Category Archives: Religion

The Threat of Idiocracy

Exactly ten years ago—in 2006—filmmaker Mike Judge released a movie called Idiocracy. The movie, a satirical comedy, tells the tale of an America of the future, a nation of anti-intellectuals—idiots—governed by former professional wrestler President Camacho. The outlandish plot and dystopian vision of America was heralded by some as a nascent vision of our future … our distant future. However, the presidential aspirations of Donald Trump and the response to it,  may have fast-forwarded this notion: “Trump’s blatantly anti-intellectual, boorish persona is so over the top, it has drawn multiple comparisons to that of pro-wrestler-turned-president Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho in Mike Judge’s eerily prescient satire, 2006’s Idiocracy” (Perry). In fact, no less than the author of the screenplay weighed in last February with this tweet: “I never expected #idiocracy to become a documentary” (Cohen).

When businessman and reality television personality Donald Trump announced he was entering the 2016 presidential contest, a majority of political pundits gave Mr. Trump very little chance of winning the nomination of the Republican Party—much less winning the presidency. Today, as the nation stands at the precipice of Mr. Trump as the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party, it is instructive to look back into history and compare the tactics of other destructive demagogues who shared the same vitriol being spewed by Mr. Trump during his march on Pennsylvania Avenue. Has our republic devolved to the point where we as a nation are ready to elect a man who can, arguably, be described as non-presidential? And ultimately, what has been (and will be) the effect of a Trump presidency on our republic? The answers are clear: A Donald Trump presidency would be a dangerous step back in our nation’s history and must not be allowed to come to fruition.

The ascendancy of the Trump phenomenon has surprised some politicos and pundits. The brash nature of the man and his lack of political experience, on the surface, make him a weak candidate for responsible political office, much less as leader of the free world. The rhetoric of Mr. Trump and been vitriolic and at times dangerous. Examples include his call for a ban on Muslims entering the country and his promise to pay the legal fees of any supporter who attacks protestors at his campaign rallies.  However, this type of invective speech doesn’t occur in a vacuum—there is a receptive audience for it, as his growing base of support shows: “There is a lot of anger in the electorate, which Trump’s victory reflects” (Davidson).

It is precisely this anger and perceived disenfranchisement that Mr. Trump skillfully exploits. There is a large segment of the population that is, generally, uneducated—and frankly afraid—afraid that the government will come for their guns, their churches, and their livelihoods. These are fears that have no foundation in rational discourse, fears that are flamed by demagogues like Mr. Trump who are motivated less by conviction and more by sheer ego. In his book The Art of the Deal, Mr. Trump unabashedly rants about his deal-making prowess, often at the expense of the means necessary to attain the ends: “I wasn’t satisfied just to earn a good living. I was looking to make a statement. I was out to build something monumental—something worth a big effort” (Blair).  This brash, devil-may-care attitude has struck a chord. President Obama’s former campaign manager David Axelrod said “Donald Trump has a phenomenal sense of his audience” (Chotiner).

In the 1950s there was a similar audience, an audience that feared the encroachment of communism and the rise of the Soviet Union. And there was a man then too—a Senator from Wisconsin named Joseph McCarthy—who also had a clear sense of his audience. Sen. McCarthy skillfully exploited the fears of the era to fuel his rise to prominence within the US Senate, and his place on the national stage. His tactics led to the creation of the word McCarthyism; “Today, McCarthyism is used to describe any public accusation of disloyalty without real proof” (Fitzgerald 84). Ironically (or predictably to some), Mr. Trump has called for a wall to be constructed to keep out what he describes as Mexican drug runners and rapists’. Furthermore, he has advocated denying Muslims entry into the US based on their religious faith alone. At no time has Mr. Trump provided any real evidence to back up his claims; and the media has been generally unwilling to effectively challenge him on this inflammatory rhetoric—just as the media was unwilling to do so in the incipient stages of McCarthyism.

