Friday, March 29, 2013

The Truth, About Truth...Honest...

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.  John Godfrey Saxe

There has to be a truth, a singular promise that one thing is constant and never changing.  A specific set of circumstances that when repeated always remains the same.  truth  /tro͞oTH/Noun   The quality or state of being true: "the truth of her accusation".    That which is true or in accordance with fact or reality: "tell me the truth”. Synonyms, sooth - verity - reality - fact - veracity – fidelity.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 1 Corinthians 13:12 

Truth has been touted as a level of perception, with one perception being true with statements like “it’s true to me..” but what of the whole truth, what of the complete picture, what of the entire elephant, do only parts of the truth matter and do we have an obligation to go beyond what we singularly perceive and forge ahead toward a complete understanding?

I have stated a few times an adage of my own design, “most people are wrong about most things most of the time” and in relation to the blind men and the elephant I believe most of us have a strong grasp of a singular truth, the tale, the leg or the truck perhaps but in each grasp we fail to follow the lines that lead toward expanding our understanding, thinking that whatever truth we now possess must be the only and final truth of all that will ever be. 

The problems inherent in humanity is in our desire to believe but in that desire comes a stubbornness of acceptance and a growing myopic view of many singular events that continue to cloud our minds toward a greater reality.

Madison Avenue has excelled at pointing our weak eyes toward contrived realities, selling us on this shampoo, or this type of food or even those that would lead.  In the Movie “Crazy People” the enlightened approach of the “truth” created an advertising sensation with tag lines like, “Volvo, Boxy but Safe” helping everyone to realize that the truth could be uttered without the preamble of hyperbole or exaggerated embellishment.  

So again, what is the truth and are their terrestrial examples of pure, unadulterated truth?  There are multiple theories that discuss this never ending debate.  Coherence theory requires truth have a proper fit of elements within a whole system, perhaps similar to the blind men seeking more than on section of the elephant and eventually discovering the entire being as a whole.  This is perhaps the most logical.

Constructivist theory postulates that truth is constructed by social processes, is historically and culturally specific, in other words it’s relative to the experiences of those who propose it and similar in some regards to the Consensus theory.

Pragmatic Theory as explained by William James, "the 'true' is only the expedient in our way of thinking, just as the 'right' is only the expedient in our way of behaving." Again this is situational and has no basis in long term substantiation.

There are other theories as well but all seem to pursue the blind man holding the tale and espousing that an elephant is like a rope with no conception of the other more important component parts.  Truth cannot be a partial observation or limited view but must demand a complete and thorough understanding. 

2+2=4 can be construed as a truth; for now but as our understanding of math expands or changes even that fundamental conclusion may have to be altered.  The question then arises, are there any universal truths, any unchangeable certainties that will not ever change?

I only know of one and that is that man will continue to think he has the truth when for the better part of his life he will only be holding on to a sliver of what could have been, if only he opened his eyes to see.

Those with Religious conviction seek truth through devotion to the ultimate purveyor of all truth, believing that only from God will the “truth” be revealed, for it is only though Gods eyes that the complete picture can be seen and therefor our only hope of truth has to come from he who sees all.
For those who are not so inclined the search for truth must be a constant battle of discovery with the unending process of rethinking and reshaping our perceived reality in the hopes that one day those crumbs of truth will be combined into a clear and understandable reality of what is.  From the tail to the legs and eventually the entire elephant is revealed.

What is your truth and how does it never change?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Choose another word, Marriage is taken...

I’m a bit stymied by the confusion over Proposition 8, the proposition that states "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”  The reason I’m confused is in the word marriage as defined by many dictionaries is:  a (1) : the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law.

This definition is not the only one but it is the most common one and the one with the most historical significance.  Marriage is an institution and has been recognized by virtually every culture and society for over 5,000 years.  I think that qualifies for substantial proof.

The idea that the word itself should be altered is not new, words have been altered and changed, misinterpreted and even co-opted to have a completely different meaning than the original.  For example the word Artificial, we all know it to mean fake or simulated.  The old Artificial used to mean “full of artistry or artistic skill, it’s changed completely. 

Nice:  This comes from the Latin ‘not to know’. Originally a ‘nice person’ was someone who was ignorant or unaware. Not a nice thing to say about someone is it?

