Sunday, March 25, 2012

Master v Slave...Which are you?

So, in one of my sociology classes, we have started reading this sweet social philosopher Nietzsche.  You may or may not have heard of him, but he is apparently one of the most oft quoted people in the WORLD.  Cool huh?

Anyways, he is quite the critic of western culture, and actually culture in general, but I think he has a point in a lot of what he is saying. One of his theories really stuck out to me and made me think about how I'm living my life. Let me attempt to expound his thoughts, which I probably have quite a bit wrong and I recognize that I am ignorant of his total works, but this is what I understood from my class discussion:

Humans are creative beings. We are able to construct our world in any way we want. We build up our families, societies, universities, and every thing that we come in to contact with. That is just the way we are wired.  Nature, on the other hand, tends to come in and destroy what we have created. It's not that it is malignant or evil, but it is uncontrollable and indifferent. For example, when a wife/mother dies, that is nature destroying what a husband created in building a family. Again, nature wasn't trying to spite him, and when good things happen to us, nature isn't bestowing blessings, merely that's the way that it is.

Nietzsche argues that there are two types of people in this world.  There are the "Masters" and the "Slaves" and he leaves it up to us if we want to live as one type or the other.

The masters are those people who have a "love of fate". They don't want anything to be different and they love what happens to them.  They are constantly working for a better reality and do whatever is required to become great. They are disciplined in that they are constantly striving for a better life and human greatness.  They don't let others signify or designate that which is valuable or "good", but they decide for themselves. They are the true creators of their world.  In an LDS perspective, a good way to look at this is using the late Elder Wirthlin's talk, Come What May, and Love it: "If we approach adversities wisely, our hardest times can be times of greatest growth, which in turn can lead toward times of greatest happiness."

Unfortunately for most religious people, Nietzsche is quite the atheist arguing that religion and science is a means of trying to make sense of a random world. I know a lot of people will disagree with this aspect (as do I), but hold on a minute as it is not a reason of condemning the his theories.  Nietzsche will argue that by ascribing the acts of nature to some higher authority or power (even to scientific reason) is to cop-out and try to hide reality. Instead of reacting to what happens in life and trying to make it better, sometimes we succumb to an easier thought: "God just wanted it that way."  And then, instead of working on improving our situation, we let it be, admitting that God knows better than us and if this is the way He wants me to live, then so be it.

Well, that's all well and good that God has a plan, and I have faith that He does, but we should not use that fact as a way of saying there is no use in trying. We should always be working on becoming the best we can be. So, if we, figuratively or literally, have our leg blown off then we shouldn't just regard it as God's will and go around limping. If we get a debilitating disease, we should just say that God wants me to die.  Instead, we should actively try to make it better; hence the prosthetics that have been invented and the medical cures for the harsh illnesses.  We need to take control of our lives and always work towards becoming the best that we can be.

It helps to see a contrast in order to fully understand a new term. So, to see what I (and Nietzsche) truly means by "Master", let's look at his understanding of a slave.  Slave-like people don't live life in terms of pursuing greatness, but instead would rather "live by the rules" that other people set. They would rather be told how to live and just follow preset indications of action.  They enslave themselves to the way other people think. They tend to blame and to complain about how life is, and according to Nietzsche, this is where religion started. We needed to blame life's woes on something, so why not say that it is the will of some higher being? They would rather have some sense of truth, that according to Nietzsche is valueless, than be the kind of beings that take control of their life to accept nature as it is.

In discussion with some friends, I think a good example is how we live the honor code here at BYU.  If you look at it from Nietzsche's perspective, commandments and things like law and the honor code are actually debilitating for human life because it sets those boundaries and rules that the slaves would rather live by. Instead of me choosing for myself that the best person I could be is to wear modest clothing and to be chaste and sober, I am told how to live and follow the rules only as they are prescribed to me.  I am not creating my own social world that will allow me to become the greatest being that I can become. Instead, other people are choosing how I should live my life and I am submitting myself to that authority. Much like sheep cannot live without a shepherd who dictates where they eat and sleep, I am letting someone else run my life.

In a sense, this is one reason why at the outset I didn't want to come to BYU. I wanted to choose for myself how to live and who I wanted to be. It is hard to make that distinction when the rules have already been determined. I wanted to choose to be a Latter-day Saint, rather than be subjected to it by university standards. Don't get me wrong, I love this college and I love ... most of the experiences that I have had here.  However, it is important to realize that we ourselves need to be the agents of our lives and not permit others to control us. We should only follow the honor code because we want to and because we understand and recognize the power that upholding those values gives us. Just as we should only read the scriptures and go to church because we know that it will help us become great people and to really be the best that we can be. We should never do something because someone said to. It should always be our choice.

