The virtues of selfishness and humility


History is the autobiography of a mad mad – Alexander Herzen

There’s a lot about selfishness that can be criticized. Selfishness on the surface seems inherently wrong. It only helps oneself, usually at the expense of others. It makes one self centered. It also caused our entire financial collapse 6 years ago.

The list can go on and on, of why selfishness is bad. But is there anything good that can be taken away from it? Everything is good in moderation right? I would say that there is something good.

First off, is there any unselfish act? If you helping others because it makes you feel good is… that not a selfish act? Ehh I’ll leave that to the philosophers.

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And then tomorrow others…

There is a reason that the phrase “taking care of #1” refers to taking care of yourself. At the end of the you need to take care of yourself in order to take care of others. If you are upset than helping someone else with their problems is hard. If you are nurse and you are sick, you should probably focus on getting well before helping other sick patients. There is a reason that when the oxygen masks release you are to put yours on first before helping children with theirs.

Being selfish for a short amount of time can be good if helping others can be achieved from it. There’s also nothing wrong for taking a well deserved vacation after a hard year of work, or a reward for doing something good.

Rewards for doing good brings me to humility. In the spectrum from having selfish people always being selfish for selfish reasons on one end to having a Mother Teresa character on the other end there always lay a false good person. Someone who will only act unselfishly in order to help themselves or to get a reward is not really doing good. Donating to a charity just to get a tax write off is not altruistic.

How many times have you seen someone write about how much good their doing in an unprovoked Facebook status? “Helped an old lady across the street today!” That’s great…but what’s the intent behind writing about it? Trying to make others see what a good person you are? Bragging about your good deeds lessens them in a way. It cheapens them. Help others for the “selfish” reason of knowing you did something good. Isn’t is a scout motto to be good when no one is looking? Sometimes someone is looking.

So here’s to a good New Year. Blessed are the humble and…on occasion…for a short amount of time…the selfish.

Beauty and the beast


History is the autobiography of a mad man – Alexander Herzen

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I realize that for the quote at the top of my blog by Herzen is probably confusing to most. While I try  to explain it in the bio section and other posts I see that I don’t actually write about much history. More about contemporary issues and musings showing that a collection of humans will almost always seem mad to the outside observer. I’m a history buff so I felt like I needed a history themed post, which of course makes a collective of people look like a one mad man, like always.

Ancient empires fascinate me, yet I feel like I know very little about them The Romans, Greeks, Persians, Chinese, and the Caliphates are all different yet similar. From one lens you can look at them as the leading innovators of their time. From another lens the butchers of their time. The Romans for example showed the height of philosophic understanding, had beautiful and architecture in their buildings, arches, and aqueducts. They were 2000 years ago yet still their history is so fascinating many books have been written that it’s not hard to become a scholar on them (provided you have the time to read all the material)

The Roman legions are still the things of legend. It is said that Julius Caesar once decimated a forest to make a large bridge to go across a river and then destroyed it. This psychological warfare wreaked havoc on the minds of the leaders of his enemies and led him to victory.

Julius and other Roman generals killed millions of “barbarians.” They crucified Spartacus and thousands of his followers after the failed slave revolt. Enjoyed watching the disemboweling of gladiators in the area, and gave less punishment to a man if he raped an unmarried woman because she wasn’t someone’s “property” yet.

One side shows a culture of the utmost affluence. The other shows a backwards culture of bloodthirsty monsters. This duality is seen with almost every other culture.

The Greeks spread Hellenistic Greek Culture while slaughtering their way through Asia

The Caliphate Muslims excelled in mathematics and scholarly thought, while forcing conversions throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

The Chinese had complex Civil Servant examines with a highly developed social structure and were in almost perpetual war with Chinese minority groups, Mongols, Koreans, Japanese, or other Chinese people.

The Aztecs built great pyramids…for human sacrifice

For every great civilization there is always a dirty horrific side. For every innovation in philosophy, literature, mathematics, and culture there always torture, murder, and warfare.

The same can be said for America and Americans. Was President Andrew Jackson a racist, genocidal, low class maniac? Or was he a shrewd statesman with common sense and good with money?

