Tuesday, August 31, 2004

How stupid of me...




Of course I should have known that there is no such thing as absolute right or wrong.


Evil is just a different point of view...

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Good & Evil






When I was fairly young, I tackled this question.

What is good? What is evil?

I had never taken any classes in philosophy. So the opinions I formed were from mostly my own observations. But, for me they pretty much still hold true today.

The first thing that I pretty much decided was that there were/are many things that don't necessarily fall into either category. So, I came up with three ways of classifying everything. That is, those things that are good, those things that are evil, and those things that are neither. (duh!)

For example... objects (things) themselves are neither good nor evil. A gun can be used for evil when it is used to kill someone, but it can also be used for good when it is used to provide food for a family. So, the gun in and of itself... just is.

The same is true for forces of nature, events of nature. A hurricane isn't evil, cancer isn't evil, death isn't evil. They are all just part of existence. They just are.

So... when does good and evil begin? What makes things good or evil?

Good and evil are the consequences of choice. The ability to predict the consequences of our choices springs into existence, good and evil.

Ok.

So what is good? And what is evil?

My definition...

Good is/are those things that create order/harmony. Evil is/are those things that cause destruction/chaos. BUT... all in relationship to THE BIG PICTURE.

For example...

Killing a man is evil because it is the conscious destruction of a life. Killing a man who is in the midst of causing genocide is good, because in THE BIG PICTURE, the bigger evil is stopped when the smaller evil is committed.

That's how I figure out good and evil...

just in case you wanted to know...

Olympic Coverage

I can honestly say that I have thoroughly enjoyed the Olympic coverage this year. Faithfully I have tuned in each evening to check out the latest "thrills of victory and agonies of defeat".

But...

I've noticed a trend...

Could it be...



that the...



"coverage"...



might be...



could be...



geared...



towards a particular...



demographic?



You think?

Kerry cheers rise of Poverty






ABCNEWS.com shows this picture in a report about poverty on the rise. Now, I'm sure if the report hurts his political opponant Bush, Kerry actually is cheering, but I was bemused that ABC would be so blatant about showing the obvious.

Too funny...

Monday, August 16, 2004

Touch me

Cuddle Party has made news and some word of mouth fame over the last few weeks. It's an interesting concept. Pay money to cuddle virtual strangers? Would it be something that I'd do?

Hmmm...

Possibly... For a time after my divorce, I'd go to strip clubs. But I soon found out I was more interested in paying the girls just to just let me put my arm around their shoulder and listen to their screwed up lives than I was having them dance for me.

American culture is so obsessed with sexuality.

It was shocking for me when I first saw young women and men in Asia walking hand in hand. My first reaction was... homosexuals?!? It wasn't until it was explained to me that holding hands was culturally acceptable, that I was shocked all over again.

I grew up in a very touch-controlled environment. I'm tempted to say touch deprived, but that really depends on your perspective and how much touch-need one has. I can say that I honestly don't remember a time when my father has ever put his hand on my shoulder or even patted me on the back. My mother is pretty much the same way. Not that they're bad, they just aren't the touchy feely kind of people. Think Garrison Keiller & Lake Wobegon Lutheran, and you have a pretty good picture of what my life was like growing up.

My ex-wife was kinda the same way. It's funny how often people marry someone who ends up just like their parent. "They" say we're trying to resolve issues... or in other words, we're just plain f#$%ed-up. One of the biggest problems in my marriage was the lack of intimacy. Not just the issue of sex, but for me, the lack of touching that I didn't have to initiate. That was probably even worse than the lack of sex for me. Yeah, yeah.... I know... that's a pretty girly thing to admit to...

I've made a conscious effort to be different with my kids. Arm over the shoulder, hand on the knee, spontaneous touching, whenever I can. I'm proud that my thirteen year old daughter still reaches out to hold my hand when we're walking together. I hope she'll still feel the same way when she's thirty.

Would I pay for touch? Would I go to a cuddle party? The answer to that is, yeah, I probably would. The problem is...

nobody likes to cuddle the creepy old guy in the corner. Yeah... I'm thinking there's going some pretty big money for this...

but then again...

much less expensive than a new wife, right?

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Categories and Zones

I don't know if this is a geek thing, but the way I organize my world is by putting things into categories. That is, I classify things in my brain by how alike they are to each other and how different they are from each other.

I even do this with my relationships with other people.

I don't know if other people do this, but I have zones, or spheres, in which I classify my relationships with people. For each zone I have different expectations, levels of trust, and feelings of obligation. Each of my zones have rules, both for myself and for the other person. I don't think I've ever tried to write out the rules, so this should be an interesting exercise.

If you violate the rules of the zone, you get pushed out or demoted to a lower zone. If I violate the rules of the zone, then I berate myself and generally lower my self image.

I have 5 zones.