Nietzsche said this about Christianity that I find quite eye-opening: "The Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad."  Is it really?  Is the world as terrible as we make it to be. We tend to always emphasize that we should take no part in the world and that every natural disaster is an act of punishment from God. While that very well may be the case, couldn't it just be that plate tectonics shifted in such a way that there were earthquakes? In fact, it's marvelous how the world works, not evil and vicious and punishing. As Nietzsche said, we create our own reality, and Christianity has, it seems, created a sense of the world being a terrible place.

Again, I would like to emphasize that I am a Christian and I love my religion.

In any case, as my teacher was describing the dichotomy of the Master and the Slave, I realized how much I have been living like a slave. I had quite a dark spell recently when I was not doing well mentally and emotionally. I almost gave up and succumbed to just "letting it be as it was." In talking to an old friend, I told him that I had come to that point because it seemed as though "that is the way it was." That my challenges were always going to be there, that I could never overcome them, and that's life.  It was hard to imagine a different way of life and even harder to conceive myself achieving that new reality. However, he was adamant in telling me that there was nothing definite and fixed about our current way of living.

I was also quite content just doing what people said, just following the flow. I didn't want to grow and to become better in class or in church. I figured I would just do what I was told and be led until my dying day. That was sooooooooo sheepish and slave-ish of me!  Instead of really working towards greatness and becoming my own person by defining my own standards and my own goals, I was letting the pre-established rules to define and determine my thinking and actions.

By being a master of our lives, we need not just throw religion and science out the window. I obviously don't advocate going to the extent that Nietzsche calls for in that aspect, but I do think it is time that we stop giving up responsibility for our actions to others and take control of our own life. God gave us a marvelous gift to choose and to create our own world. Let us use that power to make ourselves great, instead of relinquishing it to others who have no idea what we can become. Don't settle for the standards that others create for you, let us rise to our own level of greatness. Don't blame God or others for your circumstances, but rather let's adopt that attitude of "Come what may and love it" and live happier lives.

Monday, March 12, 2012

I caught Bieber Fever...

And it is making me seriously ill.  Well, I just can't really stand it.  So, anyways, I'm talking to my neighbors about random things, and for some reason ... oh, I remember.  I saw someone post a Justin Bieber something on my wall.  (Gag).

And I realized something.  Also, today I had been sent a survey about dating in my ward, and one of the questions was talking about the chivalry of men. So, I started looking around the web to see what the world is saying about how men should act.  Apparently, they are all advocating for a feminization of our sex.  They are advocating for less door openings, less decision making, more "emotional intimacy", more "reading the mind of the woman", and more.

Say what? Whatever happened to the "He-man" comics? What happened to the uber-masculine princes who would go and fight the dragons and slay the beasts? It's been a while since I've watched the cartoons of that age-group, but with Pokemon or other less awesome man movies.  So many psychiatrists are saying that we need to take away the guns and the trucks from the guys.  What? They say we need to give the boys dolls and playhouses and then let them decide what they like more.  What?  What if that is the nature of these little kids? If you deny the nature of boys, why aren't we denying the nature of girls? Why aren't you giving them trucks and guns?  This is ridiculous.

It seems that we are making girls neutral and boys ... girls.  This is weird. Why do girls want to be dating ... girls?  isn't that quite frowned upon?

Justin Bieber has become what society is trying to do to boys. He is the epitomization of the feminization of masculinity. No joke.  Just look at him and see the difference:
Where are the guns and the trucks with this kid. (You are right, He-man has a sword, not a truck).

So, I just want to declare that I will continue to play games with guns. I will love role-playing cops and robbers. And I will not stop opening the doors and I will not stop treating you like women.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Thank you

So, I have just this amazing home teacher who took the time today to talk to me. To actually find out how my life is going and what my struggles are. I'm thankful for someone who can see past my always happy facade to understand that I'm actually having it quite rough. He asked if we wanted to be late for Sunday School...we didn't make it to the rest of church because he truly wanted to get to know me. Thank you.

Also, he told be to buck up and deal with it at an appropriate time and in an appropriate way. Life isn't for sitting around and wallowing and feeling sorry for yourself. I love it when people remind me to stop being stupid and to wake up! Obviously I'm not going to be just peachy tomorrow and I have a myriad (yes, I used that word) of things that I need to work on and to fix, but at least I know there is someone who cares. So to you, I shout out. Thank you.

