Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Societal Progress requires Gadflies

Societal Progress requires Gadflies

(The following is a paper written for my Philosophy Class. The class is specifically known as "Social and Political Philosophy". It outlines the requirements to create progress in Society.)

Visionaries are what we lack now entering the 21st century. Rather than people wanting to create a vision for the future and work towards shaping it, a new sort of rhetoric of compromise and moderation seems to have appeared. It seems now that the middle position between any two points, politically and socially, is deemed the one that's always correct. The other two positions are considered extreme and are demagogued as unrealistic or the work of idealists.

What has happened to our world where no one can see or even envision an America different than the circumstances around them? What seems to have happened is that we have lost all our gadflies. Socrates built the framework around an idea of a social catalyst whose very existence is to rile up and irritate the minds and emotions of people for social progress and social change.

Quoting him so he can speak for himself, Socrates explains the gadfly in Plato's Apology as such, "For if you kill me you will not easily find another like me, who, if I may use such a ludicrous figure of speech, am a sort of gadfly, given to the state by the God; and the state is like a great and noble steed who is tardy in his motions owing to his very size, and requires to be stirred into life. I am that gadfly which God has given the state and all day long and in all places am always fastening upon you, arousing and persuading and reproaching you. And as you will not easily find another like me, I would advise you to spare me. I dare say that you may feel irritated at being suddenly awakened when you are caught napping; and you may think that if you were to strike me dead, as Anytus advises, which you easily might, then you would sleep on for the remainder of your lives, unless God in his care of you gives you another gadfly." 1

Gadflies originally were the flies that flew around horses and irritated them for the majority of the day. This irritation is what Socrates seems to be channeling. To truly understand this irritation and how it works as a positive force, we can use the writings of Doctor Martin Luther King, as he eloquently explains the positive force that comes with this gadfly like effect in his letter from a Birmingham Jail: " You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches, and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent-resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and halftruths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood." 2

This philosophical argument all builds on two strongly held beliefs. Firstly is the premise that a random given society is rarely perfect and utopian in its morals or positions. It will inherently have evil customs, positions, or traditions that will need changing if the society is to progress forward and become more Just.

Secondly is the premise that the status quo has a characteristic of not wanting change or entropy and as a result requires a lot of energy before it gives way to new ideas or innovations. Just as it takes the most energy to get an object moving at the onset, a gadfly is needed to catalyze society into facing the injustices it has come to accept. That is the purpose of a gadfly and it's moral justification for creating tension given those two easily understandable premises. These gadflies I would label as visionaries.

Visionaries(Gadflies) don't see the world as it is but as it should or could be. They envision a better world and they seek to revolutionize the environment around them to help bring about that change and share their image of the future with the world. Economic visionaries like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs built products to bring into being this new world and had the forethought to know that we'd be using computers and Ipods before they even existed.

What about the anti-visionary? What of our current state of affairs? The anti-visionary brings about little to no progress living between tight and rigid views of where society is comfortable. If society has a social ill or problem of injustice in its midst, the anti-visionary will seek to solve it by bringing about as little change as possible and only what will be tolerated by the mass of people living in his society. There is no vision of the future and there is no radical changing of society for better or for worse. There is simply the status quo.

A number of issues today that we'd found outrageous were compromised upon decades ago by other non-visionaries; let their lives and choices be our guide and our historical lesson. People would argue for the abolition of slavery, for the right of women to vote, and for equal rights for all Americans during the Civil rights era. The anti-visionaries would be hesitant to accept these proposals and would instead ask for compromises to try to seem more rational and less "extreme" to the moral standards of their own society at that time.

But today the extreme position would be to deny women the right to vote, to deny all Americans equal rights, or to deny the emancipation of African Americans. EVEN a compromise would be seen as morally bankrupt and would shun anyone seeking to partially enslave African Americans, or partially limit women's right to vote, or partially deny equal civil liberties.

On a lot of positions the compromise or middle ground of an issue is morally unjust and unimaginable. Would people dare argue with the principle that we are never to kill innocent people? One day a non-visionary(non-gadfly) might well say there may be cases where such murder of innocent civilians is Just or moral. That is the problem with such people. Their longing to conform to their society's standards skew them from an understanding of the abstract values of good and evil, right and wrong, and justice/injustice.

