Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Compassion and usefulness

A question I ask myself a lot is why? Why do people have such different points of view on the same subject? Why are they willing to side against each other, sometimes even violently, over an intangible thing such as an idea?
One of the things that sparks me a lot is religion. I'm not a religious person, but I try to be respectful of those that are while still being open about being agnostic. I know a great many intelligent, compassionate people who believe in a God who is personal and who directs the flow of the world. I am an intelligent, compassionate person who does not believe in a personal god. Why the difference?
I have a few theories. I could be very mistaken, so take them as a brainstorming session more than a statement of what I feel is right.
Belonging - People like to feel as if they matter. Church is something relatively positive to gather around. Let's face it; many things people gather around (nightclubs, parties, sporting events, concerts) are either impersonal or don't have much in the way of spiritual fulfillment. Nightclubs make me want to gag after about an hour; I love dancing, I hate the meat market aspect. As a society, we don't often get together to be around other people; they just happen to be there.
Purpose - Something I've had to confront as an agnostic is that everything that I love can be taken away for no good reason at all. Just accident, chance, stupid mistake. There's no force to keep that from happening. If you believe in a purpose for everything, then it's easier to believe that there's a meaning in it, that God wanted you to have a different job and that's why you were fired, that God took your mother home to Heaven and that's why you can't have her company here on Earth anymore. It's also damn reassuring to think you have a purpose when you're confronting the vastness of the world and wondering where you're supposed to fit. I think I've written about this before, so I'll leave it at that.
Usefulness - Tied into purpose, usefulness is the feeling of being fulfilled by what it is that you are doing. Not everyone can be famous; I suspect that most people wouldn't like it once they had it. However, there are a great many people with respect and love for those they know because they work hard for their families. God gives you a feeling of usefulness to the world. You can spread his message (or just his love) with your actions. Suddenly everything becomes a way for you to shine, from being patient at red lights to drudging through your job to come home at night and make sure your children are provided for.

These are all the positive things I've seen about religion, and I realize that the good comes with bad; people choose religion to justify their bad behavior, to feel better than other people, sometimes even to actively have enemies and feel morally just in persecuting them. (Don't think that last one is true? Try being an athiest in the South. Or gay. Or even just different.)

I'm searching for why people need God. I suspect it's for these reasons, but also because it's easier than searching out something new. Again, it doesn't make it good or bad; it just is.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Sometimes the mood strikes me and I just want to get out and do - do what it is that I feel, stop sitting at a desk and working on things that aren't terribly important, just do what my heart desires. Go draw, go write, go dance in the rain, something...
But I realize, even if I go do those things, I still have to be the person who sits at this desk and gets those unimportant things done, and all I've done is delay coming back to it. There's such a thing as bills and credit scores that will always be there past when the feeling is gone.
Even if I pounced on that feeling like a wrestler putting on a half-nelson, I realize that I probably wouldn't know what to do once I'm out there, and the fear will confine me into other things I've already done. Suddenly that feeling would be lost just as surely as if I had sat at the desk, plus I'd have to explain myself, soaked and bewildered, to my coworkers.
But in my heart of hearts, for that one moment, it's the purest burst of passion that I have and I want to keep it, even though it makes the rest of the day drab and slightly uncomfortable like a hard chair or something in your shoe.
Because it reminds me that I'm alive, and I just might have more to give the world than I can accomplish sitting at a desk.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Do you ever wonder?

"I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain."
~Frank Herbert - Dune

We live in a prison of fear. Every day we are told what to fear for us, our families, our children. What would happen if there wasn't an undercurrent of fear in our society? Would we be lawless and amoral? Would we be kinder and more open? What would you do if you had no fear?

Friday, November 20, 2009


What looks the strongest has outlived its term
The future lies with what's affirmed from under.
Seamus Heaney

The quote above I stole from a report (Jaime Kalven's Garden Conversations) because it finally caused something that I've wondered about to click in.

The reason why we give back is because fate is a wheel - it's undeniable that we will not be permanent, and that someone else will come to power. That is the way of things. So when you give back to others and guide them, you make your world better and enhance the chances that the person at the top will not only be sympathetic to your causes but will treat you the same way you treated them and build in the way that you taught them. It's almost the same aspects as religious-type tenets, but more forward thinking than I've ever heard put forth. You literally build the world you live in.

