but first, let me take a selfie.

I’ve had a lot of topics pass in and out of my thoughts over the last week but I haven’t sat down to write about any of them.  One that’s been reoccurring for over a year, however, is regarding vanity.  I’ve written a lot of things that reflect my dislike of silly trends and vain generations, but I’m not sure how often I’ve spelled out my frustrations of avoiding hypocrisy.  I was thinking about it a lot again today and decided maybe it was time to pen something out.



Case and point.  (If you haven’t watched that video yet, do it…because you’ll be hearing a lot about it for quite some time.  It’s the new, What Does the Fox Say.)


I have read sooo many articles lately that bash my generation.  “Vain”, “self-absorbed”, “egocentric”,… and at first I was nodding right along.  Then I thought, isn’t it a bit ironic?  All of these people from my generation keep writing about “those guys” in the same generation, the people who are giving us the “bad rap”.  But even us writers, here we are breaking things down and giving our view on some larger thing just because we think we have a valuable opinion?  That people will want to hear what we have to say?  And what about the fact that we’re still part of that generation?


I’m pretty sure anyone in our generation associated at all with technology or the internet is at least a little self-absorbed, albeit because they do have a Facebook account and post photos or because they play online video games and don’t associate with live humans.  I know there are people out there who refrain completely from technology.  But I’m not sure that struggling to separate themselves from the rest of the people doesn’t make them any less concerned about self-image and what demographic they represent.


Not gonna lie, though…I love having interfaces that put data in my hand whenever I want it, whatever I want.  I love efficiency.  I think that all comes from technology’s development and, as a result, an increased pace in society.  Pushing to get ahead, not just to be the best country at something but also as an individual trying not to lose that scholarship in college.  There are some justifications for technological dependencies, at least if you’ve ever been to college or worked in your career in recent years.


But I still make choices.  I don’t “selfie it up” in the bathroom, I dress in ways that make me happy for myself but not in ways that are meant to draw attention (ick!), and I refrain from being on my phone all of the freaking time.  You know how annoyed clerks get with that?  They don’t feel like “real” people when phone’s are used at the counter.  (Dewey’s Coffeehouse at Shaker Square even forbids phones in line for that reason.)


Yet there are some things that I see and that I wish I had.  For example, pretty much every friend I know has had professional photos taken for high school graduation.  Then again after college.  Well, yesterday was my graduation ceremony from Case Western and I thought, wow, I have no documentation of any of this.  No formal photos besides the classic headshot from senior year of high school to show how much I have or haven’t changed.  And it’s kind of nice to have real quality photos instead of selfies or some janky set-up your parents put together in your den.


However, I also see some other people’s blogs.  They are super fashion obsessed and I don’t mean obsessed as in my obsession with looking decent and classy.  No, I mean they think they are *teh shiz*.  When I see all of these photos of them that they post in the same outfit (sometimes pretty, sometimes seriously just a boring black shower curtain with a necklace), I have mixed feelings.  First, I think ick!  How obsessed are you with yourself!?  (You really think you’re that pretty?)  Second, I think what about me!  I want photos like that.  I want to feel special.  —–   But do I?


I think having fashion photos of me would be appealing if it were one casual shot in this outfit, maybe another casual shot wearing something else…but also in a pretty setting.  I can’t stand these girls who have fifty shots of themselves taken with the same building behind them every time, trying to strike poses that they’re just not pulling off and which I think look stupid in the magazines as it is…and so I can scrap any desire to look like that just by thinking of how vain they look!


Yup, I still hate the fashion industry.  I hate what it does to people, how it affects farmers, the pesticides involved in producing cotton, the rip-offs, the hoity-toity designers, how men design scandalous women’s clothing, how women think this is something to which they should aspire, just soo sooo sooooo so much about the fashion industry itself is stupid.  Then add on all of these “selfies” and “photo shoots” and you’re left looking at this generation and thinking, “Wow, what a bunch of egocentric airheads” and wondering if they’ve even graduated high school or if they were too obsessed with what they were going to wear to prom.


