Coexist

By now, even those of you living under a rock should have heard of the Coexist campaign. If you haven’t, you may have seen their logo as a bumper sticker or a button or something. Usually, it looks something like this: I’ve been seeing a lot of these stickers around, and I decided to check it out today. It’s a pretty noble concept. This, the most simplified version of the logo, only shows the symbols of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity (in that order). There are a lot of different versions that people have made themselves.

I rather like this one. I’m not sure why. It’s just…different. Islam, Hindu, Judaism, peace, Taoism/Confucianism, Christianity.

This one is also very common for bumper stickers. Islam, peace, male/female, Judaism, Wicca/Pagan/Bah’ai (my apologies if I spelled that wrong), Taoism/Confucianism.

This one has the explanations underneath, but they might be a little hard to read. Islam, Buddhism, Science, Judaism, Paganism, Wiccan, Christian. I like how this one shows how science and religion can coexist as well as regular religions. They don’t have to be two completely separate entities in our lives. I’ll get more into that later.

Very similar to the previous one, but it switches Pagan and Buddhism.

As you can see, they’re all a little different, but they all carry the same message. Religious (and scientific) peace and tolerance. But what if we took it into more than just religion? What if we could have every part of our lives in coexistance?

Science and religion.

Mathematics and art.

Nature and technology.

The past and the future.

Hell, maybe even Microsoft and Apple.

…No, not Microsoft and Apple. Some healthy competition is good. Even if it results in gladiatorial fights to the death.

But, really.  Why shouldn’t we?  Peace and balance are good.  Equilibrium.  Homeostasis.  It’s all good stuff.  And now I sound like a hippie naming off drugs.  Damn.

Live, Laugh, Love

Isn’t that like Abercrombie and Fitch’s motto or something?  Scary.  But, on with the post.

Live:

I am an optimist.  I am cynical, sarcastic, and blunt, but I am an optimist.  I believe that there is good inside people.  It may be buried deep down, but it’s there.  I, for the most part, believe in a philosophy of “live and let live” and “before all else, do no harm.”  It works pretty well.  I can honestly say I’ve had few regrets thus far in life, most of them negligible.

There is power in a positive attitude.  “Always look on the bright side of life” sounds way too cheesy, but I’ll use it anyways.  There’s power in negative attitude as well.  Dwell on the worst case scenario, and things will only go downhill.

There is always hope.  No matter how desperate things may seem, hope will always be there.  Even when things are at their absolute worst, hope doesn’t leave.

Live life with as few regrets as possible.  Yes, something may seem like a bad decision after the fact.  You know how you deal with that?  “Never regret something that once made you happy.”  Trust me, it works.  If anything, if only for the shortest of moments, made you smile, don’t regret it.  Because that smile is worth so much.  You have no idea how much it can mean to someone when you so much as smile at them.

If a simple gesture has so much power, imagine what we can do.  We can’t even begin to comprehend the influence we can have on the people around us.  We don’t even realize that we have this miraculous effect on even ourselves.

Hell, even our body language can have a positive or negative effect on our attitude.  http://www.bodylanguageexpert.co.uk/ChangeBodyLanguageChangeAttitude.html  Give it a try.  You’ll be surprised at how well it works.  If we can alter our own moods (healthily and without medication), then just think of what we can do for others.

In today’s world, with the horribly depressing news and instant updates on exactly what’s going down the shitter, it’s hard to maintain on honestly positive outlook.  Sometimes, all we can see are the bad things in our lives, and this is a perfectly natural reaction.  It’s a release.  But then what we have to do is look around at the absolutely brilliant things going on around us everyday.  We pass by so many miracles without even a second glance.  Right now, there’s someone being born.  Right now, a new medical discovery is being made.  Right now, two people are falling in love.  Right now, thousands of people are showing someone that they care.  Right now, something is being found that no one ever expected.  Right now, someone’s getting married.  Right now, a song that could change people’s lives is being written.  Right now, someone is discovering their beliefs.  Right now, someone’s life is being saved.  Right now, the next Da Vinci or Picasso is making their masterpiece.  Right now, you could be doing something amazing.  Right now, billions of people are breathing in sync with you.

Think on that for a second.  Billions of people.  All across the world.  And we all have something in common – we all want nothing more than to be happy in our lives.

