Category Archives: Ponderings

Danger Zone of Blind Devotion

web-trump-gun-get“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue [New York] and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” he said. “It’s, like, incredible.” Donald Trump – January, 2016

This is NOT an anti-Trump post, though there is no doubt how I feel about the man.  He is an obnoxious racist, sexist, arrogant megalomaniac who lacks any diplomatic savvy, respect or decorum.  And it is NOT an anti-gun spiel.  I’m not anti gun. I just believe in rational restrictions on them.

This is about something different.  Something that it took his latest tyrade comment to bring to light.  Allow his comment to sink in for just a bit.  Really sink in.  He could stand on 5th Avenue and shoot someone and not lose voters.  There is no disclaimer about self defense, no reason given.  Just that he could shoot any unnamed person on a city street and not lose voters.  Is it beginning to sink in yet?  Take Trump’s face out of the picture and replace it with any other politician, then put the words back in.   “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue [New York] and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters, It’s, like, incredible.”

The thing that frightens me is that I believe he is far too accurate in his statement for my comfort.  Not because of “him”, but because this country that has prided itself on independence, freedom, originality, would BLINDLY follow ANY leader, potential leader.  Tossing aside their beliefs, their morals, their common sense.  That so many could applaud and cheer a man after making such a statement.

Now, please don’t tell me it was in jest.  Maybe it was.  But, there was truth in his words.  And it is the truth that should make us step back and take a good long look at what we have become as a people.  That we have gone from a people that honors and touts virtuous behavior, being a champion for good and equality in the world, being the innovative front runners, being educational and science pioneers.  We didn’t achieve these things in our past by blindly following the Reality Show flavor of the month.  We did so by NOT following a self proclaimed messiah.

Oh, we have had small factions surface with blind devotees.  Scientologists, Jonestown, etc.  And they should serve as a reminder to us of what comes of following such people.  First, the death of the spirit, then the death of freedom, then just death.

Orazco-MassesNow, as much as many would like to hang this around Trump’s neck, the reality is that he has simply brought to light a phenomenon that has been taking place in our society for quite some time.  And he is not alone in claiming the reprehensible of the presidential nominees.  We have one that has actually bragged that he tried to attack his own mother with a hammer, that he knifed a fellow student in school.  A few that would set Christianity as the national religion.  In this land of Jews and Christians and Muslims and Buddhists and Pagans and Atheists and everything else.  In this melting pot, they would make a single dish.

When you add to that the extremes at both ends of the spectrum, the militant combativeness of one side, the don’t say anything that might be uncomfortable to anyone’s ears on the other, it is not surprising that we are seeing the rise of extreme characters in the forums.  I have even heard that there are university campuses where free speech zones are in small isolated areas, professors are being forced to not teach areas of a subject because a student has a problem with the subject.  Colleges and universities should be a place for debating difficult subjects and not liking a historical event doesn’t negate that it happened.  And then we have the other end which takes up armed occupations of federal lands and believes the meaning of religious freedom is the ability to impose your religious beliefs on everyone else.

It kind of feels like most of the country has regressed to childhood tantrums between the bullies and the cry babies.  Common sense has just been tossed out the window.  The lines have been drawn deeply between us and not a one will allow for any blurring of those lines so that we might open a thoughtful discussion, even a loud and shouting one that can lead to some constructive movement.  We needn’t give up who we are, what we believe in, to live together.  It isn’t necessary for our neighbors to share in our beliefs.  In truth, if we but open our minds and hearts a little, we might see the color they bring to our world.  Their form of worship, or lack of, only poses a threat to yours if you create one.  And as you would fight should they try and deprive you of your right to live according to your mores and interests, so should you refrain from imposing yours upon them.

obedience-300x238Saviors are a false delusion.  In most instances, they become a very dangerous delusion that lead us into destruction.  History is riddled with volumes of examples of such people.  And, as I stated earlier, as much as I would like to hang the villain tag around Trump’s neck, the truth is that it could be anyone that has elicited such a following.  Even if they begin with good intents.  The kind of devotion they create births a messiah delusion that will soon infect them as much as it infects its followers.  And absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Every time.

And we don’t need a messiah.  We don’t need someone that we will follow blindly, no matter what they do or have done.  Our “leaders” should be our voices condensed.  They should speak the voice of the people, all the people.  We need to stop listening to their message of fear and hate and remember that we are a people diverse, yet united.  We need to remember that our motto is E Pluribus Unum, Out of the Many, One.  We are an independent and freedom loving people.  We are not followers.  No leader of ours should EVER be followed blindly.  No leader of ours should ever be above question.  Our citizens should never follow blindly.

There is a reason the eagle is our national symbol.  He follows no one blindly.

Eagle-December 30, 2015 Lo-46

 

 

 

 

 

 

SephiPiderWitch
02/01/2016

 

2016 – Connection

Happy New Year 2016 replace 2015 concept on the sea beach

I haven’t quite started this new year off well.  Weeks late on a first post and a couple weeks behind on my weekly photo shots.  Ah well, better late than never.

In closing the book on the old year, it feels good to move forward and hope for the best.  For many, for the world, 2015 had been a very rough year.  People being shot for drawing pictures some found offensive, people being shot for no good reason.  Rivers of hate speech flowing from every corner of the earth, from the pulpits, the media, the high level politicians.  Cries of persecution from the persecutors,   The only right that seems to be protected is the right to hate, to denigrate to second class citizen any who don’t share the beliefs of the bullies.

One would think that by this time we had figured out how to learn from history, but it appears to not be the case.  We  point fingers at one group, yet fail to see those same behaviors in ourselves.  Too blinded by the hate frenzy to see the very human face of the person we will throw under the bus.   Adding fuel to the already blazing inferno, we are in an electronic propaganda war where we are fed snippets that are either partial truths or outright lies.

And this, I believe, is the biggest part of the problem.  We no longer connect.  We no longer touch.   We are too busy looking at our computers, our TV screens, our tablets to see the humans before us, around us, that are us.  We do almost everything from an electronic device.  We get our news from Facebook and Twitter and even the news outlets have gone to a captioned image format.  And, as is the case and purpose of headlines, we are fed bites to incite, inflame, stir.

