Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Love: A Complex Emotion

What is love? Love is a wonderful and complicated emotion. It doesn't simply come from the ghost in the machine or the soul in our bodies. Nor does it come from a spiritual power or energy. It comes from within humans and higher order organisms from our brains.

You might wonder how it is possible to develop such a strong sense such as love from merely a network of cells. But our cellular network is vast and interconnected and the interaction of this internal network with our external environment makes it possible to experience the emotion of love. It is our five senses that stimulate this beautiful emotion. It is also our innate desire to feel love. Emotions of empathy and sympathy help to facilitate this emotion of love as well as our innate sexual desires. These emotions were all necessary for the development of pair bonds, the parent-child bond, and alliances outside of the family not only in the human species but also in other mammalian species like whales and chimpanzees.

Every human experiences this emotion. It is very real. But in our culture today love is difficult to understand. For thousands of years love has been bound to different belief systems that set rules and ideals for how love came about and how it should be utilized. For so long our ancestors have believed that love is everything but an emotion. That it comes about through practice of certain rituals and traditions. That it is not something that naturally happens but that one must behave in a certain way, such as praying to a sacred higher power, in order to be blessed by such a feeling. What this has done throughout human culture around the world is misinterpreted the true nature of love.

Love does not have to be a difficult emotion. A person can feel love for many things but there are different types of love. Our innate desires facilitate our love for our family members because we are related to them by blood and they care for us and interact with us while we grow. We also feel love for our friends who are not related to us because we build trust and loyalty with them. We can feel love for things we are good at doing such as sports, writing, traveling, and designing. But the most difficult love of all is the pair bond because there is much at stake for each person in the bond. Although there are benefits, the costs are heavy when a pair bond breaks because the bond cannot be repaired the same way a friendship or family relation can.

The pair bond is complex because it is a fairly new development in human history-- it is only 10,000 years old. It was formed in the beginning in order to care for their offspring and to ensure that the offspring were theirs. It was a way to protect a family unit in a human tribe or society and to maintain unity. But today humans are protected by their governments and family units have less responsibility to care for their whole family. It is no longer necessary for parents to wholly focus on the unity of their family because they are aware that a system exists to care for them through taxes and social programs.

The pair bond has lost its significance in this civilized society. Although pairs still desire to have children their focus is not on the unity of their family but on the pair relationship. In a time when careers are important to both men and women because of their education and desire to do what they are good at it seems that the end goal has become skewed. The pair bond has been changed to simply two people coming together for sexual desires and companionship. The meaning of the pair bond has changed but the type of love has not.

If this new pair bond relationship is to work, love needs to be rediscovered as an emotion that can protect this bond. The primitive and ancient meaning of love as a blessing through prayer has disappeared and the desire to form a pair bond simply to build a family unit has faded. People who care less about family unity and more about satisfying their desires need to understand love in a new light and both partners need to understand their love for one another. The way to do this is to express through communication what love means to each other continuously. In this new pair bond love is satisfaction of the desires of sexual pleasure, beauty, friendship (trust and loyalty), romance, work and play.

Family unity is no more. Satisfaction is everything and two people must learn to satisfy each other in order for this type of love to last. Love may be a complex emotion but we must learn to understand and convey what it means to each of us without boundaries and limits.

Monday, December 1, 2008


I just got back from an amazing trip to Miami with my friends. It was sort of an unofficial bachelorette party for me but also a fun trip to get away from the norm of things with just the girls. We stayed in South Beach and even though the weather was a little cooler than normal and compared to Curacao we had a blast with no complaints. If you want to have a party, Miami will surely provide the atmosphere you are looking for.

I didn't realize there would be so many solicitors but because of the current issues in America people are hustling to make ends meet.

On our first night in South Beach we checked out Prive, a local nightclub that plays both hip-hop and house and I was extremely impressed. I guess if you're with a group of girls it makes it much easier to find good deals on cover and drinks! It was a nice surprise. I think we had a little too much fun that night!! The following evening we checked out the shopping district and later had dinner at Sushi Samba, the name expresses it all. The food was amazing but the service was not so much. The next and last day of our weekend trip we went to Nikki Beach where we were again solicited and considering that we were a group of girls the outcome was in our favour. It was a cooler day but most of the coolness was in the fact that we got to lay on a beach bed and party with the crowd. For dinner, we satisfied our palettes with another round of seafood at a different restaurant just because it was sooooo delicious the day before. We really loved the edemame and the seared seabass.

Miami is an absolutely beautiful place with so much to do and so many different people to meet. I would consider even buying a property there especially during these times of financial distress. I think it wouldn't be a bad idea.

For those of you who have never been, you really should visit. You will not be disappointed.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Tropical Workout! Try it!

I love working out at the beach just down the street from me. It is the best feeling in the world to know it is that easy to get a workout in such a nice environment with happy people around, both locals and tourists. The best part of it, I would have to say, is the underwater life. I get to workout with colourful fish swimming below me around flourishing coral and sometimes I have the opportunity to chase a school of fish or follow a flat bottom feeder. But, I always make sure that I am keeping up with my workout whether it is doing breast stroke or treading water. A fun game I like to play is testing my lung capacity, especially when there is something interesting to see under water. It's just so much fun to be in the water and to utilize it for the purpose of staying healthy, how beautiful!

I've done my fair share of working out at the gym but it is not the same. There are many ways to 'naturally' get a workout without having to go to a steel-filled building to feel fit. One natural alternative is to go to the beach, if you live near one. It is a great way to stay fit and appreciate nature all at once. Try it!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama's Victory and the American Media

Well it was clear who won last night... no ballots had to be re-counted nor was the media still trying to say that it was a close race. Frankly, it was never a close race. It was always clear that Barack Obama was an ideal presidential candidate compared to John MaCain or even the existing president for that matter and that he was farther ahead in the standings throughout the race.

Why does the media have to be so nasty all the time, especially to ask if America is ready for a black president? America has always been ready. It is not the 18th Century anymore. Our ancestors have paved the way for a more free world where all human beings are considered equal and we all have the same rights and freedoms. Race is simply simply a difference in appearance and expresses where each of us has come from in our history.

Americans have always stood for liberty and I believe that it is irresponsible of the media to ask such questions to Americans when there are so many other questions to be asked such as how will we fix the economy? or how will we assist the less fortunate? It is the media that puts rogue ideas into the minds of Americans and it is they who make it harder for an honest person to get by. They start rumours and spread them. They intentionally misinterpret you and put words in your mouth so it sounds more 'juicy' in their egocentric little minds. They find it their job to uninform the public rather than inform them of the truth. I guess it is more fun for them to lie outright to the public then to care about educating the public on what really is going on.

My message to the media is this: Please realize that by spreading lies to the public you are directly damaging society and negatively effecting how people think and live. You are not for the best interest of the public but against it. This is no different than what you call terrorism and you are all terrorists.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Island Life

Why can't island life be for everyone
to cherish and to show the true essence of nature,
which is the beauty of the blue sky and sea
and the wildlife flying freely from tree to tree?

Our earth and its environment are all we have.
We need this place in order to live healthy and long.
If we see no beauty in where we live, then what is life?
Life seems less appealing when materials are all we see.

Why can't island life be for everyone,
so they can feel the humbleness that it brings
so they can let go of their material things
and realize that life is about being good to the green.

What is so flashy about that new pair of jeans
or the newest gadget when you already have one?
Clutter can just cause stress and worry
something that is foreign to the life of an islander.

Why can't island life be for everyone,
so we can feel a sense of relaxation
in this fast-paced world of money and power?
What's the rush when life can be slower?

Work does not have to be so grueling,
so endless and not so amusing.
Why not get together after work with friends,
instead of commuting home at every days end?

