Archive | April 2012

A Duel With Death

Death and taxes touch every life in this country.  We are all equal when we are visited by both in our time here on this planet.  If you try to avoid either, the suffering can truly begin.  Tax evasion gives us a chance to find the real strength of the IRS, and it takes a hard soul to find a way to escape from the long arm of the law.  If you are caught, you are paying for a long time.

As for avoiding death, I am not sure how one could do that beyond staying on life support forever or chilling the brain to be thawed out done the road.  It is crazy to think that Death is a personified entity coming to collect you at the end of your life.  Many times, the tales have been created to tell the story of a person who finds a way to avoid the cold touch of Death.  Those narratives usually lead the protagonist to regret and a haunted existence.  In the end, they seek Death so the suffering can end.

I don’t know that any of us truly understands the concept of immortality, but we do try.  Many authors have taken up the mantle of immortality and placed it on a main character in order to give them a long lifetime as a playground for their stories.  I eagerly await the next fantasy novel that will expand the creations that will have immortality and how it is dealt with.  To me, the mortal mind is a troubling spot that few authors have taken into account.  To move from the ranks of the mortal to the immortal causes a shift in the view of time and the world around them.  These existential thoughts must strain the mortal mind as it is quite finite in conditioning.  I imagine that if we were told from birth that we were immortal, it would lead to a stronger concept of the infinite.

Death can be an interesting topic to ramble on for hours.  The afterlife will eventually enter into the discussion, but that is only if you have a belief in such.  Our civilization has many mythologies to choose from.  We are could look to the ancient Greeks.  A step back even further can lead us to the civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt.  The religion ceremonies surround death and the afterlife, but there has been little evidence to reveal the true answers.  The one common fact is that death will come.  It is how we handle that final moment which will mark our place in the world.  It is the final chance to leave a legacy for those left behind.

I personally have not faced many deaths in my family to this point to form much of an opinion on death.  I sat down to write this blog posting with the topic in mind and started to really pull some of my thoughts together.  First, I know that it will come for me someday and I am prepared to accept it.  By that time, I will have left my mark on those around me now.  I do not say that as a boast that I am some great person, but those around me know that at some point I have left some influence or mark on their lives.  It is also true that they have left it on me.

As for what is beyond the veil of death, I will not claim to know or try to convince anyone to believe my ideas.  I would like to think that the afterlife is a place of comfort and peace.  For anyone to consider it to be anything more or less leaves me with a bad taste.  If one has the ego to claim that their beliefs are the only true ones and anyone that does not agree will suffer without the comforts of the afterlife has placed a judgment on another.  It is no one’s place to pass judgment on another.  The moment that you put yourself in that position, you are filled with hubris and may the powers strike you down.

Of course, that is a bit of a judgment on my part, but I am prepared to accept the strike if only to get the point across.  Tolerance and cognizance are the only factors in this world that should matter.  If you live in the world where you are without these qualities, then you are working against the great truth that many religious figures have spoken.  I strongly suggest that you take a moment to examine that.

crudus animus

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Agendas and Clouds

Less in the world makes clear sense these days.  I wake each day with the clear picture in my mind of what the world holds for me.  After a few hours, I learn quickly how wrong that can be and where I stand.  It is in the mire of clouded thoughts and jumbled opinions.  It makes me wish that I had a nice chemical dispersant to clear away the vast tracks of this ocean filled with the oil slick of misunderstanding.  Of course, if I did, someone would just start drilling in another place.

Don’t get me wrong.  My kind of dispersant is not the only one.  Each one of us has the ability to cut through the darkness of misleading information.  Truth, as they say, becomes very subjective.  It has to with the onslaught of information that the world has to offer.  We are no longer able to remain isolated and blind to the world.  It is a global picture that dances before our eyes and we must find a way to filter out the propaganda.  Only then can the heart of the matter be found.  This is basic methodology to anyone wanting to understand a subject.

