Category Archives: Culture

Capitalism Clashes With Socialism: Is “internet.org” The Solution or a Problem

The merits and demerits of socialist and capitalist styles of government have been a cause for heated debate for as far back as one can think to. I think it is hard to come forward and say that one style is necessarily better than the other, as we have seen economies run by socialist and capitalist governments alike exhibit tremendous strides of progress economically and in other regards.

We currently live in a world where the mantra is fast becoming “be yourself”. Everywhere you look these days, be it in a fashion magazine, or financial services advert, we are slowly but surely being fed this belief that it is better to be different than to blend with the crowd. It seems to me that in this age that we live in, to successfully sell an idea or a commodity you need to emphasize its ability to bring about greater individuality to the final consumer. In this new “environment” that we find ourselves, it would be counterproductive to choose one thing over the other as being the better option. Each idea, person, object is unique and elegant on its own merit, with its quirks and flaws even making it that much more valuable as an individual unit to be celebrated. Individuality encourages us to seek for validity from within rather than from the outside, easier said than done right?

This post isn’t about styles of government or the topic of individuality; it is about Facebook’s new initiative called “internet.org“.

To be very concise, “internet.org” was created out of a need to spread the many advantages that come with using the internet. The founders hope to give access to certain websites at little or no cost to the user, while the site owner pays the bill. There has been a backlash against this this new initiative. The crux of the argument centers on the fact that it does not go in line with the concept of net neutrality.  Detractors point to what they consider as a plan by Facebook to “colonize” the internet and make it less profitable for publishers and the likes who are not subscribers to the “internet.org” initiative.

Personally, I love technology. I am always eager and excited to see how technology can be employed to make tasks a lot more tolerable, and also enhance the life of people who come in contact with it. I recently started to learn programming with python. The words “Hello World” never excited me until I was typing in the code in to the python interpreter to have it printed on the screen once the code was executed. Learning to program has given me a new found appreciation of a computer. Before, I always thought of computers as these “god-like” machines with a mind of their own that was too hard to understand. Spending a few weeks with python, I see computers from a difference perspective. Computers are blank, fast and efficient tools that are desperately reliant on input from humans to do great things.

I believe that if we can put computers and internet in the hands of more people, especially in places like Africa, the human race as a collective unit would be propelled on such an unprecedented scale to a greater level of civilization.

The proliferation of the internet as prospected by Facebook is an excellent idea and should be encouraged.

To be entirely honest, I see reasons to the point of the marginalization of non-members of the “internet.org”.  My input in this regard is for Facebook to limit the inclusion of webpages to essentials. When I say essentials, I am referring to those sites that help to keep people informed and educated. Websites that offer healthcare solutions to people who otherwise won’t have it. Websites that share knowledge about a myriad of topics that enable students research and learn. Websites that connect city merchants with rural suppliers of labor and raw materials. If Facebook is truly dedicated to its philanthropic intentions, it should exclude overzealous sites that are littered with Ads that distract from and ultimately ruin the experience of the end user.

(I guess this should serve as my advice to Facebook and its detractors)

 

The inequality in Gender Equality: A simply case of “Ladies First”

Gender inequality is as old as time itself and although great effort has been exerted over the decades to end, or at least minimize it, there exists subtle nuances that underscore its presence. I don’t want to go in-depth in to the literature of gender bias, quite frankly I haven’t got the time and plus I believe I can still make a compelling case even without literal back up. There are certain social conventions that have been ingrained in the minds of people which are supposed to engender equality among the sexes, but sometimes the very nature of them makes you wonder if their purpose is in tandem with intrinsic meaning.

Some might argue that gender equality has been greatly diminished and that we currently live in a society of greater freedom for women. On the surface of it, it might appear so because we see more women in the workforce, more women in leadership roles, for one thing; women in America at least can now vote. From an aerial view all seems to be at place, but the truth is that much like other problems that challenges the human race, gender inequality has evolved alongside the species. This evolution has also meant that the way it is perpetuated has also evolved as well, that its current state of sophistication makes it that much harder to detect.

