I’m not surprised by the findings in the Washington Post article, You have to be Christian to truly be American? Many people in the U.S. say so. I’ve never underestimated the ignorance of the average American so thirty-two percent of Americans believing that you must be Christian to be an American only confirms my observations. I know that being a Christian can’t be a requirement for being an American. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says otherwise, along with my knowledge of American history and the writings of the founding fathers. There is also one fact this disproves American equals Christian — I’m an American and I am not a Christian and there other many other Americans who are not Christians, among them Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, pagans, Satanists, and countless others who do not wear the Christian label.The First Amendment grants me freedom of religion which means I can choose to not be a Christian.
The same article claimed that 70% of Americans believe that being American means speaking English. I’ve given thought to brushing up on my Spanish and German, and learning Tagalog just so that when I’m speaking one of these languages and someone tells me that I’m in American and I need to speak English, I can respond with: “Yes, we are in America. The First Amendment grants me freedom of speech which means I can speak any language I choose.”
The end of the world was quieter than expected. It seemed that I had somehow slept through it. As I walked through the house, I noticed that the power seemed to be out and even battery operated devices no longer worked. I looked out the windows and saw no sign of my neighbors or any of the ordinary activities outside.
Stil naked, I opened my front door and took a tentative step out. I looked around me and took a few tentative steps into the yard. I had never before experienced silence to this degree. The sounds of humanity were absent – no voices, no radios, no cars – only absolute quiet. Not even animals or insects could be heard nor could I hear any natural sounds such as the rustling of leaves. The only sounds I could hear in the slightest were my breathing and the internal chatter in my mind which in comparison with the silence around me was almost deafening.
The silence seemed to enhance my other senses, particularly my sense of touch. I could detect the ever so slight breeze as it silently caressed my exposed skin and my bare feet intensely felt the dampness of the dew on the grass.
It was as if I was now the only living being on the planet and perhaps I was. Had every other living creature departed Earth without notifying me or leaving a forwarding address? The only evidence I could see that humanity had ever existed was what they had created and left behind.
Were there others who, like me, had survived the end of the world? Or was I the last remnant of sentient life? If that was the case, how long could I expect to survive? As that thought popped into my head, panic set in. It lasted but a moment before reason took over. I needed to think about this turn of events.
Silently, I sat down on the cool, damp grass. I assumed the lotus posture and rested my hands upon my knees in Gyan Mudra. I closed my eyes and began to meditate. At first, the frantic voices of my monkey mind careened about inside my skull, their echoes drowning out my silent mantra. But after a few minutes of controlled breathing and gently but persistently repeating my mantra, the mental chatter died down until all that remained was the mantra. Soon, even the mantra itself slipped away and I was at peace as I became one with the silence that surrounded me and, shortly thereafter, I became one with the Universe.
“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
Henry Louis Mencken
Today was Inauguration Day and Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President. He’s the President and I respect the office but respecting the man occupying the office is another thing entirely. That respect is going to very hard to earn. In reference to the above quote by M.L. Mencken, it’s evident that the “plain folks” have gotten their heart’s desire. What will be their heart’s desire when the government programs and institutions that they take for granted are taken away? Is a return to 15th Century feudalism too far fetched? I can see it happening; it’s not as improbable as one might think.
“To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or anyone else. But it is even more important tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about anyone else.”
Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President
Our new President, all of our elected officials, and all officials in every capacity and every level of government need to be held accountable to all American citizens. It is our patriotic duty as citizens, to demand openness and transparency. Never forget that they all work for us. We elect them and our taxes pay them. We have the power, through the ballot and other legal means to make them accountable.
I think it’s reasonable to speculate that most heterosexual men think about penises other than their own and will at least sneak a peek at them if they can do so unobtrusively. The penis is the predominant symbol of a man’s masculinity and virility so it only seems natural that men are curious about them and, at least at an unconscious level, compare them to see how they measure up.
