Tag Archive | politics

Have a Taste of the Big Picture

With a moment of peace, a person can learn to reflect solely on the world, the events of the present, and the emotions around each incident.  If each of us took a step back to observe this exercise on a daily basis, it may lead us to understand a little more of the world and our place in the big picture.

This big picture can cause confusion in a person if they are not used to it or have never encountered it. We each are often left in the small, subjective corner of the world for so long that we forget that we are part of something bigger and broader.  A taste of the macrocosm can often give us a larger understanding, but it can overwhelm the senses during the first few times. Normal conditioning leads the average person to accept their place in the large machine and never look beyond the immediate area.  It is our territory and it is all that matters.

Such thinking can stunt the experiences of the individual and hamper the community.  As stated many times before, the liberality and cognizance of minds is crucial, and it is very important to remember that stepping to the side to observe the bigger picture widens the eyes.  From that small step, we grow as individuals in many ways.  Not just the break from the routine and stable life, learning creates the bridge to wisdom from experience.  It is easy to sit back and second-guess another’s decisions, but it is a true source of wisdom to speak from one who has learned through experience.

What is the true reason to understanding through the objectivity of our society’s big picture?  It is a simple act that we are greater when we move has a single entity. A nation focused on the problems can quickly shape the future with results.  In the 1950s, Eisenhower proposed an interstate highway system for the U.S.  It was mostly due to his experiences as a military leader when he learned that moving troops across the country was slowed by the lack of infrastructure.  As President, he gave the country one of the greatest infrastructure project and it was a key factor to the growth of the country at the time.

The nation moved as a community and shoved all the politics to the side.  We began to grow out of our ignorance and intolerance.  Our eyes were on the horizon and we eagerly wanted to shape the future to our liking. The sixties shaped our civil discourse in such a way that we soon begged to have more and more to do.  We lifted our eyes even higher and planted a flag on the moon’s surface.  We were unstoppable.

However, current feel of the country has lost that simple view of the world. It leaves most with their eyes lowered back to the sidewalk.  No horizon is seen.  The moon and beyond are all but forgotten.  The hint that we are on the edge of Armageddon occupies our minds.  Some even suggest that we would be better off with a global event leaving us without the things we have accomplished.  The philosophy has been created to forget fixing the problems or stopping other issues in favor of plan for the end of the world.  Neglect is the result of those that expect to see the end.  To these, there is no method or drive to fixing the world; there is no understanding in the macrocosm of the national and global scene.

For some, the question is why fix or clean it up because the end will come soon?  Why waste time, energy, and money fixing or preventing the problems?  So, if that is the thinking, then why waste time, energy, and money wiping your backside?  It will only be dirty again soon. No, it is time to take a few steps to return our minds to the gifts and resources that this world has provide rather than idly waiting for this world to be destroyed.  There is no reason to leave this world as a trash heap.  Be proud of it and make it better for those to follow.

crudus animus

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A Touch of Compassion

In many ways, the overarching culture of consumerism in the US has created a horrific effect on the mindset of its citizens.  The daily need for each person to venture out into the market place and consume whatever passes before their eyes roots itself into the subtle philosophy guiding our society’s thinking.  That thinking begins to shape public opinion and policies to guide our community.  One such way is that the market should be free of any regulations or hindrances.  Another is the belief that all things including necessities like food and shelter should be earned through hard labor, even if it is for less than minimal pay.

Allow me to explain. We are growing divided by the feelings that each of us collects a salary and it is ours to hoard and spend as a reward.  The overlords have given the scraps off their tables and the underlings must scramble for the small rewards.  The rewards are immediately returned to the overlords to pay the bills and necessities.  As the underlings gain years of experience, some have the ability to hold back a part of their rewards in a nest egg.  These older underlings are able to see the brilliance from the world of the overlords, and, in turn, they do not feel the need to help or encourage the other underlings around them.  Instead, they like to speak of how this is their reward and they believe that others should work for their own.  The divisions grow and the populace is left distracted from the real problems.  It is just as the overlords want and they are happy to remain above the fray.

