The Greatest Gifts

Note: This is a post adapted from yet another Dixon’s Musings post.

In light of the many miseries of the world, many often wonder where God factors into all of it.  We wonder why God allows evil men to walk among us, men who seek to slaughter, to destroy.  In a world where earthquakes rend the land and tornadoes tear up the very foundations of the places we call home, why does God not let the Earth lay at rest?  Does He even care at all?

If He is all-powerful, why doesn’t he stop all of the disasters and cruelties of the world?

It goes back to Eden.  When Adam partook of the fruit, he did more than simply sin, he did more than simply curse us.  Something that is all but forgotten these days, with the rise of secularism and naturalism, is the presence of the supernatural. All the things that we do influence the supernatural and, likewise, the supernatural seeks to influence us.  When Adam chose to disobey God, he didn’t merely do a bad thing, like a child who has fibbed or a dog who pooped on the carpet. He surrendered the world to Satan. His choice gave power to Satan to dominate and corrupt the world.

This begs the question of why God doesn’t use his unlimited power to simply stop Satan? If He is truly so strong, and the devil His own rebellious creation, why does He just say “Stop!” and put an end to it all?

For reasons beyond our understanding, it seems that God has “rules of engagement” of some form in place on Himself.  These rules seem to give Satan some degree of freedom to sow chaos where he wills (before he is finally sealed away as foretold in the book of Revelation) without interference from God. This is best exemplified in the book of Job, where the Lord allows Satan to do what he wills to Job. God then uses Satan’s depredations to show the importance of faith and the value of His promises.

Naturally, the Lord doesn’t violate these restrictions, either. He would have no grounding on which to command us to follow His commandments for our own lives. It would make God hypocritical and inconsistent to violate His own laws, thus nullifying everything in the Bible.

Yet, God refused to leave us at the mercy of a being who seeks to corrupt and destroy us, to sunder us from the One who created us.  At first, His grace and mercy was largely reserved for his people, the Hebrews. The world was wicked and corrupt, and very often not even His chosen people obeyed him. He created laws and rituals for them to obey, but the task was insurmountable for mere men.

Then Jesus came.

Once before, God had given up on humanity.  Were it not for the righteousness of Noah, all of the world would have perished.  Yet God did not destroy us and our future.  Furthermore, He set in motion a greater plan, one that would not bring about destruction, but salvation.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16, KJV)  After thousands of years of separation from him, God gave us all the means to return to Him,  He gave us a way to be absolved of our sins, to know that there is more to out lives than misery and the fear of the unknown.  To know that there is more to the universe than what we see before out eyes.

Despite our flaws and our failings, God loves us still.

Yet, Jesus’ coming is not the only proof of God’s love.

When God made us, he made us rational beings.  He gave us the ability to think and make decisions.  More than that, however, He gave us the freedom to make choices.  He gave us free will.

Our God made us free people.  He saw no purpose in forcing us to follow him, as if we were machines.  He saw no need to make us slaves to his will, compelled to act only as he saw fit.  Surely there are consequences for our actions; to sin and be in rebellion against God will lead us to an eternity none of us can fathom.  However, the existence of consequences does not make the freedom that choice grants us any less wonderful.

The fact that a God who could do anything opted to allow us to freely choose him may very well be the greatest gift of all.

So, yes, the world is broken.  There are griefs and miseries innumerable in the world.  It is also a world of beauty, a world with a savior.  A savior who would have never come had a loving God not willed it.

Merry Christmas all!

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Self-Awareness

Or, more to the point, the sheer lack of it.

I thought it would be a fun exercise to break this down. So let’s take the first tweet, which seems to assume that saying “trans women are women” enough will eventually make it true. I had actually seen this one before and mostly dismissed it as nonsense. You can’t simply declare something to be true and expect everyone around you to accept it as well. Indeed, the past few years have more than proved this to be a very dangerous approach when dealing with reality. What someone else says is true (particularly unsupported by evidence/supported only by ones feelings) is not always so.

Which leads to the small reply thread after it. Now, let me start by saying that this is the internet, and many overtures given are frequently not done in good faith. However, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that telling someone to “get fucked” in response to a (seemingly) polite request to debate the matter is probably a bad thing.