There was a time when men more openly, albeit very casually and with no overt homosexual overtones, compared penises. This was a time when men regularly swam naked together and routinely walked about naked in locker rooms and showered together. There may have been some good-natured ribbing about one’s equipment but one soon got over any embarrassment. Being too embarrassed to be seen naked in the locker room or shower inevitably invited ridicule.
Perhaps it in the latter part of the 1960s or early 1970s that this began to change. This would have been around the time that women began to seek opportunities in areas that were once considered the exclusive domain of men. With women becoming more liberated and more common in the workplace, men began to feel that their masculinity was being threatened. They felt less secure about their manliness and this carried over to places where there were no women, namely male locker rooms.
Feeling less secure in their manliness, they began to avoid even inadvertently glancing at another man’s genitals, lest he be thought of as gay. Nowadays, this has gone to extremes. Now in locker rooms, men cover themselves with a towel as they change. Many men don’t shower at all after a workout and, if they do, they will shower in a swimsuit or in underwear. Many schools no longer require students to shower after a Physical Education class. When I went to school it was mandatory.
Now gyms and pools will have enclosed private changing cubicles and showers. Almost no one sees anyone casually naked anymore outside of nudist events and venues. It’s no wonder men and women alike loathe their own bodies. Advertising and entertainment media have sold us the idea of perfect bodies which, in real life don’t exist. Everything in our culture tells us that we can never measure up to the ridiculous standards they’ve created while demanding that we aggressively pursue our efforts to reach them.
There is nothing wrong with seeing a penis that’s not your own and there’s nothing wrong with anyone seeing your penis. Having a penis is quite common and, in the vast majority of cases, they all work the same. The differences in appearance are individual and have no bearing on your own penis or on your manliness. It’s just a penis.
It’s my considered opinion that all the rhetoric I’m hearing about clinging to conventional gender and sexual identities is a sign that they are becoming outdated, irrelevant, and meaningless. Many people are afraid of change and don’t want to give up the comfort of the old, traditional binary identities of male and female, masculine and feminine, and straight and gay. The binary paradigms are becoming more fluid and more analog. Despite our dependence on binary technologies, we live in an analog world, a world that offers infinitely more options than those offered by binary logic.
The long established patriarchies are beginning to crumble and the identities and paradigms they’ve created are falling by the wayside. Men are afraid of losing their power and their dominion over whatever they’ve felt they’ve had power over. That’s a good thing for humanity.
Power is simply Work over Time. Power as related to dominance is an illusion and maybe we are starting to finally sufficiently evolve to realize that.
Today is December 30, 2016, the penultimate day of the year, a day I review and contemplate the events of the year and, hopefully, set goals and intentions for the coming year. There really aren’t really any events to be reviewed. Many of my posts this year were commentary on religion, politics, and American society and culture.
I wrote several pieces expressing my views about religion. Over the past year, they really haven’t changed much though I think I’ve become more tolerant in my outlook. I still find the practice of religion a fascinating subject. Aside from the obvious inconsistencies and contradictions I see in The Bible and in church doctrines, I am continually confounded by those who claim to be believers and followers of their faith who have so little apparent regard for the basic teachings. For some it seems to be out of ignorance of the teachings while others are indifferent to the teachings.
I made some commentary on the state of our political system. The incoming administration does not bode well for our country so I expect that I will have much more to comment about in the next few years. There seems to be much that needs to be addressed in this arena.
I commented on a few societal and cultural changes that I noticed, particularly in regard to sexual and gender identities and my views have evolved considerably. The ultra-conservative ruling parties that are poised to come into power will undoubtedly make every effort they can to suppress and repress these changes but the toothpaste is out of the tube. These changes in attitudes toward the LGBTQ community and others have taken root and they will eventually flourish. Progressive change might be slowed down but it can’t be stopped. We either move forward or we fall behind; we can’t stand still. Trying to maintain the status quo or go back to a fictitious previous time is falling behind and it’s quite dangerous and quite foolish.