When a person or a group of people has an agenda, it must have support from the general populace.  The power to move comes from the population.  They give the power to a person or a group with the agenda.  This is also a basic method to the political structure of a nation.  Most of the time, the leader will use abstract concepts like patriotism or nationalism to rally the masses around a direction in the agenda.  Each person feels the meaning of those concepts in intimate way and each will rally around the cause that has been connected to one of those concepts.

All of this creates a cloud that a person must find a way to see through, unless the person has a wish to be isolated, insulated, and uninvolved with the outside world.  In this case, these ideas can come for communities that support the nation and believe that it has the people’s best interests at heart.  It can also come from communities who believe that they no longer need the support of a bigger group for direction.  It is their belief that they can survive better hidden in obscurity.

This can leave one in the blissfulness of ignorance or it can be a never-ending struggle to clear away the cloud cover.  As the ignorance grows toward the matters in the outside would, it can bred the beliefs that are intolerant to those that are different in every way.  When that choice is made, it sows the ground for the next generation to live in the darkness of isolation and ignorance of the world.  Or the decision can sway a person or a group to the side that seeks to educate them and push away the blanket of misdirection and propaganda.

I have been in this kind of environment as I was raised in a small town.  We were isolated from the outside by the elders of the community seeking to shield us from the outsiders.  I am reminded often of the movie The Village.  I can identify with the tales that the elders would tell.  It was not about monsters, but the outside world was filled with sin and evil that we were advised to never seek.

It was a secure place where the hierarchy of the town was derived from which denomination of Christianity was attended weekly.  There was little else to categorize the people of my hometown.  Once I left the confines of the small town, I learned quickly that I was never going to be welcomed back.  This personal experience has informed me well with the opinion of this blog posting.

We are citizens of this nation.  It is our duty to keep ourselves involved in the actions of our leaders and remain aware of the true reasons behind their actions.  Civic duties create the ability to make informed decisions when it comes time to choose the leaders that will guide us into the future.  If a citizen casts a vote without the facts or does not cast a vote at all, this person does far more damage to the structure of the future.   We all know that we are the builders of the future.

As the year draws closer to the moment when we choose the next wave of leaders, I challenge each to look pass the propaganda or agendas to find the facts.  Out of this enlightenment, we will see the future that is not all about whose side is right or wrong.  It will be a hope that we are still filled with the potential to be greater than those before us.  Make it happen!  If you don’t, perhaps we should have stayed in the trees with the rest of the apes.

crudus animus

A Life With a Great Dane

Today, I am going to try something different with my posting.  I wish to refine one of my writing techniques.  It has been commented to me that I have a very dry, academic method to my writing.  I would like to take this feedback and to alter or to expand my knowledge.  As I said in an earlier post about my college, it should be evident as to why I spend my time writing with a style that feels like a research source.  So, I am taking up the challenge of changing the writing so that it is similar to a conversational style.  It is said that in a relaxing, comfortable environment that most remove their need to add fluff and large words.  I am going to try this for this posting.

I have a giant dog.  It is my spouse’s Great Dane.  This monster has been with us for nearly four years.  We found him as a rescue dog.  Rescue animals are those that are rescued from cruel situations.  Let me share a little of this before I move on. My spouse has always wanted a Great Dane, but I was against the idea due to my desire not to have to share my house with a horse.  However, I like to make my spouse happy and I came up with one of my greatest ideas.  I suggested that a free Great Dane would be the only way that I could agree to this matter…and three days later, I had a giant dog living in my house.

It took nearly a week for me to recover from this lost battle, but I think that it was because I was laughing at myself over it.  Once that was over, I began a nice, long relationship with this monster.  He became my nemesis at every turn since that time.  In reflection to this back and forth with the dog, I suggested that we name him Odysseus or Ody for short.  I did this because this dog would never outwit me again with tricks like the ones that his namesake was known for.

