"The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing." -Socrates

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Unique Question

People ask many questions in the forms of who, what, when, where, how, and why. We ask questions daily, but there is one form of questioning I find to be somewhat different than the others. In school we are asked things like, “Who first landed on the Moon? What part of our brain enables us to speak? When was the Constitution written? Where did the Pilgrims first land in America?” and, “How do you find the root of a number?” These questions can all be answered by facts through historical documents, mathematical equations, scientific formulas, etc., and are rarely subject for debate. But to ask a student any of these using the “why” form of questioning, a plethora of answers could be presented, many of which could be disagreed upon. “Why” is a very interesting question for this reason.

“What do you want to be when you grow up? Where is your favorite place in the world? When do you want to retire? Who will you vote for?” These questions are answered by the preferences of individuals and take more thought than reciting a memorized date or equation. But looking at each of these questions, to think about the “whys” behind the answers is a much more difficult subject.

We often ask people what they do for a living, or where they live without following with asking why. It almost seems that why is most frequently used when someone holds an alternative view to another’s opinion, or if someone doesn’t understand the reason behind an event. If a kind-hearted person were to see someone mistreating someone else for no reason they may ask, “Why would someone do that?” The reason is because, as a kind-hearted person, they could not relate. One may ask why because they themselves do not value the same thing as someone else, such as, “Why would you want that? It’s so ugly!” or, “Why would you want to do that?” Holding different opinions on a topic can promote asking why as to better understand a person or point of view.

The unique thing about why is that it forces us to take a step back and reflect on what’s giving us that desire, goal, or motive toward whatever the questions directed. I believe that by asking why we can learn more about ourselves, others, and the world around us. Imagine if in schools dates, names, and places were followed by why. “Why did man pursue landing on the Moon? Why does our brain work the way it does? Why was the Constitution written?” If we focused on the reasons behind the actions, I believe we would live in a much different world.

Why do you do what you do?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

On Haves and Have-Nots

In present day United States of America.

According to what I’ve learned regarding world history, there has always been a division of classes. There have always been haves and have-nots, princes and paupers, land owners and slaves, servants and those being served. While there undoubtedly remains a middle class in the USA, this has not changed. There is still a divide between the rich and the poor.

I speak only for the USA, as this is the only country I have experience in and have seen with my own two eyes. Granted, I have not been to the richest areas, nor to what would be considered the poorest, but I have seen near the top and near the bottom of our societal spectrum in the economical sense. And as I would imagine the case in other parts of the world and throughout history, there is some bitterness from one group, and arrogance from the other.

For many, to envy others and want more is commonplace. However, this way of thinking is only reasonable by keeping your perspective narrowed to those around you, and in the same time of history. Comparing the modern conveniences we enjoy today to what was available just two hundred years ago, even a poor person could feel extremely spoiled. Looking just one hundred years ago, it’s as if we live in an entirely different universe. Due to technology, we now have conveniences and luxuries unimaginable by previous generations. I’m sure everyone’s heard at least once, “Kids have it so easy these days! When I was your age...” And these older folks are right.

So when looking at the division between the wealthier and the less fortunate, we must agree on how truly rich we all are thanks to the innovation and hard work of other people. We are all very spoiled relative to those who lived in past millenniums, centuries, and even decades ago.

But everything is give and take, for with added luxuries comes added complexity. More technology requires greater time for education on understanding what those conveniences do and how they work. In past generations and in other parts of the world today, food, clean water, and safe housing would be viewed as the greatest currency there is. Today, in America, time and energy are what we fight for. So with nearly everyone able to afford food, clean water, and protection from the elements, are we arriving to a time in history where the rich are actually the poor? Are we entering an age where those with fewer luxuries with more time to enjoy life are truly the wealthiest?

“Beauty is bought by judgement of the eye,
Not utter'd by base sale of chapmen's tongues” -William Shakespeare

Sunday, May 15, 2011

On Quality of Life

How does one define quality of life? Cities are rated being measured through air quality, cost of living, weather, etc. Hotels are reviewed for cleanliness, location, and overall value. Restaurants, cars, and products all have their own rankings based on various factors. But in looking at one’s life, how do we rate or measure the quality of the overall experience we have in this existence?

In asking a question of such monumental proportion, this takes a great deal of thought, as there are many elements that comprise life as a whole. Sensual stimulus (both pleasurable and painful), relationships, ethics, spiritual viewpoints, health, ratio of work and leisure, societal status, and personal fulfillment of goals are just a few of the things which make up our life; and how we measure that quality.

A combination of these things would provide an overall quality evaluation of life, just like a combination of measurements for a city or hotel. And all of them are equally as important. Just as a city with low cost of living could be devalued by poor weather, a person with high status and physical pleasures could feel unsatisfied due to poor ethics and suffered relationships. So quality of life is not measured by one standard, but by many.

