Tag Archives: evil

Please Die Already

Rage.

Rage.

There has been quite a hullabaloo recently about the healthcare reform bill, incited mainly by this man and this woman. Why are they ranting and raving about Democrats creating “death panels” that will decide whether or not the elderly† or mentally disabled‡ continue to receive medical treatment? Can’t they see that America is chock full of people ripe for Death’s annual picking?

The Democrats want people to have access to “end of life counseling.” That is a nice way of them saying “we want to encourage you to die without eating up millions of millions of dollars in care.” And the elderly and infirm DO eat up millions of dollars; 80% of the money you spend on healthcare will be spent during the last three months of your life. Is it really worth it? To spend hour after hour, barely breathing, barely thinking, hooked up to life support with a feeding tube in your gut?

Americans have become highly sensitive to the issue of death. I thought that the whole reason behind this mushy Christianity stuff was to make people comfortable with the idea of dying. “Oh, don’t worry, there’s always the afterlife! Feel free to pass away as you wish.” Nope. Christian evangelicals and conservative Catholics are amongst the most adamant individuals who support your right to clutch on to your existence by any means; even if your body and mind have rotted away to nothing.

Actually, they’re not even supporting your right to life; they’d keep you alive regardless of how you feel.

"Sir, we have found you to be too goddman crochety old for the State to continue financing your life."

"Sir, we have found you to be too goddamn crotchety old for the State to continue financing your life."

What about my right to death? Listen to me: people need to die. People have been dying for millions and millions of years. Its natural. It happens all the time. The problem is that no one has instructed us on how to cope with and move past these tragic events.

Wait. Tragic? It shouldn’t be tragic; it should be joyful. The joyful passing of your loved one. We are so far removed from our natural state of being that we no longer value death… excluding the deaths of our enemies; that has always been joyous.

Lion King

Even Disney supports death panels.

Human bodies were not designed (intelligent or not) to last forever. Our cells stop regenerating as well, our joints become rigid and sore, our systems fail to save over and over again until it gets to a point that your body just dies. All of this extensive healthcare is in denial of the natural ‘Circle of Life‘. Certainly the deaths’ of those who did not live up to the prime peaks of life are tragic; they died too soon. But that only covers people up to about age 40; if you live past that point, I will be joyfully celebrating your passing with explicit glee.

So lighten up. Embrace death (the insurance companies have been running death panels for years now). Maybe even buy a t-shirt. It’ll balance the budget for Christ’s-sakes.

You don’t want to be alive for the zombie apocalypse anyway…

†‡Not that either of these groups really qualify as  being ‘that alive’ in the first place.

jakefunc is a contributing writer and editor of projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.

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Filed under philosophy, Politics, science, social commentary

Cute: A Conspiracy Theory?

I’m always interested in the presence of abstracts in reality. I touched on this with my question of good and bad in my last post, but I come back around to it this week. (Because midnight and the end of Monday looms? We shall never know).

The question turning over in my mind right now regards cuteness. What makes something “cute?”

This idea was put to me in, I kid you not, honors Philosophy 101 my first semester of college. Of course, the prof didn’t use such a useful object for consideration. Instead, he presented the question of abstracts by means of a table.

We all know what a table is. What it looks like. We can consciously picture one if we try. And we could all definitely spot one from a hundred yards and say, without doubt, that it is neither a chair, nor a flamingo, a slide, or a plate. It’s a table.

But what makes it a table? Is it what it is made of? Wood or other materials? (So are chairs and some plates.) Is it what it has? A flat surface and legs? (So does a chair and a slide.) Is it what it does? Something you eat off of? (Like a plate or a very confused flamingo.)

The point is that in reality, any of us could see an object and correctly identify if it was a table as opposed to, say, a pink, stupid-looking bird. This is because (and I think this is from Plato, but I’ll defer to my philosophy-buff fellow writers, who’re probably fully erect right now because I said philosophy and abstract in the same post) we each have an abstract idea of what a table is. Without having to picture a distinct table. We know what a table is. Unassailably.

Back to my question. Forget the stuffy table example. Forget Philosophy 101 (erections drooping, I know). Back to cute.

I’ll ask again. What makes something “cute?”

