on the subject of Justin Bieber.

Question: What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words Justin Bieber?

For thousands of little girls it’s screams of love and adoration as well as the lyrics to many of Bieber’s pop/R&B songs.

For others it’s pretty much just one thing: hate.

People around the U.S. and around the world that proclaim their distaste and extreme dislike for Bieber’s music and Bieber himself.

On Facebook, the first two pages found after typing in the words “I hate” are pages hating Justin Bieber. Each post by some unknown moderator has over 600 “hate comments” of people leaving nasty comments about the kid.

And apparently on YouTube, there’s even an “I hate Justin Bieber” song, not to mention the degrading comments on his own music videos and a movement to dislike his videos over 1 million times.

Also, I was browsing over a news page the other day and found the clip of people booing Bieber at a Knicks game as well.

Kind of ridiculous, I think.

When I really try to wrap my head around it, I don’t understand why or how people hate Justin Bieber so vehemently. I tried to think of grounds to hate the kid but I couldn’t think of any reasonable explanation to hate him. To list a few, he doesn’t know anyone of these “hate commenters” personally so it’s not like he did anything against them; and he hasn’t committed a crime against humanity that deserves that kind of treatment; I don’t even think he’s committed any sort of crime actually; Sure, he had a high-pitched voice but any guy has at some point in their life until puberty; Sure, lots of little girls like him but I don’t see why that’s a reason to hate him; Also, he may have gotten a bad haircut but someone out there tell me that they’ve never experienced the same thing as well.

This “hate Bieber” thing or phenomenon seems more like a bandwagon club for people to join. I know hate-bandwagons like this happen quite easily though for anything new and upcoming. It’s very easy to be a critic and even easier to form a club that criticizes someone or something. And now with the momentum of Bieber’s career on the rise, the “hate club” seems to be on the rise as well.

I just don’t understand how people can write off Bieber like they do. I mean, first of all, he is a very talented guy. He’s got pipes. There’s no doubt about that. If there’s complaints about his high-pitched voice well I foresee that changing in the next couple of years as he matures. And apparently he can play the drums well from what I see from the trailers of his new movie. I also watched an interview of him on the Letterman Show and he was talking about how the movie was made to show people that it took hard work and effort as well as talent and opportunity to get to where he is today—which sounds like the American Dream to me.

But let’s say you legitimately dislike his voice and his music. I still don’t think that it is a reason to hate him. Or any recording artist for that matter. I would understand it more if Bieber was a jerk guy that hated everyone or had lyrics that spoke something to that effect. The opposite is more true, however. Bieber’s lyrics promote lovey dovey feelings and a good time to say the least. And from what I’ve seen and heard about Bieber, he’s hasn’t done anything scandalous or criminal; he’s a nice kid who had the opportunity to get discovered, made it big and is living a dream now so more power to him.

Personally, I like Justin Bieber. I think he’s a good kid making good music.  I happen to also like the music he names as his influences like Boys II Men and other oldies. I especially like the air of romance his songs have. Good songs, good kid. I’m not saying you have to like him but at the very least, let’s stop all the nasty hate against the guy.

Oh, and Happy Birthday Justin Bieber.

(And on another note, a happy birthday to Ronald Weasley, even though he is from Gryffindor.)

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a creative story of mine.

I haven’t been able to post or write very much this last week, much to my own disdain and chagrin. So in the meantime, as I get back to writing and editing, I decided to post part of a short story I wrote for one of my classes. It is my first serious attempt at writing my own story and a very rough draft so please be a little easy on me. But let me know what you think, I would appreciate any support or criticism. Thank you.

