Staying Limber

Now that my college days are over, I find myself huffing and puffing a little more. I guess maybe it is being off the campus. I usually walk the 3 blocks to work, sit at a desk or stand in one place all day–hardly burning any calories, certainly getting no kinesthetic workout.

I’m trying to stay limber. I find that even bending down to tie my shoes stretch out my back in an unfamiliar way. I’m not so much out of shape as I am just not using muscles that I haven’t in a while.

Here are some of the things I’m doing to stay limber.

Ultimate Frisbee

I’m not on a team or play in a league. There are a bunch of guys in my courtyard that play every afternoon, and from time to time they are generous enough to allow me to play with them. This is a good exercise because it isn’t too hardcore. There is some running, but mainly in spurts. I’m also not a giant fan of tackling–I know, here’s my man card.

Frisbee keeps the top half of my body active and I get to run around a bit, too.

Foosball

Another activity that keeps the top half of my body limber is foosball. Believe it or not, when you’re really playing, foosball can be great exercise. It also is great for keeping your reflexes in shape. The twisting of the knobs, the reaching back and forth, moving from one end the table to the other…the trash talking. It is exercise, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

My college dorm had some extra money my senior year and they let us pick the table we wanted. We checked out a website that does foosball table reviews and they suggested that we get a Warrior Foosball Table. We did, and we loved it. In fact, we loved it so much that we took it with us when we m0ved out. It’s okay. We ended up paying for our own and returned the original one before the summer ended.

Jumping Rope

You never know how un-limbered you are until you try jumping a little rope. It also wears you out a lot faster than expected. I’m not talking about going down to an elementary school and doing some double-dutch. Just go down to Target and get a jumping rope like they use in the movie Rocky.

Basketball

Now, this requires that you gather together some friends, but basketball is a great way to stay limber. You’ll quickly find that you haven’t been using the muscles regularly that you use to play basketball. Bending over to get the ball, getting low to play defense, jumping up for a rebound (and landing).

So here are the 4 ways that I try to stay limber. If you’ve got any you’d like to share with me, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below. I’m always looking for fun ways to stay limber.

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Buber’s I-You and Utilitarianism

In I and Thou, Martin Buber’s central thesis is the distinction between what he calls the I-You and the I-It worlds.  For Buber, a Jewish philosopher, a distinction between these two worlds is crucial, because it is this alone that determines the spiritual life or death of every human being.  In order to understand what is meant by his I-You and I-It distinction, one must thoroughly examine the nature of Buber’s thinking with comparison and contrast of other views. First the theory of classical Utilitarianism will be explained in order to provide not only a clearer understanding of Buber’s comparison between the two worlds, but also to demonstrate its likeness to the I-It and the dangers of the theory itself. Then, along with a Biblical critique of the It-world and that of Buber’s, the focus will shift to discuss whether or not Buber’s thought is properly Jewish.

By explaining the idea of classical utilitarianism, one will have a better understanding of what Buber means by the It-world.  In Utilitarianism, John Stuart Mill defines the theory as “the creed which accepts as the foundation of morals “utility” or the “greatest happiness principle” [and] holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness” ( Mill  7).  For utilitarianism, an act must be performed if it promotes more general happiness than another act or if the act was not performed.  Utilitarianism’s treatment of objects and human beings is what allows one to see its relevance to the It-world so clearly.  For example, one might think of a person who took a trip to Niagara Falls.  If that person were to, while observing the falls, recognize its beauty and grandeur as part of Divine creation, one might say that the person observing was living in an understanding of the I-You world. But, if instead, the person observing only recognized that he could build a dam in the falls in order to harness the water as an energy source for the city, Buber would say that the person was only living in the It-world.  For that person would merely be utilizing creation, ignoring its beauty and divine origin, and allowing further dominance of the It in one’s life (Class Notes).  Mill would say that by building a dam and providing energy for the city, it would produce greater general happiness; therefore we would not be exploiting the beauty of the falls, but instead utilizing the falls in order to promote more happiness for more people. More dangerous though, might be the treatment of people that utilitarianism often requires.  For example, suppose there were three patients, all critically injured in an automobile accident, and all being cared for by the same doctor. Then suppose that two of the patients, both well-known benefactors in their communities, needed new organs in order to survive. But the other patient, an unmarried, department store employee would recover with standard treatment and would not need an organ transplant in order to survive. Finally suppose that the only way for the first two patients to get organs was through an emergency transplant from another patient in the hospital. If the doctor were a utilitarian or living only in the It-world, it seems that the doctor would be obligated to secretly deny treatment to the one patient in order to sacrifice him and save the other two patients, thus promoting greater overall happiness.  This way of thinking is extremely limited, very dangerous and denies the You completely.  It seems that by merely exchanging the life of one person for that of two others  (as if it were money being exchanged for food), one would only be utilizing human beings, treating God’s creation as things, not lives or souls.

