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Friday, September 10, 2010

“Does truth in morality exist? If so, does it matter?”

It’s rather strange that as humanity progresses, it seems to become more ignorant. There was a time when people would argue over whether or not a recorded event was true, or whether or not a particular belief was true, or whether or not the local news report was true. Only recently did we start asking questions that really bring to light how delusional we have become. I recall hearing of a seminar in which one of the audience members told the speaker that he was not sure that he existed. The speaker was flabbergasted. “What has happened to this generation that it has become so disorientated and confused as to question its own existence?” the speaker wondered. He then asked the audience member a simple question that brought that poor soul back to a state of certainty: “And who, might I say, is asking?”


Would it be inaccurate to say that “we can’t handle the truth”? I think not. In fact, we demand truth in almost every major facet of our lives. We demand truth from our loved ones (who wants to be lied to by a family member?). We demand truth from our doctors (I hope people are making sure that they’re getting the right diagnoses for their medical needs). We demand truth from courtrooms (we should be making sure that only people who are truly guilty are being convicted). We expect to be told the truth every time we read a reference book, or a news article, or a weather report. We demand to be told the truth from lawyers, teachers, and government officials. We assume that things like road signs, food labels, and medicine bottles tell us the truth. For some reason, though, when it comes to morality most say that they are not interested in truth. Why is this?

I find that it is mostly for selfish reasons. People simply do not want to be held accountable to any standard of morality. They think that life would be more enjoyable without being obligated to behave in any certain way. Perhaps it is as St. Augustine said:

“We love the truth when it enlightens us, but we hate it when it convicts us.”

Also, what I’ve found is that people who claim to believe that there is no absolute standard of right and wrong are really only deluding themselves. They do not really believe that. The most effective way to discover this is simply to treat them in a way that they find morally offensive. Consider the following.

There was once a professor at a major university in Indiana who was teaching a class on ethics. He gave the students a term paper assignment in which they were allowed to write on any ethical subject of their choosing. The only restriction was that they had to support their thesis statements with reasons and documentation. One of the students in question was an atheist. Of course, part of the atheistic mindset is that since there is no god, then there is no absolute higher authority to establish a moral law to which all are subject. Thus, he decided to write on the subject of moral relativism.

His thesis consisted of statements like, “There is no right and wrong”, “There is no absolute standard of fairness or justice”, “It’s all a matter of personal taste and opinion”, “You like chocolate; I like vanilla”, and so forth and so on. He gave his reasons and his documentation. The paper was the right length, it was on time, and the student even put it in a stylishly blue folder. The professor read through the entire paper; and after finishing, he gave the student an “F”. The reason behind this was not the quality of the paper, but the color of the folder. It turns out that he didn’t like the color blue.

Needless to say, the student was furious. He came through the professor’s door shouting all kinds of accusations, such as, “’F! I don’t like blue folders’?! That’s not fair! That’s not right! That’s not just! You didn’t grade the paper by its merits!” The professor put up a hand to silence the young man and calmly replied, “Whoa, hold on a minute. I read a lot of papers, so let me look. Ah, yes. Yours was the paper that argued that there is no right and wrong? No absolute standard of fairness or justice?”

“Right…” the student replied.

“Then what’s with your storming into my office telling me that I’m not being right or fair or just?” the professor remarked. “Didn’t you argue that it’s all a matter of personal taste and opinion? ‘You like chocolate; I like vanilla’?”

“Yes, that’s what I really believe,” the student admitted.

“Well, I don’t like blue. You get an ‘F’.”

Let us examine what happened here. The student brought a moral accusation against the professor. What was that accusation based on? Was it based on the idea that the professor’s action didn’t happened to tickle the student’s personal fancy? Hardly. Was it based on the idea that the professor just hurt the student’s feelings? Not so. As I recall from the student’s words, his accusation was based on the idea that what the professor did was absolutely, universally, and without question or doubt wrong. But he could not make such an accusation if there is no such thing as right and wrong. He might as well have stormed into that office saying that the professor’s preference for strawberries over bananas wasn’t right or fair or just.

So I ask the public: Is what the student said the truth, or was it nothing more than his own subjective, pragmatic, emotive, and self-absorbed opinion? If it was the former, then he had every right to be furious. If it was the latter, then the professor was under no moral obligation to give any heed or respect to the opinions of others, and thus he had every right to blow off the student’s moral outburst. So which was it?

