Monday, January 31, 2011

Chasing the Sun

I've been very stressed recently.

But today, I stepped outside after being locked inside the cold, darkness that can be our apartment, and realized, it's such a beautiful day.

Have you ever seen a tree you've seen a thousand times, but one day just stopped to look at it and think, "Wow...what's with this tree today?"

Nothing really. That trees been there a long time. You've seen it many times. So the more important question is, what's with you today?

And all at once things are put into perspective. Suddenly your stress matters little, your worries melt away and you remember, you're alive. And I don't just mean alive, physically, but you're capable of stopping and thinking, "I'm living in this world, and what a beautiful world it is."

A little while ago I had a conversation with someone whom I love dearly, but found we were really standing on opposite ends of how we view humanity, and the world.

Look, honestly, at the end of the day, you can either go to sleep thinking the world is a terrible place, or you can go to sleep thinking it's a beautiful place. But you're view on the world doesn't change it from being what it is. That's why if we think it sucks, it still sucks when we wake up in the morning. But if we think it's beautiful, it continues to be so day in and day out.

I really do believe in the human psyche, the power of the human spirit, our ability to overcome great things simply by getting in touch with ourselves. And when you reach that place, sometimes, we stop because today the grass smells great, and you realize, how long has it been since you last noticed what a beautiful scent it is?

The grass isn't always greener on the other side. It's greener right here, right in front of you, right now. You've just had your eyes closed for so long, you mistook blindness for sight, and realized what you've been doing all this time has been wandering without purpose.

Stop wandering. Open your eyes. Stress, depression, heartache, sadness, confusion, all the things that weigh down one's soul can be lifted by the knowledge that, when you lay your head to rest, you will rise on an earth so beautiful it is worth fighting for, it is worth soldiering on to find the peace that awaits you as light at the end of a dark tunnel.

I heard a story once, that can actually be summed up in a quote from The Dark Knight, oddly enough.

"The night is darkest just before the dawn."

You cannot catch the sun by chasing it through the day, otherwise you will tire and quit, only to grow more and more angered at the fact that the glory that is the sun is always just out of reach. It will always outrun you. But if you turn around, and run through the night, then you will meet the sunrise head on. And only in braving that darkness will you realize nothing can outrun you. All things beautiful are attainable.

There really are two kinds of us in this world. Are we waking up at dawn, or are we spiritually, intellectually, psychically nocturnal? Are we waking up in darkness only to convince ourselves the light will never come?

At the end of the day, you can either hit the pillow thinking this world is a terrible place, or a beautiful one.

Which one are you, which one would you like to be? And more importantly, what are you going to do to get there?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Breath

Don't know how many people are aware of this. I'm sure quite a few, but some things get by us.

http://articles.cnn.com/2011-01-19/justice/pennsylvania.abortion.doctor_1_abortion-clinic-illegal-abortions-late-term-abortions?_s=PM:CRIME

I don't really think I can even begin to express my feelings on this. How do you weigh in?

There seem to be so many topics today that have sensitivity as thin as eggshells, that really cannot be defined by more than personal belief, and it all boils down to dilemmas and arguments. An issue such as abortion has a lot to it, you don't need me to tell you that. But when a child takes a breath and has its spinal cord severed with scissors, then what is that? That is murder. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

I'm pro free will. That has always been my stance on most things in life. Humans have been given free will, its a gift that we must utilize to its fullest potential. And to believe in the necessity of free will, to me, dictates the having to allow others to make their own choices. One doesn't have to personally agree on something morally to understand that it belongs to a much larger issue at the end of the day.

Do I agree with abortion, no. That's me. But do I believe in free will? Yes. So that sort of throws me in a boat that says, "Hey if it were me, I couldn't do it. But this is your life, this is your choice. You're going to do what you will, and I can't stop you."

And of course, beyond this issue specifically, free will means the consequences of any action as a result of your choice will be yours. We all bear responsibility for our choices. And whatever arises from those choices is ours to deal with, ours to bear.

But this, this "Doctor", belongs in a special place. If any abhorrent action has been taken that is an abuse of free will it is something such as this. And what are we going to do about it?

How can someone be so cruel that they can look into those eyes, hear that breath, and decide it's okay to take that away?

These are lives, plain and simple. A woman even lost hers as a result of these practices. He taught this to others, and as the story so often goes, is looking at far less counts of murder than he should be. Same way so many of these people kill a dozen victims and are only charged for half of them.

There's really not much more for me to say about all this, other than it all comes back to influences, things I've mentioned before. But I will say this, and I'm desperate for your opinion on all of this, we as Human Beings have very few real responsibilities in life, and beyond that even fewer of those are so innate within our spirits that I believe we are required to carry them out. Of course Love is number one in my book, and all things wonderful are precipitation of this. I think Love is our responsibility, but to narrow that further, we have a responsibility to end injustice.