Now, I have watched this dog start to train his owner by slow habits that benefit him.  When he is ready to eat, he will stand at the dish until someone moves to feed him.  When it is time to go out to the back yard, he taps the glass door with his paw until someone moves to let him out.  I understand that these are usual habits, but it has allowed him to find new way to adjust the humans’ behavior.  When he wants to lay on the couch or chair, he will come to seat and wait for it to be cleared off for him.  Or other times, when he sneaks onto the end of the bed during the night and takes up half the mattress.  Maybe Marmaduke would have been a better name.

In the most recent incident, Ody took his annoying habits to an all-time high by using his paws to pull things off the couch to make room for him.  This, of course, puts all the items on the floor, and it is all for his comfort.  I have spent many times trying to get him to lie on the floor or have him try another spot.  However, it has not been working as a few days ago, and Ody skipped the part of pulling the items off.  He climbed onto the couch and the papers resting on the cushion.  Of course, the part that was really ridiculous was that the other end of the couch was empty.  It was like he was nesting.

Ok…most of this little blog has been tongue-in-cheek.  I thought that my spouse would see that I find the dog to be funny and curious in his habits.  After all of this, I do rather enjoy the dog and his size is growing on me.  It is great to have him about, so I am happy that I lost the original battle.  Or perhaps, I did not lose it.

crudus animus

Wake Up!

Let me start with a little background.  I am a graduate of a public university with a bachelor’s in Classical Humanities with a strong focus in the development of ancient religions.  I am what can be labeled a non-traditional student.  This is to say that I completed college outside the traditional phase of going right after high school.  I graduated from the university at the age of 35.  Now this is not to say that I was unable to attend after high school.  I did attend for three years after graduating at the top of my high class and found that I was unable to complete it due to lack of funds.

During my third year, it became clear that my father’s income was considered to be too high for me to qualify for enough financial aid to cover the last year of college.  He was still raising three sisters of mine, so he was unable to help.  I fell into a hole that nearly ended my dream of finishing my education and the promise of a successful future in the field that I had studied.  I was in school and part time jobs didn’t cover the bill of thousands of dollars.  So, I was forced to make a change and return to the blue collared life.

After marrying, I looked to whatever job that I could find.  I wanted to return to school, but that was a goal that would have to wait.  It was a dark time in my life with my spouse as the only light.  However, after all of these struggles, I had the fortune of landing a job on a college campus.  It was an entry level janitorial position, but it gave me the opportunities that I needed.  To sweeten the deal, I learned that tuition was waived as a benefit to my job.  I was on my way and after eight years of waiting, I had my chance.  I became a part time non-traditional student with the goal of completing my degree.  It took me five more years to finish, but I was never so proud to accept that diploma and raise my hand in the air.  I had beaten some difficult odds.

Now what does this have to do with my post today?  Well, during those years of college, I still had to accept a few student loans to cover fees, books, and a few living expenses.  It was necessary and I was willing to take some debt to achieve my American dream.  One considers that debt will happen as it is part of the investment for a future in a career that will provide an income that should help pay off that debt.  It is like a house loan.  You need the debt for a while so you can continue to have a roof over your head.  However, the job did not materialize and I returned to the skills that I had acquired during my ten years on the campus.  It was enough to find employment to pay the bills, support the family, and attempt to pay down the debt.

Forbearance became my friend after a few years of paying down the debt, but it was only going to put it off while accruing a nice bit of interest for the loan company.  Five years ago, the government passed a bill that cut the interest in half.  I was feeling that perhaps I was gaining a benefit from the same government that has cut the tax rates of the upper class a few years before.  

Now, we are in an election season and this whole matter has come to be a factor for me personally and students who are facing a similar future with their loans.  The bill that lowered the interests on student loans will expire this summer and return the rates back to the levels before the bill.

