Archive for Relationships

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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Responsibility: Duty, Blame or Power?

Posted in Culture, Philosophy, Relationships, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2008 by 99ppp

The word “responsibility” is fascinating, especially the context and the spirit in which it is used, primarily in three contexts that often interrelate: duty, blame and power.

Duty

Responsibility as duty can restrict the psyche from reflection and contemplation. Duty and obligation often suggests a standard of behaviour, right and wrong, that hasn’t been formulated by the individual but simply by regurgitating the mores of the prior generation, convention or tradition. When someone wears traditionalism as some badge of honour I become extremely skeptical, since it suggest that the person hasn’t examined the “traditions” enough to formulate their own opinions. This is not to say that there aren’t good values that come from our human past, and yet to say one is a “traditional” says little about one’s values and suggests one hasn’t examined them fully.

Some take more than their share of responsibility, so they take on much more duties that they need to. They can deny any chance for those who simply pass it off to get their shit together and stop being dependent. I believe most people don’t want to be dependent they just have lost confidence in their ability to act, and simply look to someone else to take care of things. This is what happened during the Obama campaign, where this particular person believe that the fact that Obama has been voted in would magically solve all their problems (see vid below).

Often the phrase “This is how I was raised” is used to justify behaviour and morals that haven’t been examined by the individual. It often comes from a distorted admiration to some authority figure, often parents or the larger society. This is an example of either empowering oneself of responsibility from one’s opinions. When I hear “This is how I was raised” I often translate it as “I haven’t taken to the time to examine the values I was indoctrinated with(even if well intentioned) . It is easy to simply obey the morals of another instead of constructing a personal sense of ethics. To question everything can plunge one into an existential dilemma and it is understandable to wish to avoid that. Yet the cost of avoiding it can leave one feeling a nagging sense of helplessness, especially when the voice of a suppressed personal conscience increases in volume and contradicts what we are taught to believe.

No one can guilt me without my permission. Any person who says to me, “You are making me feel guilty” is a person who hasn’t taken responsibility for their own conscience. They have embraced someone else’s values without examination. Guilt can be a useful emotion when it is a violation of our own personal standards and principles, and not someone else’s, as long as one doesn’t wallow in it.

Another form of responsibility as duty is “I am only doing my job”, in other words, simply doing as one is instructed. This is a difficult one since one’s livelihood can be in jeopardy if one disobeys. Personally, I previously began to see my job as an opposition to my personal ethics and I was having trouble sleeping and began to get aches and pains in my body. Then came the breaking point and I quit, and all the pains went away. Stress places the body and mind in continual survival mode and can exact a heavy cost on people: anxiety, heart disease, hypertension, depression, substance abuse and so on. This question has no easy answers since people are being pulled in two directions, have bills and families to feed.

Blame

Many use the word responsibility to lay blame unto others. By using the word in this matter, ironically dissuades many people to take more responsibility. You see, we have to allow for people to make mistakes. If we easily forgive mistakes,  share our insights on how to improve things instead of finger pointing, those who try to evade responsibility will use it to learn instead of mindlessly escaping them. There are those who claim to take responsibility as a lever to gain more power. Since I have greater responsibility than you, then you should do what they say. This is why it is easy to point fingers at politicians. They make all kinds of promises to gain power, suggest that the problems entrapping the society will be fixed without any discomfort. I found it interesting during the Obama acceptance speech, that when he mentioned there may be sacrifices to stem the expectations projected onto him, the crowd became temporarily silent from the boisterous jubilation. Obama was already feeling the pressure of being anointed as “a saviour” facing the current economic crisis.

During times of war those who commit atrocities such as the killing of innocent lives and are later confronted by a barrage of questions, often pass the buck once again by saying “I was just doing my job” instead of looking into their conscience. They believe it absolves them from looking deeper into the actions they take with a more critical eye instead by following blindly the orders of others. Here “I am just doing my job” translates into “The person giving me the orders is responsible”.