Other posts were experiments dealing with personal stuff and tentative probes into my own darkness. I hope I was able to avoid revealing too much information in that regard. One problem with exploring one’s own darkness is that while total disclosure might be ideal, the reality is that there’s going to be shit in that darkness that others might not want to or need to deal with. Despite my abhorrence of secrets, I still keep a lot of secrets and I will probably keep them in the shadows for many years to come, if not to my grave.
What’s in store for 2017? Hopefully, more of the same kind of commentary and probably more exploratory probes into my own darkness. I would hate to disappoint my anonymous readership.
The transformation went virtually unnoticed until it was completed. I first noticed its beginning several years ago when I found a single gray pubic hair among a bountiful forest of brown. In the months and years following that discovery, I’d occasionally see another gray hair pop up in the brown forest. But overall, I didn’t pay much attention to the process.
About a week ago, whilst showering, I took notice that the hair on my scrotum was entirely gray. I also noted that, in general, my pubic hair was much less thick than it was a few years ago. How had I failed to see this transition as it was happening?
That my scrotum is sparsely covered by short gray hairs doesn’t bother me. I just wasn’t expecting to see that even though I knew it would be inevitable. I simply accept the graying of my hair, my beard, my pubes, as a part of the aging process, part of the process of living. I remember that I found the first gray hair on my head when I was sixteen. I can’t recall when I went completely gray above the neck. I’m slightly surprised when I see pictures where I have dark hair. I can barely remember those days, they seem like it was a different lifetime.
Though I claim no allegiance to any religion or belief system, I have no objections to Christmas as a secular or religious holiday and I begrudge no one their beliefs. Indeed, I am very much in favor of the sentiments and ideals that the holiday represents. Still there aspects of the holiday which I find disfavor.
I vehemently object to the crass commercialization of the holiday that seems to begin earlier with each passing year although commercialization has pervaded nearly every holiday, both religious and secular, on the calendar. The commercialization of holidays caters to the greed and avarice of everyone involved – manufacturers, retailers, shoppers, and recipients. Black Friday is the most blatant and most extreme example of this greed and avarice. Black Friday, the “official” beginning of the Christmas shopping season is, in fact, the antithesis of Christmas.
I also have objections to those who most vocally proclaim the sanctity of the holiday. Often these same people are the most deeply mired in commercialism, greed, selfishness, and self-righteousness. They claim abundant faith in their Lord yet they fail to heed His teachings either out of ignorance or indifference to them.
Faith and belief can only lead you to your path. Only you can walk the path. No one, not even Jesus, can walk it for you. Ultimately, you alone are responsible for your own salvation.
The crass commercialization of Christmas is certainly a downer but really puts a damper on my Christmas Spirit is Black Friday which is the antithesis of Christmas. It would be a gross understatement to say that I’m not particularly religious. The truth is that I am not religious at all considering that I do not follow any religion.
Christmas spirit transcends religion. While I celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday, it still represents to me the ideals that Jesus espoused – hope, peace, love for one another, charity, generosity, compassion, and good will. Black Friday, on the other hand, celebrates humanity’s darkness – greed, avarice, selfishness, materialism, and blatant disregard for others. That is probably why it’s called Black Friday. With each Christmas season, Black Friday has expanded from just one day to several consecutive days beginning on Thanksgiving Day or even earlier. Greed also leads to the Dark Side although I’m sure that greed is also rooted in fear like nearly everything else that dwells in our shadows.
I recently came across a chronology I’d created years ago, documenting my assignments and temporary duty (TDY) assignments. I the process of converting it into a more up-to-date document format, I found myself going back to some of my old journals to confirm and clarify certain memories associated with those trips.
While I fond memories of the first half of military, career, my journals only go back to 1985 and there are many gaps. It runs out that around 1985 there was a turning point in how I felt about my role and my purpose as an NCO in the Air Force.
