Could be Worse

bitten in my sleep

fan hums

losing patience yet no choice but to wait

friends occupied while I try to kill time

a move to a crime scene

sweaty, dirty job

flipping between diversions

heat, more bugs

thank God for the food bank

full stomach, AC, on my laptop

peace and quiet

people who care

time for reflection

sobriety and a clear head

it ain’t all good,

but it definitely could be worse ūüôā

 

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The Pledge

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”‚ÄĒshould be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart.

(Wikipedia)

The Pledge of Acknowledgment

“I pledge acknowledgment that there is nothing exceptional about the USA except perhaps the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence concerning equality, liberty and justice. I acknowledge that peace is another ideal we should strive to achieve. I realize that many people are excluded from enjoying these concepts and we have a lot of work to do as a country to continue striving towards those ideals. I acknowledge that I am subject to the laws and criminal code of the US whether I agree with them or not. Hopefully the republic grows no more divided than it is now and reverses this trend. If there is a God, we would certainly ask for its help in this endeavor.”–should be rendered standing on one foot, patting one’s head and rubbing their belly in a counter-clockwise motion.

 

Meditation & Action

Take me away to a place where the butterflies play

coloring outside the lines let me stray

thinking outside of the box I must say

as I focus on dreaming away the day

 

But there’s work to be done

problems are all on the run

got to catch them, solve them one by one

work with me it may even be fun

 

tarnished ideals and warped principles

giggle through the smoke and hide behind mirrors

the pain shouts the mind races in place

clear the smog, break the reflections

join hands and fight

yes we can

no we’re not gonna take it anymore

hoping for bloodless victory, knowing it’s half impossible

hang em high or let love decide their fate?

intellect wrestles emotions the back and forth of the oceans

dirty deeds done dirt cheap on plastic island

clouds protecting from sun or raining acid

Oh tell me, you duplicitous vapor, does the universe conspire in our favor?

Why I Refuse to Believe in God

I know this is a taboo subject, but I’ll engage it anyway. I intend this to be an explanation of my thinking, not something designed to persuade anyone else to believe the same.

THE PROBLEM OF EVIL

My reason for choosing not to believe in God is rooted in this morsel of knowledge from intro philosophy. If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving, then why is there evil in the world? Is it some sort of sick experiment in which some are controls and others are tested by horrible experiences or just plain wiped out? No. I refuse to believe that life is any type of test. If it were, it would beg the question, a test towards what end? Deciding the fate of one’s afterlife?

THE VANITY OF THE CONCEPT OF THE AFTERLIFE

Look, I would love to play a harp on a cushy cloud with beautiful angels and kids playing and laughing once I’ve expired, or really have almost any experience at all–Hell notwithstanding. I would love for my consciousness to continue, however there is no reason for me to believe that it will, in fact all evidence points to the contrary. Some people will wonder what happens to the electricity in one’s heart and brain once they die, but this is no mystery. The energy simply dissipates as there is nothing to maintain it in the place of the body anymore. That’s not metaphysical, it’s physics.

PRIVILEGED OR PRIMAL SUPERSTITION

Of course believing in something more powerful than what people generally conceive of is totally rational. Believing in gravity is a very practical mindset. However, to believe that an intelligent being or sentient entity dictates the way certain things go is ridiculous. It all sounds rather like the tale of the Tooth Fairy when you think about it, doesn’t it? There is no Tooth Fairy, but there are loving parents and guardians, and there is love and generosity for that matter. These forces are quite powerful in themselves, and require no explanation for existing–this is another crucial tenant of my beliefs–nothing needs a reason to exist, it simply does or does not. No purpose? Sounds disturbing and existentialist, huh? The cool thing about rejecting the idea of one purpose for humanity is that each individual is then allowed to decide what their purpose and what they think the purpose of life is for themselves. Also, I do not believe that people are inherently good or bad, they have experiences, genes, and choices which impact their decisions and actions.

