What is a poem?

Poems are more about sensation and emotion than they are about rhythm and rhyme.

Poems says much more than the sum of their words.  They’re like a message in a bottle, thrown into a hostile sea, to be found and interpreted by someone whose attention we may only hold for the time taken to read our desperate plea. If we don’t grasp and hold their heart, how likely are they to set up a search and rescue operation on our behalf?

Perhaps the essence of a poem might be that it is a plea for understanding?

With that in mind, here are a couple of mine. Others are scattered throughout the blog, under the category, “Poetry“.

~ Carbon Copy ~
~
Were I to dust you down with soot,
then lay you on a sheet,
that is a sheet I’d surely,
forever,
keep.
~

~ A plea ~
~
With you,
I’d like to walk barefoot in the sand,
the only touch,
our hands.
I’d be tempted to run you into the sea,
and there,
upon one knee,
an eternal pledge,
I’d plea.
We’d let the waves be our witness,
the only tears shed,
the rain,
as a loving sky enfolds us,
our souls unite
to once more
become
one,
again.
~

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On Control

My thanks to Debbie Englemann for inspiring this post, which is about the control we exert over our feelings.

I agree with Debbie that we all need something of an emotional pressure release system, unfortunately I think the pendulum of directed public opinion has swung too far into the camp of “let it all out”.

When we lived in Athens, our only neighbor, who lived directly across the road from us, did exactly that.  She claimed “venting” allowed her to release her pent-up frustrations and helped her feel rejuvenated.  How did she vent?  By making animalistic screams, many of which seemed to be directed straight toward our house.  Her behavior did not improve over the years, which makes me question whether venting helped her.  Indeed, I recently learnt the people who purchased our house have taken out a restraining order against her, so her behavior may well have deteriorated.

This neighbor once informed me our house had “broken the spirit of the land” when it was built.  While you may think saying something like that seems borderline crazy and goes far toward explaining her aberrant behavior, you should also know I believe certain places have powerful auras. {Of course my last statement may well have set the last nail in the coffin of crazy, I am okay with that. :)}

Can you imagine the cacophony if everyone screamed whenever they felt frustrated?  Society does not tolerate that type of behavior for very good reasons, one of which is that when someone screams at you, you have a powerful urge to scream right back at them. Does the vented expression of negative emotion actually help us shed those emotions, or does it exacerbate them?  I think the latter is more true.

To me, control seems better than chaos.  Yes, we need some way to release our frustrations, but that “some way” should not be by dumping them on the people we love the most.  I am as guilty of that behavior as any, and for that I apologize.

I don’t agree with Debbie that our innermost thoughts are electrical discharges. Not even for an instant. In fact I believe humans are almost incapable of random thought. Everything we think is prompted by something we feel. Some of those feelings are physical, but at least as many are emotional. Surely if we examine our feelings we’ll gain a deeper understanding into what makes us tick, and why we behave the way we do?  Perhaps such understanding will allow us to better control ourselves?  While I adamantly resist others attempting to control me, I long for the day I can finally control myself.  I doubt that day will ever come.

Before we think, we feel. We think thought separate from feeling, yet we can feel without thinking, but we can’t think without feeling.
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On Coffee

Coffee is amazing.

It has an aroma so effective it deceives us into thinking it is a flavor. A sip seeps down the throat, and then gently washes into the front part of our brain.

It is said the brain has no nerve endings, to which I say this. What need has it of such, when it is the seat of all sensation?

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On Exhaustion.

So many people are tired, it isn’t just us.

I think that when we’re tired our normal defenses go down.  Some of those defenses are against ourself, and serve to keep our emotions under control. I am yet to decide if the emotional control we constantly exert on our feelings is a good thing. Prevailing common wisdom seems to be that it isn’t, but I don’t think I agree. Those checks to our feelings are there for a reason, and that reason is probably to protect us, which is why we instinctively think of them as our defenses.

Our instincts are our inner voice of truth.   We should listen to that quiet little voice, perhaps especially when it urges us to bite our tongue.

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On Unnecessary Truth

Truth is complicated. Truth is personal. And truth is important.

However, there are definitely white lies, and truths we feel, yet shouldn’t tell.

For truth to be valuable, it needs to be necessary. What is an unnecessary truth? Unnecessary truth, is truth that doesn’t serve for good, but for ill. An example of such a truth might be how we think a baby is downright ugly. What good would come of telling the baby’s mother? None. We’d injure her with our words, and yes, words cause the worst injuries.

So, no, I won’t always tell the whole truth as I see it, unless I believe the whole truth is necessary. Often, it isn’t.

