Archive for the ‘Philosophical’ Category

4,000 Words on Elliot Rodger – Much Ado About Nothing

I keep reading so many perspectives on this whole Elliot Rodger perspective. Who he was. What was wrong with him. How the tragedy could have been prevented. Because isn’t that what we always search for? Someone or something to blame so we can somehow move on after a tragedy. Somehow feeling safe or like life isn’t totally out of our control. I’m a control freak, I get that. But in these cases, I have no control. Society has no control. And people aren’t one-dimensional. We are a product of our past, a product of our minds and a product of everything around us and our perspective.

I Rodger’s manifesto this weekend before there was much written about him. I read it in an attempt to build my own impression of the guy. I watch who he became unfold and evolve as he “grew up” in his “story.” I realize his story is his own. Ten of us could have the exact same night, and our perspectives of the night and our stories would all be different. We would talk about things that are important to us, and from our perspectives. We might leave out details that are important to us, or integral to understanding who we are.

All that said, there are so many things going in in this guy’s head. Some things I feel sorry for the hand he was dealt. Social anxiety and Asperger’s. Not an easy way to make lots of friends. Other times I wanted to shake him and scream, “LIFE ISN’T FAIR!” or, “JUST BECAUSE YOU CHECK ITEMS ON A LIST DOESN’T MAKE YOU ENTITLED!” He commonly thought if he did certain things, he should get certain things. Part of that might be a manifestation of Asperger’s. And an inability to connect with people. If you can’t connect with someone, it’s hard to 1. Be empathetic or see their perspective and more importantly 2. See there’s more to a relationship than looks and material things. I do feel bad that his brain works this way, and that his parents didn’t or couldn’t correct some of his entitled thinking. But I also think we’re all creating our own destiny. If you want to meet someone, you have to put yourself out there. If you want to be successful, you have to take risks. If you want to be smart, you have to be willing to work to learn, and accept that failure’s part of it. Life isn’t easy. Growing up is hard. And being an adult is a lot different than we think it’s going to be when we’re kids.

We don’t just get what we want because we want it, even if we did when we were kids. In life, there are winners and losers in EVERYTHING, even if we never won or lost at a sport or in a contest as kids. We aren’t entitled to love or affection. And if you aren’t willing to give and risk, you won’t find or receive love, especially romantic love. Jealousy, envy and rage don’t make things you feel are unjust go away. And even if you don’t like something or think it’s “fair,” it doesn’t mean you’re right to want it to be different. We are all good at some things, but not at others. Everyone struggles with stuff, and everyone has things they’re good at. If you think you’re not good at anything, you either haven’t tried enough things, or your self-esteem is really low. The bigger your world gets, the more you’ll realize there are a lot of really smart people. Really good-looking, confident people. Really ambitious people. Really creative people. It’s nearly impossible to be “the best” at any one thing, let alone at everything, like many kids think they are or should be. It’s a lot of work to be successful in anything: love, career, or even personal ambitions.

No one of us is owed a romantic relationship. Some people look their whole lives and never find love. Others don’t look at all, and feel like they deserved more. It’s hard to feel sorry for someone complaining about something he did very little work to attain, but in a world of entitlement, that’s what’s expected. Only a parent can’t setup “play dates” to find a girlfriend or boyfriend. At some point, children need to learn to adapt and survive in the “real world.” And if they don’t have the mental or emotional tools to do that, it’s tough. Parents are expected to encourage independence and self-worth, but sometimes the children are resistant. And they’re left feeling lost and helpless. We’ll never know enough of the full details of Rodger’s childhood and young adulthood to know if his story is an accurate portrayal of his life. My guess is he’s left out a lot of details. Victims always do. He was a victim of his own mind – a theme that runs deep and heavy in society today. We enable victims. We accept excuses. And we encourage blame-placing. Continue reading

A Tale Of Movie Theaters, Popcorn, Texting and Disrespect

I’m so intrigued by this Florida movie theatre shooting incident. The one where the ex-cop, Curtis Reeves, shot the guy texting. On one hand, what an over-reaction. On the other, is there anything more fucking annoying than someone on a cell phone during a movie? No one in the world is that important they can’t stay off their phones (or walk out of the theatre to take a call). Since when does anyone get a life-altering text? And I realize it was just the previews. But the lights were down. Just shut off your phones, people. Shut them off at the movies. Shut them off at church. Shut them off when you’re actively playing with your children. And shut them off when you’re out to dinner with someone. Spend time in the moment. Stop putting the person on the other end of the phone before everyone who’s present with you. Even if it is your three year old daughter… Wait. Seriously. He wasn’t texting his child.

