The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s my first video about “Daria” and was based on an earlier article I wrote a number of years back. I reworked it a bit to make for a better video. I’m very pleased with how it turned out. Depending on the response, I may make more “Daria” videos. Enjoy!
Category Archives: philosophy
As a general rule, you shouldn’t take advice from cartoon characters, TV characters, celebrities, musicians, or anyone trying to sell you tickets to a seminar. That’s just common sense and we need a lot of that to navigate life.
At the same time, there are often exceptions to rules, including the general ones. They’re very rare and very specifics, but that’s exactly why they warrant such exceptions. They’re just that uniquely special, like a single polished diamonds in an entire mountain of dirt.
In that spirit, there is one fictional character whose advice and wisdom you should heed. Whether you’re a person living in the real world or an exiled prince fighting to regain his honor, his words carry immense weight and for all the right reasons. That character is Uncle Iroh from the beloved show, “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”
Now, there are many reasons why this show is a diamond, even among diamonds. Uncle Iroh is one of them. Even for a kids show, his lovable persona and his propensity to share nuggets of wisdom has few equals. If you don’t believe me, watch the show. If he’s not one of your favorite characters by the end, then I don’t know what to tell you.
If you don’t have time to binge three seasons, then here are some of his best quotes that I feel contain a wealth of wisdom.
“There is nothing wrong with a life of peace and prosperity. I suggest you think about what it is you want from your life.”
“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again. Only this time more wisely.”
“In the darkest times, hope is something you give yourself. That is the meaning of inner strength.”
“While it is always best to believe in oneself, a little help from others can be a great blessing.”
“Life happens wherever you are, whether you make it or not.”
“It is important to draw wisdom from many different places.”
“Good times become good memories, but bad times make good lessons.”
“Sometimes, the best way to solve your own problems is to help someone else.”
“Follow your passion and life will reward you.”
“Even in the material world, you will find that if you look for the light, you can often find it. But if you look for the dark, that is all you will ever see.”
“Pride is not the opposite of shame, but it’s source. True humility is the only antidote to shame.”
I hope this advice helps all those who read it. These are all words that I feel people need more than ever at a time like this. Cartoon character or not, Uncle Iroh gave us this wisdom. We would be wise to listen.
The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s a video I’ve been working on for a while and I’m very excited about this one. Once again, I get to make a video where I talk about superhero movies. Sam Rami’s Spider-Man trilogy really was a game-changer for the genre and I’ll be forever grateful for that. However, this time I also get to talk about one of the best and most beloved animated shows in history, “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”
I recently rediscovered this show on Netflix and I’ve been eager to talk about it. This video is my first deep dive into the larger concepts behind this amazing show, as well as those that played out in the Raimi trilogy. Specifically, this video focuses on forgiveness and how it can give a story dramatic weight.
I hope this video gets a good response because I had a lot of fun making it. I hope you enjoy it too.
The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is a brief exploration of one of the greatest fictional villains of all time, Lex Luthor. There has been an ongoing trend in recent year to develop more complex villains with equally complex motivations. However, there’s still room for the kind of old school, pure evil villain and nobody epitomizes that more than Lex Luthor. Hopefully, this video gives everyone a new appreciation of that. Enjoy!
What happens to someone when they’ve spent their entire life seeing the world one way, only to have it radically change in an instant?
What happens to someone’s perspective when everything they thought they knew and understood suddenly seems smaller and less grand than they thought?
It can be a jarring experience. For some, it might even be traumatic. It can take the form of a religious experience, a major life-changing event, or even something as simple as falling in love. Whatever the case, it’s powerful. You see the world one way when the day starts. Then, when the sun sets, you see it completely differently.
That brings me to astronauts, space flight, and Jeff Bezos. I promise there’s a connection there and it’s one worth highlighting.
Most are aware that Amazon founder, and world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, took his first flight into space. It was well-covered by the media and was certainly fodder for plenty of criticism, some of which was quite warranted. However, I’m not going to touch on that. Instead, I want to focus on how this experience might affect him and his outlook.