Friday, March 9, 2012

EFY Interview

Ok, so this is going to be a quickie, since it is 1:30 in the morning. Why I do this? I dunno. But, I had an awesome time today at the EFY interview. I really hope to get the job, because if it was anything like today, I'm stoked.

Well, for those who don't know, EFY is "Especially for Youth". It is a week long program where teenagers from all over can come and meet other youth who share the same values and try to go closer to the Savior. I applied to be one of the Counselors who works with a different group every week.

Well, the interview was with 9 other guys, all return missionaries. At first I was thinking, oh dear. They are all going to have ARMS (Awkward Return Missionary Syndrome) that plagues Provo. But, I think we found a group of 10 awesome guys. Only one of the missionaries spoke about the mission, and everyone else could actually talk about spiritual experiences they have had since the mission. It was really cool. We were given three minutes to prepare a 1-minute lesson on a scripture that they gave us. Everyone had really good thoughts and the Spirit was palpable, even in a job interview. I miss having a bunch of guys sitting around talking about the Gospel (like Zone meetings).

It really made me think about my mission and how much I miss the experiences that I had. It has been almost 2 years! Isn't that crazy!? My roommates and I have talked about what would happen if we were given the opportunity to do it again, right now. I think I would. I guess maybe I'm not really having the time of my life finishing my second straight year of school, but seriously, I want to go back. I want to be able to teach people the source of my happiness again and just make it my 24 hour job. I miss it so much, but life is moving on and I need to find other opportunities. (Let's hope one will be EFY---I don't find out for a month!).

Anyways, sorry the last couple of posts have been kind of short and unexciting, but I don't gots lots o time.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Writing to Write

Sometimes, you just gotta write until you find something to write about. This week has been, let's say, extremely blog-worthy, but I can't do it.  Unfortunately, I've learned not to write about my private just never ends well.  Unless you write about good things.

In any case, last night I got to go to Dairy Queen with one of my favorite people in the world. I love talking to her because she actually lets me vent without trying to solve my problems, although she does interject once or twice "Do you want me to punch him/her?" whenever I'm particularly frustrated, which I do appreciate. Hopefully I'm as good of a listener for her too.  Anyways, as we were talking, we discussed other very good blog topics of which we could write about. Unfortunately, I forgot them...but, were they good or what.

In other news, we've got Super Tuesday coming up and Gingrich is still flailing in the election, trying to show that he is a viable non-consequential candidate. (Yes, the contradiction was meant to be there). Santorum, surprisingly, is still hanging in there despite losing the last 4 states.  Paul just keeps poking his head in there and saying "hello!" They say that Gingrich has the most to lose if he can't hold Georgia, but we all know he will take it and then claim that he is going to win...despite only winning 2 states out of 20+. Smart man Gingrich.  I think Romney has the most to lose. He has such slim advantages in the states that he needs to win, so good luck to him.

I don't know what else there is to say. Boring blog, I know. Oh, I've got one:

Don't you love it when someone keeps telling you that they are "over it/her/him", but they bring it up incessantly? In a conversation with one of my good friends, he told me that this girl kept telling him over and over that she was over "this guy" that she had kind of dated. Apparently it didn't end well, but she kept bringing him up.

So....if you are "over him" then why is he so important to you?  Stop obsessing!

I love it when two ex's are in the same room together. Maybe they have mutual friends and ended up at a party at the same time. Especially in smaller parties, the "awkward-ness" is palpable, even for other people. They try to stand on opposite ends of the room and then when they do have to cross each other's paths, they fix their head to look the other way as if they can't see each other.

Oh, for heaven's sakes. Walk over there and say "Hi."  You had your problems, just leave it alone. It seems as if they are perpetuating the tension by the way they avoid each other's presence.  They are still people! I'd almost rather they end up fighting so that they have to acknowledge the other.

This seems to be especially problematic at the Y where everyone is dating everyone else in their wards/classes. The beginning of the year is so much more fun at ward parties because everyone is just having fun. At the end of the year, their are clicks and "sides" are you on ex #1's side or ex #2's?  You must pick, or else both of them hate you. ....awkward.....

Anyways, I wouldn't know the best solution. Maybe leave if you really can't be civil enough to even say hello. Even if they ended bad, they are still people. Or, if there are still problems, for whatever reason, take them outside and figure them out. Stop making the rest of us deal with it.