15 February 2008

Got Chips?

. . . On your shoulder that is. This entertaining American expression actually dates back to the early 1800s. According to several sources, when two young men of the 19th century were determined to fight, one would place a chip of wood on his shoulder, provoking the other to knock it off. The idiom has developed into a reference for someone who has something about themselves that makes them defensive or feel disadvantaged somehow.

Personally, I think chips on one's shoulder (heretofore 'chips') are pretty silly. I was reading an individual's blog this evening and was slightly annoy
ed by her outlook. She is of Asian descent, is married to a Caucasian, and lives here in Utah. With a population that could be adequately described as 'whiter than skim milk,' she apparently has had multiple experiences with people whom she describes as "incredibly ignorant and sheltered." The quick of the story, was that a person working the check-out counter at a local store inquired if this woman and her husband were married (She suggests that the employee could have just looked at their wedding rings, and made a connection). The employee then asked of and where the man served his church service mission. He replied that he had served in Japan. At that point the employee inquired if he had per chance met his wife in Japan. BOOM! How dare the employee make such an implication!? To suggest that perhaps an Asian-American woman married to a Caucasian man could possibly be the result of anything other than a happenstance meeting on the streets of an American city much more ethnically advanced than Provo is apparently an assault on this woman's entire essence d'ĂȘtre [Okay, everybody take a deep breath.].

Now back to my point. The reason I share the aforementioned episode is simply to point out how common chips are in our lives. She apparently has one about being Asian and the social stigmas that may surround being married to a Caucasian. I am sure I have many. But they do not lead to happiness or anything constructive, and we should strive to get rid of them at all cost.

Think of people you know who have chips and how they act. And how we act around them. It's not pretty. The world is an unfair place, but the sooner we come to accept that and be happy to know that everything will eventually work out, the better adjusted I believe we will all be. I suggest that we all take a moment and think about the chips we have. They may be because we have something, or because we don't. They may be because we are good at something, or because we are not. They come from every side of any scale or spectrum you can imagine, but they are all bad.

The young Christian who feels it is her responsibility to instill her view of the world on others is just as threatening to agency and accountability as the two-time parolee who feels like the system has wronged him and he deserves something for nothing. In reality, chips are just a false and fragmented self image. They are the projection of who we want to be, but aren't or can't be.

In the end, true self images are the healthiest. When we know who we are, and are comfortable with those truths, we will find ourselves with the most happiness and the greatest acceptance in our individual niches.

Or in other words, the truth will set us free.

12 February 2008

Fabulous Las Vegas

I was in Las Vegas this past weekend for a conference, and can I just reaffirm that 'fabulous' has its rightful place in front of Las Vegas. I was amazed at the decadence that is displayed there. Chinese New Year is the season of the moment, and each casino/hotel was decked to the nines with decorations celebrating the year of the rat. Probably my favorite part of the strip are the dancing fountains at Bellagio. What an amazing display of human ingenuity.

Say what you will about the filth of the place, and I don't necessarily disagree, but don't let that distract from the beauty of the locale. In few places so
new will you see equal time and talent put into the design and execution of such magnificent edifices. While surely a worldly, materialism is the religion of the strip, Las Vegas is still very much a blossom in the desert. While the human body is repeatedly made into an object for lust through strip shows and provocative dancing, it is equally displayed as an object of supreme architecture and ability through Cirque du Soleil and similar shows. Human-made water falls, forests and mountains lead the eye to a concept of the awesomeness of the natural world, while towering buildings and artistic execution remind us of our race's creative flair. Las Vegas is not for the puritan soul, but neither does it require an avariciousness that so many of us characterize as a part of this shinning metropolis.

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