Saturday, May 26, 2012

From protests to spilt coffee

Shadows and Remnants

The past has passed and the present presents itself while placing historical history and memoirs and memories onto a single shelf.

Modifying and modulating the plan is all you’ve ever known, yet somehow the shadows and remnants of life can’t help but be shown.

Take a breath and breathe. Make a moment to see what’s been seen.

Leap at what’s been leapt and keep the secret that should be kept until the arrival of your moment has arrived for you to survive where others have perished and died. 

The love of your first love never truly fades away, whether that be money or drugs or the individual who has chosen to stray.

Sleep, for you have not slept.  Remember to not leave the gift that’s been left.

Shadows and Remnants Part II

You have awoken from the awakening just before your dream and staring up above you wonder what it all could mean.

From shadows and remnants to memoirs and memories you open your eyes a little wider in hopes that you will see what’s been seen.

Pause and just wait.  Be patient for this is your fate.

Recalling the calling from the gift that one did leave, you arise from the dust, trying to ignore that which did bereave.

Boxed inside another box, you gently open the gift to discover a delicate, intricate, yet simplistic foxy little fox.

Take a breath and make a moment.  It’s a representation of your torment.

Bringing it into the light you are enlightened by the fact that this single icon is what holds you back from letting a bygone be a bygone.

There’s no need to crush it, only to let it go.  All you need to do is watch it fall and spin and then shatter below.

The weight will be lifted because you are a survivor that is divine and gifted.

-Mikey D. B.-

            In the year 1517, one of the most important years in western civilization, Martin Luther made not just one, but 95 complaints against the Catholic Church and posted them to the doors of the Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany.  We could get down to the nitty-gritty and go through each and every one, debating and arguing, but to make a long conversation much shorter, all of these 95 complaints were made for one basic reason: that the Church was involved in the profane and not the sacred.  That there was no longer a wall or a contrast between the world and the divine.  Martin Luther was bugged by the fact that the Church was flaunting the sacredness of its duty because of their involvement in things much less holy.  These 95 complaints were 95 protests against basically everything the Catholic Church was doing at the time, hence the name ‘Protestant’.  The reformation emerged from this act in 1517, and the basic goal of the reformation was to simply re-establish the lost contrast of the divine and world.  Catholics killed Protestants and Protestants killed Catholics in this battle (Norton Anthology English Literature Vol. 1 p.625-27 8th edition).  Martin Luther’s 95 protests eventually led to the foundation of the Untied States.  There are obviously a lot of details and events that occurred between 1517 and July 4, 1776, like Calvinism and the Puritans coming to the Americas for a quick example, BUT 1517 was the first major link in this chain of events. 
Much like Luther, George Washington, John Adams, John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin, and numerous others had complaints of their own.  The citizens of what is now the United States of America, had taxes imposed on them without their consent.  These citizens had the benefit of trial by jury refused to them.  They were constantly accused and found guilty of crimes they did not commit. (The Declaration of Independence).  They were being raped both literally and politically.  Their lives were being destroyed right in front of their eyes and were driven to the point of desperation.  I’m putting it mildly when I say they were being treated in an unjust manner.  Revolution was their answer to the responses of a tyrannical and sadistic king and after many battles fought and countless lives lost, they gained the justice they were searching for.  The Founding Fathers gave us opportunity to have justice and equality and to have freedom and security.  We have unalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  However, do we take advantage of these rights?  Do we realize the cost of these freedoms that we are born with?  Do we really appreciate what has been given to us?
Today, complaining has come to a different caliber and I believe a much lower one.  We may have the right to complain, but should we?  Lawsuit after countless frivolous lawsuit tells me that no, for the most part we should not.  From coffee burns to gross obesity, these lawsuits testify that we have not realized the gifts that are before us.  We take advantage of our divine opportunities and misunderstand that we are not entitled to wealth and glory.  We have come to a point of separation one with another.  I honestly don’t think that spilt coffee burning someone’s lap is enough to drive that individual to a lawsuit.  There is something more.  Something deeper is driving us to take little grievances and amplify their significance to hate, envy, greed, etc.  Think about it.  When we curse the world and all of its inhabitants because we got ranch dressing instead of blue cheese, it’s not the wrong salad dressing that built the fire, it only ignited it. 