The interesting thing about “rating” anything, be it quality of life or a vacation destination, is that it’s all subjective. When forming an opinion, we subconsciously use comparisons from previous experiences, and personal preferences which are directly related to one’s past. We’ve all used or heard the phrases, “I couldn’t be better” or, “Things couldn’t be worse”. In actuality, things can always be better or worse. In the instances where everything seems to be going right, or falling apart, we oftentimes cannot picture a better or worse scenario because we’ve never experienced it; and do not have the imagination to fathom a better or worse.

Quality of life is different for everyone, and it’s important to understand that our perception is often derived from our past; and the boundaries of our imagination. It’s also viewed differently by each and every person in the world. Things can always be better or worse, and by having that understanding, we may be greater able to celebrate the quality of life we have in the present.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Would You Tell Them?

Suppose a friend or family member of yours was being cheated by someone they believed they could trust: Cheated in the sense of being lied to, stolen from, poisoned, or anything else. If you saw this person you cared for being cheated and they did not know, would you tell them? One’s first inclination would be to say, “Of course! I’m not going to stand by watching one of my friends or family members being treated unfairly.” But let’s look more into this.

As with nearly everything in life, there are pros and cons; and this is no exception. On the one hand, if you tell this person they are being cheated, they could not believe you. If you did convince them that someone they trusted was in fact being dishonest and hurting them without their knowledge, it could be devastating. Changing the perception of the one being dishonest could change the way they looked at everything related to the person they believed they could trust. If they were to die never having discovered they were being cheated, wouldn’t it be better to not tell them at all?

But, by convincing this person they in fact are being deceived, poisoned, stolen from, etc., you could create a better future for this person. If someone was taking a portion of their money time after time, the person could theoretically stop it from happening and have more money if you were to tell them. If they were being fed something that would make them sick, they could become healthier. And the list of examples goes on.

In a world of great mystery, to know the Truth of all things is impossible. However, to find some Truths that could lead to a better quality of life is quite possible. The challenge with discovering anything new is by first admitting that whatever you think you know could in fact be false. In going back to the initial question of, would you tell someone they were being cheated, how utterly impossible it would be to convince that person if they could not first let go of their former belief.

“It’s only after you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything.”- Tyler Durden

Friday, April 8, 2011

What is Freedom?

Freedom is defined by our dictionary as, “The state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint.” It then defines free as, “Enjoying personal rights or liberty, as a person who is not in slavery.”

So, how do we do that? How does a person obtain freedom? People for centuries have been asking this question and actively pursuing their definition of the term. To some extent, every individual enjoys certain liberties. Even a person in prison has the right to sleep, use the toilet, or exercise within their cell. They can read a book, think, and philosophize about the most intriguing questions of the Universe. But, they are in a confined area and under certain physical restraint (they cannot leave their cell or the prison whenever they please).

Looking back at the days of slavery, those enslaved also had certain freedoms, similar to an imprisoned person. They could enjoy the rights and liberties to think whatever positive or vengeful thoughts while being forced to work. But, forced to work doesn’t make sense. If a slave refused to work, they could be beaten or killed, so technically it was a choice to work.

In America, “the land of the free”, are we truly free? Do we enjoy personal rights and liberty without being enslaved? Compared to a person sold in the slave trade or someone incarcerated in a prison, I would say we are most certainly free; but we are also enslaved. We are enslaved to paying taxes for things we have little to no say over, enslaved to the global economy for which provides our livelihood, and enslaved to a set of rules enforced without our permission known as laws. However, enslavement is too bold of a word for these things, as anyone could break the law or not pay taxes, and thus pay the consequences for their actions. A person could attempt to live off the grid and become self-sustained, providing more freedom for the individual, but would that be true freedom?

In this world, I believe ultimate freedom is impossible to obtain, as we are confined to the boundaries of this planet to live, and the imagination our minds allow us to wander. No one has the liberty of thinking with a blank slate, as we have all been influenced by our environment since birth. Plus, we are all enslaved to our bodies, reliant on temperature regulation, food, and water for life. Even someone who lived on a self-sustained island without any regulation from other people would still be bound by their mind and body.

When looking at freedom, something valued so highly that people have given their lives, we must view it as a relative concept. While someone could enjoy more freedom than someone else, ultimate freedom is not possible in this realm of existence. Understanding this leads me to question the valor of the men and women who have been killed or incarcerated for more liberties. Were their efforts in vein? Did they realize that true freedom was unobtainable? Is it worth the time, effort, and possible persecution to enjoy more freedom than you’ve had in the past, or what others around you have? This is the question, as freedom and liberty are solely relative, and more of a state of mind than anything else.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sixth Life Lesson I Learned While Hiking

During a four-mile hike near Hana, Maui, hiking differently than I had in the past, I learned some life lessons. This is what I learned.