That has always been the case with the news and many other introductory arenas.  What is different now is that it seems that is all that is consumed before moving on.  There used to be discussions, in the coffee houses, at dinner, at breakfast, at parties and gatherings.   The story was read beyond the headline, the person was questioned beyond the introduction.  Conversation was a vital ingredient.  Understanding the issue was a vital ingredient.  The headline was simply to get your attention.  You were supposed to read further, to seek understanding, knowledge, insight.

I miss long conversations with friends around a table.  I miss long conversations on the phone with a dear friend.  As dated as it makes me, I miss a written correspondence from a friend.  And I miss the e-mail lists where there were discussions on issues, happenings,

People say it is just a sign of the changes of the times.  However, not all changes are good.  And though technology is, for the most part, a good thing, even a good thing misused can become a bad thing.  We read our smart phones and get our news from twitter, have our emotions jarred by memes on Facebook and get our smiles from kitten videos.  If we can’t say it in less than 140 characters, we know no one will trouble themselves to read it.  I actually listened to a man at my writing group the other night say that he kept the chapters in his book to only a few pages because publishers say that is the extent of a reader’s attention span.  Really???  I sincerely hope that is not true.

There have been a number of recent articles on what we have lost with the loss of letter writing.

I found this in the Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com/culture/charlottehigginsblog/2012/oct/23/lost-art-letter-writing)

But still… O’Connell quotes this lovely passage from a piece by Catherine Field in the New York Times.

“A good handwritten letter is a creative act, and not just because it is a visual and tactile pleasure. It is a deliberate act of exposure, a form of vulnerability, because handwriting opens a window on the soul in a way that cyber communication can never do. You savor their arrival and later take care to place them in a box for safe keeping.These things, letters we can hold and read over and over again, conversations that inspire, delight, fuel us.”

Words are the keys to our hearts.  They are the cement that bonds people together as they speak and learn and share and understand.  They are a stew pot whose ingredients alone are a bland or harsh side dish, but when combined, form a sustaining meal that will nourish the soul.

You look at the political arena, the News Media, the Pulpit  and from their words believe that we are all galaxies apart.  Aliens living in a segregated landscape that is separated by a vast divide, impossible to cross.  And because we don’t look up from that picture, we buy into it.  We turn from people whose beliefs differ from ours, whose political stand differ from ours.  The reality is that in most cases, if we can step away from those issues that divide and simply extend our hand in friendship, sit down and have a cup of coffee, share stories, and find common ground, we may find in most cases, we aren’t so different.  We may find that we have missed that simple connection of laughing with a new friend.  And blur that edge that a few have set between us to divide us.  It is far more difficult (though not impossible) to hate someone you know than it is to hate a stranger.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.  But, I can hope for a New Year’s solution.  That we add a bit of the old back into the new.  That along with our smart phones and Facebooks and electronic gizmos, that we have a long phone call, take a walk in the woods, catch up with old friends, meet some new ones, some of whom don’t share our beliefs.  Find a divide and cross it.  Our real country motto is, Out of many, one.  We destroy hate when we blur the lines.  We blur the lines when we reach out to each other and touch.  When we touch, the divide goes away and those that would teach hate lose their power.

Holding Hands

Sephi PiderWitch
01/18/2016

 

Plain Red Wrappings

This year's holiday season red cups at Starbucks have stirred up critics who accuse the company of waging a war on Christmas.Sometimes ridiculous just hits levels that cause you to give yourself whiplash from how sharply you jerk your head to the side in disbelief.  The latest such case is the one about the new Starbucks Holiday cup.  And it is being condemned by the religious community at large all the way up to presidential candidates as the latest assault on the “War on Christmas”.  And what is so very shocking about this inflammatory cup, one may ask.  Its simply red with the Starbucks logo on it in green.  Well, what else is there that is causing such a controversy?  Nothing.  Yes, but what is the source of the reason for the controversy?  NOTHING.   Literally, NOTHING.

It seems if you choose to opt out of choosing sides, of trying to decide what images will or won’t inflame someone, or some group out there, and go with a plain, undecorated (aside from the company logo) red cup, you have declared War on Christmas and a War on Christianity.

Originally, I was just going to laugh this whole thing off.  However after giving it some thought, I realized that this has presented probably the most glaring example of how ridiculous this whole accusation has become.  And reading some of the comments people left on the news item clearly shows that I was not the only one that found it placed very firmly beyond the extreme line.

The truth is that it seems almost like the opposite of the Draw Mohammed thing.  Draw any depiction of him in any form and you can be put to death.  Well, if you fail to offer the appropriate supplications to the glitter god of Christianity, you will be picketed, persecuted, publicly shamed.  (Though they all still seem to be using the internet, google and all those other very convenient tools created by the apostates and heretics)

Granted, we have not yet progressed to the point of putting people to death for their beliefs, though the talk of such things gets louder and from a greater number of pulpits.  I suppose time will tell on this.

Now, I can’t profess to know what the execs at Starbucks were thinking when they came out with the plain red cup.  If I was to follow my logic, it would be that they chose this as a way of avoiding the firestorm that any symbol/s they might choose to grace their cups with.    And I have to imagine that they were probably found sitting around that same conference table after the shitstorm began scratching their heads and saying, “How they hell did they get to War on Christmas from a plain red cup?”

Note to Christians.  Failure to bow before your “god” is NOT a war on your holiday or your religion.  It is simply a person choosing not to subscribe to your belief.  Acknowledgement that there are many that do not share your belief and honoring them with a blank slate to create their own is NOT a war on “your” tradition.  They gave you a blank cup.  You can draw anything on it that you want.  Or nothing.  Your religious beliefs are not being restricted and persecuted because you cannot force the entire country to bend to them.

This whole thing would be funnier than hell if it wasn’t so common and being pushed at such high levels.  We even have presidential candidates that have said if they are elected, Everyone will say “Merry Christmas”.  I wish people would really sit down and let that sink in for a bit.  EVERYONE will say “Merry Christmas”.  How different is this than the countries that control and prosecute non-Muslims?  Maybe we aren’t throwing them in jail or executing them.  Or at least not yet.  It is only a difference by degree, and that degree is becoming closer and closer all the time.  That is a truly scary notion.

