Meaninglessness in Wonder Woman

Standard

“Remember, with great power comes great responsibility.”

“Be their hero, Clark. Be their angel, be their monument, be anything they need you to be… or be none of it. You don’t owe this world a thing. You never did.”

The Raimi Spider-Man movies and Snyder’s Superman movies offer opposing takes on morality: Spider-Man (a human being with human problems and duties) is only good when he does justice to his responsibilities, while Superman (having no limits to his power and no one to be accountable to) is good when he follows his desires.

This is why no matter what he does, no matter how hard he tries, Spider-Man will always have to face the cost of his actions: It is his sacrifices in order to do what is right that makes him the good guy. Superman on the other hand, when he considers what others might think in doing stuff, or when he subjects his abilities to the whims of others (Zod and Luthor, for example) does more harm than good.

Spider-Man follows Kantian categorical imperatives (nerd): what is good is good and it is always rational to do it. Superman is a Randian egoist: what is good is good only if we really desire to do it.

A striking similarity however, and I think what makes their stories a tad simplistic at times, is that it is always clear what they have to do and who they have to fight. The questions tackled are always whether they should choose to do that thing or not, and how they should do it. And the world always hangs upon the balance with them making the choice.

This is, why Wonder Woman stands out. The movie isn’t about whether we should choose to do the right thing, as doing the right thing is a given for Diana. It’s about figuring out why should we do the right thing if the right thing seems insignificant. Wonder Woman does this by establishing Diana as a well-intentioned, capable individual who always wants to do the right thing out of both responsibility and desire and then subverting the trope of the hero getting what he desires at the end.

When doing good doesn’t make things “better”

Much of the film concerns proving to the audience that Diana will always do “the right thing” given the circumstances.

Image result for wonder woman child scenee

When she desired belonging back when she was a kid, she “did the right thing” by doing what her community thinks she should do.

When she decided to step out of her comfort zone to achieve her purpose by going to Man’s World and stopping the war, she “did the right thing” by doing what gets her closer to our goal, even if it means shedding off some parts of her identity.

When she encountered what the undeniable suffering of others she “did the right thing” by coming to their aid, even if it means putting off her own agenda.

 

 

But the real drama of the story happens in the last act, where she accomplishes her goal and yet nothing changes. She didn’t get what she was promised.

Wonder Woman did all the right things according to her responsibilities (like Spider-Man), and took joy in doing so (like Superman), but the prize was absent. The War still went on. People were still dicks. Spider-Man and Superman had it easy: they at least got their reward. Diana didn’t, despite losing everything.

I personally find it more relatable as a character arc, because most of the time we know we should do good, we just can’t find a reason compelling enough to do it, especially at times we feel insignificant given the circumstances.

And this is the central question of the film: if the things we did did not yield yhe results we wanted, does that mean that those actions are worthless? Diana’s answer is no. The things we do do not matter because of the results they deserve, but because of what we believed they stand for. In our actions, we communicate the values we espoused by doing them. Sometimes they are not enough to solve the problem or change the situation, but they are important because they inspire others to rally behind a meaningful cause.

Diana may not have ended all wars by killing the General, but she has inspired her newfound friends to go above and beyond their call of duty comfort to stop the genocide of millions. She has inspired others to step up and save the day. And while in the end, she learned that stopping Ares won’t stop humans from killing each other, she learned from the actions of her friends that the capacity of human beings to sacrifice themselves and rise beyond their limitations mean that they are worth saving.

Our good actions may not yield the results they deserve. They may even mean very little to us. But even so, they can mean the world to people who pay attention to the good we are doing, and we may only save the day, but they can save the world.

This makes doing something better than doing nothing. Because while actions may not lead mathematically to desirable results, they can still inspire and move people. We just have to believe in the capacity of people to understand, and do the things needed to communicate the values we want to see in the world.

Previous superhero movies have shown us that our choices matter to the fate of the world. But Wonder Woman shows us that sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it just matters to some people. Yet, getting those people to follow our lead andthe replicate the values we fight for is at times the very thing that can win the war. Superheroes have long saved humanity on their own. What the world needs now are symbols who create more heroes. Hopefully, the film inspired many people to do something other than nothing, especially in these trying times.

