Sugar, Spice and Everything Logical

For a society whose children pretty much memorize the four Prum Viha Thor (roughly translated as the four Brahma’s houses, or good knowledge to house your mind), and for a country which has, through toil and sweat, built literally hundreds of enormous statues symbolizing those four principles (the Bayon Temple, everyone?), the lack of its practice, even in the most “cultured” of citizens, is astonishing.

Meta, Karuna, Obekha, Mutita.
Meta, Karuna, Obekha, Mutita.
Meta, wait, what do these mean again?

When recited too often, with not much explanation, and even less examples in reality have made these concepts too abstract, so abstract that they remain mere letters strung on a paper, rather than practices where you mind should reside in.

Now try blanking your mind, and take a long look at the people you see for a day:

  • How many of them scowl at passer-bys in traffic with their brows knotted, eyes suspiciously screwing, with a barely noticeable sigh? I’m absolutely certain that you’ve been one of them. Or maybe you are looking at these scowling commuters with a scowl firmly fixed upon your face right now! Would you feel this annoyed if you tried to be a bit more understanding?
    “Yes, he’s cutting the line. But then again, he’s probably never had a proper education and was never really taught to think about the little things he does on the road.”
  • How many of the gossips you have overheard would be non-existent if only these people were more open to the possibility that *gasp* maybe they are not the only credible judge in the universe? That others are entitled to have their own motives, struggles and choice as well?
    “She’s so fat…. and that is probably because she feels too helpless in trying to change the way things are.”

When the news of a tragic young teen suicide reaches the public, you bet your ass there are going to be an unending stream of comments which resemble these:

“That kid had everything one could wish for. What a shame she killed herself! Such a waste of space.”

“She was so young, so fresh. I just don’t understand. She shouldn’t have done it.”

“Just a spoilt kid who didn’t know how to handle life.”

Now, how many of the “judges” put the efforts in trying to understand the circumstantial evidence, motives, and influences of the case before handing out their verdicts?

This is an unpopular opinion, but I believe even the government deserves our empathy. What sort of fucked up thing happened to make some of them this corrupted, selfish and so woefully incompetent? As much as I want to dish on the 2017 New Year road sign, if you really think about it, how many competent people are really working for the government? What were the alternatives they had? Or maybe… Maybe that was all they had learnt. Some time before this new year, an official ended his/her day with a sense of pride in his/her chest, believing he/she just made a great contribution to the celebration of his nation’s coming new year.

Of course, at this point, many simply give up on being empathetic altogether because it makes them wushy-smushy. It makes sense that when you are constantly trying to glimpse from others’ viewpoints, there’s this threat of losing your own footing, and the sight from your stance. That’s the risk of not putting your equally valid wants and needs on the agenda.

If you just charge straight from empathy to decision without adding more digits, you might find yourself transformed by your decisions (or lack thereof) into a passive little weed, swaying hither and tither by the wind of people’s perspective, unable to hold a firm stance and introduce any change.

  • That old cocky guy who cut you off in traffic might never learn he’s not as smooth on the road as he thinks he is
  • Your overweight friend who keeps chomping down an alarming amount of weight might never have the push to finally don the gym armor and work out
  • Kids might just get influenced by romanticized suicide (born out of too much empathy, I dare say), and choose to reach the light at the end of the tunnel by themselves instead of braving the road bumps when some minor inconvenience happens
  • and probably the worst of all, our government might just stay slothy, corrupted and continue to produce eye-jarring designs year after year after year.

 

This is exactly when logic comes into play.

After thoroughly (as thoroughly as you can) analyzing the problem from others’ standpoint, zoom out, and zoom back into your own flesh just to make sure you don’t become that boneless little weed. Many nice people run the risk of burning out by being overly compassionate, helping people all the time without taking their own needs and wants into account (we can’t all be Buddha, you know).

Some altruists might claim to be eating just for the sake of having energy to do noble services to others. Well, wouldn’t it be a nicer world to live in, if those altruists also enjoy eating and still able to help people?

Come back into your own perspective. What do you think of this? How does this action affect your wellbeing? For example, you might see where an abusive friend of yours is coming from. They might have had a terribly abusive childhood. Their efforts in building a codependent squad might stem from their insecurity and abandonment issues. Yes, you can see all these motives and past heartbreaks, but how about your side of the sob story? How have you been affected by their actions? Are you willing to put up with their problematic behavior?