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Real Men, and Razors

As a young man just out of the Army I used to shave with a cutthroat razor. Not the wimp variety, which are nothing more than a flip open holder for razor blades, but the genuine McCoy. I had a collection of four cutthroats, three made in Spain of Toledo steel, and one made in Germany of Solingen steel.

Now you might think a cutthroat razor is impractical in the extreme, however they are not. Sharpening one takes a few strokes on a leather strop. They are easy to clean and resultantly hygienic. Once you get the hang of shaving with one you seldom cut yourself. Very little gives a closer shave than a cutthroat. And best of all, cutthroats are exceptionally economical. You never need to buy razor blades. Ever. Along with my cutthroats, I used a tub of Old Spice shaving cream and a pig’s bristle brush. In case you’ve never seen one, those shaving tubs look like an extremely heavy duty, low profile, white glass cup in which shaving soap is stored. Shaving soap is also very economical, with a single tub lasting for months of daily shaves.  And when the soap is gone, you get to keep the cup!

Shaving with a cutthroat is simple. You wet your face from a basin of hot water in order to soften your stubble, dip the brush in the water, brush the soap into a lather, which takes a few twirls around the shaving mug, apply the resultant foam to your face with the brush, and then you simply remove the foam with the razor. That is the trick of it, you don’t try and “shave”, you simply use the razor to remove the foam. A side benefit is that, almost magically, your beard stubble comes away with the foam. You then swirl the razor in the basin of hot water to clean it, and stroke off another swath of foam. When you’re done shaving you rinse off the remaining lather from your face, of which there should be virtually none. You squeeze the excess soap off the brush with a circled forefinger and thumb, this makes a neat little point from the bristles. There is no need to wash the brush as all it holds is soap, which you’ll use the next day. Besides, who ever heard of washing soap? And presto, you’re done.

So, am I alleging that shaving with a cutthroat razor is something real men do? No, I am not. You see, I haven’t shaved with a cutthroat in over thirty years. So, am I alleging that I’m a real man? Not really, but let me put it this way… Now, I have four children with my lovely wife, versus none when I shaved with a cutthroat. You be the judge.

Back to the post… Nowadays I use an electric razor. Why did I switch to an electric razor? Because of my stubborn, questioning nature. A friend of ours, Nigel, once saw me shaving with my favorite cutthroat and said something to the effect of, “Real men don’t use electric razors, they use a blade.” I thought about this for what must have amounted to about one hundredth of a second. On the spot, I decided to switch to an electric razor. Why? Because my Godfather used an electric razor, and he was not only a real man, he was a true Gentleman.

The next time I went into town I bought an electric razor. As for my cutthroats… I’m pretty sure my older brother, Jan, appropriated them. I don’t begrudge him, after all I never used them again, and it would be a pity to see such fine tools wasted.

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On Honesty.

I think most people have forgotten how to be honest.

Sharing thoughts demands that we share the thoughts we actually have, not the thoughts we think will cause others to think more of us.

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Why, a dog?

Bacon

Why, a dog over any other pet?

Look in the eyes,
they’ll tell you,
why…

In other places on my blog you’ll find my sentiments of the special relationship we miserable humans have with our wonderful dogs.  The picture above, taken by my favorite youngest daughter Julia, is of our dog Bacon.  Perhaps you are as lucky as us to have such unconditional, pure love within your home.  Perhaps you are not…

 

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On Alzheimer’s Disease

Of all the illnesses that can beset people, I think Alzheimer‘s Disease must be one of the worst.

It is devastating for all parties.

The family members cannot help but feel despair at seeing the soul of their family member eroded away, for what are we if not our memories? What is left when those memories leak away?

However the caregivers’ anguish must be as naught when compared to the circumstances of the disease’s victim.

Can you even begin to imagine the terror you would feel on waking up in an unfamiliar  place, surrounded by strangers who seem bound and determined to control your every move?  And for this to happen, every time you wake up?  It is not surprising some Alzheimer’s patients become violent.  Indeed, for me it is surprising that all of them do not.

I have read research, which I’m not going to attempt to find and cite, which indicates that a lifelong habit of partaking of at least two cups of caffeinated coffee per day dramatically reduces the likelihood of this disease afflicting you.  Yes, caffeine is addictive, however to me the addiction is benign, and if there is a chance it is a preventative of one of the most terrifying  diseases I can imagine. Well then I will savor my morning cups of coffee {plural} all the more.

The next time you hear of someone afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease, I encourage you to offer as much of your pity to the victim as to the family members left to care for them.

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On Self

Why is it so difficult to comprehend the murmurs of our heart?

If our heart is belief, our mind is the skeptic.

