Eternity

Our story today is set in heaven.  It is a glorious place.  The light of God shines everywhere and God is at the center of it all, and sort of everywhere just soaking it all in as countless souls experiences the joy and happiness of being in His presence.  And as it says in Revelation “There is a constant chanting of angels that are heralding Holy, Holy, Holy over the throne of God.  The Mercy Seat in heaven where God sits is surrounded by angels full of glory and power that profess and bless the holy name of God continuously.

Bill sits among the multitude of souls reveling in God’s glory.  It’s unclear how much time has actually passed but things have started to feel a little bit different for Bill.  He hears a voice.

“Psst…hey!”

Bill breaks out his reverie and looks over to the source of the voice and sees a vague form there. “Are you talking to me?”

“Yeah…well you’re the only one that can seem to hear me, but then again with all the singing maybe it’s just heard to hear. Ha!”

Bill watches as the strange figure starts to look more and more human shaped.

“Yeah we’re just souls, but since you seem to look the way I feel, I sense we are both transforming it something more resembling our old selves.  I’m Hank.  It’s nice to meet you.  I’d shake your hand, but…uh…well we’re not of the body and all that.”

Bill nods dumbfounded.  Nobody had ever talked to him since he walked through the gates and from that point on it’s just been constant singing.

“Listen,” says Hank, “I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I can take this anymore.”

“What do you mean?” Bill responded, still slightly shocked that the conversation is happening.

“Do you have any idea how long we’ve been up here?”

“No”

“Well I do. 14, 325 years!”

“Really?  I thought there was no time in heaven.  How do you even know that?”

“First of all,” said Hank “There’s definitely time passing here, you just can’t measure it by watching the Earth go around the Sun once a year.  And the reason I know how long we’ve been here, is that I happened to ask a passing angel last week.  Difficult buggers to get a hold of really.  It’s like trying to find an employee in a Wal-Mart to find out where they keep the slivered almonds.  It’s a big place Heaven, with not a lot of those angels about.  I mean the ones that are singing are obvious, but you know I figured its best not to interrupt.  Anyway the angel tells me what year it is on Earth.  I’m impressed we even made it as a species for that long.”

“Hmmm…well that’s interesting, but what do you want with me?” Bill asked, wondering if he shouldn’t be getting back to his bathing in the joy of God’s light.

“Well mainly you were the first person that seemed to hear me.  And quite frankly, I was bored!”

“Bored?  This is heaven!”

Are you trying to tell me all this joy and happiness hasn’t lost its edge a bit?  I mean this feeling of joy and happiness in the glory of God and all that has been going on for a pretty long time…I mean I don’t even remember why I’m happy anymore.  I mean don’t get me wrong, God’s great and all, but to feel really good, you need to remember what it was like to feel bad.  It’s been a long time, I was lucky to remember my own name.”

“I’m…Bill but the way…I think, and yes you may be on to something.  I have noticed lately that there isn’t quite as much bliss as there was before.  Although I can’t say exactly when it all changed.  I just assumed this was how I always felt and that I hadn’t remembered properly how happy I’d been feeling.”

“Bill, that is exactly what went though my mind.  But you know what knocked me out of my reverie?”

“No. What?”

“As I’m just enjoying the scene of Jesus sitting next to his Father on the throne, I notice Jesus take a sip of something from a golden chalice, and it hits me like a tsunami.  I had completely forgot the sensation of just how refreshing a drink can be when you’re thirsty.”

“So?”

“So?!  Listen I am not saying God isn’t amazing, but so are a lot of other things.  I mean when was the last time you saw field full of flowers, a waterfall, or just a great movie?  Or that great feeling you get after a good cry.  I would kill to see Forrest Gump, or Beaches right now.”

“But you get to feel great all the time here.  You don’t need to cry.” Bill looked at Hank with a matter of fact expression on his face.

