I have heard that by getting born in the US, all of its citizens have won a lottery before they are even born. We come into a world of milk and honey, surrounded by people to take care of us, and prepare us for the journey ahead. It all happens in a few moments. We leave the warmth of the womb in the hands of a stranger. Their cold rubber hands keeping us from falling onto the colder, harder floor below. A cloth suddenly covers us, and we are in someone else’s arms. Someone warmer. The rubber is gone. Wet tears slowly drip on our foreheads as we struggle to take our first breaths, turning shades of blue and red. This struggle never really stops. We often go through our whole lives trying to make time to slow down so we can breathe before everything screams out of control, and the house of cards we have carefully erected screams to the floor in ruins…

WHen I was six, I found myself at the bottom of a slide. Alone, and out of control, I convinced myself I had no friends. That I was completely and utterly alone. Not for any particular reason, just for the hell of it. I did not want to talk to anyone. I just wanted to sit there. I still remember my blank expression as I hurt myself to the point of tears. “And why not?” I thought. “What’s so bad about feeling bad for fun? No one gets hurt by it. No one else feels the empty space. The matter-of-fact-misery so easy to hide. 

You want to know the funny part? I was on a field trip! A picnic! My entire class was there! All of my friends were there!And I just ignored all of that. I wanted to feel like the last human alive in a world of wood chips, and plastic. As with everything in this world though, this feeling soon drifted away on the ceaseless conveyor belt of time. I managed to find the time to catch my breath, and calm the storm. Life continued. Just as it always had. 

This is how life unfolds. As a series of alternating feelings and shallow breaths that fail to give us the substance we need to slow ourselves down. This leaves us stagnant. Foolishly swimming in place against the river. Faster, faster, faster but the current only gets stronger. We just flounder there as life takes more and more out of us until we collapse, and let our bodies travel to the seas of oblivion. Whatever happened to letting the current just take us? I sound like Pochahontas, but that does not make the question less pertinent. Why do we fight against time? Why do we spend so much energy trying to overtake it? We cant beat a force of nature. We were born to live alongside time, not next to it. Take a breath. TIme is water, and it takes us where it will. Through good and bad. Just leave the movement to time. 

It occurs to me that my father has been trying to tell me this for years. Whenever I was crippled by grief, and blinded by tears, my dad would calmly tell me that “the sun will always rise and set. No matter what happens to you.” Only now, years later, do I see what he meant. Slow down, take a breath, and stop fighting. Time will take us where it will. And this is beautiful. 

Ethnic Identity Part two

Hey! So in the last post, I sort of touched on the barriers to diversity in the United States as a whole, and here, I want to talk about it a little more regarding academic institutions like my college. A few weeks ago, a guy from UCLA made a video about how few African American students got into, and graduated from UCLA, and pointed out how many of them made it into UCLA due to their involvement in sports. The more I think about it, the weirder it sounds to me. Has anyone else noticed how many African Americans are involved with professional and university sports teams? It has got to the point that in Selma, at the middle school we went to, many people (especially the boys) wanted to become professional athletes. What message does that send? “Oh, we will provide you with everything you need as long as you entertain us every week when we watch our favorite team play.” Why don’t we get excited when someone of a different ethnic background and from a low income family does something amazing in a way other than through just physical prowess? Don’t get me wrong, I understand how hard it is to make it into professional sports, but because of that, shouldn’t kids try to focus on different goals? Anyway, I am getting off track here. When I first heard about how few African Americans were getting into UCLA, I started looking around at my school a little more to get a better idea of how diverse it was. When I actually looked at the composition of the school, without actually referring to any statistics, I saw that the most of the students I looked at were in fact, white. That blew my mind a little bit. I had come here shocked by the amount of diversity here, and still at least 3/4 of the population of students is White. I just never noticed that because to be honest, White people did not stick out. In my mind, Black, Hispanic, and to a smaller extent Asian people stuck out to me because I had not lived around them as much. After hearing from people who aren’t White, who came to college from high schools of a much different ethnic composition, they had the exact opposite reaction that I had when they came here. They got surprised by the high number of White people at the school. Now the main reason behind this, of course, is that applicants to the school are largely White. That does not mean that the college is free from blame however. If the college did not have a somewhat checkered history towards those of different ethnicity, particularly African Americans, and also did not focus its study on Eurocentric ideas (funny how that’s not seen as a word here), the school’s population might be much more diverse, and something to brag about. This has nothing to do with the performance of the Intercultural Life office, in fact, I think that more involvement in campus life from the Intercultural Life office would have extremely positive results. With that cleared up, I’d like to write about the mistakes the college has made regarding diversity (that sounds pretty pessimistic huh? Hahahaha).

