Seahawks vs Broncos

Seahawks traded their QB Russell Wilson to the Broncos in the preseason. NFL capitalized on this by scheduling the first season game for the Hawks and the Broncos to be against each other at Seattle. The only NFL game this first Monday night 9/12. I do not know the size of the online viewership but I am positive the advertisers were over the moon.

This isn’t a post about the game. It’s about all the break up, the emotions that surfaced, what being a fan means. Let’s start with the last point.

Being called a “fair weather” fan is an insult, that one doesn’t stick with one’s sports team through thick or thin. The 12’s (i.e. Seahawks fans) are well known for generating a noise level in the stadium that reached 98 decibels! This disrupts the opposing team as evidenced by the number of false starts by the Broncos! Great work 12’s!

But is jeering and boo-ing Russ really desirable fan behavior to be emulated? Holding up signs that mock him? I wonder whether in doing such, we un-chain that beast within that seeks to ‘slap’ others. More charitably, perhaps it’s a cathartic release of jilted loyalties. However, such loyalties may be fragile if they are based on the player winning (i.e. “performing”) for them. In other words, the relationship is based on what the player does, not who the player is.

Post hand comments by ex-team mates do reveal the reality of friendship or not, that existed. Some snide comments reveal the envy that was so carefully hidden when they were playing together. The real friends, the loyal friends, who battled him on the field last night had kinder words, perhaps by saying nothing. Football is a business, and sometimes friends have to compete against each other in this business.

What relevant insights are there for Life?

(1) Some who play on your side will only be too willing to turn on you when you part ways.

(2) Some “feel good” actions can burnish the “badness of being.” This is a slippery slope.

(3) It’s tempting to exchange blow for blow, and thus, quickly sink to the other’s level. Do I really want that?

(4) Are any of my current relationships based more on what the other does?

As with anything in Life, it all flows from one to another. Any partition we attempt to put up never fully contains our actions, our emotions, our various personas.

Penny wise, pound foolish

A popular idiom that I learned during childhood. I Googled the origins of this idiom and found out that it was coined almost 500 years ago, in England and first recorded in Francis Meres’ Luis de Granada’s Sinners Guyde, translated in 1598:

Least he (as it is wont to be sayd) be penny wise and pound foolish, least he I say, gather ashes, and cast away flower.

Isn’t that imagery very striking, to gather ashes while casting away the flour (wasn’t flour spelled flower in the olden days)? How apt.

I am sure we all have battle scars from our forays into the consumerism world, buying the lower cost product and then realizing later, that the quality was commensurate with the price paid. It may have been better to buy the higher priced product and had greater durability and other qualitative benefits. Clearly, this doesn’t apply to ‘branded’ products, where a significant percentage of the pricing is for the image/status of being a ‘prideful’ owner of said branded item.

But money is not the only exchange medium that is called to mind with this idiom. How about TIME?

Clearly, when we are considering life investments, be it a home or our retirement options, we would and should be spending lots of time given the years of living in said home, or relying on said investment income for retirement. What happens if it’s one of those items on Amazon? Or a hotel night in town X? A defined budget may dictate getting products or services that fit within said budget. But ultimately, the trade off is whether to purse the best value price offering by spending too much time, or securing a good enough value price offering with the right enough amount of time. Would budgeting both money and time, when researching/evaluating future products and services be a more optimal use of our scarce resources, of which time is the most uncertain? Are there other areas of my life where I treat ‘Time’ as pennies, thinking that I had an unlimited bag of it (ala those addictive seasons on NFLX and the like)?

Is RELATIONSHIP another possible exchange medium? How can I be penny wise, pounds foolish in relationships? Perhaps if we consider how we relate with children in an environment of conflicting time demands/priorities, the insight might be revealed. Missing a child’s play for the sake of overtime work (so that we can get a better bonus, or score the ‘deal’) seems the right thing to do, since we rationalize that we can always catch the next year’s play. And sometimes that does work out. But other times, this rationalization becomes ingrained, and the rare mis-attendance turns into a common routine where the other partner picks up the slack.

