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?

I am “Woke” – Just Not in the Way You Might Assume

Early in 2017, I started hearing a concept that I had not heard since the first release of the movie “The Matrix” — being ‘woke’. Back in 1999, it referred to the status of human beings like the main character Neo, who had been removed from their connection to the Matrix environment created by the machines, and were now aware of the true reality of the Earth and human beings. However, the term was not being used in that context, and seemingly meant something different. Being curious about it, I decided to try and find a definition of what this new terminology might mean. Eventually, I found that it applied to some of the aspects of the Black Lives Matter movement, but had been branching into other areas from there. A quick check of Urban Dictionary found a handful of descriptives:

  • A state of perceived intellectual superiority one gains by reading The Huffington Post.
  • Although an incorrect tense of awake, a reference to how people should be aware of current affairs.
  • Knowing what is going on in the community.
  • Being completely deranged, hysterical and seeing racism/oppression in virtually everything.
  • Being aware of the social. and political environments regarding all demographics and socio-economic standings.

…and the list goes on and on. Utilizing Urban Dictionary’s perspectives, being “woke” aims towards political and socio-economic statuses, being aware of how various aspects of society press against a perceived state of equality for all.

Now, most folks know, I have my own political stance in life. It bleeds through in everything I do – blogging, talking, working, reading – because it is part of who I am and what I believe. I hold no allegiance to either of the major parties within the United States. Rather, I see validity on both sides of that equation, as well as what I consider to be idiocy from both sides as well. Thus, I hold no party affiliation, as neither of the two major parties – or even the smaller third-parties for that matter – really speak to how I perceive the world around me. I have been told that my non-affiliated stance only means that I am not seeing the world as it should be – by both staunch Republicans and Democrats that I know. To be honest, I am not arrogant enough to believe that what I perceive and what I believe is correct for anyone else, other than myself. And here in the United States, I am merely one of many, all with different and sometimes diametrical opposed ideas of how to proceed and/or process concepts and information.

Perhaps I am not “woke” in the area of politics and socio-economic standards as provided by other “woke” individuals. However, I am very cognizant of the social under-currents within society. I am also aware of how the laws, as applied by some corrupt and morally bankrupt members of law enforcement, can be utilized as a hammer against certain aspects of human society. I am also aware of how our current political system is being utilized by a few to construct a potential society of upper-class individuals that meet a certain requirement of enrollment that subjugates others to work for their benefit alone. Yelling and ranting about it on Facebook, and on Twitter, from my perspective, does very little about the issue – thus I tend to hide political sites, and individuals that tend to post nothing but politics and social memes railing in this manner. Perhaps, that means that I am not “woke” by someone else’s standards. So be it. But then again, I do not live my life for the approval of others.

Sounds rather heartless, right? I can grok that perspective. But if all you know about me is this screed that I am posting here, and you make a final judgment on who I am and what I believe – you are not digging deep enough. If you go back far enough in this blog, you will find posts where I disdain the concept of labeling people. That applies here as well. Essentially, society tends to fall to a grouping of people into two categories: “Us” and “Them”.  The “Us” crowd, we are comfortable with, we grok their perspective, and their ideals line up and fit quite nicely with our own. The “Them” crowd is to be resisted, attacked, and belittled as much as we can. In wars, human beings do this all the time. The Japanese were considered inferior because they could only copy what had been created, not create on their own. The Germans were vilified as blood-thirsty fighters who mindlessly followed their leader towards world domination. All Germans hated the Jews and were thrilled to have the concentration camps around to rid them of these sub-humans. And lists like this can be compiled from the annals of History. The reality is that there were many people in Japanese society who were/are creative and can create new materials. Most of the German citizenry had no idea what was happening within the concentration camps and were horrified to find out the truth when the war unraveled for them. Plus, there were those Germans who tried to find a way to save as many people as they could from being arrested by the Gestapo – risking their own lives to do so. Painting with a broad-brush of generalizations is a lazy way to deal with people who have differences from your own.