So as far as I know, in the past two or three years, a total of three incidents of bigotry against African Americans have occurred on campus. Two of these came in pretty quick succession, and involved the Trayvon Martin case (again, apparently Trayvon is not a real word). To voice the concerns of the African American community concerning the murder, students held awareness activities so people knew what concerned them, and organized different forms of protest against the murder. I am pretty fuzzy about exactly what happened next, but I have the gist of it. If someone wants to clarify something, then they can point it out in a facebook comment. But anyway, from what I hear, some students made some artwork that voiced their protest regarding the murder, and some jackass went up to the picture, and wrote “Nigger Art.” somewhere on it. Then, some time later, an African American student found the word “Nigger” scrawled on their door with tape. And the worst part about this is that the school did almost nothing about this. Absolutely nothing. I don’t think the school’s staff understood what kind of message that sends. To me, that seems to announce that racist behavior is okay at the college. If I was Black, and I knew about that, I would stay as far from Cornell as possible.  Period. I would not want to put up with shit like that. The last incident happened during my freshman year of college. This time, someone put a noose in a Black student’s room. Apparently, there was some confusion about the intent of that noose, and it was some project at school or something, not a death threat, but still. Yikes. The school reacted a little better about this by hosting a discussion about such displays of bigotry. I like that they did this, but my issue is that they made this optional. So obviously, not many people actually went to it, and for many, the event had no significance whatsoever. The college needs to address this kind of behavior, and they need to address it with a lot more strictness. This means making a mandatory large meeting, or having mandatory small group discussions composed of PA groups, or residence hall floors about the issue. Whatever they do, they need to send a stronger message that this is unacceptable. In any circumstance. You don’t do that shit. So as a whole the college needs to get better about actually enforcing its policies regarding diversity on campus. 

The other issue I have with the school’s approach towards diversity involves where its money involving academics goes. The college offers a ton of classes covering several disciplines, but in some departments, like the history department for example, 95% of all the classes involve the study of European ideas, history, etc. For example, you can learn all about European history at my school, but if you wanted to learn more about the history of the Far East, you’re pretty much gonna get disappointed. The school offers French, German, Spanish, and Russian, but not Arabic or Chinese. The school does have a huge Spanish department, and sometimes a part time professor comes and teaches Japanese, but the other three languages it offers are spoken by huge numbers of Europeans. Languages that few Europeans know, like Arabic and Chinese, don’t get offered at school, even though those languages in particular are becoming extremely important. And it’s not like there is no interest in taking those languages. For a year or two, an Arabic department existed on campus, and tons of kids displayed interest in the department, but the department was headed by a part time professor, so when his contract ended, he had to leave and take the department with him, leaving anyone who wanted to study the language out of luck. But the Russian department gets a full time professor, two extracurricular clubs, majors, and classes up to 303 with about the same or maybe even less interest than the Arabic department had. If the school spent more of its money into hiring professors that can teach a more diverse set of classes, then I honestly think that more people would get more interested in the cultures of the rest of the world, and more students from a more diverse ethnic backgrounds would come to the school, and with the improved diversity, the school could grow faster than it is now. Right now the school is using all the money it gets on building new facilities, and raises the tuition of the school to fund the maintenance of these new facilities. Honestly, I would prefer a more diverse set of classes rather than a shiny new dining hall. Most people go to college to learn about the world, and expand their academic horizons. With this in mind, shouldn’t the school focus on building up its academic programs? Perhaps that is what the college plans to do in later years once its shiny new facilities are finished, but I wonder how many people will be able to afford to come here when they have finished. I realize that I have never thanked the people who read this. I really, really appreciate the support I am getting on this. Having people read what I have written, and take the time to seriously consider my crazy ideas makes me feel great, and I am very grateful. 

Thoughts about Ethnic Identity

Hey there! I have not been here in forever! I guess I haven’t found the time or urge to write. I also have had nothing interesting to talk about. Anyway, over the past two months, I have thought a great deal about the diversity of the people in my surroundings, and in the world at large. Particularly in terms of ethnicity. The theme just keeps coming up inside, and outside of class, so I figured I would write about it.