That's a pretty broad statement, but there are many injustices in this world.

I will tell you this too, free will bears much responsibility. And its our gift as humans to utilize this free will. How fortunate are we that we are capable of making our own decisions in life, as opposed to being led blindly, and mindlessly down the road that is fate. But in embracing the greatest gift of all, we are also accepting that we are ready for the biggest responsibility of our lives.

I have a responsibility. You have a responsibility. We have a responsibility.

For all the injustice in this world, it isn't enough to read about it, and think to yourself, "How sad, I wish someone would do something." We are that "someone". Each and every one of us has a great power simply in our existing. We have a great gift simply by breathing. Do not waste it. Now is the time to love as much as you possibly can.

What good will that do? Isn't "loving" our enemy a little silly and non-productive? Isn't it faster, simpler, and more effective to fight fire with fire?

Yes, it would seem that way. But human beings are not simple creatures, not mere animals. If you think you are, surrender the things that make you human, your good fortune, your car, your home, get rid of it. If really we're no better than dogs, then cast your fate to the wind as the animals do. But if you're like me, and you know beyond your instincts there is a purpose at your core, then unlike the animals, do not simply fight fire with fire. The forest burns much quicker when half the blaze is you. Why not steal the very oxygen that this fire needs to continue its rampage, why not be something more than fire, something much stronger?

There are individuals that function on hate, fear, murder, chaos, and all the despicable means in between. Don't stump to their level. Let them die out naturally, and focus your efforts on these children who are fighting day in and day out just for the luxury of taking a breath. They're not old enough to make their own choices, and at this age they need those around them to do for them what's best. Isn't love the best thing for a child?

Evil exists in this world, but it doesn't have to. Because you too exist, and with your life, your breath, you can extinguish the flames that roam wild, looking to burn down anything in its path, and beyond that, your good will can burn hotter and brighter than any fire, spread faster than any inferno. No one can make us act. But life is pretty short when you stop to think about it. And love is pretty simple when you let it act in your life as it desires to.

So spread it around. If we know we're capable of changing the world, what's stopping us? Step over the roadblock of the shallow intimidation that is evil. For it is a dried old tree, sustained on nothing but the sheer luck that no one has yet to come and knock it over. All you need to do to move past it is push it over. And considering how much life there is in you, and how little there is in it, how hard is that?

Shouldn't we be the change we hope to see? The abundance for what we think lacks in the world?

Well if Love is what you think is lacking in the world, remember it certainly is not lacking in you. Now is the time to prove it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Savior

The AZ shooting has been tragic. It's good to hear Rep. Giffords is on the up from 'Critical' to "Serious.' But only a handful of people I've spoken to have heard of a story coming from Australia, of Jordan Rice, a 13 year old boy who sacrificed his own life to save his little brother Blake's.

Both Jordan and his mother were then swept away in the flash flood.

Take a moment to realize the incredible power of the human spirit. Though many like to argue with me and others on this, this is why I believe there is a soul within mankind. You don't have to agree, but there was something great within this kid.

When a 13 year old is ready and willing to lay down his life to save another is when we remember not even half of us would have done the same.

But we can.

I believe in a savior.

I also believe they are among us each and every day. And many times, the saviors of mankind are children. Because, as most of us forget, passion, trust, and love burns brightest in our young. Let's remember to give them as much credit as we do the oldest and grandest philosophers, the wisest and keenest elders, the smartest and most cunning countrymen. The things you can learn from a child are without prejudice, straightforward, and true. Never waste the opportunity to learn from one, as even in death, children can teach us how to be better human beings.

We're only as young as we feel, and deep down, we are all children. So perhaps, there is something to learn from all we encounter. Never forget what it means to be without judgment, to be like a child. When you let your hand drop the gavel, you find the heaviest burden has just been shook from your shoulders. And what a relief it is, to know you will walk each step of everyday closer to love, and further from judgment.

The greatest gift one can give is to lay down one's life for one's friends.

Let's take a minute to honor this brave kid. Lord knows he showed more courage in his final moments than some of us do in our entire life.

God bless you Jordan.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Grains of Sand

Tyler, a very good friend of mine, wrote this as a Facebook note some time ago, and just messaged it to me after he'd read the blog. I loved it A LOT! And I've copied it below so you can read it too. It brings up a lot of what I think about the world, the galaxy, and the universe, in a scientific way. Really a beautiful statement from him, and the quote from Carl Sagan. It's all underlined to seperate it from his note from my comments. And as a side note, this could be a long one...so if you're willing to give me some time, please read on. It's going to be fun.

With all the war, terrorism, violence, and disasters on planet Earth, it is easy to take up sides against each other. However, it might help to take a step back and look at the whole picture, and see just how small we are in this vast Universe.

