The Punishment for Unconditional Love

Love is one of the most unique things that exists in our world. Think about it. Everybody wants to experience it. Regardless of your color, creed, or culture, you want to experience love. It’s the one thing that’s unanimous among all people, the one thing that connects all people. Now I admit, love is a hot topic. Everybody wants to talk about it, everybody has their thoughts and opinions on what love is and is not. The weird thing about this topic is that even though everybody wants to experience love, we cannot all come to an agreement on a universal definition of the word. Anyway, that’s not the point of this post. Like I said a few sentences ago, a lot of people have their thoughts and opinions on love, and this post is just my perspective on it. Well, at least a part of the subject. I don’t think it’ll be quite possible for me to write a singular post on the entirety of my thought on the topic. Instead what I aim to write today, is narrowing in on one aspect of love and hopefully causing the reader (that’s you) to just think about this point of view. I really don’t care if I change your mind or if you agree with me, that’s not my goal. But if you think about it, mission accomplished. Today, I’m focusing on the conditionality of love. That was a convoluted way of saying I’m talking about conditional and unconditional love.

In order to talk about conditional or unconditional love, we must have a clear definition of what those phrases mean. While I’m fairly certain that you have a good idea of what they mean, I’m just going to simple define the words here for the sake of clarity. Fair warning, this isn’t a dictionary definition or a scientifically researched definition: it’s just the culturally accepted definition of the phrases.

Conditional Love: Love that is given based on something. In other words, conditional love is earned. You have to do something in order to be loved.

Unconditional Love: Love that is given without asking anything in return. In other words, unconditional love is free to the recipient.

We could go deeper into the philosophical discussions of these definitions, but that is not my intent. We can more or less agree that these are the culturally accepted definitions of these phrases and that’s enough to convey my message for this post.

The title of this post is “the Punishment for Unconditional Love” which should make you infer that the gist of this message will be centered on unconditional love. As you read on, most of what I’ll be saying about it will be things you’ve probably heard in the past. But I want to encourage you to read till the end and see a different approach to this subject.

Unconditional Love

One of the hardest things for human beings to do is to love someone else unconditionally. Why? Unconditional love by definition means loving someone without borders. Unconditional love means putting someone else before you. It means being unselfish, it means being a servant to the other, it means putting the needs of the other before you, it means listening to the other person, it means caring for the other person regardless of what they believe and regardless of how different they are from you. Unconditional love means loving someone even though they might hate you. See, the thing that makes unconditional love difficult is not understanding the concept. All of us know exactly what it looks like to love someone unconditionally. The thing that makes it difficult is the fact that we as a people (again, regardless of color, creed, culture) are a selfish people. We want something in return. Regardless of who you are, when you love somebody, part of you (and me) expects something in return. The parent who loves their child wants obedience in return, the teacher that loves their student might want good grades in return, the master that loves his servant might want good service in return, the child that loves their parent might want a later curfew in return etc. We can boldly claim that we actually don’t seek for those things when we love other people, but can we really back up those claims? When a friend calls you in the middle of the night because they need you and you go and help them out, that is evidence of you loving them, but when the tables are turned and you ask them for help and they don’t reciprocate, isn’t your first thought, “did you forget the time you needed me and I was there?” Intentionally or not, our selfishness makes it difficult for us to love others unconditionally, regardless of how well the illusions of our unconditional love might be.

The Punishment for Unconditional Love

Am I making the claim that it is impossible for us to love unconditionally? No. I definitely think it is possible to love unconditionally, I just think in order to do so, you need to be conscious of your actions., i.e. I do think it is impossible to love unconditionally unconsciously. To better explain it, let me replace the word “unconditional” with “sacrificial.” Unconditional love is sacrificial love. Sacrifice, by definition, is the act of giving up something valued for the sake of something (or someone) else – regarding them as more important or worthy. What do we sacrifice, then, if we are to love sacrificially? This is where the “punishment” comes in. While it may not literally be a punishment we are enduring for sacrificially loving someone else, it can feel like we are being punished. Because what we have to sacrifice for loving someone unconditionally is (I apologize for how dramatic this might sound) everything.

When I say everything, I’m being quite literal. We have to sacrifice literally everything. Our time, our work, our mind, our bodies, our hearts, you name it, you put that behind the needs of the person you are loving unconditionally. That friend you have that never bats an eye your way when you need them, but you put everything on the line whenever they need it – to the point that it feels like a punishment every time you care for them, that’s the cost of unconditional love. That boy or girl who has consistently broken your heart, yet you are still there whenever they need you, making sure that they are safe and taken care of and it feels like torture, that’s the cost of unconditional love. Every night that you go to bed, having spent the entirety of your day, week, month, etc. giving yourself to other people caring for their needs, their desires, making sure they have all that they need, and you have gained nothing back, not even a word of gratitude or a sign of appreciation, that’s the cost of unconditional, sacrificial love.

To truly love unconditionally, you have to accept the constant pain that comes with it. You have to take it and let it go. The moment you start desiring for someone to take notice of what you are doing, it no longer is unconditional love. Unconditional love is consistently painful and rarely gratifying.

