Month: November 2017

November 25, 2017 Oliver Briny No comments exist

Breaking Bad

As the night fell, I felt remorse as the episode came to its end. “This is a mistake”, I thought to myself. I had begun watching a series, which I hadn't done in ages. I’m very hesitant when it comes to shows, because I know I could be using my time better. Another issue is that if I start something, I have to watch it all the way through. 
Breaking Bad was one of those shows that was constantly on people’s lips coupled with great acclaim. My interest didn’t have much to do with the accolades. The appeal was Bryan Cranston, whom I'd previously seen playing a carefree and whimsical father in the show Malcolm in the Middle. Having an interest in acting myself, I wanted to see how he’d pull off a character so different to what I’d grown so accustomed to. 
A couple of episodes in I was feeling conflicted. Breaking Bad very quickly takes a dark twist: dying Mr. White, the main character, becomes a crystal meth cook in an attempt to provide for his family. I try to be careful with the material I expose myself to, as what you choose to entertain grows. Now I’m not worried of becoming a meth cook, but sometimes small steps can take you on a path you never wanted to take. When you think about it, isn’t that exactly what happened to Mr. White…?
Around a dinner table I discussed Breaking Bad with a fresh acquaintance. I was a couple of seasons in, and was regretting the decision. I told him I couldn’t understand the story: how could such a decent family man do such horrible things, with a motive like that? 
His response blew my mind. “Isn’t it quite a precise description of us? Even the most benevolent person has all the ingredients of evil in them. Small decisions, piled on top of each other, can lead to big consequences.” 
His comment completely changed my outlook on the show. Mr. White loved his family. He was a decent tax-paying citizen. His family, friends and colleagues enjoyed him. He had a good motive together with a hasty decision. This slowly escalated into lies, conniving, betrayal and ultimately murder. 
'Breaking bad'. It’s a slang expression which means to give up on the typical morals and follow one’s own path. Yet the expression has a sense of continuity about it. Change, no matter the direction, is gradual. It takes a motive to power it, and steps to further it. Change can also be powered by a lack of motive. There’s no such thing as staying in one place in life: you either go backwards or forwards. People who lack a purpose have a tendency to fill the void with something noxious. 
I’m writing to you about this because this is an important principle to be aware of in life. I’ve always strongly identified with “the good team”. Ever since a kid, it was evident to me that I’d always be one of the good guys. I’d never be one of the baddies. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that I’m not above getting lost. 
In the process of time, all of us go through change. Our small decisions do have a great impact on the direction of that change. There’s a proverb that says that the prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.¹ Sometimes being wise can be as simple as understanding the law of cause and effect. What you decide today has an effect on your tomorrow.
“Never give up control. Live life on your own terms.”², said Mr. White with a hardened heart. A series of sequential steps had brought him to a place of constant fear, lies and deceit. He never gave up control. He lived life on his own terms. The price, however, was heavy.
“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” 
–Henry David Thoreau, American author, poet, and philosopher, 1817-1862

1. Barker, Kenneth L., and Donald W. Burdick. Zondervan NIV study Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002.
2. Breaking Bad, Season 4, Episode 8. Directed by Johan Renck. By Vince Gilligan, Sam Catlin, and George Mastras. Performed by Bryan Cranston.
November 11, 2017 Oliver Briny 2 comments

About Women

Through this past year, hardship has been one of the themes that’s been on my mind. I’ve been through some myself, but it’s something that I’ve examined as an idea rather. Sure there have been seasons, where it seemed like everything was just right. There have been seasons where I was in control of all the important aspects of my life. However, every now and then I would come across quotes, such as “doing something important involves difficulty”. The previous thought can make you worried, if your life currently feels just right - am I doing anything worthwhile?
With that said, I’ve started to think about hardship and my outlook on it. Is it something to fear, or something to embrace, and from whom can I learn about it? As it turns out, some of the biggest champions when it comes to fighting through obstacles… are women. 
So what credibility does a 24-year old guy have to speak about women? I might not be an expert, but I was raised by them. I was raised by an immensely strong mother and two caring older sisters. I was also born and raised in Finland, one of the most gender-equal countries in the world. To me there’s no question that women’s rights and well-being are critical factors in the success of any society. 
When living abroad, one of the biggest avenues of growth is to think about who you really are. There are many environmental influencers that have affected your upbringing. So as my eyes opened and world-view broadened beyond the small borders of my own culture, I wanted to look at the history of the country i grew up in. One of the biggest discoveries was that women are giants in their mental prowess.
In 1918, only months after the Finnish Declaration of Independence, Finland went through a civil war. Only after about 20 years, Finland was faced with the Winter War and the Continuation War against the Soviet Union, a country with a size about 65 times that of Finland. All of the previous in just its first 30 years of independence!
With a population between only 3-4 million, Finland had to use every resource at hand. As the world wasn’t as technologically advanced as it is now, the resource was mostly… manpower. In other words, while the men were in war (and honorably so), the practical running of the country was on women’s shoulders. Women were truly an enormously strong pillar that the whole country was leaning on. Just imagine the weight of that: the uncertainty, being a support for the family, taking care of the young and the old, caring for possible animals, running the household… On top of that women formed a voluntary auxiliary paramilitary organization called the Lotta Svärd, which was possibly the largest of its kind in World War II.
In every success story there are multiple parts and contributors that made it possible. Obviously the veterans who fought in the wars are greatly honoured and regarded as heroes. Today in 2017, Finland celebrates its 100th year of independence as one of the safest and most prosperous countries in the world. I’d like to highlight that without the bold stance women took, there wouldn’t have been a country to come back to after the war. 
My country’s history is an example of what great fortitude women carry. Don’t crucify me as I say that it’s a lesson that can sometimes be hidden from some, maybe because women more easily voice their worry. On the other hand, maybe this is one of the factors behind the (often) superhuman ability women have in bearing burdens. Not only from a man’s perspective, but also in light of what we know through psychology, women are generally more relationally capable and thrive in community. Seeing firsthand how loneliness is one of the biggest problems in the world, we all have a lot to learn from that quality.
This is not only about the women of Finland. This is about the power that lies in womanhood, all around the world. I am standing on the shoulders of both men and women alike who, in face of adversity, stood strong and fought for a better tomorrow.
Thank you - no matter your gender - for all the hardship you choose to face as part of a greater battle for a better tomorrow.