There is a phrase that is very pervasive in human social interaction, especially interactions involving both sexes. This phase is seen as sign of respect and decorum that is “ought” to be accorded by one sex to the other. That phrase is “Ladies First.”

I have often said this phrase without giving it much thought, because like I said it is what is expected of you as a respectable member of any civil society where people have mutual respect for each other. Recently though I was somewhat accosted for not obliging with the usual “Ladies First” when I was at a door.

This got me thinking, when men say “Ladies first” to a lady is it because they see her as an equal (hence gender equality) or do they see her as a lesser being that needs to be given an advantage to progress for fear of being trumped? Men are naturally very competitive animals and when you want him to see another creature as an equal in competition, it doesn’t help to make him give that “competitor” an advantage. This is because then you have made him to see that creature as obviously being weak in some regard therefore needing to be given support to come to par with him in competition. It is very easy to say “Ladies First”, but then it is hard to see beneath the surface to catch a glimpse of what is really happening.

My hope isn’t to come-off as chauvinistic or anything of that nature, but I just would like people to think carefully about certain social conventions and see if they truly mean what they stand for. As an educated individual your number one priority is to challenge statics or dogmas as they come your way. The aim isn’t to win arguments or shove agendas in peoples face, on the contrary I would like to be intelligently challenged in ways that would give me a better understanding and if possible change my own views in some way.

(This is one of the things I was most scared of doing, writing a piece that might come off chauvinistic Frightening )

CONTROL: Inspired By Tom Ford

Over the years, as early as when I could clearly understand the language of humans; I have been rather fascinated by the notion of control. That urge to want to direct the path/course of movement or progression of a thing or person or whatever the case maybe. You can either be on the receiving end of the brunt of control or on the exerting end. There are billions of people who fervently support the idea of control; some have even gone to make huge thriving careers from teaching people how to be in control. As much as I would like to subscribe to the idea that there are people who are in control of everything, and some who go the extra mile to forcefully exert this control on people and things ( hence the term “control freak”), I have to know: are those people really in control?

Every year a ton of people are admitted into business schools with the aim of mastering CONTROL. Firstly, in business and then in other facets of life. Some of them emerge with success others maybe not so much, but really who can truly say that they are in control of everything around them? The human body for one has a natural process which resumes work at birth and is retired at death. We age regardless of how much money we own and put towards fads that pummel us with vain hope of being young forever. But the really wise ones know that this is absolutely ridiculous. It has always been my personal belief that the Plastic Surgery Industry will completely collapse if all the “control freaks” suddenly all died. Think about it, which type of woman is more likely to want to go under the knife to pull together the loose skin around her abdominal area? I will tell you who she isn’t. She isn’t the confident woman who understanding the biology of child bearing and knows that the expansion of the abdominal is a natural occurring incident in child bearing which cannot be stopped. It is the overly controlling woman who wants to cajole her body into looking like it has never been through the joyful ordeal of child bearing.

Some might argue that such a woman is driven mostly by Low Self-esteem. As tempting as that suggestion might be, I think not completely. I think being over controlling breeds Low Self-esteem when the individual in question is met with the harsh reality that some things are just out of their scope of control.

Humans are born with varying degrees of control, which explains why even the meekest of individuals can at least direct where the steps taken by the feet leads him to. If there is anything to be learned from the lives of wealth and successful people who have gained for themselves, for the most part, the luxuries of life which everyone clamors for is that control isn’t really the purpose of life. I watched an interview of Tom Ford the designer where he talked about the making of his movie “The Single Man”. He had just left Gucci when he was struck by this feeling of emptiness. He began to think about his life, where he had been and where he was headed and then it dawned on him that he was having a mid-life crisis. I believe he defined mid-life crisis as “placing a ladder on a wall, climbing it to the top only to get to the peak and realize that you had the ladder on the wrong wall the whole time” or something like that. Tom Ford had been in “control” of everything as he said, raising from the bottom to becoming the Creative Director at Gucci one of the biggest brands in the fashion business. But was it enough? Upon leaving the job, he was quick to realize how fleeting it all was. He realized that even though he had manage to control and steer his life and career in the path it went, he could not shake the way he was feeling. It’s like youth. Youth is beautiful, it is sexy it is hypnotizing, it is strong, but ultimately it is fleeting. And as much as we try to control its tenor, it eventually fades and withers-off.

