Back to Blog
Our political affiliations are almost entirely, and uncompromisingly learned. People rely on others, namely our parents, to guide us and teach us what it means to be human, and in doing so certain affiliations are impressed upon us by the very act of that guidance, many of which are imprinted upon us indirectly. More often than not generations of families become accustomed to certain affiliations without even the slightest conscious understanding of even their own respective worldview.
That’s pretty fucked up.
Regardless of what you may actually think and believe your belief systems are almost always inherited. It’s exceptionally rare for a person to step outside of their construct and to look around at the world through only their eyes, tabula rasa.
I doubt that you could even imagine what you would see if you did, because you are only as capable of opening your mind to the possibilities of what your own imagination will allow.
“How is one to know one’s mind when one’s mind is all one has to know it by?”
I think this is why I’m fed up with our contemporary system of political discernment. Everyone is, quite literally, out of their minds. Very, very few people have a clue of what their talking about or why, everything is broken. And it was broken so attentively and systematically that the measure for which we—we, the people—are picking up the pieces is in-and-of-itself a system of repress.
Still the majority of the people—of us—are consumed with the folly, and the enmity, and the contest that we have lost nearly all sight of repose.
Why is it, do you think, that we feel like we have to actively do something to-, or about people who might believe differently than ourselves in order for us to resolve anything? And what, exactly should we do about them? Because, it seems to me, that we’re actively doing too much as it is. The thing about unity or equanimity or coexistence is that there really isn’t anything that we can do to obtain them, they are all just, kind of, waiting for us to calm the fuck down.
And if you’re actively trying to force someone to believe something other than what they were bred to believe then, I mean, you’re a fuckin’ idiot, you’re just wasting your time, and sure you’ve got the raw attention of a large number of people who think they can punch the stupid outta you, so you and they are otherwise doomed to a very long and difficult and provoking life, of which you only get one; so you’re both, essentially, wasting your one opportunity to live any degree of a decent life for no reason other than to be inexhaustibly irritating, and irritated with little to no recourse at the end of which you both, more than likely, suffer a drawn-out, painful death at the hands of your own disavowal to live a balanced and peaceful life.
In any state of political indifference the first thought, for most people, is the direction we need to take in order to get out of it, so we come up with answers to solve the case of current position. However, we never actually take the time to ask ourselves how we got to this point to being with, so...we’re essentially looking for answers to problems we don’t understand. And when you do that you get things like Donald Trump, and Democratic Socialism, and special interest groups financially controlling our elected representatives, and dangerous political dynasties like the Clinton’s, and people thinking that we need more, or less government involvement in our lives.
What we need is to take a deep breath and to actually evaluate ourselves. We need to take inventory on the state of our ongoing means and figure shit out before we systematically try to fix anything, otherwise we might find ourselves standing up in a town hall meeting making statements like “Even if we would bomb Russia...we have to get rid of the babies, its a big problem, even if we stopped having babies it’s not enough, we have to eat the babies...” or worse, to become so desensitized by tribal politics that we exchange doing what's right for conforming to party nuances.
Back to Blog
I’m a very conscious person; almost to a fault, which is to say that I am very observant, pansophic, empathic, and that my mind is very active. I also have a reason for everything that I do, and say. I have learned, early in life, that people, in general—either—tend to assume that most others don’t have reasons for just about anything that they do or say, or people are very actively arbitrary in their hair-trigger re-actions.
My reasons for doing or saying a thing are, more often than not, not at all what you, or most people might expect, when I discovered this stilted obscurity about myself and about people it did come as a bit of a shock to me but, I mean, I am not at all like most people—I have always been aware of that inasmuch as I am aware that, when inquired, most people would respond very similarly—most people like to think that they are also different, anywise—they’re not.
I am accountable for my actions, as well as semi-apologetic, if I feel like I should be—because my pride isn’t worth my compassion—and yet I’m not very concerned what most people think about me. I am neither accountable or apologetic for others, I am both because, quite simply, I try to “...be the change I want to see in the world.” I also believe in the power, and juxtaposition of gratitude.
I think that a number of people find some of these qualities to be conflicting, I don’t. That, among many other reasons, are what has enlightened me to the now evident verity that I am unlike most people.
I realized not too long ago that I haven’t missed anybody in a while, and it dawned on me that I rarely actually miss people, I mean, I have, of course, missed people, but not as frequently as most people seem to miss people. I care about people, not so much individuals, but that realization has never affected my basis of being kind and applicable, understanding and forgiving, grateful and authentic when, you know, living in the world—I mean, the only thing that any of us are guaranteed throughout the course of our lives is that we will, without a shadow of a doubt, always be surrounded by people—unless, of course, their awful, disgusting, rotten human beings, in which case, my general assertion is to—as gently and firmly as possible—specify that “we no longer exist to one another.” Some people think that’s cruel, personally I believe that life is too short to actively pretend, or to ignore (without the appropriate communicative action) people who I don’t want in my life.
I have observed, a short while ago, that I do actively miss somebody; there is someone in my life that I miss, sometimes even, while they are standing directly in front of me. In our humanity we need people, and there are people in my life that I care very, very much about, they matter a great deal to me, but I have moved around a lot and people have come and gone from my life so often that I haven’t really allowed myself to get attached; but it’s weird caring about what someone else actually thinks about me, like it willfully and exhaustively matters to me, and it sucks—for a lot of reasons.
I have been in love a couple of times, in my life; I mean, like, in the way that we commonly appreciate being in love (I accentuate the point because of my recent column about love, that you can read here), but I have never known love that has actually developed organically from nothing → respect → love; I’ve only been, like, you know: friends, and then like “whoa, we’re, like, totally in love now, far out! We should totally get, like, mar-ried and shit."