Awful: This meant ‘full of awe’ i.e. something wonderful, delightful, amazing. However, over time it has evolved to mean exactly the opposite.  I guess we could simply change the word to fullofaw and try to revert it back to its original.

Brave: This once was used to signify cowardice. Indeed, its old meaning lives on in the word ‘bravado’ or fake bravery.  It would be interesting to see how these words morphed into what they are today.

There are hundreds of such words and our language is ever changing.  The word Gay used to mean fun and light but trying using that in a sentence today and you might be considered homophobic.  By the way that was a word that didn’t even exist when I was born, or if it did no one knew it or dared use it.

Back to the word Marriage, its simple definition also includes union, merger or blending with the connotation that two become one, an amalgamated substance never before seen a completion of two parts creating a better whole.

From the desire to amalgamate, integrate and merge the historical understanding was the desire to create and expand from a singular soul to a unified body with the ability to procreate.  Marriage is the only word for centuries that capsulate this meaning and gives complete understanding to the Divine nature of such a union.

Regardless of what the Supreme Court decides the word marriage will still hold significant meaning to most of the populations of the world.  Even if they relegate the word to obscurity by dousing its meaning with dilutions of the law those that have entered into marriage, those men and women who respect the word will forever hold its standards high.

I hope those judges look at the precedent of history and realize that this word is more than a simple everyday word but an announcement from God that his law is greater than the will of a few malcontents and that His law should remain supreme as well as the meaning of the word.

Will these dissenters also be so adamant about the word marriage in other languages as well and will it be their goal to change those meanings as well.  If we lose the Supreme Court’s ruling regarding Prop 8 perhaps we could simply refer to ourselves as Casamentio, Portuguese for married, or you pick the language that best suits your needs.  It is only a word after all.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Lifetime lines and traffic woes and Covid forever


I used to like to fly, not anymore. Flying today is a hectic, frenzied, frenetic, and feverish race against time, space, and boredom. Many of you will remember the old days before 911 and before the underwear and shoe bombers, the good old days when terrorists were confined to an occasional plane jacking that usually ended in a tropical island.  It may have been Cuba but at least it was warm when you got off the plane and most got off and survived to tell the harried story.  

When you combine all the wasted time sitting in TSA lines, removing your shoes and jackets, displaying your most private parts for the world to see you start to wonder if it’s really all worth it? When you add up the total number of hours wasted and the total cost of those hours, the cost analysis of all this security is mind-boggling.

One blogger and you have to admit that all bloggers tell the truth stated that Americans lose annually nearly 7 million years waiting in lines at airports; yes I said seven million, million with an M.  I personally don’t know how he came up with that number but it does illustrate in a dramatic way the excessive degree in which we inconvenience everyone for the safety of a relative few.  

According to wireless internet service provider BT Openzone, British business travelers spend 689,000 hours a month waiting in airports, with most spending an average of two to three hours each month doing so. When added together that amounts to about one lifetime lost, a life, in essence, sacrificed to waiting, not being productive, just standing, inching along toward an anonymous and eventual death… so morose… Any volunteers?

There are thousands of examples that illustrate the backward focus we currently have on resource allocation, time management or in simple terms keeping us moving.  We stand in grocery lines, for hours at times at the DMV (motor vehicle) at banks or amusement parks, don’t get me started but the worst by far is the time lost at the airports by mostly very productive people who want to stay busy but are forced to idle their precious time standing and waiting.  

I don’t have a solution to the problem but I know I don’t want to stand in lines anymore; it’s taken all the fun out of traveling.  During my latest adventure to Hawaii, not only did I have to wait in the ubiquitous lines, ever-present at the airport, when we landed in Kona, on the big island there was another line for Covid confirmation of the previous testing mandated by our Air Carrier, but this line also provided additional testing to ensure that our previous test was indeed valid. 

We so enjoyed those extra lines that we have decided to do it all again.  Maybe the lines will even be longer, with a maze and impossible questions to answer as we negotiate our way to the end of the line.

The same is true with rush hour traffic. I’ve resorted to taking detours, that take me longer, just to avoid the aggravation of having to sit in my car not moving.  I don’t know about you but when I’m driving I like to move, it’s a pet peeve of mine.