RELIGION IS NOT WORTHLESS TO ME, JUST A BIT MISGUIDED

I went to church this Sunday and the preacher said, “What we do reveals what we believe is true.” I loved this. It is a profound and concise statement–the best kind of statement. Religion does have a lot of beneficial philosophy to offer, love thy neighbor for instance. But here’s the thing. People go through things and need help coping. I believe that psychotherapy is better suited to help people cope with problems and losses than religion, because it’s real. Real changes to one’s behavior helps change their thinking to be more positive and more useful to themselves and others. Me, I’ll pass on the opiate of the idea that the most powerful being imaginable cares about me–especially in light of what this supposed being, if it were to exist, has put people through–and good and innocent people at that. That God is not worth worshipping, even if it were to exist–no thank you. Another boon of religion is the way it brings people together to form communities. Communities are magical things, forgive the pun, and leave everyone better off so long as they don’t decide to hate, damage or destroy another community or individual for that matter. A problem with religion is its focus on faith. Faith in goodness is not unimportant, but acting through that faith is infinitely more so. Acting through faith is being of service to others. This is what religious institutions need to focus on. I’m not saying they completely neglect this duty, but that it needs to be the focus and not the secondary duty it seems to be in most religious institutions that I’m familiar with. The focus on faith in a too-good-to-be-true being minimizes human love and goodness that is seen as cooperation and philanthropy and service.

FAITH AND MISCONCEPTIONS OF ATHEISM

Faith in the human spirit is the only faith I need. It is a tangible, beneficent thing. I don’t need to be intellectually lazy and give up on rational and scientific thought as to why things occur in order to have a working faith. I don’t need the threat of Hell or the reward of Heaven to know to try to do the morally right thing. Atheists don’t necessarily just do what they want when no one is looking, most people are instilled with moral values from their life experiences derived from living in society. To think of an insecure God that needs people to believe in it for it to help them is another absurd thought. Even if there were a God, if it were worthy of belief or worship, it would not care whether a person believed in it or not. Atheists are not faithless people, they just put their faith in more tangible things–atheists are practical people. Also not all atheists scoff at others’ beliefs, they simply choose not to share them. Love thy neighbor, be of service, and don’t worry so much about what a hypothetical being may want from you. Worry about what you want from you and ensuring that what that is is humble and reasonable.

Bankruptcy

Much like sitting in the optometrist’s chair, it only becomes more and more clear. This country is bankrupt. Sure, we have mansions and private jets and brand new football stadia and interstates and national parks–but we’re bankrupt. Ethically bankrupt and corrupt. The responsibility falls on everyone, but especially those who protect the interests of¬†and enforce the will of the multinational corporations. The politicians, the security guards, the private investigators, the lawyers, the judges, the law enforcement officers,¬†the mercenaries. If you are one of these things and act as a tool of a business or corrupt government institution¬†that always puts the interests of a minority over the majority and puts¬†profits over people and the¬†environment, you really need to take a deep look at what you do and change it. Don’t be a bandwagon, scab, “Well, this is the best thing to do¬†for me” type person. That’s exactly the attitude that is¬†screwing us.

We need to think of each other before we destroy all our most precious resources i.e. our food, water, and air. The good news is everyone can do something to help fight the madness that, for example, manifests as the flesh of a thousand cows in one hamburger that is then sanitized with ammonia before being served to you. The madness that is continuing to find more dangerous and destructive ways to extract the very fossil fuels that are increasing the temperature of the entire planet irreversibly. More good news is that bankruptcy is a perfect place from which to start over. While the protest at Standing Rock failed in the long run, it was still inspiring to see all of those people fighting for what was right for once.

To affect real change to the important issues such as campaign finance reform, food and drug regulation, environmental protection, and economic equality will take nothing short of a miracle of will and organization, but it is possible–if people keep one idea in mind, love. Love for yourself and those around you. To not accept being taken advantage of anymore. To not accept being just another consumer or taxpayer or soldier. In this case, love is the unwillingness to accept mistreatment; it is standing up for yourself and others. Now, more than ever, we must focus on the things that make us alike rather than different. We must fight each other’s battles because we will need help to fight our own. We must fight to protect what’s important, but first we must come to a consensus on what that is. This won’t be as difficult as it sounds.¬†Though the media and the powers that be would have us believe otherwise, we actually all mostly agree on our goals. We may disagree on how to achieve them, but we can also all agree that making no change will not bring us to those goals. We can also all agree that whatever solution truly works without causing externalities and hidden costs is acceptable, even if it wasn’t our idea of how to achieve that goal.