Why can't island life be for everyone?
It can if you are up for this treat.
But, you must be able to let go
not only of your things but of your ego.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Don't Judge a Book by its Cover

We've all heard the common phrase 'don't judge a book by its cover' but aren't we all a little guilty of this judgment? Maybe not just a little... How did this phrase or 'meme' become common? It was the result of a novel that was published in the 20th Century and was used thereafter in other pieces of literature. But, the idea or meme of not basing one's judgment on the front or appearance has been thought of for centuries.

It was most likely the result of needing to judge a person not just on their appearance and outward nature in order to determine if they have intentions of honesty and loyalty. These attributes were necessary in order to build strength and friendship between tribes or individuals. And alliances were important long ago in order to grow in power and strength for protection and well-being. It was also important for peace and cooperation. Even today, it is important to form trust alliances between and among countries in order to protect citizens and spread peace and cooperation across the planet.

But, what has happened to this careful method of accurately judging a person based on their honesty and loyalty? It doesn't seem as persistent in society as it used to be. Religion was established long ago in order to gain cooperation and loyalty in a growing society. There seemed to be no other efficient means of getting people to submit to orders and maintaining their loyalty and cooperation to the group simultaneously. It was not helpful to simply judge a person on their outward appearance because that would not help to determine that person's intentions and emotions. Today, business, economics, government, and culture are more complex and deeply (historically) established in world society. But even though more people have a basic education they have difficulty grasping the complex nature of society that has evolved. What they can still grasp, however, is their religious belief in God which has been passed down over generations through culture. For them, it is a a way to have an identity in society and be a part of a community, which is why religion has prevailed for so long.

Culture is built on social mechanisms such as behavioural trends, belief systems, and rituals that are passed down from generation to generation. As changes occur in society like changes in government and business practices culture also changes to adapt to the changing environment. But a part of our culture that has not changed or adapted to the changing environment is ancient religious belief. Although it is not a necessary belief to have today, it still strongly exists.

But how can religious people adapt to the changing environment around them if they strongly base their identity and knowledge about nature solely on a culture of ancient religious belief? It becomes more detrimental over time to believe in an old religion because there are many other people that have chosen to adopt a new culture based on the changing social climate. However, in a time that is saturated with knowledge about human evolution, the fabric of our universe, and information technology, religion still seems to control culture all over the world. Religious individuals and groups are encouraged to adhere to this belief system and block out anything that may conflict with or discredit it. And because of this, there has evolved a growing divide between religious people and intellectuals who believe in evolution--- two streams of culture.

When individuals or groups of people do not follow the changing culture, which is reflective of the advancement of humanity, they become less able to accurately judge another person or, in the case of a group, a person or group outside of their own group. They simply believe that this other person or group believes the same morals and traditions or that they should believe this way. If they do not, then this other person or group do not have good intentions. They believe that we all must believe in the existence of God in order to have good intentions. However, all this does is maintain an old and out-dated belief system and block out the new ones which is detrimental to the advancement of society towards world health and peace.

Due to a divide in cultural belief and practice, educated individuals are discredited by the religious community for adapting their belief systems to better fit the facts about life and the universe like Darwinian evolution. This is due to the ongoing religious belief in God, a supernatural creator of all things, that the majority of the people on this planet strongly hold today. This meme was ingrained so strongly in the minds of our ancestors that it still exists today, even after the discovery of DNA. This meme leaves intellectuals feeling like they are misunderstood about what they truly know about the nature of life and the universe.

It has become ever more difficult to judge a particular person based on their background and achievements because we still live in a world filled with religious believers who maintain the notion that belief in God is more important than anything else, even academic experience! Nowadays people tend to judge others on their fashion, looks and possessions because they are so out of tune with what is going on in their changing environment. As long as they have religion, they don't need to learn more from others or from their environment. Their mission is to maintain a culture of religious belief--- how ridiculous!

We all need to start judging ourselves based on our level of knowledge about the nature of life and the universe, and less on our outward appearances and our belief in God. This will not help us to grow together as a society to promote positive change. It will only keep us behind in our evolution and will be stuck in a dumbified bubble of ancient myths and rituals. Our children will never forgive us for being so superficial and materialistic and they too will have to suffer an existence of slow-going change due to mythical beliefs.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Back in Beautiful Curacao

Here I am sitting in my island house for the first time in a long time and I can finally sense the beauty and complexity of nature once again. It has been raining here during the nights for the last few months and everything on the island has overgrown, including my yard. Bushes and trees that I had left so perfectly trim are now 5 times the size of me and completely out of control. I don't love the fact that I will have to have professional landscaping done but I love that the atmosphere of our planet Earth can provide such amenities for the growth and health of life. Living in Canada, it was evident to me that the similar type of atmosphere does not exist. Instead, mammals with their full stomachs go into hibernation for the cold winter months, birds fly south to a warmer place, and trees shed their leaves and prepare for a long and harsh season.

It is just not natural for me to close myself to the outside environment for so many months in order to maintain my health and well-being. The beautiful colours of blue, green, pink, and yellow become a figment of my imagination as I ponder about how nature around me could be. Instead, as I look out my living room window during the winter months I see no life, not even the sun.

Living in a tropical place is a completely different experience. There is no need to prepare for the long harsh months ahead and there is no need to worry about my safety on the road. Instead, I can walk around wearing light clothing and go for a swim at my own leisure. I can leave my windows open all year round and have only one wardrobe all my life. I never have to heat my water or my house and I can go for a jog every day of the year. What luxury!

For me after moving to the Caribbean, materialism is a thing of the past. I have more to look forward to than ever before. I have warmth, water, sun, trees, and a constant breeze-- all the things that nature can provide for a prosperous life. My ancestors would be proud!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Singularity: Transcending Our Biology

What is it to be a human being today? Well we know that our biology is governed by hereditary units called genes that are located on chromosomes that are coded by our DNA, a molecular structure. Ultimately, we are biological systems or machines that hold and protect our genetic information so that we may survive over thousands of generations through our offspring. In a sense, our genes can survive forever but at the expense of biological survival machines like human beings. In order for our genes to survive we must pass them on to our offspring since we survival machines can only survive for a limited period of time. Survival was very important thousands of years ago when the human life span was shorter due to environmental and biological limitations. Today humans have been able to lengthen our lives by learning more about our biological strengths and weaknesses. We have overcome our biological nature by simply utilizing our thoughts from our senses.

Since we know so much about human biology today is there something more we can do to live even longer and healthier lives? Can we discover ways to transcend our biological nature so that we can live forever, like genes? Humans today are heavily focused on anti-aging methods to look and feel young and ways to live longer within the realm of human biology. We do on-going research about how to prevent and fight against fatal diseases and how to protect ourselves from contracting bacterial and viral infections that can harm our health. We ultimately strive to end pain and suffering of humans so that we may live long and healthy lives. But, one thing that we cannot combat so easily is aging.

Aging is a part of being a survival machine. Human evolution is interconnected with time, the spacial dimension that human beings cannot control. As time passes, living things grow and age. Our complex bodies undergo wear and tear over time from continuously operating at the biological level and communicating with the outside environment. The result is aging of the survival machine both physically and mentally.

Humans have come so far as to being capable of living for almost 100 years. Many other living organisms have not attained such a giant feat in biological evolution. Does this have to be the end for humans? Do we have to subject ourselves to mechanically and medically changing our physical and biological appearance in order to counteract aging? Are there alternatives to this method? Our research over time has given rise to many discoveries that may help us to live forever but there is one catch: Humans must accept that in order to live forever we cannot survive as solely survival machines housing our 'precious genes', but we must transcend our biological nature in order to overcome our limitations of aging and disease.

To transcend our biology is to go beyond evolution and space and utilize our technological creations in order to do so. Technology today is based on our biological nature, specifically the human brain, but what is different is that the technological dimension is ever-lasting. The hardware, like biological survival machines, is at risk of failing but the difference is that it can be repaired or replaced without damaging the software. Although software can be infected, preventative measures can be developed in order to counteract the virus without permanently damaging the software. Hardware and software can be repaired at a small cost but a sick biological machine can be permanently damaged even after being treated by medical or natural methods.