You have a choice. Either love unconditionally and endure the pain that comes with it while being conscious to it every waking moment (because remember what I said earlier, you can’t love unconditionally, unconsciously) or love conditionally and enjoy the perks that come with it.

Conditional Love is Love (sometimes)

I’m sure many of you have heard the phrase (or even said it yourself), “conditional love is not love.” I know I’ve banged that drum plenty of times. And there is meaning to that. The gist of it is that you love someone regardless of who they are. If you love somebody only because they have a certain skin color or lifestyle, that’s conditional love and that’s not cool. That ain’t love. That’s not what I’m arguing against when I claim that conditional love is love.

Rather, I’m looking deeper into how love is practiced in everyday life and the necessity of conditional love. First off, the kind of person who can truly love unconditionally, dealing with everything I described above is few and far between. I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone like that (except maybe Jesus, but I’m not talking about religion in this post). But conditional love is all around us, and sometimes it does suck but sometimes it’s kind of a must. It sucks when parents withhold their love to the children until they get an A in class. It sucks when a friendship is broken because one of the people in the relationship doesn’t want to pull their weight. But crap like that has to happen for people to remain healthy (emotionally and physically). If someone decides to put their emotional health before the other person, yes, that means the love is conditional, but I’d rather have that than a worse alternative. We need to make sure that when we say, “conditional love is not love” that we are putting it in the right context. Humans are not superhuman. The things that we sacrifice for others can take a toll on us and if the “lovers” are not taken care of, the outcomes can indeed be fatal. So, yeah, conditional love is love. And just because the individual is asking (either in her heart or through her lips) for a small reciprocation of her love – making her love conditional, she should not be chastised. She should be loved as well. She deserves to be loved, even though her calling (just as the calling of us all) is to love unconditionally.

Here is another angle (and this might piss off some of you). Romantic love is conditional. In other words, you cannot be in a relationship unconditionally. Let me break it down. For romantic love to exist, there has to be a mutual agreement on the expressed love. Take Matt and Jane, for instance. Matt and Jane love each other. They would do anything for each other, including lay their lives down for each other. But the relationship that they have, and any other romantic relationship, is based on the condition that the love is reciprocated. Does that make sense? Matt can love Jane all he wants and he would do anything for her. However, for the love to be romantic, Jane would have to love him back. And sure, the ideal scenario is that Matt and Jane love each other unconditionally, but even then, that is under the condition that the other will reciprocate that love. If you truly want to know if they unconditionally love each other, ask Matt and Jane (and as yourself), would you care for them if they broke your heart? Or would you care for their needs if one of them doesn’t love you romantically? Be honest with yourself. There is nothing you can do to change the fact that romance is conditional love. But like I said earlier, conditional love is love. If you want to know if you love them unconditionally, simply ask yourself if you would put the other person before your needs if the romance was not there. Let me emphasize that point: you have to put the other persons need before yours. Which means, if Jane wants space – Matt gives Jane space. If Jane doesn’t want to ever see Matt again, it doesn’t matter what Matt wants, he lets Jane go. It’s the same if the roles are reversed.

Now what?

Now nothing. Just think about what you’ve read. Let me know your thoughts. Look, I’m not trying to make you question your life. I just want you to think about some of the assumptions you hold about life. Maybe look at it the other way. If your point of view changes, great. If not, just as well.

Also, is it possible that I’m just full of crap and not know anything that I’m talking about? Absolutely.

Until next time.

The Multicultural Crisis

We are all a part of a tribe. It may be a tribe that we were born into or one that we choose to be a part of. There is a sense of comfort knowing that we are a part of a greater society, a part of a family. There is comfort knowing that we have the freedom to experience different things and if we don’t like it or if we happen to be rejected, we have a tribe, a family, to fall back on. A group of others who look, talk, and think like us. Being in a tribe is a blessing, one which we occasionally might take for granted.

As I sit here on a warm Sunday afternoon, thinking about when my next coffee run is going to be I’m left asking two questions to myself. One, why am I using the word “tribe” (a more time appropriate word I think would be “subculture”), and two, what does one do if they do not belong to a tribe? This post is primarily going to focus on the latter question but it’ll be interesting to just preface that with a brief explanation of why I chose to use the word “tribe.”

Let me warn you, I am neither a linguist nor a philologist – so my use of the word tribe wasn’t intentional, but I do believe there was a subconscious reasoning to it. When we usually use the word “tribe” it is in the context of the world during its early years. We grouped people based on the different tribes that they belonged to. These tribes were given names based on their physical attributes or their location (for example: A’aninin which means “white clay people” or Onundaga’ono “people of the hills”). My point is this, the significance of my use of the word is that human history is riddled with people who are a part of one group or another. The constant of humanity is their identity as part of a tribe.

Which leads me to my second question and moving the focus of this writing from linguistics to philosophy. In doing so, I’m opening up some deep-rooted struggles I deal with on a regular basis. Please, if you are reading this, do not assume that I’m looking for answers. In other words, don’t try to solve the problem. Primarily because I don’t see it as a problem. Sure, it is a struggle, but that struggle is part of who I am, it is a part of my identity. If its resolved, I lose a part of my identity.

