Sunday, April 24, 2005

"You can't stop it!

You've only slowed it down--"

One of my favorite movies, with a few reservations, is called Antitrust. It came out in 2001 and is a movie of a college-age computer geek who goes up against "the" computer geek of the day, a guy apparently supposed to be bigger than Bill Gates, and almost certainly very much inspired by many people's ideas of him, dealing as it does with monopolies, antitrust laws, and ripping off other people's ideas. At the end of the movie, when the hero, Milo, has checkmated Gary, Gary basically tells him his victory is futile; he's only slowed down an inevitable force; other's will take up where Gary left off. Milo's come-back is a good one: "I slowed you down, Gary; that's what matters to me."

It's easy to think our job isn't done unless we put an end to the evils of the world once and for all, so our children won't ever have to deal with them, and that's certainly a good goal to have. But the truth of the matter is, we're only humans in a fallen world, with enough other humans on the opposing side to make it an endless battle. If, at the end of our day, we can say we've slowed evil down, than I would say we've done our job well. Leave the ultimate vanquishing up to God. Their day will come; it's just a matter of time.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Gender Differences

Guy today kept insisting that all girls are manipulative. Not most. All. He even "backed up" his argument with the scientific analysis that he had known two girls to treat him manipulatively. I was impressed. He even said it as if I should be impressed (which is how I knew I should be). After telling us about the first girl who did him wrong, and I pointed out that didn't prove anything about the rest of us, he goes, "No, that's not the only one. I knew this other girl who..."

You did? Two girls? Oh, well in that case...


I don't know if this guy was kidding around just to a get a rise out of us or if he really and truly believes this stuff, but either way it still bugs me. Sure, girls have the capability of being manipulative. Perhaps, even, more so than guys. That, however, does not make the case, that we are all manipulative, unless you mean the way all humans tend to manipulate each other at one time or another, and what, really, does that prove?

Gender-bashing has never appealed to me much, on either side. I'm sure I have my share of stereotypes about the male of the species and do occasionally say things that aren't nice about them and even think it's funny, but--I don't know--there seems to me a point when it becomes unhealthy. Teasing is one thing. Perhaps my line is fuzzy, but I think I do basically know when I start feeling bad about how I'm treating someone. Or how they're treating me.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Dreaded Ethics Class

Today in class (Graphic Design), we began a section on ethics. Admittedly, I have been one to poke fun at classes on "ethics" because of how much of a farce they can be. Not that I would know. I've never had a class on ethics, or, I don't think, even a section on it. But for me, this seems to have come at the right time, what with my thoughts returning to the subject within the last week. To be honest, it's been on my mind a lot the past year--probably even before that, because I worry about things like that and there's a lot in the world I haven't figured out how to handle yet. It was refreshing to talk about it, although we didn't get very deep into it and my questions were hardly resolved (as if they could be in one sitting).

Still, it was good to think about and I think it would be worthwhile--no, important to do my own poking around on some or all of these questions, for the sake of my own conscience and soul, if nothing else, so I am prepared to deal with what I will inevitably face in the ever-receding "real" world. (After all, they said I'd be in the real world when I left high school.)

This stuff's important, and I think it's more possible, more traversable, than I once thought, as long ago as yesterday, when it all seemed impossible and scary. One of the most encouraging things that was said was that, yes, advertising reflects society and society reflects advertising, but this is not necessarily always in the negative way I immediately think of. Advertising has the power to shape culture just as positively as it often does so negatively; we can actually shift culture in the direction we want it to go--collectively, certainly, and there are always opposing forces, in advertising as in anything else--and literally improve society, influence and persuade people to think a different way. That's a huge responsibility.

Last semester in small group, we did a series on prayer in which we talked about praying "bigger," about really enlisting God's help to do big things in the world. There may be opponents, darker influences in advertising and the "prettying-up" business (graphic design/commercial art, etc), but think who we have on our side. Maybe it's time we actually started thinking bigger, enlisting his help; let him show us what he can really do.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Settling In

For a long time, when I've thought about what I wanted/felt was best to do, career-wise, my head was always cluttered with the varied possibilities; I was always wanting to go down what were usually little more than blind alley curiosities. I have a sort of novice interest in many things, or rather, I'm a little curious about a number of things, even if it is perhaps only a sort of knee-deep curiosity, so that has made it really hard to pin down what I was going to do.

On the other hand, since high school times, certain sparks have roused themselves, have made their "certain-ness" clear to me; or at least strong. I know when I write, when I feel things honestly with my words, something feels clear in me. Real, like the thing in the middle that really matters. Even when I was little, long before I dared to ever think I could do something with it, I loved the process--writing, I mean. Writing's just the process--and I love it, enjoy it, have a thing for it--but to me even that's not the heart, not what really matters. What really matters is the meaning, the truth behind the words. When you reach that, puncture through to the real thing, the cream filling--the real deal--when you really understand something important about life and yourself--that's the part that matters. That's what I love. That's realer than writing, or singing, or art or any other passion in the world you could have or think of. I never really can relate when people say their lives are about writing--or art or sports or chocolate or pickle jars, for crying out loud. Whatever it is we have or take it into our heads to love. Sure, I love some of those things, too (not pickles), but it's not my life, and it never could be. What would writing be without the meaning behind the words? For me, writing is about life, not life about writing.

It's been hard because what I really want to do is write and talk and share about my thoughts and beliefs about life. That's my passion. One of them, at least. And I don't have many. It's been hard because I don't know what's the right way, because there seem to be limitations on what I can do and how. But besides that there's the issue of making a living. And not just for myself, but for any future family I might have.

So I'd tentatively settled on Graphic Design as a major because I'm semi-good at it (and I don't hate it and I think it pays pretty well without, hopefully, working yourself to death) and planned/hoped to work my way into the writing field as I was able, free-lance, and see what it came to. So it was settled. Kind of. Actually, settling that has been a saga in itself, what with my continual urge to go back to the writing as a primary career and stick with it. And I'm still not 100% on it, but the more I consider my options the more it seems like the best option out there for me.

Still, I thought I needed History or English to hone my writing skills in the meantime--at least wanted one or both of them--and there was a Spanish minor to consider and things were rapidly getting out of hand to the point that I was going to have five minors and two majors--and that's not even that far off the truth. My advisor pointed out to me I would have my whole life to learn all the skills I could want or need and that's the best way to be--interested in a lot of things and learning till the day you die. So read up on it if you want to know about it and, in the meantime, settle on a slimmer, saner college career path. So there it was. Graphic Design major and Spanish minor. And, after tentatively crossing out my multiple-minors plans, I realized he was right. How much cleaner and more manageable--more possible!--my college road suddenly seemed, with just one major and one minor. And I could give both of them the concentration and focus they deserved and needed.

And for all the other skills and interests I could desire to learn I can acquire over time, with a healthy heaping of life, so that I always remember and continue to hone the thing that matters the most: the part in the middle. And my writing and art and any other hobbies I continue or acquire along the way will be that much better for it, for reflecting the truth that underlies everything we are and do.