Was Teddy Roosevelt a perpetual child who basked in the glory of war and shot game with no regard for nature. Or an environmentalist and American hero who made America a world power? There are two sides to every coin. A shiny head and an embarrassing tail.

This brings us to the most familiar empire. The American Empire. An Empire which reached the highest of highs and has done the lowest of lows. An Empire which brings aid to many impoverished nations, first to put a man on the moon, makers of the peace corps, and the American dream that even if you’re born poor in America you have the potential to be a star. An empire which has produced some of the greatest thinkers of all time. Millions of innovations and inventions and an infectious culture.

Also the land where we have been the indirect or direct cause of the overthrow of over 80 regimes. These changes were always from peaceful to totalitarian to protect America’s interests while the U.S. preached “freedom” An industry based on child labor or slave labor and when it was banned here we moved it to other nations. The founding of the country was based on racism and genocide. A a nation that has seen more years of war than peace.

So are these empires (America included) good or bad? Hard to tell. Two sides to every coin. There are very few people that can be called wholly bad or wholly good. The same can be said of Nation’s and empires. Anytime you hear of a brutality of a nation there will almost always something great. Whenever you hear of the greatness of a nation it is usually only because they won a great war.

It leaves me with one final question: Are nations great BECAUSE of their brutality or is that just the independent other side of the coin?

Note: I was thinking of any nations that are exceptions to the rule. I could only think of the Mongols who’s greatness was only in their brutality. So it could say you could be brutal without being great. But never the other way around.

Faux controversies


History is the autobiography of a mad man – Alexander Herzen

I detest what you say but I will defend until my death for you to say it – Voltaire

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When I was coming into my “political awakening” it was 2007 when the presidential race was getting geared up for 2008. I watched the campaigns start out with nice discourse and then everything fell apart after Obama was chosen as the nominee. I saw the conservative machine throw everything but the kitchen sink thrown at then candidate Obama. Socialist, Muslims, atheist, foreign born, Marxist, Nazi, anti-American, and your run of the mill racial slurs. At 17/18 I was astonished that people would treat a candidate who I liked at the time such names. Going forward though I learned it was par for the course.

There was always some new controversy on the campaign. “Where’s the birth certificate” “Why doesn’t he wear a flag pin” “What’s he doing with Reverend Wright?” “Have you heard what his middle name is?!” and many others all being constantly extinguished by the Obama team.

This isn’t just in the political realm though. America is the land of losing our minds over something meaningless.

Some of the one’s that are the most absurd…

Miley Cyrus twerking
The “Beer” summit
A Muslim recreational center around the area of ground 0
Kim Kardashian…anything
Martha Stewart saying the “N” word years ago
Kayne’s “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” statement
Certain presidential handshakes
The “War on Christmas” nonsense
That weird non-translator at Nelson Mendela’s funeral
Honey Boo Boo’s…existence
The Trayvon Martin shooting (yes I care a kid died but not about any of the political silliness that came with it)

And many many others. I’m sorry if one of those makes you really offended but I can not find fucks to give at most things people freak out about. They’re weird sure. Silly, yes. But I really can’t care unlike millions of people.

I don’t have a tv anymore. But that didn’t stop me from hearing 100 different people’s view on Miley Cyrus twerking on some dude at an award show. I’m not going to write this with a self-righteous attitude and complain about genocide and children going hungry (though it is true) and lament the fact many people are  talking about how Martha Stewart is probably racist. It effects me 0%. I try to do my part and shop for hungry families and buy toys for them at Christmas and that makes me feel good but again, it doesn’t affect me.

I’m not saying that every scandal or controversy should be tuned out though. In fact the most important ones are the ones tuned out. Edward Snowden and the NSA leaks should be talked about everyday, all day. The erosion of our 4th amendment should be talked about all day everyday. Those things are very real and very bad, and very relevent to our lives.

Anyways this all brings us to the man with the epic beard at the beginning of the post. Mr. Phil Robertson. He is the patriarch of the show “Duck Dynasty.” Now I’ve never seen it but apparently they’re hunters in Louisiana and it’s a #1 (un)reality hit show. Now, I stopped watching reality tv when I hit 18 but I guess it’s still around and people still watch it, whatever, good for them.

