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Two cents

Being away from your hometown widens your perspective on a lot of things and noticing the details that you’ve never noticed during those long days of meticulous routine work, tiresome attempts of surviving social situations, and finding identity. After coming back for merely three weeks, it has only reinforced the belief that there are people, people like me or my siblings, who just don’t find their hometown a suitable place to grow up in. It’s extremely challenging to find your own identity and come to any compromise with yourself in a city that puts so much emphasis on superficiality, not to mention their condescending methods of homogenizing culture. Diversity is close to non-existent.

Once you take your first steps into the futuristic looking airport, which can be considered as a tourist attraction in itself, you’re received by the smiles of negativity, the hugs of pessimism, the greetings of cynicism. Your senses are numbed by the air, which is – to my surprise – not polluted by an overwhelming blast of car exhaust but of hopelessness. Physically, the environment is beautiful in the sense that you will know it will economically thrive in the upcoming years and that it will be remembered as the technologically advanced “heaven”, but it is merely a cover, a facade to bury the hollowness of people’s lives. Of course, I am not saying that their lives don’t have meaning. It’s just that once you see the sourness of their “neutral” expressions – as in seeing how gravity does take a toll on their faces that even facelifts can’t bring it up – you’ll figure that there are probably some things that aren’t working out for them all the time…or they just find minimal value in what they do on a daily basis.

I must admit, I was initially unsettled and unnerved by the tsunami of negativity, pressured by the continuous gawks and discouraged by the casual but constant comments on my appearance. I was angry at one point at how superficial people can be around here. But fuck it. Let them judge all they want because it only shows who they are and limit their abilities to actually grow into compassionate human beings.

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It’s been awhile since my last encounter with a person whose passion for learning is so intensely genuine. As I listen to her talk about things – just general topics about essentially anything – I can see her passion towards pursuing knowledge and her will to inspire others to do the same. It’s safe to say that my respect for her has grown quite profoundly since the last time we met.

Whether it may be the logistics of or a theory behind a subject, we learn something everyday. It is always our pleasure to be taught something and in return, we share what we know as well. It may seem obvious to many but it’s what improves us as human beings and as a society. Ultimately, it’s what makes the world go around.

Love education, love knowledge, but most importantly, love wisdom.

It’s so much more spiritually fulfilling when you’re engaged in a conversation of quality rather than quantity. So what if it’s four hours long in a restaurant when it is merely one-sided? I find it mind blowing to know that one has the patience to listen to four hours of insignificant details of someone’s life. There is a limit to learning about a friend. When the exchange is minimal and almost purely one-sided, or when you’re sharing your story and you only get what they did last summer or something related to purely themselves in return, I believe it is time to reconsider your friends. As the saying goes (and as cliche as it may sound), the world doesn’t revolve around you. One can only learn when one wants to learn, meaning that he or she steps out of their little circle of their own little world and attempt to learn how to make a proper conversation, MEANING he or she listens and engages in what the person is actually saying.

Simply put, I want to say that the world does need more listeners. It is unfortunate that the saying has been around for quite some time now but still effective to this day, if not increasingly applicable as days go by. I know humans are selfish beings but there is a fine line between selfish and self-centered (to the point of egotism). I may not be an expert in making conversations; in fact, I don’t have a clue when it comes to initiating and continuing an interesting exchange with another but what I do know from experience is that listening to someone talk about themselves the entire time is somewhat tiresome and frustrating.

Perhaps my rant seems too critical. Perhaps this is how the world functions: the talkers and the listeners. Perhaps without the talkers, there wouldn’t be listeners, thereby no conversations at all. However, it is difficult for me to accept that this is how the world is. Really? Can they think about other things other than themselves? There are always ideas to talk about, like how the design and packaging of a product reflect consumerism, or everyone living with chips in their heads that control their personality, muscle strength, abilities and skills, etc. There are current events to talk about, like how the recent deceased North Korean dictator is being ridiculed by the media (most prominently on on social networking sites) as opposed to a moment of silence, a few prayers out of who knows what the intention may be; or the increasing death toll in the Philippines and how much assistance they need in order to get the place back up and running once again.