Throughout the first 18 years of my life, I did not really have much experience interacting with people that looked different from me. I lived in a suburb of Seattle, and in most cases, I have come to associate the word suburb with White. Since I first got there, the area grew from a few thousand, to almost 50,000, and just by looking around and living there for so long, I would say that about 80% of the residents in my town are White. Turns out that when you look at demographic data from the city website, about 75% of the population is White. That’s a lot. Those that are not White are for the most part Asian, which makes sense in a region that’s part of the Pacific Rim. My point with this is that I got used to seeing and interacting with White people and to a smaller extent, Asian people. As one can expect, this kind of sub consciously gave me the idea that most people in the country looked like me. That I was part of some super majority or something. I mean, I knew about the statistics that minority populations were growing significantly, but in the way back of my mind, I assumed that I would be surrounded by White people for the rest of my life.

As is true with a lot of my expectations, going to college turned this expectation on its head, and smacked it repeatedly with a giant hammer. For the first time in my life, I was living with a significant number of  people with darker skin. Many of whom spent their childhood in communities with a lot less money, and a lot fewer White people. I saw more African American, Hispanic, and even Native American, and Arab people than I had seen ever, and to be honest, I was kind of at a loss of what to do. I mean, of course you treat them like human beings, without exception, but are there topics that you are not allowed to touch with them? Questions you are not supposed to ask? etc. I kind of wanted to avoid hearing anything about their ethnic identity because it would make me feel like I was personally responsible for their feelings. The whole subject of race made me feel defensive and very guilty. But honestly, I should have known that these conversations were bound to come up at some time. Hiding from the truth doesn’t make it go away. I can’t expect people to just put a major part of who they are under the table. That would be like me trying to hide the fact that I have a learning disability and depression. If you hang around me, you are gonna figure out sooner than later that I take medicine, and occasionally act very strangely. I can’t really hide that. And I don’t want to. In fact, I want to talk about it whenever its relevant. Based off of my understanding, talking about ethnic identity works the same way. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s not something you can just ignore to make people feel less guilty about. The subject of race showed up a few times in classes I took, where I was very quick to express my guilt and apologies for what people who looked like me did as if I had something to do with it. But only after seeing the racial inequality still inherent in our country firsthand did I start to learn to understand the significance of race towards identity, and how scared many people in the country are to accept this.

Over spring break, I went with a group of other students from my college to Selma, Alabama where we volunteered with the Freedom Foundation. The Freedom Foundation devotes itself towards promoting equality and acceptance in a part of the country where race is not only an extremely touchy subject, but is actually used to determine your place in society. In other words, racial inequality still exists in Selma, and almost no one is willing to talk about it. In fact, I will go so far as to say that racial segregation never left the area. It just went underground.When we went to volunteer at a public elementary school, we saw both Black and White kids going to school together, and even playing with each other, as if they were unaware of the social divisions that existed between these groups. We also went to volunteer at a middle school, and from the minute I walked into that school, till the minute I left, I think I didn’t see a single White person, and the school itself seemed like it got a ton less funding than even the middle school did, (and that did not get much funding either). All the money, and the White people went to private schools. These private schools are not officially white only, but it was a preeetty big deal when a Black student enrolled at one of these schools. I interpret this as the White social elite of the town refusing to let their kids go to school with Black kids, and are willing to pay a shit ton of money to keep it from happening. But officially, they’re totally over that whole segregation thing…yeah…all good now. I had no idea that people could even suggest being so blatantly racist in this country anymore. It horrified me. It made me mad. From the day I was born until right then, I was told by every educational institution I went to that all that racial inequality was a thing of the past and everyone was happy now. I remember learning about Martin Luther King Jr. for a day in kindergarten, and a few more in 2nd grade, and then nothing. All we got from those experiences was that he was a great man, single handedly ended the segregation that plagued the country, and despite being killed, succeeded in absolutely everything he set out to accomplish. Then I see for myself how much of that is bullshit. Hell, I don’t even need to go that far to see racial inequality. Think of any city in the country. Like, the inner city. You know, where all the crime and poverty is. About 70% of the population of the Seattle area is white, 15% ish is Asian, and 6.6% of the population is Latino, 7.9% of the population is Black, and 5.1% of the population is of mixed race. By these numbers I should have had more than like, 7 or so African Americans, and 10 ish Latinos in a school of over 1,000 people. You know where all those Black people and Hispanics were? The poorer public schools in or directly outside the city of Seattle proper. How is this a coincidence? What the hell happened? This is not something to be guilty and all wishy washy about, it’s something to get angry about! To do something about! Whether that be volunteering as a tutor in the city, or devoting money to organizations working to make life easier for those living in these impoverished areas, or bringing awareness to the issue to the public as I am trying to do here. I don’t have a solution, but people make solutions to problems they know still exist, and racial inequality still very much does. Don’t doubt for a second that it does not exist, or that it’s not important. That’s the jist of my response from what I saw while I was in Selma. It horrified me. But at the same time, it made me aware of the issue, and that ignoring it will not make the problem go away. Now that’s all I wanted to talk about here for right now, if you want to talk to me about it on facebook, go ahead. I am kinda unsure of how this is going to be received because a part of me is still kind of in the overly defensive and guilty state of mind when it comes to this issue. I am not done with this, I will write more later. Even if I come off as a nut, and no one looks at this. I know what’s right, and speaking up about an issue everyone wants to ignore is in my opinion a step in the right direction. Expect something to add on to this in the next few days.