The thing is that although I do like, you know: playing a fool, and stumbling over myself, and saying stupid shit, and trying too hard, and having feelings it’s still also, well, it’s complicated—yeah, that’s the problem, I like the simplicity of communicating complicated away. That is—at least, part of the reason—why communication is so important to me; but what if you cannot genuinely, and openly communicate? The thing about a love that evolves organically, is that it’s not a choice. It is completely and irritatingly instinctual and compelling. It’s never been so difficult for me to, just, turn it off (I have tried, even if I don't really want to). And, that is very conflicting, which invites my reasons—whether they’re apparent to you readers or not—for writing this today. I haven’t yet talked about it, and that is not like me.
Do you ever think God gets bored—however you want to perceive God—I mean, boredom doesn’t have to look like a fat ol’ drunk sitting on a rusted (rusted, WTF?), torn ash gray couch, with a “half-full” bottle of Pabst pathetically offset between the cushions, one hand in a bowl of three day old popcorn, and the other hand stock-still down his untied gym pants, that look strikingly similar to the molded couch beneath his butt watching American Gladiators or Al Jazeera or recorded VHS tapes of 25 year old Dallas Cowboy games.
...or a human being without their cell phone!
We can reinvent what boredom might be to a collective, omnipotent, omnipresent (un)consciousness. I don’t know that God does necessarily get bored but there is definitely a dearth of entertainment in the omnisphere, cause WTF? ...I'm gonna need a reason for this one, my friend?
Back to Blog
photo: Masaru Emoto, "Love"
Love offers a uniquely different experience for different people, and what I mean by that is that different people both characterize and experience love differently: in the way that we apply or practice love, functionally; inasmuch as there are, genuinely, different ways of illustrating love. I think a lot of people take that for granted, at least in the context of love being an emotion, which, I mean, it isn’t—hence the reason we are more apt to take our relationship with love for granted.
I believe that love is one of the biggest casualties of a nature that is desperate to expose the substance of everything.
I think there is a certain sense of wonder and excitement in exploration and observation, but the wonder is succumb to revelation; discourse leads to possibility, but when our motive lies only in resolution we tend to lose something within ourselves, and after a time the means becomes meaningless, and eventually almost entirely nonexistent. People were not meant to know, we were meant to explore and to wonder and to reflect.
Love is like water, and we are fish. Love is in-explainable and, often, unbelievable but do fish believe in water?
The oversimplification of love as it presents itself in our day-to-day lives confounds me, I mean, love, in-and-of-itself, is not something that we feel for someone, love isn’t even a relatable “feeling,” (but for linguistic purposes I’ll continue to use the verb; to feel). Love is something we ‘feel’ with someone; imagine, for a moment, that love, in the context that we all respectively effort to feel love, was, earnestly, the fibers or particles or molecules or God‘s’ or totems or beliefs that are the connection of all things, and that, in our humanity, we are more capable of experiencing Love when we are willing and conscientious enough to be completely vulnerable and, in our humanity, the atonement of-, or willingness, or passion to reveal ourselves to another person avows a sense of amenability which opens us up to feel this connection between all things, maybe even expanding our relationship with God—however your notion of God may present itself.
Perhaps this is the reason why many of us feel like there is a distinct difference between saying I love you and I am in love with you; to be within love, conjointly with a person that you want to or are completely vulnerable with.
...but we tend to omit that from our relationships these days, the vulnerability part. We, instead, settle in our odyssey to experience love, amusingly enough by abbreviating our sense of wonder, taking love for granted, and taking life for granted, and just, kind of, checking off bullet points as if our relationship with ourselves and our one opportunity for life was a checklist that we were meant simply to complete.
It has been an interesting go of things, for me, in relationships but also witnessing how people “revere” love, only, as some sense of mysticism, like everybody wants to believe in it but deep down inside they just know that love is only an idea.
What is love, though?
Right? Ask yourself what love is, to you? Is your understanding of-, or experience with-, love relatable? Is it universal?
I mean, we have created a tangible understanding of how we can all mutually relate to love in a way that is simplistic and ornaments well in movies, cool. But why is it that we feel that in order for something to be genuine we have to be able to recreate it analytically? Frankly, that concept is horseshit, inasmuch as most of our man made systems are fundamentally horseshit.
Love is not a feeling, and love is not an emotion; love both is, and allows us to recognize the immediate and unseeable relationship that exists between all things, and we experience it, almost exclusively, when we allow ourselves to share, and to be vulnerable within our lives.
Love is like water, and we are fish. Love is in-explainable and, often, unbelievable but do fish believe in water?
Back to Blog
You know that phrase people use when they’re trying to create distance between themselves their beliefs and organized religion; it’s pretty common, they’ll use it because they want to establish that there is a sense of the mystical in the world but they just cannot quite rationalize adopting certain parables that are represented in the Bible, the Qur’an, and/or the Torah, this phrase seems to allow the keynoter the disconnect they might feel they need in their lives, however, I would suggest that not only is there a fine line between-, but there is really no intellectual account for one being “spiritual, though not religious.”
Granted, I have, in the past, used that phrase, even recently, in order to try to best express my belief system but only because it, unfortunately, does provide context for a person, depending on their understanding and background. Nevertheless, I wish there were an equally swift and more relevant way to reveal that particular sentiment; seeing that I don’t necessarily see a difference between being spiritual and being religious, except to distance ourselves from personal stigmas that stalk our dogmatic antipathy.
Why don’t I think there’s a difference?
Well, I think there are a number of reasons. One simple, yet not especially profound reason is that if we are quote/unquote religious we are also spiritual; religion does not define how we believe it—kind of, only (in an anthropologically customary way)—defines what we believe, which is to say that spiritual people might still practice a specific religion (save the “appeal to _____” argument; argumentum ad populum). I think the most practical point is that being religious and spiritual are more similar than they are different, so using one belief system to explain ‘our’ belief system is only impartial if it was so simple as to define an individuals beliefs as either religious or spiritual.