Several passages in the Bible critique It-thinking and emphasize man as being in relation to God and to others.  For example, God creates Eve, because it is not good for Adam to be alone (Genesis 2:18).  All previous creation had been deemed “good,” and this was the first instance when “not good” was used.  God created Eve to be in marital relation to Adam, which mirrors man’s relation to God (Class Notes).  And in 2 Samuel 11, when David orders Uriah to the front lines so that he will inevitably be killed, he is treating a human as a disposable object (New Living Translation). To treat a human being, an individual life, as a thing is to treat one as part of the It-world.  There is no responsibility taken for this life, thus no relation to the You.  Also, the examination of the role of language is crucial in the Biblical critique.  God created the world and man through language.  He walks with Adam in the garden and speaks with him.  Man’s distinction from all other creation is that he is able to use language to relate; therefore only a You can speak and obtain this personal God-given status.  Language cannot be used merely as a tool as in the ego-centric It-world (Class Notes).  

For Buber, the I-It world is not inherently evil, but dangerous when it becomes one’s sole orientation.  Buber states, “The basic word I-It does not come from evil- anymore than matter comes from evil.  It comes from evil-like matter that presumes to be that which has being” (Buber 95).  By this, Buber means that it is not the things that the It-world consists of that make it evil, but instead it is the worship of these things. For example, a creation such as stars and its scientific study, astronomy, is used properly in that it furthers the understanding of the operations of the universe.  But it is when this inquiry is manipulated and we form institutions such as astrology when stars control individual destiny, that it becomes evil. But what is most dangerous is when I-It thinking is translated into one’s I-You relations.  For example, Buber discusses employment and how the individual workers (“He+He+He”) add up to only an It of profits and efficiency.  An employer’s world would come “crashing down” if each employee were treated as an “inexperienceable You” (Buber 96).  Or in the realm of politics, where democracy is said to be a government for and of the people, politicians only view their constituents as a vote. Even marriage has become the union of two people who provide happy feelings to each other, rather than “two human beings [that] reveal the You to one another” (Buber 95).  From business to politics to even the most sacred of relationships, marriage, the It-world “grows…like weeds” until all idea of You relationships and their necessity is lost among things.

After the process of examination and comparison, one sees that both the Biblical critique and Buber’s critique are consistent in criticizing the utilitarian view of human relations.  In order to live spiritually, we must relate to one another, for it is through these relations that people find themselves in the You-world.  Biblically, God created man through language, something that not only enabled man to relate to one another, but also to relate to God, which inevitably gives freedom.  Even from the first sentence of Torah, the importance of covenant relation is established.   Man is betrothed to God, set apart from all other creation by his ability to recognize this necessary relationship (Class Notes).  Buber’s critique of It-thinking is undoubtedly Jewish because relation is also the core of his thought.

Works Cited

 

Buber, Martin. I and Thou. New York: Simon Schuster, 1996.

