Monday, February 25, 2013

Hating the Sin, Loving the Person

            As I was scrolling through facebook, I came across a friend’s post that mentioned the phrase, “Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner.” It’s an interesting idea that got me thinking about what it could mean.
            What I understand from this is that despite disagreeing with a person’s actions or ideas, we should still care and treat him or her with respect. We can argue and debate, but we should do with in mind that he or she is a human like us.
Some people say that it is not possible to love a person while rejecting or ideas or actions. I would have to disagree because that would lead us to a pretty bad situation. For if someone disagrees with me saying that it is not possible, then that person would be obligated to hate me simply because of my opposing position on just an idea. If we know one thing, it should be that the world does not need more hate.
           To take the path even further, we would be obligated to hate everyone because I have yet to find one person who completely agrees with everything I think and do. We are humans and unique. We have differing opinions on many things, yet we love some of these peoples at the same time. In another case, if we truly believe that everything we think is true and anything against it is evil, then we can never progress unless by chance the person with the “right” ideals is given power.
          An example of loving the person but hating the sin would be a man who commits a crime. Many would hate the action and preach against it, but a lot of those same people will still protest if the culprit was given cruel and unusual punishment.
          Humans are interesting because they can commit so many evils and atrocities, but still have the capacity to do good. Some of the best people in history are the ones who look back on their past, hate the evils they have done, and work to aid the lives of others. However, if there is no one to disagree or tell you when you are doing something wrong (and do it with love), then you’ll only go longer causing harm. We shouldn’t demote ourselves to the situation where we disarm the good people from instructing others. Like said in Batman Begins, “What hope does Gotham have when the good people do nothing?”  

Monday, February 18, 2013

Creativity on Demand

            We have an interesting culture, one based off of mass production and consumer “interest.” As a result of that, we place not only our “artists,” but ourselves in a weird predicament. We work to over-emphasize a talent or idea and demand it to be churned out on demand. We can see this in movies, video games, music, and school.
Our process is like mining an entire mountain only because you found one nugget of gold, and that is all you get. That one piece was found by chance and circumstance, but we expect it to always come out when we hunt. I’m more a casual fisherman. In some regards, it’s the same thing as I said above, but there is a difference. I don’t know what I am going to catch. I’m not looking for something in particular. I’m not hunting for one specific fish. For all I care, I can get a tire and that is what I needed. Sometimes, I get nothing. What I’m doing, though, is putting myself out there for chance and circumstance to give me something. If I sit in my room and do nothing all the time, I am not allowing for that chance to provide that one nugget.
I’m not good at the whole essay thing, I admit it. But as I explained before, I have reasons for writing. Even then, I don’t really force myself to write something every week. I have a list of topics that catch my interest, yet there are topics that have been at the top for weeks while some that never make the list I do right away. This one is an example of that.
           One problem I see with the school system is the teachers’ tendency of giving out essay after essay and expecting high quality creativity and imagination for each one. Some people can do it and others can’t. There are those who need the push to get out and those who simply have nothing to give. Some people will ask for an alternative like tests and be attacked ferociously by others who say papers are much easier. That might be the case for them, but not necessarily (or likely) the situation for the one who asked. We are a people made up of individuals, but we act like we are all supposed to be the same.
                In the music industry there is the saying, “One Hit Wonder.” Sometimes that is the case. We for some reason tend to think that is rarely the case, but it happens quite a bit. I can like an artist, yet I hate buying albums because there are generally only one or two good songs on that CD. And that’s a reason why a lot of consumers prefer digital downloads. They get to buy the ones they do like without the rest of the rubbish.
                For our movies, we see it too often. Franchised movies that have horrible sequels. I probably only need to mention The Matrix to get this point across. One reason why the first movie is great is the process. You don’t just accept that first movie because of its title or starring one guy, even if he is Superman. The writer or director has to have a good idea and pitch and make it work. The big thing here is that the creativity is not being forced out the same way as with a sequel. They aren’t forcing one particular guy to come up with something, but letting whoever gets the good inspiration to take a shot. I read recently that Chris Nolan approached his Batman films basically this way. He focused on the movie and then left the franchise alone until he had another idea about what he could do. I can certainly say that I enjoyed all three; the only question is “which was the best?”
                Video games are perhaps the closest to being at about the right level. Sure, EA and Activision of coming out with sequel after sequel. Nintendo gets blamed too, but I say there is a difference. In Nintendo’s case, their sequels tend come out years after release and with some new idea that’s focused on. There’s a difference between having 10 sequels in 25 years than 10 sequels in 10 years. In fact, some gamers prefer the longer development cycle, even if it means a delay, because they expect the quality to be better. That is what I think the other industries need to learn. The good news is that some people have. Abrams said that his Star Wars movie might not reach the deadline if he doesn’t have it ready. The director for the first Hunger Games movie said he wouldn’t do the sequel because he didn’t have enough time to properly do it. Hopefully this will catch on.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Problems with Our Separations