We as a people are not in control of everything as most have deluded themselves into thinking. We are in control of few things, but for the most part we are left to chance as a being. For example, you choose to eat a loaf of bread (In our control), and then our digestive system takes over and begins to extract what it needs from the bread and tossing the unwanted ones out (Out of our control). We cannot control what the digestive system picks up or what it throws away. All we want to achieve is the feeling of being fed and how this is done internally shouldn’t really bother us.

I think that as an individual, the ultimate purpose is to apply the utmost wisdom and care in making the decisions in our control and hoping optimistically that the rest will go as we have occasioned in our minds. It is the reason why the religious pray.

Towards the end of the Interview, Tom Ford continued to emphasize a certain point. “Nothing, nothing lasts, that the beauty of it all” was what he said and I could not agree with him more. If we can be patient enough to let ourselves comprehend the point that Nothing Lasts, then we can see how pointless it is to try and control everything.

LIFE

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Que Sera Sera.”

Necktie: Fashion Accessory Or Suffocation Device?

Necktie

Most people will see the picture above and think very beautiful thoughts about how fine those pieces of fabric look and possibly how fantastic they would look with some fabulous shirt that they have in their closet. But I am not one of those people. When I see a necktie I sort of cringe and recline into my mental shell. The picture above has about the same effect on me as a large red cape would have on a bull at a bullfighting event.

I work in Investment Banking, one of the few careers where a necktie is necessary if not completely mandatory. A necktie can make you look really sharp and smart and project the image of seriousness and immense dignity to an onlooker. But it can also make you look terribly out of place, if worn improperly, and downright uncomfortable.

Before starting this blog post I typed in to the Google search engine “History of tie” and then it corrected me and offered “History of Necktie” as a suggestion, which I took. And immediately I felt this brief familiar sense of being overpowered. Almost like I can’t even be allowed to ask the way I want to ask a question. Like Google had to snatch the question from me and ask it in a more “proper” way. It is this same feeling of being overpowered that I feel when I wear a necktie. I have always been told by a great deal of people that wearing a tie makes you feel confident even when you feel down, and that it exudes a certain level of masculinity that is very essential to a man. Unfortunately I can’t say that I share in these sentiments as detailed above. To be a total anomaly, I find that I work at my utmost best when my tie is off. I feel more at ease and alive.

When I am dressed up in my tie and shirt to work, some people are kind enough to applaud how smart and studious I look. But I don’t feel that way. For one thing when I wear a necktie, I feel like I am being choked by my own self, and there is nothing I can do about it. It’s the reason why my commute to work is one of the most liberating times of the day simply because I hardly, actually never put on my necktie. I don’t even put on my formal shirt; I just wear a casual round neck shirt. I would be happy to tell you of some childhood story of how I was almost choked to death, and how it explains this deep phobia I have for tying tightly a piece of fabric around my neck. I, sadly, have no such story to tell. On more than one occasion I have purposely left my necktie at home, or even in the car, and then pretend to be oblivious to the fact that I did not have it on. One very few occasions, I genuinely forgot to take it along with me from the house.

I so desperately envy my friends who work in IT or Oil companies, not because of the money (sometimes for the money though), but because of the rather casual (and smart) approach to apparel they have going for them. So then I guess my real question is; is a necktie really a fashion accessory, or is it just an uncomfortable addendum to the formal look?

It is said that fashion is an expression of the inner creative mind of an individual, both from a designer and consumer point of view. Fashion is supposed to help us celebrate our individuality and accentuate our eccentricities. I am not much of a “fashionista” in the real material sense of the word. For me comfort is the key thing in consideration. And I hate to wear fashion that topples my personality. I don’t like to wear clothes that scream louder that I can, in fact the quieter the better. So I guess to an extent that might explain why I am so averse to the idea of neckties.