A Different Perspective

As I started making my way back, I thought about how different this solo hiking experience was as compared to taking the same trail with others. It was new experience altogether! Things looked different, smelled different, and the trail itself seemed to take on a whole new feeling. Then I questioned whether it was just because I was alone. No. I had hiked this trail with different people in the past; groups, with my wife, with my family, and each time I had a different perspective.

One may dislike their job, where they live, or a certain activity. But instead of just looking for a different career, location, or thing to do, I believe it’s important to first evaluate whether that same thing could be more enjoyable with different company. Our environment affects us in many ways, and a big factor is the people in that same environment. When viewing anything we spend time on, before grading it based solely on what it is, look who it’s with. Perhaps by understanding the influences others have on us, we can began to realize the impact we have on others as well, and then make an effort to be more positive for the sake of our neighbors.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fifth Life Lesson I Learned While Hiking

During a four-mile hike near Hana, Maui, hiking differently than I had in the past, I learned some life lessons. This is what I learned.

To Fully Appreciate Everything Was Impossible

As I sat gazing at the waterfall, I did my best to appreciate it to the fullest. This was futile. For one, I couldn’t capture the entire setting in one glance, and even what my focus and peripheral vision displayed was too large. I closed my eyes and was able to appreciate the sound of the water cascading down the mountain, but when I opened my eyes, the scene was too magnificent. As I continued my hardest to appreciate the end of the hike to the fullest, I focused intently on little things. I tried looking solely at the top of the fall, a small area of the mountain, or a single plant surrounded by thousands more; and in doing this I was more successful to greater appreciate and experience. Giving up my attempt to marvel at the wonder of the entire setting and concentrating on smaller areas enabled me to appreciate what I seeing much more, in turn, enabling me to greater appreciate it’s entirety as well.

It would be easier to fully appreciate the beauty of a blade of grass than an entire field. Of course, this is just my opinion, but to get the most out of what we see, what we do, feel, and experience, I believe we can be more rewarded by concentrating on less. With all that’s available these days, how can we fully appreciate anything? If you had no other form of entertainment other than one harmonica, I’ll bet you would be great at the harmonica and be able to play a thousand songs. If there was one painting in the world, how magnificent would that masterpiece appear, rather than just one out of thousands lining some mega museum? If we had one book, one talent, one ability, one game- how much more would we get out of these things? In a world so large, with so much going on, how can appreciate anything without taking the time to concentrate on one thing at a time? And if we are to concentrate on just one thing, what’s truly worth that time and focus?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fourth Life Lesson I Learned While Hiking

During a four-mile hike near Hana, Maui, hiking differently than I had in the past, I learned some life lessons. This is what I learned.

Pros and Cons of Being the First

I ran into a spider web. After brushing it off and checking to see if a spider was on me, I kept hiking. No more than three minutes later, I ran into another spider web, and then another, and then another. Having never remembered this from the other times I'd been on this trail, I realized that I was the first one to take the hike that morning. Before I reached the 400-foot waterfall at the end, I encountered dozens of spiders who, overnight, had built their homes in the middle of the trail. I was the only one that day who would have to go through them, but I was also the only one to see the waterfall first …and sitting there at the hike's finale all alone, it was well worth it.

Being the early riser and starting before anyone else, I was the only one who suffered through the spider webs. No one else for that day needed to go through them, and on the one hand, that’s kind of unfair. But, having the privilege of being the only person for that day who could say I got there first was something special.

Whenever someone creates something, sets a record, or becomes the first person to accomplish something new, they’re bound to experience hardships. These are the people who got started earlier and with more determination, but also the ones who struggled more than anyone else. Many times, the people who follow after them do not experience the amount of discomforts as the first, for the first has already gone through them. We learn from the mistakes of others and can usually do something easier if we’re following the path someone else has already taken. But, in having fear of being the one making the mistakes and preferring the trail with no spider webs, you can never claim to be the first or even have the satisfaction of saying you tried.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Third Life Lesson I Learned While Hiking

During a four-mile hike near Hana, Maui, hiking differently than I had in the past, I learned some life lessons. This is what I learned.

Stairs Leave You with More Time and Energy

Having taken this hike before, I noticed a difference in the trail. It had been “upgraded”, and where there used to be tree roots were more “convenient” stairs made of rock. When I first saw the alteration I became upset. I thought, “Why do people always feel like they need to improve something that’s perfectly fine- especially something in nature.” But as I continued hiking, I had to admit that the addition did make the hike more convenient. Before, you needed to take your time climbing over tree roots, but with the stairs you were able to hike faster and with less effort. So while the stairs were not a mandatory addition and did affect the natural environment, it provided the hiker with more time and energy to spend on other things.

Man has made many innovations and versatile solutions for modern day living. While these conveniences were never necessary for survival, they have in turn given us more time and energy to do other things- if we so chose. So regardless of how one may feel about advancements in technology, these machines, computers, and appliances have provided us with more time and effort. I believe this has, does, and will produce one of two outcomes for individuals, as well as groups of people.

