Life

Of November 27th and Ensuing Matters

(This isn’t fictitious. At all.)

I left the house at 8 o’clock, when I’d planned on leaving at 7. The earlier you leave to read outside the better, because it gets progressively hotter and more stifling (sweat, sweat, sweat galore) as the day progresses, climaxing sometime around noon and then it starts cooling down again, and as I drove down I half-heartedly lamented the lost hour. Things lost are always greater in potential than anything ever , and I (foolishly, in retrospect) thought I could’ve pack more reading, bike-riding and early morning sight-seeing into that sixty-minute stretch than can physically, temporally, spatially possible. It’s ridiculous now, but it wasn’t then. And that’s another thing about me: in retrospect, I’m always dumber. Or maybe not strictly dumb as much as unreasonable, taken by immediacy of circumstance and idea and thought and occurrence, and given to impulse. And that’s probably the reason: I’m overrun by the now and overwhelmed, so I act on unthinking, immature, sometimes instinctual modus. Is that what all the Zen-masters are talking about? Are they able to calm themselves so significantly, so aptly as to achieve ultimate possible clarity, that thing we – by that I don’t mean ‘we’, I really mean ‘I’ – need hours, days, weeks to achieve? I’m not sure.

I’m listening to someone called Drew Ryniewicz, her rendition of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean and, nicely sung just now: People always told me, ‘Be careful what you do. Don’t go around breaking young girls’ hearts. Mother always told me, ‘Be careful who you love. Be careful what you do, because a lie becomes a truth.’ I don’t know who this Ryniewicz is (a friend gave some music and I’m only listening to it now) but she has a nice voice. Passionate but sensitive. Attentive. That’s it. The best singing voices are attentive: they (their owners) know precisely when to rise in triumphant soprano and plunge in woeful contralto. Anyway, I’ve digressed heavily.

I drove along the corniche, only sometimes catching a whiff of sea-air (I’m not the fondest of that particular odour), finally making it to a bench I arbitrarily deemed acceptable to read on – they line the corniche, a few meters between, and I could have picked any other one. I read for about an hour when a woman approached me. Now, I say approached but I was really startled by her presence, because for the past hour I’d been sucked into the parallel, imagined world of the book, only rising (voluntarily!) to peer about, sporadically, as if making sure my surroundings were still there. In that hour, three police cars sped by, sirens blaring, and I wondered what prompted the hurried dispatch. The woman wore a black abaya and headdress, and spoke Moroccan Arabic (as dialects of Arabic go, it’s instantly discernible), and when I’d turned to her I thought she was elegant, dignified. “Excuse me,” she said, “do you know if that road breaks to the other side?” She was wondering if there were any pedestrian crossings leading to the other side of the road. She was walking, and there must not have been one for some time; from where she stood and I sat, there weren’t any, the road was flanked on either side by concrete partitions. “I want to get to that building,” she said, and pointed to a tall one on the opposite.

“I don’t know,” I said. She thanked me and was about to leave when I said: “Wait here, give me two minute.” She was baffled as I packed my book and earphones, looped by arms around my backpack and carried it, and slid my parked bike out, as if to drive it.

“No, no,” she said immediately, understanding what I meant to do.

“It’s no problem,” I said, “I’ll just go check. Two minutes.” I took the bike and drove down the road. She was smiling (with incredulity) when I drove back to her. “There’s a traffic signal five minutes from here,” I told her, “you can cross there.” She smiled again, repeating “Jazak Allahu khair” more times than a sentence can carry. (At least five.)

I sat back and read again. Pedestrians walked past (and, naturally, had been before the lady, I should add), and every time I couldn’t help but look up to inspect who was walking by. Three men in dishdasha, two joggers, seven bikers, one of them with a bike the wheels of which I thought were too thin to support his weight. Half an hour later one of the bikers, an American lady (again, the accent tells all) on a blue bike stopped by. “Isn’t it just an excellent book?” she said, eyeing my copy of Life of Pi.

“Oh, it is,” I said. “Excellent book.”

“Couldn’t put it down,” she said. “Movie’s coming out, too. Soon.”