If I were ever lucky enough to own/run a bank, one of my first points of call will be to liberalize the choice of wearing neckties in the office.

P.S

I hope my boss doesn’t actually get to ready this. This is one of the many warring thoughts in my head that are too afraid to make their way out of my vocal cavity…lol

Writing Challenge

How Much Do “Ivy Leagues” Figure?

As someone who just recently went through the daunting process of Grad School application (and succeeded, I might add), the whole experience got me thinking. Is it the school that makes the students, or the students make the school?

Most of the schools regarded as “Ivy-League” get tonnes of applications from students every year, which in turn gives them the privilege of picking the brightest and best students before any other school does. So when I see that students from those “Ivy-League” schools test better on standardized tests and tend to get employed faster than others, the question nags me; is it really the school who is to be thanked or the individual students themselves? “Ivy-League” schools pride themselves on having the best faculty and resources etc. but I hardly think that is the real reason for the success of such schools. If you ask me, I think that such schools already have half or more of their jobs (educating) already done for them. If an “Ivy-League” school really wants to prove to me that it has got the best of the best when it comes to faculties and other resources, let it go ahead and pick up the average Joe and make him a superstar in the eyes of employers and then I would start to believe them somewhat.

Just a thought.

Sight As A Burden

“Be Blind To Be Focused”

That was the concluding remark made by Cobhams Asuquo in the speech he gave at the TEDxEuston Conference. To better appreciate this bog post I strongly recommend that you watch this video of Cobhams giving the speech at the event.

VIDEO:

The sense of sight is one of the five most important senses for humans and many other creatures. The human senses are fed by stimuli from the surrounding environment, transmitted via sensory organs of the body. Arguably most of our perceptions about people, places and things are formed largely from the data our brain processes from information received from sensory organs. I could go on about sensory organs and messages but the focus of this piece is on the sense of sight.

While listening to Cobhams speak I could see his visionless eyes roll around in their sockets as his finger stroked the paper with Braille inscriptions placed before him. In that moment the saying “you never know the value of what you have until you lose it” flashed in my mind. As a person with all my sensory organs in relatively good working condition, it dawned on me how easy it is to become jaded about the importance of sight. As he went on with his speech I began to think to myself how different my life would be if I were blind. Would I have graduated? Let alone get a job? Or even be able to write this blog post. It is true that modern technology has done its very best, and still is, in including people of various handicaps into the rest of the society. These days we have blind poets and writers, lame drivers etc. That notwithstanding, I could not help but ponder the implications of what he said. BE BLIND TO BE FOCUSED. Throughout his speech I kept looking out for something, something I am a bit embarrassed to admit. What I was seeking to seeing in him was discontent/jealousy, stemming from the fact that he was in a room with non-blind people, but he spoke with such confidence and vigor that I began to wonder if I was indeed better off with sight.

Back in school we were told things like “keep your eyes on the ball” and many other motivational sentences. But on further inspection of that saying, coupled with the words from Cobhams it’s easy to see that it’s our “Mind” and not our “Eyes” that needs to be on the ball. Every day we walk out of our house, we are pulverized by a slew of stimuli from the outdoors. Various things to see, hear, feel, etc. it is very easy to get distracted. The struggle to stay focused is even harder if you live in a cosmopolitan city like New York, London or even Lagos. A couple of times I have missed my bus stop because I was engrossed in admiring a building or typing away on my iPad or blackberry. Sometimes when I go shopping for just one item, I would emerge from the store with three items, none of which is the one original item I initially went in for or even remotely close. It happens to best of us all the time. So Cobhams might be right after all, you need to be blind to every other thing around you in order that you archive your set goal. Another example is one from a story my dad once told me. One of his senior brothers was on the greedy side and was constantly looking for ways to outmaneuver his friends and siblings to get some of their own things. One day a visitor was on his way out of the house and decided to show generosity towards the kids.  The man gave my dad a big sized coin (I can’t remember the denominations, but shillings and penny were involved) and then gave my uncle a smaller sized coin. I was told that, my uncle, on realizing the difference in sizes began to fight and cry, demanding that he be given a bigger sized coin as well. This was done promptly. But it is important to note that the small sized coin was said to have been worth two times the value of the big coin. Had he been “blind” to the size he would have had gotten more money.

