Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Contentiousness - its a thing these days

A few months ago, I went through a brief process I'd been contemplating for a long time. I became an ordained member of the Clergy.

The process was brief - about 10 minutes to fill out a form online, from a non-sectarian Monastery located in Washington state, which holds the belief that we're all children of the same planet regardless of our personal belief system (I'm pagan - Asatru to be precise) and should therefore all have the same access to becoming Recognized by the State as valid Spiritual leaders, Officiants for religious ceremony, etc.  Then I ordered a copy of my official registration of ordination from them (about $30 for copying and mailing fees) took it to the county offices where I live, and put it on file with the state authorities - for free.

I'm now considered a legal officiant for Weddings, Funerals, Christenings and Wiccanings, etc., recognized as such by the state where I live, with my ordination recorded in the county offices on a particular page in their book of registered wedding officiants.

So you might be asking yourself what my recent ordination has to do with being Contentious.

It all comes down to the debate on Same Gender Marriage.

I was asked by two friends of mine (pagan, but not same gendered) to officiate at their wedding.  Ok, so I'm looking at what it will take to be legally compliant to do so in my state, thinking about whether I want to take up the task and if it will be a "one off" or I'll stay current and hire myself out, when my state legislature starts tossing about a bill that would remove the government from having anything to do with weddings (no more licenses, just a certificate of acknowledgement filed after a ceremony by a member of the clergy) so that state officials - court clerks, judges, etc - aren't obligated to violate Their religious beliefs in order to officiate.

You know, that whole no same gender thing that some of the more conservative Christian, all of the Muslim, and a lot of Judaic practitioners consider absolutely against their religion?

It has become a bit of a sticky wicket really.  If the government forces them to conduct weddings that are strictly outside their personal religious beliefs - it is in effect interfering with their religious observations.  The counter argument, of course, being that Not forcing them to do so effectively forces their religious beliefs on a couple who want to get married.

So who, in the long run, is more protected?  The person who can go to a different priest, priestess, member of the clergy et al to have their ceremony?  Or the person who is having their religious convictions dismissed as invalid in the name of "fairness" to someone who has more than one option open to them?

We cannot live via the concept of "the Ends justifies the Means" folks.  We can't.  That way lies oppression and the end of anything even Remotely resembling true Freedom for Anyone.

What does that mean in this instance?  It means that no matter how much we might Want to force people to do what We consider "the right thing" - we effectively lose the war for the sake of winning a single battle.  It means that we can't force people to violate their honestly held religious convictions for the convenience of someone else, unless those religious convictions are causing Actual Harm. 

Actual Harm - not a case of the butthurt, not a sense of wounded pride or indignation, not anger at some faux "aggression" on the part of the religious person - actual, honest ta goodness, visible Harm.  Harm like is caused when a religion dictates a woman must be stoned because she was raped (can we say "Islam" which still Practices this, in much of the world? I knew we could.)  Harm - like throwing a gay couple off the roof of a multi-story building - which happens in the Islamic countries of the Middle East on a routine and regular basis.  That is harm.  A business owner telling a gay couple, "I'm not comfortable with making a cake for your wedding - my religious belief is that the two of you getting married is an abomination" is NOT HARM - its butthurt and indgination and inconvenience at having to find a different bakery.

This is Reality, Calling Collect. Do you accept the charges?

I want to take a moment to reflect on the commonly held belief of today's society, which is that we should (somehow) be free from ever being Offended by what someone else says.


But we Thank You for playing, "You Bet Your Life!"

Frankly, if you want to make certain that you're never offended by anyone else's comments, I have a solution for you.  Suck It Up, Buttercup.  Go live in a cave, throw away all your electronics, delete all your social media profiles, and become a fucking HERMIT.  Because becoming a hermit is what it's going to take to avoid ever being offended by someone else's opinion.

I'm a tad fed up with the whole political correctness crap.  I've been fed up with it for a while.

