Word Vomit Musings: Baby Birds

It’s been a while since I wrote anything. It’s not like there’s nothing to write. Trump, Syria, music, philosophy, life… the list goes on. There’s always something to comment on, some article to put my two cents in, or some opinion that I believe is superior to all others. The internet is full of these words. It’s overflowing with information from people who write better than I do. So what’s the point of writing….?

Who am I to write about politics when all I know are regurgitations of the “truth” from the media who treats us like little chicks incapable of feeding ourselves with research. But what’s worse is when we take the regurgitated information and then vomit it out into the dinner table thinking it’s a steak dinner.

But wait a minute now… Are we actually baby birds in this dinosaur of a world? We are constantly fed information that has been in the throats of behemoths that don’t want us to lift up our wings to even consider leaving the nest.

After all, nests are safe, comfortable and cozy. No fear of falling as long as we don’t look down. All we need to do is wait for the next feed to show up with our daily bait and we’re happy. There’s no reason to leave our ignorant bliss, our Plato’s cave, our satisfying pig pen.

But oh how contradictory is it when we strive, pray, and wish for flight while still craving mother’s vomit.

Oh writing, what a love-hate relationship. I can write all this stuff and sound like I know some secret insight. But how can this be for me to know anything? Me, a prideful speck believing that I’ve pierced the well of knowledge, but only to see that I am only swimming in the vomits of other specks around me…. Yet among the specks, there must be the truth! At least something that mirrors some kind of foundation to build anything off of.

Brilliant minds have tried to find such foundation, but realize that a gentle breeze could topple their fortresses. Descartes, the father of modern philosophy built his fortress on what be thought was the truth, absolute, undeniable truth. This toppled. But others after him tried to rebuild. Some on similar foundations, others on complete opposites. As they built and built, they also fought and fought. Attacking each other’s weak points while trying to fortify their own. Empires rose and fell. Gods among kings destroyed from east to west.

Today, we have all the information at our fingertips. This is our fortress and stronghold, yet we can’t figure out what the heck is going on in this world. There are more books, brilliant bodies, and brain child’s than we could ever count, yet we are no closer to the goals set about by our earliest ancestors to understand life. Chaos ensues regardless of technology, revolutions, or America. There’s a reason why more and more dystopian books and movies are made. We never really question the validity of them. We eat it all up while stroking our beards in contempt, only analyzing, but not preparing. We all know what’s happening to us, yet we’d rather entertain ourselves with the imminent future than face it as is.

 

 

Advertisements

Beautiful Silence of Voices

Beauty born out of grief

tears shed from a somber melody

soft violins with steady progressions

eloquently caressing the tender heart strings

Oh, grief! Oh, human condition reflected so deeply from the wells of music

a heartfelt ache of isolation remedied by steady strings that silence and soothes the soul

An acceptance for loss of words, allows the human heart to be felt rather than explained…

an anxious pause in writing to meditate on things language longs to comprehend and erect a tower of highest pedestals.

One may say Language is an apex of human achievement. But consider when we allow silence to reign for a bit. To let go of in information and words we so quickly spew. These words that cause the downfall of others. Rash, harsh sounding language that knows no bounds. These are the apex of our fall. Lies constructed to hide Truth.

Let’s only open our mouths in awe of life. All of it. Not just life from our own thinking and talking. But life shared with a community of voices longing for the world to be silent for once! So that they can be heard amongst the noise.

Breath in the air from your mouth. Let it dance upon your tongue as you reflect on the life it gives you every day. Now speak from your tongue and give that breath back to others who long for a life-giving “hello”.

Billions of mouths but so little ears. Outnumbered. No wonder there’s no wondering of things beyond our scope.

So let us be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry… But let our speech be unrestrained from goodness while keeping a tight reign over its firey evils. For human anger does not bring about the righteousness that God desires

The Messages That We Send

I believe that the topic of messages sent is a very important thing to talk about, especially in a divided society full of protests, talk shows, and social media discussions. Messages have the potential to be misunderstood, misinterpreted, misrepresented, taken out of context, and downright twisted against you. It can be ignored, laughed at, criticized and shot down.  But it can also stir up movements, riots, wars, arguments, death, and life.