So, my question is this: Am I willing to see my student loan interest increase if the tax cuts for those with incomes over a quarter of a million also return to their former rate as they are schedule to do at the end of this year?  In other words, am I willing to pay my part if they are willing to pay their part?  At this end of the spectrum, the proposed reason for the cuts on the rates of the higher incomes was that they would be creating jobs and we would all benefit from the trickle down effect.  However, in those years, I have seen the jobs fade from this economy and balloon the unemployment to nearly ten percent.  I am aware of the spin point and opinions that other factors are involved, but the plain fact is that the trickle down effect is like the precipitation in the desert…sparse and unhelpful to the growth on the ground.  That entirely aside, my question still stands.

My answer is simple.  Yes.  I would take the increase to pay my part, work hard to achieve what I can, and prosper in this country in the hopes that the cuts in tax rates are allowed to expire at the end of the year.  Because it is on my shoulders that I hold steady the weight of the country as a civic duty.  If I can do it, then it should be something that all citizens of this country can do.  A free market society may be the argument, but again, we need to find the balance of the system.  It is only then that we will find a success that will allow us to reach our greatest potential.

Time to wake!  Step apart from the fringes and join the balancing of our system!  Don’t let someone hold up the country alone.

crudus animus

Time To Flip the Coin

In the world, there are many opinions that spread across the spectrum of politics.  Each one falling on the scale somewhere in reference to which side of the center it appears.  The right side of the scale would be those opinions that lean toward a more conservative thought in the modern phase.  These ideals have changed over history, but in the modern context, they represent the thoughts of respecting traditions.  It can be broken down into economic or social conservatism, but my focus for this is on a general theme for the scale.  I will broach the topic of the break down in a future post.

While to the left of this center, which is marked by the moderate view, there is the progressive or for this a liberal slant.  Of course, this has had a tendency to evolve over time also, yet in the modern context, it is connected to upholding and protecting the unalienable rights of the individual.  It is a pursuit of freedom for those rights and often seeks to find the ideal progressive method to expand beyond the status quo.  There are also economic and social sides, but this will wait for another time.

Let us put this on a greyscale graph with the darker shade showing the high number of the citizenship in favor of a certain grade as it goes out either way from the center.  The gradient scale might be something that would put all of this into a new perspective.  Especially, if the data used was collected in our current political climate.  

It is an election year, so everyone is bound to have an opinion.  It is hard to avoid the campaigning now that apparent nominees are ready to go head to head.  I would love to see such a poll taken to show this graph based solely on the position regarding a few of the key economic and social issues that are dominating the news.

I have always felt that if I were to take this little test with my own political opinions over the years, I would find that I have changed on a few points.  Yet, I feel that I am growing closer to some of the liberal ideals.  However, I would not personal float out to the fringe on these issues.  I believe on a national scale that we need some of the ideas from both sides.  We are stronger as a nation when we have our minds focused on building and stabilizing our society.  There is little need for us to delve into the fringe ideas and policies that will overwhelm one side and send our scale into darkness.

So, what is the point that I am trying to explain?  Simple.  We will touch on a few of these issues as I have done already in my first few posts.  I have touched on the social issue of women’s rights.  It is a keen issue that is being brought to the front of the pack as a good number of state legislatures have put out laws that are rolling back some of the rights that have been gained.  This rollback, as it is called by some, seems to be a test of the social debate of the two sides.  I simplified it with the moderate liberal ideal that individual rights should remain free of regulation by the community.

I have also touched a little on the separation of church and state, but not to the extent that I will.  I have just explained a bit of my personal context, so that when it comes time to touch on the subject of this separation, it will be clear as to where it is all coming from.  I like to put things into a context so they are not lost in the vacuum of random, baseless thoughts.

As with my first two posts, I have set the mindset of this blog.  It is simply my way of putting my thoughts into the ether for anyone to take as they wish.  This view that our country is divided natural into those that seek a place where traditions of the community are set and never broken and those that search for the method to free the individual with rights to become a stand out.  As I say, these are fairly simple diagrams with a general overview of a very complex system.  In this simple system, I seek to blend these two thoughts into something that will benefit the nation as a whole community of individuals.

