philosophy

Commitment to Yourself

This will be a fairly brief post. The mission of a Work in Progress (A-WIP) is to better ones self. I have, in previous posts, outlined what this means to me. Through photography, philosophy, and creative writing I find the best way to live for me. I share this better self of me on this blog as an example of taking control of my life. Now this this idea of being better is different for everyone. Here at A-WIP we want everyone to reach that ideal self, and we believe the only way to do this is to make a commitment to yourself.

I want say this as gentle as I can, but this commitment cannot have excuses. I know that many people suffer from issues be that of mental, or physical and my goal isn’t to mitigate those issues. However, saying I cannot because of _____ just tells me that you have a crutch that you cannot let go of yet. To make a commitment to oneself is to know that these issues may affect us, but should not control us. There is the difference.

To make a commitment to yourself first find out what it is you want out of life. For me it is to live an accepting Christian lifestyle, this could be different for you, but what does life look like to you in the future? Who do you see yourself being?

Know what challenges are ahead for the choices that you make and create a plan for overcoming those challenges. If you aren’t sure what challenges await then at least create good coping skills for when issues arise.

Finally when you create this commitment let us know, and let us know your progress. If anything we want to be supportive of you in your journey along with us in becoming our best selves.

Toxic Positivity

This is a rather odd idea, how can someone being positive be toxic? We know that usually a toxic person is someone that brings us down. They might be extra critical of others, have strong views that they over share, or just are a generally negative person. A toxic person is someone that most of us try to avoid for our own sake, and sanity. How can they ever be positive?

Toxic positivity is the act of always encouraging positivity, but never allowing for processing. When we go to our friends and ask them for help, usually the last thing we want them to say is your fine just get over it. I’m obviously not fine, and that is why I wanted your help.

In a sense it is like when someone says that they are depressed or stressed, and someone answers with, just be happy or calm down. This is not a solution to the problem, but it mitigates the problem. That isn’t fair to do to someone else. Mitigating their problems is an issue because what they are going through may be the hardest thing for them.

I see this a lot in the church and I am just as guilty of it as anyone else. Someone may come up to me with a problem, and my response might just be, well you should pray about it. Yes, of course they’re going to pray about it, but that isn’t why they came to me. They wanted fellowship, and someone to listen. Just saying, well you should pray about it, mitigates their problem.

We all like to use comparisons. You think you got it rough, well look at them. This type of thinking is unfair to those that are suffering. If two people break an arm in the same spot doing the same thing, but one person has a broken arm every other week, and the other never has had a broken bone, who felt the worse pain?

Our pain may be relative to our situation, but it is no less troubling than if it was happening to someone else, or someone “stronger.” We are shaped by our pain and through our suffering we learn. I would hate for someone to learn through their suffering that they cannot count on me to be there for them because I mitigated their situation.

Just get over it

Go pray about it

You know I had it rough

Just be happy

Everything will be ok

These are positive things to say, but it isn’t what the person suffering wants or needs to hear. Instead of thinking of a response to say, don’t say anything at all. Let the silence be the response, I hear you. Sit close with them, and when they are done ask them, Is there anything I can do to help? If the person says no then you can tell them that, I know it is hard, but I believe in you. God believes in you.

Empower the weak, empower the suffering, empower those who are going through a hard time and feel like they are drowning. They deserve to have comfort in their suffering just like you did. Don’t mitigate what one person feels because you think it could be worse, understand that we all suffer. Why does God have us love our enemies? Because they are human like us, they suffer like us, they feel pain like us, they need help like us. Be a force of good for someone, but do it in a way that empowers that person no matter who they are or what they face.

Also remember there are of course the outliers as well. People who create suffering to feel empathy from others. For situations like that, do your best. They suffer in other ways.

Kierkegaard and Mindfulness

Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness

-Matthew 6:33

Soren Kierkegaard in Skrifter vol 11 (maybe the correct citation) meditates on the above paraphrased verse in his writings, discussing the deeper meaning of the words. In short, he discusses that one must first seek the Kingdom of God, and this is accomplish by silence. Silence, according to Kierkegaard, is the first and most important goal in seeking the Kingdom of God.

To Kieregaard dropping everything for God is not the first step to seek the Kingdom of God. The first step is to be silent. To be silent, and to make yourself nothing before God. In this silence we arrive at the beginning, and this beginning is where we seek God.

Yet, what is this silence? If Kierkegaard states that silence is being prepared for the opportunity when it arrives, then isn’t mindfulness the same thing? It’s just another word for the same thing, and we know that mindfulness by itself isn’t spiritual. Rather it is an inward observation. By knowing ourselves we can better seek the Kingdom of God.

In our mindful/silent lives we make ourselves ready to serve God when the time comes. In this meditation we ready our inward self to serve. How can we serve God if our own lives are not in control? First seek the Kingdom of God. By first seeking the Kingdom we learn to be silent/mindful, and we take control of our lives.

God calls everyone to different things. Silence and inward observation gives us clarity to what those things are. The first step toward God is to become mindful of your own life, understanding of your weakness, to become nothing, so that God may use you for his will. The freedom to follow God starts with getting control of ones life. To understand your part in the world, and to be accepting of it.

I can work for God, and do great things for him, but first I must seek the Kingdom of God.

There is No Proof of God

There is no proof of God.

Correction, there is no objective proof of God.

Correction, there is no objective proof of God that everyone can agree upon.

Correction, there is no objective proof of God that everyone can agree upon, and that is why we have faith.

Correction, there is no objective proof of God that everyone can agree upon, and that is the point of having faith.

If God came down every Sunday to all the churches of the world who could justify not being a Christian? If God performed miracles in front of live concerts played for the entire world, who would not believe? We would all try to be faithful, we would all follow the word of God, but what would be the motivation?