Zone 1: Enemy
Zone 2: Non-acquaintance
Zone 3: acquaintance
Zone 4: Friend
Zone 5: Family

Enemy: Fortunately I don't have too many enemies. I expect enemies to intentionally hurt me when they have the opportunity, which in a funny way allows me to have a certain level of trust in them.

Because, really, in essence, trust is simply adjusting your behavior or decisions based on your confidence to predict the other person's behavior. A person who behaves as they say they will is considered trustworthy, because they do what they say. But, I can also trust that a person is going to be late even when they say they will be there on time, because that is what they have done in the past. They are not trustworthy to be on time, but I can trust them to be late.

My only obligation to my enemy is to be polite, not for their sake, but for mine.

Non-acquaintance: These are just people I don't know. I owe them nothing, they owe me nothing. It's a simple arrangement. No trust, no obligation other than being polite and saving their life if it doesn't imperil mine.

Acquaintance: These are people I know who aren't friends. My expectations from acquaintances are low and my obligations are equally low. If they need help, I might help them out if it doesn't cost me too much, but I really don't feel obligated to. My trust is very low and I don't put myself in postions of vulnerability to them if at all possible.

Friend: My expectations from my friends are pretty high. I'm the kind of person who has a few close friends, rather than many not-so-close. Those, I usually just consider to be acquaintances. I expect my friends to share my core values. That's probably because I'm more willing to trust someone who thinks along the same lines that I do rather than someone who doesn't. I expect my friends to be trustworthy and willing to help me in time of need, as long as it doesn't cost them an extraordinary amount of effort, time, or money. My obligations to them are the same. I'll help them out as long as it doesn't drastically interfere with other things going on in my life. I will trust them enough to put myself in some positions of vulnerability, but not many.

Family: This classification has nothing to do with blood relationships. I have many "family" members who are really just acquaintances and friends. I don't owe them a whole lot and I don't expect a whole lot from them. Unfortunately, I have a couple who are trying very hard to get into the Enemy classification. No, Family, to me depends more on my expectations, trust and feelings of obligation, rather than genetics.

A family member is someone you would trust not with just your life, but your kid's life. My expectations from those I consider family are very high. Depending on the circumstance, I expect them to be there when I need them and nothing short of death or serious injury should keep them. And on the same hand, I obligate myself to the same. If they need me, I'm there.

People are always moving in and out of the different zones. Mostly I have to downgrade people because they show me that they are not trustworthy. I don't know if it is a sign of the times, or maybe I'm just becoming more jaded in my old age, but there seem to be fewer people worthy of trust these days. Personally, I think it's a shift in culture... which is fodder for another post.

So...

I guess, my "zones" is just a shorthand way of knowing how much I'm obligated to a particular person, based on my expectations from them.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Expectations

You know...

I think that half of all the problems in relationships are caused by misguided/unwarranted/unrealistic expectations.

People expect others to be a certain way, and when that doesn't happen, conflict ensues.

The relationship between my mother and her sister is at an all time low because their expectation of how the other should be, doesn't match up. My mother expects her sister to behave a certain way and when that doesn't happen, then it makes her upset. The same is true for her sister. She expects my mother to behave a certain way, and when that doesn't happen, it makes her upset.

Are their expectations for each other unrealistic? Yes and no. The way one expresses love doesn't match how the other thinks love should be expressed. They both love each other, but it's getting to the point where they can't stand each other.

My sister sent me an email on Monday, and because I didn't answer it by Wednesday, she jumped to the conclusion that I was ignoring her.... that I decided to stop talking to her. She expected an immediate response and when that didn't happen, it precipitated an apparent conflict in the relationship. She became angry with me because I didn't live up to her expectation. What she didn't take into account is that I've been away from the computer for two of the last three days and that I needed to consult with a third person before responding.

Even for myself, I find that expectations cause problems...

I find it difficult to even begin a relationship with a woman anymore because my expectation is that it will ultimately be more trouble than it is worth. In my mind's eye, I immediately jump two years into the relationship and see the complacency of taking each other for granted, numbing the relationship into an empty shell of what it once was.

Stupid?

Absolutely... cause you can't predict the future by looking into the past. But, I still do it... and it paralyzes me.

Now...

Expectations in and of themselves aren't a bad thing. People should have appropriately high expectations of the people in which they put their trust. If I'm going to put myself in the position of becoming vulnerable to you, then I expect you to act a certain way, be a particular kind of person. To gain my trust, you must be a trustworthy person. This kind of expectation is good.

So.... what is a good simple definition of a good expectation and a bad expectation? I'm trying to wrap my brain around it and I'm not quite there.

hmmm...

I suppose...

Bad expectations are those expectations in which you judge/interpret the motive of the other person's actions based on your internalized worldview of what those actions signify for your own motivation.

(i.e. belching at the table is either rude or complimentary depending on the culture, and to judge/interpret which it is for the other person based on your own culture/worldview leads to conflict)

and...

Good expectations are expectation of actions needed for healthy self preservation in relationships.

Yeah... I think that's it...