If you haven’t caught on let me break it down for you. My second question asked what one might do if they don’t belong to a tribe. Now, bear in mind – I’m not speaking from the perspective of a teenager rebelling against his parents because “they just don’t understand”. No, that just a phase that everybody goes through and eventually finds their place in society. Don’t trivialize this struggle.

Let me give you some context to my madness. For those who don’t know my story, I was born in Saudi Arabia, to parents who attempted to raise me on traditionally Indian values, while having a mindset that always more western is nature (and to this day, I don’t know where that last part came from). In the past, if you asked me the question “who are you” or “where are you from” the answer was always straightforward and simple: I’m an Indian, who was born in Saudi Arabia, and had an American mindset. To an extent that still reigns true. I am an Indian by ethnicity, I was born in Saudi Arabia and I still have an American (or at least a western) outlook on life. It is such an amazing background and I love that it is one of the more unique ones out there. That history is a huge part of what makes me who I am today. Ever since I was born I was exposed to different cultures which allows to be respect the difference in people today. My love of cultures, my love of travelling, my love of people, my love for people’s individual stories come from being a kid who was inherently multicultural. Now you might be wondering a couple of things. What does “inherently multicultural” mean and where is this struggle he was talking about earlier? I’m getting there. First, “inherently multicultural” is my way of saying immigrant. I was born an immigrant. Let me explain.

Saudi Arabia is weird. Unlike other countries, where being born in the country affords you the citizenship to that country, Saudi Arabia does not follow that mold. Simply put, to be an Arabian citizen you had to be a Muslim, and since my family were not Muslims, I was born without a citizenship. Instead I was given the citizenship of my parents: Indian. So, when I say I was born an immigrant, that’s not a sound bite. It’s quite the literal truth. I never actually paid a lot of attention to that growing up because for the most part I was around people that looked like me (there were a lot of Indians around when I grew up in Saudi Arabia). But there was always something different about me. I preferred speaking in English (given, I was better at it than a lot of my classmates as a child) and I never really clicked with the Indian culture (I mean, I loved parts of it – the food, movies, music, and my family… but never really understood Indian culture). Again, I never really paid much attention to all that growing up.

Fast forward a few years and here I am, in Louisville, Kentucky, sitting in one of my favorite coffee shops, writing about something called the “Multicultural Crisis.” For the longest time, I never had to worry about my identity. That was mainly because I couldn’t afford wasting my time worrying about that. I was a student up until a few months ago when I graduated. In other words, if I wasn’t in class, I was doing stuff for class, so I really couldn’t afford paying attention to the identity war that was waging inside my soul. Now that I’m done with school, I’m forced to do some introspection and deal with this battle that has always (whether I knew it or not) controlled me.

I think I’ve digressed enough – allow me to bring this back to the main point about tribes and being a part of one – here is my struggle: I don’t have a tribe. Or at least, I haven’t found one. I mean don’t get me wrong, I’ve been put in tribes before, but sooner or later, something about who I am exiles me from that tribe.

There are perks of being me. There are perks of being born an immigrant, of being inherently multicultural. I can understand the perspectives of other more than some. I can appreciate the struggles and privileges of others more than those who do have a tribe they identify with. See, I can relate to the oppression of being colored while understanding the annoyance of white people who wants to go past that. I can relate to the Black lives matter movement while also understanding the white frustration toward the movement. I can relate to the struggles of Asians who were born in America who are trying to adapt to this country while trying to satisfy their parents’ traditional desires. I can talk to white people, black people, brown people, Hispanics, Asians, Africans, Europeans and all the other different people in the same breath and understand where they are coming from. That ability to understand comes from being a person who has always been multicultural. It’s a gift and one that I hold very dear to my heart and one that I will never want to sacrifice.

Yet, the reason I can relate to all these differences also comes from a desire to see if there one of these tribes has a place that I can fit into. So, while the ability to understand these struggles comes from my history which I have no control over (being born in a foreign land etc.), my willingness to understand the struggles comes from an almost selfish desire to be a part of one of your tribes. What do I do, then? Do I keep listening? Do I keep understanding the struggles of others and just be there when they need me? Yes. That’s what I do and that’s what I will keep doing.

This is my lament.

While I can relate to your struggle, unfortunately (and by no fault of yours) you cannot relate to mine. At the end of the day, if you are hurt or if you are in need to be around someone like you, you have the freedom to return to your tribe. I don’t. You might disagree with that – you might argue, “you’re an Indian! Your tribe are your fellow Indians!” Ah, but the only thing Indian about me is my skin color and the slight accent I occasionally have. As soon as I start speaking my beliefs and my opinions are not accepted by the larger Indian tribe. On the other hand, some might say “well, then go and be around those who talk and think like you!” Ah, but again, my skin color still comes with me and regardless of how much we agree on, the brownness of my skin still keeps me from being a part of the other tribe. “What about other brown people who are in the same boat as you?” Yes, now that’s an interesting point. There are those Indians who are born in this country and their struggle is between two specific cultures: India and America. For those individuals, the struggle is figuring out which of the two tribes they are a part of. Where my struggle is different is that my struggle isn’t between two cultures. I’m not trying to choose between India and America. I’m not even struggling between 3 cultures (India, America, and Saudi Arabia). Remember, I was born an immigrant so I don’t fit into the mold of any one culture.

