For the Love of Justice, Truth, and a Good Night’s Sleep

Every so often, I get asked about why I don’t post more about American politics or even World politics for that matter. “You’re a Druid,” is a response I hear often to my quiet shrug. “Don’t you have a mantra that suggests a love for Justice? Don’t you want to see ‘Justice’ done against Trump and his followers?” Or there’s an opposite aspect to that as well: “Don’t you believe in Justice? Don’t you want to see the witch-hunt against President Trump come to an end?” See, I have friends from both ends of the political spectrum, so I generally hear both sides of that point. My own perspective is far removed from both sides.

Most people don’t really grok where I come from with politics. I’m an unaffiliated voter in the state of Texas. This doesn’t really mean much here in Texas. Primaries are open in the state of Texas, meaning anyone can vote in any primary. Kind of dumb, huh? But even if the primaries were closed – in other words, Democrats voted only in Democratic primaries, etc. etc. – I would remain an unaffiliated voter. Its my quiet way of flying the finger at the stranglehold that the two-party system has here in America. Not that anyone was ever really looking for my middle-finger throughout all of it. 😉 Not much of a protest, but it is what I do. I was never about screaming my perspective from the ramparts in the first place.

So, when folks start flying the point about Druids being for “justice” – I’m always reminded that terminology can be equated to a double-edged sword. What some refer to something as “justice” does not always mean that someone else will see it the same way. When we start flinging the word “justice” around, we’re seeking restitution for action – trying to balance out an inequality (so Libra of me…LOL). When I get a call for justice bandied about or at me, the first thing I start looking for is an inequality that needs to be balanced. Well, here’s the hard part – trying to see both sides of the equation. Sometimes, its easy. Stuff can be two-toned in that respect. Other times, well…sometimes its hard to even comprehend the other side of an argument. Honestly, I can’t and don’t’ see or understand a lot of what the Trump supporters bandy about. For instance, all this kerfuffle about the election being “rigged.” I can’t really see things from their respective. I believe the election was fair, honest, and accurate. I also believe the same thing about the election when President Trump was elected. There was a lot of outrage over supposed Russian interference in the election. See, you can go back and back and back in history and find the losers of the various elections claiming widespread voter fraud. For me, “justice” demands that the alleged inequities be thoroughly investigated and reported. Every single time, voter fraud and irregularities were discovered but at such low levels that it would not sway the election in any significant manner. And in the name of love for “justice” – we, here in the United States, investigate the shit out of that stuff. So, when I get slammed with the point of the Druidic phrasing of the “love of justice” over the election…I point out instances such as this. Not that any of that sways the minds of those slapping me in the face with these charges like they are swinging a sea trout in a fish market.

Then there are those that slam me for not leading the charge to “get Trump”. Here, I point to the ongoing investigations, and note that these processes take time. “Too much time,” is the crackback. Agreed. It always feels like its too much time, particularly when you are already at some conclusion. Guilty, not guilty…everyone’s ready to free someone they believe in or jail the one they would prefer to vigilante justice upon for whatever wrongs have painted on those folks. Part of my “love for justice” is my larger “love of the truth.” That means letting investigations proceed at its own speed. The people appointed to the investigation are charged with seeking the truth, and I hold them to that charge. I would hope much of the citizenry does too. Even if that truth is opposed to their own perceived perspective of guilt or innocence. After all, that’s why we are holding an investigation – to make sure that the truth is known, and to make sure that the guilty are truly guilty. “Slam Trump in a jail cell, and then drop the prison on top of him!” Sure. I agree. If he’s guilty of whatever is being charged against him. I’d rather the investigation ran its course, the evidence be found and corroborated then to rush everything through and push the punishment onto him without the process being fulfilled to its end. Why? Well, its simple. I would want the same due process applied to me, were I to be charged with a crime. I would want the investigation to be thorough and complete, in the name of Justice and the Truth. If I, a simple citizen desire this for myself, in the name of equality – I want it for everyone else too.

I’m a Libra. I want the scales of Justice to be balanced. Honestly, I am a Libra. October 1st. Somewhere near the middle of the entire sign’s calendar dates. Balance, equality, justice, and truth are important to me. I’m as typical a Libra as you will find. Is it any wonder that I am an unaffiliated voter/ Or that I prefer to see both sides of an issue before I decide which one I would favor in my own opinion? Trust me, I’ve heard it all in association with myself. Waffler, incapable of making up my mind, fence-rider, middle-of-the-road, indecisive, non-confrontational… And all are true. Except when I do finally make up my mind. When I choose my side. I’m a warrior for that point. Because I know where things fall within my own perspective on the points of Truth, and Justice. And I know what’s “right” in that issue.

Grant, O Gods, Thy protection;
And in protection, strength;
And in strength, understanding;
And in understanding, knowledge;
And in knowledge, the knowledge of justice;
And in the knowledge of justice, the love of it;
And in that love, the love of all existences;
And in the love of all existences, the love of the Gods.

I hate to say that my political perspective is derived from my understanding of the above prayer – what is referred to as the Druid’s Prayer. But it does. I choose to avoid affiliation from Democrats, Republicans, or any other political party – because I don’t completely believe what these parties quietly convey: party above all else. Their politics is not about doing what is best for the citizenry, but rather what is best for the party’s continued control of the three branches of government here in the United States. Others will argue that I’m wrong. That this party or that party have the best interests of the citizenry at the heart of their desire for control and power. That’s about the point where I do what now I am doing in this blog post: I shut my mouth and move on. Because my life is taken up with many more positive things than stuff like politics. And I really need to focus on those things to have another happy day ahead. And I do so like having happy days. Politics has its place and time…but right now, its time to get the house ready for another night of rest and sleep…politics has no place there. I have a love for justice and truth, but I have an even greater love for a good night’s sleep.

–Tommy /|\

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on Pexels.com

Howling Into the Wind: Culture Wars Are Not About Culture…Its About Choice

My last blog post touched along the lines of the so-called “War on Christmas.” Well, all of that is really just a smaller symptom of a larger movement that is moronically known as the ‘Culture War.” Personally, I feel that the concept of “culture wars” is ridiculous and built on a desire to bring America back to a period of history (depending on the time of the culture war’s moment) where an aspect of personal and individual morals are perceived to be more connected to those who are in conflict with the popular culture of the time. First, a touch of history…

History

According to Wikipedia (not the greatest source, but handy and somewhat useful), the concept of the “culture war” goes back to the roaring twenties here in the United States – a type of backlash against popular culture. It was epitomized in the Presidential campaign of Al Smith in 1928. After that moment, it sporadically rises throughout the decades until the beginning of the 1990s. Far right-wing Republicans (we still here from these out of touch people to this day) latch on to Republican candidate Pat Buchanan during his battle with candidate George H.W. Bush. Buchanan railed against the rise of environmentalist, and the new rise of feminism as indicators that the destruction of traditional American morals and perspectives. Needing an enemy beyond the party’s nomination, Buchanan painted Democratic Presidential candidate Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary as examples of the individuals that would seek to permanently destroy America values. Buchanan also added controversies on the Confederate Battle Standard, tax-payer funded art, and even the backlash against his culture-war perspective to a growing list of perspectives that required Americans with a morality stand similar to his own to draw lines in the sand. Hardcore Republicans, seeking a rallying cry to unite Republicans everywhere gathered up these perspectives and utilized these in perverted manners to proclaim an “Us v. Them” standard within politics that remains to this day.

For me, I recall these being driven hard by the Republicans on such historical moments in time such as the “Tea Party” move to galvanize the Republican fear of being swamped and destroyed by anything that didn’t hold their narrow cultural perspective, and the rise of the culture-war’s hero – Fox News’ popular “commentator” Bill O’Reilly. Let me tell you, fear, anger, outrage – these emotions are easy to attain. The leaders of the “culture wars” perspective were well-versed in how to foment these emotions, while attaching all of it to their cause of the moment, thus creating that deep “Us v Them” divide. A divide that has gotten deeper and more agitated over the years, as we now stand on the Grand Canyon-esque precipice we find ourselves in within today’s society.

Back in the early and mid 2000s, I watched Bill O’Reilly’s tv show “The Bill O’Reilly Factor”. I listened to him and his selected guests rail in anger against Clinton, Obama, and even from time to time George H.W. Bush, and his son. From time to time, O’Reilly would have Democratic commentators such as the late-Alan Colmes and Juan Williams on the show to provide an opposite perspective. However, O’Reilly treated these “guests” as straw men for his other hosts to attack and destroy. The show turned into a weak version of the World Wrestling Federation, with these guests in the traditional role of being the heels. In late 2005, I decided to stop watching because the show had become a caricature of itself and could rarely be seen as anything serious, beyond being an hour-long propaganda show aimed towards shilling O’Reilly’s books, which were written to foment more fear and anger. Believe me folks, fear sells quite well, as evidenced by O’Reilly’s top-seller status on the New York Times book lists.

When O’Reilly eventually left Fox News, more sellers of fear have taken his place – Sean Hannity, and Tucker Carlson most prominent among them – both of whom are more cartoon characters than anything anyone should take seriously.

My Thoughts

Within today’s fear-driven politics, the real background that everything is played against is this so-called “culture war.” As I said, fear is a great motivator. But what exactly are these folks fighting against? Well, they want a Beaver Cleaver world. They are offended by people making life choices of their own that fly in the face of older societal codes of so-called “morality.” Digging deeply, you will find that their fear is about encountering people with different morals than they have. They fear that their children will make their own choices and choose an avenue that they – as parents – would never choose. They claim this is a battle for the minds and morality of the youth. Really, its just a strong reaction to the change that comes from a younger generation. The younger people are choosing their own Path. Many choose a different way than their parents. Out of rebellion or what not, its their choice to make. Just as it was my generation’s choice to live life to a degree of excess back in the 1980s. We colored our hair wildly and vividly. We wore clothing that defied the normal “sensibilities” of our parents. We made our choices of who we wanted to lead us politically. For some of us, this led us into Paganism, where we found the acceptance of who we are and what we believed. For others, they made decisions to live lives much closer to what their parents had done.

Choices. In my mind, this is what the so-called “culture wars” is really about. Its about the choices that people make for their own lives. Make the wrong choices, according to these loud, over-bearing right-wing fanatics – and you find yourself on the outside of society. Take away those choices that are considered to be “repugnant” and leave only the choices that are “acceptable” and society will become as they dream it to be.

Folks, I’m in my fifties now. I’m set in the way I live my life. I can make small, individual choices, but none of that is going to skew the way I live my life. The culture war isn’t about me. Its about those younger folks, who are malleable at this point in their lives. The culture war is about herding them into a direction of choices that would be acceptable to a small group of others. Personally, I could give a flying shit what choices the younger generation makes. Become a Republican. Drink the Kool-Aid of the right or left in this country. Just leave all of the choices on the table, so they can make up their minds as they wish to. Removing all of their choices is the same as removing their freedom. We may as well take aptitude tests and assign people to jobs and income brackets based solely on those tests. What does a society look like when its only given a small group of choices? Ask the former Soviet Union citizens from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

Closing This Out

This is only a small area of my thoughts on this particular subject. Yes, this is political in nature, because of the focus of what the so-called “Culture War” is. This is only my opinion. My perspective. Others can – and definitely will – disagree with me. I’m not saying that I am completely correct in what I am saying – merely that is what I have seen from my seat in history. Its not the Republicans that I find vile, so if you’re a Republican reading this and come to that conclusion, I understand why you did. But that’s not my position. Republicans and Democrats are about how the governmental aspects of this country get managed and run. My beef comes from those who dictate what choices the younger generations will have. Right or wrong, this younger generation has the right to make their choices. Those choices of right and wrong are the experiences that they will grow and learn from. To arbitrarily remove those choices, simply because you don’t feel others should choose this or that…in my estimation, you are robbing them of a full life. Essentially placing them at gun-point to make a smaller, defined set of choices – just so the youth can usher in a long-lost point of generational values that you cling so tightly to. I leave you with a final thought from pop artist Debbie Gibson. Yes, I am going to quote Debbie Gibson here. From her song “Electric Youth” from her 1987 album of the same name:

We do what comes naturally
You see now, wait for the possibility
Don’t you see a strong resemblance to yourself?
Don’t you think what we say is important?
Whatever it may be, the fun is gonna start with me

Just a thought. Especially when you are considering how to mold the youth of tomorrow using your outdated generational norms. Remember, this is about choice…and choice is all we should ever have. Unlimited. Unvarnished. Available.

JOPO (Just one person’s opinion)

–Tommy /|\

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Originally published 17Dec2021

Edited for grammatical and spelling mistakes (I’m not perfect and never will be) 18Dec2021

Thinking About: The Last Year

As we are approaching the end of another Julian calendar, there is a time to reflect on the past year. Many folks take the time here at the end of the year to look at the happenings of the past year through a different lens. I’m not different. Around the time of Samhain, I spend time reflecting on where my personal Spirituality has gone through another turn of the Wheel. Here at the end of the year, I look at more secular points. A lot of Pagans that I know don’t try to separate their daily Spirituality from the happenings of the world around them. I’m not part of that type of thinking, though I do understand that everything mixes and blends around the edges. The following is my perspective of the last year from my own eyes.