1) We realize that there is very little effort we need to put forth in order to survive and be entertained, so we become lazy and complacent, never to pursue our fullest potential.

2) We understand the great responsibility and opportunity to spend the extra time and effort that’s been made available to seek out a far better future than ever before imaginable in the history of man.

Time will tell what all of humanity will collectively choose. I hope for the latter.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Second Life Lesson I Learned While Hiking

During a four-mile hike near Hana, Maui, hiking differently than I had in the past, I learned some life lessons. This is what I learned.

The Walking Stick

Early on the trail, I noticed two walking sticks leaning against a sign. I debated on whether or not to pick one up, but figured I could always leave it behind if proving to be useless. With my one free hand, I grabbed the stick and continued on my way. For a short period of time I was walking on level ground and quickly reconsidered my choice of carrying the stick. On level ground, the stick wasn’t beneficial, but as the trail began ascending, I quickly changed my tone. Without being solely reliant on my own two feet, the added support was a tremendous help. Throughout the trail, during changes in elevation, the walking stick was a plus, but on level ground, the stick was more work than benefit.

I believe this concept applies to life regarding those who support us. Relationships with friends, mentors, family members, and teachers take work. But when trying to reach a goal, or times of hardship, their support can be very beneficial. So while it’s certainly easier to let relationships fade by not investing the time and effort it takes to maintain them, during times of change, the support of those people can be invaluable.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

First Life Lesson I Learned While Hiking

During a four-mile hike near Hana, Maui, hiking differently than I had in the past, I learned some life lessons. This is what I learned.

Lesson One: Less Is Best

Preparing to ascend the Oheo Gulch to Waimoku Falls, I began loading my backpack with all of the things I typically carry when hiking. Then I stopped to think about what I truly needed, and realized that leaving my backpack and bringing only essentials could be beneficial. I put a snack, camera, and car keys in my pocket, and hand-carried a half-gallon jug of water. It was one of the first times I can remember not hiking with a backpack- and what a difference it made! Starting my climb, I felt light as air! Carrying only what I needed felt like a whole new experience, making the entire hike much more enjoyable.

I believe this concept can also apply to life. If we owned only what we needed and nothing more, I believe we could better enjoy our days. Everything we own weighs us down, not physically, but mentally. Everything requires some form of maintenance, causing our stuff to weigh on our mind. So, at the end of the day, we’ve spent energy possessing things we don’t truly need. Granted, if I could have used a knife, band aid, flashlight, or medicine during the hike, these things could have been valuable; but I would have survived without them.

In conclusion, while owning certain things can make life more comfortable, they also weigh us down and can hinder us from having the fullest experience.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Are We Slaves to the Future?

The weekend, retirement, vacation, completion of obligation. Armageddon, stock market crash, war, food shortage. When thinking about future events, we must realize that none of these things truly exist and are merely figments of our imagination. Proving a future event will occur is impossible, yet these illusions occupy so many of our thoughts. It's for this reason we are slaves to the future. How does this affect our daily lives? Do these anticipations benefit or hurt us?

Anticipating a future event for the sake of mentally traveling to another place in time to avoid the pain, monotony, anxiety, or boredom of the present is harmful. And, if we get in this habit, how easy it becomes to be in a time of leisure yet anticipating it's end, only to mentally project oneself forward to a time of obligation or duty. If we spend our time in this fashion, how can we experience any moment of life.?

However, these hopes for future events can be beneficial if their anticipation leads to a greater ability to experience them through planning and preparation.

These are somewhat basic concepts, but I wanted to write them as a reminder for myself and anyone else who desires a greater power over their mind.

"Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; None but ourselves can free our minds."
-Bob Marley

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tolerance Levels of Living in the Moment

Why do some people feel a calling to travel and experience new and exciting things, while others are content with the same mediocre routines in which they’ve grown accustomed? Our past. Another way of wording the answer to this question would be our tolerance.

If you take drugs or alcohol, over time, your tolerance builds up and you need more drugs or alcohol to feel the same effects. This is the same as with life experiences. If you’ve lived your life without taking chances, entertained by technology with little or no effort, and are limited in what you’ve done in the past, you’re tolerance for pleasure, entertainment, and contentment would be relatively low next to someone who’s traveled to exotic destinations and had extraordinary experiences.

We all have a desire to appreciate every minute of every day and every second of every minute. But, as we all know, this is quite challenging. It’s for this reason we enjoy thrill rides, travel, and realistic video games. These things force us to concentrate solely on the moment without giving attention to the past or future. But, to live in the moment is more difficult to those who have built up their tolerance to life experiences.

So who’s better: A person enthralled by video games and television, or someone who requires travel and new and exhilarating things to get this feeling of living in the moment? I believe neither one of these is better or worse, though one is certainly easier. But, at the end of one’s life, will an easier past be viewed as ideal?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A World Without Money

Is it possible? What would it look like? Would a world without money be Communist? These are my thoughts.