I spent a great deal of time at Sunset Coffee in Sandy, Utah, a conurbation of Salt Lake City, and on occasion I would sit with Neil, Sunset’s founder/owner, after hours and we would talk about creed and spirituality and religion, about his religious upbringing and my religious upbringing, as well as other ideas and systems.
I remember one interaction in particular, and one that I’ll continue to elicit for years to come, and long after it reformed my purview.
Do you know those interactions that provide a moment of insight that are, kind of, an Aha! moment for you, but no one else seemed to have acknowledged how profound it may have been? Well, this interaction offered something significant for me, and seemingly nobody else.
Neil was non-denominational at this point in his life, although he wasn’t raised that way, there was a very particular core set of understandings and beliefs that he was fostered; I, on the other hand, was not raised with a specific set of dogma. My dad was raised Southern Baptist and has spent the majority of his life Agnostic, my mother was raised Catholic—she spent twelve years in Catholic School—she loosely practices a religion called Eckankar, when I was younger, however, she was actively practicing. She gave my sister and I the option to go with her to service or, the alternative, which was to stay home and cultivate some sense of spiritual awakening in whatever recourse: reading about religion, meditating, praying, etc., my sister, at the time, was attending Baptist youth classes with her friends, so she was covered, I, however, spent most of my time playing basketball; so I would, on occasion, join my mom at service, and on occasion I would read, eventually I got to the point where I started visiting other churches: I’d go to Catholic mass with a friend of mine or an LDS service with another friend or the Methodist services or I’d discuss doctrine with Witnesses of Jehovah, and read about Buddhism, Hinduism, Shinto, Islam, Paganism, Ásatrú, Yorùbá, and others. The study of theology became, kind of, a hobby.
One of the first things I discovered was how similar these religions/philosophies actually were, they were far more similar than they were not, and somehow people started to focus too much on the differences. It really annoyed me. And I developed stigmas towards religions whose followers were more focused on the differences than the similarities, and no that is not all religions, it tends to really only be the three major religions. I stopped listening to people try to argue why their religion was better when what we should have been talking about was our own spiritual development and awakening, regardless of the different parables and stories and avenues and itineraries that might exist in their doctrine.
In this particular conversation with Neil almost ten years ago I mentioned that “I don’t necessarily believe that God is the creator, but rather the act of creation.” And Neil nodded, and said “Yeah.” So, somewhat confused, I said “What do you mean?” and he said, “I share those beliefs.” I looked at him and said, “But...you’re Christian.” and he nodded, and said “That’s right.”
All at once, though it only lasted a fraction of a second, I was thinking:
What is happening right now?
Suddenly, it was all so simple.
We have all become so consumed by the assumptions that we make about religion based on the stereotypes and our stigmas or triggers that we’ve forgotten how deeply personal being spiritual is, and that our relationship with God develops through our experiences, and whether we accept the core dogmatic beliefs of a particular denomination or religion over another really has little to do with our spiritual development and how we actually relate to God.
Our relationship with God is matured by our relationship with ourselves and our surroundings; while the stigmas that we foster are based on a misunderstanding of an idea that isn’t even our own, and therefore we cannot truly understand or relate to it.
It is just as arbitrary and biased to blindly shame a person for their beliefs as it is for them to shame you, for yours, because they are, regardless of your conditioned viewpoint, the same.
The difference remains entirely in the same existential dilemma that we all collectively see the exact same shade of green when looking at a particular image, how we do know, really?
We don’t necessarily have the tools to negotiate our understanding of your shade of green vs. my own, so we just, kind of, accept it.
Different religions have established a set of parables and stories that allow us to pass the experiences of others down so that we might be able to share in those experiences, in a way that is most relatable to us and our own experiences. Aside from establishing belief systems that are relatable that also provides us with a different axiom, and the tools necessary to apply that perspective to what will forever be my shade of green, making it much for difficult for us all to share in a relatable experience by helping to create numerous shades of God.
Back to Blog
I love how so much of art today is criticized for not being art, “That’s not art.” I was walking around the Guggenheim several years ago, while I was living in New York, and while I was there an artist had set up a table and a couple of chairs and she was inviting anyone who wanted to sit with her in silence to join her, it was fascinating and people stood there for hours watching the artist and a stranger challenge whatever social assertion of discomfort might exist between a pair of strangers; psychologically it wouldn’t play itself out exactly as Ulay (the artist) intended simply because she is a well known performance artist and the exercise took place on the ground floor of the Guggenheim, nevertheless the idea of artistic expression is an interesting one.
Still, I could hear the silent murmurs of hundreds of thousands of people disputing the act as a form of art. The definition of art is pretty ambiguous, so however we are conditioned to enjoy art is almost completely subjective.
Culturally, even, there are certain rules of artistic form, such as what is acceptable and what is not: in Islamic culture it’s disrespectful to create a likeness of a living creature, and especially that of the prophet Muhammad. In Oriental cultures drawing or painting as a form of personal expression is opposed, because the culture is rooted on the idea that social or collective performance is far more important than individual accomplishment.
...as a result, a collective definition of art in those, and other cultures is far more definitive, however there are still people, individuals, within those cultures, that choose to practice art as a form of personal expression, inasmuch as we do in the secular Western society.
Cultures and societies and people clearly have different understandings of what art is, or should be, and yet I still have a hard time understanding how a person comes to such a capricious, and arbitrary notion that, “that’s not art.”
From a subject perspective there’s plenty of art that I think is just God-awful, I mean it is really, really bad; I don’t think I feel that way about the whole of any particular style or medium, but among the different styles and mediums I have seen pieces that I cannot understand, I don’t like it, I don’t know how anyone else might possibly like it, still no matter how awful something might be I could never see myself challenging the expression as anything less than art.
