Envy

Envy is a strong emotion. Also referred to as “invidiousness”, it is one of the most intense emotions we can ever experience as a human being. Envy starts as a seed planted somewhere within the soul. It takes root, watering itself on the tears of longing. It grows by resentment. What was once a small kindle eventually erupts into an unquenchable firestorm. Envy is guaranteed to burn alive the essence of even the strongest man, leaving nothing behind but a shallow husk that mumbles and grumbles to itself. That is what envy does.

Envy is born as a result of seeing qualities in others that we feel we lack in ourselves or that we wish we had in ourselves. Envy stems from inadequacy and that stems from a misunderstanding of the true nature of the universe. Everyone has been envious at one point or another in their lives, people are just too proud to admit it. Everyone tries to appear as if they lead a rosy life full of puppies and sunshine but that is certainly not the case.

I have felt envy before. I remember how it felt. It was as if my inner being was being seared with a coal poker. Envy is often not verbalized. One does not think the thoughts “Oh, I wish I was as strong as that guy” or “I wish I was as pretty as that girl”. Envy tends to be a reactionary, reflexive emotion rather than one that is default. It seems to be the body’s defense mechanism against a threat.

When I envy, I tend to get sad rather than angry as I am not an angry person. I then start to dwell on what I lack compared to that person. I then dwell on the question “are these traits fixable?” “If not, what can I do to fix them?” If they are not, then I tend to sink in sadness more. Fun, isn’t it?

I have noticed that most of the time people tend to envy what they cannot have. The subconscious knows this. The ego knows this. When one envies, the population is seperated into two parts: you and the rival. The rival is a threat to you because they are better than you. You then fear that the rival will become dominant and that you will cease to exist. Evolutionary programming at its finest.

Envy is no fun. It is accompanied by a great feeling of distress, helplessness, and hopelessness. There is no panacea for envy. In order to envy less, you must have more.

 

Let’s just hope that you were dealt the right hand in life.

 

 

– Scotia

Advertisements

Vegetarianism

A couple of years ago, I used to be a lover of many kinds of meats. My favorite is and always was steak. However, over the years I have drastically reduced the amount of meats I consumed on a daily or weekly basis. This is all in an effort for an end result of a completely vegetarian diet. The number of people who become vegetarians is growing on a daily basis. It is not to look “trendy”, but rather for its ethical implications and benefits for mind and body.

Not too long ago, I watched this documentary called “Food Inc”. It was an inside look at the agribusiness that many rely on for their food sources. The first segment focused on the meat-packing industry. After watching the movie, it has become clear that not only is the industrial production of meat environmentally unsustainable but it raises a lot of ethical concerns as well. There are more cases of large producers of meat and chicken products getting the red flag than I’d like to remember. Whether its from sanitary concerns, incorrect advertising (as in “free range”), or just downright inhumanity to the animals, it makes me wonder if attaining meat from a large scale producer is even worth it. That is not to say all producers of meat products are criminals. There are many meat producers that invest in quality animals and dedicate time and care to making sure these animals are slaughtered correctly and “as humane as possible”. These meat products usually end up costing much more than the usual brands but they usually end up tasting better as a result. For the rest of the cultivators, meat-production is a business about profit maximization at any cost. Profit maximization when it comes to food, meat especially is bad news for the rest of us. These suppliers will use any means necessary to bolster their product, even resulting to artificial means such as growth hormone and inhumane slaughtering practices.

It is good to note where our tolerance of slaughtering animals came from. America is a nation with a Christian majority, so it is not surprising to see the doctrines of the Bible manifest themselves in our societal institutions. There is a passage in the beginning of the Bible, Genesis that states that “man shall have dominion over the earth” and all of its inhabitants. Not surprisingly, this includes animals. Many Americans have no ethical concerns over eating meat because they believe in the Christian God and one of the doctrines in the Bible is that we can eat meat because we decide the animals’ fate. Meat suppliers know and exploit this, this is why they get a free pass most of the time.

Beyond the many ethical arguments for and against vegetarianism, there are many undeniable health benefits. Many studies have shown that vegetarians on average live longer and have less diseases than those that eat meat. They also tend to have a healthier BMI than meat eaters and tend to have a healthier cardiovascular system than meat eaters. Vegetarians tend to have more energy than meat-eaters. This is no surprise considering the human body follows a strict “junk in, junk out” philosophy. Many of the obesity problems in America could be solved if people ate much more fruits and vegetables, ate less meats, and got more exercise. No “South Beach Diet” or “Weight Watchers” necessary. Many fruits and vegetables are cheaper than meat and they’re easier to make as well.