The most recent helping of BS via the college campuses is that these whiny, spoiled rich brats - and don't make any mistake, that's what all of them are, regardless of color, religion, sexual preference, or political stance.... spoiled brat rich kids who've never had an actual hard day in their freaking Lives - is that they want "Safe Spaces" where no one else is allowed to exercise their 1st amendment right of Freedom of Speech.

They talk a lot about "microaggressions" being committed against them.  In reality, the only aggression is that someone disagreed with them, didn't coddle them, or didn't pat them on the head and tell them how Special they are.  And of course, there's the aggression of them becoming violent protesters because the person who disagreed wasn't suddenly forced to apologize and then get their mouth duck taped shut.

Get real and get a life, you self absorbed lot of useless wankers.  If you want to see what Aggression is like, try taking a trip to any of Dozens of countries where you Have No Rights, and can be jailed or killed for being the wrong gender, sexual preference, religion, or made the mistake of speaking out against the current regime. 

Go - please - travel the world.  Learn what REAL oppression is like.  Then come back here, and see whether you still feel Oppressed and like people are being Aggressive against you.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Truth? You can't HANDLE the TRUTH!

Many of us are in the habit of lying.  We lie so much, on such a daily basis, that we even lie to ourselves and convince ourselves that we don't lie.

I'm not talking about huge, earth shattering lies ("No dear, I would never have an affair - not even if you suddenly became a drooling, wheelchair bound vegetable in need of 24/7 care and nothing but autonomic brain function, while I'm still young and vital and full of life and energy!")  I'm talking about those constant little white lies that we all tell each other and ourselves every day.

We've all had "that" conversation.  The one that goes like this:
Friend: "Hey - how's life been treatin' ya?"
You    : "Pretty good" (lie)  "How about yourself?"
Friend: "Can't complain!" (lie) "See ya later!"
Of course there's the lie where we feign interest in a hobby or news article or game or TV show that our friend, family member, spouse, or significant other is "discussing" with us.  We smile and nod and make the appropriate interested sounds or small, vague comments that tell them what they're talking about actually means something to us. 

The truth, of course, is that while we smile and nod and make the appropriate vague remarks, we're sitting there thinking, "Hey dipshit - if I actually gave 2 fucks about that, I would take part in the hobby/ play the game/etc Myself!"  But of course saying that would be rude and hurtful, so we keep it to ourselves and allow them to go on believing that we actually give a single solitary shit about what's coming out of their mouth at that moment.

Or those times when someone asks us how we're feeling.  This is a biggie for folks like myself, who suffer from a chronic illness.  The truth is that we're tired, we're over worked, we're in pain both physical and emotional, and we have a sense of combined ennui and apathy.  Depression consumes us, and we feel alone and lost even when surrounded by folks whom we call friends and loved ones.  We consider life to be fairly fucking miserable, and we often wonder why we don't simply lay down and wait to die, since nothing we do is going to actually make any sort of Difference.

What we tell them is that we're fine - we're great - we've never been better.  We smile and thank them for their concern.  We blather about how the doctor thinks we're doing better on the change of meds.  We laugh and tell them about this great new therapy protocol that we've started and how hopeful we are that it will make the difference.  And then we change the subject to avoid the potential of them figuring out that we're lying with every exhaled breath.

Don't expect people to stop lying to you.  Don't expect to stop lying to yourself.  Its deeply ingrained into human nature to avoid conflict, and we're all going to keep doing it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cry Me a River

I'm going to go out on a limb here (an admittedly short one) and warn you now about this post:

If you're seriously uber-liberal, or seriously die-hard conservative, stop reading here.
If you have issues with others exercising their freedom of expression, unless they happen to agree with you, stop reading here.
If you think social media sites like Facebook are a great place to Proselytize, whether Religiously or Politically, to get all your friends and acquaintances into the proper "Group Think" of political correctness, stop reading here.

In fact, don't just stop reading.  Go back to Facebook, delete me from your friends list, lose my phone number, and forget that we know each other.  Because what I'm about to say is going to raise your ire to the point where if you Don't forget that we even once knew each other, I'll no doubt have lynch mobs coming after me with pitchforks and torches.