This season doesn’t just belong to one religion, one belief.  It belongs to almost all beliefs.  The blank slate of the red cup at Starbucks gives everyone the canvas to celebrate what it means to them.  I don’t know if that is what their intent is.  Or if it was a stepping back.  Or if it was just plain cheaper.  But, I do not believe it was a war on the season.  Its just a red and green cup for the season that will hold a hot beverage to warm you on a cold day.  Granted, its an overpriced hot beverage.  But, its simply a hot cup.   That’s red with a green logo.  There are far greater things in this world that need our energies.  A red cup does not.

And to end, just a little sampling of some of the celebrations for the closing of the year.

[easyrotator]erc_46_1447689635[/easyrotator]

 

 

Gender Blindness

blindersI was listening to a podcast on the way in to work this morning with a panel of trans-gender women.  I found it quite interesting and enlightening and I enjoyed listening to each of them telling of their experiences, viewpoints and the complexities of issues being addressed and needing to be addressed.

There was one of the speakers that brought my thoughts to the subject of this post, which both does and does not have to do with the trans-gender issue.  She was talking about the differences she had noticed in the way that men speak to her since she began to identify as a woman.  Many of these are blatantly obvious to most of us women, but she had the advantage of having identified as a man for much of her life and that gave her the ability to see subtleties that I think often pass our notice.  Many of the things she spoke of, I had never thought of in regards to associating with gender bias, at least not unless they were overtly blatant or said in an inflammatory way.

She spoke of how as a woman she began to notice that she was criticized at a substantially higher rate in forums and on blogs than she was as a man for everything from grammar, spelling, content and tone.  She also made sure to comment to the fact that often the criticism was incorrect.  But, the same content, when posted under her male identity received almost no negative criticism.  She also cited this type of difference in face to face encounters.  She noted that there were times when it was another woman doing the criticizing, but the overwhelming number were men.

The interesting thing about this is that most of what she cited goes unnoticed by most women because it has fallen into a category where it is spoken more politely and does not seem to carry the blatant gender bias of earlier times.  Her gender identity shift gave her a unique perspective on the issue that makes it apparent that though we have come a long way, we still have a long way to go.

I thought about what she had said and translated it to interactions I have seen on social media forums and can see the validity of her claims.  It is quite common to see a male correct a female’s comment and if she challenges it, she often finds herself being called touchy or some other such word.  Yet, on the rare occasion that a female corrects a male, she is often met with derogatory comments about nit picking, being a “grammar nazi” or missing the intent of the post.

The same holds true in face to face encounters.  I can personally count innumerable instances where I have been verbally dismissed or challenged on comments I have made, often in retort to a blatantly incorrect “statement of fact” from another.  Oft times, they are spouting off something they heard or read from a knowingly disreputable source such as some TV show or Facebook and have no understanding of the true mechanisms or reality of a situation or thing.  Yet, when you counter them with actual facts, stated in a way that shows you have a firm understanding of the subject, you are either dismissed or challenged.  Yet, a man can offer an alternative that is as or more outlandish than the original comment, it is accepted as truth.

Granted, it is not as common or as blatant in every situation or with every group that you engage in.  But, it seems that even when dealing with more educated and open minded groups, it is still there.  All that needs be done to confirm this is to ask women working in the sciences or halls of higher learning.  Women are still to this day advised that their papers will carry more weight in the scientific community if there is also a man’s name attached to it.  Not always, but enough to add credence to the point.

At any rate, listening to this transgender woman was fascinating.  Because, through “her” eyes, she could offer what neither man nor woman could possibly offer.  And that was the truly dual perspective.  It isn’t often that someone can say they have walked a mile in your footsteps, but this seems to be an interesting and unexpected knowledge base coming out of this unusual segment of our population.  To see the world from both sides now.  Of course, we must first learn to listen.  That, could present a problem.

SephiPiderWitch
10/08/2015

 

The Inquisition of Cecile

720x405-GettyImages-490528966It was very hard to watch and listen to the Congressional Hearing with Cecile Richards.  The whole thing was reminiscent of the videos I have seen of the McCarthy Hollywood communist trials.  Ms. Richards was badgered, derided, accused and verbally assaulted for five hours.  Granted, there were many who came to her defense, to the defense of Planned Parenthood and women’s right to choose their health provider.  I am glad for that as I felt that did help in giving her strength.

One of the things that resonated strongly in my mind as I listened to these people grilling and commenting was the complete lack of understanding of women’s needs and healthcare they seemed to possess.  She was accused of lying because the Planned Parenthood site says mammograms is an offered service and they send women who need them to an imaging center.  I was stunned over this one.  Every clinic that I know of sends you out to an imaging center.  Same for ultrasound and CAT scans.  Its not financially feasible for them to have those expensive units.  They won’t pay for themselves.  The ignorance of this fact was just mind boggling.

Then there was the diatribe from Mia Love of Utah where she said she didn’t see any reason the dollars sent to Planned Parenthood couldn’t be sent somewhere else instead.  I guess she doesn’t think it matters that women trust Planned Parenthood, trust their work, their history, their care.  That many doctors and clinics will turn patients away that are on Medicaid because they don’t want to deal with it.  That many don’t even trust those establishments.  It really and truly pains me to see women also stepping up on this bandwagon.  I suppose the flaw is in me in that I expect a woman to understand such matters better.

One of the larger contentions many had with Ms. Richards was the salary she receives.  There are many instances when I have an issue with the massive salaries a CEO receives.  Cecile is one of a handful of exceptions.  She has fought tirelessly for the rights of people to free or low cost reproductive care.  She has fought the media, the legal system.  I am sure that there are few places where she can go and not fear for her life.  I can’t imagine there are very many people who would have hung in with such a position given the climate she is forced to work in.  She is worth every . . . . single . . . . penny of that salary.

And I must make note of one of the most shining, though highly under-reported aspect of this hearing/witchhunt.  During all the badgering, all the verbal assaults, all the irrelevant questions and interrogations, Cecile remained calm.  She remained polite.  She remained well spoken.  And she remained honest.  There were times when you could see the wear it was having on her.  But, she drew from an inner strength that I would lay money few, if any, of her accusers possessed.  She didn’t waver, she didn’t cower, she didn’t wave the white flag.  She was a champion.  She was our champion.