Finally, I will sprinkle in a few blogs that have little to do with this overall discussion of finding the right recipe for blending us together.  These will be my testimonies of life and expressions of how one can cope with the complexities of life.  

In all this, I hope that interest can be found and the debate can be joined.  If we don’t debate our thoughts, we may always consider ourselves right, but have we truly found the best way to leave a better legacy for the next generation?

crudus animus

A Beast Within

It is late and the day is nearly over.  I have experienced a wide range of emotional and rational thoughts.  I have opened my mind over the last few months with the loss of something that I had believed to be a road to greater things.  It was not, but I have not let it crush me.  Thus far in my writing of this blog, I have given myself over to a part of my mind that has rarely had a chance to speak.  It is my opinion that I hold dear.  It keeps me true with integrity and dignity.  I refuse to let something just change my course because it is rough and I need to find the easier path.  Life is not meant to be an easy path.  

In each of us, there lies a sleeping beast.  If we press ourselves beyond the comfort zone, we wake it.  Recently, I have awakened this beast.  It is ready to roam free and break down the walls.  

Let me pose it to you this way.  As a child, you are given certain boundaries to protect your frail form from breaking or making such a mistake that it costs you your life.  These boundaries are also the means to which our parents guide us.  We form a strong bond with our parents and we want to obey so we remain safe.  It is a wonderful state to remain in.  Some will cling to it for a very long time.  Some will break free of it far too soon.  It is not one of these that I write about personally.  

For me, it was something different.  I am quite empathetic and it was instilled in me long ago that pain which I caused in others, I would feel.  It continues.  So I battle with the empathy to find balance rather than be overruled by it.  Its hold on my conscious thought has been too strong for most of my life.  I sought to find a way as a teenager to avoid hurting others, but it usually ended with more pain than I can truly handle.  Friends were lost along the way.

So, my solution was to cut it out of my life completely.  As I became an adult, I learned that this solution was not achieving a sense of peace, because I was so far lost in it and the pain that I had caused.  Then it all changed with one person.  Of course, this was just the first step to where I am now with the awakened spirit in me now.

What I am experiencing now with this new epiphany of my life can be traced back to this first step.  Luckily for me, even after all my pushing away; it did not stop this other one in my life.  Soon, the steps were slowly taken to fix my problems, but it was never alone.  Now, I feel the weight of all those burdens that I was carrying stubbornly alone simply lighter.  I have learned to even out the burdens and released this beast.

In simpler terms, I have come to realize that even though I was living a life with my spouse, I never opened my eyes to the fact that inspiration in my world is within that bond.  It was the courage and dedication that gave me the power to balance out the empathy.  A touch of that love and support can open the mind to a whole new world.

We each have our methods of dealing with the world around us and each of us has the power to delve down into the depths of our souls to find the solutions.  I have found mine.  Everyday, I pray that it will never end.

How does all of this fit into the theme that I have here?  That is exactly why I can confidently express my opinion to the world that wishes to take time to read it.  I don’t expect it to become a success or gather a crowd of followers.  I just expect it to be what it is…my opinion.

In the end, I will be proud of it and the world can take or leave it.  So, this brings me to a question: Have you ever had one of those reoccurring dreams that might be the manifestation of something like the openness similar to what I wrote about?  I am starting to wonder if I have tapped into something new.  I hope so.

crudus animus

Non-Persecution

I have a question to pose before anyone who might find this blog.  Do you feel persecuted for your beliefs?  Do you feel that the challenges of the everyday world press back the ideals of your particular doctrine of faith?  There is a reason that I ask because for years I assembled with the tight-knit groups of followers known as Evangelical Christians.  I was consumed by the doctrinal beliefs of several different denominations within this circle and I was a complete believer in every iota of the faith that was preached.  In this time of my youth, I was ready to throw myself on a grenade for them…and for the faith.  Yet, in all of that, I was either insulated by the fellowship of other believers or it was a non-existent problem.  This problem of persecution was nothing that I felt.  So, I ask if anyone can truly explain where and when this persecution occurs.