After much consideration and thought, I cannot help but concur with Mr. Cobhams on this one. There are many more examples I can give here, but I would just end up with a really long post and nobody wants that. Sometimes we need to “blind” ourselves in order that we get a clearer visual of what our goal ought to be.

STAY BLIND, STAY FOCUSED. 

MORALITY PLAY: EVOLUTIONARY NATURE OF MORALITY

DAILY PROMPT : Where do your morals come from?

When I think of sources of morals, I think of personal guidelines that have been fed by different sources as the person develops from child to adult. When we are born our first contacts are our parents and so for much of our childhood what we deem to be right or wrong is to a very large extent defined by the influence we get from the lifestyle of our parents. Given that the first experiences (in anything; think sex; think school; think travelling, pretty much everything) tend to be the one that stick with us longer, and so it is not hard to see why most people would conclude that the ultimate source of morality is from the parents (home). This is partially true.

As a teen when you get into High School you have a natural tendency to want to “belong”. In a bid to fit in with the “cool kids” you tend let go of some of those morals (usually stringent ones) that you have imbibed from home and tweak and adjust them to suit your purpose. For instance your parents must have told you that you have to be at least 18 or 21 before you have sex. On getting to school, you find out that the “cool kids” have already had sexual experiences. With this realization you begin to rethink those morals from home and before you know it you are 14 and your girl friend is already pregnant.

The point I was trying to make in the previous paragraph is that even though we may have picked up our morals from our parents, the church or another source, it get diluted by the people and things that we experience along the way.

I like to think of morality as an ever evolving subject in a person’s life. As we grow in life we are faced constantly with experiences that challenge our morals and cause us to shift ground most times, even though we might not admit to it. A person’s morality is like technology, today it seems like the best and it gets most of the problems solved, but tomorrow we are going to be faced with a different set of challenges that causes us to have a rethink about our position. Let me give another personal example that helps to buttress the evolutionary nature of morality. When I was a kid in High School, my parents led me to believe that smoking cigarettes was a completely immoral thing to do. At the time I did not ask any questions I took my parents word as being right, and given that they were older than I was with more life experiences than I had, they had to be right. When I got into the university I met a couple of people who I became good friends with. These people were smokers. Initially when I found out they were smokers it triggered an alarm in me (SMOKING = BAD, you need to run), but I did not run. I stayed back. Why did I stay back?

As I began to learn more about my new friends over the course of our freshman year, I found out that there was absolutely nothing wrong with these people. They excelled in their academics just like me (or in some cases better than me), they were trustworthy, respectful people. They had personal issues just like another breathing human being. Nothing about them stood out particularly except that they like to sometimes inhale thick smoke. Seeing them made me rethink what I had been told by my parents. I could not find any evidence in them to justify the title of “immoral” that my parents had branded smokers.

In essence I think morality is EVOLUTIONARY (every changing and growing as we develop) as opposed to being STATIONARY (coming from a single unchangeable source).

MY “TWO-CENTS” ON ABORTION

Daily Prompt: A House Divided I decided to take a side that most wouldn’t 

 

These days the media has been saturated by a tonne of debates surrounding the rightness/Wrongness of abortion. Both sides have brought forward credible points to back their claim as to the legitimacy of the act of committing abortion. But I don’t think that the Propriety of abortion is as black and white as some have purported it to be.

To start things of I would like to disclose the nature of my own fundamental views, because I realize that my fundamentals play a very active role in crafting my opinion of the issues of life. I am a Liberalist by nature. I believe in letting people fashion out their own rules and regulations in life. I also believe that as much as people want to accentuate their individuality they should also apply an appreciable level of discretion in order not to infringe on the existence of others. I also believe in the “Golden Mean” by Aristotle which postulates essentially that people should try to avoid extremes in every situation. For instance it is said that courage is the mid-point between two extremes, Cowardice (low limit) and Recklessness (upper limit). In a nutshell, I support freedom of the people as a singular unit and also the protection of people as a collective unit, Hence the need to be discrete about our own actions and how they affect others.

