Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Don't take NO for an answer.

In his newest book, Malcolm Gladwell illustrates the point, that studies have shown, that there are only two different types of parenting styles. Parents who tell their kids what to do, what to think, what to say everything, and the parents who tell their kids how to do, how to think, and how to say everything. The kids whose parents teach them obedience are often the same ones who have a harder time in life because the system is pitted against them. The children of the parents who teach them self-reliance, on the other hand, are brought up being taught that there is more than one way to skin a cat. These kids are taught to speak their minds regardless of any social hierarchy. They are taught that they can always get what they want, if they just apply themselves to finding a way to get it. These are the kids who figure out to start a lemonade stand to get the bike they want because their parents told them that it cost too much money.

My parents happened to be of this latter sort and have taught me that regardless of my situation, I could always get out of it if I just applied myself hard enough, and If I failed to get what I desired, It was because I didn’t try hard enough, or smart enough. This mentality had been so ingrained into my thought process that when I took tests in School, If I had a debate between two answers that both seemed plausible, I would pick the one with which I could defend my answer after the test was graded. This mentality allowed me to take Math class at the local High School while still in Middle School, take AP classes in my freshmen year, graduate from high school 1 year early, and to end up graduating with a bachelors in Political Science by the age of 20. The best story I can think off that taught me this mentality growing up was when I was in fifth grade.

Now let me preface this with some history of me in the fifth grade. The Fifth Grade was when my life started to tear apart. My 1st Dog died, my parents were separated, I had a panic attack, I realized my parents weren’t the end of all information. My world as I knew it was coming to an end, and that was when my childhood started to end. I started acting out a little bit, but not outside of reason.

In my fifth grade bathroom there was this little panel that was padlocked. I was there when a group of fellow fifth grade boys decided to try to get past the padlock and into the area beyond because I mean face it, we were fifth graders and the world was ours to command. So 11 boys decided to try their luck, and I decided to join them because I desperately needed friends. I wasn’t completely addled and I knew to keep away from actually picking the lock, because in the unlikely chance that we got through I didn’t want my hands on the crime. After several recesses spent trying to break through, one kid decided to bring his pocket knife to school and try to pick the lock that way. As soon as I saw the knife, I got the heck out of dodge because I knew that knives were against school policy. After the knife failed, one of the other kids, Owen, (Names have been changed) asked me for a paper clip to try and pick the lock with. I decided to give him one knowing that a fellow fifth grader could not pick a Masterlock with a paper clip. Owen failed like I knew he would. All of our attempts failed to get into that panel. Then one morning after about two weeks of recess spent on that lock, we arrive at school early one morning to find the lock open. One of the kids took initial credit for it, but he didn’t kick open that master lock. In fact, I still don’t know how it opened unless someone unlocked it in order to snare us into a trap. That morning, using Owen’s flashlight I climbed up the vertical shaft to find the entrance way into the rafters above the auditorium. It wasn’t much, but to fifth grade boys it was fantastic. News quickly spread and within three days, every male member of the fifth grade, except for two, had been up into the rafters. On the morning of the fourth day, there was an announcement on the PA right before recess. Our principle, Mr. Herr (Name NOT changed) informed the entire school that the entire male fifth grade population was to report to a particular room for recess that day. So we all knew that the game was up when we walked into the room to be greeted by four policemen decked out in all their regalia, complete with nightsticks, handcuffs, and guns. This thoroughly freaked us out. Mr. Herr then told us that he knew about our escapades and that what we had done was called breaking and entering and would end us up in prison. He then decided to bestow mercy on us by letting us get out of it by putting our name on the list if we went up into the attic. We all started to sign and then he realized that it would take too long to accomplish and so he decided to switch it to have us all right down on a sheet of paper who had NOT gone up into the attic. We identified the two people and then he let us go while he decided our punishment. He realized he couldn’t logistically punish the entire fifth grade male populous and so he decided to go after the “ringleaders” which he defined as those who tried to pick the lock. When this news was broken I was relieved because I knew I hadn’t tried to pick the lock at all. Through his informants, he had obtained a list of those that he deemed “ringleaders,” and they were all supposed to meet in his office right away. I was shocked to find that my name was on that list. Me, a ringleader. I was the loner, the nerd, the kid who until recently was considered an angel, I hadn’t tried to pick the lock. Mr. Herr interviewed us each in turn to get the full story and when I got my chance to voice my concern, he had already decided my guilt in the matter and would not listen to reason. By this time our parents had been called and were championing our causes and were abhorred by his use of intimidation and sternness with their children. Mr. Herr decided to delay the sentencing of us until the next day. My parents, shaken at what I had done, still were on my side that he was out of line considering me as a ringleader. They then taught me that even when the authority is getting you down, you can beat them with the facts if you are true. We called up each of the other ringleaders and recorded their audio statements and asked them for written statements to the effect that I never tried to pick the lock, all I had done was watch and give Owen a paperclip. In one night we gathered all of these statements and my parents and I went into Mr. Herr’s office to plead my case that I know felt was airtight. We presented the evidence, citing examples of when I had left the bathroom when the kid with the knife (NOT one of the ringleaders) had pulled it out. We had some of the kids recalling the fact that I climbed over a wall to get out of the area of that knife. Mr. Herr however would not budge and he decided that because I gave Owen that paperclip, I was to be punished with the rest of them, because I knew that that paperclip would be used to pick the lock. Mr. Herr obviously lacked the logic skills necessary to see 1. Me giving a kid a paperclip was nothing compared to someone providing a knife, and 2. I was smart enough to realize that Owen could not pick a Masterlock with naught but a paperclip. Needless to say, my pleading failed. I was sentenced to in-school suspension (Thank you fellow parents for arguing the punishment down) and I had to write an essay about what I did.