I do understand that there are people that have moral and personal issues with abortion, with birth control, with reproductive freedom and sexuality choices.  I also understand and know first hand that there are at least as many that will have moral and personal issues with many of those people’s choices and beliefs.  Its called personal freedom.  Yes, as voters you should have a say in how your tax dollars are spent.  However, and somewhere this seems to be getting lost from the discussion, YOU are NOT the only ones that pay taxes.  There are at least as many that pay taxes that stand in support of organizations such as Planned Parenthood.  Your choices do not cancel their’s.  And even if your taxes have a greater total, I am sure that their’s are sufficient to pay the 500 million that PP gets in Medicaid reimbursement.  Not for abortions, but for Medicaid approved procedures.

The major claim of fury in these so called investigations is due to the fact that a small percentage of facilities allowed the women to donate the fetal tissue.  For this, Planned Parenthood received a minimal payment ranging from $30 to $100 that barely covered the cost of obtaining, preserving, transporting and providing the proper paperwork.  I don’t even need to understand the full work involved in the transport of these tissues to realize there was no money made off of these transactions at these prices.  I am willing to bet that there was actually a loss.

The reality is that all of our lives are what they are today as a result of fetal tissue research.  “This tissue has helped to develop vaccines for a wide range of diseases, including polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis A and B,shingles and rabies.” (http://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20150929/fetal-tissue-research)    We have been using them since the 1930’s.  Its only an issue now because Planned Parenthood’s name has been attached to it in an illegal effort to discredit them and put them out of business.  The interesting thing is that many Republicans, these same people interrogating Cecile, passed, by large majorities bills allowing embryonic stem cell research.  But then, those cells did not come from Planned Parenthood, they came from fertility centers and surplus fetuses.

Oh, do read that again.  Surplus fetuses.  Those are okay to destroy and use for research.  Because they were created for the purpose of making more babies.  Mostly for the wealthy.  War veterans who come home injured in ways that prevent them from reproducing are denied fertility benefits from their military medical insurance.  There’s an awful lot of hypocrisy going on here, don’t you think?

They scream about life being “sacred”, all lives matter, etc.  They show this by not mandating paid maternity leave (We are the ONLY industrialized nation that does not, and the other two that do not are Papua New Guinea and Suriname).  We deny women equal pay for equal work.  We cut early childhood education, free lunches, etc.  We deride “welfare moms”, yet will allow her employer to deny her the right to be covered for birth control on her insurance.  61% of women who have an abortion already have 1 or 2 children.  They understand the cost, the responsibility, the burden that comes with bringing a child into the world.  They understand that once that child is born, they will be the ONLY one looking out for it.  Many understand that they will be the only source of support for that child.  They know these same people who are fighting so hard to take their reproductive freedoms away will do nothing to help them shoulder this responsibility.

RapeWe live in a world where 1 in 4 women is sexually assaulted in her lifetime,  and estimated 20% of women were molested as a child, a country where 31 states in which a rapist can sue for visitation and custody.  Women are fed drugs in their drinks at parties, dinners, restaurants to make them compliant or unable to resist.  A world where, even with all the strides that have been made, we still only make 77 cents on the dollar a man makes.

Behind BarsWithout the basic ability to control our reproductive freedom, we become trapped.  The few doors of opportunity open to us begin to close.  The inability to receive health care within our means  endangers our lives, our health.  And it should never be up to the lawmakers to decide whom we confide in for our healthcare decisions.  No man has his choices made by the lawmakers.

istock_000012424539_full_3The lawmakers say that there are alternative places to get our health care.  True.  And many will not take Medicaid.  And then there is the change in the ownership of our hospitals and clinics.  It is estimated that 1 in 9 hospitals and clinics are now owned by the Catholic Church.  They are allowed to refuse medical options that are our constitutional right to have because they are a “religious organization”.  Which mean, we cannot have a tubal ligation when we have a C-section.  Men cannot get a vasectomy.  We cannot get the morning after pill if we have been raped.  We cannot get an abortion.  We can’t even get a prescription for birth control.  If we have cancer and are pregnant, they can refuse to terminate the pregnancy to save our life.  Yes, we can take them to court over this, but by the time it is heard, the cancer would have done its job.  Our family can’t even pull the plug if we are terminally ill.  And those numbers are growing.  And it is only a matter of time if the tide doesn’t shift till they carry those rules to also include their homophobic beliefs.  Suddenly, our choices are reduced.  Unless we give up our rights.  Unless we allow others to control our bodies.

1327518210_b72f2ccd1cCecile Richards is one of the best warriors we have defending our rights as women.  Our rights over our bodies.  She does not bend to the establishment.  She fights at every turn to protect the rights we have.  To keep open the doors of an establishment that promises, has always promised to believe in women to be able to make their own choices.

The reality is that there is no biblical standing to back this anti choice stance.  Even if there was, we have that separation of church and state.  They have no more right to impose the dictates of their imaginary friends or gods on me than I have to impose the dictates of my imaginary friends and gods on them.  And I can promise, mine can be pretty scary!  At any rate, there is nothing to back up their claims other than the desire to control over half the population.  For it is a fact that that controlling women’s sexuality is the biggest key factor to the subjugation of those women.  There really is no high moral ground involved here.  Its a base attempt to put women in their place.  Its a witch hunt against one of our greatest champions.

I think I shall end this post at this time.  Though I am sure this will be far from the end of what I have to say on this subject.  That said, I shall finish with this.  I will and have always stood with Planned Parenthood.  As we all should.
standwithpp-wvpa

 

 

Rape – Thy True Name Be Seduction

Yes, we really do seem to be trying to find our way back to the “Good Ole Days”.  Or maybe things just really haven’t changed as much as many of us thought that they had.

Subject of this piece has to do with the Cosby story.  American icon of feel good family life.  We all grew up with him, we all laughed with him.  We all thought he was the embodiment of good common sense and the kind of man you could always feel safe around.  And so when the first story surfaced accusing him, the initial reaction was, oh no!  Not Bill Cosby!  And I must admit that I need to hang my head a bit in shame on it as well.  I questioned the legitimacy of it.  I wondered if it was just someone trying to make some money or get her 15 minutes of fame.  I watched her on some news station and didn’t think she looked or sounded believable.  For her, to her, I am sorry.  For all of the victims, I am sorry.

