The Longer Ones

Friday, December 16, 2016

I'm Tired

I think right now I'm just tired.

Not physically (though I have been awake for a long while now), but rather mentally or emotionally. It hurts to think about sometimes but right now I'm truly excited for rest.

Unlike high school, there is no Christmas homework or anything like that. For once when someone mentions "winter break," it truly is a break.

There's nothing to study for or to stress about only me. And as peaceful as that may be it's also frightening to imagine. Mental rest would be great for development or growth probably but mental stimulation is my defense from the absurd.

As much as I disliked stress, it is this same environment that has allowed me to grow and become who I am (a nerd). Without that stress, I am lacking meaning. I need to continually learn, and though this rest is much appreciated I hope and pray I'll find something to do rather than let myself lie idle with the world around me.

I guess in the end, it's a good kind of tired. It's worth it.


I'm almost there.

I'm staying up all night for this (because I can't wake up early). It's so exciting. As early as it is, I am very much awake and I'm ready to go home.

I missed my parents and my home. It'll be strange though because for once in my life, I will be a visitor in my own home. It's a strange thought but I know I'll still be welcomed there regardless of my title.

I missed them a lot. But I'm almost there. I'm almost home.

Where I wanted to go.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

So finals passed

LIKE A KIDNEY STONE!!! Well technically t'was two days ago.

I took two-three finals per day and I got through it all. In fairness it wasn't bad at all. AP testing was more stressful than this.

If finals was a movie, I would rate it 4/10 because the trailers overhyped it. I don't know how I can make it more clear. Umm it was fastest and gentlest kidney stone? It was like I coughed once and it popped out. It was so quick that if Jesus suffered the pains of just finals, he would only bleed for half a millisecond then wonder "wow that was faster than I thought."

I was a bit disappointed in one of my classes but it's still unclear if he's going to establish a curve, in which case I'm fine. For now I'm just chillin' waiting to go home for a flight that seems like an eternity away.

In other news, I am hungry alone and contemplating on what I want for Christmas. So far I only came up with a game cube and a mini TV.

Yeah nevermind that's a distracting gift.

There's ads on this WHAT?!?!

Yes there are advertisements on this page.

Why? Because it helps me pay for college.
It makes it seem less empty.
I can turn it off whenever I want.

Am I selling myself?
I guess a little bit but don't we all?
To our jobs, to our ideologies, to our families, to our education, to our religion.
I think it depends on how you define selling yourself.
At the moment though I am in college and it helps.

Are they weird ads? I really hope not.
I do my best to screen them but the moment an inappropriate one comes by feel free to comment and I'll remove them all.

Other than that, I believe they're here to stay (until I'm not poor).
Also you have no idea the work it takes to actually set those up...

First of all I admire my marketing class and through it, it was simpler to set up. Secondly though some of my friends hate me for saying this, marketing is awesome. And lastly did you know you needed to be screened by Google before they allow you to have their ads?

It took a while. But it's here and I hope it works and doesn't distract you from my message (and if it does I make bank both ways soooooo cool I guess?)

Friday, December 9, 2016

Peaceful Cookies

Came home with some cookies and leftover breakfast.

I should probably be stressing since finals is tomorrow (today... 5 hours from now). But in fairness I'm just not feeling it. I studied and learned as much as I can and so far I am successful.

I am able to skip two of my finals from sheer work and now I'm eating a cookie.

It's a really peaceful cookie.

The Absurd

I was walking home when I received a text from a good friend. She told me that there was breakfast in 2AM and it was open to me if I was to wait outside in 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) weather.

This wasn't the first time I waited outside so I went along with it. While waiting a I sat under a tree alone in the dark and watched lights go off one by one. The play Waiting for Godot arose in my mind and I started to remember the story of Estragon and Vladimir. Except lonelier.

This time it was truly dark. No stars. No lights. No people. Just me. I sat and asked of the existence and actions of God. Not necessarily because I really wanted to but because it's what I do whenever my mind wanders and it's dark. I look in philosophy and find a deeper truth. I started asking about meaning and asking why?

And I decided to change the basis of my argument, to devolve to my skeptical agnostic self and ask him why? That if there was no meaning to the universe then what am I doing and why am I acting in opposition to the meaningless of the universe?

(Am I having an existential crisis... yeah probably but it's just a phase and this is my blog so let me have my moment.)

I've concluded that it's okay. That regardless of being an agnostic or even an atheist, it is important to assert meaning in opposition to the universe to be happy. That rather than sulking in nihilism, we need to imagine or experience joys in an otherwise indifferent universe to feel joy. Now that doesn't mean we should live in denial or forget about it, but it's good to still act against it. As one of my agnostic friends put it, "We live in an indifferent universe, but I choose not to be." Even with extreme repetitive dull tasks, we can find meaning and joy simply by believing otherwise. Not through denial but by believing another path that can bring joy; theism or pleasure or some other activity that brings meaning to you... etc.

Back to theism.

Heads up I do believe in a God. But I conduct thought experiments whenever I'm bored and sometimes it helps to get the full picture when I'm not in that mindset. Not to say that a theistic mindset restricts me, because this belief (like all other beliefs) in itself is its own universe of morality and greatness. But there are other ways to think. There are people who disagree with my beliefs and to keep going it is necessary for me to understand why they believe that way to strengthen my beliefs and gain better understanding and love towards others. Using relative morality, we are better able to tolerate or understand why others see their beliefs as being morally right.

Unfortunately not everyone sees it that way. I've been confronted by a few, who claim that trying to understand the 'opposition' is weakness and can lead in wavering beliefs. There might be some truth to it because in a way it is challenge to your beliefs, but then I ask isn't it worse to choose not to love and live in ignorance of others?

Sometimes I hate living in Mormonville... It's very skewed from my thoughts. I ran into this quote a while back, "God is dead and humanity killed him" -Neitzsche. Of course I don't think he's actually dead but I think we are killing his teachings. If we keep letting it be distorted by human motives and bias then the true meaning of religion wavers.

50 minutes passed. I was sitting under a tree. Still looking up at empty stars. She came out with breakfast and talked about life.

Saturday, December 3, 2016


You know that moment when you can feel the impending academic doom around the corner?

