iTunes confounds me. The radio thing does, anyway. I click on it because I want to hear some music a little different from what’s on my computer. When I click on “Radio” I get a list of stations sorted by category. There is “Adult Contemporary”, “Alternative Rock”, “Ambient” and so on. A big list of styles. And therein lies my problem.

I don’t want to listen to just one style. I want something from every category. I like a little folk, and then some funk. Maybe a little house after that to change things up. I love blues, but when I write, I can’t stop to change the music around. An hour of blues gives me the blues, dammit. I hate categories. I hate the restriction of choice, I hate the packaging for other people’s convenience.

I’m supposed to tie the titles of my blog posts into the content of the blog, and repeat the same words over and over to get better google rankings. I’m supposed to break things up and use paragraph headers and numbered lists to attract an audience, and boost my rankings. I’m supposed to write on one subject that is useful to categorize, so I can be easily found.

Some of us exist between the lines. We don’t quite fall into a neat little box. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think it’s the way the world works. You have to learn to judge what is in front of you, free of expectations of category. Evaluate without the shortcuts.

I used to come out ahead in all my unarmed sparring sessions simply because of the breadth of my training. If I fought a Taekwondo guy, I’d use the Wing Chun I learned. Shotokan against the Muay Thai guys, Wrestling against most…the usual. It was fun at first, but any one of those guys might have been able to hand me my ass if they had made the simple step of not expecting the same thing they faced every day. You fight your friends all the time, you expect everyone to fight like your friends. Drop your expectations and pay attention to what’s in front of you, with open eyes, and you will be rarely surprised.

Profiling seems like an easy shortcut to a lot of problems, and we use it daily. But it blinds you. It narrows your vision down to a fine point, and with those blinders in place you can easily miss the real threat. This isn’t a mystery. This isn’t a big lesson. We all know this. But we still insist we know better.

We make snap judgements based on a smidge of evidence, and then invest a ton of passion in defending that point of view. I’ve been watching this kind of crap happen on fencing and WMA forums for years. It never seems to stop. The worst part of it, for a growing sport, is how people start to lump together in camps of opinion, and then start to evaluate everyone else to see if they belong to one camp or another. Responses and reviews become biased towards support or destruction…and this forces people to side with one camp over the other.

I’m not an American, but the virulence of political posts make me feel like I have a stake in the outcome of one side over the other. There is a push for everyone who consumes any kind of American media to fall into a camp of either republican or democrat. That’s just stupid. It’s stupid for Americans, and it’s stupid for people to do on a smaller scale like building a martial sport from the ground up.

What are you missing? What are you not seeing?

It’s human to belong to groups. Watching the World Cup unfold in Vancouver is an exercise in this. People will arbitrarily choose a team to support, and then feel better just because of it. It’s a human instinct. But so is eating an entire chocolate cake in one sitting, and then regretting it for the rest of the day. Or sitting on the couch watching TV or cruising the net when you should be out moving through the trees, in the rain. It’s human nature to commit genocide, to humiliate the weak.

Rational thought, rational action, requires learning and practice. Evaluate all your actions with a clear mind free of prejudice, weighing all your action against the greater good, not just your own experiences. Try to see what is really in front of you.

Which gets us a start on the virtue of Justice…