The remains of the day…

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stunned and sitting shocked

fabric is ripping apart

how will peace be found

JSmith 10/02/2017

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Seriously. I don’t get it.

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A post from my original blog, written August 13, 2012. A friend brought it to the top, and I was gratified to find that it still stands as written, with the exception of adding “freedom OF also means freedom FROM.” Here, at a five-year remove, is how it was…

Less than a month from now I will be eligible for Medicare and by that standard I’ve lived long enough to learn a few things, one of which is that it’s counter-productive to fret overly-much about what anybody thinks of me.

I’m well-read.  I’ve ventured outside the confines of the United States.  I am no longer a candidate for having the “Kick Me” sign hung on my back.  But there are any number of things that baffle me, make me shake my head, cause me to say “I don’t get it.”

I don’t get why a friendly conversation is so hard to come by in the public arena these days.

I don’t get how a sweet little girl sacrifices her entire childhood in favor of incredibly rigorous athletic training, rises to the top of her field, and wins gold – twice – at the  Olympics, only to be made the center of controversy over her HAIR, of all things, and the color of her leotard.

I don’t get what people mean when they say we need “a real American” in the White House.  Are they indicating that they want a Native American Indian for president?  Because obviously, the rest of us came from somewhere else and thus are not “real.”

I don’t get why it’s a point of controversy when the First Lady (as is traditional) chooses childhood obesity as her personal cause, since obesity in general is a huge thing in this country (pun definitely intended) and our children are suffering.  Somebody has to care that this is happening.

I don’t get why people continue to insist that the United States is officially a Christian nation, when the framers of the Constitution made it abundantly clear in the First Amendment that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  Free exercise means ANY and ALL religion. Or none.

I don’t get why people insist that a single verse from Leviticus must be obeyed to the letter, while totally ignoring the remainder of that particular passage and so many more.

I don’t get how certain things become labeled as being “liberal” or “conservative.”  For example, recycling – why is that seen as an inherently subversive thing to do?  We have just one Earth, and so far no one has discovered a viable alternative, so it seems only wise to take care of this little spot in the universe.  The relatively conservative farm boy with whom I spent 34 years of my life went out and bought Rubbermaid tubs the week the big recycling plant opened in Meade, America, and we faithfully salvaged everything reusable from that point forward.  His vastly more conservative parents did the same in their small town, and proudly delivered their newspapers and other recyclables to the collection shed on a regular basis. Every time someone looks askance at me for doing my tiny part to help preserve the integrity of the planet, it makes me shake my head.  It doesn’t, however, deter me from what is by now an ingrained habit.

I DON’T get it … but I probably DO get it … and here’s what I think is going on …

I think friendly conversations are becoming fewer and further between because life is all about change, more so now than ever, and people are running scared, which makes them cling ever more desperately to their personal points of view.

I think Gabby Douglas’s hair is considered fair game because it’s somehow “foreign,” “other,” “not like us.”  And I think Fox News gets by with slamming her simply because she’s “that” brand of “different.”

I think our President is threatening for those same reasons, even though he is as much “white like us,” as he is “different.”  He had white grandparents who adored him and a white mother from Kansas, of all places.  An ordinary girl, an ordinary family, an ordinary life, all of which came together to produce an extraordinary man.  But because he lives inside black skin, was given a scary-sounding foreign name through no fault of his own, and was uppity enough to run for president and win, it becomes necessary to invent a “back story” in order to justify why we choose not to like him.

Our First Lady — scary, other, different?  I think you have to stretch pretty hard to make those labels stick, other than the fact that she, too, resides inside black skin that blessedly doesn’t look like ours.  I think her tremendous education level and innate intelligence, as well as those of the president, are intimidating and threatening to a certain segment of the population.

I think people insist on making this an officially “Christian” nation because that makes it feel safer and more “ours”.  And it makes it acceptable to persecute and call out and label and denigrate … and kill … Sikhs, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, and anyone else who is different … other … thus, somehow threatening.

I think it’s out of ignorance and fear that people carefully extract and selectively interpret the portion of Leviticus that enables and sanctifies their hatred of an entire group of people, while ignoring ALL of the other injunctions, primarily the ones that command us to

“Love thy neighbor.”

I think that ignorance breeds fear, and fear breeds hatred, and hatred breeds violence.

I think that more than two hundred years of societal evolution, education, and exposure to the way the rest of the civilized world views things have brought us very little in the way of maturity, wisdom, kindness, and human progress in this country.  Willful ignorance and backwardness sadden and trouble me beyond words, and for all the indignant claims on the part of “Christians,” I think we get it wrong on SO many things.  I honestly believed we’d moved past all of this years ago.  Silly me.  Call me naïve and slap the “Kick Me” sign on my backside when I’m not looking.