As Iron sharpens Iron

A man whom I considered very wise once brought to my mind that the meaning to life can be found in our relationships. Whether this is true or not is a question to be left to my betters. Whether or not this idea can be tested is an area in which I have some experience. Is it not strange that the small moments in life are the ones most poignant?


Allow me to draw back about seven years. My family and I are currently living at the Coast Guard Yard. Ours is an abode of a very small area, though the view of the dock can cause one to overlook such an inconvenience. Entertainment is rather sparse in this area. My brother and I spend our hours throwing random objects at each other from behind beds and such. With only one TV and few other possessions, one would not expect much to happen in such an area. I certainly do not.

Now, Truth introduces a new character to this drab scene. One Sunday afternoon, my family and I prepare to retire to our small abode, but we are taken aback by an unexpected guest. A light gray Columba livia domestica (pigeon) has taken shelter under our vehicle. As I make chase for it, the avian fellow begins to pick up step rather than take flight. We show concern, and eventually, we manage to catch the seemingly handicapped flyer. We begin to test its abilities. The pigeon cannot even perch on a branch properly. My father tosses it. It does not fly. It does not even glide. It only falls more slowly.

I decide to observe the creature a bit more closely. Looking closely, I can see that what seems to be a wildlife tag has been pressed into its left leg rather than around it. I never really know, but I assume that this is the cause of its ailment. We care for the bird by allowing it to nestle under a bush outside our front door. We feed it regularly with bread crumbs and water. It hardly ever moves or speaks. I watch it as it goes to sleep around dusk.

Three days later, it no longer cuddles itself in its down as usual. Its head is flopped to the ground, exhausted. I think that it might have gotten sick overnight. Its breathing has even vanished. I try to prod it. It gives no response. This is a small grief at best, but a grief nonetheless. Perhaps the one factor to this tragedy that makes it so memorable was the burial. The honorable procedure would have been an earthly grave. This feathered patron is given a common street trash can as a resting place. An insignificant relationship? Perhaps. Nevertheless, it’s one I’ll never forget.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Remembrance

I’m not gonna remember her

I’m not gonna think about her

I’m not gonna remember how she remembered me before I remembered her

I’m gonna remember how she always called me by name (something I wished I had done more often with her)

I’m not gonna remember how much I enjoyed the fact that she seemed smarter than me

I’m not gonna remember the fact that she used to be smarter than me

I’m not gonna remember that ever so unique bridge in her nose

I’m not gonna remember how one of her ears always seemed slightly larger than the other

I’m not gonna remember her perfectly chiseled mouth

I’m not gonna remember her seemingly flawless enunciation

I’m not gonna remember how her eyes seemed to close almost completely whenever she smiled

I’m not gonna remember how often she smiled, even at the silliest things

I’m not gonna remember how carefully I would listen to her every word

I’m not gonna remember how she seemed to hide a slight accent in her voice

I’m not gonna remember how coyly she would make mistakes

I’m not gonna remember how playfully we would share tales of odd encounters and personal aspirations

I’m not gonna remember how she would always listen to the stories I told to illustrate a point
I’m not gonna remember the coherency of her speech

I’m not gonna remember how much she appreciated my first gift to her

I’m not gonna remember how forgiving she used to be

I’m not gonna remember how wise she used to be

I’m not gonna remember how smart she used to be

I’m not gonna remember how selfless she used to be

I’m not gonna remember how truly beautiful she used to be in all aspects of her personhood

But I AM gonna remember that today is her birthday

Happy 22nd, B________ T_______

Thursday, August 26, 2010

There once was a man from Nantucket...

I wrote this as part of my art history class.  It was one of the most fun topics that I wrote.


As the late and great British journalist, Malcolm Muggeridge, I carry a great fondness and respect for the sanctity of words. But as the times pass, words seem to be continuously stripped of all proper use and validity. Consider Postmodernism – a title and movement that encourages meaninglessness and usually has no meaning in itself. Many have tried to give this term a proper definition in the past, but have found the task to be as fruitless as trying to set fire to the sun, and found their own psyches thoroughly tarnished in the process. Personally, I found that amongst this mental and existential pandemonium was a great deal of satirical comedy to profess. One of wisdom once said that comedy is oftentimes tragedy in which you are not the victim. The endeavor of sardonic writing on this topic was so laden with ease that the words almost appeared upon the pages of their own free will, carrying an unreserved disdain for my desire to be creative. To counteract this rise and eventual domination of linguistic independence, I believed that this discussion would best be given in LIMMERICK FORM!

