more consequences

Thursday 31 January 2008

I love when people leave comments, as they lead to me (and maybe you) to think more about a subject.  I know I’m not the final word on any issue, and I don’t want to be, but writing a blog without comments can sometimes feel that way.  Thus, I encourage you who do read (be it often or infrequently) to leave some comments of agreement, challenge, question, or otherwise — as Karen did to my last post on consequences — (read it now if you haven’t already).  And sometimes, a comment even leads to a second post with new or different thoughts on the same subject (as it did back in September about enlightenment).  So today you get more about consequences :)

Karen’s ideas of “healthy maturity” and that “we could all do a better job of thinking about direct and real consequences and refusing to be controlled by more distant and less healthy motivators” made me see that I probably didn’t convey exactly what was and is in my mind about the subject.  I think that what maybe irks me about consequences is that it is sometimes those “direct and real consequences” that make me act in a way that is not necessarily in harmony with my beliefs.  A few examples:

Poverty is a very real problem in the US and around the world.  I’d call myself a socialist in the belief that wealth should be distributed equally among all parties.  If I had access to the bank accounts of millionaires, I wouldn’t necessarily think it wrong to take their money and distribute it to others who were not as well off.  However, this would likely be illegal (and some might say unethical, though “ethics” are somewhat relative), and the illegality of the situation and the likely consequences of jail time and fines might end up being a larger contributor in my decision making than my beliefs.  Am I selling out on my beliefs or just showing a “healthy maturity?”

Most of us realize that sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are very common (according to the Planned Parenthood website link there, “up to 75 percent of sexually active women and men will get an STI of some kind”).  No condom or protection method is 100%.  As a virgin (gasp! — yes, I went there), I can be confident that I don’t have an STI, but once I start having sex, that would open the door to an uncertainty I haven’t had to experience yet in life and don’t know if I want to.  I do think my choices about sex relate more, though, to the need and desire to be in a committed and loving relationship when I do end up having sex.  In that relationship, I would want to fully love and trust that person (I’m not necessarily saying it be within marriage, mind you — not to open up that can of worms, though), and part of that love and trust would be discussion about our sexual histories.  And if she did have an STI, then what?  I surely wouldn’t love her any less, but knowing the 100% aspect I mentioned above, would some fear or consequence freeze me into taking actions that I surely wouldn’t take if that consequence wasn’t there?  (Even for me, as this is something I still have yet to deal with directly, this is a difficult subject for me to wrap my mind around as I write, and an area of thinking that continues to develop in my mind, so comments and questions could definitely be relevant.)  —  And certainly the idea of premarital sex being a “sin” might be argued as an external consequence by some and an internal consequence by others, which again is a whole ‘nother can of worms.

So I guess my issue about consequences is that sometimes they can, at least in my experience, make one go against her or his beliefs and ideals, and those, I think, are the consequences I have a problem with.  And my question then becomes, “How does one reconcile one’s ideals with the possible negative consequences that might occur when one acts on said ideals?”  (Perhaps a discussion about issues like civil disobedience is now in order?)


consequences

Friday 25 January 2008

I’m a rebel. However, you may not know that (though you may have suspected it) because a lot of — maybe too many of — my seemingly “rebellious” actions over the years have been tempered by two things: expectations and consequences. In fact, I think — for better or for worse — a lot of the decisions I make in my life have to do with the consequences of the possible outcomes of making certain decisions (especially the “rebellious” ones).

I think growing up it was probably mostly others’ expectations that caused me to act in certain ways — or, to put it another way, the “fear” of the possible consequences if I didn’t do what was expected of me. (I put “fear” in quotations here because I wasn’t afraid like one is afraid of punishment or monsters, but more fear in an abstract sense of not wanting to let anyone down.) I stayed away from certain parties b/c I knew there would be alcohol, and that’s just not what was expected of me. Getting A’s was what was expected, and I didn’t want to mess that up either. I’m not saying this was good or bad, but it’s probably my — logic.

Even decisions I make now I know I make because of the consequences. If I choose not to download music for free, it’s because I know there could be thousand of dollars in penalties waiting in the wings. If I don’t smoke marijuana, it may have a little to do with being caught and paying a fine (and maybe still some of those expectations), but more that it’s possible Mary Jane might trigger psychotic illnesses (and then I use Google to help spell Alzheimer’s and see that marijuana my actually help with that disease — go figure).

