The problem with our generation is apathy. Somehow we get so caught up with ourselves - school, relationships, friends - that we forget that there is a world outside of our bubble. The two words I hear most often in school are “I’m busy”. Busy studying, busy writing papers, busy procrastinating, or even busy doing nothing. We know that there is so much change that is needed to be done in the world and we are constantly reminded of it in the news, and yet we somehow have the heart to turn a blind eye to it all. Sure, it may make us feel pity and anger, but so rarely do we act upon it. When I get the chance to talk to students around campus and ask them how they feel about social justice issues and spirituality, many answer with “I don’t know”, or “I haven’t really thought about that before.” In the past decades, college students displayed some of the most passionate, persevering, and radical activist stances, though I failed to see these active fights for social justice in my four years here in university. This is the problem of the tragedy of the commons - we all have a part of this world, but few devote themselves to global change because we assume there’s someone else that will do it. But isn’t it more effective for everyone to play a part, no matter how little?
So, how do we defeat this apathy? How do we get people to care enough to act upon the injustice we acknowledge? There are thousands of not-for-profit organizations in this world that we can be involved with, even if it is merely sending financial support or spreading awareness. Whatever cause you may feel passionate about, please do something about it.
Haggai 1:9 - “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.”
It’s easy to forget what our greater purpose is sometimes when we place ourselves at the center of our lives. When we place ourselves on a pedestal in our hearts, we stray away from living according to God’s will. We become consumed with what we like to do, what we are good at, how we can further our personal success, and what makes us happy materially. The ends to our goals become ourselves.
But what happens when we do that? Ultimately, we will realize how unfulfilled we feel as individuals and see that something is missing. No matter how much work we may put into something, the return is never enough. There is never enough money, never enough success - we are never enough. Why? Because it is impossible to be perfect with the human skills and abilities we have.
God says He can blow away the things we sow. He does not even have to place as much as a finger on our harvest; He need only blow for it to all fly away. And somehow, we still continue to try to build our own houses without God in our minds.
When we choose to follow God and the path He has laid out for us and live for Him, then He will push us forward and bless us endlessly. When we work to build His house instead of our own, then He will give us whatever talent or skill needed to further His kingdom. Live for Him not because of the blessings you will receive, but because you are choosing to love Him with undying passion. It is then that you will realize that trying to build your own house will never compare to His almighty kingdom.
A quick thought:
I take the term ‘Christian’ with a grain of salt. Somehow, a third of the world
identifies with being Christian, but such a small percentage of those people live out the gospel in their daily lives. Having met so many lukewarm and even straight up cold Christians is really discouraging but I pray that people will realize what it truly means to be a follower of Christ and place Him at the center of our lives.
A lot of people have asked me many questions abut how I manage to go to the gym 6 days a week and eat so healthily. To be honest, I’m shocked myself and don’t even know how I’ve kept it up for this long, but here are a few tips:
1. Don’t think of it as losing weight - For me, exercising and eating right isn’t so much about losing weight necessarily; it’s more of a change in lifestyle. If you aim to just lose weight, the temptation to stray away from being healthy is much higher once you become discouraged by a lack of results. Think more about the benefits of being healthy in general - better health means more discipline, happier days, and less stress!
2. Learn to love what God created - God made all these colorful fruits and vegetables for a reason, so enjoy it! While processed foods may seem to taste better, it is possible to learn to change what foods appeal to you so long as you are willing to. God gave you legs not to drive everywhere and sit all day long, but to use them to walk and run! Use what you and the world has been gifted with wisely so you can truly enjoy your life :).
3. Discipline yourself - Self-discipline is extremely crucial not just to healthy living, but in all aspects of life. In the end, what you put in your mouth and how often you go to the gym is your choice. Don’t tell yourself that it’s impossible or that it’s too hard, because it’s not. Learn to say ‘no’ to what is unhealthy even when others pressure or tempt you. You won’t be able to control your actions without being able to first control your mind.
