Busy, Busy, Busy

It’s Sunday morning which affords me some time to put some thoughts together. The next couple of weeks are going to be a challenge to my patience and my overall well-being (not to sound melodramatic or anything). I just feel off when I’m unable to have some time to reflect or just be. It is one of my favorite activities. I hate the “go, go, go” attitude. I mean, what does it really accomplish? What does being so damned busy that you cannot see the world around you or appreciate the little things in it that add to one’s life? It’s like an endless chase that does nothing but motivate one to continue chasing something that really isn’t there. Really, it’s mind-numbing. There has to be something more to being here. I refuse to believe that we are here simply to stay busy and produce. I refuse to believe that we are nothing more than units of production.

Take, for example, the word business. It is defined in the New Oxford American Dictionary as: 1. a person’s regular occupation, profession, or trade, 2.the practice of making one’s living by engaging in commerce, 3. an affair or series of events, typically scandalous or discreditable one, 4. actions other than dialogue performed by actors, and 5. a scolding; harsh verbal criticism.

Then take the root of that word…busy. Busy is an adjective, defined by the New Oxford American Dictionary as having a great deal to do, being occupied with or concentrating on a particular activity or object of attention, full of activity, excessively detailed or decorated; fussy, or engaged.

It hit me a little while back, the relationship between the two words busy and business. We probably hear those words in some context everyday, but especially for the word business, do we rarely consider where the word comes from. It comes from the word busy. After looking at the entry for business in the New Oxford American Dictionary, I’ve learned that in Old English the original sense of the word stood for anxiety. The sense has apparently changed, because I know that when I am engaged in business of some kind, there is a level of anxiety, or anxiousness, involved driving me to finish the business successfully. Depending on the level, or importance, of the business being conducted, the level of anxiety can be great or small. Even still, there is some anxiety, so the Old English sense, in my humble opinion, still applies. Then during the Middle Ages, the word came to mean “the state of being busy.” This was apparently used up until the 18th Century, but the word was then changed from business to busyness. That’s just kind of something to think about. Back to business…as it were…
We are given life. Where it comes from really isn’t important in this line of thought, but we are given life all the same.  I cannot comprehend that in order for the gift of life to have value one must maintain a level of busyness…or business…the hell with it…one must stay busy. One is deemed as successful if he, or she, is busy. The level of success accorded to a particular individual is directly correlated to the level of busyness he, or she, maintains. Then there are arbitrary notions that one person’s busyness is worth more than another’s. Ditchdiggers or janitors do not receive as much compensation for their busyness as a computer programmer or an investment banker. They could maintain comparable levels of busyness, but that does not matter. The banker’s level of busyness is worth more to society than the janitor’s.

I’m not really sure where I am going with this, but it is something that I want to more deeply consider and think about. There are levels of inequality within this world that are built upon what I believe are faulty premises..staggering levels that we are all immune to simply because we are to busy, or wrapped up in our own busyness or business, to see or to care. With such, I firmly believe that we lose what it is that makes us distinctly human.

 

Free writing that became an Ode to a Chair…

Just commented on a post by Polysyllabic Profundities. It was about not having anything about which to write, or not really having the time to sit and think to let the words flow. This is my most difficult challenge. Due to what most would call “real world responsibilities,” I go through periods where writing has to take a back seat. A 12 hour day at work here. A 15 hour day at work there amidst the regular 10 to 11 hour days take their toll and once the time arrives that I can just sit and be, I tend to just sit and sleep. I just woke up from my papasan where I was peeking into book number three that I bought over the weekend. I made it about eight pages and I was out for the count.  Upon waking and reading that post and making my comment, I felt it best to have a little taste of my own medicine.  This is what came up…

I told my wife just yesterday that there just isn’t enough time to do the things I want to do in a day. One of those things is this…just sitting at my keyboard unloading words on the blank canvas before me, or writing up some notes in my notebook that may or may not become something profound. This has become my favorite activity, and one that when I have to do without makes me feel just a little off.

