Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Pursuit of Happiness: Misunderstandings

"What is the meaning of life" is a question you may hear. While I have given an answer and even specified it on three levels, it is understandable to still be confused. There are a few meanings given by the world, including what I have promoted. However, the general confusion stems from trying to reconcile all of them.

So in this piece, I will briefly address the different ideas for what the purpose of life is. I might go into greater detail on individual ideas another time, but I think it is good to at least recognize them for now

Misunderstanding: the meaning of life is to have fun

From before we can even remember, we associate happiness with fun. We of course want to be happy so this actually makes sense. Add in that society and even our parents encourage this philosophy. Toy marketing is a plain example of this. Many clubs and organizations will also try to attract people by creating events for people to have fun. Parents will ask their children if they had fun for almost everything they do. It is not uncommon of a tale to hear of parents trying whatever they can to have fun with their children.

With all of this, doesn't it make sense that children and teenagers would think the point of life is to have fun?

Fun isn't a bad thing. It's good to have fun occasionally. However, when we pursue it like it's our goal in life, we end up hurting others. Things eventually stop being fun for us and we seek new areas of fun.

Something we can do to help prevent this misunderstanding is to emphasize to or children that we can feel joy through love. We can encourage positive behavior with praise and love. Have them acknowledge how good it feels to do a good deed and know it is good. My father would often say he was proud of the good deeds I would do. This sort of praise can help a great deal.

Misunderstanding: the meaning of life is to receive praise and honor

To receive praise can be addictive. It feels good. This is likely related to having an external confirmation that we did something good. Another reason is that we feel liked and maybe even wanted when people praise us.

However, just because someone praises us doesn't mean what we did is right. It's also dangerous to have a lot of attention on us lest we start to feel entitled. This can result in good deeds not having a proper motivation behind them and people just treating life like it's a game.

While it is good to speak our appreciation, we should also note to our children that hunting praise is not a good intention. It might be good to remind them occasionally that we love them and that it is through good deeds that we show our love. When we praise, we are admiring the show if love we see.

Misunderstanding: the meaning of life is to be free.
Freedom is certainly one of the most important rights we have, but we must understand it's purpose. Freedom for freedom's sake is pointless. However, freedom does have a purpose and it's to let us grow. It also serves to be a protection against those who would prefer to make us do evil.

Misunderstanding: the meaning of life is to experience
It's not unreasonable to think that life is meant to be filled with experiences. After all, can you experience anything without life? Can you change unless you experience events? People often say that experiences make them feel alive. People even make lists of the things they want to do before they due. And then there's the saying, "You'll never know if you like something until you try."

However, experience for the sake of experience is not a good way to live. It's fine to let experiences happen, but to chase them without a purpose is not going to make you happy. In fact, there are some experiences that can make you permanently unable to enjoy what life has to offer. It's also generally impossible to do everything that you want to do. In addition, some things can be over-hyped, leaving to a great disappointment.

Misunderstanding: the meaning of life is to fulfill our desires
This is easy to see. We want to be happy. We desire what we think will make us happy. Therefore we think what we desire is our meaning in life. This is encouraged in many movies as well when they focus on emotion. They place so much attention on how big the desire is that we feel sad if they cannot obtain it, even if it's something evil. However, that fact showcases why this isn't the meaning of life.

We all know truly that we have not only good desires, but also evil ones. The villains in movies are always going after what they want strongly. They are the ones following their heart. And if you have ever experienced over-hype, then you know what we want can also severely disappoint us. We have also learned that our desires can easily be corrupted.

When we understand these truths, then we can see why people who limit their desires are the ones who are happier in life.

Misunderstanding: suffering is the greatest evil
As someone who has suffered intense pain on multiple occasions, I can understand the feeling that it's horrible. The pain would be so bad that I couldn't sleep nor think. It is certainly good to try and relieve someone of their pain, but if we get incredibly upset over the smallest of sufferings, then we'll never be perfect. It is possible to suffer and still be happy. Love really does help.

Misunderstanding: there is no meaning to life
Since happiness is almost impossible if not impossible to obtain, and disillusionment is too common, it's understandable that some might just think that there is no purpose. This can also be a result of thinking we're in a world where our actions have no real effect.

However, if we consider characters in a book, while their actions don't affect our reality, they do have impact on our reality. They may not be able to be with their God, but they can still inspire us. We should not forget that the nature of man is to love. When we remember that, then we can see we always have a purpose.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Pursuit of Happiness: The Rights to Free Speech and Censorship

My dear child,

Society can be quite a confusing place. Some people are quite vigorous in fighting for free speech while condemning censorship. Others may be the opposite. However, they are actually two sides of the same coin. The perfection of one depends upon the perfection of the other. The purpose of both in the long run is to help us grow.

