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?
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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“The thing is, is no matter our differences we should be able to get along.”
“…and that’s the end of that story…ummmm…oh, yeah, and then there was another time when…”
“…to get to the other side!..soooo…like I was saying…”
They were all guilty. All of them. Even him. He took comfort anytime he knew that to be the case. There was something appealing about universal condemnations. In this particular case, the crime was filler word use. Why? Because filler words were one more thing that he knew he should avoid, but couldn’t. And this inability to stop using something frustrated him to no end.
Of late, something intriguing occurred to him. He began to really listen for filler words, and see if he could determine a pattern. He wanted to learn if there was anything he could do, any tip he could develop, to help himself and others stop using them. And listen he did. He listened to his own usage, he listened to other people’s usage. After enough listening, the evidence pointed toward one specific conclusion. For the most part, people use filler words to maintain control of the conversation. At their core, then, filler words are a symptom of selfishness and laziness.
Yes, he was sure of it. He thought of it this way. Before children begin using filler words, they are taught to not interrupt. And to interrupt is to speak while someone else is speaking. It appears now, that an unintended consequence of this well-intended “don’t interrupt” principle is that speakers learn that if they are emitting interruptible sounds, even if not words, they will not have to give up the floor. Enter filler words.
He knew he was on to something when he pushed the idea further. Who uses the most filler words? People who talk the most, naturally. His ego wanted to believe this was coincidental–therefore a lesser crime–not causal, but he could feel the truth. He played out a little experiment in his head. He imagined a world where the use of a filler word ended that person’s turn to speak. In this fiction, he imposed the harshest limitations. If someone used a filler word, and no one else had anything to say–the conversation ended. As he played the scenario out in his head, it became clear that the use of filler words is, in fact, causal in determining which people end up talking the most. Just the same, if certain people can speak at length without filler words, it is a demonstration of skill and they should be able to speak. Who was he to limit a person with demonstrable ability?
Equally condemned, he could not judge too harshly though. It is likely that all people begin using filler words harmlessly enough. But that was the past. He wanted to be an agent of change. “Strive” – his adopted motto. Leading by example, he determined that he would stop speaking the next time he used a filler word. He wondered if anyone would follow suit.
“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.
(If you’re short on time, skip to the bottom for numbered instructions.)
A professor of mine recently led a classroom discussion on censorship. I am embarrassed, therefore compelled, to admit that this is a hot-button issue for me. I cannot stand censorship. Why should one human being have power over what another human being is exposed to?
Just the same, I can surely see the other side of the story. Wait, no I can’t. What is the problem again? Has there ever been any data to support that uncensored living is problematic? Sure, there seems to be well established correlations between those who watch violence and those who perpetrate it, and the like. But causal?
There has to be an identifiable problem before we can start solving it! What is the problem?!
So this got me thinking. What, even, is censorship?
Censorship definitions refer us back to the word ‘censor’, which is a noun. By noun, we mean a person, place or thing. In this case, a censor is clearly a person. This is extremely important to the following philosophizing or interpretation of life. (Why is it important to spell out that a censor is a person? Because as free and alive men and women, we should want to live uncensored. Since we don’t right now, we need to know what that would even look like.) So a censor is another person. This makes sense because fundamentally censorship really can’t be imposed on oneself. By definition, a censor is someone who views/hears/reads something, deems it objectionable and then suppresses it. If I view/hear/read something, I can’t reverse that. I can’t censor myself. So we’ve learned something: The minimum number of humans required to bring forth the concept of censorship is two.
Why is this important? Because now we’re getting to the heart of the concept. There must be two people in order for one person to act as a censor.
Furthermore, it seems to me that censorship deals exclusively in the realm of surprise. As in, people clamor for censorship when they’ve been surprised. Or the well-intended censor believes if he doesn’t act, the audience will be unpleasantly surprised. Are you with me? Taking a page out of history, picture this: a well-tailored family sits down to watch the Ed Sullivan show. Everything is as it should be. Then, surprise! A man humps the air! This isn’t what they were expecting at all. Oh, boy. What are they ever to do?
Well, what did happen? What did they do? Maybe some turned off the TV. Maybe others wrote letters. Maybe others discussed it. Maybe others ignored it.