If we want moral, social, or political progress in any country it will require gadflies. These visionaries will have a picture of a brighter future and will answer to philosophy's deeper abstract questions other people "sleeping" did not think to ask. They awaken us, shake us of the status quo, and in turn are rewarded by seeing their dreams become a reality.

That's what Dr. Martin Luther King was seeing when he wrote his famous "I have a Dream" speech. He was anticipating, envisioning, and creating a new world where Dr. Kings, "four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. " 3

Where our gadflies lay now is the question we must all ask ourselves. The loss of such great gifts of God in essence creates a stagnation of that society's progress. That in turn affects all corners of our lives.

To ask for the best in ourselves, our children, and our Society is to ask for God to send us Gadflies to awaken us when we have slept too long not pondering the deeper questions of our inner soul. There is a need to peer into the essence of our souls and question our deeply held assumptions. Gadflies help us to build a better world and establish a better life for us all. Societal progress hinges on such amazing divine blessings as them. Let us hope that one stirs us up soon and awakens us from a new approaching era of confusion, darkness, and doubt. It is all too clear that Obama in every way imaginable is no gadfly and we can expect no significant progression with him.

End Notes (Sources)

1. Platos Apology; Plato

2. Letter from a Birmingham Jail; Dr. King.

3. I have a Dream Speech; Dr. King.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Change in the Paradigm

Why Cities Grow, Corporations Die, and Life Gets Faster

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A good test for a Person's Character

Ask them:

1) Would you rather learn lessons by making mistakes and trial and error
2) Would you rather be prepared, asking those who came before you, to know what lies ahead?

If i get a chance I'll go in depth as to which is the right answer as I see it and why you should avoid the other. :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Philosophy of the Christian Right / Republican Right

I believe the Christian right is a type of neo-Christianity, which has lost touch with the inner essence and message of Christianity.

Neo-Christianity leans more like neoconservatism, which promotes war.

Not all Christians fit this mold and a vast majority of them are fighting this movement. Catholics for instance seem to run contrary to this thinking, but Evangelicals seem to flock to it.

Some simple facts for people to study, to learn the truth about Christianity:


The Bible...

"If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded towards your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land" - Deuteronomy 15:7,11

"Jesus said to the man who invited him, "When you have a dinner or supper, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you will be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just" - Luke 14:12-14

"You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the Lord will be their savior" - Psalms 14:6

The Republicans...

"We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans (After Hurricane Katrina). We couldn't do it, but God did." - Former Rep. Richard Baker (R-LA)

"You know, we should not be giving cash to people (Unemployed Workers) who basically are just going to blow it on drugs and not take care of their own children" - Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)

"Poor people are, in fact, lazy - Glenn Beck

"You can't help those who simply will not be helped. One problem that we've had, even in the best of times, is people who are sleeping on the crates, the homeless who are homeless, you might say, by choice." - Ronald Reagan

"I don't understand how poor people think" - George W. Bush


The Bible...

"Then Jesus said unto him, "Put your sword back into it's place, for those who live by the sword, die by the sword" - Matt 26:52

"Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" - Matt 5:5-9

"But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good for those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same" - Luke 6:27-32

"Thou shalt not kill" - Exodus 20:1-13

The Republicans...

"I know people are saying we should have left things the way they were, but I changed after 9/11. I had to act. I don't care if I created more enemies. I had to act" - George W. Bush on Iraq War

"We must win in Iraq. If we withdraw, there will be chaos, there will be genocide, and they will follow us home" - Sen. John McCain

"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and covert them to Christianity" - Ann Coulter

"This conflict can only end with their complete and utter destruction" - Dick Cheney

"Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" - Sen. John McCain

"The only way to reduce nuclear weapons is to use them" - Rush Limbaugh


The Bible...

"Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God" - Matthew 19:24

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money" - Matthew 6:24

"Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death" - Proverbs 11:4

"Then Jesus said to them, Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed. A man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" - Luke 12:15

"When Jesus heard him, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then come, follow me" - Luke 18:22

The Republicans...

"How about $5 million?" - John McCain, when asked at what point does one go from middle-class to rich.

