Pretty Swell

Wow, it’s been a little while since I’ve been here, so here is a little bit of an update on what’s been running through my mind as I look out the window over my desk…

The short version is I am in the process of reading all the books pertaining to the history of Victorian Britain and the post-war South in the United States while reading about fallacies in historical writing and argument, writing papers about Native-American history and the Lost Colony in North Carolina, and skimming through footnotes and endnotes and bibliographies in the search for material that will help me find the questions I want to ask for my thesis.

I guess that’s not really a short version. The shortest version is that I began my studies as a graduate student in history last month, and I probably should not be here, writing this, because there is something else I need to be doing. However, as I was reading this morning I began to think about how I haven’t just let go and done any writing just to be writing, and in order to keep developing my writing skills, I need to find the time to do so. So, here I am.

My last post is about my thoughts and feelings concerning Harper Lee’s recently published manuscript, Go Set a Watchman. I won’t go into that more here, other than to say that the core of that book has shown me something that I very much want to investigate, and I won’t go into more of that here because my preliminary thoughts and questions are not fully hashed out, yet, but they will in time. They have to. This is what I want to study and write about, and I will get evaluated and graded on it and have to defend it, so I have to figure it out, and when I know, you’ll know…if I remember to share it with you good people in my little internet universe.

Other things that are going on?

11892039_10155953620650082_8562107509324620719_n

The hat.

The seasons and the leaves are starting to change. The air is a little more crisp in the morning and the sunrise has more of a golden hue about it. I bought a hat which my wife tried oh so diligently to talk me out of buying, but if there is a hat that is me, this is the hat. See, the hair on the top of my head is migrating to places where it should not migrate, and I needed some protection for the oh so sensitive skin. Presidential campaign politics are getting into full swing a full 14 months before the election next year, and I am trying my damnedest not to get involved. My lavender bush is really putting out some beautiful and sweet smelling flower buds. We bought some rocking chairs for our front porch which are proving to be the best items purchased since we moved into our house last October. Seinfeld is on Hulu and provides much needed levity and brain rest when I need to take a break from books and journal articles and primary sources. I am finding out just how high the stack of library books on my desk can get, and looking some of them up on Amazon and writing down prices because some of them are books that will be purchased in the future, probably near-future. I am trying desperately not to increase my coffee intake; on some days I succeed valiantly and on other days I fail miserably. I am still trying to figure out the optimal work/not work balance and figuring out that the balance moves constantly with no notice whatsoever. This is important because the first all-nighter I have to pull will probably kill me. I am looking forward to finding some time this Fall to get the camera out and take some pictures. The camera is starting to feel neglected in its bag. I am learning a lot which is really kind of the point. It is not easy or fun but I do enjoy it and so does my brain. Few things are more satisfying than when your brain gets pleasure from absorbing the things it wants to absorb and finds questions it wants to ask and finds the answers to them. I guess you could say this is my drug of choice.

I think that about sums it up as far as what’s been happening since July. Another short version is that life is pretty good; you could even say swell.

I better go. Victorian Britain is waiting for me.

A Christian’s View and Questions for Other Christians

This has been building within me for some time. Some of it has come out in bits and pieces through various outlets. It is time, however, to put it out there in one place, in one voice, so that my thoughts and opinions on the matter are known and the grounds upon which those thoughts and opinions are based are understood.

We are in the midst of the civil rights movement of my generation. I will not bore you with parallels to civil rights movements of the past such as those of African-Americans (which continues still), women (which continues still), American Indians (which continues still), immigrants (mainly non-European,which, by the way, continues still), or any other group of people or ethnicity that is, or has been, disenfranchised by American society (which continues still…).

The movement in the headlines nowadays concerns the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer community/communities (LGBTQ). Like many that will read this post, or few as it were, I am acquainted with people that are part of that community as well as people that oppose the rights of that community as well as people that sit on the fence between the LGBTQ community and those that oppose the rights it desires and deserves as well as those that just do not give a shit one way or the other. This is one of the most difficult posts I have ever set out to write and complete for that reason. There are family members and friends that may not like what is written here. There are family members and friends that may like what is written here. I can only say to take it all as you will, because most of you know where I stand on this issue anyway.

Making the headlines in this movement most recently are a series of laws known as Religious Freedom Restoration Acts, most recently in the state of Indiana. Plainly spoken, behind the euphemism of “religious freedom” is the less appetizing phrase, the right to use one’s faith as a cover for bigotry and an excuse to discriminate against those with whom they disapprove. Bigotry. Discrimination. It really is as simple as that. (I fully expect that those in support of these laws and the bigotry they support will stop reading now, but I hope they don’t.)

For years I have tried to understand and appreciate the evangelical approach to this issue, but I cannot get there. Well, that is not entirely true. I understand the approach, but in no way can I ever appreciate it. I understand that the same faith that I work so diligently with to try to love and appreciate those around me, even those with whom I disagree or disapprove, is used as a bully pulpit to oppress our neighbors. I struggle with “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…” (Matt. 7:12 NIV). I struggle with it daily. I am the most impatient person there has probably ever been. I make hasty judgements of others at first glance. I do not suffer fools lightly. These are flaws in my character that will likely haunt me until I am put in the ground. I admit it freely. This is probably my biggest and heaviest cross to bear, so to speak.

I have other crosses I bear on the same continual basis. Some of those are more well hidden than others. If you know me or have seen pictures, you can safely assume that I enjoy eating and being somewhat gluttonous on occasion. That’s a cross I bear. It is something with which I struggle. I can also be envious of those around me for their positions in life or stations. I’m not immune to the desire to covet, I mean, who is? I may even bear the smallest, whitest false witness. See, all of those, except for the gluttony, are stowed away harmlessly. People do not see them. I do not talk about them, and that is that. I am not perfect, have never claimed to be and never will be.

Before I continue further, let’s rehash the basis for the denial of certain civil rights for those within the LGBTQ community. Long story short (because the whole story boils down to this anyway) is that these people, these human beings, live in sin, according to various verses in the Bible, and sin is destructive to society. However (there is always a however, isn’t there?), their sin is apparently much different and worse than regular sin committed by everyday, hardworking, churchgoing folk, because it is an abomination. An ABOMINATION. A big. scary. fucking. word.

Why is that sin a big scary word?

Why is that sin targeted?

There is one reason, and one reason alone. It is an easy target. It has a clear dividing line. It is easy to separate the partakers from those who do not partake, or is it?

Let’s talk sodomy. As defined in the New Oxford American Dictionary, sodomy is “sexual intercourse involving anal or oral copulation.” So blowjobs, cunnilingus, and anal sex/penetration of any kind is sodomy, and sodomy, according to various verses in the Bible, especially Leviticus, is a sin. Now, we all know, but do not speak about, that there are some…well…kinky people out there. There are women who will willingly sodomize a man who has consented to it. Odd behavior? Yes. Sinful? Yes. It happens, but I bet anything that no one can confidently tell such a woman or a man just by seeing them hold hands or kiss. There are women that will provide consensual oral sex to their male partner and men that will provide the same for their female partner. Can you tell who those sinners are just by seeing them showing one another affection in public? There are men that have consensual anal sex with their female partners. Can you tell who those sinners are?

Can you tell who the sinners are?

I cannot, and, truthfully, neither can you.

Do you know why you cannot?

It probably has something to do with the fact that what those couples do in their private moments is nobody else’s fucking business. Their perceived sins are between them and their God. Their perceived sins have not one f’ing thing to do with the state. They have nothing to do with the business they wish to do. Their perceived sins have nothing to do with you, just like your perceived sins have nothing to do with anyone but yourself. Their perceived sins are their crosses to bear.

Probably like most of the straight people that read this, I have never had an in-depth conversation with anyone I know that is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer concerning their sexual experiences, preferences, or appetites. It is none of my business, just like my sexual experiences, preferences, or appetites are none of their business.

Since I, and I am assuming most of the straight people that read this, have not had an in-depth, candid conversation concerning personal sexual behavior or sexual acts with a member of the LGBTQ community, all of my ideas concerning those behaviors and acts are assumptions. All of your thoughts and ideas concerning those behaviors and acts are assumptions, unless, like I said, you have first hand knowledge from a primary source within that community. So, how easy a target is it? How easy is it to spot someone that has committed the perceived sin of sodomy?

The sin of homosexuality is, as its name states, unique to the homosexual community, though never specifically recorded as such in the Gospels by Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John as being specifically said by Jesus, but only in terms of “sexual immorality” as stated here for example:

“For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, magic, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean,’” (Mark 7: 21-23 NIV).

Sexual immorality is grouped with other sins such as adultery, envy, slander, and arrogance.

A few questions.

Do those that wish to discriminate against the LGBTQ community wish to show the same force of will toward known adulterers? Known thieves? Known liars? Or, is it only against homosexuals and other sexual “deviants” you wish to treat in a bigoted manner?

In essence, what supporters of this backlash against the LGBTQ community’s civil rights movement are saying is that they are smart enough to distinguish sin from sin and apply degrees of severity of sin which do not exist in the New Testament. They are saying that they know, without a doubt, that God places sexual immorality above all other sin, except that which is unforgivable.

How utterly callous, pompous, and arrogant are these people?

Then there is the argument that homosexual acts are unnatural. They go against the laws of nature and the purpose for our creation which is to go forth and multiply, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it,” (Gen. 1:28 NIV). What about those good, faithful, obedient, believing Christians that practice any manner of contraception when engaging in consensual, traditional intercourse with their partner? Is this not a sin of equal bearing with homosexuality? Is it not just as unnatural? Does it not restrict the ability of a couple to multiply as commanded in Genesis? Are men that get vasectomies or wear condoms not as sinful as homosexuals? Are women that tie their tubes or use contraceptive devices or medications not sinful? Do these people not deserve the same discriminatory treatment as homosexuals?

What about the teenage boy or girl that wakes up after nocturnal emission (wet dreams)? Are they not privy to the same discrimination? Were their orgasms achieved in a manner other than multiplying their seed?

There is a reason why Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor. It is a simple reason, especially if one humbles themselves enough to see it.

We are not pure enough or smart enough to judge and punish sin. That is not the job or responsibility of a Christian. Our responsibility is to witness, to show, and to love. When we attempt to provide God’s judgement on others with whom we disapprove, we do absolutely nothing more than fill ourselves with pride and self-righteousness.

We do not tear people down for who they are. We love them and we build them up. We show them the way. We show them the narrow path. We do not use the power of the state to force the path upon them. Christianity and the values expressed within are a matter of free-will. One can choose to accept it or reject it. The reasons for acceptance or rejection are personal. The decision is between the individual and God, not the individual and you or between the individual and the state.

I am sick, literally sick to my stomach as I write this, because I know it will fall on deaf ears, so to speak.

I am sick of people using my faith, using what I believe to be the standard for love and peace to bring pain and tears and sorrow others.

Please do not try to witness to me. I do not want to hear the same song or see the same dance I have seen and heard to justify bigotry. Those tunes are old and the moves are worn out. They are the same tunes and moves that have been used for generations to justify placing one group of people over another for one reason and one reason alone. Pride. And “pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall,” (Proverbs, 16:18 NIV).

I will close with one final question.

What would Jesus do?

I do not know for certain, but can assume through His example of love and acceptance. He would not support these laws, not in the least.

Oh, and do not forget about the unclean language I have used in a place or two within this writing. If you are going to discriminate against homosexuals, then feel free to discriminate against me. Chances are I do not need what you are selling.

Hurry Up and Wait!

Waiting. This is something I am not good at doing. Ask anyone who knows me. I do not do well when it comes to waiting, though, a lot of times I do it to myself. I hate waiting so much that I am obsessive about people waiting on me. Doesn’t make sense? Well, I will get to an arranged meeting spot 10 to 15 minutes early and wait on others just so they do not have to wait on me. No, now that I think about it, that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Regardless of this nonsense, I hate waiting, and, once again, I have done it to myself.

My application for graduate school is due for early review on March 15th. What did I do? I submitted it a little over a week ago. Three weeks early. I submitted my application three weeks before the early review date. What have I done every day since I submitted my application? I have checked the status. I have checked on the status of my application every day. Every. Single. Day.

Like I said, I do not do well when it comes to waiting.

I know exactly where I get that from. A short story…

When my brother and I were growing up, school started at 8, well middle and high school started at 8:15, but the home room call was at 8. Take a guess at what time we got to school every day. Between 7:30 and 7:40/45. See, my dad has to get everywhere early and when he had to be at work by 8, he had to get there well before 8, so that means we got to school early…way early. Did that stop once I got my driver’s license and became responsible for getting my brother and me to school? No. I moved the heavens and earth to get my brother out of the bed and showered so we could leave the house by 7:30 for the 10 minute drive to school.

Did that stop once I moved out of the house? No. With every job I have had, I have shown up at least 10 to 15 minutes early for the shift, well, except for those pesky times of over-sleeping. When I know that I am not going to be at least 10 minutes early, my mind begins to panic. Yes. Panic. My heart rate rises and the dread and fear of being late overcomes any rational thought that could pass through my head. I am always in competition with the clock. When we go on a trip and use the GPS and the GPS tells us that we will arrive by 3:15, I do everything in my power to arrive by 3:00. I guess you could call it an obsession or a compulsion or an obsessive compulsion.

When I went back to school to finish my undergrad, I was the student that was either at the door first, waiting for the previous class to end so I could sit at my desk, or I was the first one in the door of the empty classroom waiting for my other classmates and professor to show up. I was that guy, not because I wanted to impress the professor with my punctuality, but because I needed to do it. I needed to do it. If I was going to be tardy, I would not even go to class. That is how much I hate being late. I would rather chalk up an absence than be late to class.

This drives my need to always be early and adds to my frustration of hating to have to wait, because what happens when I get to class early? I have to wait for it to start. It is a vicious cycle that never, ever ends. It’s like the bad joke that never goes away, or the shitty song that stays in your head and plays over and over and over and over again.

So, I have already checked on the status of my application once today. I will probably do so again after lunch, and at least one more time before I go to bed. Why? Because I am a glutton for punishment, and I cannot wait to see what happens. Now that I think about it, that saying makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Clearly, I can wait, and I hate it.

Remembrance and Celebration

I wrote this tonight as I was thinking of those that have gone on to greener pastures…

We each have our own remembrances
and stories to share and to tell.
We have our reasons to weep
and those to laugh.
We have our reasons to mourn
and those to dance.
We have these because those we loved have gone away,
but through these memories, reasons, and times,
we have them with us every day.

Inspired by:

Ecclesiasties 3: 1, 3, 4

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and time to die…
a time to weep and time to laugh…
a time to mourn and a time to dance…

Getting Closer…

So, my statement of intent is done.  I got over the dreading of writing it and just went to it. Four drafts later, and even some tinkering on that draft, it is finished.  I’m not touching it anymore.  I’m not even going to look at it.

What I am going to look at is the first draft of my scholarship essay.  I’m going to be looking at this a lot over the coming days.  It’s garbage, but at least it’s a draft.  It is something resembling the thoughts I have on paper.  My wife is going to shred it after she inks it up, but I’ve got something down, and that is better than what I had yesterday.

I’ve got my final recommendation confirmed, so once I am done with this last essay, my application will be ready to send.

I complained about having to write that statement, but after having done so, I saw it for what it was…an introspection.  It allowed me the thought process to clearly consider why I want to go to graduate school.  Granted, I’d already considered and considered why, but, there’s always a but, after talking with the program director and a professor I’m hoping to work with, there is some reality mixed in with the hopeful considerations I’ve had over the past months, really years.

So, it’s a dose of reality mixed with a pinch of hope and a dash of dreams.  I’d say that’s a pretty good recipe.  Wouldn’t you?

The time is getting closer.  At the beginning of next month I will begin meeting with one of my professors and getting a reading list compiled.  Then the real work can begin, and I’m looking forward to it.

A Thought on Love, Empathy, and Faith

This started out as a post on Facebook, but I’m going to try to expand on it and see what happens…

If we spent more time seeing people as people rather than as the labels we put on them, then a path to real empathy and understanding shows itself. The problem with labels is that we all wear more than one. Yet, when we see a label on someone that we do not agree with, that is the label we give them. Never mind the other labels one might wear that we would approve of or wear ourselves. It is the label that promotes some kind of disagreement or conflict that we freely choose to accept as the one that most aptly describes or define the individual.

Surely we are smarter and more compassionate than that. Surely we all have the ability to see people for who they are rather that what they are. Why would we willingly take such an ability and simplify it? Does it make life easier? Does it help us sleep better at night? Does it bring us closer to our faith, regardless of what that faith may be?

I’m going to address the last question first and see if they will help answer the other three.

Does it bring us closer to our faith, regardless of what that faith may be?

I’m going to place a label on myself just to show how I view the answer I have for this question. I identify as a Christian, and the answer that follows is according to my understanding of Christian faith.

By simplifying an individual that we may not agree with to the label with which we disagree, faith eludes us. We are not told to love the neighbor with whom we most identify. We are told to love our neighbor. It does not matter who that neighbor is. It does not matter what that neighbor does. It does not matter what we think of that neighbor.

One of the most important aspects of love is empathy. In order to love someone, empathy, and the practice of empathy, within the relationship is absolutely paramount. With empathy, one must understand or want to understand the object of their love. With empathy, there may not always be agreement, but there is always an attempt to understand. Without empathy, one cannot find the commonalities one might have with another in order to build a meaningful relationship. Without empathy, it is easier to cast judgment on those with whom we disagree, paste a label on them, and toss their basic humanity aside. Without empathy, we fail to see the person behind the label. We fail to see the person’s wants. We fail to see their needs. We fail to understand them as people, and choose to see them as enemies, if even in the loosest sense of the word. Without empathy, there cannot be trust. Without trust, there cannot be love.

Empathy takes a lot of practice. It can be difficult, but isn’t that the point? Are we not supposed to practice our respective faiths? Are we not supposed to work in order to build a stronger character and make our faiths stronger?

We have an ability to understand. We have an ability to empathize. Some say it is God given. Some say it is an evolution of the mind. Some say it is a combination of the two.

We can also practice apathy. We can choose not to care. We can choose not to understand. In essence, we can choose not to love. Apathy takes no practice, builds no character, and is a weak foundation upon which to build faith.

Which brings us closer to our faith? Which makes life easier? Which helps us sleep better at night? For me, a better understanding makes me more comfortable and helps me trust that I will be okay. That trust helps me sleep at night. That understanding makes my life just a little bit easier.

There is a debate, has been for a long time. Does faith alone provide for salvation, or are good works necessary? Faith, in and of itself, requires work. Faith requires practice, because we, in and of ourselves, will never be perfect. Through practice, we can come closer to perfection, but cannot attain it but through the continued practice of love and of faith.

Getting Ready…

I’m sitting here and have been staring at my “To-Do List” for my graduate school application.  I have two recommendations down and one to go.  I have taken the GRE.  I have to write my statement of intent to submit with my writing sample, and I have to submit an essay of 500 words on the importance of a graduate school education as it relates to my career goals.  I have two months from tomorrow to get my application submitted for early review.

As far as the statement of intent goes, I don’t really understand the point.  I’d think the intention of most that are going to graduate school is pretty much the same…the desire for more education in a given field, taking a particular interest or focus in a given field, and gaining knowledge, tools, and skills that will make one more marketable, or, simply marketable,  as an employee in a given field.  Do they want to know if I’m a capable writer?  I’m submitting a 25 page senior thesis.  That should give them some idea of my capabilities to write, to make an argument, and support a thesis statement.

Yeah…so, I just don’t get it, but I’m going to do it.  I have to do it.  I’ve written two paragraphs coming to about 125-130 words.  I’m shooting for another 200 words or so, and it’ll be done.

The scholarship essay is optional, but who wants to pass up the opportunity for free money??  So, I’m going to write that, too.  It’ll probably end up being a flowery version of my statement of intent or something like it.  We will see.

I’ve sent an email to the professor under whom I wish to study, and am looking forward to hearing from him soon.  I’ve already begun reading and sifting through bibliographies.  Right now there are 10 books lying around my computer, on my desk, or on my printer that are either bookmarked or are open to pages I’ve been reading.  I’ve got a decent reading list put together already of 17 books, so I’ll just wait and see how it compares to the list he wants to give me when we begin meeting.  Oh, and those 10 books on my desk are not counting the stack of books by my bed that I have been picking through.

I may be crazy, but I’ve missed this.

Getting Excited…

Wow…Two months since my last post.  Let’s look at where I am now…

We’ve moved and gotten settled into our new house.  I studied for, and took, the GRE.  I have a few finishing touches to put on my application for graduate school for the Summer term.  I have met with professors to discuss my plans concerning graduate school and what I am going to do with more education.  I started another trip around the sun.

Yes, I took the GRE.  I took it last week.  I didn’t want to, but I had to.  I had to take it in order to apply to graduate school.  Let me just tell you about that experience.  It was painful.  The months leading up to it were painful.  The days leading up to it were painful.  The whole experience was painful.

See, I get anxious before taking a test…any test, really.  This test, however, was different.  As I read the preparation materials and reviewed math skills that I have not used in nearly twenty years, I realized that there is really no way to fully prepare or study for the GRE.  Sure, time management is key to successfully completing the test, but what it really comes down to is that you either know it, or you don’t, and that does not work too well for me.  If I don’t know it and need to know it, then I NEED to know it.  It’s kind of like an obsession, really.

I remember feeling pretty much the same way when I took the SAT in high school for my college application.  I either knew the material, or I didn’t.  I did a lot more preparation for the GRE.  I bought a prep manual, reviewed math…yes math.  I honed my skills of analyzing arguments and presenting opinions on issues.  I attempted to learn every million dollar word in the English Language.  I did reasonably well, and I don’t really have any complaints, save one…

Standardized testing sucks.

It just…well…sucks.

And here is why…

The education I’m wanting and the kind of work that I want to do requires doing research on a given topic, analyzing and interpreting the research, formulating a thesis based on the analysis, and supporting that thesis with an argument based on the research performed along with knowledge of the topic being argued.  Sure, some mathematic skills may be required when doing research such as knowing percentages or analyzing data and statistics…hell, maybe even dealing with some fractions or long division.  Though when it comes to calculating the circumference of a triangle given only the radius of the square root and knowing that pi equals cake plus milk, there is absolutely no point in the future when I am going to need to know how to do that.

I know, I know…never say never.

I’m saying it, though.  NEVER.  So why did I have to waste energy studying, reviewing, and obsessing over that when I could have used that energy reviewing and obsessing over skills and knowledge that will pertain directly to my chosen educational endeavor?

All in all, I did alright.  I made it through without having an aneurysm.  I finished the sections within the allotted amount of time. I don’t think my pulse rate went above 180 bpm.  So, we’ll chalk up a mark in the success column.

My scores, once they are official, will be submitted to the graduate school’s admissions office and the program to which I am applying.  Two more essays to write and one last recommendation to get, and my application will be done.  That’s pretty exciting.

What’s even more exciting is that, once the new year begins, one of the professors under whom I will be studying is going to start meeting with me weekly to discuss what I am reading and helping me fine-tune a particular topic and/or period of study .  I’m pretty jazzed about that.  I’m not going to lie.  I’ve already got my library card and everything.

It’s an exciting time, and I’m looking forward to it.

‘fraid So

I need to get back into form. Lately, I have been reading a lot of fiction and rereading books. I’ve also not really been writing as much as I should. The problem with my writing is that the same words and ideas keep popping up in my head and flowing through my fingers, and I hate a rut. There is much to be written and much of which to think or consider. Why does my brain have such a difficult time finding it when it needs to find it most? Why do my fingers continue to tap out the same tired lines again and again? I suppose I could expand upon my latest blog post concerning the upcoming election and the instigation of fear as a means to the accumulation of power.

As I stated, fear can be an incredible motivator, or it can be paralyzing. Both can lead to responses that are, let us say, less than rational. Everyone knows this. Yet, we continually allow fear to give credence to our decisions. We continually allow those that instigate and propagate fear outlets with which to spread their messages of doom and gloom.

Also, as I said, I’m aware that there are real fears. I do not dispute that at all, but the question is that those real fears that you have, do you have to be reminded of them? If there is something that genuinely scares you or makes you uneasy, do you forget about it? Does it slip your mind as something unimportant? Or, do you consider this fear each and every time a situation arises in which that fear is presented?

I am no expert on human psychology, but I do know me. I know that the genuine fears I have do not have to be presented to me time and time again. I know them. I feel them. I acknowledge them when it comes time to make a decision concerning certain situations. I do not need to be reminded of them. I remain vigilant toward them without needing to be told to do so.

There are fears that I’ve had that I no longer have because I came to an understanding concerning them, or because I realized they were irrational and not contributing to my life in any positive way.

Here’s the thing. I do my best to avoid listening to those that tell me what it is that I need to fear. Do you need someone telling you what to fear? I don’t need that advice.

If something happens, I’ll either fear it or I won’t. I think it’s that simple. If it is something to fear, I will do my best to avoid it or overcome it, otherwise, I’ll pay it no mind.

If it is something to embrace, I’ll embrace it. Otherwise, I’ll pay it no mind.

It’s that simple.

It really is.

If I see a particular situation or circumstance affect someone in a negative way, I’ll approach it cautiously. If I hear secondhand of how a particular situation or circumstance has affected someone in a negative way, I’ll do my best to ascertain how the situation arose, how the person was affected by it, and how best to handle it should it be something I come across.

One should not fear a given situation or circumstance unless that situation or circumstance has been experienced personally, all of the facts are known, or the outcome is already known. This is rational.

Where irrationality comes into play is when someone tells us about something that someone told them about something that someone told them. Facts are lost. Effects are unknown and there can be no clear picture illustrated through the levels of hearsay. This is why hearsay is not admissible in a court of law. It cannot be proven. Why should fear not be held to the same burden of proof?

With irrational fear, all logic and reason have been removed, therefore, a rational choice cannot be made, and a poor decision becomes more possible, all because of something that someone heard from someone else.

Think of that the next time you hear or see a campaign advertisement telling you why you should vote against, or for, a given candidate, or the next time you hear or see someone telling you to be afraid of something. Also, think of why they are telling you that. What are they trying to get you to do, and what is in it for them?

Personally capitalizing on one’s fear is a pretty shitty way to make a living.  There is no reason why we should allow those that do so to continue doing it.

The Only Thing We Have to Fear…

It is a beautiful day, which is pretty fantastic since the weather over the past couple of days has been down right atrocious. I cannot remember the last time I saw so much wind and rain. Needless to say, I’ve missed the weather we get up here in the High Country. Like I told my wife, the bad weather days make you appreciate the beautiful days that much more, and when the weather is beautiful, it cannot be beat.

Fall is in the air. The leaves are in the midst of changing, well the ones that are still on the trees after the blustery weather of the past two days. The ambers, oranges, and yellows mixed with the still green oaks and pines covering the hillsides are beautiful and quite a sight to see. Set against the crisp blue sky, there are not many landscapes or portraits that can approach the level of splendor afforded to us during this change of seasons.

There are some things, however, that never seem to change, and are altogether ghastly in comparison to the beauty of the natural world around us. We are in the midst of an unpleasant and obnoxious midterm election season. Time is winding down to election day and the campaigns for, and against, those that hold elected office have been trudging along since the last general election nearly two years ago.

Luckily, we do not have traditional television. We stream all of our television over the internet via Netflix, Hulu, PBS, and other outlets. This has sheltered us, somewhat, from the nastiness that plagues regular television during this time of even numbered years. The campaign advertisements are endless from both of the mainstream candidates vying for the Senate seat up for grabs in North Carolina. Interest groups and PACs are shoveling money into the race as well with ads pitting different points of view into, seemingly, an all out war against one another. Watching these ads, one unfamiliar with our political culture would come to the conclusion that life itself hangs in the balance; that the human race is doomed, and that the planet is heading down a path toward irreconcilable destruction. I do not subscribe to newspapers or popular magazines, so I cannot say much concerning advertising that goes on in print media, but I doubt it paints any more of a rosy picture.

Speaking of the precarious position of life as we know it, I posted a little observation on Facebook the other day…

“Terrorists, illegal aliens, tyrannical government, ebola…seems there is always something we are supposed to fear. Those cashing in on the mass paranoia being spread through the media and social networks are only fearful of one thing…that we will, one day, stop being afraid. Until then, they are going to keep laughing all the way to the bank while everyone else huddles together in small, divided, fearful masses.”

There are other fears that I can add to the list including, but not limited to, climate change, recession, depression, gay marriage, AIDS, guns, gun control, war, Republicans, Democrats, Christians, Atheists, Agnostics, believers, nonbelievers, Muslims, the Illuminati, the one percent, the 99%, the 45%, the welfare state, the military-industrial complex, homosexuals, heterosexuals, bisexuals, transgendered people, corporations, multinational conglomerates, the New World Order, the Trilateral Commission, the World Trade Organization, the Federal Reserve, Capitalism, Communism, Socialism, Fascism, and so on and so forth.

There is a lot of shit of which to be afraid…a lot, and those seeking power bet on the fact that if they can harness that fear and disseminate it among the populace, then they can achieve power.

The worst part concerning all of this is that we allow it to happen cycle, after cycle, after cycle, after cycle. Can we blame them? Fear is an incredible motivator, probably the greatest motivator. Fear of death, fear of discomfort, fear of the unknown. Fear is motivating, but can also be paralyzing and irrational. It can promote good decisions and poor ones.

Sure, there are real fears in the world around us. We all know what it is that scares us. It is time we stop letting others tell us what it is that we need to fear. Life is too short and the world is too magnificent to do otherwise.