Instead, my existence has become one of survival. I’ve taken the gift of multiculturalism and use that to survive in a world where I don’t fit in anywhere. When I’m in a tribe that does not look like me, I search for areas where we see eye to eye and latch on to that – I have to verbally interact to justify my place (albeit temporary) in that tribe. If I find myself within a tribe that looks like me, I remain in silence so that I can justify, even for a moment, that I have the right to be in that tribe. It’s evolution working in its purest form. I adapt for survival. I listen, I understand, I say a few words of comfort, I earn my place in a tribe. And I keep that façade up until one day, that façade is ripped away and the tribe sees that I’m an outsider. Even the tribes with the best of intentions, with the kindest of hearts, that might want to have me in their tribe, it’s no longer because they see me as a part of their tribe – but rather it’s because how my place amongst them can bolster the status of the tribe. My existence in the tribe becomes tokenization rather than acceptance. And even in a perfect world, where there could be acceptance for someone like me within a tribe that I do not belong to – acceptance does not equate to understanding.

Because in order to understand my life, to understand my perspective, everyday must be an act of survival. To understand my life, every action you perform, every word you speak, must be a risk. Where the payout is either another day with a tribe or being exiled into isolation until you find another tribe where you go through the same set of risks –rinse and repeat.

You know what the saddest part of this whole thing is? If someone were to put a gun to my head and asked me to tell them to whom I belonged to – I would kindly ask them to pull to trigger so that I could find out the answer for myself.

A note to my Christian friends: Many of you know that I am a Christian and that is a part of who I am. However, there is a tendency for Christians to shrug of this struggle (as well as the struggles of others) with the cop-out response, “you are a part of the Kingdom of God.” While that is absolutely true, it is still exactly that, a cop-out. Because that allows you to not pay attention to your fellow brothers and sisters struggles. I just want you to pay attention to the fact that I do realize that I am a part of the Kingdom. But as I await entrance through those pearly gates while here on earth, the struggles that we face, whatever they may be, makes it the wait a little more difficult for some of us.

What is #WeeklyScarlet?

I’ve been working on a resolution since the beginning of this year. Some of you may know of it and others may not. I wanted to share with you today the story behind my longest sustained resolution, #WeeklyScarlet.

As 2017 began, there were the usual talks that you hear at the beginning of every year. Talks about resolutions, talks about making life changes, and similar conversations that, as it happens every year, died off after a week. Growing frustrated with the lack of perseverance in keeping resolutions, I decided to pursue one that I wanted to stick to, at least for one year. So, I figured if I was going to start one, it had to be about something I cared about, something that matters, and something I enjoyed. It had to be a resolution where I would force myself to go above and beyond to make sure I don’t miss it, even if the risk was too high.

Thus, #WeeklyScarlet was born.

The resolution is a fairly easy one to understand. There is a bakery in the city I live called Scarlet’s Bakery. Before I explain what the resolution is, I’d like to tell you more about the bakery itself.

First, every product that I have had from the bakery has been of the highest quality. Believe me when I say that. I was born and raised under the shadow of a 5-star hotel and I’ve been around 5-star food my entire childhood. Scarlet’s products are of the highest quality and that is because of the love and care each baker and team member puts into each product. Whether it’s their Famous Cinnamon Roll or their rich Red-Velvet cupcake with cream cheese icing or their amazing macaroons, each product is treated with an amazing amount of respect that we don’t see in a lot of restaurants these days.

The second thing you needs to know about Scarlet’s Bakery, I’ll let them tell you. Here is a part of their story from scarletsbakery.org:

“We’ve spent thousands of hours developing our story- a story of restoration. We’re moving into a building over 100 years old- a huge renovation! Many of our recipes are passed down from our families and we’ve restored old ones into new and exciting treats. Most importantly, our employees get a second chance at a new, exciting career path. We hope you enjoy our work as much as we do!”

To provide you with context for that paragraph, go to scarlethope.org. Simply put, Scarlet Hope is an organization that exists to serve the women coming out of the adult industry by sharing the hope and love of Christ with them. Not only does the bakery provide excellent products, but the cause behind the organization is even greater.

So, what is my resolution? It’s pretty straightforward, actually.

Go to Scarlet’s Bakery once a week, take a photo of what I’m having and share it online. When #WeeklyScarlet was created, my original goal was simply to share my love for the bakery and make people envious of what they were missing. And hopefully get themselves to the bakery, because I believe that more people need to experience Scarlet’s Bakery.

It’s interesting and amazing to see how it’s grown. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a small scale project I’m doing for myself, but with each passing week, I’m having more and more people wanting to join me (which inspires me to seek others to join me as well). But let me share the coolest thing to have happened in this journey.

