Tag Archives: Essay

I Will Speak No Evil. Well, Maybe.

The First Amendment of the Constitution reads:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Many people, myself included, think this is one of the most important amendments in our constitution (besides the ones that enfranchised blacks and women, which should not have been necessary to define them as people with rights)  The impact of this freedom cannot be overstated in my opinion.  When you have a country that allows the free expression of opinion, the ability to petition the government for change, freedom of the press to explore the truth when it is found, you have the foundation for a free society.  There will still be abuses, power controls, etc.  There always are. 

There are, and should be, some exceptions to this freedom of speech.  You do not have the right to incite violence.  You do not have the right to spread knowingly false statements.  Other than those, there are few limitations. 

Which brings me to the bug up my butt right now. 

It started with a white supremacist march a couple of months ago.  Now, I have absolutely zero use for white supremacists or klansmen.  I have no use for hate purveyors of any kind.  I would like to believe that we should have evolved beyond such things by this time.  It is obvious that we have not.  But, so long as they are engaging in a non-violent demonstration, they have the right to speak their words of hate.  And as offensive as I find their words, I will defend their right to speak them.  Many people don’t agree with me on this, and that is also their right. 

One of the things that followed this demonstration was people posting pictures of people who were part of this demonstration.  They identified many of these people and searched out where they worked and lived.  Then they demonstrated and protested to their employers, neighbors, schools.  Many of these people were fired, their homes put in danger, etc.  And many will say they got what they deserve.  I am not sure I agree with that.  I believe all that was accomplished in this was creating even more anger, hatred and increasing the numbers of the haters who had been hiding in the shadows.  By targeting a few, they gave the numbers a greater cause to raise a flag to.  Hate is not solved by creating more anger and hostility.

There was recently a woman who was riding her bike and flipped off what she believed to be Trump’s motorcade.  Whether it was or not is irrelevant .  When she was identified, she was subsequently fired from her job.  Even though she was on her own time and simply gave a visual comment to a figure she didn’t like.  Because the image of her (from the back) went viral online.  She was fired.

A dear friend of mine almost lost her job of many years for speaking her mind after the presidential election.  The social media and in person campaign waged against her and her partner was horrific, invasive and reprehensible.  I believe the only thing that saved her was the equally strong forces that stood behind her while she fought the attempted character assassination. 

Women are stepping out from all corners about sexual abuse in their workplaces.  Not that this is an issue that we don’t all know is a commonplace occurance.  And no matter how powerful some of these women are, they are still in a battle of their lives for their character.  They are made the victims all over again and accused of false accusations, Ulterior motives.  Calls for them to be dismissed from their roles. 

Freedom of speech is so very powerful.  And it is also so very vulnerable.  All freedoms are.  We want to step on the moral high ground and say “But, they are speaking hate.  It has to stop.”  But, they are saying things I don’t like, it has to stop.  They aren’t saying it the way I want to hear it.  It has to stop. 

When you seek to silence the klan, the supremacists, you weaken everyone’s right to speak.  Because they will take what you did to them and apply it to everything you do or say.  As they did with the woman on the bike.  As they are trying to do with the women coming forward.  As they try to do with anyone that has something to say that they don’t like.  As you try to do with anyone that has something to say that you don’t like. 

I do, however, believe an exception is a person in political power.  They are public servants and sworn to serve all the people.  And first responders and medical people.  We need to trust that these people will serve all the people equally.  To not sever the rights of any of the citizens because of their hate stance or affiliation or religious conviction.  The minute they leave that arena, they can do what they want, say what they want, so long as they are not bringing harm on others.

I do boycott companies whose practices go against what I believe in.  I do not tell others not to buy from them.  I do tell they why I don’t.  They have to make their own choices.  If after I tell them my reasons they don’t feel those reasons work for them, that is their choice.  I will join in protests if their practices take away or limit the rights of other, such as Hobby Lobby and Walmart.  But, herein lies the truth.  They still exist.  They still prosper. 

