A Thought for Every Thursday – We Didn’t Ask to be Here

This week’s A Thought for Every Thursday question continues along our recent path of asking serious questions.

We’ll come back to the easy stuff eventually.

…maybe.

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This particular question is a favorite of mine.

More than most Thought for Every Thursday questions, I really, really want your answer.

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We Didn’t Ask to be Here

 Since we are, none of us, responsible for our own presence in this world, meaning that none of us created ourselves or willed ourselves into existence, does that reduce any of our personal responsibility in this life?

In other words, every human alive was given life without his or her consent. We didn’t ask for this particular existence, and in fact, if given a choice, many humans might have chosen a different existence altogether.

Does not having chosen this life allow for a certain moral flexibility?

Or…

Must we accept a moral responsibility whether or not we asked for it?

And if so, why?

 

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Past Thought for Every Thursday entries are right here.

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

Until next week…

J Edward Neill

A Thought for every Thursday – Not the ending you expect

Welcome to A Thought for Every Thursday.

Every Thursday we’ll pose a question (or several) regarding a specific current event, a modern moral issue, or a philosophical conundrum. Instead of answering it ourselves, we look to you for the resolution.

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For the next few weeks, we’re going to approach a few deeper-than-normal topics.

Science. Religion. Meaning of life type stuff.

Speaking of meaning of life type stuff, what if…

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Not Quite What You Were Hoping

 There exist numerous theories regarding the meaning of life.

Some predict a divine afterlife.

Others believe in infinite recycling of our souls.

Some believe in very specific versions of heaven and hell.

And still others say there’s no meaning at all.

Everyone is guessing.

No one really knows.

Even so, the most common perception is that if there is a meaning, it’s probably a positive or at worst a neutral one.

But…

What if humanity one day learned our purpose is nefarious?

That perhaps humanity (or even all life) was engineered for a negative purpose?

Is it possible?

If you learned such a thing were the truth, what would you do?

Run!!!

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Past A Thought for Every Thursday entries are right here.

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

See you next Thursday!

J Edward Neill

A Thought for Every Thursday – Human Algebra

Welcome to A Thought for Every Thursday.

Every Thursday we’ll pose a question (or several) regarding a specific current event, a modern moral issue, or a philosophical conundrum. Instead of answering it ourselves, we look to you for the resolution.

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Human Algebra

Please complete the following equations using only one word in each blank space:

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______________ + ______________ = Happiness

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_______________ + ______________ = Sorrow

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_______________ + ______________ = Evil

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_______________ + ______________ = Love

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Keep your answers to yourself OR share with the world.

It’s your call.

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Past A Thought for Every Thursday entries are right here.

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

See you next Thursday!

J Edward Neill

A Thought for Every Thursday – Angels vs Demons

Welcome to the latest installment of my new weekly series, A Thought for Every Thursday.

Every Thursday I’ll pose a question (or several) regarding a specific current event, a modern moral issue, or a philosophical conundrum. Instead of answering it myself, I’ll look to you for the resolution.

It’s all in good fun.

Here we go…

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For this week’s thought, let’s get a little personal. In modern society, there’s a tendency to label things (and people) as good or evil. No shades of grey. Just good or bad with little leeway.

Only…that’s silly.

It’s likely that in the history of humanity, no one has ever been 100% good or 100% evil. Even the best of us have done questionable things, while even the lowest and most corrupted of us have probably (even if accidentally) done something to help another person.

Now the question is: which of your voices is stronger?

How good and evil are you?

To solve this riddle, I designed a simple exercise called ‘voices.’

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Voices

Imagine a little angelic version of you lives on your right shoulder. This mini-you represents all that is good, wise, and optimistic in your life.

Now imagine a devilish version lives on your left shoulder. This little demon represents your impulsive, dark side.

Give each one a voice.

If they could talk, what would they say?

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Past A Thought for Every Thursday entries are right here.

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

See you next Thursday!

J Edward Neill

My Commitment to Ending the World

So…

It’s a common theme nowadays that writers (or any artists, for that matter) aren’t in competition with one another. That we’re all pals in the industry. That we’re fighting on the same side to haul readers into our books collectively.