9/29/2013: On Happiness in Hard Times

Hello again! So I got some time by myself to reflect on things, and I figured I should make another post, so here I am haha. To sort of calm my mind about what’s been going on, I have been listening to a lot of music. Strangely, I have listened to like two or three songs specifically because they just seem to connect with me more right now.

The first one is this “I and Love and You” by the Avett Brothers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrsgIEBwIZM

That song just makes me think about sticking with my decisions a lot more because it talks of moving on to new things, and finding shelter in unfamiliar places. I especially like the first few verses because they express the emotions of starting on a new journey, and leaving everything behind. Both pain and peace get left behind in the pursuit of something more important. Even if that something cannot be expressed in words, and we don’t know what we are looking for, getting out of our comfort zone is usually a beneficial experience. Whenever I feel like I have made a mistake and want to get back together with my girlfriend, I just play this and remind myself that in the long run, I am probably making the right decision. I also tell myself that I want to be honest, and not back away from an important decision I made. I don’t want to look like a bumbling fool who doesn’t know what he wants, even if I truly act like one already. I will find shelter somewhere or with someone at some point. I just have to get there first and brave all the obstacles on the way. I need to find peace in the journey, and when I am finished with this leg of life, my character will improve. This song helps me to remember that.

The second one I have been listening to is “Holocene” by Bon Iver: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjxA25Tj1Ks

This song just calms me down whenever I listen to it. I can’t identify with the themes of it like I can with the first song but I still love it. The tune just reminds me of my life and all that it has brought to me, and the passage of time. I used to play this a lot when thinking about my ex girlfriend and I still do to a point. I try not to think about what I have lost, but what I gained from the experience, and this song brings me to a time when everything in my life unfolded the way I needed it to. Holding those memories close to me should make me feel better when I start to get lonely and depressed because I will remember that at some point in my life, someone made me feel like a million bucks. I can use that as proof to remind myself that I am not doomed to live the rest of my life alone, and unlovable. Life will unfold in such a way that almost all of us will find happiness at some point. I realize that I have posted this song before, but damn! All those feels!

The last one I have been listening to a lot is “Head Full of Doubt/ Road Full of Promise” : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEr9gMYdkHI

This one reminds me of the responsibility that I have to myself to make my life great. I have am almost done deciding what I want to be, and I am planning out how to go be it. Life is whatever you interpret it to be, and this song does an excellent job of reminding me that.

So today marks one week and three days since the breakup, and   things are starting to look up. Thursday was fantastic. From 8:00 in the morning till 10:15 at night I enjoyed the company of others and feel more independent than I have in a long time. Each day comes with more opportunities and more experiences for me. I know this can’t last forever (nothing good ever does) but just for right now, I am holding a smile with ease. I think part of the reason I am feeling better has to do with the fact that I have found something to keep my mind of trouble for almost every minute of my day. I have said it a billion times, but stimulation really can make or break a life. If you don’t have anything to hold onto and remember when life takes you on a dark path, then you definitely will not come out of the other side of that valley unscathed. After living in a suburb with almost nothing but houses, lawns and a receding forest for years, you can imagine that I have gone through some trouble in my life. Living in the same old house doing the same house doing the same things all the time can feel comfortable at times, but ultimately, when you get hurt, it can get hard to keep your mind off the pain. Even with friends, it did not seem like there was any relief for long. I don’t want to sound like someone who needs to be entertained constantly though. I am simply saying that an effective way to heal involves not sitting on your butt and not dying from a thousand little cuts of sadness. Anything we can do to make ourselves feel better is worth doing.

