Tag: human nature

Trinity and Duality

During my life and in my experiences of the world, I’ve come to notice something which I think is interesting. It may or may not be of any real significance, but the observation intrigues me. Doesn’t it seem, when looking at the world, that most everything comes in twos? Dark and light, good and evil, tall and short, fast and slow, scientific and mystical, logical and illogical, man and woman, human and beast. If there is one thing, then it tends to have something else which is its opposite or complement. There is always another side to the coin. I’ve long thought that everything exists in such a duality, that dual natures run through the heart of man as well as the fabric of the world. I think that the most healthy and successful people are those who can reach a balance between the two sides of their nature, who can take the sane middle path between science and mysticism, or between romance and practicality, for a couple of examples. And thus I strive for moderation and balance in all areas of my life.

 

Before I move on, I should clarify that I’m not saying I think that everything comes in extremes–the two sides of everything often seem to intermingle and create something that mixes both to varying degrees. But there are only two streams flowing into the central river.

 

At any rate, I recently had another realization–or maybe more of a remembrance–and that is that God is triune. He exists in three parts, and not in the two parts which seem to be typical of the reality that He created. God is a Trinity; He is three-dimensional, whereas those of us in the plane that He created are two-dimensional. Could this be one of the things that removes God from Man? One of the fundamental differences that makes Him so much bigger and greater than us?

 

I can’t say that I have any particular application for this idea. But I thought that the observation itself was intriguing, and maybe others will find it so, too.

 

Peace!

~ Jared

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In Which I Return to Ramble about Life

Hello! Been forever since I last posted something. That’s partly because I’ve been busy with various things and partly because I just haven’t had much to post about. But there have been some fairly unconnected thoughts knocking about in my head and I figured I might as well write a post about them. So, here goes.

 

Thought number one: I don’t understand humans. I really don’t. The older I get and the more I see of life and what the world is like, the less I feel I understand about humanity. I cannot comprehend how people are able to commit the atrocities that they do. Tormenting others, taking lives, cruel words, raping and stealing and greed. I don’t understand what drives one person to say unspeakably cruel things about another who they have no emotional connection to. I don’t understand what drives some people to look at another and cast aspersions on his humanity because he has skin of a different color, or what gives anyone the gall to say that he is better than anyone else.

Lately, the weight of the exquisite preciousness of life has been pressing down on me. Life can be destroyed by cruel words as easily as it can by physical actions. It is so fragile, and yet it will always return to be beaten down again, fueled by a paradoxical strength. But I don’t understand why some people want to spread death and pain, or how most of the others can do so without realizing that they’re doing it. Life is so unspeakably precious. A human is an eternal being. Everyone you look at is a monster and a saint embattled for all time. Everyone you look at is as good as you, whether they have been born yet or no, whether they have your skin color or no, whether they speak your language, hold to your beliefs, follow your gods, whether or no they have the same level of riches as you. Why is that so hard to see?

The more I see of humans, the less I understand them. I feel like an alien. Of course, I suppose I am; a sojourner in the mortal realm, passing through my childhood of flesh before continuing on to my adulthood of spirit. But I always thought when I was younger that I would understand people more as I aged, not less. I don’t think I want to understand. I don’t think I need to understand every facet of the beast which drives people to commit atrocities; I don’t even know if I’m strong enough to understand it. It’s a good thing, then, that I don’t have to face it alone. God understands it and gives us the strength to fight it.

And that, I suppose, is all there is to it.

 

Thought number two: Everyday life is an unparalleled drama. This is connected with what I wrote a couple of paragraphs up, about the preciousness of life and the eternity of a human being. Humans are not just short-lived primates scuttling around on a world that will die in the incomprehensibly distant future. We are eternal souls, breathed to life and made in the image of the entity who created all things. Therefore, everything we do is important. The act of getting out of bed on that morning when you are crushed by the weight of lost love and do  not see how life could go on–that is an act worthy of song. The slow soldiering on through a world that seems meaningless, your only hope a distant and perhaps unattainable light, there is a story worth sagas. There is an awful solemnity to the love of a mother, who would give her life for her child; a terrible recklessness in the lovers who would give each other their fragile and eternally precious hearts. A divine joy suffuses the acts of imagination and sub-creation. There is no mistaking the gravity of life, but yet, as in all things, a paradox! Life is also full of joy! Glee and laughter can fill the darkest of times. A child’s silliness can bring a smile to the saddest of forlorn mothers–and isn’t that a heroic act in and of itself? Birds sing in the morning and drive you out of bed with their racket. Such outlandish creatures as sloths and okapis exist to wander the world’s jungles. Gold is there to glimmer; the rain is there to sing. There is an undercurrent of levity in the ocean’s resounding waves.