That is the feeling of finals week. It's not like AP Testing where you know the material more and you can use the teacher as a resource, in this case it's more difficult because you don't know the staff and you don't really have any friends to take it with.

It's lonely, weird, and I can feel the stress is within my fingertips.

2 more weeks though. After this hell, I'll be home.

I'm almost home.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

I was editing for 12 hours straight.

YEAH THAT'S RIGHT!! I'm a videographer too!

It was really fun. As painful and as long as it was, it was a pleasure.

I was only able to film and edit video in sophomore year of high school but ever since then, I always saw it as a fun project. I remember leaving my old high school and not wanting to leave. I was so much in denial that I convinced some teachers to accept me in some junior/senior classes. And though it was difficult for me to do as an underclassman it was a pleasure.

My teacher for writing 150 assigned this digital summary for a paper that we have already written. And the medium that I chose was naturally a video. Almost everyone else chose to just write their summaries as a blog, but look at this try-hard (me) he chose to do a video. In my defense I don't think I was really trying that hard considering that in my head being a filmmaker is one of my dead dreams.

I once had the desire to pursue it. I had the skills to do it. I knew how to be successful at it. But I just chose not to be.

As painful as it might sound, it truly was a pleasure.

Here's the link to that video if you'd like to see
It's about Judicial Activism and I put a Thanksgiving note at the very end. Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Move Forward

Let's go.

Life is hitting me pretty hard right now. With finals, and midterms, and essays, and drama galore; it just keeps on piling on. It's hard I know but I've been through harder.

I've complained, I've rebelled, and I've had my fair share of sadness and regret. But that's over now.

It's time to keep moving.

It's not going to be easy but most things in life worth doing isn't. Oh let my heart hold fast, for this soon shall pass.

I'm not going to let this fall affect me. There's more to me than what people define me as, and it's my time to prove it.

Let's go.

It's Snowing

It's been a while since I felt it fall onto my face.

People came out and started celebrating like something glorious and incredible and white was coming our way.

It was 12:30 at night. And people were dancing outside like the second coming was about to begin. Maybe I'm just being cynical but I don't understand why. At this point I just want to go to bed.

I can't wait for thanksgiving. My family is almost here and I've missed them a lot.

For once i think I just want to keep to myself. It feels darker and colder and there's so many questions that it buries me to the ground.

The Snow's falling. It's blanketing the ground. And it keeps getting darker.

But that's okay. As dark as it may be sometimes...'s always darkest before the dawn.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Am I Overreacting?

Let's do some political analysis on democracy with an emphasis on minority rights.

First off consider all six aspects of our democracy. This includes (1) Separation of Powers, (2) Checks and Balances, (3) Federalism, (4) Majority Rule, (5) Minority Rights, and (6) Judicial Review.

Let's look at the first two and ask a simple question. Are they working? Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances can only exist if there is an opposition by an opposing party in a different branch of government. If we look at the results, Republicans control every aspect of government. So no they aren't working.

A rebuttal to this argument is that not all Republicans support him therefore they won't accept all of his beliefs. Please notice the key word "all." The flaw in this statement is that though that is true, there will be some of Trump's policies that will pass very quickly. If I may list a few:

-Restrictions on or overturning Obergefell v. Hodges (gay marriage).
-Repeal and replace Obamacare (removing insurance from 15 million Americans).
-Extreme vetting for Muslims, refugees, and most immigrants.
-Build a wall (this is a joke, it won't pass but they can deport more people, increase border patrol, and restrict visas which can happen).
-Confirm an alternative right judge (opposite of progressive left, think of the anti-Bernie).
-Say goodbye to privacy and abortion rights (Sorry but under law these are intertwined together, privacy with abortion or no privacy and abortion rights).
-Expansion of corporate prisons and the death penalty.
-Removing equal pay and equal opportunity for women, and LGBTQ.
-Removing or severely limiting affirmative action.
-Creation of more Voter ID laws and voting requirements to restrict Millennials.

And is there anyone able to defend these? No. No there isn't. It'll all go the right with no restrictions. There won't be any compromise. There won't be any mercy. Just swift destruction of progressive policies.

Judicial Review can't help when it's also in control of the majority party. And it's actually worse considering that Chief Roberts is a conservative who practices judicial activism.

With no aspect of democracy protecting minority rights, it is easy to suppress their voice. Therefore I am still afraid.

I Am Afraid

I am afraid.

Truly, genuinely afraid.

I'm at a loss for words at our country has just done.

Politics shouldn't make me fear for my future. It shouldn't make me feel ashamed of where I am. It shouldn't make me fear of expressing my opinion or losing every value I hold dear.

Today 18 transgenders in San Francisco killed themselves. Today 2 Somalians were beaten for the color of their skin. Today Muslims were told not to wear a Hijab. Today 119 women were raped. Today I was called to "go back to where you came from!"

Today I had 4 panic attacks and I'm scared.

People question why there's riots and protests going on right now. They say it's irrational. But at the moment, it's all we can do. Be irrational... and live in fear. Minority rights are under attack and we're scared.

Monday, November 7, 2016

My Days

So college is pretty cool so far.

I'm a statistics major but hey let's change it up to finance major and triple minor with economics, statistics, and management.

I'm an ambitious weirdo. First off that will probably not happen but hey at least I have a goal. Though unrealistic I'm fairly optimistic.

I'm high on life.

The sun is shining, I can keep on smiling, and if you look closeup, life is going up and up.

Passed two midterms.

Made food.

Doing homework.

And as I'm about to leave for school again it hit me.

I looked in my mirror and I found him. Look at that college student in the mirror. That college student. In a new state, with some new strangers, with hobbies and classes he loved. He's an adult. And he seems happy.

I am happy.

Prophecies and Me

Now that we're done talking about the abstract, since I'm a selfish butt sometimes, let's talk about me.

(The last part maybe? If you haven't read the first two parts please scroll down to the beginning of this story 2 posts ago.)

How does one know whether or not to serve a mission? The answer is actually quite simple. You pray about it. 