Just looking back at the first paragraph I noticed that I have introduced you to our papasan chair…or better yet…my papasan chair. It has become our reading chair. Here’s the funny thing…when my wife and I first moved in together, she abhorred that thing. She hated it. She could not understand why I would voluntarily own such an ugly piece of furniture. I told her to wait…just wait until you sit in it. Wait until you crack open a book and read in it, then, and only then, will you see. Well, guess what…she saw, and she still sees. We had a friendly little verbal joust with one another over the weekend after our trip to the bookstore about who was going to get to use the reading chair. I definitely pulled the it’s mine card…really I think what it was was that I raced into the apartment before she did, got settled, got my book out, and sat down before she had the chance. I relished in the victory, needless to say.

My aunt gave me that chair years ago when I was looking for furniture to fill up the living room in an apartment I had moved in to, and it is one of the most awesome gifts I’ve ever received. There is nothing special about it. It is your typical papasan chair, made of rattan with a new cushion my wife graciously purchased for it (I think she knew deep down how amazing it would be, and she was trying to make peace). We have a small footstool that doesn’t necessarily go along with it, but it does the job quite well, so that when you put your buns in the bowl, and your feet up, a heavenly sensation ensues. The chair nestles in its corner of the living room by the window. Incidentally, that little heavenly spot is my favorite place to go with my weekend coffee.

I just love that thing. I do.  The only thing that could be better would be to somehow find a desk that would accommodate my papasan as the working chair. I’m not sure how much work would get done, but damn, I would be comfortable whether I was doing work or not.

If you don’t own one of these amazing pieces of furniture, I suggest you get it in gear. Head on over to Pier One, or wherever else papasan chairs are sold, and make your purchase. I promise, you will be glad you did. And if you once owned one, but then felt it necessary to get rid of it, I have only one thing to say to you…

Shame on you. After reading this, I bet you wish you had held onto it, don’t you? Well…you can’t have mine!

Positive Writing

I’ve been a little negative in my writing lately, so I’m going to do my best to make this one positive, because regardless of what we read on Facebook or twitter, or what we see on the television or hear on the radio (does anyone other than me still listen to the radio?), the world is still a pretty swell place…most of the time…especially when people aren’t screwing it up (shhhhh…remember…positive writing!).

What makes this particularly difficult is that as I look out the window in front of me, I see an overcast sky.  Gray and really just kind of blah.  My handy-dandy weather app tells me that the sky will be clearing to partly cloudy over the next few hours, allowing the sun to shine.  That’ll be nice.

As I’ve said in posts past, I’ve been thinking about my writing.  I’ve been thinking about what it is that I want to say.  I’ve also been thinking about what it is that you want to hear. I bought a book on writing prose yesterday at the bookstore, Good Prose:  The Art of Nonfiction, Stories and advice from a lifetime of writing and editing by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd (I really should own stock in Barnes & Noble), and I loved the opening line of the first chapter, “To write is to talk to strangers.”  Granted, many of the people that are reading my writing are not strangers, but I’m sure that some are. This is a fact though.  I’m putting my thoughts, my “stuff”, out there for a theoretically infinite number of people to read.  Since I do not know an infinite number of people; I have to assume that a fair amount of strangers are going to be reading my thoughts.  And here’s the hard part…

I want strangers to keep reading my stuff.  I even want strangers to comment on my stuff so that I can carry on a dialogue with strangers.  I’m talking to strangers!!  Are we not supposed to talk to strangers?  I’m pretty sure I heard that more than a few times in days long gone by. But anyway, I want strangers to come back and read more of my stuff, and maybe re-read some old stuff.

Enough of that.  You don’t want to hear me blather on and on about my writing.

Last Monday began a five week stretch at work with one day off, so I’m not sure how much writing I’m going to get done over that span of time…shit…more about my writing.  Okay, I’ll stop.

Anyway, a five week period of work with one day off.  It is hard to be positive with that staring me in the face, but I’m going to try.

C’mon August. You cannot get here soon enough.