It becomes so confusing when we are battered with contradictory thoughts and feelings. As if our wordless emotions aren’t complex enough, we analyze them in such depth that we begin to question them, never realizing that what we’re doing is questioning ourself.

Since self-doubt throws our very nature into question, it is the worst doubt of them all.

Once we begin doubting who we are inside, how can we ever find our truth?

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On Abortion.

Words matter to me. A lot.

Especially when I discover that words are being used to manipulate me.

I don’t like being manipulated. At all.

And thus to the topic of this post. A topic that rears its ugly head every time an election is coming up, then buries that head in the proverbial sand once election time is over. That topic is the question of Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice. Since there aren’t any imminent elections this seems like a very good time to address the issue. Why? Because the waters haven’t been muddied by manipulative politicians.

Let me tell you right now – I think abortion is wrong. I don’t believe a single person in the world is pro-abortion. Not a single person. However my beliefs aren’t the issue. The issue is whether a woman has the right to make the choice to terminate her pregnancy.

Please make special note of my words. I’m not twisting them in order to manipulate your emotions and thereby reduce your capacity for clear thinking. I’m choosing my words carefully to try and convey the essential issues. And one of those essential issues is that the person pregnancy affects is the woman. It is “her pregnancy”.

Convention in the United States holds that the politically correct way for a couple to describe pregnancy is with the words, “We are pregnant.” Before you nod agreement with how that phrasing asserts the man’s involvement and commitment to his partner, stop and think. {Notice I did not use the words, “his wife”.} A man cannot be pregnant. It is not physically possible. Yes, a male’s semen is required for fertilization of a female’s ova – but a male cannot be pregnant. For the male to claim, “We are pregnant”, is not only ridiculous it is offensive in that it diminishes something which is the sole prerogative of females. It also implicitly claims ownership of the female’s pregnancy. Pregnancy is not owned, and it most definitely is not “ours”. It is “her pregnancy”.

Do you think the last paragraph is making a big deal out of something innocent and cute? It isn’t. Words really matter. They hold immense power to twist our perception. I wonder who originated the expression, “We are pregnant”? I wonder if it might be the same clever people who came up with the slogan, “Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice”?

Manipulative words…

I am not only pro-life, I am pro-choice. There is no “versus” in that statement. I believe life is a remarkable, generous, incomprehensible, and utterly inexplicable gift from the divine. I also believe I have no right to compel any female to see an unwanted pregnancy to term.

No one has a right to make choices for other people. No one. Not in religion, not in belief, not in sexual preference, and not in pregnancy.

The only competition between those who want every child to have a chance and those who want every woman to have a choice is a manufactured and manipulative one.

Words really matter.

Allow me to share some of the thoughts that come to my mind every time the emotive matter of abortion raises its ugly head.

Why did the woman fall pregnant, was it due to a lack of sex education, or a lack of adequate access to birth control? Surely prevention is better than its terrible alternative?

What in the female’s situation compels her to consider abortion? Is she young and ashamed? Is she a victim of abuse? Does pregnancy place her at risk? Can she afford to raise a child? Is she alone, or with a committed partner? Does she feel she has a choice?

Raising a child is a lifelong, incredibly expensive commitment. Yet I NEVER see the financial considerations raised. Are those who are so committed to eliminating a woman’s right to self-determination offering to pay to raise the child? No, they are not. They don’t even offer to pay for the delivery, let alone the lifelong costs. They allude to help being available, but they don’t actually say, “Come to this address. We’ll pay for your travel costs. We’ll pay for your accommodation and medical expenses during your pregnancy. We’ll pay for the birth. We’ll guarantee the child is adopted by a loving family. We’ll take care of everything, so long as you don’t choose abortion.” They don’t make any such commitments, yet they are willing to force the pregnant female to make them.

Who is carrying a child inside their body? Is it me, or is it her? Since it is her, what right do I have to make the choice for her?

No matter what I believe, or how strongly I feel, I simply cannot reconcile myself with eliminating any other person’s right to self-determination. Can you?

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Nothing ever changes.

But it should.

I have come to the inescapable conclusion there is no longer anything supreme about the US Supreme Court. To me they are a bunch of bought and paid-for moral cowards who are more interested in the letter of flawed laws than they are in justice.

Justice isn’t about technical details, justice is about what is right and what is wrong. And what is right, is equal protection under the law.

Consider how the supreme court have ruled that the police do not have a constitutional duty to protect the people. According to their understanding, the duty of the police is the enforcement of laws.

The enforcement of laws…

That sounds entirely reasonable, doesn’t it? Only on its surface. Only if the laws are reasonable. Only if the laws are fair. Only if the laws are just. Too many “onlys”. What about when laws aren’t reasonable, fair, or just? Far too many laws are not reasonable, fair, or just. How can they be when they are designed to maintain the status-quo, and the status-quo is anything but reasonable, fair, and just?