And no, I am not going to state that Cosby is absolutely guilty.  For one, it is not my place to do so.  That should be up to the courts, the victims.  I am sure there is this chance that he could be innocent.  Though I think that the chance is about equal to Christopher Hitchens being a closeted Christian.  However, I don’t have all the evidence.  But, I have enough to convince my mind.  And the latest released transcripts of the previous accusations.

At any rate, I leave to the courts to take that one on.  My grievance is at the media handling of this whole thing.  And yes, I understand in the beginning, they can claim misgivings and uncertainty at the claims.  I can even grant that they must use the words accused of, reported, etc.  What I cannot accept is the fact that not one of them that I have seen has had the guts to actually spit out that “R” word.

 

Sin

Sin

Sin – According to the dictionary a sin is:

1.  transgression of divine law:  the sin of Adam.
2.  any act regarded as such a transgression, especially a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principle.
3.  any reprehensible or regrettable action, behavior, lapse, etc.; great fault or offense

We are living in a time where Nones (people who claim either no religion, or don’t identify with any religion) are at an all time high, counting between 22% and 31% of the population.  Yet, in the face of this, it seems every politician, and an unbelievable number of the news outlets are pounding us with their religiosity and infusing every story, every commentary, every interview with litanies of sermonesse speeches akin to what you would expect from an evangelical fire and brimstone pulpit.  And SIN seems to be one of their favorite admonishments to season their argument with.

Even given that you are applying only the biblical definition of sin which comprises the Judeo/Christian community, again of which between 22 and 31% of the population no longer embraces or is not a member of, you are talking about 613 laws.  And for those saying that the Old Testament doesn’t apply because of Jesus, I tell them they need to read their book again.  For it says that Jesus said that you must keep the laws of the Father.  He didn’t wipe out those laws. Though, we should make a strong note of something else he said.  Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.That gives us 613 of those blasted things that we must avoid doing.  Most of which have no bearing on modern society and I doubt even the Pope can avoid breaking many of them.  However, even if they could be given a bearing in modern society, just the enormity of it can make any person’s brain ache.  613 laws???  Okay, I’m sure every state’s penal codes have more than that.  But, how many of us bother to learn, more yet try and abide by all of them?  And some of those are just as silly as the ones in the bible.  And to any Christian that happens upon this, if you take offense at such a statement, you obviously haven’t read some of those laws.  “Not to make human forms even for decorative purposes.”  There goes the family portraits!  “Men cannot shave their face with a razor.”  Guess its time to start sharpening those stone blades!  “Not to eat from that which is left over.”  Well, there went MY lunch plans.  There’s a lot more of them if you  care to look them up.  And again, they are not just for Jews.  Jesus said you have to keep the laws of his father.  So, that means Christians need to keep these laws too.  Might do for them to remember that when they point accusatory fingers at gays and women.

However, I must say that if we go with the first definition, at Eve’s bequest, Adam ate of the tree of knowledge, and so was born “original sin”.  By biblical accounts and the interpretations of a large percentage of Christian ministers, because of this act relayed in the “beginning”, we all hold the past due loan of “original sin”.  For this, we come into life with the deck already stacked against us.  A “bastard child” cannot get into heaven, nor can his descendants for 10 generations.  There are others as well, but the point is, you could live a sin free and pure life (though I am at a loss to figure out how) but may still find yourself barred entrance into this “heaven” based on something your great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather did.  Heaven has to be one damned empty hall, if you ask me.

However, let us return to  that first sin.  The sin of of eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge.  I try to wrap my head around this concept.  The sin that has been passed down to us from the “first parents” is the sin of choosing knowledge.  Never mind the fact that the deck was stacked against us in this as well.  You have Satan in that garden of Eden, dangling this delicacy of knowledge in front of Eve.  If it was so forbidden, why was it in the garden in the first place?  It was the original set up.  How could we possibly refuse?

For knowledge, we are damned, as are our children, and their children, and their children, forever.  So, if that is the primary definition of sin, I wish to be at the front of the line.  Though it actually does explain much in the current trend of the more fundamental states in their opposition to critical thinking, science denial and insane levels of denialism and mis-information.  I guess they are figuring if they go back to original sin and deny the value of knowledge, they can worm their way into heaven.  And I must say that I take a great deal of satisfaction in the realization that it was woman who first chose knowledge and then wished her man to become knowledgeable as well.  Course, this could also explain why so many men like dumb women.  They are trying to turn back the clocks of time.  Proof again that a woman with knowledge is a truly dangerous thing!

I would think the last place I would want to spend eternity is with stupid people!  Actually, when you add this in with the other things that are said about heaven, no earthly body (= no sex), eternity worshiping God (worship someone?  Me???  Yeah, that one ain’t gonna happen)  singing hymns forever (gads, nooooo!!) and no knowledge.  Yeah, I want a ticket to the other place where I can sit around and shoot the shit with Mark Twain, Bono, Tesla, Sagan, and all the rest of the godless ones.  Now, that’s a party, even if it is hot.  Or cold.  Whichever.

Which actually brings me to my point in writing this.  The reality is that when we look at the actions that have been deemed “sins”, it gets rather entertaining.  It almost seems as if pretty much everything that is pleasurable is a sin.  Hell, I can’t even have lustful thoughts about the men wandering around in kilts at the Highland Games.  And if pretty much all acts of pleasure are sins (we did mention knowledge is a sin, didn’t we?) what is the purpose of life?  To spend it with dangly bits of chocolate and feathers and jars of massage cream wavering in front of us and never reaching out to pluck one?  That’s pretty damned inhuman if you ask me!

Thankfully, we can walk away from the Judaeo/Christian God and take a look at other religions (should you have the need or desire for a personal god and religion).  Yeah, you have Islam, but that is also an Abrahamic religion with near identical stuff that the bible has.  Oh, except for the 72 virgins part.  I don’t recall reading that one in the bible.  Though god did offer all the virgins of a taken city to the victors.  Damned nice of him, don’t you think?  And yet another way for him to teach those uppity females who wanted wisdom.

