I miss writing. I don't hold any delusions that I'm actually good at it or anything, but I like it. Always have. My problem is that I get an idea, and I feel it starts out good, but then I can never find the end. Any fiction that I write seems to end up meandering all over the place without ever figuring out where it needs to go. So instead I just rant. I just come on here every couple of months and just do a brain dump of whatever has been clogging up my neural pathways. Some say that men's brains are like old computers that run one program at a time. You open up the program for, say, doughnuts, and you run that program while you eat, then you have to close that one down and open the program for reading the newspaper. Women, on the other hand, are like the Internet, everything going every which way and multitasking all over the place. And I kind of see that. It's a bit of an over simplification, but I get it. If we hold to that analogy, then my brain is kind of a train wreck. Everything all over the place and some of these things over here are on fire and there's a pile of stuff over there that can never be figured out and one of the cars was full of bunnies, they're all dead now, and the engine is nothing but a smoldering shell of what used to be a sleek and shiny machine. And once in a while I have to go in and start cleaning it up. (But then there's the next train coming that will make a bigger mess, but that's a discussion for another time.) So I blog. Summer was chaos. I didn't find much time to do anything. I've taken on the responsibility of building video announcement for our church. And it's great. I love it. Some times I find myself un-inspired and that is frustrating, but for the most part it has been a great creative outlet. I've learned a lot about what works and what doesn't when you are trying to provide a lot of information in a 30 second spot. My tools are limited, since the church doesn't really have a budget for this kind of thing, and neither do I, but I feel I've done some good and clever things with the freeware tools I've been able to find. At least good enough for the church anyway. I'd really like to be able to do more, but making 7 or 8 30 second spots a week is kind of a time-crunch and doesn't leave a lot of room for "getting fancy shmancy". But it is a great creative process. Which hasn't left me a lot of time for writing and blogging. But that's ok. I have time now.
Lately I've realized that somewhere along the line I've made a huge shift in my political and social beliefs. 12 years ago or so I would have called myself "extremely conservative". Now I would say I am about as liberal as one could be. Some say that my religious beliefs shouldn't allow room for what many consider "liberalism", but I disagree. I don't see the two as mutually exclusive. Personally I think if one truly follows the teachings of Christ, they would find themselves much more liberal than conservative, but I see room within the Church for the whole spectrum of political and social standings. One does not have to exclude the other.
That being said, I find myself increasingly frustrated with those that insist that their position is the only "correct" position and that it is their duty to make everyone else fall in line. They think it's the job of government to enforce their position to the exclusion of everyone else's. Their religion, their politics, their way of doing things. I think that is just plain wrong. Obviously all of us have things that we think are the only way of seeing things. Religion for example. All of chose our faith (or non-faith if you are atheist) because we feel it is the right one. We found that one to be true. By definition, that means we think all others are wrong. All religions (and non-religions) are exclusionary. They are "right" and others are "wrong". But all of us have a lot of things like that in our lives. Some of us think cheeseburgers are only good with mustard. Others like mayo.
As time goes on I am more and more enraged by those that I feel are "intolerant". A prime example is the discussions I've had lately regarding the religion known as Islam. There are those that feel, in spite of what the constitution says, that we should ban the practice of Islam in the US. Further, there are some that want all who claim that belief removed from society (or at least the country). "The US is a Christian nation!" they say. "Islam is about hate and murder!" they say. Blah blah-blah blah-blah.
I've studied Islam - at least as much as a non-Islamist can. I've read the Koran (an English translation - some say you can only understand it if Arabic is your native language and you read it in that language) and familiarized myself with the context and history (again, at least as much as one can being so far removed from the time and place). And yes, there is a lot of things in there that, if taken out of context, can mean a lot of horrible things. But in context - context of the book and the history it came from - it means something different. Most that Muslim (follower of Islam) will tell you their religion is one of peace and submission. Submission to their god Allah and the teachings of their prophet Mohammed. (My apologies to any reading this that happen to be Muslim if I did write that in the proper form with the proper respect.)
The point I'm getting at is this: if Islam truly teaches hate and violence and the destruction of all who do not follow the teachings of the Koran, then why isn't there way more violence here in the US. Some polls place the number of Muslims in the US as high as 8 million people. If all of those 8 million people believe in killing those who believe different, then there should be 8 million murderers running amok in our cities and towns. There should be, a minimum, a million murders a day as these folks carry out their orders from 'above'.
