Judge

No time to write again, so I’ll just put this observation out there, for now:

Most people would rather judge a situation they know nothing about than learn anything to inform their opinion.

Probably  because learning takes effort.

Reading Problems and New Steps

I’m trying to read this one book, but I don’t really like how it’s written. I’m determined to get through it, though, before I move on to the ones I just ordered online. I know I’ll tear through at least one of those (Kelley Armstrong is my spirit animal some days), and so I’ll use that as incentive to get through this one.

It’s disappointing because the author is a woman, and I loved the sound of the plot premise so fully expected it to not be such a struggle for me to read. I still like the story itself thus far, but there are a couple of things that tear me out of it, and therein lies my disappointment.

One is that she chose to write her protagonist as a man, and for me, it’s just not working. It just doesn’t read male, to me. I can’t put my finger on it, whether it’s the language used to convey the character’s inner thoughts, or imagery described, or even just the fact that I knew the author was a woman going into it, so my mind just keeps going back to a female voice when it’s supposed to be a male. It’s fine, but having to continually remind myself that I’m reading from a guy’s perspective makes it difficult to remain enveloped in the story. I think if the character was female – as my brain keeps insisting – I’d have a much easier time of it. And she would be pretty kickass so far, too!

Another little quirk that’s just annoying to me is her constant use of italics. Like, every few sentences. Be it to accent something a character (any character, all characters) says, or just in the narration – I had thought at first that maybe it was some kind of code, because the words she chose to highlight didn’t always make sense and seemed kind of random on occasion, but I think maybe she just loves italics. Loves them. Overuses them to the extreme, in my opinion. I have started trying to train my mind to just not see them, because stressing that many words on a single page can be exhausting to read.

I’m not going to reveal which book it is, as I like to support authors, especially lady authors, but yeah…it’s a frustrating read thus far, which is really unfortunate.

Tim and I are hopefully getting started on a little something new, now, too. I am cautiously excited about it, even though my fail rate lately has been pretty complete! If by some chance it works out even remotely the way I hope it will, it would require very little extra effort on our part to maintain, but enrich The Mind Reels, our audience, and perhaps even some young lives by unimaginable volumes! As with many of my ideas, the possibilities are endless, but my ability to see them through to fruition is, more often than not, average on a stellar day. So we’ll see. I really hope it takes off, but I won’t hold my breath.

At least we are trying, though. There can be no measure of success without first putting in the effort to take the initial steps, so in that, at least, we are closer to succeeding today than we were yesterday.

And sometimes that makes all the difference.

My Opinion…On Opinions

Opinions.

Everybody’s got them. Everyone is entitled to them.

Lately it feels as though more and more people are voicing them and/or sharing them on the internet, too. About everything. Even if someone doesn’t know a single fact about the subject upon which they are speaking, they are allowed – we all are allowed – to go ahead and spew forth whatever opinion we have on said matter. It’s pretty much our God-given right, and we’re going to exercise it every chance we get, dammit.

The thing is – and this is just my opinion (see what I did there?) – I’m not certain that a) any of our opinions actually matter to anyone but us, especially the uninformed ones, because b) we’re so busy screaming our opinions from the rooftops that we’re not bothering to listen to nor consider the opinion of another, but rather how to respond to them so that they’ll know they are wrong, and c) we’re basically all contributing to the rapid decline of intelligence and critical thinking in our own species.

You know…that thing that sets us apart from and above all the lowly non-human beasts of the planet.

Like, can opinions even be wrong? They can be formed upon misinformation, but can the actual opinion itself be incorrect? By definition, isn’t it really just how we feel about something based on what we believe we know about it? Wouldn’t something more concrete be more like a fact? Opinions can even change (on the rare occasion anyone bothers to inform theirs on something of a continuous basis), so can something so fluid really be considered wrong? Why are we all so eager to prove ourselves and those who agree with us to be correct in something we only feel rather than know?

If I say I feel light-headed one day, can someone else tell me that’s not how I feel? I would think that we should at least be able to agree to disagree, and yet, in most cases, the vast majority of what I see in the world – the public world – is that people can’t even do that.

I think this.”

You’re wrong, because I think this!”

We can both be right, from a certain point of view, and we can both be wrong. So sayeth Obi-Wan, kinda.