What prompted this post? A shocking statistic I heard this morning…

The approval rating of Congress, that far from illustrious body of people we entrust with writing our laws, is currently at 15%.

Think about 15%, then think about how reasonable our laws are likely to be, then think about the duty of the police being the enforcement of those unreasonable laws, and then think about how nothing ever changes.

I believe things can change, but people must be willing to stand up and be counted. These posts are my way of standing up. What is yours?

Nothing ever changes…

Almost two years ago I reflected on the subject of same-sex marriage. The supreme court played a role in that post as well. I find it rather sad that my predictions on their ruling proved accurate. Instead of addressing, and then righting a social wrong, they chose to side-step the issue. What is the social wrong to which I refer? Equal access to marriage for all consenting adults, regardless of gender. Back in 1967 a different, far more courageous Supreme Court addressed the matter of equal access to marriage, regardless of color.

Yes, for all of you who just shook your heads in disbelief, it was once illegal to marry a person of a different race. Miscegenation was a crime. The moral crime is that such a word even exists.

Nothing ever changes, until we make it.

What exactly did I find shocking about the statistic stating how a mere 15% of people approve of Congress? That the number is as high as fifteen. That 15% of the population are gullible enough to believe Congress actually works for them is just sad.

Earlier in this post I said that what is right, is equal protection under the law. Who am I kidding? Laws should be written with the best interests of the people at heart. Instead they are written to suit amoral, wealthy corporations such as Monsanto and big oil.  When that happens equal protection becomes a meaningless concept.

Fact. The vast majority of laws are not about justice, they are about property.

There is an adage which states, “Possession is nine tenths of the law”.  Unlike the linked WikiPedia article, I understand that adage to mean over ninety percent of laws are about who owns what and how they get to keep it.

It seems to me that property has very little to do with justice.  We should all be working to improve the lot of humanity, yet instead we’re working to maintain the status-quo. It is time for us to stop working.

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A brother’s poem

In that it contains things that are personal to me, my blog is sort of like a diary. Today I’m tearing a page out of another person’s diary, that of my brother Jan. He sent me this email a few days ago, from Africa, where he still lives, to America, where I now reside.

No big deal, right? I mean, an email happens virtually instantly, so all that’s happened is the world has been made a whole lot smaller. Wrong. Nothing makes the world smaller, nothing eliminates distance, and nothing replaces a touch.

Read my brother’s missive, and weep with me for what the entire world is losing. And what is it that the world is losing? Family.

Jan’s email message.

In dim memory sometime, years back, I penned these words…
To what avail? Time has passed.
The deed is done.
Yet I love you all still.
Jan.

~ Worlds Apart ~

We live with our children in separate cities
Apart from one another
In separate countries
On separate continents
In separate hemispheres
Our hot wet summers are your icy snowbound winters
Your hot humid summers are our cool winter days

Our children grow up not knowing one another
Yet we are family, one family spread far apart
How long do we endure our self-imposed separation?
And what becomes of the love we have for each other
From desolate days to lonely years spent in intercontinental isolation
The vastness of distance refuses to be overcome by brief sojourns
We cannot catch up with each other while we do not walk the same paths
Our children learn otherworldly pastimes and play games
But not with each other, and then not even the same games

I yearn for the times we shared
Together in the wild places of Africa
For the memories of childhood and youth
Of times on farms with brothers
On rivers with family and friends
Of boats and trucks and tents and tiger fish
Kudu and cotton and bushpigs and mealies
Where has it gone?
Will our children ever be together?
Do we just grow old and leave it too late?

Will we really be together then?
Wish I could look forward to that time, only I don’t know when
And where will our mother be then?
Will our babies know their granny then?
Wish it could be when, at least we were together
Did Africa really tear us apart?
Or did we only imagine it happened that way
While we do it by ourselves?
Hope it’s not too late now

Let’s turn back the clock to our future together

Will we come home then, when we need to be in Africa now?

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On Belief

What do you believe? I believe many things, and since I said I’d say what I believe, and I try to do as I say I will, here are some of the things in which I believe, along with a spattering of things in which I don’t. If there is any repetition it might be poetic liberty, or it might be in error, your choice as to which.

