Monday, January 28, 2008

Ignorance is not Bliss

Something I absolutely cannot stand is ignorance. It enrages me to see people acting with complete disregard to what another person has done for them when they have every reason to do the opposite. Reciprocity and mutuality are characteristics inherent in the concept of 'getting along with other people.' Humans must be extremely vigilant to situations in which someone might be caught acting in their favor, so that they can adequately return such behavior to the initial giver. Munificence in this aspect is crucial in establishing real relationships with other people.

It is embarrassing to see another person neglect the kind actions someone else has conducted for them. Indifference to another man is of the most virulent nature. The degree to which we can respect and honor each other through actions without the expectancy of return is near the degree to which our society survives, flourishes and blossoms. In the same sense, disregarding the caring behavior of another can have the worst of depressing effects on the original person who was only acting to benefit one of their fellow human beings in the first place.

Is it so hard to grasp the concept of reciprocal deference!!?? It brings me to the greatest confines of my patience to witness such harmful exchanges to the emotional and physical demise my friends! Ignorance and indifference to each other is what breaks our world! If someone insults you intentionally and for reasonable cause it is much less harmful then when someone forgets to recognize that you even exist and your actions could possibly be in the intention of their goodness! My heart is ravaged at the thought of apathy to this degree!

The origins of these ravings lies in a conversation that I happened to be spectator of earlier today. I refuse to enter into details here, but I will say that I observed directly the excruciating effects of the indifference I expounded upon above to someone I hold in high regard- to the point where- during a terse conversation I had within them afterward, they could barely come to answer my simple questions about unrelated subjects for their mind was so preoccupied and agitated. The result of the indifference is what brings my mind to a grinding halt and causes me so much strife.

People who live benevolently don't deserve in any measure the suffering they are forced to endure at the hands of those who live without chancing a thought on how their actions might effect others. My patience is beginning to waver without stop for bastards like that. People- please get yourselves together! Simply reciprocity requires nothing of us, have a little sense and live up to your expectations of citizens of our world!

Indeed, perhaps our very survival relies on it.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Recalcitrance joins Atheist Blogroll!

So I have officially joined the Atheist Blogroll!


Let the anti-Christianity Revolution begin!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Discernment in the Wake of Tragic Fate

That it will never come again
Is what makes life so sweet.
-Emily Dickinson

The Pursuit of Happiness is at the forefront of the majority of humanity’s thoughts and imaginations in the current mainstream and sub stream cultures in the United States as well as around the world. Even if not apparent, every human in the modern world, subconsciously or consciously, introspectively reflects on their own state of being- on what drives them mad, on what brings them contentment, and on what kind of life they are living. Such ponderings are evident in a Time Magazine poll entitled Just How Happy Are We? In which over three-fourths of Americans categorize themselves as happy most if not all the time. These are rather surprising findings, for in a world so disconnected and chaotic, being able to truly say that you are happy is a very complex and sublime statement. I might argue that the polling base of Time’s poll was skewed, that it’s participants had incongruous understandings of happiness, or that it’s participants only had a superficial, cursory experience of real happiness in their lives. Or perhaps my overcritical view of happiness is unable to fit in with Time’s poll.

Perhaps such a limited and restrained view of real happiness is the greatest impediment in actually achieving happiness; the false hopes that society and popular culture advertise may restrict the imaginations of the common man to understand what it really entails to become happy. In fact, perhaps stories of wasted extravagance seen so commonly on the news have such a pull on the common man’s interest because within us all lies a latent displeasure with our lives and a desire to make them better. The degree to which American culture is saturated with images, stories, movies, propaganda, and advertisements having to do with everything visceral, everything esteemed to be of value by popular culture, evinces the presence of this indwelling dissent.

In the words of Peter Mayle the good life appears to be solely “a succession of golden moments shared by young, attractive people with superb dentistry and no weight problems if viewed through the lens the mass media.” Such an exceptional fascination of perfect people living perfect lives may stem from our dissatisfaction with our own lives, and symbolically represent how unfulfilling that ‘idyllic’ way of life really is. Ironically, our pursuit of what we believe to be the good life may not only be misled but its very pursuit may hinder our own ability to discern what the good life really is. So then, what is the good life?

Such a question comes with motley assumptions and generalities. Mayle comes to the conclusion through experience that the good life is the “gradual accumulation of habits, friends and possessions-the moss we gather around us-that provide regular, sustained enjoyment.” Mayle’s forthcoming distinctions of such a life dictated by this view entail a certain devotion of money to become effective, a certain devotion of money that not everyone is capable of. For this reason, Mayle’s definition does not satisfy me, for I seek a definition more applicable to the entirety of humanity, regardless of class, statues, situation, location, or circumstance. Upon asking my mother she stated that in her opinion “the good life is a life lived of things one loves to do, with close friends and a steady devotion to improving the lives of desperation in the world.” Certainly in a world so arbitrarily mutating and transforming a reliance on something as transient as materialism is a risky venture. I also have great faith in the principle that typically, excluding situations of direct oppression or tyranny, every human has the capacity to at least be content with who they are day in and day out despite however much adversity and misfortune they may find stacked up against them. I believe that there is one fundamentally important quality in the realization of this philosophy: the understanding that in every circumstance we as humans do have the capacity to enjoy contentment, and equally the majority of cant issued forth which ostensibly claims to define the good life, is incidentally, sorely mistaken. From this point on, it is most reliable to pursue one’s own instinct to define what the good life entails, rather than rely on a strict definition, however I will proceed to describe what I envision such a life to be.