We've all heard the saying, "money makes the world go 'round", and in today's modern world, that statement is pretty accurate. But this is not the case everywhere. I was just watching The Travel Channel last week that showed an African tribe living off the land by cooking Ostrich eggs in the sand, eating the anuses of pigs, and gathering berries from shrubs. It was by far the most primitive I could imagine any human being living, and it's happening right now. While hard for me to grasp, it's true. This tribe does not use money.

Primitive living was once commonplace, and tribes, groups, and families all rallied behind the idea of survival. As time was made available aside from hunting and gathering, some members started working to make life more enjoyable. Some began making better clothing and foot protection for warmth and comfort, some made musical instruments for entertainment, while others began using different ingredients and techniques for making their food taste better. And everyone shared. People played music while everyone ate around the fire with better tasting food and more comfortable clothing; and everyone benefited.

In the world in which we've been raised, to go back to this "sharing" would undoubtedly be labeled Communism. So, how does this work for the tribe in Africa and groups throughout history? It works because it is and was a matter of survival.

For many years, through groups like the United Nations and European Union, our world has been uniting to form a sort of world government . This scares many people who also say we are heading to a world currency. But while a piece of paper with a picture of a face or symbol printed by a banking institution and accepted worldwide may occur, a world currency will occur and is inevitable.

We live on a finite planet with finite resources. Currently, oil would be considered a world currency. But oil is somewhat of a newer thing relative to the history of our planet, and oil will go away. People survived without oil then; could we today? I don't' know, but either way, the world would look much different. However, one thing will never change; the need for food and water.

Every day I look over the ocean and see this,

the island of Kaho'olawe, and everyday it reminds me of how destructive we can be to our planet. Not long ago, this island was used as target practice for military bombing. It's believed this has broken the water table. What was once another inhabitable island is now merely a big rock.

There will be a world currency, and it will be food and water. The question is, when we as Humanity, (Muslims and Christians, Westerners and those in the Middle East, Capitalists and Socialists, labels A and labels B) are dependent on cooperation, will we be able to return to how we once lived by rallying around survival, or will it be too late? I hope for the former, and if we do survive I am certain of one thing- students, teachers, and historians will look back on this generation with astonishment and bewilderment of how people once lived so reckless.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Question for Christians

What do you believe?

85% of Americans and two billion people in the world claim to be Christians. Having spent nearly every day of my life in The United States, this question is for the 225 million self-proclaimed American Christians.

What do you believe?

Jesus says to love your neighbor as your self, and The Bible says thou shalt not murder. However, many Christians support war, send their children overseas to fight, and then repeatably say, "support our troops". Just what are the troops doing over there in Iraq and Afghanistan? One might argue that these soldiers are killing other people to defend the Homeland because terrorists attacked us on 9/11. But what about this scripture?
Luke 6:27-31 "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you."
So what do you believe?

The vast majority of America claims to be Christian, yet we consume to excess while more than 25,000 people die every day of starvation.

We spend billions of dollars to promote, watch, and participate in one, four-hour long football season finale, while millions of people go without clean water.

We spend money on new cars, home improvements, vacations, and optional surgeries to improve our self-esteem, while millions go without basic medicine.

Christian people claim to support life, yet vote for politicians who support abortion.

Christians in America say we shouldn't steal, yet we have tremendous wealth through the wrongful acquisition of slave labor and foreign natural resources.

The Bible states that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, yet we knowingly consume harmful toxins which lead to disease. We use harmful chemicals to make our selves look and smell better, without ever questioning the potential dangers to our "temples".

Christian American people claim to believe in freedom and human rights, yet buy products they don't need without researching the working conditions of the people making them. We buy crap without considering the harm to our planet, children, and future generations.

We attend churches that provide hot meals and hot coffee at buildings which remain vacant overnight while homeless people sleep on public sidewalks in the cold.

We let people die, despite the resources we have to keep them alive. And we know people die of starvation, sickness, and hypothermia, and know we could help, but we don't. One may call that inhumane, heartless, or barbaric, but certainly not Christ-like.

So Christians of America, what do you believe? As for me, a person raised as a Christian in this country and who claims to believe in the teachings of Christ, I'm not so sure I want to be labeled this way. And if I'm doubting and questioning the understanding of what many Christians claim to be Truth, how could anyone else be convinced? Many people view Christians as moronic hypocrites, and in viewing the facts, they're justified.

America, we hold the key and see the door. When are we going to open it? For in the game of Monopoly (the game that has been thrust upon us since birth), at the end, everything goes back in the box.

So really, what do you believe?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Rich Dad, Poor Kid, Broke Earth

Ever since I watched the first half of this year's State of the Union Address, I've been thinking. Obama kept talking about the US economy and jobs, briefly addressing how technology is lowering the demand for people and raising unemployment levels. I don't have the exact quote, but he said how factories that used to require one hundred people now only need ten. He continued by saying we need to work harder through innovation to create jobs. Jobs, jobs, jobs...he said that word a lot.

