I am a freelance author, writer, critic, artist, and entrepreneur living in the Heart of the Texas Hill Country.
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In point of fact America has always been great.
I believe that it is insulting to the American people to suggest otherwise, regardless of whether it is in the form of a media debate or a campaign slogan; however, America was never great simply for the sake of being great. Many Americans allocate greatness for convenience in order to validate something, or themselves; attributing our greatness to a flag and a pledge, in honor specifically of a military that may or may not feel contempt for the manner in which Americans express themselves. Our greatness does not rest entirely on the shoulders of our military, our politics, or our sociopolitical perspectives. Our greatness is not the contract that is our constitution, the foundation of our greatness is within the written resolve for which the constitution has allowed us to be, and to become.
America is great because we aspired to do great things—because we aspired to greatness. The American people never waited for the government or the media to tell us what to think, or how to act, or who we were; we did not need everyone to agree with us. We are not great because of our personal ideologies but, rather, because we have been idealistic. America is great because we aspired to be educated, to be artistic and analytical, to be compassionate and resolute, challenging and supportive, and to be open-minded and critical. America discovered greatness in people and our ability to connect with one another in our compassion and our understanding.
“We stood for what was right. We fought for moral reasons, we passed and struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were, and we never beat our chest. We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars…We aspired to intelligence; we didn’t belittle it; it didn’t make us feel inferior. We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn’t scare so easily. And we were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed. By great men, men who were revered. The first step to solving any problems is recognizing there is one.”
America is great because we stand for one another, not against; we did not paint right and wrong as a portrait of personal preference or belief—we became one despite of our differences, and stronger because of them. We discovered greatness in humility, and intelligence; for a time we allowed religion, science, and intellect to coexist and to develop not as one, or together but besides one another, because we were accepting of one as well as the others. Our scientist did not do things just to see if it could be done, we did so for the sake of our development or survival, and we didn’t use or conceal our advancements solely for profit. We admire artistic endeavors, and stand suspended in awe at our achievements; regardless of the medium. We found integrity in our identities complete only if accomplished, and educated in the arts. We found dignity in drawing, painting, photography, dance, writing, and music and more—and we continue to, only we disparage the education of the arts.
We are more than capable of greatness, because we have never ceased to be great; Americans have always adapted to-, and felt empowered by challenge: we are twenty-second in scientific achievement, with intent and direction—we have the means to be better. We are third in median household income, because are idea of what work is, and what it means to work hard has been influenced—we have the means to be better. We are seventh in literacy, because we belittle education, and don’t recognize the need to reform and develop—we have the means to be better.
Many Americans have allowed the intention of a powerful few to dictate their morals and their beliefs; we have been exploited in exchange for our convictions, governed to direct our own authorities towards one another; pitted against unity, and detached from our purposes. We are not manipulated by a specific party affiliate, as American we are being handled by our government in its entirety as they use the intent of our own greatness, and capable passion against us. Our affiliated parties have many of us believing that they alone are the means to better our situations—that is not true. As Americans our liberation is not in disunion. America is great, and always has been great because we stand for one another.
People develop as a product of their time believing their childhood years to be among the best of their, and therefore anybody’s life. It is easy to look back on a time with the imagination of a child and see greatness, and that greatness may not seem to exist during any other point in our lives. I believe that our present is one of the most difficult times for America, there have been periods of struggle throughout our history, when many people could rely only on hope—many had nothing; I know that today we have more than we have ever had before, the benefits of developing technologies and sciences, but still so many people belittle and discredit our sciences in reaction to a perceived threat against their religion. I cannot help but to feel trapped in-between a culture of fear and/or invalidation, but for what? To what end?
I cannot understand why someone might listen to another human being offering philosophical or psychological guidance or direction and it being brushed off as, “pseudo-intellectual bullshit,” or “bushwa decadence,” why are we so dismissive of information? Why can we not accept one anothers perspectives in open-minded understanding? Whatever concept of greatness that any of you have come to revere about America our greatness is, and always has been a representation of our ability to concurrently be artistic and analytical, to be compassionate and resolute, challenging and supportive, and to be open-minded and critical. America discovered greatness people and our ability to connect with one another in our compassion and our understanding. America is great, because we have always managed to find cohesive contrast in our understanding, and perception of our world, and ourselves.