To help us see the whole picture, we must shrink our Universe into a size we can comprehend. Where better to start than Earth.

If Earth were the size of a grain of sand (1mm), the sun would be a little larger than a softball. That softball would be 38 feet away from our grain of sand Earth. From the softball sized Sun, Pluto would be 1,515 feet away from that. Now that is just our solar system.

Our Sun is one star in the Milky Way Galaxy. The Milky Way Galaxy has around 200 billion stars. Even with that many stars in our galaxy, the closest star to our “softball sized” sun is Proxima Centauri. Keeping the sizes proportionate, Proxima Centauri would be 460 miles away from our softball sized sun. That is roughly the distance between Los Angeles, CA and Tucson, AZ.

With over 200 billion stars in our galaxy, the distances we are now talking about are huge. That means our galaxy, The Milky Way, would be 46,251,582 miles wide in comparison to our softball size sun and our grain of sand size earth. 46,251,582.2 miles is around half the actual distance between Earth and the Sun. And that is just a shrunken comparison of our universe.

In this collection of stars we call the Milky Way Galaxy we have discovered 287 planets outside our solar system, and counting. With that many planets, it's hard to imagine that life doesn't exist out there somewhere.

Expanding to actual real life distances, if you could travel in a space ship at the speed of light, it would take you 100,000 years to travel from one side of the Milky Way Galaxy to the other.

But it doesn’t stop there. Our Milky Way Galaxy is only a small part of the entire Universe. So far, with our most powerful instruments, we have discovered close to 200 billion galaxies in the Universe.

That means that there are 1 septillion, or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars in all the galaxies in the entire the Universe, many of which are just like our sun. If you had a space ship that could travel at the speed of light, it would take you 156 billion years to travel from one end to the other. Considering our universe is only 14 billion years old, that is an unfathomably long time.

I would like to end this rambling thought I have written out with a quote from the late Carl Sagan. Using the comparison of Earth as a grain of sand, he said:

“Consider again that dot. That's here, that's home, that's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.”


I think what really hit me, aside from the facts Tyler listed, were some of the wordings from Sagan. Things like "...on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam." God, if that doesn't hit you like a ton of bricks I don't know what will.

Or, "Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves."

And of course this, "There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.”

Focusing on the facts, just the reducing of earth to a grain of sand and the sun as a softball, and the distance between those, does really put things in perspective. And thinking of the earth, and us on it, as "a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam" gives you the feeling that perhaps we're very unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

And though I agree with all of this through and through, I would, however, like to say that, to me, it only strengthens my belief in our IMPORTANCE in it all.

I've spent two summers in Japan. I love the country, was desperate to go, and the first time I did, spent the time more as a tourist, enamored of every single box of tissues with some Japanese writing on it and a picture of an adorable cartoon rabbit with big eyes and cute floppy ears.

The second visit put me at a slower pace, giving me time to read, study, make solid friendships, and solid understandings about myself.

The first time I came back I was happy and enthralled, the second time I came back, the only way I could describe it was, I felt enlightened.

And the more I think about enlightenment, about what it means to me, and what I believe it means in general, is within the realm of understanding. I think the way we're led to consider enlightenment is as something that is, for the most part, unachievable by common men and women, that we must sit under a tree or a waterfall for weeks, or months, years even, meditating to achieve some higher state of being that puts all things in perspective and sets us apart from the world.

And though I don't seek to fire on beliefs that draw from that idea, I think over time it's morphed into a daunting idea, that none of us will ever "be as good" or "as holy" or "as enlightened" as so and so. But I think that's entirely untrue. Enlightenment, really, when I consider it, can never be the end of the journey, but rather a continuing process. Enlightenment can never mean the end of our self discovery, of our explorations, but as a new step in how we view all the things around us. So to claim "I am enlightened, I am complete in my spiritual, universal explorations" is a little foolish,  because it almost seems to suggest the "holier than thou" ideal, the "I'm smarter and MORE englightened than you will ever be so I'm better." Which is silliness. To suggest you are better than someone else, and to bring people under your wing in a sense that they seek your wisdom can many times transform into their worship of you. People who seek enlightenment as a means of being worshiped or followed will never find it.

The idea of the Earth as a grain of sand is incredible, because in writing a few months back, the best way I came into describing what enlightenment meant to me, the best way to sum it all up, is this: Experiencing enlightenment is coming into the knowledge that you are simultaneously a grain of sand in the ocean, and the sun of the universe. It is knowing that as an individual you are one, but collectively, we are also one.

I am a firm believer in the beauty of contradictions. (Sometimes they suck.) But I'm talking about the human race as a beautiful contradiction. Isn't it? We're technically animals yet we believe the things that tell us to go against our nature, and seek higher understanding, whether it be spiritual, scientific, or otherwise.