“I mean sure you can say that about anything, but where’s the flavor?  Joy and happiness is not built on one thing alone, they are built on a myriad of experience of the course of time.  I mean when was the last time you woke up from a kick ass great night of sleep?”

Bill’s expression now changed to one of incredulity “God’s light is everywhere.  You don’t need to sleep?”

“Exactly, it’s always light.  Do you think that’s normal?”

“Isn’t it?”

“Think about it Bill.  It took me a long time to remember too.  Don’t you remember something called night?  You know stars?  The moon?  Sleep?”

“It rings a bell.  But sleeping is for when you’re tired.  I’m not tired and haven’t been since I got here.”

“And you think that’s normal?  What about that good kind of tired you got from a good workout or jog?  What about that good kind of tired you got from a satisfying day of work?”

Bill, looked down for a moment, a look of deep concentration on his face. “No I don’t.  I think I sold office supplies.”

“That’s not the point!”  Hank became more animate and grabbed Bill by the shoulders only to find nothing to grab on to and then backed away with a look of disappointment.  “Listen, the point is I am sure there was something that brought you joy.  Look I love God, you love God, that’s how we got here, and I think that’s fabulous.  But there’s got to be more to it than this.”

Bill still looked apprehensive, “I don’t know.  God’s light is pretty great.”

“Of course it is.  If you had asked me 5,000 years ago if I would get tired of this, I would have said you were crazy.  No one is more surprised than I am to find myself in this position of being a bit dissatisfied.  Now if you ask me could I take all of this for another 1,000 or 2,000 years, I would say sure, but eternity?  Really?  That same angel that I asked about the year to, you know what I asked him next?  How much longer do we have?  You know how he responded?  He just laughed.  That’s messed up.  I mean don’t you remember getting up here and all the excitement of it?  I was thinking, I can’t wait to see my family.  And you know I realized, I haven’t missed them once. And I don’t know how long you’ve been here, but I also started to remember how excited I would be to get here to meet Him and all the question I was going to ask him.  I mean think about it Bill, weren’t you all excited to meet God, and ask Him a bunch of questions?”

Bill nodded.

“Yeah, me too.  But have you got to ask Him one question?”

Bill shook his head.

“Me neither, and I love asking questions.  But I got here and it was just like praise, singing, glorious light, and I forgot everything!”

“So, what, do you want to ask Him a question?”

“Yeah I want to ask him a question.  Like, ‘Can I go back and do some more good works on Earth?’, because I’m sure there are still problems.”

“Yeah…come to think of it, I feel a bit idle.”  Bill started to feel like maybe he was coming out of a dream. “So do you think we should go up and talk to Him?”

Jesus-at-the-right-hand-of-the-fatherBoth Bill and Hank looked towards the throne.  A throng of angels and beasts singing praise.  God and Jesus were just smiling magnanimously at everybody. Hank turns to Bill, “I don’t man, it doesn’t look like a scene to have a conversation in.”

“Yeah.  So what do you want to do?”

“Let’s just get out of here Bill.  We’ll talk to somebody at the front gate and see what our options are.

“Sounds good Hank.  But where is the front gate?”

“Hmmm….I don’t know.  It’s been like 14,000 years I don’t remember which direction we came from?  Do you?”

“No.  So what are we going to do?”

“I don’t know…let’s just start walking and try to find it.  I mean the one thing we do have, is time.”

————————————————————————————————-

Thank you for reading.  Thought I’d try my hand at a little satire.  Whatever your thought are about heaven, eternity is still a really, really, really, long time. 🙂

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Life, the Universe, and Everything

“And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, a girl sitting on her own in a small café in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything.”

Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

It is today my 42nd birthday and I decided this would be a good year to reflect.  Why 42, why not 40 like any other normal person with a penchant for round numbers?  According Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series a supercomputer was asked to come up with the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything and 42 was that answer.  So I am at the age which is the answer, but of course if you read the series you know that while the answer was determined a more powerful supercomputer had to be created to determine the question (which turned out to be the planet Earth).  So 42 seems like a great age to think about answers and questions.