You are aware of how honey is good, right? It tastes good and has some health benefits. However, do you know that if given to a baby in their first year, they can became gravely sick? As your father, I not only have a right, but I also had an obligation to prevent you getting honey until you turned one. Instead, I must give you food that helps you grow so that your body was mature enough. Then you could enjoy the goodness of honey.

Why do I bring this up? Because this applies to more than just food. I must also protect you from some ideas or things that can be dangerous for you. I must do this until you become mature, that is when you can handle them. Until then, I have a duty out of love and as a parent to raise you with good things and ideas. Then when you have a good foundation, you can endure the evils you may come across.

You also have a right to personally censor things that you cannot handle. A recovering alcoholic should not be receiving advertisements for beer. Likewise a man struggling with pornography should been allowed to avoid corresponding materials. And if someone is worn out from discussing a topic, he should be allowed to rest, though he should be honest and open to conversing later. The noble purpose of censorship is to protect an individual so that he can mature.

At the same time the noble purpose of free speech is to grow. The freedom to speak is deeply linked to the freedom to think. We should be allowed to speak about what's important to us. We also must speak up when we notice areas of concern or improvement. These help us protect our rights, see that our needs are fulfilled, and help others. This right is indeed quite important and must be cherished.

In order to achieve perfection of either right, both need to be in harmony. Can a tree grow if it has little room and access to water? Will not a tree grow weak and maybe even die if given acid? Must not the roots of a planted tree be contained so as to not cause destruction to surrounding infrastructure? So too censorship and free speech must be. The key to understanding the proper limits is love again.

Censorship and free speech are two important rights that help us achieve perfection. They not only serve to help and protect us, but others as well. When these two are put under the guidance of love, they may reach their harmonious perfection.

With Love,
N. D. Moharo

P. S. "Hate speech" and bullying are evils and abuses of these rights. However, you must be careful to limit what you consider hate speech. I say that it it be limited to only words where the intention is explicitly that they hate you. If you must infer the hatred, then it's safer to assume the hatred is really on your side. E.g. Dialog where someone says he doesn't believe siblings should be married to each other due to beliefs is not hate speech, but where someone says he wishes them to die a horrid death certainly is hate speech and should be condemned as such. Falsely accusing something to be hate speech only promotes hatred. Let's promote love and not hate.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Confusing Prayer to be Magic

To non-religious and the religious,

Tell me what this describes: a man dressed in a robe chants some words in Latin while reading over a book. Then his heart's desire is granted such as healing of an infirmary of another. Is it magic or is it prayer?

To be honest, the above example could be either because I only described the appearance. And this similarity is a great cause for confusion. Even though prayer and magic are completely different, the outside appearance can make it seem like they are the same. This also leads to a major misconception on the nature of prayer. Now I will not go into whether prayer or magic is real, but only explain the nature of prayer as if it is real.

You can read more on magic on J. D. Nyle's blog, but in short the idea is that magic is to accomplish your will via demons. Prayer, on the other hand, is conversing with God. Even though the petition aspect is what people are most familiar with, even that indicates the nature of prayer is not the same as magic. There is no guarantee that your request will be granted as you ask it. Look at the Lord's Prayer. The third petition is "thy will be done." It already dismisses your request. Don't forget that there is the words, "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test."  Therefore, we can see prayer is not scientific.

I've seen a few times people say prayer is proven by science to be ineffective. However, the nature of prayer is that people often ask to bypass science. That is why they are called miracles when they occur. As such, I heard the Catholic Church launches a large scientific investigation into whether a miracle is legitimate or not when one is reported. That is one reason why it takes them decades or even centuries to declare someone a saint, and they are looking only for two. I hear they even consult atheists in their investigation.

Magic, however, could be scientific as we often see in fantasy stories. Of course stage magic is actually science, but even the "real deal" could be considered scientific. This is because the nature is to perform "your" will. As a result, you can reproduce the effects assuming that it is true. However, it is too common that people think prayer is the same. They will just say words without paying attention to meaning and they hope what they ask will be fulfilled. It's looking at God to be a butler rather than a father.

Now how did this confusion get started? That's a tough question, but I think it's fair to say the Bible is a major source. If some Christian can explain to me the passage about "whatever you ask in my name will be given to you," that would be great. Though we can see that there was a misunderstanding even back then as people said, "Moses gave us bread from heaven," but Jesus corrected them by saying it was God, not Moses.

