Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Good



good

  [good]  Show IPA adjective, bet·ter, best,noun, interjection, adverb
adjective
1.
morally excellent; virtuous; righteous; pious: a good man.
2.
satisfactory in quality, quantity, or degree: a good teacher;good health.
3.
of high quality; excellent.
4.
right; proper; fit: It is good that you are here. His credentialsare good.
5.
well-behaved: a good child.

A friend of mine posted this status at 10PM last night, "How do you define Good?" That late at night I was in no position to try to think of an answer to a question that complex. The definition above is more of a guideline for me to start. 

It makes me think of that question that teachers (or myself) always ask when we're studying the Enlightenment. Are we born good or evil? Does it make me a total nerd to go there? As humans, we do bad things all the time. That makes it hard to argue that we're inherently good. Babies easily discover that when they cry, they get attention. Eventually they will cry even when they don't need anything, so they can get the attention. You may say, "So what? Babies will be babies." The fact is, that's the beginning of deceit. Not that babies understand what that means, so one could still argue that we're born good. 

The definition of good can vary from individual to individual so much, it's a wonder the dictionary could come up with an objective sounding definition. A good person could be considered someone who doesn't break laws and follows social norms, but many people who break laws (I'm not saying they murder people or what not.) or break social norms are good people. I do not automatically think that women who get pregnant out of wedlock are bad women. I do not immediately assume that the guy who drives 75 miles per hour in a 40 miles per hour zone is bad. Some people may define a good person by whether they go to church all the time and read their Bibles, however that's not part of my definition. I'm not gonna lie; it's a definite plus, but not a requirement to be a good person. Being a good doesn't equal perfect. 

I would consider myself to be a good person, but I certainly don't meet all the criteria for the definition of good provided in the dictionary. I don't meet the criteria for the definition of bad either. When I was in debate in college, you had to prove the opposing case would do more harm than good. That was all it took to overturn a case. If you were the side that was supposed to solve for the harm, the burden was put on you to prove how your solution was good. That was far more difficult. 

One could argue that neither good nor bad exists. There's a whole gray area along the spectrum between good and bad, but a person would be hard pressed to come up with someone who is all good or all bad. We  just can't come up with enough words for these in-betweens, so we tend to categorize them as one or the other. 


So what is good? Good is trying to do more good than harm, and recognizing the good in others who have done you harm. Realizing that good and bad are more complex than following laws and social conventions.  Realizing that reading your Bible may help you do good things (Which is great.), but it does not make you a good person by itself. I do my best to see the good in everybody, because the reality is we all do bad things sometimes. That's what makes us human. The struggle is to not allow yourself to be defined by what you've done wrong but rather by how you've tried to fix it. A day in which I fix one more item than I break is a good day for me. So how do you define good? What parameters do you use to help you determine what is good and what is not? 


As usual I was my usual rambling self, but let me know what you think good is below in the comment section. 





Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Truth

Yesterday I asked my readers to take risks which is sort of the Dare of "Truth or Dare." Today I decided to write about truth, because truth also has risks involved.

Truth is sometimes risky due to its absolute nature. If something is true, than one can be absolutely certain of its validity. Which means if it is a truth you do not want to hear, it can hurt. A friend who is an alcoholic or drug addict will not want you to confirm his/her has a problem. It is difficult for a child to go home and tell his/her mother that he/she made an "F" in math this semester (Believe me, I know. I didn't make the right decision in that regard, and suffered because I lied for a long time.). It can be hard for a guy to tell his girlfriend that he thinks the relationship is over.

Now there are some wonderful people in this world, who tell the truth all the time, even it it does hurt. Some people might think they come off as insensitive or rude, but I appreciate them for the very fact that so many people tiptoe around the truth. Sometimes the hard truths must be known. Now I tell the truth often, but I will definitely own up to my fair share of mistakes and white lies. Like when you think one of your guy friends is dating a witch (only subtract the w and add a b in its place). When you have to be nice to the witch anyway, because you respect your friend's decision and trust them to be responsible. You keep your mouth shut, even when you want to say "I could have told you so," when the relationship blows up in his face, because you want to show you trust him.