While I believe that this taught me a valuable lesson, which was Mr. Herr’s intent no doubt, it was taught to me not by Mr. Herr, but by my parents. And they taught it so well, that I am just now fully recognizing it. They taught me how to stand up for myself, how to gather evidence to support me, how to not be afraid in the face of my enemies, how to use logic and reason to get me out of anything, and most importantly they taught me so subtly the lesson that has helped me the most through out my life. That lesson is best phrased by Archimedes and that has been re-taught to all of us through Disney’s Pirates: With enough leverage you can move the earth.
(But you can't move the Germans)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Is a Prism a Prison or a Purifier?

In this era of instantaneous communication and endless information, you can get your information from anywhere. Traditionally in the broadcast era you obtained your news and other information through the filter of the news networks. You chose to view your news based on your political preference, CNN for the Left, and Fox for the Right. But in this era of Screen Fluency, where we see information on screens more than read it in print, we have the ability to eliminate those filters that interpret the news for us and can now draw conclusions for ourselves, based on the raw data, images and information. During the Democratic National Convention for example, you had the ability to watch from CNN, Fox, ABC, CBS, or you could log on to the DNC Website and obtain the live, uninterrupted video of the event. Personally I believe in going to the primary source when seeking for the truth and the answers to my questions. This is why I now see Religion as a filter that can be used as a tool to obtain the truth for some much as people watch the news on CNN or Fox. We each might have our own views on which filter to choose, which religion to follow but, in my mind, they all are distortions of the truth. They each can provide the facts and information of truth, but it has passed through a filter much like white light through a prism, being split into multiple colors.

You can never fully remove the bias from any source as what it does and does not show you is a very essence of the subtle bias that they show you. You can however choose to recognize that bias and to choose sources that have similar underlying biases as yourself rather than swim into a cacophony of counter-intuitive, contradictory information. For this reason I choose to follow the subtle bias of the Lord and not the bias of Satan, but I choose to do it by finding the true source, not through the trappings of religion. I will carry many aspects of my religion with me as I live my life, and I know that I have been shaped by it for my own betterment, but I find that If I am to be forced into a mold, I would rather have that be the mold of perfection in Christ rather than the imperfection of human religion.

I will maintain and carry much of my moral principles imbued in me by my family and church. I will not smoke, drink, do drugs, or alter my body in any way because I was made in the likeness of the lord and who am I to challenge that? I will continue to seek for the Lord in my life, and seek for his guidance in all that I do through continued prayer. I believe that all religions have some of the truth and that when that truth is expressed, is when its members find the joy of Christ. I seek to find that truth for me, in my life wherever I might find it. I find myself in a time when extremism confronts me on all sides and I have been taught that the most assured way to be wrong and to fail is to be an extremist. I plan to take all things, all life experiences, all activities in moderation for an excess of one thing is just as likely to lead to malnourishment as the lack of something.

To those who know me and fear that I am making a rash decision based on hurt emotions, confusion, naivety, or any other fallacy that you can conceive, know that this is something that I have spent many long nights contemplating and feeling for an answer to my question of truth. Know that I believe that this is the path that will bring me the greatest happiness in the long run. Know that I have been on the edge of death while seeking this path and I believe very strongly in it and any attempts to delineate me from my path will be met with hurt from me for your lack of respect to my decision. Remember that while our opinions may differ, I will not try to force mine upon you and all I ask is that you do not try to force yours upon me. That is NOT to say that I am against hearing your concerns, fears, or ideas on this new path of mine, BUT do not expect me to change my path very easily for just as you believe that yours is the true way, I too believe that mine is the true and narrow path.

I am NOT an atheist, I believe very strongly that God exists. I am not Agnostic, believing that God exists but not caring much about Him. I am instead a child of God, whom he loves. I am one who cares very much about my connection with God. I hope to have my life directed by the Lord, to the truth. I will try to find this truth not only through the standard ways of seeking for him in the great works of religious and philosophical thinkers, but by seeking, obtaining, maintaining, and utilizing a direct connection to the Lord. The source of all truth.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Finally Someone is fighting Global Warming ... With Fire!

Finally the tragedy of Global warming is being seen by variant groups and they have seen the need to change our current downward spiral. I am talking of course, about the Pirates in Somalia.

