Love thy neighbour.

Patriotism. It has been called everything from the refuge of the weak-minded to the greatest virtue. Patriotism though cannot be defined so simply. We all have our own version of that concept. We understand it differently through various mind prisms of life experiences, upbringing, religion, philosophy, and metaphysics.
The reason many of us define patriotism differently is because people disagree on what is most important to their country. I have a number of friends who claim to not be patriotic at all because they do not like the way things are and want them to change. I would posit that this is still patriotism. They want things to be different, to be better for their country and regardless of whether their particular beliefs are right or wrong or whether they consider themselves patriotic, they are patriotic.

Here is my recipe for healthy patriotism.

Social Contract.
As members of society we tacitly or explicitly (especially in cases of immigration) accept the social contract of our respective societies. Citizens of the United States of America pledge allegiance to the flag and constitution. Citizens of Canada pledge allegiance to the Queen and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But the society is so much more than that. We sometimes forget that there are certain national cultural values that exist and it is *our* responsibility to know them and respect them.

Civility.
We are all different. We are all snowflakes. We look differently, we think differently, we express ourselves differently. Perhaps it is not so but it seems sometimes that we have are losing the tradition of civil discourse. We do not discuss, we argue. We listen just long enough and attentively enough to object. Let us get that back. We will all be better for it.

Civics.
One of the problems that is observed throughout western societies is that people are not well versed in the subject of Civics. We do not sufficiently know how our own countries, our own governments function. There are a couple of wonderful videos where actor Richard Dreyfuss explains the importance of that subject. So rather than let me try to do it, I will turn it over to the master:

Education.
Education is the cornerstone of a successful society. How can we even begin to understand the concepts of governance and patriotism without knowing the history of those concepts. This does not mean that I value humanities over science. The logic inherent in science, especially mathematics and physics is paramount to being able to reason logically about subjects that cannot be easily defined. They are also important when it comes to understanding economics. Claiming to be a patriot but not to care at all about one’s country’s economic and monetary policy is an insanity, especially in the light of the current recession and its causes. Everyone apparently has a opinion on what the governments should do about the recession but ask many of the people what their thoughts are on the current monetary policy of their government or even who is in charge of it and you will get blank stare.

Freedom of speech and expression.
This ties in with previously mentioned subjects of civility, Civics, and the social contract. We can all scream and seethe at each other from our respective camps but that will not get us anywhere. Without being able to express ourselves, we cannot move forward as a society. And yes, I do count hate speech as an important function of this. I know I  am about to lose great many of you but consider this: banning  hate speech will not make it magically disappear. In fact, it is impossible to ban hate speech; we can only ban public expression of it. And that my friends, is equivalent to sticking our proverbial heads in the sand. Hate speech is rooted in ignorance and the only way to fight against it is with education not the with silence and ineffective laws.
I am not being merely academic about this. I grew up in the country where I was hated and discriminated against (sometimes publicly) based on my ethnicity. So I have experienced racism and I still say let the assholes spew their hatred. Forbidding them to speak in public will not make them change their minds.

So these are the ingredients for healthy patriotism. The cooking methods can be multiple but the constant must always be respect for others, knowledge to empower change, and earnest will to make life better for everyone and not just the people who agree with you.

Peace out.

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Day 24. Climbing On High. (Letter #6.)

My dearest love,

Today I have made another step in trying to move on. Clearly, the road ahead of me is hard and painful. I remember how just recently we came to this same place for rock climbing. Your excited face upon having completed a route stands before my tear-filled eyes as if it happened mere seconds ago rather than months. You were scared first but You overcame your fears and I was so proud of You and happy for You.

I have loved rock climbing for years but now it does not feel the same without you by my side. The smell of chalk, the burning skin of my palms from gripping the rock, the spectacular views,

image

nothing gives me pleasure anymore.

How do I forget You? How do I love again without You? How do I just start taking pleasure in things I have always loved?

Tomorrow is another day and everyone keeps telling me that very soon I am certain to meet someone who will love me as much as I would love them.

But all I want is You! All I want is your love!

Will I ever see You again? Will our lives cross paths? Will You cross to another side of the street if you see me coming?

As much as I wish to stop loving You I do not want to stop loving You. How could I not love You?

I miss You. I want You in my life. And I still love You.

Patrick Stewart Like You Have Never Seen Him Before.

So this is a bit of an aside from my usual topic but I simply cannot pass this up. This is Patrick Stewart – who is quite possibly high in this video – teaching his 35-year-old fiancée about the finer points of comedic acting. I suppose this is one of those rare sneaky peeks we get to have in the private lives of these larger than life people we see on screen or on stage.

Enjoy and have a good week-end!

Day 23. A Sneak Peek or I’m On A Horse.

Everything we do as bloggers, tends to reveal a part of ourselves. For some, it shows merely through the way they express their thoughts. For others, like myself, over-sharing is the name of the game. Sometimes, when you go through some bad times, you just need to talk to someone who will not necessarily respond with tired old platitudes but will jut listen. We do not even need to have an actual human listener. That is one of the reasons dogs have been so beneficial for soldiers suffering from PTSD.

I have no time nor strength to care for a pet. I can barely take care of myself. Flatmates (at least the good one) are a lot like pets: they are there when you feel sad and when you’re happy. Except that they (usually) clean up after themselves and pay their share of the rent. However, sometimes, you need something a lot less encumbered with humanity: a pet or a computer. This blog is me screaming into the void. Sure there are others who read this blog and give feedback through likes and pingbacks but there is that element of actual human interaction that is removed. It gives us freedom to be far more open then we would be otherwise.

This blog is my way of being completely open. There is no need to peek sneakily: take a gander. Here I am in all my anonymous glory. This is me.

Day 22. I Love You Still. (Letter #5.)

My dearest girl,

It has been over a month since you have said good-bye to me. I has a been a time of unimaginable pain and anguish for me. Yet I think of you every day. I remember your voice, the sweet smell of your long beautiful hair. I remember your smile and the way your eyes would squint and shine. Our time together, despite the dark poisonous despair inside me, had been the happiest of my life and I cannot imagine my life without you in it. I look at the pictures of you. I touch the image of your beautiful face. I try in vain to wish you to call me, to talk to me, to love me…

Still, I muster on, one painfully lonely day at a time. At times, the anxiety of never seeing you again overwhelms me and I stop, breathing heavily, mind racing and fighting the inevitable conclusion that we shall never be together again. I sweat, suddenly overcome with a hot flash, my brain feeling as if it has been thrust into a volcanic furnace. Then, slowly, my breathing becomes normal but the pangs of pain, regret, and sorrow in my chest are still there and I feel drained of energy. I am powerless and tired. Tears feel my eyes and I feel dizzy. I desperately want to call you just to hear your voice but I know I cannot. I yearn for your voice, for.your lips, for your laugh, for your touch, even for a fleeting sight off you.

But nothing comes.

It will never again and that thought is killing me. I feel so lost without you by my side.

I miss you so, so much.

And I still love you.

Day 21. Control.

As members of the human species we seem to be running around trying to achieve an illusion of control over our own lives, the control that is rather illusory. We do not have control over life’s circumstances. Regardless of the newly re-found notions of visualisation and “law of attraction” (which has as much to do with any law as noble gases with nobility), any semblance of control over our lives is a delusion.

That said, we do tend to exercise a lot of control over our feelings and emotions. It is just easier to wall off against potential threats than live openly and with our emotions our in the open and not hidden. It would certainly be a healthier attitude but in the Western civilisation it is not favoured by the establishment. Rather we remain closed off to others and spend a lot of effort on trying to insulate and protect ourselves from emotional damage.

When we do fall in love, it just seems so magical because we can relax and not put up the walls in out mind. When we do give of our love, we give with a measure of relief at being able to be natural. That is why when the relationship falls apart we are so heart-broken. There is a feeling of betrayed trust. But more importantly, there’s a feeling of betrayal. Even though there might not have been one, we still tend to feel that our unspoken openness was used up by the partner and discarded like a piece of garbage…

That’s all I can write at the moment.

And I still love Her.

Day 20. Common Courtesy.

Last night I dreamt that I was married to Her and we had babies. We were happy. (Especially disturbing since I am not that fond of babies or children in real life.) Let’s just say it’s a good thing I do not keep a gun in the house.

A thought has occurred to me yesterday but it didn’t really sink in until this morning. “At some point, survival becomes more of a social obligation than anything else.” What about my family? Who is going to take care of them in their old age? What will happen at work? I got a show scheduled. Who will replace me? What about my flatmates? Are they going to have to clean up that mess? How much having my room as a crime scene is going to cost them in unpaid rent? How much extra rent will they have to pay looking for a new flatmate? Will the gun blast wake up the neighbours? This is when having ADD and its consequent millions of thoughts rushing through my mind is a good thing.

Being Funny.

People have generally always considered me funny. For awhile that wasn’t the case as I was getting acquainted with the English language and even since, my sense of humour is not everyone’s cup of tea. In fact, most people in the Anglophone Western societies do not get it. The sensibilities are too different.

However, over time I learned what tends to make people laugh even if it is not really funny to me. THE reason I did that is because I tend to use humour as defense weapon. It is a way to distract people from seeing what really is going on behind the mask of a clown.

So now the mask has been sheared off. Not by choice; but now it is broken (along with my heart) but this will hopefully will make me stronger rather than completely to destroy me.

Except… I am supposed to entertain people on stage. Luckily, improv is not standup comedy so I am not supposed to be cracking one-liners. On the other hand, it is not a good idea for me to be continually miserable on the stage.

And therein lies the problem for I feel the need to get back to improv. Having made a number of emotional breakthroughs, I think I can grow much more as an improviser now. This is something I can actually be good at and be a better person for it. Whether healthy or not, there is a need in me to make people laugh. I am not expecting for this to pay the bills – that would be a highly unrealistic expectation. However, somehow, making someone’s day just a little brighter by making them laugh makes me feel that l have some kind of a purpose in life. I am not a religious man by any means so I do not have the comfort of thinking that higher power has a purpose for me. So I have to go and get my own purpose. And I think humour is it.