The similarities between Mr. Trump and Sen. McCarthy are obvious and frightening. In my lifetime, I never imagined I would see the rise of a personality so deeply entwined with the hatred and vitriol of McCarthy. As the son of parents who witnessed this destruction first-hand, I feel an obligation to sound the klaxon and remind my fellow citizens of the parallels being played out in our current political arena. I was merely a child during the successive presidential campaigns of Governor George Wallace of Alabama, but I have distinct memories of my parents expressing their feelings of anger and disappointment that such a racist individual—an unapologetic segregationist—could advance as far as he did each time. I am clearly not alone in my concern:

Trump is increasingly more George Wallace than Ronald Reagan; his outbursts against establishment politics and undocumented immigrants have few limits. Trump’s raw message particularly resonates with those Americans who have stomached a decade of economic loss and social displacement. It is an American paradox that billionaire Trump so effectively channels George Wallace’s blue-collar, everyman appeal and message. (Williams)

In fact, the line between Mr. Trump and Governor Wallace is short indeed:

“I love that he’s talking in everybody else’s language. He’s not trying to be politically correct”…THAT response is simply an update from one of Mr. Wallace’s 1968 followers…”He tells it like it is and if it offends some government bureaucrats and loudmouth civil rights agitators, so what? He’s standing up and fighting for real Americans.” (Carter)

 These soundbites are irresistible to the ratings-hungry news media and further advance the ill-informed and racist’s views of the speaker. But to the blue-collar workers, struggling to make ends meet and seeing their jobs in danger of being shipped overseas, this rhetoric feeds into their paranoia and gives them an icon to rally around… just as Gov. George Wallace did in the 60s and early 70s. This is their president. This is the individual telling them what they want to hear—rationality and facts be damned. That Trump has no political experience is a bonus to them—he’s an outsider. That he is not presidential at all is even better—he’s one of us.

It’s hard to imagine Donald Trump occupying the Oval Office and subsequently being Commander in Chief of the world’s largest military force. This is the man who has participated in Wrestlemania events (an activity hardly considered to be statesman-like behavior). This is the man that has encouraged physical violence at his campaign rallies. This is the man who consistently spews racist views. Yes, this could be our next president. While character is not specifically mentioned as a qualification for being president in our Constitution, common sense, a sense of decorum, and downright decency should be qualities the voter considers when electing a president. Consider the following statements from candidate Trump: “Listen, you motherfuckers, we’re going to tax you 25 percent! … This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop…Sorry losers and haters, but my IQ is one of the highest — and you all know it!” (Bailey). Presidential language and sentiment indeed—FDR, Eisenhower, and even Republican stalwart Ronald Reagan would surely blanch at the possibility of this man sharing their throne in the Oval Office.

In addition to the national disgrace that would be a Trump presidency as the result of his actions and rhetoric, it’s wise to consider the psychology of the man hoping to have his finger on the nuclear button. Is the man so recklessly and childishly calling on his followers to assault those peaceful demonstrators who disagree with him, able to maturely control our armed forces—indeed have to power to annihilate our planet? “When he lost, he would say he won; when he won, he would say he won more. A psychologist might call such behavior narcissistic, egotistical, and, no doubt, a sign of hidden insecurity” (Blair). However, a proper clinical diagnosis can certainly not be made based purely upon the rhetoric of a political candidate. As many Trump supporters will eagerly claim, Mr. Trump is not, in fact, a racist, a misogynist, or any of the other titles that seem to fit him so well. They claim that Mr. Trump is a brilliant political strategist with his finger on the pulse of the population. And they may be right: “For all his theatrics, Trump has caused a stampede in the Republican Party and he’s done this using a classic, class-based divide-and-rule strategy” (Trubowitz).

In the context of today’s media free-for-all climate, it is certain that many voters are influenced by broadcast media outlets such as Fox and MSNBC. Neither of these networks can be, arguably, described as unbiased sources of information. In 1987, when the FCC Fairness Doctrine (a requirement that broadcast news be honest and balanced) was gutted, the landscape of the so-called news media took on an entirely different meaning. News producers were now free to openly cultivate what they had surreptitiously sought for years—ratings—and the resultant advertising revenue that followed. “If it bleeds it leads” was the cry of the media now, and sensationalism was the order of the day. Candidate Trump is the logical extension of this denigration of the fourth estate. A man with reality-show credentials and a personality larger than life, Trump exploits the media in an unaffected manner like no other candidate. The louder, more boorish his behavior, the bigger the rating and the more electoral support he gains. Trump is well known for his sophomoric Twitter rants; and now, scholarly research has shown it to be quite effective: “We…evaluated the effects of Trump’s tweeting activity on the growth of his followers…the more he tweeted the faster his follower camp grew. Lastly, we measured the effects of two Trump-initiated controversies. Based on our data, neither one is hurting his campaign” (Wang et al. 4).