January was an odd time frame for me. Early in the month came the Capitol House invasion. Or riot. Or takeover. Or coup d’état. Whatever manner you want to frame the happenings over the election. Never in my lifetime would I dream that there would be a sizeable element of the US citizenry that would want to dispose of the way our country operates its election process – much less for a man that completely disregarded the document and principles he swore to uphold and defend on his own election four years prior. As an eight-year veteran of the US Armed Forces, I took a similar oath when I chose to wear the uniform in service to this country. And while I am no longer a member of the US military, its an oath that I’ve never set aside. I was appalled and disgusted by those that went into the halls of Congress, seeking to disrupt the election process that was underway on that day, and sought out to detain members of Congress for “perceived crimes.” Some even had the desire to injure or kill those members of Congress. Their looting of Congressional offices has left a taste of disgust in my mouth, particularly where their right to freedom of speech and protest is concerned. There is protest…and then there was outright acts of sedition on their part. Its not difficult to see where I stand on all of this. I’m just one single individual though.

January also saw major changes in my personal life. Some aspects were for the better. Some have affected my own health, which has not been the greatest throughout the year. I am not the person I was two years ago or even five years ago. But I do try my best. Even during the continued up and down trending of COVID-19. Sadly, my state’s governor – the inept Greg Abbott – continues to make a mockery of keeping people safe, simply so he can tweak the current President’s nose on the issue. Again, I’m one vote in a state that traditional votes Republican. Still, I do what I have to with my vote – I continue to vote my conscience on issues, which means Greg will never get my vote. Not because he’s a Republican. I could care less about what political party he is part of. Rather, its because he continually makes policy decisions based on what will get his popularity to rise. The rumor is that he is readying for a run at the Presidency. If former President Trump runs as well, I look forward to the personal attacks that Trump will level against Greg – just as Trump did against another Texas politician in Trumps’ first election – Senator Ted Cruz.

During the start of the Delta variant’s rise, I took a vacation to southwest Colorado. It was a trip I needed to take. I had a desire to revisit the exact site that I had my moment with Crow on a particular trail. Unfortunately, that trail, as well as that area of the Mesa Verde National Park, was closed. So, I decided to walk a different trail that was open. The trail was beautiful, and I could get a strong sense of the Spirits of Place that inhabit large areas of the Park. Unfortunately, my health issues complicated my walk of a trail that was a steep incline down, and a steep incline up. The severe climb up from the location of the cliff dwelling at the center of the trail caused my breathing issues to flare up to an alarming level. I believed this to be a severe flare up of my asthma that I had developed from my bout with pneumonia after the trip to Iceland a few years ago. Instead, its an indicator that I am starting to have heart-related issues, such as what my father passed away from quite a while back. The ailment is referred to medically as Tachycardia, which has symptoms such as shortness of breath and dizziness that result from a rise in rapid heart rate. That, coupled with my High Blood Pressure, has had my cardiologist add some medications to my already growing pharmacy that I take daily. I have also been told to exercise lightly for the time being, as well as severely cut back my salt intake. As I noted, health issues are a primary issue that has changed this calendar year for me.

Lastly, I have decided to go back for another degree (this will be my fourth). I am working on a Bachelor of Science in Data Analytics and Data Management, in order to upgrade my base-level knowledge and update my skill sets in the field of Data Analysis. My first class started just a few days ago. While I know most of the techniques and applied concepts for my field, I have never had formal training nor am I conversant in the terminology utilized within the field. That is the reason I am focusing on this degree – to bring myself up to speed. Part of the degree program adds certification in the field. I have always eschewed certifications, viewing education to be more important. Unfortunately, certifications are the first weed-out point for job applicants – a process that has likely cost me more than one chance at a job interview.

I continue to progress in my Ovate lessons. I do need to backtrack a bit and set things right according to the lesson instructions, but I continue to make my weekly progress in both my Druidry lessons, as well as in my daily Spirituality.

There’s a lot more to note for the year, but all of that belongs in my personal journals – not out here on the blog. I am willing to share parts of my daily life out here, but there are things that should remain private, as well as correspondence that I manage daily with a few folks. 😊I have shared some of my thoughts…but not everything. A guy’s got to have some secrets from the world.

–Tommy /|\

It’s the Same Story the Crow Told Me…

It’s the same story the Crow told me, it’s the only one He knows.

Grateful Dead, “Uncle John’s Band” from the album “Workingman’s Dead”

This is one of my favorite lyrics from the Grateful Dead. Written by the amazing Robert Hunter, the song is included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.” Aside from being an awesome song, it also is a reminder that my God is always nearby. My relationship with Crow has grown over the past two years. Throughout some of the most troubling moments that we have had, as well as difficult times within my own life, Crow has always been there to remind me that each day continues to be a gift – even when it doesn’t look that way.

Over the past decade or so, everything around me has seemingly fallen into a category of “winning versus losing.” Everything is cased in the perspective of being a competition or as it has turned over the last two years, into a battlefield. “Either we get our way, or there’s going to be war.” I’ve watched that permeate through the constant barrage over the Confederate and Civil War issue that covered the news for so long. I’ve listened, watched, read, and even participated in the long “discussions” over the presidency of Donald Trump. I watched in pain as supporters of President Trump challenged the election process of various states during the last election cycle, including a horrendous storming of the Nation’s Capital to stop the proper installation of a duly elected President Biden. Through all of that, Crow has been at my shoulder reminding me that those polarizing moments are fleeting. “The cycles of human-kind,” are what I am constantly told.

Those cycles happen constantly. All of it comes from a need and pull for power by others. Here in the United States, we collectively get wrapped up in what our political parties want. It drives our elections, our legislation, and our wider focus. Those parties claim to be wanting the best for all the citizens of this country, but all of it is really a ploy for power. Certainly, one could point to the turmoil in politics, the constant hatred and anger towards one another within politics, the surge in extreme weather conditions (I saw a story on the Weather Channel a few days ago that this summer’s heat edged out the hottest summer during the Dust Bowl era), and COVID that there is a “Storm” already here. Certain folks that are far more sensitive to magickal aspects than I ever dreamed of being, will confirm that. Crow continues to remind me that all of this is just a cycle of humankind.

One of the Pantheacons that I attended, there was a ritual that was aimed towards the Morrigan. I attended out of curiosity. I could feel the calling of the Morrigan towards those for this coming “Storm”. I also had Crow on my shoulder reminding me that this was just a cycle. “That’s not for you,” was my reminder, “Unless you choose that Path.” I didn’t. That moment was quite a few years ago. Since then, Crow, Coyote, and now Abnoba, have continued pushing me elsewhere. Towards teaching and mentorship. In the background of all of that has been another reminder: its not about winning or losing. It’s about living.

I have wrung my hands over this coming “Storm” for quite a long time. During one meditation, Crow asked me about how to deal with a storm here in this physical realm. I replied that it depended on the severity of the storm, but typically, one either stayed inside or got a raincoat and an umbrella. In the case of a stronger storm, one would either barricade themselves inside their home or evacuate. ::Exactly.:: was the response.

I know a lot of this won’t sit well with others. In some ways, I have felt that everyone seems to be spoiling for a fight. That’s not an indictment of anyone or their motives. Just an observation from my perspective. During much of President Trump’s campaign, he would talk about “winning” and “losing” – turning a political campaign for a government office into a battle rather than a philosophical conversation on how a government should be run. When he did turn to the philosophical perspective of govern, he utilized it as a hammer to drive a spike of division even deeper between two perspectives of governorship. His campaign forced voting citizens to see things in an either/or perspective – essentially into a war or battle. That continued into his re-election campaign. Looking back, many of our issues that have flashed through the news headlines have followed this same pattern, even long before President trump first placed himself into campaign mode for his only (so far) term. So, we’ve been choosing this either/or perspective for quite some time.

Crow continues to remind me that these are the cycles of humankind. Winning and losing is a construct that we have put together. Life is about adapting to the conditions and moving forward. How we live is more important. Finding kindness and assistance for those that need it is far better than cruising the highways in your vehicles looking for political opponents to harass and run their vehicles off the road. Happened right here in Texas during this last Presidential election cycle. Helping others with their mental health issues is of the utmost need. Accepting people for who they are regardless of their political philosophies, their gender, who they love, or even how many…finding the common footing that we are all human beings and designed to be unique from one another. We can disagree without being violent or hateful. In my mind and perspective, we can all live here together. All we need to do is have a little respect for others…just acknowledge that we all are trying to live our best life, if we are just afforded the opportunity to do so. So long as we break this current cycle of humankind, and accept a new cycle where we can disagree, but respect.

I do get it though. Its easier to be disrespectful to others. It’s easier to pick a group of people and treat them as opponents. Winning and losing is an easy paradigm to connect with. We’re taught the perspective of competition in our earliest moments of childhood. We learn competitive games such as football, baseball, and such. We play to “win” – not the joy of the game. We learn in school, but we are provided grades, which are accumulated to determine who has the highest-grade point average. That person is awarded a title and given a position of prominence when we finish our climb towards an award acknowledging our educational achievement. Winning and losing is a part of our lives. We use that competitive drive to achieve and excel. It only seems natural for us to place that competition into areas of our lives that go beyond those moments. Winning and losing drives us into those areas.

I am not trying to say that competitiveness is ruining our lives and making us hate each other. The problems that get us to that point are much deeper than that. I’m only pointing out what gets us to the point of placing every aspect of our lives into a competitive nature, where “Us versus Them” becomes “Us only need to survive.” Where “we are better than them,” starts us down a Path of violent reaction.

This is all just a cycle of humankind. Cycles can be broken. Storms exist. But they exist until the imbalance that created them is returned to normal. In the meantime, we survive. We shelter from the “Storm.” We help others survive by helping them find shelter as well. For those who are afraid, we provide calm, strength, positivity…we help them. Because it is the right thing to do.

I know this entire thing is rambly. If that’s really a word. Hopefully, you can see my point. Crow, Coyote, and Abnoba keep pointing me towards what I need to do. However, I am not trying to teach anyone anything here. I am merely pointing out my own perspective on these turbulent times we live in. I’m also trying to express my hope in human beings to break this cycle we are in by finding compassion for others within themselves. I can’t make choices for anyone. Nor would I want to. That removes your capability and capacity to choose for yourself. That is freedom. To make your own decisions, based on your own observations. To force everyone to believe as I do makes for a boring world, full of clones of me. No thanks. I like unique individuals that I can interact with. People I can agree and respectfully disagree with. Because that means we are doing more than just thinking. We are thinking and feeling.

It’s not whether we win or lose. It’s how we live each moment we are given. Some of that probably sounds familiar…after all, it’s the same story the Crow told me. It’s the only one He knows.

–Tommy /|\

I don’t keep an altar in the house. This is as close as it gets.

One Pagan’s Perspective. One Druid’s Approach.

I remember being very public about my beliefs when I was in the Air Force, particularly when I was stationed overseas in Germany. I also remember the numerous questions, accusations, and “Christian” vitriol that was thrown directly at me. Brining all of that back into my thinking, I also recall how angry all of that would make me.

When I was stationed at Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth, it was easy to step away from all the backlash I got as a new Pagan. Yes, I was quite open about my beliefs, mainly because within the United States military, I was afforded quite a bit of protection that I would never have seen in the civilian world. This was the mid-1980s, during the Satanic Panic that gripped much of the United States. In Texas, declaring that you were a Pagan openly was enough to have a visit from Child Protective Services to your home – if you had children. The likelihood of keeping your children was extremely low. Thanks to books from authors such as Mike Warnke, Lawrence Pazder, and Lauren Stratford (among others), along with “testimonies” provided by many others at church gatherings, television/radio appearances, and the emergence of what many had referred to as “counter-culture religions” (Paganism being included in this group), many Right-wing Conservative Christians seized on the narrative declaring that there was a “war on the American culture.” If that sounds familiar, you need only look to author and television nut-job Bill O’Reilly to find a new gathering to that clarion call.

I lived through all of that. However, as a military member, I had some insulation from the fallout that occurred to others. However, even within the military, I received some flak for my open beliefs. When I was in Germany, I was physically assaulted by two individuals in the lobby of the base’s Allied Post Office at 1:30am after leaving my shift to go home. That occurred because my picture had been posted in the Stars and Stripes newspaper, in an article titled “Practicing Pagans”. One of the duty section supervisors, for the Patch and Test section, would refer to me openly as “the NCO who can’t deal with reality.” So, while I was protected by the military’s policies concerning religious beliefs, that didn’t completely isolate me from the ire of others that felt I was some “kooky” guy. Plus, that’s a perspective I have heard all my life, so it was really nothing new.

The period of time I am referring to is from 1986 to 1994, the entirety of my Air Force career. During all of that, I was a fiery individual. I was very easy to piss off, and quick to take exception to anything derogatory that was said to me. Looking back, I’m fairly certain that I was not a nice person to be. To put it in terminology that I would have related to much easier back in those days – I was a hand grenade just waiting to have my pin pulled. It would take a few more years before I learned the grounding and centering techniques (thanks Tasia!) that help me get back to the center and balance that a Libra always seems to need.

So why the look back? Well, I see a lot more people in the Pagan community that seem to be reaching that same enraged breaking point, particularly online. I can’t – and won’t – control the way someone reacts or lives through their daily lives. Nor will I say that there are no situations where that anger and rage is justified. Every moment, every encounter, every person is different. However, there are certainly times where being the cooler head in that moment might keep things from escalating into something that whirls out of control and becomes something that no one wanted. For me, when I get involved in these situations – even in online dialogue – I do my best to take a step back and strip out the emotional verbiage and look at the situation again. Honestly, this methodology works better in online conversations since those can be as analog as we may need them to be. Face-to-face, that ability to step back and bring the conversation to a more analog pace is not always available, given the direct, dynamic pace that such a communications method creates.