That's pretty amazing stuff. And to think about all the terrors we face, the horrors we see on earth, that technically at the end of the day, we're nothing but a grain of sand in the ocean, and that ocean is on a planet that is comparable to being a grain of sand in itself. That's being, scientifically, as close to nothing as you can possibly get.

But, as I've talked about briefly before, there's a HUGE difference between mere existence and living. All things exist. But few things live, and live beyond a functional sense, beyond a biological sense, in that we seek to understand not just why we exist, but why we live, and what we're meant to do with all of that, how to put ourselves to good use.

Thinking about that will put you halfway to enlightenment in an instant.

So why? Why continue the fight? When at the end of the day we're as close to nothing as we could possibly be, why do we even get up in the morning? And beyond that, why do we seek to understand the fact that we're next to nothing? AND! In the face of all THAT, why seek to prove we actually aren't just grains of sand, but suns of the universe?

Because of these things, people's persistence in proving we're more than just grains of sand is beautiful, again, a beautiful contradiction. It makes perfect sense and is utter nonsense all at once. Just as much as being a grain of sand in the ocean and the sun of the universe at the same times makes sense. It doesn't. And yet it does.

This is where responsibility comes down to us. As Sagan pointed out, knowing these facts "underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another". I think we do have a responsibility to utilize our existence to find out why we're alive. And in doing that, you dig down deep into yourself, and the contradictions begin to make sense, and you think, "Gee, 85 years isn't that long...in the grand scheme of things." So, in the blink of the eye which is your existence, what are you going to do with your life?

It is very heavy when you think about it, and never feel like the exploration, the self discovery isn't worth it, because one step in the right direction is better than none. Even moving a millimeter is more than nothing.

It's my firm belief that YOU have a purpose. I'm not trying to write a Joel Osteen book here, but don't cheat yourself. The facts are daunting. The weight of the truth of the universe can crush you, but only if you let it. I'm not saying you have to believe in a Religious God to acknowledge the fact that you are alive despite the odds. And you're capable of using your life for great things. We have the internet for God's sake. I mean, come on...

People are born with emotions, whether you see them purely from a chemical standpoint or something more you have the ability to feel because of events. And even more amazing than possessing the emotions is humans ability to react,which is what causes them in the first place. You are affected. That's the beauty. It's not that we're capable of Love, but that something brings it out of us. Sure I always use Love as the example, but it goes for hate, anger, lust, greed, happiness, sorrow, empathy, fear, compassion, everything. Not only can we feel, but we DO feel. And the fact that it happens is mind blowing.

Knowing that the universe is so vast, but that we can teach ourselves to learn about it means our purpose reaches beyond just living, breathing, making babies, and dying. We can figure out...the universe. I wish Jeff Bridges was here to emphasize the "Dudeness" of this.

The very fact that you have the ability to comprehend your purpose, your existence, your life, should tell you that statistically speaking you are a grain of sand, but emotionally, intellectually, you have the power to become the sun of the universe. You can explore the depths of your consciousness to a point in which you can determine morals, can determine your beliefs, and can experience the beauty of contradictions and the even greater beauty of what it's like to feel. To me, emotion is a sign of purpose. Most animals have them, but they seem to stop at a point. And I don't discredit animals by any means, but I'd be lying if I said humans weren't the greatest animals around. We are. Until a Dolphin shares his blog with me, I think we're it.

So why waste, not just your existence, but your life? Existence is being a grain of sand, but living, that's becoming the sun of the universe. And when we do remember that a humans life really is, in history, the blink of an eye, or the flapping of a flies wings, the flutter of a hummingbirds heart, don't you think we should take up the mantle that is that responsibility? How petty is it to spend your time lost in thoughts of hate, anger, murder, or revenge? When you die, physically you will fade away into the dunes, the ocean waves will bury you within its depths. And if you stood only for the basics of what other animals stand for, instincts, and hardly utilized the potential that is the power of your spirit, do you think you'd be remembered long?

Why is it that the men and women of history who have sought to bring peace and Love into our lives have persisted? Why have they not been forgotten? And for the most part, even the people who don't believe in certain figures like this usually say, "I don't believe in him, but I liked what he said. I'm on board for acceptance and equality."

The speech about peace and Love can grow tiresome, and I think I'll find myself struggling not to keep bringing it up, but the most important thing is to remember, your life counts. You know when people don't vote because they say, "One vote, my vote, doesn't matter." The reason that's untrue is because there are millions of people with that same mentality who don't voice their opinions, don't get out there and let themselves be heard. That does matter. That affects things greatly! To say "I am just one person I don't matter" is false. You do. But there are too many of you who support you in your thinking you're merely a statistic, a fact, a piece of science and nothing more.

