The Ramblings of the Titanium Don

Explorations of Conscious Reality Creation and Other Matters

Month: June 2011

Where government doesn’t belong

Dear United States Politicians,

I would like to take a moment to address a topic that YOU spend all-too-much time addressing: Civil liberties.  Or, more importantly, ways to curtail civil liberties.

We have reached an unfortunate point in our history where in the name of freedom, patriotism, and God we allow our civil liberties to be beaten back.  We allow for debate about topics that, frankly, have NO PLACE in politics.  They are civil topics.  They belong in our communities, but not in our laws.

Let’s address some of these, shall we?

First – gay marriage.  WHO says that marriage is between a man and a woman?  If your answer is The Church, then you have already pointed out EXACTLY why this should be a non-issue in the political arena.  Separation of church and state is codified in the Constitution rather clearly.  Right in the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

So unless you plan to continue to blatantly disregard the first amendment, you cannot defend denying gay marriage on the grounds of your religious belief.  Because apart from that, there is NO VALID REASON to deny this right!

I don’t care if a man loves a man, a man loves a woman, or a woman loves a woman – if they wish to marry, and be legally bound to one another, THEY SHOULD HAVE THIS RIGHT.  This is the civil rights movement of the twenty-first century, folks.  And like women’s suffrage or the rights of black people, homosexuals ALSO deserve equality.  Color of skin, gender, or sexual orientation should have NO BEARING on whether you can vote, ride a bus, use a public restroom or marry.

If you have a problem with gay marriage – then DON’T GET ONE.  Much applause to NY State for legalizing this – and here’s hoping MORE of our country will follow this example.

Next issue – religion.  I give you, again, from the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

WE ARE NOT A CHRISTIAN NATION!  And as such, the Judeo-Christian ethic, while not a bad moral compass to base ideas on, is NOT the end-all-be-all.  We are a nation of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Shintoists, Taoists, Hindi, Wiccan, Pagan, Agnostics and Atheists AND every other religious and spiritual identity under the sun!  You CANNOT apply a single moral code based on ANY ONE religious identity or practice.

As such – it DOES NOT MATTER if the President or any member of congress or local-level politician believes in God, attends a church, or prays in a mosque.  THIS IS A PERSONAL ISSUE – and as such has no place being a part of ANY discussion held at ANY level of government.

Religion creates community, and a basic moral compass and spiritual path for people to take.  But that should have NOTHING to do with politics, and public policy as such.  In especial in a nation where we openly, freely practice EVERY religion on the face of the earth – or none at all.  In our own pledge of allegiance, the line “under god” wasn’t added until the 1950’s – and frankly doesn’t belong.  Not everyone believes in god, and that should have no bearing on my participation in the political system of this country.

Erosion of the separation of church and state has been getting steadily worse in the past two decades, and I think we need to arrest this problem, and reverse it.  In especial after 9/11.  Islam is NOT an enemy of the state – the majority of Muslims are decent, perfectly pleasant people.  But like any of the religions out there, there are zealots – and they make a LOT of noise, and command a lot of attention.  But by no means are THEY the majority!

The Republican Party in particular has clearly been hijacked by the “Religious Right” and similar zealots.  Suddenly this VERY specific moral compass must guide their political leanings.  As such, to tow the party line, you have to believe in marriage between only a man and woman – and be pro-life.  Which brings us to:

Next issue – abortion.  I do not care what side you are on, for or against, it does not matter if you think life begins at conception – the ONLY person who has a say with regards to abortion is the mother-to-be.  It is HER body, and only SHE can choose what is right for her.

This subject DOES NOT BELONG in politics, folks.  I know this is a major hot-button issue for a lot of people, but I am here to argue that it should NOT be a part of politics.  A woman’s right to choose is EXACTLY that.  HER RIGHT.  It is not MY body, it is hers.

This is all about a woman’s body, and her own right to choose what she wishes to do to her body.  If she wants to pierce every orifice, if she wants to tattoo every inch of her skin, or if she chooses to bear a child or abort a pregnancy – it is HER right, HER body, HER choice.  The church and state should not be involved in this decision, plain and simple.

