Thursday, October 31, 2013

Delicious Words

One of my favorites is intimated. I'm not sure why, but I like how it rolls off my tongue, how it infers meaning ever so slightly, seductively. The core word, intimate, may have something to do with it; intimacy is always a good thing. But regardless of its meaning, I like how it feels when I say it in a sentence.

It got me thinking that others have favorite words, too. A good friend of mine loves the word egomaniacal. I can understand why. It has an unusually good flow about it, never mind about what its definition is.

Being a writer (I fancy myself one), words are very important to me. I like hearing them, digesting them when I read and letting them fully hit my brain with their meaning. The impact can be quite great at times. They create a tone, an understanding and ultimately a connection. That impact can be with another person giving a speech or with characters in the story, but also individuals during conversation. The words people use help me to understand them better, either bringing me closer or tainting what their outer appearance may indicate about them.

Words are used to describe things, they identify what we are trying to talk about. They give clarity and direction. They obviously serve the purpose of being able to communicate with other individuals. It is a rather banal task, but for me it never seems that way. Words are juicy, entertaining and really... just wonderful. :)

Either in this blog or elsewhere, the goal is that readers get me. But they may not. Hopefully I will leave them pondering and coming back to hear more. The words I choose deliberately will set the tone for future engagement with others. I like that. And for that reason, I choose my words carefully, but also purposefully. I have a voice with a distinct message, that is what my writing is about. Or at least that is what I'm trying to convey.

Interestingly, for many years I thought I just loved good music for it richness and ability to weave a melodic current that I connected with. I certainly enjoyed good combinations of instruments and a melody that produced that oh so special quality that kept me physically involved, but I realized that in order for me to truly be sold 100% on the song, it had to have the right lyrics. They had to make sense, they had to fit along with the music and they had to convey some sort of message with the wording. If a songwriter can appeal to my sensitivity to words used well and the music backing it up is original as well as inducing a physical reaction... well, then they are good in my book.

Bottom line... That is all. I didn't really realize that until writing became my focus. When I reflected back, it's always been about the words. I remember when I was younger, the dictionary held my attention quite a bit. It wasn't unusual for me to read it diligently for quite some time after I'd found the word I needed to look up for better understanding. I could actually just read the dictionary for no other reason than for enjoyment. Spelling was my favorite thing in English class. I usually got an A on our weekly tests. Book reports were second in line and listening to oral presentations rounded out my top favorites in school. I truly enjoyed words... listening to them, understanding them and then utilizing them correctly. Interestingly, this didn't dawn on me until I was much older. It's funny how sometimes we don't figure out things about ourselves until we involve ourselves deeply in our passions. I would definitely advocate that we all do that.

What do words do for you? Do you have favorites, too?

Friday, October 25, 2013


... you produce a product that hurts people or damages our environment knowingly... you don't care.
... your aim is to hurt someone... you don't care.
... you see that someone is hurt by your actions and it doesn't phase you... you don't care.
... the only action you take serves to benefit you while it hurts others knowingly... you don't care.
... honesty is not your first policy, in any situation... you don't care.
... you see and know something is wrong and don't act on behalf of the wronged person or introduce yourself into the situation to rectify it... you don't care.
... you know someone is counting on you and you deliberately deceive them... you don't care.
... your actions hurt anyone, any animal or anything and it creates nothing but destruction... you don't care.

We have enough of "I don't care" in our society. Turn the page, change the sentiment, let's go.

If you cared, we'd all be in a much different world. I wish you cared.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sunday, October 20, 2013

You Only Think You're Drowning

"I know I'm your life ring at the moment, but eventually you need to get back on the boat."
Susi Bocks

Monday, October 14, 2013

Happy "You Have Off To Honor A Douche Bag" Day

My early education touted Christopher Columbus as the hero who stumbled upon our land and set events in motion that led to the inevitability of this supposedly great country - the United States of America. Further education revealed that among other things he was not a hero, not even a great man. One who was especially not worthy of honor. He was, in actuality, the single biggest contributing factor that slavery was introduced in this country, but we're going honor him. WTF am I missing?

After understanding his real contribution to our history, I've consistently asked the question - how can a country continue to celebrate Columbus Day knowing who he was, what he did, and especially what he didn't do! He was a despicable human being, and certainly not someone who deserves a federally mandated holiday. I don’t know if you can even call him a human being considering how barbaric he actually was. But since 1937 we have been honoring him with his own personal day based on a skewed retelling of our history.