In the last few weeks I’ve been praying consistently to whether or not I should serve a mission. When I started praying I felt a lot of nothing. As I kept going days went by, soon a few weeks went by and I started to become angry and cynical. I’m at a loss for words, I felt like Heavenly Father was my friend and he left. I cried unto him and I felt like I’ve committed mistakes to the point where I didn’t deserve him in my life. I wanted to ask him where is he? And why wasn’t he answering my question? For a few days I felt lost. I didn’t pray I started to think that prayer didn’t help and it was selfish of me. It wasn’t until I started this assignment that I felt like I found my answer. When I prayed to him one more time I believed I received an answer. I prayed the way that was honest and simple. I spoke informally. I asked him directly and in a moment of sheer silence I felt a calm like he was there embracing me. That same night I prayed again and I asked whether or not I should serve a mission and again I felt nothing. Confused, I decided to ponder that night and sleep to find out what this nothingness might mean in the morning. I woke up, refreshed, prayed one more time and I received an answer. The same one, but this time it was more than that. It’s hard to explain that there was something out of nothingness (the same way Jesus created the world) however at that moment I felt like it wasn’t the right time, and that’s what he’s been telling me the whole time. It’s not that I shouldn’t serve a mission, but right now it is not in the Lord’s plan for me to go. The next day (today), I decided to change my question to something more, “if it is not my mission to preach the Gospel in other places, what do you want me to do? What do you expect of me? What do you want me to pray for?” Fortunately my answer came immediately. I started doing my homework and instantly I felt joy (strange I know). It was at that moment, I felt like he wanted me to better the world in other ways through education by educating myself, and more importantly, helping others through what I’ve learned. From this answer I decided to change my majors/minors I know can benefit others. It won’t be an easy class benefitting just me, it won’t be a class that sacrifices talents for convenience, it’ll challenge me a lot and I’m scared. It’s not going to be easy but I know it’s what Heavenly Father wants me to do, and through him I will find strength to persevere and succeed. 

Now this doesn't mean I'll never serve a mission because it may happen if I feel prompted to go, but what it does mean is that for right now it is not part of Heavenly Father's plan for me to go. 

Oh also I fasted about it today and I think it reaffirmed this answer. If anything, I think this can also be interpreted as trying to spread my roots deeper in the Gospel. 

Let me explain. 

In the Book of Mormon there is one original allegory, which is the allegory of the Olive Tree (Jacob 5). In it contains an image that can be seen as a prophecy that in the restoration the tops of the trees are outgrowing its roots. Meaning though we are baptizing a lot, it is meaningless if they don't develop their own testimonies. Saying that spirituality and intellect should be the church's dominant feature, not a membership count. It is no wonder why we currently have the lowest growth rate in the last 70 years at 1.7%, we are sending young boys who may not have experience to teach strangers about things that seems stranger because they may not even understand it. This is why motivation is important. Because regardless of one's knowledge, their motivation can define how it'll shape the lives of others and themselves.

Huh... Maybe that is my mission. To better help the world, maybe I'm here to strengthen other people's roots and my own. Though not as a formal mission, this place seems as good a place as any to just cultivate our roots. 

Motives to Fly Away

So what are motives to go on a mission?

(By the way this is a part two of the other post but I'm posting it in parts because I believe it would simplify it like segmenting a market in homogeneous groups.)

There are many reasons to go with the most emphasized one being because you have a desire to go and you feel you are commanded to go on a mission. In what I once believed as an ideal world, this is the only motivation to go on a mission and because it is genuinely good, they should go on a mission.

However I was soon proven wrong.

There are other reasons to why people go on missions. For simplicity I will refer specifically to guys (I'm not doing this because I am sexist or anything of the sort, because I'm not sexist, but only to simplify an already complicated topic because of lack of time).

Let's be realistic and intellectual. Other reasons why guys go on missions are because they feel obligated to go, even if they have no desire to go. Peer pressured into going because everyone else is. Going on a mission for husband points because they know it's easier to get married as an RM (returned missionary). They go to other to other nations to run away from their old lives for solace. And flirt to convert others into the church.

Just to list a few.

I didn't know some of these existed until I arrived in BYU. In fact, there are even some who are blatantly lying to their stake presidents (church leader) so that the can go even though most of their friends know they are unworthy. And that's sad... A mission is supposed to be a sacred action between you and the Lord, where you fulfill his work. Confounding His doctrines with the hopes of marriage or to flirt with others is wrong. It's not only sacrilegious but it's also disgusting that they would use something as sacred as this as a strategy to sleep with someone. And unfortunately some RM's pull it off.

Myth: If you're a returned missionary, you're so much more mature and holier than everyone else. Please excuse my language but that's bullshit. Sure it may mean you have sacrificed a part of your life to the Lord and that's honorable but does not guarantee that you are more spiritual than anyone else on campus. It's simply an additional experience. In three months I've met good RM's and ones that I later reported to the honor code office for lewd behavior and sexual misconduct, and others that though didn't do anything explicitly wrong have disgusted me to the core. For instance, I've met groups who degraded women to tally marks, groups who would imagine/brag sexual positions with their female friends for entertainment and one guy who said, "the church should excommunicate anyone who disagrees with me," and, "at first I thought I was an atheist but nah I'm a god."

Of course this does not mean that all RM's are like this, these are extreme examples and we shouldn't base assumptions by extrapolating on outliers. There are a lot of great returned missionaries who I love and are currently my best friends. But regardless of whether or not they served a mission it DOES NOT MAKE THEM EXEMPTED from the temptations and sins in the world.

On a lighter tone others go on a mission because they feel peer pressured or obligated to go. And if that's the case then I don't think that's enough of a reason to go. This is 10% of your life, if you don't feel comfortable going to the church you are only going to feel angry and frustrated with the church for leaving you in a place you don't know. It wouldn't be a fulfilling moment but rather a moment that you'll regret. As awesome as a mission is, if you don't have your own intrinsic desire to go then it is a mistake that will ruin your testimony and it wouldn't convert anyone. If you don't have a strong testimony or desire to go then this isn't a spiritual experience, this is an experience that will only deter one from the truth.

If you do want to go on a mission and genuinely want to go, then it is right for you. It can bring so many blessings to you and generations upon generations of people.


First of all some background. I'm a Mormon (just in case my name didn't make it obvious enough). Anywho in our church we have this tradition when a guy turns 18, where he has the obligation to serve a mission. First off, notice I said obligation. Meaning it is not necessarily required because it is our choice to whether or not we should go. Secondly a mission is a two year trip/quest/adventure where we proselyte and serve the Lord through service and preaching the Gospel.

