Thursday, March 28, 2013

Being and Becoming - Two Completely Different Things, Part II

(I've been plagued by the ideas of mere "being" distinguished from "becoming" in the recent years. This is a fundamental distinction in the ontology and metaphysics of different people; at one point I had envisioned this distinction being entirely cultural--that the west maintains a monotheistic and static "being" of an existence and the east maintains a more fluid and ever-changing "becoming" of an existence. Perhaps the distinction also traces itself to the religious undertones of east and west, or perhaps the distinction is attributed to the fundamental philosophical dominance in the perspective regions. We see this in the prevalent Kantian "Categorical Imperatives" maintaining that there is something immutable and universally true while the Chinese ideologies maintains that the only constant and universal truth is in the change itself and nothing in its form is so immutable as the suffering of that illusion. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Being and Becoming - Two Completely Different Things

Buddhism is about interconnectedness and spiritual struggle. According its teachings, the natural environment and sentient beings are inter-depended. Nature provides all living things with the means and methods to survive, whether it be killing another or grazing the lands. The Buddha teaches that human beings ought to fall into the latter category, that we do not have claws nor fangs and therefore ought to employ our talent of intelligence and sociability to survive.

Being human is thus being gentle in nature; but since we are sentient beings, we have a higher plane of existence from that of an ameba or lion. We therefore have a higher plane of responsibility to nature and the interdependence of nature. Our attitude towards our environment, our surroundings, thus invariably defines who we are as beings—either as that which is sentient or as that which is not. Therefore, our intelligence allows us the choice to be Intelligent, in a moral sense, in the totality of the planet’s circumstances.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Happify The Green Elephant

I don’t typically do product reviews. I also get a lot of emails asking if someone can place their advertising on our site The Green Elephant (dot) US; I usually send a short polite “NO” without a second thought.

My wife and I started on The Green Elephant to advocate for a change towards sustainability and we are not so much interested in making money or gaining a gazillion visitors just because we followed some fixed formula writing what people wanted to hear. So we write whatever we want, whenever we want. Our writings are scattered from cited educational pieces to rants and rambles at their best. Often times I inject my numinous appeals to a higher aesthetic order of things and invariably I use words loosely, inexactly, and without due consideration to the illusive categorical imperatives.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Zoning and LEED

The common approach in the United States to zoning is Euclidean zoning. It is named after a famous 1926 Supreme Court case, Euclid v. Ambler Realty Co., in which Ambler Realty Co. challenged the Village of Euclid’s zoning code.[1] The Village of Euclid is a suburb of Cleveland. The Village council had then adopted a comprehensive zoning plan to regulate and restrict land use. The plan divided the area into different classes of use and Ambler Realty Co., challenged the enforcement of these zoning regulations on the ground that the enforcement would constitute as an unconstitutional deprivation of liberty and property without due process.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Finding Warmth in a Cold Cold Place

(I've been on a mental break. There has been a lot going on in our lives lately as we come to an age where families are slowly passing and we are emerging from our immortal twenty-something to our surreal mid-thirties. My life's obligations these days are compounding to make my story telling mute. At the same time, I've been thinking a lot about my one and precious life; how amazing it is and how much of a journey it has been. I had came from the other side of the planet, traveled all over the world to see wars ravage other families; and now, finally settling down to a mundane and comfortable gravity of an existence, I sometimes wonder if I will become just another schmuck pushing paper around during the day and dream of being a superhero at night. Sometimes I let pessimism get the best of me. In those dark and cold places, I find my wife smiling, pretending to be Wolverine and Storm from the X-Men, at the same time, dancing around to cheer me up, to light me on fire; she tries so hard to do anything to bring me out of this funk. And to her credit, she succeeds in reminding me that abominable reality of "tomorrow"--that whatever it is I must do on this earth, there is a tomorrow to look to for its warmth.

And there is a story behind that abominable reality of "tomorrow"; it starts with a mountain on a place and ends with something beautiful.)

Heart Mountain once housed incarcerated Japanese Americans during WWII. Their property was taken, freedom impeded, dignity buried beneath suspicion and fear. A museum stands on its grounds 70 years later, reminding us to learn from our prejudiced histories. You would think we are all the wiser, able to distinguish fear and suspicion from the innocent; but today, we shun from Muslims and we forbid Arabic architects from ever associating with the symbol that ought to represent peace and good will towards the Islamic world. How much have we learned from Heart Mountain?

Asking if injustice like Heart Mountain could happen again ignores the fact that Heart Mountains are all around us. No one seems to escape, all so imprisoned.

The prisoners are imprisoned by the guards, and the guards are imprisoned by their own ignorance; no one escapes the cold cold places of evil hearts. Heart Mountain is happening often and we either don’t see the bars of our prisons for what it is or else we chose to ignore its presence. In so doing we are all so ignorant.

November 2005.

It had been a busy morning; a few soldiers came to the aid-station that day for diarrhea and severe dehydration. They probably had some “Mujdat’s” dinner specials the night before; the deliciously grilled half-rotten lamb cleverly disguised by the heavy spices was wrapped in stone-oven baked bread; all so especially tempting to many young brave and foolish ones.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Life without music is a mistake

Sometimes gravity holds you down,
close to the ground.
Sometimes you get well-adjusted and you drown;
the voices of the suffering without sound.

Lauren and I went to a concert last night; the music was good, it was exactly what we needed—a good dose of reality in its joyfulness that everything else seem less relevant. We danced a bit; I think Lauren was even bumping at one point to the music. It was a good night and we needed the relaxation.

It had been a few years since we actually went to a concert. The last one was probably Tom Petty before we got married. Being in the crowd and listening, watching, and smelling a live show brought back memories. There was a time when I enjoyed life; I went to shows, rode around on my bicycle and took pictures. My life was plentiful; now it’s more of a burden. Since I started law school, I am plagued by the thought of the next case law or the next issue; I hadn’t thought about the souls of this earth and I haven’t searched for music in a long time.

So I woke up this morning, plugged into the searching Interweb; I found me some tunes.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Touring the LEED Platium Certified Nature Conservancy Building - by Lauren Campbell

Earlier this week I had the wonderful opportunity to tour the Indiana’s Nature Conservancy headquarters. A friend was going and asked if I wanted to tag along; touring buildings isn’t something that I typically do in my spare time, but the Indiana State Nature Conservancy building is a site to behold.

The building is LEED Platinum certified (a wonderful thing in and of itself); however, this particular building, which achieved 56 points (52 are required for LEED Platinum certification), now has the highest point total recorded by any project in the State of Indiana.

It is quite the achievement.

When walking into the Nature Conservancy (NC), the front entrance is completely landscaped with plants native to Indiana and designed for maximum storm-water management; this includes the front walkway, which is made up of local Indiana limestone (one of our biggest commodities), leading people into a beautiful entry way.  

Monday, March 4, 2013

Where the Sidewalk Ends

(I apologize for bringing you unoriginal thoughts, but I felt this poem could remind us of the heart we once knew--before we became adults, before we became unaware of the places, before we got too busy to look beyond the possible. Those were the days we believed in miracles; dragons were fought with a mighty thought; and skies were blue, the air fresh, grass tickled beneath our feet, and we the magic bean buyers reached for giants in the sky. Let us not forget to invite ourselves back into the forest and sit by our fires, where we can tell tales of how we are to believe in our tomorrows.)

Where the Sidewalk Ends, a poem by Shel Silverstein