The attribution to Moses is perhaps the most interesting case because he is almost the only one in the Bible that shows us the true nature of prayer and miracles. When Moses does something and a miracle happened, we actually read the dialog where he talks with God and God commands him to do whatever is done. We can see small references that this is always the case throughout the Bible with all of the prophets and Jesus, but almost no one as clear as with Moses. The next time we can read an example almost as clear is Ananias healing Paul.

Does this still continue today? If you believe the stories of saints throughout the ages, then yes. Many report having actual dialog with God and wrote them down. If there is one thing that is clear, all of these people considered themselves servants of God, unifying their will with that of God. Perhaps that is why it is said that the prayer of the just man is far more powerful.

In summary, prayer is often enough confused to work like spell-casting. This can be due to the similar appearance between the two. The Bible is also a major source of confusion, but it also provides counter examples to show the true nature. Prayer is a unification of our will to God's will rather than the other way around. I hope this letter has given you a better understanding about prayer.

With love,
N. D. Moharo

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Depression from Loneliness

Note: The following is a draft of a concept that may appear in Neostriker. However,

My dear child,

There are some evils I wish I could protect you from, among them is depression from loneliness. I pray that when you encounter this that you have the strength to continue on and live. Remember your mother's words: there will always be someone who loves you.

Loneliness is a strange phenomenon in that you can feel lonely even while surrounded by people. The reason for this is because loneliness truly describes the state when we don't feel loved at all. When we feel loved, we can endure the hardships of life still smiling. However, when we feel lonely, we can lose all motivation, losing even our will to live.

I ask you to continue to fight, my child. Fight the feelings and know that they are simply feelings. Remember that there will always be someone who loves you. If you can persist past these feelings, that would give me pride.

It is certainly a task easier said than done. To help you overcome this trial, it might help to understand the nature of loneliness. Here are my thoughts on the topic.

Loneliness is caused by not feeling loved. Therefore we must remember what can make people feel loved. Recall the four love tanks. People want to be cared for, admired, liked, and wanted. These in turn are filled by Dr. Gary Chapman's five love languages. If you can figure out which tank is empty and your primary love languages, that can help a great deal in recovering.

Now if you were to encounter someone who is suffering this fate, I would entreat you to help them. I can easily believe that this kind of depression is cause of most suicides. If you can help these people, then you will be a great hero.

With love,
Your father

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Pursuit of Happiness: Right to Life

Dear society,

Life is an interesting right. Without it, the others are worthless. However, it also can be confusing as to what it's purpose is. Now I pretty much covered this in the right to be good, so here I will focus on addressing it's immediate purpose and why it's important.

The general purpose of life is ultimately to be good, which includes true love. The specific purpose of your life is something you find that corresponds to the general prepare. Now the immediate purpose that aids in both of those is to grow.

Unless you are alive, you cannot change. At least that is the philosophy I've interpreted from Thomas Awuinas, Aristotle, and Buddhism. So the purpose of life is to change. Now if we are idealistic in thinking everything has a positive purpose, then life is so that we can change positively, that is to grow. And this purpose covers both physical and spiritual growth, though some philosophies will argue that the spiritual growth is the primary reason.

You might wonder if this means those who cannot grow therefore do not have a right to live. This is not the case as they still maintain the right to be loved and their life brings about many opportunities to love. The moral growth of people who take care of the infirmed and handicap is far superior to those who do not have the opportunities to show this love. Remember that no action is to oppose our purpose of loving, and that means every single person. Otherwise we venture into the realm of selfishness in which we are bound to choose evil.

In the original Spider-Man movie, the Green Goblin gives Spider-Man a choice between saving his love and an elevator full of children. His choice? Save all of them, even though it leaves himself vulnerable to the attacks from his enemy. His choice is instantaneous and he pulls it off thanks to the people of New York. It's not a question of numbers or even status. Every life is worth saving because our nature of love has declared it as so. And if we die in the process of saving others, then we have fulfilled our general purpose of love.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but perhaps the people who need to live the most are the ones who are the most evil. While we certainly need the ones that are good heroes, it's really the wicked that could use the inspiration and opportunity to change. If you believe in a heaven and hell, this is especially true, which helps explain why some religions advocate for abolishing the death penalty.

Life is extremely precious, but in order to understand why, we must the various purposes it has. It's ultimate goal is to be good, the individual goal is the specific purpose that you as a person can fulfill to aid being good, and the most immediate goal is to grow. This purpose of growth stems from that we need to live in order to change. We will change until we die and whatever our state is then will be how we will be for eternity.

With Love,
N. D. Moharo

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Pursuit of Happiness: To be Good

To society,

In order to be happy, we must be good, but what does that mean? I'm sure that most people consider themselves to be good in general. However, others may disagree with our personal evaluation. What does it mean in general for something to be good?