What’s worse than being on a freeway with a 70 mph limit and you’re stopped, staring at the concrete lines and trying to read the discarded messages on the Starbucks coffee cups littering the highways totally stopped because someone two miles up had a fender bender and decided to stop and exchange insurance information in the middle of the road. The lost time for all those behind when added up would be equal to the national debt, well maybe I just made that up but it sure sounds good.

I read on the news the other day where a fatal accident, and please don’t think I am not sympathetic to those family members who suffer that great loss, but again from an economic standpoint when they close all lanes of the 5 freeway near Los Angeles, so they can investigate, makes me wonder why they haven’t developed a better way to balance the needs of the many with the needs of the one?

There was a science fiction story I read years ago, I can’t remember the name of the story or the author but it was about an alien society that excelled in improving everything they came in contact with. They were so in-tune with the needs of the many that if an accident did occur it was immediately removed in order to maintain the expected order.

I guess one of the problems we have is our obsession with what might happen and with past events dictating future actions without really considering the mass effects on society as a whole.  Instead of thinking of how to manage the lines and stoppages perhaps we should start thinking about how to prevent those lines and keep people moving. The adage of “time is money” is true and in a real sense has crippled our economy or at least continues to stall the opportunities lost from being forced to remove our belts and shoes.

The importance of being safe is essential but when compared to the cost I think it’s time to reconsider the notion of profiling. Do 80-year-old Caucasian women in a wheelchair really pose a threat? I can see security stopping me but a ten-year-old girl with a hello kitty backpack?

I think it’s time to have a national debate regarding this issue of time management as it relates to the group rather than its historical perspective of optimizing the individual. We cannot forget about that individual but more often than not it’s the individuals who gum up the works, and it is only going to get worse.  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Adversity the Wonder Drug

When we think of adversity we mostly think of hardships, misfortunes and some danger thrown in for good measure.  Adversity can actually mean so much more to so many that the initial definitions pale in comparison to those who have triumphed, not simply survived but excelled beyond the shackles that adversity binds and ties to our souls.

Survival is what many of us do day to day, staying ahead of the tax man or having enough money to pay for the meager sustenance we call food.  Survival is perhaps part of adversity but in order to understand the true nature of living with adversity we must understand the word and the conditions that promote it.

Abraham Lincoln stated: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character give him power”

Power in this sense has provided the ultimate test and adverse examination of many, with most failing abjectly.  So many strive for it  and so many give all they have in order to obtain it only to be dashed and crippled by its overpowering lust and enduring finality, giving nothing in return but the broken ambiance of what used to be man.

For those who seek power the statement “absolute power corrupts absolutely” gives pause I hope to those who might be contemplating this level of adventure.  We need leaders who lead through service not those who strive for power and force.  

Adversity is almost alive in its ability to design and target its victims, seeking out specific flaws, pouncing like a hungry tiger to eat its fill upon the wastes of those who fail.  For others the opportunity is there to excel and grow well beyond the shell that is that man, into a glowing spirit of accomplishment, triumphant from the battles of life and victorious to be standing tall.

“The sweet taste of adversity is but a poison to those who refuse to savor the subtleties of its abundant remuneration?   Me…

Whether great or small, the level of adversity cannot be compared; it can only be seen through the eyes of those that battle, individually on their own field of honor.  To their left is another who fights but not against the same demons and to the right yet another who contends with fiends unseen to all but him.  We are mostly alone in our bouts of conscience and our struggles to overcome and it is this singular fight that creates the greatest prize.  For as we overcome we alone can say “I am victorious, I am the winner”.

Religiously Adversity adds another dimension to our plight and gives hope through a belief that the end will come and our suffering will end and glory will be ours if we but endure and overcome.  The promises instill in those who believe a magnificent existence, a celebrated reality beyond this test we call life and the added feelings of hope that we are not alone, knowing that there is another who is watching, loving and concerned, assisting only when desperately needed so that when we are at our weakest, at our lowest that hand will be there to guide us, steady us and carry us if need be with the assurance that our frailties will be forgiven and our weaknesses will become our strength, never forgetting that we alone must decide to accept that hand of help.

Adversity is the preeminent force for all that we are.  Religiously or not adversity comes to us all, universally descending and infecting the very fibers of our being, forcing all of us to either succumb or excel.  

My adversities are not yours, nor yours anyone else’s, they are yours and yours alone.  How we react and act upon those challenges are also individually mandated by our choices.  We can receive council from others, get a hand from time to time but in the end it is always an individual effort and only that individual will be deemed successful or not based on their emotional reconciliation of all that they are.

