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47th and North Avenue

47th and North Avenue. Neighborhood advertisement.

I title this entry as such and have taken care to choose the word “firearm”, but lack greatly in my choice for the word “abolition”. That is, “firearm” is chosen to set boundaries on what objects I intend for “abolition” to act on, but “abolition” is lacking in that it acts legislatively–not necessarily via heart, desire, or will. More specifically, “firearm” is to mean any fashionable device or object that can be managed by an ambulatory individual (and his or her partner in a direct supporting role) to execute physical harm or death upon another individual.

Aside: I highly doubt definitions will actually matter in this post, so you can basically skip the first paragraph.

My best friend in college had some unique ideas that I might accurately describe as outrageously founded in love. He once suggested that, organizationally, we might express apology and love to a certain member through a “love” tunnel (I forget if he actually called it a “love tunnel”). The idea of the love tunnel was that every member would line up–one person across from another, each pair adjacent to another pair. Each pair would lift their hands and join them with their partner’s. The idea was that a certain individual would come into the room, see the tunnel, be invited into the tunnel, and would feel the cheesiest yet (somehow) most genuine expression of our love for him or her. When my friend shared the idea, I gawked. I did not want to be associated with such a juvenile act.

But now I sort of do.

I was walking out of the mall parking lot onto the sidewalk near Panera the other day, and I saw an armored truck on the other side of the street. My beautiful twisted dark fantasy mind began to think about how I might rob the truck, what kind of living I could manage if I entered theft fulltime, and whether I would have the audacity and character to pull off a heist. Then my moral conscious took a turn and begged that I consider the moral implications of such activity, that I consider how an armored vehicle might exist in an America of firearm abolition.

Thieves would reign. Armored vehicles and their staff would have no defense against individuals that somehow gained inventory of firearms. This, of course, is why armored vehicle transporters require firearms–for defense.

But there is another defense–founded in outrageous love–and I completely imagined my friend suggesting this as the new minister of the Department of Defense: instead of a love tunnel, armored vehicle transporters would employ the “love wall”. The love wall is a wall of individuals committed to non-violence. Any and every time an armored vehicle must make a collection, a wall of individuals would join elbow to elbow and enclose the armored vehicle and their staff, creating a closed tunnel of sorts (I suppose the “love wall” is the daughter idea of the “love tunnel” literally) for the armored vehicle transporters to safely travel through and make their collection. The idea is that this wall would deter individuals with hot red hands–and hopefully those with a violent inclination.

Threatening or killing an individual guard is not as intimidating or easy (in any sense) as threatening or killing a mass of individuals. The love wall demonstrates true non-violence. Too often, I think we are misled by the idea that non-violence means being the weaponless armored truck driver and carrying boxes full of cash, hoping that we won’t be the helpless victim to a firearm wielding thief. That’s hardly non-violence. That’s being a stupid and ignorant dweeb. Non-violence requires that we be outrageously creative in love.

If more people were committed to the idea of non-violence and were willing to actively (non-violence is NOT passive) surrender their lives for this idea, maybe the love tunnel and love wall would not be such a cheesy idea. Perhaps my friend’s outrageous ideas would be the norm in a firearm free world. And maybe I would owe my friend an apology for gawking.

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Me doing some organic chemistry in front of a cross

Taken by my friend, Amanda, probably after we finished Biochemistry lecture for the day. I’m sitting in front of the St. Joan of Arc chapel at Marquette University.

I keep a diary. That’s no secret. Nearly every single entry in my diary (which dates back to January 1, 2005) ends with a salutation addressed to myself: “Love to you,”.

I first saw that salutation on Jason Mraz’s (now defunct) blog. I thought it was very clever. In the first place, it’s not the typical salutation like, “Sincerely,” or, “Love,”. Secondly, it reminds me that love is something that is sent which necessitates that it is an active action. I cannot love you if I do not do anything. Further, I cannot love you if my impetus to love does not come from within. I must first love you in abstract before I can love you in some material or tangible manner.

I also anticipate that love is something we never grow tired thinking about (says the single man). The other day I was driving home after work thinking about a patient that had come in for a pre-surgery evaluation. As the doctor and the patient began to discuss the surgery, the dramatic phrase came up: “Money is not an issue. In this situation, we have to do it.”

