Climate Change

frozen eyelashesSince my small little hamlet sits smack dab in the center of the polar vortex, and the cilia in my nose has completely frozen off…there has been much irritation and frustration.  My household personally, has spent a fortune on our vehicles, from replacing batteries to other repairs due to the extreme cold.  I have always said it takes a hardly person to live here, and the weather will keep out the riffraff.  I think I just appreciate summer more, all two weeks of it.  I do, however, get really irritated when people assume that this extreme weather has nothing to do with humanity’s influence on the planet.  When I hear people mock, (like Donald Trump) those who believe in global warming, because it happens to be really cold out there, I want to scream….”DID YOU EVER GO TO SCIENCE CLASS?  OR STUDY NONLINEAR SYSTEMS?”  and then I realize that no, he probably didn’t.  Extreme cold can be a result of overall warming temperatures on the earth….please read this article, I found it most helpful:

Climate Change Might Just Be Driving the Historic Cold Snap

Be warm, and be careful out there

Love and Logic

candy dishSo how can we be sure if love is present and is what propels us forward?   Where do we go to find out what it really is so that we can begin the process of harnessing it?  There are volumes of literature, music, psychology, philosophy and theology that have tried to depict what love really is.  What more could I possibly say about love that would amount to a major discovery?  Are there any new ways to talk about the true nature of love?  Well, based on humanity’s past observations and experiences of love, we should be able to understand a few things about what it is and what it is not.   So I offer another kind of construct or tool that may offer us a unique perspective.

Let’s start with a short discussion about love via logic and mathematics. During law-school, I was re-introduced to Boolean logic as a research tool.  When searching for cases on West Law or Lexis, my classmates and I would use Boolean language which reduces words, mostly connectors like “and” and “or” to symbols. (search engines like “Google” and “Yahoo” also use this tool)  George Boole, an Irish school teacher of the mid-nineteenth century, reduced logical statements to simple arithmetic by inventing an artificial language which reduced ordinary language to its barest form.  It introduced symbols for complete sentences and for the conjunctions that connect them such as “or,” “and,” and “If/then.”   It uses different symbols for the logical subject and the logical predicate of a sentence and it has symbols for classes, members of classes, and the relationships of class membership and class inclusion.  A picture description of this would be a Venn diagram. It also differs from classical logic and its assumptions regarding the existence of the things referred to in its universal statements. The statement “All A’s are B’s” is rendered in modern logic to mean, “If anything is an A, then it is a B.”   When applying this kind of logic to the word love (A), we cannot assume that A exists, but once we do prove it does it will be the standard for everything that flows from it.  So if we can prove that A exists and know what A is, we will know if anything else, B or C for example (let’s call them given expressions), fit into the class.

I’ve already suggested that love exists beyond the human plane making it virtually impossible to “prove” in a definitive sense.  I can say emphatically, however, that love is endemic to all people.  Perhaps that is proof enough of its existence.  Having studied world religions, there are some universal qualities that give even further clarity to what love is.  Using these universal qualities (some of which will be laid out in a moment) helps to define “A”.  We should be able to exclude or include other classes, some of which, according to my research have been incorrectly applied.  How do we go about the process of inclusion/exclusion?  What follows was my first step in harnessing the power of love.

When teaching a science and religion class, I, with the help of our math teacher, used symbolic language and resulting truth tables to determine whether two statements were logically equivalent or not.  When something is A, when would it be B as well?  The reason for this approach is because when you begin speaking about love, especially to a group of individuals in the throes of hormones, not only is it hard to be objective, it’s almost impossible to break away from all the cultural baggage that they already associate with love.  Most students could not get out of the rut of interpreting or defining love merely by their physical senses, especially in a sexual or romantic sense.  While senses are important in understanding the effect love has on humanity, love is not an effect or expression, because they are unique to each individual.  But because effect and expression, or “the results” of love are what we observe, it is understandable why we have so often tried to define in love in this way.