When we say something is good, we tend to mean that it fulfills a purpose we have in mind. A good screwdriver should be able to screw in screws. If the handle breaks as soon as I try, then the tool is not good. A good textbook likewise is supposed help me learn about a subject. A bad textbook would make the subject even more confusing. We can therefore infer that for us to be good means that we fulfill our own purposes as well.

Like all things, mankind has a general purpose and can have many specific purposes. The general purpose is to love, as I mention in many of my letters. The specific "purpose" is something we generally search for ourselves or feel called to. These can be our careers or a passion we do outside of work. For some people, it's simply partaking in the general purpose of love and applying it to their everyday life, such as parenting.

In addition to purposes, we also judge things based off requirements that help aid in fulfilling those purposes. For example if the binding of a book easily breaks, I would consider the book to be bad no matter the contents inside. How important each of these requirements is varies, but they exist nonetheless. When it comes to being a good person, we can find hints in the form of fundamental human rights.

Rights help us understand the various needs of people. They help us move toward fulfillment and therefore perfection and happiness. Understand that I do not consider power and rights to be the same thing. Even if you can do something, it does not mean you should. Just as different books don't share all the same pieces, so too different people don't necessarily need all of the same non-fundamental rights, we just try to make sure they have access to them in case they need them, unless said right contradicts their purposes.

Does a cookbook need a prologue? No, but a novel could benefit from it. Likewise, one man may need to marry, but it might be best for another to refrain from all romance. There are books that instruct how other books should be formed so as to aid in their purpose. Similarly, when we claim someone does not have a right to something, the best arguments are those that show how the right ultimately contradicts their need to need to be good.

An example of this would be when someone is in need of medical treatment. It's good to want to help, but if there are professionals there already treating, then the good thing is to let them work and simply be available when they need your help.

We should note that our specific purpose and rights should never interfere with our general purpose of love. If there is ever opposition, then love should win. Otherwise we are sure to commit some evil, which is the opposite of good. Can we truly say we are good if we willingly choose to oppose good?

Being good is intrinsically linked to our perfection and therefore happiness. When we fulfill our purposes and prerequisites, then there's nothing more we can do to obtain happiness on our end. So let's choose good and work towards becoming happy.

With love,
N. D. Moharo

Friday, January 19, 2018

Pursuit of Happiness: The Right to Religion

To society,

When it comes to man's happiness, I previously showed that love is man's perfection and therefore key to obtaining happiness. Now, I intend to explain one of the fundamental rights pertaining to that love; the right that early American settlers valued dearly: the freedom of religion.

Simply speaking, religion is about rendering what is due to God*. The focus is not on us, but on God. Religion falls under the realm of Justice, but in doing so, we show our love to God.

Of course, there are many religions and it can be difficult to say which is true. However, this is not because of religion itself, but rather it's relationship with faith, philosophy, and morality.

Faith and religion are not the same, but they are very much connected. Faith gives us premises to build our logic. Most of our knowledge and ideas are based upon faith. We exercise this in science when we trust that prior scientists did everything correctly. No one has time to prove everything that others have proven before, otherwise we would make no progress. We also have faith in our own experiences, which in turn affect our philosophy.

Philosophy is the way we view how the universe works. If we say science is how things are, philosophy is the logic for why. Religion and philosophy play a give and take game as philosophy influences religion, and faith gives premises for philosophy. Morality then is applying that knowledge to how we should act, of which religion is part.

The reach of morality is largely dependent upon the scope of faith and philosophy. For example, Christianity in general has "love your neighbor as yourself" as it's second greatest commandment. It also heavily teaches that God associates himself with each individual person. As a result of this world view, it has a huge stake in preaching how we should treat others. At the same time, you can see how each denomination differs in how it treats God based off their differing philosophies.

Now, since it is difficult to judge which religion as they are matters of faith, it is important to recognize them for what they are. By understanding that religion is how we are to give back to the Divinity, we can see why it's important to be free from political powers. History and modern times are filled with persecutions by politicians who see religion as an obstacle to their selfish ambitions. While I will not admit all religions are good, there is good in the nature of giving back as it is our nature to love.

With love,
N. D. Moharo

* for the definition of religion, I took from the catechism of one of the world's largest religions. If Catholicism cannot have a say in what religion is, then I don't know who can. However, I think it's fair to say that when we say religion today, we mean the whole package of faith, philosophy, and morality.

P.s. it can be an act of love to allow people to practice their religion. Even if we oppose a religion, we must make sure there is no hatred and no desire to harm anyone, otherwise we are more likely to be the agents of evil