4. Learn to endure - It will be difficult at first because you will be changing your lifestyle, maybe even drastically. However, getting used to a routine or habit only takes three weeks - after that, you will be so used to it that it won’t seem like a burden anymore. Most of the time when we think our bodies can’t handle the lack of refined sugar or the intensity of a workout, it is an excuse our mind uses to give up. You’d be surprised how much your body can take! Just climb that steep mountain and after that, the grass will be much greener on the other side :)
I often find myself feeling guilty when thinking about what I have materially, and questioning what is the right thing to do in terms of spending money. Whether it be seeing the latest fashion trends or newest technology, it seems impossible to ever satisfy all these wants – and that’s because it is. I realize how spoiled I am, along with most people in the western world, though somehow it is so difficult to step outside of this bubble of materialism. There are so many temptations that lead me to treasure worldly goods rather than that which does not perish beyond life. When it comes to giving to others, I realize that often times, the end of the act of generosity is not really generosity or love, but instead an appeasement of my guilt-ridden conscience that reminds me that there are hundreds of millions of people in this world that would be perfectly content just having a full stomach. Something that frequently enters my mind is that it is harder for a rich person to enter the kingdom of Heaven than a camel to go through the eye of a needle. It is not that it is impossible for someone rich to be a child of God, but it is that a rich person who is not willing to give up money for God or others does not demonstrate true love and obedience to God. My faith in God is not enough – my actions should conform to Jesus’ teachings as well. As I look at all the money I have poured into unnecessary luxuries, I feel compelled to ask myself: am I really loving enough to give all I have to God and the needy? Am I really living out the calling of Christ? Is being spoiled able to satisfy my cravings as much as love for others does?
I look at the date and every single time I can’t help but be in awe that it is already 2013. Perhaps it is the old soul within me feeling nostalgic for a time in which I had not even been born yet. I appreciate the convenience that technology and modern society brings; I can know what others are doing at any given time without even talking to them, and I have the immense and infinite knowledge and discoveries of this world at my fingertips. Though, I can’t help but wonder how life must have been when one had to actively search and uncover what they wanted to know, or when imagination preceded dependence on television and film. I recently found out that children under the age of two should not be allowed to watch television at all as it stunts the learning ability of toddlers. Even grown adults find it difficult to learn with the presence of vibrating phones in their pockets and text messages to reply to. It baffles me that the technology that is meant to make life simpler and easier also makes it more difficult. There is so much to do in any given minute. Although it seems that people today are more efficient, technology and development also make us so much busier and soulless. So, does today’s lifestyle norm seem to be more simple or complicated? Although it is too late to abstain from such a lifestyle now, I love to dream about what I would be doing if I lived in the 19th century, or even during the 20s. Maybe life back then was just as complicated as it is today. One can only imagine.
The intelligence failure at Pearl Harbor is argued to be a result of insufficient analysis of information due to ‘signal and noise’, an argument forwarded by Roberta Wohlsetter. Signals are drowned out by ‘noise’, which is superfluous information that contradicts signals. In the event of the Pearl Harbor attack, the inability to recognize what was signal and what was noise had detrimental consequences. In light of American assumptions and underestimations of Japanese capabilities, the possibility of an attack was completely disregarded; evidently, it was only obvious what Japanese intentions were after the fact. Even after decades of debate, it cannot be proven that intelligence at the time was able to identify the signals amidst the noise.
This concept of signal and noise is a problem that we face everyday. Being able to identify fact from fiction can be hindered by assumptions made in favor of a particular viewpoint. Often, we have trouble recognizing what is a signal without being prompted to pay attention to such warnings. For example, if we assume that Waldo is wearing a red and white striped shirt when in reality he is wearing a black shirt, and we are not notified of this change, then how would we ever be able find him? In retrospect, we may blame ourselves for not being able to see the signs, though it is an inherent flaw of human psychology. Although we can try to learn from our mistakes and avoid assumptions, there will always be noise that attempts to hide truth.
I used to blame my hormones and femininity for the emotional roller coasters I went through on a daily basis. I relied on feelings to tell me what I like or don’t like, or whether something is right or not. However, there is no truth behind that - feelings are so fickle and can change in the blink of an eye. Feelings can cloud judgment, create deceptive illusions, and control a mind. What one should place faith in is the truth in the Word while learning how to control feelings and desires. It is like this: when in an airplane, trust is placed in the pilot to take us to our destinations; whether we are scared or happy to be on the plane, the ability of the plane to fly us is not affected, although how we feel does determine how much we enjoy the flight. What makes it difficult is that feelings come so naturally and can be so tangible and relatable to a situation. Rather than deny feelings and ignore them, one must come to recognize them and learn how to deal with them. Think about why you feel that way. Think about how you want to feel. Think about ways you can change how you feel. Pray. Hope. Trust. It’s hard, but clarity of the mind comes from placing faith above feelings.
Proverbs 28:26 - “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered.”