There are other, somewhat more rational belief structures out there.  Buddhism, which has no reference for sin.  It does, however, have Karma.  You do bad, it will bite you in the ass.  Same for good.  Its not really magic.  Its simply common sense.  When you are nice to people, it tends to make both of you feel good and fulfilled.  Happiness and kindness are contagious.  As are unhappiness and cruelty.  All you need do to prove or disprove this one is to walk into a room full of people and begin greeting everyone with a warm smile and kind word.  One person in a room with the right attitude can change the entire atmosphere.  The same applies if they are angry.  So, karma is the world we create.

If we abuse our land, our planet, it begins to turn on us, failing to produce food in the same way  If we dump poisons in our water, we also poison our bodies.  If we show a complete disregard for our fellow human being, we will be left without real friends.  If we lovingly tend our little piece of earth, things will grow.  And yes, its also a scientific principle.  For ever action, there is an equal reaction.  What you put out comes back.

This is a much more logical and acceptable rationale to me.  I don’t need a god or a book to tell me these things.  I don’t need a promise of a reward in an afterlife (especially with a bunch of out of tune hoohaws that think ignorance is a godly trait).  I don’t need a bible to teach me to be a good person.  I just need to realize that I feel good when I do good, I feel blessed when I help, change, and live life.

Do I believe in “sin”?  Absolutely!  But, not in the definition handed down by the churches or the media.  My son loving another man is not a sin.  I reject ANY god that says that love is a sin.  If its between two consenting adults, it is just love.  My friends that love in ways that I don’t understand, those aren’t sins either.  I don’t need to understand them for them to be all right and good.  If it makes their hearts glow, their insides warm and their spirits soar, it isn’t a sin.  Choosing when I am ready to bring a life into the world is not a sin.  It is choosing not to bring a child that is not wanted, can’t be cared for.  It is waiting until the time when I am ready to make that commitment.  Having control over my body, the decisions of my body is not a sin.  It is my right.  Choosing who I have a relationship is not a sin.  Whether it be one or one hundred or more.  (though it does become a sin in my eyes if you knowingly pass on an STD in this manner)

So, what is a sin?  To me, a sin is the willful destruction of your planet for profit.  Its harming a child.  Its harming your partner.  Its imposing your belief on others.  Its in not rejoicing in this short journey we call life.  Its in not trying to make it a better place than you found it.
Even if it is a tiny, minuscule improvement.  Its a sin not to breath the life in and let it fill you up and then exhale it in a song of joy.

I don’t know if there is a god.  If there is, I am sure they don’t give much thought to me.  But, IF there is one, the only one that I can put my belief into is one that wants me to relish the life they gave me.  One that wants me to live every second as if its all there is.  One that sent me here to love.  Not by a narrow definition, but fully, completely and with every cell of my being.  Not one thing, but everything.  I reject a god that would condemn love.  I reject a god that condemns knowledge and wisdom.  I show the hand to a god that lays 613 laws for me to follow.  “That” is a sin.  A sin against life.  A sin against love.  A sin in the truest sense.

SephiPiderWitch
July 3, 2015

 

 

Viewing the World Through a Peephole

2496peephole-640x480Facebook, Twitter, even the major news sites, now word bites, scrolling headlines and momentary brushes with the world making people feel informed and in the know.  The newspaper has fallen to the wayside.  Investigative reporting focused more on the latest Kardashian trend and what Jaylo had for breakfast than world or national news that has real impact on our lives, our futures.

The more I contemplate this, the more bothered I am about it.  Though the reality is that history is always written by the victor/conqueror, at least with a written account from someone, you can call to task the words that were said yesterday and hold them up as a mirror to the words today.  Also dying to the point of near extinction is the expose journalism that spawned such shows as 60 Minutes and its ilk.  The age of brevity seems to be sweeping the age of understanding into the dusty recesses of the room.

Now, I am not against technology.  Nor am I against the quick dispersal of information that we have available with the information highway.  It has its place and serves up to us the ability to have our pulse on the world’s happenings if we are interested.  However, the problem is that too many have become headline readers only.  They browse their Twitter feed, their Facebook feed, the headlines of whatever Reader they are using and call themselves “informed”.  But, I have learned, from speaking with many that claim that they are “informed” and they do follow through and read these full articles. That in most cases, they do not.  Nor do many check the sources of the stories they take as truth.  “I saw it on Facebook, so it must be true.”  And yes, we have all had moments where we react too swiftly to memes and such and get swept up in the flurry of messages and click that share button.

Additionally, the evening news is more like Good Morning America than a newscast.  There seems to be a much greater emphasis placed on making it a feel good place to watch, like sitting in a room of friends, than anything resembling in depth clean reporting.  You have Fox with an accuracy rating of 18% and dropping, MSNBC which though its accuracy is slightly higher, has been listed as being mostly opinion.  I’ll argue that Fox is as guilty or more so in that realm as well.  And even though CNN has almost double the accuracy points and reliability, that still is not a record to tout.

I wonder how much the folding of so many newspapers had to do with this.  For now, you no longer have the archived stacks of papers to prove what was said last week, last month, last year.  Yes, you have You Tube and Internet archives.  But, it doesn’t have the same feel as that folded paper read over morning coffee.

The media, the power and money behind the media are fully aware of all of this, play on it and manipulate it to their greatest advantage.  They know and make use of the fact that what was known today, incited anger yesterday, was the driving force last week, will either be forgotten or marginalized by the next election, the next battle.

I remember many years ago reading 1984 by George Orwell.  He predicted all of this in the pages of the novel.  Actually, “predicted” may not be the correct word, as it implies the gazing in a crystal ball or receiving visions or knowledge from a mystic oracle.  His predictions were based on what he saw, where he saw technology going and how it would be used and manipulated based on human and societal natures.  His Newspeak is becoming more prevalent in the media.  News is being transmitted in feeds much like the ticker tapes of the stock exchange.  Facts or details changed and rearranged on a minute by minute basis.  The general population believing every word that is transmitted and dismissing lingering questions regarding what they “thought they heard” in a previous report.  The enemies of the State today were yesterday’s friends of the State.  And the country was involved in a never-ending war.  I think I may need to pull this book off my shelf and read it again.  Its been many years and I would like to see how much more I am missing.

