Monday, December 10, 2012

The Elusive Truth

The Elusive Truth

Many people over the eons claim to know the elusive truth. They swear by it, lay down their lives for that ideal. That only leads to the next logical question. What is truth? The question is not a new one. This question has been held in the minds of scholars and laymen a like since man step foot on the earth.

 This question has yet to be answered. Or has it, and we just choose not to see.

We already know truth is colored by our own perception of the facts at hand, but it is also colored by the facts we choose to believe. There are many facts, all supported, all true, and in the right combinations create very different truths. Let us take politics, I apologize for this but it is the most current example I have at hand. The principal idea remains for all topics of contention.

Obama supporters claim victory over serious opposition, and that things are improving. There are, in fact, statistics and facts that show this to be true. Detractors can show facts that are ALSO true, that support their claims, that things are going terribly wrong. Of course it gets tricky because amongst the "truths" you have the twisted versions that are actually not true. Ah the complexities of life.

For every statistic to back your belief, there is another to contradict the validity of proof. A perfect example of this is a quote from one of my favorite comedies, My Cousin Vinny.

Vinny Gambini: The D.A.'s got to build a case. Building a case is like building a house. Each piece of evidence is just another building block. He wants to make a brick bunker of a building. He wants to use serious, solid-looking bricks, like, like these, right?
 [puts his hand on the wall]
 Bill: Right.
 Vinny Gambini: Let me show you something.
 [he holds up a playing card, with the face toward Billy]
 Vinny Gambini: He's going to show you the bricks. He'll show you they got straight sides. He'll show you how they got the right shape. He'll show them to you in a very special way, so that they appear to have everything a brick should have. But there's one thing he's not gonna show you.
 [Turns the card, so that its edge is toward Billy]
 Vinny Gambini: When you look at the bricks from the right angle, they're as thin as this playing card. His whole case is an illusion, a magic trick. It has to be an illusion, 'cause you're innocent. (I also must note the character of Bill was innocent, but the text rings true.

We select our facts that back our position. They may be true, but not always all the truth. Maybe we should start to realize that truth as we know it is more akin to the relativity of what is defined as "good art." Everyone has their own perception of what is defined as good. They are all right.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Post Thanksgiving Thanks Giving

Below is a blog post written for my office newsletter. I felt that its message transcended into my personal world as well. Our office had a Thanksgiving food drive to collect food stuffs to donate to the Embry Rucker Homeless Shelter in Reston, VA. This blog post was born of that experience.


Last week I dropped off the food and household items that generous Circle employees donated to the Embry Rucker Shelter for the homeless. Initially I tried to drop the donation off midday, but it turned out I needed to make a return trip after-hours. The midday trip was relatively serene and quiet. Not many people were around, and the front-desk staff even looked bored. 

When I returned later that evening, the story had completely changed. Now the parking lot was very full. As I pulled into one of the few available slots, I noticed the vehicle next to me had a towel being held up in the window like a curtain. Someone who could not find room in the shelter was spending a few hours sleeping in the car. I found myself wondering, “Who is this person?” And in a fraction of a second I knew it could be ANYONE. This could be a coworker I see every day. 

The front door had other clients loitering and chatting; they even seemed in a jovial mood. One gentleman asked me if it was food I was carrying in the cardboard box, and he was so excited by my affirmative answer that he quickly opened the door for me.

Were these people waiting outside just to “kill time,” or were they out of luck in getting one of the highly coveted beds in this shelter? Were they waiting and hoping that by some miracle, a space would just happen to open up?

After handing over the food to the receptionist I turned to leave, and a very friendly man asked if I had more boxes to bring, as if he were eager to offer his assistance. At that moment, I felt bad that I didn’t.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I believe we all feel thankful for what we do have, but never does the fact of how truly blessed we are really sink in until we are faced with the reality of those who have less. I am thankful that it was I who delivered that food that evening and that I got to see real life as it is for those at Embry Rucker. It took seeing the shelter in the dark to truly see it in the proper light.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Child's World Changed

I am going to kick off this editorial with that over used and cliched phrase, “When I was a child.” In this case it is fitting. When I WAS a child there was this wonderful and magical structure known as a playground.  A castle made of wood and metal. A megalopolis of imagination and play. Nooks and crannies abound, enough to Make Thomas raise his eyebrows in admiration.

Behind every pillar the chance for intrigue and endless games one can play. Some time between now and then, something terrible occurred. All the monuments of childhood were defiled and torn down. They no longer exist.
This happened because of the chemicals used in the pressure treated wood. Unsafe for children. Instead of replacing the God worthy structures with equally magical ones made with the right kind of wood, yes it exists, they tore them down for much smaller and inferior replacements. 

This really hit home when I visited my old haunt and elementary school, Terraset. The playgrounds in Reston were legendary fortresses of whatever you could imagine them to be. The one in Terraset was also special since the parents of the students helped in the building.

Recently I was there, and in its place was a small, boring, not worth describing really, metal plastic contraption. The playground was not suited in size to a school. If they want children to play on it, they should not make it standing room only. I literally wanted to cry. There was nothing in this geomentrically shaped piece of crap that screamed out to me “PLAY WITH ME!” All I heard was a whimper.

I know parents want to keep their beloved children safe, but in the process they have removed the thrill of what it is like to be a child. The smallest things can send your imagination into overdrive. A playground was not just a playground, but a pirate ship in the middle of rough seas. It could be a castle and you a doomed prisoner.  Climbining across the monkey bars from one side of the play structure to the other, was crossing a chasm in the snowy mountains.

By making play safe, they took the wonder out of play. When I drive by playgrounds these days, I do not see hoards of children playing, they are empty. Some of this is due to the influx of video games in the culture, but I do not think that is the only cause. In my neighborhood the children play outside all the time, just not on the pathetic playground we have right here, they play in the parking lot. To me that expresses a great deal.

The whole world is a playground to a child, this is good since the playgrounds are no longer their world.

Which would you rather play on?