And after that, assume you are a floating eye connected wirelessly to a mob of consciousness somewhere looking down at the issue. In case you didn’t catch that totally awesome simile, it’s to look at the issue more objectively (well as objectively as your human flesh allow, anyway). This is done to determine the best course of action which would be in the best interest of the both of you. By doing so, you might:

  • end up creating a workshop, or a social media campaign which aims to educate older people of the little do’s and don’ts on the road.
  • having a heart-to-heart with your friend, and maybe also become her gym buddy.
  • donating to mental illness organizations who provide consultation for suicidal folks.
  • ending a friendship on a relatively good term
  • or when next year comes rolling around, you might try to create a petition for the government to hold a bid for the best design firms for their logo because you’re sure even you can beat last year’s record.

Or… you can just do nothing. But this doing of nothing, laced with empathy is, I believe, still better than doing nothing laced with bitterness and hatred. Buddhism says that to hold onto anger is like palming a burning charcoal. Continue doing it, you burn your palm. Throw it at people, it scorches their bodies. Why not just throw it into the bonfire of life and invite others to join the dance?

In this case, at least one person in the world is less annoyed (hint, hint, it’s you). Now, go get that wall of empathy built. You’re already one fourth of the way to completing your house of mind!

 

Worshipping Idols

“You’re so cool, idol. I love you.”

“I’ve seen you in that video today. So idol!”

“I. D. O. L.”

“អាយដូល!”


Here are just variations of how people have been jokingly employing the term “idol” repeatedly for about 300 times to me now. I know it’s all a trend and show because honestly? I’ve done it to quite a few handful of unsuspecting victims too. You have to admit it’s refreshing to be creating this culture of admiring and shamelessly admitting your respect and pride for someone. I mean, what sort of people DO NOT want to be praised for their efforts and hard work? However, just like with many things, if done wrong, this mere idolizing can mean serious trouble because if you have not noticed already, idol doesn’t just mean someone whom you have considerable admiration for, it also means this.

Screen Shot 2017-04-01 at 6.07.34 PM Yeah, that’s right. It also means something that you pray as part of your religion. If there’s one thing I know for sure about this implication, it is this, you think of someone as FAR, FAR above you- this enlightened know-all being who’s leisurely hanging out in the clouds spewing one genius work after another without so much as a sweat. Lowly earth-worms like you can never aspire to be half that successful.
So what do you do? You idolize them. You say, oh, he’s born a genius. That’s why. She’s been doing it for 10 years; of course, she’s fluent in it. I can never ever be that committed. Oh, you know, his mind is extraordinary. It just can’t be explained.  No, of course, he doesn’t have any flaw. There’s nothing that she can’t do; maybe save for being a failure.

You call them gods. You do whatever it takes to convince yourself that no matter how much you work, you, a chanced mortal can NEVER achieve that level of excellence.

You know what you’re subconsciously doing by practicing this sort of idolizing? You’re setting a huge air cushion ready for your future fall. Instead of crawling your way to success, you’d rather label that success unattainable; thus, relieving you of any blame for not attempting. And the result? Without the goal of achieving success, instead of practicing, instead of putting in the work and time needed for improvement, you waste your life burrowing from one hole to another, convincing yourself all the way that you can never be a god after all, so why try?

Besides demotivating you to achieve greatness, this idolizing of humans also means you are effectively removing yourself from their friend list. there-are-two-ways-to-dehumanize-someone-by-dismissing-them-and-by-idolizing-them

By idolizing someone, you’re choosing to see them as immortal instead of blood and veined humans with flaws, biases, emotional distress, and childhood trauma (everybody has those; especially artists). That’s why many fans lament about being disillusioned after getting to meet their favorite idol (mostly celebrities).
“I don’t know who he thought he was. He was not all that impressive.”
“She didn’t even know what piece of writing I was quoting! And I’d thought she was smart!”
Well, can you blame them though? You set up this perfect standard for someone, and then blame them for not fitting into the cloud-pacing goddess image that you’ve created for them?

And without leaving room for them to be flawed, to be irrational, to be dumb, you’re effectively cutting all bridges to connect with them on a deeper level. You may be able to hold a decent small talk with them every once in a while, but without giving them the chance to be vulnerable, good luck getting close to them.

Conclusion? I think what I’m trying to get across is this: it’s very tempting to put labels on people, to give them a two-dimensional mask and write them off as perfect or dumb, but humans aren’t nearly always so neat, are they? Before calling someone your idol again, ask yourself, am I merely respecting one aspect of their life, or am I effectively shining their statue and putting it on my shrink?