There is nothing more immature than being given a chance to make your argument and immediately shut it down. And really, this is the crux of the problem with so many debates today; it is not only that people don’t want to listen, they don’t want to persuade either. They think that merely stating their case is enough for everyone else to shut up and accept it. They make no room for people being apathetic, let alone people actively disagreeing or being hostile to the idea. They presume that there is no such thing as a rational or sincere counter-arguments to their beliefs and so choose to act like an ignorant child.

Of course, the problem is further compounded by folks like the quote retweet I took this from. Too many people in the world see this sort of immature behavior and, instead of calling it for what it is, reinforce it, calling it good and right.

Pay close attention to the words chosen, however. “the correct way to debate with a transphobe.”

As though there’s a debate.

As though this person isn’t making the enormous assumption that the person who asked to debate is somehow irrational and not worthy of attention.

Well, maybe, just maybe, Dirak is getting shit because Dirak had a shitty opinion to begin with.

I’m sure that there have been many less polite responses to the original tweet, but given that Dirak responds to the polite ones like an asshole, maybe nothing about this reaction is surprising at all.

Maybe we should stop acting like being stupid children in response to opinions and people we dislike is somehow the height of rhetoric.

Then again, we’re all stupid children now.

Just Watching…

Just a few passing observations:

Have you ever read something and immediately something bothers you about it? You can’t place your finger on it, of course, and on the surface it seems innocuous, but it’s still wrong. That’s what this tweet is to me.

“Invisible and neglected.” What do these words even mean? As a general rule, Sikh’s tend to stand out in their communities. So they’re not invisible. And neglected by whom? I don’t see anyone in the United States who’s obligated by law to look out for and cater to the Sikh community. Or the black community. Or the gay community. It’s almost as if you’re responsible for looking out for yourself.

But “representation matters,” right? Everyone (except whites/men), must be pandered to and catered to. It’s not enough that you be allowed to live your life; no, you must force others to see you and celebrate you, even if they’d rather do neither. Even if, for all intents and purposes, you’re irrelevant, you must make people look at you and your causes so you can feel special.

So, trans representatives and Sikh mayors: that’s great, you achieved something, be proud of that. But let’s not pretend that “representation” is what everyone is so happy about. It’s vain narcissism, coated in layer upon layer of feel-goodism, to the point that we no longer recognize it. A Sikh mayor in Hoboken or a trans representative in Virginia doesn’t make a difference, not on its own.

It is not what they are that matters. It is what they will do with their power.

~ It feels like Dr. King’s dream is all but dead these days. All everyone ever talks is what folks look like on the outside. No one cares about “who” anymore; it is all about “what.” Black? Trans? Atheist? Hispanic? Gay? Muslim (in the most reductive, meaningless way)? It does not matter if you are an utterly awful person, as long as you fit the mold of being an Oppressed Minority™, you have a place in “society.”

Meanwhile, if you’re white (and especially if you’re white and male (and triply especially if you’re white, male, and Christian)), you’re pushed to the back. You’re assumed to be racist. You’re automatically a monster who needs to literally kiss the ass of every “minority” on the street to begin to make up for something you can’t help.

It is almost as if segregating and slandering people on the basis on that which is uncontrollable is a bad thing. It’s almost as if there was a whole movement to end this sort of thing….

~ Periodically, Shannon and I will talk about the old days of online conservative activism back in 2012. We talk about the comradery, about the joy of finding like-minded individuals across the nation to connect with. And we talk about how it slowly sort of fell apart. How we saw the reality of certain individuals and groups. How what was once an alliance of happy warriors descending into vain infighting and back-biting. About how far too many people were invested in keeping things as they were rather than trying to build (or rebuild) something.

A year into the Trump era and things seem to be only worse. Plenty of people and commentators who I’ve liked and respected over the years have revealed themselves to be hateful and spiteful and petty. They hate Trump so much, they’re willing to sabotage him rather than fight for their supposed values.

For all of his faults, Trump is still better than Hillary, and certainly supports more rational policies than the left. Indeed, there are plenty of Trump policies and acts one could point to as objectively good things. Yet apparently hatred of Trump has eclipsed these facts. Few people out there anymore are actively promoting conservative values if they hate Trump; they are just hating Trump.

Welcome to the brave new world, where everyone fights for their own stupid egos.

