Sunday, September 20, 2015

Resilience


Tonight I was discussing hip-hop with a co-worker, not simply the great names who dominate the commercial industry, but the origins of purpose ingrained within the art itself. The roots, which sink so deeply into history are an evolution of community sharing of experiences through the medium of story. This medium was then harnessed into a vehicle of resistance against injustices leading to a modern form of political speech. It may, perhaps, be difficult to fully appreciate these roots given the commercial, disposable nature of today's hip-hop culture, but for those who choose to see it can bring forth a fresh appreciation for the genre.

I recently watched a documentary on Netflix detailing the history of the conflict between Northern and Southern Ireland. In this documentary the key focus was upon how murals painted onto buildings denoted, much as typical graffiti does today, unofficial territory markers. Different militias used artwork as propaganda to rally locals, and to intimidate opposition paramilitaries.

I am constantly in a state of awe at the innate reflections of the Creator which spring forth from our individual being, despite our callous indifference to the divine which I simultaneously lament. 

In spite of our best efforts in favor of all out rebellion our spirits remain resilient in the face of our nature, and defiantly proclaim the creative in the face of the destructive. Art is creation. Its purposes can be twisted, but there is no doubt in my mind that as we were created by a Creator, our purpose as image bearers is betrayed by our tendencies.

In the face of oppression groups band together, share song, art, spoken word, touch...all as natural to us as breathing air, because it is our true nature. Obscured and confined, desperately fighting to be restored to the forefront of our being. We are creative beings. We are not meant for destruction, decay and isolation.

That is why we find the stories of the brave, unarmed innocents facing down the dogs, batons, fire hoses and bullets of the oppressor without being daunted so inspiring. We long deeply for justice and victory over darkness. We are inspired to move through the natural abilities we are given to create. These are our weapons in the face of overwhelming odds.

This is the resilience within us.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Face-Crack


I really don't like Facebook. Every successive day I don't utilize the crack-like service I can sense a palpable antipathy building for the platform's mere existence, not that my hatred is exclusive to this medium, but it is certainly the layman's playground when it comes to online connection.

I've talked previously about how this particular platform is beginning to reveal manifestations of psychological deficiencies in its users. Reduced self-esteem, anxiety, diminished ability to socialize with others, and narcissistic personality development.

I've also mentioned how the platform fails to stimulate authentic debate and exchange of ideas, instead being used as  a soap-box for spineless, passive-aggressive personality types to propagate the ideas they are too weak to voice to others in person. 

Facebook is also an insult to an active mind when it comes, not only, to concise formulation of ideas or concepts to share, but also to the communication of said ideals. 

Ever scroll down a news feed and want to stab your fucking eyeballs out because nobody seems to know how to use proper fucking english anymore? Laziness abounds in articulation of information, the substance of content is frivolous and monotonous.

Another disturbing side effect, which is my primary grievance with this particular platform tonight, of the new Media Generation and their profile-centric lives is the induction of casual acquaintance culture, which has often lead to real life relational strife. 

What I mean is this: Facebook generates an environment in which you can "connect" with any number of individuals at any time of the day or night, not actually knowing anything other than what they present in their carefully crafted homepage. 

Often, these acquired acquaintances begin based on a mutual friendship and will largely remain inactive except for, perhaps, a passing "like" on a photo or post, however, when a user in a committed relationship experiences turbulence in their real, non-virtual life which drives them out of bed at night to troll their newsfeed seeking, as is a common drive within human nature, empathy through connection, they find they begin conversations with other users they barely know, have never met or haven't talked to in years.

Many of these type of acquaintances couldn't care less about the state of the user's relationship because it doesn't affect their own non-virtual life, so through those moments of vulnerability flirtation-ships are formed. If unchecked by the significant other of the user, these emotional relationships can progress from innocuous flirtations into explicit material and so forth. Humans are, after all, quite progressive and are quite diligent in the pursuit of their own self-destruction.

This is why I'm not keen on social media "friendships". I've seen situations like the one above play out numerous times, leaving in their wake destructive real life consequences. My generation doesn't understand what it takes to build an interactive, unplugged relationship with another, so when conflict inevitably causes tension and discomfort in the relationship instead of just being fucking adults and working through our shit together, like people used to do the response is to run to the concocted fantasy world online and find sympathy there.

It is a sad state of affairs we find ourselves in, in an age of connected disconnect. A state of desire to be known yet living lives of isolation, holding out for the next alluring red notification which bestows a strange and fictitious sense of dignity and recognition.

Encourage your friends to ditch Facebook, pursue the art of engaging others truly and fully. Allow your mind to be challenged and remember you aren't simply a drone. You don't need social media. Many generations have survived without it. 

Take time to break free and recognize the the insidious manipulation which has been perpetrated upon the masses...

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

How We Handle the State of Things

When I look around at the world today, when I read history and into various other subjects, it is very difficult not to be overwhelmed. It is a natural reaction if you possess the basic characteristics of empathy and self-preservation which are both innate to our being, yet constantly at odds with each other.

Empathy is that tendency which tends to defy the rational self-serving instinct within us. It's a brilliant shadow of our former, undefiled nature. It is a glimpse of the Kingdom of God, rarely seen, yet powerful in action. Empathy moves us deeply to identify with the plight of our fellow man. It sees the darkness of the world and recoils in horror. It laments the loss of the good and decent virtues and longs for restoration to that time which feels as hazy as the dream we were rudely awakened from.