Let’s start with an unassailable, we-may-even-rightly-call-it-borderline-abstract example of cuteness:

baby tails

This is a picture of my dog, Tails, when he was a 3-month-old puppy. No one, and I mean no one could argue that he’s not cute. Look at him. (To put it in perspective, that orange toy, Mr. Binky, is about 4 inches tall.) He is A-dor-a-ble. And cute.

But this post isn’t about a gushing dog owner’s infatuation with his pooch. It’s about understanding the greater depths of thoughts. About pushing boundaries.

So, as I was sitting here, thinking about what to write, I looked at Tails and thought, “why is he so cute?”

Bear in mind, he’s now over a year old and looks like this (still pretty cute, I think).

older tailsSo, while I can admit that he’s not as cute now, my question remains. What makes something “cute?” We have an abstract sense of cuteness. We can judge cuteness in variable spectra (e.g. “Tails was cuter as a puppy, but still cute as an adult”).

But would I know cute if it walked up and smacked me in the face?

Can I see what cute is? What it does? How it’s used? What it looks like?

Cute, unlike the easy table example my philosophy prof used, is even more abstract. But no less important.

I offer this post as a chance to wake up to the abstracts that surround each of us. Recognize the cute things around you today. Or the beautiful things. Or the any-number-of-other-adjectives-things.

Abstracts, they’re all around you. And you didn’t even know it.

davidrsheehan is a contributing writer for projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog. You can also tweet directly with him: davidrsheehan. He is happy to provide more cute pictures of his silly dog Tails, if anyone would like to counter his statement that Tails is unassailably cute.

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A flight, a memento, a question

Are people inherently good, bad, or something else? 

I recently (re-)watched Memento and this question – one I have certainly asked myself before – popped into my mind.

The film deals with a man who cannot create new memories after a traumatic incident in his life leaves him with – as he describes it – “a condition.” The events of the film unfold around the people and problems his life intersects with as a result of this condition. And, invariably, the people all try to take advantage of him (the notable exception being the hooker who does exactly what he asks her to do). A guy who won’t remember what you say to him, what you do to him, or what he does? Why not have him kill a drug dealer so that you can make some money? Or charge him for more than one room at your motel? Or kill a crooked cop for revenge? Unless he writes it down, he won’t remember anyways.

That’s the best I can do to describe the film without giving away any of the interesting parts that make an extremely interesting and well put together film (I’m serious, go netflix it and watch it if you haven’t already). But the summary isn’t important other than to give a framework for my question above.

Are people inherently good, bad, or something else?

In Memento, all of the peripheral characters (and there aren’t many – only a handful) are trying to manipulate the protagonist to achieve their own goals. Now, obviously this is just a film, and one in which the goal is to explore the questions of what makes something real or not real, fact or fiction, constructed or concrete. But the fact remains that this man, whose condition leaves him unable to even know how long it’s been since the incident that brought about this change, is surrounded by people who do not try to help him. In fact, what they do makes the viewer feel pretty beaten up over how terrible (and cunning) they are to him.

It’s not the film’s job or intent to answer the question, and it’s not really mine either, with this post. Explorations of the spectrum of good-evil principles is just an interesting topic in general to me (a fantastic read, by the way, to anyone interested in the question of what is absolutely evil is the introduction to the book “Explaining Hitler” – and no, this is not a Holocaust denial book, but one in which the author tries to figure out how to understand such an important historical figure and his journey in this pursuit).

But as the protagonist of Memento seeks to achieve his own goals – misguided but with good intention though they may be – he bounces between these peripheral figures who seek to exploit and coerce him, albeit subtly sometimes, into achieving their goals.

Does this make them bad? The woman who uses him to avenge her boyfriend is technically doing a good thing, in one light. The motel manager who charges him for more than one room to help his boss during a slow season is doing his part for his company, right? Does this make them good?

But everyone, everyone the protagonist interacts with eventually sees him as a tool. And in our interactions with others, we do the same.

Today I bought a flight for my cousin’s wedding – something I did not really have a lot of extra money to cover, but went ahead with anyway. As I did this, I tried to sort out why. While not being distant relatives, my cousin and I have never been extremely close. It’s far away, requires a flight/hotel/feeding myself for a weekend, and is a wedding (never something I enjoy). So why did I buy the flight? Because I’d like her to one day feel compelled to attend my own? A little. Because I’d feel guilty if I expected her to come to my own after not attending hers? Definitely. Because I genuinely wish to share this day with her? Not particularly.