The most popular point I have heard against abortion is that life begins when the eggs are fertilized by the sperm, and thus the abortion of a fetus whether fully/partially formed is murder and axiomatically wrong. Another interesting point I have come across is that unborn children have emotions, much like their born counterparts, and that killing a being with emotion is wrong. Of course there is also the religious angle which blatantly denounced the act without any reservations. There are a multitude of points that have been raised against abortion for as long as this debate has been on. These are all cogent points, but I feel as though the freedom of choice of the individual (The mother in question) is overlooked in all of this. Most of the points raised against abortion all focus more on the baby and very little attention is paid to the welfare of the mother involved. What about her opinion on the issue? I mean, she is going to end up bearing the task of carrying the child for the entire gestation period, go thru the daunting pains of child birth and, more often than not, carry the cross when it comes to the child’s development. I don’t want to seem callous to people on the opposite side of the table, but shouldn’t the opinion of the mother (who wants abortion) count significantly?

When I was growing up my dad used to play one particular Jimmy Cliff Album a lot. I used to hate it so much that whenever we got into the car I would immediately put on my ear phones so I could not hear the songs. But the annoying thing was that because I usually sat at the extreme right of the back seat right in front of the speakers, the song would still make its way into my ear in the slightest way. One day I decided to take off my head phones to listen and I heard this song “Who Feels It, Knows It”. I was about eight at the time and did not really understand the lyrics. But as I grew older the true meaning began to sink in. Unless you have experienced a certain situation/thing, you can never really appreciate it for all that it is. If you have never been pregnant, there is not pregnancy book, podcast, or seminar that will give you a proper sense of what is involved. Only a cancer patient call tell you what chemotherapy is about, no book can give you the raw emotion that are experienced by the patients.

If freedom of the individual is a given, then a woman should be free to abort a baby if she so wishes. Some might want to further probe the intentions behind an abortion decision, but that would further complicate the issue and would lead to the infringement on human freedom to choose.

As Christians we are told not to judge, and that we should leave that task to the “higher Authority”.  I am quite certain that other religions also have such provisions like this one. So if we know this why do we bother ourselves with a task that is not ours.

If you feel that abortion is entirely wrong, as strongly as you feel opposed to it, leave the task of “retribution” to the “higher authority” to handle. In such a complicated and cosmopolitan world that we live in today, everyone is some way is committing an atrocity to the “higher authority” no matter how small or insignificant we may think it is. It is only fair that we keep our judgments to ourselves.

Let Us Live And Let Live.

Heaven And Hell As I Think It

Daily Prompt: Drawing a Blank

“When was the last time your walked away from a discussion, only to think of The Perfect Comeback hours later? Recreate the scene for us, and use your winning line.”

This is a comeback for two conversations I had at some point, one about world end and the other about sexuality. This was published back in Dec 2012

We have been informed by the Mayan calendar that the world would come to an end today, December 21, 2012, which I took with the proverbial grain of salt. But to be clear I don’t believe that any human on earth can accurately predict when the world would come to an end. Human civilization has constantly evolved over centuries and technological advancement has followed in the same vein. We can now predict the simple ones like rain and the tough ones like hurricanes, earthquakes etc.  But are we there as to be able to accurately determining our apocalypse? I think not. Don’t ask me how I know this, because I can’t really explain it. All we can do is to keep guessing.  I was watching this show recently “Doomsdays Preppers” and it made me laugh profusely. I just thought it was ridiculous that people were actually preparing for the end of life. It just did not make any sense to me. It’s not like getting ready to travel to your hometown, putting toothbrush, shoes, clothes etc together. Do we really know what will be needed when the end comes? Again I think not.