Similarly: “Trump’s supporters have continuously ranked among the most intolerant and least educated of voters—a point punctuated by Trump’s triumphant assertion, after winning this week’s Nevada caucus, that he loves ‘the poorly educated” (Perry). So the question arises: is it the man or is the man simply tapping into a nascent and dangerous ideology? Is America ready for a leader who expounds the virtues of intolerance? Regardless of the source, this homogenization of hatred must not be allowed to continue. In The Open Society and Its Enemies, renowned 20th century psychologist Karl Popper agrees: “We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal…” (qtd. in Hedges 1). Analyzed from this perspective, the blatant hate-speech and racist vitriol transcend the musings of a petulant man-child and indeed contributes to a damaging dialogue that slowly, but consistently, tears away at the fabric of rational public discourse.

This kind of negative discourse, the factions described by Hamilton et al in The Federalist Papers, are immune from the remedies described by our founding fathers. The safety net, the opposition mounted from rational members of society, is gradually being thwarted by the fear-mongering likes of Mr. Trump and some evangelical Christians:

…the myth peddled by the Christian Right about the American heartland: that here alone are family values and piety cherished, nurtured and protected. The so-called red states, which vote Republican and have large evangelical populations, have higher rates of murder, illegitimacy and teenage births than the so-called blue states… (Hedges 46)

These are the folks that our forefathers envisioned rising up against factions. Instead, they are being led down a path of fear and redemption by a presidential candidate that is far from presidential.

While the conventional political wisdom holds that Mr. Trump is unlikely to win the presidential election, the broader concern should be the effect his rise and his candidacy is having on our electorate. Movements like this don’t happen in a vacuum and there may well be long term effects from its success. While touted by conservatives as a great president, Ronald Reagan’s social and economic polices arguably set into motion destructive patterns within our society that remain today. It is also likely that the success of the Trump campaign and the resultant nearly complete lack of critical coverage by the major broadcast news organizations will be setting the plate for the next Trump … or McCarthy … or Wallace:

But there are striking similarities between Mr. Trump and George C. Wallace…The connections between the two — their rhetoric and their ability to fire up crowds — give us a better sense of what Trumpism will mean once he is gone from the campaign stage. After all, political losers as well as winners can shape the future. (Carter)

The damage done to the Republican Party will be the most immediate concern. Their lack of cohesiveness, not only in Congress, but in fielding effective countermeasures against one of their own is astonishing. This is a party in crisis; Mr. Trump has hijacked the party and the so-called Trump Train is racing full speed ahead into a chasm that will be very difficult for them escape: “The consequences for America and the world—if he wins, of course, but maybe even if he loses—are unknowable and perhaps unimaginable. The degree to which…he will also permanently deform American politics can only be speculated upon, but his primary victory will, decades from now, likely be seen as one of the defining events of 21st-century America” (Chotiner).

Perhaps another troubling sidebar to Mr. Trump’s candidacy has been the nearly widespread lack of critical coverage among the major broadcast new organizations. With the exception of partisan stalwarts Fox and MSNBC, the big three (ABC, NBC, CBS) as well as CNN have been generally easy on the candidate. It’s nearly impossible to imagine Mr. Trump’s rise in the era of Murrow and Cronkite. It simply wouldn’t happen. So that begs the question of whether we have entered, in the days after the repeal of the FCC Fairness Doctrine, an era of free-for-all politics. Will our political process be reduced to shouting matches and ad hominem attacks? Will our fourth estate complete their death knell and encourage this behavior to boost their stock prices? We may already be there: “And yet when people look back…a generation from now, our larger cultural response—at least as seen through our television media—will seem incomprehensible…there was hardly a whimper…the media have spent so long domesticating Trump that his victory no longer appeared momentous. He is the new normal” (Chotiner).

