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The Forgotten Behaviors

August 27th, 2010 · No Comments

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ

The amount of spiritedness in discussion today is worrying.  While it’s likely nothing new, the speed at which information can travel causes more discourse then dialogue.  This is more worrying when one looks at the history of rhetoric and what groups/people provided later generations with a solid framework for rhetoric.

Let’s start with the Greeks (although one could start with the ancient Egyptians, Akkadians, or the Ancient Chinese, but we’ll start with the Greeks) as the Greeks were amazing people for the time.  Aside from coming up with the structure for Philosophy that led to  Logic and The Scientific Method,  the Greeks also loved Rhetoric.  When I say Rhetoric, I mean the actual art of swaying observers/listeners to you.  This was a fine art that involved speaking, thinking and being silent.  There was no need to speak over the other and a certain amount of ability was required to participate.  This type of discussion revolved around swaying the audience to you, as opposed to driving the audience from the other.  Today’s world seems fixated on rhetoric to create discourse or obscuring the truth, while classical philosophers  believed and practiced the contrary: the skilled use of rhetoric was essential to the discovery of truths, because it provided the means of ordering and clarifying arguments.

Let us look at this through religion:

The three Abrahamic  religions (or the two Judo-Christian and Islam, however you want to say it) all explicitly state arguing for the sake of discourse is frowned upon (sinful even).  All three religions to state one should say his/her words and not push the matter.  Starting with Judaism (taken from Rabbi Joel Fleekop):

At times – as for judges on a court – thorough debate is even required. But Judaism does, importantly, differentiate between two types of arguments.

Mishnah, Pirkei Avot 5:17 teaches,

“Every argument for the sake of heaven will in the end be of permanent value, but every argument not for the sake of heaven will not endure. Which is an argument for the sake of heaven? The argument between Rabbi Hillel and Rabbi Shammai. And which is an argument not for the sake of heaven? The argument of Korach and his followers.”

In his commentary on the Mishnah, Meiri, a 13th century Cantalonian rabbi elucidates what makes the disagreements between Hillel and Shammai – B’shem Shamayim – for the sake of heaven, and why the arguments raised by Korach were Lo b’shem shamayim – not for the sake of heaven. Meiri explains, “When Hillel and Shammai debated, one of them would render a decision and the other would argue against it, out of a desire to discover the truth, not out of cantankerousness or a wish to prevail over his fellow. In contrast, Korach and his company come to undermine Moses . . . out of envy and contentiousness and ambition for victory.”

We see two clear forms of rhetoric:  rhetoric of benefit and rhetoric of discourse.  The rhetoric of discourse is bent on creating a polarized victory based on some form of greed/selfish desires.  We also see how this type of discourse can create distrust and animosity within one group.  Finally, one should seek the truth even if the truth proves himself/herself  incorrect or wrong.

Moving to the Christian tradition (in the Bible):

2 Timothy 2:24

24And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,

Matthew 7:1-6

1Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

6Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.

Here we see the similar concept.  First, in Timothy, the Bible states to be patient and not quarrelsome.  It does not say to avoid discussion/arguement/debate.  It simply says be patient.  Part of being patient is allowing others to speak and not attacking others.

These verses in Matthew tend to be misinterpreted quite often (I’ve written on this before: http://muhamad.net/?p=22#more-22).  If we look at the two above verses together: the first is about using rhetoric for good.  The second set states do not LOOK for faults in others without first examining yourself.  This shows not to be instigative when in discussion with others.  There is no shame in an argument/discussion/etc, but let it remain on a certain level of civility.

Finally, Islam:

Quran 004:148
Allah does not love the public utterance of hurtful speech unless (it be) by one to whom injustice has been done; and Allah is Hearing, Knowing.

A man asked Ahmad bin Hanbal, “If I am in a majlis (seated discussion/lecture) and in it a sunna (activities of the Prophet)  is mentioned, should I teach it to someone who does not know it?” “Tell the sunna, but do not argue over it.” The man then repeated his question, on which Ahmad said, “I do not see you except an arguer.”

