Social Discourse Reborn

Social Discourse Reborn, West Chester

SDR

We live in a time now where people are scared to talk about problematic issues and race. And when we do find the occasions however few with the majority done behind an electronic screen, it sometimes sadly erupts into chaos. Don’t you feel like it is time we brought back social discourse? Don’t you just really want to dive into it headfirst and have these conversations from a place of honesty and authenticity? Don’t you just want to learn and understand others point of view while also sharing your own beliefs?

As a “progressive” society, we are very far from equilibrium. We all walk around as glasses half filled with patches of knowledge that does nothing but create division and hate. We use it as a sword to defend our way of thinking instead of using it as a pencil to potentially write out newly found truths in our open book or even possibly erasing fallacies we hold dear to us which hold us hostage.

Isn’t it time that we seek the truth from one another? Isn’t it time we begin to ask questions and examine all writings from every side? Isn’t it time for us to debate, experiment and discuss ideas in a place which breeds constructive discourse?

In the end, we are all human beings full of vulnerabilities and imperfections which is why it is important for us not to fall into our own biases. We must question our own ideas to avoid falling into prejudice or careless thinking. The only way to achieve this is through honest and authentic communication with your fellow neighbor.

This year has taught me valuable and indispensable lessons. It has brought me clarity about my own biases and how I’ve use my fraction of the truth as a sword rather than a pencil. I want to be part of something where when I leave, I can wholeheartedly say that I’ve learned something new and can ask the question: “If true, how do I apply it?”

Don’t you? If your answer is yes, you’ll be glad to know that I am forming a group called – Social Discourse Reborn, located in West Chester, PA. The intention is to provide a place where people from all walks of life can join regardless of their political, religious, academic beliefs or race. The goal is to not only get ahead of the 2024 election but to also brew a sense of harmony and knowledge sharing within our small community. In person gatherings will be conducted once a week with topics chosen ahead of time from a pool populated by all attendees. Food and drinks will be provided at every gathering. The place of gathering is TBA and will be announced once all emails have been collected.

Let the social discourse and knowledge sharing begin.

Stay tuned.

Planeta Proibido Part 3

Later that night

Covered beneath the radiating night sky, the expedition team gathers around a campfire. 

Adding to the aesthetics of the Amazon rainforest is a natural symphony of all sorts of exotic animals. Meanwhile, a handful of souls are nicely tucked inside their sleeping bags. The few who remain awake revel in nature’s breathtaking creation. 

“Isn’t it amazing how there’s a clear link between the health of our planet and the health of the Amazon?” states the woman with silk hair. 

“This place alone houses approximately 140 billion metric tons of carbon. It just blows my mind that we could be so ignorant to want to cut down all life in this amazing garden.” she adds.

The man leading the trek tosses a piece of wood in the campfire and remarks: “My friend, you talk of ignorance yet we are on this expedition to remove life from this forest. Are we not?”

The woman with silk hair pauses for a second. She ponders and analyzes what the man has just said. She smiles and replies: “Point taken.”

“We should get some rest. We have an early day ahead of us.” advises the man leading the trek. He then rotates to his left and nods at the other South American man. A signal of some sort.

The next day

Following hours of marching, they finally arrive at their destination. The forest looks completely unrecognizable. From the missing green lush pastures to the tall magnificent trees, all were swallowed whole by the fires. All that remains is the prize. Staring at them from a few feet away is the plant. Not just one, or two, or three, but five wholesome Planeta Proibido’s. Somehow, throughout multiple hell fires, it had miraculously survived.

“Alright, let’s get what we came for.” announces one man.

“Haha! We’re gonna be rich!” excitingly states another. 

As they all walk closer towards the plants, the man leading the trek advises them to tread carefully. He reaches within his bag and retrieves a full face respirator. He wears it. 

“Have the containers ready for extraction.” instructs the woman with silk hair. “Think we should all wear masks?” she then asks.

“My friend, it is up to you.” replies the man leading the trek with his voice muffled through the respirator.

Not taking any chances, she mimics the man’s actions and also wears a respirator. “By the way, where’s the guy with the same accent as you? The one with the brown camo pants.” asks the woman.

“You mean, Javier. There’s another plant I need from this place. I had him check it out for me. We’ll meet him later.” replies the man leading the trek with a heavy accent.

“Why didn’t you tell us?” the woman inquires.