Trust goes along with truth. I know I have some of my girlfriends that I can trust to tell me the truth when I'm trying something on. "Oh no, girlfriend! That dress makes you look like a stuffed sausage!" (None of my friends actually talks like this that I'm aware.) The fact is, while hearing that trying to shove your donk into a spandex dress does not flatter you at all, you are spared the later humiliation of a complete stranger telling you what your girlfriends should have told you in the first place. There are some friends who are more sensitive than others. You've got to find a way of telling the truth more gently than my theoretical friend above did. "The designer just can't make clothes that fit people with curves>" Always good to blame the designer, because lots of times that's the truth. I can't wear Daisy Fuentes pants, because they fit everywhere except at my hips, and that's because they rub my hip bone, so I could get larger ones and they would be baggy everywhere, or I could shave off some hip bone. Neither of those are great options.

I have some guy friends I can trust the same way. So often my girlfriends are just as irrational as I am, so it's good to have guy friends to set you straight. Someone to say, "Shut up, you'll find a job." (Ok, so I've had girlfriends say this too. They're sick of me whining. lol.) Or "You just need to suck it up and practice." Girlfriends have a tendency to coddle, but not my guy friends, and sometimes tough love is what you need.

As a Christian, I am one of the least Bible-thumping people I know. Sometimes I think I should be more of a Bible- thumper, because the truth is, if I don't follow the great commission I haven't been doing my job. Some people are afraid of Bible- thumpers, and some Christians like me are afraid of ostracizing those we love by being Bible-thumpers. Instead I choose to simply try to be good ( I sadly am not always successful), and I always try to listen and love those who do not follow Jesus. It's hard not to be afraid of someone who tells you that you will go to Hell if you do not accept Jesus Christ into your heart, and most people know this side of Christianity anyway. 2 Timothy 1:7 states "God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." So I and other Christians have the responsibility to take that power, love, and self-control and channel it towards helping other people.

The truth is there are so many people in my life who don't know Christ. It breaks my heart, and I know some of them probably roll their eyes as they read this. Some of them may not know if they can be a Christian, because they have done terrible things in their past and do not wish to be judged. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." I do not wish to judge anyone, or bring hell-fire and brimstone stories to your door. To those who can't understand why bad things happen to good people if a God is in control here's the truth, in Romans Chapter 8 Verse 18 it is written that the sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. So all the trials and tribulations that Christians and non-Christians alike endure daily, are small matters compared to the greatness of eternal life and salvation through Jesus.

For those of you more philosophical people you can always logic your way to Christianity. That's right, logic your way there. If God does exist and one chooses not to believe, well we know the answer to that. If God does not exist and one chooses to believe, well then we're not worse off. I know, very Decartean of me, but nevertheless it makes sense. You cannot 100% disprove the existence of God anymore than you can 100% prove it, and that is of course why it is called faith.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Risks.

Life is all about risks. People take risks everyday. Entrepreneurs are people who take risks to innovate or create a business. It's no wonder that some of the best known entrepreneurs make a crap ton of money. Of course the number of entrepreneurs that we all know about are a very small sampling of the number of people who actually are entrepreneurs, because there are many more stories of "failure" or less significant "success" than there are grandios ones like Facebook or Microsoft. People take risks when they get married. With the divorce rate being 1 in 3 as the best statistic I've found (More recently the shocking number of 1 in 2 has cropped up), it's a risk to get married. Being in a relationship is a risk. Obviously the majority of relationships are not successful, or else everyone would get married at thirteen when they fell for the absolutely most "perfect" guy.

Furthermore, some people put themselves in risky situations. Some people buy and sell on the stockmarket regularly. Others have risky jobs that could end with them getting themselves severely injured or killed. Girls might date the bad boy and risk their hearts being broken for the chance to change him (By the way ladies, this is a dumb idea.). You might get in a high risk relationship by knowingly or unknowingly involving yourself with a married person (Don't worry; I'm not speaking from experience.).

Lots of risky things may seem unworth their possible benefits depending on who you are. Some people are simply unwilling to risk being hurt, humiliated, or harmed in anyway. Others go out on a limb so often people question their sanity. In reality, what would the world be like without these risk takers? Who's to say what ideas will take off and which will fail? I would not be able to type on a laptop today if someone hadn't decided to take the risk and invest in creating the computer.