Just wander around Twitter or Facebook or any haunted electric highway and you’ll see stuff like:

BadMeme1

or

Meme2

or

untitled

I could probably dig up a thousand of these. And it’d be barely scratching the surface. I guess these are nice sentiments…maybe. They create friendships. They foster collaboration. They bring people together.

And I reject them completely.

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Before we do battle, let’s be clear about some lines in the sand. We’re not talking about artists and writers who create for fun. If someone publishes a lone book or series and then wants to wander back into a normal existence, that’s cool. If they want to stop, collaborate, and listen, it’s worth supporting. And we’re also not talking about those wonderful people who create with the intent to be non-profit. If an artist’s goal is to put out a steady stream of awesome simply for the love, who couldn’t support that? It’s free, after all. Those who desire it don’t have to give up any resources. Any cash. Any moolah.

As for the rest of you, I adore you like brothers and sisters. But let’s be clear that we are in fact competing with one another. No…that’s too mild. We’re at war.

ZillaKong

Godzilla vs King Kong. Twilight vs Blade. Plants vs Zombies. Me vs YOU.

In any given market, any segment of any economy, there’s a little thing called market share. You’ve heard of it. If there’s X amount of money available to be spent on resource Y, companies A, B, and C are all gonna fight each other to the death to control Y and earn X. Sure, they might be pals after hours. They might drink together, hit the golf course as a foursome, and sleep with each other’s spouses. But when they’re on the clock, make no mistake. They’re gunning for one another’s throats.

To counter this argument, the artist might say to herself, “But J, you poor malcontent, in the world of art and written words, Y is limitless. Art has no boundaries.”

Nada. Negative. Nope. Y is not limitless. Art created with the intent to make a living has boundaries. These boundaries are malleable. They move. But they exist. And moreover, despite the fact that every living human seems to want to write a book these days, there is a limited supply of quality available.

More to the point: just like in all other markets everywhere, X (money) will always have a finite value.

And X is exactly the hill we’re fighting to climb.

Look. It’s true. I savor artistic collaboration. It helped things like this and this see the light of day. It keeps artists talking, moving, and colliding. Sharing other writers’ works is a great endeavor. The best conversations happen between those with a similar purpose, whose visions align, and whose swords are sharpened at the same millstone.

But make no mistake; we’re still doing battle.

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Think on these, fellow artistic warriors:

Those of us who give a damn, who really want a career out of writing/painting/sculpting/fighting, want to be the best. And nothing less

We want to be the mofo who makes it, not the one forced back into a boring ‘real’ job

We want the fruits of our labor front and center, and we desire to dethrone the Twilights, the Mockingbirds, and the 50 Shades of WTFever

We care more. We work harder. We don’t do easy satisfaction

And though we may smile for one another’s successes, we tend to get a little green when we see it

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If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, be at peace. This battle isn’t for you. Walk the tranquil path of creating without fear. That you desire to make beautiful things just for the sake of it is commendable. It’s enviable. It’s sublime. But for everyone else, everyone fighting for Y and X, don’t be deceived. Don’t lull yourself into a false sense of we’re-all-on-the-same-team. Reject any meme suggesting you need to be BFF’s with other writers or that you shouldn’t at least try to out-write, out-paint, and out-create the fuck out of everyone else. You are in a competition. You don’t want to be the third-string quarterback, the benchwarmer, the artist sitting on the sideline.

So stop kidding yourself.

You’re committed to this battle.

And when the world ends, you want to be remembered.

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If that was too harsh, try something fun.

If it wasn’t harsh enough, this might be for you.

J Edward Neill

 

10 Things to Ask Yourself Tonight

The following 10 questions are straight from my philosophy/ice-breaker book, 101 Questions for Midnight.

I hope you enjoy them.

If so, considering answering a few in the comments section below, via Facebook, or on Twitter.

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Absolute Freedom

 Imagine a society in which there are no laws.

You can do anything without fear of legal retribution.

Consider, of course, so can everyone else.

What things would you do that are currently illegal?

  Realistically speaking, is such a society even possible?

Invulnerability

If you could choose to become utterly and forever immune to being offended, would you?

Algebra of the Heart

Complete the following equation:

 ________________ + ________________

 = Love

Play the Percentages

 Define exactly what percentage of each day you’d like to spend doing the following things:

Sleeping

Being alone

Having sex

Spending time with friends and family

Working

The Small of a Woman’s Back

 Define what it means to be sexy.