Volume 4, Book 56, Number 759:

Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr:

The Prophet never used bad language neither a “Fahish nor a Mutafahish. He used to say “The best amongst you are those who have the best manners and character.” (See Hadith No. 56 (B) Vol. 8  )

Here we see similar things as above.  There should be an amount of civility in discussion, unless an injustice has been carried out. We also see it is best to avoid helping people who only seek information to create discourse in a public setting (known as “not feeding the troll”  in today’s time)

We see the BEST of people, from all three faiths, is he who shows patience and restraint when engaging others.  The problem is there is too much spiritedness directed at the wrong things, and this spiritedness can easily lead to anger in any setting.

John Morley (24 December, 1838 – 23 September, 1923, a British Liberal statesman, writer and newspaper editor) said it best:

“You have not converted a man because you have silenced him.”

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Idle Capacity

June 14th, 2010 · No Comments

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ

I’ve  been fortunate to travel quite a bit in the last few years, visiting places in Europe, the Middle East and the South Pacific.  One thing I’ve always looked for is the how the “capacity” of said place is, referring specifically to things that drive some type of economic benefit for the location.  Things such as labor usage (vs idle labor). building usage (residential and commercial), infrastructure capacity (roads, sanitation, etc.), among other things.  This interests me for two reasons:

  • The signs of idle capacity can indicate over indulgence during booms or forced stagnation by some internal or external force
  • The signs of over use of some type of capacity can be a sign of a forced means that will come crashing down at some point given inflation and CPI/COL increases.

During my undergraduate years, I was fascinated  by my intro to economics classes and this led me to pursue a degree in economics (along with a degree in accounting).  Webster defines economics as:

a social science concerned chiefly with description and analysis of the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and service

In the advanced undergraduate classes, the student is introduced to the specific components of an economy (labor, transportation, etc.) and how these components work.  One concept that riled my interest was capacity and how different driving forces will dictate what the  “normal” capacity is.

Example:  Dubai saw unreal growth during the credit boom, namely in real estate.  While in the past, there was demand for additional hotels, residential, office, resort living, etc., during the credit boom many buildings were put up simply due to the speculation of the anticipated demand.  The growth is demand did continue, but not at the rate of new construction.  After the commodity market/stock crash and the credit crisis, there are a significant number of empty buildings in Dubai.  Many of these buildings have intentionally left unoccupied as the credit crisis caused a significant price drop in real estate, and any additional excess supply will cause prices to drop even more.

Example: China has experienced a significant boom in its economy, with cheap labor, decent access to raw materials and cheap transportation as its key contributing factors (cheap labor being the key factor).  The wages in China have been kept arbitraily low, using means such as factory housing w/meals among other things to keep these costs down.  With the booming economy in China, the cost of living has spiked dramatically over the last 15-20 years.  This has caused much unrest as people’s income has not matched the increase in cost of living.  This unrest has led to strikes, suicides at plants, etc..  Many companies have responded with aggressive wage increases in short periods of time to make up for the shortcomings in wage increases.  Soon, China will lose one of its major contributing factors to its  booming economy.

Example: The “normal” unemployment rate in Spain is typically above 10%.  The recent downturns in the economy has pushed this above 20%, but typically well above 10% is normal in Spain.  Spain is described as having the “highest quality of life in Europe” (read: very expensive social services provided by the gov, expenses borne by the taxpayer) and this drives the cost of labor up (due to above average cost of living and above average taxes).  Thus there is a significant under utalization of labor resources in the county given the cost.

The first two are examples of an item being forced to operate above a ideal or normal capacity, which forces more accelerated changes in other aspects of an economy and may cause a future impact to strike sooner and to strike harder.   The third is an example of a government forcing certain things to exist regardless of the cost, and this forces more idle capacity as employers are unable to operate at an ideal capacity given the conditions in the economy in question (cost).

Many of these things are due to short sightedness.  Many governments are unwilling to operate on a “big picture” mindset and are focused to demonstrate short term returns even at the cost of more substantial negative long term ramifications.

In any case, I’m sure I’ll touch on this later.

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The impovershied

March 14th, 2010 · No Comments

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Living in a developed country offers many things not available in underdeveloped countries.  Impoverished people in developed countries often struggle for supplemental comfort such as shelter from the elements, clean clothes, comfortable sleep area, etc..   While the impoverished in underdeveloped countries struggle for more basic items for survival such as basic nutrition, clean drinking water, protection from constant fear of harm, etc..  This difference can really be seen in big cities.