She will make the choice, and she will do what HER personal moral compass allows her to do – and neither the church, or the government should have final say on this topic.  And along that same line:

Next issue – assisted suicide.  I think if you are suffering from a terminal illness, and you would prefer to die with dignity, and by your own choice – YOU SHOULD HAVE THAT RIGHT.  A person with a terminal cancer, or Alzheimer’s, or any-other degenerative disease where death will leave them wrecked and out of control should have the right to choose to die WHEN and HOW they wish.  If death is imminent, but slow and agonizing and robbing you of dignity and control, you should have the right to CHOOSE to end your life.  Again – we are a nation of NO ONE RELIGION – and the morays of the church should not dictate things like this.

I am all for medical science trying all they can to save us, and to improve our lives.  But sometimes if all you can do is keep the body alive while the mind slips and the muscles fail – why not allow for the dignity of choosing to end one’s own life?

Next issue – censorship.  My opinion on this is simple – don’t like the movie, the art, the book – don’t watch it, don’t view it, don’t read it.  Once again, we have to turn to the First Amendment of the Constitution, and there you will see Freedom of Speech.  It should NOT be the place of our government to censor.  It is not the place of the government to protect our children from ‘obscenity’ or whatever you find offensive.  It is the place of PARENTS to regulate what their children see and read.

The government CANNOT raise our children.  Nor should they!  Parents need to PARENT.  And that applies not only to the issue of censorship, but to taking a role of active participation in the life of the child.  Be that as it may – censoring things for the sake of the children on the part of the government can lead to ALL KINDS of unpleasant places – and is something that time should not be devoted to.

So rather than spend ALL this time on the above topics, oh great political leaders of our nation – why not focus on REALLY important issues?  Like health care, education, taxes, jobs, and government and corporate waste?  How about doing the job of governing, instead of trying to regulate aspects of our lives that, frankly, government does not belong?

My fellow Americans – how about WE demand that THEY do the important work, rather than focusing on these issues where they really do not belong?  WE are responsible for electing these people – and we need to make them remember it is the American People whom they are working for, NOT a corporation, not a church, not any other entity.

If they cannot remember that, and they cannot work for us as they are supposed to – we need to remind them how they attained the office they hold.  And if they continue to forget this – maybe we need to elect someone new.

Civil liberties is one of the key tenets of our nation.  Let us not forget that, and let us not give them up!

Happiness

What do we really want?

What drives us?  What gets us up in the morning, what motivates us to do what we do day in, day out?  What is our ultimate goal?

Happiness.

I think, when all is said and done, we want to be happy.

Dictionary.com defines HAPPY as:

–adjective, -pi·er, -pi·est.

1. delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing: to be happy to see a person.

2. characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy: a happy mood; a happy frame of mind.

3. favored by fortune; fortunate or lucky: a happy, fruitful land.

Is that, or is that not what we ultimately are after?

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  One of the most quoted lines from the Declaration of Independence.

I would argue that this drives everything we do.  We go to work to earn money in order to have things that we believe will make us happy.  We seek relationships in order to have someone to share our life with…to be happy.  We do all kinds of activities to bring ourselves happiness.

Happiness is a FEELING.  You sense it, feel it, experience it.  A smile.  A laugh.  That sense of elation and ultimate comfort.  Happy is GOOD.

So why are so many people UNhappy?

Depression, discontent, anger, unhappiness.  Every day we face these forces, and all too often they manage to interfere, and derail the attempt to find happiness.  All too often they manage to dominate our lives.

We are told that we have to earn happiness.  We are told that we have to do all these other things in order to be happy.  And we are told happiness is fleeting.  Denis Leary sums it up thusly: “Nobody’s happy, ok!? Happiness comes in small doses folks. It’s a cigarette, or a chocolate cookie, or a five second orgasm. That’s it, ok! You cum, you eat the cookie, you smoke the butt, you go to sleep, you get up in the morning and go to fucking work, ok!?”

And the trouble is, most of us have come to believe that.  Most of us look at that and say, yup, too true.