If the parents of great minds such as Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Ghandi, and Mark Zuckerburg hadn't gotten together and had kids (I have no idea how many of these people have parents who stayed together by the way.), think what we possibly wouldn't have? Marie Curie took a great risk discovering Radium, and she died from radiation. From her sacrifice we have discovered how to use radiation to help treat cancer. Albert Einstein risked his life escaping Nazi Germany, and ended up aiding the discovery of the weapon that ended WWII. Einstein did not like the atomic bomb, but it's hard to argue that the invention did not have an impact. Mahatma Ghandi risked his life leading peaceful protests against British rule in India, but he obviously had an impact on the situation. He was asssasinated by a Hindi extremest who believed that Ghandi weakened India. Of course, Mark Zuckerburg is one of the creaters of Facebook. Perhaps his invention is seemingly unimportant, but the fact that it is such a phenomenon says otherwise. He took a risk in creating the social networking site and running against MySpace. Who knows what other impacts his risk taking will have on the present generation.

That brings me to the average Joe/Josephine, you and me. I have plenty of friends who are skeptical about other friends who are getting married so young. I'm 22, so most of my friends are no more than a few years older than that. Some are younger than me. How many of them will last? No one knows, but not getting married is not the solution to lessening the divorce rate. Now what does a chronicly single girl know about being married? Nothing. I do believe that it is common sentiment among successful older couples that people don't honestly try to work things out anymore. People don't try to fix the problems in their marriages. I'm not saying that you should try to fix your marriage if your husband is a jack ass who beats you and your children. That guy needs a swift kick in the pants and a restraining order, but I am saying that disagreeing on every little thing might require compromise, respect, and communication. Cliche as it is, just like with friendships and relationships with family, marriages take communication. Anything you are unwilling to compromise on should be realized before you get married. If you want to raise your kids Christian and your wife to be is an Agnostic, will they be ok with that? If you want kids right away and your husband to be doesn't want kids for five years, can you compromise?

Technically the average age of a married couple is higher than in the past. One might believe that being more rational and mature would be a good thing. Then again, where's the excitement in being in a completely rational and mature marriage? Does being more established as an individual person make it harder to be a team player? Are we unwilling to take the risks required to create a good relationship? I don't know the answers to any of these questions. I just know that I have more and more single friends who are saying they will never get married. Call me old-fashioned, but that worries me. My friends aren't ten, because at ten I would have agreed with them. For those of my readers who might have been married several years, I pose this question, "Was your marriage worth the risk?" I have a feeling most of you would say yes.

Those of you who have taken other kinds of risks, such as moving to a new city, going to a foreign country, or trying to start a business, what would you be doing if you hadn't taken that risk? Would you be satisfied? The reason I've beaten this subject like a dead horse is because I am one of those non-risk takers. I really prefer things to be cut, dry, and safe. So I have to constantly remind myself that nothing truly great happens to safe people. I'm not saying I need to become a dare-devil, but I am saying that I need to step out of my comfort zone a little. It's a personal growth area, that I'm sure others share with me.

So see if you can take a risk this week. Tell that special guy/girl how you feel. Try that new task your friends have been begging you to try. This week I'm going to drive on the parkway. Go ahead and laugh. This girl has never driven more than 55 mph. It'll be interesting for sure. Leave your thoughts below if you have any. Feel free to agree or disagree with anything you like, just be respectful, and of course explain why.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Frustration with Life

My life is not so bad. I have just had a great weekend starting with dinner and a movie with friends Friday night, continuing to a indie movie premier and after party Saturday night, and a good day at church and time hanging out with a friend's family today. My life has all the makings of a rather marvelous time.

Still have trouble being content with my current situation. It's hard not to get discouraged during the job hunt. I am a broken record. This is probably eerily similar to blog posts I wrote last summer. Regardless of how may times I beat the dead horse, it still stinks to be unemployed and uncertain of the future.