This is also the year that I often joked would be when I started my own cult.  This was supposed to be easy as I was going to have a good portion of Twitter followers, find myself a good compound with fertile soil and enjoy the good life.  Extra wives would have been optional.  It’s weird how as I get older there seems to be more of a drive to keep life simple and surround yourself by like minded people.  Anyway, Twitter really doesn’t suit me, for as you can see, I don’t say many things in 140 words or less so my followers are few, and I think life is better that way, and also I’m not a very proficient gardener, so I’m probably better off living close to the farmer’s market.  So here I am, nobody famous and nobody to follow, and a mini essay of reflection is probably more suited to greater personalities, but hey, it’s the age of information and I have a blog, so why not write? 🙂

Life

I think what makes being a teenager so difficult is that this is the time in your life when you start to self-actualize a lot more and really think about the future.  It’s a terrible thing really, because you are also still young enough where you really don’t know shit.  I remember thinking a lot about the type of person I wanted to be.  My dad was (and still is) an alcoholic and as a teenager I knew that I didn’t want to be like my dad.  Kids respond to those who are consistently there for them, and my mom was that person.  Of course I’ve come to realize many positives about my dad as well, but as a kid I knew that whatever way my dad was, wasn’t working.  My mom was loving, supporting, nurturing, and always there.  At the time I never really looked at my mom and dad’s personalities as related gender, but more as what are the behaviors that lead to increased happiness and that bring increased happiness to others.  I am sure it did in many ways shape why I’ve always felt more free to be myself more in front of women than men, and why I look beyond arbitrary categorizations of people and simply try to stick to values that bring happiness.

I also remember thinking that I was not the person I wanted to be.  I felt like I was this amazing person who was trapped inside myself. Inside a shell that I needed to break out of.  I know now that there is a certain element of being a child of an alcoholic that makes us more fearful of self-expression because of how we internalize our parents’ addiction, but I think teenagers can simply be apprehensive about inserting themselves in the world no matter how much they want to.  I know I am a person who leans toward safety over risk, and that was one of the things I wanted to get better at as I got older which was to be bold.  It’s still the quality I struggle with the most, but I’m proud to say that the vision I had for myself at around the age of 16 isn’t far off the mark.  The compliment that I have received several times and means the most to me is when people tell me that they can tell immediately the type of person that I am because I am so open and.  It is the part I like about myself the most especially because I think life is too short to pretend with people.   I am proud that I have reached a point in life where I am comfortable in my own skin, and it is something that has always seemed like a necessary way to be, but I in no way want to imply that I have go there solely on my own.

Another thing I worried about when I was young was that I wasn’t original.  I felt like everything I was, was copied from somebody else.  I didn’t have any original ideas, I wasn’t creative.  As I was thinking about what to write in this post yesterday I was wondering if I should say that the meaning of life is “theft”.  We are born as absolutely blanks and while genetics may texture our canvas to a certain respect we are painted on by the many people we come to know in life, our culture and society also paints broad brushes over us too.  Of course theft isn’t really the right word.  People and society paint things upon us and we have little say in that.  And in most other cases it is people who in my life who have given, and I have taken, and I would like to believe that with time I have been better about showing my gratitude.  It would not be until a certain Star Trek: The Next Generation Episode that I felt better about my lack of originality.  Here Captain Picard comments on the emotionless android Data’s violin playing.

PICARD: The good doctor was kind enough to provide me with a recording of your concert. Your performance shows feeling.
DATA: As I have recently reminded others, sir, I have no feeling.
PICARD: It’s hard to believe. Your playing is quite beautiful.
DATA: Strictly speaking, sir, it is not my playing. It is a precise imitation of the techniques of Jascha Heifetz and Trenka Bronken.
PICARD: Is there nothing of Data in what I’m hearing? You see, you chose the violinists. Heifetz and Bronken have radically different styles, different techniques, yet you combined them successfully.
DATA: I suppose I have learned to be creative, sir, when necessary.
PICARD: Mister Data, I look forward to your next concert.