But if that is true, then I suggest you spend time with a child under the age of five.  Happiness is NOT fleeting – it’s more, it goes deeper.  It’s a familiar face, a friend, a sandbox, a push on a swing, a toy train, or a butterfly passing by.  Happiness can last for HOURS.  Watch the smiles, listen to the laughter, see the animation on their faces, and see if happiness is a far simpler thing than we make it out to be.

Because that is REALLY what the problem is.  We work hard, we strive to get all these things we THINK will make us happy.  But things are not the answer.  Happiness cannot be bought – happiness is a FEELING.  Happiness just IS.

Whether we choose to believe it or not – we have control over our feelings.  We CAN choose to be affected by our environment, or others – but we make that choice.  We ultimately control our emotional state.  But it is not the easy way.

Our society is all about quick fixes nowadays.  Take a pill.  Cast the blame elsewhere.  Take the easy way out.  Find the quickest path.  We don’t like to look too deeply at things, we fear intellect and depth.  And the notion that FEELINGS are complex, and hard to codify and explain means this is something we seek a simple explanation for.

In too many ways, we strive to NOT feel.  Feelings are scary!  And rather than experience the negative feelings (which we actually need in order to recognize the positive feelings) we strive for unemotional.  We want to be Vulcans – all logic, no feeling.

YES, feelings are SCARY sometimes.  Because you can feel love and joy and happiness.  But you can also feel pain and sorrow and anger and hate and sadness.  And it is quicker and easier to feel and empathize with the negative emotions.  As such, some people think it is just easier to not feel.  And yet…they still seek happiness.

So how can you seek happiness, and at the same time, seek feeling NOTHING?

And that is one of the great contradictions of our society.  Don’t feel – but be happy.

Let me be blunt and clear on this – you CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS!

We have this amazing capacity to be ENORMOUS!  The meat sacks we run around in are nothing but a shell.  What they contain is equivalent to a TARDIS – FAR larger on the inside than on the outside.

We are afraid to explore that potential.  We turn to superficial answers, like religion, in order to explain it.  And then we get so caught up in the greater meaning of this facet of our existence, that we neglect to address it in the here and now.  And the here and now is what we NEED to consider, more often than we do.

We dwell on the past.  We dream of the future.  And the here and now just passes us by.  I was hurt by this, but down the line I want that.  I recall the pain, but want to feel the pleasure.  And what about RIGHT NOW?  Where is the focus on NOW?

I don’t care if you are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Agnostic or Atheist.  I don’t care if you believe in an afterlife or not.  What I care about is that we ACKOWLEDGE this being, consider how we ALLOW ourselves to feel – and I care that we make an effort to act on this.

If we accept that we CAN be happy, that we have the RIGHT to be happy, that it is not owed to us or earned – we can have SO MUCH MORE in this life.  All these superficial trappings – money, possessions, people we surround ourselves with – these will not make us happy.  WE make us happy.  WE choose to be happy.

Or not.

Next argument I will get is “You can’t be happy all the time.”  You’re right.  You can’t.  You WILL have bad days.  You will feel sad.  You will feel blue.  You will feel angry.  You will be upset.  And I am not suggesting you discount those emotions.  On the contrary – you need to acknowledge them.

What I WILL argue is that there is a difference between acknowledging your emotions, and DWELLING on them.  If you make the choice to hold onto these negative emotions, that is a different problem.  They happen, and you need the negative to know the positive.  But do you choose to acknowledge them and move on – or do you choose to hold onto them, feed them, give them the power?

Because that is my whole point.  We have the power.  We control the emotions.  We control the feelings.  And we choose to feel, or not feel.  And maybe, if we are more conscious of that choice, if we stop giving the power and energy to the negative, and feed the positive – MAYBE we might actually be able to BE HAPPY.

Do you want to prove me wrong?  Go ahead.  I am sure it is easy to do.  Refute my claim.  Then I ask that you show me that you are not doing precisely what I am saying.

THINK about it.  And don’t let life live you – CHOOSE.  Make choices when it comes to how you allow yourself to feel.  Take the control you have every right to.

Then – let yourself feel happiness.  Allow yourself to be happy!

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