What about adult relationships? What constitutes pennies vs pounds? Perhaps we count the pennies of mis-perceived ‘slights’ and forget the pounds of ‘care’ and ‘concern’ that friends showed during the relationship.

Additionally, social media have allowed us to be kept informed of many more friends’ activities than pre-social media. But if depth of relationship is the pounds part of this relationship equation, why then do we spend more time on social media than on face to face interactions? Clearly none of us want many superficial relationships over a handful of deep relationships, right?

A final example – is HEALTH another possible exchange medium? A pennies approach to health might be subscribing to the view that there’s a pill for any and every health deficiency. That medical care and pharmaceutical offerings have advanced to the level that one only need minimal attention to the rigors of a regular exercise regimen, good nutrition and good rest/sleep. Who has the time and energy for a pounds approach to health?

You may come up with other exchange media. It might make for an interesting reflection of how culture and social norms have re-calibrated our inner compasses of young.

Pennies wise, pounds foolish. Short term vs long term. Immediate gratification vs future sustainability. Tangibles vs intangibles. Surface vs Within. Image vs Character. Pain-avoidance vs Soul-building.

Learning from frogs in a pot of water that goes from lukewarm to boiling

We all know about the frog that is comfortable when placed in a pot of lukewarm water. And when the fire on the pot is slowly adjusted higher, the frog stays in the pot. Until it’s too late.

There’s a biological reason for this. The frog is a cold blooded creature. Thus, its body can regulate its internal temperature to the surroundings. Thus, as the water in the pot gets hotter, the frog is able to tolerate this. Again, until it’s too late.

Shouldn’t we regard this positively, as a sign of adaptability and resiliency? After all, if the water did not reach a boiling temperate that endangers life, the frog could be taken out of the pot, and it will go on living.

What’s that line between adaptability/resiliency and life threatening for the frog?

Aren’t we humans also susceptible to adapting ‘too much’ to an environment (culture, ideology, etc.), believing that we have the resiliency to bounce back to life if there’s a clear and present danger? But aren’t the dangers that are most pernicious and difficult to escape, those that have long fuses?

So, what’s that line that will help us humans assess if said environment is a question of adaptability/resilience or [ultimately] life threatening?

Here’s a possible answer. It’s our unique ability to project and anticipate. Humans are good at brainstorming various possible outcomes, and through human experience, weigh the probable outcomes. If we fail to exercise this intelligence, then, we probably become part of the Darwinian outcome.

By the way, isn’t it interesting that the history of past empires (and societies) tell us that it’s difficult to detect this slow boil is because we are benefiting from said environment! The sharpness of our intelligence (morality, spirituality, etc.) gets dulled by the pleasures and benefits of that long fuse.

Romeo & Juliet redux

Most would immediately consider the story of Romeo & Juliet as depicting a love that is so deep, that the lovers (un-wittingly) die for each other. It’s also a tragedy as Romeo was not aware that Juliet had faked her death, and he then committed suicide by drinking poison at her tomb. She wakes up, discovers Romeo dead at her side, and in turn, commits suicide with his dagger. This Shakespearean story has a happy ending as the two feuding families reconcile through these deaths.

We are witnessing a modern tragedy involving love. 19 elementary school, 4th grade children and two adult teachers were killed yesterday (May 24, 2022) in Uvalde, Texas by a 18 year old armed with an AR-15. 19 innocent lives that had more years of living. 2 dedicated teachers. No society can afford to experience such periodic losses without losing its own innocence. It’s foolish to brush this aside as though it’s an inevitable part of our nation’s story, to let a minority have its way.

What is the “love” that’s tied to this tragedy? It’s the love of an unfettered 2nd Amendment Rights that currently allows a 18 year old to buy a military style assault rifle.

History books tell of ancient (uncivilized) societies and tribes who offer children, virgins, etc. at their altars to appease their gods, to secure blessings for their tribe.

Can Americans recognize by allowing such mass killings to persist without doing anything, we in effect, are allowing the High Priests of the 2nd Amendment Right to continue such sacrifices in this modern day and age?

Consider the plight of parents now and tomorrow, as they send their school children off to school. How can normalcy be wondering if they will come back safely at the end of the school day?

