Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Beginning after the End

The ways the economy is spiraling out of control, followed by growing mob violence, it is easy to wonder if this is the beginning of the end of modern society.

No matter what occurs, there will still be everyday needs that must be met. We will still have homes to live in and families to care for- though admittedly it will be rough going in the initial stages simply because whatever "control" will be loose at best.

As for my part, I would hope that I could serve as an example. I would want my children to be instilled with the principles and values that the country was initially based upon. I would want them to know their religion- and have faith in themselves.

I would also hope to be an example of perseverance. That we can take all of the bad that has happened and maintain our sense of self. I would want the new society to focus more on what we can do for ourselves and less on what is expected of others to do for us. That is what I believe will bring about the downfall of modern society- the entitlement mentality.

Hopefully, the sound of common sense will once again move to the forefront, but should it not there is still hope that people as a whole will not cause themselves to become extinct.

If nothing else, there is always hope.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Self in Society

The question this time around pertains to whether or not someone can maintain their individuality and still be in harmony with society.

I firmly believe that it is essential to be an individual to be a part of society at large. When one stays true to their own thoughts and beliefs they enhance society because they can offer a fresh perspective that is sometimes lacking when people try to conform to a degree that they lose there self.

While there are definitely physical traits as well as character traits that are common within a society. It seems that when the individual is diluted to the point of being all-inclusive and the similarities are favored over the differences that the trouble begins.

The only way for societies- or civilization- to survive is by evolving to meet the needs of the people who make it up.

Right now certain members of the United States government appear to be toying with moving the country away from the focus on individual gains to a form of collective system. I am vehemently opposed to this on a number of levels, not the least of which is that such a move weakens a person's initiative to think for themselves. People should not be treated as animals- particularly by their government.

Society is the outgrowth of people living, working, worshiping and relaxing together. That there are mores and values that mark that society is a given parameter, however throughout there is still the individual decision to either conform or make the changes necessary for their own survival.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Shades of grey

Where do we draw the line when it comes to prejudice?

We all have our own personal bias, based on our own life experiences, values and beliefs- that is unquestionable. And, while we like it- usually- when people agree with our opinions, often that is not necessary for us to maintain them. There is no real need for validation, it is just our own personal view. Though we do like it when there are others who do agree with us, if for no other reason than there is strength in numbers- which in turn can be equated to being power. Ultimately, it is power or the desire for power which (to me) fuels prejudice.

There are too many forms of prejudice to list- and it goes much deeper than skin color or religious belief. There are childless people who feel superior to couples with children, and vice versa. People comment on the houses other's live in- either with envy or derision. While both the decision to have children or the house one lives in are both personal choices, outsiders view these choices and apply their own values to these decisions- which is false, to say the least.

Of course on of the main influences that shape our values and beliefs is our environment. This is best illustrated in the oft reproduced poem "Children Learn what they Live" by Dorothy Law Nolte. Perhaps there will come a time when we simply allow one another to live.

Here is the approved abbreviated text:

Children Learn What They Live
By Dorothy Law Nolte

If children live with criticism,
They learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility,
They learn to fight.
If children live with ridicule,
They learn to be shy.
If children live with shame,
They learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement,
They learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance,
They learn to be patient.
If children live with praise,
They learn to appreciate.
If children live with acceptance,
They learn to love.
If children live with approval,
They learn to like themselves.
If children live with honesty,
They learn truthfulness.
If children live with security,
They learn to have faith in themselves and others.
If children live with friendliness,
They learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

More things are different, the more they are the same

In a recent viewing of the 2006 movie V for Vendetta the way humans as a whole persecute one another is an underlying theme.

This brings to mind the many ways in our everyday lives which highlight the way people are persecuted for their differences- be they physical differences, economic differences, educational differences, or philosophical differences.

We like to believe that in the year 2010 we as a people have evolved past such mean-spiritedness
that marks generations past. For centuries people have warred and persecuted those they have vanquished.

I think the reason persecution persists is because people tend to fear what they do not understand. In the movie V for Vendetta it is mentioned that the totalitarian government gained power through the use of fear. This assertion that fear is a weapon which can be used to control the populace while culling out those who think differently, act differently, etc. is the main concept throughout the movie.

Until a time comes when there is harmony for all people- acceptance of all personal choices- and true understanding that we are all the same, in spite of our differences, persecution will continue... either in the public condemnations as exhibited in the past... or in the private, subtle forms which are beginning to prevail now.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The wordiness of words

I love words.

I love to read the dictionary- just for the pleasure of learning about words. Where they are derived from, how to use them correctly, their accurate definition.

I refuse to dumb down my vocabulary, which more often than not sends my children to the huge dictionary we have here at home- usually because I refuse to simply tell them what a word means, I would rather them seek out that knowledge for themselves. The phrase "go look it up" can have some quite comical results at times.