You are something more. Together, we are something more. Think of all the sand in the world. Deserts, the ocean, beaches, etc. There is so much sand, so many specks of dirt on earth, in the universe. Alone, one grain of sand isn't much. But together, sand is rock, sand it mountains, is homes and riverbeds, foundation, bedrock, and pillars of strength for beautiful works of architecture hundreds of years old. Collectively, all these grains of sand become one beautiful piece, one solid mass that can be blown into the most beautiful glass, the most gorgeous sounding instrument, the finest beaches, and the ground upon which we stand. One grain of sand becomes a part of one boulder. One are part of many, which in turn become one.

Alone, you can understand great things about yourself. But together, we can realize great things, can go out and do them, can work together to create a better world to live in. You don't have to be Ghandi, or Christ, or the Buddha to perpetuate the goodness that lies dormant within mankind. Peace and Love are burning within you, within all of us. And to be loved by one is a wonderful thing, but to be loved by many is even greater. To give love to one is great, but to give love to many is complete satisfaction. To love the masses without regard to their differences is to drink from the wellspring of the meaning of life. To me, the meaning of life is quite simple really, when you think about it. It is simply, to live.

Don't just exist. Live. Don't just be a grain of sand, but be the sun of the universe. Come together.

The ability to live is within you, and the ability to find inner harmony, inner peace and love, is within all of us. Looking inward to discover it is a long and many times darkened journey, but a fulfilling one nonetheless. But no one is alone. There's how many of us here on this mote of dust that is earth? For when you emerge from that abyss you find nothing burns brighter than your soul. Nothing burns brighter than the person you are capable of becoming, and the grain of sand that contributes to building the solid rock upon which we all must stand. Nothing douses the fire of thee who know they can change the world. For today is tomorrow and tomorrow is yesterday, and as our grains of sand slip through the hourglass, don't let them just fall to the bottom and sit in silence, but together become a boulder and shatter the glass. Strength and goodness persist beyond the limits of time.

That could be you. It can be you. It can be all of us.

Grains of sand? That was yesterday. Today we are Suns of the Universe.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

In Reponse to a Good Friend...

The following was too long for the comments section of yesterday's post "Shooting." Got a wonderful comment from B. tries to respond in the comment box...got long winded...you know me. (Or will come to know me.)

B,

You couldn't be more right in my opinion. Religion is what's been breaking down and dissolving good relations between people since day one. If it were up to me, we would have no religion.

Some of the most corrupt organizations, not to name names but yeah I have some specific ones in mind, are founded in Religion. It's funny we spend so much time focusing on the battle of religion overseas that we tend to forget what battles are being fought under covers in our own country. Many people are allowing themselves to be manipulated by their Religion and are, I think for better or worse description, pretty lazy. Subscribing to a belief, whether it be political, Religious, anything, without thought or consideration means you just want that subscription to tell you how to be, what to think, how to vote, etc.

It's like subscribing to a newspaper or magazine, finding out how they're telling you to vote, then just voting that way because "that's what you believe."

I think Religion follows incredibly similar parameters. "How do I vote Pastor? Who do I hate Church? Which proposition should I say yes or no on God?"

It's really just sheer laziness.

I'm a very firm believer in something my Dad told me a few years ago, that put things in perspective for me. He said "God didn't come to this earth to start a Religion, but to start a Relationship."

Now, whatever it is someone believes, I think most of us can agree on this love idea, that for the most part it's a good thing.

Yes, I classify myself as a Christian, but really, I reject subscribing to the rules and regulations created by and written by men, who interpret the bible as they see fit. And no matter what people look to believe, whatever doctrine they're reading, they've got to keep at the core of their spirits the idea that they're doing this to learn what it means to them, not "This makes sense to other people, I'll just agree with them. I think the bible says what they tell me it says." It's the same laziness. I try to the beliefs I see as interesting relevant to me. Which is why I think there is value in all books from all different walks of like. God, Love, is like a multifaceted diamond, each facet making it all the more beautiful. These facets I believe are the different beliefs people hold worldwide. It's a beautiful thing when find we don't have to believe 100% what someone else believes (which is impossible, considering we are all our own individuals) but that we find merit in their belief, and maybe draw from them, learning new things about ourselves, accepting them for their differences and in turn being accepted for ours.

I believe, without a doubt, God never wanted Religion in the first place. It's the whole idea of contradictions, and how the human race is a beautifully contradicted thing. We mustn't have Religion, yet we should desire to come together in global harmony. So without rules, how would we do it?

And that's the thing. Getting personal with whatever it is you want to call it, God, Love, The Universal Energy, Chakra, anything from any and all walks of life, I think people need to come into an understanding that the beliefs that, at their core claim to achieve peace, are all based in Love. At least that's how they began, that's what the initial doctrines state. The idea of perfect Love has a transcendent quality to it, in that it allows us to step away from the influences of others, and view the way the world works from an open slate perspective.