At the same time though, we can’t rely totally on distraction to solve our problems because no matter where we run to, they often follow us. The real issue with sadness and struggle comes from the fact that these emotions come from within ourselves as much as the world around us, and hiding them underneath the rug so to speak does not often make these problems go away. This does not mean that getting your mid off a problem doesn’t help, it just means more effort from the individual struggling is often required. Distraction can help you clear your mind and rest before you go right back into the thick of worry and make you more capable of thinking rationally and handling everything, but this will never be a miracle strategy. Sadness is a human emotion, and we can only live with it when we recognize that healing comes from our attitude, along with help from others.

I recently saw a ted talk (I almost never watch those) where a guy suffering from depression talked about how blind society has become concerning depression and how our ignorance has caused the death of thousands of people. He stated that often, people will ignore or even criticize people for expressing how sad they are, and I completely agree with that. As someone depressed, I am always very careful to censor what I say on social media posts in order to avoid getting criticized as weak or selfish for expressing my concerns. At this point, that will probably not change for me as I have grown to rely on myself more than others when I need to get through something, but not everyone is like that. I am not saying that we need to make someone feel better. Just let them know that someone is listening, and understands that they are going through hell. It’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to feel bad, and wish it could all go away. We’re wired to think like that sometimes. I understand that hearing about sadness makes other people sad just because of empathy, but pretending that sadness doesn’t exist doesn’t make it go away. It just allows it to fester in someone’s heart until they don’t trust anyone and bottle up all their pain until they crack and shit hits the fan faster than anyone anticipated. Then if someone kills themselves, everyone gets all confused on why they didn’t talk to someone or get help. I mean, that’s like going into a hospital, and having the receptionist tell you to suck it up, even if you are dying, then to wonder why they didn’t ask for help when they die. I believe that suicides happen not only because someone feels depressed and out of control, but also because they feel alone, unwanted and ignored. I went through a rough time in my senior year of high school, and almost ended up killing myself. And when I sat in my garage holding a gun, I definitely felt alone. Like no one would care if I just didn’t show up in their lives anymore, and life would easily move on without me. I know that is not necessarily true now, and I recognize that a great deal of that loneliness comes from the fact that I have depression, but at the same time, I am led to question how my life would be different if the social stigma around depression did not exist. Would I see my problems as such a big deal if no one wanted to recognize that they existed? Would anyone? Even writing about this makes me feel a little selfish and childish and I don’t know if that is  okay or not.  I have no idea how to change our attitudes, I just know that I would definitely welcome a change of some sort. Life is too precious for us to enable someone to take it away from themselves. And putting bars on a bridge to keep people from jumping off does not cut it.

I could probably talk all day about the issues with our society, But we hear enough about those I suppose. Sorry about that! I also recognize that my writing might be a little redundant and narrow focused.  If there is something different people want me to talk about, let me know either on facebook, or in the comments here. Thanks guys!

9/23/13: Life’s Unpredictable

So up until last week, life for me was pretty comfortable. I woke up every morning, bright and early, and went to class, then I would get a quick breakfast to go from the cafeteria, and head to class early. I’d study until class, have lunch after class, study some more, then go back to class, and do homework and slack off until the end of the day. Through 75% of that day, I enjoyed  the company of friends, or from my (ex) girlfriend. Everything was going pretty good for me. Then, essentially, I decided to throw all of that away.

download

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Over the course of  few days, I got myself to break up with the person I had loved to death for almost a year by simply telling myself that I needed to spend my time doing other things, and that I had grown too comfortable with the way life was going for me. I am still trying to figure out what the fuck I was thinking when I let her go, but at this point, we have both agreed there is no turning back. So I am left to sit here and think about what I did and why. With this in mind, I might be posting a lot here over the next few weeks as I get over this, but to be honest, I have kind of neglected this blog.. Anyway, the past few days have been sort of tough for me as I have tried to come to grips with what I did. I have not cried really, but I have been getting more put out. Especially when I hang around her and feel like an idiot leaving someone that wonderful. At the same time though, I feel like if I had the opportunity to get back together with her, I would not. After being a part of two relationships in my life, I know I don’t get to say that I have much experience with them, but I have figured out some aspects about myself and about my relationships with others through both experiences.