But is this paradigm shift unhealthy? Some would argue that this form of rhetorical democracy is vital: “Civility is often the camouflage for hiding challenges to the big-government faction… the First Amendment does not protect merely decorous or genteel speech, but as the political rhetoric of American history shows, all manner of speech no matter how rude or uncivil” (Thornton). There is no question that the principles of rhetorical democracy must be protected and unlike Popper, I’m not advocating imprisonment of those merely expressing intolerance through speech. However, it is clear that the American political landscape has been changed by the Trump candidacy—our discourse has become not only uncivil, but it has pandered to our collective base instincts—our lowest common denominator is now enjoying an ascendancy heretofore rationally unimagined. It remains to be seen what the lasting effects of Mr. Trump’s candidacy will be; but it is incumbent upon all those who share a stake in the political system to think critically about what is happening and exercise lasting vigilance.

History has shown that our nation has survived the destructive likes of Joseph McCarthy and George Wallace. The parallels between those divisive figures and Mr. Trump have been well documented. Likewise, the crude and boorish behavior of candidate Trump has been on display throughout the current election cycle, and yet his appeal has grown exponentially. This begs the question of the effect the “Trump Factor” will have on our country and the electorate in general. A resounding, crushing defeat of Mr. Trump in the general presidential election will go a long way towards reclaiming not only the gravitas of the presidency, but will help send a message that appealing to the lowest common denominator is not the road to the White House. Maybe we can suspend the advent of Idiocracy for at least another generation.

Works Cited

Bailey, Jason. “Who Said It: Presidential Hopeful Donald Trump or ‘Idiocracy’ President       Camacho?” Flavorwire. Flavorpill Media, 16 Sept. 2015. Web. 06 May 2016.

Blair, Gwenda. Donald Trump: The Candidate. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2005. Google Books. Alphabet, Inc. Web. 06 May 2016.

Carter, Dan T. “What Donald Trump Owes George Wallace.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 09 Jan. 2016. Web. 06 May 2016.

Chotiner, Isaac. “Donald Trump Is TV’s New Normal. That’s Insane.” Slate Magazine. The Slate Group, 03 May 2016. Web. 06 May 2016.

Cohen, Etan (etanjc). “I never expected #idiocracy to become a documentary.” 24 Feb. 2016, 9:27 a.m. Tweet.

Davidson, Amy. “Why Cruz, and the G.O.P., Lost to Trump.” The New Yorker. Conde Nast,  04 May 2016. Web. 06 May 2016.

Fitzgerald, Brian. McCarthyism: The Red Scare. Minneapolis: White-Thomson Publishing Ltd., 2007. Print.

Hedges, Chris. American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006. Print.

Idiocracy.  Dir. Mike Judge. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, 2006. Film.

Perry, Tod. “Idiocracy Writer Admits He May Have Predicted the Future.” GOOD Magazine. GOOD Worldwide Inc., 26 Feb. 2016. Web. 06 May 2016.

Thornton, Bruce S. “Here’s Mud in Your Eye: Politics in Democracies Have Always Been Rough and Tumble, and We’re Better off Because of It.” Hoover Digest 1 (2016): 29+. Academic OneFile. Web. 7 May 2016.

Trubowitz, Peter. “How the “Trump Factor” Came to Dominate the 2016 Election.” LSE Research Online. LSE Research Online, 1 Mar. 2016. Web. 06 May 2016

Trump, Donald and Schwartz, Tony. The Art of the Deal. New York: Ballantine Books, 1987. Print.

Wang, Yu, Jiebo Luo, Richard Niemi, and Yuncheng Lee. “To Follow or Not to Follow: Analyzing the Growth Patterns of the Trumpists on Twitter. “To Follow or Not to Follow: Analyzing the Growth Patterns of the Trumpists on Twitter  (2016): 1-4. Google Scholar. Web. 6 May 2016.

Williams, Victor. “Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and a Disrupted Electoral College: High Unfavorable Ratings, Multi-Candidate General Election Ballots, and Pursuing the ‘Art of the Deal’ with Free-Agent Electors in December 2016”. Social Science Research Network. Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc., 4 Dec. 2015. Web. 6 May 2016.