~ It has been a century since the Bolsheviks turned Russia into a hellhole. Yet people, especially the young, act as though there are no lessons to be learned from this. Only if we tried it ourselves, the socialist dream would be fully realized and we would have perfection. Will it really take coming face to face with actual famine to understand what it means?

~ I guess I shouldn’t end this on a sour note, so have an arrangement of one of my favorite pieces of music:

The Defenders of Shannara

Warning: spoilers ahead.

When I was a child, I was enamored with my parents’ bookshelves. At least, if their covers were any indication. However, many of those books were old and brittle and, in my young hands, probably would have been destroyed seven times over. So I’ve never read most of them.

As I recall, it was my mother’s fantasy books that most caught my eye. In seventh grade, I began by reading The Hobbit (borrowed from the local library, of course). This, naturally, lead to The Lord of the Rings. But there was a series of books I wondered about more than them. A trio of big, worn, black paperbacks that dominated the shelf. Their font was evocative, their covers imaginative.

The Sword of Shannara

The Elfstones of Shannara

The Wishsong of Shannara

Next to them, The First King of Shannara, The Scions, The Druid, The Elf Queen, The Talismans.

What were these books? What was this Shannara? Fresh off of Tolkien, I delved into this new land.

In a weird way, had I not just come out of The Lord of the Rings, I might have noticed more easily how Terry Brooks did a soft rewrite of the trilogy in The Sword of Shannara. I might have noticed how familiar the scenarios were, how similar the characters were, how obviously ripped off the quest was. But I didn’t. I loved it. And when The Elfstones of Shannara diverged so completely from its formulaic predecessor, I was hooked.

I’ve read every book in the Shannara saga, from the Word & Void trilogy (confirming long-held suspicions I had about the universe), to the Voyage of the Jerle Shannara, and now to The Defenders of Shannara trilogy.

And it pains me to say how disappointed I am in this most recent set.

Brooks’ writings were always grim compared to Tolkien. The protagonists often suffered severe setbacks, and without fail, some would die. Darkness was always present and often stuck closer, due to Brooks’ more contemporary writing style. You were always emotionally close to those who were suffering. The Defenders books aren’t much different, but something was missing. The preceding trilogy, The Dark Legacy, had hints of this, but it became very apparent this time around.

First, the minor details. The writing in this trilogy feels very lazy. Information is very frequently repeated. Plot and character points get drawn out over very long stretches for no particularly good reason. Very frequently, the reader is simply told how a character is impacted by events (for the rest of their life!) rather than having an action or a conversation convey it.

Because nothing says “life-changing event” like being explicitly told someone has just endured a life-changing event.

Then there’s the matter of the characters. In almost every series (with maybe the exception of the Legends duology), there’s a character I connect with. A character I care about. A character I want to see surmount the odds and succeed. Most of the time, there’s more than one. Not this time. I found I couldn’t connect with any characters. Paxon Leah is bland, and spends half his trilogy feeling more like a background character than the main focus. Leofur Rai is much the same, feeling like a Mary Sue with daddy issues, rather than a well-written character with daddy issues. Almost none of the secondary cast get particularly fleshed out either, often appearing (and then dying) in the same book.

The only character who feels particularly fleshed out is the villain, the unimaginatively named Arcannen (did he give himself that name or were his parents really weird?). And even then he is unconvincing. He feels like such a small man, with excessively big ambitions. If you took Jabba the Hutt, gave him Jedi powers, connections in the Republic government, a desire to take control of the Jedi, and put him in charge of whorehouse (full of unwilling slaves), that’s Arcannen. He never feels big, powerful, or important, except in his own mind; this makes his villainy boring and cartoonish.

None of the character arcs (what few there were) come to a satisfying conclusion either. I won’t spoil any of these details, but I came away feeling ultimately disheartened and even a little hollowed out. There are too many bad happenings and very little to lift the reader up in the end. Everything may not be awful at the conclusion, but there’s no real triumph. There’s no real bright point to feel like all the struggling was worth it.

Which brings me to the plot: go back and read the paragraph on Arcannen.

He is the primary mover of the entire trilogy. And I’m never drawn in, never convinced he’s a real threat. A nuisance, no doubt, but it feels like he’s only so dangerous because the plot demands he must be. In general, the plot just meanders about, never really going anywhere…at least nowhere that warrants such a lofty title as “The Defenders of Shannara.”