OK, so the real deal here is I think this guy is crazy. But I know how people get pushed to crazy with inconsideration. For example, I hate standing in lines. People are rude and selfish. They don’t want to stand in lines either. But rather than just doing it, they find a way to cut. This infuriates me. No one wants to wait, but you’re not any more important than me. If someone kicked someone’s ass for cutting in line, I could totally relate. If I were tough, I might do it, too. Instead, I’m passive aggressive.

The only people who say texting during a movie isn’t distracting is the texter. A few years ago I went to a movie with a group of girls. I got talked into that terrible move, Magic Mike. I didn’t want to go, and didn’t give two shits about the movie. Yet, when my friend kept checking her phone during the movie, I wanted to punch her. First, because it was distracting me from the terrible movie. Every time she’d turn her phone on, I’d be distracted. What if I missed one of Matthew McConughdhsychay’s ab muscles? OK, seriously, I did not care about this movie, but it was still annoying. But worse than that, every time she’d pull it out EVERYONE around us (it was a packed theatre, seriously, why do women love this stuff?) would get annoyed. She did it several times. One person behind us asked her to put it away. Kindly. Just tapped her on the shoulder. She pulled it down into her lap more. In a dark theatre, the glowing light of a cell phone is still a distraction.

About 20 minutes later a movie theater employee came in and said she needed to put it away or she’d be asked to leave. She said, “OK.” Acted annoyed, and put it away. For about fifteen minutes. It was like a compulsion. Her sister kept reaching over, putting her hand over the screen and saying, “Put it away. I don’t want to get kicked out.” She’d act put out. And put it away for a second. Then take it out again.

This woman is no one. Not in a “you’re not important” sense, but in a self-promoted important way. She can step away from her job for a few hours. Or a few weeks for that matter! Her family is perfectly capable of taking care of themselves. And Facebook wasn’t going to shut down. So why couldn’t she stop? Even when her friends and sister told her to stop. When someone behind her asked her to stop. Even when threatened with ejection.

I found out later she was lucky to get a warning. That theatre has a zero-tolerance policy.

This is the same woman who told me her screaming child is “cute.” In the Midwest, customers are always right. She got kicked out of a Mexican restaurant for her relentlessly screaming child. That’s how disconnected she is from courtesy. She is also consistently late to meetings and is a terrible parker. But she’s a very nice person. Honestly. She’s a good friend and a dedicated mom. She cares about her family and has rescued her nephew from essentially being put out on the street. But she’s somehow devolved into this self-important person in public. It’s embarrassing.

If someone approaches her and asks her to stop, she thinks THEY are wrong. She was appalled a theatre employee had time to come in to tell her to put her phone away. And declared she’d never re-visit that Mexican restaurant. She would never violently approach someone with big words or aggression like Oulson appears to have done, so it’s unlikely she’ll ever get shot. But she’s so unaware of how she acts and how she comes across. And doesn’t think anything she’s done is wrong. And is appalled anyone could tell her what to do.

Now, she doesn’t deserve to be shot. Neither did Oulson. But with this inconsideration running rampant in society, and so many people thinking they are the only person at the center of the universe, it’s bound to happen. Is it right? No. But any grown person should know better than to aggressively approach someone. Or throw popcorn. Or to be texting at all in the first place. Once the lights go down, cell phones should be turned off. I don’t want to leave the theatre ten minutes into the movie to report you. Just turn them off when it’s dark. Easy enough!

If we’d all take a little more time to think about anyone other than ourselves. Or calmly say, “Hey, just texting my daughter’s daycare before the movie starts, I’ll put it away now/after the previews/I won’t use it during the movie” it would all probably be fine. Just like taking your screaming toddler out of the highchair to coddle him, or take him outside, or get your order to go would stop you from getting ejected from a restaurant. And a lot more people would be a lot less angry for being disrespected or slighted or for wasting their money paying for something that you’ve ruined.

Again, no one deserves to be shot. But we all deserve to be treated with more respect than we are. All the way around. In all facets of life.

Well Screw You, Too, Vatican!

What the hell is wrong with the Catholic church? I used to be Catholic. Hell, I guess I still am, it’s not like there’s a formal way to say, “Thanks but no thanks.” I stopped tithing years ago, telling myself I’d start again when they got some of their shit together. But after awhile, even attending church seemed like such a scam to me. Seriously? I’m going to fill the seat of a place I disagree with so strongly?