Rewatching Batman v. Superman

(We could honestly end there. But I promised my Facebook friends an extended cut. If you find yourself bored after the first few paragraphs, it’s okay.)

As Wonder Woman sheds some insight on Diana’s motivations and her approach to “heroism,” we can watch Batman v. Superman in a different light. I think it is a good mental exercise when trying to learn from movies from a “cinematic universe:” isolate one character and examine his or her journey throughout the films.

This becomes difficult as Wonder Woman has only a few minutes of screentime. We don’t know what changed in her ideals between World War I and the present time. But I think we can learn a lot from comparison, and comparing Wonder Woman’s actions when she was fresh off the boat from Paradise Island to the her actions in the events leading up to the fight against Doomsday tells a lot about how her character developed.

We have learned from the Wonder Woman  movie that the Great War has shattered Diana’s assumptions on the simplicity of morality and resolving conflicts among humans. And as Batman v. Superman clearly paints a picture of a Wonder Woman who is unsurprised and unshaken with a battle between gods and monsters, it seems to suggest that for Diana, it is just another battle in an endless series of battles that is the history of “man.”

Perhaps it is because she was taken out of classical myths that she is not overwhelmed by the idea of flying men and a monster of pure rage. But even if she isn’t, it is not difficult to conclude that it might have something to do with the amount of violence and suffering she has lived through being immortal. In Batman v. Superman, we see a Diana who is burdened by sorrow, far from the idealistic and enthusiastic Diana from the beginning of Wonder Woman. It might be why she chose to live in seclusion (and I would like a film which explores Diana’s further descent into detachment). Or maybe she has remained active during the period leading up to the present, and either she was just that good at hiding it or the world wasn’t just paying attention.

But it is very likely that historical events took much toll on Diana. I can only imagine her pain for humanity during the Second World War, the Cold War, the Gulf War, and the ongoing strife in the Middle East. (Disclaimer: I’m not ignorant of the actress who portrayed her’s political beliefs, but I try not to let it distract me. Shittier people have done more movies. I don’t have to like her to enjoy and learn from her films.) If that is the case, then it further emphasizes the earlier point regarding doing good things despite its futility in the grand scheme of things.

If Wonder Woman has lost her initial idealism and enthusiasm, what could possibly she still involve herself in conflict? Where can we find the drive to continue struggling to do good things in a world that refuses to thwart us with meaninglessness and suffering?

It could always be simply her ego. Our drive to do good things could just be a conscious choice out of our desire to do things. And in fairness to Martha Kent, that does not necessarily take away from the goodness of the good things that we do. Yet, I think it is barely sufficient to sustain continuous involvement, especially if you have lived for a long time and have experienced and seen a lot of bloody truths.

Doing a few good things here and there cannot be simply fueled by selfish desires. Neither do selfish desires stop us from doing bad things. Knowing that Superman, if he follows his objectivist mother and his ghost dad, could just be following his own heart in doing the good things that he does gives legitimacy to Batman’s fears in the beginning of Batman v. Superman. I would argue that Wonder Woman is not fueled by selfish intentions given that: 1.) she still finds it in her to save the day even if the situation is not new; and 2.) from what we know, she has not instead turned to abusing her power and immortality (although it does pose an edge in the museum curator job market).

Maybe she is more Spider-Man than Superman in this sense. She still answers the call to heroism because of a sense of responsibility. This would make sense to us if we consider people from our lives who have put up with som much shit and yet, still do the things they are supposed to do because of a sense of duty. We rarely ever see them happy in doing their jobs, and yet, they do it anyway. For these people, even if the desire to derive meaning or joy from the duty has been dissolved by the cost of doing things to one’s ego, time, or convenience, doing the job still matters, because it is something beyond their own well-being. The world is shitty, their job is shitty, but the job is the job and it has to be seen through.

