Tuesday, September 14, 2010

what is truth?

about two weeks ago, a korean/japanese american held the discovery channel hostage with explosive devices and fake pistols as an environmental terrorist.  most people followed the incident during the work day, wondering what the eventual outcome would be as the general internet community, along with twitter, spread the news of the incident like wildfire.  then just like that, a sniper picked him off as he was threatening some of the hostages.

koreans, normally proud of their race when they do well (read: kim yu-na, hines ward, etc.), were quick to banish him off to his japanese heritage, or had some sort of similar reaction of "oh no, not again" or "ah crap, sorry about that bud" like when seung-hui cho went ballistic at virginia tech.  the rest of the world went quickly  back to normal, and the man was dismissed and forgotten.

and by all rights, incidents like these should not be given that much media attention, for it would inspire other would-be copycats to gain their own spotlight.  but reading about james j lee (i won't go into the countless other terrorist inspired events for now), made me wonder about his perspective of truth.  most of these kinds of people don't believe that what they are doing is wrong, they think that they are revolutionaries for a just social cause.  i believe that terrorists are marked by their beliefs that their cause trumps the sanctity of human life.  their ideologies are always stained by some sort of selfish desire that they try to mask with a "for the people" spin.

james j lee had a somewhat admirable cause that he was an advocate of, trying to promote programs that would perhaps improve the environment.  however, if his primary goal was to change the minds of people, he probably came up with the worst plan possible to do so.  he makes a few huge mistakes:

a) resorts to violence to promote non-violence (thinks humans cause wars which produce pollution in the environment)
b) has demands that require a LARGE time frame to accomplish, when his actions are during a hostage situation, something that is usually resolved within a day when there's one gunman and infinity SWAT surrounding a building.  this would make it quite difficult to make sure your demands are met.
d) has an OVER simplified view of how the world works.  #11 on his list says: "You're also going to find solutions for unemployment and housing. All these unemployed people makes me think the US is headed toward more war."  yes, cause if the discovery channel had the answer to that, they wouldn't already have notified the US government.

all in all, his demands and rants make him sound like someone who didn't really give much thought to how to change society, and just wanted people to cater to his beliefs to how the world should be.  he never really proposes a solution that would produce lasting change, and because of that, he merely sounds like a raving lunatic.  but in his mind, he convinced himself that he was doing the right thing by taking people hostage in the discovery channel (i mean who holds the discovery channel hostage?  you can't make this kind of stuff up).

he made up this truth for himself, "if i hold the discovery channel hostage, i can make them change their television lineup, which will in turn make people have less babies, stop war, and stop using oil.  i pretty much will effectively end the human race and save the planet as a result."  sounds crazy, but this sounds like exactly the train of thought that he had (ignoring for the moment that there could've been some other ulterior motive to his actions, i.e. garnering attention for just attention's sake).

sometimes i wonder if there will be a point in time where i fully convince myself of some "truth" that is not grounded in reality.  sometimes the reality that we find ourselves becomes questionable because there's always a "this is the way it should be" thought that creeps into our minds, and how we go about getting our realities calibrated to that utopian ideal could potentially be more damaging than good.

i like to think of myself as a level headed person who will listen to ALL the facts, details, emotions, motivations before making a judgment on something, but there will always remain the possibility that my limited comprehension of the world will fail and that i'll start believing in a lie.  it reminds me of my favorite quote from memento, "we all lie to ourselves to make ourselves happy."  instead of facing reality, it's easier for us to create some sort of lie for ourselves to produce the illusion that the something wrong with the world is outwardly focused instead of inwardly.  in order to inspire real change, one has to understand why things are the way they are, by relating to it with their own personal experience.

i will continue to look for my own truth.  i'll let you know when i find it.


Denise said...

been having a lot of similar thoughts too. like...am i delusional...in a matrix way. yeah, that's not emo at all...

chunlee17 said...

to avoid delusional thoughts - one should try to surround oneself with rational, grounded, sensible human beings. i.e. don't be a hermit. being alone with one's thoughts for too long never produced a good outcome.