Many adults, in addition to children in our school system, don't understand the brutalities the Indians and others suffered at the hands of Christopher Columbus. Or understand the spin of those events since then that contribute to their current understanding of our history. It was prettied up to make it more palatable thus justifying it becoming a national holiday. "The worshipful biographical vignettes of Columbus in our textbooks serve to indoctrinate students into a mindless endorsement of colonialism that is strikingly inappropriate in today's post-colonial era." - from Lies My Teacher Told Me. In the spirit of teaching patriotism, Columbus was used and glorified; what we lost in the process was reality. The ugly reality of what he did on this soil.

Our schools would pretend that he contributed so much and is worthy of national praise, our kids being fed bullshit to keep the lie alive; passed on to create the cognitive dissonance that keeps this holiday in place to this day. Just as religion bypasses the horrors in the bible, so does the history being taught in schools with respect to our actual history. The good parts of his life, if there are any, do not wipe out the fact that this was an incredibly brutal and disgusting man.

Let’s stick with the truth and decide more reasonable actions today, shall we? Let’s lose this holiday all together or replace it with something that should absolutely be honored; the Indian Nations who were decimated at the hands of Columbus comes to mind. I’d be all for honoring their culture, recognizing their sacrifices and highlighting the real truth about Columbus’ brutalities. What was lost could be resurrected and given the proper recognition it deserves. National Indian Day, I like the sound of that.

But being honest would mean we’d have to look at our own brutal humanity in the face and accept the fact that our ancestors took violently then what we claim to have today. What we base our great nation on is the terrifying slaughter and enslavement of other human beings. We rose from their ashes, we took their future to cement having our own and it did start with Columbus. It’s disgusting, but it’s the truth and it’s ugly. And it is the reality of our past.

How we act today, what we honor today… that should be about what is and was the best we are or had to offer. And it should be deeply rooted in the truth.

So long as we continue to celebrate Columbus Day, we are doing ourselves a disservice as human beings by recognizing this douche bag as a hero. I won’t do it. I hope you don’t either.

There are several petitions floating around that would like to see our government remove this day from our traditional holidays. Sign one, sign them all. Let's change the conversation to a rational one, and let what we honor reflect what is good about us.

On this holiday, please educate yourself more about this man from our past and then pass on your knowledge to your fellow human beings. Only with the truth and understanding will we have a present and future worth having; it means we're doing it better than who lived before us.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Chasing Writing

I recently watched "Chasing Ice". An amazing documentary that gave me more than one 'food for thought' moment. The star of this incredible piece of social artwork said something profound - "observing it, knowing it, sharing it and sharing it effectively". This was his mission and purpose in bringing the plight of Global Warming/Climate Change to the audience. It got me thinking about what I've been doing for the last two years.
I'm not what you would call a prolific writer, but I'm always thinking and have many thoughts that lead to pieces yet to be written. Currently, there's a backlog of those waiting to see the light of day. I'll go through spurts where I could write four or five publishable pieces and then I'll go for weeks and nothing. That doesn't discourage me or stop the subjects from making themselves known. I still add them as they come to me and make notes about the direction these pieces must take. It might just be a little while before I get back to them. That's ok, for now.

Writing has been elusive to me at times, even though it's what makes me feel my most human when I'm deeply in the thick of doing it. And now, my mind keeps coming back to those key words from Chasing Ice -  'sharing it effectively'. How can I accomplish that with what is my passion, my drive, my sense of justice, my thoughts and ultimately, my writing? Because after all, my goal is about being heard; the written message and the thought process on any given subject ingested willingly by the reader. But not only do I want to be heard as I have a voice in this world just as everyone else does, but I want to be understood... clearly... always.

When they do understand, you connect. When you connect, things change. I hope that my thoughts resonate, possibly spurring people to action and maybe inspiring them to have a different thought process about some or any idea. I dream about the things bouncing around in my head being the catalyst for change(s) in the world, good shifts and positive outcomes. The world becomes a better place in my mind. When our individual influence rubs softly on those who we've connected with, then, incrementally, the pleasant and desired positivity can develop and surround a greater area. And it builds. We hopefully will continue to express ourselves and make our voices heard. Understanding leads us down a path of growth, for ourselves and those who've chosen to cross our path. I'm fortunate, I feel like I've been able to develop many good relationships because the communication between us has successfully cemented that connection. My community has grown and I'm richer for it.

My profound thoughts will continue to drive me as I look at the mechanics of writing and as I continue to be more serious about the direction of it, this will motivate me to become more effectively able to share it. As I continue that whole process will probably change. Will I still use the same formula for writing or will that readjust, too? Does the dedication and time devoted increase or will that not be necessary as my skills develop further? I do look forward to what the next level of devotion to my craft will be and what that actually means. More depth in my writing? Better analysis of the subject matter? Increased writing skill? I hope.