The problem with messages is that it contains both rational and emotional elements. Rational thinkers tend to strip emotion away from a message and simply look at the logical implications of such messages. Emotional feelers tend to ignore the reason and logic behind the message and simply look at the emotional implications of the act or words. Granted these are two extreme spectrums, but we all fall somewhere within it.

Moreover, there’s a divide between the fields of rationality and emotions. Let’s talk about emotions first. People can feel differently about people, food, movies, books, relationships, pets, and almost anything under the sun. You wouldn’t call someone wrong for liking a movie you don’t like. Instead, you may say that they have a bad taste in movies, but that would simply be your opinion. You can be on team red, blue, or yellow on Pokemon Go, but neither one is inherently right.  The “better” team is based on personal preference or socially created ideas.

For rationality, we tend to want to remove these opinions and emotions from our arguments. However, I will argue that this is much easier said than done. David Hume, a 17th-century empiricist philosopher, argued that “reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.” In other words, we cannot separate our rational thinking from our passions (or emotions) because passions necessitate our reason.

I am an example of this. I tend to pride myself on logical arguments and thinking. Premise A, B, and C give this conclusion so this proves I’m right! However, many times I have been humbled to see that my emotions tend to cause me to ignore or quickly dismiss other premises. I catch myself defending my side through a strong confirmation bias, rather than fully considering both sides. I’m already emotionally attached to one side of the argument, so my rational side is influenced by this feeling as I defend myself.

For example, I think Kobe Bryant is the greatest basketball player of all time. I will argue it based off his stats, championships, and the legacy he left behind. Others may say Jorden or Lebron and also base their arguments on stats and championships. However, when we take a step back and observe our motivations, I believe that we all have an emotional attachment to the player that influences the “logic” and our rational thought process. I grew up watching Kobe. I experienced every game winner, every fade-away, and every championship he’s ever won. Through all the good and bad times in his career, I was watching and rooting for him. So, of course, my arguments are based on passion and emotion. If I were to argue against Kobe, even for logical reasons, I would feel like I’m betraying a part of myself.

Conservatives and liberals, theists and atheists, philosophers and scientists, are all the same way; emotionally attached to their cause, especially one that are the most educated, outspoken, and involved in it. If you spend hours, months, years, and even a lifetime learning and supporting your cause, how can you not be emotionally attached to it? How can you not feel defensive when someone says you’re wrong, despite people’s reasons? There’s nothing wrong with being attached to a cause, especially one that you believe in, but we must all realize when our emotions start clouding our rational thought.

So this is where the topic of messages come in. When someone burns a flag or raises a flag, takes a knee in protest or praise, blocks a freeway, supports a movement, votes for a political candidate, prays in school, or posts on facebook, a message is sent out to the masses whether they want it or not. However, very few of these messages ever change the opinions of others. If fact, they tend to divide people even more! What’s most indicative of conflict than a disagreement between something that both parties are emotionally attached to?

When Colin Kaepernick took a knee to the national anthem, the nation was divided in labeling it as an act of protest and an act of disrespect. The results of this knee was not a promotion of rights for minorities, instead, it was a catalyst of further division among people of differing opinions. Who’s to blame for this? I don’t believe Kaepernick intended any harm. I think he simply wanted to protest in his own way and exercise his freedom of speech. Whether you think it’s right or not, I don’t really care. But the problem with sending a message is that your intentions become ignored. When society gets ahold of your message, they can twist and turn it into whatever fits their emotions.

Two common responses to Kaepernick are as followed:

“Oh, you disrespect our national anthem? If you hate our country so much, then why don’t you just leave!”

“He’s expressing his 1st Amendment rights and giving a voice against the problems of society!”

Both I believe are valid. Yes, many people find it very disrespectful and yes things need to be said and expressed so people can be aware of the inequalities in the United States. Neither side is going to concede to the others opinions because it causes their emotionally charged beliefs to lose power to the other side.

TL;DR

I think this is the state of America today. Too much opposition with each other, too much pride, and too little understanding of our emotionally charged beliefs. Sending messages through actions or words is not a bad thing, but we must recognize that such messages may strike an emotional chord for some people. Henry Ford once said that “If there is any one secret of success it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from their angle as well as your own”. Empathy is the key to finding a common ground, but it’s very difficult to empathize across a moral divide. 

But that’s where humility sheds its soft, yet powerful light. Humility is a dying virtue, especially in a society that’s ready to pounce on any sign of weakness. Once someone admits fault, he or she becomes vulnerable to attacks on all ends. But if a society does not learn to be humble, pride will cause them to self-destruct and devour each other from the inside out.

Search For Beauty

We all find beauty in different areas in life. Some may find beauty in music, art, poetry, literature, or in another person. For some of us, however, beauty may be a very ephemeral thing that we rarely experience in life. This post is for these people.

I believe lasting beauty comes from an active pursuit of it. All of us are endowed with a mind, but not all of our minds are programmed to see the beauty in all things. For example, a song can invoke joyous emotions for one, but may be seen as noise to another. A book can stimulate profound thoughts for one, but bore the hell out of another. Appreciation of something comes from the psychological and emotional understanding of that thing. But this appreciation of beauty corresponds to the amount of effort and investment one puts to it. A person may find a video game to be very uninteresting and pointless,  but to a gamer who invests time into it, they are able to see its beauty through the complex strategies, artwork, and extraordinary skill it takes to become proficient in it.

From these things, I come to the idea that if a person does not actively pursue something of beauty or meaning, then they will be left void of it. This is why I find stagnation in life such an ugly experience. One of the most common responses I give when someone asks me “what I’m doing” or “what did you do this week”  is “nothing”. “Nothing” is such an unfulfilling response to give for anything because it represents a lack of beauty, of meaning, of having something worthy of sharing with others.

I believe this is a very common attitude today. We live in a society always surrounded by “something”. We are always doing “something”, whether its gaming, texting, Facebooking, or working, but inside we are always filled with nothing. I think we feel this way because we are passively, rather than actively seeking beauty. I don’t blame us for doing this because this is what society teaches us. It tells us what is and what isn’t fun, exciting, sexy,  and beautiful.We don’t need to actively search for these things because we are told that they’re literally at our fingertips.

We are all products of this environment. This is one reason why I think people are so depressed. We are bombarded with quick fixes of beauty that we can never fully obtain. Images of half naked bodies, fancy cars, mouth-watering foods, and Pokemon mastery  have become our lives. Perfection has replaced beauty. But these are facades, mere shadows of reality! We are given a strip-tease of these things that we desire, but can never have. Is this really the life we want? To live entranced and controlled by shadows? To always be in a passive pursuit of a shadow that we’re taught to see as meaningful?

If we want to escape these shadows, we must be willing to escape our dark caves and enter into the bright and huge world of reality. This is not an easy task. Our eyes will sting as we adjust to the light, our skin will get sunburned as the rays warm our bodies, and our hearts will fear as we peer into the unknown. We will have a desire to go back to the safety of the cave, but for those who can endure the light and continue to venture out into reality,  beauty starts to show her lovely face.

So my advice to you and to myself is to put down our phones, close our laptops, and go pursue beauty. Not the kind of beauty that is a quick fix, but the lasting, meaningful beauty that takes active effort, practice, dedication and pain. If you don’t know what that is, then look for it. Take a walk in the park, watch a sunset, have a meal with a friend, pick up a guitar, read a book, do something new. 

I write because I find beauty in it. Writing is the way I express the beauty I see through the things I read, think about, and experience in life. I believe it is profound, meaningful, and beautiful, and I want to share it with others. However, writing isn’t easy for me. It takes an active pursuit of words and sentences that constantly escape my thoughts, but I endure the long hours because I see beauty in the process and the end product. Likewise everything that I find beautiful takes work.

A brilliant art piece takes hours of work to complete, the ability to create complex melodic riffs on a guitar takes hours of practice, a breath taking view takes miles of hiking up a mountain. This pain and effort is required and adds substance to the things we find beautiful. I leave you with these questions:

What are things, experiences, and people in your life that you find beautiful? Did you have to suffer or work hard in order to appreciate or understand it as beautiful? Does the active and continual pursuit of these things bring meaning back into life?

In-Between Faith and Reason: Part 2- Bridging the Gap

This is my attempt to bridge the gap between the faithful church goer and the frustrated  skeptic of religion who is able to see past its illusions and dogmatism.  This is my attempt to acknowledge both sides of the spectrum as intelligible and reasonable, while holding both to the standard of human limitations and ignorance.