I think one of the greatest joys of having a personal blog is the freedom to say exactly what I think.  And that the blowback that results from honesty and the willingness to speak up is inevitable and a natural part of the process.   I get that.

Obviously, I think a lot of things.  But if you get why recycling is scorned as an intrinsically “liberal” activity, please give me a call.  I don’t know WHAT to think about that one.

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Time for the Monday rant …

Someone I used to respect told me several months ago that he’s an Ayn Rand devotee, which is entirely his business.  For years, though, and maybe still, he was an evangelical Christian minister, so, the two philosophies being mutually exclusive, I hardly knew what to do with that information other than dismiss it out of hand.  Dude, pick a hero — if it’s the biblical Jesus your life will look a certain way.  If it’s Ms. Rand, good luck, you’re already morphing into the polar opposite of a Christ-follower.  Please don’t think I necessarily care one way or the other — I don’t have a horse in the race, beyond knowing that truth still matters and it never disavows itself.  At the end of this post there’s a link to a Salon article, brief-ish and succinct, that illustrates the disconnect required to be both a Christian and a disciple of Randian Philosophy aka Objectivism.  Not enough Xanax in the world, lollipop.

Key quote from the article:

“Rand … stated on national television, ‘I am against God. I don’t approve of religion. It is a sign of a psychological weakness. I regard it as an evil.’  Actually … Rand did have a God. It was herself.  She said:  ‘I am done with the monster of *we,* the word of serfdom, of plunder, of misery, falsehood and shame. And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride. This god, this one word: *I.*‘”  So, yeah, that happened.

Having been stalked by tragedy and pain over the past three decades, both physical and existential, the road forward was in trying to make sense of the human experience in time to survive it, as a result of which I’m no longer an authority on the subject of a God like the one the evangelicals paint for us.   IF, however, just say, there WERE to be such a God who cared, loved, nurtured, was intimately engaged in the human sojourn on this planet and took a personal hand in events great and small … then it should be excruciatingly, ostentatiously, nakedly clear, despite Ms. Rand’s deistic stance, that *I* would not be that god, ergo neither would you, and — I know this like I know the universe is ginormous — nor would Ayn Rand.  What in hell would be more terrifying, overwhelming, and totally ludicrous than to think that I am/we are/she was in charge, amirite?

You get where I’m coming from, you can’t have it both ways!  Either there’s no god, as a true atheist asserts, or there’s an Infinite God who actually gives a flip about every molecule.  Or maybe somebody something somewhere between — a Force.  A Power.  A Powerful Life Force.  Or … as Ms. Rand apparently believed … god is/was her, therefore you and me.  But probably just her.  So that’s more than two ways, yeah — just … really not an expert anymore, but pretty sure the *I* thing can’t be right.

Here’s another quote from the Salon article:
“Ayn Rand removed Americans’ guilt for being selfish and uncaring about anyone except themselves. Not only did Rand make it ‘moral’ for the wealthy not to pay their fair share of taxes, she ‘liberated’ millions of other Americans from caring about the suffering of others, even the suffering of their own children.  The good news is that I’ve seen ex-Rand fans grasp the damage that Rand’s philosophy has done to their lives and to then exorcize it from their psyche. Can the United States as a nation do the same thing?”

I don’t know, see, because the generally-accepted rallying cry is that we’re a Christian nation, which clearly gives us a leg up on the rest of the world because we’re right.  We can torture choke shoot tase beat and otherwise dispatch fellow persons including animals and it doesn’t make us any less Christian or right because WE’RE CHRISTIAN AND WE’RE RIGHT, dammit!!  We’re Christian, man, serious, but you know, things have changed and we’re supposed to just care about ourselves now anyway.

And so she did — cared foremost, apparently, about herself and what she wanted, and anointed herself her own god.  A god that stood appropriately god-like against Social Security and Medicare and other government spoils until said god was in need of same.  A god that some of my Christian acquaintances seem to co-worship now in a strange brew of sudden jarring philosophical ninety-degree right turns.  Whatevs.  I don’t even know what the “C” word is currently supposed to mean, I just don’t want my name associated with whatever it is.  That’s me talking, not Salon.

Article in the link:

http://www.salon.com/2014/12/15/one_nation_under_galt_how_ayn_rands_toxic_philosophy_permanently_transformed_america_partner/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

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