It takes a lot of self exploration to get there, but I think everyone can achieve it if they believe, not in a specific religion, but in themselves, and more importantly, in the idea that beyond our existence there is a purpose to our life. If our lives have no purpose, we'd better give up now. What's the point in continuing if we're simply a vessel that comes and goes as often as the sun rises and sets.

Then we get to blaming Religion, which many times they may deserve it. But how many times have you heard the slurs "It's the Jews!" "It's the Arabs!" "It's the Muslims!" I think, also in today's society, it is becoming more common to hear "It's the Christians!" Though, statistically, Christianity is still hanging on to being a majority thought, but we may even be coming to the close of that.

But that doesn't mean anything. Honestly? "Christians" have done A LOT of horrible things too. Do you know the story about Jesus, who was a Jew, going into the temples with a whip and flipping over the money changing tables because the churches were robbing people blind? Well, it's a big belief of mine that if Jesus were to suddenly come back today, you'd find him in the Christian churches doing the same thing. Greedy, greedy, greedy. Manipulate, manipulate, manipulate.

And all for Religion, for sticking so steadfast to your ways that you allow yourself to hate others. I can't get on board with that, absolutely not.

And God, to someone like me, I understand not everyone believes in him, is more than what Religion paints him to be. Calling the spirit in the sky God is easy because it gives it a name. But to call it Love is synonymous to me. So hopefully the more I talk in future conversations or in future blogs, I mean not to say God strictly in the Christian sense, but in the "this is that indescribable love you feel when you see a baby or a puppy or someone being a good person, that calm and comfort when the universe begins to make sense to you" kind of thing. (That's a cheapened example but you get the picture.) I'm talking about God the entity of joyous emotion, not the fire and brimstone Judge.

I suppose, for me, this sums it up best:

Rarely will men find God in their Religions. But in their relationships with others, in the desire to learn what perfect Love feels like, it is there you will find God.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Shooting

I'm not really sure where it all begins for a person. I'd estimate day one. The minute you're born, you've got influences. Though some may have chemical issues, etc. (I'd never rule out science) you've got to wonder though, beyond the science of it, are people crazy...naturally?

I'm going to say, from my point of view, no.

I believe people are born inherently good. I don't think there's born such a thing as a bad child. Trust me. Look at any baby born, hold him/her in your arms, and tell me it's going to grow up to be a monster one day. Could you do it? Do you think you're THAT good a judge of character? If you do, I may admire you in a way, because you have incredible faith in yourself, more than I have in myself. But who's to say that it's right?

I believe there are things at work in our world beyond our understanding. That's me. And I think I try to attack an issue like this Arizona shooting with the mindset of both my beliefs that exist beyond the realm of describable, and within the realm of reality.

It's my firm belief that religion and science do in fact go hand in hand. (Who can honestly say there were no dinosaurs?)

Of course there's a hormonal argument, that during the pregnancy, the mother's hormones, whatever they be, are pounding away at this kid, shaping him/her, developing him/her into something pre-destined to be evil.

Though I consider myself a man of great faith, it's rare I buy into the whole Fire and Brimstone stuff. When people scream at you, the point dulls quickly. I've come up against people who told me the Devil was working within my life because I didn't know God. I said "Actually (Name), I'm a Christian, like you say you are. So I think your assessment is incorrect." And he ended nicely by saying "We'll see about that when you're in hell." Or something to that extent.

It's always fun when a person says "You need to believe what I believe!" And you say, "I kind of do..." And they respond "You're going to hell!"

But I think, at the very, very core of this sort of issue, we come up against, in my opinion, one of the biggest reasons we perpetuate bigotry, hatred, violence, and misinterpretation. And that is blame.

We always need someone to blame, and very rarely can it be ourselves. "Well if only he did it this way!" "If she didn't stop for eggnog!" "If the right would stop preaching violence!" "If the left would stop coddling people like babies!"

We get it.

The unwillingness to accept responsibility is usually what starts it, sure. But even before that, inside the people who do the blaming, why do we jump to blame in the first place.

In a basic, probably not very good, scenario, say you're running a race. A marathon. Someone will be a winner at the end, whoever finishes first. And say you're at mile 23, it's you, and two other people. Persons A and B. You see Person A trip B, who falls and sprains their ankle. What do you do? Do you stop to help B first, or do you run to the proper "authorities" to tell them that you saw A trip B and that's why he's hurt. Meanwhile B is rolling around on the ground wondering why no one has yet to come to his aid.

Again, kind of a crude example, but you get the picture. Why on earth, would you abandon someone who needs help, in order to bring someone else down?