Many people get frustrated when I take a step back from a conversation. I believe one person referred to it is “disengaging from the conversation.” That’s actually a good descriptive and a rather true statement. When I feel a conversation gets too contentious, or I feel it is already spiraling into some aspect of “my dick is bigger than yours” moment – I will back away. I simply have no desire to turn my own personal faith into a nasty back and forth. I have no desire to prove why my beliefs are better than someone else’s. What’s right for me is not necessarily right for someone else. Typically, when I get pressed into such a corner, I’ll back away and shut down the conversation. I do the same in political discussions as well. To me, there’s no reason to prove to anyone that “mine is better than yours.” I left that shit behind when I graduated high school. All I wish to do is to be myself and be provided the same freedom to make my own choices as anyone else.

I have met many people who disagree with the way I handle such things. They will make commentary that I needed to “crush” my opponent in such discussions. Again, this is a product of “winning” the point. You see it all the time in politics here in the United States. Who won the Presidential debate? From my point of view, who cares? I look more to who provided a more lucid perspective of what they are willing to get accomplished, and how are they going to find ways to cooperate with the other side of the aisle. As of the last few political cycles…the answers is, sadly enough, none of them. Because the focus on politics has moved away from how to govern to just winning the election – thank you President Trump for turning elections into nothing more than a contest of which party is more popular now. But I digress.

Lately, I have found myself withdrawing more and more from the constant bickering, arguing, and back-and-forth meme wars that take place on Facebook and Twitter. All of that is a huge turn-off moment for me. I continue to read the news, filtering out the bias that is provided by a news media that has felt the need to slant the news to the left or the right. That does make reading the news tedious and tiresome. Thus, I don’t read all of the news. I just read enough to get the idea and move along.

Like I noted before, not everyone is going to agree with me. Nor do I expect anyone to do so. That’s right. I don’t expect a single person to agree with me. I know my mind. I know my thoughts. I know my perspective on things. I don’t pretend to know what others feel. Nor do I try to tell people how they should live their beliefs, what their morals should be, or how they should handle their daily Spiritual practice. I have no desire to be the Pagan Spirituality Police. I feel that everyone has to experience Life for themselves. Experiencing their daily Spirituality under the way I see the world around me just biases their perspective. Certainly, some of my experiences can be used as some type of guide for others, but ultimately what I experienced will quite likely be different from their own. Perhaps even so different that their experiences will be the opposite of what I experienced. After all, I’m just one Pagan. I’m just one Druid. My tools to keep me moving forward in Life are simple: grounding and centering. Just one Pagan’s perspective. Just one Druid’s approach. Your mileage is your own.

–Tommy /|\

Howling Into the Wind: Four Political Quid in the Pot

Ahhh…politics. The ultimate method to destroying a family get-together. The strongest option to setting ablaze a decades long friendship. In short, the ultimate division creation process that we have in the modern age. Shit, I’ve not only watched, but also participated in the loud, vicious arguments over whose concept of governing a country is best. Or at least I did until I took a Texas government class at the community college I used to work at. Through some brilliant assignments handed out by the instructor, I began to realize that all the arguments concerning politics weren’t being made about how to run some form of government. Most of the arguments were about the way people are trying to force their own moral code on to others. But wait, before you start labeling me as a Liberal trying to tear down Conservative values in America. See, I paint with that same brush on the Left side of the aisle as well.

Republicans, Democrats….for me, there is not much difference between the two parties. Both moralize about how their perspective is more “American” than the other. Truth be told, both are saying whatever it takes to get votes for their candidates and be provided the power of holding the reigns on this flaming garbage bin that we are calling our country. Their call for votes to their respective sides is not about fixing issues within this country, or whatever state, county, or city that they are running for office. This is about power, pure and simple. Being able to claim “victory” over the other side. Up until Trump’s election year – and his disastrous four years as President – no one has spoken about “winning” and “losing” out loud.

Yeah, I get that the idea of winning and losing is easy to understand. However, I don’t look at election as a “win/lose” dichotomy. While there is a philosophy behind each party’s perspective – there are still governmental rules that must be followed. Trump attempted to roll completely over stuff that he didn’t like, but whatever he did try was still contained by governmental regulation. Sometimes to good effect, sometimes not. Like many citizens I watch what goes on. I see those who try to bend the governmental rules to keep their stranglehold on power for their party. Unlike many folks – I do the best I can to make my vote be my voice, rather than trying to find some online forum, some smoky filled backroom in a bar, my time around a nice campfire at night, or whatever other place of gathering you can imagine – I’m not trying to find some person to engage in a debate or argument with. In my experience, most people have already made up their mind – for whatever reason. Debating or arguing is nothing more than a waste of time and energy. However, who am I to denigrate what others may find as stimulating and worthy of their own energy and time? I just bow out and move on.

All this stuff on politics has come about after a conversation with an individual that I went to college with. University of Phoenix-Online, to be exact. Back then, 2000 through 2003, we were part of a group of students that had these political discussions in a discussion forum that amounted to a slightly moderated Student Lounge. We were discussing the way that we all argued over the competency of the end of Bill Clinton’s tenure as President. We debated the ability of Vice President Gore’s ability to President. We debated the hanging chads of Gore v Bush. Thinking back this is where I can see the deeper split between these two ideological factions here in the United States. Except that the chasm is far deeper and wider than it was back then.

Folks, I’m a Libra. To make things even more clear, I’m an INFP-A or if you prefer the archetype – the Assertive Mediator. I look for balance. I try to locate common ground or compromise. Add to that, I’m what is referred to in the Information Technology field as a “Troubleshooter”. I look for what’s caused the problem, as well as a way to fix it for the short term, even if its an extremely unconventional methodology. Getting things working is what I am about. Lots of my life has been lived doing just this. However, I am also a realist. If I can’t fix it…I back away.

Usually, when I provide my perspective on politics, I get asked what is the best way to fix it. Well, I hate to break it to anyone out there – I don’t have a fucking clue. I know this system is not working well. In fact, its extremely minimal on results and pumping maximum output on rhetoric. When I make that statement, I get told I’m an idiot or that I’m dumb. I’m neither, but I do know when to back away and just observe. That’s where I am on politics. I don’t have answers – I’m just watching, seeing where things get broken even more. Because later, everyone’s going to want things to be put back together…and someone has to be willing to roll up their sleeves to do that.

I know that much of what I stated here is probably making the blood boil of my Republican and Democrat friends. Why can I not just join them in their respective parties? Why can I not just pick a side? But I have chosen a side. Political parties…just a bunch of nonsense and clamoring for power. I’d rather stay with the side I chose – to see people as intelligent human beings, regardless of their political affiliation (or lack thereof), and to focus on the things that I can help repair or mend. Because no matter what your political affiliation, we all live on this rock spinning in space. I believe it will be a fair better place to live if we set aside our differences and focus on our similarities. We’re all human. We all have the right to live here. And it would be far better for everyone if we can do that without drawing sides of Good v Evil or Us v Them. That’s my four quid in the pot. I’ll fold my hand now and go find something to eat.

–Tommy /|\

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Thinking About: the Shrinking Common Ground

Why don’t you protest things more often? Don’t you care about what happens??

I cannot count the number of times I have been asked about this. When the Black Lives Matter protests were in full swing, I was frequently questioned on why I did not participate in the protests that took place all over the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. At times, it seemed that I was being accused of not being responsive enough (or at all) to the movement – thus providing the assumption that I didn’t care. There are other movements and protests that I have surreptitiously avoided providing support for, which creates the assumption that I don’t care. I have seen these “charges” laid against other individuals within the Pagan community as well.

Probably the first thing to step up to the plate is the notion that if someone doesn’t protest in your cause that they don’t care. This is an easy dichotomy to fall into. I call it the “Us versus Them” theory or perspective. You can find this divisive mindset all throughout the wider cultural spectrum. In the movie “Ben-Hur”, Ben-Hur’s childhood friend Messala presses for Ben-Hur to name the Jews that are speaking out against the Roman occupation. When he refuses to do so, Messala exclaims that “You’re either with me or against me.” In 2001, then President Bush made an appeal to the United Nations for all countries to supply something in the effort against the war on terrorism. He noted that some countries didn’t want to contribute troops, which was understandable. He noted that they could, instead, contribute intelligence-sharing. “Over time it’s going to be important for nations to know they will be held accountable for inactivity. You’re either with us or against us in the fight against terror.” Even the Bible makes mention of this divisive trope. “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters” (Matthew 12:30). For those looking to statements such as this for support in their desired “Us versus Them” paradigm will not find me among the fold.

I prefer to follow a different path in my thinking.

You should have disagreements with your leaders and your colleagues, but it becomes immediately a question of questioning people’s motives, and if immediately you decide that somebody who sees a whole new situation differently than you must be a bad person and somehow twisted inside, we are not going to get very far in forming a more perfect union.

William J. Clinton’s Dole Lecture at University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, archive.news.ku.edu. May 21, 2004

I know that President Clinton is not a popular figure in the overall spectrum of things. However, disregarding his sexual exploits, I admire his approach to conversation on difficult topics. Rather than completely avoiding the difficult conversations that allow us to determine a deeper consideration of an individual perspective, President Clinton urges that finding the middle ground is more important. Middle ground is a place where everyone can agree on the same point and explore differences from this perspective. In that manner, the common ground is the tie that binds everyone’s exploration together. For instance, the Left/Right divide here in the United States. Both sides have a love for what this country is about, and a respect for the laws that have been set up to govern the country. It’s the interpretation of that governance; coupled with very different views of what a future America would look like, that create the division that we currently labor through. We hyper-focus on the differences rather than anchoring ourselves back to the perspective that should unite us. That hyper-focus and uber-vigilance towards a future vision has driven the deepest wedge between two political perspectives.

So, bringing this all back around – why am I reluctant to head out into the streets to protest? Because I would prefer to find a way to achieve the middle ground between the two sides. However, over the last decade or so, it has become increasingly difficult to find members of either side that are willing to communicate and compromise. Its either this way or that way – or all-out war. This way or that way do nothing to ratchet down the tensions that are prevalent. Nor does going to one side or the other solely for a solution provide an answer. At this point, I hold my middle ground, and hunker-down in place – to survive.

Turning to the “you don’t care” commentary, I understand where that comes from. I don’t care enough about your pet cause to provide any appropriate feedback for you. I understand the easy stance of believing me to be against you and not caring about you. For me, its not that simple. I can disagree or even be ambivalent to your cause, and still care about you. Your pet cause is not you. I am more interested in you and your well-being. I can understand that this may rub people the wrong way, but I look at the person first, and their pet cause last. Not sure how else to put that, so I hope that makes sense to whoever winds up reading this.

Over the last decade-plus, I have watched politics invade every single corner of our daily lives. We take political sides over schoolbooks, brutal policing issues, and seemingly everything else. I have my ideas of how the government should be run here in the United States. However, I am just one voice of many. Others have different ideas than I do. The difference? I’m not willing to bloody someone’s nose, knock out their teeth or take their life because they don’t see my way as being correct. I can only hope that there are many others that would think this way as well. However, after January 6th – I just can’t be completely assured of that. To me, that is a scary prospective indeed.

#TwoQuid

–Tommy

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Blog Stew

It is Friday, and yes I am aware that I am a day late getting this out. No, I am not changing the blog schedule. Posts will still happen on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and once on the weekend…or as close as I can stay to that schedule. Life will still, sometimes, get in the way.

So, this morning, I am drinking my cup of coffee, and trying to figure out what to write. I am still working my way through my Gwers lessons. I am still putting my Druidry back together into something that fits better to me. At this moment, nothing is different from what I have explained to this point. So, there’s nothing new to add or share here. With Druidry being a mystery school, there are some things that I just cannot, should not, and would not share. Sharing certain aspects would remove the individual experiences for others…and I would not want to rob anyone of that.

For me, that leaves a handful of smaller topics that I just cannot write full essays on, and many of which are not truly Pagan in nature. So, I guess I can write some of these into some form of a blog stew – so to speak.

These last days of President Trump’s four years in the White House have become some of the zaniest stuff I have ever seen. I don’t talk much about politics for a single, simple reason: my opinion is my own, and should hold sway over no one but myself. But the last ten-plus days have just been incredible stuff. I never, not even in my most incredible nightmares, believed I would see a mob swarm the Capitol building in Washington D.C. Nor would I have ever believed that those people would be trying to stop the electoral process, or even attempt to hold members of Congress hostage (this has been alleged in the news through several sources). Yet, here we are – a little more than a week since that moment. There is nothing that I can say that will change the minds of people who cheered on what happened. For me, it was a repugnant moment in our collective American history. Those who defaced, destroyed, and defiled property should be held accountable to the highest extent of the law. Many of them were heard on video telling Capitol Police Officers that the Capitol building was “their property”. I agree with them. But it is also my property as well. Like them, I pay taxes. My taxes help to manage the upkeep of the property, pay the salaries of those that are there, and serves as a symbol of my government. None of that gives me, or anyone else, the right to destroy windows, doors, and artwork there. None of that gives me, or anyone else, the right to assault Police Officers or to make violent threats against the politicians that are there to conduct business on behalf of every citizen of this country. I don’t agree with a lot of the decisions that get made there, but becoming a violent hooligan is just flat out wrong. So enough on that from me…

I don’t watch much American football. The fact is that I find the sport to be boring. However, my family’s roots are from the Ohio/Indiana/Kentucky corner of the United States. My love of my ragged Major League Baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds, comes directly from that. So, when I saw that the Cleveland Browns had made the playoffs and would be playing the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round…well, I had to watch. In the three some odd hours of the game, I kept looking up from the crossword puzzles I was working on. It was nice to see the Browns win. This coming weekend, they play the Kansas City Chiefs, a team that tends to be stated as “the best” football team in this current season. So, apparently the Browns don’t stand a chance. That was also said about the Browns/Steelers game – that the Browns had no chance. There’s always a chance. Right?