Isn’t it incredibly sad that I have to say all this on the internet to people who don’t even know me? What happened to actual conversations (which, by the way, are interrupted or distracted by the use of mobile phones right in their faces, so close that you can use their necks and heads as tables, when conversations are actually existent but that is a whole other issue with social etiquette.)?

What happened to respecting your fellow mates? What happened to “being a good company”? What happened to trust? What happened to being selfless?

What happened to our generation?

If we don’t intend to look for things, they just come as surprises, both good and bad. What’s really fascinating about life is not because of our innate ability to survive, but the simple details that come across your path every day that makes what life the way it is. Unexpected reactions, coincidences, and opportunities that just so happen to occur on a particular day. Who knows, who knows.

It’s the mystery of the future that makes life so meaningful. If we knew our future, we wouldn’t be sitting here, dreaming big. It’s funny how despite all that, we humans yearn to know what’s in for us. We thrive for knowledge to the extent where we disregard the importance of enigma…then again, I suppose it is all in our nature.

 

My mind’s been stuck in a ditch for the past month. That doesn’t sound too good, now does it? It feels like I’m being consumed by quicksand, or a swamp, or sewage waste. Ugh, I can feel the repulsive goo collecting at the bottom of my brain. No, make that in the middle of my brain.

As my first year of tertiary education unfolds, I realized how little I knew, how little I remember, and how little I desire to learn. It demotivated me, yet surprisingly, not all too discouraged by the marks I’ve been getting. Oh, how they haunt me in my sleep, but I suppose this may as well be a sign that I still care about my education. Perhaps this is time for me to rethink my ways of dealing with university life as well.

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Ideas That Matter

I was introduced to Michael Austin’s textbook, Reading the World: Ideas That Matter in my English mechanics course. Each week, we discuss a text on a particular issue/concept proposed by inspirational individuals of different professions. The following are several ideas we touched on so far:

1. Seneca – “On Liberal Studies”

Seneca proposes the idea that liberal studies is, in fact, superfluous knowledge and that it does not assist any man to lead a moral and virtuous life. He raises some interesting points regarding the fields of philosophy (existentialism), music, mathematics, etc. He raises the question of “why do we pursue education when it does not contribute to having a moral and virtuous character?”

2. Moses Maimonides – “The Guide for the Perplexed”

Maimonides argues that the Universe is not a consequence of necessity but a result of conscious design. Religion and belief in the Divine are closely related to this argument. In summary, Maimonides believes that whatever that can not be explained is a consequence of God’s design. Although he does support this thesis with exceptional deductive reasoning, I personally believe that the Universe is a consequence of necessity.

3. Matthiew Ricard and Trinh Xuan Thuan –
“The Universe in a Grain of Sand”

Ricard and Thuan discusses the concept of interdependence and the extensive search for evidence of extraterrestrial life. Yet a few questions come to mind: “If interdependence is true in the sense that everything is the cause and the effect of another, then what would be some ethical implications with respect to the way we relate to other forms of life?” “Is searching for evidence of extraterrestrial life worth the expense governmental agencies and private institutions go through?”

4. Garrett Hardin – “Lifeboat Ethics: The Case Against Helping the Poor”

Hardin uses a lifeboat analogy to support his argument against helping the poor, that being how privileged nations should restrict their surplus/resources for future crisis as opposed to humanitarian conduct. However, if all nations merely support themselves and not others, not only would it present ethical problems for future generations, the nations would fall under egotistical leaders; thereby leaving the world to perish.

5. Aung San Suu Kyi – “In Quest of Democracy”

Through her essay, Aung San Suu Kyi answers one of the ” charges made by non-democratic governments throughout the world: that democracy is a Western form of government and a remnant of imperialism that represents values alien to the non-Western world.” (Austin) She applies Buddhism to the definition of liberal democracy and argues that a democratic government is suitable for the Burmese culture.

This raises a question of whether or not the values of western liberal democracy are always compatible with other cultures and traditions, as Aung San Suu Kyi suggests.