I get it, perhaps bringing down the other person or organization, or whatever it is, is the "bigger" evil. But I think people need to dial back the way they view corruption and evil.

We often think of things in Black and White. Why? Because it's easy. Gray is too hard.

Well tough cookies, the world is nothing but shades of gray. This coming from the Christian guy who is told by other "Christians" he's going to hell. Because to most Christians, to most people, seeing the world as Black and White relieves from us the burden of having to do some incredibly difficult work. To say it's Black and White is to settle upon blame before doing the investigation. It's to call a verdict before the case has gone to trial, before the jury has gone to discussion. That's very easy. And, logically, it's no wonder people go to this place. Why waste the time investigating?

Well, when it's you, then maybe you'll see the murky waters of gray, and realize it's nearly impossible to breath at the bottom of the ocean of blame. Why won't anyone fight for you? Because they're taking the easy way out.

This is not to say this is all of us, but we all find our niches sooner or later. We may not immediately point the finger on the big issues, but may on the small issues. Face it, we all do it. Myself included. To realize we're all the same in that we all tend to make the same mistakes is part of coming into the understanding that humanity is greater as a whole than the sum of its parts.

So...when I see people on the news getting shot, and immediately, it becomes someone's fault who wasn't even present at the scene, that's where the red flag is raised for me.

Back to influence, yes. Influence plays a big factor. Perhaps so and so egged on so and so, etc. etc. But who believes in free will? I sure do. I couldn't ever begin to bring myself to the place where I believed every. tiny. little. action. was. fate. Because if it's all fate, then only fate is responsible.

"Yeah well I got wasted, decided to drive home, hit a family, killed all of them, but I survived. Sounds horrible, I know, but hey! It was MEANT to happen. So...no harm no foul right?"

How irresponsible is that?

No. You made your choice. You partook in the free will you've been given, and you killed people.

And now we're back to blame.

When it comes to this, when we start to investigate the situations, we've got to start small. We've got to. Begin with the individual responsible, and trace backward. Then you look at influence. And build your case from there.

I don't consider myself either conservative or liberal, more moderate (whatever that means anymore) in the sense that I don't like to make a decision until I've heard both sides of an argument. But! To blame an entire political way of life for the tragedy in Arizona, to me, is one shallow step away from a holocaust.

Look, there's nutters out there. Yeah. They exists in Red or Blue, even Purple, Pink, Green, and Tannish colored states, and on and on. Radicals do exist. Just like Christians who tell other Christians they're going to hell. You're going to have extremists.

But it's in listening, and giving extremists the time of day that digs us deeper and deeper into warfare with one another. Giving extremists a moment of your time is like playing with fire. You never know when you're going to get burned. So let's rule them out. (But what influenced the extremists? Aha! See? The vicious cycle begins...)

So when you're feeling bogged down by the horrendous amount of judgment being passed around you, what do you do? Usually one of two things, turn inward and let it all pass over you, plugging your ears, or picking a side quickly, hopping on that bandwagon, and forging ahead without thinking for yourself.

Better to be a hermit than a hypocrite, sure. But why not the third option? Why not that exploration into gray matter? Don't you think the lives lost, don't you think the things you'll experience, deserve the delving deep down to discover the real truth? To walk away with understanding.

This Jared Loughner killed six people. One of them, I think the most painful of all, a 9 year old girl. What terrible evil could bring about that deed? Could bring about the evil deeds throughout history? The mass genocide, the murdering, the slaughtering? When you read the history books, it's heavy stuff.

But try for one moment, before blaming an entire group of people for something, to look at an "evil" person, and peer deep, deep into their eyes, and see the child inside of them.

This brings to argument to a borderline hippy way of thinking, got it, but it doesn't hurt to step back and see people for what they were. Innocence. We were all innocent once. All born a baby, all dependent upon those around us for survival.

And what happened in the period of growth that skewed our sense of reality, or sense of right and wrong, to bring us to a place where it makes sense to kill six people, to open fire on a high school, to kill a man's family and leave him for dead? What were the influences? And I'm talking influences beyond the quick and easy to blame. The deep down ones that people rarely speak of, the kids in elementary school who embarrassed you, the parent who hit you, the mother who told you to your face she wishes you were never born.

Born out of all this, is evil. But evil is a structured, created substance that I believe can be broken, if one is willing and if there is enough time. I am a firm believer in the "good triumphs over evil" idea. But not naive enough to believe it's as simple as thumping someone over the head with a bible and making them sit their ass down in church. It ain't that simple. In fact, the bible is one of the last things I would ever introduce to someone who is so lost within themselves that they're contemplating violence, not just on themselves, but upon others. At the end of the day, it's just a book. But it's what you draw from that book that becomes applicable to us, and it's our influences that make us more or less receptive to the ideals of good or evil.