 

Class Notes. Jewish Thought I. Fall 2005.

 

Mill, John Stuart. Utilitarianism. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Inc., 2001.

 

New Living Translation. Wheaton, Il: Tyndale House, 1996.

 

School on the Run

As a student (and a New Yorker), I have spent my fair share in coffee shops–I love Starbucks as much as the next New Yorker. But what I never get is people who spend an entire day attached to their laptop, spending 8-10 hours a day sucking up Wi-Fi and sipping down coffee.

starbucks-school

Once in a blue moon I’ll sit down and have some guy want to talk. I’m not much of a talker, but it happens occasionally that I’m willing to carry on a conversation with a stranger.

The other day I saw a man stretched out across and entire table. He had four or five books, his laptop, and two binders. Man, and hi-lighters–so many colors.

We started talking and he told me he was working on his online history degree from the University of Memphis. As we continued to talk, it dawned on me that he was here in NY, working on his degree from a school in Memphis, Tennessee. I asked him how this came to be. Originally from Memphis, he was able to get his entire degree online for a fraction of the cost that it would be to have cost to pay out of state tuition for a school in New York City. He spent his first two years in Memphis, making friends, participating in the “college experience,” then he was finishing his degree while living in New York and paying a fraction of the cost that he would have attending schools in the city.

It’s pretty genius if you ask me.

It is crazy to me that you can get an entire degree online. And it isn’t just this one school. Here is a list of all of the schools that as of the posting of this article have entire degrees that one can obtain completely online. Furthermore, here is a list of the Top 50 Online Colleges.

It makes me wonder: how long until students can homeschool high school, middle school, elementary school from home?

obedience

Obedience

When it comes to obeying, there are some great quotes that have been said over the past 1000 years. Here are some of my favorite:

All religions have based morality on obedience, that is to say, on voluntary slavery. That is why they have always been more pernicious than any political organization. For the latter makes use of violence, the former – of the corruption of the will.

-Alexander Herzen

I think we’ve overstated that God is the God who wants us to obey. Obedience is not the end game. Obedience is only our calling so that we can step into our freedom.

-Erwin McManus

Obedience to lawful authority is the foundation of manly character.

-Robert E. Lee

Justice is the insurance which we have on our lives and property. Obedience is the premium which we pay for it.

-William Penn

But possibly some of the best philosophers on obedience are Aristotle and Plato. In possible one of the best articles I’ve seen written on why we should obey, Hankering for History has an excellent article on the subject. I’ll leave the first few paragraphs here and you can read the rest of their site if you so choose.

In Glenn Tinder’s Political Thinking: The Perennial Questions, one of the most important questions asked to the reader—and to those that have debated philosophy for centuries—is “Why obey?”. Along with written language and agricultural, obedience is one of the cornerstones of civilization. Obedience is what allows governments to thrive, it fuels society’s growth, and it offers nations the ability to provide their citizens certain liberties and freedoms. In Tider’s Political Thinking, he states that “[c]ivilization depends on obedience being normal and disobedience exceptional; otherwise, the fundamental order undergirding a cultivated life would break down.”

Those that believe in the historical accuracy of the Book of Genesis are aware that obedience is one of the first lessons taught to mankind. Many philosophers take stock in ‘total depravity,’ the theological doctrine that every person is born into the world with the inability to refrain from sin, which was caused by Adam and Eve’s original sin. Whether the total depravity doctrine is to be believed or not, since Adam and Eve’s inability to be obedient, mankind has struggled with refraining from disobedience and sin. In comparing recent philosophers, like Glenn Tinder, with philosophers of classical ancient history, such as Plato and Aristotle, one can see how the argument for obedience has both similarities and differences that have occurred over millennia.

When understanding obedience, especially for the purposes of this essay, it is important to discern between different types of obedience. The following should serve as an examination on obedience as it pertains to government and its citizens, not, as Aristotle refers to inPolitics as the obedience “between master and slave.”