Avast, If ye look at this carefully prepared graph you will see that over the past years, the earths temperature as risen in strong correlation with the dwindling number of pirates (the seafaring kind not internet trafficking kind.) Thus as Somalians concern over global rising has increased, they have taken it upon themselves to help bring down the temperatures of this great planet. I don't think these pirates should be punished, I think that they deserve the Nobel Peace prize for their deep concern on the climate crisis. Now if only this didn't effect the financial crisis...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


One of the primary reasons I supported Romney was because of his economic prowess--something that would be invaluable today given the state of our economy. This Op-Ed, published this morning by the New York Times, and which has been a major topic of discussion today, represents well the thorough knowledge base Romney has of socio-economic matters.

Let Detroit Go Bankrupt

I think that in this era of economic downturn that Romney would have been the better man for the Economy than Obama, while I think Obama has succeeded in restoring our national image which I think is another huge issue that I care deeply about. All in all, I think that Obama could become a great president and is planning on surrounding himself with great people to help him rebuild and retool our nation for the times ahead. I agree with Romney, that Detroit needs to be retooled, remanaged by an entirely new group of people from a different field, however I think that the new management would require some money to stay afloat in the interum and them staying afloat will help keep American jobs.

Wouldn't it be great if Obama had the bipartisanship to appoint Mitt Romney to the position of Secretary of the Treasury? I mean it really is what Mitt has made his company out of. Taking defunct budgets and retooling them to yield higher profits, which in this case, means better services for the American people.

So Mr. President, do what is needed and ignore party lines, You want someone who disagrees with you why not pick one of the GOP candidates who can help America better than anyone I know.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Meaning for an Individual Life

In Shadow Puppets by Orson Scott Card, there is an interesting dialogue on the meaning of life and here is the condensed text version of that dialog for all to see. I think that this is so true, that it is a gem of truth in this sea of uncertainty that we call life.
"Here is the meaning of life: for a man to find a woman, for a woman to find a man,the creature most unlike you, and then to make babies with her, with him, or to find them some other way, but then to raise them up, and watch them do the same thing, generation after generation, so that when you die you know you are permanently a part of the great web of life. That you are not a loose thread, snipped off. Even men who do not desire women, even women who do not desire men, this does not exempt them from the deepest desire of all, the desire to be inextricable part of the human race. It’s hardwired into all of us. Not just sexual desire – that can be twisted any which way, and it often is. And not just a desire to have children, because many people never get that, and yet they can still be woven into the fabric. No, it’s a deep hunger to find a person from that strange, terrifying other sex and make a life together. Even old people beyond mating, even people who know they can’t have children, ther’s still a hunger for this. For actual marriage, two unlike creatures becoming, as best they can, one."
"I’m talking about a trait that the human race absolutely needed to succeed. The thing that makes us neither herd animals nor solitaries, but something between. The thing that makes us civilized or at least civilizable. And those who are cut off from it by their own desires, by those twists and bends that turn them in another way – like you, Bean, so determined are you that no more children will be born with your defect, and that there will be no children orphaned by your death – those who are cut off, they are still hungry for it, hungrier than ever, especially if they deny it. It makes them angry, bitter, sad, and they don’t know, they can’t bear to face the knowledge."
'This life wish had to be present in all living things for any species to continue as they all desperately struggled to do. It isn’t a will to survive – that is selfish, and such selfishness would be meaningless, would lead to nothing. It is a will for the species to survive with the self inside it, part of it, tied to it, forever one of the strands in the web'
"I kept my sanity by fencing myself about with lies, and believing them. But you know the truth. If you leave this world without your children in it, without having made that bond with such an alien creature as a woman, then your life will have meant nothing to you, and you’ll die in bitterness and alone."

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Blessings of Christ, Perfect People Only

Have you ever felt abandoned by the Lord? Ever felt like you have messed up so much that there is no recovery? Well Remember that the Atonement of Jesus Christ can only aid those who are already perfect. NOT!!! The Atonement and it's blessings are bestowed upon us all if we but turn to christ and repent. Take for example Jonah. Jonah received a direct commandment from the Lord and outright refused it and fled the other way. The Lord could have given up on Jonah and sought someone else to spread the gospel to Niniveh but he didn't, He instead allowed Jonah to become humble and then he forgives Jonah. Another great example of this is found in Alma 17:14-15. The Sons of Mosiah are discussing the Lamanites and are heading out to go and teach to them and Mormon ads this commentary about them.

14... [The Lamanites were] a people who delighted in murdering the Nephites, and robbing and plundering them; and their hearts were set upon riches, or upon gold and silver, and precious stones; yet they sought to obtain these things by murdering and plundering, that they might not labor for them with their own hands.
15 Thus they were a very indolent people, many of whom did worship idols, and the curse of God had fallen upon them because of the traditions of their fathers; notwithstanding the promises of the Lord were extended unto them on the conditions of repentance.

These Lamanites were described as scum of the earth evil. Yet the promises of the Lord and the blessings of the Atonement were open to them and are open to use "On the Conditions of repentance" No matter what, We are never to far gone that the Lord can not save us if we but call out to Him.