Today, I heard the most outrageous thing.  While discussing with a person about the obstacles of hiring qualified employees for the positions available, I mentioned something about the requirements of unemployment benefits.  It was a point that in order to receive the benefits that the person has to make efforts to acquire a job.  This means applications must be submitted several times during the week, which leads to many applicants that are not qualified for the positions. Yet, they are applying to fulfill the requirements of unemployment benefits.  This seemed to be a statement of fact and not political view. Unfortunately, it was not taken that way.

I knew that it was a conversation that I did not want to enter, but I felt that it was necessary.  The other person, a very staunch conservative, suggested that to fix this situation our government needed to simply remove the benefits of unemployment and other aid such as nutritional and monetary forms.  This would give the individuals two choices: find a job or turn to crime.  If they chose the path of crime, they were responsible.

I pointed to prisons being overwhelmed already and such a solution would increase the overpopulation and burden on the state.  The response was simply that those populations could be lowered with executions of prisoners within three days.  Now, giving the other person the benefit of the doubt, I did not assume that shoplifting for food would be a crime punishable by death, but this was my first experience with the hardcore belief where the solution was removing the social safety net as the right path.

So, I took myself out of the discussion and moved on.  There was no way that the workplace was the setting for entering a verbal debate over the irresponsible solution of someone claiming that others should be responsible for their own needs or become criminals.  I realize that the harsh conditions of the last few years have put a hard line between people, but to actually witness the inhumanity of this person’s solution was quite hard to stomach.

Since that moment, I have taken the opportunity to examine the details of the situations around me.  Often, I have wondered if we have not all lost our way in the very beliefs of our Western philosophies.  The struggle of the less fortunate to collect the small, sometimes less-than-the-minimum-to-live-on rewards holds the compassionate mind in complete shock. The pure selfishness of the very fortunate who have accepted their positions, which are often gained by privileged and opportune circumstances, engrossed with the idea that hard work was the key to success.  It is this simple fiction that spreads like propaganda to the less fortunate with the promise that they will one day taste the sweet success.  Those believing in this are forced to support the upper class and turn on their colleagues among the lower class.  Unfortunately, this is the very reason that the feudal systems of medieval times created a horrendous environment for progression of society.  We are sinking back into those terrible fashions and we must stop.

With all of this, I am brought back to a single thought.  As I view the writings of the New Testament to be a message of a philosopher and teacher, I turn those that believe that a society should not lift up the lower classes and poor to the words of that text.  Time and time again, the message brought by the sayings of this messenger is one of care and compassion for your neighbor.  The care of a fellow person is far more rewarding to the person and the world around than to reject such a need to someone.  I may not hold to the dogma and doctrine of the modern churches, but I feel that we are in a perfect situation to change this world for the better by simply showing compassion for those around us.

I know that this is starting to reveal itself in the recent debates in the US over immigration reform.  As aware as I am of the political reasons for this, it is good to see that finally we may be turning our eyes to the compassionate spirit within all of us.

crudus animus

Defend the Free State

Recent events have conjured up thoughts about similar events of the past few years, which bring the conversation of gun control to the forefront. Each mass shooting that occurs brings the feelings of horror and fear. Horrific displays of violence that end with even a death are preventable. The sympathy for the victims and survivors in these situations is necessary and understood. The questions are overwhelming as to why any of this happened.  However, the greatest question is on the prevention of it happening.  How could we as a society avoided such unnecessary events?  How can we stop all deaths from gun violence?

The conversation has been avoided by most of the leaders as it is claimed that the time is inappropriate.  Yet, if we wait, then the moment of learning has past and all is lost in vain.  The talk of gun control needs to be held on all levels including the prevention of the societal issues that created the situation in the first place.

There is little argument that the gun is not to blame for the actions of the person. No gun will march out to a place and kill multiple people without someone to pull the trigger.  I would not say that the tool is the blame of the action, but it is the tool of the action.  Without it being in the possession of a willing individual, the matter will not happen.  Simply put, if you don’t give a carpenter a hammer to built, the house will not be built.