All this talk about world end has got me thinking about heaven and hell. I was born into a somewhat strict catholic household, so the idea of heaven and hell, good and bad was embedded in me very early. It was simple, Do good things: you go to heaven. Do bad things: you go to hell. At the age of five it seemed like a very straight forward and easy rule to follow, the line between good and bad was made very apparent, it appeared quite clear at the time. But as I grew older and got exposed to the complexities of the human existence, it dawned on me that this moral line of good and bad was actually more blurred than I ever imagined. Certain things that I was taught as being good were considered as taboo by other people (e.g. eating pork meat was good, but my Muslim friends were taught that Pigs were dirty animals and should not be eaten).  And certain things I was brought up to write-off as bad were in fact not so bad after all (Homosexuality has always and still is described as the worst thing that can ever happen to you). Still on the issue of homosexuality, when I was growing up, I was taught that homosexuals are spawns of the devil and that they never succeed in life because of the path they have chosen. First off, I have come to learn that sexual orientation is not something a human being gets to pick, like choosing teams during soccer practice. Second is that I have seen a couple of people who are gay and their lives are pretty great. They have good jobs, pay their taxes, live in comfortable houses, have kids (and responsible ones might I add), generally they live like any other heterosexual would. It doesn’t seem to me like they are suffering any type of punishment. In fact the only punishment that they suffer is the one meted out to them by heterosexuals. Living in such a world with a plethora of moral complexities how do we know exactly what takes you to heaven and what takes you to hell?

Usually when people want to refer to the location of heaven, they would point in the upward direction and hell to the downward direction. But is this really the truth? Again I think not. With the privilege of an enlightening western educational background, I know that above the different layers of the sky as we know it, troposphere, mesosphere etc, it is just space. Just free flowing, gravity-less space. And the last time I checked, no Astronaut came back to earth with enough evidence to show that there is a “God” out there in space. Now turning downward, that’s just the earth’s core. Much like space, it is most likely not habited by any spiritual being. But given the normative definition of hell that we have been taught (a place beaming with heat) it is not hard to see why people consider the earth’s core as hell; this is because the temperature of the core is almost equitable to that of the surface of the sun.

My idea of heaven is a place (note: when I say place, I don’t mean a physical location, I am referring to a magical transcendental state) of eternal rest after our struggles here on earth. A place where you just sleep forever and the only time you are active is in your dreams (beautiful dreams). It’s like the reverse of being brain dead, your body is dead but your head is very well active. Many people might not agree with my own idea of heaven, and I do apologize if you find this description of heaven offensive, but that is the way heaven appears in my head when I think about it.

Like I mentioned earlier, this state of moral confusion in which we have found ourselves makes me wonder if the path to heaven or hell is really that black and white. The bible says thou shall not kill. We humans have translated this law to only cover our fellow humans, leaving out the animals. Which begs the question: is it a sin to kill animals for meat? According to the same bible God created all animals and trees and essentially everything around us, and liked them and was quite happy with what had been created. So when you kill a cow to serve as a protein source for yourself and family, is it a sin? Bear in mind that Animals have a mind of their own, they have blood running through their veins, they feel pain and to an extent they are quite capable of exhibiting emotion. These are all attributes that humans also have, so what justifies killing an animal? The answer to this question holds in itself the true nature of the path to heaven or hell.

At the risk of bordering on the “Moral relativism” or even the blasphemous path, I dare to say that there are more ways to heaven than we think. Believe it or not we live our lives in one way or another that is not worthy of heaven in the normative sense. Even those who think they are living a totally pure life (the clergy included) are in fact in the littlest ways living in sin. Going by the staunch prescriptions of most religions, we are all living in sin, and we are all to perish in hell as retribution for all the atrocities we have committed here on earth. But I refuse to believe that “God” is that punitive in his ways as to condemn every person on earth to eternal misery. “God” as I realized on my own, is a lot more forgiving and merciful than we think.  I believe that everyone’s transcendental faith is carefully considered on a less draconian basis. I would not be surprised if it turns out that a man like Gaddafi (Late Dictator leader of Libya, in Northern Africa) might end up in heaven even after all the atrocities he has committed here on earth, and not hell according to public opinion. In a grander scenario, we might all get some type of “global pardon” and all will be let into heaven regardless of the past.

