Sunday, August 8, 2021

Humanism

Although I've got some other ideas for posts more relevant to the topics of this blog, I just wanted to take note of an inspiring exchange I saw on Twitter.  Specifically, I wanted to preserve a bunch of the life-affirming responses to the following question:

(If for any reason the above image isn't viewable, the question was "What makes you feel love or appreciation for humans?")

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Loyalty, courage, intelligence, dedication, wit, and discipline, plus, the power of facing unpleasant facts and daring to know... Hopefully with enough joie de vivre to enjoy the fruits!

There are actually a lot of people who quietly get up every morning, go out, and help others.

The dissenters and oddballs and those who know so much of our social life is theatre. One smirk across a room, sharing an unspoken observation or bit of humour, is a gold mine of renewed faith.

The ability of humans to recognize humanity, and the human capacity for empathy over sympathy. Speaking and seeing beauty and joy in stereotypical "ugly" can transform the environment in a room.

Authenticity, loyalty, competence & a general good nature or humor are the easiest ways to get me to appreciate another person. Trustworthiness & accountability will earn my respect. Excellence gets my admiration. A mysterious mix of all of those things (sometimes) leads to love.

I think if you see everyone as a divinely inspired soul — and have transcended all the culturally-induced silliness like race, gender, etc. — the kindness and empathy just flows from you.

Magnanimity.

Observing them demonstrating love or appreciation for other humans or animals in general, and me, in particular.

How they are in a crisis. True natures appear. Usually for the better.

The ability to find joy, connection with others and nature in the midst of the brutal fleetingness of our existence.

Kindness.

I love that we are all made out of bits of stars that exploded billions of years ago, yet our warped time scale is all we can manage to wrap our minds around. It makes it easier for me to understand how irrational we all are and how slow society and cultures move.

The fact that we’re are all far more similar than we are different. We all suffer from the human condition. We all have potential. We all fall short of it. We all struggle and try. How can we not have love for each other?

Children playing and laughing.

Intelligence, skilfully applied that helps our species to one degree or another. Don't care about sinners and saints. I care about the person who makes a better world.

Disgruntled tired old man still petting the kitten even though he hates cats. The mail man that leaves treats for dogs. The woman that cleans and refills her bird feeder. Even though only one bird comes. Sometimes when you observe you see humans want to connect. Even if its small.

Having gratitude for all the things miniscule and humongous that touch my life just by knowing someone. It reminds me that love is great. Especially when it's reciprocated.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Other Fictions: Weird Modes

My new year's resolution for 2021 is to stay adamantly positive about the world.  In that vein, I'd like to recommend a few fictional universes for you all to get lost in.  If escapism makes you feel guilty, don't worry -- that's not all this is about.  Let's call it 25% getaway, 75% inspiration for the now.  Refueling rest stops for the soul.

I've got two primary recommendations -- for which the "delivery modes" may be as unconventional as the content -- and two secondary ones, which many of you probably already know about.

First, I'd like to tell you about a science-fiction podcast called The Strange Case of Starship Iris.  Created by Jessica Best, the first season was released between 2017 and 2019, and the second season just started earlier this week.  

 
 
Okay, it's the year 2191, and humanity has spread to the stars.  A few years prior to the events of the show, there was a war with an enigmatic race of purple aliens known as Dwarnians.  During the war, there was a military coup that saw the human worlds taken over by a kind, benevolent Intergalactic Republic.  (Shh... they're listening.)  In the first episode, we check in on an IGR research ship exploring Planet 5925, and we begin to meet our characters.

The above summary doesn't do it much justice, because it's really about those characters.  The official podcast description says "It's a story of outer space, survival, espionage, resistance, identity, friendship, found family, romance, and secrets. (Also there's jokes.)"

To that I'll add: ramen noodles, linguistics, awkward crushes, and songs!  Also, the Dwarnians may be on their way to a place in my heart -- alongside the Bajorans, Minbari, and Time Lords -- as one of the few alien cultures in which I'd truly like to immerse myself.

The characters live in my heart, too.  I hope you get to know them.

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Second, I'd like to recommend the world of Whisperwind, which is delivered in the form of ASMR videos on Youtube.  Yes, these kinds of videos are often the subject of giggles and disdain, but there are gems.  There are pearls.  Sometimes the talents of the artist are just perfectly matched with the medium, and the Story (capitalization intended) just breathes through the screen.


It's kind of a D&D world, with a mix of humans, elves, gnomes, goblins, werewolves, vampires, and such.  But there's amazing depth... multiple fleshed-out towns and cities, quite a few parallel plot lines, and occasional flashbacks to an adventuring party from hundreds of years ago whose actions continue to have an effect on the present.  Amazingly, it's also all told in the second person.  You are a character in this story, and over time we come to learn just as much about your backstory, motivations, and secrets, as we do about the other characters (nearly all of whom are played by Sage, the creator of this story).

And, it's all very relaxing.  :-)

* * *

Lastly, my other two recommendations.  I'll be quick:

  • I think the recently concluded 3rd season of Star Trek: Discovery has been the best season of Star Trek in its entire history.  Controversial?  Maybe, but I stand by it.  Some individual episodes of the other shows have been better, but taking the season-long arc as a whole?  This jaunt into the 32nd century shines.

  • Just last week my family and I started watching The Watch, based on the Discworld novels of Terry Pratchett.  I haven't read them, but now I might.  So much fun.