But maybe the answer is somewhere in the middle. Maybe Wonder Woman, in spite of the meaninglessness of helping out in the grand scheme of things, has found happiness in simply helping out over and over again. Albert Camus, using the tale of Sisyphus in his illustration, calls this “embracing the absurd.” Even if our job is pushing a boulder up a hill over and over only for it to roll downhill every time, we can still find purpose and meaning in the job. The absurdity of the job becomes us. We become absurd heroes.

There is, however, another approach to the marriage between doing good things over and over out of happiness and doing them out of the sense of duty, and it is the Aristotelian concept of virtue. Because we do certain things out of habit, it reaches a point where it ceases to be an imposed duty and becomes an integral part of ourselves. And because it is part of our identity, we reasonably derive happiness from doing such things. If we always practice honesty, we become honest people. If we always seek justice, we become just. If we always answer to the call of others, we become heroes. At that point, we don’t do it because we have to, but because it feels natural to us.

Perhaps Wonder Woman has already reached this stage of so-called “eudaemonia.” But if not, I think it is a good direction to take the character towards. If Wonder Woman only ever does battle because she feels obligated despite her acquired cynicism, or because it is the only life she has ever known, or maybe even because she just feels like it, it would be interesting to see how any of these cold and depressing (although real and warranted) motivations evolve into something which gives her happiness and affirmation. That would be an interesting struggle to explore because we all face that at different points in our life: as children, as students, as employees. And people like me, who are tired of involving themselves in a painful and meaningless world but are still compelled by some inescapable itch to do so, really need it right now.

That, or Diana’s arc could just be about a more external conflict. But if it isn’t about her addressing the roots of violence and ending all senseless wars and senseless destruction, then it’s just another meaningless superhero movie where nothing changes and no one grows and nothing is learned or gained by doing anything. If I wanted that, there’s always Guardians of the Galaxy II.

Lokal na kalalakihan, patuloy ang pakikibaka laban sa pang-aapi ng mga babaeng maiikli magdamit

Standard

“Ilang manipestasyon ng sikolohikal na kundisyon na ito ay ang di-mapigilang pagsipol, pagsabi ng “Hi, Miss”, pagkindat at—ang pinakamalala—matinding depresyon dulot ng hindi pagpansin at minsan pa ay mabilis na paglakad palayo ng mga babae sa kanilang lalakeng nabiktima.”

tangingnews

“Tama na, sobra na, saplutan na!” ang sigaw ng LIBOG (Liga ng mga Inaaping Boys at, Occasionally, mga Gangstas). Ito ay panawagan ng grupo ng lokal na kalalakihan laban sa “mga haliparot na babaeng walang ibang ginawa sa buhay kundi manukso at mang-akit ng mga kawawang tambay.”

Ayon sa pagsusuri ng LIBOG, hindi bababa sa dalawampung babaeng naka-shorts, naka-mini skirt, o naka-sando, ang araw-araw na nagdudulot ng matinding pagkabalisa sa mga lalaking nakasasaksi sa kanilang pananamit. Ayon kay Mang Kanor, 50, head researcher ng LIBOG, isang sikolohikal na kundisyon na di umano’y maihahalintulad sa PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) ang idinudulot ng ganitong klaseng mga babae sa nasabing kalalakihan.

Ilang manipestasyon ng sikolohikal na kundisyon na ito ay ang di-mapigilang pagsipol, pagsabi ng “Hi, Miss”, pagkindat at—ang pinakamalala—matinding depresyon dulot ng hindi pagpansin at minsan pa ay mabilis na paglakad palayo ng mga babae sa kanilang lalakeng nabiktima.

Si Alex*, isa…

View original post 106 more words

You are Your Labels.

Standard
geek_mag_uncannyavengersdivisive

That’s sweet. But Havok, we are not judged by our choices, but the groups we belong to!