That’s where the Overview Effect comes in. If you’re not familiar with this unique psychological phenomenon, then think back to the questions I asked earlier. Those are very relevant in that they’re part of what certain people experience when they go into space.
In short, the Overview Effect is a byproduct of this newfound prospective astronauts have when they go into space and see Earth from afar. Some treat it as a religious experience, so much so that it has an almost euphoric effect. That’s to be expected.
Up in space, there are no national boundaries. There are no politics, prejudices, and personal gripes. It’s only in space that you realize just how small Earth is and how small humanity is by comparison. That has a major impact on a person’s psyche. Some in the field of neuroscience have even studied it. One retired astronaut, Scott Kelly, once described it like this:
“The planet is incredibly beautiful, breathtakingly beautiful. Having said that, parts of it are polluted, like with constant levels of pollution in certain parts of Asia. You see how fragile the atmosphere looks. It’s very thin. It’s almost like a thin contact lens over somebody’s eye, and you realized all the pollutants we put into the atmosphere are contained in that very thin film over the surface. It’s a little bit scary actually to look at it.
And then you realize looking at the Earth, that despite its beauty and its tranquility, there’s a lot of hardship and conflict that goes on. You look at the planet without borders, especially during the day. At night you can see countries with lights, but during the daytime it looks like we are all part of one spaceship, Spaceship Earth.
And we’re all flying through space together, as a team, and it gives you this perspective — people have described it as this ‘orbital perspective’ — on humanity, and you get this feeling that we just need to work better — much, much better — to solve our common problems.”
That sort of perspective is hard for most to imagine. The number of people who have been into space is less than 600. Jeff Bezos is only the latest entry into a very exclusive club. That may also mean he’s the latest to experience the Overview Effect.
Now, it’s hard to say how much or how little he was influenced by that effect. His trip to space didn’t last very long. However, the journey may have already left an impression. He has already been quoted as saying this:
“The most profound piece of it, for me, was looking out at the Earth, and looking at the Earth’s atmosphere….But when you get up above it, what you see is it’s actually incredibly thin. It’s this tiny little fragile thing, and as we move about the planet, we’re damaging it. It’s one thing to recognize that intellectually. It’s another thing to actually see with your own eyes how fragile it really is.”
That could just be him making good PR, but it could also be revealing. Again, not many people have gone into space. They haven’t had a chance to experience the Overview Effect for themselves. While plenty of trained astronauts have done it, none of them are Jeff Bezos. None of them are worth in excess of $200 billion.
There aren’t many people on this planet who have access to resources like him. There are even fewer with the means and the skills to take a grand vision and make it real. Now, Bezos has seen the world in a new light. He has had his perspective changed. What will that mean for him and for us?
Before he took his famous space flight, Bezos stepped down from Amazon. He’s still very involved, but he now has time to focus on new ventures. Some of those ventures may take us into space. Some may go towards fixing the environment.
It’s hard to know where this will lead. However, if someone like Jeff Bezos can be impacted by the Overview Effect, then what does that say about the rest of us? How much would the world change if more people got to experience that perspective? Maybe we’ll find out one day. Maybe we’ll get that chance because Jeff Bezos funded it.
Only time will tell. Personally, I’d like to experience the Overview Effect myself. Maybe I will one day.
Also, Jeff Bezos should still pay his workers more.
Picture, for a moment, the following scenario.
You’re at a prestigious awards ceremony. The nature of the ceremony and the award aren’t important. The only factor that matters is the awards are granted to only a few individuals who have achieved feats that few human beings have achieved. It’s an honor just to be nominated, but an even bigger honor to win.
With that in mind, imagine two different winners for two different feats. The first winner comes up onto the stage, accepts their award, and gives a heartfelt speech that’s something along the lines of this.
“Thank you so much for this incredible honor. It was a long, hard road to get to this point, but I’ve been so blessed with wondrous gifts and amazing support. To them and to the higher power that blessed me, I am eternally grateful!”