I have written about my struggles with my own mental health issues. Primarily, the focus has been on my decision-making processes. However, another area that I have been working with my therapist on is my self-image. This is rather hard to type. I have a lot of problems seeing myself as someone worthy of anything. I run from success. If you read enough of the blog, you will find areas where I self-denigrate and utilize self-deprecating humor. But in all of that, I did not realize that I had an unbalanced sense of myself between my work-self and my personal-self. Much of my sense of worth comes from the work that I have done for a living. This unbalanced aspect of me is not the easiest thing to realize, much less try to re-balance within myself. I write about stuff like this, in the hopes that someone else reads this and realizes that my issues are like theirs. So that they know that what they are feeling is not something unique to them, and that it can be worked on. People talk about the aspect of self-love, which is important. However, one of the first steps – in my opinion – is to determine where and how self-loathing is appearing in your life. Identification, again my opinion, is necessary to figure out what to do. That’s where I am. Yes, I will blog a bit more about it going into the future.

Last, let me finish this up with some fun stuff. Reading. I have been asked what I plan to read going into this year. My answer? I have no idea. In the past, I have set down a list of books that I was going to try and read through the year. All that really did was ramp up my anxiety, and made reading feel more like a chore, rather than a fun and informative experience. This year…I have no idea what I am going to read, much less how many books I plan to read. However, I will write mini reviews over on GoodReads on what I work my way through. I am not the world’s fastest reader either. So, don’t expect a ton of stuff to start pouring out of me there. The way I look at this now, if I read one book this year – I accomplished something.🙂 Reading should be fun, not some chore I need to tackle.

So that’s it. Nothing much more than that. I could talk about the Major League Baseball off-season, but that could be three or four posts in length, and this is not s sports blog. Posts like this…few and far between.🙂

One last thought….this came via my Facebook Memories from 2012 on this day (15Jan). ” The faery-dust of magick comes from your own belief that the impossible is possible.” In my mind, it certainly is.

–T /|\

Photo by Timur Saglambilek on Pexels.com

Frightened of the Future But Still Hopeful

After I had written Thursday’s blog, My Oaths Place Me on Common Ground, I got challenged over it with a single question:

So you’re scared of the future?

The question stung enough to hurt, but it also let me offer up a glimpse into things that I see and rarely talk about. My response:

Yes. Yes, I am scared. Scared of a future where healing doesn’t take place. Scared of a future that continues deeper down a dark trail humanity seems to already be on. Sure, admitting that I am scared of what a future may bring can seem like a cowardly perspective to some. To me, its a position of reality. It doesn’t change who I am. It doesn’t change what I am willing to be in service to my Gods and to my fellow humans. But I am scared…not just for me, my family, my friends…but for everyone. Take that however you want to.

Many folks that I talk with are citing the election as the point they are focused on. If America elects Donald Trump, the country goes to shit. If America votes him out, the country is immediately better. I stopped looking at that point some time ago. I’m now looking beyond and seeing a huge chasm between folks here in the United States. In fact, I’m seeing that chasm stretch beyond the United States and out into the world beyond. Here in America, we are deeply divided by our values. Our governmental system was founded on the idea of compromise and common ground. Now, common ground has been eroded away from the advanced widening and depth between two polar opposites. Compromise is seen as a sign of utter capitulation and weakness. When I look beyond the election, I seriously wonder how two sides with a “my way or the highway” mentality will ever reach a point of compromise, much less the necessary point of healing that desperately needs to take place. If the Republicans win, I only see the divide deepening. Should the Democrats win, I cannot fathom the Republicans stepping up to work with the Democrats. I have no idea how things change for the better.

As I started writing this, I was playing Joe Satriani on shuffle, and his song “I Believe” came on. if you would like to hear the song, just follow this YouTube link. The lyrics struck a deep, resonating chord in me, so let me juxtapose my thoughts against the song.

I’ve been out walking, for hours
I got something on my mind
How did we get here? Where are we going?
Why is life so hard

I admit, walking is one of the things I do when I really need to think. I might even be able to walk from here to Houston with all that is on my mind. (Note: that is a distance of some 208 miles, which Google maps thinks would take me about 68 hours to do. In reality, as slow as my aging carcass goes, it would probably be closer to 80 hours) But the song asks the pertinent questions,. How did we get here? Where are we going? For the first question, there are a lot of factors, issues and moments in History that got us to this point. For me; however, the more pressing question is the second. Just where are we going? To be honest, I don’t really know. I see a dark, dark time coming here in America on November 5th. There is a strong likelihood that we will not know who won the election, an even stronger likelihood that the election will be strongly contested in various states by both candidates, and with all of that, violent unrest among the followers of the candidates. That violent part is not speculation on my part; there has already been violence between anti-Trump folks and Trump supporters leading into this election.

I read the stories, see the photographs
World’s a crazy space
Got to hold on to my dreams
There’s just no other place
There’s just no other place

I have tried my very best not to get caught up in all the craziness of the election cycle and the various things that the President says or claims. He enjoys a chaotic atmosphere around him, as it lets him obfuscate actions that would not be tolerated by others. Think of the axiom: “Watch the right hand, so you don’t notice what the left hand is doing.” I try my very best to remain on that island of common ground, which is slowly eroding away like a shallow sandbar under the pressures of a hurricane coming ashore. To keep myself sane, I focus on my dreams…my dreams for the future. My dreams…my goals of what I want to accomplish (and I still have a lot to accomplish). My dreams….and all that I need to do to crawl, claw, and fight my way to what I feel is right. Sometimes even that is not enough and I have to stop what I am doing. Stop to try and catch my breath in the whirling dervish of Trump’s news cycle. Stop to ground myself against all of that chaos and remind myself of where I am trying to go. And hope that everyone else can do the same.

I’ve seen the shadows, of the living
I’ve seen them turn and walk away
And I keep searching, for the right words
To send these thoughts away

There’s a picture, I like to look at
A picture of a beautiful face
And I see something, in her eyes
Sends me to a better place
Sends me to a better place

I am frightened. Frightened of what the future holds. Not just for me, my family, my friends or the tribe that I hold dear. I’m frightened for everybody. Not just those who oppose President Trump but even for those who support him. Weird, huh? That I would fear for the very people that are opposed to my lifestyle and the lifestyles of the people that I love and care about. I should hate them, shouldn’t I? I should shun them, shouldn’t I? I should treat them as being beneath my contempt for them, right? Except that I can’t.

My Druidry teaches me that we are all here together. Our survival on this planet means that all of us need to be included in getting to a point of survival. Even those who don’t believe in the dangers of climate change. Even those who would bring us back to an oppressive Christian church, albeit that it would be an Evangelical Christian church position rather than that of the Catholic faith, previously. My Druidry teaches that Peace and Justice is for everyone and everything, not just a select few. And because of that, I look forward beyond Election Day here in the United States, and I do not see a future for Peace or Justice because I see no room for needed and necessary Healing. The Election is not going to change the fact that we are still struggling against a monolithic justice system that is systemically leaned against African Americans, Hispanics, First Nations peoples…essentially anyone that is not European, white descendant. We are still struggling against a government that rescinds treaties long ago agreed upon with the First Nations peoples because there are “necessary” resources on those lands that were ceded to them. Lands that should never have belonged to anyone because the land should be free. Make no mistake about it folks, the fights for freedom haven’t even really begun just yet. We are only wiping the sleep out of our eyes and climbing out of the bed at this moment.

I believe, we can change anything
I believe, we can rise above it
I believe, there’s a reason for everything
I believe, in my dream
I believe, we can change anything
I believe, in my dream

Yes, I am frightened of the future. I am frightened because I cannot see a good step going forward. Regardless of who gets elected, this nation has to figure out a way to heal this deep divide. A divide that goes way back into our collective histories. Not a few years, but a lot of years. A whole lot of years. An election is not going to heal this divide. An election is not going to change the way things stand in this nation, or even around the world.

There is a battle raging between fundamentalist perspective and the desire to change and grow. Seemingly, we have absolutely forgotten something – to borrow from Damh the Bard: “We are standing on the shoulders of Giants.” On both sides. They struggled for the changes they provided for us. For the foundations that we work from. There will be change coming. Make no mistake about that. Of that I am sure. I am just unsure of the shape it will take.

My Spirituality will get me through all of that which is to come. No matter how dark the road gets. No matter who wins the election. My Spirituality does not change. My faith in the Gods and Goddesses does not waver. My oaths to my Gods will not alter. My responsibility to others will not change. I am steadfast in all of that. But I am still frightened by what I see coming. Frightened for all of us.

By the way, the song mentioned that “I believe in my dream.” I do. With all my heart and soul. I believe in a world where all of our differences can be accepted as just that – differences. Not an item of contempt, but a point of celebration. That we are not all the same. That we are individuals with our own convictions, dreams and goals, living on this planet together as equals. How do we get there? By believing in that dream and acting on it, one at a time. Kristoffer Hughes once stated in a presentation of his that we all get our own Pagan Square mile. And that Pagan Square mile would be connected on all sides (think 3-d modeling here) by other people’s square miles. That we could find harmony living next to one other by respecting each other’s individuality. Its an idea I truly believe in. And as Kristoffer was also prone to say the idea can be passed on as a Druid Transmitted Infection, a DTI. Gods, I certainly hope and pray that it can be done, with a little love, care, understanding and patience. I certainly hope so.

My oaths, by the way, don’t change. My position is still meant to be there to help anyone on their own chosen Path – even if its not mine. That’s what my role apparently is to be. Through the blog, through whatever interactions we might have. You need help, ask. If I din’t have the answers or I don’t know exactly what to do, I know plenty of other people I can either bring you to or find answers from. Remember, as a wider Pagan community, I would hope we all desire to help others in need. Even when they are diametrically opposed to our values and lifestyle. Its about being human. #TwoQuid

–T /|\

Division by Zero. Musings on the Upcoming Election Cycle

Welcome to Tuesday or Day Two of the American Republican party’s multi-day infomercial. The previous week, the American Democrat Party held their multi-day infomercial. Yes, infomercials. I call the “conventions” this because none of them are designed to inform anyone towards the aspect of forming and changing opinions. In true essence, these are nothing more than sophmoric attempts at pep-rallies designed to pump up the faithful of each side. No changing minds of the undecided voters or trying to sway those that are barely leaning into one camp or the other to switch sides. Just a lot of rah-rah-sis-boom-bah. Hooray for our side!

On Facebook, it was pointed out to me that I missed an inspirational speech from Uncle Joe (Joe Biden) on the last night of the Democrat infomercial. My response was that I missed nothing that I needed to hear. I already know who will get my vote at the Presidential level of the ballot. I have no need to hear either the Democrat or Republican perspective on that anymore. My focus is now on the down ballot for my state, my district, my county and my city. With a little time and a lot of study of the candidates, as well as queries to candidates that do not seem to be clear on their position on a topic, I will eventually figure out where my vote needs to go there. When I do enter the voting booth in October (my plan is to early vote in person), I will already know where I my opinion will be. I can tell you right now, its not likely a straight-party vote either. I do not provide blind allegiance to any political party here in the United States.

Most people would call me a fool or an idiot for figuring out my vote in this manner. Just as I got called such for waiting for third party candidates to toe the starting line in the Presidential race. I was told that a vote for these candidates would be a vote for Trump. But that is not true. My vote for Jill Stein in the previous Presidential cycle was a vote for Jill Stein and no one else. Sure, folks can provide me with all the facts and figures to support their perspective that third party candidates give the election to the other main party candidate that they wish to see lose, but the true reality is that a vote for the candidate of your choice is a vote for the candidate of your choice. And you have every right to make that choice and not have the entire world crash down on you, saying that the election of one candidate or the other in the main two parties was your fault.

Notice, I am not going to beat you about the head and shoulders saying that you should vote for this candidate or another. That’s because your vote is your vote. My friendship with you has nothing to do with how you vote. Nor will your vote have any effect on our friendship. I detest the human being that is President Donald J. Trump. However, if you decide to vote for him as President, that vote will not change who you are in my eyes as my friend. Your politics can (and likely will) differ from my own. I do not base my friendship with you on how your politics align with my own. Just as I do not base my friendship on the type of beer you drink or if you drink beer at all. Personally, I prefer a good IPA that is not too heavy and not too light. However, our friendship is not going to revolve around the similarities between our taste buds.

The four years (well three and some change) of the Trump Administration has been marked by a desire to divide people. According to them, we have to not like each other because our politics are different. We have to not like each other because our skin color is different. We have to not like each other for all kinds of aspects of separation. Well, I will just disagree with them again. Our choices of political perspective does not divide us. Our choice of religious beliefs do not divide us. Our skin color does not divide us. We are all human beings living on this planet. What divides us is the inability to find decent, respectful compromise. What divides us is buying into the “Us v. Them” paradigm that is peddled by those who peddle fundamentalism as the only way to a “perfect” society. Be like us or become one of them. And if you are one of them, we will have to destroy every trace of who you are.

I watched this type of shit back during the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. I had a front seat to watching state governments, pressured by a “moral” society, rip children out of the arms of parents. Then insert those children into the awaiting arms of the State, while the parents were labeled as Satanists. All done in the name of Jesus Christ because tearing families apart was the loving thing to do. The only manner of stopping it was to plea with judges about what makes a loving family, particularly when it is not a Christian one. I have watched even more horrific things done to others, simply because they choose to love someone with a different skin color or the same gender as they are or even loving more than one person. All done in the name of a belief system that espouses love for the sinner. But apparently only the sinner that is part of their belief system. All part of the pattern of “Us v. Them”. Why?