~ I Believe ~

~

I believe in what I can see, unless what I feel tells me that what I see isn’t really real.
I believe divinity dwells within, yet for whatever reason we seek it without.
I believe we all know the truth, and that the truth is different for all.
I believe in the soul, and that souls are fragments of the divine.
I believe that every living thing, from the smallest single-celled organism to the largest tree, has a soul, and that it takes every single soul to make up the broken fragments that may once have been a single whole.
I believe all life must end, yet souls seldom do.
I believe in fate, as much as I believe in freedom.
I believe the divine speak a universal language every soul understands, if only they are willing to hear.
I believe the divine don’t need to teach us how to hear, for that is knowledge we already bear, though we may have forgotten, or closed our inner ear.
I believe I can fly, and that in my dreams, I do.

~

I believe the goal of all organized religions is the sustenance of its clergy, before sustenance of its adherent’s souls.
I believe any god who has a chosen people is the creation of those whom he chose.
I believe souls are the animators of life, that they are only gift the divine will ever grant us, yet that they are not a gift at all – they are a temporary loan we may invest or squander as we will.
I believe we can nurture our soul with our good deeds, or starve it with our greed.
I believe material wealth is the blade that slays the immaterial soul.
I believe the path to nirvana is paved with our good deeds, and barred with our ill.
I believe in your soul, do you believe in mine?

~

I believe truth is the foundation on which trust is built.
I believe words are the foundations of deeds.
I believe thoughts are the foundations of words.
I don’t believe I know what forms the foundations of thoughts.
I am willing to believe, until I perceive the lie.
I believe in what I feel, more than in what I see.
I believe in what I understand, more than in what I’m told.
I believe in equality, and that no human holds authority over any other.
I believe in my own truths, more than I believe mass-media lies.
I believe you matter, and that I do too.

~

I believe that to every absolute, there are exceptions.
I believe that mortal flesh is a temporary housing for a soul.
I believe the surest way to starve our soul, is to feed our mortal greed.
I believe our soul cannot be destroyed by anyone save us.
I believe those eager to slay another, have already slain their soul.
I believe in words more than in silence, yet I know that sometimes I need silence more than I need words.
I believe that when we are lost, our soul always knows the way.
I believe that one ill deed far outweighs a thousand good.
I believe that while our flesh is mortal, our soul is not.
I believe that although our soul owns our flesh, we do not own our soul.
I believe I can try, and that in my dreams I do.

~

I believe we were all once fluent in the language of the divine,
it is that little voice that tells us right from wrong,
it is an inner voice of reason in a world that’s lost its mind,
it is a voice that grows dimmer with every ill deed,
until we hear its voice
no more.

~

I believe that while human words might be wise, they are never holy.
I believe the divine have no need of intermediaries, for their words flood our heart and echo in our inner ear.
I believe everyone who claims to speak for the divine is a liar, for what need have the divine of translators?
I believe those who listen to their clerics often turn a deaf ear to their soul.
I believe that risk should be balanced with reward, but that reward should not be repayment for risk.
I believe the truth is never ugly, though what it reveals too often is.
I believe greed is an instrument of evil that bears many forms, all of which are sculpted by mortal desire… there is greed for influence, wealth, power, sex, control, and a myriad more.
I believe indoctrinating children is an act of malicious evil.
I believe in me, do you believe in you?

~

I believe there is only one evil creature on earth, and that creature is man.
I believe that what the oceans relinquish, the sky returns as rain.
I believe no cleric holds the keys to heaven, yet many open the gates of hell.
I believe in justice, more than I do in laws.
I believe eternity is a very short time.
I believe that though time passes, it does not exist, and we are swimming against its flow.
I believe the only fitting punishment for murder, is to be murdered.
I believe it is better to be loved by one than to be remembered by a multitude.
I believe respect is earned, not assumed.
I believe none should speak for the gods, for the gods can speak for themselves.
I believe those who call for villainous deeds, are as guilty as the villains who commit them.
I believe forgiveness is far beyond the realm of mortals.

~

I believe that when sellers are honest there is no need for buyers to beware.
I believe there has never been a just war, yet I know many honorable men have fought.
I believe that for every inch won, an inch has been lost.
I believe divinity dwells within, and we are merely its decorators – we can choose to clad our soul in the splendor of good deeds, or the squalor of ill.
I believe humanity should be Earth’s caretaker, not Earth’s cancer.
I believe a god that is not universally known, cannot be a universal god.
I believe any question worth asking, is worth answering honestly.
I believe our heart is the chamber in which the words of our soul echo, and that when it murmurs we should listen.
I believe if we’re too scared to dream, we’ve given up the better part of life.
I believe I can cry, and that in my dreams I do.