And finally there’s the matter of the gay subplot…because of course there is. And, as with most gay subplots, it adds very little to the story except to stick out really obviously. Indeed, it only exists in the third book, with characters only introduced in the third book. So there’s no build-up, no attachment. They’re just there and the reader seems to simply be expected to empathize just because. No effort is made to make the relationship relatable. It is, technically, plot-relevant, but it sucks a lot of the energy out of Paxon’s journey, a journey which already lacked energy.

I’m reminded of the show Person of Interest, which did something similar. The damaged and mildly unhinged Root flirts with the cold, unfeeling Shaw for an entire season before it ends with a lesbian kiss and Shaw’s capture. The problem is that this element adds nothing to the show. We’re supposed to care about it just because, not because it’s convincing or enamoring. Indeed, the relationship causes both characters to act completely out of character when it comes up.

While it’s no secret I’m no fan of this sort of thing, I’m also willing to accept that it exists as long as it serves the story. My mother is much the same way, yet amusingly, came up with the best solution to the PoI dilemma. It’s already established that Shaw has a personality disorder that prevents her from empathizing with others (though this is, on some level, her deeply suppressing her emotions so she doesn’t feel pain). To have her reciprocate Root while remaining basically the same otherwise, was completely out of character and confusing. Rather, what should have happened is that Root’s affection should have gone unrequited until she ultimately ends up dying towards the end of the series. Create a scenario where Shaw is forced to confront her conflicting/repressed feelings, a trauma on the level of what made her the way she was to begin with.

We already care about the characters. Now make me care about how you’re shipping them.

In Defenders, I don’t even care about the characters, so why would I care about how you’re shipping them?

In the end, I’m disappointed. Defenders of Shannara was perhaps the weakest entry in the saga. Almost every series (with the notable exception of Word & Void) has a central quest, or several concurrent ones. There are always compelling characters working together toward a common, positive goal, even when separated from each other by the entire length of the Four Lands. Defenders has none of that. It’s aimless and meandering, leaving the reader feeling like more has been lost than has been gained. My hope is the coming Fall of Shannara (I already have the first book) is a step up again, a return to some of what made Shannara great…even with the promise of the end.

Crassness in the Wake of Tragedy

Like everyone else, I woke up to the horrific news of the shooting in Las Vegas today. Before we even knew how many shooters were involved or how many casualties there were, the internet was inundated with the hottest of hot takes – spurred in many instances by even hotter tempers. 

As the day wears on, we all are left to sift through the deluge of information and opinion in order to find answers. Most of us are still waiting, but we have managed to check on our friends and family members in the area. Some of the news we’ve received, personally, has been a great relief, but some of us are grieving and hoping that modern medicine will find a way to make our loved ones whole again. While news and opinion pieces rush out into the web at the speed of type, for many people the world has ground to a screeching halt.

It is always at times such as these that you can count on two sureties: there will be an outpouring of compassion and prayer, and there will be those using the tragedy to elevate themselves. 

It goes without saying that any shooting will be politicized aggressively and immediately. Before we have even the slightest clue what kind of weapon was used or how many laws were broken to acquire said weapon, there will be those demanding more laws, standing on the still warm bodies of the victims and demanding “justice” by means of “doing something.” It’s an easy position to take, bolstered by shock and emotion. It will inevitably elicit the kneejerk response of “terrorism” and “mental illness,” as if a perfectly sane person could never choose to do evil. 

While politicizing a tragedy is crass and crude and cheap, it is perhaps in some small way slightly more altruistic than the other kind of sneering in the wake of tragedy – that of the atheist.

I was not surprised but still disappointed to see responses to the call for prayer in the aftermath of the shooting were mocking and snide. A simple post on Facebook, which did not name a god or religion, devolved into the most vile attacks on people of faith. 

As a Christian myself, I have often asked for prayer during difficult times and sometimes my atheist or agnostic friends will instead offer “positive energy and good thoughts.” This does not offend me. It’s wonderful that they care enough to think kindly toward me, and I believe they are closer to conversing with God than they realize. 

Hannah was presumed to be drunk because her grief over not conceiving made her prayer more the sound of silent agony and thought than a clearly spoken appeal to the Lord. If someone is sending positive energy, God hears the desire of their heart. Is that not better than apathy? Is it not a thousand times better than condescension?