Could the surprise have been avoided? YES! Most definitely. When in history did adult men and women give other adult men and women control over their life in the way that those parents did with TV? As if there was something inherently congenial about what was broadcast on TV? “There was up until that point…”, you say? Well then, lesson learned.
What lesson? Don’t believe there is another living person worthy of control over your life.
The good news is, the information age is here. Not a single human being alive should be surprised by what they see or hear. If you value the freedom you have, and want even more of it, you’ll recognize this as a good thing. If censorship is inherently about limiting surprise, and surprise is coming to an end, the end of censorship is therefore near. Without the ability to be surprised, individuals have regained some of the control they gave up with the advent of TV and other forms of mass communication. And anytime we as individuals gain back control, it is a victory for freedom.
Censorship is about controlling life in the present to promote a desired future. Am I being clear? The thing being censored must really exist in order to be censored. Something not yet real cannot be censored. For example, whether fiction or non-fiction, censored violence is still violence. It still was brought forth into reality. How foolish are we to expect that life, inherently full of unknowns, should have a moment where we can for sure know the future? How did people ever make it to this, “Alright children… For the next short while, we are all going to stare at this optical illusion. Unlike the rest of the day, we should be totally safe from surprises. You see, there are men and women behind the scenes making sure that nothing we don’t expect will happen.” Are you kidding me?
For me, the burden of proof is on the censor. What is he trying to protect? I hope to have shown his answer is irrelevant. It isn’t about protecting. It is about control. Why does he want control? Because ‘he’-the censor and ‘he’-the individual calling for censorship don’t know how to live in the present. They are captivated by the notion of the future. They only know how to live in such a way that demonstrates their denial of the present. They simply put up with the present, in hopes for a better future. If they’re children, we need to teach them. If they are adults, they should be embarrassed.
Ask yourself, “Do I want a better future?” or “Do I want to live life?” They are not the same thing.
Instructions for How To Live Uncensored:
Step 1– Stop believing you can influence the future.
Step 2- Understand that there is only one step.
(If you’re short on time, skip to the bottom for numbered instructions.)
Because it is time, that’s why. Someone needs to grab the bull by the horns and reveal the secret to accomplishing anything. The following few paragraphs are going to give you the tips you need to do anything you can conceive.
In the recent Tom Cruise movie Oblivion, T.C. and his female counterpart are two-weeks away from completing their mission on the ‘remote site’ that is Planet Earth. After the two weeks, they will return to the new human settlement with those who survived the war. Granted, the work they were doing was not in itself particularly difficult or boring. Loneliness seemed to be the biggest negative. And the dream of how life would be like in two weeks’ time kept them going.
How many of us ever thought we’d spend as much time and energy as we have to accomplish so little? How did we do it? Where did we get the strength from? Were we born with it? Even if we were born with it, we must fight the desire to victimize ourselves. Instead, as a group we need to accept total responsibility for our lives.
Where did the strength to put up with a life we never conceived come from? The strength came from believing a lie. The lie that there will be more time in the future. Break down the concept of the future a little and you’ll see why this is a lie. The future has not happened. The present is happening. The future “is not”. The present “is”. What do you gain if when you trade what “is” for what “is not”?
The future will never be. Can you understand this? The future will never “exist.” It will never “be.” That’s it’s definition. If you believe that the future is something that “will be”, then you’re no longer describing the same abstract idea that’s being discussed here, and is commonly labeled “the future.” There is no catching-up. There is no getting ahead. These are impossibilities.
I have been nearly exclusively reading the classics for almost a decade now, and a common theme is best summed up by Jon J. Muth in his children’s book, “The Three Questions”, based on Leo Tolstoy’s ideas. “Remember then that there is only one important time, and that time is now. The most important one is always the one you are with. And the most important thing is to do good for the one who is standing at your side. For these, my dear boy, are the answers to what is most important in this world.”
The choice is always yours. If you want to do the inconceivable follow the instructions below. If you want to exist in reality, stick with living in the present.
Instructions for How to Do The Inconceivable:
Step 1 – Believe that after you’ve accomplished it, you’ll have time to do what you really want.
Step 2 – Understand that there is only one step.