 

 


After Further Review…

President Obama discussing the tragedy in Charleston.

Guns.

I have previously posted my position on guns and gun control. I maintain my core belief that firearms are a tool and that the tool is not the source of evil or the inherent problem. This is, in my opinion, a fundamentally logical argument.

It’s also an argument that I am now willing to abandon.

After further review, I believe it is time for comprehensive and aggressive changes to our gun control laws. This is a position that I have, for the majority of my life, been against. However, in light of recent events and in the absence of any other real substantive solutions, I am willing to argue for a constitutional amendment to dramatically alter the Second Amendment.

I don’t do this lightly. Although I have been painfully disappointed with several of President Obama’s decisions during the course of his presidency, I believe at the end of the day, he is a decent man, albeit severely lacking the fortitude to accomplish the many things he promised as candidate Obama. But on gun control and his speech after the massacre in Charleston, he got it right. This is the Obama I voted for.

It’s time. We as a nation must enact sweeping gun control legislation to limit the availability of firearms in our country. It must be done. Eliminating military grade, so-called “assault weapons” is a start, but sweeping legislation must be immediately enacted to control and restrict firearm purchases. Money must be spent to upgrade the background check process. EVERY firearm needs to be accounted for.

I hear the hue and cry from the right already and as a staunch opponent of giving the government any more of my information or usurping any more of my liberties, I have to say that I’m willing to take the proverbial bullet on this one.

It’s the only way.

We need to have the political fortitude to stand up to the N.R.A. and the right-wing fear mongerers and say enough is enough. Too much of our precious human capital has been reduced to so many police blotter statistics.

The killing must stop and I’m willing to compromise my core beliefs in an attempt to make this happen. How about you?


Seeking Meaning at the Tip of a Spear

One of the most fascinating byproducts of my return to college is studying history. I’m currently enrolled in a class named Introduction to Western Civilizations. The course begins with the Ancient Babylonians and Sumerians and the wonder of the Fertile Crescent. Yesterday we were introduced to Henry VIII. I recently finished our semester project, an exhaustive research paper that was to be heavily sourced and presented to an instructor quite familiar with the material. This was one I couldn’t fudge. I trudged through and received a much better grade than I had expected.

The subject of my paper was Alexander the Great and his impact on current military strategy and tactics.

We have been exposed to a wealth of material about wars through the ages. Prior to the Common Era, or the existence of Christ and the acceptance of monotheism, most, if not all of the conflicts revolved around land or access to natural resources.

But the common theme of warfare since the emergence of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, et al, has been the persecution of those individuals whose views did not comport with their own. In other words, if you don’t worship my idol, the value of your life is nothing and you have become a threat to my belief system. Therefore, I will kill you.

Clearly outrageous behavior back in those dark days before science enlightened us and allowed us to think critically and resolve many of the mysteries that were deified in ancient times.

I truly believe that deep within each man and woman, there is an unexplained (as of yet) hunger for meaning in our lives. Why are we here? What is our purpose? Compelling questions that have endured through the ages…along with the accompanying fear that if thy neighbor doesn’t share our conception of our god, it’s okay, if not encouraged…to kill them.

I am a spiritual man. I am not an atheist. I pray daily. I pray to an unseen spirit or energy. I don’t know what form my God takes. I deeply respect the freedom all mankind shares in worshiping whatever God they choose. I do not respect their ancient need to kill each other over these beliefs.

The inherent value of studying history is that we are not doomed to repeat the mistakes of our ancestors.

For those of you who hold a certainty about the form and existence of your God, I applaud you. I also ask that you put the spear down and let the rest of us worship our own God.

After all, don’t you think that’s the answer to the question: WWJD?

 


Judgment Day…or Richard Sherman: Part Deux

So almost a week has passed since Richard Sherman’s ill-advised diatribe with Erin Andrews post-NFC Championship game.

Within 24 hours I posted my thoughts on that verbal missive.  One blog reader seemed to share some of my concerns, and another felt it necessary to fire up the ol’ keyboard  and launch an attack, apparently before finishing my post.