There is a lot of art out there that I feel is a fabricated expression of feeling or emotion or thought, when I feel as if the creator may have been more involved with how a person might receive it than they were the expression of-, and that annoys me, but I’ll concede that even that is art, it may take a more roundabout means to effort a psychological motive, it’s still a form of some kind of expression.
There are certain aspects of the artistic that some people, kind of, hollow in order to impose an agenda or a sort of developmental neglect, such as parts of dance. I find most dance to be beautiful and often sensual, but some soccer moms can muggy that with their own context of sexuality. That does annoy me, even though I do agree that we grow up, in the West, with a specific false image of women and sexuality, and it can be difficult for some people to look at something and not actually see it, but rather what they were indirectly taught to see; and I do think that does bleed over into other mediums and styles of art, and not just sexually but an innumerous standards and scopes.
We let this idea of what we think art is supposed to be misdirect us into misunderstanding and agitation, this best and most common example is when people complain about Actors having a political voice, “stick to acting and leave the opinions to...” I don’t know who, exactly: everybody else? Granted people who have a stage and voice that’s louder than others simply because of an art, I can understand the general frustration, but certain people don’t have a problem with Donald Trumps voice, and he was granted one simply for being rich.
Frankly, if you lack conviction enough to be worried about whether Angelina Jolie is going to sway your perspective than you have bigger problems than Angelina Jolie. So, I don’t know, it just seems most likely that the argument there isn’t with the platform as much as it is with the subject as it is with the motive, but now I’m veering a bit.
I don’t know, this column was kind of forced, I didn’t know what to write about today, and although I am passionate about the topic and artistically, I know my tone doesn’t exactly reflect that. My mind is elsewhere. Perhaps I’ll come back to this at some other date.
Back to Blog
Photo from USA Today.com
Of course we are, that's a stupid question.
It amazes me how few people seem concerned with what we are putting in our bodies; the effort that we’re willing to trade for our adopted truths is astounding. We confidently accept what someone else tells us to believe and then we’ll argue that point passionately and resolutely without even the slightest understanding of it’s lineage, it’s overwhelmingly amazing to me, it has quite literally left me shrewdly paralyzed to argue almost any point with conviction: we are resoundingly shortsighted.
Did you know that they put Mercury in vaccines?
I imagine pretty much all of us do.
Did you know that Mercury was toxic?
I imagine pretty much all of us do.
And that the W. H. O. has Mercury listed as one of the top ten chemicals of major public health concern and, “even in small amounts, is likely to cause serious health problems.” Now, I’m not going to go on and on about vaccines, it’s none of my business if you want to poison your children, but regardless of the typical rhetoric surrounding the topic, I mean, it cannot be healthy injecting Mercury into an organic life form, especially one so small and developmental. I think, if we’re going to be making any arguments, we should be demanding that the people-that-be find a suitable less toxic base for our vaccines. The general idea of vaccines is probably a good one, however there’s gotta be a better means.
The vast majority of farms where our foods are grown and raised use pesticides and neonicotinoids to ward off insects and other annoying pests…
...isn’t that funny!?
We spray and soak our food in toxins because we don’t want to be annoyed by pests…
97% of all of our produce has toxic residue but at least it doesn’t have ladybugs. We're all worried about calories and fats but because ‘agrochemical’ and ‘agricultural biotechnology’ companies such as Monsanto pour some of their profits into creating their own studies about how their “agrochemical” products are “unlikely” harmful to humans we're convinced that monoculture, GMO’s, and the declining bee population are perfectly acceptable to an increasingly toxic and wasteful subspecies of the grandeur that used to be the human race.
Did you know that something can be both fresh and completely sodden with toxic chemicals that will almost certainly lead you to a slow and agonizing death?
My high school education was sponsored by Monsanto...fortunately I found a discarded pamphlet at a dentist office betwixt informational(s) on Jehovah’s Witness’s and chem-trails about the health benefits of non-GMO’s and organic farming.
Did you know that eating organic doesn’t have to be uber expensive?
This month, September, happens to be Organic Month, and I know unless Google's cute little graphics don't help illustrate that for us most have no idea, to help raise awareness about the benefits of eating organic because, I suppose, that it may be reasonable to assume that people really don't have a clue what the difference is between organic and Non-GMO and everything else. I'm not sure why people don't steal fifteen minutes from their lives to Google it and figure it out; I do often forget that because we’ve been ingesting and inhaling poisons for so long that our blood is already, like, what, 30% toxic, right, so it probably doesn’t really matter anymore, anyway.
To be Google, haha, to be Google, no, I mean to be Organic means farmers cannot use man-made fertilizers, pesticides; growth regulators and livestock feed additives when farming. Most Organic farmers don't practice monoculture, which means to produce the same crops repeatedly on a single field, this practice is bad for the soil and the food and our stomachs and our hearts and our heads and our ability to form complete sentences and to spell and not ask stupid questions and to maintain a reasonable conversation with another human being throughout the better part of our lives.
GMO's are genetically modified 'organisms,' food that has been intentionally, and genetically altered. This creates combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and virus genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods. Yes, technically it's unclear if this is "bad" for us, but really only if we need someone else to tell us that genetically modifying our food, and just in case that point is not being made: our FOOD, the collective substance of particles that sustains or life force and allows us to live happy and healthy lives, is quote/unquote BAD.
My favorite part about all these studies and statistics and diets and food allergies and alternatives is that everybody already knows all of this, and yet McDonald’s and other fast food parking lots have lines around the corner for the drive-thru at all hours of the day, which, geezus, can we not even get out of the car for our mystery bagged pseudo rations? Are we all really willing to trade our health and the health of our families for convenience? It’s so easy to ignore those problems when “Game of Thrones” is on, but what are we going to do when the spin-offs aren’t nearly as good!? When we actually have to pay attention to how bad these problems are?
Did you know that we already produce more than enough food to feed the entire planet?
Sure, most of it’s crap, but there are people going hungry all over the world, even in our neighborhoods.
