Tagged: 9/11

Professor Batman

This was my first post ever. The concept is still unbeatable; I’d like to think my writing has improved.
12 years later, what future do you see?

Captain's Log

Even before The Dark KnightRises is released, a lot can be learned from Bruce Wayne.  Christopher Nolan’s adaptation of Batman and his self-imposed battle with the forces of evil is more than entertainment.  After all, could anyone argue that Bruce Wayne is not the greatest example of a successful man?

Once you take away the awesome gadgets, the state-of-the-art superhero body-armor, and the adoring community who benefits from Batman’s vigilante nightlife, you have a man. Plain and simple. Unlike most superheroes of the comic world, Batman possesses no super-human powers other than his own strength and cunning. He is a successful hero because he maximizes and focuses on his internal qualities.

Is Bruce Wayne simply a myth? Or is he a character who can inspire each of us to define our purpose in life, our personal measure of success.

Our entire lives we are taught to achieve success. In…

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How Long Until We Learn? 12 Years? 20 Years? Never?

“Does everyone understand?” the professor asked.  She just finished explaining a nuance regarding citations in academic writing.  “Once more then, common knowledge doesn’t need to be cited, but other than that, it’s best to cite the source of your material.  For example, that Pearl Harbor was attacked on December…9th..?”  Snickers from the class.  “…was it the 9th?” she begged for help.

“7th,” he spoke up.  “December 7th.”

“That’s right, thank you.  Now you all know that I don’t ‘do’ dates very well,” she joked.

“And that you don’t love your country,” he remarked half-joking, but seeking a status increase in his classmate’s eyes as well.

“Haha.  Yes, apparently that too,” she laughed, genuinely appreciating the comment.

His helmet on and secure, he slowly backed the motorcycle out of its parking spot as he prepared to head home from class.  Recognizing that a motorcyclist’s every movement is exposed, he concentrated on making his scan for obstacles look as cool as possible.

Finally, he was on the road.  Warm air, no seat belt; he was one with the machine.  “This will never get old,” he thought to himself.  Seeing brake lights in front of him he looked up to see yellow become red.  Downshifting, he slowed to a stop.  The car in front of him had a sticker that caught his attention.  It simply read, “9-11-01.”  He couldn’t place the date.  Adam and Eve themselves couldn’t describe the shame he felt as he realized his mistake.  How many times did it have to happen until he learned that pride comes before the fall?  Less than 10 minutes after enjoying a good laugh at the professors expense for not remembering the date Pearl Harbor was attacked, he didn’t recognize a sticker whose purpose was to help us never forget the events of September 11, 2001.

Frustrated he rode the rest of the way home analyzing how this could have happened.  Suddenly, an interesting thought: “Wow.  It has been 12 years.  I wonder how everyone felt in 1953 about Pearl Harbor, compared to how we feel now about 9/11.  I always hear about how great the 50s were…  Will people in 2073 look back and romanticize this decade too?”  It seemed unlikely.

**

Insecurity.  Individuals feel it, nations feel it.  In either case, it is a problem that should be stomped out as ferociously as possible.  The attack on 9/11 spoke to life’s uncertainty.  How long are we going to pretend that this was new information?  No living thing is free from a risk of dying.  Why are we still insecure?

Given the occasion to ‘get the jump’ on the yearly discussion, I don’t mind taking the first stab.  We’re still insecure because we don’t understand where security comes from.

Here’s the situation as I see it:  After taking until the mid-1980s to repress Vietnam’s memory, we built a military of overwhelming strength.  The end of the 80s saw the end of The Cold War.  Less than a few years later, we literally obliterated Iraq’s military during Gulf War One.  (Our pilots were shooting down Iraqi pilots before they could retract their landing gear on takeoff.)  This victory made it impossible to resist feeling invulnerable.