                Recently, I have found a new perspective on racism. While I still hold that not every aspect of what we call “racist” is inherently evil (as I discussed in a previous blog), I do think I have better understanding of our problems. In fact, it doesn’t stop with race, but anything that we use to distinguish, and isolate each other.
                As I said before, motive is probably the most important aspect. However, even when hatred is not intended, sore feelings can come up. In fact, sometimes we don’t even know why we are offended. We have packed so much into this “racist pool” that we are confused about what it is we are fighting.
                I still hold that we need to fix what we consider evil in “racist” actions, but we also need to fix how we view each other. The thing that is neutral is “racism” is the distinguishing of a person. The evil lies in the hatred, isolation, or taking away the humanity of a person. These are three different parts that occasionally overlap.
                I’ve already talked about the hatred aspect here: . The part that concerns me now is the humanity aspect. We use the ethnicity of a person as an excuse for an action that doesn’t belong. The stereotypes take away from a person’s accomplishments or act as a crutch for failure. People use the saying, “Asians are smart” to take away the glory that they earn when they work hard for a good grade. In contrast, it’s used as an insult when an Asian fails or simply gets a “B.”
                The same can be said for Blacks when it comes to athletics. These take away not only the person’s accomplishments, but also attacks when they “fail”. We give them a double standard that just isn’t right. Perhaps the people that suffer the most are the mixed-races. They are given more stereotypes to fulfill or fall short of. Yet that might not even be the worse part.
                Methods of separation tend to go too far in that they work to isolate a person. It is one thing to distinguish a human being as far as descriptions and accomplishments. It’s another to isolate as saying “he doesn’t belong to our society.” The most common example of this would be the phrase, “Your People.” This strikes harder to the mixed races who receives that same phrase from every side. Very few actually take a mixed-blood human as part of their culture. Even then, it’s refusing to accept that he or she is a part of more than one culture. Either way, we are sending a message that he or she is not welcomed as part of "our people," and in a society where everyone is feeling more and more left out, we do not need that.
                When we were children, skin tone and ancestry did not matter. If anything, we thought it was interesting and exotic. It was used really just to describe who we were talking about, with no hatred or stereotypes attached. Why we corrupted that, I cannot say. All I know is I wish we could regain that innocence.  

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Three Marks of Humanity

                I have told people before that I believe the secret of “Being a Man” comes not only from the phrase, “Do the Right Thing,” but also from what is called the four Cardinal Virtues. They are Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance. Some might recognize these as basically what Marcus Aurelius tells his son in the film Gladiator (I believe there is one that is said differently). In elaborating on that subject, I’m going to examine what I see as the Three Marks of Humanity. These are the things I see people use to judge how “human” someone is.  Sure, you technically cannot be more or less human than you are, but the idea is still out there.
                The first Mark is Wisdom. The definition I am going to use is, “recognizing the order of the universe.” This encompasses the virtues of Prudence and Justice. Prudence is basically the knowledge of foresight (or “foreseeing the actions or circumstances that will follow” which is another way of saying “seeing order”) and Justice is the practice of restoring order as seen through Wisdom. King Solomon was and probably still seen as a great king. The legend is that he obtained great Wisdom. His famous example is the dispute of who was a baby’s mother. In this story, he implemented Prudence by predicting the action of the real mother and Justice by restoring the child to her.
                There is one more thing that I attribute to Wisdom, and that is Creativity. While I do not necessarily hold it should be used as a mark for Humanity, it falls under part of it. Creativity takes from the order seen and plays with it. It can take a medium and create a whole “universe.” Stories are perhaps the best example of this. Stories don’t need to be what happened, but takes from the known world and plays around with it.
                Following Wisdom is Courage. This takes a little from Justice but mostly from Fortitude and Temperance. The little from Justice that I am referring to is the will to act on it. Fortitude takes the will and helps it overcome physical obstructions. Temperance, on the other hand, refers to overcoming its own desires that are obstacles. This Mark can be seen in anyone, great or small, that perseveres in danger. It is an arrow to our pride as humans if we are called, “a coward,” which can lead to some stupid results, but the idea is still there. We try to do courageous things to prove our “humanity.”  
                Last of all is Compassion. This is the odd one out as it does not necessarily have a relation with the Cardinal Virtues. Instead it takes from what are known as Theological Virtues. I find that concept interesting and wonder why, but that is a subject to explore another time.
                Compassion (or Love) is a quality that people tend to look for. The reason why I use Compassion instead of Love is because I feel like love’s connotation is becoming corrupted. People are becoming more and more confused about what love is, but compassion is mostly untouched.
Compassion indicates a love of care for fellow man (or other things). From here, you get things such as sympathy, empathy, or mercy. These connections with fellow men and women are emphasized more when it comes to jobs. We admire those bosses that voluntarily sink to the bottom to experience how difficult things can be. We wish more that our political rulers would do likewise.
 If need another example of why I hold in esteem Compassion, I believe you won’t need to look further than Mother Teresa. She could be regarded as one of the most humane people in the world during her time for her care of the poor. This love for humans she did not know is worthy of praise. It shows that love does not indicate receiving anything, but helping others for their own good.
                Now if anyone is into video games, you might recognize that these three names are almost the same as the Triforce from the Legend of Zelda series. The difference here is Power and Compassion. It might seem a little odd to use something that might appear to be a weakness as opposed to power, but I have my reasons. Besides what I mentioned above, I don’t see Power to do anything with humanity as a whole. It’s more used by people to gauge one’s “manliness” and even that has its flaws. Sure, mental or political power doesn’t fall under that problem, but it still indicates corruption, not humanity. Compassion, though, extends across both genders and does indicate humanity as can be heard in the cry, “Don’t you have any heart?”