I know many people that tried a vegetarian diet. They quit after a period of time stating that “it wasn’t fun”, “they miss eating meat”, or “vegetables just don’t taste good”. Vegetarianism isn’t for everyone, obviously. However, it is worth a try to see if you would like it.

There are several types of vegetarians.

– The first one is the pescatarian. This vegetarian group only consumes fish but no other animal flesh. This is known as being “stepping stone” towards full vegetarianism.

– The second one is flexetarian/semi-vegetarian. This group occasionally eats meat but mainly sticks to a vegetarian diet. This would be I.

– The third one are the lacto-ovo vegetarians. These are the group people most think of when they think “vegetarian”. These people do not consume any type of animal flesh but will consume products made from these animals. These are dairy and eggs. There are also lacto-vegetarians, people that do not eat eggs but consume dairy products, and ovo-vegetarians: vegetarians that consume eggs but not dairy. If I were to become a vegetarian, I would most likely become a lacto-vegetarian as I do not eat eggs.

– The four group are the vegans. This group does not consume any animal flesh or product made from animals whatsoever. They also do not eat products derived from animals (no Jello). This group mainly does not consume meat for the ethical reasons behind it.

Vegetarianism also requires a lot of discipline. As aforementioned, vegetables aren’t always the best tasting food in the world and some may miss the texture of meat. It takes a lot of discipline to abandon a food that you have most likely grown up with during childhood. It also takes a lot of discipline to replace that protein that you would not gain from eating meat. Thankfully, there are many supplements and vegetables that contain high does of protein.

I view vegetarianism as a cost-effective, ethical, and healthy choice. One that a lot of people are afraid to make. Right now, I simply lack the discipline to give up meat. I enjoy eating steak and chicken occasionally. I go many days without meat and I seem to be just fine. However, giving up meat forever isn’t on my itinerary just yet. For those of you that wish for a healthier “you” in 2012, vegetarianism or semi-vegetarianism may be a step in the right direction.

– Scotia

Fortune

I have spent many nights lying in my bed pondering why some men have good luck and others have luck of the worst kind. Why some people can’t catch a break while others manage to get away with well, just about everything. Why some people have better family lives, better relationships, better genes. There are a million and one questions I can ask about the seemingly disproportionate nature of fortune.

Why do some people manage to go their entire lives without seeing a shred of tragedy except from a distance in the news and on television? Why must some people endure the trauma of divorce of their parents and then told to “get over it” as soon as possible? Why are some people born to parents that give them up for adoption? Why do some people have extraordinary talents and others have none to speak of? Why some people born literally mentally retarded? Why do some people find themselves surrounded by a huge network of support when things go south and others discarded to the side no better than the crumpled potato chip bag in the parking lot? Why are some people born in god forsaken locales on Earth, dying before they ever get a chance to live? Why do the grandparents of some people die before they ever get to know their names? Why will some people eventually develop something such as Multiple Sclerosis or Alzheimer’s? Why are some people able to crash two Corvettes in a year and have money to spare to buy a third one and pay for the sky high insurance? Why must some people work three jobs just to exist? Why are some people able to just burn and incinerate money like firewood and have more money to to burn up? Why do some people lose it all? Why do people have nothing to lose? See, I could continue on for eternity this way.

People say overcoming adversity brings new life. That may be true. However, for every one story of someone overcoming adversity, there’s 1000 others who just didn’t make it. Don’t believe me? Go take a drive through the impoverished areas of your local city and look around. Dilapidated housing projects. People standing on the corner with no direction. A boy with drugs in his pocket running across the street to make his next sale. Lost. Hopeless. You can feel the desperation creeping through your tightly rolled up windows. From birth, they didn’t stand a chance. Wrong place at the wrong time. Lack of ambition? Maybe. Lack of hope, a thing they don’t even know exists? Sure.

Yet, the real issue at hand isn’t the questions after the interrogative. It is rather interrogative itself.

The “why” of these things happen is a loaded question. It all depends on what you believe in.

If you subscribe to the Buddhist worldview, fortune is attained by good karma from your last reincarnation. If you were a good person in the grand scheme of the universe in your last life, you are now dealt a favorable hand from birth in this life. If you have a terrible hand in this life, then you were undoubtedly an evil son-of-a-bitch in your last life and you are now paying dearly for it.

If you subscribe to the Hindu worldview (depending on which sect), then Brahman (or his many variations) created you and you are tempted by good and evil, bad luck and good luck constantly to determine your karma in this life (dependent on sect, but this is the mainstream polytheistic version).