(I should probably get a different place to put these, but here’s what I am listening to. )

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWcyIpul8OE

From what I have seen, relationships can end up as a double edged sword. On the one hand, they make you feel amazing. Like you have earned the most wonderful gift on earth, and that gift makes you feel better with every day you love the person you are dating. However, if you let it, a relationship can keep you from searching for happiness, and trying new things. It makes sense doesn’t it? Why would you take as many risks if the reward for those risks already existed in your life. Why go about changing your life when everything is going okay? After a while, one might start to miss actually working for happiness. Miss the risks, miss the journey. A relationship in many ways feels like almost a rest on the journey of life, and if you are like me, rests can’t last forever. Hate to say it, but they kinda get boring after a while. I feel horrible wording it that way, but there it is. Given time, a relationship almost keeps you from living adventurously. Remember that I have found that this only applies to me and I am sure that for many people, they can get the best of both worlds and feel like they can freely travel through life with someone by their side the whole way, but I have not reached that point yet. Maybe some day…

Okay, so maybe this is a little too risky...haha www.stpius-x.org -

Okay, so maybe this is a little too risky…haha
http://www.stpius-x.org

But now, I need to get used to being lonely again. I need to get used to looking after myself more. A Roman senator, and historian named Publius Cornelius Tacitus said that “The desire for safety stands against every great and noble act.”, and I truly believe in that. Far too often, we worry too much about the bad that can happen in our lives if we take risks, and we settle in to a pattern of stagnation where our lives see very little change, and our lives move in big circles. Nothing good happens, but nothing bad happens either. Life can just pass us by if we grow too scared to take advantage of opportunities to improve it, or at least make it more interesting. No matter what period of life we are in, stimulation significantly improves it, and to find that stimulation there are often risks involved. It’s like gambling only your chances are a little better. Though it may seem like the worst case scenario is only moments away, in many cases, this does not hold true. The outcome is neither excellent, or horrible, it is just different. In a good way.

Back at School

One of the more fun parts of training!

 

 

996899_10201076944942969_44933770_nI go to college out of state, and I made my way there a few days after the last post. It felt amazing getting out of my house, and back on campus where, ironically, I feel a little more at home. It’s hard to describe. Once you make it through your first year of college, you kind of grow so used to life on campus you don’t want to leave it behind. To a degree that depends on the type of community you live in at college.  Mine has been particularly good, and having that sort of support from people makes you feel a part of something, which I think serves a big reward for people.  After having such a positive experience through my first year of college, and to spice up my resume a little bit, I decided to apply to be an RA for my school. So far, that has turned out to be an excellent choice, as I quickly found myself ushered into a group of individuals whom I respect and trust deeply. I also have found that my job will allow me to help people, one of the most gratifying actions possible in my opinion. I have always wanted to make a positive influence on other people, and help them out when they need it, even if they don’t know they do. Plus, I can try and replicate the sort of community I lived on my first year, if that’s even possible.

Since August 19th, I have been going through training with other RA’s on how to handle situations of all different types and how to act as the best resource possible. I will admit that the training had its flaws, but overall, it was an extremely gratifying experience for me. Especially some of the more serious exercises we did which allowed us to bond with others. One in particular stood out to me where we all stood in a circle and would step into the circle if a certain situation or aspect of identity was relevant to us, then we would talk about our story a little bit. It’s a little hard to explain, but that activity brought out so much emotion in every one of us as we talked about our lives, and all of the hardships we faced. People cried. Hell, I cried. But despite the pain that people felt, and the sad stories they told, I felt more positive emotions at the end of the exercise than at the beginning. Not only did I get some of my own issues off my chest, which relieved me a little bit (as it always does) but I felt honored that people showed the willingness to share their stories with me and everyone else. Some people said things that they had never told anyone else. I saw the pain in people as they spoke, and over time, as more and more words spilled out, I found myself empathizing with them. Feeling with them. After the activity, as we all reflected, I felt an unbelievable amount of connection with the people around me. Like we were all one living breathing person with common feelings and common goals. The feeling absolutely amazed me. I have searched for a long time for a community I can be a part of where such strong connections existed. You just feel so valued. So trusted and in tune with the ideas of others that you know that you can count on them for absolutely anything. Imagine if more communities were like that. Imagine if every person had at least one group of people they could go to where such deep connections existed. Some do, I recognize that, but what if everyone could feel that valued, that respected, and that supported. I can confidently say that I think the world would look a lot better than it does now. Those types of communities build on your confidence and help you to trust yourself as much as the people around you, and with that empowerment, and support, people can go off to do absolutely great things.