So, in the spirit of using words and knowing their power, I have made a short list of words which I feel are over-used. These are words which have been hyped or taken out of their normal context and set to the extreme definition of the word. We all know of innocuous words we have heard and spoken for years that have suddenly become blase simply based upon the popular usage of them.

Here goes:

1. anyways- Yes, there are several ways in which we can do things and anyway technically covers them in a broad sense of the word. However, it is when we use the word "anyways" as a filler word to cover a gap in conversation or as a means to change the subject that suddenly makes it redundant. We can change or close topics without adding "anyways" to the discussion- even if we are nervous. We manage, most of us at least, to omit it from our writing in that context. Rather than say "anyways", why not simply use an appropriate transitional word and shift or close topics more smoothly? If we can accomplish that feat while writing, why not doing it also when we speak?

2. can't- If there was ever a word which makes my blood boil more, it doesn't come to mind. Admittedly, there are always things which can not be done- and that is fine. But when a word is repeatedly used as a mantra, as in the case of "can't". It is much more effective to say "I have difficulty" or "I'm afraid" or even "I don't know how", than to fall back on the word "can't" which too many have turned into a crutch word- meaning it props them up and facilitates their inaction.

3. google- The word "google" wasn't even really a word until the advent of the google search engine. Now the word "google" is used synonymously to mean "look something up". Now while it is perfectly fine to use the Google search engine, there are still a multitude of people who choose not to, prefering rather to use one of the other available search engines. The popularity of "googling" something is a bit of a phenonmenon in that people know they are doing research- so why not simply say "research"?- and they know that Google hits are not infallible, so that the results are a bit suspect. All in all, if you are going to look something up online- state that. Terming your actions as googling/ to google has gotten a bit obnoxious to some of us, to say the least.

4. hope- Much of the time we see/ hear the word "hope" nowadays it is not to convey the altruistic wishes of our yearnings, but it is more in line with our desires. Many of us hear hope and think of emotions, sometimes sacred but always those ideas we hold close to our hearts. This standard meaning of "hope" has shifted in recent years both in popular culture and most recently within the political arena. He now akin our desires to be our "hopes", no matter how much spin we attempt to apply to the word. It is sometimes as if by using the word "hope" in place of the word "desire" we can appear less selfish and self-serving. Through the use of "hope" we convey a feeling of wanting to better mankind- let's just get past all of this candy coating and say we want and desire something, not that we merely "hope" fpr it.

5. change- Why has the word "change" come synonymous with political agendas? I know that any time there is a shift in leadership, the new powers- that-be wish to make their own personal mark. But what is it about professing "change" that is supposed to make the pills of politics we are sometimes forced to swallow easier? "Change... change... change...", we have been subjected to the theory for months- but there is nothing really supporting the theory... no substantial hypothenus, no comparisons... how do we know what to "change" when there is no consensus? Let's set the word "change" aside and replace it with "rebuild", "revamp", "restore", "innovate".. or any other of a dozen words which would better illustrate the path we are being led down. I sometimes wonder in the case of the word "change" that such an ambiguous word was chosen simply to keep a light from being shone on what was really occuring- you can just never be to sure.

I know that there are many other words which need to be tossed out for being ineffective now, but I do hope you've enjoyed reading my perspective on the use of a few words which hear repeatedly in modern daily life.

How to write...

The new question that has been posed is about how to write, or what writing process do I use when I write.

For me, this is a complicated question because writing- just as reading is subjective.

I tend to write from my point of view, or at least in a manner which I hope engages and encourages someone to participate in whatever my chosen subject was- which again is subjective.

When I am writing, I mostly write and edit simultaneously. Now I know this is not always the best way to write, but after years of having to write something more or less off the cuff and have it polished and ready to print/ publish in a very short period of time, you learn to do this.

Of course, I would not recommend this technique to most people. I know that many people do not write the way I do. And, even though I write/ edit together, I still take time to organize my thoughts prior to beginning my writing. Admittedly, there are times that the organization is the hardest part of the writing process. Knowing the points you wish to make, remembering them, and stating them succinctly are key to writing- and then you must add the rules of grammar into the equation as well.

I believe the best thing for someone to remember when they are writing is who they are writing for and what they are trying to achieve with their writing. If you are writing a news article you may need to be more persuasive, especially if the goal of the article is to sell or promote something. If, on the other hand, you are writing for your own personal pleasure or release you might convey whatever your thoughts and feelings are on a particular subject- which in present times equals the incessant blogs and other online forms of communication.

The main premise of all writing is to put your thoughts on the topic in order, whether you are writing, speaking or in come cases just thinking. Everything goes back to how we organize our points of view, which in turn translates to how effective we are at conveying this thoughts & ideas to others.