“I’m sorry my friend.” says the man as she shrugs both shoulders.

 Meanwhile, the others get ahead and with shovels at hand begin to dig.  

“It’s so beautiful!” exclaims another woman as she crouches to examine the plant. Slightly above average for an exotic plant, the fluorescent blue green colors of its petals attracted everyone’s attention. Underneath the petals, attached to the stem are jellyfish like tentacles hanging downwards. A marvelous spectacle to see. Yet, the beauty of it all lies in the center. A perfectly white shaped orb protected by a multitude of red filaments with extremely thick anthers. 

“Is that what I think it is? The heart? Can’t we just grab it?” one man says as he halts digging and hastily reaches into the plant.

“My friend, do not…..” warns the man leading the trek as he watches the man remove the plant’s ovary. Seconds after being detached from its stem, it explodes. The content splatters directly onto the man’s face. He screams. He holds his face with both hands and vehemently screams in agony. To add to their current ongoing dilemma, the other four plants activate their defense mechanism and discharge an unknown gas into the air. Everyone panics. The woman with silk hair rushes to the man’s rescue. With pure intentions, she grabs him and turns him over to help. 

Shocked at her discovery, she screams and immediately falls to the ground, accidentally hurting herself. His facial skin was slowly disintegrating revealing only melted flesh and bone. Not too long after, he drops dead. Those without masks begin inhaling the contaminated air. Nature had brought them all to their knees. A small cough morphed into a heavy cough. Subsequently, a heavy cough morphed into dangerous territories. They all try to retrieve their masks but it’s too late. With swollen and aggravated esophagus, they begin to cough up blood. One at a time, they helplessly witness each other asphyxiate by the fumes released from the Planeta Proibido. 

Meanwhile, the man leading the trek suddenly portrays a different outfit. Not only did he sport a full face respirator, he also had on a full fledged white Hazmat Suit. With orange gloves at hand, he strolls through everyone and retrieves the plants. One at a time, he gently removes them from the ground and places them in a sealed glass container. Concluding his task, he carefully returns the glass vials into his bag. In the process, he takes out a metal object. He stands up, straps the bag over his shoulders and surveys. Everyone on his team is either dead or on the brink. He locates the woman with silk hair and heads towards her. 

Still on the ground showing signs of heavy distress, she can’t stop crying. Finally in close proximity, she looks up and stares at the man leading the trek. “Did you know this would happen?” she tells him while sobbing beyond control.

“My friend, I’m so sorry.” states the man in a heavy accent. Not too long after, a gun sound echoes throughout the forest.

Two weeks later

“Thank you for the wire transfer Mr. Leeds.” says the man in a heavy accent as he stares at an enormous sum of 1.2 million dollars in the company of his best friend, Javier.

“No, thank you! Pleasure doing business with you.” replies Mr. Leeds as he hangs up the phone. Standing adjacent to three Planeta Prohibido, Mr. Leeds is ecstatic. So much so that he can’t contain it. “We are going to change the world forever!” loudly exclaims Mr. Leeds to his fellow researchers. “Decades from now, the acronym HIV will be nothing but a speck of dust in the minds of our people. Let’s get ready for extraction shall we.” further adds Mr. Leeds as he proudly witnesses his scientific team thoroughly dismantle the Planeta Proibido to its core.

THE END

Planeta Proibido Part 2

2 Years Later

Somewhere out in the Amazon

Out in the far reaches of the Amazon Rainforest, dozens of men and women are trekking towards 

a treasure. One which holds a promise of riches to live out a full life and dare say a second. It is 

midday and the temperature is scorching hot. Aggressively pushing beyond 95 degrees, the 

temperature is far from ideal for a long expedition. Yet, these men and women are not only devoted but determined to reach their prize. Surrounded by lush green pastures north, south, east and west, they continue on marching. The forest is brimming with life. Home to over forty-thousand plant species, three-thousand freshwater fish species and more than three-hundred and seventy classifications of reptiles, it is the embodiment of mother nature. As the men and women march forward, you can hear the melodic sounds of birds, the grunting and squeaking sounds of emperor tamarins and goeldi monkeys. 

Suddenly, a man sporting brown camo pants, a white shirt, a machete at hand and a very dense backpack says in an South American accent: “Minha Amiga, how do you know this Planeta Proibido survived the fires?”