"I don't sacrifice. Sorry, I don't participate in recessions. I am not going to sacrifice to make someone else feel good." - Rush Limbaugh

"We are struggling like everyone else" - Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT), Net worth upwards of $56 million.

"I'm also unemployed" - Mitt Romney to the unemployed. Mittens is worth $200 million.

"Part of the beauty of me is that I'm very rich" - Donald Trump on 2012 presidential run.

"I struggle to meet my bills right now" - Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI), annual salary of $174,000.


The Bible...

"Love thy neighbor as thyself" - Mark 12:31

"He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy" - Proverbs 14:21

"Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you." - Luke 6:26

"If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion, how can God's love be in that person?" - John 3:17

The Republicans...

"I tell people don't kill all the liberals. Leave enough so we can have two on every campus. Living fossils, so we never forget what these people stood for" - Rush Limbaugh

"My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go into the New York Times building" - Ann Coulter

"I didn't think I could hate victims faster than the 9/11 victims" - Glenn Beck

"I hate those gooks and I will always hate them" - Sen. John McCain

"He was a fucker. A big ass motherfucker" - Andrew Breitbart on Ted Kennedy hours after he passed away

"You attacked us!" - Allen West to a Muslim American Constituent

"The fact is while the overwhelming majority of Muslims are outstanding people, on the other hand 100% of the Islamic terrorists are Muslims, and that is our main enemy today" - Rep. Peter King

"I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I'm wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it... No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out." - Glenn Beck

"I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in congress and find out: Are the Pro-America or Anti-America?" - Michele Bachmann

"If you're oriented toward animals, bestiality, then, you know, that's not something that can be used, held against you or any bias be held against you for that. Which means you'd have to strike any laws against bestiality, if you're oriented toward corpses, toward children, you know, there are all kinds of perversions... pedophiles or necrophiliacs or what most would say is perverse sexual orientations." - Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX), in a floor speech on passing an anti-hate crimes bill.


Christianity at it's core is peaceful.

To all those in the Christian right, remember your calling: "Love Thine enemy" and "Thou shalt not kill".

Again a large majority of Christians have not joined this political movement for hatred.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The unending competition -- Love's great Defeat

I think the industrial revolution ticked in a mindset that has since been very hard to reverse.

Simply stated, it's the unending competition for:

1. Power
2. Fame
3. Wealth

Sacrificing the benefits of:

1. Family
2. Happiness
3. Good Health
4. Life

Do you see that last one? Truly, when was the last time life and just living it happily was objective 1?

Isn't that the 500th objective after a sub set of objectives, leaving life as the last one.

But since when was living life the last objective?


In Defense of Productivity

This doesn't mean we should cease being efficient or doing things that better ourselves and others. People may take this as the hippy mantra. But that is suicidal and leads to people abdicating their duties, and loosing sight of their responsibilities.

By living life, I simply mean dedicating time to enjoying it, after the time has been dedicated to work/education.

So often in the modern years people forget that we live in one of the greatest times in mankind's history. Our forefathers have struggled and sacrificed to get us to this point, and yet we have yet to appreciate the great sights around us. We don't appreciated the train systems built on the backs of thousands of laborers. Trains which help transport a myriad of items to our stores.

When is the time to enjoy that and whom do we enjoy it with?


Consequences of unending work and the lack of love

Happiness is a function of love and support. One can be sick and happy, handicapped and happy, and in pain while happy. (not extreme pain of course)

Why don't we ask ourselves where the source of this love is? What do we love that can love and support us back?

  • Our work, even if we do love it, doesn't provide much love back. Yet we invest so much time in seeking it out and focusing on it. As if money is the panacea of all our problems.
  • Family on the other hand can be a very supportive construct, yet do we spend nearly as much time investing our effort in it?
  • The benefits of spirituality and religion or good works in general are also well known and documented, and yet a lot of people are sacrificing this part of their lives as well. They seem to throw away their responsibilities to their fellow man.

The attitude has changed, from helping others as a form of helping ourselves, to now helping others as a waste of our own time.

Fewer and fewer of us are investing time in finding or maintaining a significant other and divorces have been climbing; let's hope they don't get exponentially greater. Why is this part of life being disregarded?