In our near future, human beings will have to make the choice of either living as a survival machine or transcending their biology by becoming one with the new and innovative technological dimension or virtual reality. Our genes have come so far by exploiting biological systems in order to survive but it is our turn now. We do not need our genes any longer nor do we need future generations of biological machines carrying our genes. Instead we have new and better information that can help us to understand the complexities of the universe. Genes have helped human beings to evolve through natural selection but at a large cost, our lives. But now we can exploit our own genes by utilizing our bodies, that have been governed by our genes, to create a means to live forever without our genes. Human evolution has driven us in this direction-- we cannot sit idly by when there is a means of harnessing our own technological creations so that we may live virtually forever. Now it is our turn to outwit, outplay, and outlast our genetic driver. Human beings are the new drivers and technology is our vehicle!

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Sea of Lonely Creatures

So my last blog post was about monogamous relationships and the battle individuals sometimes face when committing to each other.

We live in a society today where it is ideal to find a partner of the opposite sex to commit to and eventually start a family. It is also ideal for us to learn to be independent as we reach adulthood. When we are young and grow up going to school everyday, being social, and living in some sort of family unit we are constantly exposed to ideas about finding love, being independent, understanding our sexuality, and belonging to a group. We experience different emotions that help to mold our personalities and build our knowledge and understanding about things. We ultimately grow up in an environment that encourages us to be free about our thoughts within the realm of laws, rights, and freedoms.

We learn that general education of math, science, and language (arts) are necessary for us to understand the world and that we must be able to take care of ourselves when we reach adulthood. What comes next? For most of us, we leave our families and our home and we enter into the real world which feels like a sea of lonely creatures. Someone who was raised in a small town may feel disoriented and need more time to gain a strong foothold in society. Although it may take longer for some, most individuals will gain independence by being on their own and learning to take care of themselves. Finding a flexible routine in personal and work life can help a person become more independent and organized.

Where can family and love fit into the picture? It is true that once a person leaves home they do not detach themselves from their family, but focus on maintaining a relationship with them within their personal life. This is because we feel a strong sense of altruism towards our family members, something that we learned when we grew up around them. In other words, we maintain an emotional connection to them even though we are independent. This can help an independent person to find new love towards another person of no genetic relation in order to build a new family unit for them. This is a big part of independence in our society, loneliness is not. We desire close emotional connections with other people because human beings as well as many other species live in groups.

In today's society it is not always easy to find love and build a partnership within a new family unit. We are encouraged to leave home and further our careers in order to prosper and be independent. But, we are not always certain about how to build a new emotional connection with another person whom we do not know. People do not want to live alone forever, but want to share their love and altruistic nature with someone else. It is useful to channel these feelings to a group of people such as friends, colleagues, mentors, etc. but the end desire for most individuals is to find one person who can channel their similar feelings back onto them. This way both individuals can discover an emotional connection to one another and build a committed partnership from that. Unfortunately, many people today have trouble finding this type of connection. They live independently for years, alone or with roommates, and decide that the best option for them is to focus on their careers and on their own livelihood.

What happens to their emotional connections? Of course, many people maintain their connections with their families, but feel that they could never go back to living with their loved ones. It would hinder their lifestyle of privacy and independence. They would much rather be alone to do as they please instead of having to cater to someone's feelings, even if that someone is a mother or brother. They begin to like to live alone and regard loneliness as just another part of life. In a sense it is a good strategy to combat the lack of an emotional connection, but it may not be a good long-term strategy. A person who has lived alone for a long time eventually may feel that finding love for someone else is a waste of time or that it is alien to them. They, in turn, change their own social nature in order to accept loneliness. They overcome their lack of emotional connections by pampering themselves and spending time with friends of the same sex. This way they can always feel stimulated by material things or a good conversation without having to be in a emotional relationship.

But, what about love? Love is transformed into something else. It becomes a desire that is very hard to reach because it has not been achieved for so long. Many people do not bother with it because it has caused them physical and emotional trauma in the past. People place it on the sidelines or on a pedestal and choose not to bother with it because it is too high of an aspiration to reach. In the end loneliness wins and so there is no need for an emotional connection. The monogamous relationship does not seem so great when we can live on our own terms and stimulate ourselves in other ways. In a fast growing society of people the best option may not be to have more children, but instead it can be to learn more about ourselves and find other means to create happiness in our lives. However, there are limits to this and it is evident in our society today that people have taken this route at the cost of their mental and physical health and financial well-being. A good tip today can be that for those who are alone it can be worthwhile to channel their love to those who need it most, the poor.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Battle of the Sexes

I just read the chapter called Battle of the Sexes in Richard Dawkin's book Selfish Gene and again I feel that I have come to some realizations about human beings.

There exists a battle of the sexes among different species in nature and it occurs during mating season. A male may have to put in quite a bit of effort to court a female so that she may choose him and a female may want to shop wisely for a strong and committed male so that the investment in the offspring is proportionately shared. In the wild among lower order organisms it is common for the female to invest more of her energy and time into her offspring since she bears them. The males normally choose the option of leaving the female so that he can reproduce with other females and create even more offspring. These males invest very little time into preparing and caring for their offspring. It is easy for them considering that they are capable of producing such small sex cells, sperm, in such large numbers. Their investment per child is very small. However, the sex cells of females or eggs are much smaller in number and much larger for the purpose of providing food to her growing fetus(es). It is very clear to see why there is a battle of the sexes among many different species including human beings.

Since the onset of settlement of human beings 10,000 years ago, humans developed a pair relationship between a male and female in order to care and protect their young. The males worked as the hunters and the females as gatherers in a cooperative manner. This was important because children were more likely to live longer if they were cared for by both parents. In addition, by staying with the female a male could know with certainty that the children that he is investing so much in are in fact his. Although a monogamous relationship would mean less offspring for the male, it would also mean that he could keep track of his offspring and teach them to care properly for their children, a strategy that would help his grandchildren survive.

In today's modern society a monogamous marriage is very common and democratic laws protect this type of relationship between a man and woman when children are concerned. Even when an unmarried man and woman have a child similar laws will still apply. It is the responsibility of the parents to care and protect their own children until a certain age for their well-being according to the governing laws. If the proper care is not met, family laws dictate how the children will be cared for. Children can suffer emotionally from problems in their parents' marriage so in many divorce cases custody of the children is shared between the parents even when the parents have gone their separate ways. There are other cases in which if one parent leaves the family and all of his/her responsibility on the other parent, family laws will dictate that he/she must contribute financially to the children. In this way, the rights and freedoms of the children are seriously considered by the government no matter who the parents are. A simple monogamous relationship no longer protects the children like it did in the wild. Instead, it is the governing democratic laws that take over the responsibility of enforcing security of the children when a monogamous marriage breaks down.

Why then do individuals enter into monogamous marriages under the law and have children when they are unsure about undertaking such a responsibility? One reason may be that they have already invested time and effort into committing to a relationship that they are ready to have children. Most couples will enter into a legal marriage contract before they have children in order to solidify their commitment to each other to stay together and have children. Another reason may be that the families of the couple hold religious values that pressure the couple to wed before they live together and have sex. The couple then may have an unplanned child which they must take responsibility for even though they were not ready. This in particular is a common reason why people get married and why they get divorced. Marriage for religious reasons is extreme and unnatural and is not in the best interest of the man or woman.