But I’m not sure opinion can be measured in a pissing contest, which is basically all we’re doing now. We’re all just peeing and then arguing about who’s pee is correct.

The funny thing is, none of our opinions even matter anymore, if they ever did. Instead of opening a discourse, all we are doing is peeing our pee, and letting others judge our pee – usually while they are also peeing and we are judging theirs – and no one is listening. I’m not listening to you, you’re not listening to me, no one else is listening to either of us.

Unless we already agree. Then we both pee and pat one another on the back for a job well done.

I was actually just thinking about this the other day. I was wondering if I should try to pass on to whoever will listen some of the things that I have learned in life thus far? Or should I focus on continued learning? Because I am fairly certain that I can not do both, at least not with any degree of success. I feel like I can focus on finding the right words to convey bits of knowledge-like gems gleaned over the past almost 44 years, or I can focus on paying attention to the world around me, and struggling to understand it better; to perhaps even understand another being’s experience with this planet, if only a tiny morsel of it.

In the latter pursuit, someone’s well-expressed opinion can help in learning a great deal, though probably the best teacher is experience – paired with mistakes – and finished off with a healthy dose of connections made in between. But it is imperative to good learning for a person to remain focused; to pay attention. To watch in silence more than speaking.

In the former quest, it’s vital to express thoughts and opinions well, and to re-frame words in different ways, in order to not only get them across, but to also confirm that you are doing so. Questions need to be asked to make sure the listener is on the same page before moving on, lest you leave them behind and with nothing to take away from the conversation at all.

Don’t be so busy talking that you forget to check in. If no one is listening at all, then you’ve failed on both counts – learning and sharing.

Neither are easy, but both are – or should be – necessary to some degree. I just feel like I personally need to focus more on one or the other for a little while. I keep thinking about trying to teach and share, but in the end, it’s my own somewhat selfish thirst for understanding that pushes me to keep watching.

And judging the rest of you. I mean, let’s be real – nobody’s perfect. At least I can admit it, though. Sometimes to my detriment, but still. I understand that I have much more to learn than I have already learned, and that even my perceived knowledge or understanding is deeply flawed, so that there is always room to grow. I am also really not good at confrontation. I find I can’t express myself very well when I am upset or passionate about whatever subject is being “discussed”. You know what, though? I don’t think the rest of you are, either. I don’t think anyone is. I’m not sure it’s even possible to have a personal, emotional stake in something and yet remain removed enough for logic and reason to overcome emotion. It’s just that most of you don’t care to give voice to your opinions so that others may come to understand them. You just think that peeing louder makes your pee more right.

And the thing is, for the most part, you don’t really know. You feel like you do, but you don’t. None of us do. But we say it, anyway, because it’s our opinion and we are entitled to it.

Maybe that’s why I prefer to just stay home with the dog and cats who live with me. I don’t have to remind myself to not read their comments.

The word ‘opinion’ looks like ‘onion’ when you type it enough.

Harambe

Harambe.jpg

Ugh I’m so torn!

Do I join the rest of the uneducated masses spewing forth ignorant, empty of thought opinions online about the whole gorilla thing? Or do I continue to bite my tongue and hope my simmering rage will subside on its own before it boils over and spews out on its own? Haha

Such a quandary!

I mean, on the one hand, my opinion is no more or less valid than anyone else’s, even though I’m pretty sure most people are just wrong. Haha

But what would be gained from my babbling rant being added to the rest of what’s already out there? Nothing. It likely wouldn’t even change anyone’s attitude nor opinion, and would instead preach to the choir, just like everyone else. And you know how much I hate being like everyone else.

So given that what I think isn’t more valid than what anyone else thinks, what about the benefit of remaining silent and moving on about my daily life? Surely there are many good reasons to do that. Except my opinion isn’t less valid, either, and with so many voices out there loudly decrying the opposite of mine, it’s hard to believe that I should be the one remaining silent when so many others are selfishly putting theirs out there. And you know how much I hate being like everyone else if no one else notices how delightfully different I am.

