Two one-way streets


To know and be known
To forgive and be forgiven
To love and be loved

When music is played but not heard
When music is heard but not played
Music (and colour, and sound and more) are mere perceptions;
They take place only in your head?
When a tree falls but no one is around
You know that one.

Can you forgive, if none wants to be forgiven?
Can you love, if none receives your love?
Can you be forgiven, if no one forgives?
Can you be loved, if no one loves?

What if; lost in translation? miscommunication? lack of a medium?
One loves but the disgruntled husband does not feel it.
A love-struck teenager interprets love when no such love exists.

Three parts to every communication: the source (the production), the transmission (the medium) and the recipient (the perceiver). What’s one without the others? Sufficient but not necessary? Necessary but not sufficient  Two out of three?

Blogging can be like shouting into an abyss. Sometimes you pretend there’s a receiver, and that’s enough to satisfy. Other times you yearn for a connection that’s more real…

We think of many things as two way streets.
It takes two hands to clap, we take turns to give and receive and we meet each other half way.
In truth perhaps they are merely two one way streets
With an illusion of connection.

We are necessarily alone in our own heads. Nothing we know or can know that doesn’t pass through the murky filter of perception and our limited understanding.

Consensus. We agree that they meet, so we can act like they meet, and for all purposes they do. Until your perspective changes (and all the misunderstandings crawl out of the woodwork) and you realize it was an illusion all along.

Previous posts where similar ideas were explored that possibly led to this post:
Forgiveness
Sending and Receiving the Message of Love

Suffering > Joy


A simple equation.

Take all the suffering in the world. Past, present, future.
And then all the joy in the world. Past, present, future.
Perhaps they even out, in the sense that the joy makes the suffering worth it.

Do you think so? We often think that falling is worth it to learn to run; a thousand failures are made up by the eventual success. (but of course, we have to think that, else how would we go on?) Does this apply on a global scale? Throughout all of history? It’s easy to dismiss your own suffering and focus on the things that make you joyful. But to bring it to a global, historical scale seems to be dismissing other people‘s suffering, which I don’t feel I have the right to do. But perhaps we can assume that everyone dismisses their own sufferings and elevate their own joys. So, while it still seems It seems doubtful that global joy would be worth global suffering, let’s just assume it is.

Next.

Take all of the suffering in hell.
And then all the joy in heaven.

By sheer numbers alone, the suffering in hell would be many, many, many, many times the joy in heaven.

And this would be God’s overview. He would see that many more would end up in hell than in heaven. And somehow he chose to go ahead with his entire plan.

If you tried to say that the joy is worth the suffering, this time you have no choice but to dismiss someone else’s suffering. And what would balancing out the overwhelming abundance of suffering, in terms of numbers?? God’s own joy in heaven?

How can that be all-loving or all-good? There’s nothing loving about eternal hell, or dismissing the suffering of many as necessary for attaining a certain good. There’s nothing good in prioritizing your own interests and glory over others, even if the ‘others’ are ‘lower beings’ compared to yourself.

Don’t tell me ‘god works in mysterious ways’. I can accept that we can’t understand God. I can’t accept that an all knowing, all powerful God is not able to simplify the concept into something we CAN understand, rather than leave us with a contradiction-filled idea. And then fault us for not getting it.

Words are meaningless


Sometimes I wonder what’s the point of writing anything; it seems like anything I would have to say would have been said better, more succinctly, more poignantly, by someone else. And when you see it you just feel like pointing to it and going ‘Yes! that! exactly that!’ and there’s absolutely no need for you to add anything else.

Have you ever been in a mood where every song you listen to seems to be speaking directly to your heart? Every line you read seems directed specifically to you? Every wave, smile, wink or comment from a person seems to answer something you have been muling over? It’s a sign. A message. From god, or otherwise.

Words are so limiting, words are so meaningless. Words only mean as much as we let them mean. We give meanings to words, we give them power. And we tend to give them LOTS of power, so I guess words, in the practical sense, aren’t meaningless after all.

To someone who can’t read, they’re utterly meaningless, just squiggles. To someone who has a good command of the language, they could probably ‘read’ any piece of text in any number of ways. Different interpretations, so many possible nuances in between the lines. In certain cases it’s probably more than possible to read in it something that runs completely counter to what the original author intended.