“Amiga, they say the plant is the heart of this forest. It can survive any disaster.” replies a man wearing a black t-shirt with a thick accent as he leads the trek. 

“And how do you know this plant will do what you claim it does?” curiously questions a middle aged woman with brown silk hair.

The man leading the trek wipes the dripping sweat off his forehead and narrates with a dense accent: “Once, I was coming from an expedition out of Chile and ended up in Bolivia. I was paid to retrieve a special plant for someone. While in Bolivia, I stayed at this cidade pequena – very small country town. While there, rumors of a witch doctor who cured all types of diseases traveled to my ears. I wanted to see for myself, so I went to look for her. She lived in this remote side of the small town where people visited her only if they were dying and needed a cure. Outside of that, everybody was scared of her.”

Unexpectedly, someone from the group interrupts him and asks: “And you were not afraid of this witch?”

The man leading the trek regains control of the conversation and replies: “Absolutely not Minha Amiga! I do this my whole life. So, I went to see her and she turned out to be very, very old. Older than one hundred years if I had to guess. She had all types of plants in her house. Plants I have never seen before. Some of them even looked alive, like, they were moving. She told me of the Planeta Proibido. She said it cures HIV.  She said if I ever found it, I should bring her a heart.”

“A heart?” replies a man.

“What do you mean a heart?” inquires the middle aged woman with silk hair.

“Yes a heart. She said the Planeta Proibido all have a heart of their own. Apparently, the plant has provided life to this forest for many years.” explains the man leading the trek.

“This is madness!” exclaims another man. “Nobody told me we were searching for plants with hearts. What the fuck kind of shit is this?” he further adds.

“Amiga, you said you only wanted to be paid right? Well, here is your chance my friend.” states the man leading the trek.

“Did this witch tell you anything else? How does she even know about it? Has she used it before? And are there any repercussions if we remove this plant from the ground?” wisely asks the woman with silk hair.

“She said the plant has been around way before her ancestors. She said once her ancestors used it to cure a deadly plague which almost wiped out her people.” replies the man as he continues to march forward.

“You didn’t answer the last question.” points out the woman with silk hair.

“All she told me was – careful of what you forcefully take from mother nature. She has an unpleasant way of returning the favor. That’s what she said when I translated it to english.”

Upon hearing the witches revelation, everyone pauses and stares at one another. Suddenly, the sense of adventure and excitement slowly dissipates from their bodies. Completely frozen in place, they deeply ponder within. Out of the blue, the sound of a macaw shakes them out of their paralyzed state of mind. By the time they all turn around, they notice the man in the black t-shirt had slightly left them behind. Panickingly, they all sprint ahead to catch up.

“C’mon my friends, we can’t slow down. I can’t slow down. We are on the clock. The Planeta Proibido is waiting.” states the man leading the trek.

Planeta Proibido Part 1

1 Year Ago

International Health Award Conference

“Ladies and Gentleman! Nurses, Physicians, Surgeons, Doctors, Researchers, welcome to our annual  International Health Award Conference. You know, every year I get up here, I have this aching sensation that this should get easier. Yet, here I am, fifteen years later and it’s still nerve-racking as the first year. It goes to show the passion and love infused within the preparation of this event. It proves how much care and compassion you all imbue into your workplace, into your patients and into your research. So, every year I stand at this podium, I am replete with emotions because I know the meaning of sacrifice. I wholeheartedly know the meaning of holding the life of another in the palm of your hand.” addresses the director of the international health committee. Sporting a black tuxedo, a white shirt and a black bowtie, both his hands are glued to each side of the laminated wooden podium. Adjacent to the director is a large room housing heaps of round tables decorated with intelligently designed ruffled white sheets. At the center of each round table lies a mid-sized radiating orange and green swarovski crystal paradise tulips crystal sculpture. Surrounding each round table are delicately dressed women and men from all over the globe. Within this venue housed the most brilliant and reputable minds in the world. 

Meanwhile, the director at the podium carries on with his introduction. “Before we begin our award ceremony, I’d like to invite on stage a man who has taken the world by storm this past year. A man who’s medical team has not only achieved the impossible, but has repeatedly defied all odds. If you have not been living under a rock these past few years then you all know whom I speak of. Ladies and Gentleman, Johnson Leeds!” announces the director while the entire room is permeated with the joys and claps from the crowd. All eyes are fixated on Johnson as he stands from his seat and buttons his blue tux. He leans over, kisses his wife on the right cheek and confidently takes strides towards the podium. 