People often shy away from giving money to a panhandler in the street.  Given the public does not know how this individual will spend the money, either constructively on food/shelter (necessities) or nonconstructive on cigarettes/drugs, people are not always comfortable simply handing an impoverished person money.  On the other hand, impoverished people have been known to reject offers of help when someone offers the said impoverished person food or the opportunity to select food the passer by will purchase.  This creates a paradox, as there is some “feel good” feeling when helping others, while blindly supporting negative lifestyle habits is counter productive.

On a recent trip to Washington DC, I was waiting for a friend in the downtown area.  There was a homeless man standing outside one of the business holding the door for people as they entered and exited while panhandling.  My first when seeing panhandlers is to see how poor he/she “looks”.  This guy had recently shaven, his jeans looked fairly worn, but were very clean.  His tennis shoes looked to be in very good condition and he was wearing what appeared to be a North Face jacket purchased from a used clothing shop (it was worn, but completely intact).  First look, nothing about this guy looked like the stereotypical person in poverty.  This called for a second test.  I approached the guy and asked:

“Would you like something to eat?”

His eyes lit up and he said yes.

I said to select a place and he indicated anything is fine.  The Subway less than a block away seemed to be the best option.  I gave the guy an open invitation to buy whatever he wanted, since Subway doesn’t serve alcohol and the worst thing you can buy from a Subway is soda (cookies don’t melt teeth).  He ordered a six inch steak and cheese sub, no drink and no cookie.  After the order was complete, he took his sandwich, thanked me and walked away.

On other occasions, I’ve offered panhandlers food/drink only to see him/her look at the item confused and want to throw the item away.  It’s an odd paradox to be in, desiring to help others out, while having a larger interest in NOT supporting destructive habits (drugs, alcohol, etc.).  Simply throwing money at problems (i.e. blindly giving a panhandler money) is NOT a viable solution, as one does not know what the panhandler will do with the money.  Some might argue upon handing the panhandler money, the responsibility is now on the panhandler to behave in a constructive manner.  I reject this notion and believe it is the responsibility of the people donating the money to ensure it goes to productive use.

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Sense of belonging

March 25th, 2009 · No Comments

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ

There is this guy I know.  I’ll refer to him as”M”.

M had a rough childhood, dysfunctional family, parents who should not have been parents, bounced around in the foster care system, trouble with authority, etc..  Your “typical” case of someone in that type of situation.

Fast forward to university days.  M, being a member of multiple minorities, was afforded a full ride from various organizations: Federal Grants, State, etc..  Since M had trouble in his youth with authority and responsibility, his university years did not fare well.  Failed classes, became friends with people who had similar outlooks on life (bad outlook) and became involved with groups that assign blame to others for his/her trouble.  This became more and more ingrained into the mind of M as time progressed.

I became friends with M my junior year (2002-2003).  At that time, M was in pretty bad shape overall; unable to keep his grades up, unable to hold a steady job, and had constant problems with others (ex girlfriends, fake friends, police, etc.).  At that time, M was still on his campaign that reparations should be paid to decedents of slaves, Native Americans, etc (M having heritage in both areas).  That was his sense of belonging.  Over time, we became good friends, and we were roommates for one summer.

Fast forward to the present: M has now joined another minority.  Like almost every other minority, this one has history of being wronged, and M, just as before, has adopted the victim mentality with this group.  More so, he attacks people who belong to groups that historically have wronged his new found minority, and uses the catch all catch phrases to express his plight.

Why do I find this all that fascinating?

In all the time I have known M, he has constantly sought for belonging.  Whether it was with family (trying to be identified as the oldest sibling), to the plight of a struggling student, to being absorbed into a minority with suffering that he could identify with.  M could not operate without identifying with some group.  Now, there is nothing wrong with identifying with some group, but if one’s life involves nothing else, that person becomes consumed by the need for that identity.  On top of that, M feels the need to associate with all the wrongs of the past, and use it to justify the actions and mindset of the present.  He seems to have this need to identify with suffering and blame.

While wrongs of the past can not be denied, using them as the means to define the present and future is not helpful.  It can only create a cyclical environment, as following “the end justifies the means” can only harbor additional aggression in the long run.

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Habitual Nature

March 12th, 2009 · No Comments

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ

My brother related the following story to me from his experiences as a resident:

He had an old man as a patient.  In his words, this was “one of the nicest patients ever.”  The procedure was a success, and when he came to, the first two statements he uttered were “shut up” and “motherf***ker”.  My brother went on to say when someone comes out of a state of general anesthesia he.she is in a state of confusion, and typically say things that are normal to him/her, or that he/she is used to saying.