And now…my closing -siiiigh-….


P.S. I totally took a selfie today.

ignorance.

Writing a book has been on my list of things to do for a long time.  I actually wrote 75% of a novel in French last year but a few things happened and I got discouraged and uninspired.  My book was about my own ignorance and how travel changed me, particularly in my experiences living in Benin, traveling in Togo, and volunteering in Cameroon.  But my editor cut it down before he got to the end, the part where the story all comes together.  So I lost hope.

My experiences traveling the world began with a trip to Alaska in 2012 for the AISES National Conference.  I was already passionate about my native heritage and the health of the planet, but meeting hundreds of other native people raised with the same passions made me realize I’m not alone.  Seriously, thinking of these friends of mine can make me cry.  I can remember their research presentations, how enthusiastic they were over the most miniscule things (like studying how worms remediate the different horizons of soil, the preservation of sacred turtle species, etc.).  I can remember their excitement to learn about other native cultures and how proud they were to share their own.  I can also remember how quick they were to cry when they talked about the poverty, the pain, the histories of their own peoples and all of the things that have happened to them in the past.

Those were the people that inspired me back then, and they continue to inspire me now.  Now I have studied abroad on four different continents.  Now I continue to travel and don’t see myself ever stopping.  But what is inspiring me to do this?  It’s not to say I’ve been somewhere cool.  In fact, it’s to encourage others to realize they don’t know what’s out there, that there’s more to life than what they see in their hometowns or in the media.  I want people to take on dispelling their own ignorance and to attempt to even share their stories with the people they meet.

A year after my conference in Alaska, I was in Colorado for the same event.  This time, I was repurposed.  I had traveled with a professor in India during the summer who inspired me to take the wisdom of the projects we witnessed on the trip and to apply them to US Indian Reservation work.  I walked around the events at the conference and shared my thoughts with anyone willing to hear them – and that was everyone.  I was amazed by the positive responses I got.  It prompted me to generate a survey, and now I am to present to a professional chapter in a month with my ideas.

The more vocal I’ve become (about anything), the more aggressively I’ve been smacked down by people who give unwarranted feedback.  It has gotten me so frustrated and I never fully understood why.  But, suddenly, it became clear.  I wasn’t upset by what these people were saying, I was upset by why they were saying it.  And why were they saying it?  Well, if it was something about my personal life, jealousy is why.  That, I can’t help.  But when it comes to the things I am passionate about, when it comes to racism and native causes, they’re speaking purely out of ignorance.

I’m not upset about them, I’m upset for them, for their lacking education, for their poor selves that had no better way to grasp understanding.  For their lack of compassion and for their lack of opportunity.  For how it must feel when caring people look at them and see them as vain fools.  I mean, it must be far worse to live with that much bundled hatred, spite, and ignorance.

I’ve always thought, if only they knew.   But how to even begin?  How to start from the beginning of the truth, about the histories and the causes and the current experiences?  The facts, the memoirs, the photos, the real people with real stories…  If I even tried to explain, wouldn’t they just cut me off?  But what if I could tell them but they didn’t have to know that I knew that they knew…but they would eventually just know and let it go.  Or maybe some would have a total change of heart.  Yet again maybe some would feel convicted and become even more aggressive, but then shame on them.  But how how how could I make that happen??

Finally, I know what I’m going to write about.

 

buzzcut season.

And nothing’s wrong when nothing’s true
I live in a hologram with you.

-Lorde, Buzzcut Season.

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I keep trying to picture this world in other times.  I only have music, books, journals, and what I can pull from history to tell me what life was like before this era.  As I mentioned in my last post, the Hollywood version of Noah’s story depicted what looked like the end of the world, what I would expect to be the last straw before humanity wipes itself out.

Oh, right…that’s what happened.  By the hand of God.  He restarted the planet.

Sometimes I get scared in thinking it’s really not that far off.  I’m not scared so much for the world coming to an end since fretting won’t help anyone, I’m more scared by people and how they can be so ruthless.  Survival of the fittest and competition is one thing, but not in a world where we currently have the means to provide for our global population.  We’re just not distributing it properly and neglecting immorality and inequity.