Now, it was evident that secular world views did have a way of existing around us at those times.  They were like the forest outside the walls of the city.  A deep, dense area teaming with life and danger is what we saw.  Our leaders would come to us with warnings and cautious statements meant to prepare us for the day that we would have to travel to another city.  Our faith would have to be our armor and shield against the vicious creatures that used the temptations as natural weapons.  The warnings were taken to heart, but I never felt that the forest was ever going to penetrate the defenses of the walled city of fellowship.  Could it be that this is what was meant by persecution?  Could it be that we were imprisoned behind our moral defenses and the forest never allowed us to roam?  If so, then the truth should be that it was not the secular world trying to destroy our faith, but that it was the true challenge of how to step forth and integrate with the world and make it better by our example?  Was it not Jesus who went to the poor and sick outside of society to save them?

By the way, the term secular has come to be placed with the idea of the worldly views.  It is a separation from religious views.  What is interesting about this is that historically, before Christianity blossomed into a legal faith, secular games, which were celebrations held on a centennial basis usually in a pagan setting.  So, as society evolved in the West into a more Christian-friendly setting and pagan ceremonies were absorbed and converted, the term of the secular was applied to the matters outside the religious side.  A curious matter, such as something this simple, can draw out more questions.

Consider what it is you believe when you make the statements of persecution.  Historically, we can turn to the end of Christian persecutions from a secular world as ending on a grand scale with the actions of Domitian.  He was attempting to find a foothold for holding power, but his persecutions gave rise to the notion of his successors making allies of the Christians until Constantine legalized the faith and helped to canonize the texts.  But, this was just an end to persecution of the innocent faith of Christianity.  What were to follow would be wars of conflict over lands and resources in the name of God or the internal conflicts of Church with those of differing doctrines.  The Reformation brought on a new type of persecution that was from the Church in Rome and England that pressed those rebels into fleeing into the New World.  Perhaps this is the persecution that some consider being a War on Christianity.

So, back to the experiences of my own path, it was during the end of my teens that I felt the first time that my beliefs led me to persecution.  It was not from some crazed secular group.  It was not some dark temptation sent to test me from Old Scratch.  I was forced to make a choice between one denomination and my own.  The faith was the same, but the doctrine was a little different on its own.  Yet, it was not exactly the doctrine that created my biggest persecution.  What it became was a show that the overall belief in a single entity was not as important as what group of people you were associated with.  No Jesus was the same.  It was a fracture in the unity of belief that cracked.  I was suddenly the outsider because I was not part of their crowd.

However, I didn’t just toss all of it out the window, but I moved to find the truth.  I spent the last twenty years looking for the answers.  I studied all the Western religious and their histories.  I delved into a new world of seeing the religious from their roots and came to appreciate what they were in the context of the writing.  Recently, I have started to learn Ancient Greek to go with my Classical Latin so that my understanding can open up further.  I am still searching for the answers as to why.

This leads me back to the simple point that raises my ire every time I hear it.  When I hear some Christian group cry out that they are under persecution, I look beyond to find the source of this persecution.  What I find makes my point better than I could ever say.  A group that has come to this country originally to have freedom of religion has become their own worst enemy as they are often the source of suppressing the freedom of religion for others including some of their own.  Wake up!!  Stop this madness as it is the source of the trouble that gives one reason to proclaim one’s self a martyr.  Of course, preparation for martyrdom does seem to be in the history of these particular faiths.  Martyrdom is not what this world needs.  We need strong people to stand up and unite behind the true ideals of cognizance and liberality.

crudus animus

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