This is a page from Uncanny Avengers which spurred debate and controversy regarding identity and minorities. As UP celebrates its Pride Week, I just think it’s appropriate to talk about it.
Do the labels people attach to us define us or reduce us to a particular dimension of our identity? There are people who think so. And they hate it.
I understand. They are treated differently as they seem more to people as “gay”, “alien” or “promdi” more than an equal. That is the fundamental problem: how society divides us and prevents us from seeing our common struggles, our potential for unity.
But some of these people, in trying to avoid confrontation or alienation from the lot, deny or keep these “labels” under the rug. They hide the fact that they’re gay, or from outside Manila, or from a poor family, or Muslim, or Christian. That’s also understandable. Society has made it hard for them to identify with what makes them different from society’s favorite class: in our country’s case, the middle-class, heterosexual, fair-skinned Christian from Luzon.
We want to be liberated: to determine our own place in society, without regard for our role as the underprivileged. We want to be treated as merely “human,” not as anything else. The truth, however, is that while we are not less than human, we are more it. We are also our sex and gender. We are also our economic class. We are our provincial origin. We are our skin color. We are our religion.
The liberal, secular, capitalist culture wants us to deny ourselves these characteristics and focus on “our similarities.” But by “similarities,” it means only the things which can be quantified: the things it can profit from. It claims to “liberate” us, but it only wants us to deny the reality of our struggle, the importance of our differences and the avenue for real conversations among people.
Such is the importance of “pride”: the acknowledgement and celebration of difference is the first step towards a real community of people living together in acceptance and progress.
kitty

Not surprisingly, the person who embodies this is Kitty Pryde.

So do not be afraid to be called “gay” or “poor” or “Muslim.” Do not be afraid of being the minority. Embrace it. Identify with the people you belong to. It is the reason why the status quo persists: because they take pride in who they are and expect others to bow to their superiority. No more. It stops now.
The only true path to unity and solidarity is to recognize our differences, which define our interests and experiences. It is the only way a particular class can own up to its mistakes, and for the impoverished to fiercely assert and demand justice.

That’s better.

THE COMMU-RICK MORTY-FESTO

Standard

Rick and Morty, while far from being a vessel for political propaganda, have been teeming with subtle social commentary wrapped inside boxes of testicle jokes and good old science fiction. The sixth episode of its second season, “The Ricks Must Be Crazy,” pokes fun at many significant issues in today’s society.

There are a lot of things one can appreciate in this episode. I, for example, love that Stephen Colbert is in it. Colbert is no stranger to political satire, spending almost a decade providing comedic commentary on the Colbert Report. This episode in particular talks a lot about capitalism, moral and social ethics, as well as the dynamics of power.

Here I shall share with you some of the themes I have observed watching the episode. I have watched it five times already in a span of 48 days and with every screening, I notice and understand more and more things. So I won’t spoil the whole thing, I opted to leave out the B-plot for you to analyze yourself. I hope you enjoy reading.

SLAVERY WITH EXTRA STEPS

Rick's Microverse Battery

“Jesus, Morty, you can’t just add a *burp* sci-fi word to a car word and hope it means something. Hm. Look’s like something’s wrong with the Microverse Battery.”

The episode revolves around Rick trying to fix his “microverse battery” when it broke down while he was taking his grandkids, Morty and Summer, out on an alternate dimension for movies and ice cream. What is special about Rick’s “battery” is that it is a product of both Rick’s intelligence and indifference towards others. Inside the battery is a planet populated by sentient beings whose sole purpose is providing Rick free electricity to “power his engine and charge his phone and stuff.”

This is unknowingly done by the people of the Microverse by stepping repeatedly on a contraption made by Rick called the Gooblebox, which converts their movement to electricity. While the electricity they generate power their seemingly ordinary lives, the people of the Microverse unknowingly give an unspecified amount of the energy they produce to fuel Rick’s power needs, which they thought to be “waste” being transferred to a volcano.

Upon learning this, Morty, Rick’s sidekick and moral foil, calls his grandfather out for “enslaving” an entire planet for the sake of electricity. Rick argued that what he created was a functioning society whose byproduct merely incidentally fuels his need for electricity. Morty, however, seeing through Rick’s poor rationalization is convinced that the civilization Rick created is founded on “slavery with extra steps.”