One could state the cliche, the future is always uncertain. Even people who think that their future is set in stone could be injured tomorrow and unable to work the next day. A person could think he/she is getting married to the love of his/her life tomorrow, and a car accident could change everything. (I know that's morbid and terrible, but it is nevertheless true.) I could get a call tomorrow for an interview and have job by Friday for all I know.

Regardless whether this cliche rings true or not, it is difficult. I know how unbelievably blessed I am. I have amazing friends, supportive family, and a great education under my belt. I can't help but wonder, "What will I do if I don't get a job?" There isn't a whole hell of a lot to do with a Social Studies degree and a teaching certificate. Jobs in history are not that plentiful either. I'd really rather not go back to working fast food and living with my parents. I know that in this economy there's no shame in it, but it's still really frustrating.

Does it make me an ungrateful wretch to be frustrated with my life? There are probably people who would trade me in a minute. Maybe I'm too full of myself. I had a friend who used to respond when asked, "How are you?" "Better than I deserve."

This is probably true. I am better than I deserve. For all the things I do that displease God on a regular basis, I deserve to be a bag lady, sleeping on park benches, getting beaten up by thugs for pocket change. Of course, I'm not in that predicament. God's always provided for me in the nick of time. So why do I continue to worry? Why don't I trust him to always provide? I guess part of my concern is that what I want is not what he wants, and I, like a stubborn child, desperately want him to give me what I think will help me the most. Yet again, for all I know, what he wants is something much greater than anything I could imagine for myself. Maybe this hardship will lead to personal growth and higher self efficacy. Maybe determining that I can live without the creature comforts I'm used to will lead to greater self-reliance and self-confidence.

Too many maybes I suppose. I don't do well with uncertainty. I am reminded of a song from the musical Into the Woods called, "No More." The link to the lyrics is posted below:

http://www.allthelyrics.com/lyrics/into_the_woods_soundtrack/no_more-lyrics-207680.html

I guess all the maybes make me think of that song. Just more questions....different kinds.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Confessions of an Introverted Extrovert

I recently watched a speech by a self proclaimed introvert, about the power of introverts. Her name is Susan Cain, and I'll put the link to the video below.

As a teacher, it is often assumed that I am an extrovert. Teachers naturally have to work with other teachers to form lessons and time lines for their materials, so we all end on the same page. Teachers  have to communicate problems and results with parents, so that the parents know what is going on in the classroom. Teachers have to be able to establish relationships with their students, so that they can learn how to serve their students best. I do all of these things as a teacher, but I would not say I am an extrovert. At least not to the extreme that many students may think I am.

I do enjoy human interaction. I tend to get bored easily, and I am unable to amuse myself for days on end by reading books. However, as Mrs. Cain points out, an introvert can enjoy the company of people without actively interacting with those people. The example she gives is of sitting in her parent's house reading silently with her family. Now I am not the most academic of people. I like to read, but I am rather picky about what kind of reading can hold my attention for a long period of time. What I do enjoy is listening to people around me. I enjoy experiencing life as it happens. What does this mean you may ask? I enjoy going to a friend's house, and listening the conversations the groups has without actually participating actively. I actively listen, and if I really feel compelled to speak, I will. If I'm in a particularly talkative mood, I may speak a lot, but generally that is when there are two or less other people present.

I am not shy. I am perhaps shy with immediate strangers, but I am not strangers with people long. I can talk one on one all day long. I can talk to my classes without feeling nervous at all. It makes me angry when students talk while I am talking. Maybe part of this is because I like to listen to people without talking, so I expect others to do the same for me. Maybe I'm not interesting enough; I teach history after all.

I find it easier to sing in front of my peers than make a speech. I did not like speech class at all, even though I loved my classmates and professor to pieces. I was not good at making speeches. I did debate freshman year, and I am not good at flying by the seat of my pants and coming up with a valid debate. (This serious hinders my ability to teach some days, when my plan just doesn't work the way I thought it would. I am better than I used to be.) I get to sing at one of my best friend's weddings this October, but I am dreading the toast, I just know I'm going to cry/babble incoherently.