I cannot begin to express just how tired I am of seeing political memes from both sides of the fence.   Don't ask how many people have been deleted from my online universe because of belligerently and aggressively attempting to sway the political landscape of their "friends" in this manner - you would honestly be shocked at the numbers. Wise up, assholes - you aren't going to change ANYONE ELSE'S MIND.  Ever.  You're certainly not going to change MY mind in either direction.  I'm almost 50, and my political views have been cemented over the years through personal study and watching the world - not because some casual acquaintance berates me for not being on their political bandwagon du jour.

The same can be said for Religious memes.  I lost count of the number of folks whom I've un-followed (and a few whom I flat out unfriended and/or blocked) due to constant bombardment with religious iconography, debates about how all the rest of us are going to hell (if I actually Believed in hell, I suppose I might be more concerned) and the whole "Share this and be BLESSED" thing.  Guess what?  Deity isn't some fairy godmother waiting for you to click Like and then pass along a Facebook post, and handing out an easier life based on how often you do so.  Trust me - my relationship with my gods is long standing, I'm happy with it, and there is less than a snowball's chance in your hell that I'm going to suddenly change my mind or my position.

Those two things having been said, I'm going to take a moment to address a few issues that are currently seriously polarizing hot topics right now.

A lion - albeit a famous one - got shot and killed by a hunter.  Wah?  The hunter has apologized, and you lot of slavering PC Army Social Justice Warriors have already managed to ruin his life, destroy his business, and send him death threats.  STOP already, and leave the man alone.  There are more important things in this universe than hounding someone to death for a hunt they were led to believe was legal.  If you simply Must Rant - then rant about the people who duped him into thinking that it was a legal hunt - not him for taking the shot.

For those who are hot on the Planned Parenthood scandal/debacle.... Come talk to me when you've Personally faced the agony of making the decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy.  But if you happen to be Pro-Life prior to birth - and not give 2 shits what happens AFTER that point - you aren't pro-life.  If you're Pro-Life, but also Pro-Death Penalty, you aren't pro-life.  If you're pro-life, but want to do away with social Welfare programs - you aren't pro-life.  If you're pro-life, but consider those children you "save from death" to be someone else's problem as soon as they pop out of the womb, because there's no way You're going to step up to the plate and take responsibility for them - house them, feed them, cloth them, potty train them, raise them to an ethical standard, teach them to respect themselves and society, see them through doctors appointments and first heartbreaks..... you aren't pro-life, you're a hypocritical, anti-choice ass who needs to wake the fuck up.

Southern Cross Battle Flag - aka the Confederate Battle Flag:  Where was your outrage 3 years ago?  10 years ago?  30 years ago when Dukes first came on TV?  50 years ago?  How about 100 years ago?  Or even, for that matter, Last Year?  It was no where to be found, until the current media Told you that you should be outraged.  Racism is in hearts - not pieces of cloth - and without finding a way to get it out of hearts, taking down flags isn't going to make a single lick of difference.  All you effectively do is to say via your actions and attitudes, "You have a right to free speech, unless I happen to disagree with what you're saying.  If I disagree, then you have no right to say it."

Take those attitudes as you will.  Continue reading my occasional blog posts or don't.  Delete me from your friends list on Social Media sites or not.  Either way - these are my opinions, you aren't going to change them, and none of this is open to debate.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

"If" or "When"

Life is the one thing that not one of us is going to make it out of alive.

No one.  Not one single solitary person.

People these days are so concerned with staying Alive.  They rant about staying in good health, so that they can live longer. 

Social pressure is brought to bear against those whose habits have been deemed to shorten the amount of time that they inhabit their current physical form.  Folks make it a point of giving up "bad" habits, of eating whatever the "experts" deem to be healthy (this week - just wait, it'll change with the next fad celebrity diet) of becoming more physically actively.  All with the intention of prolonging their time here on this crowded little mudball.

For what?

All of their habit changes, "healthy eating," exercise, stress relieving techniques..... all of it is pointless, in the end.  Its not going to save them.  Its not going to keep them from eventually dying.  If they are meant to die at a particular point, they're going to regardless of how careful they are, or how "healthy" their habits.

