Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Buddhas and Beer, College and Karma: V - Peace in the Chaos

I'd like to pick this series back up, seems applicable to do so now.

Just a few short words. I spent the past 30 minutes drinking a cup of green tea I made, staring out the window, doing nothing. That being said, today has been one of the busiest days of my life. I have a lab in just over an hour that will run late into the night and I have to grab dinner beforehand. Running around, working, studying, group meetings, failed meetings, dropped books, food-stained pants, gym, chaos. Were do we find ourselves? Well, right here. Amidst every single hectic bit of it.

College is about coming into our own being, at least it should be. Finding ourselves maybe, clarifying our lives possibly, at least some bit of self-discovery. For some, this comes down to a higher alcohol tolerance. For others, an awakening to the vastness of the world. And for others still, a crisis. Suddenly the world just became much bigger and in much more turmoil from the night before. Revolution, upheaval, war, famine, disasters. Where do we find ourselves? Right here.

I understand that there is strife in the world, and I want to see it first-hand. But for America? I hope we pull ourselves out of this hole we've put ourselves in. But if we don't? The what-if's abound. Personally, I'm tired of worrying about it. If the world stays together, I wake up each morning and make some tea. If the world falls apart, I still wake up each morning. And even if I don't get my tea, that's ok, I still have the view from my window, wherever it may be.

I sincerely wish you all well, and prescribe 10 minutes of window staring, regardless of your view, each busy day you have. Just enjoy the scenery.

Be Well.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Personal Responsibility.

I don't like politics. I think they are more often than not a waste of my time to discuss because no one is willing to take a look at another perspective. But here's a shot:

The only perspective I can speak from is my own, and I won't try to speak from another's. But to me, the biggest issue we have today is a lack of personal responsibility. Instead of owning up to our actions, we ask another to, or we ask the government to own up to them for us. It's childish and it doesn't work. An example:

Say we have a company that is a major polluter (we'll use Massey Energy since I'm not fond of them). So we have Massey Energy, a well known polluter and proponent of Mountain Top Removal. We buy our energy from Massey Energy, they receive money from us because we purchase our energy from them. Simple concept, yes? Massey energy pollutes because they have incentive to pollute, they are rewarded with multi-billion dollar revenues for polluting. The pollution then affects our health and we start to take notice. We rally, we sign petitions, we protest to get Massey Energy to stop and, low and behold, they don't. So what do we do? We ask the Government to step in. We ask them to solve our problems. They fine Massey, Massey pays, Massey keeps polluting. What's wrong with this picture?

There is a fundamental disconnect. Massey Energy profits = our payments. We pay them to pollute and then ask them to stop, but why would they? It's a great deal for them. Yes the government has a hand in this with the deep subsidies they offer to companies like Massey but we also forget that the government is elected by us for us. It is not an entity that exists without the general population. So why do we ask the government to do this? Because we don't want to have to make the hard choice. Rather than willfully electing to change companies, even if it costs a bit more, we ask Washington to do it for us. Truth is, it doesn't really work. Let's make an analogy. Say Massey Energy is that big popular 6th grader on the playground and we're average sized 6th graders. The EPA and the Government are the teachers and principals. Massey Energy is liked and/or tolerated because he's the biggest one around, he has some sort of power over us and when he asks for our sandwich, well we better damn well give it to him. Some of us get tired of this bullying, so we ask the teacher to tell him to stop. He/she contacts the principal and Mr. Massey is brought into the office. He gets his slap on the wrist and goes on his way. He still gets what he wants, he just has to deal with a bit more bullshit now that the principal has his eye on him. No big deal.

The converse to this is that the peers of the bully, the ones who provide him his power and influence, just stop putting up with it. Total social isolation. Sure, he can tolerate it for a bit based on the ego and self-confidence he has stored up, but even that wears thin after while. He now has two options, fade into the oblivion of being an outcast, or change. If he is reformed, he is reaccepted and things go along smoothly.

Business works the same way, if the consumer says "I don't like this, I won't be doing business with you anymore" the producer must change or fall under. This only occurs without the government saying "Errr... Well, here's some extra cash to keep you afloat until they change their mind". Environmentalism is directly inhibited by the government's unwillingness to let us, the consumer, sink what companies fail to meet our ecological standards. Products change because we want them to change. Cage free eggs, organic produce and meats, all of these products have become more prevalent because the consumer is more informed and willing to say "enough is enough" to the producer. The market fixes these issues. It's thus our personal responsibility to say "I'M DONE" when companies don't live up to the environmental and social standards we should demand.

This doesn't fix everything, but it does make sense here and there.

Be Well.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

That trip you always wanted to take.

reluctantly traveling
always looking back
"what if ?..."

I've always liked snails. And even if I can't properly spell "travel(l)ing", at least I'm honest about it.