We have never before been so eager in our absoluteness and judgment of another as we are today, and regardless of whatever reason you may think you have to predicate and undermine those that behave or believe differently than you, it is not enough of a reason to dismiss the characteristics that help to define, and allow to endure what American greatness tenaciously is.
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I have an idea:
Regardless of the influential scale of your impact, regardless of whether its effects are great and wide, or individual and minute, regardless of whether you're concerned you might look bad to your peers instead of consistently looking for someone else to blame for (y)our problems—personal or societal—why don't you focus on what your role is in creating those problems. The political price tag has gotten to be too high, because whether or not anything on C-span directly affects the majority of our lives, we are allowing it to affect our lives, and, of course, in cases of school and workplace shootings and other senseless deaths we really are beginning to experience a phenomenon that will not be remedied from the top down.
It is way too easy to blame others, to focus on the misdeeds or irrational understandings of those that we might disagree with, and to justify our behavior with our own developed sense of social morality. The American party system has become so manipulated and so divisive, and that divisiveness has become so commonplace that we do not even recognize that our ship is sinking. It has nothing to do with Barack Obama or Donald Trump or Mitch McConnell or Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton—nothing. We are too focused on blame. Somewhere along the line the American people became convinced that our way of life, and our society, our American dream no longer existed, and instead of actually looking at it, instead of stopping to say, “Well, sure it does.” We started blaming each other. It’s the Democrats, it’s the republicans, it’s the African Americans, it’s the immigration issue, it’s the gun control issue, it’s the LGBTQ community, and it’s that George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump—it’s not, it has always been us. Our indifference and our lack of accountability.
I liked Obama, I voted for him, twice, but a lot of his policies did ignore the intentions of the constitution; however, I am quite certain that when most conservatives argue in favor of that point they have no idea what they are actually talking about, they are simply repeating sound bites that they happened to hear making the rounds through the social mediasphere, and if they do [claim to know what they are talking about] then their indifference now completely outweighs their sense of social service. I am a proponent of social liberty—for everyone. It’s nonsensical to say that, “I am a proponent of social liberty, well, except for blacks, and homosexuals, and the transgender, and…” with that said, it’s not the place of the federal government to decide for the American people what your sense of social liberty is. Racism and sexism and other prejudices are a form of ignorance, there is no doubt about that, but if the United States is going to establish law in favor of-, or against various social liberties—though it’s something that the U.S. should never do—it can only be done at the state level. Obama did ignore that. Is that prosecutable? No, I’m sorry, it is not, and neither is it forcibly divisive. As I have mentioned, that personally, I do understand the frustration of ignorance, and the desire to force a sort of…re-education, but it cannot be done, forcibly; that is a fine line to cross, and we have to maintain the distinction—and if for no other reason that we are sometimes too different in our perspectives from one another.
I can appreciate the necessity of the 2nd amendment though I cannot, for the life of me, understand why conservatives are fighting so hard to keep semi-automatic guns available to the public, it makes no sense to me whatsoever. The argument that you can keep it simply because you have the right to, is, I mean, it’s apathetic and careless, and borderline dangerous, actually, at this point, it is beyond borderline. There are more than enough alternatives available to the American public without the ‘freedom’ to unload and unreasonable amount of ammunition sailing towards a deer or a target attached to a barrel of hay. You don’t need it. Even the Founding Fathers disallowed weapons in some situations and institutions, too many people conveniently ignore that, inasmuch as they ignore the language, “A well-regulated militia…” the first lines of text in within the amendment for, “…shall not be infringed.” When it is undeniably clear that the act of infringement, in this case, refers to the amendment in its entirety, and how not regulating gun control is in actuality an infringement on the amendment. Yes, we do need a 2nd amendment, people do need the right to “bear arms,” but some of y’all need to be reminded that there is a difference between pride and freedom.
I am pro-life. Do you know what that actually means, to me at least? It simply means that I am against death, well premature, unnecessary, and senseless death. It means that I am against the acts of “police brutality,” abortion, and the death penalty—and I have a sleuth of issues with our judicial system, specifically the correctional department, and how people are imprisoned for life for non-violent drug crimes, I mean come on—isn’t that what healthcare’s for? Oh, wait, we can’t even figure out our healthcare system either. But, why? It should be simple: we have a capitalist economy, right? Well then why isn’t healthcare privatized? Only then would the sick actually get the quality of healthcare they deserve. The United States is too big for Universal Healthcare, especially if our federal government is focused on making everything a federal issue.