WordPress troll “Joe” (look up the definition of the word ‘troll’ Joe before launching another salvo) engaged in a classic attack on my post accusing me of judging Sherman.  The offense comes in two parts: 1) Blatantly judging me while first telling me “I’m not judging any of you” and 2) Spewing scripture in my general direction while “not judging”.

Joe is right. I judged the fuck out of Sherman. Webster defines that as “to form an opinion about (something or someone) after careful thought”. It’s my blog…it’s my opinion. Breaking news:  I get to judge. We all are free to form an opinion, even internet trolls like Joe. I would find this world pretty lame if we all lived Stepford lives and made no judgments.

I normally don’t respond to posts like Joe’s. I usually just let these posts speak for themselves, but I wanted to continue to judge Sherman and I didn’t want it to sound like capitulation to the bible thumping Joe’s of the world.

Here’s the deal: Sherman is starting to grow on me. Don’t get me wrong, I still hate the Seahawks, but after watching Sherman thoughtfully answering questions about the incident and his life, and reading some of his words, I find him to be what I suspected (and so “judged”) in my original post. He appears to be an educated, thoughtful, and sensitive young man. I really like how he’s handled himself in the aftermath of his outburst.

No Joe, I’m not perfect and I do my best to live my life serving others first. I believe in Karma. I also believe in calling out ignorance when I see it. No hard feelings buddy but don’t come on my blog and shove a bible verse in my face and then tell me how to live my life.

Judge on fellow bloggers…judge on…


The Jihadist Next Door…

It’s the smile and the wave.  The friendly hello.  They look like your neighbor…because they are.

They suffer from a profound inability to think critically and they are wracked with fear. I’d like to think that’s what’s wrong.  I’d like to think that’s what drives these domestic terrorists to carry out their daily jihad’s…their acts of intimidation…their public displays of intolerance.

It started about a year ago. Usually a Tuesday. A lone man and his sign in front of our local Planned Parenthood. The sign’s message an indication of their agenda: “Murder is happening here.”

I drove by a few times and shook my head in disbelief.  His demeanor became increasingly more aggressive and one day I honked and flipped him off.  While it provided me a nanosecond of basic relief from my anger, I immediately regretted it. Not because the fuck stain didn’t deserve it, but because for a moment I had become him.

The jihad is in full effect today. There are a variety of vacant-eyed men and women in front of the clinic…daily now.  Part of my daily cycling route takes me no more that a few feet from them. They smile. They wave. They say hello. I say nothing.

I want to react. I want to spit…to take a swing. To explain to them that they and their brethren are the best argument FOR abortion. I do not.

It’s what they want. If I react…they win. They’ve succeeded in getting someone to listen. If I react, it gives them another reason to crawl out from their fear filled spiritual hole every morning, load up their cars with their signs of hate, and spend another day attempting to intimidate young women and men from obtaining health care. And yes in some cases that includes abortion.

I have no issue with your opposition to abortion. I have great issue with your agenda. An agenda that kills women. And will continue to kill women if legal abortion is outlawed.

And I particularly have a problem when I see you yelling at these young men and women as they exit their cars and attempt to take care of themselves…to seek medical care.

If that is my son or daughter you are yelling at, I will react and I will lower myself to your level. But I can’t…because again, that’s what you want.

I intended on taking a video of your inhumanity and including it in this post, but I knew it would stir a psychotic excitement within your dead souls that would only convince you of the “rightness” of your cause.

But I will continue to ignore you and hope enough of my community does the same, so you will become victims of your own despair and simply wilt away…

God rest your souls…you are truly the living dead.


When the Law and Homophobia Marry…

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So here’s the deal.  Back in the days of the caveman, I’m going to take a wild guess that there were not a whole lot of social values and mores in place that prevented same sex physical union.  Those poor neanderthals (excuse the pun) didn’t have the advantage of Fox News or the Westboro Baptist Church to tell them that fooling around with a person of the same gender was “perverted”.

Enter today’s neanderthals…well spoken men and women, some carrying legal briefs in their thick leather cases, telling us poor folks that this SCOTUS argument today really isn’t about discrimination, it’s about the rights of individual states to decide if they want to allow same-sex marriages.  They argue that if the judicial branch rules for same-sex marriage, it would be a blanket imposition of a social agenda on all 50 states…rather than letting the individual states decide for themselves.  A very attractive argument in my opinion. Except it’s flawed.

