Answers: I need them now.

Is it more important to know the answer or to know how to get the answer? My knee jerk response is that it is situational. For the short term “answer now,” but for the long term “know how to get the answer.”

We can look at mundane examples. Johnny needs to solve the square root of 64, so he asks his friend for the answer, he writes down 8, and he gets the point on his math homework. Johnny has won in the short term.

Fast forward to test time, Johnny needs to find the square root of 81. No friend to ask, he doesn’t even know how to plug it into the calculator let alone how to figure it by hand. No points for Johnny. Now Johnny has a bad grade on his test, and he resents his math class. In comes the default, “Math is stupid. I hate math. I’m not good at math.”  For the long term, “answer now” doesn’t work so well.

You might say, “Yeah but that’s just math class, I never use math in real life.” Let’s say someone gives us the secret to world peace. That would be pretty handy. How many people would accept it, trust it, and practice it? Theology aside I think we have been given the answer to world peace. “Treat others how you would like to be treated.” I’m confident, socially divergent aside, everyone on the planet would say, “I would like to be treated nicely.” It isn’t a hard concept to grasp. It isn’t particularly hard to do, treat people nicely. Why do so many people fail to do so? What is the logical argument that could back up, “The world will be a better place if I treat some people nicely and others not so nice,” or “The world would be a better place if I am mean, decline to say thank you, and refuse to use my turn signal?”

It might be that some people just don’t have the same notion of being nice, but I think that simple indifference strikes closer to home.

We are so often bombarded with a message that was originally used to help people push through tough situations.

-It doesn’t matter what people think about you or say about you, be yourself.
This is a message of shrugging off negativity and embracing yourself. However, some people they have internalized the message in the wrong light. Instead of using this message to overcome a fear driven existence, they have embraced an existence without empathy for others.

Empathy is a much more complicated concept than “being nice.” Empathy is developed after years of social interaction. Empathy is the “how” of our humanity.

 

When we learn things such as reading, writing, math, and life, we tend to retain the things we struggled through. All those things we had to figure out on our own.

-I am going to drive way slower on off ramps, because I learned rolling my car is bad. Even though the answer was right there, in big block print 25 MPH.

-I am going to start reading the book for class at the beginning of the semester, because cramming 12 hours of reading over a 48 hour period is not conducive to retention.  Even though the answer was right there in the syllabus, “Students must complete the following to be successful.”
We cannot go and reinvent the wheel for everything. There are things that are better to learn from others, so where is the balance? What kind of metric could be used to evaluate what needs to be learned through struggle and what can simply be passed on?

I think we can safely say that when in a crisis or an emergency “answer now” will win out (do I cut the red wire or the blue wire to stop the timer on the bomb). Concepts that require internalization benefit from the process of learning the process of how.

 

Love is Always Saying Sorry

One of my friends threw up a post referencing a quote that turns my stomach. That original quote being “Love means never having to say your sorry.” I don’t know how many people have been totally screwed up by this line of thinking, but I have to think there’s a few out there with the USofA divorce rate over 50%.

Ever since I was a little boy, when I screwed up, I was expected to say sorry and what I was sorry for. Being one of four boys, there were a lot of “I’m sorry”being said.

As a roommate in high school and then in college, “Man, I’m sorry. I screwed up (insert something that seemed really important at the time).”

The usual response was something along the lines of “That sucks, but it’s cool.” That’s the cool way to say “I forgive you.”

Why do we say sorry? When we say sorry, it implies a whole lot in that one little word. It is a recognition of fault or transgression. It is an admission of guilt. It is also a promise to try and change your behavior. It also opens an avenue for the wronged person to forgive and move on.

If true love means never saying sorry, then that means your both always right, no one admits to being wrong, no one tries to change for the better, and no one is given the opportunity to forgive each other.

If there is one sentence that people should use a whole lot more it’s, “I’m sorry.”

So what does it all mean?

What will future anthropologists think when they carefully excavate this first hand account of my thoughts? After they clear the cyber-dust off, will my musings and speculations hold water? Will they have water in the future, or will everyone just be robots?  Could I write something that will survive through time? Could I write something that my children could be inspired by? Is my head getting way too big?

Ben Franklin said if you want to be remembered, do things worth writing about or write things worth reading. Will this be something worth reading? Is something worth reading if 1,000,000 other people have read it? What about 1,000 or 100? What if only 1 other person reads this?

I think this will be worth reading if it makes a difference in one person’s life. What is “a difference”? There are people who lived many years ago who touch our lives today. Those people had such an impact on the world they will be remembered, maybe forever. Some will remembered a role models, likenesses to be aspired to. While others will be remembered as villains, monstrous people that, we as a collective whole, hope to never encounter again.

Let’s look at the former. Christian or not, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume just about anyone who could be reading this knows who Jesus is. They may not know the details, but they recognize the name. I am going to leave all aspects of theology alone right now. It could be argued that he is the most influential people in history. But who influenced him? Jesus was knew how to read and write. How influential was that teacher?  He was Jewish, he had to have interacted with at least one rabbi if not several during his formative years. What about the man or woman that inspired Jesus’s teacher to teach? That person’s actions impacted the teacher and Jesus and thereby impacted all of us.