~

I believe that, as with freedom, for truth we pay a price.
I believe women are the far better half of man.
I believe those who cannot question, will never understand.
I believe memory is fiction, though we think of it as fact.
I believe that for everyone who cares, there are a multitude who don’t.
I believe we are all born innocent.
I believe good people sometimes do bad things, yet once people turn bad they never again do good.
I believe that whoever, wherever, and whenever we are, we are merely people.
I believe we all seek understanding and happiness.
I believe no one is born better than any other, yet their deeds can make them so.
I believe we should seek understanding before everything else, including material wealth.
I believe if we can’t reveal our real self, then that self is not worth revealing.

~

I believe everyone values truth, yet everyone still lies.
I believe in a myriad things which may seem silly to you, yet remain crucial to me.
I believe who we are can be far, far more than just our genes, or far, far less.
I believe that while no good deed goes unpunished, good deeds must still be done.
I believe that mistakes should not be punished, while willfully wicked deeds should.
I believe that while my truths might work for me, they probably won’t for you.
I believe words really matter, though they rarely do.
I believe that those who call for the murder of their foes, are the foulest of our form.

~

I believe we should celebrate beauty, acknowledge shame, and not be so eager to apportion blame.
I believe that though we should honor our beliefs, it is inevitable we will sometimes fail.
I believe the principle sign of intelligence is the ability to change our mind.
I believe that history is written by the victors, and too often it’s a biased lie.
I believe we should vote on the issues, not on our emotions.
I believe that for one person to be rich, a multitude must be poor.
I believe that what I hold true today, I might see as false tomorrow.

~

I believe that honor is never for sale.
I believe a soul for sale is not worth its price.
I believe humanity consistently displays collective stupidity, and individual brilliance.
I believe we should try, even when we know we’ll fail.
I believe in free will, yet I know the majority still won’t.
I believe the world needs less tolerance of poor behavior.
I believe that X resources divided among Y people, where Y is greater than seven billion, should be X/Y, not (½X / 85) = (½X / (Y – 85))
I believe truth is a matter of life, not a matter of mathematics.
I believe that no matter the magnificence of the garments covering a lie the lie remains ugly, while the shabbiest garments cannot cover truth’s beauty.
I believe we are drawn to truth, and repulsed by lies.
I believe that no one really knows, though some will claim they do.

~

I believe happiness has become a hopeless goal, where once it was reality.
I believe in the right to self-determination and self-defense, not compulsion and attack.
I believe that just as no size fits all, no truth does either.
I believe that those that care matter, and those who don’t, don’t.
I believe the purest truth flows within the caverns of our heart.
I believe partial truths are often complete lies.
I believe what we say doesn’t matter if no one hears our words.
I believe short-term profits never justify long-term pain.

~

I believe that if we seek beauty we’ll find it, but though we close our eyes to ugliness it remains.
I believe that if we seek understanding we’ll eventually find it, but if we don’t we won’t.
I believe that though time waits for no man, eventually it claims us all.
I believe that once you wear a price tag, you’re always up for sale.
I believe that though change is inevitable, people are always the same.
I believe in contradictory truths more than I do in neatly aligned lies.
I believe when something is so obvious it must be true, we need to examine it again.
I believe we should listen to our heart before we bow to our mind.
I believe our heart often calls the foul, long before our mind perceives the lie.
I believe that in a choice of difficult versus easy, we’ll choose easy almost every time.
I believe that though collectives are easy to fool, individuals are not.
I believe that when someone claims to have your best interests at heart, they really have their own.
I believe the only things we truly create are our children, yet they are not our creations at all.
I believe honor relinquished can never be regained.
I believe there are holy words, but other men don’t speak them – they echo in our ear, for only us to hear.
I believe true friends are so rare the fingers of one hand suffice to count them, and that number excludes the thumb.
I believe that when we find our soul unbalanced we can either stop, sit, and reel, or carry on, and fall.

~

I believe that sometimes the universe sews two souls together, and sometimes it rips them apart.
I believe that love is like a light, and someone else is at the switch.
I believe sometimes we do things wrong, and cannot put them right.
I believe if we refuse to look into our heart, we cannot hope to see.
I believe the last person I’ll ever understand, is me.
I believe there has never been anyone like you, and there never will be again.
I believe sometimes the universe is kind enough to let us glimpse its glory, and sometimes it simply doesn’t care.
I believe I can fly, and in your dreams you can too.

~

And after this tiny, fractional list of some things I believe today, I think you may still find yourself asking the question, “But does he believe in the same god as me?” If you do, I must ask, “Why does it matter, is the revealed content of my heart not enough?” However, I’ll also answer with an unequivocal, “No, I don’t believe in the same god as you.” But that is so complex a subject it must wait for another day.

{P.S. It is said that a writer should show, not tell. I seldom listen to platitudes that pretend to be wisdom, so here I have simply told. However if you’d prefer to see, then here you’ll find the “show”.}

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On Blasphemy.