Edger Allan Poe, a man who new adversity stated “Never to suffer would never to have been blessed”

If we view our challenges as negative we will only receive negative results but when we strive to overcome those adversarial mêlées with a positive outlook the end results will be victory and beauty, an eye singled to the glory that is all around us.

Our lives are filled with success and wonder, our existence a phenomenon of extremes that are designed to help us develop, improve and expand our limited and finite mentality into minds of eternal splendor and everlasting progression.

Please remember “If for a while the harder you try, the harder it gets, take heart.  So it has been with the best people who have ever lived.” Jeffry Holland

Saturday, March 16, 2013

No Stupid Questions, Only Stupid People...

When I was a fifth grader I had a male teacher who had reached the level of a PhD, we were all to call him Doctor.  None of us knew what a PhD was and often whispered amongst ourselves and asked why he would want to teach if he was a Doctor?  It took a few more years to understand the difference and it took even longer to answer the question of why he decided to spend his time with us.  As I recall, he was fairly stern but liked to laugh, he was overweight but liked to play kickball with us.  He was an enigma and puzzle that took me years to understand.

He was a great teacher. He was great because he spent the time to answer our questions, delve into the whys of things and explain the mysteries that plagued our developing minds.  When a student asked a stupid question and the rest of the class started to giggle or laugh he would calmly stop the class and with his overly red face stare at us and whisper, “there are many of you who have the same question in your minds but failed to show the courage to ask, there is never a stupid question, a stupid question is the one never asked”.  He would then proceed to answer the question with the same level of deference and concern as any other.

I’ve been trying to remember his name, I know I knew it but now I know I don’t, it must be my age, but I do remember it was in 1965 and I was attending Badillo (pronounced, bad-ill-o) Elementary School ; we all just thought it was a funny name, we had no idea of its Spanish origin or true pronunciation, that would take a few years as well.

Even when we did something really stupid and I can think of more than a few in my case, he would gently remind us of our duties and responsibilities, telling us how great we were and what our potential was, instructing us how to be above the stupidity of our actions.  Don’t get me wrong he still sent us to the principal’s office but at least we knew he cared before we got paddled.  I think my butt still hurts in spots.

The reason I bring all this up is in relation to the recent exchange between Senators Cruz of Texas and Senator Feinstein of California when Cruz asked Feinstein a few poignant questions about the constitutionality of gun control.  The answer provided by Feinstein reminded me of my fifth grade class especially when she mentioned that she “was not a sixth grader…”  

I know there is a huge difference between fifth and sixth grade but the point is not in the question but in the answer to the question and the relationship between her response and the thoughtful, caring response of my fifth grade teacher.  It seems to me that her response should have been more along the lines of patients and caring, trying to get the upstart to understand that there is no such thing as a stupid question but helping him to realize the truth of the answer.  That is if she were concerned about helping him understand and that’s where the problem lies.

We are no longer a nation of great thinkers; (I know there are many great teachers)  we are a nation of whiners and complainers.  We can’t simply answer a question with the desire to help others to learn because we no longer know the answers.  We bluff, we huff, we divert and deter, averting our lack of understanding and replacing it with bluster and bullying, hoping I guess that the question will be forgotten and only the questioner’s insubordination will remain.

We are no longer a people who value knowing.  We are a nation that values vociferously, vocal, vernacular, lacking in even simple substance, repealing the conversation for the contempt of position.  Feinstein could have easily answered the question with why she wants to repeal certain guns and not others with explaining that certain guns have a higher potential for extreme danger than do others and gone on to compare pornography with certain guns, calmly explaining that in societies we do regulate what we see, what we hear and what we use for the safety of us all….she could have done it that way, but chose instead to be offended.

One other small item learned in the Doctors (not Dr. Who, but in this case since I can’t remember his name Dr. Who is appropriate…) fifth grade class is, “if you can’t answer the question you don’t understand the topic”.

Maybe it’s time for our leaders to become more informed.  I really don’t mind the questions, I like hard questions they make me think and ponder and learn but when I hear the bombastic bluster of feigned offense I know right off the bat there either trying to evade the issue or they simply don’t know and in a politician that’s dangerous, but it’s been said many time, “we are in a dangerous times” perhaps that’s what they’ve been talking about all along.