I’ve explored the idea before of how the significance of something determines our understanding in “Pope Vs. Vader”, but there is a fine line between ignorance and a problem that has been festering inside of us for years.  Some things demand justice while others are demanded in order to fill a void inside of us.  "We consume such precious emotional and spiritual capital clinging tenaciously to the memory of a discordant note we struck in a childhood piano recital, or something a spouse said or did 20 years ago that we are determined to hold over his or her head for another 20…. Even if one of those grievances did not originate with you, it can end with you” (Jeffery R. Holland, April 2012 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).  Whatever is holding you back from truly progressing, let it go.  Stop complaining about someone politically correct statements.  Yeah your co-worker has Little Man Syndrome, but who cares?!  Stop freaking out that “In God We Trust” is on a coin or that someone calls it a Christmas tree instead of the scientifically correct term.  Let that foxy little fox that has crept its way into our lives, fall, spin, and shatter below you.  Life is a gift.  Things could be much, much worse.  After all, your father could’ve try to kill you with a hatchet and then blew your house up with you in it (ABC news “Josh Powell Tried to Kill Sons With Hatchet Before Fatal Explosion).  Most of us have nothing to complain about, but we do.  Yes, we all get annoyed from time to time, that is human.  The actions or werds of someone offends us,  but when we let that annoyance fester and infest our lives, that is when we let torment dictate our them, holding us from achieving something more. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Spiderman's Cave

Your Secret

Turn left, look right, step forward, and think back to a time when the laughter of laughing children made you laugh.  Not of the questions of questionable adults leaving you to ask, why?

You are keeping a kept secret that if lit would ignite the desire to fight a fighter’s fight.  Instead you keep it and weep and cry quietly into the night.

Hell’s bells continue to ring as they have always rung, but still you do not sing the joyous song that’s been sung.

Inside you scream the screamer’s scream causing your heart to burst.  Not caused by frustration, but the lack of love and the ever present feeling of hurt.

Exhaustion makes you want to sleep moments after you’ve slept because the burden of keeping the secret that’s been kept.

You are the dreamer of dreams unheard and unsaid and the seeker that seeks the roads that wind, weave, and bend.

The musician’s music plays.  What you want is willed to stay.  You are the keeper of a kept secret that cannot only darken the night, but can also lighten any day.

-Mikey D. B.-

            We all have a little something to learn from Plato and his Allegory of the Cave, especially when it comes to OUR own knowledge and OUR light that we have obtained in this life.  I had this discussion with a good buddy of mine earlier this week when I found myself practically blind and handicapped as I was recovering from the corrective eye surgery that I had just a few days prior.  The conversation was sparked by me indulging myself in a festivity of movies on Netflix from a lack of ability to do much of anything else of value.  One of these movies was a documentary called Media Malpractice, which explored the media’s role in the 2008 Presidential Elections.  Making a long story short, the director (who, might I point out, was an Obama supporter and a strong liberal advocate) provided loads of evidence and countless examples of how the media not only exalted Obama by hiding his ill facts and glamorizing his noble ones, but how they crucified Sarah Palin by doing the complete opposite, therefore, skewing the information about each candidate to essentially fix the elections.  If you don’t believe me, I highly recommend watching this documentary, Media Malpractice, and at least consider the possibility that it happened.

After I watched/listened to this documentary, I was fuming.  Not because Obama was elected, but because of the hidden agenda the media seemed to have and the malicious practices that were taken to accomplish this agenda.  It was like they were a fat, little five year-old tyrant who stopped at nothing to get their Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.  In my rage, I texted my buddy as best as I could being as blind as I was, about the loathing nature that I had at the moment towards the media.  He agreed and disagreed with my strong opinion.  He pointed out that propaganda has always been around, from Hitler until now, and that there have always been hidden agendas in society.  When he did, I realized that modern media has only amplified and extended the reach of malpractice and propaganda.  My buddy then asked if it was the media’s fault or if it was ours, the people of the United States of America, for believing anything that was placed before us in the 2008 elections?  Do we believe whatever we are told without doing some research of our own; who’s really to blame for the false information we believe?  Plato’s allegory explores just that.

Plato illustrates all of as prisoners in a cave, chained to the floor, and looking at a wall with our backs facing the entrance and the sunlight coming into the cave.  Just behind us and above the entrance of the cave, is a fire that shines on the wall we, the prisoners, are looking at.  Anything that we see on the wall is from the shadows of objects that pass in front of this fire.  Now in front of this fire, there is a walkway with a barrier that other individuals, not us who are chained to the floor, walk behind.  These people have puppets that they hold above the barrier to project shadows on the wall that we are looking at.  Now since we are chained to the floor and can’t turn around to see what is really creating the shadows, we believe the shadows as reality because we know no different.  In simpler terms, we are ignorant.  For example, if the shadow was created by a puppet lion and the puppeteer behind the wall began speaking, we’d believe that a real lion was doing the talking.  Now what if we could unchain ourselves, leave the cave, go into the real sunlight, and see what was really causing the shadows and voices, which is where Plato makes his point.  If we could do that, would we go back into the cave and tell every other prisoner what was going on?  Would we try to explain how the lion on the wall isn’t real but just a puppet and a puppeteer?

