The root of all evil: Greed

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The often misquoted phrase ‘money is the root of all evil’ is derived from 1 Timothy 6:10, which actually says ‘For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.’  In the original context, it is the greed for money that is the root of some evil.  For me, I believe greed in general is the root of the worst evils.  There are some evils that occur out of pure ignorance, blind allegiance, or even in the name of the best of intentions, but this is another category altogether.   Then there is another evil that is manufactured by mere mortals that keeps their neighbors in misery.  This evil has many faces and many names, but it allows for the destruction of those around them simply for a few to live in excess.  This evil is pure greed.

For me, the twin pursuits of money and power cause the most damage, for people will subvert themselves just to attain that status.  I watched a documentary where a young girl escaped from a Mormon cult and said that her father was one of the senior members, but when they were younger, he was just a normal guy who never believed in polygamy or religion that much, but when he was given power, he abandoned his family for it.  However, the pursuit of money and power is not evil in of itself.  It is greed for these things that propels these people to accept evil.  Greed allows us to bend the rules for ourselves and those around us.  We can accept the horrible treatment of our neighbors when we are given access to money and power, and to keep it, we allow greed to take over all aspects of our lives.

The thing about greed is that we all harbor its sentiments deep in our hearts.  They lie dormant when we are but peasants who revolt against the bourgeoisie, but when we are the bourgeoisie, we adapt their rules because we are no longer peasants.  This is how the caste system has always worked and will always work.  Greed may be the root of all evil, but evil is what we all are if we were ever presented the opportunity.  We want to believe we are good people and will always do the right thing, but centuries of history will prove you wrong.  The only way we can achieve more is to accept that we are indeed evil and build measures against it.  When the founding fathers crafted the constitution and government, they relied on the fact that they were all equal men fighting for their country, which they were, and as such, made laws and rules that did not guard against those who would use the system for their own gain, but now, that is where we are.

If you craft anything, craft it with the belief of evil and you will safeguard the future, but craft it with the belief that we are all good, you will find more evil.

A New Era of Capitalism

When people tell you you can’t do it.

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Late one lazy night, I was watching a video of Michelle Obama give a speech at a predominately black college. She told them that when she applied for the college she wanted, there were people who told her that perhaps she shouldn’t go because she may embarrass herself.  She told the college kids that they shouldn’t listen to the detractors because they didn’t know the potential each of them held.  Here’s what she didn’t know and what the majority of people get wrong: those people aren’t saying it to be spiteful.  In fact, they have good intentions and want the person they are giving advice to not to fail, so they give this nugget of knowledge in hopes that the person doesn’t falter.  Is it wrong?  Yes.  Is it hurtful?  Yes.  Is the road to hell paved with good intentions?  You better believe it, however, the take-away I want people to have is that these people are not rooting for you to fail.  They are simply judging you based off of what they’ve seen, not necessarily what they know about you.

When we walk away from a situation like this, we oftentimes feel angry at the other party and at the world for not believing in us, but if we view it through the scope of their own misgivings and fears, we can see there isn’t too much anger to hold on to.  In this life, people will always misjudge you, miscalculate how smart you are, and miss your level of perseverance.  It’s not up to them to see your full potential and it is not up to you to prove to them what your potential is.  The only person you ever have to prove your worth to is yourself, because you are the only person who matters.  I wish it were all praise and accolades out there, but sometimes you have to encounter defeat to really understand who you are.  Are you the type of person to lay down and die when the praise dries up or are you the type of person who thrives on poorly-intentioned advice?  When you understand how crippling failure can be, you understand why people do the things they do.  It makes you more compassionate for the very people who you think are keeping you down.  At the same time, you must realize that you have your own voice.

There are million paths to take and a million ways to fail.  There will be those along the way who will help you and those who will tear you down.  There is no right way down the path, only the path.  There is no right and wrong, only your and their judgment of right and wrong.  When you start to see between the lines, you start to realize who you truly are and how you fit on your path.

Reflections of the past

Reflecting on this past year, I’ve gained a lot and lost a lot.  I think we all have and the end of the year lets us capsulize it into a memento; a token of a bygone era.    For some of us, we never reflect on the past, and for others, all we do is live in the past.  Past decisions, regrets, mistakes, victories, triumphs, and defeats.  For those that live in the past, they want to dwell in the memories of something intangible, while those who can’t face their past dwell on trying to suppress a memory that has become intangible.  And yet for both, they remain stuck, like an insect imbued into the essence of amber, becoming a relic for those to find later.  We so rarely have the tools to process our own emotions, and we have even fewer to help others process theirs, and as such, we continue on as a society that simply accepts this as a truth.

