Epiphany

20131027-232452.jpgIn this modern world, and possibly even in the older versions of it, we as human being are defined by what we do. When a person does not have a finite idea of what they do or who they are it slowly eats at them until they develop a form of ego crisis. We can even be affected through neural linguistics to alter our own self worth by saying things like “I am a housewife” or secretary or waitress or garbage collector etc…. For years that had been my problem. Always feeling like I have a low self worth because I do not have a well defined identity. Tonight as I tried to sleep I realized that many people would consider me lucky. For if someone were to ask me what I do? I am one of the rare few able to answer by saying “Whatever I feel like doing today.”

You see, I always knew that I was lucky, but it never really occurred to me how much others would love to be able to focus on what they want to do. Many have to focus on what their boss thells them to do, then go home to famlies that have yet another list of thing needed to be done. Hell, some people have to take vacations just to do small projects.

I am a renaissance woman. I am a published novelist, I do 3d modeling and animation, I am an equestrian, Seamstress, photographer, carpenter, muralist and inventor. I am whatever I want to be this day am I am very thankful that I have the ability to be utterly lost, confused and in a constant state of identity crisis!!

Hells of Our Own Making

Human beings are creatures made up of their experiences or layman’s terms, the things they are taught. Either on tv, books, in person etc… and as these new generations grow with massive over abundance of technology and internet, the lines of culture and societal norms are blurring. Is this a good thing? I don’t know, though I am fairly sure I wouldn’t call it good, but I also wouldn’t call it bad.

It simply is what it is, different.

You see the younger generations may be able to step further outside of what they are taught. Learning to make up their own minds adapt and change in a way that suits their needs and desires. The line is “Change the world one person at a time,” but we all know that is a crock of shit. Change, world change, personal change etc… is going to happen regardless. Hell it is practically impossible to change a household full of people in the same way (good or bad) the idea of changing billions the same way? Yeah I am not one for absolute statements, but I think one applies here…. IMPOSSIBLE!

Yet still, the younger generations may have the option to do what many of us were never taught how to do. They may be able to understand that a behavior they were taught is destructive, and know how to change it.

Of course, on the other hand, they now have more access to things which may not be culturally acceptable, in their homes, neighborhoods, cities, or even countries. For whatever reason. Be it how to make  a bomb (go you little whack job terrorist, perpetuate that stereotype! Woohoo!!! *annoyed stare*), or maybe even just access to a different philosophical bend than in normal for their culture. Though in some countries that has the same judicial implications as that lovely little bomb… *shudder*  (BTW, for you weirdos, this is obviously sarcasm)

The problem with change like this, is that us older folks, with all of our bad habits or behaviors, are still in the positions of control world wide. It is very unlikely that even if we are technophiles, like myself, we will be able to learn the same lessons as those with younger more adaptive minds.The older a human becomes the harder it is for us to change, because chemically our brains change. Things become hard wired, skills and philosophies become deeply ingrained and  the ability to adapt and change easily, is gone. Most of us have not have been taught how to change, and we are not likely to learn.  So we find ourselves trapped, in the hells of our own making. What’s worse is that we find ourselves suddenly  experienced enough to recognize those hells, yet still unable to do anything about them. It feels like being trapped in a glass bowl, no matter how hard we bang on that glass, the ocean outside continues to swim by, utterly unaware or even uncaring about our pretty little bowl. See, mine has brightly colored plastic plants! A little bedazzling and BAZINGA!!!! (BBT)

In many philosophies and mythologies there is some type of purgatory or hell. This is a place where we the damned are tortured and punished for our crimes, but in my experiences, no one is able to punish us better than ourselves. Especially if we believe we deserve it. Was it* really a crime? Not always in the legal sense, but our minds aren’t controlled by socially accepted laws, they are controlled by emotion… thought… experiences. So here is my question…. If we live in the hell of our own making, which we have already said is much more powerful than anything anyone else can impose on us, wouldn’t the hell of someone else’s making be a reprieve?

* Denotes whatever we have done to be damned by various philosophical bends. There is not a human being on the planet that hasn’t broken some philosophical rule or law, so don’t pretend to rule yourself out. You know what you did.