So yes, I now feel original, thanks to lines written by somebody else.  Star Trek has actually taught me quite a bit now that I think about it. 🙂 Life is also full of irony and paradoxes enough to make you scratch your head for a lifetime.  In the end though, isn’t this what we really are…a product of others, both biologically and environmentally with a unique level of proportions such that we are originals? What I really mean to say about all this is that I feel really grateful to all those who have given and for what I have taken.  I have taken the best of you to the very heart of me and a result carry you everywhere.  Some I’ve not seen or talked to in some time, some it may have only been a brief time in which we knew each other, or perhaps were not even very close friends, but I saw what was good in you, I smiled at it, and celebrated it and let it course through my arteries.  I am thankful for all the love, the friendship, the inspiration, the memories, the lessons taught, and yes even the criticism and in some cases hurt.  I am unique and original because of all of you and there is no other way I’d rather be.

The Universe

Growing older also means growing more aware as you continue to experience and learn in life.  As someone who is strongly committed to learning as awareness grows so does the burden of that knowledge.  It is only in the most recent years that I have truly understood the expression ignorance is bliss.  However, it is also important to remember that your own bliss is of little value to anybody else but yourself, and we are a social species.  As I’ve learned I continued to have more awe for this amazing universe we live in, uncovering the darkness that shrouds knowledge also means discovering the horrors, the malice, the pain, and the suffering.  It is all the worse when you are one of the lucky ones to have things far better than so many.  It makes you question the very right to feel happy.  And when it comes down to it, it makes me feel bad just complain about how heavy the thoughts are sometimes, because I am so fortunate to just have to think about it and not actually experience the hardships so many bear.  I am fortunate that I can put those thoughts to the side at times. However, I also know there is no denying it either.  And I know that just feeling sad and depressed all the time would be debilitating so there is nothing for it but to do something about it. I am not helpless under this weight although sometimes it can feel that way.  So I try, and I let myself feel happiness for all the beauty that exists as well.  There is much to fight against in this world, but I feel if we forget what we’re fighting for, it’s easy to get lost in the darkness.

The cosmic glow of the Carina Nebula as seen in a stunning 3D reconstruction in Hidden Universe, released in IMAX® theatres and giant-screen cinemas around the globe and produced by the Australian production company December Media in association with Film Victoria, Swinburne University of Technology, MacGillivray Freeman Films and ESO. The Carina Nebula contains two of the most massive and luminous stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way. The original image was taken by ESO's Very Large Telescope.

I believe that it is this mixture of awe-inspiring beauty and soul-draining horror that drives us.  I think we can’t help but feel small in the face of it.  Some try to conquer it by building belief systems that explain it all, some try to chip away at the answer slowly through careful investigation, and some just turn to vices to distract themselves and to numb themselves.  However, from what I’ve seen, the true winners in this world are always the ones who accept how small they are in the face of it all.  It’s bigger than any one individual and it’s the one thing we all have in common.  It is enough to make you just sit there and think “Why can’t we just all get along? It really does seem so simple to just be nice to each other.  Nobody has to get nailed to anything.

As I look forward the things on the horizon are amazing.  Just as there are things in my young life I never thought possible but exist now, I know there are many unknown wonders that await me for the rest of my life.  I like being this age and knowing all the things that I know.  Wisdom comes to you without even knowing it, and I like it. I admit that I am not a big fan of leaving this existence.  I see us getting closer to things like unlocking the mysteries of aging, replacing organs, interfacing the computer to the brain and I wonder if in the not too distant future we might have a choice to live far longer than we do to do.  I am jealous quite frankly.  As someone who embraces change and has seen how changes occur over time spans far greater than our human lives I would like to experience it.  I want to choose when I want to leave this existence and have a shot at deepening that well of wisdom beyond this short time on Earth.  When I think of all the change that has occurred over 1000 years, 10,000 years and so on…I wonder what it would be like to see it…what perspective that would give you…how you would look at the universe differently.  I suppose such a chance will not happen, but I keep the dream alive only because it is at times helpful to remember that we are not only small in terms of the vastness of space, but also the vastness of time.  I can’t be expected to figure it all out, and that’s okay.