So, I will divulge one secret about me. And it is not really a secret, I just do not talk about it that much on social media. I loathe the concepts of ethnic labeling that occurs within our society. The Grants system within the collegiate environments in America is rife with this concept. Entire aspects of funding collegiate education are built around characteristics of race, ethnicity, gender, economic status, and even age. The idea is to “level” the playing field between the “haves” and have-nots”. I get that. I would rather that we fund people’s collegiate education based on the needs of our work-force rather than these factors. I do realize that there are Grants and funding centered around just these things, but I would rather categorize people by their desired field of endeavor than by things such as their gender and skin color. I would prefer to classify people as “human beings” rather than “Black, White, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, International, and Multi-race.” But again, I am just one person. And these classifications are mandated by the Federal government.

Being “woke” tends to be focused on how one perceives and/or agrees with whatever perspective of the individual judging the perspective “woke” person. Again, I do not live my life for the accolades applied by others. I am a Pagan, a Polytheist, and a Druid. I am a Priest of Crow. How I live my life is determined by me. Under the ‘woke” definition from Urban Dictionary is the notations of “how people should be aware of current affairs”, “knowing what is going on in the community”, and “being aware of the social. and political environments regarding all demographics and socio-economic standings.” From my own perspective, I feel that I absolutely do fulfill these aspects of the various definitions. Perhaps, the problem with being labeled as “woke” does not come from any particular meaning of the term, but rather whether your understanding of the issues relating to community, political, and socio-economic standards is in conjunction with the individual labeling you as such. To that, I can only smile to the individual that claims that I am not “woke” and move along. If I am perceived as not being “in-tune” with how politics effects me or how it affects others…that’s all right. If you have ever heard me sing, I’m definitely off-key.

#TwoQuid

–T /|\

Divided We Fall…and Falling We Are

The time of Samhain is a time of change, at least for me. The colors of the foliage turn from green to golds, reds, and browns…the temperatures begin to grow colder (supposedly – it is nearly a perpetual Summer here in Texas), and the Wheel of the Year begins the change to a new year. There are those that will call this time a “thinning of the Veil” between here and the Otherworld, which I believe to be misleading – but it is a  common descriptive to describe an overlap between the Otherworld and here. The point is not about the difference between There and here or what the transition between the two should be called – merely that the blending of the two seems to be more visible to many more folks.

…and to be honest, nearly the entirety of this year has seen change. We, here in America, have elected a moron to be king – not that the choices were all that great, but that is a debate for another time.

Tell me when the stars begin
Or is there an unending place?
Or is there a guiding ship of Dreams
Floating at the edge of space?

There are no words
There is nothing you can say
But this whole world
Is turning night and day

–“This Whole World“, Coast

One of the bigger changes I have seen in myself is further distancing myself from the over-permeation of politics that I have been watching.

Not a day goes by where I have not hidden some political meme or post that someone on my Friend’s List has shared. I watch less and less of the news. Everywhere I look, there is one sub-group or another that is proclaiming some aspect of being “victimized” or trying to find some manner in which to shame some other sub-group of people. We keep hearing about “making America great again”, or how this group of people shouldn’t be included in the Democratic process because of this or that reason. Various sub-groups of people demonize others for one reason or another. And as we, as a collective society, continue to categorize and herd others into groups – the compartmentalization of everyone has begun. We find more reasons to be aggrieved over one thing or another. And we only laud our efforts to remove these divisions when a tragedy occurs, and we make the efforts to save others from natural disasters or some twisted individual in a 32nd-floor hotel suite with a cache of rifles.

A few days ago, I was talking with a co-worker about the way that nearly every grant at the college focuses on compartmentalized factors such as race or gender when dishing out monies to students that need assistance with the ever-rising costs of a collegiate education. “It is rather depressing,” I noted, “To think that students get the extra funding that they need to get an education based on their skin pigmentation or their gender. A collegiate education should be helpful for a student to develop their critical thinking skills, and help them to understand that skin pigmentation and gender mean nothing in defining a person for who they are, and what they are capable of accomplishing. Yet, here we have an entire system of collegiate monies tied to those two factors, providing meaning to something that should not have any such distinction.”

Sure, I have heard the concept of “White Privilege” or “Male Privilege” or a combination of the two thrown at me many-a-time. My response has always been the same – sure, society provides me a degree of privilege because I am a white male. That does not mean that I accept that concept as being the driving force of where I am today. Nor will I accept that this same concept will stop anyone else that does not fall under the “white male” umbrella from accomplishing anything they set their hearts and minds to. And to be honest and blunt, if there is a manner in which I could utilize that so-called “white privilege” to assist anyone that is not under that umbrella….point it out to me.

