Monday, January 23, 2017

People are Talking

Well, actually, we're not. We're living in a society where people don't talk to each other anymore. Our conversations are much more superficial and meant, frequently, to change the other's person's mind.

Today, one of my professors challenged us to learn to be open to giving up our ideas because we've come to see that your idea is better than ours.

Better conversations, he charges, require hospitality. It's not just being nice (something I excel at), but making room for the person and their ideas in you mind and life. Hospitality requires engaging with them until they inhabit your world and dwell in your mind. It requires being willing to make room for people who are different than you, knowing you will be a different person at the end of the conversation.

I thought this a profound and important idea that I want to dwell in my own mind for a bit.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Fifth Beginning

Is anyone interested in participating in an online book club with me? I'm currently reading The Fifth Beginning by Robert L. Kelly. It's an incredibly intriguing book, and I'd love to discuss it.

With that in mind, I'm going to go ahead and post some of my thoughts from the first chapter, The End of the World as We Know It. (Quotes/notes from the book are in italics. My thoughts are in normal font.)

There is reason to hope. If something can't go on forever, it won't.

This thought got me through the delivery of two of my children. It can't last forever. But, I mostly think in this way in terms of short lived experiences, usually physically painful ones. What would it mean to realize this about everything? How would it change the way we approach each day if we think this way. This applies to both good and bad, large and small.

"In trying to be one thing, organisms reach a tipping point and become something completely different. This is what evolutionary theorists label emergent phenomena." Kelly believes that in addition to the power of competition, altruism and cooperation are essential components of evolution. He believes that the evolutionary process may, in fact, cause a restructuring of society in general to be one based more on cooperation than on competition.

I have recently been thinking about our social structure, specifically in the US, but also the broader world. When, I wonder, do we stop forcing everyone to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and start recognizing how important community is for everyone. We are a social species. We rely on each other for things that we can't or don't want to do, but also for emotional support. The idea that relying on someone else for something is a weakness is pervasive, but I do not consider it to be a true idea, or even a good one. Why must we be completely self reliant? Can anyone in actuality be completely self reliant? If you use the roads that the government creates and maintains, are you being self reliant? What about the fire department? At what point does the cooperation stop and the self sufficiency start? Why do we raise our families in isolation? Why do we no longer work as a community to raise our children, care for our sick and elderly, and provide for the common good?

At what point do we decide that it is important to have an educated people? Do we provide for the health and well being of our society as part of a greater cause because we want a healthy society? Or, do we continue to force people to provide for themselves, even when they are unable? At what point do we allow compassion to take at least equal place in ourselves with drive and passion?

These are some thoughts I've been having, and I'd love to talk about it.

A final quote:
Prehistory teaches us that humans excel at solving problems, that evolution has always been remaking us. Of course, as stockbrokers say, past performance is no guarantee of future results. We could indeed be headed to hell in a hand basket. But prehistory tells me that doesn't have to be the case; the future could be ours to make.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Week in Review 1-15-2017

My craft and study space. Not much studying going on here right now.

This was a crazy week. Gary and I both started school full time. Although we were both exhausted by the end of the week, we came through it relatively unscathed and excited for the semester. I also came through it relatively less sore by Friday than I was Tuesday. Wow. I'm going from a pretty sedentary life to walking about 5 miles each day, uphill both ways. Fortunately, I bought some new boots at the beginning of December that are both comfortable and warm.

These tiles make me smile. It feels like the designer was just doodling.

My favorite quotes and observations from the week:

From Spanish-
My teacher looks remarkably similar to a woman I know in Kentucky, has the same mannerisms, accent, and way of talking. She knows of no connection. Also, she uses the contraction "y'all" to signify the plural form of you when conjugating verbs, which amuses me to no end.

The view on my walk to school. Don't be jealous.

From Anthropology:
"That's a whole different bag of rabid monkeys."
My anthropology professor may be my favorite professor this semester, although he's running a close race with my physics professor. And, of course, it's early days yet.

Sometimes, if you can't see the sun, you just need to turn around.

From Physics:
"We're all stuck here because of gravity." Said immediately following a discussion on the fact that many of the students are in the class because they're required to take a science course to graduate.

An observation about the idea that in science, no theory, law or principle can ever be proven, only disproved.- It is a hard ting to accept, that you must always question everything you know, that advances or changes can come at any time. We are a species that likes hard and resolute facts. We have difficulty allowing fluidity into our thought process.

Quintessential desert architecture is all over campus.

From Honors course:
A little background- Fort Lewis, the college we're attending, does their honors program differently than other colleges. Rather than providing core content in more difficult classes, with more homework, more papers, etc, the school gives honors students a minor in philosophy.

My favorite moment with the honors course actually came during our orientation last Saturday. The director of the program described it as, "a community of people who are working to become better people so that they, in turn, can make the world a better place." I love that.

Bear has been with us for a year this week!

From English:
We're studying emojis, not my favorite thing in the world. I'm willing to embrace change, and even to attempt to change the way I do things. However, I question whether we should abandon one thing because another comes along, which may be easier but not better. We are a thinking species. I do not believe we should water down our thoughts to make them easier to deal with.

So, my thought from this class is this, and I would love for anyone interested to discuss it with me:

If we say that people are not reading, do we abandon the written word, or do we make sure people know how to engage with the written word, to struggle with it for the sake of the struggle and growth, to critically analyze the thoughts that are brought about by that reading?


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