I like to imagine 100 years ago, with more moral people and less egocentrism.

I like to imagine 500 years ago, with increasing humility and simplicity in a positive sense.

I like to imagine…but it’s hard to imagine.  I mean, was there ever a time when people really were all good and perfect and they didn’t stray from living in harmony?  It seems so unlikely…and I’m not sure what sets off in the first guy’s head to do evil, but it sure sends around a chain reaction.

Explosions on TV, and all the girls with heads inside a dream…

All of the chaos we see around the world.  All of the people wanting to turn a blind eye and take up the lives of rich, well-dressed, fine-dining celebrities….

The men up on the news, they try to tell us all that we will lose…

But what is this pressure we feel?  To outrun the chaos and arm ourselves with riches?  And then the downtrodden feeling that only a select few are entitled to those privileges…

But you see, THAT is the HOLOGRAM.

It’s so easy to see the bad.  The good only ever seems to shine if it’s pure good, but bad taints it.  Because NOT EVERYONE is trying to obtain those things.  In fact, who really wants it anyway?  When you know that happiness comes from having a certain list of things that make you safe, sound, and comfortable, how many of your lists would honestly need materialistic things?

The media sure wants us to believe that.  And the media plagues the TV with horrible scenes.  If it can’t cause the audience to shed a tear or gasp, it’s probably not going to make enough of an impact to get whatever feedback quota or credit it desires for that given day.

So WHAT IS the hologram??

The hologram is not seeing life for what it is.  The celebrities live in a hologram because their lives consist of artificiality.

Now we live beside the pool, where everything is good….
It’s so easy in this blue, where everything is good….

Play along (make-believe it’s hyper real)…

And I’ll never go home again.

The hologram is living in that artificial life, or living in the ordinary life and not seeing the simple things that make it taste, feel, be, the things that make it real and NOT that artificial life.

We ride the bus with our knees pulled in…
I shut my eyes to the song that plays.
Sometimes this has a hot, sweet taste.

Cola with the burnt-out taste
I’m the one you tell your fears to
There will never be enough of us

But it’s not just rejecting the hoity-toity life or embracing the simple one, it’s also about seeing the good in something overshadowed by the worse.  Like how shocked I have been at times to realize how many people actually careabout finding peace and accepting people and who go out of theirs ways to help.

Anyway, just a thought.  And I really like that song.

 

modern Noah.

The news on Google today was flooded with photos from the 2014 Met Gala Best Dressed.  I humored myself for about eight seconds of perusing posed shots of celebrities in fancy clothing before I couldn’t stand looking at it anymore.  It’s like when you cut sugar out of your diet and you no longer can stand the rush from sugar.  I can no longer even fathom what thrill people get from these kinds of things.

I used to look at outfits and appreciate the creativity, flow, contrasts, etc. of each piece.  If it were a school assignment, sure – I’d whip out all of those elegant words from the bank and I could fool anyone.  But today was completely different and I felt nothing for the outfits.  Nothing positive.  Actually, I felt disgust.

I’ve been applying for several travel scholarships lately in the hopes of scoring an award to either a global sustainability class or a service project in one of the least attractive corners of the world.  I constantly want to push forward and do something.  That something generally involves putting time, effort, and money into working with impoverished people in this world who are the voiceless, working bodies holding every society together.

In other words, when I saw those outfits, I saw the faces of the people who grew the cotton or mixed the dyes.
I saw the anguish, the integrity, the bleeding hands.

I did not see the floozy in the gown or the million-dollar smile.
I did not know the name of the celebrity, but I wished I’d known the names of the servants who created her.
From a million miles away.
With several million dollars less.
And what has that celebrity done?  Relative to her potential?  ZIP.  ZILCH.  NOTHING.

NOTHING, as far as relative goes.  NOTHING when you can buy up an entire fleet and take world problems by storm.  NOTHING when you have the voice and the potential to be heard by so many sheep who blindly follow.

What can the peasant do?  Keep quiet, keep humble, keep working.

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This all happened so perfectly in timing with my spontaneous decision to see the movie Noah.  Going into it, I had no idea what to expect – I just know the imagery looked intense.  Well, quite frankly, I had two impressions: 1) WOW, that was creepy and 2) WOW, that didn’t seem accurate.

And it wasn’t.

I’m no expert on the book of Genesis, but it’s short and I’ve been around it since I was little enough to get the main ideas.  With a little help from reviews, I was able to back up the reasons for my reactions.  First and foremost, Noah was played out as a maniac trying to kill, kill, kill.  It was all supposed to be showing his devotion to the Creator’s will, but you know how Hollywood takes ahold of things and runs with it.  Now, there were also some technical things wrong with the film, like how Jepath was not the youngest son but rather Ham was, or how Lamech didn’t die when Noah was a child.  But there were also some points in the film that were clearly strategic in capturing any kind of audience: the overlaying of Creation with Evolution.  Admittedly, I know enough people who insist both coexist that I actually really liked the implications the directors  made – but I also know a lot of Christians did not like said implications and took offense to Hollywood selling the Bible for profit.

It’s true, though; one could justly say this group’s scriptures have been misrepresented and sold.  It has been work-shopped questionably and beyond the entitlement of “artistic license”.  From the “rock people” to the dramatic, wordless visions from God, Hollywood was really just pitching a highly animated sci-fi movie – and how ironic, right?

But perhaps one benefit that came from this is the message it gave.  Now, people will argue the message of Genesis is that humans left their god and ran astray, so they were all wiped out – save for Noah, his family, and a bunch of animals meant to repopulate the earth.  In other words, disobeying the Creator is the big no-no.  Well, in this version of Noah’s story, it’s about what humans have done to the planet and less about how they’ve forgotten their god (although it does come up time to time).  Noah’s obedience to God is supposed to show why he has been chosen, but he just comes off as crazed until he learns love with discretion.  Meanwhile, the Flood is allegedly occurring to cleanse “evil” and to save the “innocent”, meaning the animals.  It’s like an eco-friendly, modern Noah story.  Save the planet, or you’ll have nothing left.  At least it’s a positive message, although missing the Biblical mark by a substantial bit.

—————————————————————————————————

So Met Gala.  Noah.
These two ideas finally collided in my mind.

The evil-doers in Noah were transfixed on themselves, on their power, on humanity’s greatness, on their ruling over everything below them, on their image in the eyes of others and not in goodness,… They were eating other humans and holding absolutely no values, bloodthirsty to be at the top just as they were when the Flood came and they scrambled over each other to the highest peak to avoid the inevitable.  Because they thought they were great.  Because they had raised themselves up and not appreciated or ever understood the foundation on which they were standing to begin with.

Wow, just like our society today.

Dog eats dog, climbing over each other to the top, striving to save that extra buck so you can get that much farther ahead.  Idolizing things that should not be idolized, like celebrities who bring nothing of good fortune or true inspiration to a wholesome life.  Meanwhile, we take for granted our foundation, the one as simple as who grows our food.  Do you know how few people could survive without that anonymous web of peasants laboring below us?

“Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than one perverse in his ways, though he be rich.” – Proverbs 28:6

The toil, the labor, the strife peasants pour into providing riches to the already rich… that’s just an example of these same themes.  False pedestals hold false idols, and becoming a sheep to the wrong flock drags you down the road of foolishness.  You can no longer hold what is important in your mind.  You become materialistic and take advantage of the downtrodden.  But the world balances itself out and nature/God/whatever will always have the last say.  “…for a piece of bread a man will transgress.  A man with an evil eye hastens after riches, and does not consider that poverty will come upon him” – but he is often already poor.

Yes, celebrities and those who idol them are poor and sickly.
It’s the impoverished, the righteous, and the downtrodden who live righteously who are the richest, the ones who are safe from the transgressions of the world – the ones closest to being the modern Noah.