In my car, I began to think about that phrase and the relationship of cost and security. Generally, we pay a premium for goods we desire. Then I thought about how I and others buck the trend by taking pleasure in cheap goods. An example is the marriage proposal with a plastic ring purchased from a 25 cent vending machine, or eating McDonald’s on date night instead of a steak at a steakhouse. Then I thought about expressing love through the purchase of material goods. I think I show my little siblings my love for them when I buy them movies that we can watch together. Those movies aren’t expensive which indicates that spending a lot of money isn’t proportional to the amount of love expressed.

OK, good. Seal the deal. More money doesn’t mean more love. But for some reason that idea lingers. For some reason we seem to romanticize expense. If I may flaunt my (7+ years of) German, we romanticize the Teuer (expensive) and not the Billig (cheap). Is there merit to this idea? Let me suggest yes and use Christ as my example.

Christ paid an incredible expense to demonstrate his love for us. At the risk of being brief, let me put it clearly: Christ loved me and died for me even though I didn’t love him (Romans 5:8). What greater expense is there than giving up our lives for those that we love? Isn’t this what parents do for their children? Isn’t this what the brothers in Tae Guk Gi demonstrated? We rarely give up ourselves to the extent that Christ did for us, but we do give away parts of ourselves in different ways when we love each other.

So the next time you end a letter remember that your “Love,” actually means “Love to you,”. And when you think about “Love to you,”, remember that you are loving by sending some part of you.

And if you are a Christian, the next time you say that you love Jesus, pray that you mean it to the extent that Christ meant it. “Christ, I love you,” seeks the company of those desiring to pay the greatest expense.

And remember that a single man once told you to always think about (Christ’s) love–because that’s all single people ever think about.

This is an excerpt from my private diary. It is dated during the summer before my freshman year at Marquette University.

July 8, 2008

Dear Nate,

Today, on The Bridge connecting Raynor and Memorial Library, I saw a man sit down on a bench on the block across from me. He sat there for at least an hour – maybe three. I couldn’t think of anything he could possibly be doing except just standing still.

Sometimes I think we need that. We need to just stand in the current and feel it. You get numb when you run with it. Recover your senses.

As I continued to study, I was able to do something I’ve always wanted to do: Watch the day, specifically the evening, progress into night. It was almost depressing. The thought of “never enough time” went through my mind. I was watching time go away, and I know with every fiber of my being that I really never want to grow up. I’m in college now, man. Time keeps on moving. “Time keeps up slippin’, slippin’, slippin’. . . into the future.”

[Paragraph removed for privacy]

Love to you.

There are a few things I’d revise in this entry (you get numb by standing in the current, the somewhat embarassing Steve Miller Band/Space Jam reference), but I’m going to leave it as is. My only reflection is that I once wrote to a dear friend that the only things in life we ever want are love and time. I don’t know how true that is, or how true it will remain, but I will readily admit that I want to love, be loved, be with the ones I love (and ones that I have the opportunity to love), and do the things I love — forever. Who wouldn’t want love, in every sense of love, to last forever? Love possesses an innate quality in that the desire for it is limitless in duration. We may grow tired of what we love, but that doesn’t mean that our desire for it wanes. ((I love the Gilmore Girls, but if I watch two seasons in a day, if that is possible, I’ll get tired of the show. I still love it, but I just need a break.)) Love is unlimited, yet demands healthy moderation.

Re: Helen Fisher tells us why we love & cheat.

Apprehensively excited is what you might say I felt. Apprehensive in that I was about to see scholarly exposition on a topic I love, and excited in that I love the topic. Helen Fisher, an anthropologist, presented an interesting, albeit somewhat awkward and plain, lecture on the biology of romantic love.

Her view, in tandem with that she was presenting love as a biological mechanism — “reducing”, if you will, love to a science — was depressing. She asserted that love, romance, is a biological drive, a branch in evolutionary history, and I believe she said something similar to, “It’s elevated levels of dopamine.” Is romance something we only dream, ravish in song, and melt into literature? Do we naively believe this illusion without any desire to discredit it?

Beyond depressing! Dr. Fisher spent 30 years of her life dedicated to studying the specific topic of romantic love, and she made that lame and lifeless conclusion. She says that the romantic drive is stronger than the sexual drive, but I can’t see her basis for that assertion. By simplifying love, Dr. Fisher has effectively severed its mysterious and lustrous qualities. ((If you watch the lecture, you’ll notice that she quotes a number of distinguished persons regarding love. None of the quotes, in my opinion, were effective — evidence that she dulled love.))