But here's my question- If we can get the same results with 90% less work, why do we need to work harder? Why do we need more jobs? If through technology we are able to yield the same production, what would happen if those one hundred employees all kept their jobs and were able to work 90% less hours?

I have to think that the answer is that people have always been inclined to innovate, create, and make better. Well, I suppose more jobs create more taxes, but without getting into politics, I want to look at humanity. With the Earth's natural resources being depleted through innovation, at what point will the enhancement to modern day living be declared destructive?

Today we have technology that couldn't be fathomed one hundred years ago, and Obama wasn't lying, this technology has greatly reduced the demand for physical labor. I also agree with him in that we need to focus more on renewable energy. That's the kind of innovation we need, but do we really need more jobs? Do we need to work harder, or could we work less by reducing our consumption, in turn, sanctifying the parts of the planet we haven't destroyed? Just a thought.

And these are my thoughts, that's all. I'm not saying I'm right and that others are wrong, but just imagine with me for one moment that Windows Seven is the last operating system and the iPhone 4 is the newest there ever will be. We stop building more houses and making more stuff. We have clean water and food, made easy to acquire through the technologies in place. We stop sitting in rush hour, because we don't need to work tens of miles away from our home. Through telecommuting and the internet, we eliminate the need. An average work week consists of twenty hours as opposed to forty plus, and there's no need for both parents to work. A place where money is no longer a commodity, but where time, relationships, family, passion, art, and love are what's viewed as successful and important.

Has there ever been a world like this? If so I have not seen it, though I do hope that at some point in my life I will. But I suppose we are the herd, and the century of the self is the time in which we live. I suppose clean food, clean air, clean water, and health are no longer all that we need.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Facebook Obsession

Last week I watched a documentary about how a few Harvard students started a website, Facemash. The name eventually changed to Facebook, initially starting as an online yearbook for Harvard students. One of the founders, Mark Zuckerberg, said early on that he was hoping for six or seven hundred people to sign up. Before he knew it, his website was nearing one million members. In 2008, there was one hundred million users, and today there are more than six hundred million. Half of those users access Facebook.com daily; a business now estimated to be worth fifty billion dollars.

Until last night, the appeal to Facebook eluded me. I didn't understand why so many people were interested in staying connected with people they never bothered contacting before. I was confused as to why people spent time updating their "wall" with meaningless blips of information. But last night, when I signed up, selected my profile picture, modified the settings to my liking, and searched through thousands of people, I couldn't help but feel energized. Why? Why would someone feel a sort of rush from Facebooking? Here's my thought.

When I was fourteen years old, a computer game was released. It was called The Sims, and for a while, I was hooked. For anyone not familiar to the game, you live out the life of a computer generated character, having a career, buying stuff, building relationships, etc. Today there is a more popular game called World of Warcraft. The idea is similar, but with WoW you play with real people over the internet in a fantasy world. How is this related to Facebook?

I believe Facebook enables us to create a super alter ego, far surpassing any Sim character or Warrior. With Facebook, users have the ability to present to the world the precise image they want others to have of them, with complete control. You can create a super you, revealing only what you want. I'm certainly not saying every user has this goal in mind, or that it's necessarily a negative thing. I find it enthralling. I am fascinated by the amount of interest and time spent communicating using this sort of Facebook avatar.

But, living in this world of Facebook and spending lots of time as the profile one's created, I have to ask, are we creating our profile or is our profile creating us?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Question For Atheists

While I could ask the timeless question of "where did atoms come from", an atheist could easily retaliate with the question of "where did God come from". Whether you believe in a Divine Creator or simply physical matter, one must have a belief to this question that cannot be answered. So my question is this; if this physical world is all there is, what's the point? Would you not want to spend every minute of every day trying to get high, be it through drugs, sex, alcohol, exercise, food, fueling your ego, etc.? Why would you not rob a bank, conduct unethical business to get rich, or kill a person because they upset you? This leads to morals.

I would have to imagine atheists would not believe we were born with a "moral code", but that society has imposed parameters based on majority rule. If so, are you saying we are just byproducts of our environment? The year is 2011. The big bang, evolution, and physical science are the primary topics taught in our biology classrooms today. But if consciousness, divinity, meditation, and creation were taught, would you still be an atheist? Not to say the Truth would change, as the Truth needs no one to believe it. But would your beliefs be different? Years ago, it was preposterous that the Earth could be round. Schools taught the Earth was flat. Needless to say, they were wrong.

But an atheist may argue that with years of study, we've learned a great deal about science, discrediting anyone who would believe in a Divine Creator. However, in agreeing that science is based on an anomaly that cannot be tested or proved (the origin of the universe), how can physical science be trusted at all? So, if you are an atheist, a byproduct of what you've learned through society, enjoy your senses as best you can, and try not think too much about what you've just read.

