Peace in Pieces

I sit here and look at the television screen,
What is she wearing?  Who are they going to vote off?
Twittering rage, Facebook lols, texting friends,
I’m experiencing life, I hope it never ends,
Not really paying attention,
There’s nothing else to do,
It feels like peace for me, is it peace for you?

I’ve got a lot and I’m going to need more,
I really don’t know what it’s all for, but I got it,
In only 10 years my wealth will double,
Too bad about that housing bubble,
You’ve got to work harder,
You’ve got more to do,
Can’t take a piece from me, I’ll take that piece from you.

I had a job, but well they didn’t need me anymore,
I’m sure I’m important though, but how to show it,
Turning on the news, the worlds gone to hell,
No way I’m going to get out of this well,
I’ve got to fight just to survive,
Only one thing left to do,
Won’t take a piece of me, I’ll take a piece of you.

You want me to trust, but I’m so afraid,
That article told me who’s to blame, the real problem,
Just keep me safe, I’ll do what it takes,
Close the borders for goodness sake,
I’ve got my gun next to me,
What are you going to do?
You took peace from me, I’ll take a piece of you.

I must raze the world to build it anew,
I’ve got a vision, and this is where you come in,
This is divine providence, no need to fear
You’ll change the world, for God is near
Your cause is righteous,
You know what to do,
Take some pieces of them, for pieces of you.

I’ve so much to be thankful for,
My basic needs are met and even a little sugar,
I won’t sit here and be passive,
Let the weight get too massive,
I’ll show you my heart,
Do what you will do,
But you can take a piece of me, and put that piece into you

The Shame Spiral

Shame is the topic today.  I’ve decided though that I want practice being more creative with my writing.  While I enjoy writing out my thoughts in essay form, and many of you have been kind of enough to appreciate it as well, variety is the spice of life, and I need to practice more variety of expression.  Especially I still have this dream of one day writing some sort of work of fiction, and so I need to practice wordcraft and storytelling more.  And I venture it to such an area, I risk making myself more vulnerable as I express a part of myself I am less confidence in my ability to express.  The connection between vulnerability and shame was brought to my attention this week through a wonderful TED talk. This culture of shaming,

especially through social media has been on my mind a lot over the past year or so, since I saw an excellent interview on the Daily Show with Jon Ronson.  An article on the book he has published is here.  So I shall let the talk and the article do the intellectual speaking for me, and I will instead put forth this poem on the subject.  In my head this poetry would be expressed as a rap, or rather a dialogue between two rappers.  In my head are a lot of the songs from the musical Hamilton which I am sure had somewhat of influence on my mode of expression. lol  Also, fear not, in my head I also know I have the least amount of street cred to be rapping.  🙂

I’m not a lynch mob, I’m just here all alone,
Reading about all the things that I don’t condone,
Concerning people whom I’ve never really known,
Shaming bad people from behind my telephone

You’re fat, you’re ugly, and you’re a fool,
You’re so fucking dumb, didn’t you go to school?
Are you even dimly aware of the newest rule?
Exposing what you are, makes me look cool.

You see, I’ve made the world a better place,
By showing all the planet your true face,
I got no time to check the facts of your case,
Because, I’ll fall behind in this shaming race.

Each like I get invigorates me,
And helps me hide my vulnerability,
I don’t make mistakes, you want empathy?
You see I’m only one person, just let me be.

A million views, the shares have swirled,
Full of mocking laughter, insults hurled,
I’m a link in this chain of shame that’s unfurled,
A virtual crowd to crush someone else’s world

Do you like what I said, do you feel remorse,
Do you feel bad enough to correct your course?
I scream and scream until my voice is hoarse,
Shame is my game, I’m a dangerous force.

But what if you’ve not made anything better?
Addicted to shaming, bound by a fetter,
Just another follower, you’re no jet-setter,
Passing judgment on others letter by letter

Shame never informs, has little to tell,
Gives you nothing to build, and nothing to sell,
There’s no way it will ever serve you well,
Don’t be a part of that shaming carousel.

Was that 8 second verdict more than it seemed?
Shame them to goodness, is that what you schemed?
They’d learn their lesson, is this what you dreamed?
Whose soul did you think would be redeemed?

You’ve put a hole in the soul of those that you shame,
Anger, isolation, depression just fan the flame,
Of violence and hurt, now you’re partly to blame,
Should you make a mistake, do you deserve the same?