Depeche Mode said it best….

People are people, so why should it be
You and I should get along so awfully?

Indeed. I look around and watch people search out for things to be outraged by. People taking a knee at the National Anthem. Instead of asking “why”, people got mad at the action and never left that to find out more about the reckless abuse of police powers that happens all over the United States. People getting pissed about statues that were put up during the “Jim Crow” era and demanding the statues be removed and destroyed – without trying to find a better way to tell the other side of that story. Instead of listening to other opinions, intentionally derogatory terms such as “white-‘splaining” and “man-splaining” get hurled back. And the complete dismissal of an individual’s perspective by labeling it as “liberal” or “Nazi” (depending on your side of the political spectrum). To some degree, civil discourse certainly seems to be dead.

I really hate writing stuff like this. Perhaps I am too much of an idealist and believe some sugar-coated version of the world. But. I do have faith in human beings. I firmly believe that the concepts of compartmentalizing human beings on factors such as skin pigmentation and political perspectives – and believing others to be inferior because they do not fall into your particular compartment — it is a reflexive way of thinking that is taught. I also believe that when this compartmentalized way of thinking is removed, and people begin to see each other as equal human beings – we become far stronger and capable of tackling real, extinction-level issues – such as global warming. However, so long as we bathe in divisive natures….

–T

Magick and Intent versus Politics – Batter Up

Every once in a while on Facebook or some other social media platform, I see something about working a hex or some other bit of magick against Donnie. I smile to myself, gently shake my head, and pass the post by. Not because I am against finding some manner of getting Donnie to shut up. That would be most ideal, in my mind. For me, magick working is not something I toss around lightly, in fact, it is usually an instance of last resort in trying to do anything. And to be perfectly honest, I see politics as being a waste of precious energy, time and intent – especially in trying to change the perspective of firmly entrenched politicians and political zealots. And I certainly do consider Donnie to be a political zealot.

For me, politics is an area that I rarely cross my Spiritual life into. But make no mistake about it; political stuff does bleed over into all aspects of my life, whether I like it or not. I firmly believe that people love who they love. Some political leaders would have us all believe that in some instances, that is against some “natural law” that is laid out in a particular religious tome. Here is politics, tinged in religious zealotry, bleeding into the lives of people that I care deeply about. Still, magick working would be the very last option for me in trying to combat this type of political and religious motivated thinking. Participating in rallies, marches, writing campaigns, talking to my elected representatives, working to actively replace elected government representatives with those that believe differently – these would be the areas that I would (and have) work with to ensure the rights of people to love who they love. Magick might be a “go-to” for others; for me, its usage comes when all other measures have not produced results.

Politics is not a defining factor for me. I have heard many folks say that everyone should be into politics. I disagree. Everyone should be informed enough to cast a vote with knowledge behind “why” – but that does not mean you have to be into politics. You just need to know enough about an issue to vote your conscience. You just need to know how a candidate stands on the issues that concern you most in order to determine your support (or lack thereof) for them at the ballot box. And honestly, if you vote because an individual is part of a particular party…and solely for that reason…well, it is not how I would go about determining how to cast my vote – but each person needs to do what works for them, not what works for someone else. I get to define me, not you – and I do my best to live by that.

Now, it can be said that I have a bit of an aversion to magick working. I do. I will not mince words when it comes to that. First, I do not believe that I am particularly good at working concepts like spells and the such. Like a pitcher that throws a good fastball, but has not managed to grasp the mechanics of a slider; I would tend to throw my best pitch and not rely on a weaker pitch. Second, I believe there is some aspect of spellwork in just rolling up your sleeves and pant legs and wading knee deep into the stream. I am not sure if it really qualifies under the various meanings of magick working, but I know it tends to get results. Just not always the results I intended at times.

However, while I have an aversion to magick working, I certainly do not turn my nose up or scoff at those who turn to spells, hexes, curses, and prayer as their primary starting point in dealing with issues. I actually respect them for the strength and value they place in those abilities. Obviously, they have managed to get results from those actions, and therefore they are going with their best pitch. All I can hope is that their intent is similar to my own…because I don’t want to be in the batter’s box against that pitch.