Which lives do we touch? Who have we inspired? What kind of ripples are we sending out through the ages? Are they good ripples? Are they bad ripples?

Question Everything

I have noticed while I’m writing, I ask a lot of questions. As I go go through this exercise of writing my thoughts, I began to wonder, “Do I ask myself as many questions as other people do?” How on earth would I go about finding an answer to that?

I could start asking people, “In your mental processing of ideas, do you ask yourself a multitude of questions before you come to a conclusion?” My guess would be most people would answer, no. Before today I think I would have answered no.

I would have to refine my question. I think it would have to go out to the people who conscienceless evaluate their thinking process. I would have to ask bloggers, journalists, writers, etc. “do you tend to think in questions to work ‘things’ out?” Well that seems to make more sense, but I just started doing this. I seem to recall an English teacher saying that the back bone of strong writing is made of up of declarative sentences. Does that mea, even if someone thought like I do, by asking lots of questions, that process would be lost in the translation to the page if they were a better writer?

Writing at its core is a tool to carry ideas and facts from one mind to  another. Writing as an art form is meant to inspire thought. Isn’t more thought required to answer a question than to be told something? If someone, let’s say me, wants to be challenged they should ask questions. Only people who are content with the status quo are going to walk along towing the rope.

This leads to another question, is it okay to just tow the rope? I think it is for a time, but that shouldn’t be the end state. How do you think? Do you think by questioning things? Do you think everyone thinks the way you do? Before writing this, I thought more or less yes, but now I’m not so sure.

Let’s say a class or group was given one of those critical thinking problems, and everyone got the same answer. If I were to visualize how everyone got to the same answer it would be akin to everyone leaving the classroom, getting into their cars and driving to the local grocery store. Sure people got in different cars, some people may have taken on route or another, maybe stopped at home for a minute, but the general act could be summed up as “they all got into their cars and went to the store.” Now I’m thinking maybe one guy got in the car, another flew a helicopter, one rode a horse but the route took him to New Zealand, another climbed a rope ladder into the 5th dimension winked out of existence and rematerialized in the parking lot.

I think that if we just settled for towing the rope, eventually this machine we call society would stop functioning. All those different thought processes would start to grind together like mismatched cogs. By questioning “things” we’re able to get the gears to fit together even though the teeth don’t match up.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Thoughts on Expression

How we talk to our friends, how we talk to our coworkers, how we talk to our kids, family, etc. it is always different.

How do I want to to talk to my audience?

Do I want to write this in anonymously? If I write this without attaching my name to it then I’m open to write more freely. I wouldn’t feel like I need the usual constraints that one normally puts one oneself.

Since I want the freedom to say what I want, without those constraints, I will leave my name off of this. It also means that I will not be able to say, “Hey buddy check out my new blog!” If I stay true to that, I won’t put this directly on my Facebook page, I won’t ask friends to repost, so any popularity gained will be based on the merit of its contents.

Now this leads me to think a little deeper about expression while remaining anonymous. Often there is a negative connotation associated with anonymity, especially when many internet users have used anonymity to spew rude and disparaging comments that would be unconscionable  in a face to face conversation. Could there be a positive side to anonymity? Let’s say that in the following weeks some of what I write resonates with people. If I, First and Last Name omitted, take no credit, I am just a voice from the masses. As this construct, the ideas that are presented can be interpreted independently from the person that is putting them forth.

It would be great for us to be able to cut through our bias, and evaluate the merit of an idea objectively. Take the following quote.

Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.  – A. Hitler

So you start reading the quote, you most likely see who I have attributed the quote to before you even finish reading it. You might reread it. You start to think, that fits what Hitler would say. Then we think, Hitler must have been talking about “the Jews,” they are the bad company. I hate Hitler and I hate this quote.

Now, what happens when I blow your mind. That was a quote by none other than George Washington. Let’s read it again: Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company. – G. Washington. We can get something totally different from this. He’s talking about the purity of character. It is better to stand alone, without the comfort of others than to compromise yourself and your values. Now, I love George Washington more than ever and I love this quote.

Bias plays a huge role in how we interpret the world around us. How often do we slow down and question the way we view the world? How often do we challenge our own bias?

As I write this, I can picture two people on complete opposite sides of an argument saying, “The other guy needs to read this, then (s)he could come around to my way of thinking.” I hope that is not the take away. I hope the take away will be more along the lines of “maybe I should make sure of my convictions.”

Upon further consideration, I will be writing this, with input from friends and family. After all they do influence me. I will do my best to present my ideas in a manner that can be followed, but I cannot promise that they will always be concise. I cannot promise flawless grammar, but I will do my best to limit my offenses to misdemeanors. I will happily correct mistakes as they are found.

What are your thoughts?

The Start of Something

Welcome. This is my first post. I feel like now might be a good time to start writing a blog.

– Why?

Well, simply put why not?

– What will this blog be about?

I am sure the direction of this project will change over time. As of right now, I want to have a living journal. A collection of daily thoughts on topics that surround me. Those topics will be all over the place.

– How often will I write?

My current goal is to have one entry a day.

Feel free to leave comments down below. Have a great day!