Archive for the Anti-War Category

Love and reciprocity

Posted in Anti-War, Love, Philosophy, Relationships with tags , , on August 25, 2010 by 99ppp

“All you need is love”


“All’s fair in love and war”


“Love thy neighbour”

What is love? It is one of the most elusive yet intriguing questions that puzzle us as a species, explored through poetry and narratives, investigated by biologists and delightfully entangled by those who delve into its mysteries, sometimes reaching the pinnacle of unity, while others struggle with the one they love.  Whether it is just a series of chemical excretions in the brain, or just an old meme that’s been carried around since we created language, our idea of love need not escape reevaluation.

The “love and war” expression often made me uneasy when I thought deeply about it.  The idea that “all’s fair” implies an absence ethics/morals and principles. If there is a basic principle of love, it has to be one of mutual respect, best embodied by the Golden Rule to treat others fairly, which is shared by many faiths and philosophies. This appears to me to be the basic recognition of another’s humanity. This is the way we can “love our neighbour”, people we don’t know, even people that we may not necessarily like. The quote does touch upon the passion, for good or ill, towards the intensity of emotion. However, in the case of love, I’d hesitate to plunge into an ethical nihilism the quote implies. One can still love another after discovering they share little affinity or affection, by maintaining mutual respect. This may include relating towards them in particular contexts, or not at all if the relationship is toxic. If mutual respect, fairness and reciprocity are lacking in a relationship, it will likely erode affinity and affection in time.

I don’t think there will ever be a definitive answer on love, and I prefer it that way. Even if no answers emerge, to simply immerse ourselves in that mystery may allow us to embody that idea, feeling and principle without pride and righteousness.  In time we might get flashes of clarity, enough to navigate this world filled with unnecessary conflict and strife between couples, families, communities and entire nations.  I will end with the words of one of my favourite philosopher comics, Bill Hicks:

[Life is]  just a ride. And we can change it anytime we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings, and money. A choice, right now, between fear and love.

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Questioning Competition

Posted in Anti-War, Culture, Philosophy, politics with tags , , , , , on January 28, 2009 by 99ppp

I’ve always had a difficult relationship with competition. I grudgingly admit that it is necessary in various contexts, but I question the level of importance that is often placed in our society. The ugly side of people often arises, and I believe the stigma of “losing”, keeps many of us from taking risks and challenging our conditioned patterns. We tread the same paths, follow formulas for “winning”, anything to avoid losing the game. I began this post with the intention to make a case against competition, but I can’t in good conscience. Competition can wean out poor ideas in favour of better ones, and also gives us the ability to test our skills against a worthy opponent. In the business sphere, competition allows us a range of products without a monolithic monopoly. Yet I wonder how much energy we waste upon defeating our opponents, and in the case of war and peace, at the cost of human lives. Cooperation seems to be more energy efficient.

Can there be competition without ego?

I’ve been an avid club level chess player for the longest time. I was playing a much higher rated opponent in an online correspondence chess site, and I was grateful since I often don’t get to play such an opponent. Wanting to test my skill, I made highly deliberate moves, always checking for errors, giving this game a greater amount of time for analysis, and seeing how long I could last before he would crush me. I found the game was fairly even after a substantial amount of moves. After a while, my opponent accused me of using a computer to cheat. I assured him that I was not, just giving the game a greater amount of attention that I usually would, but he insisted I was cheating. “Look at your rating”, he said. The game stopped being fun. I told him that and resigned in disgust. I stopped playing chess, a game I love for a few months after that unpleasant incident. I re-contextualized the game in my mind, as two people exchanging puzzles in order for me to have the stomach to play again.

If one wins a game, but loses goodwill, what is really won?

Dallas — The coach of a Texas high school basketball team that beat another team 100-0 was fired Sunday, the same day he sent an e-mail to a newspaper saying he will not apologize “for a wide-margin victory when my girls played with honor and integrity.”(LINK )

There is no honour or integrity in crushing one’s opponents, especially in this case where the losing team is a formed from a school that specializes in learning disabilities. This “victory at all costs” mentality is pervasive, and hard to shake as it even permeates foreign policy, as the pro-war propaganda machine often mocked the voices for peace and restraint as those who didn’t want to “win the war”.

Explorations into competition

I will explore further topics on competition, the next time on professional sports fans, and competition in the context of the Prisoner’s Dilemma,  business, science innovations, and ideas (intellectual property) in future posts. There are many examples and expressions when it comes to “The Game”, yet perhaps not enough on whether The Game is worth playing. I will also explore cooperation, and why the concept seems elusive to so many.

Culture: Division or Diversity?

Posted in Anti-War, Culture, Environment, Philosophy, Poetry with tags , , , , , , , on May 1, 2008 by 99ppp

An interesting question was raised by commenter spaceagesage about our poem “what is culture?” (likely to the last line “do we need another word to further divide”) that prompted this post, and I hope to address it.