Today, divorce is very common among couples with children. Although there are pros and cons about divorce, it is not in the best interest of the couple or their children. Democratic laws are such that upon divorce the man and woman split their finances in half, unless a prenuptual agreement was signed, and custody is awarded to either both parents or one parent depending on their financial and emotional situation. In addition, both parents are entitled to support their children financially based on their flow of income. The advantage is that the couple and the children are not subjected to emotional instability within one household. Further, the mother and father can be free to mate with other people and produce more children thereby creating a new family unit. But, the disadvantages are that a parent will be financially responsible even though the children are not living with them and the family unit will be divided causing long-term emotional instability especially for the children.

Such a governing system is necessary for the well-being of individuals in a society but it is clear that men and women do not understand the reasoning of the monogamous relationship. Human beings developed this type of relationship in order for their to be a shared responsibility to care for their children. However, today it has become a bond that is fragile and that can easily break down due to financial and emotional instability even when children are involved. Although there are a number of factors that can effect a marriage such as both parents working, infidelity, debt, sickness, conflicting belief systems, etc. the children's best interest is not always considered. A monogamous relationship should be a strength in a couple's lives. It should be a desired route to take for the purpose of security, love, growth, and family. But, it does not have to be a means of fulfilling a religious tradition or family dream. A battle is not necessary if both sexes can share a mutual commitment towards each other.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Selfishness vs. Altruism

If there is a human moral to be drawn, it is that we must teach our children altruism , for we cannot expect it to be part of their biological nature (Dawkins, R., Selfish Gene, p. 139)

This quote by Richard Dawkins from the book 'The Selfish Gene' really makes me think. I think about the idea that our brothers, sisters, and parents are 50% related to us and that we are 100% related to ourselves due to our individual genetic constitution. Our selfish genes help us to survive and benefit from our close relatives without always considering their well-being. We do, however, take into account that our parents and siblings are 50% related to us and that it matters how they are affected by our actions. Their survival matters because they share 50% of their genes with us, but it only matters up to a point.

In the wild, if the life of an animal such as a baby bird is put at risk by a predator or sibling it will be in its best interest to deter that risk onto another species or another sibling. It would not be in its best interest to put its parents at risk since they are the primary caregivers that provide food, shelter, and safety to their offspring since that is in their best interest. In contrast, a sibling could incur that risk because its survival has no benefit to the baby bird besides the 50% genetic relation. It is even so that if a sibling bird thinks that it is not getting enough food from its parents, it may steal food from its other siblings or cheat for more food from its parents by loudly calling out to attract predators. This can be seen in many different species of organisms such as insects and humans.

When this notion is applied to human behavior many similarities can be seen. In nature there are many selfish human beings that interact daily. In society, humans regard selfishness as an emotion or a personality trait that many different individuals convey, even themselves at times. Selfishness also exists within the family just as it does within other species in nature and brothers and sisters compete for love, care, and money from their parents. If a child feels like he/she is not being treated fairly, they may act selfishly such as tell a lie or pretend to be sick in order to gain favour from their parents. If parents do not moderate these acts of selfishness through discipline and practicing altruism the other siblings may begin to feel emotions of jealousy and greed which can cause conflict in a family unit. The parents themselves may also feel emotions of guilt and worry which could effect the well-being of all of their children.

Altruism, the act of helping others or doing good without reward, is a behaviour among different species of organisms including humans that helps to counteract selfishness within a family, group or society. Although in the wild selfishness can be regarded as being beneficial for survival, so can altruism in a civilized society. Today it has become ever more important to be altruistic to people in order to gain trust and cooperation in a society where selfishness exists at many levels of government, economy, and business.

How is it then that humans can learn to be altruistic to non-relatives? In the wild it is uncommon to see an organism showing altruism to a fellow group member of the same species which has no relation to it. However, it is natural to see a parent showing altruism to its children or an older group leader showing altruism to its pack of relatives and non-relatives. Mutual symbioses or cooperation does also exist between different species in order to benefit both species. So altruism does exist in nature but it more commonly occurs between a parent and their offspring which is a genetic relation.

Altruism is favoured in a democratic society of related and unrelated human beings because people understand that they all carry the same rights and freedoms as one another and that it is effective to work in concert in order to grow as a functional and stable society. When people show altruism towards each other they are trying to set a standard of respect and loyalty. In this type of environment different people can trust one another and information can be transparent. Selfish acts can be distinguished from acts of altruism and selfish individuals are encouraged to learn from their mistakes. However, in a multi-government and interconnected society where powerful players such as pharmaceutical companies, oil companies, and governing bodies are operating, many selfish acts are overlooked. These parties take advantage of the end-users of society in order to profit and grow in power. They also show little or no care for the environment which is home to billions and billions of living organisms. Due to a lack of organization and accountability at the government level there is much bureaucracy which creates opportunities for powerful players to take advantage of the system. Altruism can combat these selfish acts but it takes a large cooperative group of people and an honest and transparent government.

Although selfishness works quite well among different species of organisms in the wild, it is not wholly accepted by human beings in a civilized society. In such a society, altruism, equality and being a good citizen are social ideals that teach human beings to be good to one another. It is also reasonable to act in one's best interest but to consider the well-being of others whether or not they are family. This is so because human beings are capable of understanding another person's suffering and emotional state which is not practiced among animals in the wild. This capability, through our own selfish nature, stems from understanding our own emotional state and how it effects us. And democracy and justice have enabled humans to act on this understanding in a positive way in order to reduce suffering of others through the emotions of empathy and sympathy.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Living in Moderation and the Good Life

So many people want to live with happiness, wealth, love, and peace but seem to always hit an obstacle in their plans and cannot understand why this happens to them. Why does this happen anyways? There are multiple reasons of course but the main underlying reason is that they have not carefully thought out their plans. This reason may seem obvious but during the time of planning and before hitting an obstacle people overlook many of the possibilities that may significantly effect their plans throughout their journey. They fail to take the time to plan out their ideas and do not adapt their plans to the changes that occur in their own lives throughout the planning stages.

Planning always involves looking into the near future in order to determine the best and worst case scenarios. By making predictions that account for where you are so far in your life and where you are going is the best way to begin planning a new path or change. Without this foresight a person can easily spiral into a path of endless obstacles and end where they started, or worse. There are a number of things that a person needs to analyze during the planning stages in order to determine if their journey or venture is feasible for them: 1) financial disposition, 2) family, 3) work, 4) timing, 5) research.

It is not possible to succeed in your goals if you overlook these five criteria during the planning stages. Many people tend to overlook the most important criterion, money, when they want to make a change in their life that suits their preferences and desires. They feel overwhelmed to even attempt to understand their financial disposition and as a result leave this to the last minute, which almost always causes failure and grief in their lives when what they are trying to accomplish is to make their lives better. I have no sympathy for those that do not budget accordingly because everyone should know how important money, not material things, is in life. When beginning the planning stages you should first formulate an understanding of your financial situation by asking yourself questions like: How much money do I have in my bank account (chequing and savings) and will that be enough to fund my whole journey/venture; How much money would I need to borrow and can I borrow from a friend or family member instead of the bank?; At what interest rate can I borrow from the bank and is it feasible? How much money will I be consistently making and will this be enough to pay my monthly debts?; What are my other financial responsibilities that I will have to manage during my venture (mortgage, prior debts, car lease)? These are all very important questions to ask yourself in order to ensure that your plan will work.

Another criterion that one must not overlook is the family situation. If you have a goal in mind that involves much change in your current lifestyle you must ensure that your partner is also involved in your decision-making and that their lifestyle is also considered in your plans. If not, it will cause tension in your relationship which contradicts what you are trying to accomplish in your life. If you have children whether young or old, it is imperative that you take into account how this change will impact them-- their health, education, emotions, and goals. The whole family must be involved in the planning and decision-making in order to avoid miscommunication and misunderstanding. Everyone has to be on the same page in order to reach the end goal.