Assumptions 

Most humans make swift judgments about people they’ve newly encountered, even if subconsciously.

With that in mind, what judgments would you make after seeing:

A woman in a slinky dress    

A man listening to obnoxiously loud music in their car

A woman covered neck to ankle in tattoos

A man yelling at his child in public

Arbeit Macht Frei 

An ancient Japanese samurai once claimed, “Everyone should personally know exertion as it is known in the lower classes.”

His point is that for humility’s sake, every human should perform hard labor to some extent during their lives.

Do you feel this is true?

Can hard work free the mind of some of its troubles?

Spartans 

By and large, human society no longer embraces the theory of Survival of the Fittest.

Weakness, disease, and genetic flaws are no longer the death sentence they once were.  Strong, fit, and healthy individuals coexist with those less fortunate.

In terms of humanity’s long-term survival, do you believe this is ideal?

 

Marriage

Is it doomed?

In other words; in 100 years, will the concept of two people spending their entire lives together cease to exist?

If not, what do you believe will reverse the current trend of most marriages ending poorly?

Does all passion die in the end?

  

Shakespearian 

Many of the most famous and popular books and stories have endings that could be described as tragic.

In your opinion, why are these tales of human suffering so beloved?

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Intrigued? Curious? Entertained?

Dive into all 101 questions by clicking the image below:

101 Questions for Midnight Front Cover

And here’s the rest of the Coffee Table Philosophy series:

 101-Questions-for-Humanity-333x500 101 Questions for Men Cover 101 Questions for Women Cover 101 xxxy Questions Front Cover

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J Edward Neill

Author of the Tyrants of the Dead dark fantasy trilogy

Down the Dark Path

All your heroes are dead

The other night, whilst sitting among friends in a crowded restaurant, I accidentally eavesdropped on my neighbors’ conversation. Ok…it wasn’t accidental. The lull in my friends’ talking gave me an easy window to listen in on the fascinating exchange between a guy and a girl. I couldn’t resist.

It started well enough.

When the pretty girl (30-something, short brown hair) sat down with the guy (early 40’s, funky comb-over,) everything seemed ok. He kissed her, told her how beautiful she was, and ordered her a drink right away. She told him all about her work problems, including how she’d lost a chance at a big promotion. He sympathized with her, reassured her, and seemed genuinely concerned about her travails. But…and there’s always a but…the conversation soon took a turn for the intriguing. After ignoring several rings of her cell phone, the girl starts getting nervous. She admits to the guy that her husband is looking for her, and that hubs suspects her of having an affair, which she clearly is.

Wait. It gets better.

Our cool, comb-over guy seemed unbothered by this news. He says something to the effect of, “It’s ok. I understand. I love you. I’ll wait for you for as long as it takes.” As far as adulterers go, he made a good show of it, appearing genuinely in love with the wandering wife. But…and there’s always a but…after a while of talking, touching, and kissing, the girl gets up and goes outside to text her hubby that she’s, “Still at work.” And that, “…boss has me working OT.” Classic stuff there. I have a feeling she didn’t fool anyone.

 And while the lovely lass is busy lying, Captain Comb-over gets to the good part.

No sooner does the girl go outside than this dude picks up his cell phone and dials. Obviously he was drunk, else it would’ve been pretty obvious that I was listening in. I mean…c’mon. I’ve got good peripherals and all, but I was practically leaning over his bourbon. So our hero dials, and it’s clear another woman picks up on the other end. He starts talking to her, all the while looking over his shoulder and chugging his drink. And then he says, “Don’t worry. She’s outside. She can’t even see me.” The woman on the phone says something I can’t hear, and then…after hitting up the bartender for another drink…our hero says, “She has no idea. I’ll see you tonight. I love you.”

And he’s right. Girl 1 had no idea.

At this point, you’re thinking I’m judging these two. No. I’m really not. Where other people sling their lies and plunge their loins isn’t my concern. But it was while eavesdropping I wandered into a dark place at the back of my mind. I touched upon a belief I’ve always possessed. I remembered that the world has almost no heroes, and that for every good thing we want to believe about someone else, skeletons in the closet remain.