What's your Point?

Simply put, the point of this post is to ask where the love of the last 100 years has gone. Has it filled our wallets?

Where is our health and youth?

What have we done with all our support network?

Where is that village to raise that child?

Why do we fight for this unending competition of resources. We are finite beings and only require a finite amount of resources. Yet we struggle as if it's an unending infinite walk uphill. Finally at the top of the hill stands life.

Life stands in front of you now. Grasp it, find your support networks, get the love you truly deserve, invest time in the proper ways, and get only what you need of the shiny toys that are sold in stores. (If you need any ---- I'm looking at you ipad..... :D)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Guidance -- A midnights thoughts

How can the leaf sustain itself when everything else keeps it above the ground, flying in the air?

When the strong wind blows, whom can the leaf count on to hold firmly to the ground?

When the futures of uncertainty cloud the minds of the leaf, can it ever feel tranquility again?

When the magnanimous sun shines it's grace upon it, should the leaf despair in ever seeing it again?

When the majestic clouds form as shapes and towering figures and rain their sacks down to nourish the earth, should the leaf fear for life or look forward to a stronger future after the pouring struggles and strife?

When is the leaf independent of all around it?

How can the leaf thank it's branch for holding it firm, when the act of thanking leaves it in even more debt to it's sustainer?

From where can the leaf find the strength to help it's nourisher, when it's nourisher is self sufficient?

When the leaf is on it's knees, in tears from the generosity of it's masters and providers, how can it ever lift it's head after being given all these gifts?

When the struggles hit it, and nature itself seems poised to destroy it, after witnessing it's power, when does the leaf get the strength back to keep going and start fresh?

When the leaves around it pressure the first leaf to disregard it's mercies and gifts, through their own selfishness, pride, and ignorance, through what channel can the leaf complain and shine the truth?

O One who provides for us all, we hear you.

O unparalleled greatness that has no equal, heed this speck of a creation's words.

O grace of all that is good and that sheds it's light on all moments of sorrow and despair.

Heed this speck of a creations words.

Your ongoing mercy has flooded my heart with countless thoughts of the inequity I have treated you with.

Surely with each gift I turn more ungrateful and Surely with each hardship you show me ease.

With each patience of yours I grow more weary and impatient. With each magnanimous gesture of yours, I grow more severe and cold hearted.

As you hide my faults, I ignore your obvious gifts and take advantage of your limitless mercy.

Oh one deserving of all praise, forgive me of my lapses and transgressions.

From each moment I have forgotten you, you still turn towards me. With each breath I take, you sustain the life deep inside me.

When that life seems unbearable, you still bring about ease at the most miraculous of moments.

So oh Creator of all things, remember my words on the great day when all will be judged based on their deeds.

Oh sustainer, forgiver, nourisher, and Most Great, remember my words, even when I forget yours. Forgive my lapses, even when I deserve no such courtesy.

Spread good of me, even when I may be lazy in extending the same courtesy.

Oh Lord, cherisher, and most just.

Let me forgive others, as you constantly forgive me, so that one day, I may be worthy of your grace and praise.

Let me support others as you support me.

Let me not loose sight of my transient life.

Let me always remember you, from this day on, til when my lungs breathe their last breath.

Oh lord, If I should ever dare to think I am worthy or deserving of your countless blessings, then me I be awoken of my fantasy, face down, on the dirt, in complete submission to you.

Thank you, the countless thanks, that only pile up as I send them. For each thank you, oweing another, an overflowing debt that could never be dreamed to be payed back.

To the one that knows me best, takes care of me best, and treats me best. Thank you oh one worthy of all praise. Thank you Lord. Thank you oh sustainer and oh cherisher.

May my voice never stop praising you and your rightly guided leaders which you sent on earth to guide us aright.

I await the day of judgment; let me spend each day in praise and in constant forgiveness til then.

Oh one that never forgets and is still forgotten by the ungrateful.

Let me not be one of them and let me always follow the right path of your light and grace.

Oh one that inspires me, that is the true greatness which I claim to be, having stolen that right from the nourisher which is truly deserving of it.

Thank you and always keep me remembering your countless blessings.