By using a language that is, by nature, devoid of subjectivity, it’s easy to avoid defining love just as an effect or expression and see it from a different angle.  Using a truth table can tell you the conditions for which a conjunction (two statements joined by the word “and”) and dis junction (two statements joined by the word “or”) would be considered true or false from a logical perspective.  My concern was to help students apply this simple logic to qualitative statements and not only determine whether or not they were logically equivalent but also if they were true.  Not to infer that this particular approach reduces love to a mere logical process, but if we begin with universal definitions of love, then any expression (B), or effect (C) of love (A) should, logically, flow from that definer. This seemed to be one approach to help clean up the past conclusions we have made about love.  For demonstration purposes let me use two of my favorite authorities on love: Jesus and Shakespeare.

Initially, students were provided with quotes from Shakespeare and Jesus that defined aspects of love: “A rose by any other name…”, “love is patient, kind…”, “love has no room for fear…”, “love is not love which alters when it alteration finds…”, and a host of others too numerous to list.  After discussion about these statements and their validity, we listed those traits as being in the class of “A.”  We then posited conditional statements:  If “A” then “B” or “C” to see if the statements were logically equivalent.

The conditional statement I always liked to use, and which was certainly apropos to high school students, went like this: “If you love me then you will have sex with me.”  Students set up tables that included converting the statement “If you have sex with me then you love me”, adding negation “If you don’t love me then you won’t have sex with me” and what is called the contrapositive, “If you don’t have sex with me then you don’t love me,” which interesting enough, should be true (or false) when the original statement is true (or false).   The crushing blow for this particular phrase (to the students I taught anyway) was that in every word or phrase we use to define love (love is patient, love is kind, etc.) sex was never used.  So, if sex were in class “C,” it wasn’t a logical equivalent of “A.”  In fact, we discovered by our truth tables that (I admit this may have been manipulative on my part) sex, which inherently focuses on the pleasure of the individual, can actually oppose love (in its purest sense of course).  Besides generating many loud discussions by many students, they were also challenged to view love differently.

Love, like a constant in math (k), is an immutable force in the face of which an individual expression is of small consequence.  The Bhagava-gītā, states that love is indestructible and eternally existing, its constitution never changes.  So let us not define ourselves by how we express love to each other, but rather allow love to define who we can be as individuals.  The result, my friends, is heaven.  Any time I start to judge someone else’s expression of love, I remember that love is a lot bigger than I am.

Let me go even further.  Even if we can find some universal qualities to better understand the nature of love, as far as individual experience of love goes, it is as unique as a snow-flake.  Love as experienced by me is always different from how it is experienced by someone else, even if the difference is only subtle.  That is not to say that love is a personal invention.  As an individual, though, I am a unique accumulation of millions of observations and experiences so accordingly, my expressions of love will be unique to my journey.  Here is my challenge: the more we each discover about the true nature of love independently, and share it, the broader our understanding of love’s true nature will be.  The result is like a spectrum of colors, the likes of which has never been seen before.  Mind you, this kind of discovery is a process of trial and error; most of us will be burned a few times.  Despite the painful risks the rewards have to be worth it.  Whenever I feel defeated, I just try and image what modern life would be like had we not harnessed the power of fire.

Why being Ordinary can carry Extraordinary Implications

observationA priest once told me that the movie in my head was much better than real life and I was just setting myself up for disappointment.  I actually felt sorry for him…and, hopefully, now that he is not restricted by human limitations any longer, he sees things differently.  I don’t know if it a blessing or a curse, but I do believe the movie in my head is fantastic…because it’s inspired by God and God has an even better imagination than I do.  I do admit, though, that priest’s words have challenged me throughout my life to understand the importance that perspective ( the movie in our heads) has on shaping reality.   While the theological essence of perspective has been my choice of study…I wanted to enlarge my focus to include a scientific perspective as well.  As a non scientist, though, it’s been an exciting challenge to understand the process of observation within the context of quantum physics.  but I do so because it opened my eyes (pun intended) to the important position of being an observer, and my personal impact on the world.   The first part may seem unbearably dry, but bear with me, it’s essential in understanding how important observation is in bringing the movie in our heads to fruition.  Just as important, in a time where fame and infamy give credibility and notoriety to a select and often undeserving few, I think a pitch for the ordinary Joe or Josephine is crucial.