Idealistic, of course. But it makes sense!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Walmart isn't the end-all of evil

I was just reading a post about a couple that was detained at Wal-mart and very crudely treated. Mind you, this isn't the only report of Big Business© causing issues with customers. United was spotted for their kerfluffle with a musician who decided to write a song about the affair - United Breaks Guitars , which has apparently actually caught their attention finally and prodded them to do something about it. There are probably only about several thousand stories such as these that I haven't read.
My point - now is not the time to mistreat customers, or to allow employees who do so to continue working for you. Unemployment is the highest it's been since the early 90's - find someone else to do the job you pay them to do, which is treat your customers with respect and dignity regardless of everything else. Any one who has worked retail/sales/etc. knows that there are complete jerks who come into the store just to abuse you and make themselves feel better about their shitty lives, but guess what? You're still paid to do the job of helping customers. Good clerks still find a way to do that and then mutter under their breaths or in the breakroom. It's the way of it. It's why you get an education and move to a job that doesn't require you to be looked down upon.
Also, Big Business©, you might think about treating your workers better and paying them more. Otherwise, it's your name that gets trashed, not the worker's name.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Detachable head

I've been watching the free TED talks today, which are fabulous by the way, and one of the talks struck me. The talk is by Sir Ken Robinson and it's about how schools kill creativity. (link) I think the title is a little broad for what he's actually talking about (and a little misleading as to the main point of the talk) but he says something about university professors to the gist of their bodies becoming transports for their heads. It's quite funny when he says it (the whole talk is very entertaining) but it got me - that's exactly how I feel now in law school.
I am not independently wealthy, no parental support, so law school is a reach for me. I am extremely lucky to have a scholarship that I hope I get to keep (it's based on scholarship, and law school is beyond competitive.) I work full-time as well, which is the only way I would be able to support myself. Some days are harder than others. I must honestly say this is the most homework I've ever done, and the most hours ever spent on class work. It's fun, sometimes, too; I suppose I'd be in the wrong school if it wasn't.
Consequently, I really have become a machine to move my head around. In the morning I wake up and go to work where I sit at a desk and let my head read lists for databases, talk on the phone, and snack on stuff that is terrible for me. Then I get in my car and drive my head to school, where it listens intently, instructs my hands to take notes, and generally tries to give a coherent answer to the questions in class. After that, I drive my head home where it hits the pillow and sleeps (hopefully.) If not, it reads a bit. On the weekend my head reads cases and does homework. Honestly, if I were to be changed over to a roofing job or some kind of physical labor, I think my body would die of shock - "What? You're using me? Gasp!" Which is not to say that I don't miss physical activity. I pine when it's sunny outside and I'd like to be out walking or hiking or something that requires a decent amount of effort. It would almost be wonderful to have a detachable head so that it could do all this reading and whatnot and my body could go do body-things like dance or lift things. Of course, body would need supervision, so that probably wouldn't work out as well as I'd like, but overall seems like it would be healthier.
Another thing that Sir Robinson spoke about was that education was built to serve industry - what the industry's needs were rather than our own as humans. Isn't that profound when you really think about it? You get one go on this planet and you're conditioned to serve in a system that doesn't serve you.
All in all, I can't complain. I have a lot of anxiety and a lot of sitting around, but my life is good and fulfilling for the most part. But ah the days when I wish that I didn't need structure and could just run away from it all...those days happen quite frequently now. Do me a favor and go to the park and just soak in the atmosphere - the green (or red) of the leaves, the grass, the kids going crazy. My head will thank you.

Monday, October 12, 2009

About Law School

Hello internet - it's been a while. After yet another personal infringement, I'm back. Details are not to be forthcoming because I feel my time is better spent looking forward, rather than backwards.
So, I'm in law school now. It's really got a lot in common with being in the military in that the best way they've found to teach you is to throw cases and law and questions at you until you learn to dodge or weave accordingly. It's a very good atmosphere at my law school, very positive and supportive. Perhaps this is because I'm in the evening program with a bunch of other people who have jobs and kids and everything else happening in their life as well. It's very challenging...this week moreso than others. I'm not as diligent in my 10 hours of homework this week. I will pay the price for it by being absent in class so that I can get another assignment done that's worth 60% of my grade, and by absent I mean sitting in the seat and marked absent because I can't brief 70 pages worth of cases before Tuesday.
Just thought I'd give an update. I hate coming here and having nothing to say, which I've done several times since the last post. I try not to be negative here; I look at this more of a place of intellectualism than feelings. However, it's been very hard so bear with me if it's a little at a time. The trust-building process is slow, and it will be a while before you get the real me again.