We all have our bad habits that we refuse to give up.  This becomes a problem when the habit becomes an engrained (or engineered) part of daily life, a routine.  These routines can be masked as long as one is in a constant state of consciousness regarding his/her actions.  The problem arises when something is done in a knee jerk reaction form.  As seen in the example above, the habitual nature of the elderly patient came out after being drugged (state of lowered inhibition).

With this in mind, it should be imperitive to ensure habits are constantly monitored to ensure that the habit:

  • Has little to no negative impact on the self/others
  • If a negative impact exists, the effect does NOT spread beyond the individual (i.e. the habit ONLY affects the person who has the habit)
  • Condition positive impacting habits to offset and negate the negative habit
  • Ensure positive impacting habits are maintained, as consistency is ideal with positive impacting habits

Of course, this list is not exhaustive, but just to show the general idea.

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Life is not…

February 28th, 2009 · No Comments

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ

I’m in a constant state of awe seeing how people enter these elaborate debates across all different mediums on the internet.  Due to the fear of bring branded non-pc, anti-Semitic, a fear monger, etc. people have turned to the anonymity of the internet.  This anonymity offers a shield where anyone (or everyone for that matter) can display an extreme amount of indignation.  It doesn’t matter what the person is advocating, everyone pits his/her indignation against the other’s indignation.

One of the common themes that comes up is how inequality is still thriving between men and women, and nothing will be resolved until the playing field is 100% even.  The term “egalitarian” fits these individuals desire’s quite well.  My response to that:  Life (or reality) is not egalitarian.

No matter how someone will pit the argument, men and women are different.  If we’re going to discuss topics where there should not be a difference between men and women (pay for doing the same work, access to resources, protection under the law, etc.), no argument there.  Those things aside, there are fundamental difference between men and women (biologically).  To list out two:

  • Men can not bear children
  • Men can not nurse

One can enter the more subjective differences between men and women, but that’s just asking for a fight.  We can uses these two biologicially differences to extrapolate how they affect women, both in the short term and long term.

Consider two employees:  one is male, and one is female.  Both provide adequate work, and both are on par for promotions and pay raises.  Assume now the female becomes pregnant.  Now, by law, that female is afforded certain accomodations and also she expects a certain amount of flexibility from her employer to deal with her pregnancy and post birth.  Now assume that you are the manager.  You need to appoint someone to a potential managerial position, and it’s someone you need to depend on.  You have no issues with either employee from a quality of work standpoint.  You also have no issue with either employee from a soft skill perspective.  The only defining point is you, as the manager, know that the female employee is at a stage in her life where she is building a family, and as such, there is the risk that she will be taking more time during the day to take care of family related matters.  That, however, does not guarantee that she will be unable to fulfill her responsibilities, but there is an added risk that can’t be ignored.

Again, I am intentionally avoiding the more subjective issues (decision making, discipline, inhibition, etc.).  Achieving a complete state of  egalitarianism or equality is impossible.  Men and women are different, and as such, the circumstances will always be different.  There are certain situations where society can help bring down discriminatory practices, but in the end, business is business.  If people are expected to operate in a completely objective manner, then each individual’s circumstances will dictate how others view him/her, and by default, no two people have the exact same circumstances.

Complete egalitarianism is not possible.  Complete equality is not possibe.  What we can do is strive for complete equity.

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The Chance of God

February 2nd, 2009 · No Comments

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ

One aspect of the Internet is that it allows like minded people to connect on a global scale.  One community that has grown in collaboration considerably is the Atheist community. An on going debate between groups/individuals is does God exist, or, is someone a believer in evolutionism or creationism.  Often, the competing groups will use different methods of analysis to come to what each perceives (or believes, if that word can be used) to be a conclusion.  One of the leading arguments to deny the existence of God is we have no “proof” recognizable by science, human interaction, etc. that shows the existence of a creator.   Some of the main justifications used:

  • The Problem of Evil (Epicurus argument) – See link
  • Inability to prove religion by “human experience”
  • etc.

The group/people who believe in a creator give a handful of different responses ranging from:

  • The creator is beyond the comprehension of humans (i.e. concept of infinity)
  • He/she “feels” the spirituality because he/she embraces the religion
  • etc.