The bottom line is we are dumbing down and becoming a surface only society.  We view the world through a peephole.  Its a place of safety where we can see what is out there before we open our door to potential annoyance or danger.  But, it only gives us a tiny and distorted view of the world.  We don’t see the truth through its lens.  We see a partial image that blurs and twists at the edge.  And we cannot live behind that lens forever.  If we do, we condemn ourselves to a fractional life and a world we are delivering to the Big Brothers who are already far too powerful.  There’s nothing wrong with looking through the peephole before we step out.  To get a glimpse that we may brace ourselves for before proceeding.  But, we mustn’t stop there.  We must step over the threshhold and immerse ourselves into the reality of all that is.  We need the full story, not just the first 144 characters.

SephiPiderWitch
06/03/2015

 

June has arrived and Facebook thinks I am a public figure.

ExcellentWell, I ended my week with getting bumped by Facebook with a notice that claims they believe me to either be a business or a public figure.  And as much as I should appreciate the compliment of their assumption in that I am some sort of public figure, or a business owner, they are mistaken on both accounts.

After fussing with trying to convert my profile as requested, I finally hit a wall of frustration when they told me I couldn’t use my e-mail addy as it was already attached to a profile.  Uhm, yeah.  So, as amused as I was with the video with Bill Nye about the “Universe trying to tell you something”, I am going to say that maybe the universe was trying to tell me something.  🙂  I think I can use a break from the time guzzler Facebook is.  And the time to decide if I even want to try and get myself reinstated with all their new invasions into privacy, forcing people to represent themselves according to their inane definitions and ever more endless ads.

The only real deterrent was in the fact that for a short time, I also lost my Spotify account as a result of my lockout by Facebook.  That one was not a happy moment!  Especially given that my son had just renewed my account with another year of blissful, commercial free music of my choice.  Thankfully, the wonderful people at Spotify went out of their way and found my ancient account with them, moved all my playlists and gave me my remaining credits.  So, I have my music back.  And so ends the one truly pressing reason I had to fix the Facebook issue.

I figure this could all be a giant blessing.  Maybe I can spend the time I would have scrolling through Facebook to do more real writing.  Who knows?  If I become more consistent and frequent with my postings, I could get a greater following.  And that is the best place I have decided my energies will be best spent.  At least for now.  I may return to Facebook.  I suppose it depends on how I fare without it.  Though I doubt I will fare badly as I did without it for years when my friends were using it.  But, if I return, it will be if I can find a way to do so on terms I find acceptable.  Hell, I have a stupid phone.  I read physical books, I can write with a pen and paper (even use fountain pens).  The ones I feel sorry for are those that can’t function without their electronic leashes.  🙂

So, while a majority of the people who claim they are stepping away from Facebook generally don’t really mean it and return very shortly after.  I am not sure mine will be the same situation.  First, I didn’t “choose” to leave.  They booted me.  Probably because they want me to operate under my birth name.  That just isn’t going to happen.  I don’t run any social media under my real name.  And in this age of identity theft, spying, and basically feeding every commercial interest your entire viewing tastes, it really is a bad idea.  Plus, I have never been one to play by rules that don’t set well with me.  I have been just fine on Facebook for years without any issues.  Now, they want to change the rules and want me to just blindly accept so that I don’t lose that “oh-so-needed” contact with my friends and family.  I guess I am just going to figure if my friends and family find me of worth, they will contact me directly.  And even better that.  I miss that form of interaction with people I care about.

That aside, I think its time I get back into my yard and my surroundings and start sharing what I see, what I think, how I feel.  I have a nice little garden already growing this year. My dogwood is blooming, I have hummingbirds buzzing me and bees everywhere, and my latest garden treasure is a lovely Voodoo Lily that bloomed within hours of being settled into the ground.  And damn!  I forgot to take a picture of it yesterday!  Hopefully, it will still be blooming today and I can make up for that.

 

The Common Thread

SpiderwebWatching the news feed nowadays, it seems like the stream of legislated hate, sermonized intolerance, surveillance and just downright abuse from those in power never ends.  And it becomes overwhelmingly accepted due to a highly organized onslaught of carefully wrought ad campaigns to make the infringements seem “reasonable”.  Or by identifying one group or another as a fringe group to be feared or less deserving.  Individually, its scary.  Put together, its downright terrifying.

Each group, each faction that is under attack (almost entirely from the radical right and money barons) has a legitimate claim to the bias and bigotry thrown at them.  I sympathize with pretty much all of them.  It seems that if you are not a white christian of devout/hypocritical  (if ignorant knowledge of the bible) beliefs who votes a straight Republican ticket, then you are placed into any of a number of buckets for derision.  And the problem is, not only are they united in their war tactics, not only do they have the finances to keep feeding into their hate campaigns and propaganda wars, but they also have brilliantly divided the rest of us.

Yes, there is an assault on gay rights, but it is more than that.  Yes, there is a war on women, but it is more than that.  Yes, there is an attack on the elderly, the poor, the infirm, the weakest among us, the military (once they have served their use to those in power), but it is more than that.  Yes, there is a war on science, on critical thinking, on free thought, on education, but it is more than that.  And yes, there is a war on any religious or non-religious belief that counters theirs, but it is more than that.

The problem is that in each of these things, we have allowed lines to be drawn so that we are only fighting a piece of the battle.  We see them as unique and stand alone issues that are unrelated to the others.  We align ourselves in one or two camps and give no energy to the rest.  And that divides us and weakens us.  And though all of those battles are real, they are only one scene out of the whole picture.

The whole thing hit me when a friend made a comment on a post the other day.  I had made similar comments before, but it took it coming from someone else for the light bulb to fully go off.  Every one of these things is a Human Rights Violation.  Every. Single. One.

And it seems to me that when you put it in this light, you begin to see just how monumentally massive this situation is.  Its almost too much to process when you finally look at it.  Its so much easier to just deal with the individual bubbles.  But, all that will do is maybe, if we are lucking, permit a temporary freedom for one of the bubbles.  And build a further wall of separation as the side that has scored the win shields themselves from the rest believing to do otherwise may endanger the liberty they just acquired.  But, that is a false hope at the very least, as the LGBT community is learning, as the minorities have learned, as women have learned, as so many have learned.