Oh most Merciful and most worthy of Praise.

Forgive me and thank you. Should I be punished from now til the end of times, still you were not unjust with me for even a moment.

I deserve nothing and ask nothing, but simply that you accept my thanks and see me as your lowly servant, in constant need, and that you forgive me for my obvious weakness.

To the one that deserves all, may I one day deserve to call myself your true servant and true follower.

Oh Grace, oh Light, and Oh inspirer of all the hearts. Oh one filling our souls with blessings innumerable to count.

May my words never cease speaking of your greatness and obvious beauty. You are indeed worthy of all praise and all things you truly do control with a divine power.

My lord which has no equal, nothing brings you weariness, so please stay patient with me, of even that I am not worthy, yet you are infinitely able to give.

So give to me out of your infinite wealth, out of your mercy, magnanimity, and grace.

Thank you oh source of light, which guides all to the right path, regardless of how far we may have strayed.

Treat me with your Mercy oh greatness, for surely I would be most unfortunate to have to face your true Justice, of which no blessing of yours would I have ever been worthy of.

Keep me on your path, oh one true Lord, Creator, and God of all Things.

Friday, April 8, 2011

What makes a Writer

(When the quill becomes a door to a new world and inspiration starts streaming out of you; a writer you have become.)

At first people are hesitant to call themselves writers. After simply looking at the previous greats and standing in awe and wonder at their works, how can anyone dare call themselves a writer. The label and title seems a trophy unfit for most.

But when writing becomes pure joy, when it becomes a way to really express your inner self, and when you'd rather write than record yourself speaking, you know you've become a writer.

Just take a second to imagine that. Sitting and typing, or writing by hand, helps you to explain your true intentions, much more than just speaking them... How is that even possible?

It's why I'm writing this and it's why this isn't being recorded, even though doing so is immensely cheap and easy, and possibly quicker than writing this.



When you truly hold the pen steadily it rewards you in many ways. It's a gift from God, where you wield the power of creation, opening new worlds, exploring them, and finding new characters unimaginable in the real world.

Words that you can't say fly from deep inside you onto the paper. It's a one way highway, a strong connection between your soul and your writing. It's calming, wonderful, entertaining, and exciting.

It beckons to you, calling out to write more even when you least expect it.



To write for extended periods requires immense stamina and focus. You have to be true to your story. It can't just be the first thing you think of. Immediately after you think of something you ask yourself, "Is this true to the story, would this happen, could it happen"?

Fictional writing is very hard because it needs to stay in the realm of possibility, even in the most fantastic of worlds. It's why non fiction can sometimes be harder to believe than fiction; it can't be denied since it happened but it's unimaginable. That's just not always the case with Fiction, as you do have borders, and you don't want to take too far a leap of logic.

Also, some stories just need time to sit in your head for a while. Inspiration may wane, and forcing words to paper will only give you a lackluster result.



If anything it seems writing requires dedication. You have to remind yourself to re-tap your creative self, and try writing again after you've been away from it for a while.

This inability to delve back in, to lose your dedication, kills precious years off the writer. I'm very young and in my early 20's as I sit, but I feel I've lost many precious years simply not sitting down to write when I could have.

I'm thinking a schedule might remedy this. Force yourself to sit down for 30 minutes and let what happens, happen. If it doesn't work out, wait a week. If inspiration hits you, write; a no pressure dedication oriented schedule.


Final Thoughts

There is no perfect talent or perfect gift. With the good comes the bad, and even though writing can allow you to put light in the shadows of your deepest and most confusing thoughts, it also has it's own requirements and needs that need to be met.

The power of creation may rest in your hands but it's tip needs to stay sharpened. Eventually, even the lazy writers are called upon at odd hours of the night, simply to sit down and pour their deepest thoughts to the paper. (My particular case in writing this post)

It's never really the words, environment, or the characters that seem to make the story. It always seems to be the overarching vision, theme, and emotion that the story emits.

Even the oddest of characters become cherished friends when put in the right circumstances, with the right goals, and with the greatest adventures.

Write with me this night, and let our pens write themselves to their drying ends. Watch on as fluttering papers filled with words fly all around us, all small pieces of inspiration forcing their way out.