Laugh:

Laughter is the very best medicine.  Having a good time in life is important.  We need our friends and our families to brighten the darkest of times.  Laughter is contagious.  If one person laughs, then more are likely to join them.  One laugh can be the difference between a bad day and a good one.  And I think we’d all prefer more good days to bad ones.  We are blessed with so much without realizing it.  A beautiful sunny day can be the best blessing of all, yet we spend so many of them worrying ourselves, concerned with things that are out of our hands.  Sometimes, we just need to let loose and laugh.  Laugh with joy at the beautiful things surrounding us.  Laugh with our friends at memories of a good time.  Laugh just for the hell of it.  We seldom realize just how many good days we’re given.  And even if it seems like today’s not going to be one of them, we have the power to change that.  If we notice one of our friends having a bad day, we have the power to cheer them up, to make them laugh or even just smile.  That’s magical if you think about it.

Once you start to see this way, you start to wonder why people need drugs, self-mutilation, or cruelty towards others to make themselves feel good.  It doesn’t seem right.  Because you have a conscious, and with that, we won’t be able to feel like we’re good people if we do that.  And we do need to feel like we’re good people.  It can almost be considered a selfish desire, but it’s a human one.  We need reassurance from others that we’re doing the right thing.  A smile, a laugh, a hug, can all express this perfectly.  We want to be assured that everything will be okay.

There are so many things we can do to show others that we care.  Yet we rarely take the time to do so.  Words aren’t needed.  All it takes is one simple gesture to make things seem a little brighter than they were before.

For the scientific half of this, did you know that hugging increases the body’s endorphins, relieving us of pain and stress?  Endorphins are an important chemical.  They act like morphine produced in your brain (pituitary gland to be specific), giving you the feel of a natural high, without the addictiveness of drugs or cutting. http://yourtotalhealth.ivillage.com/diet-fitness/endorphins-101-your-guide-natural-euphoria.html  There you go.  Ten natural ways to boost your endorphin output and make you just feel good all around.  Try it.  Another good chemical to reintroduce to your body is adrenaline.  Obviously, too much of this one is bad, but there’s nothing quite like a good thrill to get you excited and smiling again.  Adrenaline is made in your adrenal glands, right above the kidneys, and is the “fight or flight” hormone.  So take that risk.  Life is boring without taking chances, after all.

Love:

This is the big one.  Love.  It’s so important that we love, purely and entirely, with all our hearts.  That we find someone we can trust and have faith in until our dying day.  And not just romantic love, either, though by no means am I belittling it’s power.  Friendly love, love for our families, love for our fellow man, love for the Earth, and just love in general is probably the most fantasized about, scorned, desired, romanticized emotion we have.  Do you know why that is?  No, there wasn’t a convention when time began and you didn’t just miss the memo.  It’s because it is, plain and simple, what we were meant to feel.  It’s so grand and immense that we can’t contain it like other emotions.  Love needs to be shown and expressed, however you choose to do so.  If you don’t want to show it, too bad.  It’ll find a way, whether you like it or not.

Love is not just love.  I know, it doesn’t quite make sense when phrased like that.  Let me explain.  Love branches out into more emotions.  Respect, joy, awe, devotion.  All can stem from love.  That’s powerful.  That’s big.

Love can influence us towards other emotions.  Elated and cross in turns, slowed down or hyperactive.  That can have a big influence on the rest of our lives.  It’s that amazing.  Humans have an incredible capacity for love.  It’s…it’s huge.  There’s no other way to describe it.  We can love so much, love with all our hearts, and by all means we should.

No one can be alone forever.  At least, not without becoming a sociopath.  We are meant to be in packs, groups, subcultures.  We need our friends and our families.  We can’t stand alone.  And even if we could, why would we want to?  There are amazing people in this world, and with the Internet we can meet them, befriend them, and learn from them.  There’s people everywhere.  Which means there’s love everywhere.

And there is.  Love can be found in anyone.  Even those who’ve never felt it.  Even those who never want to feel it.  It’s still there.  Love is always there.  And it always will be.

I’m a romantic.  I believe in love above all else.  As if you couldn’t already tell.  And without love, friendship, or companionship, we can’t be all that we can.  No man is a tower, we’re not meant to stand alone.  We need our people, and they need us.

We’re all in this world together.  Let’s make everything of it that we can.

Human Body: Pushing the Limits

I’ve been watching the Human Body special on Discovery (yes, I’m the person who stays home on Saturday nights to watch documentaries).  I mean really watching it.  They’re showing it on a loop, and I swear I’ve seen the Brainpower episode three times.  It is truly fascinating.  I’ve always been interested in biology, although my science classes have really only done human body units this year.  Learning all these new things has made me realize: we are bloody miracles.  Every last one of us.  We can do extraordinary things that nothing else can.  The scary part?  So few of us do.  Most people are content to live an ordinary life.  That’s always annoyed me.  I can’t understand it for the life of me.  I want to do things with my life.  I want to meet new people, learn new things, and make experiences.  But not everyone wants that.