Many people make a change in their lives when there are employment opportunities for them. This is normally what helps people make a smooth transition in their lives because it gives them a sense of financial stability, success, and peace of mind. However, it is imperative to be aware of this new employment environment and all the changes that are happening as a result of it. Ensure that your new job is providing you with the same or more benefits as your previous job such as salary, location, work schedule, cost of living, etc. and that you and your family are satisfied with the new change in life. Know where you are going and what your responsibilities are and that it is still in line with your goals or that your goals can be adapted easily with the new change. Also ensure that you are not displacing yourself permanently for a job that you may not want to do for the long-term. Think ahead rather than behind.

Timing is key. Many people do not understand this concept at all but it is one of the criteria of planning a goal. If you are experiencing problems in your relationship, family, finances, employment, or lifestyle think twice before reorganizing or restructuring your life. There are always reasons for these problems and you should first and foremost determine where your problems stem from. Do not start planning a new path if you have problems because they will without a doubt create obstacles in your journey and on top of everything else cause you to feel dissatisfaction and discontent which is what you are trying to avoid. This is the time to ask yourself questions about the roots of your problems. If you hesitate to accept your problems and work on them you will never find satisfaction in your life and the changes you make to it. Denial and worry are not things that you want to live with while you are trying to make life better for yourself. Be honest and open with yourself and your partner/family before reaching any conclusions and reformulating your goals. Don't leave anything unsaid or undone or your timing will be off, I guarantee it. In addition, don't do something because someone else has done it. It is fine to be motivated by someone else's accomplishments and success but if you want to follow in someone's footsteps it is imperative that you understand how they succeeded before you jump to any conclusions.

This brings me to the final criterion, research. Do your research! Determine what you are doing, where you are going, when you will do it, why you are doing this, and how you will accomplish it. If you can't answer these five points then you have not thoroughly done your research I'm afraid. You must ask yourself what the best and worst case scenarios are; and there are always worst case scenarios. If you know this beforehand you will always have a plan b or c to get you out of your predicament and can easily overcome that obstacle. Do not rely on others to help you achieve your goals-- this is not how business works and this is not how life works. You must know for yourself what you need to do to reach success. Doing research and being prepared can get you to where you want to go. Ask a lot of questions and listen to the responses-- you will always find something useful to help you reach your own goals. Everyone is different and comes from different backgrounds so it is important that you don't follow but rather learn from others. No one knows you better than yourself.

Many people feel a sense of dissatisfaction or envy when they see someone else achieve their goals and you wonder how they did it. It's simple. They are good planners that always consider these five criteria in their plans and preparations. They make accurate predictions because they know what they want in life, think about their future all the time, and can avoid problems before they happen. They live moderately so they don't have to give up too much when they make a change in their lives and are satisfied with what they already have. They are good listeners and make good observations so they are aware of how others live and what others want in life so they know what advice is good and what is bad. They are supportive and are supported by their family and/or partner to reach their goals in life. Lastly, they are patient. They don't make rash decisions which can jeopardize their path to success. They are moderate so they take the time to think everything out and act on their plans in a step-by-step process. This process may take several years but it is worth the wait for good planners.

If you do not live in moderation and are not a good planner you will never understand these types of people unless you learn and grow to be one of these people. You have to want it to achieve it but if you do not have foresight you will fail.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Blame Game and Being Responsible

Human beings today are more in tune with nature and life than earlier humans because of what we know today about our Earth, life and the Universe. Industrialization has brought comfort and luxury to many living in developing and developed nations and, in turn, has changed the way people think and act. Due to the progression of economies in these places, people are able to do more than feed and shelter their families but also to live a more prosperous and safe life under democratic laws, rights and freedoms. But, what do people think of each other as a mother or father, sister or brother, friend or stranger? Do we care to live in peace and harmony? My thoughts are that people do not see reality so clearly as to know that the person next to them is a person with thoughts and feelings too. That we are all similar in how we sense things in our environment and act on them. That although we all have different personal and academic experiences we are all human beings that care about life and being happy.

Even within families there seems to be an endless struggle to create harmony because there are many interests at hand that need to be accommodated. A sister may want to help her teenage brother who is struggling in school but is ignored by him because he feels that her intention is to treat him like he's still a child. Or a mother and father may want to help their daughter with her drug problem but she feels like her parents don't understand her. Why do even our own family members feel like they can't talk about their problems and come to a solution with the help of their own family? Problem solving and family advice are no match for our own self-interests. If we feel like we need or want something we won't let anyone or anything stop us in our tracks. We live in an individualistic society where every person works on their own to get what they want. Even having children has become obsolete because it conflicts with our view of being independent and confident. Our ancestors moved in groups in order to be safe and get tasks done efficiently. They relied on one another to accommodate their daily needs. Over time our ancestors decided to settle and form bonds between companions in order to protect and feed their young and each other. Humans have always worked together in concert to help each other and to survive.

How can we successfully guide our children if we cannot cooperate and communicate with one another? What can our children learn from this? They can learn that it is normal to act on self-interest and put little trust in anyone including their own parents and siblings. This is detrimental because it causes individuals to confide solely in their own thoughts and choices and blame others for their faults and poor decisions. In an individualistic society each person takes pride and joy in learning on their own and making decisions and rules for themselves regardless of what others have advised and experienced. They choose not to learn and grow from their past experiences and mistakes but instead they forget them in order to maintain confidence in themselves. They do not reflect on their past actions so they limit their ability to adapt to their environment and unknowingly take risks throughout their life. When they run into problems they are quick to blame others for their mistakes and, in turn, lose their sense of responsibility for their own choices and actions. They blame others because they feel that they could not have made a better choice and that their poor decision is a result of their helplessness and innocence. They feel this way because they believe that since they are alone in this world they have made the best decision that they could at the time and no one was there to stop them or guide them. In my opinion, it seems that these individuals are very quick to forget what others have advised so if there is a problem they feel less inclined to blame themselves. So in the end they make choices based on how they feel at the time and when a problem is encountered they want to blame others in order to relinquish their responsibility for their actions. They end up making poor decisions at the expense of others and themselves.

People who are quick to blame others lack responsibility and self-respect. They believe that in order to build and maintain their confidence and motivation they should never blame themselves or admit to their faults because they feel that it is unnecessary and only makes them look immature and dumb. They should not have to question their decisions because they feel so confident in themselves. Why should a poor decision stop them from feeling this way? Well, when an individual makes a poor decision it's important for them to admit their mistakes and accept the consequences of their actions in order to learn and be more responsible. They feel like they are protecting themselves from feeling ashamed and losing their confidence but what they are actually doing is protecting their selfish ego from being damaged at the cost of themselves and others. Responsibility is not a bad thing. It is a means of protecting oneself from obstacles that may hinder one's success in life. It is a means of reducing one's selfish ego so that they may use their brain capacity to problem solve and reflect in order to avoid encountering more problems. It is not a means of lowering one's self-confidence and pride.

Why are we afraid of being responsible citizens? It doesn't help that free and democratic societies encourage individuals to put responsibility in a large national government, which in itself shows little accountablity and integrity in its operations, and live as an individual and not as a family member or local citizen. I think that our communities need to set a better example for our youth and for each other. We need to be encouraged to find a balance between and among family, community, and individualism. Religion must be seen as insignificant and unnecessary for the unity among people. Unity can be established, not through adherence to a particular religion, but through care and respect for one another and for the environment. This can be accomplished by removing religion from government and education and replacing it with open discussions about all peoples and world issues (life), our local environment (nature), helping people that are in need without burdening others (ending suffering), and building love and respect for one another (empathy). People need to be encouraged to take responsibility into their own hands in order to create positive changes for themselves and, in turn, for others. When we are responsible, we do not act in self-interest but in all-interest. Our egos do not need to be bloated to live a prosperous life but we can gain self-confidence in learning from our past experiences and helping others based on what we have learned.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Expand Your Knowledge Through Self-Conscious Reflection

Self-conscious reflection is the highest level of operations of a human brain. Although human beings have evolved from primates, these organisms lack the ability to reflect. This is evident in the behaviour of primate species, such as chimpanzees. Chimps like to play games with their friends but cannot strategize and think about how to improve their skills while playing a game. They lack the ability to organize multiple thoughts and ideas in their brains because their brains are not as complex and well-developed as human brains. However, the brains of primates are well-developed compared to brains of lower order mammalian species such as dogs and mice.