All Means ALL

I don’t normally dig too deep into politics, or even into everyday events. Which is why you won’t hear me driving too deeply into the Charlottesville mess. At least not directly. Nor will I dig into Donnie’s responses and the lack-luster part of those responses. Because while politics of all kinds of levels touch my life – daily and otherwise – I refuse to let any of that tinge what I am or who I am. I don’t really care about race arguments, debates, and fights – not because I’m thrilled with being a white male with privilege. But because I refuse to join in on the label game. For me, people are people. We should all be treated equally – in life, how the law is applied to us, how we are taxed…what have you. We treat one another differently, in my opinion, because we are taught to do so. We are conditioned into a variety of ways to not only see differences between one another, but to also glorify those differences in any manner that we can.

I like to call this the “Us v. Them” complex. We want to be different than everyone else. We want to stand out. We want to be noticed immediately as being different. We want privilege to automatically apply because of those differences. Sometimes, we want to set the standard of what this or what that is. We want to be the epitome of that standard. Or we rebel against the standard by dressing differently, acting differently, talking differently. We want to create our own group where others cannot enter – particularly if they are not like us. We develop these cliques in high school, we continue to create cliques at our churches, our social functions, at work, in college – nearly everywhere we go. We look at those not like us with disdain. Who wants those people for friends? They aren’t the “right” people to be around me.

…and I have talked about this before. We label people. We place everyone into convenient containers that allow us to quickly determine what type of person that individual is or isn’t.

They wear all black clothing, dark lipstick, and makeup that makes their complexion look pale. They smoke clove cigarettes, and wear anklets or bracelets or collars adorned with spikes. Women like that have loose morals. Men like that are aggressive and just prefer to be violent all the time.

Nine Hells, if I followed that advice, which incidentally came directly from my late mother, I wouldn’t have half of the friends that I have now. And I would be missing out on some of the people that I treasure deeply in life today. All because I followed some inane labeling concept of what a person was or wasn’t. But I decided, back when I was in my late teens, that I just didn’t want to be in a world that was so monochrome. Painting people with a broad brush of stereotyping would get me nothing. I would miss out on the Punks that I became friends with. Or the Goths. Or the Preppy types. Or the Rednecks. Or the Loners. The Geeks. The Freaks. The Nerds. The Jocks. All because I let a set of labels and definitions divide me from them.

Sure, there are a few people that fit the stereotype and definitions associated with that. So what? Talking with these people allowed me to see a different side of the world. And you can change all of that into the racial labeling that goes on as well. If I had paid heed to why this person wasn’t worthy to talk to – I would have missed out on some very special friendships that I managed to work with.

Tony – whose name is changed here – was literally a card-carrying neo-Nazi skinhead when I met him. He never had a kind word for me. He even beat the smeg out of me one night. I had nearly given up on the concept of having a semi-intelligent conversation with him. But he eventually he stopped doing things, and asked what my deal was. See, no matter had happened the previous day, when I passed him in the dormitory hallway, I always said “good morning” to him. So, I asked him to come over to the end stairwell, and have a sit, a smoke (he smoked, I didn’t), and a conversation. We talked, we disagreed on a lot of things, we agreed on very few things. Five cigarettes later, we got up, shook hands and went different directions. The next four years there were lots of times to talk. We never changed one another’s minds. I cared about everyone regardless of skin color, he only cared about whites. Twenty-two years later, I ran into him in a bar called The Bomb Factory in Dallas. We talked a bit to catch up, and I asked about the racist attitude. “Dropped it,” he said. “Didn’t fit with what I turned into.” “What’s that?” I asked, literally on the edge of my bar stool. “I became a human being. Everybody’s gotta make their own way on this ball of dirt. You taught me that back at college.”

If I had heeded the labels and definitions that we create for ourselves and within society, I would never have had that conversation with Tony. Was I the one to change him? Nine Hells, no!! Tony changed himself. I only provided a different window for him to look out of. And I honestly doubt I would have ever made a difference, if I spent my time shouting at him, or trying to bash his skull in with my staff. People in Charlottesville didn’t want to talk…they wanted to shout over the other side. Loudest side wins, ya know??

