Archive for November, 2012

Minor Major Movements

November 28, 2012 Leave a comment

The most pernicious sort of annoyance is the one that strikes one slowly. The gentle ticking or slow, nearly silent whining of a drill in use. Unlike the major disturbance: the explosion, flash of light, or physical assault, the gradual and gentle approach leaves the soft annoyances prone to strike more deeply.

We can learn much from this reality. Strike at your enemy not with a rapid fire assault; instead, repeat an annoying pop song endlessly. The powerful flash of light may blind one temporarily but upon recovery the threat is not only aware of hazard but prime to respond. The better technique is slow and soft, the ever-present strobe or wave that gains acceptance by virtue of existence. We’ll accept if it’s not too annoying or if its occasional disrupting force leaves us capable of working as we were.

Leave the pattern of behavior uninterrupted and the invasion will certainly succeed. It is only via our reactions that we know to fend of a danger. Each of us is a toad in the water: blissfully unaware as the heat rises up to boil us alive. Don’t dare shock the water; instead, warm it slow and soft and we may just cuddle snugly at our killer and welcome with a grin the very force that seeks to squash.

I Think, I Thought, I Knew

November 25, 2012 Leave a comment

How much of perception stems from the confirmation of what we sense? Given an initial impulse, say a flash of light, we come to sense that we know the source of the impulse. Sensing stimuli we take it in, draw conclusions and work to a state of perceived understanding. We may not know for sure what the flash of light means but by taking it in and processing its existence we develop understanding. In our own way we create a reality based on these perceptions. They may not be accurate or even close to objective reality but via these subjective conclusions we function in the world and in many cases protect ourselves from danger.

But what of confirmations of these perceptions? Venturing to predictions  how we we distinguish between knowing something will happen and it actually happening? If I think that my friends are throwing a surprise party for me and they eventually do, did I know all along? Or, if I think the party will take place but it does not did I simply think it would? Where does this transformation from thinking and coming come? Is a confirmation of a belief transform the idea into knowledge? In a way, one who thinks of a hackneyed fix to a critical problem but never speaks up may in fact know a solution decades before the solution comes into existence.

Herein lies the common conundrum of an inventor who claims to have created a product decades before another inventor moved the same idea into production. “I thought of that decades ago,” we may hear. For some the very thought of an idea makes it one’s possession. Of course any system that assigns ownership to abstract concepts is asking for confusion and drama. Perhaps the greatest challenge is tracing where ideas begin- where initial inspirations work to influence or where other limitations make transforming ideas into more concrete forms difficult. Is there a homeless genius scribbling cures for diseases on wrinkled McDonald’s wrappers out there? Maybe the solutions to all of our problems are waiting for our discovery, just out of reach.

What Means of This Connection

November 23, 2012 Leave a comment

While billions view American films and hear American music, few will actually step foot on American shores. As a result, America is an image or concept less communicated by its leaders and more by its artistic dynamos. Are our leaders elected or selected? Hollywood heroes or political dynamos?

Films cast a sense of America to international viewers that remains contrasted only by military action. Few features of American life venture beyond national shores and while a President may make occasional trips to international locations, the real connection with America comes via media.

Consider the connection America has with the Middle East. How is this relationship defined? Does a religious leader who stifles American culture’s present in his or her country work to deny a greater sense of American life? Does the demonization of America begin not with rhetoric but a denial of its culture? Control how the population comes to make sense of something and the concept remains controlled.

One can quickly consider the perception of America in relation to the expanse of culture allowed to reach international citizens. In countries where American culture can communicate images and concepts the perception of America remains positive. American diplomacy is best suited by exposure to American culture via media and active diplomats should work first to allow American culture to exist in foreign countries.

Can we ease global tension with our movies? Perhaps this is a stretch but an initial action that uses media to convey American people and concepts takes a powerful step towards suggesting who we are and what we stand for. Before diplomats and soldiers send the movies and the tunes. Wars may be won or lost on the battlefield but we may just stop them by our movie stars and music acts.