The only reason I know about the man is that EVERYONE is talking about him for some anti-gay/biblical statements he made and how he was fired for them. Now again, this does not affect me so it’s hard for me to care. The show seems like garbage so it seems natural garbage would come out of the star’s mouth.

However, as a friend of mine said “I find it hard to balance by hate of the PC (political correct) police with my even greater hatred of duck dynasty” I feel the same way. I’m not a fan of people (even dumb homophobic people) being censored but the show seems pretty dumb. I’ve always been a huge fan of Voltaire’s quote “I detest what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” This situation is a tad different though. Of course I detest what he said and I don’t agree he should be fired…however the channel A&E is a private company and they can do whatever they want. Hell, they could pull the whole show if they wanted to.

But let’s not play games here. This isn’t about Phil and it’s not about Duck Dynasty. It’s about the limits of freedom of speech and people being too sensitive. Just as I railed against the feminism movement going too far sometimes in the last post, this can be an example of the pro-gay movement going too far here. Like I said in my last post I’m a feminist. And I’ll say it here, I love my gay friends but sometimes fringes in those movements can sully their movements’ names.

Conservatives on Facebook are making all these passionate posts about how “they’re with Phil” and hoo rah rah good for them. Even people that have never seen the show are making statements (including yours truly) The craziest thing I’ve seen so far is a person wrote how Phil Robertson is the next Rosa Parks. Yeah…we don’t need that writer anymore. Conservatives get to be “champions of free speech” here because he’s speaking a conservative message. If he got banned for being pro-gay would the shoe be on the other foot? Probably.

People can should be able to say whatever they want to say (except “bomb” on the air plane, “fire” in a crowded hall..ect) without fear prosecution. They should be able to say the dumbest, most vile, and absurd things imaginable. I’m not saying that’s what people SHOULD do, just as an option and they should find themselves friendless if they so say those things. But if Phil was being brought up on some charges I would be the first to put on a nice suit and be on his defense team….buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut that’s not what’s happening. Phil faces no legal action or prosecution. He got kicked off a show in which executives made a PR decision, which is legal and fair. So I’m fine with that.

What is this Feminism Thing?


History is the autobiography of a mad man – Alexander Herzen

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Hello, my name is Paul and I’m a feminist. Yes contrary to the opening picture guys can be a feminists.  I don’t think there’s a big deal about being one. I don’t think it’s to be congratulated or to be berated. I heard once that “feminism is the radical notion that women are people too.” Radical notion? Sure. Anything to be proud of? Well if you can be proud for not being a jerk than sure.

This is where the concept should end though. Hey, treat women equally, and boo on men that don’t. However, there is the popular feminist notion that men (me included) don’t get it, and the (anti-feminist notion) some women like to see “sexism” everywhere.

Now let me just write a few disclaimers because I can already here the negative comments being typed.

Rape is wrong an inexcusable. No one ever asks to be rape. Programs like “take back the night” and “a mile in her shoes” are good and informing men of that issue

It is absurd that women do not make as much money as a man for the same job. Same job, same pay. No question.

To me girls truly are equal. Hooray right? Well treating girls equally has not always had the best results…from those girls.

I used to be the President of the Towson Dodgeball Club. It’s a male dominated club as one would suspect but we have our token girls. Now in my feminist mind set they are equal right? Don’t treat them any differently, right? So I’d have a ball and whip in a guys face. My team cheers, I do the same and whip it at a girls face and get jeers. Equality?

Like most parties in college there is a cover fee to get in. The few large parties I threw were no different. At one point there were girls who didn’t come with any money. I said they can’t come in then. Their response was, and I quote “uhhh we’re girls and we’re hot. What are you gay? Let us in, who cares if we don’t have any money WE ARE HOT.” Apparently at other parties there are sexist party throwers who let good looking girls in for free. As a feminist, I get slandered…by girls.

At the bar scene does the guy buy the girl a drink and then she buys him a drink? No, he usually is “rewarded” with being acknowledged by the girl and maybe they’ll talk. Nobody buys guys drinks…well except other guys….but that’s a different topic entirely.