Latrine Is the Shit

*Funky commercial tune for a video before cutting into the main topic*

(Seriously, watch the video first)

Fortunately, born and raised as a lower-middle class city gal, that was not something I ever had to face. No matter how old, manually or automatically flushed, I had been lucky enough to never stay in a house without a toilet. Even my grandparents in the province had that old manual toilet where you had to squat (which I learned years later that it was actually better for your intestines, but that’s another matter).

Open defecation was, in my mind, something of the near past. There were stories of how my parents squatted in the bush and used banana leaves as their trustworthy toilet paper, well, in this case, toilet leaves. I linked open defecation to barbaric war-times necessities which should not exist in our peaceful time of the present. And boy, was I wrong.

That whole assumption changed, when I had to live with a host family for a few days before our journey into the Prey Lang Forest in Kratie Province in 2015. Not a single one of the dozen of houses in the village had a working bathroom, or a toilet for that matter. We had to bathe in the river, and defecate anywhere we saw fit.

I’ve learned a lot during my stay there; perhaps the most memorable one is to never poop in the place where many others also like to poop. I also learned that instead of being a past necessity driven by war time desperation, open defecation is still a reality for some Cambodians.

Further research breaks that delusional assumption because according to the World Bank, as of 2015, open defecation is still a reality for more than half Cambodians as only 42% of the total population had access to sanitary latrines.

That is 8.67 million people who have to rely on the old fashioned squatting bush-leaves style and risk poop mines in the dead of the night to relieve themselves!

Hopefully that shall not be how things will stay and we are expecting the numbers of latrines to grow because according to the Phnom Penh Post, the government has a goal to bring the number of people without latrines to 40% by 2018, and to 0% by 2025!

And that’s a wise choice because open defecation, well, the lack of hygiene in general, is an important cause for diarrhoea, which results in the deaths of more than 750,000 children under the age 5 every year worldwide.

According to a report from World Health Organization, in 2013, an estimated 14% of the deaths of Cambodian children aged under 5 is due to diarrhoea-related diseases. That’s about 2,000 children who could have lived and grown up to be a limitless possibility of personnels had they had access to clean water and simple latrines!

As if killing children (and sending their parents into fright) is not evil enough, diarrhoea, and poor hygiene in generally is also linked to growth stunt!

Though not directly deadly, stunted growth has been found by the WHO to cause a greater risk for premature death, delayed mental development, reduced cognitive capacity, and what’s more? It can even be passed on to the next generation.

You may think children who are victims of stunted growth are so because they lack the necessary nutrients to grow healthily.

That is the case, but not the whole case.

Apparently, a review article found that the lack of WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) also plays an important part in the development of stunting (oh, the irony). Children who lacks access to WASH face more frequent bouts of diarrhoea, parasitic worms, and environmental enteric dysfunction (short as EED which is a disease that causes chronic inflammation, reduced nutrient absorption of the intestine and also weakens the function of the small intestine).

Appropriating that to the Cambodian context, it has been found that, in as late as 2010, 40% of children under 5 were suffering from stunted growth! That’s 600,000 children that might grow up to have delayed mental development and reduced thinking capacity just because of malnourishment and lack of WASH! One wonders just how many of the irrational people one sees on the street and online everyday, struggling to form an appropriate justification for their environmentally-and-socially destructive behaviour might just be an unfortunate result of such simple causes.

It is now time, ladies and gents, to keep our eyes glued to the very simple yet largely ignored cause of supplying each household with a suitable latrine, not only for the sake of relieving all mothers of the bride an embarrassingly shitty moment (puns intended), but to also relieve children of the future unnecessary deaths, and needless stunting of their very-well-deserved growth!

Prep for College Part III: How to Study

In the previous posts, I’ve touched upon the subject of what to have and what to generally do in college for those who are just fresh out of high school, and here is the last post of the series which aims to give you some tips on how to study more effectively.

Now, I’m no expert on the subject, and without saying, here are just suggestions. You are more than welcome to adopt or scoff at them, but I urge you to at least give it a try because studying right makes matter much easier in college. That’s for sure.

  1. you need to plan your time and energy efficiently. In high school, you pretty much have your days planned out by either your school’s schedule, or your parents. However, in college, you’re given more freedom to choose how to use your time. I believe with great freedom comes an equally great responsibility. And nothing is as liberating or as challenging as our attempt to control how we spend our time. Annie Dillard said, “How we spend our days is of course, how we spend our lives,” and God knows there are a few struggle more challenging, or more rewarding than learning to spend our lives correctly.

Here are some of the few tools I’ve found helpful in helping me to plan my time:

  • Have a calendar: you can either note your schedule down in your pc, phone or the good-old notebook and pen. I find myself being more motivated if I note down my days on paper, but try them all out to see what you prefer the best.6e7b076c7b89acb59bb379a4211abf07
  • Block time for the most important things: In his book, First Things First, the legendary self-improvement guru, Stephen Covey said if you had a bottle and you put small stones in first, you won’t be able to fit in the bigger ones. However, if you put the bigger ones in, and put the small ones in later, the smaller ones will disperse and find nooks and crannies to settle into. When you schedule your time, block solid chunks of time for your most prioritized tasks. Since this is a post about studying, I’m assuming you’d like to get better grades or study more efficiently, so yeah, block time for your classes. I’d encourage you to show up in classes that are worthy of your time.
  • Block off time for your reading time: your lecturer wouldn’t be able to cover an entire subject in the span of 40+ hours assigned for their courses per semester, if you want to really attain knowledge, read the textbooks, recommended readings, and whatever the hell you can grab your hands on. I like to read the night before class. Reading before actually studying it in class also helps you question. Write your questions down and ask your lecturer during the class.
  • Block off time for review and note writing: after each class, it’s ideal if you can just review the notes, and main points in the lecture. See if your pre-class questions are all answered to your satisfaction, and if not, aim to ask your lecturer later. Also, if you regularly review your notes, it will make it way easier when the exam comes. The material sticks better than being crammed in a short amount of time, say, 1 night before the actual exam.
  • Set smaller deadlines: you’re not in college if you don’t get big group assignments. Talk to your teammates as soon as your group is formed. Set the final deadline on your calendar, then reverse engineer the project by dividing the tasks. For example, if it’s to write a paper that’s due in three weeks. You should set smaller deadlines for brainstorming, researching and draft writing. Say, you will have to finish brainstorming in a week, and researching in two weeks.
  • Use the Pomodoro Technique: basically, it’s found out that we can’t possibly pay attention all the time. Most people find it effective to pay solid attention for 45 minutes, then take a 15 minute break, and repeat the process. I find it helpful myself to pay attention for 30 minutes at a time, and take smaller 5 minutes break between the 30 minute chucks. It’s all about trying and finding out what’s best fit your attention span. I like to use Tide because it’s just all sorts of wonderful in customizing your focus time without needing you to be connected to the internet.
  1. Now that’s all the time management thing you have to deal with, on to the real study.
  • Before class:
    • Read before class. Don’t just read passively and highlight half the text though. Practice active reading by asking questions all the time. A useful technique for me is pre-brainstorm before the actual studying. I like to ask myself what I know of the topic beforehand. For example, if the topic is about ancient philosophy, I would spend a couple of minutes just trying to recall what I know of ancient philosophy. With these fresh knowledge in mind, reading makes it easier for me to detect any new knowledge and add it to to the existing store of information.
    • Learn to skim. Skimming is essentially reading fast to get the general idea of something. Of course, you will have to practice it wisely because some courses require slow and critical reading. This comes in handy when you have to read long texts from a boring book that won’t really give you any new information except for its bold headers.
    • Read notes from your previous class and highlights from your reading just to make sure your brain is prepared for the actual class.
    • Do you homework: of course, it’s up to you, really, to do the homework assigned or not. If the class is easy, you don’t really need to do it. However, for classes you find difficult, doing homework and asking your lecturer where you went wrong will help tremendously.
  • During class time:
    • Attend the lectures: again, this is not absolute. Maybe you are already well-versed in a subject, then there’s really no reason to show up. For classes you’re struggling with though, show up! Show up and pay attention to what the lecturer teaches.
    • Sit in front: I can’t stress how much this is ignored. If you sit at the back, you have the chance to slack off. Sitting in the front of the class will 1) make sure your lecturer actually know who you are, especially in big classes. This might come in handy when you need their help either in class material, or for, say, reference for a project.
    • Take notes: take notes of the important information during class. If you’ve read your chapter before class, you should know which info is in the book and which is extra info from your lecturer.
    • Ask questions: if you have any doubt over anything at all, ask questions to your lecturer. Chances are, they are more than happy to answer.
    • Grab chances to discuss: discussions can be boring, or it can be mind opening; it just depends on the people, to be honest. Take initiative in discussion by trying to put your thoughts as eloquently as possible, ad also try to listen and understand other people’s arguments. This is what you can’t get from reading books alone.
  • After class:
    • Revise your notes: put together your book notes and lecture notes. If you have the time, it would help tremendously to combine the notes and write them down neatly. It will surely help prevent cramming for exams.
    • Talk out loud: it’s actually very helpful to recite out loud what you’re learning with your own words. Bonus if it is to teach another person. If you can’t make something simple, you don’t understand it yet.

Well, these are all the tips I’ve tried and found helpful! Tell me yours in the comments! Have fun studying!

Complimentary reading on: how to be more productive  and how to deal with challenges.

Shhhh Shhhh

“No….! Not another presentation assignment!”

“But, teacher! The topic is too complicated for me!”

“I swear to God. This is way beyond what I can do!”

“*general groaning noise with unintelligible mumbles*”

These are what I usually hear; either uttered by my students in English class, or classmates in college when something remotely challenging is assigned. Groans of agony laced with genuine despair ripple through the room as students attempt to fruitlessly bargain with the teacher citing that the tasks are too difficult.

Well, that’s the goddamn point!

Listen, here, my dudes. You’re in a classroom because you wanted to learn, right? You wanted to improve your understanding of something whether it be English, drawing, or photography.

You suck right now. You are speaking broken English, drawing hands behind a body, or take blurry pictures with hideous exposure.
But you’re learning! You have your teacher to guide you and your classmates to hold you tight when things get tough.

I know it’s hard to admit to yourself that you suck. It’s frustrating to not be at the level you wish to be, but that’s the reality. You’ve gotta accept that you suck, but that’s not all. Yes, you suck now, but with lots of tears and sweat (literally), you will improve.

Listen to me. No one, and I mean, no one can get to where they are now without the fear of falling, without trying something new, without actually falling. If you don’t believe me, think of someone you deem as successful in a field you’re most afraid to fail. Shoot them a message asking them how they started out. Seriously, do it so that your illusion of natural talent will be shattered. Even when it comes to arts, there’s only 10% talent, and like 90% hard work.

Or you can think back to any skills that you possess now. Any skills will do- hair-curling, bicycle riding, driving, singing, reading, heck, even writing Khmer. Try to think back to the first time you tried to do it. Did you just magically pick up a pencil and write beautifully cursive Tom Teav story? Nope. You were likely in your first grade, struggling to even hold the pencil right. It might have taken you almost a year to even fit your ក into the square of paper provided. You see? Anything worth learning takes time and practice. If you have to live by any rule, let this be it.

Think of challenges as not obstacles, but bosses you have to fight to level up. What’s the point of a game if you are never going to level up and just run around the screen all day? You might not be able to defeat the boss at the first, (or the tenth) try, but with enough persistence and swearing, you will finally slay that piece of hardened broccoli and continue to the next level!

As Michelle Obama, the first black and Ivy League graduate first lady of the United States who got to where she is today with many doubts, sweats and failures put it:

“You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it’s important to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages. And I know that because I’ve seen it myself. […] Life will put many obstacles in your path that are far worst than a bad grade. You’ll have unreasonable bosses, and difficult clients and patients. You’ll experience illnesses and losses, crises and setbacks, that will come out of nowhere and knock you off your feet.”

If you want to improve your public speaking skills, you’ve gotta speak. If you want to be a renowned painter one day, you’ve gotta paint. It’s simple, but it ain’t easy.

 

Complimentary reading on living life like a gamer: Player One, Listen Up.

The Girl with the Chameleon Soul

 

To be completely honest, ever since I was a little girl, as small as 7, I was a chameleon soul. My earliest memories were filled with rigorous attempts to rearrange my thoughts, ideas, specifically actions so that I could be like someone else whether it was one of my teachers, schoolmates, or even the random snack-selling lady I came across on the street.

Everywhere I went, I would try to discern the vibes of those around me, and tailor myself fittingly resulting in me having the ability to fit in almost every situation as long as I wished to.

Some would say it’s a good advantage in life- being able to blend in.

It certainly is, but the price was certainly too high, too. In return for the ability to blend in, I lost myself. I lost my original thoughts and ideas. My inspiration was borrowed, thoughts stolen.

You see, you’ve gotta find a balance between being able to blend in, and still keep pieces of yourself intact. I was as far removed from the said balance as one can get.

Until, in highschool, there was this popular girl I was trying very hard to imitate. I would say my imitation process was near completion until it hit me. I thought, “When I succeed, I will be the second her. How about the first me?”

That was when the agonizing, yet somehow exciting process of self-rediscovery started. I had to forge my own opinions on everything all over again. I had to come to terms with a lot of things, some life-defining, such as the fact that I am not so straight, or the trivial ones like the fact that I hate chocolate (yes, this is not a joke).

Although it has been five years since, I am still walking with feeble legs, prone to crushing and imitating the forces around me. I am still trying to get to know me. I still sometimes question my own sexuality. What if I turn out to be straight after all? And also my dessert choice. What is wrong with me? Why don’t I enjoy chocolate as much as all my friends seem to do? What if my conclusion was wrong, my taste-buds not as good? Though putting on a brave face, my self-reassurance is still on feeble grounds, prone to a fluttering moment of confusion and anxiety as soon as it receives any criticism.

This tendency to doubt oneself also leads to comparisons, a lot of them. Since you doubt your own journey, you are more likely to admire the journeys of those around you with envious eyes of the green monster. Goddamn, why is the grass so green on the other side? In my mind, I know for certain that comparing oneself to another person is wrong; it is detrimental to self-compassion and mental health. However, my mind still automatically made the comparison anyway.

That is until a few days ago, when I read (and re-read, and watch, and re-watch) the creator of brainpickings.com, Maria Popovo’s beautifully- written commencement address. She equates the word “soul” as the place where our thoughts, actions, and ideals come from.  Essentially, the moment one compares oneself to another person, one vacates one’s soul, ejecting oneself to a kind of “limbo” that is neither one’s nor the other person’s life.

Now, I truly realize everybody has a soul, a journey of their own. I, also have a soul, and a journey of my own. To compare, to be jealous of the lives of others only mean I am betraying my soul, and putting my journey on hold. One should try to go on one’s journey with a pace dictated by one’s soul. Let the others scoot past you as far as they wish; that’s their choice.

To all the chameleon souls out there, maybe social pressure, parental attitudes have made you disregard, discredit your own thoughts, and ideas- your own soul.

It’s time you packed your bag, and started your journey to discover your soul again, reintroducing yourself to yourself. How? I don’t know, but maybe finding out whether or not you really like chocolate is a good place to start.

Complimentary reading: thoughts on what part of your soul you should keep, and what you should improve.

Why I Would Never Join a Debate Club

There are many tempting options of debate clubs out there. Both the University of Cambodia and Institute of Foreign Languages’ debate clubs are very famous for their wit, and eloquence. Compared to other clubs, if you can make a name for yourself in debating, especially in English language, you are admired all round the freaking campus!

Despite how tempting that is, I have resolved not to join any debate club because of one sole reason, and one reason only.

I believe debating is used for finding out the truth, weeding out weaknesses from different, often contrasting beliefs, so that both parties can arrive nearer to the truth at the end of the argument.

Having seen many debates, and even participated in some myself, I can say with enough certainty that schools’ debate club is geared toward making their members great at debating. However, their definition of “being great” is to win. It looks like obtaining glory over the opponent is the sole purpose of debating. Rigorous researching, priceless team coordination, countless time and energy are put forth just to “win”. I’ve heard of some debaters enjoying the kick, savoring the moments of success over their opponents. It’s a great way to boost one’s self esteem, and ego, it seems.

However, for me, those reasons are not enough. For a truth lover, debate is a sacred endeavor in which truth should be the end, not ego-inflation, or self-esteem.

Moreover, in most of the modern debate championship, the teams are given a topic, and even their stances on the issue. How further from the truth can one get? Whenever I’m forced to partake in a debate that I do not care about, I feel like I am a monkey being dressed in colorful attire, prepped up to entertain people on stage. What I say is not what I really believe because what if I actually agree with my opponent? I often tell those who approach me to join debate clubs that I will make an awful member because I would just reply, “Meh, you’re right. Let’s call it quits,” when the opponent raises evidence that diminishes my argument. I know that most debate club members are told to hold their ground, to look strong even when they are rightfully attacked.

It seems like the team spirit, championship structures and even the goddamn strategies point debate club members to winning, and not the truth, so no, thank you. I’m good. I’m all good.

Now, I know this blog post will undoubtedly offend (mildly, I hope) some of my friends who are from one debate club or another. Well, maybe give back your arguments, eh? Debate style.