Past, Present and Future

Past is behind and therefore unchangeable, we can only look over our proverbial shoulders and look at it, like a movie, be it good or bad. The future is the unknown, the monster in the closet that no matter how many times we open the door it just isn’t there, but we know it will be (bad analogy, I know). The present is now… in theory it should be changeable, but if we stop and think about what the present is made up of we have to realize that it is simply a product of the past, which we can’t change, and the future, which we can’t know. Yet we are human beings… we can ‘decide’ to change our own actions. All human beings, even the one born 30 seconds ago, is a product (see the mathematical definition) of their past experiences. The more experiences we have the more ability we have to ‘decide’ our actions in the present. If I had never learned to walk, I couldn’t ‘decide’ to walk. That is true of EVERYTHING we do, know, think and each of those things add together to make us ‘who’ we are.

I understand that for most people this concept is very hard to wrap their minds around. I think a part of me hopes that if I keep explaining the idea over and over, that eventually I will facilitate at least one and maybe two tiny little light bulbs to pop on in a brain here or there. Today I have miles of this to keep talking about, yet I am going to do my damnedest to refrain from rewording the argument, yet again. So instead I am going to post a three year old article, not as bad as yesterday’s four year old one, but still fairly archaic. Just kidding. Well, enjoy.

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Forgiveness is Divine?

by Wendi Porter

“Some people say forgive and forget, I say forget forgive and accept.”
– Debbie Newberry, Gross Point Blank.

In case some of you didn’t know I am a big fan of the movie Gross Point Blank. It seems to me to be a very interesting Allegory about American existence. It is chalk full of interesting philosophical one liners like the one above. The lead female character also says the line, “I know people are coming back to take stock of their lives, but I say, leave your livestock alone.” That is for another article, however.

I am sure your wondering why I bring this up in today’s article. The fact that I like the movie is nothing more than a clue into my psychosis. The opening line however is actually what my article is about.

I am currently enrolled in a class called restorative justice taught by a law / philosophy Professor named Brian Buckley. Brian is a great guy, very profound and very much a passionate philosopher. He is having us read a book entitled Forgiveness and Mercy by Jeffrie G. Murphy and Jean Hampton. Murphy is a Law Philosopher and Hampton a Political Philosopher. The book is a very interesting argument between the two on the topics of forgiveness, compassion, resentment, hatred, mercy etc… There are many excellent points in the book that I would love to address, but for today I am going to kind of stick to the idea of forgiveness and try to keep it brief as possible.

I would like to preface this article with a few key points. Please to remember that my personal definition of Philosophy is the “constant” attempt to define words or ideas by multiple people. I would also like to say that all of the topics talked about by Murphy and Hampton are in “MY OPINION” internal words. By internal words I mean that they are not a word or an idea that can be defined externally. No matter what the dictionaries around the world say about these words they will never mean the same thing to each person. They are not “hard” words such as inch, or meter. They do not, nor can they possibly, have one single definition that each person can agree on.

With that said, I would like to say that it is my opinion that forgiveness is a divine thing. I personally do not believe in god, however I do believe that individuals can reach a state of perfect balance and therefore find themselves in a state of divinity. Jesus and Buddha were “divine” by this definition of the word. So when they say they forgive absolutely, I would like to think that, for them, it is possible. For us “mundane” people however I think absolute forgiveness is impossible. There are people who claim that they “forgive,” whether they do or not is not for me to say, but for the rest of us I find that forgiveness is simply multiple levels of acceptance.

Hampton is a hard core Christian and claims that everyone should be like Jesus and turn the cheek, forgiving “all transgressions against them.” I say that such a theory is not only impossible but incredibly dangerous to not only the forgiver, but also those that would be the next victim. Murphy agrees in part with my personal beliefs, or I believe, in part, with his, however you want to calculate that. He says,

“Hampton reminds us that Jesus set an example that it is possible to [not have resentment / to forgive], but Jesus – being divine – perhaps had certain advantages that mere mortals lack. It may not be too difficult to ignore insult and injuries from mere human beings if one, being the Son of God, has a rather more impressive reference class from which to draw one’s self-esteem.”

Murphy talks about how the self-esteem and the ability or right to forgive are tied together. He says that a person who has a hasty readiness to forgive or does not initially resent a wrongdoer is a person who has no self-esteem. He also comments that the Nietzschean view is that forgiveness is not needed because the person is not so weak as to think that other people matter. Therefore to forgive, one has to not only have enough self-esteem to want to repair it by forgiving, but they can’t have so much that they are not offended by the wrongdoing at all.

Hampton argues that a person, be they victim or wrongdoer, are decent people despite their actions, therefore they deserve forgiveness. She insists that the victim should forgive and renew their relationship with the wrongdoer. This leads to so many questions, the least of which is, how does a person “renew a relationship” with their murder? Or even how or why should a person renew a relationship with an abuser?