I’m not saying we must agree on the politics or see eye to eye on religion, but in the wake of something so terrible is it asking too much to simply hold our peace and give our thoughts to the victims rather than puff ourselves up with our own importance? Especially when people are offering thoughts and prayers for those affected and grieving, can you not accept that putting positive energy out into the world is better than sneering at the efforts of those who would? What has your condescension and pride done for the victims, and how is it any better than a solemn and sincere offer of prayer?

Clearly we are not lacking the sort of characters who would look down on their fellow man as a thing deserving contempt. That is, after all, what started this mess.

Of Nerds And Raging

Hello, fellow citizens of the internet! I bring thee important news!

Actually, it’s not terribly important news unless you are feeling bereft and rudderless in a sea of despair because you haven’t seen a new episode of Nerd Rage lately.

Good news, if so! We did record a show this week, but Osei hasn’t posted it on our nifty YouTube channel yet, because he has to work out in the real world like some kind of pilgrim. *shudder* 

Remember to subscribe to our channel so you can watch that internet gold as soon as it drops. We discussed the flood, and protester outrage, and fan films, and Osei’s return to Extra Life, so you know it’s gonna be bomb.

Maybe if I use enough of the yutes’ lingo, y’all will get all hyped about the show and the channel and you’ll remember to subscribe and give the episode a like.

Maybe.

#LembasOut

The Power of Fan Films – Part 2

I said there was going to be a second one, didn’t I?

Tie Fighter – short film

Not to be confused with the classic 90s video game of the same name, OtaKing77077’s film is a delight for the game’s fans. But not only is it an homage to the game, it is also an homage to the stylings of 80s anime. Yes, that’s right: it’s a fan made Star Wars anime. And it shows off the might of the Empire in all the right ways. Amusingly, there’s an assault transport in the thumbnail, but not in the actual movie.

I suddenly feel cheated (the assault transport is one of my favorite ship designs from Star Wars: Tie Fighter).

Kara

Kara is in a weird place for me. On the one hand, it has a few noticeable weaknesses, most notably the CGI. Given the prominence of these scenes, it can’t really be given a pass. Also, some of the plot elements (when did those stormtroopers land, why isn’t there a bigger force of Imperials attacking this Rebel base?) feel flimsy. Kara’s strength comes in from the fact that it is short and it is concise. It hits the right beats and pulls the right emotional strings to be a solid film.

Star Wars: Emergence

Strangely, Hoshino was not the only fan film to come out last year featuring a blind Jedi. Mercifully, their plots are very different. Hoshino primarily looks into the past and the “how” of her blinding; who she is today is largely left up to inference. Emergence deals with the present, and how the padawan copes with her sudden disability. This is an exemplary demonstration of the idea of “show, don’t tell” as we embark on a journey not just in the physical world, but through the Force.

It is also worth mentioning the strength of the special effects in this one as well as the original soundtrack.

Jakku: First Wave

The shortest film in my selections, this may also be the most powerful. The stories told within are all encapsulated in the first few seconds: these men are about to die. Everything about First Wave is done perfectly. The acting is solid. The stories plausible. The finer details, such as the background audio of the fighting outside, are all there. And it is all done in three and a half minutes.

The Power of Fan Films

With the release of “The Empire Strikes Back – Revisited,” I’ve been in a bit of a Star Wars mood. Given that Revisited is a fan project, my mind has lately turned to thinking about other fan projects. The fans are the biggest part of why Star Wars survived its drought years between Episode III and Episode VII.

It was not only fans watching The Clone Wars or Rebels that kept the franchise afloat, however. It was fans creating new things: new stories, new tales, new places, new characters. This zeal is what kept Star Wars alive more than anything.

Now, I want to share some of that creative brilliance with you.

Days Past

Honestly, I actually ran across this film while searching for some of my old favorites. It’s not really much of a surprise I didn’t know about it before, given it came out at the beginning of the month. But I’m glad I found it.

Days Past is a look at the relationship between a teacher and her pupil after the fall of the Republic…but it’s not what you expect. There’s not much more I can say without spoiling the plot. However, I would like to give this film credit for the quality of its set; it looks so authentic. Additionally, the character work is phenomenal, and the actors deserve a great deal of credit for bringing them to life.