  • A place that hides pedophilia – protecting the criminals, hurting the victims further. I do not approve of pedophilia. But beyond that, I abhor cowards. Those who aren’t strong enough to protect children. Those who are more worried about the bottom line than the right thing. Those who are more worried about image than ethics. Screw that. This is the biggest reason I gave the church the oust with tithing.
  • A place where there’s time to redo the entire mass, the whole thing, changing inane words and phrases… But can’t get their shit together to take care of the pedophilia? THIS is the point I stopped going to church. Well, I hadn’t been going religiously. But I remember the first time I went post-change. It was the last I went because I wanted to.
  • A place where women are sub-human. Where they’re expected to bite their lip and turn the other way. A place where it’s “not remotely realistic” that a woman could be ordained a cardinal. Well, screw you, too, Vatican! The church is openly sexist. And we follow along like it’s OK. What makes men better priests or bishops? What makes men more qualified to be cardinals or popes? And don’t reply with something awful, or I’ll delete the comment. Women are as capable as men to do this stuff. And for the Vatican to come out and scoff at it like women are sub-human and not qualified pisses me off. To the core. Fuck you.
  • A place that claims to be built on love, but is fueled by hate, hypocrisy, and greed. The Catholic Church is the biggest, most profitable corporation in the entire world. Yes, seriously. And where there’s money there’s greed and corruption and skewed moral compasses. Is this really what religion is about? For Catholicism it is. But beyond that, they hate everyone. And are so filled with self-righteousness it makes me sick. In their sanctimonious world, everyone is evil and a sinner. Everyone except the one throwing stones. The church worries more about condemning everyone than finding a way to love. They hate because they’re scared. They hate because that’s how it’s always been. They hate becuse they refuse to be undrestanding or compassionate. They hate because they’re not good people. And a bunch of these not-good-people get together and stew… Making a bigger pot of hate than the day before. I don’t want to be a part of an organization that condemns gays. Or that judges premarital sex or birth control or some other personal thing others are doing that is none of your damn business. You don’t want to use birth control, fine. Stop calling others sinners. I think you calling them a sinner is a sin in itself. But when you’re so full of vengeful pride, you can’t see beyond your own ego.

The sad thing is, I was starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I had hope Pope Francis was going to make changes. He was starting to preach love and acceptance, only to have some asshat at the top come out and say, “That’s not what he meant. Nothing will change.” Then he sends out a survey asking about perception with divorce and same-sex marriage, and someone from the top reassures everyone it means nothing. And the Pope discusses the idea of women cardinals, and for some small-minded dick to come out and scoff at it like women are dirt under his feet? It’s so frustrating.

Once upon a time, slavery was considered accepted. And when they worked to abolish it, many people said, “This was always the way.” Well, just because you’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean it’s right.  It doesn’t make it OK. And look at our world now. Many people still marginalize the worth of non-whites. Even in a world where we’re all mixed breed. We still find a way to hate.

So Catholic Church will likely never right this ship during my lifetime. But I did have hope they’d start to turn the wheel. Breeding hate lasts far longer than the moment you spew it. It creates stereotypes and accepted ideals. It makes people think they’re better when they’re actually worse. So many crimes are committed in the name of religion. Maybe we should start to see that such radicalism, such hate-breeding isn’t good for anyone.

Maybe the Catholic Church should start to oust some of the higher ups. Those who keep undoing the good Pope Francis is trying to do. He should find these anonymous sources and get them out of the church. Many people I know who have lost faith in Catholicism have started to have hope the church might be in their future. But it almost makes it worse when the pope makes some grand declaration, only to have someone come in behind him and not only knock down what he said, but kick it one more time, making sure no one anywhere could ever take anything from them.

When, if they were doing the right thing and doing a good job they wouldn’t be threatened at all. They’d embrace improvement. They’d embrace change. And they’d want the foundation of the church to find its way back to a moral-based, loving, encouraging, compassionate, sincere foundation.

I’m Single – That’s How I Wanna Be

I have had a weekend of feeling super adjusted and satisfied with my life. Mostly I just coast through weekends and don’t pay much attention. Then this weekend I hit a trifecta with a bonus moment.

First, hung out with some single friends Friday. One engaged couple, but the rest single. Had a fantastic time. Sometimes I feel like if I had a boyfriend or husband I’d miss those moments or at least occasionally have to pass. But, instead, we ate, drank and had a great time. Win.

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Des and Brooks – Typical Doomed Relationship

I swore I’d never speak of The Bachelor(ette) again in writing, but I can’t resist. Someone drag my soapbox over here because I need to put all this poop in one generalized group and tell you what’s wrong with people in the dating pool.

