Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Freedom from Want vs Freedom from Responsibility

I think the dream a lot of people in society is to have a comfortable life, a life where you can have the pleasures of life and none of the pain.

One of the freedoms that America cherishes is freedom from want. Even the Bible in Psalm 23 speaks of having the Lord free us from want.

But freedom from want is not the same as freedom from care and responsibility. The higher we go up in life, the greater the responsibility, the greater that people depend on us.

But it is a burden that is gratefully embraced. Because the joy of serving and loving others offsets the suffering that it entails.

So, if we find that we are burdened by unavoidable suffering and responsibility, perhaps we should ask, are we loving enough?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Am I More Evil Than Hitler and Stalin?

There's this verse in the Bible which says that "God came into this world to save sinners, of which I am the worst".

That's all very nice to think. But when you think of it in a deeper manner, it implies that I'm even more evil than Hitler, Stalin, Osama bin Laden or any other evil person that you could think of.

It means I could be just as evil or even more evil than Kim Jong Il? But is sin the same as evil?

Evil may not be the right word.

Sin means disobedience, not following the word. That means that I have a heart that does not follow God. It doesn't like to do what God wants me to do.

And what are the things I want to do that is not in line with what God wants? I'm lazy, I don't like to do chores, I don't like to study, I don't like to work, I don't like many things even though I know that its good for me. I have said prideful things. I have felt anger, hate and pride. Think of the smoker who knows its bad but doesn't give it up.

Evil is bad. It is sin. But sin is also more than just evil. I may not sin against someone, or do evil. But I can sin... am sinful. And when I realize that, only then can I come to God and say I need help.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Getting Things Done vs Maintaining Things

I've realized that in the workplace, there people are rewarded for doing new things or getting things done.

But maintaining things, keeping things in order, making sure everything is working squeaky clean, these are the things that go unnoticed, and only if something goes wrong will attention be paid to it. It's the engineer who goes on unsung, keeping the trains on time. No matter the competency level, if it's not a high profile job, it won't be rewarded well.

Friday, February 25, 2011


American Idol: The Untold StoryWatching American Idol, I can't help but see and think: "These are people who are in their element!"

Some of these are kids, 16, 17 years old, but they are acting professionally, hitting notes that many of us could never reach, playing musical instruments and singing nonchalantly, but nonetheless with power, passion, and professionalism.

I truly wish that each one of us finds the passion, our element, the thing that is our element, that activity that we resonate with.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Growing Up

When I was young, growing up, adults and people in authority were the ones who made decisions, they were like gods. They made decisions, they were confident, they always seemed to know what to do.

So when I became an adult, I thought I could finally now be like them, be confident, to know everything and what to do and to make decisions.

But I realize now that just being a adult, or at least in physical form does not confer upon me these qualities.

I've realized that a lot of adults don't know everything. That a lot of them are quite ignorant. They make decisions not out of wisdom but a lot of them out of old habits, haste, ignorance, arrogance, pride, fear.

And it's not just anyone above 21. It's not just your average town fool who does this. It can be managers, colonels, directors, CEOs, bankers, lawyers, degree holders.

None of us are exempt from grasp of foolishness.

We are all given the responsibility to search out wisdom. As Euclid replied to a king: There is no royal road to learning and understanding.

I think that if we believe that once we become 21, or get the title of "Manager" or "CEO", we've made it, that we've reached the end of growing up. I think now that that is foolishness.

The act of changing our marital status to "Married" does not make us any happier (or wiser). Nor does having children, or getting promoted, or of winning the lottery.

So, what does make us any more wiser?

I can't think of just one answer right now as I write this blog post. I can think of several things that do contribute.

One of them is to make a decision (and to stick with it). Another is to give up our overweening pride. Another is to seek out the truth behind facts, to know the motives and intents of others. Another is to conquer our fears and to be courageous. Another is perseverance. Love too is an important ingredient, perhaps the most important one of them all from which the other actions hang from.

All I can say is that we must be alert, from one moment to the next, to be aware of what is happening in the here and now and to take the courage to do what is the most important and loving thing at that time.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Watson, The Dawn Of A New Age?

Just a couple of days ago, Watson, an IBM Computer took part in Jeopardy, a quiz show that asks questions using metaphors, puns, wordplay and allusions.

Watson beat the competition hands down, you can watch the episodes from Jeopardy on Youtube below:

Watson's Jeopardy Episodes.

When they announced that the next use for Watson would be in the field of medicine, trying to determine the answers to problems from voluminous amounts of information, I couldn't help but think of the Emergency Medical Program from Star Trek's Voyager TV Show.

Will this program revolutionize our search for answers, leaving humankind to do more important things like being creative and loving one another?

For now, I can't wait to hear a computer program greet me with "Please state the nature of your medical emergency."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

He's A Good Person

Sometimes, when I read about people who get convicted of a crime, there's often a kind of testimony from the wife or boss or someone close who didn't know his crime and testifies that he's a good person.

But I wonder what is good?

He's good because he helped you in further your self-interests or appeared to share your values he. A murderer or rapist can be perfectly good to his neighbours and even his wife as long as he serves their self-interests and does not reveal his darker side publicly.

So what is "good" is merely service of your self-interests.

So what is "good"? Is it more than just serving everyone's needs? What about thoughts? If I have bad thoughts, you name it, but not act them out am I still "good"?

Can we separate intent from the action? Are they independent of one another?

If through no intent of mine someone dies or gets hurt, am I still good? Or bad? What about carelessness? If I left the car running and it accidentally rolls off a cliff I am foolish. But if it rolls off a cliff and smashes into someone below, I am negligent and may even be jailed.

So the same person could have had the same action and thoughts but suffer wildly different consequences. Is he any "more good" or "more evil" in one circumstance or the other?

Or is goodness or badness also a combination of consequences?

Intent, Action and Consequences. Is that one way of measuring goodness? Who is really good in this world?

Is the person who plots to murder someone but does not act on it less evil than one who kills another in an act of blind passion?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Flippancy on the Internet

I've come to realize when reading people talk about serious topics from sex to politics that there are a lot of remarks that seem to want to be humorous but which I would deem flippant.

I'm not against humour or making a joke, but a true joke needs a clever man to pull off. The difference is written in CS Lewis's The Screwtape Letters but I shall only stop to extract his take on flippancy:
Among flippant people the Joke is always assumed to have been made. No one actually makes it; but every serious subject is discussed in a manner which implies that they have already found a ridiculous side to it. If prolonged, the habit of Flippancy builds up around a man the finest armour-plating against the Enemy that I know, and it is quite free from the dangers inherent in the other sources of laughter. It is a thousand miles away from joy it deadens, instead of sharpening, the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practice it
Case in point, when discussing about a serious topic, they assume that the speaker is senile, stupid, dumb or have a hidden agenda behind it, or discuss the history and competency of the speaker/artist/creator and make a flippant remark about it without considering the seriousness of it.

Being serious is another kind of suffering. Because we need to be responsible. We need to be responsible for all that we say and do. And to take up responsibility in what we say and do is a burden. We then have to be aware of what we say, what we choose to do at this very moment in time. And when we start looking at it, we then have to make difficult choices. We have to forsake the pleasure of a callous remark, or a snide comment and defer to the Law of Love.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Two Answers To A Question

There’s always two answers to a question:
  • What a person really thinks. 
  • What they believe his audience wants to hear. 
Often they are not the same.

I would just reply tactfully or guardedly, and say what people can handle according to the depth and strength of the relationship. There are certain thoughts that should remain private. To have a truly transparent and authentic relationship isn’t easy, it takes a lot of time, courage and humility