Is it Dead or Just Elusive?

I was inspired to write this post by two things. The first was the blog post of badlandsbadley with the title: “Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez Prove True Love is Dead and There is Nothing Anyone Can Do About It.” The second thing was a song by Michael Buble titled “Haven’t Met You Yet”. You can check out the lyrics and song with the link.  Now I know what you are thinking. How are these two things related? Just hold on, I will get there eventually.

Let me start with badlandsbadley’s blog post. In his post, he goes on and on about how love is dead and all, with the romance between Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez being the focus point. He takes us from how hopes were raised when the initially started dating, and eventually to the final death of love illustrated by their break up. badlandsbadley comes off a tad bit over-dramatic. Like this paragraph from his post:

“Words cannot express the emotions that ran through my mind as I read the headlines today. I found myself paralyzed, unable to move. I did not want to stand or walk. All I could do was sit in the fetal position and cry. I looked around for a hug, but no one was there, not that it would matter anyway. They would hug me and it would be comforting, sure. Then they would leave me just like SELENA LEFT JUSTIN! AND THERE IS NOTHING I COULD DO ABOUT IT BECAUSE THE WORLD IS A TERRIBLE PLACE FULL OF ONLY EVIL! NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO, YOU WILL END UP DESTROYED JUST… LIKE… JUSTIN! WHY?! WHY, SELENA?! ALL HE EVER WANTED TO DO WAS LOVE YOU, BUT THAT JUST WASN’T GOOD ENOUGH! SURE, YOU THINK YOU CAN DO BETTER, BUT THERE IS NO WAY YOU WILL EVER TOP JUSTIN BIEBER! EVER! HE CAN SING AND DANCE! AND THE HAIR!”

If you are like me then you would know that most celebrity relationships are rarely ever “real”. Everything is always done for the camera. Over-dramatization aside, I can relate to badlandsbadley’s pain and disappointment resulting from the breakup. It sure is sad to see such public mutilation of Love from two young, seemingly innocent individuals. When you see love between two kids with such pure hearts, you can’t help but be mesmerized by the very pristine nature of it all. I guess it’s this type of love that badlandsbadley and others saw between Selena and Justin. With the rampant wave of breakups and divorces both in the mere mortal world and in the celebrity world, most people are desperate to cling to something that always reminds them that love still exists, that it still endures and all. But unfortunately you are left with no choice but to ask; is there still love?

Now I will finally show the connecting cord between Michael Buble’s “Haven’t Met You Yet” and the Justin&Selena Story. I recently started listening to Buble’s music. Yeah I know I am really late to the club. With the sheer amount of Hip-hop and Pop saturating the airwaves these days it’s very easy to miss out interesting jazzlike artistes like Michael Buble. I was particularly drawn to “Haven’t Met You Yet” because of the promise the song carries with it. The promise of love even after yet another heart wrenching breakup. He starts off with his loss of hope in love; “I’ve broken my heart so many times I stopped keeping track”. You cannot help but sympathize with him. It is quite sad actually. But as the lyrics go on you get a sigh of relief when you hear;

“I might have to wait, I’ll never give up. I guess it’s half timing and the other half’s luck. Wherever you are, whenever it’s right. You’ll come outta nowhere and into my life

And I know that we can be so amazing. And baby your love is gonna change me. And now I can see every possibility”.

These lines so strongly gives that reassurance that badlandsbadley and other love fanatics desperately need. This impetus to still wax strong with enthusiasm about love displayed by Michael Buble is quite enviable and worthy of emulation.

As much as pop culture might have us believe that love is dead or unattainable, I still believe that it’s still out there. Love isn’t dead; it’s just very elusive for good reasons. Think of love like The Trinity, even though it cannot be fully explained, it still doesn’t discredit its existence. And we should not torture ourselves by looking up to what might seem like love. Just because it did not work between Justin and Selena doesn’t spell the end. There is still hope out there.

Believe in Love!