Except that it doesn’t. Simple, plain discussion is what gets heard. REALLY gets heard. All of this started with the desire for the removal of Confederate statues. Absolutely. Let’s remove the statues. Let’s put these things into a museum, where they really belong. Where all of this can be noted for what it is – the adoration of a group of people that decided to step away from the union of the United States over a myriad of differences…the easiest of which to understand was the subjugation of people into a lower class based solely on the pigmentation of their skin. Its not the sole reason for the parting, and to truly understand the reasoning behind the Civil War is a complex, difficult thing. But overt racism was one of those reasons. And there were those that adored these leaders of the Confederacy for just that reason. These statues are the proof of that.

Much like the concentration camps of World War II are still open to the public to tour…these statues need to be set somewhere in a museum so that we don’t forget. Not that we don’t forget who these men were, and what they stood for, but rather for what the statues came to symbolize as our country got further and further from the Civil War. And in that same museum needs to be statues of those who fought for equal rights. Equal rights for blacks. Equal rights for women. Equal rights for all. Because that is the struggle that I keep thinking today is losing the sight of. Instead  of fighting the Civil War all over again….let’s change the narrative to fighting for equality for all. So let’s keep one set of labels:

ALL: which means everyone.

Human Beings:  which replaces all the racial, gender, etc etc labels out there and applies to ALL [see first label].

#TwoPence

That’s Me

The past two days, I have been talking about the “abridgment of Ann Coulter’s free speech rights” by the University of California at Berkeley. Or at least, that’s the way that Coulter has been spinning the narrative. The reality has been that UCB was trying to keep their campus in a state of a “safe environment” for their student populace – a number one priority for any University or College. What has started to come out of all of this conversation – both in face-to-face discussions and online – has seemingly come down to a labeling of me by quite a few.

So let’s get a few things out in the open.  I’ve talked about labels and my dislike for them before. I even wrote a poem about it. Yes, I know the world works via labeling. Its convenient to pile a lot of these similar things over here. And some of those things that are similar to one another, but not the first group in another pile over here – and so on. It makes it easy to understand what we believe is the basic nature of this, that, and those others. Except it doesn’t.

I have been labeled a lot of things. Crazy. Odd. Hippy. Old. Out of touch. Headbanger. Punk. And so on. The reality is that I ascribe to three labels. Pagan. Priest. Druid. For me, these three labels are who I am. These three labels are what I am. What I say, what I do, the way I do it – all reflects, in my opinion, on who I am as a Pagan, a Priest, and a Druid. As I told Scott (I’m sorry to throw this into the post, Scott – its not a reflection on you, but on what I am saying) earlier today on Facebook:

I don’t identify myself as much. I’m a Pagan, I’m a Druid, and I’m a Priest. My personal perspective of politics tends to lean towards the assignment of being a liberal, but liberal doesn’t define me. Its an ideology that I utilize from time to time. That doesn’t make me a liberal, it makes me….well…”me”. My actions, words, and personal worldview aren’t defined by politics. Its framed by my beliefs, by the way I serve my Gods, and the by the manner in which I find my connections in the world around me. My political striping is merely a singular – and honestly, rather minor – connective string in all of that.

I’ve mentioned before my aversion to the label of “Priest” – and then came back to revisit the concept a second time. So, in a way, this concept of defining labels is something I have talked about quite a bit. But there’s a reason for that. I don’t believe a word, which has a meaning ascribed to it by our wide-ranging concept of “society”, can truly be a complete descriptive of a single person. I’m a Druid – an Ovate grade student in OBOD. Cat Treadwell is also a Druid. So is John Beckett. So is Damh the Bard, Philip Carr-Gomm, Kristoffer Hughes, and so many other people I know. Not one of us is the same Druid. We all bring our own individual persons into what we are. To utilize a single descriptive of “Druid” and apply a wide-ranging, generic descriptive to all of us captures *some* of who we are, but it by no means is a complete descriptive of who we are. We are all individual human beings who approach our beliefs, approach our understanding of the Gods, and our perception of connectivity differently. And this unique approaches are what makes us the people we are. Not some singular, generic descriptive of a singular aspect of who we are.