As most of you probably already know or can imagine, there are criticisms to this action.

Why do you want to go?
What's so important about it?
Isn't that expensive?
You're sacrificing way too much for your God aren't you?
Is it worth it?
What's your motivation?
Is it because you want to or because others are telling you to?

Of course it's easy to dismiss these criticisms however that wouldn't make us a smarter generation only an ignorant one. And I hate that because that means I don't know what I'm talking about.

So let's address them.

I want to go because it's what I'm commanded to do, and I believe it would help generations upon generations to come to the church, while also strengthening my own testimony. It's important because it has the capacity to bring joy, faith, and love in other people's lives that they may not have experienced before. Yes, it is expensive and self-funded but totally worth it. If God gave me my life, then is giving him 10% (of it so far) so much of a sacrifice. And finally the tipping point is the motivation.

Maybe not as emphasized in the church but this is the concept that can destroy an entire mission, a testimony, and the lives of everyone around you.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Who Are You?

There's a lot of people everywhere.

I'm sure you're cool or perfect in your own little way. But you're not the only one.

Everyone in this college or university is special and has done things just as amazing if not more than you. Maybe there's times when it's hard to accept that but it's true.

This thought used to scare me. That I am in a place where I know I am not special.
Then homework and academics kicked me back into gear. In fairness I don't really mind that thought anymore. If anything I can have real meaningful conversations with the strangers I meet on a daily basis. We don't just spew a random talk about the weather or a sports game because in a way we know there's a million billion better things to talk about. Of course let's be real here, not everyone is like that, and if you want to meet the shallow, douche, and/or tool category, simply go to building nine (inside joke sorry). But what I'm trying to say is that it can be so much better than a comparison of beliefs and talents because that will only bring contention or regret or just self-pity. Rather we can grow from all of our backgrounds to become people that we are proud of. Because isn't that why we're here in college?

To learn and experiment and grow and find ourselves and succeed... among other things.

After a while I guess I just learned to stop comparing because it's not helping me. As Mark Twain once said, "Comparison is the death of joy."

I learn a lot from other people and it's really nice. I hope I'm turning into someone I like.

ALSO names... I can never remember them. There's approximately 30,000 students on campus, I struggle with that. But it's okay because if you give them a fake name like "Voltron," "Thunder Cheeks," or "Stormaggeddon," they'll think you're cool and give you a high-five anyway.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Pshhhhh Love? Try Friends.

Am I in a relationship? No. Unless you count friendships.

Do I want to be? Sometimes.

Do I want to be married? No, at least not yet.

I have a few best friends in my life, and fortunately one of them is on campus. She's pretty cool and we hang out literally everyday. CORRECTION almost**. But you get the idea. It's nothing serious, it's like every friendship. We hang out. Make jokes. Study together. Take drives. Regular stuff.

Personally I don't think I'm in love with her (or with anyone for that matter).

However we fulfill each other's desire to have a friend or at least someone to talk to. And though there's times we disagree, we're happy just being here.

Love is weird. People romanticize it for a grand quartet of roses, flowers, sonnets, and maybe a literal string quartet. However I don't think reality works that way. Maybe it does for some people and I don't want to discredit that, they could be feeling it because they met this awesome life-changing person, but I just don't think she's currently in my life (at least not that I know of). Therefore I just keep on moving and be happy.

Lately people have been telling me that being in a relationship is a requirement to be happy, to that I say, BULL. At the moment, I'm starving and as long as there's food in my dorm, I am happy. Secondly, though some people believe that, I think it's only because it's just their desire to have companionship or to finally connect with someone they care about. And if that's true, I'd like to argue that you don't need to be in a relationship to do that.

All you need is a good friend.

Because no matter how awesome or sucky your day has been, they always know how to make you smile again. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Me Me Me

Recently my midterms ended. OR SO I THOUGHT! It never does. 

It's okay though, I've found my groove, I've found my friends and I know how to study so it's going great.

I've been smiling more.

Even though I haven't been seeing my friends a lot, when I do see them, I wouldn't trade those experiences away. 

A couple of nights ago, we walked under a waterfall and saw the stars diffracted in the waves. It was beautiful under there. We cuddled for warmth, and it felt like I wasn't alone, even though I knew they won't stay.

We left early because we heard there were clowns in the area. FRICKIN CLOWNS. And then we trekked back to our homes. 

3217. Home sweet home.

For a while I felt satisfied with the loneliness of my existence. In fact, until I was 14, I preferred it. In my defense, I have more time for myself, I have time to think, and it gives me the opportunity to do the things I want to do, rather than follow what everyone else thinks is cool.

I guess I was just starting to miss people.

Sunday, October 16, 2016


I'm sitting on a chair.
And I'm playing with my hair.
I'm looking out the window.
It's 3 am, and all I see is a rainbow.
I'm tired and exhausted.
And all I feel is the pain in my head.
I'm supposed to be thinking about chemistry.
But I'm writing and thinking about something weird or just plain poetry.
Or maybe it's just because I'm hungry.

Harrison gave me a cookie earlier.
He's a cool guy.
Sometimes deep and makes me want to cry.
I should go back to work, before it becomes later.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Skepticism and Faith