Taking a woman’s right to make decisions about her body and her health away from the sanctity of her and her doctor is a Human Rights Violation.  Enforcing junk science in place of real science to further a political agenda is a Human Rights Violation.  You have the right to make whatever decision you wish based on your personal belief on your body, your health, your choices.  You do NOT have the right to impose those beliefs on others.  You do NOT have the right to rewrite laws to target an industry unfairly and in direct conflict of years of evidence that proves it is unwarranted as have been imposed on countless women’s clinics in this country.  That’s a Human Rights Violation.

You cannot open a public establishment where access is made via public streets paid for by taxpayers, receive tax credits and enjoy the benefits of a public business owner and refuse to serve someone based on their color, their religion, their gender preference.  Hospitals that are owned by religious establishments do not have the right to impose their church’s rules on the treatment and disclosure of information to patients.  The moment they take insurance payments from the general community, accept patients from the secular community and enjoy the tax benefits granted from the government, they have given up that right.  If they choose to serve the general population, it is their duty to set aside their personal and religious beliefs as far as it regards the people they serve.  The same goes for a pharmacist, a nurse, a psychologist.  Anything less is a Human Rights Violation.

Prayer has no place being part of the public school curriculum.   Nor does religious mythology such as creationism.   Religious indoctrination groups have no place on a public school campus.  This is not discrimination against Christians.  It is protection for people of all faith, and of no faith.  It is also protection for Christians of varying denominations.  The Ten Commandments are discriminatory of non-Christians and have no place on a court house or public building.  They are pushing an ideology that is unconstitutional and a Human Rights Violation.

You cannot serve in a public office where you seek to impose your religious beliefs on your constituency.  That is called a Theocracy.  Something the founding fathers were adamantly opposed to.  Our constitution was not founded on religious principles and Moses was not one of the founding fathers.  Any person who takes an oath of public office is bound to serve ALL the people and to insure that all people are treated fairly.  For they are Servants of the people, not the rulers of them.  We gave those up when we fought the American Revolution.  They may hold those beliefs and apply them to their own life and their own personal choices.  They may not force them onto someone that may not share their belief structure or make them a part of the governing laws.

Additionally, the police are servants of the people.  Not a domestic military force.  And as such, they should not be an intimidating presence in our communities, often times inciting the violence they should be preventing.  They need to be a part of the community, not an overseeing force.  Violence needs to be far more of a last resort than it has been.  Anything less is a Human Rights Violation.

Imposing unnecessary laws and obstacles to disenfranchise votes and make it harder or costly for citizens to cast their vote is a Human Rights Violation.  We have the right, as citizens, to participate in our electoral process.  In truth, we have a duty.  And we should not be dissuading citizens from voting.  We should not be looking for excuses to disallow their vote, impose unnecessary and discriminatory regulations to minimize the counts.  We need to make it easier, to educate the citizenry of their civil duty, understanding their rights and the constitution.  As it is written, not as some attempt to redefine it.  We need to strive not to have lower voter turnout, but to do whatever is needed to have as high of a voter turnout as is possible.  Only then will we have a true government of the people, by the people and for the people.  Anything less is a Human Rights Violation.

Selling off or leasing off the sacred and tribal lands of our Indigenous People is without a doubt a Human Rights Violation.  Denial of the scientific held belief of Climate Change is your right.  But, continuing practices that are known to be substantial contributors to it, thereby affecting the majority of the population who do not share in your belief is a Human Rights Violation.  As is Fracking, which is poisoning ground water, most probably causing earthquakes and creating a toxic environment for all life is a Human Rights Violation.  So is the attempt to place ownership on the clean waters of the world and the spraying of chemicals with sufficient probable causation of things like the decline in bee populations and new cancers.

I am not, nor will I ever be a “Politically Correct” person.  I believe in freedom of speech.  I believe in it wholly including the belief that I must also defend speech that I find offensive.  I believe that people have the right to hate, though I don’t understand why anyone would make such a choice.  I believe they have the right to practice any religion they wish.  To live their lives by their own principles and morals, regardless of whether I or anyone else shares them.  The line gets drawn, however, when they encroach on the rights of others, when they try and pass laws limiting the freedoms of those who don’t share their beliefs.  When it goes beyond freedom of speech, freedom of religion outside of their personal life, then it has crossed the line from “your” freedom into someone else’s.  It is not a discrimination against your religion when you are prohibited from discrimination.  If you don’t wish to be in their presence, you can simply cloister yourself in your home.  But, outside the doors of your home, your church, they have just as much right to be, to function, to thrive as you do.

I am sorry, but if you don’t want to administer birth control, don’t become a pharmacist.  If you want your child to pray in class, put them in a religious school (which needs to also give up its tax exempt status as well as that status is a form of government sponsorship).  If you don’t want to kill a stranger, don’t enlist in the military or the police.  Its just common sense.  When you enter these areas, you must accept that these things go hand in hand with the job.  That you are accepting them as part of the job description.  You have the “right” to choose another path.  If you cannot live up to the requirements of your job without imposing your personal beliefs onto others, you should choose another path.  Because your freedom cannot be bought at the expense of another’s.

Yes, each of these and more are, on their own, their own separate issue, but they are each of them also part of a greater whole.  For every one of them is a Human Rights Violation.  They must each be joined by this common thread in order for them to achieve the united front that is needed to make real change.  None of the individual groups hold enough power, enough votes to make more than a temporary change, in constant danger the moment they glance the wrong way.  Too many factions dismiss “women’s rights”, “gay rights”, “minority rights”, “religious rights (other than Christian)”, etc.  But, if all of these people keep pounding on the table and stating over and over its a Violation of their Human Rights, it makes it slowly harder for them to chip away.  It removes the wall between the gays and the women and the minorities and the atheists and the nones and all the rest.  Its a Violation of Human Rights.  Period.  And the Violations need to stop.  Now.  Erase the lines and grab the common thread.  Because we all want the same thing.  Basic. Human. Rights.