And Everything

Mommy_DhyanThere isn’t much more to say here.  Of course there is more to life I suppose, but it’s amazing how important some people become so that even the other things seem to tendril out from it.   I know that there are no guarantees in life, but that’s why living in the moment is so important. I am lucky that I have a life where I can take care of them just as much as they take care of me. The fact that our love can put some things at the center of our life, at the center of our universe, is amazing  What more could I want?  I do have everything.

I’m Expecting

Well if you thought the last post was about abortion or birth control, then you’ll think this one is about me being pregnant.  Life is strange. 🙂

In my last post about how we make plans and goals I mentioned that one of the things we have to decide about our goals may have to be how realistic they actually are and this relates to expectations.  Lowering our expectations may make it easier to achieve our goals, but we may not then know how far we could have gone, while having expectations too high may leave one with feelings of disappointment.  Of course, as I also mentioned before, there may be other variables that we cannot predict that might lead one to not meet our goals, but very often we internalize our failures and can chastise ourselves for setting our sights too high.

My thinking about expectations was once again inspired by a podcast I listen to called Invisibilia on NPR.  In one episode titled “How to Become Batman” we hear the story of Daniel Kish who had both of his eyes remove due to a disease at 13 months, but can “see”.  He uses echolocation by making clicking noises.  As a result, he is able to ride his back in traffic, hike, cook, walk around and has an amazing ability to know the distances objects are from him through

his echolocation technique.  In his story he tells us about a kid from elementary school who joined his school from a school for the blind, and unlike Daniel this kid was helpless and had to be led around everywhere.  Daniel had developed his echolocation technique early and was already quite independent at a young age.  Daniel believes that one of the reasons that blind people can’t see is because nobody expects the too.  That if we raised our expectations that many blind children could develop this echolocation technique.  Daniel teaches children whose parents are interested but he says it’s a challenge because as Daniel says it takes a lot of trial and error and can get, well, bloody.  The point is that higher expectations are the best path to reaching higher heights.  Students who have high expectations for their students generally get students who do perform at a higher level, even if they don’t meet those expectations.  If you try to get an A in a class, you will generally do better in that class than any student who comes into the class just hoping they pass.  People often talk about self-fulfilling prophecies and this is a large part is how astrology works and how people come to validate the predictions of psychics is because once an idea is planted we often want it to become true and it does.  Students who say to me “they can’t do science” generally perform poorly.

Having high expectations has its downside however.  Having high expectations as a professor I think are good, but good pedagogy is also guiding the students towards a path that will reach those higher heights.  Without it, students can disengage quickly and not progress at all.  And of course feelings of disappointment, feelings that you did or will not meet the expectations of another can be a source of depression and anxiety.  How many times have we had high expectations in a movie only to be disappointed that it wasn’t all that good, whereas a movie we had low expectations for we are often pleased or pleasantly surprised when the movie is as good or better than we expected?  A good portion of our country feel that there is nothing we can do about criminals and so the best thing we can do is get a gun, in contrast to those who know that the murder rate can be smaller and that there is nothing wrong with having expectations that we as a society can reduce the rate of violent crime.  Given perhaps our propensity to focus on the negative, it is no small wonder that we often learn in life to lower our expectations or even develop apathy or pessimism as a way of avoiding grief, heartache, or anxiety.  Apathy in this case, to me, is an attempt to have no expectations, whereas pessimism is to always expect the negative outcome.  Personally I feel that apathy eventually leaves us to become emotionless, taking all the joy out of life at the expense just so we can avoid grief.  Pessimism, in my opinion, is almost worse because when the expectation is for things to be negative they generally are, and you are unlikely to ever be pleasantly surprise.  In fact many pessimistic people eventually turn into people that can find the bad in every good situation.  So while some can take it to extremes, there is at least a reason why we often lower our expectations in one situation or another.

