Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Overloaded

(This will likely be the last post for a few weeks as I'm headed off to camp and won't have my laptop with me. Oh simplicity...)

Every now and then I think about getting some kind of scaled down form of transportation. Once I thought about getting a scooter since I was driving around in my car by myself a lot. But the thing that always stops me from ever trying to ditch whatever car I have access to and getting something smaller is the issue of cargo carrying. I have to much stuff to transport to give up a car as my main form of transportation.

This strikes me as odd though because for years before cars existed, people were quite able to get around without having this issue of cargo being a problem. In first century times they just walked places with not much more than some money in their pockets and maybe a walking stick. If you needed cargo space you'd bring a donkey along but I'd imagine that this wouldn't happen all the time.

So what happened? Well here's my thought. We became obsessed with stuff. When the car became a widely accepted and widely owned form of transportation, people suddenly realized that they could bring more things with them on trips. Society suddenly decided that the norm was to bring a change of clothes for every day you were away on a trip, and it was normal to bring all this extra stuff that people never used to bring with them.

And this touches on something else. North Americans own more crap in general than other people. I don't know who invented the walk-in closet but they were probably North-American due to the large space requirements, and the unnecessary nature of this item for most people (i.e. not many people have enough clothes to fill a walk in closet). So suddenly, in our modern time we expect people to have all of this stuff and to be able to move it around, thus requiring us to have cars to move it around it. And when we want to move away from our cars, we find ourselves stuck because we don't wish to live outside the norm of society.

So there's the kicker. If we ever want to improve things, we have to break outside the norms of society. We have to decide "no I will not drive a car and bring 8 suitcases because I don't need all that stuff". One of my former housemates took this to its fullest and decided to get rid of all but one set of clothes. He amazes me because when he would go away for a weekend, he would be able to fit all he needed in a backpack.

Breaking the norms can solve so many problems if only we have the courage to do it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Marriage and Fun Things Like That

We live in a sexual culture. Society is saturated with the act of sex and sexuality (in a very narrow sense of the word). The majority of people (around 90%) lose their virginity in high school with someone who is not likely to be their spouse in the future. Many people wonder why this is. Some blame it on our very publicly sexual culture and our style of dress. Understandable, but is that the root of the issue? Some blame it on the attitude of sex education in our schools (whatever you do, do it safely). Others blame it on peer pressure and that it’s “weird” to be a virgin.

Me? I find it strange that we encourage youth to “wait until you’re married”. A simple enough instruction. But then when the youth want to get married we say “wait til you’re older”. We live in a culture where the average age of marriage is between 30 and 35. In 1959 47% of brides were under 19.

I wonder if the problem is that we encourage youth to wait until their married, but at the same time encourage them to get married even later, thus increasing the chances of them not waiting.

But I’m just a teenager (soon to be a 20-something) without much wisdom in such things. Perhaps someone else knows better.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Watching History Unfold


Time rolls onward, things change, and what was once new becomes old. Communities are formed, communities are broken, and everything continues forward.

Before radio communication became widespread, news updates occurred slowly at best. If you were lucky you'd be close enough to receive the news by word of mouth, or see it first hand but this only happened to a select few. Newspapers became the way to know what was going on in the world.

Then things changed, someone invented the radio, and suddenly more people could be a part of experiencing history and information as it happened. If you were in the south of London and there was a fire raging in the north, you could hear about it before you saw the smoke.

Then a raving scot when off and invented the television. Now suddenly, instead of knowing what was happening, you could see what was happening. People around the world watched man land on the moon live. If the event was important enough you could see it happening as it unfolded.

Then came the internet, and social networking, and now the practicality of things being big doesn't matter anymore. With twitter and other networks like it, anyone can participate in a dialogue with those around the world. You can see peoples messages live from where things are happening from people things are happening to.

Riots in Iran break out and you can watch the demonstrators organize them. History has suddenly become more participatory. You now have a chance to make an impact on events that you wouldn't have even heard about 100 years ago. What are you going to do about it?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Myth of Redemptive Violence

I recently realized that I ramble on a lot about various things that are happening to me on here but it's very rare that I talk about things I believe in, or things that I find wrong with the world. In some ways this could be considered a good thing seeing how having opinions and beliefs is messy, however being clean and safe are not necessarily good things. So let's sit down and talk about messy things for a minute here.

I'm staying at my sister's house this weekend, and she was talking to be about some fiction that she's writing. Through our discussion of what she's writing, we came on to the topic of redemptive violence. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term let me explain for you. Redemptive violence is the idea that violence can redeem things or make things better. Example: fighting wars solves problems.

Let's me explain how this works in very simple terms. Let's say that you are friends with Franz (who for the sake of this story is quite accepting of his German name). Franz one day, in a fit of reckless abandon, says something quite hurtful to you. He assaults the character of the person you hold closest to you verbally.

In a fit of rage, you decide to react. Upon hearing of Franz's act you decide to go "teach him a lesson". You catch him off guard one day and start beating him physically. You leave him fairly uncomfortable. Satisfied you walk away. That's not the end though. Now Franz, feeling this beating was unjustified, decides to get you back. He collects a few friends, and "returns the favour", with him and his friends beating you unconscious.

You wake up in the hospital with a few broken bones. Now you're very angry. You decide to get revenge on Franz and his friends for this "undeserved beating" because after all, the first time it was "totally justified". Can you see where this is going?

Belief that violence is going to solve a problem never really works. When you use violence to try and solve a problem, the problem gets pushed aside and instead, everything becomes about the violence. Things escalate so quickly that you stop caring about what the root issue was and everything just becomes about getting revenge for the violent act. Violence takes the focus away from the root issue and simply creates new problems, and before you know it, the root issue is lost in a pile of other problems.

So then the question is can violence actually solve anything?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Creation

Somedays I have no idea what I'm doing. I laze around the house, purposeless, aimless, wandering seeking purpose but avoiding responsibility. I think about blogging or homework but it seems like too much work, but then videogames or tv-watching just seem like useless diversions.

I listen to the creations of others, wondering if it's physically possible for me to create. I sit down and try sometimes but my fingers and ears fail me, frustrating me and leaving me with this craving to create the things that I feel but being left unable to do so.

Sometimes your struggle as an artist is to create. You know it's a joy somewhere deep down inside but somehow it still feels like work, and creating becomes difficult. I long for the ability to create with ease, but for now it looks like it'll just take some work.