I suppose it is this consciousness I have lately been gaining of the massive importance of normal actions which has been making it harder for me to understand humans. I wish that everyone could see how glorious and wretched their lives are. How glorious to be an eternal soul–how wretched to have fallen–how precious to the one who made us. As a writer, I can say that even the silliest stories I wrote as a youngster are still held safe in my heart. How much more would an eternal God hold us, his words brought to life?

 

~ Jared

Caring and Not Caring

There are two basic ways of knowing things, or rather, two broad levels of knowledge–there are the things you know in your heart, and the things you know in your head. Sometimes you know something in your head but you need to make your heart know it also. Sometimes it’s the other way around. But you know what I mean: an intellectual understanding of a thing (war hurts people) as opposed to a deep and heartfelt knowledge of it (you have experienced firsthand the way wars tear apart lives). But this goes beyond knowledge–it also goes into feelings. You can feel something in your heart, or you can feel it in your head. You care about that one annoying fellow intellectually–you know he’s another human and you would (it is to be hoped) help him if he needed it. But that isn’t the same as the deep, heartfelt care that you might have for a sibling or a dear friend. Or consider a complete stranger. I will look at that person and think “there’s a human. I ought to care about that person just because he’s human. I don’t. But I’ll act like I do anyway.” Which seems the fairly typical reaction of most people, because let’s be honest, most humans don’t care overmuch for complete strangers. But not everyone is like that. I have a friend whom I was speaking to about this recently. She looks at a stranger and she sees a human, someone who she cares about for his sheer humanity. She does not have to act like she cares. She really does.

 

Hopefully that illustrates the difference I’m trying to point out. The ability to care for someone on a real, heartfelt level without even knowing them is an ability that I envy. I have to know a person before I can care for him on that level, and I have to like him, too. I can be frightfully cold towards those who are not part of my own personal group of friends and family. While this is a trait which, I think, is generally considered to be more natural than bad–who can be blamed for not caring very much about the people they don’t know?–we seem to be, by and large, plagued by the feeling that this is a wrong attitude. Why is it wrong? Perhaps it’s not evil. But I think that most everyone would join me in admiring my friend who can care on a heartfelt level about complete strangers. If we find that trait admirable, then it follows that its absence is bad or at least not to be desired.

 

Some people–myself included, in times past–would say that it’s more wrong to act like you care for someone than to not care for them in the first place. The reason for this is that it seems pretending to care when you don’t would be a sort of falsehood. Better to be honest than to wear a mask, they might say. But this is the wrong way to look at it. Acting as if you care even if you don’t is not wearing a mask and it is not false. Saying that you care and then taking no action is false and a mask. But the acting is the only way to bring yourself to the point where you can care for real. It is like faith; you make a practice of acting as if a thing is true even if you are not sure, and by the practice come to see its truth.

 

And so I suppose all I want to say is that I find in myself and see in others a general absence of heartfelt care for strangers, and that we all ought to act as if we care until we really do. God is love, after all, and if we want to be like God then we should love as much as we possibly can.

 

~ Jared

Equal Exchange

Today my thoughts have been rambling and I thought I’d write a little bit about friendship. I’ve learned a lot about the subject in the past year or so, in large part through my own mistakes. My biggest mistake has perhaps been my unyielding sense of fairness. Since the time I was a little boy, I’ve had this idea that everything should be fair and just and even. Of course, that’s a silly idea. If everything was fair than most humans would be dead for their crimes. No one would ever love anyone else. A fair world would be dreary and dismal and not worth living in. Indeed, it would be absolutely deadly to live in. But even so, I’ve always had this persistent feeling that things ought to be fair. And even as I was realizing that a fair world would be an abomination, I still clung to the idea that friendships, at least, must always be fair and if they aren’t that’s indicative of a lack of love on one side or the other. I had this certainty that friendship was about equal exchange. Love would be equally exchanged; favors would be equally exchanged; assistance would be equally exchanged. I would comfort you and you would comfort me. I would help you write a story and you would help me write one. You would show me something that brightened my world, and I would pay you back with something to brighten yours. That seems well and good and logical. But it is wrong.