For myself I would say that the most reliable definition of the good life is this: The good life is the life that results from the eager embrace of the gamut of qualities about oneself that are wholly and completely unique and exclusive to one’s character. I firmly believe that every person contains within themselves particular qualities which when expressed through their work, relationships, or study, essentially complete their character. The significance of acting with the intention to further your personality, perhaps, to become more in touch with your soul, is that there is little expectation for material reward, and more importantly there is no prerequisite of material possession. Everyone no matter who or where they are is gifted with the capacity to connect and relate to those around them, and make choices about their own lives. It is in these choices that the sacred is separated from the mundane, that beauty is distinguished from disorder, and that fulfillment is found in the least likely places. For in this ideology the good life slowly becomes a life no longer dictated by an expectation of tangible reward, but instead a life of gradual acceptance of the tumultuous storm of finality known as fate and a growing devotion to living in spite of it.

When I took Biology a few years ago I enjoyed the class to a level that I did not expect. It was not so much the particular subject, nor the people in the class, nor the teacher, but the reality of how I decided to engage the class that brought me such great joy during the year. As I reflect back on that year I feel as that it would be an accurate statement to say that part of my natural disposition includes a likeness to learning, and in an environment as fortunately facilitated as that class was, my subconscious affinity for education surfaced, and I was honestly quite happy during that time. It is necessary to remark that my friends in the class were indispensable in the context of how events turned out, which points out another critical point: The best way to go about discovering who we are is through other people. Friends are some of the most valuable resources we are gifted with, and to recognize how important they truly are is a significant portion in the process of actually realizing the good life for ourselves. Equally, I would say that all humans share an instinctive, universal inclination, towards connection with other people, whether it be a deep romantic relationship or simple friendship. The acceptance of this quality of being a human is also fundamental in achieving happiness. I have found in many cases despite what the reality of my life is, friends can bring me simple joy that just can’t be found in other places. Undoubtedly, friends play a crucial role in the good life.

Overall, the physical interpretations of what the good life is should be discarded in the pursuit of happiness, however even then lies a deeper impression within us that living correctly is analogous to feeling good. Perhaps instead feeling joy is finding contentment and truth in the midst of difficulties that seem to never leave. The uncertainty of life calls for one to seemingly be constantly prepared for the unthinkable, and constantly attempting the undoable, however from my experience I have at least learned that this perception is very self destructive. In this context it is indispensable to accept the fact that the life we envision as being perfect is not only empty but also nearly implausible of ever occurring. The continual pursuit of a personal imagination of happiness, separate from public opinion and influence, is key in truly discovering true happiness. Forbearance and an open mind are the best tools in this journey. Throughout such a life, I will hopefully unearth the elusive joy that seems so fleeting, but yet so necessary to survival. In this unfaltering mindset of resistance and flexibility the basis for living benevolently is finally found. I will conclude with a quote from the Buddha, which I find especially relevant in the context of abandoning societies views and establishing new, personal views of the world:

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. –Buddha

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What Are We Doing, Anyway?

If but in this ephemeral existence man could allot a fraction of his life in devotion to someone else, I would deem his life virtuous. The greatest vice of mankind is selfishness: nearly every harmful sin is an expression of it. The merit of a life worth living does not lie in the degree to which oneself finds satisfaction, but the degree to which one satisfies others. Men may be remembered for their pure or evil deeds, or their contributions to the knowledge of mankind, or their incredible talents, or their innovative inventions- but even after one has achieved these things is his or her life really lived holistically? It is an easy persuasion that the 'perfect life' advocated through popular culture is a translucent one, unpractical and of minimum value. Ultimately, if we can bring joy to someone else's life through the way we live- well what other higher goal could one have? Altruism has simple expectations of return, and no prerequisites for participation. I am highly convinced of the veracity of karma, and a life lived through humanistic charity would prove favorable in every aspect.

Besides, in our self-seeking nature we often miss the rare beauty that falls into our lives before it slips through the cracks of fate.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Black Holes Post #1

So this will be the first of a continuity of posts including information about black holes, something I am extremely interested in.

This particular article about newly discovered black holes entitled Thin Galaxies Harbour Big Secret describes how black holes may exist in the centers of flat galaxies, galaxies without the large bulge in the center, usually apparent when viewed from the side. Such bulges were thought to be directed linked to the size of a black hole that could form within a galaxy, but new research has discovered seven black holes that exist within galaxies that lack such bulges.

Anyhow, just a bit of interesting info. Cheers.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Tabula Rasa

Tabula Rasa.