Most interesting in all of this, it seems that politics – particularly American politics for me, are what showcase the nonsensical concept of singular word descriptives of people. Its almost as if politics takes the labeling concept and wraps it in the dull, glowing light of flash-fired neon lights down the Vegas Strip. Are you a conservative? Are you a liberal? Well, honestly I have liberal leanings, as well as some libertarian theories, and some aspects of classic conservatism wrapped up in my politics. So what does that make me?

Well, damnit, it makes me who I am. A Pagan. A Priest. A Druid. That’s me.

Against All Aggressors – Foreign and Domestic

Well, tomorrow is the “big” day for the little-hands guy. And I get where folks are fearing the worst. Donnie’s definitely got that in him. There’s folks that will be marching in protest. Awesome. All the folks denigrating these marchers – shut up. They are doing what they feel they need to, and in a manner of their choosing. They have that right, and they are exercising it. Let them do so.

Me?  Well, I won’t be marching. I won’t be protesting. But I will be watching. See, I’m ex-military. My enlistment oath had a line in it concerned with the protection of the Constitution against aggressors – foreign and domestic. At this point, Donnie’s made noises about bending the Constitution and the basic rights of peoples in this country. If I were a wolf, my ears would be perked up, and I would be watching over the field. Let’s just say that this is precisely where I am. I am watching. My interest has been increased because of some of the nutty things he has said. But anyone has the right to say nutty things. Its when he puts those nutty things into motion, where he actually fractures, breaks or flat out places himself above the Constitution – that’s where I go from watching to action.

What would I do? I honestly have no idea at this point. But I certainly will weigh my options and determine a course of action. Violent overthrow or violent action against the government? Not really. Not yet. That would be the ultimate last resort, and like President Obama I have faith in the American citizenry to keep its government in check.

So Donnie will raise his tiny hand and swear an oath similar to my oath of enlistment. I take my oath very seriously. I left the United States military services back in 1994. My enlistment oath, as far as I am concerned, continues to apply to me to this very day and beyond. I keep a very keen eye on the various governmental entities that provide governance to our daily lives. I measure what they do, and see where it holds water as being within the guidelines set forth by the US Constitution. I have seen where the US Constitution has been severely bent, but very rarely broken. As a citizen of my own state (Texas), I have made my voice known on various issues from time to time. Sometimes with no discernable action taken on the part of my elected representation, and sometimes definite steps on their part. My vigilance, along with the same on the part of everyone else, is what our government needs to understand. The statement that our government should fear its citizens, not the other way around, is true. But it shouldn’t fear an armed and violent overthrow. Our governments at every level should fear that its citizenry is watching, armed with knowledge at the next election cycle.

It will take a while for newer voters, the younger generation coming into the voting rolls, to understand how this concept of eternal vigilance as a citizen will come to be. In the meantime, much like the wolf at the edge of the forest – I wait. I listen. I weigh options in my mind. And when the time comes, I try to influence wrongs with the slightest of nudges. The howl of the wolf in the night places fear into the individual at the fire because a single wolf howl may mean more wolves are about. Silent. Watching. Waiting. When I voice my perspective to a representative, I remind them that I may be single voice writing or calling them – but there are many more who think the same way that I do.

I watch. I listen. I calculate. I act, when I need to. Donnie might not understand that right now – though I suspect he does – but one misstep across the unforgivable line of Constitutional rights is all it will take. And people have every right to fear what they are perceiving. That’s only natural. But remember, I am only one. A single sentinel that watches from the prairie lands of north central Texas. There are many, many others that are watching too. That is the checks and balances that are in place between government and citizenry. So long as we protect and cherish the rights and freedoms we have been given – individuals such as Donnie need to be fearful of the ever watchful citizenry.

Tomorrow is his day in the sun, so to speak. This weekend will be the time of citizenry here in the United States to voice support or opposition to his Presidency. The next four years will be another period of vigilance and observation by many others, myself included. Against ALL aggressors – foreign and domestic.

Too Little, Too Late? I Can Only Hope Not….

Well, hello. It is a cloudy, cold day here in Texas. Wait five minutes…that might change. However, it is a new calendar year. And eventually, the long cold of Winter will take hold. I hope. When I was in Ireland at the end of this past year, and the beginning of this one – it was warm there (in the 40f to 50f range) compared to the 20f range back here in Texas. Arriving back in Texas, it got into the 70f range here. ::sigh:: Winters have always been weird here in Texas.