            Last night I was talking downstairs with this other student, and he wondered how some people can have faith while doing so many things contrary to their beliefs. Consider this quote by Pres. Boyd K Packer, “Save for the exception of the very few who defect to perdition, there is no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no apostasy, no crime exempted from the promise of complete forgiveness and your capacity to forgive. That is the promise of the atonement of Christ.” And because of that, it gave me faith that at the very least this church was the one going in the right direction.
            One aspect of faith that most people forget is free agency and our ability to see things in different perspectives. Consider this parable that I sorta made up. Imagine there are two guys in a bar in the Canadian wilderness. One is religious, the other is an atheist, and they are debating about the existence of a God with the intense honesty you can only get after your fourth diet soda. The atheist says to him, “it’s not like I don’t have my reasons or I’ve never experimented with the whole God thing. Just last month I was stuck in a blizzard and I prayed to any and every God that if he would save me from that blizzard, I would believe in a God.” The religious man responds with, “then you do believe in a God, don’t you?” he responds with, “No, there just happened to be Eskimos walking by at the same time that saved my life.” The purpose of this mini parable is to show you that regardless of Heavenly Father’s work and miracles in the world around us, there’s always a choice to believe or not to believe in him. Now that doesn’t make free agency a bad thing, but we need to realize its role in opposition. In a naturalistic perspective, free agency isn’t about spiritual dogma; it’s simply truth. That regardless of being an atheist or a theist this is one of God’s gifts that no one can ever deny. That you have a choice. Regardless of faith or evidence, you can decide what has meaning in your life. If you currently don’t have a testimony, I’d advise to look up 2 Nephi 2:25, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” One of the reasons why I believe in the church is because that’s what Heavenly Father wants from us. Because contrary to the bleak beliefs of atheism, I believe and have faith in free agency and the plan of salvation because ultimately Heavenly Father wants us all to be happy.
            I’m not sure if you are aware of this but the idea of faith is being attacked. One of the fastest growing demographics is called the “The Ominous Rise of the ‘None’ [or nothing].” Basically atheism and agnosticism for 18-30 years olds has risen from 12% to 33% in the last 7 years. And that’s sad because now there are so many who are willing to give up this chance to find truth... and it feels like I should always be doing something more. Most of my friends back home were atheists too and I pray for them whenever I can. I told them about this statistic and I asked them what made them believe there is no God. They called us by one name and it stung like hell. They are atheists because they believe the ones who do believe in a God are hypocrites.
            I’m going to simplify for right now, but they called us this because in their experience, they thought we weren’t acting in faith. “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (James 2:17). It is not enough for you to have faith or to hope for things, which are not seen, which are true. You have to act by faith too. To be clear, this means following the Lord’s commandments. This means loving one another. This means having the capacity to forgive. When I was 15, though I didn’t have a testimony at the time, I stayed in the church because I believed that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints had the greatest capacity to hope, to love and to forgive. So please don’t make a liar out of me. Another way we can exercise faith is through love and acceptance. Because isn’t that how Jesus Christ taught us? As Elder Oaks said, “The gospel of Jesus Christ is based on love, respect, and agency,” so shouldn’t we preach or go though our lives with love, respect and agency too? That was my friend’s complaint. If we were really taught to love and respect one another, then why don’t we show it more often? Now I don’t necessarily mean this directly towards you, however we are part of the same environment that has allowed it to exist. Though you may not be part of the problem, you can be a part of the solution by preaching the way Heavenly Father wants us to; not by Bible-bashing or hate, but by love. That is our obligation, no, our responsibility to having faith; by defending it and maintaining its integrity, without degrading theirs.
            Now of course, it’s good to mention that we’re not the only faith in the world, so what should we do? There’s missionary work going right now and that’s pretty cool, but I’m not serving a mission right now, so what should I do? One way we can spread the teachings of Jesus Christ is by leading with religious tolerance. Just because we believe we have the most complete religion, doesn’t necessarily make theirs wrong. For example, let me read you a passage from the Qur’an, “So let not this present life deceive you from the truth and glory that is the Lord thy God” (Surah Fatir 5). In the Torah it mention, “You must repeatedly give your brother and let not your heart to feel bad when you give him because of this your deed, the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all the labor of your hands” (Deuteronomy 15:10). The verse from the Qur’an teaches us that we must keep our eye single to the glories of the Lord. The verse from the Torah teaches us to have charity for our fellow man. And aren’t these teachings true? Just because other religions may not be as complete as ours, that doesn’t make them wrong. In my research looking for the main themes of each religion, what I found was something unexpected. That almost all of them preach the same three themes: love, respect, and hope. That is what faith is centered around, so shouldn’t we give them the respect they deserve? This past year has been filled with an intense negativity towards religion. To those who wish to restrict someone’s civil rights because of their faith, I need to say, how dare you politicize a religion you know nothing about. Trying to remove them because of simply what they believe in. Regardless of your reasoning, it will give off the same effect, that you are taking away someone’s agency to believe, that you are ostracizing others from believing in any God in general. It took me 17 years to find joy and faith in our church, how dare you try to take away theirs. That’s not what Heavenly Father wants from us. He does want us to preach and proselyte the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world, but not in a way that will deter them from the truth.
            Now of course, I’m not saying that this is the only right way or that this is how you should live your life, because it’s hard. There are different ways to think in these situations, and depending on the person you are dealing with, it can even be the opposite. But if I let myself get stuck in that default setting that my faith and my desires and my needs are more important everyone else’s, I’m only going to feel angry and frustrated with the world around me. It’s possible to believe that the Lord loves every one of us, and that they are only committing sins because it’s the only way they were taught. It’s possible to believe that, that one jerk in your hall is actually just suffering from homesickness and depression, and is only acting out because they don’t know how to handle the stress. It’s possible to believe that, that slow guy in traffic just went through a major car accident, and the only way he can feel safe is to drive 5 miles below the speed the limit in a huge SUV. Now of course, these things aren’t likely, but they’re not impossible either. If I choose to not act in faith, to not show love towards my fellow man, if I stay in the default setting to love only those who agree with me, then how am I making the world a better place? Now I don’t want to discredit the difficulty of doing these things, because they’re hard. To be honest there will be times when people challenge your faith to an extent where you flat out won’t want to love. But if we are diligent, if we maintain the integrity of our beliefs and honor them, I promise you that in any situation, you can feel the spirit in your life. It will actually be within your power to be in a congested consumer hell type situation and feel the love and hope and charity with the same intensity as he who lit the stars.
            This probably isn’t the happy-go-lucky kind of post you were expecting from me. What this is, is the truth with a whole lot of rhetorical niceties stripped away. Because isn’t that the reason why we repeating lessons and morals throughout our lives? So that in the end of the day we can tell ourselves, over and over, this is the truth. This is the truth. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Marriage talks

Ok wow, You'll be amazed at how much pressure there is to get married. In every other college it's, "hey don't get pregnant! Be careful! Carry a rape whistle!" But here it's normal to hear a parent say, "Don't get married, remember you've only been there for a month!"

Ay yi yi....