So even though we know that higher expectations out of ourselves or others, lead to better results than lower expectations, why do we not always set our sights higher?  I have discussed before the conflict we all face between security and risk, and I believe this is part of that same conflict.  Lowering expectations can give us a better sense of security and in the end might would lead to on average more happiness.  High expectations on the other hand are a risk, but more often yield better results, even when we don’t meet those expectations.  Just recently I saw a very interesting short video shown below that asks the question, “Should we be pursuing happiness?”  Maybe happiness is overrated, maybe it’s not what really drives us.  In the video he talks about great scientists and artists who are ready to suffer for their work.  I have seen

myself some of the finest minds in my field spend little time with their spouse or children for the sake of discovering something new.  In the video Zizek talks about scientists who, even knowing they could die from radiation poisoning, still worked with radioactive materials because they set their sights on discovering something important.  Sometimes greatness comes at the expense of even their very lives.  I’m not saying we are all destined to be great, and I am not trying to imply that there isn’t value to happiness.  I think that some balance is part of good emotional health, and a clear mind, and we would likely be even more productive if we strove for a little more balance in life, but once again we see the value of risk and how it constantly pushes ourselves and society to become more.

So what is the answer to dealing with the disappointment of not meeting those expectations?  It seems that most advice, and indeed I had even trouble finding any positive quotations about expectations are to not have expectations or to lower them. My feeling is that if we are to maintain high expectations and avoid the pitfalls associated with them then it is a focus on the process.  To focus on where you’ve started and where you are now, as opposed to where you aren’t.  Try to remember that few people with lofty goals ever meet them, and very often getting close is still pretty amazing, because what you’ve learned along the way, not only a specific sense, but likely other important values like perseverance and courage will serve you well as you change directions or perhaps continue down the path you are on.  Likely there are plenty of things to be happy about and proud of even when you fall short.  In the end I feel there is more shame in stagnation over progress, unless you already in a utopia, but I haven’t met anybody like that before.  Happy New Year all!  Don’t be afraid of being bold with your resolutions.

A Little Red Wagon

Dhyan_wagonI’m trying hard to have the occasional short post for people who are tired of my long posts, so this seemed like a good one. 🙂  A friend of ours had no use anymore for a Roadmaster red wagon that their grandchildren had outgrown and gave it to us.  My son took right away to sitting in the wagon and has opted to be pulled around in the wagon instead of being pushed in the stroller.  I have taken him a few times now on a two mile route around my neighborhood in which one leg of the journey goes down one of the main roads in town and I have to say it’s a special experience.

It’s interesting how the red wagon seems to evoke emotion in the faces of others.  For most it brings smiles and a sense of nostalgia.  Today one gentleman was outside his home and on his phone and he called out to me and told me to stop and wanted to take a picture and he exclaimed to the person he was talking to “You’ll never believe it, but there is a guy pulling his kid around on a red flyer!”.  And he did take a picture of me and my son.  🙂  The reaction is much stronger than pushing him around on the stroller.  A lot of people point, or wave to him (he sort of just stares blankly unsure of why he has become so popular).  Maybe it’s because it is a classic wagon that the nostalgia is stronger.  Maybe the reaction would not be the same if it was some other color or some other brand.  Some people seem to feel a little sad though.  Nostalgia tends to do that as sometimes I see faces with a little bit of longing, perhaps for the past long since gone.  And sometimes I swear I see a deeper sadness, perhaps wishing that their mother or father would have taken them on wagon rides, or the remembrance of a parent that has passed on.