The society Rick created inside his battery is reminiscent of the Marxist interpretation of the capitalist society. Capitalist society is founded on the accumulation of surplus value. Surplus value is the amount of value produced by labor, which is taken by the captitalists from the workers as profit.

In this case, the surplus value is in the form of energy produced by the Microverse people, stolen by Rick without their knowledge for his own gain. Just like defenders of capitalism, Rick sees this setup as justified as it enables society to function. Like Rick, capitalists see profit not as something stolen from those who worked, but as a natural consequence or a byproduct of individuals “working with each other.”

The truth, however, is that Rick only created the Microverse to never have to pay for electricity. In the same manner, capitalists accept and promote the phenomenon of profit as something “naturally-occurring” because they are the ones who thrive from it the most without being part of the production.

HOW LIES POWER SOCIETY

Rick and Morty's universal sign of peace Rick arrives in the planet and is welcomed as the hero who benevolently introduced electricity to the civilization. Disguising himself as an alien, Rick flips them off as he had previously convinced them that it is a universal sign of peace.

Rick and Morty soon found out that the reason why the car battery won’t power up is because the people from the Microverse have found a way to produce electricity without Rick’s Goobleboxes. Zeep Zanflorp, the Microverse’s most intelligent scientist, while being ignorant of Rick’s true identity, has created a device similar to Rick’s battery. Zeep has also made a small planet inside a box he dubbed “Miniverse,” where little sentient beings power their planet through devices called Flooblecranks, similar to Rick’s Goobleboxes.

To Morty’s surprise, Rick pointed out Zeep’s method of acquiring energy as “unethical,” using the very same words Morty used to criticize Rick. Zeep, unknowingly demonstrating how much alike he is with Rick, used Rick’s previous arguments against him.

“Looks like someone’s going to get laid in college.”

Rick, indifferent towards his own hypocrisy, planned to look for Zeep’s Miniverse’s version of a brilliant scientist who would create a smaller bottled universe, for Zeep to realize the moral implications of his Miniverse. However, after finding the scientist, Zeep only realized that Rick was his planet’s creator all along. Yet, instead of reverence, Zeep was appalled of this discovery.

“I didn’t ask to be born!”

This turn of events seem remarkably similar to how industrialized countries respond to emerging economies. From the First World War to China’s status as a rising power, the wars and international tensions in history since the industrial revolution have always had the interests of the elite among humanity as its primary motivations.

Here, Zeep’s consciousness of Rick’s systemic abuse resulted to aggression, in spite of Zeep being guilty of the same immoral deeds as Rick. This is because the struggle between Rick and Zeep is not a struggle of morality, but of power. Realizing that Rick is capable of totally annihilating his planet, Zeep, since his discovery, has yearned to get Rick out of the way.

Violence as a consequence of the state of war, arising from unequal distribution of power, is a component of what Political Science calls realism. Realism holds that things are not always as they seem: that events arising from relationships can be explained by the drive of individual actors for power.

Marx was also a realist in the sense that he believed that all social relations are based on “an economic base.” This means that culture and language, among many other institutions in society, are mere consequences of how society provides for its needs. In this episode, people from the Microverse use certain phrases (like “blow me”, “fuck you” and “much obliged”) differently, because they interpret such phrases as Rick, the representative of the ruling class, does.

Events, like Ricksgiving, as well as the education system of Rick’s Microverse are also centered around legitimizing Rick as a hero and a friend, and one can only assume that Zeep is also treated with the same admiration in his Miniverse.

This is parallel to how our present culture is engineered to legitimize certain people and groups: not because of their moral uprightness, but relative to how they advance the narrative of the ruling elite. In our case, this may be seen in how holidays like Christmas and Valentine’s Day both encourage the expression of love through consumerism – through purchasing things – in spite of supposedly being about generosity.

F*CK TREES. F*CK NATURE.