So many people are such moral cowards they find themselves unable to question things that are obviously wrong.

Could this trait be one of the poor outcomes of that terrible policy known as “political correctness”? Do we fear speaking the truth as we see it, because we’re afraid we might offend someone who sees truth a different way? Are we so unsure of our own beliefs we don’t dare listen to someone who believes differently than us? When did we become so proficient at self-censorship?

So-called “political correctness” effectively suppresses one of the most fundamental rights of humanity.  The right to Freedom of Speech. Political correctness, is wrong.

And when the topic turns to religion, political correctness goes rampant. Is the topic of religion repulsive? Perhaps it is to you, but so what? Just because you’re uncomfortable saying what you truly believe, the rest of humanity must shut the hell up? Get over yourself. I don’t care if talking about something that affects substantially more than half of humanity makes you nervous – this is something humanity needs to talk about.

In ages past I think political correctness had other names. One of those names is censorship, which is something every thinking person abhors. Censorship is never good. Why? Because it actively prevents the dissemination of information. Censorship does nothing to protect people, and it is never enacted with that goal in mind. Censorship is enacted and enforced to protect special interests. Censorship is sold to an unthinking populace through the use of emotive, distracting words like “safety”, “national security”, “pornography”, and “decency”. When censorship began failing, political correctness made an appearance.

We’re now subtly encouraged to censor ourselves, with all the same lies as the motivators to our silence. That is precisely what political correctness is, our silence on troubling topics.  No thanks.

Another past name for political correctness may well have been blasphemy. And thus begins the real topic of this post.

Throughout the ages the word blasphemy has been one of the most effective tools of censorship in existence. Sadly, this remains true today. The word blasphemy holds enormous power over people. Virtually nobody is willing to be labeled a blasphemer. It doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter whether you’re devoutly religious or virulently atheist – you don’t even want to think of yourself of as a blasphemer.

You’re scared.

Scared people are easy to control. How does it feel to realize you’re being controlled through your fears? For me, it doesn’t feel good at all. Indeed, it feels so badly wrong that I’m spending my very precious personal time writing about it.

Dictionary.com defines blasphemy thus:-

noun, plural blasphemies.

  1. impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things.
    1. an act of cursing or reviling God.
    2. pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton (YHVH) in the original, now forbidden manner instead of using a substitute pronunciation such as Adonai.
  2. the crime of assuming to oneself the rights or qualities of God.
  3. irreverent behavior toward anything held sacred, priceless, etc.: “He uttered blasphemies against life itself.”
Since things on the Internet are constantly in flux, the image below is of the page as it existed when I wrote this post.

blasphemyThe very definition of the word blasphemy reveals just how ridiculous the concept is. Allow me to examine it from another view of true. Actually, since I’m a active proponent of Freedom of Speech as a fundamental human right, I don’t need your permission to say what I think, so I’m not asking for it. If you don’t want to risk reading something that might just possibly contradict something you hold so sacred you dare not question it, then leave now. Freedom of Speech does not include a clause that requires other people to listen.

Clause 1. “impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things.”

The definition could stop there. This clause is such an effective, catch-all, gag order that there is pretty much nothing more that needs saying. Except, of course, that there is a lot more that requires addressing.

For example, the implicit monotheistic assumption that God is singular. How offensive is that assumption to those who choose to believe in multiple deities? It is so offensive it should be labeled blasphemous. It just isn’t politically correct at all! Strike it from record!

The first clause’s definition then moves on from the sublime to the ridiculous by mentioning, “or sacred things.” Seriously? Is the Sun not sacred? How about the wind, the rain, the sky, the earth upon which we tread, or the heavens overhead? I’m not allowed to make impious utterances about anything? Give me a break already. Actually don’t bother, since you hold no authority over me I don’t need your permission and I’ll just take one. {But hold that thought… you know, the thought about who holds authority over you.}

Clause 2. “Judaism.”

First, I must say I find it extremely offensive that one of the most numerically insignificant religions in the world gets such prominent placement in a dictionary.  Such prominent placement that far more popular religions are not even mentioned. Look up the numbers, Judaism accounts for less than a quarter of a single percentage point of the entire world’s population.