If you subscribe to the Christian and Muslim worldviews, then God/Allah is responsible for your fortune. God/Allah gave you these things in life because he knew that you were strong enough to deal with it and it will make you a better person. Additionally, your troubles in life can be lessened if you pray to God/Allah and praise him for all your days. Pray to the man in the sky and it will be alright.

If you are a nihilist, then nothing matters because we all die anyway so we can cry and sob all we want but it does not change the finality of death.

If you are a deist, then a higher power made the world sent it spinning and did not touch it at all and fortune is just chance.

I have a problem with pretty much all of these worldviews, especially those that are dependent on deities. I just feel like it seems like all the people who have all the fortune in the world don’t know what to do with it. However, there is a chance that if you are sitting here reading this, you have much better fortune than someone else. But why must this disproportion even exist? Why can’t we all be sitting here on our computers reading blogs? Is there actually a proportion to the amount of good luck and bad luck in the universe? Is the total sum of good luck and bad luck equal, just like the law of the conservation of energy? Perhaps. I don’t know. Until the underlying forces of the universe reveal themselves to me, I will never know why. I will most likely die before I reach a conclusion.

I guess we’ll all have to do the best with what we have, even if it is more or less than others.

Sometimes though, our best just simply isn’t good enough. For anyone.

– Scotia

Charity

 

it is important to remember those who have less than we do. As we fall deeper into this quagmire that is the economic recession, more and more people find themselves in a position of uncertainty and hopelessness. I’m just going to take a guess and assume that there won’t be as many Christmas presents under the tree as there were in previous years. Many people are inspired to give because of the particular conventions of the Christmas season. Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” popularized this sentiment. “A Christmas Carol” was published in 1843. It was the first piece of literature to really discuss social ills while disguising it underneath the happy exterior of a season of the year. “A Christmas Carol” has so many different interpretations, but its core message remains unchanged – it is essentially good to give and it can make us better persons. However, deeper within that, a person must give in a certain way in order to reap the benefits.

So many different people were inspired by this message that they began to create institutions that addressed the needs of the poor and less fortunate. These institutions were known as charities. Charities effectively bridged the gap between the rich and the poor and created greater stratification of class. The rich no longer had to interact with the poor, they just had to give an amount to a charity and their donation would go to a certain group of people that really needed the money. The lump sum donation did not address the need to interact with people outside one’s social circle, nor the need to volunteer one’s time to make a difference. This is called indiscriminate giving. Indiscriminate giving provides the giver a sense of comfort that they donated to help make a difference in the lives of the faceless masses of endless people who need help. It however, does not address the core issue.

The issue of charity is not only addressed in terms of monetary donations. It can be addressed in other ways too, most notably volunteering. You would be surprised the difference you can make in someone’s life by volunteering your time and presence. Where to volunteer? If you live in an urban area, there is no shortage of places you can volunteer. People will always need help – and a human presence. There is no better time to provide both, in these dark days – both literally and figuratively.

Money is temporal. Human companionship is not. Giving to charity is great and all but the giver will be missing out on the core message that was detailed in “A Christmas Carol” Ebeneezer Scrooge arrived at his revelation that he could make a difference in the lives of others through simple things such as camaraderie. He got into the Christmas spirit of generosity and he realized it made him a better person because he interacted with people he normally would not have.

If we want to reach the same revelation as Scrooge did and make our lives better, we need to too.

 

 

 

– Scotia

The Life of the Lonely Individual

I’ve written about Loneliness before. This goes a little bit more indepth. There seems to be a huge confusion on the distinction between being alone and being lonely. Being alone is just the act of being by yourself. Being lonely is the longing to be with other human beings. Being alone can have a positive connotation. For example, a person can be alone and be perfectly happy as long as he feels fulfilled not necessarily by other people but by life in general. The lonely person is an individual who at their very core feels misunderstood and isolated from other human beings. Longings to rid oneself of being misunderstood is the core of loneliness. If you are like most people, loneliness is a temporal state and is quickly rectified by the reassertion of community and camaraderie with others. Loneliness for most people tends to be a fluctuating state of affairs that the individual will eventually realize ebbs and flows like the tidal cycles of the world’s oceans.

There are many people in the modern world that for one reason or another find themselves being lonely at one time or another. That’s just how society is structured. However, as aforementioned it passes. Unfortunately, there are many people for which loneliness is a constant reminder of their differences from society and their inability to connect with other human beings on either a platonic or romantic level. These people who experience chronic loneliness are those that are often put on the fringes of society for not “fitting in”. Humanity has a herd mentality that has subsisted from bygone eras and we will do anything to be in favor of the spectator and society as a whole. The people who experience loneliness the most are the homeless and the gifted.