I understand the importance of working together to solve problems, especially since I am not the most intellectual type of gal. When I have problems in my classroom, you can bet I'm going to ask another teacher for advice. I am more likely to ask one teacher in a private conversation, however, than I am to ask in a big meeting. I don't like to air my problems to large groups. If two cannot figure it out, then I move on to a different person. I'll create lesson plans with large groups, but if I'm having trouble with pedagogy, I'm more likely to ask one person.

The fact that I'm an introverted extrovert translates into church as well. I was really involved with church when I was in college. I taught Sunday School, participated in Bible Study, and when to service every Sunday I could get a ride. I went to church "religiously," if you'll pardon the pun. When I moved to Hopkinsville, I never really found my niche in a church here. I go to church occasionally, and I even enjoy the church I go to when I do go. The ministers are nice, and the people are friendly enough. I just don't feel I'm needed, so I just sit there and watch. I pray, I sing, and I listen. That's all I do. I sadly don't volunteer for anything, because I just don't feel led to do anything. I don't know anyone there other than the ministers and the few HHS teachers who attend the church. No one goes out of their way to make me feel welcome, and no one looks at me like I'm a heathen for not showing up for three weeks either. Now I go around trying to behave like a Christian woman. I'm kind to people generally, and I don't try to besmirch random people with vicious gossip. I like to think the best of people. I pray for people who tell me to pray for them, and I try to pray for people who seem to be having a hard time. No one sees you pray though. It's not a public kind of thing, so it kind of appears like I don't do anything to further my religion.

Of course, being outwardly religious is somewhat frowned upon as a school teacher. I am not supposed to influence my students' beliefs. I don't even want to influence their beliefs. When I was growing up, I was not raised in the church, because of this, I believe that I am a believer in Jesus, because I know him personally, not because my parents made me go to church when I was a little girl. Every child should be so lucky. I'm not saying that parents who take their kids to church are wrong. I'm saying that kids should be allowed to figure out their beliefs in their own time. Take your young child to church if you want, but just because your teenager suddenly rebels and decides they don't want to go to church anymore, doesn't mean you have to send them to an all-girls/boys school and shove the Bible down their throats. Just be understanding and listen, and perhaps they'll come around quickly, perhaps they'll come around slowly, but it'll be on their own terms not yours. Ok, so that kind of got off my introverted-extrovert tangent, but that's ok. Giving kids time to inwardly reflect on their faith is where I was getting at. Some kids are great with going on Youth Group trips and joining Fellowship of Christian Athletes or Teens for Christ, and some kids just want time to reflect and read about Christianity. I kind of did both. I was part of Teens for Christ, but I never went on any of the related trips or even attend church regularly until I went to college.

I've been taught to give my kids Cooperative Learning Assignments. This helps build social skills and aids problem solving..blah...blah...blah. Don't get me wrong. Sometimes working with someone can help certain students. Usually, I stick to pairs if I'm going to have my kids work together, because generally, even my most introverted student gets along with one other person in the room. Some people just don't talk. When they do talk, it usually causes some kind of uproar in the classroom. I try to make sure that my students know that I don't think it's strange to choose to be silent, and I don't think it's strange when the silent kid talks. Usually when my silent kid talks, he/she has something of value to say. Then it is best for us more loquacious types to shut up and listen and not judge, because that's the reason why some quiet people never talk.

Everyone could stand to be a better listener. I think we hear a lot of things, but we don't listen anymore. Life moves very fast, and people rush to keep up. We multi-task by watching a movie, while writing a research paper, chatting on facebook, and talking to our roommates. We eat our meals sometimes standing up in the kitchen or in our living rooms while surfing facebook rather than sitting at the dining room table. By dividing our attention among so many distractions, we often miss the meat of the conversations going on around us, or perhaps our conversations don't have any meat at all. As a history teacher, I often crave the times where people could sit around a table and talk about their lives over dinner or gather around a fireplace to chat about recent politics and events. If salons like the Enlightenment were still going happening, who knows what kind of changes could occur? What kind of problems could we solve? Granted, I am the one who said she prefers to watch and listen during these kinds of conversations, but perhaps that's because we need someone who listens long enough synthesize the information presented. I recognize that I am not the font of all knowledge, but rather an ever present student trying to learn however I can.

http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts.html?source=facebook#.T9fzOVcwb-B.facebook