Friday, March 4, 2011

1) Marry a better wife than you? / 2) Why he isn't proposing to you

(Who to choose to fly with. Your companion lifting you higher and higher through life's journey.)

Theres a sort of wall everyone gets to when they seriously think about getting married. When we're younger we always characterize a good wife as one that's better than ourselves. But then when you actually get into the details and you're on the brink of choosing, philosophy throws a curveball at you.

Lets take it slowly and just start out concretely. You have two potential spouses you can look into for getting married. One you assume from what you've learned, is better than you, and the other is assumed worse.

Which do you marry? Which do you propose to?

I found personally, that you'd always love to have the one assumed to be better, but there lies one problem, that may only apply to me, but that you may feel guilt.

Why guilt? Guilt at the feeling of giving her something worse than herself, that you feel bad ruining her chances at finding someone better, even if she does accept you.


Knowing for Certain

Lets go a step further and make it easier. Assume that you know for a fact that one is better and one is worse, which one do you go after?

If you choose the one that's better, the guilt issue remains. What about the one that you know magically know for a fact, is worse than you as a person?

If you marry them, you may mistreat them, constantly having this feeling of condescension inside you, because they were a trade off versus someone better.

Is that fair to them? Won't you inevitably bump heads over that? Won't they be disappointed knowing you felt that way?

What do you do?


The dilemma

On one hand you have the guilt of ruining someones chances of finding a better husband, by picking the better wife, knowing she deserves better than you, and on the other hand you have the mistreatment of someone you deem inferior, in whatever standards you assume to be better or worse.

What do you do?

If I find an answer, I'll probably share with you my insights, but for this late March night, I do nothing more then wonder, ponder, contemplate, worry, and think on what the right choice is.

This becomes even more of an issue, as you become someone with less and less pride. The less pride inside you the more you deem others greater than yourself. Then how would you rid yourself of the guilt?

The thing is, we all should aim to be less proud, with more humility, knowing God is our only source of life, mercy, and generosity; that all good things originate and are caused by him.

So is the humble man doomed to the guilt of marrying a seemingly better wife?


Problem 2

Modest women, since these would be the only people faced with this problem, have their own sort of dilemma.

Since these women are not at clubs, are not constantly flirting with guys, and are not flirting and making guy friends, they most likely get married through proposals and one and one encounters.

A person will come to them with the intent to marry, they'll get to know one another, and see if it works out. If it does, they marry, and if not, they move on to the next person.

But some societies and some cultures look down on women that don't get proposals. Does it automatically mean you're a bad person if this is the case, or ugly, or rude? The answer is no, and speaking from a male perspective, it's easier to understand why:

  • 1) Better than him: If you are a really good person, and really desirable, you'd think people would come to you first. The issue is, since you are better, guys may feel they have no chance, or may feel the guilt to ask you. After enough guys feel this way, you end up getting little to no proposals. This isn't because anything is wrong with you, but the opposite, that you're very desirable and people feel discouraged about asking you thinking their chances are too low.
  • 2) Nervous: This applies to all men in general asking any woman for a proposal. Being nervous is a response that gets strengthened if they're in a new society and there is no framework for how people get married in the first place. This phenomenon gets even worse when there is no system for finding spouses and then once a proper spouse is found, it's difficult to know how to approach.
  • 3) Accidentally offend: People will frequently not ask for proposals because they don't want to offend the parents of that daughter or the daughter themselves. They don't want to feel as if the only reason they liked that person or family is for selfish marriage reasons.
  • 4) Awkwardness / Denial : Some guys also have issues with denial and worry about feeling awkward if their proposal is turned down. This feeling may be strengthened if you have close family or friendship ties with the proposee. Your fear could ricochet into fear of hurting your friends and feeling awkward at bothering their family over the marriage.

The point is simple, if you're not being proposed to, it doesn't automatically mean something is wrong with you. Actually, more likely, it means someone may be right and others are intimidated by you, and fear rejection.

I finish off with this often shared paragraph, which should remind all women of their value:

Girls are like
apples on trees. The best
ones are at the top of the tree.
The boys don't want to reach for
the good ones because they are afraid
of falling and getting hurt. Instead, they
just get the rotten apples from the ground
that aren't as good, but easy. So the apples
at the top think something is wrong with
them, when in reality, they're amazing.
They just have to wait for the right
boy to come along, the one
who's brave enough
to climb
all the way
to the top
of the tree.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Tunisia, Egypt, and The Muslim World

(Remi Ochlik in a single photo is able to capture the frustration, sadness, and anger of the whole Muslim world.)

There has been a political shift in the paradigm of the whole world and to not write about it would be tantamount to insanity for any philosopher.

A 30 year dictator has stepped down after 3 weeks of political wrangling. In one month two such dictators fell, both near to each other and both near to the heart of the Muslim world.

What were their demands, what sparked this, and why was it so surprising?



Previously governments, especially the U.S and the U.K, endorsed security before democracy. Yet how can a society be secure when it's freedoms are so stripped and laid bare? How can you call a society secure when it's people revel in the idea of freedom? Where is the security in a so called President that pockets billions of dollars of money that does not rightfully belong to him?

Any sane and just man knows that this is an INSECURE society. As for our political lay folk, they seemed too busy "establishing" security in the Muslim world, rather than understanding the insecurity they were seeding and the dissatisfaction they were feeding.

At the end of the day, they got neither security nor democracy nor peace, as former U.S Secretary of State Condelleza Rice pointed out.

The cause of this revolution was simple, injustice.



So why was this so surprising to the common lay political folk in Washington? Why was their instability machine not the answer they had hoped for.

Simply, they underestimated the power of regular people. Although a government may crush a person or try to ruin their credibility(Torture and Rendition), and although a government may ban a opposing political organization (Muslim Brotherhood), it can't change it's people or kill them all.

The old political folk assumed they could suppress their people and time and time again history teaches us the same lesson, always to the same people unwilling to learn it. Simply, you cannot truly control the lives of millions of people and bend them to your will. Eventually you will break and the bend of Justice will catch up with you, even if it takes 30 years, as in Egypt's case.


The People

Part of the reason this happened now was the people themselves. According to a Qatar University graduate that went on Al-Jazeera, he mentioned that the people are now Educated, Wealthy, and unwilling to accept less than they deserve.

He continued saying, they did not want a government to serve but instead they wanted the government to serve them and nothing less than that would be acceptable.

There was no leader, but each individual working for the whole, and there was no whole, except each individual working for the betterment of the other.


Not So Bloody Revolution

Although sadly around 300 people have died, considering what occurred during other revolutions, this wasn't as bad.

One of the main reasons was for the Just actions of the Egyptian Military. They deserve no less than praise for their restraint. They were the true stalwarts of peace and their actions saved countless thousands and possible millions of lives.


The Spark

The powder was already set, it just needed the proper spark. Or another way to think about it is that the glass was full of injustice and this was the last drop that made it overflow. Finally it can be though of as that old idiom of the straw that broke the camels back.

What was that spark? Mohamed Bouazizi. His story can be read here. It's a great article written by one of my favorite magazines, Time.

How can humans allow such corrupt governments to perpetrate such actions? The answer was that they wouldn't and the people rose up.


Final Thoughts

Unjust governments cannot be propped up. There is no security unless the people are treated properly and are given their rights.

Bribery, extortion, torture, political wrangling, and oppression will be overcome.

Justice will prevail as history has a long arch that always bends towards it.

May all people, all over the world, live in security, with dignity, with proper human rights and with true economic Justice, under our one merciful and compassionate God that we all believe in and turn towards.

May all the oppressors remember this day, as it has been repeated in history countless times; that they will perish, their wealth will crumble, and their heads will eventually bow in shame.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Philosophy of Friendship

(Facebook Friends v.s a Friend. Have we diluted our meaningful relationships to a jumble of weak electronically connected links?)

I thought it was time to discuss and contemplate on what exactly makes someone your friend and how we distinguish a friend from any other normal person.

One of the main reasons and inspirations for this discussion was simply because I thought people were using the term friend too loosely.

I'm sure there are a number of people you think of as your friend now and to try and get you to reassess your definition I'm going to ask one simple question.


