Tuesday, October 17, 2017

When the Going Gets Tough

...the tough throw their hands up in the air and scream “FUCK!!!”


But then they roll up their sleeves and get to work fixing whatever shit they need to in order to right the wrongs of life.
Its no secret that life can be hard sometimes, maybe even for some of us, it’s even hard a lot of the time.
But here’s a little secret you probably aren’t reminded of enough:


There is something to be said for your resiliency, your innate strength that helps you overcome obstacles, deal with problems and get through the tough times.
You are battle tested and have proven that you have the power to overcome whatever is thrown your way.   Even if you do not feel equipped to deal with the problem that you are facing, that mountain that is in your way is there because God knows you can handle it and someone else can’t. Some people might chalk this up to some sort of cosmic “test” (and maybe it is, what the hell do I know?) - I however, would categorize it as an experience that is both designed and destined to make you stronger.

I also realize that seeing any negative experience in this light, while you are going through it, can be near impossible. But hold it in your heart, tuck it in your pocket- whatever you want to do with it, keep that notion safe, because you will overcome.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Aim of Blame (plus things we can all do to bring ourselves back from the brink)

Several people are running around this week shouting that we need more robust gun laws in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting that took place.
It is my firm belief that those that those people are wrong.
You have others who claim this is certainly a tragedy, however this tragedy does not warrant any policy change to address these types of acts.
They are also wrong.
Changes to gun laws would not have prevented the incident in Las Vegas. If you don’t believe me here’s an expert’s opinion, that was formed by academics, rather than anecdotal experience.
Additionally, there’s a video that has recently found renewed popularity online regarding the technology that was relevant when the 2nd amendment was written. If you haven’t seen it you can find it HERE. Attention-grabbing, satirical, and perhaps a bit humorous, is it not? All possibly true, but it is also ignorant. What this video ignores is perhaps the more relevant item based on its historical context: The fact that the authors of the 2nd amendment were living in a time when government overreach was not the plot of a far-fetched suspense novel, but reality.

The truth is there is not one right answer to the question of “How could’ve the Las Vegas tragedy (or any mass shooting) been prevented?” Moreover, the answer to “What could’ve stopped Stephen Paddock from killing over 50 people?” is even more elusive.
The things that stand out to this author are as follows:
  1. Assess your Values
    1. Figure out what it is that drives you, what’s truly important
    2. Determine how you can factor in these values to your daily living
  2. Streamline your commitments
    1. There are a thousand things barking for our attention everyday. To be a modern person it is expected that you do things that, for lack of a better phrase; weren’t even a thing 10, 20, 30 years ago.
    2. Quite simply, remove the things that are without purpose, or simply aren’t worthwhile.
  3. Connectivity
    1. Even the most cynical among us (raises hand) realizes a complete lack of interpersonal connections is a recipe for disaster
    2. Connect with family, friends, acquaintances, even strangers!
  4. Self care
    1. Mental health is a lot like physical health, if you don’t do it for yourself, no one will do it for you.
    2. Make it a point to engage in some activity you enjoy that reduces your stress level


Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Prayers You Didn't Know You Needed

It's been a rough week.  
First, Monday greeted me with some political-correct, snowflake, triggered horseshit at work. By Tuesday I found out that I was at least 1 course short of graduating with my Criminal Justice Minor. Finally, mid-week was capped off by some human splooge tossing a full Polar Pop 32oz beverage at me from his car window while I was running. 
Yes, it's true, I lead an exciting life. 
Luckily, in all these instances I have the certainty that I'll be okay. One of these scenarios I escaped completely unscathed as the Polar Pop cup missed me completely.   
While I am slightly worried about the issue with my Minor, I have confidence that it will be worked out one way or another.  
As far as the problem with work, miraculously I wasn’t a part of the issue referenced, so I appear to be "safe" from the administrative wrath. Of course, that being said, I plan to stand with my team in defiance of such ridiculousness.  
All this mess got me thinking: How many times have I been spared being the victim of some negative event?  
You might think this is overly deep thinking for a cynic such as myself. It may surprise you to know that I actually am fairly spiritual. I don't mean "spiritual" in the current vernacular of rubbing crystals, shopping at Whole Foods and refusing to wear deodorant (not that there's anything wrong with that).  
What I mean by spiritual is I pray to God, but I am far from religious. In fact, I think religion is the worst thing to happen to faith in the history of humankind.  
After that Circle K Polar Pop cup missed me, I prayed. I thanked God for that cup missing me as I thought about what might've been inside it, what the person that threw it might have been thinking.  
This then brought further self-reflection: How many times have I been spared being the victim of some negative event that I wasn’t even aware of?  
Was I almost the victim of a robbery but the would-be perpetrator lost their nerve? Was I nearly killed in a traffic accident but the driver that caused it returned home because they forget something?  
The possibilities are endless and they really make you think. They also make you pray a thankful prayer 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Philosophical Mumbo Jumbo