Flawed in this sense:  marriage, despite all their attempts to moralize it, is at its core, a legal contract.   Currently, we do not allow members of the same sex to enter into this legal contract.  By any definition, this is discrimination based on sexual preference.  End of story.

Spare me the emotional religious arguments that marriage is a sacrosanct union between a man and a woman.  It is not.  If it was, you would not need to obtain a government “license” to enter into it.  It is, again, simply a legal contract.  To continue to deny a segment of our population access to this contract and all the benefits and responsibilities it engenders, is no different than telling them they need to sit at the back of the bus…or to drink from another drinking fountain.

Enough.


Merry Christmas

FaithBased

If you’re reading this…thank you.  I’m truly humbled that you’ve chosen to follow my blog and I’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Here’s my Christmas present to you:  Faith.

Find some.  Look in every nook and cranny you can but find some faith this year.  It can be Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, or whatever deity you choose, but seek one and develop a relationship with that deity.

I’ve been a God-less creature, consciously, for the majority of my life.  I was never taken to church as a child and frankly found organized religion to be divisive and polemic.  Better minds than I have thoroughly dissected this topic so I’ll leave that alone.

I found a higher power in my life a few years ago that doesn’t fit the traditional Judeo-Christian framework, but it’s one that works for me.  It’s a spirit that I pray to and have come to rely upon in times of need.  And it comforts me that there is some greater purpose in this existence than myself.

So that’s my wish and hope for you this year…that you are able to find an inclusive “God” in your life and through that, that “fear”, the root of all evil and anger, may leave you this year.

Love and happiness to all…


“Look, you work your side of the street and I’ll work mine.” ~Steve McQueen-Bullitt

Clearly, I’m not Steve McQueen but I connect with the quote and the man (character) himself so much, I made it my Gravatar.  Let me explain:

I’m a control freak.  It’s what drove my success as a Paramedic and ultimately a Fire Captain in a previous life.  I spent a lot of time preparing and studying and practicing my craft, so that in an emergency situation, when lives literally hung in the balance, I was ready…muscle memory they call it.  There’s no shortcuts for that kind of skill.

So here’s the rub…if you’re not a control freak of my ilk, if you don’t put in the same hours I do to, I have a problem with that.  In other words…I have a problem.

You see where I’m going with this.  If you don’t live up to my high expectations, you are inferior and subject to my derision.  Except for the small fact that that doesn’t seem to work in society.  Not everyone shares my same values and work ethic.  And here’s the real shocker…not everyone cares as much as I do.  And guess what?  I’m not all that!

It took me a long time and a lot of soul-searching brought on by some real tragedy, self-made and otherwise, in my life for me to realize I am not the center of the universe.  You might laugh, but in all honesty I thought I was…and still do in some moments (muscle memory I’m sure LOL)…

I couldn’t figure out why I was so unhappy and why the people around me were such lazy idiots (I’m not recovered from this entirely…I invite you to drive with me on any given day).  What I finally DID figure out was that this was not their problem…it was mine.

Back to the quote…it reminds me that I can only control one thing…ME.  The Serenity Prayer is a great relief to me during these times.  My workplace is filled with incompetence (as I see it) but at the end of the day, all I can truly affect are my actions and my responses to others.  This is SO much easier said than done, but it’s something I truly do strive for every day.  Sometimes successfully, but oftentimes not…progress not perfection.

What spurred this post was a response a gentlemen made on my post yesterday on faith…he kindly suggested that instead of Karma, I come to realize the joys of Jesus Christ and all the benefits that has to offer.  Thank you very kindly sir, but I’m completely and wholly satisfied with my concept of God and wish to leave it at that.  I appreciate your faith but am constantly amazed at others enthusiasm for sharing.  If your faith is sound, I don’t believe you need to spread the Gospel…if I am destined to become Born Again…don’t you think God will make sure that happens on it’s own accord…again:

“Look, you work your side of the street and I’ll work mine”…thank God for this.


Jonathan latt

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