The resources are there to solve all of our problems. There is enough food, enough land, enough water, enough energy to meet the needs of our growing global population. But our resources are not being distributed equitably. Many of them go into destruction rather than construction or sustaining what we have. They are misspent, misplaced, misused–but they exist. So get involved in a political movement. Take to the streets. Get loud.¬†Vote with your dollars for local food, for socially and environmentally¬†responsible companies. Know your enemy. Forge alliances.¬†Remember we are all one. Love thy neighbor and thy self.¬†The time is now.

Technology and Its Impact on Society

The first world’s shift towards interacting more and more with devices rather than people has had some awful consequences which we must now learn to curb. Young children are spending hours on their tablets instead of being occupied by a parent or peer. A device is something one has complete control over, if something disturbs you, you can close the window, app, or turn the device off. You can find graphic sexual content and violent content abundantly and fantasize about¬†sex and violence¬†to your heart’s content. This control¬†over, objectification of, and trivialization of, the most¬†intimate and horrible acts a person can commit has somehow failed to translate into increased sexual and violent crime rates in the United States over the last two decades, however the media’s bias towards such stories has not made this seem the case to the average citizen.¬†Fortunately, despite technology’s negative influences, the world is not going to hell. This isn’t to say that the full impact of consumer technology has been realized yet–and there are some crucial differences in the ways people interact with devices as opposed to the ways they interact with other people.

A device cannot judge you, laugh at you, call you names–but it can be a vehicle to show you other people doing so. The layer of protection, whether distance or anonymity brings out the worst in people. People behave badly online with little or no repercussions most of the time. If someone said something about you in person, you could confront them and preserve your self-esteem. Doing so online becomes a strange proxy battle so removed from reality that both sides will make outrageous threats and statements that escalate the situation beyond its original import. It is how we interact with other people that is most important, but how we use technology throughout our lives influences this. Who hasn’t went on social media to see a friend or acquaintance¬†posting about doing something enjoyable and instead of feeling glad for them, felt envious or disappointed with how they spent their own afternoon? Technology has the power to influence how human beings interact with each other, partially because spending so much time engrossed in technology, especially as children, keeps us from learning how to handle certain types of interpersonal interactions. Some have theorized this is why there is such a focus on bullying in the education system and that this technology has coincided with the 2010s phenomena of political correctness and¬†people¬†very easily offended–“snowflakes.” Now are these phenomena also perhaps indicative of an enhanced understanding of and compassion for the plights of others? Are they as author Tony Robbins¬†asserted more a result of an inclination towards “victimhood?” Clearly it required a combination of these reasons for the phenomena to arise. But then is technology only a potentially hazardous influence? Or might it actually be able to improve interactions between people in certain cases?

Of course technology connects us with¬†others over long distances, but are these relationships significant or merely hollow shadows of what they would be if the people were able to interact face-to-face? Things such as Skype and FaceTime allow the next best thing to this sort of interaction which have no doubt helped, for example, military people stay connected to loved ones at home. But¬†are these¬†really any more intimate than a telephone call–a technology which has been widely available since the early 20th century? The argument could be made that they are since they allow one to see another’s facial expression, but tone, volume, and cadence of voice¬†can give one a pretty good idea of another’s expression. Technology does allow one to translate much more easily than they could before with a phrase book in hand, and this is one way it¬†facilitates an interaction between people.¬†Perhaps¬†these are¬†two instances in which technology has actually improved an interaction between people, but much more often,¬†technology¬†is used as¬†a replacement for interaction as opposed to an enhancement of one.

I don’t think the evidence supports the notion that technology’s influence has been or will continue to be primarily negative in regards to human interaction, but in the scheme of things it really hasn’t been around long enough to be sure. I won’t¬†attempt to speculate as to why violent and sexual crime rates are dropping in the United States aside from suggesting that it may be the fact that¬†the country has the highest percentage of¬†its population incarcerated in the world. According to the BBC, violent and sex crime rates in England and¬†Wales¬†rose significantly¬†over the past year. Other first world nations may not be enjoying the same reduction in these crime rates as the U.S. is. Time will tell how technology is impacting us behaviorally and psychologically, as technology races ahead to complicate the analysis.

 

Free Speech

You can’t say “bomb” on an airplane.

You can’t say “abortion” in a church.

You can’t say “peace” in the Pentagon.

You can’t say “boo” to a baby.

You can’t say “no” to a spoiled child.

You can’t say “terrorist” to a white killer.

You can’t say “I don’t want money.”

You can’t say “Jack” to a king.

…You can say that again!