Chances are you’ve heard a speech like that before. We hear it all the time with athletes, celebrities, and major public figures. They achieve something spectacular and their first inclination is to say they are blessed. They don’t always thank a god for it, but it’s such a common refrain that most come to expect it. Some even joke about it.
That being said, try to imagine your reaction for the second winner. They come out on stage with the same immense joy as the previous winner. They also give a heartfelt speech of their own, but it goes like this.
“Thank you so much for this incredible honor. It was a long, hard road to get to this point, but I was just really lucky to be born with talent and amazing support. I like to think I’ve made the most of it. This award is just part of it. For that, I am so proud of myself and those who helped me!”
I doubt a celebrity has given an acceptance speech like this before. If they did, chances are it would either be a joke or an elaborate act of trolling, which some celebrities are known to do. For the sake of this little thought experiment, imagine the person was sincere. How would you feel about them? Would be different than the first?
I crafted this scenario as a way of illustrating the difference between being blessed and being lucky. These terms tend to get used interchangeably. In common language, they’re somewhat synonymous. Even though dictionary definitions have some key distinctions, the standard usage of these words carries a particular meaning.
Part of that meaning stems from the general discomfort we feel about the universe being so chaotic and meaningless. We’re wired to seek patterns and surmise order. It doesn’t even matter if the patterns or order is real or an outright trick. When people can make sense of the world, we’re better able to function. It’s a big reason why humans have been able to adapt and survive with such success.
The ideas being lucky and being blessed reflect opposite sentiments of a similar principle. We see luck as a fluke. There’s no meaning behind it. It just happens randomly and without any defined goal.
A kid is randomly born with talent that makes them a great athlete.
A person randomly picks the winning numbers to win a big lottery prize.
A person just happens to be in the right place at the right time to meet the love of their life.
None of these situations are inherently right or wrong. That’s part of what makes it so distressing on some levels. The people who benefit from luck do nothing to deserve or warrant their good fortune. It goes against that innate sense of fairness that most sensible human beings have wired into their brains.
Being blessed, on the other hand, carries a very different connotation. To be blessed implies that some person, deity, or sentient force chose to grant someone such benefits. It’s not random. It’s part of a larger plan. It may not seem like one on the surface. It may even be an outright illusion. That ultimately doesn’t matter. The semblance of a plan is enough.
To be blessed also carried with it a sense of humility. Someone who just says they’re lucky doesn’t come off as moral or gracious. Even if they’re entirely ambivalent about it, they won’t inspire respect or admiration for acknowledging their luck. If they say they’re blessed, though, it changes the context.
A person who is blessed with talent means their achievements have a greater meaning.
A person who is blessed with picking winning lotto numbers means their good fortune is part of some larger plan.
A person who is blessed with meeting the love of their live means their love is somehow pre-ordained by fate.
The difference lies within the meaning. Being blessed conveys influence from a source greater than the person receiving the blessing. To show gratitude to that force is to accept that it’s not just about you. There’s a larger plan and you’re just part of it. That sounds humble, but at the same time, it detracts from the true extent of an achievement.
Luck or no luck, it takes effort and dedication to achieve something of value. Whether it’s an award for world’s largest nose ring or setting a record for most pop tarts consumed in a day, an accomplishment still requires work. Even lottery winners have to go out of their way to pick the numbers, get the ticket, and claim their prize.
To call that process a blessing is to dehumanize the actions involved. It undercuts the countless other factors in play. Some are entirely controllable. A champion of any sport usually has talent, determination, and a willingness to refine their skill. Others are simply beyond their control, from the conditions of an event to just the general randomness of a particular moment.
To assume these factors as part of some over-arching plan is to assume there’s a governing force that consciously cares about these random happenings. Whether that force is a deity or some idea of conscious fate, people will consciously devalue their own worth to believe they’re part of something greater. It might not be real, but that’s beside the point.
It helps us wrap our brains around incredible achievements and improbable events. It shows in how people can resent those who are just deemed lucky. Again, just look at lottery winners. Those who have enjoyed that rare level of luck can attest that they are generally looked down upon by those who gained their fortune in other ways.