I am positive that when you get here, I am going to enjoy it.

See what I did there…

Pissed. That’s really all I can say.

I try to stay away from the news nowadays.  Usually it does nothing more than piss me off, but after hearing a little snippet on NPR yesterday or this morning (I can’t remember exactly when it was) about the President’s announcement yesterday, I decided to check out the hubbub.  Soooo, I found this.  And “this” pisses me right the hell off. I mean, I think I hit 8th, 9th, maybe even 10th level pissed upon reading this article and a few more that I decided to dig around through.

After that fateful day in September of 2001, I felt like many of us felt.  I was angry, pissed, scared, and worried.  I had kind of a kill ’em all and let God sort them out mindset.  I was all about blasting the fuckers responsible back to the stone-age.  I followed the war fever and the patriotic unity among those in government straight through Afghanistan and even supported military intervention in Iraq, just knowing that Saddam Hussein was evil incarnate and had enough “weapons of mass distraction” to wipe us out along with anyone else that he felt like removing from the face of the earth. I believed it when we were told how necessary it was to go in and take him out.  I believed it when we were told that the secured Iraqi oil reserves would pay for any military action and the cost would not be passed to the taxpayer.  I believed it when we were told that the operation would be relatively short and sweet.  I believed it when we were told that a minimum of American boys and girls would be put in harms way.  I believed it all.  All. 

What do I believe now?

I believe that we need to take care of the wounded soldiers and veterans that we have on our hands now rather than sending more of our men and women in uniform back over there to have come home wounded, or worse, dead.  I believe that we should have heeded the words of Dick Cheney, John McCain, and others that, before Bush II took office believed that any intervention in Iraq would do nothing more than remove a force that kept the various sects vying for power from killing each other and swallowing the country in a civil war.  I believe that we should heed those words now.  NOW!  I believe that sending “military advisors” to Iraq is nothing more than a prelude to a larger force that will go over there again. I believe that Iraq is not worth one more drop of American blood spilt on its arid ground.  I believe that Jim Wright was right in his opinion and indictment of those that rattle the sabers in the hopes of driving more Americans to wanting more war (If you have not read this piece, it is the most poignant piece on this entire debacle I have read, and that includes over 10 years of reading…lots and lots of articles and more than a few books).  I believe that the President caved on this.  I believe the President has let down those whom he depended on to put him in the White House in 2008, and those he needed to keep him there in 2012.  I know that he lost my vote in 2012 because he sold his political power in order to pass a healthcare reform bill that does more for private insurance companies than it does for the American people.  I believe, now, that he has lost my respect, because he lightly pushes progressive causes just enough to placate liberals so that they won’t go ape-shit on him when he does something like this.  I believe that the one “liberal” that could have kept this from happening caved in order to save face for his party and the hopes that his party does not lose too much power in November.

I firmly believe that this advisory role will escalate just as it did in Vietnam.  Though the number of dead Americans, 4,411 (according to the Department of Defense), is far less than those that died in Vietnam, 58,220, how many more Americans have to die or get wounded before we cut our losses?  I’ve read memes and posts from those that would disagree with me, stating that the sacrifices made by those that have already given their lives in this conflict will mean nothing.  And to that, I say bullshit!  To them I say does it make their sacrifice that much more meaningful to have more American blood spilt on that altar?  So, how many more Americans need to spill their blood to make the sacrifice given by those before that much more meaningful?  How many?  HOW MANY???

How many more Americans need their lives altered by life changing injuries and mind changing psychological distress?  How many more American families need to feel the loss that so many American families feel now?  Go on.  Tell me.  I’m waiting.

Not one more drop of American blood needs to be spilled; not one more American life needs to be laid down for the security of a foreign country that we have already spent a generation trying to secure. Period.  End of story.

 

To, or To Not?

I’m taking just a few minutes, the next 25 or so, to do a little free writing on a topic about which I have not written in a couple of weeks…

Fear.