This is not to say that you should not counter protest.  Of course you should.  We should all make sure our voices are heard on matters that have meaning to us.  We worry about Big Brother.  But the truth is that WE are Big Brother.  There are many groups whose speech I despise.  Westboro, the klan, the supremacists, many of the hate preachers like Pat Roberston, Jerry Falwell Jr., Jim Bakker and his pasty food.  But, I will defend their right to speak their words.  I won’t silence them.   Because I don’t want to be silenced.  I don’t want the people I respect and love to be silenced.  And I want to know who the haters are as well.  I can’t fight what I can’t see.  I need to know where the shadows are.

The reality we need to understand is that if any one of us is silenced, even the most base of us, then we all are silenced.  We don’t win by silencing.  We win by speaking.  We win by talking and listening and understanding.  We don’t win with hatred.  We win with connection.  Walls only separate.  Even walls of silence. 

SephiPiderWitch
11/14/2017

 

The Lost Art Of Communication – Safety Screens

I actually started this a while back from a different angle.  I may add those parts in as serial installments at some time as I feel this is an ongoing subject that needs some serious pondering.  So, aside from that little introduction, on with the piece.

Communication has become a misnomer in our society anymore.  We are dysfunctional, divided and biased without full information.  The news has been reduced to short feeds on our phones, quarter paragraphs on the websites and sound bites on the television.  We connect, arrange and break up through the safety screen.  This makes it so easy to not have to deal with the messy interaction of emotions, self-reflection, or taking of responsibility for our actions and seeing the possible destruction our actions have caused.

Case in point.  I just had a multi-year relationship end via a 3 paragraph e-mail.  No in person discussion, no voice talk.  Just a simple safe e-mail, where the other party didn’t have to deal with the pain that was caused as a result of their decision.  The reason for it was because I had the audacity to get angry that they had made plans to have friends out on my birthday weekend almost 2 months ago and I only find out the week before my birthday.  Yet, I am in the wrong.  I am abusive because I say it is thoughtless and disrespectful to not speak of this well in advance.  I’m not even worthy of a phone call for this.  Just an e-mail so they can have the last word and walk away from the wreckage without a single look back.It is like I was a file on their computer that had been sitting around for too long and simply swept into the recycle bin during the latest housekeeping.  I wonder how many of us now find ourselves sent out for recycling?

The saddest part of this is that it could have been handled so very differently.  Communicating early on, accepting it could get a bit emotional and messy, but that is part of life.  I believe this had more to do with his inability to find the contract work he needed to make the trips out since he retired.  Something I had even asked him about on occasion and was told that wasn’t the case.  I have known it would come to an end at some point because of his retiring in another state.  So, I wonder how much of this was needing to create a situation rather than admit I was right and he had failed to find the jobs he was so certain he would get.  The truth is, it wouldn’t have made him any less in my eyes, it’s just how things are sometimes.  I would have been hurt.  Maybe angry for a little bit.  But it, at least, would have been something I had both been expecting and could live with.  It would have changed the relationship.  Granted, it would have taken some time to get used to, but when you care for people, you work through things.  You find ways.  You fight for the relationships that have meaning.  They don’t come along very often.  You don’t just sweep them into the trash because you made promises you can’t keep.  Because its easier to throw it in the trash rather than ride out the storm.  So you shatter what could have been reformed a bit with a little patience and real communication.

Were this an isolated incident, it would be one thing.  But it isn’t.  People talk through screens, make plans through them, organize and create their lives through them.  They are the greatest hiding devices in the world.  You can be anyone you want to be, say anything you want to say.  Hell, even the man in the white house shoots out angry tweets at anyone that displeases him that day.  The sad truth is that is how he got there in the first place.  So, it is no wonder that it has become the common way we deal with our lives.  Nor is it any wonder that we don’t understand why things are the way they are.  One of the more ironic things is the fact that he and I used to make comments about other people conducting their lives, breaking up, etc., via their phones or other electronic devices, what cowards they were to not handle such things face to face.  And yet, he also chose the coward’s way out.