It is tragic that in my study of theology, we never looked at science to broaden our understanding of God.  Reflecting back on my own experience with science, it always made me uncomfortable.  There was always an unspoken understanding that science was diametrically opposed to religion (just look at the controversy between evolution and creationism, or “divine intelligence” as its now called).  Somehow, since God transcended the material world and couldn’t be proved by extrinsic evidence, science existed in some subterranean dimension.   Many scientists and theologians appear to lie in wait to challenge, as fallible, the fundamental suppositions of either discipline (although there are plenty of religious leaders who believe there is plenty of extrinsic evidence that proves the existence of God, the majority of scientists I’ve met generally, keep faith and science separate).

During my early studies, the discovery that religion hadn’t necessarily represented my role as a woman in the world fair or accurately, led logically to understanding that perhaps that the conclusions they made about other things were flawed as well.  History has many sad moments when the church harshly closed a door on a scientific discovery.  It didn’t seem like an in-congruent step, then, as a result of all the historical animosity that scientists were not giving religious truth a fair shot either.  It appears to me, anyway, that many on both sides would be perfectly happy to cancel the other out.  Nothing like throwing out the baby with the bath water, don’t you think?  Let us hope that cooler heads prevail and we learn to utilize the language of the empirical and language of the spiritual to create a broader understanding of reality: where theology can nurture the observer, and science the observed.

In my own experience, I recall a conversation with a scientist about my belief that science and religion, like light, are the same thing, just observed differently.  By his reaction, not only was he offended that I would reduce quantum physics in such cheap layperson’s terms, as a theology teacher, I obviously didn’t have the level of intelligence necessary to further the discussion.  Unfortunately, his snub left me speechless.  While hiding in a bathroom stall to hide my watering eyes and embarrassment, I began to wonder if, in terms of science anyway, his observations would always be superior to mine.  My embarrassment turned out to be a good thing, however, because it also made me angry enough to begin yet another search for truth (OK, it also included the desire to prove him wrong—regardless of my motivation though, I did learn a thing or two).

It is sad that most people, like my conversation with the scientist, never get to fully understand how someone arrives at a certain perspective.  Not everyone just pulls things out of thin air.  I had spent countless hours studying and preparing for a class with the physics teacher at the high school where I taught: an investigation of theology from a scientific perspective and science from a theological perspective. What happened was something I could have predicted.  From the onset it appeared as if the idea had its own agenda. When my colleague and I entered into the world of quantum physics (I still get a tingle up my spine thinking of that moment), I knew my life would never appear the same again.

In the world of quantum the observer, or the means by which “something” is observed, means everything.  Its form depends on how it’s observed.  For example, light can exist both as a particle or a wave, depending on how it is observed, which, until quantum physics, was considered impossible.   Physicist Werner Heisenberg, gave even more importance to the observer via the uncertainty principle, which states that the exact position and velocity of a particle cannot both be known at the same time—the more precisely one value is known, the greater the range of possibilities that exist for the other.  Even the act of observing something changes the reality of what is being observed.  In the classical view of the universe, science taught that by eliminating subjective influences nature could be revealed as she really was.  Quantum physics changed that classical viewpoint by exposing a dichotomy between experienced and un-experienced reality.  The idea that the mechanism of observation could actually affect what form matter took forced science into a new paradigm, besides giving great weight to the observer.

The discovery of the wave/particle duality has taken us beyond the limitations of Newtonian physics.  There are two levels of reality which can be said to exist: reality as experienced, or as it exists in relation to the observer; and reality that is un-experienced, or as it exists in the absence of an observer (sort of like the old question does a tree falling in a forest make a sound when no one is there to hear it?).  Un-experienced reality, then, is reality as it exists before or beyond human experience (perhaps in a dimension beyond height, width, weight, depth and time).  Un-experienced reality relates to experiential reality in that it forms the basis or context of experienced reality like an archetype or prototype.  The issue that is of central importance to me is the relationship between what is experienced and what is not.  Naturally, since human beings, as observers, are confined by certain dimensional and subjective limitations, it would seem obvious that the un-experienced dimension has the greater control over what we perceive.  I’m not so sure of that anymore; from my theological background I know the power human beings have to be co-creators of the universe, and therefore color every experience with personal meaning.  What I have begun to worry about in this age of information overload, is the effect that all the negativity and violence has on the observer.  On a microscopic scale, are we turning into that priest that I talked about in the beginning?  Are we killing the movie in our heads and living a life of fear and disappointment?  Stay tuned.