Sometimes it’s dumb not to make decisions based on possible consequences — like always buckling up in a car or wearing my helmet while biking — but am I in a healthy place in terms of how I make decisions? Part of it, too, is that there have definitely been times (some very recently) where I’ve made decisions without thinking at all about the possible (negative) consequences, and the outcomes have not at all been what I had hoped for in the situation.

So what really are good ways to make decisions? Should I continue to think about the consequences, but only as one part of the puzzle? And if so, what other things do I need to take into consideration? Am I not taking enough risks?(I’m sure some of you would answer with a strong “are you kidding me?”) Is there some point where a person can just let their decisions happen and accept the outcome, no matter what it might be?

On a bit of a related note, I’m attempting to start living my life (especially relationally) with more of a “non-attachment to the outcome” philosophy. How does that relate to decision making and thinking about consequences? Perhaps a topic for another blog (or some of your comments).


acceptable hair

Wednesday 23 January 2008

Depending on whether you’ve seen me @ some point in the past year or not, you may or may not be privy to the fact that I’m growing my hair out.  It’s funny to think that now I spend half or more of my time in the shower on my hair where as 18 months ago it was probably 30 seconds or less (though I try to turn off the water when I’m shampooing to save the earth a little bit — you should try it, too!).  It’s down to my shoulders now, and it’s finally about the point where I can put all my hair — including my “bangs” — into a pony tail, and in general it’s about down to my shoulders, or a little past.  There are a lot of people currently in my life who didn’t know me before long hair, and it’s just funny to realize and recognize that, knowing how much that “first impression” has on someone.

Now as a guy, long hair is definitely not the standard.  I definitely took some slack from people when I decided to just let it grow and grow, but after time most people got used to it.  However, I think the only reason some people really accept it is because I’m “doing it” so I might get a pony tail to cut off and donate sometime in the future.  If I was just growing it this way because I felt like it (which, hey, may happen after I end up donating), would that be so wrong?  The female “business” haircut has become short, so what’s so appalling about a man with long hair?

It’s interesting the gender stereotypes and requirements we’ve created in our society and how we perpetuate them (something I’ll talk about in another blog soon).  One day in the fall I put my hair up in pig tails, which I thought looked kind of funny, but since my hair wasn’t long enough to all go in a pony tail, it was the best way to keep it all out of my face.  Sharing that story with others, some thought that was a totally unacceptable way for a male to style his hair.  But why?  Who has told us this?

It’s true that I sometimes want to shake things up, but it’s not for no reason.  I love to question the reasons certain things are in place.  Why is it that a guy and a girl can hold hands in public, but if two guys hold hands, it’s a huge deal?  It feels good to hold hands, so why can’t we just do it more often with our friends and not worry about all the people who might stare and gawk (my second love language is touch)?

Let’s all think about why certain “normalcies” have been created in society and how we can work to get rid of these stereotypes, because no matter what it is, it stifles a person’s freedom to do and act as they wish.


oscars 2008

Tuesday 22 January 2008

Just a few minutes ago, the nominations for the 2008 Oscars (films “released” — that’s a whole ‘nother story — in 2007) were announced @ a press conference in California. As has been true for me for the past 6 or so years (I don’t think I got to last year, actually), I’ve woken up early enough to watch the announcements live, preparing me for the coming month-plus until the actual awards show. In this part of my life, I like to be one of those who is “first to know,” as may be the case for you in some other part of your life.

Now, one may ask (and I sure do), why have the Oscars (formally the Academy Awards) become such this big aspect of my entertainment life? I suppose it first and foremost has to do with my love of movies, which began many years ago, and the fact that the Oscars are said to be “the most prestigious prize in motion pictures.” From a young age, I started looking at what made a “good” movie by what was nominated for or won an Oscar. I remember watching The English Patient for a movie report in 10th grade while others were probably watching movies like Jerry Maguire or Independence Day and getting Shakespeare in Loveto watch with my mom and brother and being a little embarrased at the nudity that came with it (though, as my mom said, it was OK and beautiful in that setting — thanks mom).