When we refuse to take responsibility for our actions over and over we tend to lose respect, and trust from others. We also start losing confidence in our own abilities in the things we do and continue to pass the buck unto others and yet continue to learn nothing from our own experiences.

Power

Responsibility can be power. Response ability, the ability to respond..To avoid it can make one feel powerless, a paper boat in a tsunami, where we are directionless in the currents of circumstance swirling around us. It would be facile to say we are directly influential in everything that happens to us, but often we underestimate our ability to cause effects. I elaborated further on this on the “Fat acceptance” post earlier in this blog.

I am in full agreement that each of us could take greater responsibility for our lives, this I say in the spirit of compassion and advocating people empowering themselves instead of passively waiting for others to help them. Unfortunately, many have used the term “personal responsibility” as a blunt weapon to demonize those who are in difficult position and suggest that their situation is fully of their own doing. This is using responsibility as analogous to blame, not power.

One way to pry blame away from responsibility: To feel responsible for everything one does, but not responsible for everything that happens to us. This may first seem like a paradox. Allow me to elaborate.

Humans are fallible. We aren’t capable to predict exactly what results our actions may trigger, but we can’t allow that uncertainty to paralyze us from action.We will fuck up. But that’s ok, if there is a sincere recognition of the error. There is conditioning we may need to emancipate ourselves from. Prejudices and fears that cloud our ability to see clearly. Pressures we may have felt from others. We have to be cautious though, to see them as influences and not excuses, since it may lead one to place blame on circumstances and simultaneously disempower ourselves from the ability to act. We can see them as obstacles to move around instead of walls that paralyze us.

Blame, duty and power relate to time as well. Blame (past), duty (future), and power (present). To live closer to the moment, it is best to frame responsibility to the present.

[Obama supporter referred above]

Gay marriage banned in two states, leading in California

Posted in Culture, Love, Relationships, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on November 5, 2008 by 99ppp
According to CNN as of this writing, a ban on gay marriage has passed in Arizona and Florida, and it’s winning in a close vote in California (52-48). In addition, there is a ban on unmarried couples adopting children in Arkansas.This is very unfortunate but I am hardly surprised. There is a strain of traditionalism woven into the concept of marriage in most people’s minds. Introducing a newer concept like civil unions (or common law) that could grant the same protections of state marriage , would likely get greater consideration as the issue becomes more about equal rights than “desecrating” an ancient tradition.

Here in Canada, particularly in Quebec, marriage as an institution has had it’s popularity and cultural importance erode over the years:

The number of couples forgoing marriage has more than doubled since 1981, the first time the statistic was tallied. At the time, there were 357,000 common-law relationships – about six per cent of all couples. By the 2001 Census, roughly 14 per cent of all couples were common law. Common-law unions are most prevalent among young people and couples living in Quebec, where more than 30 per cent of all families are common law. {LINK)

As I mentioned in my previous post, equal rights activists would likely be best served to simply let go of the word “marriage”. As far as I’m concerned the institution itself is losing prestige, and energy towards promoting a fairer world can be better placed elsewhere.

Surrenderring “Marriage” to Religion: A Case for Civil Unions

Posted in Culture, Love, Relationships, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2008 by 99ppp

There is a controversial question placed before California voters today, Proposition 8 which will legally impede same-sex  couples to marry if it passes. Plenty of money has been placed to pass the measure, most prominently, the Mormon Church which poured approximately 20 million dollars into the campaign to pass it. The progressive viewpoint is to champion the cause of same-sex marriage, and at first I would be so inclined, as it isn’t fair to discriminate how people choose to unite regardless of their sexual orientation. The deeper problem is the word “marriage” itself. This issue will not go away, and the best way to transcend it, is to give the word “marriage” to religion and have the state only perform civil unions for ALL couples.