Until I involuntarily transfered to Brooks 1985, it wasn’t bad and, for the most part I enjoyed what I did or at least didn’t mind too much. Then, at ’06th, the overall incompetence and complacency that I saw all around me really began to eat at me. My missions invariably had problems with coordination, support, and equipment. The disruptions training missions almost never included the people I was supposed to be training in that role. I was gone a portion of every month I was there, to include the month I left. I saw my year there as a complete cluster-fuck.
I thought returning to the ’18th would be a good move but in many ways it was just as bad but in a different way. At least they still seemed to be competent in their mission. The three months or so that I was unaccompanied was Hell. A few of the old crew were still there but the overall personality of the unit had changed radically. There were some enjoyable periods in the almost five years I was there and some good memories. The day we took a couple of jeeps out to the French training area by Site 1 was a day that will be forever embedded in my memory. The month I did swings and mids doing site security was good too. It was good to be doing something different and not being on the road.
There were some good missions too. The trip to Norway was quite an adventure and I postponed a planned leave to do it. I enjoyed supporting that Colorado Air National Guard unit in Central Enterprise 88. The trip to Denmark was fun. Going to Berlin was definitely a high point. Even the trips to Belgium were interesting, despite the problems I encountered. There were a lot of problems with the mission to Spain but I enjoyed my free time and the day I spent watching the A-10’s in action at the range..
However, most of the missions were tedious and often plagued with problems. There was one period where I seemed to be on the road on a different mission. I’d be back long enough to do laundry, repack, file my travel voucher, and pick up a new set of orders. That sucked. Toward the end of the tour it was hard to keep openly expressing my dissatisfaction and frustration. Soon after I got promoted to E-7, the attitude started to show itself more. The promotion further removed me into more managerial duties and away from the parts of the job I used to enjoy. I’ve always enjoyed being a technician; I suck at management.
The promotion did have a silver lining in that I had more of a voice in where I’d go next. I knew who was due to move and I could pick my next assignment. Hawaii would be a good place for a final assignment. At first the 24th was great and it was great to reconnect with people from the old 6905th and to get involved in new up and coming missions. It was there that I found that I enjoyed working with computers. But eventually the festering dissatisfaction and frustration with other parts of the mission caught up with me and I was asked to retire which had been my plan anyway. It was pretty much a mutual agreement. Outside of my official duties, I enjoyed my tour in Hawaii.
Overall, I don’t miss the military and I probably wouldn’t do it again. I have many good memories of certain places and of the people I worked with. Just the same, I have many memories that aren’t so good. There seemed to be damned few times that I really felt that I was contributing to something greater or a part of something historical. The monitor of the evacuation of Saigon stands out. Being in Berlin the same month as the Wall was coming down was memorable too. The disruption training mission, when it first started, was fun and interesting but it began to lose its allure after a few years and I eventually lost nearly all interest in doing it.
Faith and belief are often considered to be one and the same. I have given the concepts and faith and belief considerable thought and contemplation and I have concluded that while they seem to be similar, they are not the same at all. They are two distinct and separate entities. One can have faith without a belief just as one can believe without having faith. Faith and belief are independent of one another but they can coexist.
Faith is intuitive and internal; it comes from within. Belief, on the other hand, is external. Beliefs are entirely derived from external sources — what you’ve been told, what you’ve read, what you’ve experienced, and what you’ve observed. Belief is based upon what one perceives as one’s external reality. One can point to something outside oneself and say, “This is what I believe and why I believe it.” Faith, on the other hand, is completely intuitive. One cannot point the the source of one’s faith and say, “This is why I have faith.” One can only know that it is.
A set of beliefs may be used to support or justify one’s faith but it is not necessary. Faith can, and often does, exist independently of a belief system or it may even be contradictory to what one believes. It is also quite possible and, indeed, quite common for one to be firmly entrenched in a belief system and have no faith or to believe that one’s belief system is one’s faith.