Essentially, in analyzing my reasons – obvious and admissions I wasn’t terribly proud of – I came back to the question Memento had raised – are people inherently good, bad, or something else?

I don’t consider myself a particularly good or bad person. And in looking at buying the flights, I mentally cringed a little, thinking that the reasons weren’t terribly altruistic. But as I looked more broadly, I realized that much of what makes society and interpersonal relationships exist stems from similar thoughts/feelings/interplays of rationales. We do things all the time in order to receive things. Reciprocity is as old as civilization and an important mechanism for continued interconnections.

When we each go out in to the world as part of our daily lives, how do we know the people with whom we interact are any more or less altruistic of decent that those who surround the man in Memento?

Does this make people inherently bad?

I don’t think so. I think it makes us something else. I am not sure what that is, and worse, I don’t know where to draw the line between the actions of the peripheral characters in Memento and my own. Because they’re my own, I like to think that what I do – and buying a flight for the wedding is just one example – is more bent towards good than bad, or at least something else. That, if I knew someone in capable of creating new memories and thus reliant on my own inner decency to help not make his life more difficult, I would differ from those peripheral characters. 

But would I? Would you? And, since he won’t remember anyways, would it matter?

 

davidrsheehan is a contributing writer for projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog. You can also tweet directly with him: davidrsheehan.

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D-Day Anniversary: 6/6/09

Warning! Trouble ahead.

Trouble ahead.

Someone had remarked that it was the ‘D-Day’ anniversary and I responded with my usual, snarky “I really don’t care.”

“You should care. They were fighting Hitler and the Nazis.”

“It’s just a day man.”

“A lot of soldiers died on the beaches of Normandy on this day.”

“Well shouldn’t I care just as much the soldiers who fought in the Civil War, the War of 1812, the Revolutionary War…”

“True. They’re all dead now though; you can still go and talk to veterans from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. They’re normal men… quite a few thrown into the fray by the draft really. They did what needed to be done, even though it meant the cost of their own lives.”

At this point I’m pretty sure I changed the conversation to something that made me feel a little less like a total asshole.

The mark had been made though. I began to feel some sort of guilt for being apathetic about what I regard, in my blunt, frank opinion, as any other day of the week.Is this something that I should try to remember, to reflect upon?

I’ve always had a problem with the armed services, namely the fact that just about every war in history has been stupid, selfish, induced by the greed of both acting parties and has had absolutely no beneficial effect for those who actually fight in the wars, the soldiers, or for the civilian populations that prop up these malevolent governments. We are supposedly all free-thinking beings with awesome will-power; why can the soldier not realize that what he or she is doing is destructive and evil?

It’s the honor. The Flag. The pride of serving your nation, making the greatest sacrifice, having no doubt in your nation’s goal. I guess an army doesn’t work very well with individuals always questioning authority. But still, nonetheless, can you not see the horrendous act you are committing?

As soon as there were no WMDs found in Iraq, not only should Congress have stopped signing bills approving more funds for “Operation Fuel Corrupt Governance,” but the G.I.’s and Marines on the ground should have stopped fighting. Or, at least, for the sake of not having to court marshal their collective asses, their commanders should have told them to stop. Brought them home. Reinstated Saddam.

Each of us is are own personal catalyst for change; whether it be socializing at a party, building a home for a needy family, brushing your teeth, or righting something that you know is wrong. It does take more effort, but you will find the rewards ever more satisfying.

Yes, WWII was necessary, Hitler needed to be stopped (even though I do have my own personal qualms with the U.S., France and Britain refusing to ally with the Soviets earlier in the conflict, as opposed to later at the cost of millions of lives). It was a noble war. The men who died on D-Day died honorable deaths for a worthy cause, and it is unfortunate that I cannot truly appreciate their sacrifice because of my reservations about war.

So… given this realization, how can I be a personal catalyst for change now? Am I going to try to appreciate the soldiers who died for just causes? Those who died for unjust causes that were forced to? Soldiers who died period? Should I remember and reflect on just this day, or should I actually spend more time, once a day, once a week, once a month, contemplating their sacrifices and the depth of their experiences?

jakefunc is a contributing writer for projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.

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