A few weeks back, I read a post by Holistic Wayfarer entitled “What If You Weren’t Afraid.” At the end of the post, she posed a question: How would these things look different in your life, if you were not afraid? I posted a couple of weeks ago some thoughts concerning a couple of the topics listed after the question, particularly those concerning my relationship with my sweetheart and the relational boundaries I draw with other people. I just took a look over the list again and noticed the topic “Your blogging” so I figure why not start there.

How would my blogging look different, or be different, if I were not afraid. I guess what needs to be done is figure out of what it may be that I am afraid when it comes to my blogging. I was reading over another previous post of mine and noticed something I had written that kind of goes along with this very idea, and it goes a little something like this…

When I find something on which to write, I tend to tread my path lightly. I don’t want to piss somebody off that may read what it is that I am writing. I look “for the solution that will come without a conflicting response or opinion…when that does not work, I go to like-minded souls that will reassure me that the course I wish to take is the right one and will not falter.”

Essentially I fear an argument. Really, it isn’t so much that I fear an argument. If you know me, you know I love a good argument. What it really is is that I am tired of arguing. It gets old, especially when the arguments are always about the same shit. The day may be different, but the arguments are always the same, especially when it comes to the topics I tend to follow and about which I care the most. There is rarely anything new added to the conversation. If, by chance, a new idea comes into the topic, the conversation will take a turn, but it always, always comes right back to the beginning. Then the parties of the argument get pissed off, turn and figuratively walk away with nothing be solved. Pretty much what it boils down to is that we are a bunch of children that refuse to give even an inch in the hope that a compromise or agreement can be reached.

That is what frightens me. I don’t want my blog to turn into a huge pissing match between people with different points of view, and I don’t want to begin censoring those who take part in any discussion that may come up because they refuse to act like grown-ups.

Then again, a little spice might be good. I have plenty of thoughts that can be considered nonconventional. They are certainly not aligned with the status quo. I do like to propose challenging and provoking thoughts. Otherwise, what in the hell am I writing for? Who wants to read something that doesn’t provoke at least a minimum amount of thought?

I guess that what I’m trying to say is that my blogging would be more edgy and more strongly opinionated if I were not afraid of some argument breaking out in the comment section. Moreover, what is troubling is the fact that I do not want any piece that I write to be boiled down into a simple yes/no debate that takes what is stated, and usually quite eloquently (if I may say so), and turned into some kind of talking point that can be recited on cue by some shmuck that does not have any skin in the game. I suppose I could just say screw it and write what it is that I feel and what I think, and say to hell with censoring myself. That would certainly be healthier for me as it would allow me to release pent up feelings and thoughts that swirl within my mind and body.

I’m going to mull this over some more before I make a decision, but it seems I have some things to ponder. It’s a good thing that pondering is something that I’m pretty good at doing.

You’ll have to stay tuned in order to find out which direction my pondering will take me.

Still Doin’ It…

DadTomorrow is Father’s Day, and I’m sitting here thinking about my dad. He is one of the hardest working people I know, and one that I think about when I’m feeling a little bit lazy and realize that I need to get up and get it in gear. Actually, that is one of his sayings. “Troops a’ movin’” or “let’s get it in gear.” He’s also the reason why I have an obsession about being everywhere I have to be as early as humanly possible. Late is not in his vocabulary. It simply does not exist. If there is even a suspicion that tardiness is going to occur, there will be hell to pay for whomever causes it.

He worked the same job, the same job, for 37 years with rarely a negative thing to say about it. He is spoken of highly by those that had the pleasure to work with him and for him. I’ve never heard anyone that he worked with say anything negative about his work or what he brought to the workplace. He touched a lot of lives in a positive way. He taught, and still teaches, invaluable life lessons such as hard work, dedication, and self-improvement. I did not really take to those lessons growing up; I was more or less bitter toward them, because I already knew everything there was to know. Once I became a little older and wiser, I could see what it was he was doing and what he was showing my brother, me, and other young people with whom he connected, coached, and taught.