And look, no, I don’t agree with abortion—I’m prolife—however, I’m also male, which in-and-of-itself kind of eliminates me from having any sort of practical understanding, and therefore opinion on the issues, especially considering that I am prolife, not just pro-birth.
The point that I’m making with all these personal political confessions is, well, 1.) That there needs to be a distinction between our social and our political lives, but more important 2.) Most of your opinions are based on sound bites that mean nothing, if you established some sort of linear “How Did I Come to these Conclusions” outline for your political beliefs system it wouldn’t make any sense, because it’s not based on anything.
And although it seems that I am using republicans as a series of examples of what not to do (I'm about to do it again), I am, by no means, only referring to republicans, this is a bipartisan problem, democrats are just as responsible, you are a mirror image, only, to your political counterpart.
I mean a major aspect of Republican Dogma is moral family values based greatly on the teachings of Jesus Christ, while there are 11,000 immigrant children that have been removed from their parents and locked up in warehouses across the southern most part of our country. Congressman are not even aloud to tour these facilities. And you shrug your shoulders and whine about immigration? And that’s justifiable to you? Jesus was Middle Eastern, why don’t you try Googling “People Born in Bethlehem,” and after weeding through the various paintings of Jesus and pictures of American kids recreating The Nativity, tell me what you see.
And I’m even a proponent for having, and enforcing better immigration laws, but come on, let’s do things the right way, hmm?
So instead of getting on Facebook and sharing fake news articles, or real news articles and expressing your feelings of intense distaste towards something completely irrelevant to our everyday lives, why not stop and think about what you really want your role to be, and what your role actually is, and through this exercise maybe you’ll learn to take some accountability. Because is it really Obama or Trump that’s dividing this country? Or is it us?
So, let’s try that, and were that takes us.
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I keep a handful of books shelved at my bedside, standing upright between a candle and container of really cool rocks that I’ve found here and there throughout the years, my keeping the books next to the bed like this is a new happening; we all know that most of us do our best thinking and processing as soon as our heads hit the pillow and we’re trying to fall asleep, so I keep them there for reference for a wandering mind. There is a copy of Swann’s Way, Meditations with Dante Alighieri, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, and The Element by Ken Robinson.
I first discovered Ken Robinson on TED.com, he was giving a talk about creativity, and education, and how schools, at least in the way that they are currently formatted, actually “kill our creativity.” I reference him several times throughout my blogs, because he deserves to be referenced. Ken Robinson is an education reformist, he recognizes that our school systems are creating thoughtless ‘monikers’ of the human race; Robin Williams, I think, said it best as John Keating in the Dead Poets Society, and “…the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, business, law, engineering these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love these are what we stay alive for.” Our school systems are devolving more, and more, and away from teaching children how to be desirous about their passions, and therefore their pursuits.
Reform makes me nervous because instead of recognizing where the foundation of our problems actually lie we are simply attaching or amending, applying an adhesive in attempt that our fix might mend the swelling dysfunction within the institution. Unfortunately, the flaw within the education system is the system, the point at issue lies at the foundation of the design of the way the institution was structured. I mentioned in a previous blog that our current education system was implemented in late 20th century, and was constructed for farming families and industry work, but, you know, like, what does that mean? Well, our education system is procedural, and is formatted systematically: course, semester, season, etc., and every year students spend the first semester reviewing what they studied the previous semester, and then in the second, and final semester students are more extensively examining what they reviewed the semester before—the same five or six courses year-after-year-after year—for twelve years. The institution was set up this way because the majority of students were averaging five to eight years of schooling before they were removed from school and expected to work on a farm or in industry to help provide for their families, it allowed for a quick exercise and review and overview for a number of subjects within a short period of time, and if children were able to continue their education they would dive a little deeper into familiar subjects and increase their knowledge base. It made sense for the average lower and middle class families, which, at the time, outnumbered the upper classes significantly, only the system became our only source of education, and it continued much, much longer than it should have—you know, like, it somehow manages to exist even now, as our primary public educational means; which is, obviously beyond me.