We’re going to run out of water. It’s true. I know your Congressmen has assured you otherwise, but…
he and/or she is lying.
I know, it’s shocking. I was shocked when I found out. I nearly fell off my pedestal. It’s slippery down there with the day old McDonald’s flimflam that used to appear edible (they use a lot of salt). Fortunately most of the McDonald’s execs claim to eat at McDonald’s...and that’s not exactly a, um, “sustainable business platform.”
A lot of people claim to understand why we are so incredibly indifferent to our own existence, but those people spent way too much money and an unfathomable amount of time of academic reconditioning to admit that they really don’t have slightest clue, nobody knows. We’re all clueless as to why we behave the way that we do.
We just do it. Without a thought or a care in the world…
I wonder what would happen if we started to be conscious about some of the things that we did? I am genuinely curious about how different things might be if we started taking some individual accountability.
I know of a place that has 100% Organic Produce, all of the time. Everything you find in the Produce Department is Organic, and I know that during Farmers Market season the sales tend to dip a little in the Produce Department. I also know that the percentage of Organic Produce at the Farmers Market is not 100%, not even close.
Why are Farmers Markets associated, almost immediately, to our toxic little brains, as healthy? It’s all marketing and advertising, we’re too good at it for our own good. We can make ourselves believe anything.
I did have Taco Bell a couple weeks ago. It was a bit of an experiment, I thought to myself, “let’s just see what happens.”
If only I could have that day back.
The things that I would do! "I would just live, like it meant something."
On a slightly unrelated point: I realized, just earlier today, that Kevin Kline is the voice of Mr. Calvin Fischoeder on Bob’s Burgers! I was sitting on my couch, and I was thinking about it, I could feel it slowly expanding inside of me, and I just blurted it out loud as it came to me, “That’s Kevin fucking Kline!” There was no one with me to share the moment with, except my cats, they didn't care. They're still mad at me cause they can't has cheezburger.
Back to Blog
I’m not sure what to write about today...
I’ve been thinking about it all week, and I suppose there are things that have been on my mind that I could pen but I’m not sure yet if I want to...
I did read an article that a friend of mine posted on Facebook about Abortion in Ohio:
A Baby with a Heartbeat Cannot be Aborted in Ohio.
*Disclaimer This does not necessarily represent my opinions, unless I intentionally state otherwise, this is a post of speculative inquiry; and yes, I do believe of "God," although my belief may not fit the typical template.
My first thought was how interesting it is that Republicans support our government getting involved in policy regarding Abortion, I mean they have had issues with Abortion for as long as I can remember, however, it is a notably prominent aspect of the Republican platform to limit the role of government in our day-to-day lives—that happens to be a bullet point that I agree with—and yet it only seems to apply when it actively involves a liberal agenda. The conservative moral agenda apparently merits as much government involvement as is necessary to further the religious purview, which interjects another point of hypocrisy, the Constitution clearly depicts a necessary distinction between the Church and the State...
I have such a difficult time understanding either the Democrat or the Republican agenda when neither follow any logical means of linear thought. It’s like two old white men got together one evening over cigars and brandy and haphazardly coin tossed which issues would fall under which platform. If you drew a line on a chalk board and tried to explain to a child how you logically progressed from one thought to another within a single party platform you would have to completely reinvent what a line represents; essentially linear thought would progress in a way similar to that of the blueprints of a roller coaster, and as that child stared up at your knotted representation of a line they would look at you like you have completely lost your mind because that line is as mathematically linear as 2+2=5, and yet both ideas are still a means only to convey standards created to explain truths limited to our present measure of understanding.
I did comment on the Ohio Abortion post, but I didn’t take a political side. My curiosity was more religious.
I said: “I’m curious how the government enforcing anti-abortion laws is a testament of God’s will? Would it not be more of a testament if abortion wasn’t imposed by a government and the decision to abort was, instead, a question of personal faith?”
Granted, when it comes to understanding the manifestation of God’s will it’s difficult. And I always, always think of the following parable before attempting to do so:
There are these two guys sitting together in a bar in the remote Alaskan wilderness. One of the guys is religious, the other is an atheist, and the two are arguing about the existence of God with that special intensity that comes after about the fourth beer. And the atheist says: “Look, it’s not like I don’t have actual reasons for not believing in God. It’s not like I haven’t ever experimented with the whole God and prayer thing. Just last month I got caught away from the camp in that terrible blizzard, and I was totally lost and I couldn’t see a thing, and it was 50 below, and so I tried it: I fell to my knees in the snow and cried out ‘Oh, God, if there is a God, I’m lost in this blizzard, and I’m gonna die if you don’t help me.’” And now, in the bar, the religious guy looks at the atheist all puzzled. “Well then you must believe now,” he says, “After all, here you are, alive.” The atheist just rolls his eyes. “No, man, all that was was a couple Eskimos happened to come wandering by and showed me the way back to camp.”
It’s easy to run this story through a kind of a standard liberal arts analysis: the exact same experience can mean two totally different things to two different people, given those people’s two different belief templates and two different ways of constructing meaning from experience. Because we prize tolerance and diversity of belief, nowhere in our liberal arts analysis do we want to claim that one guy’s interpretation is true and the other guy’s is false or bad. Which is fine, except we also never end up talking about just where these individual templates and beliefs come from. Meaning, where they come from inside the two guys. As if a person’s most basic orientation toward the world, and the meaning of his experience were somehow just hard-wired, like height or shoe-size; or automatically absorbed from the culture, like language. As if how we construct meaning were not actually a matter of personal, intentional choice.” ~ DFW, This is Water
Still, my question is this:
Does God not care how you feel, or why you come to the resolutions that you do as long as the outcome is in accord to God’s purpose?
If a government imposes moral policy compelling us to accept religious doctrine is that, in fact, the same thing as inherently acting with righteous intent?
Is God a Machiavellian?