Let’s talk this over. Because I know where you’re gonna hit back. You’re going to point out the good people in your life: the dads, moms, grandmas, soldiers, teachers, BFF’s. And you’re going to assert how these people, with their grace and humility, are the true heroes. The unsung. The real deal. I’m fine with that. I get what you’re saying. Small deeds and simple acts of kindness can be heroic. Everyday people doing everyday good things are awesome.

But remember:

One man’s treasure is another man’s trash.

A hero to one group of people can be a villain to another.

And for every one thing you know about your personal hero, there are ten things you don’t know.

Frodo

To start trimming the list of people we consider heroic, the easiest place to start is with celebrities and political figures. This year alone, the bones tumbled out of the proverbial closet at an astonishing rate. Consider Bill Cosby, among my generation’s most beloved men, now hot on the skillet for his roofie-administering ways. Consider Jared Fogle, long a television mainstay, busted for banging teenagers. Consider the Duggars, the Ashley Madison scandal, and the impossibly long list of NFL ‘badasses’ beating the crap out of their wives and girlfriends. Now I’m not suggesting any of these people should’ve ever been considered heroic, but nevertheless…celebrity-worship is a huge thing, especially in the US. And now we get to watch the previously-beloved fall, and fall, and fall. My guess is that at some point in the past, certain people viewed these famous folks as good, solid, and loveable. So now what? The onion is peeled back. Have they learned their lesson? Or will they simply find another celeb to hold up high?

Now let’s get dark.

Think about these questions:

Is every soldier a hero? Are most of them heroes? If so, are they heroic just because they fight on your side? What do you think the widows of their enemies would say?

Can someone who does great good in the world still be called heroic if, when no one’s looking, they lie, cheat, steal, or abuse?

Is doing hard work to support your family heroic? If so, doesn’t that make almost everyone who lived in pre-modern times a hero? (Back in the day most everyone had to bust their asses just to survive.)

If a firefighter regularly saves whole housefuls of kids and cute puppies, but is a shitty father and a negligent husband, is he a hero?

If a single mother works two jobs to support her kids, but smokes like a fiend (thereby shortening her life…which her kids need) is she heroic?

If someone gives millions to well-meaning charities, but pilfers a little for himself, is he…

…I think you get the point.

Potter

People do heroic things all the time. They save lives, teach wisdom, and sacrifice themselves for the greater good. People can be beacons of light in dark times, pull others together to make huge differences, and enact changes for the betterment of everyone. For brief, shining moments, people can do wonderful things.

But at some point, people go back to being people.

And no matter how high you hold them up, they will tumble. They will do things when they think no one’s looking. They’ll be human.

So be careful whom you look up to. 

And be careful why you look up to them.

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Want more challenging questions about humanity and the crazy shit we do?

Look no further than here.

J Edward Neill

Free $@#%*! for your Kindle

From now through Saturday, August 29th, you can get 101 things for FREE.

By things I mean fun, party-ready, goes-perfect-with-wine philosophy.

And by FREE I mean $0.00000000000.

101 Questions for Humanity, the hit 1st entry in the Coffee Table Philosophy series:

101-Questions-for-Humanity-333x500

Click me. Touch me. Read me. After all, I’m FREE.

To get a feel for what you’ll find inside, go here.

But if you need paper between your fingers, the softcover edition is only $5.99.

101 Questions for Humanity is part of a popular series. There’s also 101 Questions for Men, Women, Midnight, and Sex.

101 Questions for Midnight  101 Questions for Men Cover 101 Questions for Women Cover 101 Sex Questions

So warm up your e-readers and pour some wine.

You’re in for a fun night…

J Edward Neill

101 Questions for Midnight – Surprise Book Release!

Stay up late.

Very late.

The best conversations begin while everyone else is sleeping.

101 Questions for Midnight

The final entry in the Coffee Table Philosophy series.

Jump starting every conversation with a tendency toward darker topics: death, war, sex, and the dark side of human behavior.

Available now on Amazon…

101 Questions for Midnight

Save the best for last…

J Edward Neill

Check out the rest of the Coffee Table Philosophy series here:

101 Questions for Men Cover101 Questions for HumanityFront Cover 101 Questions for Women