Tag Archive | society

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

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

Where the Beginnings Rise From Endings

With each of us, there lies a hint of what we are capable of.  It is what we have the potential for.  A resource for great things left for us to find a way to develop and use it.  Those that have the heart and will to shape these resources can create a better world around them and a better life for living.  Such resources are not passive or unlimited, but they are available for all to do something with. Each piece can turn into something positive if it is coaxed and cared for.  It can fall into a darkness of selfishness or neglect.  The choice is left to the individual.

In the last few weeks, as my first forty years come to a close, I have been pondering this very subject. As a young boy, I saw a world filled with great adventure and potential.  It was shaped by the upbringing that I benefited from. My parents gave me the tools to work through the challenges with all the genetic gifts that all children possess.  I craved to use those skills to become great and respected by my peers and family.  As I grew into my teen years, I had the same problems that all face, but I touched upon one thing that most did not consider important. I knew the future was greater with the education that was given. I excelled in all fashions in the academic areas.  Yet, as I looked around, it did not help to reap the great rewards and respect that I expected.

So, I made a few decisions as I left high school.  I knew that I wanted to be more than those around me.  I had the desire to learn, to study, but it met some of the greatest challenges of my life.  These were not life or death challenges, but personal achievements can become difficult if the world around you crumbles.  I took my eyes of the prize of my journey and failed to reach it.  By my third year of college, I was lost.  I did not have the answers that would fix my situation.  I retreated to a place of security with the hope of climbing back into the sunlight again.  Unfortunately, that place was not there.  My fall was long and hard.  I broke with the security of my family and found a new direction.

It was at this point that I turned my mind to founding my own place of stability and family.  For two decades, I had faced the world with the knowledge that if I failed, I would have a net to catch me.  I left that because it was a frayed net.  I wove a new net with the stable force in my life. My spouse and I did not always find our way, but our trials were early and hard.  We passed through them with the strength to face anything…even a life apart from family.

For the last two decades, I have searched with that companionship.  I found that my faith in my family would have to turn to something else.  The importance of a faith to worship faded as it was broken by those years at the end of my second decade. I will address my broken faith later, but for now, let it be said that I refocused my energies to understanding the world and its context.  I would not seek to follow something blindly because the answers were not my own. I needed my own answers.

Now that I have reached the end of my two decade quest, I believe that I have the answers that I needed.  I did not find the greatness or respect that most people do.  It was not the level that I expected as a young person.  What I found was that I still have a life left to go to find that reward. For now, I revel in the things that I have created.  A family can become the source of great support.  Children are a wonderful beacon for the future and the legacy that is left behind.  Friends are simply the icing on the cake.  I have great things, but I cannot settle for it.  It does not mean that I don’t appreciate these things, but my will and heart want to keep strive for the goal.  It is all to reach the end and be equal to those before.

Here is to the years to come and the next score of years be used to sharpen the mind and climb the mountain.  I will seek the summit and more if I can.

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

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

Why Pay Taxes?

As an individual citizen of the United States of America, I have paid taxes with each job that I have had in my adult life. I have never had a problem with the philosophy behind paying income taxes. I do believe that some alternatives might make the system work better for the government of the country or states, but I do not hesitate to pay my share of taxes. It ensures that the country will have the proper funds for all the different services the government must provide. Services like defense, infrastructure, and social programs are just a few. These programs require some form of revenue to support them for the future. It is a simple procedure that most civilized countries use to govern the society.

The arguments from both side of the debate center around one simple factor when it comes to taxes. This is my hard-earned money and I should have a say on how it is used. Now, for one side, this is a simple matter that if the taxes are lowered or eliminated, then the money will be used as the citizen wishes. This is a simplified definition, but the point is that the lack of tax revenue starves the government to the point that unwanted programs fail.

As most of these programs work as a safety net for the populace, this side wants to dissolve the net because the government is just giving money to those that have not earned it through hard work. On the surface, this seems a fair argument to those seeking to make our society about the individual.  Individualism walks hand-in-hand with the capitalism ideal that business success and wealth of the individual should benefit from lower taxes.  This ideal suggests that to raise the tax levels for the successful is a punishment of the success. In other words, this style of thinking leads leaders to remove the barriers to capitalism and its free market.

On the other side of the coin, the need for tax revenue to support the government and its proper administration is important to continuation of the country. This angle moves the eyes from the individualism to a community environment. A sense of collective resources being used for the group as a whole boils up from this side. Their ideals that the success of capitalism comes from consumerism, in turn the dependence of the free market on the people must submit to equality through regulations. In the minds of this side, the tax levels should show that the upper income levels pay a larger portion to help support the community.

Now, with all that stated in a very simple form, it would seem that the struggle could remain for years, but it is crazy to think that such a matter could stay in a cyclical pattern. Even my cynical side does not despair when I look at this. We live in a world that is moving forward with progressive thoughts and situations. A simpler way to express the two sides is to say that one side wishes to cling to a hardened status quo while the other side seeks to push our society to a dark chasm of chaos in the unknown future.  However, I don’t believe this is the future if we just open our minds to possibilities. There are so many possibilities to find constructive ways to use the riches of our society. Natural resources safely used and infrastructure projects are just a couple areas.

A spirit of community grew from the dark times of World War II. The world grew to use its wealth to venture into community building and exploration. This idea of coming together has been lost to many of my generation as we are all looking for the entitlement of individual success without helping the community. Perhaps it is time to return our thinking to those dreams of success as a community that the individual can be proud to be part of. Remove the barriers between us and return to the spirit that we are all human beings.

crudus animus

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