Now facing the director, they firmly shake hands. “You are an inspiration to us all.” compliments the director. 

“Very flattering Sir. Thank you!” politely acknowledges Johnson. 

Johnson then turns towards the podium and gives his undivided attention to the crowd as the director makes his exit. In a still position, he surveys the room and locates his wife. She smiles at him and gives him the thumbs up. Following her positive reinforcement, he clears his throat. “Earlier, the director mentioned how nerve-racking it is for him to stand up here every year. Truth is, I wouldn’t know exactly how it feels since I’m not that famous to give out speeches on a yearly basis. Maybe one day.” playfully states Johnson as he makes eye contact with the director. A light smile forges on the director’s face while a short burst of laughter is heard from the crowd. “With that said, I do however understand what it feels like to have to be on your toes year and and year out, always aiming for a breakthrough in a field that has for a very long time left many hopeless and speechless. Well, I can humbly now say that we have finally found hope. A year ago today, our forty year old patient who has been at war with an immunodeficiency virus is now victorious. In our care, he had undergone a special bone-marrow transplant. The stem cells we used for the transplant were from a donor who had a relatively rare genetic mutation that confers resistance to HIV. After many trials and errors, we can finally announce that we have found no active viral infection in his body. Although remnants of HIV’s DNA can still be found in some cells, we remain hopeful in the inability of the virus to replicate. With utmost confidence, I can say that he has been in remission for twelve months.” Suddenly, a shroud of emotion envelops Jonhson. Droplets begin to form from his tear ducts. He pauses to clear his throat once more and adds: “To wrap up, I can’t stress enough how grateful and proud I am of my team and my wife who has stood by me through thick and thin. And most of all, I am grateful and proud of every single of one you. I thank the wonderful people who have dedicated hours to birth this event. I thank our sponsors and donors. Together, we form an unbreakable shield. United, we shall eradicate human kind’s number one enemy – Disease. Thank you!”

The room erupts with claps as every person adopts a standing position to acknowledge Johnson’s breakthrough. 

“This is the guy I told you about. He’s gonna get us the clearance for that plant.” shouts a brown 

skinned man wearing a black long sleeve shirt standing at the far edge of the room as he points at the podium. 

“What did you say, I can’t hear with all this noise.” points out another man.

“That’s him! He’s gonna get us the proper clearance so we can go after the Planeta Proibido. Millions are gonna be made my friend. Millions!” repeats the brown skinned man with a dense accent as she claps along with the rest of the crowd. 

A standing ovation. A magnificent act of acknowledgement to a renown pioneer.

The continuously lengthy and arduous race to self-improvement.

By now, we are all too familiar with the maxim – The road to hell is paved with good intentions. But, have you ever heard of this aphorism – The road to self-improvement isn’t paved at all. On the contrary, it’s full of gravel of all shapes and sizes.

Alright, you caught me and I can hear you whispering: “That’s not a saying at all. This guy is full of….” Before you finish your thoughts, let’s not get too hostile. Hear me out. Have you ever experienced an epiphany so strong, it naturally moved you to improve a trait or habit which you deemed for so long paralyzing or destructive? Only to conquer that trait or habit and be rudely greeted immediately by another paralyzing or destructive trait or habit you had no idea existed within you. Soon you realize as you continue to trek forward, the road doesn’t get easier. The gravel beneath you begins to increase in size and no amount of money can save you from developing sore feet.

Three years ago, I decided to embark on such a journey after experiencing what I would describe as a life altering moment. To describe my early twenties, it would equate to the famous Joker ride at Six Flags – fun and dangerous. My pride had reached unfathomable levels like the stock market today. My selfishness knew no bounds. Not to get into the nitty gritty but, let’s just say throughout my fun and dangerous moments, I was blessed enough to escape death on one or two occasions. Those eye opening experiences were enough to prompt me to enter the race to self-improvement, not knowing the arduous challenges ahead. One day, I sat in deep thought and realized I had everything I ever needed – food, shelter, clothes, a career, loving people and great health. Yet, I was missing something. Desperate for an answer, I turned to religion for guidance. A bit naïve, I saw it has a cure to all my problems. Following months of studying and spiritual growth I surely believed I was on my way to a better life.

