Monthly Archives: April 2012

Truth Behind the Mask

“God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose.  Take which you please – you can never have both.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have you ever took a few steps back and wondered aloud why people are so content to wander around in the dark when the truth is staring them in the face?

Why is truth a much more difficult concept to accept than the lies that pervade it? Why do people fight and seek to destroy the seekers of truth when they are lost as can be? Why strike the face of the potential deliverer?

I’ve turned this question over and over in my mind, and I’m now able to fully admit it. It bothers me. It stirs me in an area I can’t pinpoint and in a way I can’t explain. There is an answer, but no simple solution except to keep spreading truth and shaking the dust from my sandals. I don’t claim to be better than anyone, but I believe, like my peers, that I know the truth and only wish for people to live the same kind of blissful existence that I do. I’ve studied, searched and prayed through this issue, but still have no definite answer. I have, however, learned a few things along the way.

First of all, the acceptance of lies over truth can be summed up in one word. “Convenience.” Don’t believe me? Look at the multi-millions of Twinkies, Cokes, instant ramen and TV dinners sold just over the past year alone. Look at prescription drug, cigarette and alcahol sales. There’s a reason why these products, though loaded with calories, fat, additives and cancer-causing agents, are still so insanely popular.

They’re convenient.

Sure, there are healthier and more beneficial alternatives to the things that we take for granted every day, but they take work. We have to become gardeners, chefs and nutritionists. We have to study. We have to think. We have to read. Heaven forbid.

Fast food and prepackaged processed snacks give us an instant sweet taste and full stomach. Alcahol, cigarettes and drugs give us an instant feeling of euphoria, peace and wellness. But for how long? And for what price? People don’t care. All they care about is the here and now.

True wisdom must overcome the same hurdle to be heard. Why listen to the voice of truth? The voice of truth says that I must reach for something, to listen, to learn. The voice of truth says that I must work. Why should I listen to the voice of truth when the voice of lies tells me that I can have it now with no effort required on my part. It tells me that it’s all there at my fingertips. This, of course, is all a lie, because that voice leads us into toxic codependency, but codependency is still far more appealing to the common man than truth.

Take mass media for example. Have you ever noticed that when being asked if you’re a reader, you take it as an innocent question? Well, some people read and others don’t. Some like newspapers, others like novels, some like biographies. You shrug it off. “Sure”, or “Nah” you say, dismissively. But when asked the same question about television, you stare agape at that person as if he had just descended from Mars to find out about your unique culture. “Of course I am!” you cry. “What kind of silly question is that?”

Why is it such a silly question? Because like fast food and prepackaged junk, television is so simple and so instant that it is taken for granted as ubiquitous, whether it really is or not. Unlike books that require the reader to make inferences for himself or even radio that requires the listener to assemble the pictures in his mind, television is instantaneous. Simply click a button on the remote and receive an instant overload of information. Is that information true? Is it reliable? Who cares? It’s cheap, it’s convenient and it’s instant.

Think about how much we rely on television commercials and sound bites to receive our information. Think about how much of it we recall on a daily basis. You can’t tell me for an instant that we’re not actively learning from it. How much of our culture is dependent on television and cinema? How much of our modern history naturally coincides with the broadcast schedules of popular shows and spots?

When did watching grown-ups act like children on national television become the “adult” thing to do while reading and radio drama became childish? Why did the internet transform from a place to share vital information to a place to play silly games and watch mindless videos? Why are we so intent on asserting our independence by joining the ranks of the world? Why do we insist on accepting convenient lies over timeless truth?

Just my two cents:

What we need as a society is something that works. The church has touted the life, the truth and the way for centuries, and through the Bible, they have the authority to tout it with all their might. Though there have been standout exceptions, it has generally instead perverted God’s own words. It has offered people nothing but meaningless ritual and tradition. It has offered harsh words for people who have questioned the works of the Almighthy in their own lives. To be frank, it has offered nothing that people can’t already have in the “real world” with less effort.

Does truth need to be more convenient? I should say not, or else it wouldn’t be unfiltered truth anymore. No. Those that speak the truth must realize that they are not speaking for an elite club to the masses. They are speaking for the free to the imprisoned. People understandably don’t wish to exchange one prison for another.

Jesus said “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” In other words, “Take my truth to heart because it only has two rules (live by faith and walk in love) and no condemnation (divine forgiveness).”

Sometimes I wonder why people choose to accept lies over the Truth when the Truth is so much clearer. Then I think that if we remove our worldly masks when we speak the truth, perhaps they wouldn’t. I have been given a mission. We all have. I am removing my mask now, possibly destroying it for good, so that people might see the whole Truth shine through me.

Because after all, there are no masks in eternity.

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At War With the Computer

“Even though worker capacity and motivation are destroyed when leaders choose power over productivity, it appears that bosses would rather be in control than have the organization work well.”
–Margaret J. Wheatley

Whether you like it or not, computers and the internet today are penetrating every facet of life imaginable. Nearly every store or establishment uses computers to track sales and profits. Medical records are kept online. Shipping is handled via online tracking. Weather bureaus track storms and patterns against online archives.