If you would have told me at 15 or 16 that I would think this way about my dad at 36, and be grateful, I probably would have called you an idiot and laughed. But it’s true. I am grateful to have the dad I have. I’m glad he was stern with us growing up. I’m glad he didn’t take our crap, or crap from anyone else. He was fair. When credit was due, he gave it. When punishment was due, he wielded it. When self-reliance needed to be taught, he stepped away and let things run their course. “Look it up” was, and still is, his favorite answer to a question.

I’m in my mid-thirties, and he is still teaching me. He may not know it, and I’m sure as hell not going to tell him, but he is.

That’s why I’m glad that he is my dad.

A Title? Yes, it needs one…

I’ve been doing a bit of reading and research on writing, making my writing better, and expanding my readership. Within most of what I have read, there is a common theme; identifying my brand and sticking with it. Therefore, I am going to use this post to nail down what my brand might be, because the thoughts that spill out of my brain, either through my fingers or out of my mouth, tend to be completely random and based heavily on something I hear or read at a random time.  Really, what the majority of my writing here is, and will probably be for the foreseeable future, a response.

But what do I want my brand, my writing, to do? What do I want it to say? Those questions seem pretty important to me. I want my writing to have some purpose. I want it to not only to present my thought on whatever the subject may be, but to provoke a thought or response from the reader. A good response. A bad response. Something. I’d prefer it provoke an agreeable response, but I know that isn’t always going to happen.  Disagreeable responses are acceptable, too.  I’d like to make people’s heads nod or shake.

I guess that is what most of us here want.

I also understand that patience is my friend in this endeavor; a kind of “if you build it, he will come” thing.  Patience is not my strong suit.  Really, I stink at being patient, but I’m trying.

Anyway, I am going to keep trying to hone my brand, and follow where my writing takes me.  If there is one thing I know, it is that writing cannot be forced.  It has to come freely from somewhere inside with plenty of honest thought and contemplation.  Otherwise, it stinks…mine does anyhow.

We live in exciting times.  There are so many things happening around us all the time, and a lot of it is thought provoking.  Let’s see what is provoked and also where the thoughts go and what they generate.

We’re Doing It Wrong.

I just finished reading this article talking about the creation of bullet-proof blankets for children at school.  I applaud the creator for thinking of, and making, something that can provide even a modicum of safety and security for our young people, but it deeply saddens me that such an idea was even contemplated in the first place.

It saddens me that our society is so drenched in violence that people are completely desensitized to it.  It saddens me that we have allowed it to happen.  We condone it every day, either actively or passively.  We glorify it rather than reflect and learn from it so that it doesn’t happen again.  We memorialize violent acts through memorializing the victims rather than doing anything to ensure, or even partially prevent, such acts from ever occurring again.  And it keeps happening more and more and more.

Apparently, such thinking is considered naïve and unrealistic.  I mean, how does anyone think that all violence can be stopped?  It’s impossible.  Violence is going to occur.  It is going to happen, so why try to stop it?  Kind of reminds me of a phrase I heard after two boys got into a fight, “oh well, boys will be boys.” This coming from the father of one of the boys.  This.  This is part of the problem, but only part, but it does get us closer to the source, but that comes later.

Through our actions and words we advocate violence as a method of solving problems, or better yet, eliminating them.  We do not deal with it.  We beat it into submission until it goes away or erase issues from our consciouses altogether.

Think about this.  No war has ever ended because the ones doing the fighting ran out of bullets or bombs.  Wars are ended at tables or desks, and with pen, paper and discussion.

Violence tends to come about because someone wants something they feel they cannot get through other means, or, maybe, the perpetrators of violence believe it to be the most effective, or easiest, means with which to obtain what it is they desire.

Example:

My brother and I are two years apart in age.  I am the older.  He, the younger.  We fought all the time, and it was usually because one of us had something, or was doing something, the other wanted or wanted to do.  When the one doing would not give, shouting typically ensued.  Then when the yelling did nothing, pushing, shoving, grabbing, arm twisting, and punching started.  Sometimes it was effective. Most of the time, however, not so much.  What usually happened was that the parents would intervene and we were both denied, so we both lost. Violence accomplished nothing.