The homeless feel denigrated by society and hide their shame of not having any money nor any place to stay. Homelessness is a sad state of affairs in our great society and it should be something that should be unacceptable. Inevitably, there will be people who are indeed homeless as the unemployment rate can never be 0. However, the amount of homeless people should be vastly reduced if we wish to call ourselves a great society. At the core of homelessness is the feeling of being misunderstood, which again concentrates their inherent loneliness.

The gifted are people who have felt misunderstood all their lives. They have been cast out from society as being “too weird”, too irreverent, or even worse to the opposite sex – too socially awkward (not in all cases). Their ideas have been ridiculed as myopic or too self indulgent, not applicable to a larger framework of ill-laid plans. These people with abnormally high IQs or ways of thinking have often been the paragon of thought, the liberators of this ungrateful species from the dark ages, the saviors of humanity from the pool of primordial slush from where we once spawned. They are writers, artists, poets, inventors, social activists, warriors, commanders. Leaders. Still, even then with all their services to their fellow human beings, they are cast aside and looked at something as less than human. For example, Radiohead one of the most revolutionary group of musicians to ever walk the face of the planet have had their music dismissed by some critics as self-indulgent, boring, and as one girl I know said: “too depressing”.

There are many people who do not fall into these two groups but a large portion of people who experience chronic loneliness do. They feel misunderstood at their core. Unfortunately, there is no solution for chronic loneliness and the people who experience this must live a life looking inside through the glass while everyone on the inside does not even know they are doing so. It is an unfortunate series of events that there are people who will never be able to experience what community is because they are different from the rest of society. Occasionally, someone bending light will come along to perk up the wilted flower but more often than not that is not the case.  Living a life of loneliness and being misunderstood is their cross to bear and their end will be their inevitable crucifixion by way of their own misunderstanding.

– Scotia

Finals

In every college student’s life there comes a much dreaded time of year – Finals Week. This week and the preceding weeks are accompanied by much stress, confusion, desperation, panic, and gnashing of teeth. I feel like a calm island in the sea of chaos as I witness my peers talk frantically about how they need to stay up all night to study for an exam the next day or to turn in a paper that is due tomorrow. I often wondered how students fell into this trap. Procrastination, yes but I feel that there is an underlying issue at hand here. Even since freshman year, I managed to turn in all my assignments on time with little stress. Half of the time, I manage to do turn things early or study early. I then find the week before finals as a way to center myself for the week ahead.

After much contemplation, I have come to discover that the underlying issue is one of ego destruction. Ego destruction is exactly what it sounds like, destruction of who you are, your sense of self. Finals week requires that you give your all and nothing less if you wish to succeed. This means you must destroy who you are and suspend all of your desires and beliefs. Basically two of the things that make you – you. Ego destruction is a very difficult thing to do, even for a person who has destroyed their ego various times in the course of their life, like I have. Every time, it manages to get a little easier but it still hurts. What are the benefits of ego destruction at finals week? Razor-sharp focus, dedication towards studying and reviewing, time management, and many other habits that are beneficial towards the completion of the goal of finals week – success. As an interesting aside, many individuals who take high does of psychedelics (lysergic acid diethylamide, psilocybin mushrooms, MDMA) report feelings of ego death during the duration of their “trip” and residual feelings afterwards.

Today, I was in the library in the early hours of the morning. I heard a girl on a phone with someone, most likely her parents. She was crying uncontrollably and talking about how she felt so misunderstood and how she felt like she was slowly falling apart. I was not eavesdropping, but she was talking so loud that I could not help but hear her. I felt bad because I knew that there was nothing to do and I genuinely felt sorry for her. I can only imagine how many other people feel like this. Ego destruction is something that must be willed before an opposing force comes to destroy your own ego. When you yourself destroy your own ego and accept this, the hard part has been done by you. When a force comes and destroys your ego, it will shatter it into parts that may or may not be retrievable. It is akin to the strategic breaking of damaged bones by doctors so that it can heal correctly, rather than risking an improper heal without intervention. Ego destruction sounds frightening, but it can be an interesting process because it lets you know what type of person you are and how much you can take. This girl was not ready for finals week and because of this, it shattered her. What is the damage? Only the doctor knows.

No painting nails, no playing guitar, no reading of books, no going shopping to the mall, no talking long hours on the phone to your boyfriend, no cooking of birthday cakes, no spending long hours on Facebook. All of these must be suspended until the task is done.

If you manage to prepare early enough, you may not have to undergo ego destruction. Still, everyone does at some point in their life, whether consciously or unconsciously. Finals week will break everybody in some way. The question isn’t how much you can take before you break, it is if you will be able to pick up the pieces of who you were and reassemble yourself at the end of the day.

– Scotia