The only explanation I really have is that the conflict aspect of “Us v. Them” is the easiest to understanding. While Love and Hate are two very close emotions that seemingly run parallel to one another, Hate is the easier emotion to reach for. Hate is the easier emotion to sustain. However, I’m no Psychologist or Psychiatrist. I couldn’t even play one on TV. This is just my best guess.

So, how did I go from talking about politics and voting towards examining love and hate within society? Well, read through the comments on any political story. Once you get about five comments in, you should see it. Or if you prefer, listen to any Trump speech. It won’t take long until you find him driving a wedge between everyone. Try and talk with either a vehement Biden support or a vehement Trump support and that deep-seated vitriol will be easy to find. I gave up trying to be the online peacemaker in online debates and arguments well over a year ago. I stick to the sidelines for the most part and let everyone battle it out. However, I am stuck with one thought that continually makes its way through my mind these days. When an election is over, Americans are supposed to unite together under the new administration and find ways to work together. Except that has not been the case since the second term of the Clinton administration. And with each new Presidential administration, that deep division gets wider and wider. Soon, we should be at a point where the opposition of a newly elected President will not be able to be seen with the naked eye. And the opposition will become more and more violent against the administration. How can we have a country that operates in the name of the people when the people cannot even find ways to be humane and respectful to one another? And just to further that thought, in closing, how do we heal that rift? Who is willing to step up and break that constant cycle of division? For me, I’m one of those that desires to see that cycle shattered, sooner rather than later.

–T /|\

Thinking About: Getting There

I typically reserve Thursday blog posts for a moment where I pick at a topic. For this Thursday, my plan is to go a touch deeper. I want to talk about all the protests that we see culminating in the streets. However, I don’t want to go into too much detail of what each movement is. Rather, I want to go a touch deeper into why I feel we should get involved. Yes, before everyone starts freaking out, Black Lives Do Matter. And before All Lives can Matter, we must resolve the issues keeping Black Lives from mattering. None of that is likely to appease either the BLM or ALM folks, but it is not meant to. We also have the continuing issue of “Water Is Life” – a movement that seeks to preserve the waterways of the world from contamination, the power of corporations to super-impose themselves upon any land (including sacred burial grounds, as what happened in the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation), and the right to access to clean water sources. And as I sit here and think about it, there are many, many more protests taking place to preserve the rights of all individuals, regardless of skin color, race, gender, sexual orientation – among many others. What do these have in common? A challenge to what is considered as “traditional values.”

In many places in the world, the concept of traditional values revolves around a white, hetero, Christian mind-set. In some other places, it is a bit different, but each of these traditional values pits their world vision into a Us v. Them paradigm. You either conform to what we believe, or we find ways to limit whatever freedoms you have. Because there can be no challenge to what values they hold.

For no matter what you do, if you do it against or without the approval, prescription, recommendation, or permission of a ruling party, it is a denial of that ruling party’s power, and thus a protest.

Brendan Myers, ‘Dangerous Religion”, p16

Currently, I am reading Brendan Myers’ book “Dangerous Religion” and I found the above quote to be extremely enlightening. Myers points out that the mere existence of Witches, Druids, and Pagans is a direct challenge to the values of a predominantly white, hetero, Christian society. By just declaring what you believe, challenges their power base. At least, in the eyes of the so-called “ruling class.” Because, honestly, I don’t see myself as challenging them in any fashion, by being the Pagan, Polytheist, Druid that I am. I just want to live my life, honoring my Gods, my Ancestors, and the Land. However, I choose to live what is deemed an “alternative lifestyle” and as that is outside of the bounds of what they determine as “normal” – I’m considered to be a threat. And so are you, if you do not follow what they considered to fall within their parameters of normalcy.

I take a stand for Black Lives Matter because I know that it is the first stepping stone towards making All Lives Matter. As blacks are being attacked and killed in far more disproportionate numbers, it is the first of many stepping stones that need to be negotiated. I take a stand for LGBTQ+ rights because I think people should be able to marry the people that they love. I believe that people should be able to self-identity as who they are. I stand with the Water Protectors everywhere because I believe that Water is Life, and that Life is a basic human right. I am a straight, white, hetero, male…the antithesis of much of what I am supporting. Why do I support that? Because its the right thing to do. In my eyes, its basic human decency.

So, what to do about this? If you’re healthy enough – join the protest lines. If you have medical skills, volunteer as a medic at those protests. There’s no guarantees for your safety. If you’re not healthy enough to be out in these COVID-19 times, such as myself, provide funds to pay for the bail of those arrested. Find food systems to put donations to, so protesters can be fed while on the line. As dumb as it sounds, write to your representatives at EVERY level of government. Let them know that you want to see change in areas such as police funding, the usage of force, the immediate cessation of military tactics against the protesters, for them to cease kowtowing to corporate entities over their citizenry. Remind them that they work for you. As Pagans, Witches, Druids, and other Magick workers…there are a few more steps that can be taken.

Oppressed people frequently resort to magic to assert themselves when other strategies have failed them: this is what the Ghost Dance was all about. Heterodox systems teach that the feeling that “things are not as they ought to be” is a trustworthy feeling. Instead of passive resignation to the world, or uncritical acceptance of the ruling party’s vision of the world, they advocate active participation in the world – often in the form of the supernatural intervention of magic and prayer, often connected to social activism and direct public confrontation.

Brendan Myers, “Dangerous Religion”, p17

I am not a super skilled magick worker. For me, it is the nuclear option – a means of last resort. As Myers puts it, a strategy to use when all others have failed. Others…don’t have this perspective and are willing to do magick work on behalf of the protesters. I say “go for it” if that’s your thing at this moment.

When you listen to a lot of other Pagan folk out there, they talk of “The Storm” or “Tower Time” as a manner of describing this time. I like Myers description of things being “not as they should.” I don’t work in Tarot, so “Tower Time” has little meaning to me, and while I appreciate the symbolism of a coming ‘Storm” – Storms have a far different meaning for me. But this would be arguing over descriptives…and to me, that’s unnecessary. We’ve reached a time where getting things done is what matters.

Now, I have essentially pointed at the Christian, white, hetero community and set them up as the opponent, except that they are not. Some of those folks that fall into that grouping are loving and accepting of all of us…no exceptions. Painting with too broad of a brush will set these folks into a realm of collateral damage, where they need not be. Let’s make sure that we are clear on who these folks are. They are the far-right wing of the Republican party. People who see those of us who live life different from them as being beneath them. They see us deserving of their contempt. They do not see us as their equals.

Do they need to be utterly wiped from the face of the earth? I don’t think so. As I noted before, I am just a Pagan, Polytheist, Druid who wants to live my life honoring my Gods, honoring my ancestors, and honoring the Land. Surely, I can be left in peace to do that on my own? I have no desire to make a single individual believe or practice as I do. I am not the one wanting to make laws prohibiting how others live. I only want the law to apply equally to every single human being. We don’t have to agree on a single thing – except that everyone has the same right to live their life free. Capable of loving who they want or how many they want without interference in the practice of that love. Able to live freely and without fear of police violence being visited on them for the color of their skin or how they dress.

Live and let live, as the saying goes. However, we must get there first. And challenging long-held values is not going to be an easy fight. But we will get there. And hopefully, we can not only find peace when we do get there, but also lasting healing as well.

–T /|\

Us versus Them – Just Thinking Aloud

Today has been the same old conundrum: what do I write about? Most folks who read this blog already know that I do my posts as unplanned topics. For me, its a more organic style of writing. The only problem is that it can sometimes be a complete blank for a good part of the day. Well today was one of those days. So I just let my mind wander a bit and….well, politics started the entire thought process off. Don’t groan. It started the process, but its only the manner in which to get the topic started. So, shall we?

On July 3rd, the massive Orange Peel of a President here in the United States gave a rather passionate speech. I know most folks didn’t watch it. I know I didn’t. But I read a lot of the summary material. Donnie railed against the Left, as well as the BLM protesters – lumping them into the same pot, and declaring them as “the enemy.” this entire manner of thinking should sound familiar. He declared the media to be the enemy back in 2016. He declared the “deep state” of career government employees as the enemy. He declared the Democrats as the enemy. From those three declarations he created a straw man to attack, declaring he was going to drain the swamp. Every chance he got to speak, he beat the drum about this compiled straw man that he had created. And the people on the far right heard the dog whistles that they needed to hear. They had a common enemy to deploy their votes against. Donnie was declaring a change in Washington DC. He was going to drain the swamp. Except that he didn’t. In fact, he never intended to do so. He cleared the way for his “yes” people to put in charge of various aspects of the political structure, and fired those who obstructed the way. Now, in 2020 – an election year where his poll numbers are lagging behind former Vice President Joe Biden – he latched on to the two pieces that he needed to create a new straw man – the vehicle he hopes to get elected by. He has made several derogatory statements aimed at Black Lives Matter, pointing to the destruction of statues and various instances of destruction of property to label them as “dangerous” and “the enemy”. To help with his election process, he has attached the Democrats to this straw man as well, hoping to equate the destruction that has occurred with Blake Lives Matter. And to make it more personal, he has added a charge that this straw man of BLM and Democrats is out to erase History, change the very fabric of what we know of America. Strong, heady, and quite shrewd campaigning tactics. Add to that his politicizing the wearing of masks during a time of a pandemic – one that he wants to ignore as much as he can, since it happened on his watch – and you start seeing the way he wants to spin the playing field. He is creating a paradigm of “Us versus Them” – Them being portrayed by his caricature straw man.

The “Us versus Them” paradigm is a very heady potion to create and get people to quaff. However, its rather easy territory to cover, if you think about it. We see it in our films, our cartoons, in the novels we read, in the tales we tell one another – the fight of our side versus those “bad guys”. The UvT, as I like to refer to Us versus Them as – is a story formula we have been weened on. Our literature, movies, even our History is carved in this type of portrayal. So its not a difficult thing for someone like Trump or even Biden to latch on to. For Trump, he is trying to appeal to those who do not want to see the world around them change. They are complacent and happy with where things are for them. The world is easily placed into two piles – the stuff that is right, and the stuff that is not. The other side of the equation are those who are demanding change. They see the world is balanced unfairly, and they want things to be brought to a level of equality. If you flip the script, you will notice that it still balances into a UvT, just in a different direction.

The insidious part of UvT theory, is that neither side are hunting from common ground. Its either this or that – nothing else. When you have two sides in disagreement and unable to find compromise, you wind up with war at some point. One side or the other is going to feel frustrated, and step way over the line of somewhat civil discourse. Once that happens, bringing either side to a point of resolution will be difficult. And this is precisely what Donnie and the Republicans want. At the moment those folks are in absolute control. Once they goad the other side into taking things beyond a certain point – they will have the excuse they need to do far more destructive things to the other side. Through laws, through brutal enforcement of current laws, even through simple Presidential decrees to round up and imprison dissidents. Sound familiar? Do you hear the clinking of the chains of the fascism that everyone wants to fight against? Donnie has already made statements that the folks represented by his new straw man are the “true fascists” in all of this, again in his July 3rd and July 4th speeches. All in the name of the UvT theory.

Now, I am ex-active duty military. Back in March of 1986, I raised my hand and swore to protect the Constitution of these United States from aggressors foreign and domestic. I left the military in April of 1994, and not under the greatest of circumstances. But how I left, and when I left never cancelled that oath. When I took that oath of enlistment, the terms of what I must do never waned. My allegiance is not to a political party. My allegiance is to the Constitution of these United States, the document that outlines how we, as a nation are to be governed. I watch politics careful – not because I want to, but because I have to be vigilant against aggressors domestic. I absolutely loathe politics. I am an unaffiliated voter because I wish not to make allegiance to any party. Politics is that slimy to me. Do I feel that Donnie is a good President? Not one bit. Do I feel that he fulfills his own oath to the Constitution and to the citizenry of this country that he took back in January of 2017? Not at all. I see a self-centered, self-absorbed individual who only makes law that benefits him in his corporate world. I see an individual that I would have a very difficult time serving in the military under him as Commander-in-Chief, were I still in the active duty or reserve component of the Air Force. he is a shrewd user of the UvT theory….sow division among the citizenry, and get them to choose sides, stoking the fires of one side over the other….creating his version of “Us” – and by definition, if you are not in the “Us” grouping, well….. So long as there is argument and chaos, no one is watching the under-handed things he is going to benefit himself, and his equally criminal family.

Now, I’m quite certain this post is going to piss some folks off….I completely grok that. I have quite a few friends that are quite happy about the Cheeto-in-Chief being in charge. I get how they would be upset with much of my assessment. I also understand that there are those that will think my assessment doesn’t go far enough in damning this current Administration. However, I will remind you – this is my personal assessment of where things are, and what is going on. I have no political affiliation with any party – and I don’t want one. I am affiliated with the Constitution of the United States. My approach will be different than yours….because neither of us is the other. We are all individuals, who can think for ourselves and make up our own minds. My biggest hope is that this post will stir the idea that some form of communication needs to be kept alive. Without that line, all of this slips further and further towards the anarchy and fascist approach that none of us should want. Republicans, Democrats, Green Party, Libertarians, and whatever political affiliation I am leaving out – we all have an identity that should be held up above any political party – we are all human beings, and deserve the same respect.

–T /|\

Of Paladins, Sorcerers, Lawful Evil and Lawful Good. Its a Politics Post.