It’s nevertheless comforting to me that such simple things can evoke such emotion.  That small things can feel so grand.  I enjoy the feeling of taking him for a walk on a warm autumn day.  And for a short time that little wagon becomes a grand chariot to my son and to all around him, and even though I’m the one pulling it, I feel as rich as any king.

Finding Equilibrium

In a previous blog post I wrote about some of my questions about equality.  Why do some people actively seek it and why don’t others?  Is that they already see the world as equal as it can be?  Do they simply accept a natural order in which things are going to be unequal?  Or are they simply selfish, knowing inside that equality might remove them from a position of privilege?

Whatever the answer to that question is, a recent conversation with a friend, and articles about the inequality that exists in areas of Baltimore, got me thinking a little more about equality.  I started to think about the question:  What does equality even look like?  Is equality a state of perfection that we cannot attain?  Are we caught in idealism and not being practical?  How can equality be achieved, when we are all different?  I think those of us who fight for equality have visions for what that might look like, but have we ever actually seen it?  Does this sense of equality only lie in our hearts and we push in a direction not really thinking about where we end up?  Even though nature often tends towards balanced, it is state rarely reached if ever.  Instead we find most things oscillating about a state of equilibrium.  Many times that oscillation is damped, meaning that while we never quite reach a state of balance, each oscillation is not as wild (or in other words doesn’t take us as far from equilibrium as the preceding oscillation).  Is this perhaps what the fight for equality looks like – swinging back and forth until finally the oscillations about that state of equality or so minute that we can no longer detect the inequality anymore?  In a complex society where one can find many areas in which inequality exists, do we prioritize the most obvious ones first, until other ones seem resolved to the point that new areas of inequality see more important?  Or as a fellow blogger wrote when addressing the issues of vaccines, can we sometimes make the issue worse by continually fighting for something even when the problem doesn’t exist because of the time and energy we have invested into a cause?  A recent Daily Show piece discussed how anti-GMO groups have actually helped large corporations, like Monsanto, to gain more of a stranglehold on the food supply because they are now the only ones with the money to be able to afford all the bureaucracy it takes to get a patent on a genetically modified seed.

It occurred to me that although we might be great at pointing out inequality, how often do we have a conversation about what equality looks like, and does it exist anywhere?  Are there real examples we can use?  Are there any microcosms of the larger society we all want to live in?  It is has only been within the past 30 years or so that a lot of psychological research shifted away from just looking and ailments of the mind and started focusing on the more positive aspects of our humanity, like happiness.  While depression is terrible and it is important to help those with depression out of those states, is learning how not to be depressed that same as knowing how to be happy?  Can we always derive what a good example is, by simply only looking at bad examples?  I believe the answer to that is no.  Growing up with an alcoholic father, I learned about the kind of husband and father I didn’t want to be.  But as I had marriage troubles in my own life it occurred to me I never thought enough about what a good father and husband is supposed to be like.  It required a certain rewiring in my thinking.  When it comes to studying happiness it required asking a set of questions that haven’t been asked before.  What makes people happy?  What kind of behavior to happy people exhibit?  What kinds of societies are happier? These questions are important to ask and science has helped make a lot of progress in the area of happiness.

So while we are all pretty great at point out inequality maybe we should shift our focus to talking about what equality would look like.  Find real world examples.  Analyze how and why those societies work and how they are advantageous to what we already have.  Pointing out inequalities between men and women have value, but let’s have a conversation about what are the positive values we want a human to have, regardless of gender.  Let’s have an idea of where we are going, before we push.  It might even help us get there faster

