Ode to Fearless Girls

Many years ago, I had a dream where I was standing in a fenced enclosure with dry, dusty, clay-red dirt below my feet.  In the opposite corner a fair distance off stood an angry bull, staring me down and threatening to charge.  The threat soon became action, and my own efforts towards any action were futile — I was frozen as a giant bull charged at me.  The dream had very quickly turned into a nightmare.

~ * ~

On March 7, the most recent International Women’s Day, a bronze statue by Kristen Visbal was installed in the Financial District of New York City.  The statue, appropriately named “Fearless Girl,” depicts a small girl standing bravely, staring down the Charging Bull statue that has become an icon of Wall Street.  The Fearless Girl is a message of support and solidarity for the women who make up a disappointing minority of business leaders.  It was a reminder that even the smallest girl could find the strength to face impossible odds, could stand bravely for their cause, and could prove her worth.  It was a call to the women and little girls of the world alike that the charging bull that is society is, sadly, not going to stand down and make room for you but instead will keep charging — not at you, but it will not hesitate if you happen to be in its way.

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Truths We Have Forgotten about Truth

The following post was originally posted to my previous blog.  It is being re-posted here to help establish some ideas that will be explored further in future posts and to provide some content in the meantime.

Our government has decided that we, the voters, are incapable of discerning truth for ourselves.  They have decided that we cannot hear both sides of the climate change issue and determine for ourselves which to believe.  They have decided to make the decision for us.  What is worse, they have decided not to debate the information, or to disprove it, but to silence it.  They have decided not to affirm their stance, but to remove the opposition.  That is not the position taken by those seeking the truth, but those seeking to shield themselves from it.  After silencing scientists and whistleblowers and proposing to cut funding to public, educational media, it is no huge stretch to believe that our government will go after the mass media that the president has already been speaking (or tweeting) out against.

The nature of truth has long been lost — neglected and abandoned, even — in the quagmire of noise of each side of every issue trying to shout above the other, insulting the opposition and bolstering their own side with propaganda.  The nature of social and mass media has given each of us a soapbox, and so every one of us is standing tall and shouting — often merely echoing the words of peers and pundits alike — until we barely have time to listen, especially to any opposing views.  And as moderate views gain moderate responses, the polarized and polarizing responses bubble to the list of top comments and viral posts.  Affronted by the polar opposites, we rally to our side and against the other, worsening the noise and widening the gap. Continue reading “Truths We Have Forgotten about Truth”

Deep Thought

 

“O Deep Thought computer,” he said, “the task we have designed you to perform is this.  We want you to tell us…” he paused, “the Answer!”

“The Answer?” said Deep Thought.  “The Answer to what?”

“Life!” urged Fook.

“The Universe!” said Lunkwill.

“Everything!” they said in chorus.

Deep Thought paused for a moment’s reflection.

“Tricky,” he said finally.

“But can you do it?”

Again, a significant pause.

“Yes,” said Deep Thought, “I can do it.”

“There is an answer?” said Fook with breathless excitement.

“A simple answer?” added Lunkwill.

“Yes,” said Deep Thought.  “Life, the Universe, and Everything.  There is an answer.  But,” he added, “I’ll have to think about it.”

– Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

And so, as the story goes, Deep Thought thought about it.  For seven and a half million years, he thought about it, until finally he delivered his answer — The Answer: 42.  His audience was less than satisfied.  He went on to point out that things would make a lot more sense if they knew The Question to which 42 was The Answer.  The audience was, still, largely unsatisfied.

An answer without a question is perhaps — especially in this instance — even more frustrating than a question without an answer.  Yet Zen masters know the importance of frustrating their students with questions that cannot be answered.  The purpose is not to find an answer — to spit information into one side of the formula and receive an answer out the other — but to provoke deeper thought about questions, answers, life, the universe, and everything.  The purpose is not to memorize questions, answers, and formulae, but to cultivate a fertile mind where new questions can be asked, new answers found, and new formulae, techniques, ideas, and creations can bloom.

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