3rd disclaimer: You should never hit a woman, even if they’re hitting a man

But…why can women hit guys? Why is that socially acceptable? I recently saw a series of videos about men’s and women’s “roles” being reversed. It’s called the flipside They’re mainly “classic” situations where guys “act” like girls and girls “act” like guys. What I mean is not that guys are talking in an effeminate tone but their actions and words are “classically” done by girls and vice versa. Are they funny, or missing the point?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phynkmB5xEU

Do you ever see women going to the bar to try and pick up guys like in the video? Maybe once in awhile but usually it’s guys who go to the bar to pick up girls. Then there’s the whole “double standard” of “Why is girl who gets with a guy is a “slut” but a guy who get’s a lot of girls a “player?” Because men have to work to get girls. If a guy doesn’t look good, have money, or social skills he is useless to society and to girls. If I went to a bar and walked up to every girl and asked if they wanted to leave the bar with me I’d probably fail almost 100% time. If an attractive girl did that to all the guys in the bar, there definitely would be a good number of guys saying YES!

Is that okay? Is that sexist? Who is that favoring? What’s the point of all of this?

My point is that men and women are different. Biologically, sexually, interest wise, and culturally (assuming there is a guy and girl “culture”)

Joe Rogan was recently blasted on his podcast for saying that a transgendered man (who was previously a woman) shouldn’t be able to fight in the men’s MMA league. His reasoning was that biologically speaking, men’s hands are bigger, their wing spans are wider, they have more muscle mass and it wouldn’t be a fair fight. He wasn’t being anti-transgendered but got blasted for it…until the transgendered man was beaten within an inch of his life in the MMA fight. Equality isn’t always what you want it to be.

Also, an eye for an eye doesn’t solve anything. Real sexism is when women are screwed out of an equal paycheck, rape, domestic abuse, forced subjection of the body…but let’s not get crazy.

I recently stumbled across the site Jeezebel (or however you spell it) where there was a rant about how some commercial was awful and sexist because the old woman was cleaning and the man was sleeping (in one scene) when it’s sort of meant to poke fun about how the old couple reacted to this new swiffer product.

“WHY DOESN’T MORTY HELP WITH THE CLEANING?! WHY DOES THE WIFE DO IT!?” The writer ranted. The couple is a real couple. Maybe she enjoys cleaning? Maybe he has back pain. Maybe that’s her chore and the husband do the dishes? Maybe because they’re from an different era with more rigid gender roles (like the woman cleaning) and they’re okay with that. My grandmother takes care of my grandfather. She cooks, cleans, gardens, and looks after him. He made the money though. That’s how it was back a generation or 2 ago and that’s how they live. I’m not going to call my grandfather (a pastor of over 50 years) a sexist because my grandmother does more housework. It’s silly.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xw9Bp2AszNw
Sexist?

Now is that acceptable? Sure. Women and still do housework and the man can still be the breadwinner… IF THAT’S WHAT THE COUPLE WANTS. I’m not going to berate a woman for wanting to be a stay at home mom for “conforming to gender roles” nor will I make fun a of a stay at home dad for being a sissy or something. Live and let live, who am I to judge.

It looks like arch feminism sites like that are as short sited as their arch masculine sites counterparts. There was a Return of the Kings (pro male) site about why it’s good to date a girl with an eating disorder. That’s sick. You should never promote something so culturally and physically toxic. Other posts are about the “woes” of being man. Not equating the Morty rant to that but still. They all are a little hyper sensitive.

I was also told the classic Christmas song “Baby it’s cold outside” promotes “rape culture” when I wasn’t even aware sex happened in the song. But I guess if want to believe the woman is forcibly blocked from leaving and than raped instead of my take of a guy wooing/courting a woman to stay by the fire…go ahead and make yourself offended. I guess when all you have is a (feminist) hammer, everything looks like a (sexist) nail.

Is this commercial more or less sexist?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PVhIMr4ScI&src_vid=TvswSmzY4zQ&feature=iv&annotation_id=annotation_778801225

Treating people differently doesn’t mean that they aren’t equal to you as a person. If someone want’s to exploit their body, it’s a free country. Why don’t feminists rally outside Chip and Dale’s club? Those men are objectifying themselves like females do at a Hooters. Maybe I’m just a “gender egalitarian” instead of a feminist.