Since those days 10 or so years ago, I still enjoy watching Oscar nominated movies (I’ve already seen 3 of the 5 nominated for Best Picture), especially those nominated for Best Documentary, but my movie viewing habits have gotten a little more independent than the Oscars, leaning — when I get the opportunity — more toward those movies nominated for Film Independent’s Spirit Awards, which can be seen on IFC the night before the Oscars. (Anyone with cable want to invite me over? Rainn Wilson of “The Office” and Juno will be hosting.) And calling myself a “writer,” too, I’ve always enjoyed watching those films nominated for best screenplay, which is especially fun since the Oscars gives me 10 movies in 2 categories (original and adapted) to choose from.

I’ve also enjoyed watching the ceremonies for many many years, too, and love it when Billy Crystal hosts. The status of the Oscar awards ceremony this year, scheduled for 24 February is, of course, up in the air because of the continued Writers Guild of America writers strike. While I would love to see things settled so that a “normal” ceremony can go forth, I don’t want the writers to settle for less than they’re asking for or have them strike a deal just so the show can go on. If all I get are the movies and no ceremony to go with them, I can live with that. (Speaking of the strike, I was joking with someone that this would have been a good year to be out of the country — a shortened TV season, the prospect of no Oscar ceremony — you wouldn’t be missing too much in the entertainment world, unless, of course, you’re an American Idol and/or reality TV fan, in which case you’re probably in heaven.)

And before I go, I’d like to invite you to “Pick the Winners” of the Oscars with me in an online competition. Go to the Oscars website and sign in or sign up to enter the “Predict the Winners” game. (Your name and password would be for any of the following, if you have them: Disney.com, ABCNEWS.com, ABC.com, ESPN.com, DisneyShopping.com, Go.com, Movies.com, FamilyFun.com). When it asks you to pick a group name, search for “Anyone, Really” and the password is “movies.” I hope to see a lot of you there! (And it’s nice to put your name in the entry name in some way so we all know who is who. :) )


playing God

Sunday 13 January 2008

So this time it was a story from News of the Weird, of all places (along with discussion of globalization/imperialism and other harms to our earth), that got me thinking. Here’s the story:
A research team led by Richard Hanson of Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland) has produced a colony of “supermice” whose physical abilities are the rodent equivalent of those of gifted humans. By modifying a single metabolism gene, researchers enhanced the mouse’s ability to use body fat for energy, creating a mouse that can run five hours without stopping, live longer, and have three times as much sex as ordinary mice. According to Hanson, humans have exactly the same modifiable gene, “(b)ut this is not something that you’d do to a human. It’s completely wrong.” (6 Jan 2008 Issue)
Other stories on this: CNET News; The Independent (London)

The researcher’s quote made me think about what exactly you would “do to a human” and how we’re playing God so much already that doing something like modifying a metabolism gene really is maybe the least of our worries.

It seems shockingly horrible, doesn’t it: altering the essence of a human’s genetic code. But we have no problem making changes in the genetic codes of animals in our testing facilities — “in the name of Science” — and surely have no problem with genetically modified plants, as much or most of the crops grown in this country (and around the world?) have been altered to grow “better.” I think about my grandfather’s garden and some Monsanto corn he decided to grow which required the use of some Monsanto fertilizer, too. Unfortunately for his garden as a whole, any other plant grown close to the corn that got some of the fertilizer on it perished. And how does this genetic altering of plants and animals affect the future, and what of all the chemicals and pesticides that don’t affect their intended target? How are the estimated 99.9% of the 3 million tons of yearly pesticides globally that actually run off affecting this world for the worse? (More about pesticides here.)

I could go on many tangents here: greenhouse gases, corporate sweatshops and slave labor, oppressive governments (certainly not restricted to dictators), choices to act preemptively that kill others when you may have never been in danger yourself — the list is a long one. Ask yourself now, “What are some ways we, as a world, and maybe even I, myself, am playing God?”

The solutions to our world’s problems are not easy, and all the world’s oppressions are interconnected in some way. That’s why we must support one another as we work for change. As a quote attributed to Lila Watson(‘s group of Aboriginal activists) reminds us: “Your liberation is bound up with mine.” We’ve maybe come too far to return to an earth where we all farm our own fields and make our own clothes, but until we all find a way to collectively work and live so that no human, animal, plant, or anything on this earth — living or “non-living” — is oppressed, we are doing ourselves a grand disservice and expediting our own extinction.