In either case I have to ask how anyone can be expected to forgive EVERYONE that wrongs them? I mean it is a good theory, but most of the things found on the “Island of Theory” work in that fantasy realm only. Not only is it an impractical idea but it goes against the very nature of human beings.

Human beings need a focus of some kind for everything they do. Emotions need the strongest type of foci. Crucifixes, crystals, rosary beads, dream catchers, and a huge myriad of other foci are used throughout the world to obtain this emotional or spiritual focus. I personally have a necklace that was bought to protect me from other people’s negative energy (spirits) that I have not taken of except for surgery in five years and will likely die with it on. Foci are so important to human existence that they are literally found in every aspect of human society. They have even been found throughout human history, buried alongside bodies or intermingled through temples, architecture and tools.

Humans will do almost anything that allows them to hold on to the emotional high that strong emotions tend to give them. Sometimes these emotions are held even after the foci is destroyed. Being a victim can give a sense of power which causes a type of emotional high. When all power is ripped away from you by a wrongdoer often the only thing left is the power of being the victim. This type of intense emotions will almost always require a foci of some sort either a religious item or even the person who caused the wrong.

Love and Hate have also been referred to as the strongest of all human emotions. They are the same emotion in many spiritual theories (careful, there is that island again), they are simply thought of as polar opposites. Both are known to have the same intensity level in human brain wave testing and have been reported to cure or cause cancer in human beings.

I would like to take this moment to ponder the difference and the reasoning behind this particular phenomenon. When a human being uses an inanimate focus they use it by passing energy or thoughts through the item. Prayer, spells, meditation etc… So, what happens when we use a person as the foci? How much and what kind of energy are we forcing through their bodies? And if that energy has been proven to cure or cause cancer, what does that amount of energy do to our living foci mentally? (I think Hampton would leap on this argument gladly.)

Remember WAY back in the beginning when I talked about forgiveness among us “mortals” as just being various levels of acceptance? I have come to accept that certain people act in certain ways. Should I condemn them forever because of their actions? Absolutely not. A mother can be extremely abusive to their child as they grow, but that does not make them any less a mother. Everyone makes certain decisions based on information at the time or emotional considerations. People can easily do wrong to another in those circumstances, the actions are wrong, but the people themselves are not as Hampton suggests.

Where Hampton and I come to an impasse is when she goes to the absolute extreme (most of my readers know how I feel about absolutes or extremes) saying that we should forgive every wrongdoing. Murphy and I agree that certain wrongs can’t be forgiven without damaging our own sense of self-worth or self-esteem. Such as the case of abuse or other attempts at lessening the “worth” of the victim.

Some Islamic extremists will do what their religious leaders tell them to do because they have been taught that reading the Koran is sacrilegious and that it is the duties of the religious leaders only. This does not make them horrible people, it makes them passionate people. People willing to strap bombs to themselves to prove a point by killing other innocent people show incredible levels of passion. Their actions may be flawed, but in the eyes of the people that matter most to them, their messages are not.

Parents can beat and abuse their children, constantly enforcing the lesson that the child is less intelligent than the parents. Husband or wives may do the same, constantly belittling the spouse, but this does not make them bad people, it simply makes them misguided. Depending on the upbringing of a witness to the abuse, it can be perfectly reasonable and even deserved. Fifty years ago beating children or spouses were perfectly acceptable and in many countries removing the clitoris of daughter between ten and twelve-years of age is still expected of the fathers. These people have culturally learned these lessons someplace, they act out of either their own educational standing, fear or ignorance.

Should these people be forgiven? Not really, their actions are not really forgivable, especially in the case of permanent physical or emotional damage, but they are also not changeable, they are in the past nothing can be done to truly rectify the damage already inflicted or the lives already lost. At some point the victims have to simply accept that those who wronged them simply are who they are. Individuals made up of their experiences.

I know this particular article seemed to ramble on, but I think the point was worth while. What was my point? Same as usual, nothing really. I am simply expressing my opinions on forgiveness. Do I forgive? Not really, I simply accept and move on. Do I expect people to forgive me? Of course not, I am who I am and I was made that way by not only my good choices, but my bad ones as well. I would change nothing, nor should I expect others to want to change what they have done in their past.

Accept who we are and move on, if we are lucky we will simply try to learn and become better people with each day.

Vs.

So here is an image I took this morning for an assignment. I am posting it here so that you can se a clear difference between a Color vs. a Black and White image.