You know what the biggest turn off is? On the first date, going to their favorite chapel/temple, then listening to when, where, and how they want to get married. And if you're really lucky they'll tell you how many kids they want and their names. First off let me say that, THAT IS TERRIFYING. I can't even correctly fold laundry, let alone handle kids or a marriage!

I am but a wee 18 year old student. And maybe it's just me but that's not what I'm looking for at the moment. Even though apparently that's what everyone else wants right now!!! As a result of this contrast of beliefs, it led me to miss one of my dearest best friends, let's call her C. She's really cool and she is the very definition of what it means to be a feminist. I told her some of this situation and she sent me a sonnet to counter all of this pro-marriage propaganda.

A wench does oft dream of a long white veil,
To walk along an aisle unto a man.
But I, forsooth, shall never come to fail
To scape that fate of hell as best I can.

I can’t forsee myself committing aye.
I thus must say it’ll be over my corse.
To say I’ll be content would be a lie.
Alas, I’m apt to likely show remorse.

For ev’n if I met one with wit and brains,
I guarantee we’d fall apart in years.
The time would leave me heavy and with pain.
And being a wife, reducing me to tears.

Mark this, I know that marriage can exist.

But me, it seems it wouldn’t be the best.

Thank you C, and now since it's too early in the morning, goodnight.

Academic prostitution

Selling yourself to the school. That's basically what it is, and as weird as it sounds, it's necessary for you to have a good future. I'm not really sure how this all started but if I were to guess, it began when everyone started to act more seriously.

Let me explain.

In elementary school and middle school, there was no real academic pressure. The only real struggle was fitting in and finding real friends or making sure you're not in the bottom of the imaginary and now obsolete hierarchy that once held us all in captivity. It's hard to believe that those memories are almost five years ago. Oh well.

In high school things changed more towards academic prostitution where you learn exactly who the good teachers are and how to bribe them or at least suck up to them. I don't really know why or how, but all of the sudden, "BAAAAMMM." People changed. Our priorities changed and we weren't focused on a hierarchy at all. Academic took over us. In the first few weeks, we were still all glittery and new like the shrink wrap on a new ream of papers, giving us a new feeling of curiosity and excitement. But soon that changed as fast as it started, and we were all trying to impress one another. The hierarchy fell and all that mattered is whether or not you managed to be smarter or better or faster than those you once called your friends. Because now it's a competition. And academic prostitution was the way to win. Now it's not always like that of course. They were still my friends and we still had fun, but never before did my friendships have an academically competitive edge.

Before I left high school one of my favorite teachers told me that, "no matter how smart you may think you are, it doesn't matter because you're about to go to a college where everyone else is just as smart if not smarter than you." And he was right.

I was very intimidated. And quite frankly, terrified.

Soon I discovered that it's okay, because you know what? Everyone else is too. We were all going through the same thing and I realized that friendships and academics can go together in the same direction. They are proportional in that I can let my friendships flourish and let my grades rise and IT CAN WORK. I'm not disregarding the difficulty in this, because it truly is hard. But it's not impossible either.

However that doesn't mean we are successful. We sold our identity and voice to our classes in hopes to raise our grades or network with the right people. I don't want to justify this because it's wrong, but it's necessary to be successful. I made a point that friendships and academics can be proportional, however it comes with a price. I am selling myself to my school. I do my best, I bite my tongue, I hold my breath, I work harder, I walk faster, I make it in time, I suck it up, I type my resume, and I pray that they accept me. And I think in a sense we all do this. To our bosses or our parents or our teachers or our god(s) or to whoever you hold in a position of authority. We voluntarily give up our individuality for these models and hope that everything works out. One of my church leaders said that, "we are not obedient because we are blind, we are obedient because we can see." And I do think there is some merits in his words, but again I need to ask if the sacrifice is really worth it.

I am committing academic prostitution in hopes that I'll be successful. That's reality. And whether or not that is wrong, chances are we're all doing it.

Sunday, October 9, 2016


I apologize for not posting in the last few weeks, I have been busy with my very first midterms (YAAAAAAAYYYY but not really), and now that that's done I hope I can keep on writing.

If my absence seemed like I hated blogging or anything like that, I did not intend for it to have that impression. My goal is to write to help release my thoughts in a medium that does not feel restricting (i.e. through blogging), that is why I write and I don't plan on stopping soon. If I disappointed you due to the lack of posting then I am deeply sorry. However I plan on continuing and I hope you like my thoughts.

Friday, September 23, 2016

My opinion editorial

This is really long, feel free to skip this but I would really recommend reading it