So how has such a marvelous characteristic evolved in human brains? Self-conscious reflection is built on several levels of processes that Marvin Minsky calls the Six-Level Model of the Mind: 1) instinctive reactions, 2) learned reactions, 3) deliberate reactions, 4) reflective thinking, 5) self-reflective thinking, and 6) self-conscious reflection. Instinctive reactions are already operating in a human at birth since these reactions have evolved from the time of the earliest humans. The next two processes are developed at an early age as a young human being explores and studies their surroundings and interacts with their imprimers (family and friends). Throughout adolescence the remaining processes are developed and strengthened as a result of new experiences that challenge an individual to think about their choices and reflect on their actions.

Education tremendously facilitates a human's ability to problem solve and make informed choices and goals. It helps an individual gain knowledge of life and the universe and, in turn, expand their minds to different possibilities in nature. Educated individuals have the freedom to reach the highest level of the mind which is self-conscious reflection. For those who are oppressed by their communities, families, and poverty there is much difficulty in reaching this level because they lack the basic knowledge of life and nature to facilitate their human abilities-- they are limited in their abilities to learn and grow as a human being. This is the case for Muslims around the world, particularly women. It is also the case for many people who are forced to believe in religion at an early age without the proper knowledge of other religions and belief systems.

There is no open discussion about religious beliefs of other peoples around the world and, as such, a person's scope of nature and world views is limited to the belief system their family and community hold so strongly. When a child grows up in this environment and is forced to adhere to one religious belief system they are robbed of their freedom to learn about all religions and make informed choices. They become limited to learning only about their parent's religion. This hinders a child's ability to reach the higher level processes in the brain because they are taught about a world-view that is skewed and inaccurate. Since there is little discussion about religion in the modern education system today a child remains closed-minded about the differences and similarites between all people and their world-view is reduced to their own communities and families. Their level of understanding of life and nature remains immature and simple. As they grow up their transition to adulthood is more difficult because their view of the world does not change so much as a result of the influence on them to adhere to their religious belief. Any idea they encounter throughout their life which encourages them to question their belief system is ignored and dismissed because of what they have been taught to believe by their family and community. To these people the complexities of science are misunderstood like the structure and function of the cell so they remain immature in their thoughts and practices. They build their knowledge around their religious belief, whether moderate or strong, and leave out important facts, such as quantum physics, neuronal transmission in the brain, and evolution, which they find unnecessary or insufficient to learn. Their religious belief helps them to fill in the gaps so there is no need to further their understanding of the facts. But, what their religious belief actually does is hinder the development of their mind. Having a religious belief is closing one's mind to the world and all the possiblities in the universe that it negatively effects the way people live and think.

Self-conscious reflection, the highest level of the mind, can be reached by an educated human being that considers all the possibilities of a given idea and that can let go of their pre-conceived beliefs about an idea. The reason for this is that in order to comprehend a particular fact or concept one cannot believe in something that is unproven or make-believe because it may conflict with a given fact and cause the person to be confused and misunderstand the fact itself and all other facts and concepts related to that fact. When ideas and concepts are understood properly a person can self-consciously reflect on their thoughts and come to accurate conclusions and decisions. Moreover, this reflective process can stimulate new thoughts and questions that are completely in line with existing facts and concepts. Self-conscious reflection is important because it gives human beings the power and encourages them to understand their own nature and the nature of the universe. It helps people to understand their niche on earth-- that we have evolved over millions of years for the purpose of surviving for as long as possible on planet Earth. And in doing so, we have been able to sense the beauty of nature and depend on the fruits of it. Isn't life grand?! It should be, since all life have worked hard to survive for millenia and make the Earth their home.

Charles Darwin was a very intelligent man that had reached the highest level of the mind, and this is a remarkable feat in his time. He was able to properly collect, analyze, and organize his thoughts to correctly explain the concept of evolution. He devised a concept from previously built concepts. What a remarkable human being indeed! If it weren't for him, our children today would not have the benefit of understanding the history and biology of life on Earth. Why should we hinder our children's brain development by teaching them about our religious beliefs thus limiting their horizons. What ever happened to the idea that 'our children are our future'. Education in today's modern societies cater to the proper care and development of our children, which is funded by the citizens. Why should we interrupt this education by teaching our childern about magical beliefs that conflict with what they are learning in school. There is no benefit in this but rather the cost of burdening our children with the difficulty of grasping scientific, mathematical, historical, and social concepts. What a burden! It will be our children that will build institutions and projects, based on the foundations earlier generations have built and preserved for them, to carry us all safely into the future (Dennett, Breaking the Spell 2006). Our children need to be encouraged and given time to grow and learn. Open discussions about religion at home and in the education system are important for there to be an open society and for expanding our knowledge of nature and the universe. With this knowledge people can focus on making the world a better place to live and recognize that their lives do have meaning.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Memetic Transmission

Our human ancestors traversed the Earth searching for food, shelter and water and in doing so began to settle in groups (composed mainly of relatives and allies), in large part, for protection and security from other groups. From a social point of view, our ancestors created and proliferated memes or ideas that were important to follow in their time. During the time of early humans it was their five senses that enabled them to maintain their health, security, and group cooperation. In order to find nourishment and strength, our ancestors had to use all five senses in concert to determine what was edible, digestable, and of course palatable. At that time, they were not too worried about the amount of fat, carbohydrates, sugars, and proteins in their food, but they did eat what they felt gave them more energy, stamina, and hydration since there was not always an over abundance of food available. This ensured that they could eat in moderation so that there was enough to go around and that they could heal properly and swiftly so as to not prolong their weakness. Although they did not recognize it at the time, they were finding ways to strengthen their immune systems in order to fight sickness caused by bacteria and viruses and to maintain their health. Moreover, security was a major factor that influenced early humans to form groups and maintain cooperation in order to venge against enemies looking for food, a place to settle, and in some cases women to join their group. So perhaps another important meme was mating outside of the group in order to add diversity to a particular group. At the time, these early humans did not know that they were, in turn, expanding their genetic diversity by mating with someone outside of the group. But, it was their senses like touch and sight that helped them to determine that there was a need to add outsiders to their packs. Their inherent sexual insticts for a non-relative helped them to diversify and grow their tribes.

The use of their five senses helped early humans to use logic in their behaviours and actions. As time passed, existing memes were strengthened and new memes were created that sometimes replaced existing memes (memetic competition). Much archeological evidence shows that early humans crafted different tools and objects out of rocks and bones for security, hunting, and ornamental purposes. The creations can be seen to have happened all over the world at around the same time during the time of the early humans. A meme, governing these creations, had spread all over the world by humans because it was so important for protection, food, and leisure. Leisure was important since it satisfied the senses the way food and shelter did. It allowed early humans to play with their logic skills which, in turn, improved their reasoning skills, although they did not realize this at the time. It offered a means of inventing new things from old creations. For example the creation of a sharp rock knife may have enabled the creation of a flute from carving a piece of wood. And from this could have resulted the creation of carved stone sculptures or jewelery. The use of their logic helped humans to further their knowledge of their surroundings and this gave rise to new and more complex memes, some of which had evolved from existing memes. Some of these more complex memes include livestock hearding and agriculture, from the meme of food security and wealth, and wearing clothing in order to maitain hygeine to protect from harmful bacteria and viruses (from the memes of good health and longevity).