  • People like Des want what they can’t have. The person they like doesn’t like them back, so to make up for it, they love harder. This makes them feel like they’re in love. What’s really happening is over-compensating. In Des’s case, this is compounded by feeling like she’s in a position of power. Don’t get me wrong, falling in love in like seven or nine weeks (or whatever the other sucker whose unrequited love for Des will send him on a spiral next week, and probably in real life as he watched how little she really cared said) is totally unrealistic. But I do think it’s possible in seven or nine weeks to know if you’re not the right fit. Hell, I think it’s possible to know in tow or three dates, honestly. If you don’t feel it you don’t feel it. Anyway, Brooks has always been unsure and distant, less emotionally attached than the others. And Des has always been drawn to this. Why? Who the hell knows, but I see it all the time.
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    Boston Police Sergeant Sean Murphy Should Be Reprimanded – It’s Not OK To Level The Playing Field

    Oh my God. Most Americans. So extreme. So short-sighted. So stupid.

    Alright, that’s not fair. I’m basing my stereotype on the shit people write in the comments section of an article. But for real, what’s wrong with people?

    They don’t want a police officer reprimanded for breaking one of their internal policies? Do they understand what policies are for? Do they want policies broken “because it was OK this time” when their family member is in jail? Do they want policies disregarded when it’s their child’s case? Do they want little policies thrown out now, and then in five years, those policies forgotten, it’s not such a big deal to break bigger policies?

    Plus, in my opinion I think proved nothing.

    Continue reading

    In A World Of Extremes – Are People All Good Or All Bad?

    In an upper-level psychology class I took AFTER getting both my undergrad and graduate degree in business, I learned when a person sees other people as all good or all bad, it’s a type of psychological disorder. Seeing any situation as black or white, and ignoring the gray, isn’t healthy. For the record, and to go off on a tangent before even starting this post, I think everyone should take far more psychology classes. Endlessly interesting and educational, assuming you want to learn and grow from it. As a person who tried to get into management, then decided I wasn’t ready, my biggest weakness was understanding others’ motivations (or lack thereof). So my intention wasn’t to understand myself so much as to understand others.

    Anyway, in that class, there was a discussion of people seeing others as all good or all bad, and failing to see the gray area. This is an issue because it’s rarely ever true. There aren’t generally people who always do the right thing, or never slip up morally or emotionally or physically or whatever. For example, I think my parents are genuinely good people. They set a standard for doing the right thing because it’s the right thing. That said, they’ve both said mean things to me. My mom especially. Things that seem mean spirited and don’t have any purpose. Things that probably hurt a lot because it’s so rare. And I think my brain has a hard time wrapping around that they aren’t all good. But I remind myself of that, and feel like that helps me be less critical or harsh.

    The same thing can be said for people who do bad things. Really bad things. For example, serial killers. BTK specifically. He was obviously a bad person. He killed people across decades, and was able to cover it up. He had a psyche he hid from his family and friends. So, was he a bad person? Yes. Was he all bad? I’m not sure. I’m not sure how you know. It sounds like he was a good father and husband, even being a stickler for details. I know lots of fathers and husbands who are very anal. And I think they’re good people. So was he motivated to be that person on the exterior to cover up the evil? Or was there actually good and evil in him? Was at one point he an all good person, and he devolved into these evil characteristics? Were there layers? How do you know? When someone like this is arrested, they’re vilified, and it seems we never get a real understanding of the person. He volunteered at his church. Was that all a cover-up? Or was he trying to make up for the bad things he had done by going above the standards for a general parishioner? I don’t know that we’ll ever know. But it’s popular to turn these people in to all bad. To take away any redeeming qualities. And maybe they have none. I’m not sure. I’m just trying to explore that from the perspective this teacher gave.

    And specifically when talking about Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. We want to believe they’re all evil. We don’t want to see any human or sensitive qualities. We don’t want to make excuses for them because we fear those excuses will be used for future bombers and terrorists. But should we understand? Or try to understand? Why are we so scared? Are we scared of passing off blame? Because despite understanding, I feel these two are 100% accountable for their actions. They’re adults. And while Dzhokhar probably doesn’t have a fully developed brain, he didn’t act in a moment of impulse. He acted in a methodical, thought-out, slowly progressing manner. He’s responsible for his actions, and no precursor makes it OK to kill strangers.

    But I do want to explore and understand. I do want to have some perspective of how this all started. I do want to consider not only what led up to, but what warning signs there were, if any. What could be done, if anything. Maybe nothing. There will never be a way to rid the world totally of evil. I realize and respect that. But you take someone like the Tsarnaev brothers and wonder if it could have gone another way.