I’m frustrated with her research. Not only because it doesn’t agree with me, but mostly because it’s so simplified and ugly. She describes three drives: the sex drive, the romantic drive, and the attachment drive. These three drives ultimately serve the evolutionary purpose of reproduction: Finding a mate, concentrating on a mate, and staying together to raise the offspring. Rubbish. Love isn’t a biology; it isn’t textbook; it isn’t Darwin’s theory; you can’t contain it. That’s an intelligent escapade, and perhaps there is some light of credibility in those perspectives, but I believe romance — and Love so much more — is intensely larger than what Dr. Fisher is reducing it to.

Then, what is romance? I suppose much of romance is found in emotion, but I believe that emotion is quickly naive and immature. ((I don’t mean all emotion is garbage, only that emotion easily draws us toward either side of the trapeze.)) Although largely emotional, I think you would be missing the entire idea of romance if you focus solely on it; it would be like using a telescope to watch your television. Romance must have some deep relationship with the other facets of love. If you want to know romance, you have to know love in its entirety — exactly what I’d like to know. However, I also believe romance is a learning experience. Embarking on that experience is a large step for me.

Earlier in the week I was chatting with a friend of mine from back at university, Tegan. It was a lightly fascinating conversation about love. Specifically, our dialogue engaged us in our dating philosophies, romantic history, and — as Dr. Fisher might say — wishes for elevated levels of dopamine. I found most interesting our different approaches to dating. I don’t recall Tegan’s approach, but my approach largely focuses on the transition from friendship to romance.

I don’t understand the difference between a friend and a girlfriend. I like spending time with my friends whom are girls, but I’m almost certain that I would like to spend time with my girlfriend too. I like talking with my friends whom are girls, but, likewise, I believe I would enjoy it just as much, and perhaps even more, with my girlfriend. I speculate that emotion plays a large part in discerning friend from romantic partner. A girlfriend is someone that moves me to exhibit love’s qualities exclusively to her. What would move me to do such a seemingly selfish act? ((And what does that mean about love? Does it tolerate this “selfish” intent? Is it selfish at all?)) I propose that only experience can reveal this answer.

Is it disgusting that I’m dissecting romance like this? Perhaps, but I think it’s a smart move. I feel that too often people will think they’ve fallen in love when they really haven’t. I’ve noticed that when I first meet a girl that I have some sort of romantic interest in, I’m swept; I fascinate the thought of dating her, and saying she’s mine. It is my conjecture that failed loves and marriages are merely drawn out episodes of that experience.

I think romance is essentially a branch from a foundation in friendship. ((I feel like this is incredibly obvious. What healthy marriage or relationship wouldn’t say that their partner is their best friend?)) What separates the friendship from romance is what stirs the romantic emotion — not the emotion itself. This distinction should be largely variable, but I’m curious to know whether there is a common element.

Note: Title borrowed from a Relient K song from their self titled album. I thought it was somewhat interesting to observe that most of the love songs are usually about one person professing his or her love for another person. 17 Magazine is probably the only song I have that talks about love in the broad sense, and even then it is a stretch to say that. It’s probably an insignificant observation, but interesting nonetheless because what does that say about entertainment and love, if anything at all?

My political science professor, in a class titled “Justice and Power”, on the first day of class, told us about how she became involved in the science. What she said knocked me off balance. Dr. J, that is what we are allowed to address her by, said that she was gripped by this question: What is justice?

I was absolutely in love with the fact that she had dedicated a lot of her life to answering that question. How magnificent! Learning that small bit of her was, I feel, like Ferdinand and Isabella learning that Columbus had just discovered a new land many fathoms away. ((Fathoms are usually used to measure depth, but I was moved to use it in this sense.)) After class was excused that day, I didn’t think much of the idea anymore; it creeped in the back of my mind, though. And I feel like it has now found the question I desire most to be answered.

What is love? I try to divorce that phrase from Haddaway and focus on the essential question. Love is important, vital. I know that, and would place my life on that assertion. How do I know that, though? How do any of us know what love is? If love were to be on a map, I want to be able to point to it and say, “That’s love. Let’s go there.”

It’s such a complex thing. There is a component of emotion, one of intellect, one of justice, and who knows what else? This question, the revealing of love, is the one question I want to be able to answer at the end of my life. And if I am not able, then I merely hope I will have dedicated this part of my life to scratching away love’s epidermis.