Philosophy -
noun, phi·los·o·phy \fə-ˈlä-s(ə-)fē\
2 pursuit of wisdom :  a search for a general understanding of values and reality by chiefly speculative rather than observational means :  an analysis of the grounds of and concepts expressing fundamental beliefs (Merriam-Webster Inc, 2017)


Recently, I just finished a course that centered on Ethics and Morality and used a textbook penned by Lawrence Hinman; Contemporary Moral Issues: Diversity and Consensus. Initially, upon entering the class I thought, what a waste of time, as if either of these things are teachable concepts.
I assumed it would be one of those classes you shrug off, an “easy A” that would not take up much study time. Just answer the questions posed to you in the “expected” way and collect your credits. However, with each passing week I became more involved in the course discussions and found the subject matter more interesting. Stem cell harvesting and research, abortion, neoliberalism, the death penalty- all controversial issues that I thought I had understood, and further thought that I had thoroughly grounded beliefs within. Beliefs that lay firmly rooted on one side of these issues or the other. I quickly found out that my beliefs were not only superficial, but in some cases ethereal, having been incidentally gleaned from less-than reputable sources (skewed movies and books, acquaintances with agendas, slanted news reports etc.)
I found myself debating classmates and “winning” (as much as one can “win” in an online forum anyway). It became quite exhilarating, not to pick a side and defend it, but to really dig in and research the pros and cons and present an overarching view of a topic.
          
This spark led me to finally finish up a book i had been given months before on one of my favorite topics, Alan Moore’s Watchmen. I went back to reading Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorschach Test by Mark D. White. I suppose I thought I had just laid or reinforced the fundamentals of critical thinking with regard to personal worldviews, it might be time to explore that in a different context. That context, being one of my favorite films and graphic novels.
The book was great, particularly due to its analytical treatment of Watchmen’s characters and the issues they face from a philosophical lens. The author did a wonderful job of bringing to light issues in the story that I always noticed as being paramount, but could never properly articulate with any true direction. The essays throughout focus on the topics that are central (and some not-so central) to Watchmen’s mythos; good and evil, heroism, villainy, righteousness, politics, and neatly weaves these into philosophical concepts such as stoicism, free will and moral value, among others.  If you are a pop culture fan, or especially a Watchmen fan who is at all interested in philosophy, I highly urge you to track down a copy.  
   
After finishing both Watchmen and Philosophy as well as, Contemporary Moral Issues, I assumed I was ready for something with more gristle. I picked up a translated copy from one of the master’s of philosophy; Nietzsche. I was excited, one because I had heard his work quoted in several different formats and media over the years, and two; I was a bit full of myself at feeling I was ready to tackle such an esteemed body of literary work. The book I selected was The Birth of Tragedy, which was coupled with The Case of Wagner. The particular edition I purchased also contained a preface written by Nietzsche titled ‘Attempt at a Self-Criticism' related to The Birth of Tragedy- an analysis of his own work, some years after the fact. I thought this might prove useful, and insightful as Birth was his first published book.   

I was eager to begin soaking up the relevant knowledge, the life-altering wisdom that someone so revered would surely be able to pass on from across time.
It took me almost 3 hours just to read through the translator’s introduction!


But I wasn’t stymied yet. I kept thinking perhaps if I can get past the translator’s stuffy, academic language from the mid 1950’s, I could get to the insightful information that I really desired, so I pressed on.  Unfortunately, once that was completed I only arrived at Nietzsche’s words to discover that they themselves were made up of stuffy, academic language from the mid 1700’s. I was both astounded and disappointed that it was taking me so long to digest the book’s content.  
So Nietzsche and I, once strangers were quickly estranged. As such, his book rests on the bottom of my reading table, gathering dust as I hope I may gather the acumen to read his words without the help of a tutor, language coach, caffeine and a concordance.
My philosophical exploration remains on hold. Until, at least, I can find something more palatable. Perhaps in between “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Philosophy” and “The Complete Intellectual’s Guide to Philosophy”. I suppose the moral of the story is that my hypothetical philosophical remains on hold, in more than just the hypothetical sense.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you thought the above not representative of David’s typical writing (i.e. slow-paced, overly methodical, and painfully analytical, it is due to the fact that he was channeling Nietzsche himself.
Further, if you stumbled to this page expecting to see something representing light-hearted humor with more intermittent action scenes, stay tuned we will be back to our regularly scheduled programming next week (now that David has gotten this out of his system, we hope.)




Monday, August 7, 2017

Damage

INTRO

                This blog entry came about after watching God Bless America  a couple weeks ago (which if you haven’t seen it, use the link to take a quick read and then watch it on Netflix- it’s brilliant!).  Beyond that some recent interactions I’ve had with some close friends that led me to thinking about my own (less than)
flawless past.
Moreover, it’s a quick glimpse at the negative behavior people force onto others, and our reactions to it, and quite frankly something I’ve needed to get off my chest.