Many movies dabble on the apparent antagonism between science and the environment. The Star Wars saga and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, for example, both showed the triumph of religion, oneness with nature and humble, indigent communities over large industrialized empires which distort naturally-occurring things for the sake of power. Rick and Morty, however, did not have such a romantic view of nature in this episode.

Being frustrated with how Rick and Zeep are both using their scientific prowess to destroy one another’s chances of survival after being stuck inside Zeep’s Miniverse, Morty opted to live among the Tree People: an indigenous tree-worshipping tribe living in the nearby forest. After embracing the tribe’s culture, Morty proceeded to eliciting the help of the tribe in getting Rick and Zeep to work together for them to go home.

Morty, however, was not fully assimilated by the tribe’s culture. In fact he expressed disgust over the tribe’s cannibalistic tendencies and grotesque rituals.

While demonstrating the destructive nature of technology gone wrong, Rick and Morty avoids glorifying the “backward savage” society, unlike the Star Wars saga which had two movies featuring technologically-backward tribes overthrowing a more technologically-advanced adversary. However, one can derive the importance of the existence of poverty and deprivation as a possible uniting force for the supposedly progress-inclined scientific community, ripped apart by competition.

Can you imagine if scientists, instead of wasting time competing against each other, opted to work together instead?

Another side to Morty’s disgust for the primitive tribe was his attachment to material possessions. After ranting about how the tribe eats every third baby for the sake of growing fruits, Morty also expressed that he missed his family and his laptop, and how it led him to masturbate to a drift wood.

Morty’s fixation on material things is akin to what Marx’s called commodity fetishism which is the belief that things have value in themselves, independent of the work applied to produce it. This is the principle behind consumerism, which is the belief that “we are what we consume.” Consumerism is one of the major themes in the story, with characters like Rick dismissing morality and discarding ethics in order to sustain their apparently less-important concerns such as going to the movies or fueling a car’s engine.

In a consumerist society, culture and identity has also been reduced to the goods a group or an individual may be associated with. In the story, in spite of the alternate dimension Rick brought Summer and Morty having giant telepathic, carnivorous spiders and “eleven 9-11s,” the characters seemed more concerned about it having the “best ice cream in the multiverse.” The invasiveness of innovation courtesy of consumerism is also demonstrated in how Morty’s genes was altered by Rick for him to conveniently turn into a car.

“PEACE” AMONG WORLDS

Order, or at least Rick’s battery is restored, when Rick finally escaped the Microverse with Morty and returned to his position of ultimate power over Zeep and his planet. Zeep, recognizing that Rick is capable of destroying his world if the car did not start, enjoined everyone to return to their original source of energy.

In a capitalist world order, or in any world order built on inequality, the only way to maintain stability is for the lower level of society to accept their position in society. The Greek philosopher Plato said in the Republic that this can be achieved through the proliferation of “noble” lies: false ideas of themselves and of society which would validate the status quo. Marx had a similar idea, saying that the promotion of a false consciousness among the workers and the rest of society is integral for the capitalists to maintain their dominance in society.

This is why in spite of our differences in class, people in our society tend to think as if we are part of the ruling elite. We are enslaved through the use of ideas: the assumption that we all possess equal rights (although only a few get to enjoy it); the fear of radical modes of change… Like the people from Rick’s Microverse, we are deceived into identifying with a society which treats us as commodities and tools for the benefit of a few.

In such a predicament, an “enlightenment” is needed in order to “demystify” the world presented to us: to be able to see beyond the illusions we are blinded with.

In the story, Zeep accomplishes this through wrestling with his universe’s God, Rick. Although he is unable to vanquish his Maker, he is made aware of the real conditions occurring in his society.

Rick, meanwhile, also realized that it was better for the people of the Microverse to know the truth in the first place. But this was not out of a new found benevolence, but out of his deception failing. In the end, the lies upon which society is built upon will crumble and the real contradictions in society will inevitably be exposed. By then, the ruling class will only be able to keep their position in society through brute force.

The story ends with Zeep saluting Rick with a middle finger, but with the knowledge that it does not truly mean peace among worlds. Zeep has gained a consciousness of the reality behind appearances, which for both Plato and Marx are the first steps to liberation.