In Ken Robinsons’ book The Element he discusses how, because of the lasting curse that is our education system, we elevate certain subjects over others, we think of them as more important or more relevant in our day-to-day lives, subjects like math and science are revered when the vast majority of us don’t really employ either of them that often, and when we do it’s when acknowledging time and going over finances, things that are not actually taught to the majority of us during our primary schooling anyway, and other aspects of each that we employ daily we experience unconsciously when we confront them naturally—in the natural world, in the way that math and physics are the “language of the universe,” but, you know, like: “Cool!” Yeah, it’s awesome how the Fibonacci Sequence, The Golden Ratio, and Fractals apply themselves in nature. And Pythagoras, and his relationship with math, and music are undeniably intriguing and influential; a number of my favorite musicians (David Bowie, Andrew Bird, Josh Ritter, The Flaming Lips…) utilize math and science in their songs. Otherwise, I mean, math and science are as relevant as dance and literature depending, only, on whom is actively applying them. Meanwhile, in school, subjects like art and music and dance are ignored or belittled, subjects that far more people employ not only on a day-to-day basis but professionally, and with more passion. Because the simple fact is that far less people think and process like a mathematician or a scientist than the number of people who think and process the world like artists, and musicians, and dancers, and writers. So why is our education system designed not only to create scientists, and mathematicians, and college professors but to do so as if we all process the world in the same way that scientists, and mathematicians, and college professors do?
Ken Robinsons’ The Element challenges people to find what their Element is, and suggests that once you do figure it out your relationship with the world will change dramatically, because it is not only possible to learn math, social sciences, geography, and language through the lens of a dancer—or any Element—but necessary in order for some people to actually understand, and relate to the world. In his book Robinson gives the example through a number of ‘case studies,’ he tells the stories of Mick Fleetwood, Faith Ringgold, Meg Ryan, and Others, of how our traditional education systems very nearly secured a world without the music of Fleetwood Mac, or the acting of Meg Ryan, or the choreography of Gillian Lynne.
I would go as far, even, to acknowledge our general lack of understanding when relating to our emotional selves. People have a series of emotions and moods that affect us, and our relationships every single day, and yet we dedicate zero time to learning how to acknowledge and relate to those emotions. I cannot find the sense in that at all, in fact it’s systemically dangerous. And, quite likely, the reason for our present devolving moral and political situation. I mean, we have a difficult enough time actually surviving in the world, let alone becoming an adult, being expected to handle a career, bills, taxes, relationships, and people without the underlining stress of dealing with erratic, sensational, and seemingly unpredictable emotions and moods; and then we die. We got all that going for us, while behind the scenes there are people creating budgets based on a foundation of education that we, generally, accept as a sensible standard, but why? For all intents and purposes there is no sense at all for these people to continue looking for ways to get rid of art, and theatre, and music, and dance in school.
My idea of a healthy and formidable education system would be as follows: imagine a system where we spend the first few years of our lives learning how to relate to those reoccurring, and unpredictable, and overwhelming emotions that we experience, sometimes without any apparent reason, so that we might recognize what we’re feeling, when, and why, and in various situations and then knowing, as adults, how to go about behaving. And then, in the years following, after having spent the previous few years of education learning, not only about our emotions, but simultaneously, and unwittingly, ourselves, and, as a result, we have a better understanding of our own Elements, and then being taught those, seemingly, core subjects through the best lens that we have in order to relate to our worlds, ourselves, and one another. The best way to educate yourself about a topic is to relate to something that you’re interested in, and the best way to others to educate us is to do exactly the same, because we cannot assume that we all think and process theories, and facts, and ideas the same way—because we don’t. If you’re still on the fence try reading The Element by Ken Robinson and Embracing the Wide Sky by Daniel Tammet.
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This is off the general topic, I know, and I apologize for that, however with it being such an important, and encompassing debate it’s difficult not to address it if you own a blog. The topic of Gun Control, or as I prefer to acknowledge it: Gun Safety. The conversation, as I have witnessed it, has become so overwhelmingly flout with sound bites, that there is no linear direction, or understanding of the topic, or as it is widely understood in the reflection of what the imposed intention is of either party. In other words, we are not having a conversation at all, but rather an uncontrollable debate of the surrounding misunderstandings, and misdirection that surround the conversation.