No matter how good you are with words, can you really communicate your innermost experiences to another reader in a way that perfectly reflects your private reality?

We are only individuals, and are always necessarily alone in our own heads.

Whatever our output, it has to necessarily go through someone else’s perception — all of their knowledge, understanding, language skills, life experiences, personality and mood– before if arrives at them. Whenever we see, hear, read something it necessarily goes through the same process. We can’t help but see things through our own eyes, and our own eyes are coloured and tinted. We can’t help that, but once aware of it we can be on our guard to acknowledge its effects and don’t presume to know or understand more than we do.

When you read a text, it can say different things to different people. A simple song can resonate deeply with so many people.

This says less about there being omens, signs and messages form god in the world, and more about the way humans perceive, and how we are all more alike than we are different.

The most meaningful words are the most meaningless, for that can’t be quantified, qualified or proven and yet can be said by anyone at all.

I saw a picture of you hanging in an empty hallway. I heard a voice that I knew and I couldn’t walk away. It took me back to the end of everything; I taste it all, I taste it all…the tears. again.

Outside the rain’s falling down–there’s not a drop that hits me. Scream at the sky but no sound is leaving my lips. It’s like I can’t even feel after the way you touched me. I’m not asleep but I’m not awake after the way you loved me.

I can’t turn this around; I keep running into walls that I can’t break down. I said I jut wander around with my eyes wide shut because of you. I’m a sleepwalker. 

Let me out of this dream. 

Everywhere that I go, I see another memory. And all the places we used to know, they’re always there to haunt me. I walk around and I feel so lost and lonely. You’re everything that I want. But you don’t want me. 

I’m a sleepwalker. Let me out of this dream.

A similar feeling to my Limbo.

Nature vs Nurture: Does it matter?


The debate and controversy surrounding homosexuality almost always gravitates towards debate about its nature: whether people are born gay or not.

Knowing the nature of sexuality would of course be helpful and as a science student I definitely think we should never stop chasing for answers. But I don’t think these particular answers are as central to the debate as people think they are.

In other words, even if we were to untangle all the gazillion factors that goes into making someone who they are in terms of their their sexuality and gender identity, the debate (or mudslinging and discrimination) would still continue, because that’s not what people are actually arguing about.

A disclaimer: Here I use the word ‘gay’ (or ‘homosexuality’) as an umbrella term for all of LGBT. I personally prefer the word gay to any other word because it sounds simple and happy. 8D

It’s Nature! …So What?

People on the pro-gay side of the argument tend to lean heavily towards ‘nature’ as the answer: Gay people are born this way. It’s natural. It’s like being born with red hair: not a choice and can’t be changed. Discriminating against gays is like discriminating against redheads.

But being born that way might not offer as much immunity from discrimination as you might think. Why? Because being born that way does not imply that it cannot be changed (it just can’t changed by your will alone), nor does it necessarily imply that it should not be changed.

People can be born with deformities or diseases. That’s natural, and there’s no choice involved. But if medically something can be done to reverse the effects, to cure the disease or fix the deformity, it will be done.

If nature means encoded in genes, then gays are safe for now, since science isn’t that far advanced yet to be able to  mess with the genetic code to get exactly what they want, especially since no ‘gay gene’ has been or is likely to be identified. Besides, most would consider it unethical to ‘play god’ and make ‘designer babies’ with customizable genes.

Genes are only the first step in the story though, not the only step. we may not be able to tweak the genes themselves, but we can certainly moderate and modify their effects or results, as when people with hormone deficiencies take supplements, or babies born with cleft lips undergo surgery, or a person with severe epilepsy undergoes brain surgery.

A gay gene hasn’t bee found, but plenty of research has highlighted the importance of hormones, mostly hormones in the womb and during early development. If abnormal amounts of hormones are found to be the main biological cause for gayness, wouldn’t that, ironically, be a blow for gay supporters since it implies a hiccup in the natural development that can and should be fixed? Being born gay would become less like having brown hair and more like having a hormone imbalance which can be treated.

What’s the difference between treating a disease and “treating”, for example, having red hair? Someone with a disease is likely to want to be treated, someone with brown hair may or may not want to change their hair colour. Treating someone with a disease should undoubtedly improve their quality of life, changing the colour of your hair, not so much.