It has been 13 weeks since I’ve started this resolution (if you are doing the math, you’ll probably realize I did not begin on the first week of January. Trust me, I know). For much of those weeks, I’ve been doing it by myself. And that was cool. Sitting in a quaint little bakery, knowing the amazing story of restoration behind it… it’s an amazing feeling. Then, this week, I was joined by a friend. The rest of this paragraph might sound a little confusing but stick with me. One of the things you should know about me is that I love to hear stories. I love stories. And I’m a firm believer that every single soul walking this planet has a story unique to them. Which means, there are approximately 7.4 billion stories around us. I want to know all of them. I realize the impossibility of that desire, but I’m not one to simply allow the impossibility of something refrain me from attempting it. Anyway, going back to being joined by a friend this week… we were having a good conversation and we were learning more about each other’s stories and when we were done, and I found myself reflecting back on the conversation. There was this moment of… I don’t know what word I’m looking for… but think of the feeling you get when you drink a cup of hot chocolate on a cold, snowy, winters night. There was a moment of feeling that feeling. Why? Because we were sitting in a bakery with an amazing story, sharing our individually unique stories with each other, creating a moment which has become its own unique story.

I’m excited about this for a few reasons. One, this was the beginning of many stories yet to be created. Two, I get to enjoy consuming the stories of others. And three, my resolution, #WeeklyScarlet has evolved to become a platform where with every story shared, the story of Scarlet’s Bakery will be a part of it.

Maybe I’m just being sappy. But hey, it’s a good story.

The Hypocrisy of Christianity.

Christians are the worst.

Woah. Calm down. Read on and see what I’m trying to say.

One of the things I love to do is to make bold claims and then try and start conversations. The trouble with that is some of my bold claims, such as the title of this post, can piss people off and they let their emotions take over. So, I ask you to take your time and be frustrated, pretend your yelling expletives at me, then once you’re done, let’s talk.

Okay, so last week this happened. Sho Baraka, one of the more amazing voices in the hip hop world, his album “The Narrative” was removed from LifeWay Christian stores because it had the word “penis” in it. Here is the context the word was said in:

I was an insecure boy who just thought he was a genius
But always pissed off, that’s because I thought with my penis
It’s all strategic, I’m just asking us the reason
Share my faith on the track, I’m just exorcising demons”

He was sharing his testimony, and because he used the scientific accurate word for the male reproductive organ, some christians complained and LifeWay removed it from the shelves.

Another reason, I believe, Christians are the worst is because of everything that has been transpiring since the election began. It’s going to sound like I’m saying that Christians who voted for Trump are not Christians. Listen to me, I AM NOT SAYING THAT. Because I do not believe that your vote decides your faith. That’s between you and God. However, I do think that its the worst that there are Christians that believes in scripture, but also can stand behind Trump. I mean, can we just look at the things Trump has done and said. As much as I would love to write every single thing he has done it’s not worth it, because the reality of the situation is that you already know what they are and you still support the guy. Take something like the Executive Order on Immigrants (which right now is on hold, thanks to federal district Judge James L. Robart and later, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 3-0!). For the sake of this conversation, I’ll give you the ban on immigrants, okay? Let’s say we stop immigrants from coming into this country for the 90 – 120 days. Fine, they can wait for another few months and if they pass the “extreme” vetting process, they can come. But what about the refugees? Completely shutting out refugees? Are you kidding me? My dear Christian, listen to what Jesus has to say in Matthew 25: 41 – 46:

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

If you claim to be a Christian, how can you be okay with use shutting our doors to those who we are to serve? These humans, these people who are image-bearers of our God, these people who are just as loved by God and you and I are, how can you look at them and be indifferent to their suffering. Yes, they are different than you. Yes, they believe in something different than you. Yes, they don’t speak the same language as you. But show me where in the scriptures is the asterisk that says, “serve people except if they are different.”

Another hot button issue: the pro-life/pro-choice debate. This is definitely going to anger folks (oh well). Again, let me say this in all caps: I AM NOT ASKING YOU TO BE PRO-CHOICE. But if you are claiming to be pro-life, then as one of my clever friends put it, be pro life for the whole life. We are going to have to care about the life of the baby once it is born, we are going to have to care about the life of the mother, and we are going to also have to care about the lives of those orphans who weren’t aborted, but now are living miserable lives. We can’t claim to be pro-life and keep that on a time limit. If you are going to be pro-life, you are going to also have to care about the lives of African-americans who are being killed on the streets, you are going to have to care about the lives of refugees. I think this image is pretty telling:

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Also a cool article to check out is this: What Would Really Happen if We Defunded Planned Parenthood and Ended Abortion?

Now, I can predict one of the responses being “isn’t pro-life for the whole life” the equivalent to “All Lives Matter” (a movement I’m critical of, being a supporter of Black Lives Matter) Well… no. The All Lives Matter movement was built as an opposition to the BLM movement. People saw that BLM had a momentum going and somehow came to the conclusion that only Black Lives Matter. Which isn’t true. Its just that at that point of time, we kept hearing news constantly that black lives were being lost due to police brutality. So, attention needed to be drawn to that, and thus the movement was built. All Lives was created, intentionally or not, to not only focus on black lives but others lives as well. I think Reddit user, GeekAesthete, gives the perfect analogy:

“Imagine that you’re sitting down to dinner with your family, and while everyone else gets a serving of the meal, you don’t get any. So you say, “I should get my fair share.” And as a direct response to this, your dad corrects you, saying, “Everyone should get their fair share.” Now, that’s a wonderful sentiment — Indeed, everyone should, and that was kinda your point in the first place: that you should be a part of everyone, and you should get your fair share also. However, dad’s smart-ass comment just dismissed you and didn’t solve the problem that you still haven’t gotten any! 