They are obviously the same image, with a monochrome adjustment. Which do you think is better? I personally feel that neither is better. They both portray a calm quiet subtle image. To me the only real difference is apparent age. Because of experience I (most likely most of us) see black and white as an older image, even if it is top of the line image made with the top of the line digital camera. Odds are though, if I had used an older camera with actually black and white film, that this B&W image would be even deeper with more rich tones. It still would have been a modern image, just with older equipment. Sometimes the tried and true methods are just better than the modern methods.

Playing with Images

Pictorialism is an interesting term. One defiantly designed to be tied to pictures. Whether those are pictures done by machine or hand was very much the point of this particular term. During the time, which was later dubbed Pictorialist, the photographers were very much beginning to see themselves as more than just the typical housewife snapping images for posterity. Real photographers had begun to realize that in order to stand out among the common person with a camera they had to find something that made them unique. Mozart, Rembrandt, Machiavelli and Michelangelo all had unique pieces that would allow them to be remembered throughout time. Since photography can’t create wings no could it mimic words of wisdom, which left it the only truly logical next choice, paintings and drawings.

It was not a far reach for the new field of art attempting to prove it’s self to find methods to mimic the method of creating pictures that had come before it. A simple softening of the image through the use of “soft lenses” or in the post production where they could alter the image through the use of various chemicals.

In the digital world, unlike in the 1900’s, it is much easier to work with post processing via some program such as photoshop etc… to turn our already beautiful (or sometimes only mediocre) images into amazingly complicated works of art. While the photographers in history had to fight tooth and nail to prove that their images, or pictures, were indeed works of art, we in modern times have a slightly less difficult job. I would like to stress though that the idea that photography is not actually art is FAR from a dead argument.

I would like to ask though.. where does something cease to become art and instead just become a bad or ugly image?

For an example, lets look at the above images. Are they art, or is one just horribly out of focus? Most people will say that they are art (least you’d better ;-P). I think the idea of art is subjective, though pretty much any art critic will tell you that it is not. However, lets assume for a brief second that they are right. Lets say that art has to meet a certain preset list of values to be defined as art. Why then may I ask, does the style of art change? I mean, think about it. Van Gosh, his art did not match the style at the time (I am not an art major I am not 100% on this particular fact), yet today his art is just that, art.

Throughout time art has changed and adapted. Critics are renowned for denouncing something as art then having that particular type of art explode and become the predominate style for that time, which in turn forces critics to change their tune and suddenly say that the works they had denounced before are now spectacular works in of themselves.

So I ask a again… What is art?

“Of all things the measure is man, of the things that are, that they are, and of the things that are not, that they are not.”Protagoras


Loss…

Loss is a funny thing. If you think about it just the word is kind of funny sounding. Yet when you do loose something, there comes with it a sense of emotional attachment. Even if it is something we wanted to loose, we still generally feel some kind of strong emotion attached to the loss its self.

When we loose something that is actually near and or dear to us the loss can often become even more profound. Some think that the loss of a human life means more than the loss of an animal life, yet in my experience life is a life. I am used to putting animals down, seeing them put down and even assisting with the injection. So for me the feeling attached with the life of an animal is somewhat dulled. Some have said that that is how it should be with regards to animals, yet I want my readers to consider this… Nursing home employees, ER nurses, and cancer patient caregivers… these too are people who’s nerves have dulled somewhat to death. And their experiences are all with people, human beings.

I want you to sit back and consider this… life only has the value we place on it. If that sentiment rings true with you at all you will appreciate the story below, if your still not convinced, please, continue to read the story below and I will attempt to validate my argument.

In the case of Officer Justin Patterson and his partner Officer Bosco the loss of life is likely to be more profound than any simple pet owner. Not only does Officer Patterson see his furry friend at the end of a long work day, but he is also his work partner. So, not only did the two of them share meals and potty breaks. They also relied on each other for safety, for duty and for friendship. Each day the two of them woke up and prepared for another day of work together. They shared the rewards and pitfalls that surround the life of a police officer.

The life of a police officer is wrought with stress, when and officer looses a partner they are often required to see a grief councilor, but what happens if that partner is a K9? When your partner is a human they go their separate ways after a shift ends. They often have their own families, their own stressors and their own lives. Yet when that partner is a K9 officer there is no separation. That partner goes home with you after a long day at work. They lay on your lap while you watch television and they play ball with your children in the back yard.

When you consider the loss of a partner of any kind, be they two or four legged the pain can be quiet real and the anger fairly profound. Loss, while it may be a funny sounding word all alone, it still brings with it reminders, memories of the things we have lost. And when that which you have lost is never far from your side it can be basically the same thing as loosing a part of yourself.

In loving memory of Bosco,