Regardless of which you think homosexuality resembles more, it’s clear that what differs is not how someone came to have that condition but whether or not the condition should be treated, that is, whether or not it is something intrinsically undesirable.

It’s Nurture! … So What?

On the other side, detractors say homosexuality is a choice. It’s due to your upbringing, the effect your parents had on you. It’s insidious influences from society/internet/television. It’s a misguided choice,  a bad habit, a flawed perspective.

But even if ‘nurture’ played a more significant role, it doesn’t necessarily imply choice, or even the ability to change.

Language is certainly more cultural and ‘nurture’ than inborn or ‘nature’. Yet cases of feral or confined children who never heard speech during all important formative years ended up being unable to speak later in life, or at least had a much harder time picking it up than you’d expect, showing that a cultural factor (exposure to language) does not imply ability to change.

I like the colours blue and purple. Probably this isn’t 100% genetically coded. Probably it’s much more ‘nurture’ than ‘nature’. I mean, when I was younger my favourite colour was once orange. and light green. and red. and silver. and black. and… you get the point. It probably has a lot more to do with what I was exposed to when growing up; the subtle meanings and moods society gives to these colours; my mother’s favourite colour (also blue); the different things, memories, concepts I subconsciously associated with these colours to give me a positive experience when viewing them.

But… could I choose to discard these as my favourites? and choose pink instead, a colour I’ve disliked all my life? Could I choose, similarly, to like the music that I don’t like? could I choose not to like durian, or choose to like eating liver?

I can choose to wear a pink shirt (for Pink Dot, for example). I can choose to listens to trance music at a friend’s insistence. I can choose not to eat durian (because I have a sore throat) or to eat liver (because my mum asked me to). We can choose our actions, not our inclinations.

Well, you can choose to engage in behaviour that might alter your inclinations: you could go for anger management therapy to learn to control your temper even if you can’t choose whether to being angry or not like an on-off switch. And maybe wearing pink, listening to trance, and eating liver often enough would make me, slowly, change more opinion in time.  Maybe.

It certainly seems silly to think it’s impossible to change my favourite colour to pink. Yet… I have no idea how I would begin to approach such a task. Surround myself with pink things? Repeat daily “I love pink!” until i believe it? Deal out punishments when I choose colours other than pink, and rewards when I choose pink? Pinkify all my favourite celebrities, bands, people, items? Sounds dangerously like mental torture or brainwashing. Actually… wait a minute. Before we get to ‘how’, more importantly, why should I want to do this at all?

Again, even if we know with certainty whether sexuality is a result of our upbringing or a even a conscious choice, it still wouldn’t stop the debates. For clearly negative things like anger problems or difficulty integrating into society, no matter how difficult the process, therapy for a change would still be recommended. But for a neutral thing, like colour preference, the mere idea becomes ridiculous. Even if homosexuality can be changed… should it?

The Real Debate

Thinking that
Nature = natural = cannot be changed = should not be changed
Nurture = unnatural = a choice, can be changed = should not be changed
is too simplistic, and not really true.

If science proves that it’s genetic, or hormonal, or not a choice, it’s not going to stop anti-gay people rejecting it: people can and will still label it as an abnormality to be ‘cured’, a flaw to be ‘managed’, much like how my choice in feeling pain or getting angry is limited, but I still have to learn to control it.

If science proves that it’s mostly upbringing and can be changed with proper and careful counseling or prevented with proper upbringing, it’s not going to make gay people want to change their orientation: people will argue that it’s their right to live their life the way they want it, the way they’re most comfortable with, that the gay lifestyle doesn’t hurt anyone, that it’s a loving relationship between two consenting parties.

The real issue is not whether it’s nurture or nature, its whether sexuality is more like a genetic disease or hair colour. More like a psychological problem or colour preference.
The debate is about whether or not homosexuality is intrinsically undesirable, whether or not it is wrong.

Anti-gay people don’t think it’s Wrong because they think it’s a choice; they think it’s a choice because they think it’s Wrong. If you think something is Wrong, regardless of it’s causes or origins or nature you would want to resist it. If you think something is Right, you would want to promote and defend it, again regardless of other factors.

So the real debate is one of morality: why homosexuality is or is not Wrong.
And I personally believe that there is a much stronger case to be made for why homosexuality in itself is as morally neutral as heterosexuality, colour preference or hair colour, even from within a religious point of view.