If we had objective proof of God then we would have objective proof of hell. We would have proof of an afterlife, and a reason to do good. When there is a reason that is objective to do good will we not do good, or least attempt good?

If you knew that you could steal a cookie from the cookie jar as a child wouldn’t you do it? Wouldn’t you at least be tempted by it? If your mother stood by the cookie jar, then that takes away the motivation to even begin with. You couldn’t dream of stealing the cookie as there is a capable person there to stop you.

God cannot objectively exist, and there can be no objective proof of God for if there there was then we would all act well. We would all act good, and follow commands to the best of ability. There wouldn’t be a questions of faith. How could anyone love by God by choice if we all knew he existed. We would all want heaven, not to be a better person, but to avoid suffering in hell.

Some say that they know God exists, I don’t. I try to have faith, but I am not convinced that there could be an afterlife. There certainly is a lot of evidence of one not existing. So, why am I a Christian verse a agnostic, or spiritualist?

The reason I am a Christian, even though there is no objective proof of God, is that I love God, real or not real. I choose to live by a moral standard, and attempt a good life. I do this not because it benefits me, but because I want to be a good person.

Now anyone can argue that “religion” has caused more suffering than good. That one doesn’t need a religion to be a good person, and that all of it is subjective to the situation. I would argue that if someone can find a more profound message than love your enemies, and provide for them, then I will follow that message.

This is why I choose Christ: love your enemies, feed the poor, be humble, and know that no matter what you are loved. I don’t have to do any of those things. In fact it’s rather detrimental to my own life if I do follow them. My enemies want to hurt me, why should I love them? Because you love all people, and understand that everyone has a perspective. That they are human to, that they suffer, and matter just as much as I do.

With objective proof of God you could easily be a Christian because you know your life was justified.

Without objective proof of God it becomes harder to be a Christian because you don’t know if it is justified, and you choose to limit yourself. I’m ok with that. I’m ok with that because I want to make a leap of faith, to stare down the absurd universe.

I am a Christian not because I want heaven, but because I love God.

Common Sense Perspective

When I was young I had a perspective. I thought that everyone knew my perspective. If they had two eyes, and a brain then of course they would see things my way, the right way. Why if you have any trouble understanding anything come talk to me I see how the world is. Red is the best color, Scooby-Doo is the best show, and recess is a subject in school because it is in school.

Now that I am older I have a perspective, but I submit that others have theirs. I cannot say that I entirely understand the perspective of my wife, or my family. I cannot entirely, or fully understand the life of any person from the world. I cannot agree with my wife on if her birthday was at one place when she said it was another. We had both been there, both eaten food, and travel together. Surely one of us is correct? If in her eyes it was at one place and in my eyes it was at another aren’t we both correct?

If I look at something and say that this is what is right, and then one looks at the same something and says that it is wrong aren’t we both right? If opposing views give way to human suffering, can the only remedy be to submit to others views, to accept that they have theirs, and I have mine…?

…And am I not entitled to my perspective, can I not say that this is right, and that is wrong. After all, I have earned what my eyes and brain saw. I earned the experiences, and lived through it all. To say to me that what I believe is wrong is to say that I have not lived, when I know that I have. I did not come to conclusions of my life by not living.

…But is there not objectivity to the world? Didn’t the birthday have to happen at one place rather than another? Credit card receipts, photographs, witness statements. Can we not prove that one of us is right, and the other is wrong? Yes, and no. Yes if the objectivity could prove that one of us is right, and the other is wrong. No if the objectivity could prove that both of us are right, or that the objectivity is subjective in nature. A photo could prove that we were at one place, but it just as well could prove that we were at another. If it was true we were here, and the photo makes it so that we were there then the objective photo becomes subjective to perspective. If there is no “true” objectivity then we must submit that we are both correct, or at the very least both true to our perspective. Isn’t that the best that any of us can truly hope for in this world?

…Yet humans will suffer. There can be two answers to who committed the crime, and if the “objectivity” fails to be objective then the wrong person can be punished. While the suffering occurs can the jury be blamed for their perspective? Did they not take the evidence and act accordingly? Certainly there are some problems that go beyond submitting to someone’s perspective, and inevitably these issues create conflict that in turns creates human suffering. However, if we act truthfully to ourselves, and at the very least attempt to understand the perspective of others then human suffering could be mitigated.

…Or is this a way to skate around morality issues justifying deviance by saying my perspective says otherwise? We hope that the other person in front of us is acting in good faith with their perspective. It is wrong to steal, but if I steal to feed my family because I have no other way, my perspective is real even though it does create suffering. What I do is wrong, but for the right reason, at the very least for me. If I steal because I cannot help myself due to a clinically diagnosis issue, then my perspective includes that diagnosis. My perspective is real even though it does create suffering. If I steal because I find it enjoyable, or because I feel that it is owed to me then I am being real in my perspective by justifying my action as enjoyable, or owed to me. However, this justification intentionally ignores the human suffering of another. Doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason. Even if this perceived object that I covet is owed to me, to steal it is to ignore the perspective of the other person who sells it. Is the seller not owed something as well?

For the problems of my everyday life I can say that I submit that everyone is correct. I don’t have to create conflict when my wife says we ate there, instead of here. I don’t have to create conflict when I am told this is good, and that is bad. I submit that people will do as people see fit according to their perspective as I will do. I submit that people are justified in their minds their actions as I am of mine.

For the issues that inevitable must have an “objective” answer I submit that the person in front of me is correct in their mind and justified in their actions, as I am in mine. I hope that they are acting in good faith. If we can both agree that we are both at least knowing of the other person as having a perspective then maybe a compromise rather than domination can be achieved.

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