If I've learned one thing in the last few years, the connection I've made to writing was enabled by the connection made with other people and the deeper parts of myself. They have, in many ways, inspired me to become more open and inquisitive about our world and what I bring to it. Their feedback, their criticism and their positive words when an idea I shared touched them... that has made my writing be the best part of my humanity. And I thank them for it.

As I chase this internal desire, I look forward to who I'm bringing on this ride with me. 

The Basement Story - Warning: Perfect Analogy About The Dysfunction Of Believing

"Christianity in a Nutshell"
Dan Barker

I've had the pleasure of meeting Dan Barker on a few occasions, most recently in September at Apostacon in Omaha, Nebraska. He entertained us at lunch with a slightly longer version but you get the ghist. Enjoy!

Monday, October 7, 2013

So Help Me God

Jury Duty - an honorable civic responsibility to participate in just as casting your vote during election cycles is; it fulfills a certain duty to your community. I'm a citizen of a small rural town and have been tapped three times since we started living here to fulfill this obligation. It is an inconvenience, slightly, but I appreciate the opportunity to ensure that disputes are handled fairly and provide justice to injured parties.  But on this particular occasion, it served as yet another experience to get the hair on the back of my neck to rise. I'm not sure why it had never struck a nerve before, but it did today. Maybe it was just because I wasn't feeling well this morning. I just confirmed it. My temperature is 99.1 F, I have a low-grade fever and a high-grade disgust for the "traditions" of the court.

During my presence in the courtroom this morning, a quick head count from the back tells me we had a pool of about fifty-six potential jurors in attendance to fill eighteen seats. They needed a jury of twelve for the trial, along with six alternates. The civil case reduced the pool by those needed eighteen people only to dismiss five for good reasons. Five more were taken from the pool to round out the requirements. But before any selections had even occurred, one thing had to happen first. We all, as a collective, had to agree to do our jobs with a straight face and promise it in one of two ways - either by oath or affirmation. If you know me, you know what I chose to do. I stood up quickly and proudly affirmed my duty to the court.

"You and each of you do solemnly swear that you will truly try this cause and render a true verdict according to the law and the evidence, so help you God." 

"You and each of you do sincerely affirm that you will truly try this cause and render a true verdict according to the law and the evidence. This you do under the pains and penalty of perjury."
I was saddened to see only three other people stand with me to agree to the affirmation. But yay - all of us were women. But seriously, only four people total! It once again shows me how much, as an atheist, I'm in the minority in this community.

It's obvious that I would never use the oath because I don't need a god to help me make decisions, evaluate the evidence or follow a judge's instructions to bring about a verdict or resolution. Being self-led doesn't require me to have an invisible entity guide my actions. I'm still puzzled why anyone would want one to but that's beside the point of this blog.

Let's look at the differences between the two. The oath asks you to affirm that you will solemnly swear to uphold your duty. In other words invoking a sacred being in a grave and earnest manner help you do your duty. During the affirmation you are pledging to sincerely affirm or be genuine in your desire to do your job. In other words, you will honestly carry out your duties and by doing so it doesn't require the help of a deity. The other different bit is that you understand that if you do not do so, you will have broken the law.

The goal of both pledges is to have those potential jurors and ultimately those selected do exactly what they promised. The bottom line is that you promise that you will do your job. I get it that those of faith feel more comfortable saying they need a god to assist them. Any opportunity to say they are unable to do anything without him and jump at the chance to do so, I really do get it even though I disagree with the thought process or desire. It's understandable because that is what they have been taught all their lives... "you can't do anything without his guidance." This oath they take is no different than thanking god for their food, praising him for his divine intervention during medical crisis' and of course helping with football games being won. But more importantly, his interceding when big decisions need to be made. NOTHING can happen without the big invisible sky daddy's blessing or guidance.

What tears at my gut and leaves me befuddled (once again) is the injection of faith into a setting that is and should clearly be devoid of the supernatural. We live in a country governed by laws created by men and women. We use procedures and actions in our judicial system developed in this natural world of ours that reflect not one ounce of mysticism. All decisions and efforts in this courtroom are the work of a rational process that in the end uses thoughtfulness and reasoning to deliver a verdict or determination. Why for the love of cute puppies are we interjecting an invisible being into this scenario and asking for his guidance to perform our duty in this process? Why? It's just asinine to me!

I will continue to be saddened, angered and stunned about these types of practices as I encounter them and any others in places where a spiritual intrusion is imposed into a secular process governed by secular laws.

And I will continue to speak out against the absurdity of religion wherever I see it. So help me not god.