So, with my return back to Texas, it is time to get the blog rolling again. And there is a lot to talk about. With a new President-elect stumbling into office like a drunken thug…times look to get contentious and “interesting” here in the States. But as I have posted before, we will make it through – together. Then there are the recurring dreams….well, let’s start there – shall we?


 

Dreaming is one of the strongest connections I have with my two Gods and my singular Goddess. I have many, many entries in my Dream Journal about moments with Them. I also have many other entries about odd dreams, and recurring ones. The latest recurring dream deals with something I have already posted about during my time in Ireland. The wall. Not Donnie’s idiotic dream of separating the United States from our Mexican neighbors. No, this wall separates parts of cities and towns. Where “good” citizens are protected from those not like them.

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What I am referring to is something similar to the so-called “Peace Wall” in Belfast, Northern Ireland. When I first saw the wall, I heard a very distinctive voice in my mind – Fliodhas – telling me that this a glimpse at a future that could be. Once the bus stopped along a stretch of the wall, I was able to stand across the street from it and realize the starkness in its existence. Painted up with graffiti like a prototypical streetwalker, it seemed to be a semi-sweet reminder of days gone by. After all, attacks between Catholics and Protestants have been on the decline for quite some time. Both sides seemed to be making friendly. Belfast is quiet.

But that makeup is a farce. If there were peace between the two sides, the electronic gates that close up streets that run through this saccharine emblem would no longer close at night. People would be free to travel both sides of this division at any time of the day or night. Peace? Calm? No. You can feel the Storm’s rise in the city. The issues that divide these two sides still fester. The energy from that fouls the entire atmosphere of this city. Politically, there’s a left/right divide that mirrors that of the United States. The difference between the States and Northern Ireland, is that Northern Ireland is more well schooled in the physically violent aspect.

During Donnie’s run towards the Presidency, the political rallies that he held were tinged with protesters trying to make a point of how dangerous his regime may be. And those rallies were also tainted with the often violent responses to these protesters by his followers that were in nearby seats. And all that was done with Donnie’s encouragement from the podium. Now, with Donnie getting ready to set his bum on the highest seat in the American political landscape – images of divided communities staring at walled off areas where non-conformists are kept is not difficult to discern. Those images are easily found in my dreams.

There is no cute and colorful graffiti found on those walls. No statements written by visitors who are presented this stark reminder of what divided society can look like. There is nothing but the cold, stark, gun-metal grey of walls made of steel and metal. The top is graced with razor wire, and watchtowers on the “good” side blot the linear skyline that the wall provides. This wall does not separate two populaces from one another to avoid fighting. This wall is designed to separate “wanted” populations from those that would pollute the “good” society.

We, humankind, have built walls like this before. Remnants of this can be found throughout Europe, where the Nazis walled off parts of the cities to create the Jewish ghettos. As Roger Daltrey belts out in a Who song called “Eminence Front”….

The news slows
People forget
Their shares crash, hopes are dashed
People forget

Yes, we forget. We forget what we have done to one another – in the name of ideology, in the name of religion, in the name of Big Oil, in the name of skin color….in the name of so many things. And one day, we will wake up, look around us and see what’s been done in the name of….whatever. And we will remember that was done before. And we will vow to never do it again. Until the next time.

When I heard the Gods telling me that the Storm was coming, I could not see a reason to grab my staff and utilize it for more than assisting my old ass in walking. The Storm arrived, and I was ready to fight, but still did not understand what I was fighting. I arrived in Ireland in late December, still unaware of what there was to fight. Then in Belfast, Northern Ireland…standing at the Peace Wall and seeing what a divided society looks like, I understood. I can only hope that my effort to help is not a measure of too little, too late.

One Step at a Time, One Issue at a Time.

I still remember the mantra.

One step at a time. One issue at a time. Take things in the order you need to. Solve each issue, so that you can solve the next issue.

Back in Air Force Basic Military Training, this was the mantra that one of our drill instructors taught us. TSgt Moody was a very strict disciplinarian. Her point to all of us – fifty-two young men – was that we could beat the Confidence Course (an Obstacle Course that we had to finish in under a specified time), if we tackled each obstacle one at a time. If we were focused on the Tower (the obstacle I hated because of its sixty-three foot height), we might make mistakes on other obstacles ahead of it.