To be honest, I am pretty stuck on this topic. I suppose the values and the concept of having a representative government can be considered to be originated from the Western hemisphere, thus being “Western liberal democracy” but is it possible that the notion of democracy is not tied to a particular culture at all? The values of democracy is liberty, equality, and respect for human rights, so wouldn’t this apply to human beings in general? Having a democratic government does not change culture, let alone tradition; rather, it contributes to the evolution of human morality, perception, and…

Oh goodness, the goo’s coming back. I’m stuck once again.

 

 

Frankly, I’d rather spend a day or a week with children and a lifetime with pet animals. Teens are punk-asses, disrespectful, complicated, shallow, or think they just know everything about life. Adults are mature, but they are so used to how the world works that at times, they don’t grasp the concept of curiosity. Yet I’m most afraid of not being simple enough, being the teen aforementioned, and becoming the adult as I live through life everyday. Things devoid of meaning, perhaps a bit of dulled interest here and there as well.

You know what’s awesome about hanging with children? They can talk about anything, from poop to how they think the earth is formed, or maybe about a character they want to be, or hypothetical situations like being a fish in the deep, blue sea. The beauty of children is that they’re versatile. They’re like the blank sheet of paper, ready to be painted with colors but not quite prepared to choose the suitable tone, hue, or even the shade. And guess what, you have fun talking about nonsensical things. You don’t have to care whether or not they have to be true. Most importantly, when you pinkie-promise a child, he/she would most likely keep it safe ’til you fulfill that promise. You can trust them.

And a lifetime with pet animals is something I would love to do. They are simple; you give them the affection and care they need, they will return it in their own ways. I suppose you can say that human relationships are similar, but no, it’s different.

However, if I really were to interact with a human being, then I must confess: I yearn for intellectual conversations with a stunning passion. You know, the ability to sit and talk just about anything with one person. Time and place won’t be an issue.

 

…Who knows, we might as well be in bathroom stalls and discussing the essence of love.

My condolences to those who lost someone dear due to the bombing and shooting massacre in Oslo, Norway. Being one who only got wind of this briefly on the news yesterday, I can only stand here and be perplexed by this man: Anders Behring Breivik.

Why such inhumanity?

Apparently, Breivik plotted this “killing spree” for 9 years. That’s just sickening. Perhaps in spite of appearing as an average working Norwegian citizen, he, as one of the many, hold a grudge towards the government, the world, or humanity. He might have wanted to see the world in rubble, starting at a small point to work with and then extend his operation to other parts of Norway. Yet, like a madman, surrendered to the SWAT team after this bloody massacre. If Breivik had wanted to expand, he would’ve fled the scene once he felt the time was right. His surrendering to authority can signify that the massacre was merely a warning, meaning Breivik, although suspected of being the “mastermind” of the twin attacks, is considered a “messenger” of a larger organization of terrorists.

Then again, these are completely speculations of mine, a mere individual with limited knowledge on the situation other than what the media has shown already.

…Or maybe I’m just influenced by the crime fictions I read recently. One or the other…or both.

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Sunday 24 July, 2011: Two bullet trains of the CRH (Chinese Railway High-speed) crashed, causing at least 35 killed and 200+ injured. Once again, my condolences, this time to those who lost their relatives to such a devastating crash. After this incident, it’s safe to say that I don’t intend to trust China anytime soon. There are just so many corrupted companies in China that you wouldn’t be certain of whether or not the house you’re living or things you’re using are proven safe. Ever since the turnover, I’ve always had my doubts regarding China’s policy, laws, and products; the recent food and product scandals only strengthen my stance.

Update: Guess how the Chinese dealt with it? They decided to bury the train. Why not dispose the remaining survivors while you’re at it?! I suppose that according to their logic of dealing the situation, it would be illogical to leave the injured alive. Geez. Sometimes I really don’t get how they operate. Don’t you investigate the remains of the train to see what went wrong with the system in order to prevent future crashes like this as opposed to burying it like you’re attempting to cover up some secret? If they don’t intend to investigate it, why wouldn’t they weigh the possibility to sell the metal wreckage instead? In Canto, I call their way of thinking as “Y Y dei”, roughly meaning that they have some crazy-ass way of mental processing or something.