We are better than the violence we see or read about everyday.  We are put together with minds that understand compassion, that have empathy.  We have minds that are capable of understanding and working through issues in a nonviolent manner.  Such is much more challenging than escalating to violence. Challenges that require constant work do not bode well for a society that craves instant gratification.  We are willing to work ourselves to the bone in order to obtain what we want or need materially.  Adults get in fist fights while Christmas shopping, think about that, too.  Yet, when it comes to being better humans or being more humane, “ain’t nobody got time for that.”  Do you think we have a problem yet?

We are better than the violence that people protect themselves from everyday.  Some carry a firearm with them everywhere they go.  What does that say about a society when, number one, one feels that in order to feel safe going to the grocery store they have to be packing a pistol, or number two, that such would even be condoned?  What does it say about a society in which an individual develops bullet-proof blankets in the hopes that they will save children’s lives at school?  What does it say about a society that even considers arming teachers or other school faculty and staff to provide security at a school?  What does it say about a society that attempts to solve problems by throwing possible solutions at the symptoms of the issue rather than the source? It’s kind of like trying to cure strep throat by placing a cool cloth on a fevered forehead.

What is the source?  Where does the violence come from?  Does it come from within?  Or from without?

I have my ideas, most of which lie within society itself, but I am sure it is not that simple.  Most of the ideas that I have are simply symptoms, but maybe not.  As I said before, we glorify violence.  We watch it on television.  Often times some pay extra to watch human beings beat one another senseless for money.  People promote this.  People participate in it, and people pay to watch it.  Name another species of animal on the planet that does this.  Sure, there is violence within other parts of the animal kingdom.  There are challenges for dominion and killing done for the purposes of survival.  We, on the other hand, have forward thinking, intellect, and reason. We can see, process, and understand the consequences of our actions.  Such sets us apart from what we see on Animal Planet or the Discovery Channel.  I mean, if they show documentaries anymore besides Shark Week.

The violence that I am thinking about is not only gun violence.  We are surrounded by violence of all kinds.  People are killed by violent people with guns, knives, or bare hands to name a few tools.  Some tools make it easier to kill than other ones.  Some tools were made specifically for the purpose of unleashing death.  Some tools are misused and become harbingers of death.  This is a hotly contested debate that only attempts to control a symptom of the problem and not the problem itself.

People kill or beat out of perceived necessity, desire, or fear.  People commit violence due to a lack of understanding and/or compassion for those that live lives in a different way.  People kill or harm in order to defend the ones they love and what is theirs. People kill out of anger.  People kill or commit violence because of a lack of empathy toward fellow human beings.

Earlier, I wrote of what saddens me about all of this, but here is what saddens me the most…

Some, many maybe, will read this post and scoff. They will consider it naïve, immature, idealistic, and unrealistic. The response will be that violence cannot be ended. There has always been violence.  There will always be violence. There are violent people in the world. There is nothing that can be done about that.

We will quit before we even get started. It will end before it begins. The idea will fail before even having the opportunity to succeed.

There is a quote from one of Noam Chomsky’s most recent books,  Hopes and Prospects, I particularly enjoy, and I think it bears stating here:

“Historical amnesia is a dangerous phenomenon, not only because it undermines moral and intellectual integrity, but also because it lays the groundwork for crimes that lie ahead.”

Essentially, what we do not remember or learn from our history, we are doomed to repeat it. As our society continues to disconnect from one another, the human connections we are possible of establishing and maintaining will continue to wither.  Rather than being seen as people, we will see each other as small square profile pictures with little thought or regard toward the person within the photo; lacking the compassion or understanding to even attempt to see their struggles or feelings or their hopes and dreams.

What makes us human and separates us from the rest of the world is that we have this conscious choice. We can choose to be empathetic, compassionate, and understanding people; or we can choose to ignore this gift we have. Some say it is God given. Some say it is simply an evolution of animal psychology. That does not matter here. Whether it is given to us by God or by Nature, it is being thrown away with little regard for the consequences that we can more than easily see every single time another human being is murdered or beaten or raped by another human being.

We are supposed to be a civil species at either the pinnacle of evolution or made distinctly in God’s image. You choose your belief. I personally believe that we are failing on both counts, and the continued violence and glorification and justification, either active or passive, of it is a perfect and sad illustration of that failure.

 

We are…

“When we are honest, we admit how agreeable it can feel to be singled out for favored treatment.  The biggest barrier to equality for all is that inequality for some feels good.”

-Philip Gulley, The Awakened Soul, Part 12:  Democratic Character Structure

“As bad and frightening as mind-based forgetfulness can be, it is in no way as damaging as soul-based forgetfulness, when we forget what it means to be human, when we can no longer identify with the forgotten, the outcast, the poor, the hurting, the left out, and the left behind.”

-Philip Gulley, The Awakened Soul, Part 13:  When the Soul Forgets

This has been on my mind a lot over the last week.  I read the pieces in which they are contained toward the beginning of the week, and have had little time to think about them very much.

I lied in my last post when I said that I had not written anything in my notebook this week, because I did write these passages, and jotted down some thoughts concerning them.  I am going to begin there and see where this goes…

I admit that empathy is not my go to reaction all of the time.  Often, my knee jerk reaction is something more negative when it comes to someone screwing up, underachieving, making a bad decision, or otherwise living in a way with which I disagree.  This has a lot to do with my patience, which in some cases is nonexistent, especially when it comes to what translates in my mind as willful ignorance, stupidity, or laziness.  One thing that I am just as impatient about, and have a negative reaction toward, is when I hear or see another refusing to sympathize or empathize with another human being that has done no wrong toward anyone.  I guess in some ways that makes me a hypocrite.

Usually, once I slow down to think about these things, I see the error of my ways, but there are occasions when such will never happen.  One instance is willful intolerance, or willfully intolerant people; especially those that are intolerant of people who do no harm to others in any way.  Their intolerance is fueled by a lack of empathy because they refuse to understand something, or someone, that is wholly different from them or what they believe.  However, in order to have or show empathy, one need not agree with another.  They do not even really need to understand what it is they are refusing to tolerate. They simply need to understand what their actions are doing to those whom they are showing their intolerance.

It goes back to one of the above quotes from Philip Gulley.  Regardless of our present stations in life, we have all been in a position that puts us against the fray or singled out from the status quo.  We’ve all been there, and we remember how lonely it feels.  We all have experienced being told that something we are doing is wrong, yet we know in our heart, our soul, that what we are doing is right, and we want nothing more than to have our actions or points of view accepted.  We seek that connection with people, that connection that tells us that it is okay, that it will be okay, and life will go on.  We seek empathy.

Without that empathetic connection, remembering that in some way we have been there and can identify with the down-trodden, we lose a bit of our soul.  We lose a part of us that makes us distinctly human.

We are not perfect beings.  We never will be. Not the first one of us.  It is here that we are all equal.  We all make bad decisions, and sometimes those decisions bring harm to ourselves or to others.  With those decisions, there are always repercussions.  When the harm is done to ourselves, hopefully we learn from it in order to not make the same decision again.  When the harm is done to another, recompense must be brought to bear. With both cases, empathy is a necessary component to ensure neither happens again.

To simply say that one is undeserving of the same joys that others experience because they live a life that is different from the predominant world view is wrong, especially if that joy will bring happiness to them while not affecting another’s life in a negative way.

We have a challenge before us in that, as the first quote above illustrates, we all want to be given favored treatment for being right, or better yet, for being righteous. We are a prideful lot, even the most humble or penitent of us, and nothing fuels that pride more than the justification received when our actions or thoughts are given credence by those with whom we most strongly agree or identify.

We then forget that there are people that do not think the same way we do. People have different value systems; be they spiritual, material, or moral. As long as what is believed, or what one thinks, does not bring physical or mental harm to themselves or others, there is no need to degrade or tear those that do think or live differently down. Such only fuels an imaginary righteousness and puts people on different levels that do not exist but only in our own prideful minds.

We all have a right to live happily in the way that we choose, again, as long as that life does not bring physical or mental harm to ourselves or others. We all have a responsiblity to treat others in the manner with which we wish to be treated. These are rules that I was taught during my childhood.  I have no doubt that many were taught just the same way.

I work on this daily.  I take many deep breaths and do my best to understand positions that are counter to my own.  It is hard…I mean hard, and sometimes I fail. It is a challenge, and will continue to be.  It is a process; but one that will make me a better person in the long run, and will persist in making my life more pleasant and livable.

In essence, it is about bringing light to the lives of those we love, including ourselves, and those around us, rather than spreading darkness, and remembering that we all have a common core, a starting point that is inherently the same.  We are all people.  We are all human, and not one of us is perfect.

Now that is something with which I can empathize. Can you?

So Much Information, So Little Time

It has been a scatter-brained kind of week, and a little busy, too.  I haven’t had much time to sit and collect my thoughts, so there has not been much writing going on this week.  As a matter of fact, I have not once picked up my trusty notebook to jot anything down.  So let’s just go with another free writing session for this post…

It’s Saturday morning, and I just finished my weekend coffee.  If you follow me here or on Facebook, you know just how much I relish my weekend coffee.  And this weekend is no different.  The biggest difference is that I slept in this morning, waking up at around 8:30 or so, which never, ever happens.  I stayed up pretty late last night, too, and that, also, never happens…well anymore.

So I was a little late in having my coffee, but I had it nonetheless, and it was good…everything I knew it would be.

I’ve done the scan of the Facebook news feed and seen things that piss me off, make me happy, make me think, make me sad, or make me glad.  I’ve looked over my wordpress reader and caught up on a couple of the blogs that I follow.  Now, I’m sitting here to write, and little is coming to my mind and sticking around long enough to put something coherent together.

One thing that floats in and floats out is this controversy surrounding the release of the former POW, Bowe Bergdahl.  I’m not going to weigh in on this very much, because, one, I do not know too much about it, other than what has been spoon fed to us by the media, and, two, because I do not know too much about it, other than what has been spoon fed to us by the media.  All I do know is that he is a soldier in the US Army that was released by the Taliban in Afghanistan in exchange for five individuals held at Guantanamo Bay.  The funny thing is that is all any of us really know beyond what has been given to us by the media outlet from which we choose to receive our information.

If you read, watch, or otherwise observe multiple media outlets, you have received different points of view and opinions given by experts, former and active military personnel, politicians, or anyone else pretending they know what the deal is.  This is just one example of the amount of information out there and the vast number of opinions, facts, or observations that bombard us every single day.

It’s hard to know what is the truth anymore; because, as the media is teaching us, the truth is subjective.  It depends on how one views a particular situation, and that same one’s gut feeling concerning it.  We rush to judgement, handing out a verdict before evidence is presented, explained, and debated.  The truth no longer waits for objectivity.  It relies on the speed of its spread in order to influence thought so that the vessel spreading the truth can have bragging rights exclaiming “that you heard it here first.”

I dare say that with any “breaking news” story that has been broken in the past, I don’t know, ten years, a misconception or flat out falsehood, has been spread as the truth to the four corners of the globe, and even with evidence that points to the contrary, that truth is held on to with a stubborn insistence of its veracity.

This is just one reason why I rarely read or watch the news anymore, especially from an outlet that is more beholden to its advertisers and stockholders than it is to the people to whom they provide the information.  If I do catch anything, I do my best to glean what little fact may be presented in a piece, and then ignore, or try to forget, any of the fluff or opinion that is designed to keep one coming back for more.

Anyway, that is what is on my mind this morning as my fingers tickle the keyboard.