The Makings of a Man
In fourth grade, there was a young boy, for now let’s call him Lee, who was quiet and unable to speak. Lee wasn’t mute or deaf; he simply didn’t know the language or the culture so he was silent. One day, Lee was walking home from school with a Yu-Gi-Oh lunch box when another student approached him and said what Lee believed were a few nice words. “Go back to where you came from!” The student took his lunchbox, threw it at the pavement, and proceeded to make fun of Lee’s accent and height. That was his best friend. Over time, I have thought about this situation and asked many things that would insult Lee’s “best friend,” until I considered why he did that to him. Let’s call this best friend Johnny. Johnny was the oldest of three children and at home he is left tending to his family. At about 5:30 every night, his father comes home, drinks a can of sprite, and tells him repeatedly to, “shut up idiot! Leave me alone.” Later I ask myself, did he ever stand a chance? Boys and men alike, whether at home or in college, RM’s or not, are exposed to hyper-masculinity. Hyper-masculinity is synonymous to Masculinity, which is defined as qualities or characteristics of a man, but perverts it by over emphasizing it. However boys are left trying to define these qualities with the examples of a bully and father who may or may not be there for them because they tell them to, “shut up,” “be a man,” or “suck it up,” etc. Hyper-masculinity and the lack of real role models lead boys to feel insecure about their masculinity, forcing them to prove themselves constantly through what they perceive as manly, such as aggression and objectification of women. We as a society needs to stop hyper-masculinity by showing affection, spreading awareness of this problem, and giving boys the ability to freely express their emotions. Otherwise they will most often only hurt themselves and the people around them through violence, sexual aggression, and low self-esteem because of unrealistic standards.
Boys who did not grow up with a good father figure or role model are left trying to define masculinity on their own. Typically whenever a child, specifically a boy, cries, it’s easy to tell him to, “Man up,” or to, “get over it.” However this gives children the perception that emotions will make one weak. Let’s go back to the original story. Johnny didn’t have a real role model in his life because the only father figure he had is one who emotionally tormented him to silence, and aggression towards Lee. Society sees masculinity as having the core beliefs of:
·      Toughness as a form of emotional control
·      Violence and danger are exciting and should be taught early
·      Acceptance to being callous to women and sex
By saying these traditional words of being a man, boys were left trying to define their own masculinity through these societal norms. This creates the impression that these acts listed above are not only acceptable but also necessary to become a man. Looking back, it’s hard for me to blame Johnny for anything, since all he knew were these beliefs. If we were all taught to ignore these emotions and use toughness as a form of emotional control, then wouldn’t it be natural for us to use toughness to gain a (somewhat abusive) friendship with Lee too? Now of course everyone has a choice to whether or not they should obey these standards, that’s what free-agency is for, however typically whenever one falls away from these unspoken standards, it’s easy to just call them a mama’s boy, or a baby, or simply weak. The idea of being seen as weak or as a baby starts from the very beginning of boyhood and follows us for the rest of our lives.
Hyper-masculinity isn’t just in the workplace or on campus but can also manifest in the family setting and media, and affect their views on everyone around them. According to UNI, “boys learn in their families, and later, from their peers, to suppress emotions they actually feel by acting out anger whether they feel it or not.” The idea of masculinity, though usually never explicitly defined in the household, follows boys throughout their lives, starting at home then to their peers, denying boys the opportunity to truly express how they feel. When I asked my parents about this topic, often they don’t realize what they are doing. They were merely telling me this to get me to stop crying, or make me be quiet. However, I don’t think parents know the implications these words may have on children if they are not also taught with love or support. Without this, “men are often distant and aloof to avoid effective communication.” From these experiences, it can affect boys in their relationships and dating because it gives boys the rationale that being distant and okay because it helps avoid effective communication. Now I’m sure there’s a lot of people who are willing to testify that boys can be jerks (or other maybe more profane words), however it’s good to note that maybe it’s just because they weren’t taught any other way. This bizarre situation only sets them up for failure. By being cold and aloof they succeed in fulfilling societal standards, yet they fail in creating lasting friendships. Or they do create lasting friendships but have self-inflicting thoughts because they might see themselves as being weak or “girly” for talking about something real.
Hyper-masculinity also appears in technology and media. Over time, the Internet, and video games specifically, have been portraying men as these violent aloof characters. Take Master Chief from the Halo Franchise. Throughout the series of the game, he kills a few million aliens, forms very few friendships (his closest one being with his own A.I.), and almost never talks about how he feels. If these are the type of role models kids have growing up, then it can easily affect boys to see violence and lack of emotions as a norm. Going further, in some cases, it may even desensitize boys to violence and lead them to perform such acts to prove themselves a man. Though it is clear that hyper-masculinity can negatively affect boys, some critics disagree.
Some people believe that masculinity and hyper-masculinity are necessary to create strong leaders so that boys are capable of, “getting back up from anything,” (Cypher) and so they can be viewed as strong. However, though critics may have good intentions, it is flawed in that they are working under the assumption that being seen as strong and performing acts of hyper-masculinity is what boys want from an early age. Often people teach kids only one way of masculinity which can lead to these negative impacts, and therefore are ignorant of any other way of learning masculinity. Sometimes people teach these things to kids with the intention of making them stronger but their beliefs supersedes what the child actually wants for himself, and thus they forget to include the child in the discussion. They could be right, however by forcing them to follow and blindly obey without the child’s insight or consent, he is unable to truly be himself but rather just a product of his parents and what society wants from him. Also it gives the child an additional pressure to behave the way he is expected, and when he can’t fulfill these roles, he is left feeling ashamed, inflicting himself with harmful thoughts that cause lower self-esteem. If taught or forced to abide by hyper-masculine views, a child may have difficulty accepting others and himself throughout his life.
            Hyper-masculinity can cause desensitization to sexual aggression, violence, and reckless disregard for themselves and the people around them primarily through the exposure to porn. Though not as explicit in BYU, one topic hyper-masculinity may affect is men’s reaction towards the objectification of women, porn and rape. First off, let’s talk about porn. I don’t want to grasp that because of solely hyper-masculinity, Utah is the #1 porn subscriber and viewer of the nation, because obviously there’s more than one reason to why that is. But for right now, let’s focus on one specifically. The talk. The birds and the bees. The awkward question of where do babies come from. In the state of Utah, sexual education is strictly abstinence based. There are even districts who are unwilling to talk about homosexuality, extra/premarital sex, contraceptives or anything relating to how one actually makes a baby. Of course there might be pros to this situation, however because kids aren’t taught those things, and since most parents are very awkward or unwilling to have this discussion, kids refer to the Internet for advice. Spoiler alert, this is where porn comes in. Through hyper-masculinity, it leads boys to feel unsafe or uncomfortable when talking to their peers, because they don’t want to be told to shut up. So instead of confronting their problems, in this case of sexual curiosity, they look to the Internet. And because of the lack of sexual education, unfortunately pornography becomes their sexual education… And what lies there, is far from what they are looking for. What they find isn’t at all related to love or sex, but rather a demonic form of domination, submission, and normalized sexual brutality over the partner. And since most likely he has no sexual experiences prior to that, it creates the assumption that