But first, a bit of information about myself. I grew up in church and was taught all of the stories at a young age. My beliefs were firm throughout my middle school years even though I constantly sinned and rarely read the bible. Nothing else was able to penetrate the fortresses of religious information and belief that was put in me at a young age. In reality, these fortresses were mere sand castles built with a shaky foundation reinforced with water and seaweed. But as a child, I was proud of my mound of sand. I was quite an architect. My castle stood higher and withheld the gentle waves of the ocean better than the others. I would create buttresses and dig deep moats to show how impregnable my castle was.

As I grew up, I realized how far away I built my religious castle from the waters. I was ignorant of the great ocean of information that scoffs at my creation. When I realized how little water actually touched my castle, I was humbled and wanted to see if it could withstand more water. So I gently scooped up the castle I made as a child and moved it closer to the waves. This time, the waters filled my moat and flooded my kingdom. But surprisingly my castle didn’t collapse.  The buttresses kept it stable, but not for long. A few more invasions of water and it would have surely collapsed.

This happened in high school where my faith was challenged. The challenge wasn’t from people who questioned my faith,  rather it was through an introspection of the things I’ve experienced and saw in life. I stopped feeling “spiritual or retreat highs”, God seemed absent in my prayers, and the veil of ignorance was lifted as I was able to see good and evil in the world. In college, I started asking questions that demanded more than “Jesus” as the answer. I read books by Dawkins and Hitchen’s, but also balanced it out with books by C.S Lewis and Tim Keller. In my fifth year of college I was drowning in an ocean of information that I really didn’t know what to do with. I had replaced my sand castle with refined brick and mortar, but it still broke under the interminable crashes of the waves.

I was tired. The cloud of depression that followed me ever since middle school started to grow and darken my vision of my castle and the waters. I could hear the waves and feel the castle, but the darkness left me cold to both of them. I wanted to give up and just live a life of ignorance. Ignorance of the frailty of my castle. Ignorance of the unfathomable depths of the ocean. But life wouldn’t allow such a thing! It pushed me full force into the waters and I had to learn how to swim. In my 5th-6th year in college, I got involved in a campus Christian fellowship, eventually becoming President. During that time, due to unforeseen circumstances, I was forced to change my major. So for some reason I decided to change my major from psychology to philosophy.

In this moment of my life, I was in-between faith and reason. I was involved in a club that relied heavily on faith and trust that God would provide. As a leader I had to promote the teachings of Christ and faith in a God that we cannot physically see. In this club, I was able to see people come to Christ and devote their time and energy for the sake of love and community. I was able to see faith come into fruition, but also see the frailty of my own faith in God.

On the other side, I fell in love with my new major. Philosophy taught me to reason through arguments, to think more deeply, and allowed me to see past fallacies that I held onto in the past. I entered a whole new world of thinking that seemed to align with my life’s desires. Within it, I was able to delve deep into philosophers who have been refining and building up their intellectual and religious castles far longer than I have. I would enter into these brilliant mansions and be in awe of the beauty of its architecture and vastness of its interior. However, there are times when other philosophers revealed to me the water damage, the cracks in the wall, and that under the facade of the grandiose architecture are shaky grounds. 

At this moment in life philosophy and faith did not contradict. Even though a lot of my deeply held arguments for Christianity were being challenged such as Aquinas’ Watchmaker example, C.S Lewis’ Liar, Lunatic, and Lord argument, and the much less convincing proof of the existence of God by Descartes, I used this to refine and strengthen my knowledge of reason and faith.

So I write this blog from my two points of view. The faithful church goer and the frustrated intellectual skeptic of Christianity. To Christians, having doubts, questions, concerns, confusions and frustrations about your faith is not a bad thing. It does not make you a bad Christian. Addressing these things makes you an informed, wise, humble, and reasonable Christian. It allows you to see into the problems that atheists and non-Christians clearly see about the church. It removes the plank from our eyes about the world we live in.

To skeptics and atheists, I acknowledge and feel your frustrations with religion. Religion has been used to brainwash, manipulate, control, and kill people all across the world. It has stifled thinking, justice and humanity in so many ways. History and current events related to religion cannot be ignored. But know that religion isn’t void of reason and validity. Some of the greatest thinkers have found merit and truth within their beliefs in God.

One of the goals I have for these blogs is to widen our understanding of two different points of view. To acknowledge each others beliefs and concerns rather than automatically dismissing it. It’s one thing to disagree with someone, but it’s another to disagree with them without understanding their reasons and concerns. I think this is an extremely important thing that needs to be done, especially in a world downing in opinions, emotions, closed mindedness, and fallacious information constantly shoved down our throats by the media. We take in information without discussing or analyzing it. I think it’s about time for a change.