 

Friendship, like most of the best things in this world, is illogical. It has nothing to do with equal exchange or with how much anyone can get out of it. The relationship described above is not friendship, but business. In business the terms must be fair to both sides or it would not be good business. One side or the other would go bankrupt. But in friendship, both sides must go bankrupt. Friendship is about giving gifts to each other, gifts of love, compassion, help, kindness, time. And the essence of a gift is that it is given without asking for anything in return. It is not wrong to hope that a friend might give you as much thought as you give her, or to hope that he might buy you a meal in exchange for helping him move something. But to expect these things out of some dark idea that all friendship should be fair is childish and silly, even selfish. And selfish friendship is not really friendship at all, but business.

 

The objection that my own mind raises to this is always “but if my friend loved me as much as I love her, then she would give back the same that I give in!” Maybe that is so, but it is equally likely that everyone shows love in a different way and what seems like love to one person won’t always seem the same to another. At any rate it is a selfish thought. Perfect love asks for nothing in return. Each one loves to the best of his ability, and if that does not manifest as an equal exchange than it does not make the love less perfect or important. Indeed, it only makes it more perfect, for love that can never be fully returned or repaid is the most holy kind.

 

Something I’ve been seeing as time goes by. I fully admit to being a bit hypocritical about this, but hopefully I’m learning and getting better. On another note, this blog has become so much more earnest than I originally intended it to be…

 

Love and peace!

 

~ Jared

Throw Them Overboard

This wonderful Abney Park song shall be the theme song for this post. 

I particularly like this song. In case you didn’t listen, it’s all about getting rid of modern technology and ideas. Which is obviously a good thing to sing about. There is a certain lie modern people are fed from birth that is very insidious, and the lie is that all progress is both inevitable, and a supreme good. I suppose this lie has been around for quite awhile, but people didn’t used to buy into it so much as they have in the last couple of hundred years. The desire for progress is natural. Everyone wants to progress in something, be it deeper into a relationship, further along the path to a black belt, closer to a goal of becoming a physician. On a collective level, those desires might be to progress toward peaceful relations with another country, toward winning a war, toward curing a disease. Don’t misunderstand me: progress is often good. But not all progress. Not all advancements in technology. Not all new ideas. And of course, progress itself is not inevitable, and it seems to me that often a progression in one area results in regression in another.

 

Humans have reached a point in their society where, now more than ever, they must begin making choices about which paths of progression to follow. Do they continue marching forward and developing new technologies? Or do they take a step back and evaluate which technologies are needed, which are not, which can be gotten rid of? It seems fairly obvious that the more technology humans develop, the more technology they “need”–the more they rely on it. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle, and the only way out is to have the willpower to defy conventional ideas of progress and realize that a progression of wisdom is more important than a progression of technology. True progress is in having the maturity to make a wise choice, not in blindly accepting everything as it comes.

 

For example, one thing I find frustrating is the Singularity. This is the idea of a greater-than-human superintelligence arising from technology, i.e., artificial intelligence. It’s a big deal because it’s seen as a point beyond which events cannot be predicted, since this hypothetical intelligence would be greater than a human’s and therefor impossible for them to fully comprehend or predict. The Singularity is considered inevitable. They say it’s only a matter of time, and “they” don’t know whether the human race will be safe from this superintelligent machine. It seems pretty obvious to me that this is an occasion to step back and ask why. Why are we doing this? What will we gain from creating such a thing? Why would we want to? Why continue advancing technology to that point? But no, progress is inevitable and good and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. But humans are built to make choices. There is always a choice. One can choose to throw overboard destructive modern ideals and unnecessary modern technology, or one can decide to keep it and the consequences that come with it.

