Tuesday, 27 November 2012


Interacting With Children

The other day I was talking to my sister on Skype and she brought the laptop into the other room so I could talk to my nephew. After exchanging pleasantries with me, he let me know that the laptop was actually in front of his computer and stopping him from playing a game. I suddenly had flashbacks to being a child, forced to talk to relatives on the phone. In hindsight, I assume this was done because you must teach young ones that relatives are important and warrant time and attention. I remember feeling like there were far more important things to do, and really lacking any attention, I eventually started to rue the three questions:

1. How old are you now?
2. How's school?
3. Do you have a girlfriend?*

I assume this is to show children that we care about them. Truth be told, most adults are not having the conversation with the child thinking there is anything they could learn or grow from. Certainly, children will surprise you at times but to think that there would be a large family gathering and the 45 year old uncle has any legitimate interest in the child is absurd. Yet we all acknowledge that any marginally adult gathering must be tedious and tiresome for a toddler or tween so we try to alleviate it by asking simplistic questions. Although our questions are often thoughtless and trivial the persons being asked have been trained that any pronouncement of the boring nature of conversation is "rude".** I'm especially amused by this aspect of the social exchange where it's rude for the child to express his disinterest because you want to be respectful to those who at least try to hide their disinterest. I even found myself looking at my nephew completely unsure of what to say and asked him, "how old are you now?" I caught myself right away, and would not go down that same road. I tried to ask about his game, compliment his pajamas, try to understand what it was that he was saying (I'm really bad at speaking child). Truth be told, I had no idea what to talk to him about. Having not seen him in more than a year now, I was happy just to see him. Once he had informed me that his video game was waiting, I was happy to let him get back to it.

I know enough time has passed where I've become the old uncle who's boring and trying to hard to get along with the kids. When my other nephew declined a Skype chat, I realized he was probably just saving both of us the awkwardness of discussion. Sometimes I wish more people, young and old, would offer that courtesy.  I caught a glimpse of him early though - so I'm satisfied with the exchange.

Interacting With Religion

I don't know much about religion. Those that know me well might assume that I do because I would occasionally stand in for my minister while she vacationed. I think all that proves is that I'm very comfortable getting up in front of large groups.

I heard someone describe the difference between protestant and catholic as catholics believing you need to live a good life or repent for your sins (if you're a douche) to go to heaven. Whereas protestants can be douches but need to believe in Jesus and they get in. I found myself wondering where the faith was where you can't be douche at all. Where's the religion that says, "You killed a dude? Fuck. No. Yeah you're damned. Forever. You don't kill dudes. That's like the highest form of doucebagery." This is where I feel like religion is too often used as a crutch. Instead of finding inner peace with any past malfeasance one may have, they speak to their invisible friend. Thankfully the invisible friend has a visible agent (who you're often giving money to directly or indirectly) who will tell you everything is OK. After all, the idea that this is all part of a preconceived plan is far more comforting than our own choices landing us where we are.*** It's also better to think that a better life is to come with no effort required by you except for blind faith. Just send a couple bucks the church's way (10% of what you earn if I remember correctly) and feel shame for the very natural things that you feel - and a good life will follow. I wish society could just admit what we know in our hearts: Religion is a large-scale morality tale. An overriding theme of many religions is to be good to each other, and not to judge. It doesn't take a person of marginally deep thought to understand how nice a world would be if those two things stayed true. Yet these texts are distorted and redistributed as evidence for moral high ground in hate. I guess I'm just frustrated with that.

Here's a video of a religious man I like. 

Interacting With Myself

So while this post feels unfocused in some ways to me, I feel like it's reflective of where I am in my life. I have a good job and a great partner - and am now left to contemplate what it is to exist in this world with those two desires satisfied. I know I don't want to be a slave to any religious ideology, or to engage in small talk only to not appear rude. It's the more nuanced stuff that complicates my brain. For example, how does one resolve the person they'd like to be, the person they'd like people to see them as, and the person that they are? Personally, I find the third to be an insult to human capabilities. Too many people short change their ability to change. So instead I weigh the person I want to be versus the person I want to be known as. For as much as I may love dancing around in my boxers, I don't want to be known around town as the guy who dances around in his boxers. The idea that you need to lend credence to the sensibilities of others as misplaced as you may see them is something I'm constantly struggling with. I sometimes worry that I'll become like my friends who consider how others view them as the entirety of their character. At the same time I'm so afraid of that possibility that I know I'll never completely give in to the court of public opinion. I believe that if everyone is happy with you, you've done something horribly wrong. There are completely senseless people in this world, after all. The truth is that some would rather be liked than right - but I would rather be right than liked. This paragraph has no concluding sentence but that's because there's no real conclusion to this process. I imagine it goes on forever.

*Once answered with "No" the response of "Of course not, you probably have 3" was far too common.
**People may be offended! As we all know, no one must ever be offended at any time. In fact, it's become common for public apologies to be for the offense instead of the act. This in itself could be another rant entirely but I digress.
***I'm sorry, far left friends, the "system" did not cause all of our social issues. Some people are just assholes.