We need to focus on things that make us whole,
Don’t stride to divide, and stop being a troll,
Kindness and charity, let that be your goal,
Be a model of compassion, let that be your role

So you see with such ease we’re blinded to the pain,
That we cause for momentary emotional gain,
In a world filled with hurt it’s so hard to stay sane,
But shaming doesn’t help, we’ve got to refrain

I speak from experience, I know how you feel,
To stare at the screen, wondering what’s real,
Forsaking personal growth for mass appeal,
But what part of the heart do you think we reveal?

Oppose what is wrong, but don’t dehumanize,
Know your own imperfections, try to empathize,
Keep on yearning for learning and you’ll grow to be wise,
Add joy to the world and watch your spirit rise

 

Under Pressure

I’ve been away from blogging for a little while as work became quite busy and stressful as I was given a project that normally would take several months to prepare for and was given two and half weeks.  I’m not complaining though, I am still very fortunate to have the job that I do, and in the end it was a very rewarding outcome.  I had to organize a Science Olympiad tournament for 40 regional high schools and middle schools and it ended up going very well.  I didn’t actually have to do this task, but if I didn’t a lot of kids would have been hurt, and a lot of teachers very angry and so it really wasn’t something that I took any time to consider, I just knew it had to be done, and I did it because it was the right thing to do.

It got me thinking a lot about stress on how much it affects our behavior.  It cost me my spring break and I was bitter about that.  In that time I was also certainly less attentive to others in my life.  I was more moody, snapped a little more than I probably should have at people that I care about and had a lot of trouble sleeping.  The guilt of snapping at people at being less attentive to others, and lack of sleep are positive feedbacks which worsen your condition.  I am fortunate that it was only a rough few weeks.  I am fortunate to even have a spring break. I am fortunate that even though the semester still has lots of work left in it, there will be summer holidays starting in early May.  There are people who face what I face, every single day of the year, with additional stresses associated with finances that I do not face.  When I reflect on how irrational I might be in times of stress I think about the cumulative effect such things must have some people.  How hard they might struggle to find a way out, who they might time to blame their stress on, and wonder what things they might rely on to find peace.  It makes a lot of irrationality in the world understandable.

At the same time it makes you really question why it has to be that way.  We have the resources to feed everybody, we have the knowledge and ability to give good health care to everyone.  We know a lot about the universe and how to give people quality education, and we know the things that make people truly fulfilled and happy.  We know a lot about our own imperfections and biases so that we can avoid the pitfalls of our flaws.  We know better ways to correct deviant behavior, we know better ways to reduce the possibility of criminal and violent behavior, and we know better ways to raise.  We may not know everything, but we know better.  “Civilized” society seems so counter to how we operate as humans that somedays I really question whether or not it is all worth it.  Even though we might live longer on average than our hunter gatherer predecessors, and can avoid many of the deaths from natural disasters that our predecessors could not, sometimes I do wonder whether or not it was all worth it, and whether or not we shouldn’t all still be climbing trees to pick fruit.  And yeah maybe it would be sad to lose a few people to drought, or malaria, but so much death nowadays seems to be preventable and avoidable.  The destruction in Belgium and Turkey recently really makes one question whether all this is worth it.  Has any of this civilization experiment increased happiness?  Benefitted the home we call Earth?  Given our evolution as a species perhaps this trajectory was unavoidable, but it feels so much easier to accept deaths caused by the pitfalls of living in the wild over seeing death occur from senseless acts of violence that will never lead to any gain, or seeing children die from hunger while not very far away somebody sits on a fortune of money and resources they do not even need.

Alright, I know this is not very cheery and I am not helping much to increase human happiness either, but I think many people share these thoughts.  I of course do believe that this trajectory of civilization was to avoid human suffering and nobody really imagined the consequences we are facing now.  Maybe these are the growing pains we must go through.  I hope that our intelligence is great enough to get us out in the end.  Perhaps the real shame is that our lifetimes are still too short to be able to see the end result of all this suffering.  I wonder if a 13th century scholar who watched people die from plague after plague, and endless crusades and wars, could visit us now if he would actually be impressed with our moral progress.  Maybe what we have now is further than he or she ever dreamed.  Maybe they would remind me to consider myself lucky that I live in such times and that now that they have seen the change possible over the long march of time that there was every reason to continue to have hope and strive for more.  And if there is one thing that I know for sure is that nothing has ever been made better by despair.  And if I want a world in which people do not live in despair and have reason to be hopeful then I must lead by example, even if I only touch a handful of people in my world.  Who knows how far the ripples of our impact will travel through time.