I guess the deciding factor is really in the notion that I’m sure some people think they know what I think, and as that is not necessarily the case, it’s probably best to do my own talking on the subject, rather than let anyone else do it for me. I don’t really have time to put my thoughts into any coherent order, or articulate them very well, so this is pretty much all reaction to the public reactions I’ve been seeing all over the internet since the incident occurred. There is, as always, a boatload of judgement flying about, and should-haves and accusations and finger-pointing at where blame ought to be laid. Many are using it as proof that their soap-boxing ideas are correct, and most seem to see it as a black and white issue; a blanket for all animals, or parents, or children, or zoos, or zoo staff, or whatever. I don’t even know. What I don’t see is much discussion about a) this particular incident with this particular animal, and b) alternate viable solutions other than the occurring result.

So, let’s see…couple of quick things, I guess.

  • To those who say Harambe (he had a name, and a personality, which is weird considering he wasn’t a person by definition) and all animals should not be in zoos, he was captive-born, so what you are really saying is that he should never have been born at all. And if that’s what you think, then you have no right to be upset that he has now died. If you think he had no right to live in the first place, then how he lived and how he died are none of your concern. Move on and find another argument to waste everyone’s time with.
  • To those who say zoos are terrible, unnatural places for animals, I can counter your blanket statement by pointing out that they are better, healthier and allow for more natural behaviours that nursing homes, seniors residences, group homes, orphanages, foster homes and any institution which house our physically and mentally challenged citizens. Those statements are both true in some cases, but in many are also false. Each scenario should be judged on its merit alone, and not all lumped in together into one general assumption. Inform your opinions. Seriously.
  • Human lives matter more than any other species. To humans. Pretty much every other species would say the same. As always, there are exceptions to every rule, but even for me, while logic dictates that the member of the NON-endangered species should have been killed instead, my biological instinct, or whatever, is to save the child, even though there are a billion more just like him on the planet already.
  • I get why tranquilizers weren’t used. They don’t take effect immediately, and would instead agitate Harambe further, along with all the screaming and crying from the hairless apes around him. What I wonder is, given that things like this happen ALL THE TIME (not just in zoos, either), why no one has worked on finding other quicker alternatives to outright killing. There is a good ten minutes of middle ground in there. Why aren’t we looking for methods which would fit in between tranquilize and kill? Is it because killing is so often our first option that we don’t bother to look further?
  • What did the wee tyke learn from his trip to the zoo that day? A healthy respect for non-human animals? Doubtful. A greater awareness that rules are in place for a reason, and that they actually apply to him? Also doubtful, considering the number of grown-ass adults who also climb over fences at zoos these days. I suspect that all that will be retained in that kid’s still soft skull of his day at the zoo will be whatever other people tell him. For sure he wasn’t punished for going somewhere that’s supposed to be off-limits to him, so he won’t even have learned that, either. Those are the kinds of things that are supposed to be taught before going places – following rules, being a member of society, that sort of thing. Of course, most of us grown-ass adults also don’t abide by such general rules, either, so it’s really no wonder that kids don’t ever learn.
  • More and more, we have to protect animals from ourselves and from other people, not the other way around. Your dog should not have to be muzzled so he doesn’t bite some kid who hits him with a stick. But he is, because it’s easier than teaching the kid not to hit. People expect that zoos are there to entertain (they’re not), or to teach children to respect wildlife (if only their parents would learn that respect as well and pass it on themselves, instead of expecting zoos to do it for them), but the way I see it, they are there, for the most part, to protect wildlife from human beings. We poach, we destroy habitat, we trophy hunt – it’s our fault that so many species are on the brink of extinction, while we spread across the Earth like a cancer, consuming everything in our path. And yet, even in captivity, or sanctuaries, or reserves of any sort, we just can’t seem to keep them safe from us. Maybe because we can’t all agree on the best way to go about saving them. Maybe because we can’t even agree to disagree on the best way and try a bunch of different ways in the hopes of attaining the best results. We’re too busy arguing with one another to bother thinking about the animal in front of us; the one we put there with our own greed and ignorance.

There’s more, but I am out of time for today.

Rest in peace, sweet Harambe. Thanks for saving that kid’s life, even at the expense of your own. I’m sorry some people think you should not have been born; I’m not one of them. I’m glad you were here, and that your final moments highlighted one of many ugly truths about the human race.

We’re still making it all about us.