Guns have purpose in the hands of the wielder, so we must address the true issue of gun violence.  Two sides of this debate will forever twist and balance on the tip of the Second Amendment.  As citizens of the U.S., we all have this right as accorded in the Constitution.  Pause for a moment and read the exact words and understand the context of the words:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

These words have created debate upon debate without pause.  It has led to crucial and defining decisions in the Supreme Court which have shaped our current view from the original context.  There is no doubt that anyone can break this right down to support their view.  It is apparent in the large lobbying group, NRA, which never stops campaigning for the right to keep guns available to everyone.

However, let’s consider one point mentioned already. The wielder of the weapon is the one with the intent, and based on the environmental and societal effects on this person, it can move away from this right to bear arms among others in a well regulated militia very quickly. The Free State that requires security does need a well regulated militia that serves the people.  It is not for the individual to use as one pleases.  It is the individual right to have the weapon in the case of raise arms to protect, but the aggressor should never be defended with this right. It is purely a stance of defense.

Most news outlets and the sheep that follow along without thinking would have the populace believe that now is not the time for a discussion.  Waiting will only bring the next tragedy before the news covers it again.  This is wrong.  Shortly after President Reagan was shot and a member of his cabinet was struck in the head, a form of gun control came into the discussion and was passed into law.  It was not too early then.  When Gabby Giffords was shot in Tuscon, AZ, it was mentioned that gun control was being brought up too soon.  After the shootings in West Virginia and Aurora, we heard that it was all too soon to speak of gun control.  The victims are gone.  Families are wounded.  Lives are destroyed.  It is too late for this to be changed, but it is never too soon to wake up and fix this problem.  Regulate the guns by regulating the people who go to buy them.  The sense of the solution is bubbling over and it is time that we break through the horrific rhetoric of the media and lobbyists who cry “Too Soon!”

Enough…just fix the solution at its source before it is Too Late for someone else.  Protect the citizens by protecting the guns from aggressors.

crudus animus

Out of Control and Into Control

The idea of offering respect to the religious institutions has never been a terrible thought. It is a respect originally generated from the purpose of wisdom that can be provided by these entities. They hold the status of non-profit organizations in the same fashion as charities, due to the services provided to the community. This very idea at its core holds steady with beliefs set down by some of the great fathers and mothers of the country. In fact, it is crucial to the ideal that no religion is established by the government or prohibited in its practice. It is a principle that would be difficult for any citizen to avoid supporting.

However, it has begun to feel that such a simple principle has been corrupted and ruined by the activities of these organizations. That is not to say that all are, but when an organization grows large enough to create its own form of lobbying, it may be time to re-examine this situation.  As many have concluded in the past, there is an understood and well-supported case that the US Constitution speaks of a separation of church and state. This separation works to help offer the religious organizations the special tax exempt status, yet some of these organizations have become a political tool to influence the congregations.  This is the line.  Once a tax exempt entity enters the arena of the state, the separation is gone and the exemption is void.

Now some might consider it to be difficult to make a judgment of how far is too far or that freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.  Consider that statement and remember that it is a barrier to help protect the state from the establishment of a single religion while protecting the various religions from being persecuted as being the wrong religion for the whole country.  It is not a matter of negotiation for how far, but a simple concept of keeping the structure protected.  If a tax exempt organization steps into a position that will influence the state, it loses its status.

On the same principle, the state does not cross the line either to establish a single tax exempt organization above others.  Now, it is understandable that one religion or charitable group might have a majority, but it needs to remain separate. Imagine what would happen if the Red Cross become so imbedded in the state that other charities could not raise donations to support their cause. Yes, we know that the Red Cross serves in emergencies and disasters, but we still need those charities that support research into cancer and various social causes.  We need to have a level playing field and not some lopsided debate.

