Because we are Human

Thursday, November 15, 2012

While I was writing a paper on the human reason, I randomly remembered a film by Akira Kurosawa, Rashomon. I watched it over a year ago in my Introduction to Philosophy class. It was quite an old film, but watching it makes you ponder about things regarding life, humanity, and morality. Some questions that popped into my head were on the idea of lying and selfishness. This is not a review of the film, and some of you may or may not agree with me in some points.

Is it okay for man to lie because he is human?

According to Akira Kurosawa's Film, Rashomon, men lie because they are human, and for the bandit Tajomaru, lying is okay. Sometimes people lie to save themselves, or to get what they want. It's inevitable in life. In my opinion, though, I don't think being human is a good excuse for lying. Not telling the truth can harm others, or it can lead to something worse, like breaking of relationships and trust.

I asked the opinions of a couple of people, and they also believe that lying should not be considered “okay.” In fact, it may be one of the things people hate the most. A female friend told me that, “Although humans have a lot of flaws and the freedom of will, we should still choose to be honest and tell the truth. Another student thinks that, “Lying is the same as intentionally deceiving one person. If you can't tell the truth, then it is better to not say anything at all.”

If you're a believer of God, the Bible (NIV) says in Exodus 20:16, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor." and Proverbs 11:3, "Honesty guides good people; dishonesty destroys treacherous people." Honesty shows your character, and when you speak the truth, it helps other people too. Even so called “white lies” are not okay. If a person lies to make another person feel better, I do not think it would work because that person deserves to know what you really have to say.

Can a person live and survive without being selfish?

The word 'selfishness' can mean a lot of things. A definition I got from the dictionary is that it refers to the “arising from concern with one's own welfare or advantage in disregard of others.” In the movie, the answer to my question was 'No.' To be selfish is to be human. In Tajomaru's case, though, he already knew that the lady was the wife of the samurai, and yet he made plans to steal her away from him. The samurai, too, was selfish in the way that he left his wife and was led to the woods in hopes of getting a new sword.

Though there is nothing wrong with doing something to get what you want, but it becomes wrong when the means of attaining happiness hurts others. I agree with the answer that the movie provided because though man can act selfless, he cannot always think of other people first. Nothing would progress in your life if you would not think and do something for yourself.

A friend shared with me her thoughts on this, saying that it is part of human nature to be selfish. “Yes, man is capable of being selfless,” she said, “but men fall short of the glory of God, so I don't think it's possible to entirely not be selfish.” I agree with her on that. It makes one think that although we can be generous to others, we are still, by nature, a little selfish. But that does not mean that being selfish makes you a bad person. The tendency for humans is to do things to please themselves.

An article by Scott Hughes, “Moral Philosophy – Selfishness and Kindness,” describes that being selfish and selfless could be compatible with each other. You can be kind to others and at the same time act according to your own interests, to be happy when another person is feeling happy.

In the view of the Bible, Romans 15:1-2 mentions, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” (NIV) This means man must not always think of himself, and when he sees another man, he could reach out and help. ☺

Perks of Being Imperfect

[This was an article I wrote a month ago, originally published in the E-magazine project a friend made, Upsize. I am re-posting it here because I find the topic still very relevant to many girls my age. :)]

We live in a world where one's physical appearance is highly regarded and valued. The looks of a person can be a basis for determining one's social status and who he/she hangs out with. Media portrays a significant role in shaping the mindsets of people, especially the youth. In a research done on eating disorders, Kim McDonald said that before the arrival of television, the women in Fiji wanted to be stout. They used to believe that the fatter you are, the wealthier you seem. All that changed since social media came. Three years after the arrival of western television in the island, teenage girls who induced vomiting to control weight rose from 3% to 15%. A lot of girls feel insecure by just looking at themselves in the mirror.

Filipinos are no different. Social networking websites such as Twitter has been an avenue for teenage girls to rant about their insecurities and dissatisfaction with their bodies. The notion of Filipinos being a race of 'short and brown' people has been blurred since the increase of interracial marriages and waves of immigration. Now, for many Filipinos, the 'ideal' figure would be someone tall, thin, with pinkish-white skin - as suggested by some of the TV commercials being shown all over the country. Beauty pageants showcase the prettiest girls in the region, but they do not encourage much diversity in terms of body shapes and sizes. Where does that place those who do not fit the mold of the 'ideal'? Being too small or too big does not automatically make one an object of ridicule, it has perks too.

Petite Girls, Short Boys

According to the 6th National Nutrition Survey carried out by Food and Nutrition Research Institute in 2003, Filipinos have an average height of 163.49 cm (5' 4.4") for males and 151.76 cm (4' 11.8") for females. That means that Filipinos who exceed the said height are remarkably taller, but are still below average when it comes to global height comparisons. What good does being short give you? In basketball, for example, boys that lack in height make up for their speed in the game. Short boys and girls also do not neet to duck too much when riding a jeepney or entering an area with a low ceiling. Petite girls would also have no problem finding a date or a partner in a dance. It would also be easier for them to join cheerleading squads because they weigh lighter and can be thrown in the air as 'flyers' more easily.

Lasses with Less Curves

Girls are often insecure about being small chested or having small butts, this is mostly because women with curves get more attention. Most Asian women have smaller chests compared to Caucasian women, but that does not make them less pretty. Some of the advantages of girls having small chests and butts would be that they can appear more youthful and graceful, like a ballerina. They would literally feel less burden on the shoulder area because they carry less weight on their chest. They are able to fit more clothes because it is easier to look for the right size.

Huge Thighs and Arms

Both men and women worry about being too big, in the sense that they do not have toned arms and legs as they wanted. Flabby arms, wide hips - it is not all that bad. Having big thighs and arms can give one better chances in sports like volleyball, track and field, and fencing. Although a lot of people continue to struggle with the images that media show, there are efforts from some industries who chose to counter the trend. The Quebec magazine Coup de Pouce includes full-sized women in their fashion pages for several years now. Also, Spain came up with a project aiming to standardize clothing sizes. This was made possible through a process in which a laser beam is used to measure the body of normal-sized women in order to find the most realistic size for clothes. Madrid, one of the world’s biggest fashion capitals, also banned ultra-thin models from the runway in 2006. Girls do not have to have skinny legs like super models, and guys do not have to get biceps like men from Calvin Klein.

Some people even went to the extent of undergoing gruesome surgery to get taller and slimmer legs. In China, a new type of surgery is becoming popular. The concept of being a tall in relation to success has been embedded on people's minds that they painfully break their bones and lengthen them through surgical means. Some men do this to get better jobs while some women do this to achieve a doll-like figure. If Barbie were a real woman though, she would have to walk on four legs because of her disproportionate body. Hence, she would not be a functional paradigm.

Imperfect? Join the Crowd

Everyone is insecure about something in one way or another, but they must learn to love and take control of their bodies. You are amazing the way you are. Stop hating your body. You can get teased but you can also shift your focus. Decide to do something about yourself and how to help others, rather than endlessly thinking about how you should look. Some people do not even have limbs or proper functioning body parts in the first place, so it is always good to be thankful and be happy with what you have.