I feel many are too quick to embrace labels, branding themselves (and others) as full incarnations of some concept, set of cultural currents, or lifestyle. What is often overlooked, likely because its so obvious, is to first acknowledge our shared humanity. Engaging as individuals, instead of as representatives of some group or other, will more likely increase the potential of understanding, instead as seeing one another as walking sets of memeplexes.

In social situations I’ve been asked the dreaded question “What’s your background?”, usually a innocent question fueled by curiosity and as a conversational icebreaker. It’s likely because there are some visual distinctions in appearance and I appear to have come from somewhere else, despite the fact that I speak fluent english. I came here as a young child so have no great insight into “another culture”. So I pleasantly reply that I’ve lived here most of my life, and that’s that. Then I feel we can engage as individuals without the other innocently constructing bias based on some past experience of a culture or ethnicity.

The relationship between identity and culture is a deep, complex one that we hope to explore in future posts. In a crowded world with great potential for conflict, the question of culture cannot be simply dismissed as a semantic one. How we negotiate this question may be pivotal on how we deal with common challenges we’re likely to face in the near future.

A Case Against Having Any or More Children

Posted in Anti-War, Culture, Environment, Love, Philosophy, Relationships, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2008 by 99ppp

So, when are you gonna have kids?

Wait till you have some of your own!
Aren’t they cute?

For the longest time, I didn’t think that having children was a decision. It was just a fact of life. We are propagandized each year with Mother and Father’s day, celebrating reproduction and elevating it to the highest human endeavour. But does it have to be that way? Can someone opt out?

Early in my relationship with my lover, I thought of the romance of it. The act of shared Creation and the status reproduction is given in our society, but wondered if it was warranted. I can’t fully say that my decision was either selfish or altruistic. It was a bit of both. On a personal basis, the responsibility of having a child is one not to be entered lightly, more on that later.

Unfortunately, many who perhaps should take that into account before entering such a state, don’t. We are hardly running out of people nowadays, considering the world’s population has almost doubled in the last forty years. Life expectancy has also increased, so there are not only more people, but they live longer.

World Population
2006: 6.5 billion
1967: 3.5 billion
1915: 1.8 billion
Source: U.S. Census Department October 2006 (Link)

But who’ll take care of you when you are old?

This is a often heard objection, but I have a little bird theory on parenthood. When they leave the nest, they are on their own. After that, they should neither be burdened, or burden the parents. Children do not choose to be born. It is not their responsibility to take care of their parents, and it’s troublesome if parents see children as an investment or a safety net. If adult offspring take care of a parent, it should be out of choice, affection, and love, not out of obligation or duty. Conversely, the same goes for older parents helping out adult offspring.

“My biological clock is ticking”

I have a hard time buying this one, but it is often used. I doubt it’s a biological drive, but social pressure to have children. Other mammals do have drives, the sex drive. They likely don’t know that the consequence of sex is procreation, they are just driven by instinct to mate. So I doubt they crave having offspring. They are driven to mate, and once they reproduce, to nurture. This isn’t likely anticipated or thought of ahead of time.

Social elevation of Motherhood and Fatherhood

I don’t observe either Mother’s or Father’s Day. Apart from being a commercial device to extract money, there isn’t any need for it to exist. Even if one wishes to show affection, they can do it anytime. The “Parenthood” days are vacuous greeting card occasions like Valentine’s Day.

The Environment

There is no need to trot out statistics to infer that the more people consume in the world, the greater the environmental damage both out of extraction of resources and the resulting waste. Those in richer, Western regions might likely point on the higher fertility rates in poorer countries, yet considering how disproportional energy/resource consumption is between these regions, best not to increase population, regardless the region.

War and Peace

All wars are resource conflicts. The higher our population, the less resources there are to share, and presently, many of us humans haven’t been too inclined to share. The competition for oil is becoming fierce, now with China as an emerging industrial power and its thirst for oil everpresent. The Iraq War is another example of a conflict to maintain access to oil (the imminent threat premise was just a convenient pretext).

Some approaches worth considering:

Cultural shift to two children or less per woman

I am adamantly against any “One child” policies pushed by any state, which can create some unanticipated problems like a lobsided sex ratio and the social problems that can accompany that. I am fully for reproductive freedom, despite my social critiques in this post.

The tyranny of biology may place an unfair burden on women here, but since it is them that bear children, it may be one that they may need to carry. Two children is replacement for each woman and one other man. Less or no children, even better and population could drop down gradually.

Free vasectomies: Those with the expertise to make this minor surgery can offer their services for free. The state may be apt to subside it, but often it is in the state’s interest to breed more taxpayers.

Greater birth control options for men: I am encouraged by the development of a male birth control pill, to give more men options aside from the condom.

