Competition Versus Cooperation

Jenni and I watched The Kite Runner this afternoon. As I was watching the movie I kept noticing that I was having a hard time getting into the story. I would start thinking about the characters and the author and the director and the actors. I would get so focused on the meanings of everything that I would lose the heart of the story.

That seems pretty much par for the course for me as of late. Particularly since I’ve started working on the computational modeling stuff quite a bit I’ve been sort of dissecting everything that goes on around me.

For example, I was just in the Giant buying some noodles and there’s a woman whose job it is to come up to the front of the store, pick up any items that were brought up by customers but not purchased and then shuttle them back to their proper places on the shelves. She’s in her mid-50’s and looks somehow beaten by the world.

When I see her, I consider, “what does it do to a person’s cognitive functions to have her job?” More than that, I see how doesn’t make eye contact with anyone, just looks steadily down and goes on her way picking up boxes with a blank look on her face, and think, “what did it take to get her to accept doing this crappy job and what can be done now?”

In looking at the circumstances and the actor though, I feel at times that I loose the person. The strongest sense is that I’m somehow fighting the world. On one side there is the world striving to make people suffer and on the other side there is me trying to figure out ways to help them stop.

Being competitive though separates me from everything. I start to look upon the tableau of life as though I were not a part of it. This is one of the illusions that comes from being a “objective” scientist and forgetting that everything we know and understand was just an idea that came from somebody not too different from myself at some point in the past.

Not that science isn’t extremely valuable, but it is easy at times to confuse the explanation for the actual thing. It’s hard to maintain a sense of wonder when everything’s been explained.

One of the scenes I really liked in The Kite Runner as Amir was pursing Sohrab and accidentally ends up in a mosque. The moment that he takes to stop and pray really captures the heart of what Islam is for me now — submission.

I always saw in Islam even more of the rules that so turned me off to Christianity. Excuses for followers to listen unquestioningly to their leader of choice rather than looking into their own hearts to discern right from wrong. In that scene though I can see a religion that I respect. A submission to Allah that surpasses our understanding of right and wrong.

Christianity is a nice friendly picture of God. My personal relationship with my good buddy Jesus, but it’s kinda hard to convince yourself that your good buddy Jesus is really there when your country’s been at war for twenty years, you’re wife’s just been raped and gutted, and your children are dead. God has to be something pretty big in those times.

You know what God is inside of you. How do you not loose faith? You simply look inside and even though you understand nothing of how the world is such a horrible fucking place, God is still there. You can’t escape your own heart, and so you can’t escape God. All that you can do is submit and do what you know to be right.

Every so often I stop competing with the world and we cooperate in creating whatever the world is becoming. I’m trying to get to a point that I do it more often because it’s easily an order of magnitude to be a part of the fabric than it is to simply inspect it.

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