“I know. Looks great. This is the film tie-in edition.” I showed her my book’s cover, with the film poster instead of the official cover artwork. Now a major motion picture from Academy-Award winning director Ang Lee. Life of Pi. A novel by Yann Martell. Printed and bound in Great Britian. £6.99.

“Gotta finish it quickly so you can watch the movie,” she said. “Keep an eye for it. It comes out this week or the one after.” Then, almost before she finished her sentence, she kicked her bike alive and drove away.

I couldn’t help throwing her a “Have a nice day!” as she drove away (and I do mean throw, she’d driven away surprisingly quickly, I had to shout it). She glanced back at that, smiled, but didn’t reply. Or was the smile reply enough? Another jogger in a form-fitting black outfit hopped by – again a carefully chosen word, because rabbits came to mind as she passed me, head bobbing and body skipping forward. After some time, I decided I’d read enough for one sitting, and biked back home, absentmindedly missing my turn and driving all the way to the seaport, the sight of boats (one in particular, emblazoned in bold THE GREY DOLPHIN) telling me that I should turn back, that I’d driven along the corniche a bit longer than I should. I got back with an urge to write about what happened.

And now I have.

Advertisements

Thinking, What Matters in Life, and Other Troublesome Things

Note: this post is very abstract, and probably only makes sense to me (and even then, not so much, and I could be wrong).

A few days ago, I was struck by a realization. They’re great and illuminating things, if not always the most pleasant of encounters. My realization was of a very specific nature and kind, the one I imagine is the most powerful: some realizations strike like a hot, heavy brick to the face; just as sudden, and just as impactful.

But for the magnitude of the aforementioned realization to be understood, I must explain a few things about myself. It started a while ago …

My thought process consists predominantly of questions, and like all things, there’s a reason behind that. A much-repeated phrase of mine is that thinking is the delicate art of asking the right questions. It’s a strategy that, in times of deep introspection, proved helpful in clearing away much of my prejudice and bias; things so benevolently bestowed upon me by almost everyone, things courtesy of society, family, friends, passing acquaintances, everyone. To be human is to voice opinion, and to be young human (me, in this case) is to act a sponge to said opinion. Wittingly or otherwise, everyone has something to contribute to the growing psyche of young boy. About two years ago, after at least fifteen years of being force-fed said opinion, I’d grown to become a receptacle of a menagerie of absurdity; an amalgamation of irrational and often contradictory beliefs. It was a mess.

There was no conscious thought. There was nothing behind the actions I took; there was only blind, ardent self-righteousness. I thought I was acting on free will; I thought what I did was in accordance with the absolutely correct and infallible, but the truth is: I was more a drone than a person. I championed ideas of hatred and ugliness, things I now hold to be unthinkable, and discredited others for being of other opinion as frequently as I breathed.

It was interesting. There were pillars of truth in my head, unshakable things that seemed so until they didn’t; and like the greatest of realizations it seemed as though it had always been in plain sight, elusive and hidden, but nonetheless ever-present. It had always been there, but some things aren’t seen right away. It stunned me, and has flourished to form my every other belief and sentiment. I was proverbially stopped in my tracks. It was a very simple notion: What if I’m wrong?

You see, we have a hard time admitting to being wrong, and countless passionate arguments to the effect of “No, I’m right!” only illustrate this. It’s safe to say that humans enjoy being right – the glory of it pleasures us. Even when we find reason in the view opposing ours, many find it out of their ability to admit the other party’s correctness. We just want to be right. And I did, too.

I wanted to be right.

But I didn’t want the new structure of belief to be built upon untruths. The logical next step, then, was to apply the question to every possible notion that passes my head. It started with small things, as you might imagine; these things always have meager, soon-to-greatly-grow beginnings. The seed, foreign and teeming with exciting new possibilities and promises, had been planted. I accurately detail when it started now, yes, but I only realized that I had started questioning everything later on, long after it had happened. I only realized when I noticed its absence – the towering structure of my beliefs, my entire conception of right and wrong, truth and falsehood, had went up in flames.

But then there was the time of questioning; the unending questioning ensued; to use another much-repeated phrase: a new era had begun. It was a new phase that dwarfed the one before it in terms of both mental processes and introspection; a new phase that rose a phoenix out of the ashes of the former phase, and disgusted at its predecessor and its ways, strived to be anything but.