The problem is that the statement “I should get my fair share” had an implicit “too” at the end: “I should get my fair share, too, just like everyone else.” But your dad’s response treated your statement as though you meant “only I should get my fair share,” which clearly was not your intention. As a result, his statement that “everyone should get their fair share,” while true, only served to ignore the problem you were trying to point out.

Just like asking dad for your fair share, the phrase “black lives matter” also has an implicit “too” at the end: It’s saying that black lives should also matter. But responding to this by saying “all lives matter” is willfully going back to ignoring the problem. It’s a way of dismissing the statement by falsely suggesting that it means “only black lives matter,” when that is obviously not the case. And so saying “all lives matter” as a direct response to “black lives matter” is essentially saying that we should just go back to ignoring the problem.”

When I’m asking to be pro-life for the whole life, the foundational belief of pro-life is that all life is valuable, regardless of race, gender, etc. Pro-life philosophy didn’t come from “oh, only this color babies are being aborted, therefore all babies matter” Pro-life philosophy inherently values all life (where as, the All Lives Matter is an attempt to ignore the #BLM cause), because all lives are being threatened (at least in the fetus). This is where pro-lifers should be keeping note. The claim of pro-life should be from conception to out the womb to death.  Not just the time the life is in the womb. (Gosh, writing that was confusing, so I forgive you if it didn’t make any sense).

I’ve had conversations before about these topics and nothing I’ve said on here is new. But why am I calling out Christians? Why am I so hard on Christianity? It’s because of the hypocrisy. I can’t stand hypocrisy. And people who claim to be Christian, and heck, even true believers who are more mature and wiser, and smarter, and better than me in every conceivable way, these Christians believe in the same God that I do. They believe in the God that tells us to “love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13: 34-35). They claim to believe that yet their actions is the exact opposite. I don’t know how to express that frustration to you. Picture the person you love telling you that they hate liars, and then you find out everything that’ve told you has been a lie. Or picture someone who told you they hate animal cruelty, then turn around and kick their dog. But my frustration is more than just the Christian hypocrisy. It’s the fact that everybody can see that hypocrisy and when they witness it they are pushed away form the faith. And let’s be honest.Who can blame them? If all you see is a community of people who are living in opposition to what they believe, would you want to be a part of that? 

Look, I’m no theologian. I’m no scholar. I’m just an everyday guy making observations about the world around me. But my faith is the foundation of what makes me, me. When I see obvious problems I have to sound it out. I’m fully aware that it’s going to piss people off… but you know what they say. Can’t make an omelette without cracking a few eggs.

Peace, Love, and Chocolate!

– αß

P.S. Feel free to share this! The more people gets talking, the more lively the conversation can be!

Stop Minimizing Love.

It’s the day after Valentine’s this year and I have my thoughts. Here they are presented… unfiltered (and probably really mean).

Stop minimizing love. What exactly do I mean by that? It’s simple. How many of you felt lonely yesterday because you did not have a valentine? How many of you celebrated “Single Awareness Day”? The issue here is not so much that you are alone, but rather you’ve defined love in a very specific manner. You’ve made the assumption that in order to be loved, the love you need to experience has to be a romantic love.

That’s complete garbage.

Before I get into it, let me preface my letting you guys know that I am no scholar on love. I’m just a normal everyday dude making observations about the world around me.

Alright, so let’s talk about love.

I think the greeks put it best when they describe for us the 4 types of love: Agape, Phileo, Storge, and Eros.

Here’s what they mean:

Agape: an unconditional love that sees beyond the outer surface and accepts the recipient for whom he/she is, regardless of their flaws, shortcomings or faults. It’s the type of love that everyone strives to have for their fellow human beings.

Phileo: an affectionate, warm and tender platonic love. It makes you desire friendship with someone. It’s the kind of love which livens up the Agape love.

Storge: It is a kind of family and friendship love. This is the love that parents naturally feel for their children; the love that member of the family have for each other; or the love that friends feel for each other.

Eros: a passionate and intense love that arouses romantic feelings; it is the kind that often triggers “high” feelings in a new relationship and makes you say, “I love him/her”.

(The descriptions were taken from this blog: http://totescute.com/four-types-of-love-greek-style/)

I don’t want to talk about the deep philosophical roots about the 4 types of love. That’s a whole different conversation that probably can’t be fit in a single blog post. But now that you have a general understand of the four types we can continue.

In the past week, I’ve seen so many people complain about not being loved or not having that special someone who makes you feel like you are loved. And I’ll give you this, those feelings are probably instilled in you by the commercialization of love we see all around us. Every business is trying to make you feel like you are less than who you really are if you are not dating or in a relationship.