This isn’t to imply that the whole concept of being blessed is inherently wrong. There may actually be a higher governing power behind certain peoples’ fortunes, be it an all-powerful deity or the shape-shifting lizard men of the Illuminati. There’s no evidence of it now, but as believers and conspiracy theorists will often point out, absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence.
That said, I believe the dehumanizing aspect of blessings over luck does more harm than good in the long run. Humility is an admirable trait, but there are better ways to encourage it that don’t involve assigning some arbitrary meaning to random events. In addition, saying someone or something is blessed has some indirect implications that are even less desirable than a random universe.
If one person is blessed, then that implies other people were deemed undeserving.
If one moment is blessed, then those that came before it are nothing more than prelude, no matter how much they meant to those involved.
If a people or society are blessed, then that basically declares that everyone else is somehow beneath them and that mentality rarely brings out the best in people.
Human beings are capable of remarkable feats. Many of those feats don’t require a higher power or some conscious force. They simply require an opportunity and a willingness to strive for something greater. Granted, opportunities can be random and there’s only so much anyone can do to control the luck they get. However, I submit that gives it even more meaning in the grand scheme of things.
The world is a big, strange, overwhelming place, to say nothing of the universe. We all live in this world for a brief span of time, relative to the age of the planet and of the human species. Within that life, we all learn, grow, and adapt. Some change more than others, but for the most part, we’re not the same person at 50 as we are at 15.
I find that, as I get older, I realize certain truths about life that are somewhat harsh. Some are downright frustrating. It doesn’t matter how you feel about them. That doesn’t make them any less true. You can’t always grasp it when you’re young and inexperienced. Certain things can only become clear with time. You have to live life in this crazy world for a certain number of years before you can truly see the forest from the trees.
I’m not a teenager. I’m not even in my 20s anymore. However, I’m still not what most would consider old. I know I’ll get there one day. I imagine I’ll encounter plenty more harsh truths along the way. Some will hit me harder than others. Some may not hit me until I’m too old to do anything about them. I won’t know for sure until that time comes.
For now, I thought I’d take a moment to share some of these harsh truths. Some of this was inspired by some posts on Reddit in which people share some of those truths, as they’ve come to know them. I don’t agree with all of them, but some do fit nicely with what I’ve experienced.
With that in mind, here are ten harsh truths I’ve learned that I’ve come to realize at this point in my life. Rest assured, I’ve learned much more than ten. These are just the most prominent that I feel are worth sharing.
1. The world owes you nothing. You can’t expect it or anyone in it to accommodate you. You are ultimately responsible for making the most of your opportunities.
2. A lot of success requires a certain amount of dumb luck. Hard work, patience, and persistence certainly are a factor, but meeting the right people and being in the right situation tend to be more decisive.
3. Nobody’s first instinct is to do things the hard way. For the most part, people will always take the path of least resistance when it comes to challenges, change, and hardship.
4. Like it or not, there are people who are just born more talented than you at certain things and there’s nothing you can do about it. No matter how hard you work or apply yourself, you’ll never be as good as them.
5. No matter what sort of relationship you have with your parents, they’ll always affect you in ways you won’t be comfortable with.
6. You will miss on a lot of opportunities that’ll only become clear with hindsight and that’s okay. You need only seize a few to make things worthwhile.
7. Bullies, assholes, and idiots will get away with egregious misdeeds and there’s nothing you can do about it.
8. People are tribal about many things. There’s no way around it. That’s just how we’re wired. Trying to get people to see beyond their tribal affiliations is a losing battle and one that’ll only make people hate you.
9. You cannot change someone’s mind by arguing with them or yelling at them. You can only appeal to them personally and hope they’ll come around. However, not everyone will.
10. At some point in your life, you’re going to believe or buy into something that will make you feel foolish later on.
That list is likely to change and grow with time. If you have a list of your own that you’d like to share, please do so in the comments.