I get criticized for a lot of things that I write – both here and on Facebook. Usually, it’s an opinion that I have made concerning one thing or another. Typically, it’s my political posts that tend to have me catching the Nine Hells in the teeth. To be completely honest, I am certainly “ok” with that. There is no way I expect anyone to agree completely with me on anything, not even those that are the closest to me. If I wanted clones, I would have contacted the Prime Minister of Planet Kamino.

Tonight, is one of those nights…so-called “Super Tuesday” in the Democratic Primaries. I think it’s rather interesting that folks are already digging in for their candidates – with hopes that they will get to vote for what correlates best to their interests. I assessed the Democratic field a good while back and had quietly picked Amy Klobuchar as my favorite entrant. Sadly, for me, she withdrew from the Democratic primaries and shifted her support to former Vice President Joe Biden. I guess that’s cool…I have wanted Uncle Joe to withdraw from the race for some time now – not because I don’t believe in him. I feel he should retire from politics, after a long career within that realm. I tend to catch flak from Biden supporters for that representation of my opinion.

Then there’s the “Vote Blue No Matter Who” group that is actively seeking support for whichever candidate wins the nomination. I’m sorry, I just cannot do that if Sanders or Bloomberg get the nod. As much as I view Trump as an unmitigated disaster after four years, I don’t see either of those two being any better. Undoubtedly, I catch all kinds of the Nine Hells from the VBNMW and Sanders crowd. Not a whole lot from the Bloomberg crowd though – probably because I don’t know too many people leaning in his direction for this election.

But all of that is my own opinion. I took the time to formulate how I felt, and what position I would take. I have no desire or need to explain why my reasoning is any better than anyone else’s. I certainly don’t question the sanity of my friends wanting a Bernie nomination for the Democratic side of the coming election. I don’t agree, but I certainly don’t see a need to piss on their parade.

I have mentioned before that I see a lack of respect in a lot of the world’s political and social climates. There is a lot of the Anakin Skywalker logic (“If you are not with me…then you are my enemy”) floating around out there. I may not agree with you, but that does not mean that I should be equated as your enemy. I just disagree with you. It’s as simple as that. I am quite sure, if we sat down and had a civil conversation, we could find enough common ground to at least be friendly to one another. I have never judged my relationships with others based solely on political perspective. I truly doubt I will start doing that anytime in the near or far future.

Yes, I spend a lot of time reading – even when I go to the beach

A few folks have stated that I ride the center line of Life – trying to be a neutral Rogue in a world of Lawful Evil Sorcerers and Lawful Good Paladins. You would be sort of correct. I have no desire to join in with the Sorcerers or the Paladins. In fact, I believe if we set down the spell books, left the swords and armor behind – we could have an awesome time in the local tavern talking and swapping stories.

I have no desire to be at center stage, unless it means that we can all sit down at a table later, have a drink, a laugh, and a story together. For me, none of this equates to hardline alignments, as defined in the Dungeon Master’s Guide or the Player’s Handbook. The alignments are suggestions of how to be your character, guidelines if you will. I look at political parties in a similar vein. The core ideals of each party are what appeals to each individual. The rest is merely suggestions that you don’t have to follow in any hardcore fashion.

Certainly, I will catch Nine Hells for a lot of what I have written here. Do I believe what I have written? Of course, I do. I would not have written it if I did not. What I do not believe is that anyone must agree with a single word I have written here. Honestly, I would rather you engaged your brain, and did some figuring on your own. If you decide that much of what you see and believe is like my thoughts – wonderful. If not – wonderful. People thinking for themselves and coming to a position that is the product of their own decision-making will always be tops in my book – regardless if you agree with me or not. Though I’d prefer some company on this lonely patch of rocky ground. 🙂

–T /|\

Revisiting “Hashtags, Labels and Bias – We Are Not Talking to One Another”

These past few days, I have spent some time and effort looking through some of the older posts that I have. As I read through these posts, two things occur to me – (1) my writing has gotten better over time, and (2) in a lot of those posts, I did a fairly poor job of getting my point across. Thus, I created these “revisiting” posts, along with the category tag here on the blog. The idea is not to rehash what I wrote, but to provide some clarity, as well as expanding on where I was headed on those topics. The post I picked for this treatment works on a topic that is a particular pet peeve of mine – labels.

This particular post is not all that old, having been published back in July of 2016. However, it does represent a particular frustration of mine – categorizing people into convenient little buckets which are then provided vague, sometimes categorically racist descriptions. For instance, in American history, the prevailing understanding of African Americans were that they were “lazy” and “incapable of intelligent thinking” – both holdovers from an America that had created institutional slavery throughout the southern states (and elsewhere in the north, though this is rarely discussed openly). Descriptive labeling such as this continues even to this day, and America, as a society, continues to struggle with this perspective.

However, this post is not about racism, its about the convenience behind the perspective of labeling and categorizing people. Its about the slippery slope that I believe labeling can set us on. My approach to politics is fairly well known. I am an unaffiliated voter, meaning that I choose not to self-identify with any political party. My understanding of how the American government *should* operate in regards to the Constitution and the American society as whole, is much closer to that of the liberal aspect of things than that of the conservative side. However, I not only see and grok what the conservative perspective is – I even agree with some aspects of it. My middle-ground stance has had me labeled by some of my friends as a “liberal” or “Republican” – depending on who you talk to. I have been called some rather colorful Anglo-Saxon terms over my approach, with some friends actually deciding that I was no longer someone that they wanted to associate with.

In many of these instances, I have been told that I do not love or want my country to survive the current Constitutional crisis taking place in the halls of Congress (the impeachment process of President Trump). Where I am branded as a liberal, I am accused of wanting America become a communist state. Where I am branded as a conservative, I am accused of letting America slip into the world of a tyrannical dictatorship. The reality is that I have absolutely zero desire to see America move from a Federal Republic to a Communist state. Nor would I sit back and let America slip into the hold of a tyrannical dictatorship. My oath of enlistment into the United States Air Force was to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. Though I have been out of the United States Air Force since 1994, I do believe that my oath is still in effect – and will be until the die I pass beyond the veil.

So, how to deal with this labeling stuff? How can I make a difference on this? Well, I am not sure. I treat people as individuals, and desperately try not to lump groups of people into a single category based on some vague descriptive. I am human. I wish I could say that I am one-hundred percent perfect in doing this. I am not. I have caught myself doing exactly what I am describing here. But I do try my best not to fall back to this default programming that has been sustained for many more years than I am alive, thrice over (or more). I do not make my friendships or relationships based on some political scale. That is a lousy way to live life, in my opinion.

Liberals, Conservatives, and everyone in-between – they all love this their respective countries. They just differ on the ways it should be governed. The reality is that what really works is somewhere in the middle of the two – in a place where compromise can be found. In our current political climate, where it seemingly is more fashionable to be offended than it is to roll up your sleeves and step forward to work *together*, its hard to see where compromise can be had.

Sitting here listening to Rick Springfield (yes, I’m a fan), I am reminded that the current political fight is like watching two people fight over what gets played on a stereo. Other folks might like to hear some Tool (not a fan) or maybe some smooth jazz or rap. let me relay this a bit more with a story from my past…

When I was in Non-Commissioned Officers’ School (yes, there is a class that teaches enlisted personnel how to be a Non-Commissioned Officer), I was placed in charge of playing music during class breaks. In the entire six weeks of class, I never brought in a single CD of my own. The other twenty-four members of the class brought their CDs instead. I placed these into an order of when each was received. We played everything. Jazz, Country, Rap, Rhythm and Blues, Hard Rock, Pop, Metal, and even some Classical music. All of it got played. You knew that your music might not get played during a particular class break, but eventually it would be played. Furthermore, everyone was exposed to other music types – even the types that they might completely hate. The point was not to expose us to various types of music, but to realize that compromise means that you don’t always get your way, but eventually – you will. You merely have to build some patience to wait for your turn. And that for this process to work, everyone had to respect their classmates’ musical choices while waiting their own turn.

Respect. In my very biased perspective (yes, I have bias – I admit that), this is what is lacking in today’s “modern” society. Like spoiled toddlers, we scream and yell because our choices are not being chosen. We draw lines in the sand (figuratively) and claim a hard-line, instead of seeking compromise. We berate others’ perspectives because it does not line up completely with our own, rather than trying to find ways to get some of what we want while giving the other side some of what they want. So, what do we get? Here in America, we have a populace that is divided over political perspectives. We have folks we no longer have as friends because they voted for the “wrong” person – when voting is an opinion. Perhaps, we really should slide into a Communist environment or a dictatorial government. Then, we might be able to move forward without having to fight over getting “our” way *only*.

A little too fantastical? I mean, is there any way that a world-power such as the United States devolves in such a manner, just from the overuse of labels? Perhaps. But as I noted, labels are just a convenient way of describing those who are different than we are. We have never done anything as drastic as changing our government over something like that, right? Tell that to the First Nations children who were forced into government run institutions, such as the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, where they were forced to abandon their cultural heritage, in order to change them from being “savages” into “civilized” humans.

That is just a singular example of what labeling can bring about, when taking things into the beyond. I am not saying that society is on this Path….yet. Sure as the lowest level of the Nine Hells, I hope we are so far down this Path. I’m old. I’m not in the greatest of health. But I will fight to my dying breath to keep stuff like this from happening. And to keep it from happening, in my opinion, it all starts with respecting one another…again.

We Have Got to Get it Together

I started to write about a different topic this morning, but Cat Treadwell’s recent post of “Quiet Rebellion” got my mind started in a different direction. Now, I have set back from all the politics, mostly because of my job. But seeing that is not an obstacle any longer, well I’m stepping into the water again.

Divide to Conquer

One particular line from Cat’s post really hammered a point home for me:

We could run away, or as one fine Tweet said this morning, ‘Fuck off into the EU that you love so much.’ We could give up and flee.

Most of the right-wing rhetoric here in the States throws a similar sentiment out. “Send her back” chants erupt at Donald Trump rallies, essentially wanting Representative Ilhan Omar, a US citizen, sent to another country. Those rallies are scarily similar to the rallies held by Adolf Hitler and his political party in Germany in the 1930s. The rhetoric of throwing people out of the country that do not have similar thoughts to a particular group, or are the wrong skin color, or practice the wrong religion, or like the wrong type of sport, or wear the wring color shirt…that’s divisiveness. That’s the process of separating people into small categories. And then using those categories as a basis of who gets to be part of the country. That’s weak thinking, in my opinion.

Diversity is More Inclusive Than You Think

We all inhabit this same ball of dirt. The damage we do to the environment affects everyone, not just folks in one distant corner. To solve this looming crisis, which gets closer and closer to global catastrophe every single day, we will need everyone working together. Sure, I have heard folks say that it is time to find a way to achieve space travel, to jump into rocket ships and find another planetary home. But for who? Currently we cannot even find ways to stay cohesive on small patches of land here. What makes out there any different? Or do we just become similar to the aliens in the movie “Independence Day”, where we go from planet to planet and strip the resources from it, like a plague of inter-planetary locusts? And here’s the thing, to be able to do that, we would have to be a cohesive group of people. Look around you, that’s just not likely.

Human beings are essentially the same creatures, regardless of birthplace or skin color. We have many different cultures that we grow up in. We have traditions, familial and cultural, that we adhere to. All of that makes us who we are – the inhabitants of this planet. There are other inhabitants as well – plants, animals, organisms that we cannot see without a microscope – all living here together. And all dependent on one another for survival. We remove enough plants, we won’t be able to breathe. We kill off enough of the animals, and we alter the symbiotic relationships that keep the “circle of Life” going. But how can we think of diversity in regards to plant, animal and microscopic life when we can’t get past aspects that make us seemingly different from one another, like skin pigmentation?

Power Plays Need to Go

If you watch politicians, particularly those like Boris Johnson, Donald Trump, and Vladimir Putin you will find something in common between them. No, not the mutual love fest between them. They are about power. Power for themselves, and the people that they hold close to themselves. They are about making an elite class of people that control everyone else. Theirs is a politic of power and control. Remember, these are elected officials (yes, even the sham election in Russia means that Putin is an “elected” official). Their sworn duty is to the people of their respective countries, not to a specific one percent. To all, even the people who don’t agree with them and/or didn’t vote for them. If you listen closely to their language, they are not talking about inclusiveness within their voting populaces. They are driving wedges between people based on their voting preferences. All of that runs counter to what representative governments should stand for.

Sadly, here in America, the “loyal opposition” has bought into that paradigm. Trump supporters are treated in the same manner that they treat others. All that does is increase the perspective that control is power, as well as the Us v. Them perspective. Governmental control should not be about power, but about the prospect of care-taking. Our elected officials should be arguing about the differences in how to manage governmental processes for the peoples of their respective countries. ALL of the people. All treated fairly and equally.

Is Revolution Here?

Is revolution here? Maybe. I know many folks feel that we have been backed into a corner, where violence may be the only answer. I, for one, am not convinced. Resistance does not have to be violent. Resistance can be a refusal to buy into the Us v. Them paradigm that is currently rising higher and louder throughout the respective echo chambers of social media and the internet. Honestly, its very easy to scream in anger and frustration, hidden behind a keyboard, monitor, and alias. Where the rubber truly meets the road is getting out into the world and doing something. As a Druid, I commit myself to the concept of “Peace throughout the whole world”. I use that phrase in a lot of my ritual work. I use that concept by refusing to step into the Us v. Them paradigm, as well. Does that mean that I stand by passively while my government seeks to build a divisive wall on the southern border to keep people out that are seeking a better life? To keep out people that are doing what I would do, if our perspectives were reversed? Of course not. I write my representatives, imploring them to do something more sensible with my tax monies. I implore my local governments to not fall into these divisive perspectives. I write them, I call them, I attend their council meetings. Not to get into fisticuffs with anyone who is an advocate of these positions. But rather to provide a logical, impassioned perspective of why these concepts are a bad idea.