    This is why I was interested in the Rolling Stone article.

    I don’t think Dzhokhar is glamorized. I don’t think he’s raised to rock star status, whatever that means. Hell, I don’t even know why there is such a thing as “rock star status.” Maybe Americans should consider why it’s OK to idolize rock stars or movie stars or sports stars at all. No, seriously. These are just regular people. Also shades of gray as far as good and bad goes. Many are indulge in lives of drugs and alcohol, or cheating, or deception or scandal. They’re no better than the guy in the cubicle next to you, aside from an artistic or performance talent. Maybe the guy next to you has a different talent. One that popular culture doesn’t garner the same media attention, or the same over-inflated paycheck. But I bet he’s a good dude. Smart, motivated, interesting. Or maybe he’s as boring as he seems. I don’t know who you sit next to. But I sit among some smart people with a variety of talents. Some smarter than I could be, even if I stopped writing drivel and started trying to be smarter. And I don’t idolize them. But I also don’t idolize fame. Or even money. I’d like to have money so I can get out of the corporate world hamster wheel, but that’s all. And what would I do then? Who knows. But working is a part of life, so I do it. What did I take away from the Rolling Stone article?

    1. First and foremost, it saddens me that Tamerlan came to his mother, the person who should always protect him, with fears of a second person inside him. Instead of seeking medical help, she pushed him toward religion. And when that became obsessive, she didn’t step in. She encouraged it. At fault here, if blame falls anyone aside from the brothers, is the mother. It’s harsh, but as a parent you take on certain responsibilities. She failed. And I hate to think how this would have turned out with proper concern and care.
    2. Second, the article lays out a life where the brother was worshiped. A life where the family was disconnected in seeking happiness or fulfillment for any of the children. A life where daughters were sold off in arranged marriages when they started doing things that weren’t acceptable. As a woman, I am sickened that this happened (luckily both daughters got out of those marriages, unfortunately, it resulted in severing ties with the family). So the structure of the family wasn’t traditional. A lot of pressure was put on Tamerlan, as well as a lot of probably unsought pressure through hero-worship. Do people like to be looked up to? Sure, but I know I’d prefer to be me. Not me as a role model. Again, this fault falls on the parents.
    3. Third, Dzhokhar was left seemingly alone to figure out some of the most complicated parts of life. When he should have been developing friendships and had the guidance of his family, he was at a college he didn’t love and wasn’t challenged by. When you’re the smartest guy in the room, it’s tough. I’m not saying he was smarter than everyone, but he definitely wasn’t challenged. And he was looking for somewhere to fit in in the world. Cue his brother, who is obviously suffering from a mental disorder.

    The article didn’t state specifically when Tamerlan’s worry about another person inside him started. So it’s hard to tie how that might relate to Dzhokhar. Many mental diseases are genetic, and often time these things show up in young men in their late teens and early twenties. Maybe Dzhokhar had some of the same issues, and he went to his brother, who helped him the same way he was helped.

    Maybe not.

    Maybe Dzhokhar simply was involved in the same her0-worship discussed above, and put his brother’s opinions above logic.

    Maybe not.

    Maybe Dzhokhar was just a bored, entitled kid who was looking for something selfish to do.

    Maybe not.

    I don’t get religious extremism. And I’m talking any religion. I don’t understand throwing logic and empathy out the window with the purpose of seeing only one way. And often that way is jaded and foggy and, well, wrong. But even through the murk, that’s all these people see. And it comes from worship. Many people believe religious worship is the only kind of worship that’s OK. And in America, where worship of all kinds of shades of gray people are worshiped, I suppose it should be OK. But much like how we need to see that sports stars aren’t infallible, we need to see religion isn’t always perfectly right. And extreme religion is a way of helping people belong, giving them a purpose and allowing them not to think. In a time when Dzhokhar was claiming to want to think, he was allowing someone else to think for him. In a time he felt alone, he was making companionship out of manipulators. This isn’t unlike any other religion or group of extremists. But it’s still sad.

    Was there good inside Dzhokhar or Tamerlan? I bet there was. Was there any left in their darkest moments, it’s hard to see it. But after all of the darkness is washed away, is there any good left? I don’t know. That’s what I’m trying to understand. For someone who was good at one point, is it all lost and gone forever? Is it all drown out by anger and hate? Or does that good still dwell inside? And does it ever swell up again? I have to hope so. Because Dzhokhar is young. And even though his life will probably be spent in prison, I hope he finds peace. And I hope the prison system has some way to help him deal with any mental disease he has, assuming he has one.