With almost every thought I had, another followed, the latter to the effect of “But what if that’s wrong?” In many cases, it became painfully clear that, in fact, that was wrong; I had been harboring racism, blind faiths, trite, discriminatory and contradictory notions. Things I have learned to abhor, but that had so forcefully been made to assimilate into me. I walked alleys that I had never walked before, and inside was clutter; inside were cobwebs and articles of a time that, I was determined, I would soon call bygone. It was a lengthy process, the closest I had -and have- come to finding myself, and, by the end of it all, I had come upon an outline of the person I am today. I found myself – a person that, to the best of my ability, was created free of meddling, free of the maliciousness of what plagues our society – entirely my own.

But then another problem walked into view. It was all well and good to take a critical look at things, but what do you replace the tired ideas with? And which do you replace, and which should be held in safekeeping? What’s wrong, and by extension, what’s right?

Questions, questions, questions. But where are the answers?

It could have been that I was asking too many questions too soon, that my approach was overzealous, but in any case the inevitable was to come; the shatteringly loud uncertainty of it all bore its teeth, and it was frightening – and very disorienting. That’s the trouble with emptying your mind: you have to fill it back up again.

Faced with that, I turned to the realms of the idealistic and virtuous, clawing at as many virtues and hurriedly installing them into the new psyche. Kindness, benevolence, hatred of none and love (as much of it as was fitting) for all, honesty, caring – it was all there. I didn’t realize at the time, but now that I think back, I was conforming to another image of how I should be, one proffered by the same people of whose bias and prejudice I’d attempted to purge myself – except this time, I was being fitted with value consistent with morality, and I was aware of it, as opposed to a passive receiver of unspoken orders.

The new change, I thought, was more transitional than decidedly stable. I opted for the path that I thought would have me hurt and do wrong none – on the contrary, it would have me be good; the same good that so many tout as being the highest standard of morality. I conformed, once again, but this time consciously, and with an arguably stronger sense of purpose. I didn’t know the truth, but until the day that I do, I resolved to become a saint.

But there was still the matter of the delicious truth, and my desire to fill the chambers of my mind –then occupied with being good– with it. So, I tried to find it. What was the truth, what was the inarguable absolute truth?

For the longest time, I told myself, in order rather than plea, to realize what matters. I became obsessed with it – that which matters.  It could be any one, or all, of many things: some obscure philosophical notion; the meaning of life; the reason for my existence; an end that I should devote my life toward; what I should do with my life.

It could have been anything, something, but of course I didn’t know what.

A few days ago, I understood what that is – the realization that I first mentioned (and that I would have mentioned right away, if only I didn’t have to add a prelude).

The realization was thus: That which is matters, simply, is that which I make matter.

It isn’t what is objectively meaningful, because I ampart of the equation, and by definition, what matters only matters if I make it so, or if it reconciles with what I think should matter. Now, that doesn’t provide a specific answer as to what matters, but it’s a step closer to the destination.

A few days ago, I stumbled upon a piece of the puzzle, a shard of the answer: the people I care about. They matter. Their happiness matters.

As a result of a number of events that I will refrain from mentioning, I realized that the people I care for are at least part of the answer I sought. Their happiness consistently translates to my happiness, and happiness is something I seek – you could say it matters to me.

There’s another interesting school of thought that I feel is worth a mention: nihilism. For a time, I was infatuated with it. Those who believe in nihilism (nihilists) hold that there is no morality, and that life is intrinsically meaningless. A word of love –or hatred– is but a wave in air, and a wave is but a distortion. A dead human is the same number of atoms as a living one, and so it doesn’t matter if, say, a person is saved from a burning house, or shot to death. I imagine that’s how those who step out of the confines of what we call sanity rationalize it. If nothing means anything, and if one believes so, then one becomes fearless, one becomes uninhibited, one becomes remorseless, one becomes absolute.

It’s a radical school of thought, and –at least for me– its radicalism makes it tempting to believe in. It’s certainly not a popular belief (at least, not among the people around me), and that is appealing – there is appeal to the new and dissimilar from the regular.  But I’ve come to rationalize it as being untrue:

As humans we only experience life though the senses, through our ability: perception. And the meaning we give to life is intrinsically ours, it’s an inherent part of being the human subject; then, if experiencing life, if the very act of living, predicates on a part of the human condition (perception), then how can other parts (attribution of meaning to life) be discounted as meaningless? If one takes into account one part of a thing, then I imagine one would equally have to consider all elements of said thing.

Conclusion: What matters to me, the long-sought treasure, is simply what I rationalize it to be.

It doesn’t escape me that, objectively and by virtue of an absolute truth and law that I’m unaware of, I might be completely wrong. I might look back at this years on, and laugh at my ignorance, but at the moment this seems the most logical set of conclusions. This, again, is no clear answer, but a means to finding one; guidelines to finding reason in being. Now I must resolve to not only find the rest of what matters to me (which I imagine many have to go through, too), but to also have the courage to uphold what I believe in.

I could be wrong, certainly. But I’ve found what I think matters to me.

That’s enough for now.

No idea is out of bounds, no thought is forbidden. You are what you are, and the only sin is cowardice.

Nine O`clock, on a Street

Note: the entirety of this is real. No parts have at all been made up or had their truth changed in any way. This is not a story.

Walking down a street made me realize that I love many things.

I hadn’t brought any money with me, so my options for going back home from the lecture about film and camera dynamics I’d attended comprised only one: walking back. Just as well, I love walking. I’m one of those people who makes a point of doing small things I think are healthy. I try to walk and run as often as I can (several times I walked what ultimately is a two-hour journey on foot from the school district to downtown).

It was 9 pm, and the streets were empty. Only a car or two were to be found on the road at any given time. I love that. Sometimes, when it’s late, I walk in the middle of the empty streets where the cars are supposed to be, and feel like it’s a post-apocalyptic film; the city falls silent, and no one is anywhere within sight. If people in this city stay up late, they do so away from where I can see or hear them.

But it was 9 o’clock, and people, however few, still walked the street. At the first zebra crossing I walked by, there was a lady with a baby stroller. Sitting inside the stroller, looking fascinated and perhaps slightly afraid, was the lady’s baby. It reminded me of old pictures of my mother and me. My mother would take me, her first-born, out in a pram and we’d go on adventures together. We waited until the light flashed green, and when it did we crossed the street, along with everyone else who’d been there.

Ahead of us the street narrowed, so I stopped so she’d walk ahead of me. I didn’t want her to have to walk behind me in the narrowed road; I was walking slowly, and I didn’t imagine anyone would like that, least of all she who reminded me of my mother, if only slightly.

The street widened again, a lot larger and busier now. Downtown. The entire time she walked ahead of me, I kept thinking maybe I should help her with lifting the stroller over the elevated edges of sidewalks. I don’t know if that’s offensive. Would it be condescending of me to help in such a situation? I only wanted to help. Which I didn’t do.

I walked by the Lebanese restaurant and for the few seconds it took me to walk past it, through the large window, I saw two fighting inside. One was the cook, his outfit betrayed his identity. The other wore a suit, he could have been the manager. They were loudly shouting and gesticulating the way people who animatedly fight do. Maybe someone had got a wrong order and complained; or got their order with an unexpected -and perhaps unwanted- addition. I don’t know, I didn’t listen in.

Then I walked by one of the coffee shops that shall not be named. You know them, they’re everywhere now. I don’t like them. I’m not the biggest fan of coffee. Through the window I saw the table where The Rambling Observer and I usually sit. She orders her cup of cappuccino or frappuccino or something, I honestly don’t know; I order nothing because I don’t like coffee, as mentioned. I thought how much I valued our friendship. All my friendships, for that matter. I’m what they refer to as being blessed; in that, I find I`ve been dealt a favourable hand of cards in the poker game of life. I’m thankful.

Then I walked by a man loudly talking over the phone. He was walking in the stream of pedestrians walking in the opposite direction of that I was walking in. A man of around fourty. In a cheerful voice, he said: “Ezzayak ya ‘am Mohammad?” (“How are you, Mohammad?” in the Egyptian dialect of Arabic). That was the only line of his conversation I -unwillingly- heard as we brushed past each other. For some reason, unsupported by any evidence whatsoever, I though Mohammad was his friend from his university days, that they had not talked in years, and that on that street they were reunited after the long absence over a phone call.

A few yards away from the apartment building where I live, there was a four-by-four car the driver of which seemed to have driven into the raised area separating the sidewalk from the street. She or he then righted that, and drove down into the underground parking structure. I stepped into the building,  greeted the doorman and smiled, (I always do, every day, without fail), and stepped into the lift; the third one from the left. Out of the four there, it is the one most frequently displaying the G sign, so being the one I ride the most.

In the time I rode the lift I made a series of faces in the mirror. The Supermodel. The Superman. The Goofy Guy. The Snob. The Sad Cute Face. The I Look Surprised As If An Alien Spaceship Landed Before Me. I then dropped the used tissue I had in my hand in the small metal trash can in the corner of the lift.

My sisters had left the door unlocked for me, so I simply walked in. I found my laptop and thought, Maybe this is worth writing about. So I did. If you’re reading this, that means I didn’t decide it wasn’t worth showing anyone, highlighted the entire text of the file, and deleted it.

I love the little things that make up my life. I’m only happy when I take note of their existence. I love the faces I saw and will likely never see again as long as I live. The fact that this day will now be burned in my memory. This feeling of contentment. Now, if you are reading this, I want to hug you.

I wish you happiness, human/humanoid/creature that has developed the ability to read and browse the Internet.

Feminism: the Broken Biscuit Syndrome

Note: the following consists entirely of the writer’s opinion.

Why is feminism needed? What are the mouths on TV saying that has them so red in the face with emotion? It’s the fact that our society is intrinsically broken! If our society were a biscuit, it would be one that has been shattered to pieces and trampled on! I shall illustrate why that is so. It is not just one reason, dear person reading this, it is many! If our society was ever positively functional, it is not so now. An intricate web of malicious entities have brought us to being a society that engages in disgusting behaviour, and women have been handed the short end of the stick, for the most part.

Selective Acceptance

Within our thought and values, there is a divide favouring men over women. I scarcely have to write about that, more than enough has been said of it (and I don’t want to bore you, read on, it gets interesting). The short version is that men are assumed to be more worthy of holding power, and women inept, simply because the former have facial hair -most of them, anyway- and bits of flesh dangling out of their crotches. Ridiculous, but it happens. Behaviour that generally would be frowned upon is less likely to be so if undertaken by a man. Our society teaches us that. Our society teaches us that the man is to be given privilege, while the woman is his subordinate. That was the origin of feminism: the desire, the NEED, to rid society of its disease of sexism.

But that hasn’t happened. Instead, women continue to be harassed for being women!

Economy and the Image of Beauty

Sexual desire is a primal instinct, common to everyone. It’s natural, our species, like all others, needs continuity. It took, then, a smart -or is it devious?- person to think of how to ally that with the business of selling goods. How easy and perfect: you have your product shown around to your customers by beautiful women, and they’ll have their wallets out before you can say “Idiots being scammed”.

There’s so much that is wrong with that, I’ll take it on one vile part at a time.

One, the objectification of women! The danger and outrage here is that women, human beings, are being degraded to objects of lust and desire, used to market mobile phones and laptops. Not only is it exploiting the women involved, it turns the consumers attracted by this into mindless drones driven by empty, hollow desire. We are being made into stupid machines. I WOULD LIKEN IT TO THE SEX TRADE. What is this if not a shameless sex trade that demeans the person involved?

Then, another element to the evil cocktail. The thought of the models being beautiful. They are not. Because there really is no way of telling. Why, you ask?

Because beauty is not what the skin holds. It is not what is enhanced by make-up and a trip to the hairdresser’s. Not what you get by paying a plastic surgeon to operate on your body. Rather, that’s a muddled view of it. Beauty has always been the lengths you go to make the lives of those you care about easier. Beauty is when you do good. Beauty is when someone’s soul entices you with its purity. Beauty is the sincerity of caring about the other.

Beauty is all of that, and more, but is it not what it is advertised to be. But, of course, you have to advertise it that way. How would your sell your tubes of mascara then? You wouldn’t. So you have them believe beauty is what you get when you buy whatever product you’re selling. So, the models aren’t beautiful. And considering them beautiful leads to them becoming less of human beings, and more of things that are to be used for purposes of pleasure, utilized for the feeding of greed. Would you want that for yourself?

