Dress Me Up….

Clothing. Damn, we all wear the stuff. In various forms of flattery or to hide things (like my enlarging mid-section). I never thought that it would wind up being one of the most constant questions that I get from non-Pagans though.

To some degree, I grok what’s being asked. When people find out I am a Druid, they expect me to dress like the pictures they have seen of Druids at Stonehenge. You know the look. All white robes, some with colorful edging, all dragging the ground from the length. And to be perfectly honest, I know more than one Druid here in America that has some set of ritual accouterments that match that description to a degree. So I can see where non-Druid folks can get the idea that the white robes are some kind of mandatory uniform of sorts for Druids everywhere.

But it has gotten me to wonder what the fascination is with the “dress-up” function associated with all of this. Some of it seems to be steeped in some kind of non-spoken tradition. I don’t mind standing on tradition, particularly on its neck. After all, I have always looked at getting dressed for ritual as a concept of form over function. Dress in what is comfortable, which for me is typically a concert t-shirt (Motorhead, if I have a serviceable one – which I do not at the moment), jeans (usually faded and with holes in them) and tennis shoes or boots. I have been known to show up weddings and funerals in this style of dress as well (seriously). Its what I feel comfortable in. And I cannot describe the number of times I have felt like Jaime Lannister over the looks I have gotten: “There it is. There’s the look. I’ve seen it for seventeen years on face after face.”

I will tell you a little “secret” about me. I hate dress-codes. For my junior and senior years in high school, I had to dress exactly like all the other students at the school. In the warmer months, we wore blue polo shirts with gray slacks. In the colder months, we wore the same gray slacks, along with a button-down shirt (conservative colors only), along with a dark blue blazer and a tie. The tie was our only recourse towards individualization, and, Gods, we all had some HORRIBLE ties. The overall outfit wasn’t bad. The blazer was a touch uncomfortable to wear all the time. But it was mandating that everyone look the same that really got under my skin. I railed against military uniforms for much the same reasoning. I prefer to dress myself, and to use the rule of thumb of what I deem “appropriate” to wear. If folks don’t like it or agree – they don’t have to dress like I do. Simple as that, in my mind.

So, when I hear folks make commentary, such as the one that I received in a private Direct Message on Twitter – ” I believe you Druids need to get a uniform like the Catholic Priests have.” – I bristle against the suggestion that we should all look the same. Furthermore, is the implication that Druidry should follow the example of a group of folks from another system of belief. Essentially, it smacks of saying that people of belief should have some form of holy uniform that they wear. I guess, its so that folks are a bit more distinctive when seen through a sniper’s rifle scope. ::shrug:: Or so that small children can find you, run up and tug at your robes – hoping a quid or two magically falls from your robes. And for the record, I am not against the idea of handing over a few quid so some kid can chase down the ice-cream truck. But aside from that goofy imagery, do we really need a uniform of sorts?

Well, possibly. I would surmise that it all depends on the God you have chosen to follow. I have a pair of Trickster Gods that are primary in my daily life. The idea of not finding some aspect of a uniform look to lampoon is just so foreign. But aside from my own flippant commentary, I do recognize that certain Gods and Goddesses would have requirements of their followers in terms of dress or look. The folks that follow those particular Gods have chosen to take on those requirements. More power to them. When they start saying that I have to do the same, simply because I am a Pagan or that I am a Polytheist or that I am a Druid…. Yeah… But on their own? I think its really awesome that they chosen to have that kind of discipline in their life and in their aspect of worship. Its not for me, but I’m not going to take a shit on it because of that. Only if they decide that I have to do the same.

Now, the t-shirt and jeans look? Its been suggested that this is my “uniform”…and I suppose that could be true. But to keep my rebellious mind in check, I continue to lean to the concept that I dress this way because its comfortable for me, not because I like the look. So please, say that kind of thing about a uniform quietly around me. That way I don’t rebel and start wearing brightly colored spandex. Because, NO ONE wants to see me dressed like that. Trust me….