As we look into the mirror, who will we see? Someone who has become inured into helplessness and hopelessness, or someone who will no longer allow a minority to out-shout and over-rule a majority.

How will we work towards our own happy ending from this tragedy? A journey starts with a single step.

The Passing of an American Hero

We can learn a lot from the lives of great figures. We can also learn a lot from the deaths of great figures in these contemporary times. If we observe and reflect.

John McCain (August 29, 1936 – August 25, 2018), may his soul rest in peace, was a Patriot, a Statesman and a Hero. A Patriot “loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion”. A Statesman “exhibits great wisdom and ability in directing the affairs of a government or in dealing with important public issues”. A Hero is “noted for courageous acts or nobility of character; and is regarded as a role model or ideal”.

This piece cannot do justice to the achievements, the character and values of John McCain. The eulogies by his daughter Meghan, by Presidents Bush & Obama, testifies of an individual who loved his country beyond measure, who had unquestioned and unparalleled integrity and who was able to genuinely reach beyond his Party. Very few can merit the same authentic eulogies from Presidents Bush & Obama.

Rather what this piece can do, is point out the reactions of some. The eulogies by his Party Leaders pale significantly. It was interesting to observe most of these party apparatchik exclusively used the term patriot, and no more. The passion meter hovered near lukewarm. It was also interesting to observe the outrage from Trump supporters at the fiery eulogies delivered in the Senate Capitol, encouraging presidential tweets to respond. To non-partisan observers, there is an echo from Hamlet, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”.

The Jan 2017 Presidential Inaugural address promised to unite the country. The truth is that the nation is more divided. And those in power, appear to relish the division, as it energizes their base to help maintain power. Previously, I have only heard of national leaders in 3rd world countries claiming violence if the elections fall the other way. Now, this has occurred in USA. Perhaps descending to the depths will teach a humility that is needed.

What messages should we then take from the Maverik’s life and death?

  • Having unquestionable integrity to what America stood for, to a cause beyond self, regardless of costs or sacrifice, regardless of party affiliation, is a lamp that illuminates the world.
  • Standing up for the weak, the oppressed, the victimized, those without voice, points to a large heart that reaches beyond blood.
  • Even if we disagree, there’s still respect of the other’s perspective and concerns. We see so little of that from those in power today, and in truth, they sow the seeds for their own future failing. All reap what they sow.

John  is looking down from heaven as his love for America will transcend human body. May his life inspire others to continue his aspirations for and vision of America.

Festivals and Festivities

Every nation has its festivals. Malaysia, with its multi-cultural heritage, had an unfair abundance of festivals. The Malays have their Hari Raya Aidilfitri, which was the culmination of Ramadan’s fasting. Hindu Indians have Deepavali/Diwali, the Festival of Lights. The Chinese have their Chinese New Year, welcoming in the new lunar year (based on the Chinese zodiac). Christians have Christmas and Easter. Ibans have Gawai Dayak, celebrating the rice harvesting. And many more.

What is unique in Malaysia is the concept of the ‘Open House’, during these festivities. Namely, the various cultural festival celebrants, would welcome ‘all and sundry’ to their homes.  There would be special dishes, cakes, desserts prepared, a wondrous palate for the senses. Indulgence and merry making was the order of the day. No RSVP was required because one did not need a specific invite for an Open House. All one had to figure out was the Open House hours. One could even bring others who the host did not know. Hospitality was extended to friends and strangers alike.

The greeting custom back in the 60s/70s/80s was that everyone wished everyone the festive greeting. Thus, we had non-Christians/Muslims wishing Christians, ‘Merry Christmas’. We Christians, even wished non-Christians/Muslims, ‘Merry Christmas’ when they visited us in our homes. Because when one really delves into the heart of the matter, wishing another person, even if he/she doesn’t share the same beliefs/culture, is just plain and simple, ‘good will’. Otherwise, if I, as a Christian, withhold wishing someone ‘Merry Christmas’ because I am not sure if that someone is a Christian, am I not then reserving my goodwill for only those of the same faith?

Let not political correctness nor religious fundamentalism be an obstacle to humanity coming together, to acknowledge and celebrate each other’s festivals.

With that, a Blessed and Merry Christmas to All.