Cogito ergo sum

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Curse

Example 1: Restaurant

"Oh this meal was wonderful. Based on the reviews I read, this restaurant far exceeded my expectation."

"I'm not sure what Jodie was talking about. I didn't think this was very good at all!"

Example 2: Travel Destination

"This place is beautiful, just like the postcards."

"It's so windy here, not quite what I was expecting."

Example 3: Movie

"I don't know what the critics were thinking. I thought this was pretty good."

"I guess to each his own, but I don't think this quite lived up to the hype."

Above are a few examples of how opinions of others, photographs, and media disable us from seeing things with a blank slate. Ever since we were born, we've been under a curse that prohibits us from seeing and experiencing what is. We inadvertently compare the original with the perception others have shared. Whether in the form of an opinion, picture, or image, nearly everything has been replicated and widely distributed to the masses. Is there anything we can experience without a preset expectation? Can we see, feel, hear, smell, or touch anything with a clean mental slate?

This is the curse The Bible says started with Adam and Eve:
Genesis 2:17 "but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
As we all know, they ate the fruit.

Everything in the world has a label, understood by agreements we share using sounds or symbols. If I were to show you a picture of a dog, you would have a feeling toward that. If I were to write the word hate or love, you could understand what I mean through those written symbols. But, what you feel about a dog would most likely differ from what someone else would feel based on the individual's experiences. If someone's dog just died, the image of what's scientifically known as Canis Lupis Familaris, could make that person feel sad. For someone who's been attacked by a dog, that person could feel scared. And for someone who enjoys dogs, they would most likely get a good feeling by seeing that picture.

Everything we see holds a meaning based on outside influences. The word Hawaii could make you think of the beach or warm weather. A picture of a cross could be related to Jesus Christ, or a pentagram may cause someone to think of an occult. If you were to see a movie, you may have have a certain expectation by comparing that film to what critics say. Same with restaurants, travel destinations, and everything else. So can we ever have an experience without an expectation? Can we ever see something without giving a label based on what we've learned? Can we ever see the Truth if we are unable to let go of what others have told us?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Can Humans Create Energy?

Energy. Energy has been the driving force of existence for eternity. Whether in the form of food, water, or oil, energy is required to fuel something or someone. There have always been wars and conflict over energy and energy sources, because energy is not something that can be created. It is limited, with only so much to go around. Going back to the laws of Thermodynamics, what goes in must come out, and what goes out must come in. Scientists have studied this and continue searching for zero point energy. But as they say, nothing in the world is free. And I agree, nothing in this world is free.

There are some people who believe that what you see is all you get, only believing in the physical realm. But many people with different religions, ethnicities, and societal influences believe there is something more. Many people believe in something called a soul. This soul, spirit, consciousness, or whatever else you want to call it cannot be explained, but we know it's there. Is it possible that the "soul" is from another realm? Is it possible that the something or someone deeper we feel is from a different world or level of existence? If so, does that "other world" need to adhere to the same rules we do in our physical world?

We all want and need energy, and according to what we know, energy isn't free and we can't get it for nothing. There's always been conflict over food, water, oil, and other forms of physical energy, but we also fight wars for, what I'll call, "spiritual energy". If someone verbally tears you down and you feel bad, in turn, they feel good. Or do they? Based on what we know, the energy given off by those being put down has to go somewhere. This is why there are bullies and people being bullied. There's always been people to bring you down, but there are also people who lift you up.

For the bully, they feed off of the energy put off by their prey, but if "spiritual energy" doesn't necessarily need to follow physical rules and laws, is there another way? Can energy be lost in the other world? More importantly, can we create energy out of thin air through compassion and helping others? Perhaps if energy was unlimited, there would never again be war, famine, or reason to mistreat others.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Nothing is What it Seems

In reading the title of this post, you may think I'm saying that what things appear as are truly something else. But when saying nothing is what it seems, I mean that what appears as reality is actually nothing.

What is matter? One may say that matter is something you can hold in your hand, view with a microscope, or throw around on a field. But the only reason we believe this is through our five senses, for without these we could not experience, and without experience, matter could not exist.

If someone is born deaf, sound is not a reality, but more of a belief based on trusting others who claim they can hear. Does sound exist? Yes, but only because we have ears and neurons which transmit the information to our brain. Looking at just sound, can anyone hear the same thing? While we may actually hear an identical sound, what is heard by you is no longer interpreted identically to what is heard by me. There are too many medians (ear drums, neurons, brain receptors), but there is also another variable. Based on (most likely) a combination of our genes and life experiences, what may sound pleasing to you may not sound pleasing to me.

So does anything truly exist? Does matter exist? Do our senses exist? These questions technically cannot be answered, because without our consciousness and the consciousness we know as matter, human beings and anything else could not experience. But what we do know is that we all experience.

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. -Albert Einstein

Friday, January 14, 2011

Are Things Getting Worse?