The Antagonist Approach (Being Human)     

I’ll first take a look at how we as humans dole out this behavior, which oddly enough also encompasses perpetuating the negative behavior on others:
               
                “People have no regard for the damage they do to other people.” - God Bless America (A.K.A. The Every Self Serving Sonavbitch you’ve ever met Approach.)  In what is perhaps the oldest example of “Do unto others as they have done unto you.” in history, people that take this approach are usually the ones that irk you in some regard. And while the vast majority of the population is guilty of this, I will say it’s a matter of degrees.

                For instance, you let someone borrow a pen, which they never return. For illustration sake, let’s call this a “Level 1” offense. A lot of times we can justify these slights easily. We’ll that co-worker of mine took my pen, so I’ll take the one from the cable guy.
An example of a “Level 3” offense might be, the oaf that doesn’t pick up his dog’s shit after it craps on your front yard, slightly more aggravating then our first example. However, still reasonably justifiable by most standards. I ALWAYS pick up after MY dog, so leaving this turd here on this schlub’s lawn won’t hurt, just this once. 
You can then go all the way up to true abuse be it; mental, physical or emotional.
 If we say this list represents “Level 10” offenses. And as absurd as it might sound, a smaller portion of those diagnosed with the human condition can justify even these reprehensible actions, whether through conscious recognition or subconscious understanding. Don’t get me wrong- when I say that these too represent actions that can be justified, I am not talking about by those with mental fallacies, or other peculiar conditions. I mean people like you, me and yes even your grandmother. I can put it in perspective easily by saying; Spouse A cheats on Spouse B. Spouse B may feel compelled to do the same out of retaliation, or vindication. See, with that example it’s not such an obtuse point of view any longer…but my point is, Spouse B’s circumstances don’t make their actions appropriate. “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” said your grandpa after he caught your grandmother revenge cheating.

                Life is full of people who commit innocuous versions of these transgressions. They are so commonplace that we almost expect one or two of them to occur in a day, chalking them up as inconveniences of dealing with our fellow man (or woman). Have a string of these dealings in one day; you may even refer to it as a bad day. Largely, you are unaffected by these setbacks, and you either go about your day barely noticing them, or shrugging them off as part of the rat race, like the asshole that was hell bent on not letting you merge onto the freeway this morning- he clearly saw you!
                Where these infractions begin to mount is not typically those committed anonymously by strangers, those repeatedly carried out by loved ones, friends and others that are close to you. This turns an ignorant, selfish act into a seemingly targeted attack.

REACTIONS (Trying to be More Human than Human)

The Robert Neville Approach
“I can fix this.” - I Am Legend. Some of us that feel we are enlightened, intelligent, and all around reasonable may first try to make various concessions in dealing with the people that commit these errors (regardless of level) or the offenses themselves.
Depending on our own level of success in repairing whatever damage may have been wrought, we may continue down this path of the “fixer” or we may abandon helping efforts altogether.

                The Doctor Manhattan Approach 
“I’m tired of this planet, these people…tired of being caught in the tangle of their lives.”- Watchmen If we move on from our roles as fixers, we may arrive to that of the uninvolved observer. The stance of “not my problem” and/or “doesn’t directly affect me” may force our inaction.

The Punisher Approach
                “To pursue... natural justice. This is not vengeance. Revenge is not a valid motive, it's an emotional response. No, not vengeance. Punishment." - Punisher. This path is fairly simple, do onto others. If someone commits a minor transgression against you, the chosen course of action is to even the score, harm then, or do what has been done back to them.

Why do we do it? (Acting Human)

            No formal thought
            Though it may seem like a cop out, the truth is that most of these abrasive situations arise because people aren’t actively thinking about consequences.  Humans love to auto pilot through the day, this often leads to the inability to see the reactions of our actions, if you will.
           
            Self Interest
            They are actively thinking about themselves. The guy that cut you off in traffic, the lady that cut you in line, the politician that cut your health coverage.  All of them were acting out of their own best interest, not yours.
                They didn’t say, “I’m going to do ____ to Joe today.” But they did do ____ to Joe today. The end result is the same.

                Quasi-evil intent
            While this may sound a bit over the top, some people do enjoy the slight spark of torment that goes along with causing you inconvenience or minor harm. These people are perhaps the easiest to deal with, but the hardest to figure out. Assuming, that is, you want to figure them out at all. Personally, I’d like to see what makes them tick slightly out of time.

What do we do?
            Conclusion 
       Just deal with it man, that’s life after all.

                If you’ve read this far you were probably hoping for a better solution, I’m sure.
                However, honestly encounters like these and the more awkward, difficult situations in life builds both character, improvisational thinking and resiliency.
                “Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward.”
-  Henry Ford