Archive for the Society Category

The Passive Aggressive American

Posted in Society with tags , , , , on December 7, 2008 by Joe

As an Asian who knows many other Asians, I am surrounded by conservatives on a day-to-day basis; and while they all agree that gay marriage would destroy morality in America, none of them would personally go up to a gay couple’s house, knock on their door, and tell them to disperse. Of course not. That would be absurd! But they are all fine if the government does it for them. My conservative friends proved this fact on November 4, 2008, when they all cast their ballot: ‘Yes’ on Proposition 8.1

Then there is our military. “Support out troops,” we say, and with good intent. But if being part of America’s military is such an important and noble deed (as it very well may be), then why don’t more people join the army? Why does only one Republican congressman have a son in Iraq? Could it be that we put forth emotional investment, but are simply too lazy to do anything about our beliefs?

I see this apathy in bloggers as well. Bloggers are, perhaps, the most outspoken lads of this generation. We passionately write entries detailing our beliefs, our philosophies, and our ideas. But how many of us actually act upon our ideas? I know I don’t. And I suspect that very many others do (or rather don’t do) too.

The average American has outsourced his beliefs. We hold them — many beliefs — but we leave other people to do the dirty work.

If the terrorists attack us, we let the government take care of it for us. But they sell away our fundamental rights with legislation such as the PATRIOT act, and they attack the wrong countries. We don’t like that one bit, but we seemingly don’t care. And instead of grand protest marches remembered in the 1970s, we sit at our homes, watch television, and speak, “Hey Honey: That Bush is at it again.” Honestly, could you imagine the antiwar protests of the seventies occurring today?

I know I don’t have the ability to. Because I was born into a world where apathy and outsourcing your problems is commonplace. We care about the issues, but we let the government take care of our problems for us. Seriously America: What happened?

1 For those not in the know, proposition 8 was a proposition to once again ban gay marriage in California.

You Are Your Clothes

Posted in Society with tags on October 31, 2008 by Joe

You can tell a lot about a person by the way he dresses.1 A girl wearing super-short-shorts and a revealing top signals she is socially popular, and a flirt. A boy wearing “cool” name brand clothes indicates he wants to “fit in” with the crowd. A person wearing jeans and a one-color shirt displays his dislike for the mainstream, and that he has made the conscious decision not to be defined by his clothes.

Judging someone by the way he dresses is so astoundingly accurate and precise, because it is he who chose his clothes. It is how he wants to display himself; it is his method of advertising himself to the world.

My best friend, Benjamin, covers himself with Hollister, neck down. And his personality glows in this. He is obsessed with the images he watches on MTV. He makes obscene sexual jokes on a day-to-day basis. He uses schoolyard terms such as “gay”, “faggot”, and “orgy” without restraint. He is the mainstream.

I know a girl, Mindy, who wears shorts that barely reach below the hip, and who routinely wears tops that reveal cleavage. I like it, but it exemplifies, very accurately, her personality. She is a flirt, who inspires many young men to follow her around. She intentionally speaks and acts out sexually suggestive thoughts and ideas. And from this, I can see, further, her insecurity that she is not loved, that she is not feminine enough.

Myself? I wear one-color polo shirts and jeans, sometimes with a jacket if it is cold outside. I feel insecure about my personality, and reason that if I wear no-name brands, that my essence will not be clouded. Because if it is clouded, then perhaps I will display no personality at all.

But the decision of choosing clothes is overtly conscious, and not limited to females, although probably more so. It is very easy to imagine a bratty female teenager on a shopping spree with credit cards in hand and bags of clothes in the other, carefully scrutinizing what fabrics she wants to cover her flesh. But it is still easy to imagine how a male makes similar decisions when buying clothes. After all, it is a conscious decision that chooses the clothes on a person’s back.

1 For this article, I default to masculine nouns and objects. It is not that I am sexist; using politically correct language would just get annoying after a while.

We are Nothing

Posted in Society with tags , on October 14, 2008 by Joe

[Picture of an empty, black rectangle.]

To be humbled, some say that he must look to the stars. They point him to galaxies as they speak of gigantic voids creating our universe. They spout esoteric terms such as “light year” and “infinite”. They try tirelessly to inflict a sense of doom upon the population.

I think this is totally unnecessary.

For those who truly want to comprehend their insignificance, I ask them to stand on any major city street. I ask them to let the cars roll past them, and to let the lights consume. I ask them to imagine the thousands of people inside these cars. And I ask them to think about motivation.

Then I tell them. I tell them every driver has a reason for his driving. I tell them that everyone is driving somewhere for some reason. And that every single somewhere will lead to subsequent events. And that those subsequent events will forever change the personalities of those at those events. And most probably, it will not matter.

It is only after all this, I tell them : You are insignificant.

Politics as Religion

Posted in Personal, Politics, Society with tags , , on October 9, 2008 by Joe

My dad would normally be in a jovial mood when he picked me up from school, but that day was different; his irate demeanor replaced the happy-go-lucky dad I knew. There was no “What did you learn in school today?”, nor was there a “Hey kiddo.” His face was tense, completely unmoved. And his knuckles were easily seen through his firm grip of the wheel. Something was wrong, and I felt compelled to ask him what.

“They didn’t attack us,” he passionately told me. “They don’t have weapons of mass destruction. We don’t have proof that they have weapons of mass destruction. They had nothing to do with 9/11. We should not be going into Iraq! Why are we invading Iraq today?” His tirade went on, but most of it flew over my nine year old head.