And every day, computers are becoming more sophisticated and more like the space-age we pictured in the fifties. We are truly becoming a “push-button” society. With computers handling such complex tasks, I should be thrilled to have a computer in my home to make writing and working easier, right?
Unfortunately, no.

As a writer, I have grown utterly sick of the humming beasts taking up copious amounts of desk space with the omnipresent Internet watching my every move. When computers were more “limited”, they were far more useful to me. I could quickly discover the “notepads” and “Microsoft Words” of the system and immediately get to work. If there was a probem, I could fix it in a flash and resume without missing a beat. There were very little distractions beyond a handful of games and activities, and online speeds and web standards of the time made it impossible much less unappealing to while away precious hours on time-wasting sites.

What bothers me the most about all of this is that technology should be working for us, but in fact, we are the ones slaving away for technology. Don’t believe me? How much longer does your old computer have before it no longer supports the software you need to be productive? For how much are tech corporations holding your devices captive? The worst of it is that the people who have purchasing power are not asking these questions. Instead, they pay through the nose for their brand-new toys and the rest of us are forced to comply.

Am I the only person that finds this whole scenario insane?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for technological improvement as much as the next guy, but there comes a time when we must beg the question: “Is this really improvement, or just a distraction? Are we really getting more, or are we perpetuating a vicious cycle of sameness?” And the thing is: this is all coming from a computer affecionado. Yeah. When I was younger, I loved computers. At one point, I wanted a job where I could do nothing but work on computers. That was heaven for me.

Now, it’s quite the opposite…

As a result, I’ve made strides in stripping down my technology and doing more with less. Instead of waiting in line and clamoring for the latest and greatest that Silicon Valley has to offer, I’ve made a regular hobby of making computing powerhouses out of machines that most people would consider garbage, nowadays. To do that, I’ve had to rifle through decades of computer history and go back to my roots.

For instance, to type this article, I’m using a text-based Linux program called “Wordgrinder”. It runs neatly on my thirteen-year-old PC by typing a command at the terminal prompt and displaying a simple ASCII interface. (any of you kids remember ASCII?) No, it’s not bursting with useless options, oozing with flashy eye-catching charm, or supported by every Fortune 500 company in existance, but it fits me like a glove. I am a writer, and I crave simple writing programs that stay out of my way and let me work.

“But why are you going backwards?” I’ve had people ask me. “Why are you giving up new and functional for old and clunky?” That’s just it. New technology just ISN’T functional for me, and I know it can’t be for everyone else, either. When I’m having to answer a simple issue about a typical operating system quirk and people stare at me blankly as if I’m Linus Torvalds delivering a keynote at CES, it tells me that people don’t understand what it is they’re using, either and that it’s not fully useful to them. When elderly women buy $1500 quad-core 16GB entertainment rigs for basic web browsing and e-mail because the local Best Buy employee tells her to, it tells me that our current one-size-fits-all system just doesn’t work no matter how much money our overpaid IT professionals throw at it. Whether it’s popular, accepted, or not, I need something that works for me, no matter how odd it seems to other people.

People look at my old 1Ghz single core Celeron PC with 172Mb of RAM and 20GB of storage and see me as a charity case. “Oh, poor guy.” they say. “So behind the times.” Then comes the insult to injury. “You need to buy a new computer.” they say, over and over. “You need a new computer.” “You need a faster computer!” “You need a computer that has Windows 7” “You need a computer that can jump to the web with the push of a button.” “You need the latest updates so you can always be online!” Yes, I’ve had offers for people to buy me a brand-new PC box for free.

“Bah!” I say, slamming down my prune juice and swinging my cane in angry protest. “Git awf mah property with yer newfangled web whoosits and social whatnots!”

I flatly refuse it all. I despise the direction that the computer industry is headed, and would rather spend the time and energy creating something that works rather than supporting a system that not only doesn’t work but refuses to ever work merely to foster consumer dependence.

Our current model of technology progression is a sick one. It states that if you don’t have a computer that’s at least under two years old running Windows 7 or MacOSX Lion, it’s only because you are among the poorer class that can’t afford it. I beg to differ, because I’ve got over a thousand dollars in savings that says I can afford it any time I want. I choose not to, however, because I have better things to save up for than the consumer equivelant of buying a nuclear particle accelerator to crack peanuts.

I use nothing but open-source software because it’s safe, reliable and provides me with client-side solutions I need and trust to get my work done quickly and efficiently. I use low-powered console applications because it provides me with a tight, distraction-free environment to create without inhibitions. I depend on flash drives instead of cloud computing because I need access to my files at all times whether I’m connected to the internet or not. And most importantly, I used “underpowered” hardware to house it all because it’s all I need to be happy and productive.

Am I hopelessly out of touch and behind the times? Perhaps, but it works, and it works well. I couldn’t care any less if my computer can’t read a 2012 PowerPoint file or play the latest Call of Duty.

And perhaps if we all started telling technology what we need instead of technology dictating what we must have, we might all be a little more productive, a little less stressed, and yes, maybe a little happier.

In fact, I know we would.

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