"Do we have any responsibilities to our friends, any tasks which we should complete because of them, or any standards with which we have to meet for them?"

For instance:

  • 1) If a person is your friend do you have a responsibility to keep in touch with them, at least speaking for once a year, or is it o.k to still be friends after not haven spoken for more than a year? Would not speaking to them after so long affect your friendship?
  • 2) To what extent should we worry and be involved in our friends lives in order to help them? Is it acceptable to never want to do so and still be considered a friend?
  • 3) Would a friend ever miss another friends birthday party/event? Are you still friends if you don't, at the very least, come to their birthday party?
  • 4) Do you trust your friend more than the average person? Would betraying a friends trust affect their friendship with you?


So as you can see from the above questions, if any of those apply to you, you would agree that with friendship comes a certain level of responsibility.

So why mention this, why waste your time thinking about the subject?

Simply put, we consider people friends that really are acquaintances; a word I feel should be used more. These are people you may see very rarely at specific events and/or whom your only contact might consist of facebook or myspace.

These friends, are the worrisome ones I fear about, as you seem to have no sense of responsibility towards them. You hardly keep in touch, don't celebrate birthdays together, and rarely spend a passing thought worrying about their well-being.

Such responsibilities seem to be the backbone of friendships and our society has stripped the backbone in order to make friend an easier term to apply to more people.

That simply dilutes our experience with our friends, and dilutes our efforts into actually making meaningful relationships. Then we have an excuse to not treat our true friends properly. If 90% of your "friends" are treated a certain way then those actions will affect your true friends whom will get less calls from you and connections simply because that's the "norm" with friends.

Yet when you strip away the caring that exists between friends, the one molded by your help, worries, and effort, you find that you've lost meaningful relationships and replaced them with hollow ones.

Without such meaningful relationships, as a consequence, life looses a lot of it's glory, happiness, and luster.


Why we jump to use the word "friend" instead of "acquaintance"

So we can agree on what is happening but we should now focus on why it's happening.

Why are we diluting and weakening the term that is "friend"?

It may be because we don't want to offend people. Telling a person whom likes you that they are not your friend is seen as a slap in the face. Even if you don't mean it that way and even if it's true. If someone likes you and has been nice to you, in order to keep from upsetting them, the social norm has become that we should say they are our friends; not strangers.

People forget that another category already exists for these people that are not our friends. These people are known as acquaintances.
That word implies that we know them and there is some small bond in place, but possibly because it has a negative connotation, we try not to use it.

What we forget is, the moment we label someone a friend, a number of responsibilities attach themselves to that person and to us. That being the case, how can we then go attaching it to everyone, especially if we don't undertake the tasks needed to become and remain good friends?

The only answer to the problem is to use the word acquaintance more and have a healthy conversation as to why you used that word instead of friend, so as to not offend the other party.


Exceptional Friends - The Exception

These examples and discussions should beware of a certain area that I believe is an exception to the rule.

For friends that have spent and created strong bonds, even time apart would not destroy their strong friendship. Maybe because of forced relocation or for financial reasons they had to leave but if a strong connection was made, with years of effort forged into it, it is very possible for that friendship to stay active even with all the barriers.

These people should not be included in any of the above, as most of the people we're speaking about are people you just met or barely know.

If you know them deeply, and have a similar connection, your friendship is a different topic for a different time. You may never see them again and remember the bonds of friendship you built, reminiscing on the past as your friend is thousands of miles away.

They, as your once true friend, can and may certainly continue to stay your true friend.


Final piece of advice

The key here seems to be that we need to take care of our friends. We need to greatly increase that definition and use that term with the strength it deserves.

Lessen your pool of "friends" and then on those that remain, focus your attention. Keep up to date with them, call them regularly, worry about them, help them, and try to cover their faults as they cover yours.

Even if it may be only 1, 2, or 3 people, a true friendship based on responsibility, caring, an input of effort, and compassion, is much better than a dilute group of numerous people that you rarely see, rarely speak to, and truly do not care deeply about.

Apply the proper definition of friend to your life and in turn reap the benefits of life itself; more happiness, more satisfaction, and more joy in general.

Who knew a simple definition of a simple word could cause such mayhem if understood and applied incorrectly?

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