Call the instigator
Because there’s something in the air
We’ve got to get together sooner or later
Because the revolution’s here

And you know it’s right
And you know that it’s right
We have got to get it together
We have got to get it together now

–the late Tom Petty

Final Thoughts

I am not a violent person. I would rather solve issues through discussion than through the use of my staff. I would rather use my staff for steadying my old, worn-out body while I stand or walk. Resistance is more than beating in heads, and slamming yourself into barriers not of your making. There are more peaceful ways to not participate in the constant hate-fest that takes place. Granted, when forced into a corner with people that mean to harm you, violence may be the only means you have to protect yourself, certainly utilize your abilities in that manner. However, I believe that step to be a last resort, an implied threat that I hope to never undertake. I prefer diplomacy as my first – and hopefully, only option. I resist, just probably not in a way that many would agree with. But I do so because when we stop talking…there’s nothing left.

“Be Ready,” He Said…

“Be ready.” Our Vice President has now warned graduates at a Christian-based University that they will be targets of the “left” after their graduation because of their faith. To quote the USA today article:

Pence… …warned graduates that they have to stay strong against the challenges they’ll get from Hollywood, the media and the secular left. “Some of the loudest voices for tolerance today have little tolerance for traditional Christian beliefs,” Pence said. “Be ready.”

That’s a rather odd statement to make, since people of faiths that are not Christian are also having to fear quite a lot from the Christian “right” and its a lot more than just being challenged over their beliefs.

When I first started on my Path within Paganism in 1986, it was the height of the Satanic Panic. So-called Christians such as comedian/preacher Mike Warnke, and author Lauren Stratford, both of whom (among many others) had claims of a highly structured underground Satanic conspiracy within the United States. These claims were later debunked by investigations (separate in the cases of Warnke and Stratford) by Christian magazine Cornerstone. Those investigations took place in 1992. But the damage from Warnke’s and Stratford’s “testimonies” had already been done, particularly to the Pagan community.

I recall several Pagan families in the DFW area behind pulled apart by Child Protective Services (CPS) over allegations of Satanic Ritual Abuse. In one particular case, the children caught wind of CPS coming to the house to take them out of the house. The children stole money from their mother’s purse, and as a group ran away from home to stay out of the system. I’m more than positive that similar scenarios took place in other parts of Texas, all fueled by allegations of the parents being a part of this so-called Satanic conspiracy that was alleged by “credible” sources such as Warnke and Stratford.

A portion of a “Peace Wall” in Belfast, Ireland. An example of what happens when we partition by religious belief.

One early morning run to a base Post Office to pick up my mail, after my late-night shift in the command post had ended, found me being confronted by a pair of individuals who had seen my picture in the Stars and Stripes. It was centerfold article entitled “Practicing Pagans” and detailed the efforts of several Pagan groups in the European theater trying to establish themselves as a religious group that needed assistance from the Chaplain Services. I was slammed face-first into the metal post office boxes and told that I was going to Hell. Luckily, someone entered at the other side of the Post Office before anything more could be done.

I have talked with several individuals who have lost their jobs because employers stated that their co-workers were afraid that these Pagans would curse them. I have also talked with several folks who have endured physical beatings at the hands of others, simply because they are overtly Pagans. I have openly been a Pagan for approximately thirty-three years now. During that time, from 1986 to today, I have known Pagans that have had to hide who they are and what they believe to protect families, and jobs.

Vice President Pence says that Christians have something to fear for being Christian? Well, the sarcastic part of me says – welcome to the club, bitches. But the more rational side (is there one?) of me laments the fact that anyone, anywhere has to be “ready” to defend who they are and what they believe. And yes, that includes Vice President Pence and his anti-LGBTQ version of Christianity. I do believe they have a right to hate, dislike, shun, whatever – other lifestyles, SO LONG AS THEY DO NOT INTENTIONALLY HARM others. Now, before I get sidetracked down that road, let’s take a small step to the side of the road and let the traffic pass.

Vice President Pence is talking about the intolerance of the tolerance crowd. Essentially, his point is that people are tolerant of other perspectives so long as those perspectives jibe with theirs. Well, I hate to call the Vice President a fucking hypocrite, but I will. He’s a fucking hypocrite. His belief teach intolerance of those who do not conform to their extremely narrow view of Christianity. In their version of Christianity, Jesus ben Joseph would greet homosexuals (among others) with a flying drop-kick while wearing a pair of brass knuckles on each hand. Essentially, condemning the individual along with the perceived sin, rather than following the biblical standard of loving and accepting the sinner while rejecting the sin. In other words, showing love to the sinner while hating the sin. Unless, their version of Christianity is a rather wicked version of BDSM. Then we have a whole other perspective we might need to take.

The sad perspective of this, is that anyone has to fear for their lives or livelihood over what they believe in Spiritually. Yet, here we are. We know the Pagan side of this story all too well. Over the last thirty years, many of us have lived this daily. And while it can seem comical that Vice President Pence is preaching a victimization of his brand of Christian faith before these students leave the shelter of their university lives, it does draw a particular cloak of darkness over the way personal Spirituality. How it has been moved from something that comforts us on an emotional and intellectual level to being weaponized as a way to differentiate between “us” and “them”. I can only hope and pray that we can all, collective as the peoples of this planet, find a way to locate common ground and peace on a topic that has literally ravaged our planet in wide-ranging wars in the past.

Another Political Rant, Sort Of…

Election season is almost upon us here in the United States. What that means is that the rhetoric will start to get revved up between the various candidates. They will spend time differentiating themselves from one another, as well as the current President of the United States. The commercials will hit the airwaves and inundate viewers with negative ad after negative ad. To be honest, I gave up on the entire political process after the last Presidential election cycle.

Now, I’m not about to tell anyone how to vote. Nor am I going to sit here and go off on any of the candidates – though I dislike the majority of them. Why? Because I am not going to participate in what the American political process has become – a high school popularity contest. For those looking for me to do so, sorry to disappoint you.

What the entire political process has gotten me to do is look at how people make choices. There is a tendency to look for slick advertising, the polished candidate (or product, if you will) that can be connected to whatever social media movement is currently in progress. Upset about the environment? (and you should be) Then the idea is to show the candidate in a light where support of environmental causes is paramount. Pissed off that corporations seem to be able to trample the rights of the individual? Then the candidate is positioned in a manner to be anti-corporation. Like your candidates to push a strong capitalist point of view? There’s a stance for that.

But campaign promises are like wisps of fog. Candidates can promise the moon to their constituents, but never make any moves that bring those promises to fruition. When their lack of progress gets noted, they point out that they are only one voice in the wilderness of Washington DC politics. And for once, those politicians are telling the truth. Add to that, the fact that corporate (and other types) of lobbyists have far better access to your political representatives, and it becomes a wonder why we don’t see the entire process as being rigged (or corrupt, if you will).

So, how does a process that has more stains on it than the typical bowling shirt, get fixed? I have no idea. That’s right. I have no solutions or suggestions. Nor am I about to run for a political office. I am not built for something like that. I’m not the kind of person that others would want representing them. I have no ability to try and please multiple segments of society. But, like any other tax-paying citizen, I do have the ability to keep an eye on the process. I also have the ability to choose not to participate in the constant barrage of this candidate being better than that one. I have watched the process too long to be fooled by that garbage any longer.

So why participate? Why bother voting? After all, if the candidates are no different, why keep going to the polls and putting your vote in? Perhaps, it would be better to just drop out of the process completely and find ways to overthrow the system? Well, I actually believe the system is better than any alternative. Everyone has a voice. In practice, those voices are equal. The people running for office need to be held to a much higher standard, and that’s the onus that is placed on everyone to vote. Want to change the system? Yes, complain. Complain loudly. AND VOTE.

Did your candidate not follow through on their promises? Are their excuses weak and easily seen through? When they come up for election, vote against them. Find another candidate to vote for. Then watch what they do when they do vote (provided they managed to win the election and take the office that was up for election). Beyond that, what you do, how you do it, who you vote for and why – that shit is up to you.

My choice? I choose not to participate in the hyping of candidates, jumping into the pit of rhetoric or endless online debates on the merits of this candidate or that one. There are folks who will see that as me “doing the work of the opposition” and so be it. Define me in whatever political terms that you want. My feelings won’t be hurt. I won’t get mad. Shit, I won’t even look at you differently as a friend. Why? Because its simple. Your political affiliation means nothing to me in terms of our friendship. I didn’t make friends with you based on who you did or did not vote for. From my perspective, if I defined our relationship based on that measure – that’s pretty shallow of me.

Like I said earlier, I am not about to tell anyone who to vote for. Nor am I going to tell you that your vote was a waste because you voted for candidate (x) or that you hate a certain segment of society because you voted for candidate (y). I’m not about to judge you if you decided not to vote at all. Its your vote, your choice. You do what you feel you need to. No judgment from me. And as your friend, I’ll back whatever you decide to do – vote or not vote, whatever candidate you decided to vote for – to the very end. Even if I thought it was a poor choice or reason. Because you gotta do you…otherwise, you wouldn’t be who you are. And regardless, I like you for who you are…perceived faults and all.

Be a REAL Patriot…Vote.

It is the 4th of July…another day. I am not a flag wavin’ type of individual, so this is essentially a normal day. Except that folks feel the need to fling gunpowder into the air and ignite it. But that’s their problem, not mine. And if anyone wants to question my “patriotism” over my lack of glee on this day – let me remind you, I gave up my rights as a citizen for eight years to serve in the military. Please, don’t thank me for my service, I don’t want or need to hear it. Not in the current environment we live in.

No, my reference is not to the fact that the Sunkist Dictator is currently the elected President of the United States. Rather, my reference comes to the state of how we do politics in this country amongst ourselves. Rather than just disagreeing, we make it personal. Rather than discussing, we talk past one another, while attempting to speak louder than a Manowar concert. We hold these “discussions” as a form of battle – having to “win” at all costs, even finding appropriateness in hurling extremely insulting terminology at the other side, in much the same manner that military forces hurl napalm into theaters of war. We are not mindful of what these words do or even what that means to the people that wind up hearing them. Because we have to “win” the argument. Because no one can have a differing political point of view from our own.

MeYesterday morning, I saw a news report where a woman and child were united after two months of being apart. The mother relayed a statement that was essentially a warning to anyone wanting to come to the United States: “Do not come here. These people are heartless.” I can completely concur with her statement. No, I am not being sarcastic here nor am I advocating for tighter border security. Rather, I concur with her statement that people in America are heartless when it comes to immigrants fleeing the terrible conditions in their own country. The United States is not seen as a pot of shining gold, where currency falls from the trees like leaves. Rather, it is seen as a place of refuge, a place of safety, where an individual can work hard for their family’s needs, and eventually have a better life. And that better life would be one where daily violence is not visited upon them as it is back in their home countries. At least that is the hope.

Here in America, we seem to have started a new un-civil war. Violence is slammed against those that do not see the world through the same jaded worldview. Granted, we do have a President that is pushing against the laws that rightfully restrict the powers of a single individual in a triad of governmental control. To call this man an adult with reasoned understanding is a flat-out lie. He is nothing more than a petulant child that only sees his own needs before those of anyone else. And that is a bad thing to have for a position that is to be a representative of all the citizenry of this country. He also comes from a position of significant privilege that has been afforded him by his significant wealth. In other words, he is used to getting his way on everything. Laws be damned. Money speaks. Except when you’re a government official. And we watch him constantly rage on Twitter about it.

The bad thing here? He rages, we react. Essentially, he calls the tune, we dance. Maybe – and I am just spitballing into the wind – if we stopped letting him call the tune and we stopped reacting to his pied-piper act on Twitter, we (the collective citizenry of the United States) could drive the narrative. I think we all forget that whether you voted for the individual or not, government officials work for us. But to make that statement have any bite whatsoever – Americans need to do what they do not – vote in EVERY election. As I pointed out earlier, what if the other person shows up to vote? Who knows how the election might have actually gone in the last Presidential cycle. It might have made things interesting. But it all brings up another point – when do we start getting people that are WORTHY of our vote to run for elected office?

I will admit, I was unhappy with the individuals that were offered up by either of the two major parties. None of the Republican candidates were to my liking. I would not vote for Bernie Sanders – not a democrat – at any point in my life. I think I agree with Sanders about five percent of the time. And while I loved Bill Clinton as President, I was not as enamored with his wife, whose politics do not mesh well with my own. I found a third-party candidate that was a better fit for my beliefs and provided my vote there. To be completely honest, as John Beckett noted to me in a Facebook comment: “…if someone is looking for a perfect candidate, they will never find one.” That is not a direct quote, but it is close enough. A perfect candidate is likely to never occur. My vote for the third-party candidate was for an individual that was not a perfect candidate for me. Because that individual does not exist.

So how does all this relate to my Druidry? Well, my concept of Druidry is that I find connectivity to the world around. Politics and all the gnashing of teeth that is currently underway is in that web of connectivity. I do not like that it is, but to deny that existence would be to remove a part of what I sincerely believe. I am connected to a lot of people on Facebook. Here, people post links to articles, badly created and worded memes, and even long statements on how today’s political affects them or other people that they know. I’m not a massive empath, but all of that stuff does hurt. I see people in distress over what is being done.