Modernity has taken the argument on a rather stark turn.  Many people now use human experiences or anthropomorphic examples to “explain” God.  The people who argue against the existence of God see this as a gold mine, as it falls directly into Epicurus’ argument of being an “incapable” God, or the argument that all things have an origin, and the concept of God is flawed because how can nothing before God?

My take on this:  Ignore both arguments and consider the following:

Lots of things happen where we (people) have no input, it just happens.  Some examples: digestion, waste excretion, coughing, child birth, immune system adjustment, etc..  If we look at the world around us we see other things that simply “happen” – bird/herd migration, shifting in animal/insect species, natural occurring food chain, familial/tribal ties with animals, etc.

Now using these things, let us examine the two sides of the argument:

Those who deny the existence of a creator claim that life began as simple, single cell life forms.  Over eons of time, these life forms became more complex and by chance, were able to develop and form into all the various creatures we have today.  From one cell operation – to a multi-organ complex life form that even today, science can NOT explain how all the parts actually work.

Those who accept the existence of a creator claim that God (or whatever deity) created all forms of life.  God created the Earth, space, etc. and made it bountiful for creation to flourish.  Another aspect of the argument is that this deity created humans from clay/dust/dirt, and made it the “best” of creation (i.e. a complex being with the ability to rationalize, make decisions based on predicted outcome, etc.).

Now lets use simple logic to try and asses this.  In one case, we have everything happening by PURE chance.  A simple life form born out of carbon, slowly but surely develops over time and becomes a MASSIVE array of complex life forms; again, all by chance.

In the other case, we have an entity that is above all life, something beyond human comprehension.  This deity gave everything a “start”, and after that, things, for the most part over human history, proceeded at the will of the inhabitants.  The origin of humanity, in this case, is accepted as a known.

In one hand, we have pure chance, and no scientific evidence that connects all the dots.  Science claims that one day, all the answers will be known and it is ONLY a matter of time until the connection is made.  In the other hand, science is irrelevant.  Science is accepted as a powerful tool, and the ability to resolve many of the issues facing humanity, but not the tool to explain the “whole”.  Perhaps the ability to explain the “part”, but not the “whole”.  The “whole” can not be understood during one’s normal life.

From that perspective, for me at least, it seems that the chance of God is quite high.  It appears to be more logical that something had a hand in life, because chance will always be chance.  For the domino effect to have happened, all on its own, the conditions would have had to been perfect for each step to progress, and by that theory, we should still be progressing.  The other case has no domino effect, aspects of evolution are accepted, species go extinct, some new species pop up from time to time.  Something got the ball rolling, and after that (for the most part), the ball has been on its own.

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The Power of Language

January 17th, 2009 · No Comments

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ

I’m always amazed at the power of language and how certain words have the ability to convey certain messages.  Part of this stems from being bilingual, more so when I find words that can not be adequately translated between two languages.  The other part is from people who, for whatever reason, seem to ignore the meaning of the language when they either are bilingual, or only speak one language but choose to use words borrowed from another language as opposed to something in his/her native language that has much more meaning.

Examples:

Hi/Hello are simple salutations in the English language.  Meaning wise, they are both pretty thin, but they are accepted as salutation.

Bye/Goodbye: Are simple bids of farewell in the English language.

If we turn to Arabic of Hebrew:

The Hebrew word Shalom(שָׁלוֹם), which can translate to peace, completeness, and welfare and the corresponding Arabic word Salaam (سلام ) which also can translate to peace, whole, safe, and intact.  Both Shalom and Salaam can either be used as a greeting/farewell bid on its own or a part of a longer phrase.

Another, Adios (Spanish) is the contraction of “a” (to) and “Dios” (God), from the old Spanish phrase “A Dios vais” (“You’re going to God”, meaning to the Kingdom of Heaven). It is roughly equivalent to the English phrase “Godspeed” or “Go with God” (“Vaya con Dios”).

The English language has a farewell bid that follows these same lines, but is rarely used these days.  Godspeed, as a word, is a wish for a prosperous journey, success, and good fortune.  Or: From Middle English God spede (you), may God prosper (you).