Here goes:

A Noble Jewel

The sun shone bright, beaming at the world. Crisp, like fresh cut grass, the breeze playfully ran through the young man’s hair. Annoyed, he combed it down with his fingers. Dew peppered the blades of grass, clinging to him as he walked by—not that he cared though; there were more important things on his mind than wet jeans. He paused for a moment to consider his path through the creek, before balancing his way across boulder to boulder and continued his way downstream. Around him, the crowd of trees was busy with activity: a robin feeding her chicks, sparrow chasing each other playfully, and a pair of doves, cooing softly to each other. Darting in and out behind the leaves, the sparrows rustled the branches as the robin trilled furiously in rebuke. Similarly disturbed, the two doves took wing landing in opposite trees. The sparrows paused amidst the flurry of wings in shame. Apologetic tweets sounded out through the leaves as one of the doves angrily cooed back. With the dignity of a bird of prey, he alighted on the branch next to his mate and the couple continued their happy cooing. The scene went unnoticed by the young man, preoccupied as he was with his thoughts.  Head down, he barely noticed the dark shadows cast by the clouds above. Nature seemed to be waving beauty in his face but his mind was focused elsewhere.

For the youth, “elsewhere” was with Aristotle and Archimedes, with Darwin and Descartes. Logic ruled his mind as questions argued themselves into answers on his furrowed brow. Clutching books to his side, safe from abduction, the worn edges pressed dully into his arm. Earlier that day, his professor had allowed him to borrow from his own private book shelf, to which the young man vowed life and limb in protection of the pages. As the young eyes hungrily rifled over the titles, the professor suggested a smaller tome to take home. It was a smaller book wrapped in black leather and it had, the professor claimed, helped him get through one of the most challenging times in his life and was very dear to him. The old scholar left the volume on the table, chuckling to himself, leaving the youth to his devices. An hour or so passed before a healthy pile walked out the door, leaving the small novel ignored. Anticipation of the coming information rose steadily within him as he walked hurriedly along the bank of the creek on his way home.

A shout followed by laughter interrupted his thoughts and he knew immediately what it was. As usual, there was a couple behind one of the larger weeping willows that lined the embankment. The willow tree was large enough to block the eyesight of any third party from viewing from the outside but was not soundproof by any means. The young man furrowed his brow deeper as he tried to ignore the laughter and conversation emanating from within the folds of the willows skinny branches. A voice yelled out as he walked by, “Oi! Who goes there?”

“Me, just on my way home,” he replied calmly, looking past the willow to where he was headed. He pressed on.

“What? Who? A second there…” said more laughter and giggling as a couple emerged from behind the hanging branches. He recognized the boy’s voice as the source of the constant chattering that came from the back of his arithmetic class.

“Hey Lance.”

“Hiya Jon! Fancy seeing you out here,” Lance replied, brushing twigs and dirt from his clothes.

Jon shifted the books from one hand to the other. “Actually, I usually walk this way from home.”

“Oh, well I suppose I am a little… preoccupied most of the time—” Lance smiled. He shoved his counterpart playfully. “This is Miranda, by the way— from class?” She pushed back, still picking leaves from her tousled hair.

“We’ve met before I think, from before—“Almost dropping his books, Jon took her outstretched hand. He righted himself, noticing her flushed cheeks. Her golden hair accentuated the blue in her eyes, a pleasing compliment to the rest of her features. He let her hand drop, trying to focus on a particular leaf hidden within her curls, wondering how she was not shivering in the brisk air.

She smiled coyly, obviously unmoved by the examination or her exposure. Nearby, Jon heard a frog croak, looking for a partner.

“Well, then— see you in class—c’mon baby,” Lance said, pushing Miranda, who squealed in response before turning to give chase back into the enfolds of the tree.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Jon turned back to the direction his house lay, the tension slowing releasing itself from his shoulders. Attempting to return to his original train of thought, he mentally shook himself. He knew many people of course, being involved with a school as large as his was, but his pursuits ran opposite the ones his peers shared. He enjoyed the company of a few friends in school but life outside those doors ran parallel, never crossing paths—especially in the female department. Of course, Jon was attracted to them, sometimes even to girls that were his friends but, they had always remained just that: them. At first, Jon’s innate curiosity was instantly sparked and he could not help but observe. This led to much more confusion, largely due to his inability to gain deeper confidence or seek insight from the subjects themselves. He had eventually decided to leave the area unexplored; a singular exception in his life, though it was an exception he was satisfied with. It would happen when it would happen, he thought, no need to rush. After all, it had taken him a month to read the Organon and an indefinite amount of time to understand it, a process that was in fact, still ongoing. So what could he expect to learn and understand about a subject that was living, changing and different in every case? Much less how to love one of them? Rather than spend time in this beautiful mystery, Jon turned his attention to more graspable, mundane concepts, like calculus and biology. Content with his books, Jon continued on his way, contemplating once again a particular theorem concerning tangent circles.