Done by a single individual, the petulant child I mentioned previously. I do not completely agree with the ferocity that others provide to this Twitter Dictator. To put those kinds of feelings and emotions into the hatred of one individual gives power to that person. The true power that he holds is somewhat limited under the powers provided to his office through the Constitution. And those limitations are enforced by the other two branches of government. One is an appointed position that is granted after a process between the President and the Congress. The other – the Congress – is voted in by the citizenry of this country, as their representatives. Elections have consequences, folks. Sure, turnout in droves for the Presidential cycle. In the meantime, less than ten percent of the voting populace turns out for all the other cycles. There are officials and government representation that gets voted on here – including Congressional representatives and senators. These are the folks that have the representative power to keep the President in check. And you let ten percent of the voting populace determine who that will be. Let that sink in…ten percent. One out of ten voters makes that difference.

Politics does not figure into my Druidry or my Spirituality. But community participation does. And I honestly cannot think of a more community focused activity than voting. I could care less who you vote for or the reasons you put behind it. That is your personal business, not mine. I am not telling you who to vote for or what proposition to vote for or against. Make yourself an informed voter and educate yourself on all of that prior to making it to your local polling location. That is a part of connectivity. Knowing the issues, and participating in your community elections. For me, that is a part of my Druidry. And that type of connectivity, in my opinion, means far more than slamming poorly written memes up on your Facebook wall or having insult-laden arguments with others in whatever venue or medium you choose to do so.

You want true Patriotism? Forget the flag waving. Forget the hollering “America is the best country in the world” at the top of your lungs. You don’t even have to wear a military uniform to be truly patriotic. Be a true Patriot, participate by casting a vote in ALL of your elections. Your local, county, state and federal elections. All of them. Be involved enough to know what the candidates stand for, and what voting “yes” or “no” on an issue will mean to you. Be a real Patriot: be informed, and for the love of the Gods…VOTE.

But that’s really just my own perspective. I can only do me. You have to figure out you.

 

Just Because I Said It Doesn’t Mean You Have To Listen to Me or Do It

Within a lot of the more openly activist circles that I am in, I tend to get blasted for the perception that I am not “on-board” with a lot of the activities that tend to occur. I don’t attend the marches or protests. I don’t blast meme after meme after article after article denouncing the President and conservatives all over the country. I’m told that I am the problem with what is wrong.

I have no desire to sit here and refute each of those particular perspectives or justify how I am “with” what the protests are aiming to achieve. Why? Because I think its nonsense to have to justify who I am and what I do and what I believe. I can; however, tell you what I believe, and demonstrate that on a daily basis by continuing to be who I am. Without apology. Honestly, if that is not enough for some folks, so be it. I don’t live my life or walk my beliefs daily for others. Who I am and what I do is not some reality television show that needs to be placed on display to prove something to others. Nor should yours be, in my opinion. I cannot do you. You have to do you.

One of my favorite graphic images is currently making the rounds as a Facebook meme. tankgirlIts an image of Tank Girl pulling on her boots, the cherry on her cigarette beaming brightly as she makes her statement that things cannot be this way, that we can be wonderful. We can be magnificent. We can turn this shit around. And that statement is so very true. We can turn things around. We can be magnificent. We are wonderful. We just happen to be going through a difficult moment in our collective history. One that we have visited before, and forgotten. We have seen a lot of the issues that are currently taking place. Terrible treatment of others based on the pigmentation of their skin. Hatred and resentment of others because of who they love, or how many they choose to love. Codification of minimizing people who are different than those who happen to be in charge. Human history is littered with examples of this from every corner of the planet. And no matter how much you show these examples to those choosing to be on the inhumane side of things, it will not change their minds. They will find “holy” writings to utilize religious beliefs to justify their actions. They will flat out ignore those examples, utilizing the “we’re in charge because we were elected” mantra. They will point to laws as justification for what they are doing – its legal to do so, the law says we must. They will utilize invented morality to state their correctness. “Those people are sick in the head.” “I don’t want to see them in my everyday life.” “I don’t want my children to be like them.” Their children. Irrational hatred of those different than yourself is a learned behavior. Done through observation. The observation of their parents. Gods be damned, I certainly do not want my actions or behaviors to be the catalyst to having children hating others.

So why am I not out in the streets trying to combat all of this? Why am I not picking up stones and hurling them at police? Why am I not following politicians in their daily lives and shouting at them? Well, for me it is a simple thing – I am not willing to discard my humanity. Because when things are brought to an end, I would prefer to be an example of how we – that collective we thing – should act towards one another. I would rather be the force of calm and reason even when standing in the jaws of the maelstrom. And if that makes e into someone that is the “problem” then I will gladly wear that mantle.

I have sympathy and compassion for those that are being mistreated because of their differences in society. And I will gladly and willingly step between those swinging the riot batons at them. I will take the blows for them. I will not return those blows. I will struggle to defend myself and others. I will not take the offensive. I believe that once I have taken those steps, to visit chaos on others simply because they are conservatives or part of the current governmental administration – I will have lost the very ground I seek to defend.

Tank Girl’s point is a good one. We, again the collective we, can turn this shit around. We can be magnificent. We can be wonderful. Yes, we can fight the battles. We can achieve the legal equalities that we seek. We can win those battles. What happens after that? When fascists and conservatives are defeated and beaten. What happens then? Those same fascists and conservatives will continue to be a part of society. That collective We were screaming hatred, anger, and attempting violence (in some cases) against those very same people.

Once the collective We win, once the collective We are in charge – I guess it will be back to tea and crumpets at the Red Hen, eh? Collective history suggests that this is not usually the case. All of this is far closer to a civil war than a country v. country war. We will all live within this collective society together. Even when capitulation happens, the battle will likely continue in our immediate environment. Perhaps not openly, but it will be there.

We can turn this shit around. We can be magnificent. We can be wonderful. But I would submit that the collective We need to be a little more careful with the how it is accomplished. Lest we come back to do this again in another forty to fifty years. And maybe then, reason may no longer be available to curb some of the more despicable and disgusting methods of forcing one aspect of society to come to heel under the boot of another. We’ve done that chapter of history a few times before. And right now, we are only a few steps away from it happening again.

Nearly a year back, folks asked what #TheStorm would look like. Well, the edges of it have already passed. We are staring straight down its gullet now. Except that the description of a storm might not be an appropriate metaphor to use. Because this is a more like a Dragon. And it is the same Dragon that has visited our village before. Last time, before the Dragon left to slumber in his lair, our village was a smoking ruin. And now, as the battle rages around us, we squabble amongst ourselves over the choice of weapons that others bring to the battle or the manner in which they swing their swords. And yes, I am aware of how this statement relates on to what I am stating here – the cyclical aspect of it pointing directly back at my own words.

I am not a commander of troops in any of this battle. I manage me. I realize that my approach is open to criticism, ridicule, and disdain from others. Anything that anyone does in life is open to such. But as I noted before I know how to do me. You know how to do you. Far be it from me to tell you that you are doing it wrong. But I might comment that I certainly wouldn’t do it that way. Just because I said it, doesn’t mean you have to listen or change what you do. All it means is that I said it.

 

 

If The Other Guy Had Showed Up

I was reading a recent article with Mark Hamill, and he was relating an aspect of his role as Luke Skywalker that raised an eyebrow for me. It was actually rolled up into using the backdrop of Star Wars – starting with Episode IV with the years of “modern” society played up against. The quote that caught my eye was:

It is tragic. I’m not a method actor, but one of the techniques a method actor will use is to try and use real-life experiences to relate to whatever fictional scenario he’s involved in. The only thing I could think of, given the screenplay that I read, was that I was of the Beatles generation – ‘All You Need Is Love’, ‘peace and love’.

I thought at that time, when I was a teenager: ‘By the time we get in power, there will be no more war, there will be no racial discrimination, and pot will be legal.’ So I’m one for three. When you think about it, [my generation is] a failure. The world is unquestionably worse now than it was then.

I literally sat there speechless, it was an angle to this last Star Wars I had not really contemplated. And one that will likely completely change my perspective on the movie img_9688the next time I sit down to watch it, this coming weekend. But the quote also had me replaying what life was like for me when I graduated high school back in 1984. My generation was wide-eyed and bushy-tailed – ready and willing to take on the challenges of finding peace in the world, finding equality for all, and yes – the acceptance of marijuana – just not as big a point as the first two.

We all came out of high school, full of hopes and dreams – and fattened by the broad-spending to keep up with or better our neighbors in the amount of crap we had. We took that mantra, and stepped eagerly towards debt, changing jobs every few years, moving from apartment to apartment every six months. And we expected no different from our various government entities. After all, we were raised under that mantra…why shouldn’t the government practice it as well?

Racism? Equality? We saw enough of that on TV. With JJ Evans hollering “Dyno-mite!” every episode, the Jeffersons were moving on up to that deluxe apartment in the sky, and Roots was there to remind us of the terrible tragedies that the blacks had gone through. ‘Blacks’ – what a terrible racial naming concept. Except we do the opposite of using the term ‘whites’ as well. But we weren’t running off to hang someone over the color of their skin. Nor were we burning down their homes either. We were on the way to achieving equality. Except that we stopped with finding monetary equality in the corporate job environment. Promotions were harder to find for minorities, and women as well. And there really wasn’t much of a push to make things better. Once we spent ourselves into debt, we literally fought tooth and nail to make a living – essentially becoming a statistic. And eventually moving home in the mid-1990s with our parents…that literal mid-aged lifeboat. We were focused on saving our own skins…not enough time and energy to push for corporate change.

When the 1990s came to a close, the next generation was a larger force in the workplace. Just not in numbers. They learned technologies much quicker, after all they had a longer exposure to technology when they were younger. And that particular notation has continued with each new generation – more technology savvy, quicker with technological concepts. So, once again, my generation found itself focused on competing in the work-force with younger workers who didn’t come with all the burdens we had – family, kids, medical needs, debt. They worked cheaper and were willing to work longer for those lower wages. No push for change coming there.

So now, we are where we are. A political environment that is so divided that the hatred between both sides is thick enough to squeeze out an 8oz glass of vitriol and have enough left over to freeze as ice cubes. The newest generation entering the work-force is having to deal with an aging work-force ahead of them – mostly my generation working for lower-paying positions to just get by. As a rough example, I make a little over 40k a year at my job. Not great pay for a technology-sector worker with two Masters degrees and a Bachelors. Luckily, I work at a job where I believe in its overall mission, and this amount of money is just enough to get me by with a little left over each month. I know many others with the same degree credentials that I have, including my thirty-four years in Information Technology, who make far less than I do, and some work two or even three jobs to get by. All of that clogs the work-force for the younger workers just coming in, which becomes part of the problem.

Now, I am not laying all the blame at the feet of my generation. There are a lot of contributing factors that I am leaving out. But Hamill is correct. My generation failed. And the resulting mess is what we are looking at. There is a lot of clean-up that is going to have to be done, starting with the move towards complete equality. And Gods, I have no idea how we get there. Just looking at my country, America, which likes to style itself as the leader in everything around the world (it is not – and that arrogance is also part of the problem) – we have issues that stem from political issues, from learned hatred of those that are different from us (pick one), from lack of equality, from a lot of things…and people are completely fed up. They are ready to tear shit up over all of this and have in a few instances. We have police officers that abuse their powers of protection. We have politicians that enact laws that are harmful to others over some perceived issue that masks what is essentially racial prejudice. We have laws that are twisted to suit one demographic of people and no court system willing to put the law back into its neutral position. How in the fuck do we fix all of that? Well, let me rephrase this a bit…

How do the younger generations fix all of this? No, this is not “kicking the can down the road” – though it does sound like it. This is a touch of realism. The younger generations are driving the war-cry for change, for an overhaul of the system, for complete equality. Sure, there are those in my generation that have picked up a protest sign and joined the front-line. However, their words are the loudest. Except at the ballot box. The younger generations have a strong mistrust of the system. They are not wrong to have it either. The system is literally set to provide for the “haves” and ignore the “have-nots”. But the ballot box is an area where honor and correctness continues.

Yes, there is voter fraud that happens at the ballot box. Not in the numbers that conservative firebrands at Fox News claim, but it is there. There is also increasing apathy from the block of individuals that are eligible to be registered to vote and are currently registered to vote. The system seems to not really change. Democrats and Republicans (and even many of the third-party candidates) are essentially the same types of politician. They will canvas for the votes of the people, and then swear complete fealty to the political party. Essentially, they are beholden to their donors rather than to the registered voters.

How do you change that? You find candidates to vote for that reject that kind of thinking. They hold their fealty to the people rather than the party. Except that to get on the ballot, you NEED the party’s assistance in all states and territories. And to get that assistance, you need to show that you are in their boat – ready to do their bidding on the various governmental floors when the time comes. And nearly every point that gets made has a counter-point to place it in check. And the outcry of the system being rigged becomes louder.

::sigh:: Hamill is right. We failed. But all is not completely lost. Yes, the storm clouds look dark, and the wind is starting to whip the rain like watery, steel nails into your flesh. But failure is not the same thing as complete loss. If you watch the last Star Wars movie, the individuals playing at being “rebels” are the children. These younger generations are the hope. Yes, we are only going to be around for some of the clean-up of the mess we have created. But we can provide the example of what didn’t work. What needed to be formatted differently to achieve the change that was necessary.

I already hear the words:  “What about Trump?” flying through my Email box. What about him? He represents the last gasps of what needs to be changed. Yes, it certainly is an uphill battle. But I would like to remind you – Clinton won the popular vote 48% to 46%. And that was with only 56% of the total voting populace turning out. Essentially, that means that every other voter did not come out to the polls for that election. It makes me wonder what might have happened if that other guy HAD showed up?