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