In the tumultuous times after D-day
The moral standards began to decay
And Europe looked West
To decide “What next?”
And America presented a relay

They spoke of the “American Dream”
With as many advertisements as could be seen
Europe would have been wary
Of what this idea could carry
If their society wasn’t bursting at the seams

But thanks to a man named “Marx”
Modernism became the new farce
With rationalization
And industrialization
Causing reason and truth to become rather sparse

Critics of this “Utopia of the West”
Thought that pervasiveness probably wasn’t best
The capitalistic ideals
Would do nothing but seal
Our death to this time of unrest

Some men, like one named Lyotard
Tried to make sense of this faux-pas
Postmodernists didn’t listen
And instead started dissin’
This French thinker. What a retard!

Soon, the philosophies became eclectic
And the societal images became hectic
With buildings of vernacularity
Singing songs of prosperity
About the purpose of this, one would be skeptic

But our tendency to be distracted
By flashy images had us “trapped-ed”
In this worship of the picture
To which some gave stricture
In hopes that this attitude would be retracted

But as long as the profits are loud
The advertisers will never back down
They will continue to lay waste
With unfathomable haste
To everything wholesome and sound

There was a time when art imitated life
With clever depictions of our joys and strife
But now the artists have a grip
On what ideas we let slip
Into our standards for everyday life

Instead of dealing with this fuss
We will now start to debate and discuss
About our own identities
In this nation of obscenities
Where the Holy Trinity is “We, Ourselves, and Us”

Eventually, we’ll have to “discern-o”
What our self-lavish ways would “earn-o”
Would it lead to construction
Or will we face a destruction
On par with Dante’s Inferno? 


This problem is still present today
To which many would respond with dismay
What are we to do?
Right now, I haven’t a clue
But I’ll see ya’ll next week. Have a nice day!

Hello World!

  So!  After much contemplation, I decided to start an online blog.  I will begin my foray into this medium by describing the reasons for its birth and the purpose.  Those factors are extremely crucial to any undertaking.

  The whole idea began over the course of the summer just past.  As some of you know, I recently graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design, but the school decided to give me one final bite in the neck with a required summer elective.  I recently came to the realization that virtually ALL my fellow graduates had faced the same menacing conundrum.  During my devious encounter with this class, I came to the discovery of another great passion and skill with which The Almighty One has blessed me: writing.

  I found out that I really enjoy the practice of inscription and decided to pursue it.  My teacher was the one who really pushed the button on the idea, so much credit and thanks to Prof. Anne Swartz for the idea.  Just thought I'd give credit where credit is due. (^_^)

  As for the purpose of this blog, I must be as clear and specific as possible.  I have been taught both as a follower of Christ through Scripture and as a thespian through SCAD that my purpose in life is not to promote myself, but to promote the Truth.  Reason being is that I am only one human being who is here for a moment and then I'm gone; but the Truth is eternal and lingers on (Hey, I can rhyme!).  I've found that this really is not that difficult.  Seperating the Truth from falsehood has never been that challenging for me, and it is absolutely necessary that it be done by all.

  A major problem with our society today is that we have throughly given into the spirit of social Darwinism.  Everybody only looks out for and thinks about "Number 1", regardless of who else gets harmed or neglected in the process.  "Me, Myself, and I" has become the new "Holy Trinity".  This is a major issue that must be at least addressed, if not solved.  If we ever managed to seperate the wrongdoing from the person, a LOT of very serious problems could be solved.

It is wonderful how much time good people spend fighting the devil. If they would only expend the same amount of energy loving their fellow men, the devil would die in his own tracks of ennui. - Hellen Keller
  This is what I aim to do here.    I hope to give insight to those who seek after it; and hope to receive insight from those who wish to give it.  If you are not interested in finding out what is true and real and objective for yourself as well as others, I would suggest that you leave this moment of reading this blog unmarked.  However, if you wish to set your mind, body, and soul free from the imprisonment of falsehood and selfishness, then welcome, my brother/sister.  Let us reason together. (^_^)

  And believe me, we're gonna have some fun with this place.  I'll be delivering humorous articles galore on a number of topics, top tens, questionnaires, challenges, and more stories than you'll know how to deal with.  Shmowzow!