Making adoption easier: I wish more could give adoption greater consideration instead of artificial insemination and have the state place less legal entanglements to facilitate adoptions.

A Personal Endnote

I decided I didn’t want any children. This was not a collective decision with my lover, and at the time, I knew it could be a deal breaker. It takes two yeses and one no. It’s that simple, and I felt that I wouldn’t change my mind, and was looking into getting a vasectomy. While we hadn’t had any deep discussions on children, I had just removed the option and the subsequent discussions were heart wrenching. I didn’t close the door on parenthood, and told her we could adopt if we had a consensual desire to parent in the future, but was adamant on not bringing another into this turbulent crowded world. Another, more personal reason is that I didn’t want to share her affections and time with another, or divide mine towards her. I had seen too many instances of other couples falling into “mommy/daddy” roles and less as lovers to one another. I know that’s not the case for everyone, but felt the risk was very high.

Now, 8 years after my vasectomy I don’t regret my decision for one instance, although I occasionally needed reassurance from my wonderful lover whether I was keeping her from something she needed to be fulfilled, especially when women were getting pregnant around her. Social pressure can be powerful, but I am now convinced that she is content and shares this perspective on parenthood with me. We are a two person family, and feel no need to have children to describe ourselves as such.

Links

Voluntary Human Extinction Movement: With the motto “May we live long, and die out”, a tongue and cheek approach to a serious issue. There is mild comic misanthropy here, yet many valid points worth considering are addressed.

Overpopulation.org : Massive.. MASSIVE site on overpopulation with tons of stats for those with such interest.

The Parenthood Decision (book): This book was extremely helpful in my decision to not to have children, by weighing the pros and cons to consider. Highly recommended!

The Stork: Animation on Overpopulation

Posted in Anti-War, Culture, Environment, Media, Philosophy, Relationships, Vids with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2008 by 99ppp

A brilliant animated meditation on overpopulation by Nina Paley. A little appetizer while I prepare a longer post on that topic to the post “A Case Against Having Any or More Children”. Here it is:

Untitled

Posted in Anti-War, Culture, Love, Philosophy, Poetry, Relationships with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2008 by 99ppp

Are we searching
for what is common,
or what is right?
The struggle we fight,
The power we crave,
The EGO we feed.

The constant slave to a system
that feeds the machine of greed.
The new religion

Consumption, destruction.
We fill a void
Indulgence,Opulence
What a waste we create.

The constant slave to a system
That feeds the machine of greed.

Is our spirit lost ?
The battle, the war
Over mind, body and soul.

The constant slave to a system
That feeds the machine of greed.

Do we follow the masses?
Do we stand alone?
The system is failing
It can no longer sustain

The pursuit of love,
The pursuit of happiness,
The pursuit of acceptance,
We seek from others
Have we lost touch
with our own voice?

The constant slave to a system
That feeds the machine of greed.

NO LONGER A SLAVE
Scream,
Just scream
Scream out loud
Find YOUR voice

Will the New Iron Man movie Peddle or Decry the War Machine?

Posted in Anti-War, Culture, Media, Movies, Philosophy, Uncategorized, Vids with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 3, 2008 by 99ppp

As propaganda is our bread and butter here, I just saw the trailer for the Iron Man movie, and was dismayed to see few arguments against the Military-Industrial complex within it. I haven’t seen the movie, but according to the book “Comic Book Nation” :

The most political of Marvel’s superheroes was Iron Man, a hero literally forged on the battlefields of Vietnam. In his first act as a superhero, he demolishes a Viet Cong military base and overthrows a sadistic Communist warlord. As Tony Stark, he serves a vital function in America’s military-industrial complex, both as a weapons inventor and a defense contractor. As Iron Man, he foils Communist agents and battles Soviet supervillains in symbolic Cold War contests of power and will….. The Iron Man series showed the extent to which Marvel endorsed Cold War assumptions. There was little room for dissent. As Iron Man once asserted, “No one has the right to defy the wishes of his government! Not even Iron Man!”

Now replace Vietnam with Afghanistan, Communist/Soviet with Terrorist, and Cold War with War on Terror and suddenly the film may be updated to modern times while pushing the same agenda.

In fairness, the comic did take a turn and begin to question the initial premises during the early seventies and the film may take a similar approach. Yet taking a peek at the trailer below, especially Iron Man flying “majestically” alongside high-tech products of the war industry, it doesn’t bode well that the film will be a critique of the Military-Industrial Complex. For that, I recommend Lord of War, Why We Fight (documentary) .

Robert Downey Jr. is one of my favourite actors who usually picks interesting roles, and it’d be a shame if he’s compromised himself to land the big paycheck.

Here’s Eisenhower’s warning on the Military Industrial Complex:

Here’s the Iron Man Trailer: