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Cleo Abram

Student , Columbia University - Columbia College


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We can learn by exchanging and discussing our own lists of "10 Things I Know to be True."

After listening to Sarah Kay's beautiful speech and poetry, I tried to write my own list of "10 Things I know to be True." I learned one thing immediately: I don't know much. I learned a second thing more slowly: that's okay! I tried to distill my limited understanding of the world into this list, without being overly philosophical nor literal.

One thing I know to be true, but that is not on my list, was that Sarah Kay was right when she said that if you share your list with a group of people you will find that someone has one thing very similar, someone else has something totally contrary, another person has something you've never heard of, and still another has something that makes you think further about something you thought you knew.

So let's share ours, and find out! What do your lists have on them?

Here's mine:
1. Fiction can, at times, feel more real than fact.
2. One person, with a good idea, can change our world.
3. There are things about our universe that we will never understand.
4. #3 is not an excuse to stop trying.
5. Everyone has a story worth hearing.
6. There is always another side to the story they tell.
7. Questions can sometimes teach more than their answers.
8. Children can sometimes teach more than their parents.
9. Everyone should travel.
10. No one's truth is universal.


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  • Oct 22 2011: 1. First impressions are often wrong.
    2. Second impressions are seldom wrong.
    3. No apology can unsay a hurtful thing.
    4. Encouraging children to excel is good parenting. Requiring children to excel is not.
    5. It doesn't take a village to raise a child. It takes a parent who cares.
    6. The universe is a very large place. It's statistically impossible that there isn't intelligent life elsewhere in the cosmos. It's statistically improbable that such intelligent life has visited this little backwater planet.
    7. There is no honesty in politics. There is no responsibility in government.
    8. Committees are a waste of time and effort.
    9. Proof abounds that God exists. You don't have to believe for it to be true.
    10. Nature scoffs at man's hubris.
    • Oct 22 2011: 9. On what planet, in the universe, are these bountiful proofs? Cos they ain't here.
      • Oct 23 2011: Lay on your back on a clear night and stare into the sky. Do you see all that wonderful expanse of stars? Where did they come from? A single cosmic cataclysm? Before that, how did all that is come into being? If you believe that you exist and that the world exists and that universe exists, then you have to understand that without God, none of this would BE.

        Need more proof, look into a microscope. Look at the smaller and smaller particles until you get to the smallest semi particle and ask, what is smaller than this? And how did this and this and this learn to exist in this pattern? Why does a quark do what it does and why does an electron and a proton attract each other instead of repel?

        God isn't in the man made manifestations but in all things. The visible and the invisible alike. God is so much more than what man thinks and can understand, so man assigns God characteristics to make God seem more like us and not the natural origin of the universe.
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          Oct 23 2011: there you go, "the nature talk". That's an extremely flawed argument, just because someone doesn't understand where it all comes from, doesn't mean that you can fill in the blank with an invisible person in the sky. It's called "the argument from ignorance fallacy". I'm not calling YOU ignorant, that's what the fallacy it's called. If you're giving your god the property that cannot be understood by us humans, then why bother? Anyway, peace. I loved your first 7 points.
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          Oct 23 2011: I think you're all talking about the same thing. The disconnect is simply the semantics of how we define "God."
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          Oct 23 2011: It is not so much arguing that some grand mystery must exist because we don't understand something (i.e. ignorance fallacy). It is that there is never an end to the questioning, that there is always something beyond our grasp in virtually every facet of human life that is the grand mystery. Whether one denies the mystery, basques in it, or fills sutures it with language is pretty much the ultimate personality test.
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          Oct 23 2011: Jas: No matter how you fill in the blank with something that "cannot be understood" or "defined", you are still superficially and falsely removing an unknown with another unknown. In reality, you haven't solved anything. However, you've tricked your mind into thinking that you have the answer, preventing you from further inquiry. In other words, the god answer doesn't answer questions about the unknown, it stops them.
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          Oct 23 2011: Tony - You seem to suggest that the entire equation is fundamentally changed because one variable is substituted for another. Whether I write the equation as x + 2x = 10 or y + 2y = 10, solving for the unknown variable will get you the same result and the substitution does not trick me into thinking that I know the answer simply because of the substitution. It isn't a matter of "removing an unknown with another unknown" but simply a question of labels. Trying too hard to categorize what is and what isn't god is a game of semantics that simply distracts from the task of trying to find answers.
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          Oct 23 2011: Phil, I normally wouldn't get into this can of worms, especially not on here, but based on some of the questions you asked I was compelled to respond.

          400 years ago there were many things that we didn't understand about nature. At that time, simple things we couldn't explain were quite simply explained by the existence of God, to the satisfaction of many.

          However, 50 years or so would progress, and answers would be discovered by diligently inquisitive characters known as scientists. more often than not, these discoveries would create new questions.

          More time would progress, and more things would be discovered that we couldn't yet explain, and the answer by many would be God. However, time, curiosity, and research would reveal the actual answer, and we would move along.

          Now here we are in the present day, with logical and provable explanations for quite a many things in nature that were once attributed to God, and somehow yet, for what riddles we have newly discovered and not yet solved, so many still use the answer of God.

          If any lesson is to be learned from our history, could we not safely assume that the answer to the questions you posed above will be revealed in fifty to a hundred years? Then you will have something new that we will not understand, and can again use God as your answer.
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          Oct 26 2011: There is no God. At least not in the traditional sense of the word. The universe is infinitely complex, and we are part of the universe, so if you redefine the concept of 'God' into something like nature, or eternity, or that which stands beyond the knowable universe, behind the singularity and before the big-bang, etc. Then we can say that god could exist, but there is no evidence that 'God' is anything other than a human concept developed out of man's insecurity and recognition of our finite existence, and used to control power by influencing irrational minds. To base your decisions and choose your actions based upon such supernatural fictions is foolish at best and potentially dangerous.
        • Oct 27 2011: If you equal "god" as nature, why don't you just use the proper term - nature. If god is something else, explain what it is and then show us how looking at the stars would lead one to think there is a god which you describe.
      • Oct 26 2011: Ah yes, there is no God because there is no proof! I say because the universe exists, God exists, there's your proof. Before there was the universe, there was an infinite power that could create a universe. That infinite power IS God. Just because mankind is incapable of grasping something so infinitely large and infinitely small at the same time, we struggle to define the force that allows our very awareness of being. I take great pleasure in acknowledging the gifts that God has bestowed upon us. Existence. Awareness. Emotion. Pleasure. Pain. Life. Death. Beer.

        Mostly beer. :)
        • Oct 27 2011: "Just because mankind is incapable of grasping something so infinitely large and infinitely small at the same time, we struggle to define the force that allows our very awareness of being. " I totally agree, that's why I don't try too hard to name things I can't even begin to fathom, perhaps one day the human brain will evolve enough for someone to get it, but for right now, assigning whatever existence is, some kind of consciousness, in order to make sense of it in our primitive human way is just pointless. And really boring, I might add. I prefer the wonder to the fake 'know it all' answers.
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      Oct 24 2011: Can we just leave God out of it. It so brings a good conversation down. Makes it irrelevant/tired/uninteresting/crap/lies etc. Just leave the word out and we can all move on. we simply do not need it anymore! Stop with the god i say. Strike me down if you are liste..........................
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        Oct 24 2011: Very funny!!!!
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        Oct 26 2011: There are only three things worth talking about: Politics, Religion, and Sex.
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        Oct 27 2011: See #10 on my list (which is way down below somewhere). I don't have a problem with God or god or gods. I think talking about religion is fascinating. But, once the conversation devolves into a general cosmic debate, not much is going to get accomplished, and no one takes any responsibility his or her contributions or actions.
      • Oct 27 2011: LOL... Phillip didn't finish the "if you are liste... " because he was stricken!
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      Oct 25 2011: 3. No apology can unsay a hurtful thing. - truest thing in the world ! Someone to raise apology is just trying to amend his image, & no real apologies in the world make any sense.
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        Oct 26 2011: Apologies make sense if you made a mistake and recognize it. If you don't actually mean it, or are just trying to appease some social structure, then don't be dishonest.

        In the past, I've let my emotions affect my judgment and taken unjust actions toward others, and for that I'm truly sorry. But I can't change the past.

        Hurtful things are only hurtful if the 'victim' allows them to be hurtful. Therefore, you are only a victim if you allow yourself to be. Words can not harm anyone. However, violent actions can actually harm people.

        ---------------------------- end of original comment
        Apparently the machine will not let me reply to Phillip McKay's comment below, so I'll edit in my reply here. - Emotions may MOTIVATE your actions, and thus they are an indicator of what you truly value, but they are not values in themselves, and emotions are irrational. Irrationality doesn't matter in arbitrary decisions, like what color do I like today, or who will I fall in love with, but they do matter when you take actions. Words can be actions, and may even be intended to cause harm, like yelling "FIRE" in a crowed theater when there is no fire, but your feelings can only be hurt by words IF you put value in the speaker's opinion. The choice of what you value is up to you. You need not be lonely or unattached to be rational. Hearts break because we value the individuals we choose to love, and we are hurt by their rejection, not because they spoke to us. Perhaps the girl that told you she didn't love you did it because you beat her, or ignored her, or just had no love for yourself, her words didn't hurt, it was your realization that your self-image, or worldview, or opinion of her was mistaken, you were deceived, either by your self, or her, or the world, and when you realize that, your foundations are rocked to the core, What else have you gotten wrong? This is why truth matters. Your ideas are only as good as your model of the world.
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          Oct 27 2011: I used to think somewhat like you Michael. But your emotions are the value you place on things. without them you are dull indifferent and a flatliner. Remember that beautiful girl that told you she didnt love you. That hurt. Welcome to the real world. You're right - words dont hurt if you're not attached to the human raise and many achieve that lonely existence.
      • Oct 27 2011: Forgiveness is the first step to healing. First you must forgive yourself for being hurt, then you can fully forgive those who caused pain. Alternately, one cannot forgive one whom wishes not to be forgiven. And there, we have apology.
        • Oct 27 2011: No, one never has the right to forgive oneself. If one has hurt someone, that's a permanent burden which one has to carry.

          However, one can forgive other and I encourage that. With forgiveness comes a relief as a victim. Bring in friendship and let the one who hurts you feel easy around you and give him/her the chance to compensate of the wrong before.

          One can apology, the victim can refuse to accept.

          The best thing to do is to avoid hurting other in the first place.
    • Oct 27 2011: very critical points tnx

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