In the end, the point remains that tax exempt status for non-profit organizations should be honored to those that remain inside the guidelines.  The boundaries occur for a reason and once they are broken, all the guarantees of a stable society are in jeopardy. What is the point of a democracy if the voices of the many are drowned out by the voices of the few?  There is no doubt in my mind that if we can find our balance again, we will never stop our progress as a country and a world of human kind.

crudus animus

All That Hope Works For Something

Often, as I consider the future, I am overwhelmed by the emotions of the past. I feel the waves wash over me like a flood that will never again let me breathe. It is crushing at times in ways one might describe as a feeling of depression.  However, the buoyancy of hope and motivation lifts me quickly to the surface. It is there that I can feel the sunshine and its warmth.  Challenges of regrets and everlasting, sharpened pain make me cringe in the darkness of the flood, but it is the lighter thoughts that diminish this feeling.

It has been a poignant year for me as a person and citizen of the world. I have faced the obstacles and barbs of the world.  I have stumbled with my own decisions and their results.  I have dreamt of a future in which several goals have been achieved which led me to set those goals on the horizon.  There is no doubt in me that this year has been one of the most challenging of my personal life.  I must say that if this is how such years end, then I invite the rest to be as much or more so.  I feel success by climbing the mountain.

This particular month has been a battle as I create time from my very odd schedule.  I have so many things that I wish to accomplish, yet it seem that I have been swallowed by life once more. It is in a good way.  Work has been demanding, but it is for a good reason and pays the bills. I have had time to catch up on a hobby of mine, which is reading. I have finished several books that I meant to finish years ago.  Now, I am moving on through fiction to some non-fiction/academic volumes that have been on my list for a while.  As a student of Antiquity, I have found a set of Gibbons volumes on the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.  A book on the history of early Christianity has found me again.  I am actually able to read a few of those books that my professors suggested. Overall, I am feeling the excitement of learning again.

Next week, I will be celebrating my eighteenth wedding anniversary and I feel that my spouse’s support has never faltered.  That support is a constant source of positive energy with a hint of elegant wisdom and necessary honesty that I need from time to time. I hope that I have provided similar qualities and seek to continue that in the years to come.

As Thanksgiving passes and the month of November draws to a close, I hope to see a bit more of the sunshine and offer my hope that all humanity can find a stable footing for peace and thankfulness.  Seek that moment and use your past to climb toward your dreams.

crudus animus

Have I Lost My Innocence?

Have I lost my innocence? I once thought and believed with all my soul that United States of America was the greatest country on this planet.  We had spirit and tradition that drew us together like no other force.  We created patriotism and national pride without the heavy weight of forcing the citizenry to follow along.  It was the deep faith in the dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that pulled us through the wars and hardships. We nearly divided over those same thoughts until someone used the duct tape of the Constitution to hold us together. We are US citizens and we need to remember the core values that hold us together.

It is not some ideological, partisan fife that we should be marching to. It is the simple faith that we are Americans.  No force in the universe can shatter that belief if we remember to hold strong to it. Just because we have our differences on opinion, lifestyles, or public policies, it is not reason to break the bonds of brotherhood that brought this great nation together. We fought tyranny in the form of a monarchy to become free of such concepts.  We fought each other to understand the very soul of humanity that we represent.  We fought the harsh realities of intolerance and ignorance to keep a single regime from wiping out an entire group of people for being different. We have become the very ideal of freedom that some fundamentalists would hope to destroy from within and without.  There is little reason to allow that enemy to win.

Old fashion traditions have held us together for so long. We are a divided people because of our very nature, which comes from the forefathers. We were divided on the ideals of our society then, but we came together to compromise to the middle and make a nation that I respect and honor with my actions everyday. We should not let the politics and harsh rhetoric pull us apart and keep us apart.  We elect a leader to hold us under a single voice for one branch, but we hold that person in check with an assembly in the other branches.  It does little good to pout and kick our feet when it does not go our way. We are not spoiled children. We are American citizens and honorable adults.  Let’s start acting that way.

One last thought and I will let this go.  Most feel that the arts and entertainment of our culture has corrupting elements.  Tones and topics which are inappropriate for young children can be found in examples, but there are wide sweeping themes that inspire new visions and arts for the future.  I understand that it is important to protect the young minds so that traditions and ideals can be passed on, but think about something for me.  When in a crisis or disaster, who is it that we turn to as a society? As a whole, who are we going to embrace to get us through those tough times?  I find that it is the irony of the ages that the one thing that holds us true to our course is the very thing that never escaped Pandora’s Box. It is the very thing that settles into our soul and protects us from our own worries and despairs. In an essence, Tolkien and, in his own way, Joss Whedon direct our understanding of the human nature through the entity of Hope. It is shared in the definition that life without hope is despair. If we despair, we become nothing but the cruel, twisted life forms that seek only to consume others and their brains. In other words, hope is our foundation and refuge.  Don’t waste it with removing it from our world.