I believe things are going to change, but it has to start with the realization that we do need instructions on how to be a human being.  We have become factories unto ourselves, swallowing whole what is spoon-fed to us and spitting it back out to those who come after us.  We leave no footprints behind and expect them to follow.  We have to realize that the rules we live by are malleable and can be changed if we so chose to.  Agitation for change comes not in agreement, but divergence.  Divergence and disagreement is what will lead to a new way of thinking and possibly a new way of doing things.  For if we keep agreeing with how things are, things will keep on keeping.  Each new year allows for us to see farther than we did the last year, but the most important thing I have learned is that the top can only progress as much as they let those at the bottom do.  If we don’t take care of each other, we will forever be trapped by the cycle of greed, and it will be greed that will be our downfall.

Just because you’re right doesn’t mean that’s the right way of going about it.

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You’ve probably been in a situation where you know you’re completely right so you aggressively push your view because you know you are right. Well, that’s probably not the best way to handle a it.  A lot of times, those who are right really try to assert their positions because they know they are right.  And then there are those who believe they are right as well and try to assert themselves, but that’s another story.  The two are intertwined, but not synonymous.  Personally, I have a pretty logical thought process, so when I know I am right, I tend to refuse to listen to other voices of dissent, which can work to my detriment sometimes.  Once, I had a discussion with a coworker who was not familiar with a process that kept insisting they were right when I knew they had no clue of what they were talking about.  Because I knew I was right, I tried to show them how to get to my line of thinking, but didn’t really take into consideration their feelings.  Because I didn’t do that, the person tried to sabotage me later because they felt as if they weren’t properly listened to.  This is what happens when you try to steamroll people without listening to the opposition even if you are right.  It will come back to bite you.  What I failed to recognize was that the person absolutely hated to be wrong and called out for it in public, which caused them to hold on to their hard feelings and try to ruin what I was working on to satisfy their own feelings.  You can say that people shouldn’t do that, but that doesn’t stop them from being human and acting out their feelings.  A lot of times in academic , political, and work settings, people don’t really assess feelings and how they play into situations, but when you don’t assess them, they will topple you as in the recent election.

Many intelligent people went into the election on the soundness of the polls, but never took into consideration how people felt.  A lot of working-class Americans were fed up with the state of government.  Democrats who fought for Bernie Sanders felt slighted and were not properly brought back into the fold, causing them to vote third party or not at all.  A lot of Republicans didn’t like either party and decided not to vote, and then the political elite wondered where they went wrong.  A lot of times, things are rolled out in government that aren’t properly explained to people and as such, the people resent that and question why the programs were implemented in the first place.  One of those projects is Affirmative Action.  I’ve heard white people express dismay at it because they see people of color who seemingly had the same socioeconomic level as them surpass them and only know that it was due to the color of their skin.  Programs such as this are worthy, but if they are not explained to the masses, they will face opposition because those in the elite know it is right, but think there is nothing more to do because they are right.  It even took me a long time to come to understand the purpose of Affirmative Action.  To summarize, everyone is biased.  Each race is predisposed to favor their own based on cultural, social, and economic cues.  That does not mean it applies to everyone and every situation, but it is prevalent.  Look up race blindness, where someone can recognize those within their own race, but have face blindness when it comes to other races different than them.  There are all sorts of biases out there that may or may not benefit you.  As such, if you are one race and go to an employer who is the same race, you may have a slight advantage over others who are not the same.  Now imagine that on a large scale where the majority of employers are white.  The results are going to be the same, but on a larger scale.  There is no racism involved, but slight biases do exist that no one ever noticed.  AA tried to correct this, but it cannot work if it is not explained.

On a personal and social level, this attitude can lead to the failure of things that are completely righteous and well-meaning, but just because they are right doesn’t mean it can be forced on others without considering their feelings and opinions.  Recently, I’ve watched videos of the  Black Pete, a blackface figure, from the Netherlands and how the people there have vigorously fought against the political correctness of this long-held tradition.  Those who are agitating for change are correct in their estimations of the character being a racist emblem of a time gone by, and they are correct in protesting it, but they must also think about the opposition.  When you question the validity of this tradition, these people take it as an assault against their heritage and who they are.  When they feel assaulted, they will fight for what they feel is the disintegration of their people, when in actuality, it is just one racist aspect that can easily be changed.  How it should be handled is not an easy answer, but it is easy to see that you need to take into consideration the feelings behind the character and what it means to the people.  So the next time you know you’re right and the other party is completely in the wrong, try to consider not their position, but their feelings tied to their position instead.  You don’t have to change their minds to see the rightness of your way of thinking, but you just have to acknowledge their dissent and how they are feeling.  That is enough to open an honest dialogue of what is really operating beneath the spoken words and actions that you do see.  Because it’s what you don’t see that will kill you.  Am I right, Hillary?

A Hmong Woman’s Place

Cheating yourself out of your own life