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March 19th, 2002

12:08 pm - I know you try. And I try too. Sometimes all our dreams just don't come true

Being alone is hard, I know from experience. It's not just the lack of support and nurturing and all that nice junk but it also stunts your enjoyment of both the things you experience and the things you do. Some people don't like going to the movies alone because it's embarassing or it is boring when waiting in line or for the film to start. I think that those problems can be dealt with by A) A simple hardening of your emotional skin. If you can't handle someone seeing you walk into a movie theatre by yourself you really need to re-examine what the basis of your self worth is and B) bringing a book or portable music system (neither of which are prohibitivly expensive to people who can afford to see films. In fact books can be borrowed for free from libraries) I think that the real problem is that if the film turns out to be really good you have nobody to discuss it with and if it turns out to be really awful you have nobody to ridicule it with. Ironically mediocre movies are the best to see by yourself because you can devote yourself entirely to whatever action there is on screen and enjoy that to its fullest but you have no need to discuss or think about the film after it's over. This applies to other things even more poignently. A great film can be seen by others at a later point and discussed. It's a delay of gratification. A great sunset cannot (Well there will probably be others who saw it but seeking them out to talk about it is profoundly impractical) It's even more impossible to share unique experiences after the fact. Ever watched a huge fire from across a river and been awed by the beauty and the horror of watching someone's home go up in flames? It's an amazing cross between reassurance that elemental things like fire can still exist and exert power even in a place as controlled and industrialized as New York City and profound sadness that because of this lives must be lost. Clearly though you can't set fires in order to show other people what it's like to watch them, so the best way of sharing something like that is to have someone with you at the time to share it with.

This also holds true in terms of achievement. Doing something worthwhile while in a vacuum brings a pretty shallow sense of success. Part of the benefit of doing worthwhile things is that you can say that you've done worthwhile things. It's not just so that worthwhile things will be done. People inspire eachother and all that jazz and accomplishments are more meaningful when shared.

Hokay...so so far I've just been boring you all with axioms. "Wow Ben, what's next, are you going to proclaim the sky blue? The Clouds white? The children important?" Well no. The thing is that everything I just said is true, but it isn't the whole picture. I mean there's nothing particularly selfish about wanting to share experiences or accomplishments, part of the point (which I intentionally didn't mention earlier) is not just to increase your own enjoyment but to observe someone elses. However in our society relationships and companionship tend to be framed in particularly selfish terms. People are out to get their needs met and to deal with their own issues and desires. But sharing a sunset should be about SHARING a sunset. It should partially consist not just of deepening your own understanding of it but also of watching someone else experience the same reaction. And that seems to be getting left out these days. This is important because while a large number of people can serve as adequate foils for increasing your enjoyment of experiences or your own accomplishments there are much fewer who make the sharing aspect worthwhile. And it is the mutual building of eachother and investing in eachother that will make a relationship truly work and last. After all if you're just in it for yourself what's to stop you from jumping ship when a better option comes along? There's no rational reason why you shouldn't. But if you're out to better and build and invest in the other person, well then clearly starting over is not as attractive as staying where you are.

Anyway this is the logic I use when I'm lonely and thinking about relationships and all that jazz. I'm not sure why I put it down but I've been reading a lot of random stuff and a pretty solid theme throughout much of it is that the family has broken down and that this is a terrible thing blah blah blah. I think that the reason that the family has broken down is that somewhere along the line we started to focus too much on personal benefits and ironically in doing that destroyed some of the great joys of relationships and of being WITH other people. Conservatives say that a lack of chastity is the problem but I'm not so sure it is (althoughn I don't like it). I think the inherent issue is that when marriage was forever people had a reason to try to work with and improve their mate and that mutual support and attempted building of a relationship and eachother often lead to love even if it wasn't there to begin with. Now people act like other people are static interchangable parts in a car and keep looking for the most efficient one. This comes in part from focusing only on the tangible benefits to oneself because improvement of the other is no longer neccesary.

I don't know, I'm EXHAUSTED and rambling but I think somewhere burried within my exhausted brain is a point. Perhaps if I can ever get some damned sleep I'll be able to fish it out.

11:57 pm - Why do things have to change

Dr. X's reference to old time relationships and how they lasted got me thinking,

Are we moving forward or backward? We all see the past through rose tinted glasses on an individual level (or at least many of us do) but I think doing so as a society is a fairly recent phenomenon. I mean did the people who came of age just after penicilan had been invented look back and long for the ravages of epidemics?

I don't know, I just think that nostalgia's more common now than it used to be and that just might be because things have stopped getting better. I mean this is probably somewhat selective, I assume that people of African American descent don't long for the Jim Crow laws of the 1950s, but that doesn't make the nostalgia invalid. There are certain aspects of life which are most assuredly better now. Things are MORE equal than they were then, medical technology has advanced, we're probably less likely to blow the world up than we were. Yada Yada. But How about the things that have gotten so much worse? Pollution has been skyrocketing, education seems to be down for the count, and objective morality is the only dirty word left in the pillaged english vocabulary. Is this just stupidity on my part? False vision of a dirtier than it looks in retrospect past? I'm not so sure. Somewhere along the line tolerance of bad things, not by itself bad, became advocation of them. Stoning adulterers is barbaric, but isn't encouraging them because it's "A valid expression of their opressed feminine sexuality" equally barbaric? Yeah it's a point I harp on endlessly but it BAFFLES me. How did we get to the point where encouraging sluts hobos layabouts criminals drug users poor people and antisocial jerks to be "Sexually free" "Free From The Shelter Hegemony" "Alternative Workers" "Victims of Social Injustice" "People with Substance Problems" "The Disenfranchised" and "Progressives" seemed like a good idea. And I include poor people not because I think they are bad like the others are but because encouraging them to remain poor is just as destructive. Poor people should strive for more and more should be expected of them.

I don't know, we seem to coddle just about everyone these days and refuse to say what we really think for fear of offending some tiny vocal minority of whiners and faux activists. And I long for the days when there were objective standards and expectations and we didn't let the importance of alternative views turn into the hegemonic domination of them. When conservatives complain that every college professor is essentially a liberal evangelist they really aren't all that wrong. And the sad thing is that the best professors are those who allow a bit of sanity to creep into their teaching. Who aren't afraid to hold students to high standards and to speak of taboo concepts like immorality and personal responsibility. Look freedom is essential and deviance and dissension make a society vital and strong. But we've passed the line of healthy dissent LONG ago and are spiraling into god doesn't know where (God isn't allowed to view official records anymore. He's Persona Non-Grata)

Abortion is not a good thing. Sex with strangers is reprehensible and harmful. Breaking up a relatively healthy household that has children in it because of what YOU want is morally repugnant. Education should involve more facts than opinions. Stiffling right wing views is unconscionable. Complacency is inexusable. Moral Relativism and excuse making for evil people is the height of arrogance. And if people can't handle secular morality we desperatly need Jesus, or whoever can right our toppling ship, back in our lives and maybe even our schools.
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