this is what is right to do and that this is what women want in a man, which is crazy. Comparing themselves to porn is not only wrong, but also will also set them up for failure due to unrealistic expectations since porn is not real life, causing lower self-esteem in young men. Nationally, 93% of young boys (before 18 yrs. old) are exposed to Internet porn, 68% of them watch porn weekly, and 21% watch porn daily (UNH). Through this excessive viewing of hazardous entertainment, boys are desensitized and may be left embracing this as a norm. From the lack of a role model it causes boys to rely on the Internet for guidance, and instead of having a true father figure they are instead left developing a relationship with a computer in isolation. Ok, let’s be realistic here. Having a good father figure doesn’t necessarily stop one from falling into that temptation. Most people on campus are probably raised with a good father figure or role model, however even then it is still an awkward topic that most parents are unable to fully teach. Take the law of chastity for example, every young teacher knows that this is probably one of the most awkward or hardest lessons in the year to teach and it’s not their fault. It’s because of this strange taboo around sex and our unwillingness to have a mature conversation about it, and until we are able to confront and talk about this as adults, we are unable to overcome this problem of hyper-masculinity and its relations to porn. Unfortunately, porn isn’t where this conversation stops.
Hyper-masculinity also affects men’s view on women and the objectification of women. In media and in our culture, it’s like every advertisement is for the exploitation of women and it not only changes young boy’s perspective on women, but it also causes women to feel insecure about themselves. When talking to some of my friends in other universities, they talk about women as objects created for them, and I don’t think they truly understand the full implications of that. Whenever someone says, “I’d like to NCMO that,” or “I’d like to slap that,” not only are men referring women to objects but they’re merely seeing them as an object for their own personal pleasure. These thoughts only breed sexism, and it’s almost as if we are teaching them to not see the humanity in women. Every person has a multi-faceted identity, whether man or woman, are created for more things than just a NCMO, nevertheless for one’s personal pleasure. I believe everyone deserves a certain level of respect and dignity, and unfortunately in the way some boys are taught, it prevents them from seeing that. Due to this spreading belief of objectification through hyper-masculinity, in some cases, it creates far worse consequences.
Through the hyper-masculine norm of callous actions towards women and sex, hyper-masculinity, in some cases, can lead to sexual aggression and rape. According to a psychological report in 2003, hyper-masculinity can create emphatic responses towards violent pornography (sagepub). Consider this, if a boy is taught to use violence as a form of self-control, then watches violent porn for 30 minutes almost every day, then plays violent video games for about an hour; if he is invited to go to a party where every other guy is taught the same way, someone is probably going to die or get raped. I know this sounds strong, but this is a discussion about hyper-masculinity’s affect on rape, and that should never be taken lightly. Of course I don’t want to make this generalization. There are probably some very high-functioning people who do this on a regular basis and succeed in their life ambitions (who also needs to talk to the honor code office). Nevertheless, this potential for sexual aggression and violence is very real and does exist. To bring gravity to the situation, in US college campuses, 1 of every 5 women are sexually assaulted or raped, 90% of which will go unreported, and 8 out of 10 times will be from someone they know (nsvrc). In the past few months, I keep hearing the words, “the rape culture in America is spreading.” However this doesn’t mean that there are monsters crawling out of the sewers, it’s worse, we are raising rapists. I don’t mean this as an insult or as a false claim towards you, the audience, however it doesn’t make that phrase any less true. Recently, we have seen Brock Turner released from prison, for raping a woman just several months prior. In a sad twist, in some parts of our country, being caught with a blunt is a far more serious offense than being a repeated sexual offender. And boys take advantage of this. Compared to girls, boys are more likely to commit these crimes and when taking a step back, it’s not necessarily their fault. If society teaches them that this is correct, and there is no one else there to lead them to the right path, then wouldn’t it be natural or relatively easy to fall for those sins? It’s easy to point the blame and imprison young naïve boys, and though it fulfills our desire of accountability, it does not solve the underlying problem. There is a way to stop this by teaching kids early on about this question of hyper-masculinity.
There are probably several solutions to hyper-masculinity, however its applications have always been under the most criticism. The easiest and probably best way to prevent hyper-masculinity is to teach young men early on about the problem and by showing them affection. Some claim that it is reckless or harmful to teach kids sexual education because they’re too young for that. However at the age of 13, if they don’t know or have a basic knowledge of what sexual education is, in middle school and depending on your area it is very easy to find other profane or unreliable sources (to put it nicely). Secondly, by neglecting to share this knowledge to children, it forces kids into ignorance of what is going on around them. Others claim that it is probably one of the most awkward talks, however it doesn’t have to be. If we keep living in fear of telling the truth, then we are essentially accepting the lie that hyper-masculinity is okay. Now I don’t want to discredit the difficulty of telling these things because it really is hard. And most things worth telling are. It is a difficult conversation, but is necessary, because the consequence of not telling them far outweighs the fear or recovery necessary to get back to who you were and want to become. A few key things I believe are necessary to teach kids are the eternal value of women and other people, the ineffective use of violence or bullying as a form of self-control, and the true joy of simply talking about how one feels. In addition to teaching kids early on it is important to raise kids with love and support rather than sheer discipline and punishment. Now that doesn’t mean, as parents one should obey the child’s every wish, nor that the child is always right, nor that we superimpose what we believe is right onto them without their acknowledgment or input. This can be done through compromise of each other’s goals or at least acknowledging the child’s views before saying no. Not by telling them to shut up or telling them suck it up and be a man because that will only bring them down and limit their ability to express themselves. Others claim that they wouldn’t because it would make their child seem weak or out of the herd. But doing this only increases the power of hyper-masculinity in our culture and if no one acts now, then it is no wonder why nothing seems to change. On this section specifically I’ve had many criticisms, specifically from parents and adults. “You’re just a freshman, what do you know?” “You’ve never been a husband or a father, who are you to tell me what to do?” “You can’t tell me how to raise my kids, they’re mine.” And these are fair criticisms. Most likely there are some in the audience who fervently disagrees with my views and that’s okay. That’s the power of true freedom and agency: having the ability to distinguish and choose what has meaning in your life regardless of faith or evidence. Nevertheless, if swallowing one’s pride has the possibility to change a child’s life for the better, then in my opinion it is well worth the risk. By teaching kids early on and raising them in love and support, they are better equipped to becoming successful young men.
            The view of being seen as a man or as a gentleman has changed a lot over time. However, if we’re not careful about what to teach our own kids, we can inadvertently lead them in a path of pornography, sexual aggression, and violence, that not only affects them but everyone around them. In fourth grade, I met a boy and he was my best friend. His name was Johnny. He bullied me and I thought it was okay because we were led to believe that this was a sign of strength. We couldn’t talk about being afraid. We couldn’t talk about feeling hurt. We couldn’t talk about feeling sad. Only things that brought out what we perceived were our strengths: anger, violence, and confidence. It wasn’t until years later did we reconcile become real friends and it could’ve been sooner with the right guidance. But for everyone else, it doesn’t have to be that way. If we act, it can be done. It can be reversed. If we let them grow in love and support, then anything is possible.
·      Sources: