Absolute Uncertainty

It has been a while since I have taken the time to write something that does not have to do with something read or researched for a class, but writing I have done. There are so many things that have happened since my last writing that I really do not know where to begin. Even if I did, I think other pieces I have previously written and posted say what I want to say, and I do not want to be a broken record.

I am all but done with my first semester of graduate study with only one final revision to turn in on Friday. I learned a lot this semester, though a fair amount of the reading and writing I did does not directly pertain to my scholarly interest or curiosity. However, I did manage to find ways to connect subjects which were read to something that interested me and was able to weave my interests, questions, and opinions into the arguments my classmates and I had during seminar meetings.

Our seminars, like most graduate level history seminars I am assuming, lasted for up to three hours with a small break in between. Most of the time two hours was about the limit, and most of that time was spent arguing about interpretations of what was read or written for discussion.

The largest seminar ended with ten participants and the smallest, six. We came to class prepared. The professor opened the discussion by sharing his own thoughts or opinions concerning the reading assigned, and then opened the floor with this, “what did you think?”

Now here is the funny thing. At no time did a professor tell a student that they were wrong or mistaken. At no time did a student tell another student that they were wrong or mistaken. At no time was a voice raised above what passes for civil discussion or discourse. At no time was a student attacked personally. What would happen is the student offering an opinion would be challenged to better support their opinion, and most of the time, really all of the time, the student would be successful in fulfilling the challenge.

In short, we conversed. We discussed. We may not have left class with an overall common agreement, but we did leave with a better understanding concerning the multiple and widely varying interpretations that arise from an event or a figure from history.

It took some time, but I have been able to find a topic I want to investigate for my thesis. Questions concerning the topic will likely change continuously as I delve deeper into the primary and secondary source material, but the overall scope will likely remain unchanged.

Here is another funny thing. The professor who will serve as my advisor/mentor is unabashedly liberal in his political philosophy, and, well, so am I. The topic of the research seminar I took this semester related directly to my thesis, so the paper I wrote will serve as at least a portion of one of my thesis chapters, if not all of one. The professor that led the seminar is unabashedly conservative in his political philosophy. Though not his primary focus of study, he has just as keen an interest in my topic as I do and has expressed so multiple times. I will likely ask him to serve on my thesis committee, and I hope he accepts.

About halfway through the semester, my seminar professor arranged an informal interview with a friend of his to help me develop a stronger grasp on conservative thought with regard to politics and conservative interpretations of historical events and figures that relate directly to the paper I was writing as well as my thesis. The conversation between the three of us was, well, enjoyable. We all knew that we weren’t going to be changing any minds and on some things we did happen to agree. He and I were both up front with one another concerning our philosophies and outlooks concerning the current political landscape, and we laughed when we each said “I won’t hold that against you.” When he asked me about one of the figures I am studying, I told him that I did not agree with just about anything that ever came out of his mouth, but after reading his memoir I could relate a little more with him, but that I still had questions to ask. Our conversation lasted more than two hours, and when we parted ways we shook hands and he told me to be sure he got a copy of my paper.

I found out a little later that it was on the suggestion of my advisor that my seminar professor set up that meeting because he wanted me to have a well-rounded perspective and idea going into my research. He wanted my assumptions and opinions challenged before I ever got started on the study, and challenged they were. Did the meeting change my mind? No. Did the dialogue carried on throughout the meeting force me to entertain an idea or an opinion different from my own? Yes. Did I have to work harder to support my point of view? Absolutely. Did the outcome of my study meet with my previously-held assumptions? Yes and no.

It is that yes and no for which I am grateful, because it opened my eyes to something I had never considered. It is that yes and no that has led me to ask questions that have not been answered. Can I answer them? I am going to try. Because of the challenges presented, I find myself in a realm uncertainty that is either divisive or not addressed at all.

Something my mentor told me brought back something I have always believed. “Make sure you find an opinion that differs from yours.” In order to refute that opinion, I have to entertain the possibility that it may be correct. By entertaining the idea that it is correct, I have to work harder to find the evidence that will support my argument refuting it. If I cannot find the evidence I want to find, I will have to change my argument, as I have already done once and will likely do again. Though I will likely depend some on what others have previously written, what I say or write will be my argument against the differing opinion, and doing so will be both a challenge and an experience.

In a world that is filled with ideological and unwavering absolutes, the challenges ahead loom with a level of uncertainty. I look forward to it, and of that, I am absolutely certain.

 

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.

Almost Heaven

Going back and looking at my blog, I notice that I have not written anything here since mid-July. There is a reason for that…probably multiple reasons, but the biggest thing is that life has just been pretty busy lately. There are big changes coming my way in the near future; some of which have already occurred, and others that will be occurring soon. More on all of that later…

What I want to write here is about a little something called a well needed vacation…

Back at the beginning of August, it seems like forever ago now…like something from the distant past and memory, but back at the beginning of August, we took our vacation. We returned to Siesta Key, where we spent our honeymoon last year, and spent a week basking in the warmth and glow of the Florida sunshine and the soft powder of the gulf coast. It was everything, absolutely everything, that I needed in order to unplug and just be. I mean, seriously, the week was ripe with rainbows and beaches. What more could anyone ask for??

The evening we pulled into the condo and unpacked greeted us with a rainbow arching through the sky out of our bedroom window while we were getting settled. It just does not get any better than that!

We spent that first evening sitting out on the beach and watching a thunderstorm grow as it stayed inland, refusing to move over the beach. The light show that commenced was above and beyond any fireworks display. The flashes of light in the clouds and the tentacles of lightning stretching across the sky were an incredible sight to behold, and behold it we did. In a word, it seemed, well, magical. There is a magnificence and awe that strikes me when seeing a thunderstorm unleash the power that grows within it…from a safe distance or under safe cover of course. One realizes just how small we are when witnessing such power and beauty.

If nature showed us her power in the first night, then she showed us something altogether different the next morning. We made our way out to the beach pretty early, around 9am or so. See, when I go to the beach, all I want to do is go to the beach. I want to feel the white powder in my toes and around my feet. I want to feel the warmth of the sun mix with the blowing breeze coming off the water. I want to feel the refreshing water on my skin. It is a cruel joke because I am blessed with red hair and fair skin. Some things in life just are not fair!! Anyway, we went out to the beach, set up our chairs and umbrella, and I headed for the water.

Now, I don’t know if all beaches are this way, but as I walked out into the water that morning to a depth just to my shoulders and neck, I noticed the water. The water was placid and smooth. Looking at it from my vantage point, the water was much like a mirror, reflecting the soft hues of the morning sky as the sun rose behind us in the east. Lake water is not calm in the way that the water was that morning. Little more than a ripple made its way through to the sandy beach. The fish could be seen swimming around our legs and feet. The sea birds were about looking for their breakfast. The world before us seemed calm and peaceful, as if there was nothing to worry about. This set the tone for the entire week for me, and that was something I needed. We all do, from time to time.

After a long day out on the beach, we made our way back inside where one certain reality hit me. Fair skin plus the first day out on the beach. You know where I’m going with this. Sunburn. All in all, I was pretty lucky, just my shoulders got torched and I managed to keep it under control for the rest of the week. I guess that is a small price to pay to experience a taste of heaven before dying.

The remainder of the week followed much in the same way. Perfect weather in a perfect place. There were more rainbows and more storms. There was more sun and more sand and more water.

There was more heaven to experience, and experience it, I did.

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.

 

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…

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.

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.

I Demand! but not really…

“I think a man with a helmet defending his country would make more money than a man with a helmet defending a football.”

I happened upon this quote/meme on Facebook during the week following Memorial Day. It may have been on Memorial Day. I can’t be sure, though.  It is pretty simplistic, as memes tend to be, but in this case, it points out something clearly obvious.  Maybe not clearly obvious, or obvious at all given that the idea was presented in the first place.

Of course, agreeing with the message of the meme, I decided to share it.  I thought it would get a good reception from so many friends that unabashedly support our men and women in uniform.  It has received two “likes” so far out of some 246 friends that may have seen it.  Now, I know that not everyone has seen it, and honestly some friends just pass by my posts because we do not agree on anything, but this one was for them.  This is something that, without a shadow of a doubt, we can all agree on.  But, like I said, they probably didn’t see it.

One of my friends commented on it, pointing out the infallible dictation of the law of supply and demand (I added the “infallible” and its emphasis).

In a previous post, I ended by saying “Need vs. Want is complicated!” This is where my mind goes when the issue of supply and demand shows its head, and even though I know it is an invaluable tool that shows the price, and fluctuations of price, in terms of supply versus demand, and those fluctuations, I still cannot help but think it is an imperfect idea.

I mean, people talk all the time about how ridiculous it is that athletes, show business entertainers, and others make so much more than military service members, firemen, police officers, teachers, and other service roles.  Yet, nothing about the purported problem changes unless one of those that brings in the big bucks refuses,or takes a voluntary reduction of, pay.

Why is that exactly?

This is where the law of supply and demand rears its ugly, unforgiving head and shows us the cold, hard, and indisputable truth:

Actions speak louder than words.

Every time we choose to spend money on a given form of entertainment, be it a sporting event, a movie, a play, a musical, a concert, what have you, we influence its demand and the demand for that given product or service rises.  With enough choices in favor of the same product, the demand for it rises and affects supply in a negative way, and the cost goes up as the demand outgrows the supply and the supply cannot keep up with the demand. Increased value is attributed to the sought after product, and the cost is paid by those that demand it, and it is paid willingly.

In essence, we vote for, and decide the, value of a product or service with every dollar we spend, so each dollar, or cent, is a ballot that determines what is deemed most important to the holder of it.

There are some things that supply and demand cannot illustrate accurately for us, however.  As I said, people talk about how ridiculous it is that entertainers, athletes, and the like make so much more than uniformed service members.  This seems to make things tricky because the market, and its law of supply and demand, does not dictate the value attributed to military service members or any government expense.  The people, directly or indirectly, decide the issue themselves.

Practically, as laid out by our government’s foundation proclaims, “We the People” are the voice that influences the actions and words given out by the government, and as such, the government carries out the people’s will.  As much as people complain about the government, and that it ignores the will of the people, data and observation show that the reality is that it listens to the people, and listens well.

Every two years elections are held to reshape the government as the people see fit.  One branch of Congress is chosen completely, and one-third of the other is elected.  Each legislator is eligible for re-election at the end of their respective term of office with no limit as to how many terms they may hold.  So, theoretically, Congress can remain constant forever (hold on to that thought).

Every four years, an executive is chosen.  There is a maximum of two terms that a given individual may hold for this office, so a maximum of eight years is the term for a constant manner of executive leadership.  Every four years, theoretically, the executive can be changed, and every eight years it has to change should it not change in the first four years, according to the Constitution.

There are arguments for and against the structure of elections, terms of office, and limits of those terms, but those are issues for another time and another post.

The issue here is that people presumably wish for better treatment and pay for those serving in the military and for those who have served.  Yet, this issue is never fully resolved. Ever.  For decades, I have observed people wanting more in terms of pay and treatment for active duty, reserve, and veteran members of the military.  And for decades,I have observed the government not responding to the pleas of the people with actual policy changes, but only with sound bites and campaign promises.  Service members are paid beans next to those performing related tasks and jobs in the private sector, and veterans…well an observation of the VA tells their story.

But here is the rub.

The House of Representatives is re-elected an average of 90% of the time.  The rate of incumbency in the Senate is a little less at an average of about 80% or so.

Given that, how do people expect treatment of service members and veterans to change when we willingly (there is that word again) refuse to change the branch that dictates how service members are paid and treated by the government?

Perhaps government is not so different from the market and supply and demand.  Both are swayed by public opinion. Demand of both are dictated by choices the people make, and people make those choices based on the wants and needs they experience.  Choices are made consciously and willingly. The only difference is that one is decided by the ballot and how it is filled out, and the other is decided by the dollar and how it is spent.

Words are loud and empty.  Actions, and decisions based on those actions, are louder and have actual substance. If we continue to make the same choices but demand a different outcome, what does that say about us?

 

A Response

This is in response to this post by Holistic Wayfarer…

Upon viewing the list included in her post, I decided to focus on two topics within the list:  my relationship with my sweetheart and the relational boundaries I draw.  That seemed like a good place to start, and the two are somewhat related, so why not knock out two birds with one stone.

First off, I am an intensely private person.  Funny, huh?  Especially since I keep a blog.  I try to avoid anything too private when it comes to my writing here, only focusing on things that I believe many of us have in common.  That said, it still remains that I am intensely private.  I have a difficult, no, extremely difficult time letting people into my life.  This affects those topics listed above.

In short, I have walls…high, strong, and impenetrable walls set up to protect me.  What do they protect me from?  Or, what do they protect?  I’ve had these for a long time, as long as I can remember.  When I think about it, it isn’t just my protection that the walls serve, but also I do not like to have others close to me doting on my problems or worrying about me.  So, it is also about protecting them. It probably hurts a lot more than it helps, keeping these walls up, especially concerning my relationship with my sweetheart.  I do try to open up the gate and let her in, but it is pretty hard to do a lot of the time, and I well understand just how frustrating that can be for her.

I guess the truth is that I am afraid of how others perceive me.  I could say concerned, but it is really fear much more than concern.  I don’t much care for negative feedback or being criticized at all.  Who does? I prefer to be welcomed rather than shunned, liked rather than disliked, or loved rather than hated.

Is it better to be loved as the person I want others to see, or to be loved, or hated, for being the person I really am?  This is the question that my walls protect me from.  In truth, I do not even know if tearing down my walls will bring hatred or negativity my way.  Questions, sure, and a lack of understanding are possible, but hate?  It is out there. That much is sure, but let’s ask the question again.

Is it better to be loved as the person I want others to see, or to be loved as the person I am?

I think that is a much better question and focuses more on the feelings I feel and want to experience.

Though love is the most important emotion, and strongest, there is something to be said for respect.  You cannot have love without respect, but you can have respect without love.  So…

Is it better to be respected as the person I willingly show to others, or to be respected for the person I am?

It’s a good question.  To earn respect of another is a pretty fantastic feeling, but is that respect deserving when it is given without seeing the whole picture?  but, this is off the topic and may be better dealt with at another time.

Back to topic…

I am afraid of how others perceive me which brought me to the question asked above. We know what the answer is.  In the short run the first part seems like an obvious choice because, well, in the short run things tend to come and go.  However, in the long run, the latter must be true, otherwise the lies and deceit (intentional or intended with malice or not, it does not matter) will take their toll on the one hiding who they are, and, possibly, what they do.  Fruitful relationships cannot be built upon this and be expected to last and will ultimately fail.

I guess that is a long winded way of saying that, in terms of the topics stated at the beginning, without fear, things would look very different.  My relationships would be much stronger and infinitely more meaningful, thus contributing more positively to my life and happiness in it.  More or less, fear is crippling, and serves little positive function when it comes to relationships between people.