome.  America, in terms of government, is a corporation (one that is massively buried in debt, bear in mind). America has an addiction to spending money, but it is blind to the debt it has built up.  She keeps telling everyone that she is the best country in the world and trying to look good in the spotlight, when underneath it all she is falling apart.  Infrastructure is aging.  Traditions and progress are butting heads.  Worst of all, we were disillusioned into thinking that we could live forever.  America as a government corporation is like a young actor trying to make it big in Hollywood.  We show a great face, but underneath we are running out of resources.

America's people are a different story, yet just as uneasy to hear.  We have been plagued by cancer.  Not of the liver, the brain, or the lungs, but of the mind.  There, I just threw around a big word. Did you catch it? Cancer. Woah, that is a loaded word.  Lots of us have lost friends to the disease. But I'm not talking about a physical cancer. I am talking about a mental cancer. I use the word, cancer, because that is how it spreads. It takes over and kills the cancer-free (emphasis on the word free). Really it is a disillusionment.  We have fallen victim to the monstrosities of money, escapism, and materialism.  We talk about the economy like it is some living entity that breathes fire. Or like an ancient god, when it is in a good mood it is kind to us, but when it is bad to us we sacrifice and feed it to restore balance.  We forget that we created it.  We forget that we created money.  Really it is just paper with no true meaning.  Last time I checked, scissors still beats paper. American movies almost always have good endings, have you noticed? Ever since the Great Depression we have used movies to provide us an escape.  We do not want to feel burdened by the needs of third world countries or even by the hunger in our own country.  We do not want to feel guilty as we climb into our cars (no matter how nice). We do not want anything to disturb the comfort and warmth of our homes. To the rest of the world, we are the top of the hierarchy. Which is why we are okay with the status-quo. Sadly, we believe this lie. Our material induced numbness has left us blind to the truth. We are the same as everyone else.  There is no end to "keeping up with the Jones".  Things change too fast, we are always chasing after more. And even if we are at the top of that game, that does not make us a better human being.  A man with four vacation homes, a Bentley, and a yacht will still meet the great equalizer of death just as a poor man will.  We are all mortal, made from stardust (according to scientific facts). There is a Hindu belief, Maya, that we don't see the world for how it really is, all form is illusion. This leads to the idea of Brahman, that all form is the same. Time expires everything. Along with all of our powerful possessions, we will return to dust. As Western Christians would say, "you were made from dust, and to dust you shall return" (Genesis 3:19). Materialism is dangerous. It creates dividers between people.  This is sad to see.  Humans should have learned by now that dividers lead to hierarchies. Hierarchies lead to a disgruntled group of people. Disgruntled people fight revolutions.

America's corporate government does need some work.  However, it is her society that needs the most work. We hide behind TV's and some misconceived idea of a "real world". Business is a nice game, but it should not be the table head of our society.  The world is more visible through the eyes of a child than most businessmen.  Perhaps it is because a child's eyesight is not hindered by cancer. It is vital to the survival of our country to find a cure, a plan, for recovery. I propose that we follow Dr. Martin Luther King's approach of teaching nonviolence, love, and respect and apply those virtues to our issues of money, escapism, and materialism. We do not need to put material things in the higher ranks of our priorities. This is not to say that there should be no appreciation for technology.  Mass media is useful for communication and information, computers save trees and time, and transportation is much faster in an automobile than on foot.  Moderation is the key to our roles as consumers.  Do not let greed consume you. Take time away from you TV's to talk to the people around you. Turn off your smartphones to connect with people. Take a walk on a sunny day and remember that "freedom is the will to be responsible to ourselves" (Nietzsche). You are more than a compilation of someone else's thoughts.  Think for yourself.  Do not even soak in what I say without questioning it first. But do remember that while you have the right to be free, so does every other being.  Freedom is not a violent parade of revolution and reforms.  Freedom is finding peace within yourself quietly and allowing others to do the same. Freedom is the ability to talk, act, wander, dream, and hope independently. There are many things I will discuss further in future posts. Everything is too linked and complexly simple to discuss in one post.  As for our beloved America, may she find freedom. May you find freedom, and through it obtain peace and happiness.

-Silence Dogood