I am not a fan of marriage as an institution to begin with. I’ve already argued that it has nothing to do with love, yet I can concede that there are potential reasons why two people would want to get married: children and property. Civil unions can provide the identical protections without calling it marriage.

Giving religion the word, will dismantle the lever which those who wish to project their religious morality through the mechanism of the state. Those who get the religious ceremony would still need to get a civil union to be recognized by the state. Those same-sex couples of faith who still wish to get married, may need to wait for a while, yet surely there will be some progressive religious groups who would perform the ceremony, since the freedom of religion is inviolate.

Additionally, by giving the word marriage to religion, it gives greater clarity to the division of church and state.

All this time and energy fighting over a word is pointless, attention that keeps us distracted from more important issues, like the economy, the environment and questions of war and peace. Those with progressive secular values could simply abandon the quibble over one word, it simply isn’t worth it. Religion can even take the words “husband” and “wife” and we can embrace the inclusive gender neutral “spouse”.

A Pure Form of Expression

Posted in Culture, Love, Philosophy, Poetry with tags , , , on July 14, 2008 by 99ppp

In our hearts, we hold
the purest form of love
We guard it
We isolate it
Afraid to expose it

Why do we fear ?
Why do we withdraw?
from one of the purest
form of expression
That which we call
Love

Terrence McKenna: Culture is NOT your friend.

Posted in Culture, Love, Media, Philosophy, Relationships, Vids with tags , , , , on June 26, 2008 by 99ppp

McKenna’s take on culture is one well worth considering. Please excuse the low static. (Vid: 3:30min)

Posts in this blog concerning culture : What is Culture? and Culture: Division or Diversity?

Fat Acceptance and Attraction

Posted in Culture, Love, Media, Relationships with tags , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2008 by 99ppp

This is a response to the Ask Aunt Fatty post on Shapely Prose called “Ask Aunt Fattie: How do I stop feeling negative about my girlfriend’s fat?” where I was unceremoniously censored from what I thought was an interesting discussion. Then came the little pot shots after that fact. It’s her blog and she’s perfectly entitled to do that. We have one here, and we’re free to speak here as well.

We have full sensitivity to media and society conventions and the possible effects on body image, please note our poem “Insecurities of the Flesh”.

Now to clarify some issues:

The term “letting oneself go” is the affliction of many long term relationships where one or both partners take for granted that the other is going to be attracted to them no matter what change in appearance and behaviour may arise. This could include changes in hygiene, fitness and/or behaviour.

There were suggestions I was a “concern troll”, a straw man argument since the concern is the letter-writer’s in this instance as witnessed by the title of the Aunt Fatty post. I am libertarian in view, and if people overindulge, it’s their business, whether it’s drugs, alcohol, food or some other activity.

Attraction is a prejudice and I said that “I believe no one needs to apologize for what they are or aren’t attracted to”. Few would argue this is an unacceptable prejudice. This is a question of aesthetics and as the old refrain goes.. “its in the eye of the beholder”.Bigotry towards overweight people is also a prejudice, an unjust one. I believe fat acceptance is about respecting another person regardless of their size. This does not mean that one needs to be attracted to one.

Now it can be said that media and society do have some influence, but how much? How much was the letter-writer inherent affinity to some aesthetic? It’s hard to gauge, yet here Aunt Fatty’s advice falls short, suggesting the letter-writer keep her doubts to herself.  I’ve learned it is wise to share doubts and concern and have a debate, discussion or even an argument so we can come to an understanding and consensus to what we fear about change. Maybe at the end of it all, we fear being alone, so sometimes we do become complacent and leave out a few detail to “not rock the boat”. That is for each of us to explore both as individuals and as a couple.

We blame TV, books, magazines, other people and genetics. When do we start taking responsibility for our behaviours and actions instead of blaming society on how they perceive us? This is road to powerlessness, as it is easier to change oneself than society. But one need not change to accomodate society but to accomodate oneself.

UPDATE: New post on FA: Fat Acceptance: An intriguing idea gone wrong