I don’t want my sisters -blood-bound, as well as otherwise- to be swallowed whole into this system that teaches them that they’re nothing if not the agreed-upon image of beauty, nothing if without a man, nothing if they do not keel over to acts of misogyny and not stand up for themselves. No.

She’s Wrong!

Imagine this scenario: a woman is sexually harassed. She is traumatized for life. In the aftermath of it all, she is blamed for the act. Blaming, accusing fingers will be pointed to her wearing supposedly revealing clothing, acting suggestively, or otherwise bringing it upon herself. So, in short, blaming the victim for the crime.

NO.

That is, for want of a better phrase, fucking dumb, disgusting, and a sign of a rotted mindset. Are you not justifying the perpetrator’s act by blaming the victim, lessening what must be imponderable blame? Are you not creating sexual molesters and harassers-to-be by teaching them that the receiving party is really the one at fault? Are you not perpetuating a poisonous train of thought?

You are.

The worst of it is that this is not spread by only men, but by women also. No one is exempt from the blame of this. The crime is never the victim’s fault. How anyone can justify a crime as ugly as rape is beyond me. This is filth: “But sometimes it’s the woman’s fault, she dressed/acted that way.” Instead, what we must champion is placing the blame entirely on the shoulders of those culpable.

“She’s asking for it,” you say? I say to the flaming, blistering pits of hell with you and everyone who agrees with you.

We must demand that no-one’s right to exist the way they see fit and right be infringed by the thought that it constitutes consent to sexual harassment. Recoiling in shame of what has befallen them does rape victims no good, and we are who force them into hiding, instead of shaming and punishing those responsible for their grief.

Feminism is not hatred or disliking of men, it is the belief and constant reminder that trampling on others’ rights must never and shall never be tolerated. Drop the silly image in the back of your mind of a bitter lady who hates men. Feminists are not women wanting to be men, they are women and men who believe in gender equality, as much of it as is humanly possible!

It occurs to me that the biscuit I likened modern society to is too smashed-to-smithereens to be fixed. We need a bake a new one. And to shatter stereotypes further, now the feminists are our bakers! Ha!

The Prison of Mind

The idea of a prison of mind has been sloshing around in my
head for quite a while now, I think it’s only appropriate that I articulate what I’ve come to discover.
What is a prison of mind? What does mental imprisonment
entail?
 
Of course, far be it from me to pontificate on philosophy- I
am by no means a philosopher- but I’ll define it the way I see it. I would
define it as anything that shackles free thought; any deliberate untruth that
changes our perceptions of reality, what we hold to be true. Any dogmatic idea
that causes us to -knowingly or otherwise- act in accordance with others’
interests, and against our own. A prison of mind is one that stops you from
forming coherent thought, forming genuine opinions, unpolluted by pernicious
influence. Most of all, it can be characterized by its causing of great
detriment to the sufferer. All this decidedly constitutes mental imprisonment.
To be mentally imprisoned is to be incapable of controlling one’s
actions and thoughts, because they are controlled by others. It’s a case of
abating of will. And, in that sense, it’s a disease of both the body and mind.
All this, in a remarkable way, harks back to the recent Arab
revolutions.
 
When you consider the mass mental conditioning dictators
enforced –and imprudently, daringly continue to- on their countrymen, the
similarities become flagrant. Making us think –mendaciously, of course- that
they are both intent on our benefit and are all-powerful and omnipotent, in equal
measure, proved very potent – we kept them in office for decades!
In fact, mental imprisonment is, in all likelihood, culpable
for most every injustice in our world. Thoughts à la “you’re too insignificant to change anything “
and “what difference will you little old you make?” relieve the righteousness
we should rightfully feel. Evil thrives when good men do nothing.
 
Advertising is another startlingly widespread example of
mind imprisonment. Every day we are bombarded with advertising promising us the
illusion of happiness; asserting that if we buy, buy and buy, we will be
complete, happy and content. We’re stuck in a
vicious cycle, endlessly pursuing a facade. Thinking that maybe, just maybe,
it’ll make us happy. It never will. It entrenches us in a culture that
is unimaginably detrimental to us. We find ourselves willingly following the
self-destroying herd, spending every waking moment in a futile pursuit of
satisfaction.
 