In-Between Faith and Reason: Part 1- Who Am I?

There is a topic in my heart and mind that compels me to get up out of my bed at 2:00 AM and stay up until 4:00 AM in order to write this post. This topic or should I say topics are faith and reason. This dichotomy in my soul of two seemingly contradictory topics forces me to lose sleep even though I don’t have insomnia because it is in such combat with each other that I will not allow my mind to coax it away with sleep. So to understand why I choose to contemplate and lose sleep over this, you must first understand the who.

I am first and foremost human. As a human, I am given this biological brain that allows me the ability to think and reason through the complexities of life.  This brain that makes us sentient, self-aware creatures, who are capable of love and compassion, but also vicious atrocities and genocides. This brain that has the capacity to comprehend volumes of literature, but can also be limited periods of vegetation.

Second of all, I am a Philosopher. I don’t say this to put myself high on the ivory tower or claim that I know more that anyone else. This just means that I put in very high esteem the virtues of reason, logic, wisdom, critical thinking and an examined life. I long and seek after truth and understanding underneath the muck of fallacies and lies.

Thirdly, I am a Christian. I believe in the Bible and the validity and soundness of its contents. I believe in Jesus and his death and resurrection and I also believe in faith.

These three aspects consume my world and dictate what I do and say and pray to. I am all three, but neither one should take precedent over the other because they are illiterate of the contents of the other two when apart from them. Only when they are together can I intelligibly  communicate.

In times of war, they unceasingly battle with each other for superiority, leaving a trail of suffering behind. In times of peace, they are able to collaborate, compromise, and agree with each other which attributes to my understanding. War and peace are not mutually exclusive to each other. Rather they are woven and intertwined in a torn yet beautiful tapestry which I call life.

The glue that holds this tapestry together and allows the synthesis and cooperation of conflicting ideas is the admittance of my ignorance of each independent thread. I admit my ignorance since I am only human and not God, a philosopher but limited in wisdom, and a believer in faith, yet still a doubter.

No wiser is a man who “knows nothing” like Jon Snow

Or a philosopher who claims to know only one thing: that he know nothing, like Socrates

Or a believer who admits that we are nothing in the midst of the infinity of God.

This blog series is intended for me to express these thoughts that I have to the public so that they can examine my arguments and agree, but most importantly disagree with them, so I can refine where I’m wrong and reinforce where I’m right. Moreover, its hope is that you can also glean from what I have to say, and for myself, what you have to say to me. Hopefully my next post will be less flowery and more content driven… my mind tends to wander at 4:00 AM

Escaping Absurdity by Entering The Stranger

I’ve read The Stranger by Albert Camus a while ago. It didn’t shake me the way I though a Nobel Prize winning book would. I read the book inside a Chick-Fil-A out of sheer boredom and anxiety. I needed something to do that day that didn’t involve hours of mindless and emotionless gaming so I decided to escape this torpid lifestyle by reading a book in hopes that it would immerse me into a different world. It so happened that out of all the unread books in my shelf, I decided to pick up The Stranger ignorant of its content…. So with Christian instrumental music playing in the background and a chicken sandwich on the side, I began my journey into Meursault’s world. After the first couple of chapters, I realized that I wasn’t entering a new world. Rather I was continuing on my own listless and absurd reality.

This absurd world was what I was trying to escape in my trek outside the warm glow of my computer screen. How unrelentingly absurd is life inside a video game! And how even more absurd and frustrating is reading about a person who is so detached to the world that it makes me more detached.  Unlike Camus’ advice, I cannot accept absurd-ism! I cannot yield to the idea that life is meaningless. I believe life is full of meaning, but I just haven’t found it yet. This is the hope I have, albeit a waning hope in the midst of life’s circumstances.

Maybe someone more well versed in Camus work could show me a more thorough understanding of this book. From my reading, this book is just a reflection of a detached man who is either incapable or refuses to conform to the emotional and rational patterns of society. In a way all of these patterns are created by man to invoke meaning into life, when in reality these are just illusions and lies we tell ourselves give meaning. Merusault recognizes this and thus is labeled as “The Stranger” by Camus.