We cannot as individuals or as a society build bridges if we remain behind a safety screen.  If we stand in a place where we believe that we can do what we want without taking anyone else’s feelings or expectations into consideration.  Alliances, friendships and all relationships are complicated workings.  They don’t always run the way we want them to.  But, if we step from behind the safety screens, we may find that there was more worth saving than we thought.  And in the interim, it shall be a very sad birthday this year.

SephiPiderWitch
September 9, 2017

 

Studio

Studio 1

My studio is starting to come together nicely.  Art desk faces out the front of the house so I can watch the birds and furry critter in the yard.  Studio 6 June 2016

Studio 2

The area is being populated by many of my plush critter population.  I figure they will provide inspiring smiles.  And the stereo is hooked up so I can rock out while making art.  And if neighbors on walks are paying attention, possibly entertainment.  *grin*
Studio 7 June 2016

Looking out my Artroom Window

The teepee outside the window is one of the suet feeders.  Will probably remain empty for a while now as it is getting warmer and it will just make a drippy mess which I am sure the critters will enjoy, but will go through an entire suet cake in a day.Studio 4 June 2016
A
nd a few of the paintings that are in process.

Studio 5 June 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The full moon!  Alas, all I had was the little camera to get a picture of it.  It was lovely though!

Full Moon June 22 - 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
And I just began on converting one of the sheds into a craft studio.  Yayyy!!!  More on that when its a bit more together.

 

 

 

 

 

Imagine

Google-ImagineMy heart is just breaking.  A man walked into a gay nightclub and killed 50 people and wounded at least 53 more.  Total strangers.  Not in a war zone, not in defense.  Simply because they were gay and living out loud.

They say they believe he is Muslim.  But, that doesn’t matter.  I have heard enough from the Christian pulpit saying as well that gays should be killed.  And from many other religions.

Why?

Why can’t the religious people just not allow people to live on their own terms?

Why must they spread fear and hatred and death?  And yes, I hold all the religious people responsible that condemn those that are different.  Whether you pull the trigger yourself or not, you hold a responsiblity.  You feed the anger, the hatred.

Why must people hate anything that is different?

When you call a Trans person a pedophile, you feed the hatred.  When you call a gay an abomination, you feed the hatred.  When you call an atheist a blight, you feed the hatred.  When you excuse the rapist, you feed the hatred.  For every time you speak such words, you strip a bit of the humanity that that person has.  You make it far easier for the gunman to justify his actions.  For your words of hatred tell him that he is doing humanity a service, that he is a hero.

Your religion doesn’t make you a better person.  It doesn’t give you the right to stand in judgement.  It doesn’t give you the right to pull the trigger or throw the punch.  I really don’t care if you keep your religion.  Just keep it held deeply to your breast.  Its judgement applies only to you.  Not to your neighbor or the man or woman in the next city or across the country.  Your color doesn’t make you better.  It just means you maybe burn easier.  For, under the skin, we all bleed the same blood.  We all have the same organs.

And if your religion tells you to kill, to demean, to hate, to disenfranchise, to discriminate.  Maybe you might want to rethink that religion.

My son is gay, so this hits me very hard.  My son is an amazing person.  The world is a better place for him being here.  His gayness is simply who he is drawn to.  The beauty of his soul is his gift to the world.  The brilliance of his mind is his gift to the world.

If your religions believe he is wrong, then I wish you the most Godspeed to any God or Hell that may await you in the next life.  And if your God, if he exists (which I don’t believe he does)  truly finds my son and others like him to be wrong, then I hope that karma finds a way to send him to the deepest bowels of his hell to be food for his demons.

And now I shall listen to John again.  He seemed to understand better 45 years ago than we do now.

Sephi PiderWitch
06/12/2016      SPW Logo

 

 

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.

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