 

Now let’s all go be Luddites and destroy ALL the computers! 8D

 

~ Jared

Beard Cycles

I write this post to report an important observation which I have made. I must say first that this is not backed up by in-depth research, but merely by my own rather small-ish knowledge of history and historical fashions. Anyway, the observation I’ve made is this: that facial hair fashions seem to fluctuate in definite cycles, which I have dubbed “beard cycles.” Just think of it. In the 1800s, men had fantastic facial hair, extravagant beards, huge mustaches, bushy sideburns. As time passed into the 20th century, the style changed, and men began to be, as a rule, clean-shaven. The style then began to gradually shift, as first mustaches, then goatees, then full beards came back into fashion. By looking back over history, one can see this same pattern repeated in the Middle Ages and the ancient world. For example, the Romans, for much of their history, preferred to be clean-shaven. But as they passed away and the world drifted into Medieval times, beards began to come back into fashion, until nearly all men had a beard. Then they went out of fashion again, and came back, and so on and so forth throughout history. At the moment we seem to be nearing the end of a beard cycle, as the full beard becomes more and more popular. I shouldn’t wonder if men weren’t wearing facial hair styles such as we remember from the 1800s in another ten or twenty years. These beards will then eventually become so extravagant that, in a backlash reaction, men return to being clean-shaven. Then the beard cycle starts all over again.

What does this mean for reality? Ah, but I cannot go into this. The ramifications of my observation could be multifold and extremely important, but I suppose we may never know exactly the effects this might have on human society. I am sure that the speculation resulting from this will be endless! Keep your eyes open for a book.

 

~ Jared

The Lantern and the Fire

First of all, listen to this song. The entire post is taken from one of the lyrics.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVO0KjybG_M

Given it a listen? Good. Now, the lyric I want to focus on is “Is it easier to be the lantern or the fire?” I find this question to be an extremely intriguing one. Which is harder, to be the thing burning, or the thing that holds and directs the fire? Or to put this in more human terms, is it easier to be a force itself, changing things and affecting them for good or ill, or to be the person directing the force, containing and controlling it and showing it where to go? I suppose oftentimes it’s hard to separate the two. But think of it like this. There’s a large company of individuals. One or two of these individuals have a lot of power and influence. But what could they do without the support of everyone else in the company? Very little, just as a fire without something to contain it would do little good, and would in fact destroy its surroundings. The “lanterns” in the company would naturally tend to look at the “fires” as having it easier than themselves, as being privileged because of their positions. But then the “fires” would look at the “lanterns” and with they could be free of their confines… granted, it’s not a perfect metaphor. Just something intriguing to think about, I suppose.

I guess it’s rather difficult to say which is “better.” There’s advantages and disadvantages to each. I think being either for too long is probably not healthy. It’s good to have times where you’re a lantern, lest you become too proud, and times where you’re a fire, lest you become bored and begin to lose sight of your own significance. But then you have to wonder, what if some people are made to be lanterns and others are made to be fires? A lantern itself is not designed to become a fire when it gets tired of being a lantern, and it’d be quite impossible for fire to suddenly take a solid form and contain a different fire within itself. I suppose people do tend to have a propensity for one or the other, and most people change between lantern and fire depending on the area of their life, I believe. One might be a bit of a fire amongst one’s friends, but as lantern-like as could be while at work.

Now what happens if the fire begins to burn the lantern, or if the lantern smothers the fire? We can see this in life, I think. It happens when someone who was a bright spark is stifled by society, when his ideas are ignored or batted down as silliness and when he’s silenced by the grind of day-to-day life. But the fire burns the lantern when one with brilliant, mad ideas drags hundreds of other people down with him, destroys things on a large scale because of his own manias. Maybe Van Gogh was smothered by the lantern, while Stalin burned it.

For my own part I must say that I can’t choose between the two. Sometimes it’s better to be a lantern, but other times one must burn bright. I don’t know. I think you have to learn to be both, as unnatural as it may sometimes be.

On another note, Mariee Sioux is awesome. Listen to the rest of that album and buy it. Really haunting and beautiful music, I love her imagery. Anyway, there you go, a bit of random musing from me (which has nothing whatsoever to do with procrastinating on what I should be writing, let me assure you). Enjoy I guess.

~ Jared