Drastic Misperceptions

November 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Experience lends itself to the establishment of expectations. We meet someone and immediately begin to draw conclusions about who he is. Considering a cadre of details we gather facts in order to get a “greater picture” of who it is that stands before us. We do this for a number of reasons and one can only assume an evolutionary connection. The need to quickly comprehend the intentions of another is critical to one’s survival; though as society has developed and our rules of behavior have become established these sensory behaviors become less about sustaining life and more about maintaining pride and friendship.

The complexity of communication is only compounded by our ability to hide true intention. We lie, we hide or we subtly hint at what we really mean. While this hidden or secondary line of communication unravels we clog the communicative line by presenting false ideas in via our primary line of communication. We say we’d rather not while all the while rolling our eyes on the subject, blinking to our interests and adjusting vocal tones to suggest that we do in fact have interest.

Perhaps the greatest shock in our development is when we recognize this tendency of human communication. Seeing for the first time that people can communicate the complete opposite of what they feel renders all future communication jumbled. We see the game at play and recognize ourselves as both spectators and players. Aware that we can twist our meanings we willingly enter into a communicative landscape where a consideration of potential value begins. Is there a benefit to lying? How might being honest hurt me?

All of society is founded on the ability to hide meaning. Great bargains are created on the basis of false communication and in some of our greatest founding documents we find wishy-washy communication. We may think we know the message being delivered but never can. Humans are far too complicated to speak clearly and via the society we have developed a greater incentive to speak unclearly exists. Why be honest when lying can bring so much? Does only a fool suffer from being honest? Is the  greatest fool not the one who seeks to play or mock the truth but rather the one unable to see the lies all around. We are all both jesters and kings.

Perceptive Limitations

November 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Despite the actuality of an event, if an individual unable to comprehend his or her actions our society often disregards terms of justice. For those unable to understand what he or she has done there are special terms of justice, alternative rules by which the rest of society reacts and a pseudo-alternative reality in which they exist. Do we “treat them with kid gloves” because they cannot know?

Distinct groups are afforded these alternative rules on the basis of limited comprehension. Children and the elderly are often seen as limited by age. Other groups are perceived to have limited mental capabilities that render comprehension incomplete or impossible. In both forms there is a limitation of comprehension in comparison to what we consider socially normal. In most cases, the limitations perceived in some warrant understanding from those not tasked with limitation; though, this is not always the case.

For some, a select group of actions warrant the disposal of these alternative rules. An individual perceived to be limited becomes equal when his or her behaviors so disgust society that limitations are no longer under consideration. Often the existence of a victim is a key factor in this disposal of additional rights. Was someone hurt? Was damage done? In cases where great loss is created or great pain has been inflicted on an innocent figure our social actions of dispensing patience is adjusted.

Social rules remain liquid. While we may pride ourselves on a just system of punishment, we often discard these rules as emotion increases. Swayed by perceptions of victim hood or stories of suffering our goals for equal treatment become less important. This game of adjusting notions occurs in reverse situations when we seek to explain the actions of those deemed not limited. Irrational behavior is human and just like those who lose their temper or “fly off the handle” so to do social terms of justice and expectation.

The Greatest Cure? I’d Rather Not.

November 5, 2012 Leave a comment

For some, any charity is out of the question. The helping hand or minor gift of cash- perhaps needed, perhaps essential- becomes less help and more stigma and surest sign of inequality. Work towards “fixing” poverty often aim to social programs that involve heightened roles for organizations. Be they government, private or faith-based, these groups are seen as friendly panaceas to correct inequalities in society. While the details differ in politics, both Democrats and Republicans agree there is a problem. I recently read a quote that summarized this well:

“The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.” – Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Yes, the divisions exist and while we may not agree as to the details, we can agree that a problem exists. Working to solve these solutions is essential, but outside assistance can only go so far. What if an individual in need rejects assistance? What if he or she feels offended by charity and would rather suffer than be assisted by an outsider. How helpful is charity if it offends the dignity of its recipients.

This rejection of assistance or discomfort with assistance must be respected. One must consider this as a possible option when working to help someone. Yes, we must strive to solve social problems but also must consider the perspectives of those we seek to help. What do they really need? How can we develop the methods to best provide our means? Whether our resources are limited or overflowing, the only quality assistance is that which is received and utilized. Throwing money at a problem only creates more and eliminates it for those who could best utilize it.

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