Why I believe this is important?  Language, in general, has very rich meaning.  When one studies old languages such as Hebrew, Latin, Arabic, Greek, etc., one can find deep rooted meanings that can not be properly translated to other languages.  There are many words in Arabic/Hebrew that when translated, lose aspects of the meaning they contain in the words; native language.  Often times, a word of sufficient definition can not be found in other languages.

The other part that gets me is when people who speak a language that has deep rooted meaning in salutations/farewells and substitute that word or phrase for one that has no meaning.  A perfect example is Arab speaking people.  Regardless of religion, there are a number of greetings/farewell bidding that have meaning.  From what I’ve seen over time, many people in Arab speaking countries, as well as in non-native Arab speaking countries will ditch those greetings and instead use more general, internationally recognized words/phrases (hey, bye), which usually are meaningless.

Some might say that the richness of language has partially been forgotten, that people only respond with these meaningful words/phrases because that’s how he/she was taught.  In the end, whether or not you know what the word means, it still conveys a message and someone who understands it can/will appreciate it.

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Marriage is…

January 1st, 2009 · No Comments

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ

I recently attended a lecture about marriage at a convention.  The convention covered a wide variety of issues, but all the sessions by this particular speaker were about marriage.  The speaker was trying to provide a reference to what marriage means.  He went on with all the things people say…

Some of the items he mentioned; Marriage is:

  • An agremeent/contract
  • The binding of two people
  • Two people becoming one
  • A relationship
  • etc…

To keep the audience engaged, he mentioned a few jokes throughout his sessions.  One of his jokes really caught my attention as it defined how people view life today (from a modernity perspective).  The joke went something like this:

A lady came to me and said she thinks she is ready to get married.  I said how glorious is this day, do tell me, what has prepared you for marriage.  The lady responded that she is established in her career, has her own car, and her own home all fully paid by her.  I smiled and told her she was not ready for marriage, rather she was ready for divorce.

The audience graciously accepted the joke with its laughter, but that joke hooked me in.  While it was quite funny, it was true.  The modern (or Western) idea around marriage is that you need to ready from the materialistic aspect of life before getting married.  Have degrees, money, be established, etc..  While these are valid, they are not catch all.  The speaker went on to saying people are viewing marriage as means of convenience between two people, if it can work out.  That many people enter into a marriage unwilling to move beyond the idea of independence and “my” priorities.

He concluded that these ideas are why we have so many failed marriages.  The idea that we need to be independent in a marriage as opposed to co-dependent.  When people enter into a marriage, that entrance is mainly an entrance into co-dependence on each other, no matter what each party’s preconceived notions were it does not change reality of marriage.  Not accepting that reality accelerates the failure of the marriage.

It’s interesting when someone mentions something one might assume is common knowledge, when really it is not.

Reality has a harsh way of dealing with people who refuse to accept it.  Regardless how well a person can build up his/her fake reality, it will catch up with them eventually…

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Living in the Present

November 15th, 2008 · No Comments

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ

We were having breakfast with some friends a few weekends ago.  We were making the usual small talk, catching up, when we came up on a story that began in the summer.  To give the full perspective, we’ll start there.

My friend and his wife went to the Caribbean during the summer to attend the wedding of the wife’s sister.  It was a very elaborate (and expensive) wedding that the soon to be wed couple planned.  Many people who attended were not happy with the situation, as they felt it important to attend the wedding, but were displeased with the arrangements (distance, cost, inconvenience, etc.).

Now on to why that’s important:

I asked my friend’s wife how her sister was doing with her husband.  She signed in disappointment and my friend took the liberty of responding:

“She’s getting divorced.  Her husband is addicted to porn and won’t stop”

Normally a statement like that would surprise me, but this this it only garnered a shrug.  We, as consumers, enjoy detachment from society from time to time.  We watch movies, listen to music, read books, and play video games.  Often, there is a message conveyed in these mediums of entertainment and part of the message is some detachment from reality.  The problem, as it appears to me, is people have a desire to live in this false sense of reality.  It appears real, and people seem to think they can derive more joy from fake reality as opposed to reality.

Where does that leave society?  Do people actually prefer to immerse themselves in a fake reality as opposed to live in reality?  Is that sustainable?  I know this much; it can’t be healthy to become addicted/stuck on an fake reality.  Then, to top it off, withdraw from reality to spend as much time as possible in this fake reality…

Note: The false sense of reality can apply to anything, gaming, video media, music, etc.

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