But there isn't. Why? Well, certainly within the ranks of those in the US there are a few that might believe that 'form' of Islam that some claim calls for holy war (the same type that are in the ranks of Al Qeda and the Taliban) but overwhelming, obviously, those that are Muslim in the US do not. In fact, it could probably be argued that there is much more violence that claim the faith of "christian" in the US than those that are Muslim.
And it gets worse. It goes beyond religion to racism. And beyond racism to financial class and beyond that to the color of carpet and the kind of music one likes. Once intolerance starts, then there is no limit to where the lines are drawn.
And there's the word. Intolerance. Or more specifically for the case of this discussion, tolerance. What is it? Well, first of all tolerance does not mean acceptance. It does not mean adopting someone else's choices as your own. The best way to describe tolerance, when it comes to race, religion, and so forth, is "freedom from bigotry". You don't have to like something, you just don't have to kill it. You can allow it to exist even if you don't agree with. I don't like the idea of being a vegan, but I'm not going to go out and insist that everyone eat a cow. I don't like football, but I'm not going to insist that everyone start watching Japanese animation instead. I don't like chocolate covered cherries, but I'm not going to lobby that they stop making them. I don't agree with the teachings of the Koran, but I'm not going to go out and insist that Muslims convert or leave the country. Do you see the difference? You can allow different beliefs than your own without hating them.
"America is a Christian nation! Founded on Christian principles! Christianity has to be the main thing!"
Calling a country "Christian" or "Jewish" or any other thing is about as ridiculous as saying that about your car. A country can't be "Christian" any more than your car can be. The people IN it can be Christian or not, but not the car itself. Not the country itself.
Now as far as the country being founded on Christian principles, that is at least partially true. But many of the principles are found in other religions and even non-religious groups. Many of these principles are just common human decency. The fact that they were written down in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and other places did not suddenly bring them into existence. Our founding fathers, regardless of their beliefs (and in some cases, non-beliefs) went out of their way to make sure that America would be a nation founded on TOLERANCE. People should be allowed to believe and talk as they want, even if what they say and believe is far removed from everyone else.
But now some are saying I'm being intolerant of intolerance. That those same things that I am claiming promote tolerance allow those that want to be intolerant. That they should be allowed to express their hate and bigotry.
Well - kind of, yes. Say what you want. Vent all you want all over your blog and your twitter and your facebook. But when you start insisting that the laws of this country be changed to support your bigotry, then you are crossing the line. Worse, if your bigotry leads you to violence and discrimination, then you've crossed the line. Then you have violated those principles that you hold so dear. Intolerance of intolerance is a ridiculous notion. Tolerance, by definition, is intolerant of intolerance. To promote something is to crush it's opposite. Hatred and bigotry, at least when it starts creating victims, are contrary to how humans were programmed. We were designed (whether you believe in a higher power or evolution or whatever) to take care of each other, not hate and kill each other.
"If you don't stand against the things God hates, then you stand against God!"
First of all, I am not entirely sure everyone is clear on exactly what God hates. Second of all, if God hates something, he doesn't need me to go out and "smite" it for Him. God has the power and ability to do that for himself. And third, why can't we all just take care of the things in our own lives that God hates rather than trying to fix everyone else? I know in my own self there is a long list of things that I'm pretty sure God doesn't like me doing and until I fix all those things I have no right to tell others what they need to fix. Jesus said we shouldn't worry about the speck in someone else's eye when we have a plank in our own. As for me, I'm working on that plank (more like a whole forest) and will let others worry about their own specks. The God I believe in is more worried about me, my sin, my dealings with my family, friends, and church, than He is about forcing those that don't believe in Him to do what He wants. He wants people to love Him, not feel obligated to serve Him. He wants family, not slaves. To make an entire nation follow the teachings of the Bible (or rather, some individuals interpretation thereof) is to create slaves, not believers. People aren't going to suddenly turn into Christians just because we ban abortion and gay-marriage. They're not suddenly say "oh, it's illegal, I guess I'm just not going to do that and God is good." It didn't work with prohibition, it hasn't worked with marijuana, it won't work with abortion or homosexuality. You cannot legislate personal morality.
So why am I a liberal? Why do I support things like the "right to choose", same-sex marriage, and universal healthcare? If I think my faith is about personal choices and God's reaction to them, then why do I want to government to get involved in these things.
I think it's more accurately that I want the government to stay out of it. These things need to be legislated because so many are calling for the opposite to be legislated. So many are saying "we need a law against thing" so I'm saying "we need a law for it".
I don't like abortion. No one "likes" abortion. The women that get one don't "like" that they had to make that choice. The doctors that perform them don't "like" them. The way to end it, though is not to ban it. Making it illegal won't stop it. It didn't stop booze during prohibition, it won't stop this. The way to end abortion is to make it unnecessary.