ROLL CREDITS

Without regard for the creators’ motivations in creating episodes like this, this show presents us, although in a comedic manner, the moral dilemmas surrounding modern day slavery and how the status quo justifies it. It also challenges our pride: how far are we willing to justify how things are in spite of the exploitation and deception being experienced by people? And are we only so willing to rationalize slavery just so we can run our cars and charge our phones?

A Farewell to My Favorite Spot

Standard

Hey, Bench.

I used to see you everyday and look forward to being with you. I can’t even begin to remember how many times I laughed and cried in your presence. And how many times I was just glad to be there and not anywhere else.

It would always piss me off to find you occupied. I guess I was just so naive and possesive that I couldn’t see that I’m not the only one capable of appreciating your perfection. I seem to be deluded in thinking that you were made for me and myself alone. Deluded, because I thought I had somehow earned something like you just by being.

I’m writing to you because now you’re going through changes that might alter whatever we have forever. Being caught in the middle of these changes, I feel afraid of not being able to recognize you anymore, of not being able to call you mine anymore, or worst of all, losing you altogether. I admit that it’s my fault for being so attached. And for crazily thinking that what we had was too big to fail.

But now I know. God, do I know now. That perfection can’t be earned. That beauty can’t be, by repeated expression of ownership, owned. And we fool ourselves – I have fooled myself – in thinking that I somehow deserve you. That I own you. That I could always just leave and find you there waiting for me. That the ground upon which you stood will never crumble.

I know now that beauty is only beautiful because it is apart from us. That is why we always long and always yearn for it. And it is when we cease to long and yearn and fight for it that we lose sight of it, even as we hold it in our hands or sit upon it.

I regret never having to properly express how beautiful you are. I was so focused on expressing how happy I was with you; how you made me feel, rather than what I see in you. I wish I did. Maybe then I wouldn’t find you being taken away from me.

But now, all there is to say is goodbye. And I hope whatever change happens to you, it won’t remove whatever it was that made you beautiful from the beginning.

I will always have our memories tucked inside the confides of my heart. And these words. And this picture. And while it fails to capture the immensity of your value and your beauty and your heart, it shall at least remind me that nothing ever will. It will also remind me how lucky I was to have found you.

Light Pollution and Christmas

Standard

I look around the highway as I make my way home, noticing the twinkling of Christmas lights all around.

Seeing them sparkle, I am reminded of a particular night when I lied awake by the sea underneath the sky full of stars.

There is no comparison between the beauty of nature’s stars and man’s electric imitations. It seems as if like fools, we harnessed light and kept it in bottles that we may be reminded of the beauty of the night sky.

I think it would serve us better if skyscrapers, in observing the holidays, would just turn off their lights instead of spending wastefully on decorative lighting.

All I want for Christmas now is the chance to look up the sky and wonder at the holes of divine light across the black canvas of night.

Forgiveness

Standard

We sometimes harbor feelings toward other people as they refuse to extend us their forgiveness, as if we were entitled to it or as if those people are duty-bound to extend it to us.

I think this is a failure on our part as we lack understanding of the nature of mercy and justice. Forgiveness is unlike punishment or reward which are earned or deserved. It is an act of mercy, borne wholly out of the giver’s desire to forgive.

Such makes forgiveness truly ‘divine’, in the sense that its possible giver is put upon a place of utter power and control over the person who seeks it. When we seek forgiveness, we subject ourselves literally under the mercy of the person we want it from.

That is why it is a contradicting notion to feel embittered whenever we are refused forgiveness. We are not entitled to it. We are beggars whenever we need it.

On the other hand, this makes true forgiveness a difficult feat. It is hard to give up the position of power we acquire whenever are wronged. It is hard to look beyond the pain and the hurt we suffered and let the wrongdoer get away with it.

To forgive is difficult because it to do it is to deny ourselves justice. Therefore, while it takes humility to ask for forgiveness, it also takes humility to give it, for it takes humility to deny ourselves of what we properly deserve.