Knowledge is power and as Peter Parker’s uncle said: “With great power comes great responsibility.”  What are we doing with what we know?  Are we keeping that secret to ourselves and hording the knowledge?  Are we afraid of Hell’s bells being rung and the opposition that comes from voicing an opinion?  Our opinions may be wrong and we may believe the shadows on the wall, but we never can know truth unless we explore it for ourselves.  I had a professor a couple semesters ago that changed my life by the advice he gave in class on a daily basis.  He told me something that I will never forget.  He said “I’m proud of you and your generation, but I hope you change.  Because if you change, that means you’re learning.  Now go, make mistakes, learn, and make a difference.”  All too often we hold ourselves back from a fear that we have.  Whether that be a fear of the unknown or of our next door neighbor’s dog, it holds us back from exploring the gifts around us.  All too often do we feel inferior to what knowledge that we do have, that we fail to express and act upon it.

Poet John Donne has been praised as a man that has changed the English language with his metaphysical poetry.  Thomas Carew, another poet and writer, compares John Donne to the Greek god Prometheus, and just as Prometheus gave fire and light to man, John Donne gave the light of poetry to man.  He, John Donne, took the English language which was considered inferior and vulgar at the time, and used it to trump the superior languages of Greek and Latin (Norton Anthology Volume 1 p. 1666-1670).  Where are those superior languages now?  Where is the English language now?  If there is one thing that I’ve learned, it’s that complete control of the inferior can shake and crack the foundations of the superior.  We can make a difference, for better or for worse, if we but simply believe and realize that we are the keeper of a kept secret that can not only darken the night, but can also brighten any day.  Our werd will be heard if we but voice it.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Little Man's Crack


Our story will start with the competition of two men: one smart and one dumb which is where we will begin.

Holding a clump of dirt, the dumb thinks, “Here is earth and I am man, surely I can crush it in my hand.”

So he does and says to the smarter, “Ha!  I highly doubt you can do something harder!”

With a grin above his chin and the twirling of his hand, he says to the dumb, “Surely you have underestimated me my good man.”

“With one fell swoop I can crack the planet in two, but first I want to see what else you will do.”

The dumb one says, “Easy as pie, all I have to do is climb up high.”  And in a single second he’s up in a tree saying to the smarter, “I’ll crack the planet in two, just wait and see.”

Out of the tree he jumps, landing and hurting his foots, crying in agony and giving the smarter the fiercest of looks.

Chuckling triumphantly and with the grin of grins, the smarter one’s rant begins.  “What a fool!  A tree’s not it.  A tree’s not high enough you see.  Just wait one minute and I’ll show you, making you wish you were me.”

As quick as he can, the smarter is up in a plane and high above the land and without a doubt in his mind, he thinks in his head, “That moron will soon see my power and wish he were dead.”

And with that, the smarter is out.  He has jumped and as he falls, he triumphantly shouts, “The planet is mine, it’ll soon be in two.  No one will be able to mimic what I can do!”

The smarter one hits the earth and is instantly dead.  The dumber one smiles and thinks in his head, “I was just a dumb fool is what the smarter one said.”

-Mikey D. B.-

I could be paraphrasing or possibly quoting directly based on my notes from my American Heritage course, but Aristotle is in my notebook as saying something along the lines of “Everything we participate in life has a political root”.  Politics, as my professor defined, is “The Master Science” because it deals with the relations between people living in society.   I know that when we hear the word ‘politics’, or at least when I do, our minds tend to jump to Obama or George Bush or Regan and how much they have screwed America.  Our minds may even relay the word to the close-minded conservatives and the ever so accepting liberals and how they are never in accordance with the rights of animals, women, humans, guns, buildings, or even insects, but the word politics is much, much more.  It can refer to the hierarchy on the playground at recess or in the office at work, determining which position you get and whether or not you have been deemed worthy of that 25 cent raise.