The trouble, however, was that the “we” that became invulnerable included the greatest generation.  By 9/11, “we” no longer included the greatest generation or their experience-based (vs secondhand) knowledge and wisdom.  What did they know that would have helped us?  What might we have learned from existing with them, rather than reading about them?  What information do we need to internalize so we can rid ourselves of the wasting disease called insecurity?

Security comes from within.

It won’t come from Obama.  It wouldn’t have come from Romney.  It won’t come from Clinton or Christie.

Whether Hippocrates ever intended his paraphrased oath to be applied by everyone is inconsequential.  “Do no knowing harm.”  That goes for everyone.  All the time.  Whether at work or at play.  In your personal life, in your professional life.

Is life complicated?  Yes.  Has our government acted honorably all the time?  No.  Do people capitalize on every opportunity to take advantage of each other?  Yes.  These questions and answers do not paint a pretty picture.  So what.  Not one of them has any bearing on the decision you are about to make right now.

The only way to overcome this problem is to stop doing knowing harm.  Today.  No matter who is telling you, “It’s okay.”  Whatever consequence you fear will happen if you disobey, you must risk it.  Past mistakes are irrelevant.  The rest of the planet is longing for Americans to wisely use the power we hold.  You know what I’m talking about.  You can’t feign ignorance any longer.

I need your help.  The only way to get there is together.

Tabula Rasa. It’s like the movie…

A movie is a story.  A story has purpose.  Fundamentally, a story is an interpretation of an event.  The study of philosophy is the study of how we interpret life.  (Hear the next sentence in the voice of the Architect from Matrix 2).  Ergo, a movie is philosophy.  With me?  Moving on.

My love for movies is a disease.  Say nearly anything to me and my next few words will likely be, “It’s like the movie…”  I’m actually very embarrassed by this when I meet new people these days.  (Obviously everyone else is just so busy and mature they have no time for fun…)  Lately though, I’ve decided to own it.  The following is an explanation of my decision.

People always ask me how I do it.  “For the love, Pete!  How do you remember so many movie quotes?”  Actually, that’s the second question in the conversation.  The first is usually, “What’s wrong with you?”  I’ve had some time to think about this.  The movie quoting that is; there is nothing wrong with me.  And here’s the truth.

Aristotle basically coined the concept of Tabula Rasa.  It means “blank slate.”  I first heard the phrase Tabula Rasa as a freshman in college.  I’ve been intrigued by it ever since.  It simply expresses the idea that we’re all blank to begin with, as in from birth.  Only through living do we fill up the blank slate and become who we are.  Surely you remember where you were on 9/11.  Why do you remember your location on a specific day over a decade ago, but not two years ago?  I’d argue you remember it because 9/11 was a surprise.  That’s the reason I remember movie lines so easily.  They are a surprise to me.  All of life is, but movies especially.  I watch movies as a blank slate. Do I know the good guys are going to win?  Will the guy get the girl?  Yes, yes.  Just like I know that I’m going to eat another meal soon.  But just because I’ve been right every day about my chances of eating again doesn’t mean that I don’t know with certainty what my next meal will be.  And that doesn’t mean I can’t immerse myself in a film and pretend that maybe, just maybe this time the bad guys will win and the story will end with something more gripping than the guy getting the girl.

Movies have so many lessons.  Any type of storytelling does.  As we talk, if you’ve seen the movie I’m referencing, our connection in this lifetime just grew.  If not, I hope you at least found my best attempt to reenact the scene enjoyable to witness.  Either way, our time together increased, and as a consequence our relationship deepened.  Maybe that’s why I do it.  Maybe I reference movies so much because it lengthens the conversation, consequently increasing our time together.  It’d be a sad world if you think I ought to be ashamed to admit that I want to spend more time with you.

The conclusion challenge:  If you can’t remember much, are you assuming too much?  Are you living life with a full slate?  How’s that working for you?  A blank slate is much more fun.  It’s like in the movie “Dumb and Dumber” when Jim Carey discovers 25 years after the fact, “No Way!  That’s great!  We landed on the moon!!”