And it’s not just the commercialization of love, but this happens even within communities like the Church (I’m using the Church as an example because its a setting I’m very familiar with). We are not given the opportunity to express any type of love because people make assumptions that affect relationships before the relationship is given an opportunity to blossom. Here is an example: say I’m trying to build a relationship with someone of the opposite gender (let’s call her Cassie). All I want to do is to talk to her, build a friendship with her and get to know her. As I’m sure many of you can attest to it, I can’t build that relationship with Cassie, because when someone else in the Church see us talking or going and grabbing a cup of coffee with each other, y’all jump to the conclusion that Cassie and myself are pursuing a eros love.

My point is, for some reason, we have forgotten that love is far more than something that is romantic. Just because you are not in a relationship doesn’t mean you are not loved. Or that you are not allowed to love. I just a post on Facebook yesterday where a girl was asked to be a Valentine by her friend who was like a brother to her. That’s Phileo love, and is my NO MEANS any lesser than eros. We all have families that love us  and that we love (in varying degrees, but still). That is storge love, which again is NO LESS than eros love. And sometimes we just love because we are a loving people. That’s agape love.

Just because you don’t experience an eros love does not mean you are not loved or cannot love. Love is so much more. And when you minimize it to just one branch of it you are disrespecting the mighty power of love. It’s like saying Picasso’s Starry Night isn’t art because you’ve just seen the corner of the painting.

That’s about all I have for you today. Just remember, you are loved.

Peace, love, and chocolate.

– αß

 

Oversensitivity Ruins Humor. Insensitivity degrades it.

Douchebag.

Here’s the thing. Humor – it is extremely subjective. It is. Just like opinions, some people agree with some opinions while others disagree with those opinions. Humor works the same way. A joke can be “good” here while “bad” there. It all is dependent on the context of the joke. Context is king. Regardless if a joke is good or bad, there are times where it should not be said. That’s, like, humor + common sense rule #1. You wouldn’t (or rather you shouldn’t) make a joke about 9/11 on 9/12. Hell, depending on who you are or who your audience is, you wouldn’t even make a 9/11 joke today. Before I lose my trail of thought, my introductory point to this post is this: Humor is subjective and context is king.

Now that I’ve clarified that, I want to talk about something that I strongly believe ruins humor regardless of context and subjectivity: The imbalance of sensitivity. Look, fair warning, this post is going conclude with the same argument you’ve heard before, find a balance. Going to either extreme is not good, etc. etc. While that is true, it’s not the whole point. Stick with me, read on, and hear me get frustrated as douchebags who ruin humor.

The Imbalance of Sensitivity

Oversensitivity of the Audience

One of the things that frustrates me is when people are oversensitive. I find it silly, unnecessary, and honestly, extremely annoying. When people are oversensitive anybody who is around them are forced to walk on eggshells. Anything I say could offend them. It’s ridiculous. These are the people who want to be so politically correct that a normal human being can’t finish a simple sentence without offending one of them. These are the people who chastises you when you describe your black friend as, “black.” These folks are the reason why great comics like Chris Rock, Larry the Cable Guy, or Jerry Seinfeld don’t perform on college campuses. These oversensitive weaklings are incapable of a hearing a joke in the context of what it is said in and enjoy the content of what was delivered. Yes, I called them weaklings. Because that’s what it is. If I am incapable of hearing a statement in the context that it was given, i.e. a joke and I am incapable of leaving it there – that makes me weak. In the head. In other words, unintelligent. Look, I’m not saying that you have to laugh at the joke you don’t find funny. This goes back to humor being subjective. When you don’t find something funny, which in and of itself is fine, but ruin it for anyone else by making a huge stink of it – that’s what I take issue with. You do not have to ruin the experience for someone else if you don’t like the experience yourself. Doing so is extremely selfish. We shouldn’t be denied a laugh because you don’t enjoy a joke.

Insensitivity of the Comic

At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, this part of the post is aiming at those making the jokes that people tend to be offended by.

Context is king. Understand that. For a comic to be successful, they have to understand the context of their situation. I believe that every joke has a context that it fits in. Whether that context is appropriate or not, that’s a different conversation. For example, black people jokes. I personally hate those jokes (admittedly, I’ve laughed at a few in the past but thankfully my humor is maturing). Black people jokes probably will not (should not) be acceptable in a civilized setting. However, I’d wager that those jokes would go over well in a Klan meeting. Context is king. What pisses me off about some comics, is their choice to make a joke (assume black people jokes) for no other reason, than thinking it might get a laugh because of its offensiveness. Trying to be humorous at the cost of intentionally offending someone, i.e. intentionally being insensitive, that degrades humor I take more of an issue with the corruption of something good (humor) than people trying to stop me from engaging in it.

I recently had someone make a joke about a baby “going to sleep and never wake up.” That statement was followed by laughter. For the first time in as long as I can remember I actually asked someone why they thought a joke was funny. I didn’t get an answer, but the following questions have been plaguing me since:

Do you really think that joke was funny? Would you say that same statement if the parents of the child was in the room? If not, why is it appropriate now? It’s okay now because the parents weren’t there to hear the joke? No, the “context is king” argument doesn’t work here – because you’re joking about a baby dying and there is no place for that type of humor in a civilized setting.