Mein Kampf is a book just like the Bible is a book. Words on paper. In terms of its existence, they're virtually the same. Pretty thick, hardcover or paperback, translated into many languages. Literally speaking, there is not much difference between the physical representations of Mein Kampf and the Bible. Coincidentally, slaughter has occurred as a result of fanatics reading both of them.

So no. It isn't the "book" per se, but the ideals inside it. That's the influence.

So who are we blaming? God? Conservatives? Liberals? Communists? Old episodes of sesame street where Cookie Monster encouraged children to eat cookies? McDonald's for putting toys in their happy meals to persuade kids to eat unhealthily?

Grow up just a little and stop it for ten minutes. Slow down and close your mouth for thirty seconds. And think. Somewhere in the world, persons have lost their children, their parents, their brothers, their sisters. If it were you, how would you deal with it? How would it feel for your entire life to be reduced to a few days worth of news stories lasting a few minutes? People would mourn your death, but 99.999999% of the world would never know it. We are each of us, a grain of sand in the ocean, a pebble on the shore. We could be washed away at any moment. So why spend so much of your time point your finger? You keep stretching it out like that someone's bound to come around and break it.

Blame takes time. Hate takes time. Good God the amount of time it takes to be methodical in your hatred of people, of entire groups, of entire countries.

So, again, dial it back. Who are you? Who are you in relation to the knowledge that you are a grain of sand in the ocean? (On a side note this is part of the summing up of Enlightenment that I feel is attainable by everyone but we'll get to that later.)

Your life means something to you. Your life means something to those around you. How does the saying go? To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world. Let that ring true when you rise in the morning! Put your fingers down. Pause from your judgments for only a few moments, and see that you've been influenced too, just as much as anyone else. But it's how you've responded. It is never the situation itself that defines a person, but rather how they respond to the situation.

When people respond by immediately pointing the fingers of blame, what does that say about them? How are they responding? And are you one of them? What does that say about you?

You were once a child, just as I was once a child. And when we were children we experienced different things at an age in which we may not have been able to respond, so our choices were made for us. But at our core, we knew nothing of the ways of mankind, and our understanding of these choices was little.

Now we are adults. Which of us was abused as a child? Some of us, many of us across the globe. And some of those childrens hands seem to grow only into the proper size to hold a gun and pull a trigger, as if that is their only purpose. But it's not. I'm not saying it isn't a murderers fault for murdering. He did make a choice. But that murderer was nine years old once too. And instead of looking to blame the rest of the world, why not look to stop it from happening again by seeking out and preventing abuse?

There is no greater sin than to love a child less for being different.

Who will that child become? We can never know. But I think it's very easy to say they would become a better person if they were loved and not hated, hugged and not hit.

Influence doesn't always have to be negative. It can also be positive. And the more you look to discover yourself, the more you look inward to find who you are in relation to the world, to find out why being a grain of sand in the ocean is actually a beautiful thing, the more you will come to find that you are not only one with yourself, but one with each of us. And if you're gone, a piece of us too is gone.

How can we stop it? Well, my friends tend to get on my for this but I have a blog now so...they can't stop me now! The answer is love.

The golden rule goes: Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you. Right? Well isn't it also true that people will do unto others as has been done unto them?

Do not perpetuate violence with blame. Rather douse it's fire with love. When those around us die, their families may be calling out for help. Does it help them if you call them up and say "Listen, just want you to know I'm fighting against the Republican/Democratic party for you, since your kid died. We're going to stop them!"

I think it's rare you find a person who would respond with, "Thanks." In fact I think most people would say, "Look I just need you here right now. I'm alone and I'm lost. How does it help me that you're out blaming other people? Just come over and spend some time with me. That's all I need."

So when tragedy strikes, who are you going to be? What kind of friend will you be to the world?

I believe, like I said, in the power of one. The power of the individual is a beautiful thing, but the power of us all is even greater. And together, as humans, we are all one. And one by one, the individuals can change the masses, can prevent the influence of evil by loving as much as they can.

Never give up the fight. Though world peace may be impossible, is it truly world peace that is our goal? Or could it be that in our refusing to give up in the face of impossible odds that we are succeeding? Success happens daily. Dial it back and look at the progress of today. One step forward is surely more than none.

The world cries out for you. Are you going to blame someone for it's sorrow, or are you going to show it some love, and get the ball rolling?

Change doesn't start with any political administration. It starts with you. Be the change you hope to see in the world. Trust me, the more love you show, the more those around you are going to notice, and pretty soon, they're going to want a piece of that pie. Share it with them. It's pretty tasty, if I do say so myself.

Just to Mention

That post below, that says I wrote in on Dec. 9th? I began the draft on the 9th, but posted it today, 1/10/11. Don't know why I thought clarification was needed, but hey! It tickles my fancy.