What The World Needs is Empathy.

I try avoiding writing personally about myself, but I have realized that a lot of who I am today is because of what I’ve seen and experienced. When I was a boy I lived in the Basque country for a period of about two years. It was a big culture shock to my system, but when you are a child it is easier to adapt to an entirely different culture. There is a reason why studies prove that it is easier to learn as a child so I benefitted in part because of this fact. I was able to learn and adapt to the culture. A culture that is both similar and different to the American one I am accustomed to. From what I remember the bounds of a community and family are still much stronger than the one’s I experienced in my homeland. It is something that I’ve learned to appreciate because elements such as those are so hard to build and maintain but so easy to lose. Especially now in our society of easy gratification, and simulation.

Living there I was close to two boys, and when it came time for me to leave the country I had one last sleepover with each of them. I was young at the time, but the adults must have understood it was probably the last time I would ever see either of them. The first night I stayed over at this boy’s Ben’s house. I don’t remember much, but I do know I had a lot of fun hanging out. It was the second night with my other friend Ivan that I remember the most. He was skinny and looked very weak my mother would tell me later that he was born prematurely. He had a PlayStation which we all loved to play with, and since he was one of the few who had one at the time we often loved to visit him at his house. On this last sleepover, we didn’t spend much time playing on the console even though I wanted to. Instead, I spent a very long time coloring pictures with him. We were coloring some egg shaped characters which to this day I don’t know where he got the design, but we colored them together. He drew them and I colored. I could see in his face that this was something he wanted to share with me. He wanted to share this moment in time with me because of this fact I have never forgotten it. He told me he really appreciated this, and thanked me for being a true friend because all too often most would turn him down in doing this activity and would only want to play with the video game console. I was pretty young but it took me back a little to this day it is one of the moments of my life that still resonates with me.

Another similar moment happened to me much later in the 4th grade. I befriended a Chinese boy in my class, and he was really into Pokemon cards. We often spent time together during recess and played cards. Sometimes we would play basketball if the big kids let us, and often they wouldn’t because, to be honest, we were pretty bad at it. It was because he was a weird kid who didn’t really socialize he got picked on a decent amount of time. It’s been so long I have forgotten why he was angry and crying but it was at the end of recess and we were waiting to get in class. He was very upset, and I reached out my arm on his shoulder telling him it was okay now. He immediately lashed out at me and swiped my hand away. Another moment I was taken aback but for different reasons. The teacher later told me she appreciated what I was trying to do, and gave me some words of encouragement.

I may appear strong on the outside, and in my demeanor and it’s not a fake strength I’ve developed to not be consumed by depression of this world. Yet deep down I have a soft heart a heart that is hard to keep hate, and bitterness. Looking back it’s why I couldn’t turn away as I became more educated and saw the pain and suffering of not only those around me but also in the world. It’s why I did try everything I could when I was younger with my limited power, and naivety. I saw injustice, and evil in the world and I couldn’t do anything about the suffering, and the pain. So I thought by understanding the world I could find the answer regardless if it would bring me happiness or not. Thus I pushed, and keep pushing I see education not as an institution, but as a way of life. As long as my heart beats I will never stop searching. I will seek the answers I am looking for until the day I die.

I see now that this was the only path for me. Even if I wasn’t curious my empathy would have driven me here. What these two stories taught me was that only when you can understand something or someone can you heal it. I see now that it is not my knowledge alone that allows me to see the world in a different light, but my abnormal personality that allows me to gain a different perspective. When I was a young teenager I would go on long walks on the weekends because sometimes the simple things can teach you more than any book you can read. Listen and observe the people walking, the architecture and position of the buildings, and the sounds and whistles of the world. We shouldn’t take for granted what is right before us. I exist to love this world. I love living things in this world because sometimes we forget how rare life really is, but also the objects that don’t have heartbeats. We are the world, and the world is us. We are fundamental of the same atoms, and too often we forget that.

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Challenge Yourself

Society has become twisted. A person values their success based on their income, or by the number of people who show interest in their life. You see this with people who are obsessed with having large number of friends particularly on social media. We have allowed a new generation of online celebrities gain unprecedented influence on the world. Not saying they are worse than the gatekeepers of before, but I doubt many understand that with that influence comes responsibilities. No one can doubt their hard word, and the fact their is a market for their talent. These are the artists of our time since, and for the first time ever people who have the ability can easily share their talent with everyone, but in this saturation we can sometimes feel overwhelmed. So like always we look for something or someone to filter through all the material. We take recommendations from friends, bloggers, or institutions we think are credible. I know anyone reading this can think of examples in their personal lives. Without even thinking about it we find ourselves in a repeated cycled checking the same sites, and viewing the same material in an endless loop. We become trapped in this artificial personal bubble.

Which is why when Stumbleupon first became an Internet sensation I thought the purpose was pretty novel. We should challenge ourselves little by little to find something new even if it doesn’t fit our interests. All it takes 10-15 minutes every couple of days to have that resolve to pick up that random book or read that random online forum. Yes you may be challenged, or bored, but you may also find something beautiful and new. We often place too much importance on individuals who seem god like. Weather it be the athlete who can run a 4.2 second forty yard dash , the artist who can paint, or the writer who produces literature. We tend to often forget they are humans just like us who sleep, eat, pee, cry, and laugh. We become fixed on living our lives through others that we begin to lose sight of what is real and precious. Later this becomes a reality where the artificial no longer matches the reality. That fiction is preferred over the non-fiction. My lesson to you is to learn from your hero’s but do not idolize them. We place too much focus on what something means, or what the proper interpretation of book, movie, television show should be and not enough time just “experiencing” and taking in your own opinion or inner thoughts. I say this as someone who has devoted most of their life with the fundamental belief that there is a way to break down everything in our world into basic facts or principles. That our world can be like a chemistry book, and what we do not understand is because we have yet to discover it. All I ask is how can we have people who watch Netflix all day, and such that it becomes a strong focal point of their existence. Eat, sleep, work, reproduce, and die.

Do we solely exist so that the society can be productive? So that the desires of humanity can be focused into the capitalistic culture humanity has created? The message is clear we exist to consume, and keep the wheels of the money making machine turning. How long can this last? Where has the pride gone? The value of work? Of relationships? Of building something greater than yourself? Using creativity to share, and cherish. Contributing to society instead of merely consuming. Perhaps that society has never existed. For human existence has been always filled with inequality. Better minds than mine have attacked this problem, and the best answer I’ve seen is that some vague solution will appear, and people will realize it is time to “move on” to the best alternative for us all. What kind of answer is that? That’s no answer at all. I am not asking for perfection, because I don’t even know what that is. Frankly anyone who claims to have that answer do not know what they are talking about. I am just asking the questions we all have, but we hide from each other because we want to give the illusion we know what we are doing. People so easily forget that they are mortal , and potentially living a life without worth. Our dreams, and goals just like our genetics are inherited. In some form we are just mere copies of each other. We have basic needs, but we all address them differently. At one point the universe came from a singular point we are all interconnected, we feel alone, but we are not alone. Past, present, and future is all intertwined. I wish I had all the answers, but I don’t. Surprisingly it doesn’t scare me, but instead is the fuel that keeps me going. I promised myself I wouldn’t regret any action I took in life, but when ever my life does end I feel I will have one dying regret: That I never found all the answers I was looking for.