The ancient term originating from Latin referring to the concept that humans enter the world without any ideas, and effectively learn everything that makes up their growing world as they develop. Now, although I am an atheist I am in the favor of the thought that there may yet be more to this world than meets the eye. I frequently ponder fate and destiny and would feel relieved if I knew my actions had any higher consequences than the literal and physical results of them. I am partial to the careful and introspective thoughts and aspirations of Buddhism in that consideration.

Now, the point of saying that is to say that lately I have noticed a particularly recurrent theme in nature and life. Life is very forgiving. The Earth is forgiving. Nature is forgiving.

In my optimistic, idealist nature I would like to attribute this fact to the possibility that there is something of transcendent ability that guides these natural themes. I should make it clear that I have absolutely no interest to believe in any God, especially of this world, ever again, however such thoughts are very inviting to my conscience.

Lately I have found particular good fortune in waking up every morning and having a chance to start anew, that through trial and error I may achieve refinement. In this manner it is refreshing that any menial mistakes I make ultimately only hurt me as much as I let them. For me this is important because I have made a lot of foolish, harmful decisions in the past year, and I am realizing that bad habits die hard, very hard. A long time I have been trapped in the ignorantly idealist mindset that I will eventually cross the chasm of redemption instantaneously, partly because I do not know the best way to go about changing how I live, and partly because I do not want to deal with whatever that change may entail. Either way I am certain resolute, steadfast will power and determination are imperative to such a process, and that my decisions during such will prove to determine what type of person I become.

In this process, I am relieved to find again and again that I may start over, that I have a tabula rasa in the form of my actions. Another encouraging point is that struggling feels a lot more difficult and real now that I no longer ask God to do everything for me, for then the ignorantly idyllic mindset I spoke of earlier is impaired tenfold.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

2008 Political Debates

I mentioned in the last post that many people in today’s world are more likely to stress their opponent’s flaws rather than focus on what they truly believe in.

This comment was inspired by the fact that the current televised political debates on CNN, which I am watching right now, display mainstream candidates who appear to be more erudite in their competitors’ past decisions than they are on what they really intend to do and believe in. They all seem especially learned in the many things each of them has wavered on, all the positions that they have fluctuated on in the past years, and more likely to point out each others faults rather than focus on their personal intents as President.

Granted, it is easy to criticize, but I feel increasingly uneasy as I observe their debates, which commonly appear more like arguments. It makes me worried for our country, I wonder if there is anyone left with the strength of character that was witnessed in the great statures of Ronald Regan, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and many others.

Also, John Edwards did just make an exception speech concerning medical insurance and lobbying in Washington.

Atheism: Religion Philosophy or What?

I've generally picked up on the feeling through a handful of blog posts and my own experience that one of the strongest disadvantages or negatives of atheism is that there is virtually no sense of community, especially in comparison to organized religion. This is most likely because atheism is a very modern conviction -something new- that has not had a significant time to develop, therefore very few large atheist groups exist. Indeed, the lack of companionship can be upsetting, for there is no platform to test one's feelings and ideas and experience solidarity as a community in , something vital to the existence of any particular ideology.

Now, if one truly considers atheism as a religion, not in the strictest of terms, but at least in the sense that it is a uniform ideology that holds a collection of adherents, the current absence of community is truly problematic. However, the thought of regarding atheism as a religion incites great apprehension in my heart, for many of my complaints with modern religions hold basis in the fact that they become spoiled when applied dogmatically and methodically. I am fearful that atheism would share many of the corrosive traits religions share today if standardized in such a way. Of course, this trepidation is perhaps overstated, for in my conception atheism is a humanist philosophy, and lacks central tenets or doctrine. More importantly, atheism does not claim to steward its' power from the divine or supernatural, a trait that is quickly abused in religions to the worst of consequence.

So I would pose the question- What is the future of atheism? Should it be considered a philosophy with particular beliefs and followers, or should any official classification be avoided? Could atheism possibly end up with many of the negative effects common in current religions as time passes?

In my opinion I would advocate that any unified system or institution intended to promote and officiate atheism should be delineated to the simplest of terms. If individuals should aspire to meet and discuss atheism then so be it: few things are more valuable than personal growth stemming from curiosity and conversation. However, when atheists attempt to adopt an agenda which undermines or intentionally subverts religion is when atheism becomes something no longer helpful and instead harmful to the general interest of society.

In today's world, religions, politicians, advertisers, and many others, speak much more of the imperfections and weaknesses of their adversaries rather than simply concerning themselves with whatever it is they profess to be true. It may be that individuals and groups gain their identity in many ways from how they are different from others, but in the case of personal belief solitary development should trump contention at any level. An athlete accomplishes nothing when pointing out the ways in which he or she is better than others, but only by competing and training in the sport that they compete in do they become truly better.

My point is that I think the potential of a world void of a God is vast and untapped, and that humanity would do well in discovering its full ability if it was to relentlessly pursue the depths of its scientific and experiential existence. The official form and structure of atheism should be given no thought, instead humans should focus their attention on what their world would look like without God, and what good they could do in such a world.