So, have I lost my innocence? NO.  I seek the future that has not been written and aim to write my own.  I dwell on the very essence that we are all humans with a wide variety of differences.  In these differences, there is hope that we will never despair and remain the unshakable force that we all hope to be.

By the way, go and vote tomorrow.  There is little reason not to.  Some feel that it is pointless, but they are the ones that despair.  Nothing is written.  Hope can change who we are. Find your liberality and cognizance to avoid being a zombie!

crudus animus

A Moment of Leadership

I wanted to use this moment to express a few thoughts that have been floating around in my mind. In recent weeks, I have come to realize that I have actually found some good friends who are not just there during the good times. I have been given a great amount of good things in my life, but friends have been limited in number.  The friends that I have held dear have been great and long-lasting. It was their influence on me that helped change some of my unsavory qualities.  I still struggle with tendencies of less-than-positive view and a slight trend toward narcissism.  Of course, I like to think that all of us have a moment or two where we are self-centered and self-serving. All of this is coming into the light as I settle into a new job and new responsibilities.  I am the new guy again.

Confidence in one’s abilities is not always a bad thing in those moments when it must be used to defend a position or offer a suggestion. I am often finding myself pulling back from speaking like a know-it-all. A great talent is not always appreciated and some resent it.  This brought me to realize that perhaps there was a better way to handle such a situation.

As I stated in a previous blog, I was going to begin reading a few books.  A couple did not grab me immediately, so they were put to the side for a time.  To be honest, reading a novel, for me, is something that fits into the right time in life. So, I moved through a few books and found that I was back to reading the Game of Thrones, which I had put off.  At first glance, the writing was skilled with developing great twists of intrigue and characters.  I felt that it was lacking a great amount of description to the world that I was used to.  However, I have found it to be enjoyable, and I continue to read.

Back to my point about handling a situation with some humility and grace so resentment is not borne by others, I found that one particular character in the book to have a similar situation. The bastard Jon Snow, who comes from his father’s house with training and skill with the sword, enters into the service of a fighting troop who protects the realm from the forces beyond the Wall. It is a harsh life and they are sworn off a life of family. As Jon enters the training, it is very clear that he is capable of defending himself and defeating his classmates in large groups.  However, he is isolated by those that he has defeated and embarrassed. It becomes even harder as the trainer brings his own ridicule into the situation.

It is at this moment that Jon is given some advice that perhaps he should remove that haughty nature from his confidence.  It is this quality that the other recruits and instructors are resenting in Jon.  I don’t think that I would have puzzled it out as well as Jon, but he turned from beating his classmates to teaching them with the skills that he has.  He goes from loner to a distinct leader of the recruits to the point that they follow him, even against the wishes of the instructor.

In this, I considered the new position that I was placed in at my new job and remembered the true leadership that is found in being a mentor while being the leader. I have used this technique in the past, but it has been some time since it was on my mind. It has drawn me from the darkness that I often faced during the last few months.

It was inspired by a novel, enhanced by friends, and used by a person seeking to become a better part of this world. I count those here that read and follow me as part of that support. When I was lost, all of you were there for me.  My thanks to all.

By the way, my frequency may not increase entirely as the job levels off and the coming of the great month of November.  November holds a few things that should be excellent. It is the month of NaMoWriMo and I will be making my second attempt to writing a novel of 50,000 words in a month. Last year, I finished the novel in January, so I am trying for a better run this time. I will likely update the blog as I can.

Also, my wedding anniversary comes toward the end of the month and it will be eighteen years, so it will be exciting.  So, for now, I need to catch up on my favorite blogs and enjoy what all of you are writing.

crudus animus

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