Oh, I’m sorry, is my mentioning a statistical fact that reveals how something insignificant is given completely disproportionate weight blasphemous? Too bad. It is a fact. Which makes it the truth, and how could the truth possibly be blasphemous? {Actually, I don’t believe in the concept of truth, I believe in the concept of perceptive truth. More about that elsewhere on my blog.}

The sub-text of clause b further highlights just how ridiculous the concept of blasphemy is. If dictionary.com is to be believed, and I don’t see any reason to doubt it, then it is actually blasphemous to pronounce the Tetragrammaton, which is the Hebrew word for God, the way it was originally written in the Hebrew holy texts. I’m trying hard to wrap my mind around this, but it is so transparently stupid I’m actually having difficulty comprehending it.  What this apparently means is that somewhere, sometime in the very distant past, somebody decided that something someone else had written was so holy it could no longer be said. So this person, whoever they were, apparently has greater authority over a religious holy text, held by Judaism to be the holy words of their deity, than their deity himself?  Wow. Just, wow.

Clause 3. “Theology. the crime of assuming to oneself the rights or qualities of God.”

Since when is thought a crime? No, I’m not saying I think I have the rights or qualities of god, singular, I don’t. But I absolutely refuse to deny anyone, anywhere the right to think as they choose. If they choose to believe they are a god, or the only god, that is their business, not mine. You will note that in this section the words that are mine do not capitalize the word god.

I want you to know why I don’t.

It is because I just don’t know. I don’t know if there are gods, or if there is one overall god. I don’t really even know what a god is. From all the writings on that subject I do know what god is supposed to be, but I have a fundamental problem with all of those writings. My fundamental problem with them all, is that they are all written by men. No man is a god. Therefore since I don’t know who or what god is, of if god is singular or plural, or masculine or feminine, it seems impious of me to ascribe the word a capital letter that indicates reverence. What if the god to whom I ascribe that reverence turns out to be the wrong one, or what if they {plural}, turn out to not exist at all? So capitalizing the word  seems irreverent, which I am, so I don’t. Simple.

Clause 4. “irreverent behavior toward anything held sacred, priceless, etc.”

I said it before, but I have to say it again. From the sublime to the ridiculous. Now I’m not allowed to be irreverent toward something held to be priceless??? Would my describing the Mona Lisa as “just another portrait” be blasphemy?

A three letter phrase commonly used in the texting internet era that begins with “o” and ends with “g” pops to mind. But I won’t use it. Why? Because, strangely enough, after all I’ve already written, I think that little acronym is offensive, crass, and rude.

Why do I think that three letter acronym is offensive, crass, and rude? Because it implicitly ascribes special value to our personal deity. They are ours, and therefore they are special. I firmly believe in equality, which means that our deity cannot be of greater worth than that of anyone else.  I don’t care if your religious text proclaims it is the only “true” religious text, which most religious texts seem prone to doing. It isn’t. It is just another of many religious texts.

Why did I bother writing this post?

Because blasphemy is evil, but it isn’t evil in the way so many think. It is the proclamation that something is blasphemous which is evil, not the utterance itself. Why? Because such proclamations are nothing but weapons in the arsenal of those people who strive to control the way you think. Which is all they are. People. People, just like you and me. Who gives them authority to chain our thoughts so thoroughly we dare not even think?  It certainly isn’t a deity, oh no.  Indeed, if anyone gives them that authority, it is you, and you are free to take that authority away.

The next time you listen to a cleric of any religion, bear this thought in mind. They were ordained by another human, and no human is a deity.

I also wrote this post to show my reverence for the staff of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine. If you are financially able, I encourage you to support them with a donation. Let free people everywhere show those who would quell free thinking an explicit message.  A message that we won’t be cowed into silence by violent extremist terrorists – regardless of what brutal deity supposedly demands it. I hold those murdered staff members in far higher esteem than the murderous villains who attacked them.

Just to be clear… I consider every person who condones or promotes murder and oppression in any name to be an evil, inexcusable, waste of human skin who has no place in our world. Sadly, that definition encompasses an enormous number of Muslims, who actually seem to think people who abandon their faith should be executed. {Go ahead and verify that statement for yourself.}

Here is a heads up. You actually think someone should be murdered for a change of heart? A change of heart doesn’t make them evil. The evil one is you, for ever considering murder as a punishment for freedom of thought.

If you can’t question your clerics, then it is past time you questioned your faith.

Blasphemy should not be something we fear, it should be something we encourage because it opens the mind to new thoughts, and those new thoughts are ours – they are not the bigoted dogma of some other human who claims to speak for god.

If you hold Freedom of Speech, along with the requisite Freedom of Thought that precedes it in high esteem, then throw political correctness out into the stinking trash where it belongs. And while you’re at it throw out archaic, irrelevant words that curtail your freedom to think. One of those words, is blasphemy.

{P.S. What do I really believe? I talk about truth, and I do so because truth really matters to me. But truth doesn’t define what I believe, what I believe is defined by truth as I perceive it. But that doesn’t answer the question, does it? It doesn’t say whether I’m a Theist, or an Atheist. What do I really believe? I’ll post more about that another time.}

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