DARTH MAUL: Apprentice

One of the big problems with the lightsaber duels in the Prequels is their choreography. Wait, just hear me out for a second! The problem is that the movies are overly focused on being flashy and cool, to the point where the fights are no longer convincing. Now, that’s not to say that this fan film does not do that; it does. I would like to note the one Jedi who flips into a shot for no reason whatsoever. Indeed, the entire point of the film is to be a cool, flashy lightsaber duel between a group of Jedi and Darth Maul.

But there’s something about the way it is handled that feels more…real. Not every strike is well-practiced and coordinated. There isn’t nearly as much pointless posturing between combatants. There’s even a bit of emotional pull (though nothing like Days Past). And if you don’t care about any of that…Darth Maul.

Hoshino

Something I’ve observed is that fan films tend to be much better when they’re shorter. If they go above the twenty minute mark, their quality starts to decline. I presume this is because the limitations inherent in any fan production start to catch up with them. They have all that time to fill, but only one or two writers, a limited number of crew and actors, limited special effects, limited budget…

Hence why films like Hoshino tend to be so good. The actual movie is only six minutes long, but it is so focused that it feels longer. Its characterization is splendid and it tells its tale so effectively. It has very little action…and it does not need it. The characters drive the story and that is wonderful.

TK-436: A Stormtrooper Story

Everyone loves Jedi. They have special powers and laser swords and lots of authority. But Jedi aren’t the only denizens of the galaxy, are they? There are trillions of people in Star Wars; what about their stories? TK-436 tries to tell one of those stories.

Now, I could nitpick the technical details in the special effects. Lasers aren’t always colored correctly, X-Wings flying around with their wings closed…but I would be missing the point, wouldn’t I? No, instead, I’ll just focus on the emotional tale of a stormtrooper forced to confront his past in the middle of a grim battle on a distant world.

I think I’m going to have to make another post. I didn’t talk about nearly all the fan films I wanted to…

Can and Should

A man was fired recently. Contrary to what the left would have the general public believe, it is not because he was sexist, or racist, or opposed the shallow vanity that passes for diversity today. No, he was fired only because he dared to have a serious, nuanced opinion that did not conform exactly to leftist groupthink. It did not matter that his opinions largely matched up to the left’s; that he did not toe the line exactly was the problem. So Google, one of the greatest tech giants in the world, fired him.

Now, you might say, “Google is a private organization! They can do whatever they want!” Which they can. But that’s a non sequitur. That they are free to practice whatever hiring and firing decision is not the point, nor am I advocating for restrictions on this. Lord knows if I don’t think that Christian groups should be forced to have gay and Muslim leaders, than no one ought to be forcing Google to hire or retain employees against their will.

However, that does not mean Google did the right thing (indeed, they may have done something very bad, as it turns out).

Indeed, this is a major problem with our society. We equate the freedom to do something with its rightness. We fail to differentiate between the words “can” and “should.”

Can we fire this person? Yes. Should we fire this person? Probably not.

Can we force this baker out of business for refusing to bake a cake that goes against their beliefs? Probably. Should we ruin this person’s livelihood? Probably not.

Can I get blasted drunk this weekend? Yes. Is this a terribly good idea? My hangover will probably tell me no.

Can I sleep around? Yes. Should I run the risk of diseases, pregnancy, or emotional turmoil? I’m going with no.

Can I strut around like I know everything the world has to offer? Yes. Should I, given I’ve only lived a bit north of a quarter century? No.

The problem is that we don’t treat ourselves and our freedom with any real respect. We, as a society, earnestly believe that because we are free to do something, there is nothing wrong with actually doing it. We believe that there should be nothing restraining us from any action, good or bad.

I don’t believe that. I believe that one of the goals of life should be to lead a dignified and respectable life. We ought not be going around behaving stupidly and foolishly. We should not go around heedless of others and even ourselves. Bear in mind, I’m not advocating for leading dull, uninteresting lives (I know I do, and I’m not necessarily proud of that). Sure, we’ll occasionally do wild, crazy. even stupid things. We will do mean and unkind things. We might even think those things worthwhile, that the costs associated with those actions are outweighed by the (perceived) positives. Should we make a habit of it, though? Should we turn those things into our lifestyle?

Shouldn’t we have enough self-awareness to realize when we are making mistakes? Or is that sort of self-reflection outmoded too?