Self-preservation is innate as well, it is part and parcel to our corrupted nature. It is concerned with ourself first and foremost. We place our security, comfort and interests in the highest esteem at the expense of others. This instinct is alarmed by the state of the world because it threatens our personal wellbeing. It sees the system as beneficial to the few and duly recognizes that when it all collapses it will be at the expense of the many, of which we are a part.

Two opposite drives of our nature, both distinctly provoked. I believe this is why others choose to bury their heads in the sand rather than to become driven to use their time purposefully, working diligently toward creating proactive change. The world is overwhelming, yes, but I believe grief can be the initiant of great action. 

Sorrow, though unpleasant, moves the heart and mind much differently than joy does. It affects our actions in profound ways. It causes us to rush to the aid of the downtrodden, the oppressed, and those less fortunate than ourselves. Without this sorrow, we will be content to live as we always have, insulated in a  cocoon of concocted consolation.

My wife struggles when she sees me feel this weight deeply, and I understand why; but the problem lies not in the natural reactions, hardwired into the very fabric of our being, but rather the choice to turn away and deny that there is the possibility to affect change. A wise man, whom I greatly admire, once said that 'The cause of justice is both a march and a dance.'

My generation has been taught that dancing is the primary rule, and that marching is out of the question, yet to live the cause of Jesus we must march. We must face the darkness unflinchingly, though it may wear our souls thin, and cause our hearts to run ragged. Our savior sustains us in this heavy legwork, and tends those needs we cannot fill on our own. The greatest moral failing of the Church in our time is that it has largely shied away from hardship in the interest of gaining membership.

As I choose to see this world in its entirety, I am prepared to accept that weight, the responsibility and duty I have to live beyond my Self. The joy, I've had my fill (more so than I deserve), this dying world demands our seriousness as much as our jubilance.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Reason in Hysteria

With the newest case of gun violence, it is important to step back and employ reason before allowing hysteria to overtake the discussion.We must remember that the media deliberately creates discontent due to the need for ratings as their sustenance. We must remember that politicians will seize on tragedies in order to boost their resumes and appear as though they are "doing all they can", all the while trampling on the graves of the victimized.

This romance between media and government is not only disingenuous, it is incredibly dangerous. It can transform into a power play in which law abiding citizens are stripped of basic liberties they are entitled to. Fear provides the greatest opportunity to exploit public sentiment, to invite the population against itself, and to achieve a consolidation of power not previously attained.

So what is this issue really about?

Some say it's about controlling guns. Getting guns out of the hands of bad people, before they can commit crimes. To do this the government would assert more control over citizens through regulation, taxation, perhaps even more invasive searches into suspects' personal lives. It's all they could do really, because firearms are already regulated and ammo is being bought by the government to limit the supply to the people.

Some people say that the issue is about providing better mental health services and not allowing those with histories of mental health access to firearms. So what does this mean? What is a mental health issue? Is it someone with schizophrenia, or bipolar? Is it someone who takes the occasional anti depressant during gloomy months to combat a seasonal affected disorder? Those with dyslexia?

Who draws the line as to what is the appropriate portion of the population to withhold their guaranteed right to bear arms, as per our bill of rights? The government? So basically anyone who the government deems a "risk to society" will be stripped of their constitutional rights?

Do you see where this can lead?

The problem with a secular society is that when we, as a culture, remove God from the equation we begin to fail to understand ourselves and our natural tendencies.

Man has been killing man since the dawn of time. He has perpetrated abuses against fellow human beings without blinking, and developed ingenious, sadistic methods to do so in the process. 

And this was before guns were even developed. 

The problem is the heart of man. Nobody wants to admit it because this places the blame squarely where it is due. You and I are the problem. We all have darkness within that only God can clear away. Nobody likes to hear this because it isn't a "quick fix". It isn't as simple as hearing some demagogue say that they're going to pass some bill and make it all better, but it's the truth.

I believe that a contributing factor that no one has mentioned in this debate is the rise and prevalence of social narcissism in our society. Everybody is desperately seeking their time in the limelight. There has always been an abundance of information and viewpoints in the world, but in centuries past it was far more difficult to disseminate information on a massive scale. One only became known if one had something worthwhile to offer, and the way one became known was through reading rather than viewing which stimulated different faculties in the mind.

This flies in the face of the YouTube, vine, Facebook, Twitter (etc.) self publishing celebrity culture. Have you ever noticed that once a tragedy occurs most people have to utilize their respective social media platform to share their two cents, even if their two cents is nothing profound or contributing to the discussion? Often, it's either unsubstantive or it's deconstructive. 

The people who publish the little video rants don't actually care about the victimized, they just want people to look at them and the fallacious image they're constructing online.

I won't even mention the ramifications this new Information Age has had upon diabolical intentions to perform such acts. These murderers often are so angry, full of hate and sick of never being heard, and now they have their own personal Hollywood debut to propel them into the stratosphere of notoriety. You know what the saddest part of this is? 

The public gives these individuals exactly what they want. Attention.

The president and various celebrities acknowledge them, the media reports incessantly on it, and social media lights up for days. 

This is all part and parcel to the natural tendency of man. Pride, selfishness, arrogance, envy, hatred... We all have these things within is. That is why God is so essential to the human heart because we all need an understanding beyond ourself. We need to learn to place these things second and seek the heart of God.

That is the only way to end the violence of man. 

That is what secular society cannot possibly comprehend.