How the hell can the end actually justify the means within a moralistic tenet?
And, semi-topically, how can the same group of constituents have such a resolute opinion on gun control? I mean, fundamentally, guns do kill people, they are designed for no other purpose than to kill. What religious or logical sense does it make for them, specifically, to then not support more gun control legislation?
(I’m asking for a friend. No, but logistically I do support the 2nd Amendment, I’m only offering a comparison)
Do you think God likes guns?
Is that how you picture Jesus?
...with an AK-47 strapped to his shoulder and a 9mm on his hip? (“I Want You!” ~ Uncle Sam)
If our opinion of Abortion was based on a moralistically religious creed how then could our opinion on gun control be based solely on a document that very clearly affirms the distinction between Church and State? (Again, I’m asking for a friend.)
It seems to me that there should be a mandatory class on accountability in every institution public or private every year until we finally get it or we die.
We follow standards and templates--penned as manifestos--throughout the course of our lives that were not composed with accountability; without being open to the idea that we can reinvent those standards, and that they don’t necessarily have to conflict, completely, with our present religious and political associations then we are living without conscious conviction, without a consistent moral compass, and in a world where 2+2 does equal 5.
Maintaining literal convictions can be so dangerous to our humanity, and those convictions are the reasons for every single state of disarray within every crevasse of ours or any culture (and no, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have convictions, what I am saying is that you should absolutely learn to be conscious and to be accountable for-, and of those convictions).
It’s funny, I suppose, I mean existentially—politically—I am anti-abortion (get a better idea of my position here), and as such I should have every reason to be, I don’t know, pleased, at the very least, about Ohio not considering Abortion after six weeks, and yet even my doctrine demands critical thought, because, otherwise, neither the means nor the end makes even the slightest bit of difference.
Back to Blog
Image from Dwell Mobile.com
There are a lot of different types of relationships, and I am including those that might fall under the categories of friendships or family, however I’ll be thinking specifically about the different ways that our romantic relationships evolve: how they are developed, whether they mature consciously or automatically based on some latent, conditioned template buried somewhere in our psyche.
I believe, more often than not, that most of us don’t really think about how our relationships develop or whether we have a conscious role in creating the types of relationships that we actually want, I think we just inherently adopt fixed aspects and expectations of the relationships that we’ve witnessed around us as we mature and, kind of, let them shape us, abstractedly.
Think about your own relationships, those from your past as well as those that you might currently be associated with and try to recall how you came to be from where you were; the process of getting to know a person is exciting and fun, but was any of it intentional?
Did you communicate how you wanted the little things, you know, the details, the small stuff: how you talk to each other, intimacy, how you get angry, how you react, jealousy, how you recharge, etc., to develop?
Or is this the first time that you’ve ever actually considered the possibility that you could create your relationship to be whatever you and your partner wanted it to be, without the presupposed idea of the relationship template shading your expectations?
I’ve been married to a Mormon and a Muslim, and there were expectations that I foresaw and many, of course, that I didn’t, but in both cases her expectations were deeply-rooted and unconscious, and, believe it or not, that was the most unexpected thing of all, for me. Which is funny, because I only expected the unexpected, I could never have expected the expected—how unexpected!
I think about myself and how I have been in different relationships and how I have wanted relationships to develop. Now, of course, I wasn’t always aware that I could help to create whatever unique and personal relationship that we wanted when I was young, it took a few relationships and several years to come to that realization but I was always mindful of the necessity of communication in my relationships.
I feel like I have lived several lives throughout the course of my nearly 35 years, all of which were as different as they were similar to one another, however I classify myself, in terms of my active role in a relationship, in two distinct stages: Pre-Samayya and Post-Samayya.
I “married*” Samayya while living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Samayya has three children, her eldest, while Samayya and I were together, was in her early twenties and was living on her own in Albuquerque. Samayya, her two youngest, and myself we all lived together in Santa Fe (I typed Satan Fe, at first, and if you all really knew anything about that relationship you would know how Freudianly true that is).
The last night I was with Samayya and the children we watched Slumdog Millionaire, I had never seen it, and everyone for years had been telling me that I needed to see it, so we put it on our Netflix queue (do you remember that?) The DVD arrived the day before and we were excited to lay down and watch it. I had just put the kids to bed and I wheeled a TV into our bedroom to enjoy the movie. Nearing the end there is a scene where the main guy’s brother is watching the show in his living room, the million dollar question is being asked, while there are two girls dancing around in short skirts and low tops, Samayya was never to, uh, sprightly about me watching that sort of thing so I fast forwarded through the scene. As the credits rolled I muted the TV to talk about the movie, you know, as people do after having just watched a good movie, and Samayya was completely unresponsive, frigid even.
I asked her what was wrong knowing quite well that it involved the aforementioned scene. “Do you remember that scene? With the girls dancing?” Samayya asks. “The one that I fast forwarded through, yeah.” I responded. “Why did you not fast forward through it sooner?” She asks. “Wha? I just...I picked up the remote as soon as I register...oh geezus.” I say. Samayya then started raging out, that’s what I have always called it, raging; because she went from communicable to incommunicable almost immediately and, by then, I had become very familiar with it. She raged and yelled a lot, and I stood silently numb, as most of my days then were spent: numb; I grabbed my pillow, walked to the hall bathroom, because I could use the drawers to hold the door shut (she had previously removed the lock and handle), and I slept in the bathtub.
Every night, for a few years, played on a variation of that scene, not the movie, but what happened after the movie. However, that next morning I grabbed a bag, which I kept packed and hidden in a closet, and I walked away and I never looked back.
