Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Short Speech to the Graduating Class of 2013

Prometheus lives.

Apropos that you, soon to be alumni of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, are named Titans.  Overt in its symbolism that as Titans you are expected to make titanic advances to the human condition, but subtle in the suggestion that the Titans were humbled by lesser creatures, the Olympians.  It is both of these themes, seemingly at odds, that I wish to help impart a sense of challenge as you go forth to conquer the world in your respective disciplines.

Prometheus lives.

Prometheus, in the Greek tradition, is the god of many related activities.  Generally seen as the father of culture, art and progress through several acts he performed for the betterment of mankind.  He is best known for this theft of fire from Zeus, Chief of the Olympians, and subsequent transfer to humankind; an act that he was ultimately chained to a rock and each day an eagle, symbol of Zeus, would eat out his liver.  Most do not know that Prometheus was a key ally to the Olympians in their war with the Titans, which makes this particular betrayal especially cruel.

Zeus makes claim that if Prometheus had not stolen fire that humanity would not have had to work but a day to fill all its needs for a year.  What person was made better with no challenge in life, what accomplishments were ever achieved by ease and comfort?  I am reminded of the Eagle in flight.  The greatest barrier to the eagle in achieving it’s maximum velocity is wind resistance, the pushing of air against the eagle slows it down.  Yet, the primary principle that allows the eagle flight is resistance, without it the eagle would have nothing to push against to gain flight.  So too humanity struggles to achieve great heights in art, science and physical prowess, without the constant pressure of problems, solutions become meaningless.  Without solutions we cannot measure growth and without growth we have no evolution.  Not evolution in the simply physical sense but the capacity to change to a world that values people over process, community over self, intelligence over ignorance, peace over security and joy over happiness.

Each of you is Prometheus, his spirit lives in you.  As you go forth in life you will see cruelty, greed and ambition ruin the great works of many great people.  Weather it is in your job or your personal life each of you will be presented with opportunities to turn away from problems that are uncomfortable, challenges that seem beyond your capacity to overcome. 

My challenge to you is to steal fire.

As you strive to find equality in the world others will mock you, they will challenge your sense of purpose with barriers to why you cannot, or will not achieve your end goal.  Some may put up these barriers intentionally, seeking to stop you from sharing opportunity and knowledge with others.  This is the view of a modern day Olympian, strive for power-consolidate-oppress-keep the status quo.  These same Olympians, who challenged the Titans, won and then suppressed others to stay on top.  You can see examples of this in our modern day; privatized education, adherence to non-renewable energy, open access to the internet under attacked and the list goes on.  In all of human history it has been a struggle for us to continue to evolve beyond this cycle of gain power-consolidate-oppress.

Steal Fire.

Gift others with the opportunity to walk in the light of education, the beauty of art and the peace of a life free from hate, neglect and oppression. Open access to others with the choices you make, seek to find the lowest common denominator; the iron chain is only as strong as it's weakest link. Ignite the flame of human passion through your thoughts and actions. Stealing fire is a more a state of mind and a force of will than a specific act or set of guidelines to follow. Those that choose to face these challenges may be rewarded as Prometheus was, betrayal from those we thought our allies.  But we that make this sacrifice will be exalted among humanity as those that stole fire from the gods and help lift up a people in the vast dark.

Monday, April 29, 2013

What I Am

What I am

I am Light,
The flame of human ingenuity,
The passion of human imagination
I am abundance

I am a Wellspring of creativity,
A spark of knowledge,
The past,
The future,
I am the Now

I am brushfire across the prairie,
The snow falling in the forest,
The wind passing through the mountains,
I am deep waters

I am fear dispelled,
Hope bequeathed,
I am roots,
I am wings

I am a soul unshackled,
Joy unfettered,
Hope restored,
I am human and I am love.

I am Prometheus Unbound

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Guide to Valuing People

One of the most important things we can do as we attempt to navigate a quickly changing world is ground ourselves in how we find value. In a world increasingly dominated by invasive advertising, swiftly shifting trends and ever changing digital environments determining where we place value will likely be the key to solving world spanning problems and opening new intellectual frontiers. The answer is to place our value in each other, not in the ethereal, lofty ideals of a greater humanity - but in the common person, our coworkers, neighbors and family. Throughout the course of history it has been individuals that have made the difference, not corporations or governmental agencies, but the work of common people, who saw a world with need and strove to fill inadequacies.