A Change Will Do You Good

From http://ohiomarketingstudents.com

A friend of mine asked me a few months ago “What are your weaknesses?”  After mulling it over for a couple of minutes, to be honest, I couldn’t think of any.  Now don’t start thinking I’m a smug bastard, I know for a fact that I am far from perfect.  Then I thought, well I am not quite sure what my strengths are either.  I guess the way I have to come to view myself is a work in progress.  It seems to me that trying to determine what strengths and weaknesses are is tricky business.  I might say that I worry too much, but at some level worry brings about a level of awareness that might help you act or reach a solution.  Worrying too much is obviously a problem though as it can be draining and waste time.  Not worrying at all, might also be dangerous as it may make you apathetic to important things.  I used to be a huge worrier, but I always looked at it as a quality that was part of a spectrum from too much worry, to not worrying at all, and that there was a healthy balance in there.  So it wasn’t so much that worrying was a weakness but that I had to find an appropriate way of using that “worry” towards being constructive and not destructive.  And I always felt that worrying was better than apathy.   To me, all strengths and weakness are not an either, or, but rather qualities that lie on a continuum between two extremes and thus any weakness may have some important qualities that we simply need to foster more.

If I say that my strength is kindness, does it mean I don’t have room to grow?  Does it mean that I couldn’t be more kind?  I have never been one to simply rest on laurels as I think it is important to strive each day to be more than we are (provided we are lucky enough to live in an environment where we have such an opportunity and are not fighting for basic subsistence needs like so many in this world).  Our strengths might manifest themselves in different ways.  While I may be kind, how I show that kindness may not be the right way for that particular situation.  Sometimes “tough love” is the best way to deal with a particular situation.  Some people respond to a stricter approach, drawing definite boundaries.  Some people respond better to you when you are sensitive, soft-spoken and supportive.  Some people might respond to both depending on the situation.  It takes time and experience to gain the wisdom to know how best to be kind to those around you.  Should I say it is a fault or a weakness when I show kindness in a way that makes sense to me, but is not received as such to the other person?  Or should I simply reflect and say, “I am glad my heart was in the right place, but I need to do better.”  And what if the person you are showing kindness to, feels grateful, but isn’t good at showing it?  As I’ve mentioned before, one of the amazing parts about life is that we never know how we may impact others.  Someone might be angry or frustrated with you in the moment, but only realize the kindness you showed years later.

In the end I would say that my greatest strength is that I feel I value good things like happiness, learning, compassion, self-reflection, equality, a strong work ethic, and humility, and that my weakness is that I am incomplete in demonstrating those qualities to a capacity I am completely comfortable with.  And that I may not be aware of the importance of other character traits that might make me and this world a better place.  And I accept that not only will this “weakness” never go away, but it might also be the very thing that allows me to become stronger, wiser, and appreciative of life in new ways all the time.  And so, in what might be a somewhat ironic way, the parts of me that I will not change, are the various things that allow me to change.  After all, why would I want to be the exact same person all my life, as if that were even possible? 🙂

Expectations

First you waited, then I waited
I might be waiting a long time,
I hate long waits
But there is something worse
That’s having expectations
Expecting is like having fun,
Without even doing anything,
But what else can you expect with love?
Just be happy in the moment?
It sounds good on paper,
I’m not going to lie to you,
In fact I tried it and it’s true,
Love is so much better,
When you’re focusing on the moment,
You can really…get to know love that way,
In fact it’s so good you want it to stay,
And to never ever go away,
Somewhere deep inside though,
We know. Nothing. Is. Permanent.
 
But sticky problems have solutions,
Every good heist needs an inside man,
“Our designs are top notch,
You won’t find them anywhere else,
They almost seem made for you”
Says my fortune teller inside me,
Maybe that’s what psychics are,
People who enjoy building dreams so much,
That they want to do it for others,
The drama queen in all of us,
The irony of it all is,
I don’t believe in psychics,
The moment is all that matters,
If you care about the future,
But the right way is so hard,
And the wrong path has better scenery,
There are so many things to look at,
You won’t notice falling off the cliff,
Well at least until you land.
 
That’s not a good moment,
But then again…what else did you expect?