That relationship changed me. There is, as a result, a pre-, and post Samayya, me. One of the unique things that I’ve thought about, recently, is how I am, kind of, rebuilding a relationship with myself, knowing how I thought and would communicate with women before Samayya and how I did afterwards. Not only has it been more difficult, obviously. It has also been frustrating, and by that I mean, when you know yourself in a certain way, and you like that self watching a different version of yourself, one that might, at first glance, lack assurance and confidence and assertiveness in a way that I don’t feel but nevertheless portray, it’s frustrating. The relationship literally changed the way that I think, well, no...maybe; it did affect my thought process in the moment: how I might react to and communicate with a person—for the most part I wasn’t capable of thinking or communicating, I essentially went numb, in exactly the same way that I learned to with Samayya. Eventually I did relearn how to approach people—women. A longtime family friend and a cognitive therapist explained to me that I was practicing an approach/avoidance response to, uh, life, I guess.
And, of course, I wanted to relearn to develop and create my relationships with intention. After a few years of working on that, unsuccessfully, I realized that I was trying to hard to be the person that I was before and not allowing myself to become anybody, really; just some shadowy version of a reflection of myself. There are a lot of things that we hold on to, as people; both consciously and unconsciously, that make our lives considerably more difficult than they need to be. Surrendering is really our only way through those times that we’re holding on to something so tightly, unfortunately it’s not always so easy to know how or what to surrender to—I think that might explain why so many people surrender to religion, I don’t necessarily mean to Jesus or Muhammad or the Buddha but to religion, it’s a preexisting, guileless means of surrender, and we can return to it over and over again, and there honestly is nothing wrong with that (religion is only immoral when it plays God, or politics). When we allow fear to guide us then we’ve forgotten why we turned to our prophets in the first place, likewise when Christianity isn’t a means of surrender but a political affiliate.
I haven’t seriously considered being in a relationship in a long time, although I have had a small handful of “relationships” Post-Samayya; because I’m 34 I don’t see the point in dating for the sake only of dating, and I live in a small Hill Country town outside of San Antonio, Texas, my prospects are fairly limited, especially considering the way that I lived my life these last five years—relatively uneventful; unless I decide to consider online dating, but again I think that becomes a question of what I’m looking for exactly.
I did acknowledge somewhat recently that I do have feelings for someone that kind hit me unexpectedly, however, per usual, if I’m not lead astray by manipulative, controlling women then I’m captivated by the unavailable women. Regardless, I do know that any relationship that I get involved in we will need to strip down through all the expectations, the traditions, the ideals, and build something, mutually from scratch. As daunting as some people might find starting over, the routine of unconsciously living a banal life whether alone or conjointly is considerably more disheartening to me.
Relationships are important. It’s not a stretch at all to suggest that our relationships give life meaning, and that too may be part of the reason why it’s been so difficult for me to let go of some of the frustration for having gone through the mess with Samayya in the first place. It’s hard when you look back at nearly a decade of your life knowing that it would have been completely different had it not been for the influence of a single person, and knowing that that influence has in turn influenced how I have interacted with people every day since then, in a negative way, or a way that I’m not happy about. It’s not pleasant laying awake in the evening thinking about how differently you might have wanted interactions to go, not that they were bad, necessarily, however they just don’t feel like you. I wasn’t as conscious about building that relationship as I should have been; it’s important, but it’s also more pleasurable and much more fun to actively create something with someone that you care about.
Samayya* and I were never legally married but an Imam did perform a religious ceremony overlooking Abiquiu Lake in Abiquiu, New Mexico when I was 27 and she was 36.
Back to Blog
Image from movingworlds.com blog
I have promised to publish a column every Thursday, however, tomorrow I’m going to be wrapped up all day, so in order to best keep my promise I’ll be publishing this weeks post today.
I started a series on Communication in my blog many months ago, I decided that I would continue that series as a part of this column instead. My previous posts Why We Communicate: Vain Brain and Why We Communicate: The Complexities of Face-to-Face Talk are available by clicking the title or at my blog.
"Instead of asking, “What's wrong with this person?" Ask, "Where does this person come from?”"
Communication is exceptionally complicated and most of us take the act of-, for granted, we don’t consciously think about what we’re actually communicating, why, or (and maybe most importantly) how. And we definitely don’t consider how our means of communication are actually formed.
The way that we talk, as well as the way that we behave are developed through cultural values and norms. We are taught, both directly and indirectly, what is socially acceptable and to read and follow social cues that guide us through our personal interactions.
This is called this Socialization.
These cultural and social cues have become so commonplace and familiar that we don’t notice them until we interact with people with different cultural norms, and when we are introduced to cues that are different from our own we almost always start with a form of judgment; cultural learning is never neutral. We are taught that there are acceptable ways to behave and to talk, that there are “right” ways of communicating; cues that fit our traditional cultural understandings because they illustrate how the majority of the people within our culture both think and behave, generally.
It’s the form of judgment when we find ourselves questioning the traditions and behaviors of (most recognizably—lately): Middle Eastern cultures. Although there are some that we are familiar with, although unaccustomed to and equally, though not equally criticized, judgmental of such as Asian, and most distinctly, Japanese culture.
Western cultures are considerably more individualist than the collectivist Japanese cultural norms, we have built our society on the foundations of individual achievement and that echos how we communicate with one another, while the Japanese are very much a collectivist culture they focus more on the family and the community and the achievement of the whole. I only mention that because I spent, essentially, the first six years of my life in Tokyo, Japan and when in an environment of several people working for a—seemingly—common goal I notice that I’ll work for the effort of that goal, and I will often forget and get frustrated, when entangled by a few individuals who are mostly interested in their personal advancement, that our society is predominantly self-oriented, and when engaging with people on a personal level through Face-to-Face verbal communication it’s important to be aware, as able as possible, that there are constantly numerous unconscious elements at play in any given moment during face-to-face talk.
Cultural communicative norms offer us enough information to create commonality with the people we are surrounded by within societies that have similar cultural values, as well as offer us enough information to know, or at the very least recognize when someone might be acting or interacting outside of those cultural norms, although within our mutually acceptable cultural norms there exist sub-levels of socialization that are learned indirectly following religious, political, family, etc. influences of the people within our immediate surroundings: sub-cultures; the way that people “perform” within a family, a neighborhood, a community.