Tsunamis, flooding, earthquakes, shootings, war, famine, oil spills, failing economies, and birds falling from the sky...dead! With numerous reports daily of natural and man-made disasters, it feels as though the world is coming to an end. It seems things just keep getting worse and worse. But are they?

For every time you get in the car, there is a chance of an accident. The more you drive, the more chances for the worst to occur. For every time you swim in the ocean, there's a chance of getting bit by a shark. The more you swim, the higher the chance. For every person born, there's a chance that person could grow up to be a serial killer. The greater number of people born, the more potential murderers we have. So are things getting worse? I would have to say so, but (for man-made tragedies) is it just because of more people?

But what about natural disasters? Are they getting worse? Information. In the age we live, information is more available than ever before. Is the world getting worse, or are we just becoming more informed?

These questions lead my thinking to what's known as "The Matthew Effect". This term is taken from The Bible- Matthew 25:29 "For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them." Could this apply to information? In other words, are things getting worse due to the negative we see on the news? Are we creating our own destiny by expecting the worst?

If this is the case, I can only assume things will get worse, exponentially. Could this be reversed by raising a new generation of people who see good, therefore are good? If we only saw the positive of the world, why would anyone expect negative to occur?

Living in a World of Impossibility

The first law of Thermodynamics states, "The internal energy of an isolated system is constant". In other words, nothing cannot create something, and something cannot be reduced to nothing. This is physics. It's the conservation of energy and is not something philosophical or debatable, but factual.

This being the case, how are we here? What is this existence all about? How did we get here? What is here?

We live in a physical world; a world based on the laws of physics. This is what we can see, study, test, and agree upon as fact. It is for this reason we must assume that the energy on this physical level of existence always has been, and always will be. This brings me to the question of Absolute Truth. Is there an an Absolute Truth?

This again is an answer that is not open for discussion, as nothing could exist without an Absolute Truth. But can someone know this Truth. No. It is impossible to know the Absolute Truth of our origin on this planet, and the origin of this entire realm of existence containing what we call the Universe. It is impossible because in the world we know, we have laws of physics; something cannot come from nothing.

This brings me to the question of God. The term G.O.D. has been used so much in our modern society it has lost any meaning it could have once held. Therefore, I will use the term Creator for that energy that always has been and always will be. I believe in a Creator, as does everyone including Atheists, defined as a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings. If a collection of atoms were to explode in outer space, you need to make some assumptions, and accept that atoms once created what we now know as the Universe. Looking at those believing in a "supreme being", something or someone created what we now call planet Earth and the Universe. This belief also requires assumptions, as any belief would.

Based on this common sense thinking, it is undeniable that no matter what you believe about this level of existence, assumptions are required. Theories. Beliefs. But I ask, if the Universe created the laws of physics, who or what created morals?

Vacation Time

“Where are you folks from?” my wife asked the family who had reached the end of the hike just minutes after us.

“We’re from Vancouver, Washington. How about you?” the woman replied.

“We’re from Kihei, but we’re initially from Cincinnati, Ohio. It’s funny, we’ve lived here for nearly five years and have never taken this hike. It’s beautiful up here!” my wife said as we gazed into a valley of the West Maui Mountains.

“We do the same thing”, the woman responded. “I can’t tell you the last time we’ve been to Mount St. Helens, and there are so many trails we’ve never bothered taking back home. I guess that’s just the way it is.”

It’s interesting how when there is limited time in a foreign place we want to do as much as we can. Why don’t we always act this way? Why do we neglect the opportunities for adventure at home, yet take advantage of every minute while on vacation?

There are many theories I have to this question. For one, time at home is related to work, chores, bills, etc., so we relate our place of residence with these things and not adventure/fun. Another is that we feel we could always do the things at home; like time is unlimited. Why do something unique when you always have the opportunity? I have another interesting theory on why we take advantage of every waking moment while away yet stay pleasantly engulfed in our daily routine at the place we call home. I believe when we are away, away from everything we’ve ever known, mainly pertaining to those we know, we have the opportunity to be someone else; someone we’d prefer to be. In a place where everyone is a stranger, we no longer feel imprisoned by the image we give to those we work with, visit with, and have business with. We’re able to separate from the responsibility of upholding whatever images others have of us.

But it’s most likely a combination of things with many variables. Plus I would have to imagine that each individual would treat vacation and travel differently. Some would prefer to visit the same place over and over again, while others would opt to constantly spend their time on holiday someplace different. What affects this? Why do some prefer changes, while others prefer the tranquility of expectancy?

Regardless of all else, I believe that very few of us truly view life as irreplaceable, and I would argue that even those who state they understand the permanency of their years on Earth can’t fully grasp the concept. How can you believe in death when no living person has ever experienced it themselves? Death is incomprehensible, but vacation ending is a reality most everyone has experienced. Ironically, only one is inevitable.