In the end, I finished the course with two and a half minutes to spare. I did so by following her mantra. Each obstacle had to be overcome, beaten, conquered before I could think of the next one. When I finished the course, I felt that I had accomplished something with a tool set I had never realized I had before:  my own sheer will.

Not even a year later, I found myself applying the same mantra to doing something that completely terrified me. My first duty assignment was at Carswell Air Force Base, and my first job was working in the base telephone switchboard until my clearance would be granted. Aside from answering and placing telephone calls, as well as providing phone numbers for folks that asked for various base locations, I also had to conference commanders together for radio and secure conference calls. These were people with ranks like Colonel and General, extremely high-placed individuals on the base. Trying to insure that they were pleased with my performance was stressed by both my duty section supervisor and the civilian workers who had been in this position for years. My first attempt at making a conference using both secured telephone connections and over-the-air hand-held radios was a sheer disaster. I was literally terrified of these upper-level commanders yelling at me. Shortly afterwards, it dawned on me, this was just another obstacle to overcome. I studied the steps needed to make the conference calls. I learned each motion. And when the second call came in, I connected all the commanders in what was considered record time. One step at a time. One issue at a time. Until resolution. That methodology has allowed me to remain calm in the face of most issues. Some people think I’m frenetic, but the reality is that I am calm inside. I solve one step at a time, and move on to the next one. I try to resolve the issue at hand.

On the morning of November 9th of this year, I woke up and checked the news. What I had realized the previous night had turned out to be true:  Donnie and Mikey had been elected to the positions of President and Vice President of my country. It was an election I had somewhat feared, but had braced myself for, nonetheless. I was in a state of shock for about three days. To this day, I still refuse to acknowledge the Republican nominee as being my President. Sure, some can see that as childish, but its no different than what was done when President Obama was elected to both of his terms. Its now the end of the month of November.

Many of the people I know are scared and upset over the election of this turd as President. And with good reason. He made statements during the election about changing laws regarding the equal treatment of people. He made demeaning statements against people of color, people in non-traditional lifestyles. Since he has been elected, he has made statements about changing laws regarding free speech rights. In short, he has turned the concept of human rights in this country back to what is nearly the 1950s. But that’s just his statements. There’s still the changing of the laws.

Remember the mantra?  One step at a time. Sure, Donnie can make the statements that he wants to. That’s free speech. Changing the laws?  That’s a different step. And that’s where I, as a veteran and a taxpayer of this country, draw the line. He can make all the statements that he wants, but when he starts to change the laws – that’s where stuff gets real.

Right now, I am grounding myself into my own daily practices. I venerate my Gods and Goddess daily. I continue to draw experience and strength from the connections with my local area. In short, I have gotten back to doing the things that make me the Pagan, the Druid, and the person I am. I wear a safety pin to signify that I am safe for those needing me. I will also not stand by when someone is berated or even physically attacked by others. I will step in. I will let the blows rain on me rather than them. I will fight back to keep us both safe. That’s my first steps. Where the next steps come from, I’m not sure yet – but I am ready to take those that are necessary. I won’t speculate how far that might be – I’ll worry about that when the situation comes about. In the meantime, I focus on the now.

One step at a time folks. That means assessing where you are now, and what needs to be done now. Once that is completed, what is the next step to take? Or is the issue resolved? If there is nothing there to take action on, reaffirm who you are. Be the person that you are. If you are a Polytheist, connect back with your Gods and Goddesses. Reaffirm those things that make you the Polytheist that you are.

Some of you are stronger into politics and stuff like that than I am. Be sure of what steps you need to take in that world as well, if that’s where you are. For me, its time to start scouting through all the people out there to find a political candidate I can believe in. Someone who stands with me on the issues that are the ideological pillars of what I believe. And once I locate someone who is close to that, I will begin trying to see how to get this individual to the forefront of the Presidential run in 2020. The race for 2020, as far as I am concerned started on November 9th. Time to handle the first step — find a candidate to support.

Remember….one step at a time. I cannot change who is President. But I can resist to the best of my ability. I can be a protector for those that need it. And above all, I can continue to strive to be the Pagan, Druid, and Priest that I am meant to be, which will keep me grounded in the right direction for everything else. Because THAT is what I am. No apologies. No explanations.