OK, this has gone off into a philosophical tangent, which it wasn’t supposed to.  The narrator just said, “…which is no longer compatible with life.”  I admit, I laught.  That’s great.  Compatible with life…nice.  But, getting back to my original point, humans are a truly remarkable species.  The impact we’ve had on the Earth is tremendous.  Maybe not always in a good way, but it’s true.  This is like when I watched the Life After Man special on History Channel.  The things we’ve done to the world wouldn’t truly be gone for at least 10,000 years if we were to suddenly disappear right now.  Yes, some big things would happen within a week, but the Hoover Dam, the Pyramids at Giza, even Mount Rushmore would last for millenia.  It’s almost reassuring to know that it hasn’t all been for naught.  And by “it” I mean thousands of years of human civilization.  It really is a fascinating concept.  I can tell my brain is being rewired to accommodate new ideas, new knowledge.  I’m easy to rewire.  Does that make me an Innovator?

For those who don’t get the So Yesterday reference (Scott Westerfeld  http://scottwesterfeld.com/blog/), Innovators are the people who think of new trends.  Here’s how he explains it (or rather, the main character, Hunter explains it): “At the top of the pyramid are the Innovators.  The first mythical guy to wear his baseball cap backwards.  When you meet them, most Innovators don’t look that cool, not in the sense of fashionable, anyway.  There’s always something off about them.  Like they’re uncomfortable with the world.  Most Innovators are actually Logo Exiles, trying to get by with the twelve pieces of clothing that are never in or our of style.

“Next level down the pyramid are the Trendsetters.  The Trendsetter’s goal is to be the second person in the world to catch the latest disease.  They watch carefully for innovations, always ready to jump on board.

“Below them are the Early Adopters.  Adopters always have the latest phone, the latest music player plugged into their ear, and they’re always the guys who download the trailer a year before the movie comes out.

“Further down we have the Consumers.  The peopel who have to see a product on TV, placed in two movies, fifteen magazine ads, and on a giant rack in the mall before saying ‘Hey, that’s pretty cool.’

“Last are the Laggards.  Proud in their mullets and feathered-back hair, they resist all change, or at least all change since they got out of high school.”

Even for a work of fiction, it’s surprisingly accurate.  I’d say I’m mostly a Logo Exile with flashes of being an Innovator.  Where do you fall on the pyramid?  If you’re an Innovator, what’s your one special thing that makes you one?  Mine would have to be slang.  I invent words nigh on constantly (and they miraculously catch on), bring back old words, etc.

Getting back to the original point, few people are easily rewired like that.  It doesn’t take a lot to change my entire outlook on life.  Even a simple documentary like this one can.  You know, if I could, I would download all the documentaries I’ve really liked over the years and put them all on an 80 GB iPod.  I would carry it around with me and watch them all the time.  I could educate the pervasively stupid masses!  We should all take that upon us as a task.  A New Year’s resolution, of sorts, without the New Year.  To teach people things.

 OK, I’m setting a new goal for me, and all who read this (which I’m sure isn’t many).  Teach someone something new everyday.  Sort of like a twist on the old proverb, “You learn something new everyday.”  And don’t teach them in a dry stuffy manner that so many teachers use.  Casually bring up something relevant to the topic at hand, get your audience interested, and hit them with the facts.  It doesn’t have to be anything big.  It can be something as simple as a trivia tidbit.  Knowledge is power, even in a world ruled by seeming idiots.  Don’t be afraid to put opinion into your little lessons, either.  Hell, get into a debate over it.  It’s a good thing.  Debate stimulates rational thought (don’t be afraid of overreaching that part of your brain, people; it gets enough rest while you sleep) and it usually provokes emotional responses.  Anything to reach through the little bubble of ignorance that so many people like to keep floating around their heads.

In my last entry, I mentioned rereading Good Omens.  Once again, it’s a phenomenal book.  I’ve also noticed that it’s better if you read it in one session, than if it’s spread out.  The plot is so complex that it only gets jumbled if you stop reading for a while.  When I finished that, I reread Elantris, also mentioned in that post.  I noticed something in a scene that I hadn’t noticed before: Sarene, at Roial’s party, runs away from all the happy couples because it reminds her that Raoden is dead and that they could’ve been happy.  I noticed that I do that a lot.  Not when I’m single, but when I’m in a relationship, because they’re usually happier than I am.  I’m happier when I’m single.  Not that I would ever scorn love (being a romantic, and all), but I’m a teenager.  Teenage relationships very rarely end well.

So, to summarize: humans rock, social hierarchies are easier to describe than I thought, we should all go out and teach people things, and teenagers are hormonally fucked up.  The end.