There is so much going on at any given point in the day; so many priorities, so many chores, so many things to know. There are these points of time where I am absolutely overwhelmed, restless, and discouraged. I can be sitting somewhere and not actually feel like I’m there. Sometimes being productive does not mean getting this or that done - sometimes productivity can also be a result of times of rest, when one can let go of everything and regenerate the energy to move on. Although I may feel guilty to have to pass up a few opportunities to rest, it is also essential to my motivation in giving my all to what I do. Rest and time alone is a priority among all things and should never be ignored.
Hebrews 4:11 - “ Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.”
It is common courtesy to ask someone how they’re doing when you see them. A typical response you might receive is “I’m good, how about you?”, or “I’ve been so busy and tired”. Very rarely do people try to pry any further. In fact, it would seem strange if someone began pouring out their life to you. But isn’t this the very essence of the question - to know how someone is doing? Perhaps it is a question so often used that it has lost it’s meaning, almost like how saying “I hate you” does not carry a literal meaning an overwhelming majority of the time.
It is somewhat upsetting to realize that people, myself included, sometimes don’t even know how the people closest to them are really doing. Through all that I’ve been through lately, I simply answer the question “how are you?” with an “I’m good” as an automatic reflex, whether it is true or not. I assume most people do the same; the next time I ask someone how they’re doing, I hope to be reminded that by asking for beyond an “I’m good”, I might be able to help someone who has been desperately yearning for someone to listen. So, how are you doing?
In response to Georgetown Law’s application optional essay topic:
The best advice I have ever received is found in the bible in Matthew 7:3-5, which states “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” This metaphor of guidance has constantly reminded me to refrain from criticizing or condemning others before considering my own flaws and wrongdoings. This passage is especially relevant in today’s society, which is essentially governed by social norms. When we notice a person’s departure from the norm, we are often quick to criticize others; though when we find ourselves in the same situation, we conversely hurry to justify our action as a result of our pride. Through trying to live by this advice, I attempt to abstain from hypocritically rationalizing my imperfections and subjecting even the miniscule actions of others to a double standard. I aim to be careful and modest in my judgments, while also striving to improve my personal character through prioritizing values such as humility and compassion. As a result, developing self-criticism and a humble mindset is an ongoing goal that I believe holds a significant place in my day-to-day life.
There seems to be a universal conception of the definition of fun when you’re in college, much of it revolving around drinking. Call me an old soul, but perhaps it is just time for me to move on from reckless partying. Though I have done my fair share of drinking, it never really occurred to me until recently the idiocy and illogical nature of getting “shitfaced”. You waste money on a liquid substance that alters your state of mind, often to the point where you wake up in the morning wishing you were never born. It doesn’t make much sense to me why people think that drinking makes everything more fun, especially when this is synonymous to admitting that they are incapable of being fun without alcohol. Why do we condemn those who choose not to drink but are still able to have fun sober? Shouldn’t we applaud people who are fun independent of alcohol? Perhaps it is time that we all find better things to do with our lives. Nonetheless, the fact that this view is taboo is representative of how absurd today’s society has become.
With financial affluence comes great responsibility. Everything in the world is owned by a supreme being, so that nothing you claim to be yours is actually yours. Property rights are manmade and are followed only to keep a balance among imperfect beings. It is a fact that is so often overlooked as a result of a materialistic and selfish society. As a result, does earning ‘x’ amount of money entitle you to spend it according to your personal interests, no matter the negative consequences it may have? Perhaps, feeling guilty for your hefty splurges, you decide to donate a bit of what you have. Elevating your self-worth through giving some of what you have to others does not mean that you have justified your lifestyle of luxury and want. Rather, to display true thankfulness for what you have, one must recognize that all that you have is not really yours. God is trusting you with the fruits of the earth. Therefore, do not hoard as much as you can for yourself, leaving little to others, but instead go out and harvest what He has given you so that you may return it to Him ten times more abundant. It is through this that one shows true thanksgiving for gifts from God.
Someone asked me what my biggest fear is. I realized that the thing that scares me the most is finding myself lost - feeling like I’m losing who I am. Everyday presents itself as a challenge to keep swimming upstream to prevent myself from being washed away from the temptations from this world. It’s so easy to be persuaded by others that what is important is money, success, being better than others…being normal. In the past, I comfortably went with the flow of the river, living normally and mindlessly conforming with society. Now, being thrown into this change of lifestyle and wanting to go against what is normal, I find myself feeling more and more like I have found myself. Though there is a huge compromise that has to be made. In order to keep this identity, I will inevitably be subject to moments of rejection and discomfort. The price to pay is undoubtedly high. There are moments when I wish I could go back to the past where things were so much more simple and comfortable. However, I know that what I have now is so much more than what I had. I may have to work twice as hard, but the reward will be unending.