Initially, conquering your first bad trait or habit feels rewarding. However; you slowly notice the toll it takes on your state of mind. Just as I was preparing myself to take along breath of victory, life decided to throw me a curve ball. “Oh you thought you were done?” life said. Without warning, a new challenge sprung forth. “Now fix that!” shouted life. “And this, and that, and umm, don’t forget about this one.”

Naturally, if you’re not mentally strong, self-doubt begins to seep into all the neurons inside of your brain. Inevitably, the pain travels downwards and your feet begin to hurt as you trek on the uncomfortable gravel. “How could I have so many flaws?” you may catch yourself asking. “Why can’t this road be paved already? I just want to be better!” you may shout from within.

I get it. I really do.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to remain that way. By allowing myself to be humble as I can be, to interact and be in the company of people of all ages, old and young, I am now able to see the beauty in this continuously lengthy and arduous race to self-improvement. I am now able to recognize growth, short or long term, and appreciate its worth. I am now able to calm my self-doubts and focus on one gravel at a time. And so can you! Humble yourself. Branch out, meet new people of different cultures, age and backgrounds. Build your knowledge bank. As you interact with those individuals, don’t fall in the trap of comparing yourself to them. Instead, take in the stories they share, draw out the lessons and use them as fuel to keep you going on your continuously lengthy and arduous race to self-improvement. Now is not the time to give up. We may not be able to utterly predict our future, but stay on this lengthy and arduous path to self-improvement and the end result can only be a true masterpiece.

With that said, I leave you with this – Take your eyes away from this screen. Look around you. If you don’t like what you see, then change it. Do not allow them to break your spiritual core as it is the only spark that will set you free!

Covid Today. AI & AGI Tomorrow.

This topic we’ll be discussing today is a bit niche and to be frank, my expertise concerning this topic is quite minuscule. However, for the sake of starting a conversation, I think I know just enough to make this an entertaining read for you. What are we talking about here?

Well, let’s start with the current pandemic that has taken the world by storm. Covid-19 has struck the world a new blow. Millions have been infected and thousands have sadly died. As of this very moment, many continue to contract the virus while we all remain hopeful for a treatment or vaccine on the horizon. As tragic as it all is, we’re not here to discuss something that is street knowledge. Instead, let’s discuss particularly one area where Covid-19 has burned a hole through. The unemployment hole. According to recent statistics, the unemployment rate in the United States alone has reached a whopping 15%. Over 24 million Americans have been furloughed and are currently glued to the unemployment program run by their respective states. For how long they remain in such a state totally depends on a victorious battle against Covid-19, or so we hope, right? You see, to stave off a colossal economic crash, billions of dollars (money printed out of thin air, which if economic laws hold, we the taxpayers will be footing the bill sooner rather than later) were pumped into mostly corporate businesses to retain their employees. Unfortunately, some of these corporate entities had other plans and still carried through with mass layoffs to retain cash flow. For example, United Airlines, after receiving a fat check of 5 billions dollars announced their plan to lay off a portion of their employees come Fall. In turn, many will be sent running to the hills of unemployment benefits. The good news is, as long as employers continue to pay into the unemployment insurance taxes, the funds should be available for those furloughed. The law states: “Employers must pay unemployment insurance for as long as they have employees, as long as these employees work a minimum amount.” 

Now comes the meat of this discussion. If employers must pay unemployment insurance for as long as they have employees, what happens when they no longer have employees? What happens when AI and AGI become the bread and butter of corporate industries? I grew up in a small town where I was fortunate enough to witness the damage self-checkouts had on the working class. It took years to take shape but eventually the doorbell rang. I was fortunate enough to live in a progressive state these past few years (California) to witness the revamp of the grocery store and fast food chain. And guess what? The revamp had profit in mind first and employees second. Even now, I’m still fortunate enough to witness a revolution which could spell trouble for our civilization. Last week, I stumbled across a startup company providing autonomous security services to businesses at a fraction of the cost it would take to hire human security details. Three days ago, I happen to be reading about a company gearing up to supply autonomous machine patty makers. Possibly in the next 5 years, uber may possibly lay off their drivers in favor of autonomous cars. Ten years from now, maybe airlines will invest in fully autonomous planes. Are you catching my drift yet? When AI and AGI have reached autonomous levels to complete tasks beyond the capabilities of humans, where does that leave humanity?  Where does that leave the working class? At the mercy of unemployment benefits? But wait, these companies no longer have employees, so who will be supplying the unemployment funds then? The government? Extremely high taxes? UBI? This is pure speculation, but maybe these stimulus checks might be a form of trial phase for an upcoming era where UBI comes to fruition. (I see you clapping Mr. Andrew Yang) 

Sorry got side tracked there for a second.

