Monday, July 25, 2016

The sad tale of John and Sarah: The eulogy


We are gathered here to pay tribute to this sad tale of John & Sarah. Seasons come and go, but this stubborn tale refuses to evolve. Winds can blow, to and fro, but this tale just shall not prevail (or so Sarah says). Life is people, and people are stubborn. When we don’t have a choice, we blame life and get on with it. Eventually, people or at least somebody, bears the brunt of it. Who gets that privilege is your best guess.

So here is a final goodbye note to Sarah from John.

Dear Sarah,

 It was fun. Thanks, but you have decided that I’ll never do right by you. The only way I will, ever, is to be left hanging... waiting... till you go back into oblivion again. So, I’ll sing you some from a Dylan song and “leave” (as you often suggest I should do even if I don’t do or say something annoying):

Still I wish there was somethin’ you would do or say
To try and make me change my mind and stay
We never did too much talkin’ anyway
So don’t think twice, it’s all right

It ain’t no use in callin’ out my name, gal
I can’t hear you anymore
I’m a-thinkin’ and a-wond’rin’ all the way down the road
I once loved a woman, a child I’m told
I give her my heart but she wanted my soul
But don’t think twice, it’s all right

I ain’t sayin’ you treated me unkind
You could have done better but I don’t mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don’t think twice, it’s all right   

I’m sure you’ll never to get to see this eulogy. So, like the silence I’ve lived with so long, I’ll just speak straight into it... and leave... first. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A societal black hole, and our consistent attempt to defy it

This post comes from reading about Frank Abagnale Jr., the real life story of whom has been portrayed in the movie Catch Me If You Can. He actually did all that Leornardo Di Caprio did in the movie, and more! In a recent interview with him, he was quoted saying:

I am a true believer that one of the biggest problems for crime in America today is lack of ethics and character.  True, we do not teach ethics at home. We don’t teach it in school because the teacher would be accused of teaching morality.

...and I agree with that. Ethics is taught, not got. Morals, on the other hand, are got. The fine line between something being taught and got is consistency. Every society in the world that survives peacefully and respectably, most importantly to its own members, thrives on balance and balance leads to consistency. We need balance and consistency. Yes, both.

Consistency implies linearity in values and functioning. Balance implies growing from that linearity into newer territory which may deviate from that but which expands that to the new, more accommodating linear nature of society. For example, if society endorsed that pointy shoes were the shoes to be worn in public, and all agreed, that's what we would be taught by and brought up with. We would consider it highly unfashionable to wear anything but pointy shoes to a formal occasion and the person who did would be booed/looked down upon or expelled. That's linearity (or consistency).

Now, times move forward and people bring along vans as acceptable wear. So people start booing while being countered with the logic of moving forward in the world. Soon enough, vans will be accepted as acceptable footwear too, and people with vans and pointy shoes are not booed, perhaps over a much longer time but nonetheless. That's balance.

While society leans well on consistency, it provides adequate and reasonable room for tolerance in balance. That's an openminded, reasonable society. But don't be mistaken, society had to be led. When a child is brought up, he/she is brought up in a particular way, some particular way. Children can't be brought up in no way. Instructions can't be empty and unintentional, even if they're just passed on culturally. And when we don't think about the instructions we impart, we teach what was always taught and cycle of meaninglessness in society goes on and on and on.

Each of the things we teach them, meaninglessly, just like how it could have been taught to us, become the basis of how we percieve, act and behave. And, collectively, that contributes to the stupidity of society which we'll never realise because we become (and are) that exact stupidity and stupidity cannot recognise itself. Duh! So if you want to not get to that stage, think before you become it. Once you've crossed that line, you can never turn back to being the unstupid people that society will need at all points in time.    

This is where the right ethics comes in. It was either always taught, or never taught. People who were taught know them. People who weren't don't. So the ones who steal and crime don't consider it to be wrong simply because they were never taught that it was wrong, and it's way too late now. It's the opposite case with those who were taught that it is. And that's what Frank Abegnale Jr's right about.

But go one step back, and you'll realise that if you ever have the ethics problem that you don't realise, you didn't have parents who questioned what they lived and therefore what they taught you. They never considered life a (positive) contributive force that evolves into greater society goodness that advances how we live together as a society. That's exactly why you do what you do, and speak of wrong, right, bad and good the way you specifically do. 

They just lived, and never wondered to ask why, except wonder how someone can ask them how they could just simply do that. Doing that creates habitual but meaningless ways and values of living that defies the fact that a societal black hole cannot exist, by logic, whether good or bad. When we do that, we ignore the inherent meaning in the meaninglessness. Habits that are loaded with values that build people and society are treated like the fancy toilet paper that ends up being used because there's so much extra, and there's only that (and nothing else). Like we're so used to it, we don't even see the irony. Like we never will.

That's why Frank Abagnale Jr. is right. We've go to think about 1) how we live 2) the world we live in (minus the obvious unquestioned comfort about how things have been how they will be) 3) how we bring up our children (and the next generation).

Thoughts on that, anyone? Let's start with 1) first.