It’s frustrating, to me, because the influence of the NRA is clearly effecting the political debate. You might think that, based on that statement alone, you have an idea of where I stand in the conversation, but I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss or accept me.
I believe in the necessity of the 2nd amendment. I understand its purpose, and I believe in individual rights of the American citizen. The intention of the 2nd amendment was to allow an oppressed population to stand up against a corrupt and overbearing government. The same corrupt and overbearing government that we’ve had (and has steadily grown worse) since the 60’s. With that said, and with the apparent lack of understanding for the protection of our rights, what purposes, really, does the 2nd amendment serve today?
Gun Safety and Gun regulations are a common sense step for a country as deeply impacted by the problems that we experience, in regards to gun violence. And neither Gun Safety nor Gun Regulation are an infringement on our rights. If you believe that they are then you are living with a misunderstanding of what it means. There are a lot of facts and statistics that I could waste my time listing here, but they are all available, if you care enough to actually look. However if you’re not compelled to do a little research, I ask that you question whether your lack of interest is a result of political sound bites such as, “Guns aren’t the problem,” and “People will still be able to get guns if they are banned (or regulated),” “Guns are as dangerous as cars,” and “Guns are a tool, like knives,” because, I would suggest that if you are influenced by these arguments that you are being apathetic, if, for no other reason, that regardless of if either, or any argument against better Gun Regulations were indeed accurate, it would still not be enough of a reason to do nothing. I’m not going to lecture, really, however I do implore you to do a little research.
The intention is not to ban guns, or, well, actually the intention is not to ban all guns, I mean there really are a couple of guns that nobody needs to own, despite some arguments it’s simply a fact. You don’t need a semiautomatic rifle (what is commonly, but inappropriately referred to as an assault rifle). It might be fun, and the act of owning it might impress on you some semblance of freedom that you, for whatever reason, feel like you don’t already have, but do you have to own a piece of everything to feel free? There are so many things that exist on this planet that are not available to you as an American, and still you’re not taken aback or affected by those, why?
I believe that in order to buy a gun there should be a few simple requirments, and I might be persuaded to remove or to add to this list, but from my perspective the following should be agreeable.
If you want to buy a gun:
It is too easy to get a gun. Period. And there is simply not enough of a basic familiarity and understanding of how, when, and why to use one, once you have a gun. There is, of course, an issue surrounding mental health, but that argument in, and of itself is more of a reason to establish better Gun Regulations that not to. And I would posit, even, that the issue of mental health is more of a foundational one that exists within the systems of our societal constructs, which is to say that our mental health issues and our gun control issues might be one and the same, and we are spending too much time and effort trying to disassociate the two. I believe that there is an oblique misunderstanding of our systems that intrigue us to sit around and debate that the problem is, "this" or "that," and a separate political problem exits when we find ourselves arguing between arbitrary ideas. Guns kill people, people kill people, and crazy people kill people. In reality Desensitized people kill people. This is not entirely a gun control issue, and it is not entirely a mental health issue. However it would be inappropriate to suggest that it is not at all a gun control issue, and not at all a mental health issue. Creating better Gun Regulations is just common sense, and, again, I’m not talking about banning guns, but developing better Gun Safety systems. In the same way that continuously developing better practices when understanding correlations between our mental health issues are pertinent. The requirements above are not unreasonable requests, and for most of you that own guns, or that would like to own guns you would be more than capable of passing the required regulations.
Every time there has been a mass shooting in this country, or at least in the last decade, we have had the same conversation, and gun rights enthusiasts are consistently coming up with new, and completely absurd arguments to maintain their position—for the American people to maintain a position. They are changing their story, because every time an act of mass gun violence occurs the people that are affected are no longer willing to listen to the nonsense. This time around, after the deaths of seventeen students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Florida it’s becoming more and more difficult not to listen, when students like Emma Gonzalez and Cameron Kasky are making incredible efforts, and unbelievably impassioned speeches calling out the hypocrisy that our country is facing, and the unfortunate disregard of our politicians to admit there’s a problem. Especially considering that no one, not a single politician is calling for the ban of all guns, but when there are 300 million guns in the United States, enough for nearly every man, woman and child in this country the means in which we come about getting our hands on guns, and the intention behind the trigger is an issue that we cannot continue to overlook.