In today's modern societies there are an overwhelming number of memes that are built on older memes from the time of the earliest humans. Our logic and reasoning skills that are governed by our senses and ultimately our brains have been improved over tens of thousands of years that today we live in a world of countless creations. We thrive on new discoveries, not only based on our surroundings and lifestyles, but on the nature of the universe. These new discoveries enable today's humans all over the world to expand their knowledge of life and the universe further improving our logic and reasoning skills. The difference today is that we are capable of being fully aware of how we impact ourselves, each other, and our future. We now have the ability to weed out such memes like the belief in God that no longer apply in this modern day. This meme, that was established in order to maintain group loyalty and cooperation long ago, is no longer necessary in a time of democratic influence and social justice. With all that we know today, we can have contol of how our future will be. However, with the long-lasting meme of religion among today's societies, we have a tremendous obstacle to overcome in order to establish a safe and prosperous future for humans.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Miscommunication in the business world as a result of our modern desires

I feel like I can't count on anyone or anything these days. Just when I think that a particular service actually cares about customer satisfaction or that a business person cares about professionalism I run into some sort of obstacle that causes extra costs and delays. When I think about it more I realize that the problem is miscommunication. I have learned over time from experience that it's always necessary to prepare a plan of action before purchasing a service or product because there will most likely be a miscommunication problem along the way. But, even with a plan of action you can never be too sure if the servicer understands you completely. Most likely, that person will miss something that you asked for or specified and there seems to be many reasons for this. One of the main reasons, I find, is that they are so disinterested in your case or need that they sometimes remain preoccupied about their own experiences or problems. There is a sense of ignorance that is radiated when the servicer has to ask twice about something that you already specified cleary, or so you thought.

The reason why I hire a service or buy a product from a business is because I cannot perform the service task myself, like replacing a broken toilet, or I require something that I have to purchase, like a washing machine. It sounds pretty straightforward, and it should since you are paying for it. But the truth is, it's not straightforward at all. To replace a broken toilet means that you have to hire a reliable and honest plumber and if you don't know a plumber there is a chance that costs may be considerably higher and that you will end up with the wrong type of toilet (yes, there are many different types and models). The annoyance of always paying more and waiting longer than expected escalates with the more customer/client experiences you have. The fact is customer service has broken down tremendously and product quality has become worse. And the bigger the city you live in, the worse customer service is. Customer satisfaction is no longer a guarantee since many, if not all, products are made in China or India. Service representatives and business owners remain preoccupied because they either are speaking to you from a different country and cannot properly understand you as with the former example or they have more important clients like friends and regular clients that they will show disinterest and misunderstand your explanation and requirements. As well, I find that in many instances with service contracters/technicians, they fail to ask the right questions and give proper instructions that, in the end, cause delays and extra costs. It's always this way.

Where have the ways of professionalism and respect gone? Even when the servicer is being treated with respect they will choose to be ignorant and impatient. Don't they wonder about the reputation of their business? Some do. They are usually small businesses that thrive in smaller communities and care more about their reputations. But, in many cases you end up dealing with some sort of problem, for instance, with the product you have purchased from any business.

The reality is that today's modern societies indulge in new products and programs whether technological or not. Each individual has a personal agenda that they like to follow through on. Their desires govern their actions and the consequences are left up to luck or perhaps a 'miracle'. Errors result in the end perhaps because desicions are not thought through properly all the time which, in turn, causes more delays and additional costs to a customer. Reputations are damaged because people may not realize that they are making poor desicions and errors in judgement. Their indulgence in new things causes them to over-indulge in their thoughts. Their thoughts are clouded by nothing more than desires ranging from icecream to American Idol. We're all more or less guilty of that. But, when it enters the service sector it effects communication between people. Professionalism and respectfulness in the business world have degraded creating an open arena of distrust and miscommunication between community members.

Who is to blame? I cannot speak for everyone on the customer end who requires a service or product because I do not know the extent of effort that each person puts into making the task easy for themselves. But, in my opinion I do believe that much of the blame lies in the structure and operation of all businesses, large and small. There is a clear attraction to manufacture or buy cheap products and sell a cheap service that ends up being unreliable and difficult to communicate to and understand. The modern business motto seems to be that once you sell it, it's the customer's problem. There's almost always a warranty, but the reliability in products and services has diminished and the customer is encouraged to pay more for an 'improved' product or 'gold' warranty plan for more reliability.

The end result is that people end up spending more money on products and services and, in turn, adapt to indulging in buying things. These desires cloud their minds and this indirectly effects professionalism and respectfulness in the business world today. I believe this. To go even further, since people are encouraged to buy new things in the modern world the old things are thrown away if not recycled. This creates accumulation of waste that cannot biodegrade and this negatively effects the environment. Therefore, I believe that people all over the world need to think less about desires of things, music, food, TV, God etc. and more about love, life, democracy, justice, and truth. This way we can all be respectful of each other and show care to one another in the economic, environmental, and social spheres.

Religious People

What exactly makes a good person? People who believe in God will say that a nice person follows a set of morals that are based on their religion and that makes them a good person. These morals help a religious person make decisions and act respectfully to others. But, does one have to believe in God in order to be a nice and good person? I don't believe so at all. I believe that to be a good person one cannot believe in God because to be a truly good person is to understand the laws of the universe and see the beauty in life and nature.

Religious people believe in immortality and life after death. They do not feel such pride and confidence in their own lives because they believe that the after-life is where they will find true beauty and goodness. Why would a religious person be honest and respectful to others and nature in their mortal life if they know that they will live forever in a much happier place? Perhaps, they feel that in order to make it to that happier place they call heaven they will first be required to answer to God. So, is the reason why religious people feel that they are good people because they want to live forever in heaven? If heaven is their fixation, then all religious people should try to act morally and in turn be a good person. But, this is really not the case at all since our history has been painted by holy wars and religious dictatorships. In many cases religious fundamentalists have acted immorally but still believed that they will go to heaven, such as Islamic suicide bombers and their teachers as well as rapist Catholic priests.

Where do religious people get their moral base that they say they follow in order to be a good person? What exactly is it to be a moral person? I don't think religious people really know what moral reasoning they follow at all. I think that when it comes down to it they feel that as long as they believe in God their soul within them will guide them to be a good and moral person. So, religious people believe then that their moral compass comes packaged for them directly from God in the form of a soul (kind of like anticipating a Christmas present from Santa because you've been good). They believe that God has given them a chance at immortality by giving them a soul and their soul guides them to be a good person so that they can reach 'eternal bliss'. So then there really is no set of morals that religious people follow, although they say there is. Rather, it's God that is driving them to be good through the gift of a soul. That sounds like religious people feel less responsible for their actions since it is God that is guiding them to act in that way. If that's the case it does kind of make sense why Islamic suicide bombers will die for God-- they feel that it is God's power that is driving them to death. But, what about all the innocent people that they kill as well-- has God given the suicide bomber permission to kill those people because they too should die for God? Would these innocent people agree? What about the teachers of these suicide bombers-- have they too been given permission by God to tell others to kill people in the name of God? How does one obtain the status of gaining permission from God to kill other people? It sounds like a pretend game conceived by believers in God. Did God tell George Bush that it's okay to kill innocent people? I guess he believes so or he is playing the pretend game to gain support from the religious community to act in his own self-interest. This is a familiar game strategy among televangelicals, government leaders, and high status Catholics like the Pope himself. To them, religious people are fools that don't really understand what goodness is but rather that as long as religious people believe that they are good in the name of God then they will remain foolish and foolish people are less likely to initiate a revolt.

So as long as foolish people believe that their gift of a soul makes them a good person then there is little need for them to take full responsibility for their actions because their actions are guided and governed by God. And since God is all-knowing, their decisions are automatically given the status of being wise and logical. Religious people believe that because they believe in and pray to God that their soul provides them with a moral compass which makes them good people. There is no other way to be as good. But these so called good people are considered fools by the 'pretenders' and are being taken advantage of because of their believe in God. I'd like to know if they recognize that their own selfish belief in God and their good soul are influencing others to take advantage of them in order to perpetuate wars and exacerbate greed. In turn, to believe in God is to support those religious fanatics to maintain and act on their belief in God and give strength and power to the 'pretenders' like George Bush to wreak havoc around the world against rivals for their own selfish desires.