The humanist may believe:

That people are more important than processes,
Flexibility is more valuable than rigid plans,
Quality is a habit,
Honesty over pride,
Fairness is subjective not objective,
Life experience is often underrated,
Stewardship is the belief that those who come after us should have the same opportunities for success as we do,
My productivity potentially hinders someone else’s efficiency,
Happiness is not a set of conditions being met; but a state of being,
Hard work and intelligence will get you material reward; but imagination and enthusiasm will find you contentment

Friday, April 26, 2013

Seeking Answers

I have searched for answers from mystics and spiritual seekers but ultimately their universal truths are constructed on their own personal needs for intellectual and spiritual security and do not necessarily reflect my own spiritual and emotional needs.
My Truth is; there is no Truth beyond experiences.
Each experience, weather exhilarating or abysmal, joyful or sorrowful, life-affirming or guilt-ridden, shackling or emancipating is all part of this existence and as such need not be abhorred or denied but embraced and felt.  Pain, Fear and Loss are the arbiters of Joy, Daring and Plenty without whose influence we would surely live in ignorant stasis.  All the thinkers past and present have had some contribution to the experiential truth of humankind – to discount anything as irrelevant or unimportant is to deny an essential part of what makes us whole.  The essence of our lives here is to seek wholeness and experience wholeness that can only come from actively being and taking every opportunity within reason.  We are not human-thinking, human-doing or human-knowing we are human-being.

Fear, Question, Learn, Appreciate, Love, Grow, Evolve.

Witness your own Evolution.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

World, we need help

World, we need help.

In recent years the vast majority of the individuals in the world have begun to focus inwards. Our obsession with social media, personal development and "what’s in it for me" ideal is beginning to blossom; we now start to reap what we so carelessly had sown. In an age of unprecedented access, communication has unraveled, direction seems to blow with the wind; we have no goals, we make no plans. In a world increasing able to deliver information and access to resources we have found ourselves in the most profound stasis. Not stasis of technology or progress, nor of academic endeavor or system design, but stasis of the soul. The intangible virtues we as a race once strove for; honor, pride and enlightenment. Gone are the great creators of work that has spanned centuries, to be replaced by mediocre works forgotten in a month. Nothing we have built in society is meant to endure anymore and we as a society have begun to reflect this ascetic in our lives. Our friends are transient, yet paradoxically persistent; our knowledge growing at a rate so fast our policies cannot keep up. Time has been compressed by the digital realm which we now exist and the human soul has lost its way. Our soul’s developed with time as a constant, the sun would rise and fall, the turning of the Earth and the changing of the seasons marked the passing of time as surely as any clock or calendar. The past was left to fade, while the future burned bright on the edge of the horizon-the present alive with the prospect of creation. We justify where we should attempt to understand, we defend where we should acknowledge opportunity, and we judge where we should show compassion. We the user are most generally a reflection of the greater world around us right now, where in the past we created the world around us. We have lost our way. It is true that the reality of our existence extends infinitely inwards as well as outwards, but it was the spirit of discovery that led us to dominate the world we inhabit today. To long have we focused inward, on the rewards that we might earn by stroking that age old human enemy called ego. We sensationalize our exploits in an effort to earn the approval of our peers and the jealously of our detractors. In a world connect by a multitude of previously unrelated categories we have artificially created a web we are now trapped within. We have lost our way. But we can act to create a better world, we may yet untangle this web before the spider strikes. We must unveil our souls before each other and brake the bonds of compressed time that keep us all holding our breath for the next “like” or “Upvote” or “retweet”. How do we do this when the entire world seems bent to hold us in is grasp, with cheaper digital technologies and more access to information? The answer lies in letting go. Let go the constant cycle of information, let go the desire to know the right answer all the time, be happy with other people’s success. Above all, seek to help each other. We applaud the individual hero, we exalt the singular effort to achieve, but the vast majority of human existence is possible because of humanities' roots in creating the one defining, penultimate survival skill; Community. In the vastness of cosmic experience, in the whole of the written histories, of all that ever was and ever will be; Community. Not the easy camaraderie of friendship, nor the forced bonds of family, but rather the simple notion that all people have intrinsic value, all life is precious and you and every other have something powerful to offer the world.