As a completely random side note, I am listening to this as I write. Very cool song

As the world gets smaller, I believe that communities will get more expansive, but perhaps less intimate at first. I mean, how many friends do people have on facebook? Over 100? Over 200? More than that? How many of those people does everyone actually talk to on facebook? Five? Ten? Something around there? Maybe the reason why this happens stems from the fact that humans might be social creatures, but have never been so social that they can feel comfortable interacting in such a large group of people. Still, it seems kind of weird that we build such a large group of people that we associate with, and then proceed to not really talk to any of them.  And with so many people looking at what you say, that you don’t trust, how are you going to have the conversations that bring you closer together with people? Ultimately, I think that people need to remember to talk one on one with others and build relationships the way they always have.  By word of mouth, and with your peers all around you in real time. To me, college provides people with an excellent opportunity to communicate with people on a personal level because you can get juuust enough privacy, and you are around enough people all the time to interact with them quite often. I might have made a mistake going to a liberal arts college where they charge so much, but I have grown so much here already that I don’t regret the decision one bit. I am going to get crippled by debt out of college but hey, what’s life without a little struggle? All of the greatest people in history would not have gotten where they ended up without fighting tooth and nail every step of the way! And thats just what I intend to do when I get out, by then, God willing, I will have the skills and resources available to me to succeed, as we all will. Besides, even if I don’t do too well, I will always have the memories of this period of my life to comfort me in my darkest hours, and that is a treasure that I will keep close to me for my entire life.

8/16/13(Sorry this is a little short, I am a little lacking of ideas right now.)

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Strangers! From the outside! Oooooooooooooh

So recently, I have been playing a lot of video games, (because what else do you do when you have nothing to do). One of these that I have been playing is based around a pretty grim future where humankind manages to get to space and expand all over the galaxy, but the cost of holding everything drives us into a regressive dark age where the human empire faces obliteration by aliens and corrupt humans. Ironically, I read a book called “The Human Division” by John Scalzi talking about essentially the exact same thing. It appears to me like we don’t have much faith in ourselves and our nature. And unfortunately, I can definitely see that happening.

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Humans are just so resistant to anything different that when something we have never seen before shows up, I can clearly see us trying to kill it out of fear. Like a spider. We have lived with those things for thousands of years, and we still kill them out of fear. It might take a proper spanking from an alien race to put us in our place. I don’t really know if they would wipe out every human being out like the video game and book claim they will though. I mean, what would be the point of that? By the time that they would make the decision to completely screw us over, they would have to go to every human planet which might hold millions of people on its surface, and find and kill every last one of them. Even the people who find kickass hiding spots. That’s a lot of hard work. What on earth makes us think they would want to do that when it would be easier to simply quarantine us on our planets? I mean, there is the argument that we cannot change our nature and might be a disruption to galactic stability forever, but after getting kicked around enough, I am sure that we would get the picture of whose in charge.

I like to think that we are a reasonable species when you kick out the idea of trying to fight back against anything different. I mean, in the US, people of all different cultures and beliefs live around each other. We might not necessarily like it, but it works nonetheless. What if we just added aliens to the mix? I mean, it would take a looooooooong time to get used to them, but I think the possibility exists that we could come to coexist with them. Unless they were like us and thought we were a spider. Then we’re screwed. Ultimately though, it seems pretty pointless to me to go crazy speculating about what we could meet in space. I mean, we have not found anything yet, and what we do find will probably blow our expectations out of the water. THEN we have to find some way to get there, and as it stands, physics pretty much says no to any way of getting somewhere habitable out of this solar system in a single lifetime. So we have a long way to go before we can get our speculations and fears proven, or dis-proven. We just have to sit down and be patient while science works its miracles and hope we don’t all kill each other before we find out what to do.