Understand me on this. When the last abortion is performed I will be the first in line to lead the parade. I think it is murder. It's a horrible, horrible violent thing to do. But it's legalization was a Pandora's box. The demons were set free. They're not going to go back into the box just because we make a law telling them the have to. There will just be hundreds and thousands of illegal abortions all over the place. There already are in places (like North Dakota) where the laws have restricted it. Worse, there will be hundreds and thousands of women trying to do it to themselves.
The way to conquer the demons, the way to stop the abortions, is to make them unnecessary. Only when there are no unwanted pregnancies will there be an end to abortion. Only when every conception is planned and every child is wanted and wished for will there be an end to abortion. How do we do that? Better, cheaper, more effective, more accessible birth control for starters. Education, in both our schools and churches, is important too.
But above all we need openness and honesty about human sexuality. We need to stop treating sex like it's something dirty and taboo, or something "other people do", get it out of the closets and bedrooms and talk openly and honestly about it. Start changing people's ideas and fantasies into something normal and natural. Porn and romance novels have given men and women twisted ideas about what it "should be" and no one is talking about what it "is". Maybe if we can start there we can start talking about putting an end to the horrible and nasty things that have happened as a result.
What about same-sex marriage? That is a big fuzzy area for me. It's not clear to me what exactly homosexuality is or where it "comes from". My opinions don't really matter here because I'm not gay. And that's how I approach the topic when it comes to marriage. My opinions don't matter. Gay or not gay, married or not married, it doesn't affect me at all. Not in any form. I am not gay, no one that lives in my house is gay (as far as I know, some of my kids are still little) and anyone I know that is I don't talk to on a regular basis or have much interaction with at all. It doesn't affect me so why should I care?
But guess what? Even if I did have a close family member or friend that was gay, it still wouldn't affect me. Other people's sexuality has no basis on my own. Other people's marriages don't affect mine, so if someone had a 'gay marriage', why should it matter?
It doesn't. Same-sex marriage will in no way affect the sanctity of MY marriage. It's MY job to protect MY marriage, not my job to mess with OTHER PEOPLE'S marriage.
And then there is universal health care. First of all, let me say that Obamacare, as it's come to be called, is not perfect. The final form of the bill that became law is a far cry from what was wanted and needed. But it's SOMETHING. It's a START. It's the first step in doing what other countries did long ago - taking care of people. It's not about giving away something for free. It's not about "sticking it" to doctors and insurance companies, it's about taking care of people. Is that something government should be doing? Well, yes, kind of. At least at first, but then as the things shake out and get smoothed out, it will be about people taking care of each other. The only reason the government had to get involved at all is because the process became more about money and profit and stockholders than about helping and healing and wellness. And yes, there is some of that that is about personal responsibility, but when it comes to that doctors office and the hospital bed, and the operating table, it needs to be about care and not about dollars. That's what universal healthcare is all about, wellness and care. It takes the stockholders out of medicine. As it should be.
There are many many other things we could talk about on the topic of what 'liberal' is, but those are the biggest 3. In the end it's about taking care of yourself and your community and not worry about what other people are doing wrong. It's not the job of government to legislate religion and personal morality.
Healthcare is a touchy issue with me. 10 years ago I would have said "no way, people can get insurance, let them get insurance!". But then I got sick. I won't bore you with details, I've blogged about it elsewhere here, but it's enough to say I had insurance. But then the insurance just said "nope, not paying anymore". And now I am thousands in debt. Hundreds of thousands. I did the math and figured out that if I had just kept the money that I paid for insurance, I would have had more than they every paid out for my care. In other words, they made a huge profit on me and left me in my illness to foot the bill and start on the road to financial ruin. No matter what I do from now until I die I would never earn enough to pay all my bills (unless I somehow get a book deal or write a grammy winning song, even then it would be close).
Everyone thinks "Oh, that's other people. Other people are freeloaders and just want a handout. I take care of myself. I work and pay my insurance. I'm better than that." If you think and feel that way, then I pity you. I used to think that way. It took a crippling illness to change my mind. That and expensive tests and medications and assholes at my insurance company to change my mind.
Yes, there are probably those that take advantage of public assistance that are freeloaders. There are probably a handful that are out to milk the system instead of having personal responsibility. But the vast majority of people are like me. They just have no other option. Either take the help that is offered or die.
I don't want to die. At least not yet. And there is no reason I should be expected to just because someone thinks I'm a freeloader.
I think that pretty much clears the pipes for now. I'm kind of running out of steam. So I'll end here. Have a happy.