In 1996 at the University of Michigan, Richard E. Nisbett and Dov Cohen researched the effects of anger on individuals, specifically 18-20 year old males. The study examined how subjects respond to frustrating, obstructive stimuli when attempting to accomplish a task. It was pretty simple actually, the subjects were required to complete a questionnaire and then, once finish, deliver the document to someone in another room at the end of a long, lean hallway lined with file cabinets where they would advance to the next stage. While in the hallway the students were cut-off by an irate man sifting through a file cabinet whom would offer a muffled insult as the students tried to scoot by, intentionally infuriating the students/subjects before they continued on to the next stage of the study which, in reality, was entirely about how people react to frustrating situations. Ultimately Nisbett and Cohen discovered that a percentage of these students were getting considerably more angry than the rest, and that those students were all from southern states, where the learned behavior of (to abridge) “defending ones honor” is more predominant than in the northern states. Where they learned to react based on the specific, unconscious social cues of their environments.
Words are remarkable things, inasmuch as they can be very shifty. A single word can refer to, or stand for a variety of meanings, even our own lexicons cannot safely define a solitary meaning for one seemingly simple word, let alone the meanings that we apply to words based entirely on our own personal emotional or psychological experiences with a word or a specific meaning of a word; a person might interpret meanings differently than we might intend based on an experience relatable only to that person; we can interpret meaning based on expression, body language, and how something was verbally said, as well as the defined meaning of a word, inasmuch as the fleeting unconscious happenstance of our or their moods can affect a words meaning.
“Meanings are in people, not in words.”
Our learned process of talking to others are primarily a result of unconscious social and cultural cues, also known as, schema.
“Combinations of observed words, vocal tones, and looks that are cued up by changes in the situation, the context, and are culturally provided, prearranged sets of expectations about people and situations that allow us to make sense of what’s going on.”
It’s the same concept as when you walk into a library or a church and your behaviors suddenly shifts, this a learned reaction based on social cues, and much of the way that we communicate with one another is developed from the schema; they have little to do with our conscious thought, because they are buried deeply in what is called the cognitive unconscious part of the mind…
However, I’ll tackle that in the next column on Communication.
I know that the reason I started a column along with the blog was so that I can discuss things from a more personal perspective, and this column really doesn’t read like a personal narrative on communication. I think that is both intentional and not; communication is a very important topic to me, and this being the first column on the subject I think it’s important for me to illustrate that I have both a working knowledge—cause I’m alive—as well as an academic understanding of communication and the psychological background surrounding the topic.
Back to Blog
image from Fee.com
Does anyone else think about how we get caught up in our ideals? That there is a certain longing to be impartial, and yet we continue to find ourselves turning away from our own compassionate instincts in order to feel like we are a part of something, even if that something is so excruciatingly uncompromising and imbalanced.
I was planning to write about Immigration this week. And then the shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio happened and I started thinking about how we immediately succumb to rhetoric and it just, I don’t know, it just didn’t seem to matter anymore—not that the issues that we’re facing: Immigration, Social and Political Divisiveness, etc. don’t matter, of course they still matter, but why, exactly?—We’re all playing this game: the political left vs. the political right, two fixed opposing views neither of which effort any critical thought whatsoever and the only thing that changes from day-to-day, from week-to-week, year-after-year is the issue and that even is on a fairly predictable systemic orbit.
What the fuck are we even talking about?
I mean the resolution clearly rests somewhere near the pivot of this endless charade, and clearly something about our present situation isn’t exactly working, so what the fuck are we talking about?
Here’s how the conversation kind of works in my head; and I’m going to side step both the Immigration and Gun Control issues in order to illustrate how this works. I had a conversation recently with someone who has consciously dissected her purview enough to recognize, based on the harmony of emotion, reason, critical thought, and the fundamental guideline of the American Constitution, where the foundations of measure help to create sensible legislation, and that’s refreshing, you know, to have a conversation about politics that’s rooted in deliberate resolve.
I am Pro-Life. And what I mean by that is a measure beyond our eloquent locution, I am, fundamentally, opposed to Abortion as well as War, the Death Penalty, et al.; I am opposed to the intentional act of execution—of killing.
And yet I find myself arguing with myself regarding just about every one of the those topics.
The answer, for many, might be one of these equally contemptible options, because as a society we are doomed to the silly fate of a coin toss, because that’s the way it has always been, and that is the way that it will always be. If we vote Democrat we blindly choose one option or if we vote Republican we blindly choose the other, at least that’s the way that our political atmosphere has developed.
...that is how the conversation goes, in my head. That is my argument with myself.
And the political lobbyists, the marketers and advertisers of our deafening, Constitutionally lite political affiliates would have us believe that that back-and-forth is a political “Flip-flip”, a “U-turn,” a “Back-flip,” the idea is that you (me!?), yes you! Have no integrity.
But, in reality, it might just be a sign that, well, you’re both full of shit; you the Democrats and you Republicans need to be doing some critical thinking in order to actually develop policy that’s rooted in deliberate resolve.
Here’s the thing about:
Or, even, just the exclusion of the first part, “A Well Regulated Militia,” because a lot of people seem to ignore the very first thought engraved in the second amendment of our Constitution, and, for them, it simply reads:
“Being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Cafeteria Constitutionalism is infuriating, stop it.
Don’t get caught up in the political rhetoric. We do not have to live blindly between party affiliations; critical thought, and examining the issues with an open-mind and open-heart until we creatively and reasonably create sensible legislation that is rooted in deliberate resolve is essentially our only option, I suppose I shouldn't be too worried, I mean, if reality TV is an indication of where we're headed as a society I don't think we have anything et al to worry about.