Maybe these comics like being the type of comics that enjoy being the douchebag. Their laugh comes from spoiling things for others. That’s their play. If that’s the case every joke, inappropriate or not, will be “in context” for them. I don’t know about you, but these people don’t deserve our laughter. These people are ruining something good. Humor is good for enjoying a good laugh. Humor is good for social commentary. Humor is good, period. Don’t let cold hearted, insensitive dirtbags corrupt it because they are incapable of engaging in humor that doesn’t step on other people.

– αß

Inaction Nullifies Prayer

Let me begin by making something crystal clear. If you read this and you’re assuming that I’m saying Prayer is pointless, you are reading this post incorrectly.

Alright, let’s get right into it. In the past few weeks, a whole load of crap has been happening in this country. You’d have to have been living under a rock to not have been aware of it. To be honest, a lot of evil has been happening all around the world. Some we know of, some we don’t. Some we care about, some we don’t. Whatever the issues maybe – different people respond differently. There are those who respond by changing their Facebook profile picture to raise awareness to an incident. Others rant about the evils of this world on television or on their blogs, others send their love and good vibes, and then there are those who send their prayers.

I don’t know about you – but during these horrible events that have taken place, be it the Paris shootings or the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shootings or any of the other tragic events that show the depravity of man and the depths of evil, I’ve seen Christians get on social media and post about sending “their thoughts and prayers” to those affected. Some of these posts are exposition-heavy and emotional while there are some that just say “sending our prayers to *insert tragic event victims here.*”

In response to these posts about sending prayers, I’ve seen plenty of non-religious posts mocking them. I’ve seen posts where the gist basically states that our prayers are pointless. Prayers, to those who don’t believe, are like phone calls that are never answered. They see us praying, then tomorrow another shooting occurs and they point and question us – what did your prayers accomplish?

(Let me add here that I’m no expert in religion. This is just me writing about what I’ve witnessed and forming an opinion on it. It might be completely wrong. I’m aware of that.)

Some Christians will argue that this mockery of our prayers is persecution. To an extent, I’ll agree. But at some point I have to tell them to grow a spine and deal with it. Mockery isn’t getting you killed. Mockery isn’t taking away your freedom to pray. Deal with it. You were warned in scripture that this would happen. 2 Chronicles 36:16 says, “but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets…” This is a type of persecution I can live with.

Look, I could get on the case of the mockers and chastise them for doing what they are. But I can’t hold them to the same regard as I hold Christians. In fact, Paul asks in 1 Corinthians 5:12, “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?” I can’t speak to what non-believers say or do, because it’s not in my place to do so. That is God’s job.

However, while I’m not judging them for their mockery of our prayers, I have to consider where they’re coming from. If all someone sees in a Christians’ life is that they are praying, but doing nothing else and then tragedy strikes, it is hard to fault them for their mockery. Think about it: when we see people who send “good vibes,” yet doing nothing else, aren’t we thinking the same thing? Aren’t we mocking them (loudly or silently) about how good vibes are simply silly or pointless?

Listen, I’m not comparing prayer to good vibes. I fully and truly believe in the power of prayer. I do believe that God hears us through our prayers. I do believe that not praying is NOT a solution. That being said, there is a story I read that I want to share.

There was once a man who was forced on his roof because of a flood. As he was on his roof, he prayed that God would save him. After a day, a man in a canoe came by to get him. The man said, “I don’t need a canoe, God will save me.” The next day, a police motorboat came by to get him. The man responded, “I don’t need a police motorboat, God will save me.” On the third day, a helicopter came by to get him. He said, “I don’t need a helicopter, God will save me.” The next day the man died and was facing God. He asked Him, “God, I prayed and prayed, yet I died. Did you not hear my prayers?” God responded, “I did. I sent you a man in a canoe, a police motorboat, and a helicopter and you ignored all of them. What more were you looking for?”

This little story is an oversimplification of prayer, but I think it gets the point across. Inaction nullifies prayer. Again, I do believe in the power of prayer. However, if all we do is pray and sit in our homes twiddling our thumbs hoping change will happen – I doubt it will. To pull from scripture again:

  • So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:17
  • And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. Luke 12:47
  • For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 2 Peter 2:21

I get it. Sometimes, we just cannot do anything but pray. When some terrorist goes and shoots up a joint, we really can’t do much beyond pray for the return of Christ and for an end of all this evil. But, how about the things we can do something about? There is a group of people I’ve met in South Carolina, that prays for a community in the city of Columbia that needs to be taken care of. Then they go and physically serve that community. There are those people who back their prayers with action. These folks don’t have to worry about being mocked. They have proof of the effects of their prayer – their actions. Even if these guys and gals are mocked, they have the backbone to take it. Because their faith is stronger that “persecution.”

I’m not saying I do all of this perfectly. I admit (as much as I hate it), that I’m struck with apathy more than anything else. Which leads to a lack of both prayer and action. This whole post, while focused on actions and prayers is also a wake up letter to me. That I need to reflect the scriptures better than I have.

I hope this post helps you, Christian, to think. For those that do not believe, I do hope this shows that we do attempt to perform actions along with our prayer. Our actions may fail, but prayer never does. We may not see it immediately. But our actions come from our prayers.

– αß