I’m beginning to feel like not enough is being done to avoid such a catastrophic future. And it took a tragic event like Covid-19 to put things into perspective. Why are we not having this conversation more often? Why are we not forging reliable plans to prevent an unemployment rate which could exceed 25% when AI and AGI become the norm? Why are we not investing more in trade schools to give the working class a chance to get ahead so they can be prepared to live in an AI and AGI runned world?

The biggest question is, how sustainable will this new system be? Sure sounds marvelous for corporate businesses, but how will the tune sound when 25%+ of your population becomes illiterate in a world where they no longer recognize and as human beings bring zero value to? What then?

Thanks for stopping by. Leave your comments below or DM on insta @iiarcseriesii. Let’s talk. Teach me something I don’t know regarding AI and AGI.

The unforeseen and continuous rippling effect of a character molded in 1951

For so long, I’ve deeply pondered over the differences between a rebel and an anarchist. Without the aid of literature or wiki, I wanted to come to my own conclusion by just analyzing the events unfolding in today’s society. Foolish you might say. What you might not realize is, sometimes, it pays to be calm in the mind and let it figure things without the influence of another. Only then can you claim that your conclusion was the product of your own understanding. Unfortunately, I never got to that conclusion and was compelled to search through google for the differences after recently watching the controversial and critically acclaimed film – Joker.

This is going to be a lengthy piece, so strap yourselves in and enjoy the read.

Prior to my trip to watch one of DC’s most iconic villain in his debut origin film, I constantly browsed the internet for articles pertaining to the Joker. After endless clicks, a few articles caught my attention. Why? Because they all shared the same exact theme – “Joker the movie should not be screened to the public due to the fear that it might entice violence and anarchy.” To combat this fear, it was reported in multiple articles that selected movie theaters would be provided with adequate to robust security detail if deemed necessary. As I read those articles, I just had to raise my eyebrows. Then, the lightbulb in my mind quickly illuminated and I instantly recalled the violent incident which occurred during a showing of The Dark Knight Rises in 2012 at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. The assailant set off tear gas grenades and shot into the audience killing twelve civilians in the process. A tragic moment.

And yet, 7 years later, the release of Joker not only brought back those horrific memories but also planted a dose of fear in the minds of many. But why Joker? A plethora of violent films have been released to the public in the past 7 years and I can’t think of one who forced cities to mobilize police officers to monitor selected movie theaters screening Joker. What is it about this character that has so many people frightened? After all, he’s just a comic book character, right?

Well, before we get to answer the questions above, here’s my abbreviated experience going to and returning from seeing Joker.

It’s noon on a Friday. I pull into the parking lot of the movie where I reside. Sorry, can’t say the name. (Now that would be foolish). However; I won’t leave you hanging and will sprinkle in a very important detail. I live in one of the safest cities on the eastern coast. It’s so safe you could leave your car open at night and wake up the next morning to find your belongings still intact. Now back to the story. I pull into the lot and the first thing I see is a police vehicle. Mind you, I’m a frequent movie goer to that specific theater and I’ve never seen a police vehicle outside of that theater. I walk into the movie theater and there she is pacing back and forth in full uniform. “Man, this is serious!” – I said to myself going into the theater. I get my ticket, walk into the showing room and noticed no more than 15 people. I sit and voila, the movie begins. Truthfully speaking, from the beginning of the movie to the end, I felt quite uncomfortable. So much so it gave me a slight headache. But, oddly enough, the uncomfortable feeling was not negative. On the contrary, it was a positive experience. A positive experience which propelled me to think. (Maybe a little too much) The narrative set forth and displayed to the audience that Friday afternoon was a brilliant masterpiece.  A time piece depicting the rapid degeneration of a man who was once abused a child. A man who’s mentally unstable and desperately looked to find comfort in the happiness of others. Instead, he was ridiculed and tormented to the brink of no return. In the process, this man commits a string of murders and realizes that his happiness and tranquility lies solely within that morbid lifestyle. Coincidentally, he unintentionally births a movement. A movement not bred by rebellion but of pure anarchy, hence becoming the prince of crime and Batman’s greatest foe.

So, what is it about this character that has so many people frightened? – I previously asked. After all, he’s just a comic book character, right?

In my opinion, I wholeheartedly believe this fear comes from the fact that this could indeed play out in today’s society. “Are you saying someone could become the joker in real life? What are you smoking? I’m out!” – You say. Before you storm out, look closely at the gem and analyze the fragment within.  Mental illness has plagued our society for so long. In the past it was brush off as nothing but a phase. In modern society, after countless of violent incidences, strides are being made to better understand the intricacies of the human brain. Yet, as the movie narrated, for those who do not have access to decent health care, they can’t and may never receive the proper treatment or medication to cure them or soothe their mental afflictions. And when left uncheck, awful repercussions soon follow.

A man or a woman with similar mental afflictions as the Joker may not start a rebellion or an uprising based solely on anarchy as shown in the movie (doubt anyone would even have the courage or energy to leave their homes nowadays if something of the sort did occur) but he or she may be pushed to the brink of committing horrific acts similar to the Aurora theater or the Sandy Hook shooting.

When Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson and Bob Kane created Joker, I have no idea if their intentions were to spread the awareness of mental illness in our society. 68 years later, the character not only withstood the test of time, it served as a well needed reboot for the failing DCEU and a wakeup call for all of us to take mental illness very seriously.

Now with that said, will I be watching Joker a second time? No. I loved it the first time. I will be listening to the epic score repeatedly on my way to work. But, I will not be watching it a second time. In my eyes, it is a truly tragic story meant for one viewing only. That’s just my opinion however; don’t let me rain on your parade. “After all, life is nothing but a comedy.” – Joker.

On a side note: It would be such a bold move and frankly quite amazing for Warner Bros to set their new Batman film in this universe. A time piece story for Batman would be epic.

Is prejudice being masqueraded as true love?

Let us gather around this artificial bonfire. Go ahead and pick a seat where you’ll feel most comfortable. Found it? Great! Now, not to intentionally put you in the spot light but here’s a question I have for you. Before you blatantly shout out the answer, fix your posture and truly ponder over the question.

Can you honestly say you bear true love within you? Or are you masquerading prejudice as true love?

Go ahead, I’ll give you a much needed moment and when you’re ready, join us down below.

Recently I came across a very eye opening story written by a brilliant author. I felt it imperative to share this story in the hopes that it might get us to think and analyze ourselves sincerely.

_________________________________________

In a nutshell, the story follows a Saxon prince who’s to become king. The current king, his father, sends him out to battle in hopes that war will mold his childish prince into a firm ad tenacious man. The story then takes a turn when we the reader are informed that the king had no such plans and wanted his son dead all along, hence why he sent him out to war without experience. Along with his war servant, a drunk priest and his beaten army, the childish prince on his gruesome journey on the battlefield experiences an epiphany. His overseer or better yet, his beloved war servant is betrayed and killed in battle. So the prince morns deeply.

“War has taken someone who truly loved me.” said the weeping Prince. Meanwhile the drunken priest replied: “He did not love you.”

The prince, shocked by the priest’s wild statement exclaimed: “If my servant did not love me, then where might I find a man who properly embodies love?”

“Over there…” the priest pointed at a dead carcass. “It could be said that in death, he has become a thing of love. Far greater than any living being could hope to be. Already, he does not hate, does not kill and does no steal. Left where he is, he will selflessly provide sustenance for animals and insects. Buffeted by harsh winds and pelted by stinging rain, he will not utter a single word in protest.”

In turn, the confused prince asked: “Are you implying that death is the true nature of love? Is a parent’s love and affection for their kids or a husband’s or wife’s love for one another not real love?”

“It’s prejudice.” Boldly claimed the drunken priest. “They bear little difference from he who kneels before a king and then whips his slave. Your servant watched and killed as innocent lives were slaughtered for your sake. Prejudice!”

The childish prince stood in shock. He took a deep breath as the cold wind blew west. He bent and scooped the snow beneath his feet. As it dissolved in his small palm, he gazed at the mountains heads, he noticed the trees and the beaming sun above. After taking another deep breath, his eye widened as he felt a fog lift from his mind.

“I see.” said the prince. _________________________________________

After much thought and self-reflection, I can honestly admit I do not bear true love in my heart. And if I’ve told myself or others otherwise then that’s a lie I no longer wish to pursue. I’ve come to an understanding that true love is indeed selfless. True love knows no scheme; True love has no ulterior motives; True love does not boast nor shout; True love is silent in all that it does. Yes we say we love our kids. We say we love our girlfriends, wives, boyfriends, husbands, pets……ect. Yet, we are easily irritated by the slightest change in them that does not please our state of mind. And even when we say we love them unconditionally, we dislike, belittle or hate the one next to or beneath us. By some chance we do indeed love those next to or beneath us we’ll most likely dislike, belittle or hate the one in front or above us. (An endless cycle)

The question is, do we truly love or are we just bias? And if we are bias, how can we cultivate true love? Is true love even attainable to a mere mortal?

With that said, I leave you with this – Take your eyes away from this screen. Look around you. If you don’t like what you see, then change it. Do not allow them to break your spiritual core as it is the only spark that will set you free!

A Fixer Upper…Wait what? Forget it, just get a new one.

Recently I came across a post on Instagram related to love and relationships. To paraphrase the content posted, it read something along the lines of: “2019, relationships are horrible and so is dating. Everyone lies, everyone cheats and everyone plays games. There is no trust or sense of exclusiveness.”

Before joining this individual on his opinionated statement, I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a short while. After reading his post, we can maybe assume this person most likely grew up with a positive image of relationships that he/she witnessed from his parents, close relatives or friends. This positive image must have looked like something along the lines of – Mom and dad were always happy, never argued and if they did, it ended in a romantic outing. Uncle Bob and Aunty Jen were always cracking jokes and laughing at every family event and it was all glorious fun. Best friend James and his girlfriend Jackie gave him/her hope that one day a relationship of their caliber would be possible. Every movie he/she watched portrayed the perfect relationship from a smooth bumpy ride to a forever happy ending tale.

Well, I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news but that’s all slightly fake. See I said “slightly fake”. In my opinion, I believe a majority of relationships are all a front. A front in the sense of Mom and Dad seem happy, but really behind closed doors, they are miserable and are trying their best to stay glued. Uncle Bob and Aunty Jen, maybe genuinely be happy, but they also just went through a crazy rough patch where Aunty Jen had to verbally abused Uncle Bob to hopefully get things on track due to the fact that Uncle Bob got caught going to the gentleman’s club. To avoid further bloodshed, Uncle Bob had to compromise. Best friend James and his girlfriend Jackie are new to the game. James most likely lied to Jackie about certain things while Jackie, well Jackie is a “pure” at heart which makes her totally vulnerable.  

You get the canvas I’m trying to paint? Relationships were never perfect. Divorce has always been a thing. Dating was never perfect. In my eyes, dating is probably the worst thing ever invented, but that’s a topic for another time. Since the beginning of mankind, relationships have been a huge rollercoaster of disappointment. People back then got married either for property, politics, culture and yes for some it’s because they truly loved each other and through patience and commitment they made it work. However; the lying, cheating has always been and will always be a staple in human relationships. (And no, I’m not advocating that you do those things, but expect to deal with them when in the presence of a sinner)

Now, enough of playing devil’s advocate and let us dig deeper into the canvas in order to join in the idea of why relationships in 2019 are horrible. The phrases: Trying their best to stay glued, having to compromise, being patient and staying committed, have been the key to a long lasting relationships. And unfortunately, for a good majority, those keys have been tossed out the door to never return. Who needs to try their best to stay glued to a person when you can just easily walk away and block them on all social media accounts forever without resolve? Who needs to compromise when we can both still get what we want even though it stands in the way of a true unionize and harmonious relationship? Who needs to stay patient and committed when we can just, once again leave and easily swipe for the next best thing? He’s not perfect, well time to move on. She’s not perfect, well where’s the next girl at?

As human beings, we need to understand that we are all fixer uppers. We are imperfect individuals hoping to maneuver through a relationship where it takes a lifetime to mold and build.

But who needs all that when we can just pretend to be perfect for the moment and toss out the challenging times when they come knocking at our door steps. Who wants to be a fixer upper when we can just be an “upper” through every short mocked-up relationship?

With that said, I leave you with this – Take your eyes away from this screen. Look around you. If you don’t like what you see, then change it. Do not allow them to break your spiritual core as it is the only spark that will set you free!