If there is one thing that I have learned and seen in my short 22 years of life, it’s that humans, both in societies and as individuals, go through this repetitive cycle of success and failure.  We Mormons call it The Pride Cycle, my American Heritage professor taught it as The Human Predicament and I’m sure there are a few other titles that we could call this circle.  As defined by the Human Predicament, a society has a tyrant or someone that rules by will and that leads to revolution or political change because the people are tired of being oppressed.  The people fight and once the fighting is over, depending on the success of the revolution, anarchy, or the rule of chaos begins until a new government is established, giving society a new leader to follow.  The reformation in 1517 is a perfect example of this.  The Catholic Church was a huge political force then and Martin Luther felt that they were indulging themselves too much in the things of the world and were diverting their focus from what was sacred as a result.  So, Martin Luther came up with 95 theses or complaints which acted as a protest against the Church, which is where the Protestant religion comes from.  Martin Luther Revolted and demanded for reformation in the political system, and chaos ensued where thousands of Protestants and Catholics were killed in the fight for this change.  Out of this reformation came John Calvin/Calvinism, which lead to Puritans and their ideas which then lead to settling in the Americas and voila, another revolution began when on July 4, 1776 George Washington and 55 others signed the Declaration of Independence demanding freedom from the Kingdom of Great Britain.  Even after the American Revolution there was chaos in forming a new government when the Articles of Confederation were written and it wasn’t until the Constitution of the United States of America came around when a new government began.

For the individual, it is the exact same cycle, just on a much smaller scale where our conscience is one of the things that acts as the tyrant, revolution, chaos, and new leader.  Another individual may act as the revolution in our lives by suggesting an idea contrary to our original thinking.  We contend with the idea and if we humble ourselves or accept the idea, the revolution was a success, but chaos works within us because we don’t know how to accept the new idea that our friend gave us.  However, when we do finally apply the idea, a new leader or way of life begins.  RenĂ© Descartes in his Discourse of Method said (and this time I am quoting for sure): “Good sense is, of all things among men, the most equally distributed; for every one thinks himself so abundantly provided with it, that those even who are the most difficult to satisfy in everything else, do not usually desire a larger measure of this quality than they already possess.”  In other words, human beings know everything there is to know about everything and we are so awesome that there isn’t anything that we don’t already know.  He said this as he walked the halls and studied “in one of the most celebrated schools in Europe.”  Descartes discovered that every professor he had knew EVERYTHING, however, he felt that the more he learned the less he knew (RenĂ© Descartes, Discourse on Method Part I).  It is my opinion that Descartes saw through the logical fallacies of those crazy professors who knew, without a doubt, what was best.  In today’s society, how often to we see this on political television or listen to it on talk radio?  There are constant bashing sessions on these programs because the host knows what is best despite the opinions or phone calls of others.  People Tweet and post all sorts of opinions on Facebook about how things should be, and in the perfect world it would be exactly like what they are saying: “Well if he would’ve just listened to me that woman wouldn’t have stolen from him”, “You know what you need to do to lose weight?  Chew gum”, “I told you so but you never listen to me” and I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. 

We have all met the individual who is The Little Man or who has a God-complex or what I like to call A One-Upper. Nothing you ever do is ever good enough because they have already done that and more.  They are so insecure and have placed themselves on an exalted alter.  They have to pee on your parade from that alter and when they have finished relieving themselves, they jump down to guide you by the hand so you can see that what you have done actually isn’t that much of an accomplishment at all.  This happens all the time in school and work and all it does is frustrate the political systems there, especially in the business field.  I’ve talked with my dad about this concept of The Little Man in the work field.  He works with businesses by making them better and more efficient and has studied this concept a lot.  The Little Man hordes knowledge to feed their insecurity; they keep the knowledge to give them a sense of power because they are the only one that knows what they know.  This in turn leads to a Tribal Knowledge System where when that Little Man leaves, so does his knowledge which hinders progress because the company now has to relearn what The Little Man knew.  This Tribal Knowledge System is very apparent in young and immature businesses and even individuals.  Politics is everywhere, not just in the government.

It is inevitable to avoid this Human Predicament or Pride Cycle or whatever you want to call it, and we will all experience the circle either voluntarily or against our will.   At one point we will all be The Dumber Man breaking a dirt clod in our hand, believing we have actually discovered how to clone a human.  At other points in life we will try to attempt the impossible to crack the Earth in two, and because we are in fact The Smarter Man, jumping out of a plane is the most logical choice to make, despite common sense.  It’s been said that “Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it” but even then we all know where history went wrong and if they just had our enlightened knowledge, life would’ve been better; if they just knew the werd we know, tragedy never would have been apart of their lives.