I'm finally here on this beautiful island,
the breeze is constant and the sun so brilliant.
The trees are so green and lush,
where the birds perch to sing in harmony.
I wish I had known about this place sooner
but it's not so easy when you're in a cold place.

Curacao is a gem in the sea,
a land that is inviting to all.
Although the island is far from home
it feels like I am at home.

The love for this island is strong,
love for nature and the people.
There is a different lifestyle here
that is slow-paced and easy-going.
Why isn't life like this everywhere?

I want to live here forever
because I want this life for me.
I want this life for my children
so that they can share the love
for this one-of-a-kind place.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Mythical Belief

I wonder sometimes what it is to believe in a mythical belief like the belief in God. I believe that this is a mythical belief because it has been constructed and edited over many years by us, human beings, just like many other mythical beliefs like the story of Mother Goose and of Loch Ness.
So what is it exactly to believe in a mythical belief like the belief in God? Many will tell you that it is down right true and that they hear the words of God on a daily basis. But, what about those groups of people that believe that they have, on many occasions, seen the Loch Ness Monster and have pictures to show for it? Are these pictures real and are their accounts true? It is very unlikely since the evidence to suggest that there is or ever was a Loch Ness Monster is non-existent. The same is true for the existence of God and for all of those accounts of ever seeing or talking to it. There is no experimental evidence to prove that there is a God. The many published articles that claim to present any evidence that there is a God have proven to be fraudulent and completely unscientific.

Now, isn't it the same to say that I have a belief in something that helps me too? Surely there is no difference between my belief and the belief in God. What I believe is that I as well as each and everyone on this Earth has a special greenhouse next to their home. Depending on the maintenance and care of the greenhouse some can be normal-looking and other can be totally invisible. This greenhouse is special because within it grows many different species of grass that, when used properly, can help someone. For example, if I was thirsty I could go to my greenhouse, pick a thick and wide blade of species of grass, blow on it until the right note is reached, and "presto" I am rehydrated again! Other pieces of grass can help you regain your strength, help you feel less tired, and help you feel happy. All I have to do is believe that this magical greenhouse is real and it will always be there for me when I need help. So this is my belief. What do you think of it? To many it may sound far-fetched and a little childish. But, what is the difference between my belief in this special greenhouse and the belief in God? Right, there is no difference because they are both mythical beliefs. They both sound far-fetched and childish because there is no evidence to support either case. The Word of God is also not evidence since it comes merely from other fellow human beings of long ago in the form of a book. The Word is actually opinions and fiction constructed by other human beings. The brilliance of Shakespeare's literature came from his own opinions which he used to construct fictional stories. But, I would much rather believe that the story of Romeo and Juliet were true over the story of God. It just sounds more realistic.

So how have people for so many generations maintained their strong belief in God when there are and have been so many other mythical beliefs that are more intruging and mysterious? The magical powers of Harry Potter are quite mysterious-- where does he get his power?, why are his powers stronger than others his age? After all, the mythical belief in God is so outdated and so 1st century. Why has this mythical belief been so popular for so long that even today the majority of the world's population believe in it?

Many people are told and pressured to believe in this mythical belief in God. They are influenced by their families and community to adhere to these beliefs without wholly questioning it. To question the belief in God is to offend and disrespect God and the rest of the community. Why aren't these rules and authority placed on other mythical beliefs like my belief in the magical greenhouse? Why does the mythical belief in God deserve the pleasure of enforcing authority and pressure to believe on human beings? Why do leaders within the realm of religious belief have the authority to pressure human beings to believe in the mythical belief in God? The reason why I pose these questions is to emphasize that to say that the mythical belief in God is an authority on human beings is selfish and egotistical. The belief in God is no more deserving of authority and truth than my belief in the magical greenhouse. Since my belief in the magical greenhouse is mythical so is the belief in God and so both beliefs are completely undeserving of any authoritative influence on human beings.

So, why are so many people wanting to find truth in this mythical belief in God? I'm compelled to believe that it is selfishness, solely because when asked about it, a religious person will tell you that they have a special relationship with God where God is there with them during prayer. Each religious person does not need to know how others interact with God but only that everyone is providing love and worship to this God. This is selfishness because religious people are directly imposing their own vision and idea of God onto their mythical belief in God. This makes a religious person feel that their mythical belief in God is real. But, what it actually does is make their belief in God more like their belief in themselves. So, in turn, they believe that they are God-- a mind-game that they are regularly playing on themselves. This is why religious people believe that humans have souls. These souls represent their God in them which is selfish and egotistical.

Essentially what religious human beings have done on their own is changed a mythical belief in God into something far from a mythical belief-- a false fact. If this isn't selfishness, I don't know what is.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Curacao Netherlands Antilles

I'm home for the holidays but am desperately wanting to go back to the beautiful island, where the sun always shines and the breeze is constant. I miss Caracasbaai beach where I spent so many of my first days on the island. What a beautiful island.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Set Your Life Free

What humans really desire in life is comfort and security. This desire comes from the knowledge of being alive in a vast universe and knowing that we only have one life to live in this reality. Although this is a realistic view we constantly question the unknowns in life that reality has to offer.

From within the scientific realm we can see that humans have made truly wonderful discoveries that help to bring us closer to the truth but from the outside science can be thought of as just another belief system with gaps that may make life look hazy and confusing. I myself do not have this opinion but feel that science, and only science, can bring us closer to knowing our reality and the truth about our universe. But, for someone who does not know much about science, such as not knowing the structure and function of DNA, the feeling of knowing their reality comes from somewhere else that is not related to, nor can be compared to, science.

Another belief system exists in our reality which has gained much power from the time it was first conceived, religion. Although it may have been devised as a way of adhering a growing society or reaching out to those in need, its powers today wield a strong influence on the majority of human beings around the world. Many religious belief systems that are based on religion have forced their way into the minds of many and these beliefs have been passed down from generation to generation slowly transforming into beliefs that many have made a part of their biology, such as the soul. Today human beings grow up in societies that teach about the importance of a particular religious belief system to help people believe that there is meaning in life and that our moral compass can be derived from believing in religion. By doing this human beings can more easily believe that their actions in life are governed by a higher power; a power that has all of the answers for life and the universe. By praying to this higher power, God, one can remain close to God and in so doing can find knowledge about their own existence as well as comfort and security that humans long so much for.

The problem with this kind of adherence to a religious belief system is that people are given a false sense of reality. When reality is skewed by merely a religion then the facts of science are broken down into very little pieces and scientific credibility and truth are lost. Since religion offers comfort and security to people through the idea that there is a higher power governing their actions there is little need to believe in something like science that to them seems down right confusing. But, science is not confusing at all. For someone who is seeking comfort and security science offers much more than what a simple religious belief can offer. Science can provide every person on Earth with the knowledge of comfort and security-- one does not have to go as far as praying to God somewhere in the sky for comfort and security but rather can create it themselves from the knowledge of their own lives. For example, if we hold ourselves accountable for our actions we can ensure that the next time around we will perhaps make a better decision and create a more desired outcome. If we constantly seek forgiveness from God we will never blame ourselves for our bad decisions and, in turn, never learn from our mistakes.

We need to devise a set of common values that human beings can follow in order to lead a life of peace, love, happiness, and security. If we can find harmony in life through following a set of sacred values then following a religious belief system will seem unnecessary, almost silly. For those who strongly adhere to a religious belief system, they will need to find 'salvation' by first getting in touch with their biology and family history. Knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are and about your heritage can only set you free from religious belief!