The sun was halfway hidden when a splash caused him to glance up. He saw first a horse, white, with light brown spots, a curious sight. His stare continued on until it reached the sight of a long haired girl in tan breeches crouched barefoot, examining a crevice she had created in between two of the large rocks that the stream ran through. Jon noticed her wrinkled forehead and pursed lips in concentration as he walked by. He continued staring as he walked by, watching her brush a stray lock of hair behind her ear. Startled, the girl looked up to see his heels and books fly up over his head.

“The log is in great shape by any chance—it would be a shame to see something that had been lying there for over one hundred years damaged in anyway,” a laughing voice remarked. “You, on the other hand, I’m not too sure.”

Jon rolled over onto his back, trying to target the source of the voice and sat up with a groan. “Gee, I appreciate the concern,” he retorted, the world coming into focus. Another laugh.

“It’s understandable I guess, falling over log—especially one as large and obviously exposed as this one. Here—” A hand appeared and he took it, easing himself up. “—and there we go. No harm done right? It wasn’t trying to hurt you was it?”

Speechless, Jon shook his head as he rose to meet a smile that brightened the twilight. Deep, brown eyes blinked at him, laughing with concern.

“I’m Adi.” A goofy smile found its way to Jon’s face. There was a quiet strength in her hands, a smoothness that was also resilient. She shook his hand gently, waiting politely for a response.

“Oh—Jon,” he stumbled, “and I just forgot about the log. This is the first time I’ve tripped on it—or tripped in general. I usually don’t trip. I got distracted.  And it’s getting dark, I—” He let go of her hand. She laughed in amusement, a wonderful sound that interrupted his speech and thoughts. He looked around, scratching the back of his head, mumbling something about bad eyesight. Bending his knees, Jon proceeded to pick up his books, dusting the dirt off.

“So…these are all yours?” said Adi, dusting off a cover to reveal the title On the Origin of Species.

“Yeah, I got them from my professor at school. He lent them to me.”

“You like this stuff?”

“Stuff? Well, yeah, I suppose… I read it in my spare time…”

“Hm—strange.” Jon glanced over at Adi, who was examining the inside of the book, with that same, focused look on her face, and was distracted all over again. He swiftly turned to look at a book behind her before she noticed.

“But cool, I guess—” she trailed off into silence.

“It really is interesting, like once you get to know it; just learning about it is fun. Like I don’t believe it all, but I like learning about it.” The words were out of his mouth before he knew it. He mentally slammed a hot iron onto his head. He stood up with his books under his arm. “Do you—come here often?”  The imagined hot iron slammed on his head again. The punishment, however, went unnoticed.

“Um, no, actually, this is the farthest I’ve been downriver. But it was a nice day today so I rode a little farther than usual. There’s a willow tree upstream a ways, I don’t usually ride past, but today I did…” She looked away. Adi shielded her eyes from the rays of the disappearing sun. “I should probably get going.”

“Oh yeah—of course, no problem, me too,” Jon blurted out. Adi ran her fingers through her straight bronzed hair, turning to go. He watched her hair swing back and forth as she crossed back over the stream with ease, firm legs leaping from rock to rock. Water splashed up onto clothes, near her hips. Jon struggled to get words out again. “Wait—what school do you go to?”

“I don’t,” she called out. “I have a private tutor. There’s like ten of us that he teaches though, but it’s not a school or anything.”

“I see—well then, see you around…” Jon took a lifeless step forward, trying to move on home.

“I like this part of the creek though. I’ll probably be back here.” Adi took the reins, shoes in one hand, barefoot in the stirrups.