The point to all this?

Don't bother bragging on  yourself.  Stop trying to guilt people into giving up habits that have become socially unacceptable for "health" reasons.  Stop thinking that reverse peer pressure is somehow going to "save" them.

Its not.

Eventually, a grave waits for each of us, no matter how we try to fight it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Its really over...

For the past 2 years of my life, I've been dealing with the grieving process of losing my last remaining parent.

That 2 year wait for dad's ashes is over.  I picked them up earlier today.

Since August of 2006, it has been a journey of trials and triumphs.  It has seen happiness, tears, anger, frustration, guilt, sadness, the effects of greed, the effects of stress, the gain and subsequent loss of a job, the loss of my family home, 2 cars, a boat, 6 pets, and 3 relationships. 

I've gone through periods of plenty, when there were lots of folks around and things looked great.  Vacations that were more than simply taking a weekend off from work but staying home. People who called regularly to hang out. All of the bills paid, and still having enough to put food on the table and take in a movie every now and then.

I've gone through periods so poor that I was alone for all intents and purposes, and living without even most of the things we here in the US consider necessities - like electricity, and running water, heat in the winter, a working phone, and regular meals.

Somewhere in the back of my brain, there was this niggling little voice that kept saying, "If you just hang in there and Survive, you'll wake up from the nightmare, and mom and dad will be there, and life will be Normal again."

Even during this past 2 years, after I was notified of dad's death, and went into waiting mode for his ashes to be delivered, that little voice still existed.  Going to the luncheon, and subsequent memorial service, hosted by the Body Donation Program of the local medical school, there was still that little voice saying, "its not really REAL - this is all just some bizarre movie plot you've been caught up in, and any second now someone is gonna throw back a curtain and yell 'You're on Candid Camera!"'

I didn't have this issue - that unrelenting sense of Unreality - That VOICE in the back of my head - when mom died in 2002.  I was there at her bedside in the ICU when she took her final leave.  I watched the heart rate monitor slow and finally stop, to set up that infernal wailing of the alarm letting the nurses know that someone was no longer Here.  That machine scream that says a heart has stopped pumping blood, lungs are no longer drawing in air, brain is no longer sending signals to the rest of the body.

But I wasn't there when daddy died.  I was... Busy.  I had made myself Busy for more than a year, when dad had his final stroke.  Alone, warehoused in a nursing facility, wondering why I never answered the letter that he sent 2 months before, and why I never came to visit any longer.

I made myself Busy, and tried my damnedest to ignore the fact that he was still alive, and still expecting his daughter to show up and simply Talk to him. 

I made myself Busy, and reminded myself of just how Frustrated and Angry I had been with him, while he was back home on Hospice, for being an insufferable dick.  And for dumping all the responsibility in my lap by getting sick and then not having the good grace to die Quickly instead of lingering for years in a half alive, half dead, brain damaged state.

I made myself Busy, and reminded myself regularly of just what a Hassle he had become, what with dealing with doctors and nursing homes and insurance companies, and Adult Protective Services, and my idiot brother screeching about how I was Wasting His Inheritance by paying for dad's nursing home care.

I made myself Busy, and told myself there was still Time, that he was simply too cussed mean to go ahead and finally die and get it over with.

I made myself Busy, and told myself I would go see him once I figured out how to explain to him that I'd managed to lose the family home that he and momma had worked so hard to provide.  And I told myself that I'd figure out how to tell him that, once I figured out how to get him to understand that his raising hadn't helped keep my brother from setting up the circumstances that cost the house, in an unrelenting show of greed and self absorption.

I sit here currently trying to sort through all the things I should have said, all the things I should or could have done differently, all the times I copped out and made excuses for myself to avoid going to the nursing home to see him. 

Coulda, woulda, shoulda - the missed opportunities are gone.  They will never be back, and I will never again have a chance to look at my dad and tell him how much I loved him.   The only thing left is a plain, black box filled with ashes, with his name and a pair of years on an unadorned sticker on the front.  A few memories, some fading photos, and guilt.