I often wonder if my liberalism comes from my dad. When arguing the validity of human-invented religion for instance, I often bring up the point that the overwhelming majority of adults follow the religion of their parents. So could it be that my political beliefs are just a reincarnation of my dad’s?

I don’t like to think so. I bring up capital punishment and gun rights, both issues I heavily disagree on with my father, in an attempt to persuade myself of otherwise. But I realize that I will never know. If indeed I have a mask blinding me of political truth, I will be far too ignorant to recognize my mask. And if indeed I am ignorant, and this ignorance is common, I must conclude my children, and their children, and their children will be ignorant as well.

And if all this is true, then could politics be as pointless and fallacious and meaningless and unconvincing and trivial as arguing atheism verses religion? I am petrified to think about the question, and so I don’t.

I just wanted to bring up the thought.

You Aren’t Interesting; Quit Bitching

Posted in Personal, Society with tags on October 4, 2008 by Joe

[Picture of a crying baby.]

“Being gloomy is easier than being cheerful. Anybody can say ‘I’ve got cancer’ and get a rise out of a crowd. But how many of us can do five minutes of good stand-up comedy?” – P.J. O’Rourke in All the Trouble in the World.

As a sophomore in high school, I am not immune to moronic moaners and constant complainers. Indeed, I witness this egotistic self-loathing every day. Bob says he has a test for chemistry; John forgot his English homework. Boo hoo. Can’t these people ever shut up?! Bitching about teachers and whining about “big” projects is not going to change the outcome of any grade, teacher’s being, or quality of any work. Truly, these complainers complain for only two reasons: To gather sympathy and to “cope” with the “horrors” of their lives.

As for gathering sympathy, I ask ‘why?’. Complainers aren’t interesting, and, trust me, no one is interested. Maybe crying to parents for every scratch and bump worked as a toddler, but it doesn’t now. We must grow up, and learn to deal with our problems without the help of others.

As for coping, it’s selfish. Each person has enough problems on their own; they don’t need leeches that require sympathy. “Deal with your problems, and I’ll deal with mine”, a motto I think we must all learn.

What ever happened to complaining about problems that mattered? No one’s parents are getting divorced? No one found out they’ve got cancer? How boring!

We all have problems. And trust me: My colleagues’ problems aren’t special. My message: Calm down, just do the assignment, and shut up.

The Dilema of Today’s Morals

Posted in Society with tags , on October 3, 2008 by Joe

(Inspired by David Foster Wallace’s “Consider the Lobster”. May he rest in peace.)

When learning of the worlds when such atrocities such as the Nanking Massacre occurred, we feel detached from them. It feels like we weren’t there, because we weren’t there. Students note them to pass exams, but no student depresses over those events. Why should they? Those events were of a different time and of a different age.

Indeed, the world has come along way. Human life is valued, rights are inherent, and morality matters. In our perspective, we are different; we would never allow another Hitler, because we now know better.

But what if our morality isn’t truly moral; what if a hundred years from now, people then will perceive us as we perceive the amoral people of yesterday? They will think about abortion. They will think about our carnivorous eating. They will judge us.

“Hey Bob! Can you believe they ate meat back in the 21st century? Killing lives—god’s lives—for mere pleasure?!”

My point is this: Our movement towards a more moralistic world has not slowed in the very least. So how then, can we judge and debate morals accurately having been born today?

(I am genuinely curious. Comments are appreciated.)

The World is Awesome

Posted in Society with tags , , , , , on September 25, 2008 by Joe

(Inspired by P.J O’Rourke’s All the Trouble in the World.)

[Picture of a mushroom cloud.]

Ask the average politico about the current state of the world, and you’d witness a true tirade of passion — the oceans are rising; disease, famines, and wars plague the world; racial profiling is worse than ever. According to them, modern society is a failed product of a failed ambition. They’d say, the world has never been worse.

Sometimes, I want to shout back at them. “Shut up!” I’d say in angry defiance.

In reality, we live in the epitome of inspired time. For one, the empathy we feel for one another has never been stronger. Not longer than a half-century ago, blacks were segregated from whites, women were treated as sub-humans, and the public was largely apathetic towards politics. Back in the good ‘ol days, no one questioned the inhumanity of the Coliseum. So why then is PETA so up in arms, in a rage, infuriated about the “violated rights” of a couple million lobsters? Like I said, shut up.

The Internet allows us to spread ideas democratically in a manner that can reach millions. Modern philosophy provides us with a plethora of new thoughts, ideas, and innovations. Modern medicine makes it, truly, hard to die. Humanitarian missions exist. Religion, for the most part anyway, has become a relatively minor force in the politics of governments. I’d hate to be redundant, but I’ll stress my point further: The world is awesome.

If we are overweight, okay; I’d much rather be fat than have the plague. If schools are not meeting the expectations of a few government bureaucracies, fine; I’d much rather be labeled “stupid” than be incapable of knowing I’m stupid. I’d much rather be lazy than be… ah never mind. (Oh and by the way Department of Education, you’re stupid! Na na na na na na.)

Point being, the supercilious politicos claiming to know the solution to the world’s doomsday-esque problems don’t actually know the solution to the world’s problems. I agree that there is still a lot of work to be done, but we are making progress. We should do more to fix our society’s problems, but that by no interpretation means our society is overly problematic. My message is simple: Calm down, have a burger, and shut up.