“Oh sweet! See you later—”

Hoof beats drowned out his words and Jon imagined her hair waving, returning his farewell to her. He reached home after nightfall, read a couple of books and returned to the touch of that silky hand again, drifting off to sleep.

 

dehumanization.

Although racism isn’t legal in this country, it still sours and decays the world. It is a dark blemish that has bruised the minds of people so that without knowing it their words and actions carry a stench of racism. It silently infuriates me when I encounter this contagion in the world today and even more so when I fall to its infection.

Nike's campaign against racism.

I’ve been passionate about fighting racism for a number of years now and I have been attempting to explain my stance adequately ever since I made that mental decision. But this post is not only about ending racism, but about a new way to think and live.

Recently on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Dr. Cornell West said he believes that “Any ideology or perspective that dehumanizes someone is wrong” and I agree with his statement and say that racism falls under this category of an ideology that dehumanizes an individual.

Before moving on, I want to define the word “dehumanize”.

The word “dehumanize” has an obvious primary meaning which is that the individual is made inferior, or less than human. On the other side of the coin, dehumanization has a secondary meaning. The dehumanization of an individual can also occur alternatively by making the individual superior, or more than human because of their race. The latter meaning is more common nowadays I’ve found and has become more acceptable too but takes some explaining. For example, there is a belief in school that if you are of any Asian descent you should do well in the academic world and success is attributed to your race but not to your hard work. The same thing happens in athletics all too often as well—for instance, a guy that is great at basketball who puts in hours and hours of hard work is only good because he is black or the soccer player is only good because he is Hispanic.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not perfect in the very least. I have made racist comments consciously and subconsciously, though neither is more excusable than the other. It took me a while to realize that I was spreading the ideology of racism I confess but once I did, I began to wonder why and how it still does exist.

I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that since racism is pretty much “illegal”, people believe that it does not exist. And I’m talking about racism against all races; against black, white, yellow, red, brown, the full spectrum. All that prejudice, all those prejudgments that we make about a person based on the exterior that cause us to treat them differently.

These days, racism does not happen with malicious intent too often, I would say. More often these days, racist jokes seem to be the mode by which racism spreads. The last thing most people would want to be called is a racist and I’m not trying to call anyone a racist. I’m merely attempting to point out a problem that still exists, that something that is “just a joke” does not mean that it isn’t racist.

I used to be okay with racist jokes. Especially I thought it was acceptable if the person telling the joke happened to be the race that was the butt of the joke. I used to laugh heartily, thinking to myself that it was all “just a joke” that racism was pretty much dead or that it didn’t count if no one took offense. I used to make these jokes myself. But I soon realized that I was perpetuating the circle of the dehumanization of people. People with feelings and thoughts and hopes and personality and character; And I believe this is the crux of the whole issue.

Racist jokes lead us to believe in stereotypes and if we believe in stereotypes, even jokingly, we write off an individual as a stereotype that looks like they fit the bill. What we should be thinking instead is that all people are specially created people that you and I must love. People are people. Confusing and repetitive, but let me explain…

While on a mission trip to Louisiana two years after Katrina hit, my team and I volunteer at a local church that would provide free meals. I will never forget the distinction in attitude and mindset that the leader of the shelter gave us. She said that instead of thinking of the men and women coming to get a meal that day as being homeless people, we must think of them as people that are homeless. You see the difference in mind set by switching those two words?

It is not that I am a brown person or that you are an Asian person or that he’s a white guy or that she’s a black girl. We should first recognize that we are all bonded together on the common level of humanity and feel the bond of brotherhood, the bond of family and, at least on some level, love.

Extending this discussion I would even say that in the similar way that seeing homeless people instead as people that are homeless, we must see “gay people” as people that are gay, Muslims as people that are Muslims, murderers as people who have committed murder, superstars as people who are famous, even the President as the person who is the President. Because at the end of the day, in the bright light, naked, vulnerable and exposed, we are one and the same: human.

And if we ever want to make change in this world and if we ever hope to save this world and if we ever profess that we have the ability to love, we must acknowledge our neighbor and love them as we love ourselves, not necessarily blind to the differences but more that we should love regardless of those differences.