People are crazy… that’s what this blog is about. I’ll leave you with (the jist) of one of Aesop’s fables. A man was walking with his kid and a donkey. They passed a group of people who scowled at the man for making his kid walk and not ride so the kid got on the donkey. Then they passed another group of people who thought the father should ride too since he did more work, so the father got on too. Then they passed another group of people who were angry they were treating the donkey unfairly by putting so much weight on him….

People get mad at sandwhich jokes, people get mad if a girl is treated special. You can’t please everyone. Just be a nice person TO EVERYONE. Open doors for all people, not just girls. Acknowledge that men and women are different, and relax.

Why Your Parents Don’t Want What’s Best For You (But Wants What’s Good)


History is the autobiography of a mad man – Alexander Herzen

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Think about how many mistakes you’ve made in your life. If you’re like me I bet it’s a good amount. I have made a lot of mistakes in my life. A lot of mistakes that were serious, but a lot more that were harmless. However, I also learned from them. Here’s some examples.

At age 4 I learned that gallon milk jugs can not be stacked on each other in the shopping cart or the top one will fall off, crash, and make many small rivers of milk in the grocery store.

At age 7 I learned I didn’t really know how to swim in water that was taller than me and nearly drowned.

At age 11 I learned girls don’t want to talk to you if your voice cracks and your hair is unkept

At age 16 I learned that people will have problems with you no matter how well you treat them

At age 21 I learned that being a pompous ass will lose you people that matter

Stacking milk too high, swimming in deep water when you’re not ready, social cues, trying to hard with those who aren’t worth your time, and being an insensitive ass are all mistakes I’ve made. But the important thing is learned from them. I’ve taken all of those lessons to heart and they’ve kept me alive in some cases and happy in others. They made me a better person than I was before them.

Learning something the hard way is usually the best way, those lessons stick with you because they brought out a bad outcome and you remember that outcome way better than a parent telling you “don’t do that.” However, that’s kinda the point of a parent though right? To keep you safe, teach you life lessons, and want what’s best for you. However, parents don’t want what’s best for you. It’s against their nature to REALLY want something that will cause you pain or hardship but have you learning from it in the end. Our parents have all made their share of mistakes as well and try to teach their children to not repeat them. They want their children’s lives to be as comfortable as they can be and to sheild them from adversity.

However, not all adversity is bad. Sometimes it’s pretty helpful.

There is a sliding scale to this though. Obviously I’m not advocating that children should be poor, malnurished, or sad for a great part of their childhood. That’s awful. Nor do I think something useful can be taken away from every hardship. Losing a parent at a young age isn’t worth anykind of “growing” that one can get from it… it just sucks.

But adversity can be helpful in other aspects of life. For example, I have played sports my whole life. I played JV soccer and was captain of my high school tennis team. I also played little league baseball, and pick up basketball and football games. I’ve lost my share of games and matches. However, losing those games made me sad, (which is adversity) but more importantly it taught me how to lose, that it’s not the end of the world. I just need to practice better so I don’t lose as much and feel sad. Ever see a kid lose, who’s not used to losing? You’d have thought he just had a tooth pulled with no novicane. That some tradgety had happened, and not that he lost a soccer game. Losing sport games taught me how to lose and how to get better. Obviously a parent wants their child to succeed and win and wouldn’t wish them the loss but the loss teaches more than the win.

It’s common sense when you think about it. Let’s say a kid walks into a store with his mother and he want’s a candy bar. His mother says “no” and so the kid cries, kicks and screams, and causes a scene. The mother can either give in to stop the scene and give the candy bar to her kid or hold her ground, thus letting the scene persist until they leave. If she always takes the short cut and gives in the child grows up spoiled. If she stops it and holds her ground, the child understands that they can’t get everything they want and they grow and learn from that. However, more and more parents are taking the easy route and giving in (hey it’s just a candy bar) and that teaches nothing.

Bill cosby once talked about his kids, saying something that he had to work hard to achieve success and fortune. His hard work and dedication allowed his children to live a comfortable life. However, they didn’t see the value in working as hard as he did because they didn’t have to work hard to survive. That’s not something that he could teach his kids because they hadn’t lived it.

It’s the reasons great nations fall as well. The Mongol Empire (once the biggest empire in the world) lasted only a couple generations. The older generations had nothing so they trained under the hardest conditions to become the best and smartest warriors in the world and they beat every opponet, and gained land and treasure because of the hardship they put themselves through. The younger generations didn’t understand about hard and rigerous training since they weren’t born in some mud hut like their grandfather but born into palaces. Thus they didn’t work hard to become great and the empire fell.

Parents are filled with good advice. Don’t drink and drive (that’s not a lesson you can always come back from) Be respectful to others (or the lesson you will learn is no one will like you) and always have a fresh set of underwear (no explanation needed)

But for the most part, parents will tell their children lots of things. Some of it may be bad advice, or advice that would have been good for the past generation but not applicable now, some of it good and you’ll take to heart, but most of it will be in one ear and out the other, and who says that’s not okay? Go make all the mistakes you need to grow.

To human is to err
To forgive is divine
To learn is to grow

Where are we going? A glorious utopia or to a failed state?


History is the autobiography of a mad man – Alexander Herzen

Usually I write a post to make some sort of social commentary based on the history of people and their actions, or using things I’ve learned about people to try and become a better person. But this time I’m using history to try to make a crystal ball of for the future.

I see America heading in one of two directions, one very good and the other…not so much. First I’ll start with the bad scenario.

They say that every free and 1st world society has a middle class. Of course there are other things such as voting in democratic elections, ethical labor practices, a high GDP, low corruption..etc

1st view: “The failed state” The one country that always eluded this categorization was India. They called it “The Indian Puzzle” and it was the questioning of how India was able to rise in so much wealth but for only a couple people. Have democratic elections, a free society, but have a big wealthy class, a big begger class and not much of a middle one. Looking at other countries now this sort of thing is starting to appear more and more common. China’s communist party still has a firm grip on the country’s political climate and with the adoption of global economic market practices has done pretty well for itself… Well it’s done well for many people at the top and still screws many people at the bottom who aren’t “up to par” with Chinese standards, and they support 3rd world dictators that support their resources.

If you look at Russia there are the same signs of a 1st world country and a 3rd world country as well. A corrupt iron fist Putin, who throws punk rocking critics in Serbian prisons, and supports dictators. They also have a Russian high life of Vodka, cars, and women… if you have the cash.

What does all of this have to do with anything? Why is this relevant to you? I say these countries are not the exceptions to the 1st world rule but a trend and America could very well be next.

It’s no secret in America how divided a nation we are. Hell we even come to killings just because other people like a sports team that we don’t like. When it comes to politics we have people calling each other “libtards” and “RINOS” “tebaggers.” How can we elect people and expect them to get things done when we villainize anyone who even remotely thinks different than them politically…

There’s always a new article coming out about a how so many people are struggling in minimum wage jobs, just how unimaginably rich the richest Americans are, unethical business practices, an all spying government, a corrupt politician, students failing in schools, increasing college debt,  the greed of others, and then…every so often…a good story comes out! Where we idolize someone for NOT being a bad person..

So with a failed and volatile electorate, a record breaking congress (in terms of things done) our youngest generation falling further and further behind in terms of world education rankings, a splitting middle class (with more falling back that forward), more people jailed than any other nation, it leaves us in bad shape. But we don’t see it.As long as we get our distractions then we don’t mind. God forbid the government cancels the next NFL season then they’d have hell to pay. But we just become jaded and say “ehhh they lie to us a lot what 1, 5, 10, 100 more? I still have my witty sitcom. Oh did you see the story of the nice boy? Nice to see there is still good in the world”

And that brings me to the 2nd view. All is not lost. Far from it in fact. There is still good in the world. There’s A LOT of good in the world. We have seen the internet for what… on a wide scale for maybe 10 years? You become a self made man with the internet. You can raise awareness for a cause with it. You can change the world with it. The Arab Spring was helped organized with the help of Facebook and other social media. We as a society are undergoing a massive change in the way information is being shared with our connectivity and how we are being divided. Immensely evil things are happening and immensely good things.

Imagine all you can do if you did what you could do. We sell our selves short by not doing everything we can do. Work out, learn a language, read a book, write a book. We can do all of that. We can do so much and have the freedom to do anything. The only thing that is hold us back is ourselves. We have the power and the tools to build a new world for ourselves, a better world, a world that works, a world that doesn’t profit of pain, a world that works together and we still have our individuality.

So where are we going? It’s your choice.