With that, I’m adding a new category of entries. They’ll document my experiences, thoughts, revelations, and analyses on the question of love. Let me end with a clarification.

I believe that God is love. ((1 John 4:8 says, “. . . because God is love.”)) What does that mean though? God is love, then what does love look like? 1 John 4:8 doesn’t completely answer the question. God’s gifts, provisions, blessings, judgement, and love are not exclusive to Christians. But 1 John 4:8 brings up a huge obstacle, if we may call it that. If God is love, then, at least in this lifetime, we will never be able to fully comprehend it.

Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, writes,

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” – Ephesians 3:17-19

Hmm. A love that surpasses knowledge. Yeah, that sounds challenging, but I’m going to uncover what I can.

Lately I’ve been posting items that don’t necessarily relate to me personally. I’ve been exposing my thoughts, but not me. I don’t mean that doing so is necessarily bad, but it will become bland very quickly if I don’t break the trend. Without further adieu, let me sit at the front of the bus. ((This is a reference to the extraordinary Rosa Parks who broke the trend when she could have continued to break herself.))

Actually, one adieu: I tend to think that these “personal” posts are boring: They’re all about me, and what has happened to me. If you don’t know me, or vaguely know me, then these posts are a drag — like my Nature of Mathematics class. I would say I wasted three credit hours during my first college semester, but I don’t think you should ever think that you have wasted your life. You know, I think I’m developing a fatalist view of life.

I tend to think things happen for a reason. When it comes to love, I lobby for the idea that there is only one person in the world for you: That’s 1 out of 6 billion people. I think it’s fate when people fall into a legitimate love. I suppose you can find a genuine love with more than one person, though. If you think of love as having prerequisites for each “type” of person, then certainly someone could find that “type” of person that would suit the “type” of love they harmonize with.

I tend to think that you can’t really screw up in life unless you simply do not try. As long as you keep rowing the boat, you will get somewhere. It may not be where you want to be, but you will always still have the option to change course. ((If you’re interested, at this point I began to think about how effective my analogy/metaphor is. Is life really open like a body of water? Or is it more like a road where it is more direct — one way, or a two way street? Hmm.)) Therefore it is my conviction that what happens in life happens for a reason; it’s fate. It happened to you and now you take some of the authorship of your life by reacting and managing the situation.

This really didn’t become a “personal” post. I can’t break the trend. How about this?: I might go see a rap battle at the beginning of October. It should be interesting, but I haven’t still decided whether I will go. Rap can be so influential and charismatic; it’s almost heartbreaking to see how much of it is dominated by hate, and lust for the physical and material. There is beautiful rap out there.

Before midnight I went down to visit Trevor’s room. Trevor is my best friend from middle school. Gradually we’ve grown apart, but we’ve managed to stay in touch and we’ve ended up at the same university. ((In fact, I hated him one year. It was terrible.)) It was real nice seeing him again, and just spending one-on-one time. He’s a brilliant man and a hard worker. He deserves whatever he is working for, and I think that is a career in medicine: He can do it. He inspires me.

Big Brothers Big Sisters starts this week! This is too exciting. I wonder what my Little is like. I’m so excited to still be working with kids. I’m glad I discovered that I liked working with them. It’s not the same as having my own kids, but I think one day I would love to have some. Like six. Two boys and four girls. And I have some of the names picked out.

I bought Gladiator and Hotel Rwanda when I took RJ and Z back home with me. It was a real privilege to show them around my turf. Both of those movies are good. In fact, I watched a good amount of Gladiator this past evening with some friends. I also made taco dip, and it was a decent for my first attempt; I had to call Rachel first to hammer out the details because her mom makes taco dip very well.

Z bought a penguin for Samantha this past afternoon for her birthday. It was a great find — by me, of course. I’ve eyes for spotting out penguins. I almost wish I hadn’t found the penguin because I really want it. Man. Why do I like penguins? How odd. I guess they are cute. I mean, look at them: They waddle.

The Giants are on bye this week. I’m 2-1 in fantasy football, and I think I will be 3-1 by Tuesday. I’m not sure if my league is that active though. The leader in our league is still starting Jeremy Shockey. ((Shockey is out for a couple of weeks with another inhibiting injury.))

That’s all. Love to you.