Racism and intolerance arise from mental imprisonment. Both are a direct result of believing in falsehoods and acting upon those, resulting in the deprecation, mistreatment and vilification of segments of society. Not to mention viciously eating away at society itself.
 
The examples are endless.
 
Mind you, we merit our equal share of the blame. For
foolishly lazing and accepting whatever we are maliciously presented with as
unequivocal truth, for, in the case of dictators, keeling over to the
threatening, seemingly unchangeable –the key word being seemingly- status quo,
for not seeking the true nature of things, we are equally liable.
 
A quote from Christopher Nolan’s ‘Batman Begins’ comes to mind
as very befitting. While sword fighting an amateurish Bruce Wayne, Liam Neeson’s
character, Ducard, roars “Will is everything!” and elaborates with a restrained
“The will to act”. The infamous “open your eyes!” also comes to mind in exactly
the same vein. A pragmatic, objective look at everything we hold to be true is
desperately needed.
A prison of mind is the most confining prison of all.

The Prison Of Mind

The idea of a prison of mind has been sloshing around in my
head for quite a while now, I think it’s only appropriate that I articulate what I’ve come to discover.
What is a prison of mind? What does mental imprisonment
entail?
Of course, far be it from me to pontificate on philosophy- I
am by no means a philosopher- but I’ll define it the way I see it. I would
define it as anything that shackles free thought; any deliberate untruth that
changes our perceptions of reality, what we hold to be true. Any dogmatic idea
that causes us to -knowingly or otherwise- act in accordance with others’
interests, and against our own. A prison of mind is one that stops you from
forming coherent thought, forming genuine opinions, unpolluted by pernicious
influence. Most of all, it can be characterized by its causing of great
detriment to the sufferer. All this decidedly constitutes mental imprisonment.
To be mentally imprisoned is to be incapable of controlling one’s
actions and thoughts, because they are controlled by others. It’s a case of
abating of will. And, in that sense, it’s a disease of both the body and mind.
All this, in a remarkable way, harks back to the recent Arab
revolutions.
When you consider the mass mental conditioning dictators
enforced –and imprudently, daringly continue to- on their countrymen, the
similarities become flagrant. Making us think –mendaciously, of course- that
they are both intent on our benefit and are all-powerful and omnipotent, in equal
measure, proved very potent – we kept them in office for decades!
In fact, mental imprisonment is, in all likelihood, culpable
for most every injustice in our world. Thoughts à la “you’re too insignificant to change anything “
and “what difference will you little old you make?” relieve the righteousness
we should rightfully feel. Evil thrives when good men do nothing.
Advertising is another startlingly widespread example of
mind imprisonment. Every day we are bombarded with advertising promising us the
illusion of happiness; asserting that if we buy, buy and buy, we will be
complete, happy and content. We’re stuck in a
vicious cycle, endlessly pursuing a facade. Thinking that maybe, just maybe,
it’ll make us happy. It never will. It entrenches us in a culture that
is unimaginably detrimental to us. We find ourselves willingly following the
self-destroying herd, spending every waking moment in a futile pursuit of
satisfaction.
Racism and intolerance arise from mental imprisonment. Both are a direct result of believing in falsehoods and acting upon those, resulting in the deprecation, mistreatment and vilification of segments of society. Not to mention viciously eating away at society itself.
The examples are endless.
Mind you, we merit our equal share of the blame. For
foolishly lazing and accepting whatever we are maliciously presented with as
unequivocal truth, for, in the case of dictators, keeling over to the
threatening, seemingly unchangeable –the key word being seemingly- status quo,
for not seeking the true nature of things, we are equally liable.
A quote from Christopher Nolan’s ‘Batman Begins’ comes to mind
as very befitting. While sword fighting an amateurish Bruce Wayne, Liam Neeson’s
character, Ducard, roars “Will is everything!” and elaborates with a restrained
“The will to act”. The infamous “open your eyes!” also comes to mind in exactly
the same vein. A pragmatic, objective look at everything we hold to be true is
desperately needed.
A prison of mind is the most confining prison of all.