Stories Matter

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

Last Monday, I went to see a fan-financed documentary on Stark Trek: Deep Space Nine called “What We Left Behind”. The documentary discussed, from the perspective of the show’s actors, actresses, writers, directors, show runner, and even the fans, aspects of the tv series and how it had affected their lives. In essence, it was a story of a show that brought stories to the small screen for all of us to experience. And it brought so many aspects of that series back to life, and into the forefront of my memory. The restoration of characters that I had loved so long, and eventually set on to the shelves of my mind when the show had come to its conclusion, was a moment of pure joy for me. And a reminder, that stories matter.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was a different kind of Star Trek show. Set in the same universe and time frame that ST: Next Generation and ST: Voyager were in, it brought forth a much darker feel than those two shows did. Some of the aspirations of Star Fleet were shown to be shady power grabs of the quadrant, sometimes placing the lives of the innocents that lived on the planets there in the position of being pawns in a much larger game, as shown through the lens of the Dominion War. And sometimes, aspects of the show mirrored what was happening in real life during its time of original airing. The feelings generated from some of those moments were pulled back into my thinking, like the opening of semi-healed scabs that are re-opened again. Because stories do matter. Stories sometimes provide the echoes of the soundtracks to our lives.

In the tv series, one of the characters – Nog – loses his leg during a battle with the Dominion. This sets a story-arc for the character as he rehabs his injury, and pulls back from all of the characters that are part of his family and friends. Portrayed by Aron Eisenberg, this story arc hit home for me, as well as many other US military veterans. Aron recounted, in an interview in the documentary, that US service members who had suffered in some manner would constantly and consistently thank him for this particular story arc. That the way he portrayed the character resonated with their own experiences, and allowed some of them to approach their rehabilitation from a different perspective. Stories do matter.

Leaving the trail of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, I cannot recall the number of times that I found myself really drawn and focused to some of the characters that Charles de Lint has created and regaled tales of in his Newford series of books. His characters go through emotional moments of joy, rejection, anger and sadness that are written so descriptively that I cry with them in their triumphs and shrink back in their defeats. Stories and tales that resonate in that manner can help us to deal with our own emotions, allowing us to feel with and through these characters in an open manner that today’s society seemingly desires to cut us off from. Stories really do matter, particularly when the individual experiencing these stories allows themselves to be openly vulnerable. And typically, we read or watch these in spaces where we can be vulnerable in that manner.

I work in a job that relies on statistics to tell the stories. Cold-hearted formulas that relate to an aspect of measurement. Did we pass five percent more students this semester than we did a year ago at this time? How many more graduates did we have? And those stories can be nice when the successes are measured in a positive manner or the lack of success can be used like a surgeon’s scalpel to remove perceived issues. What gets missed in all of those formulaic stories are the real measures of success. The student that not only got their classwork in and participated in class, but also worked two jobs during that same space, so as to keep her children fed and clothed. The sacrifice that her parents made to insure that the children had babysitting available while she went to class or needed to study. And the best part of the story won’t take place at graduation. That takes place when she finds a job suited to her newly acquired knowledge and her unique skills, and that may not happen until much further into her story. In the meantime, she may still have more hardships to overcome, more difficult and trying times. Why? Because life can be hard sometimes. Not every story gets a storybook ending. But those stories – and so many others – do matter.

Within Paganism, we lean back to mythology for a lot of inspiration. These myths – these stories, provide examples of life in motion. Its really not that important as to the veracity of the story. Just as the veracity of de Lint’s Newford stories is not nearly as important to the connection that folks feel to the characters. Don’t like de Lint? Try a different author. Don’t like Science Fiction or Fantasy? Try a different genre. The stories are out there, the writers pour their hearts and souls into those pages, finding the essence of these characters – and they tend to get their inspirations from the people around them. Why? Because THOSE stories matter. The stories might get a different wrapping, a different setting, and some of the elements might become fantastical aspects that we don’t readily find here in the mundane world. But we’re good at metaphorical thinking. We do a good job of finding details in the abstract. We find ways to get the stories to matter. We find elements of who we are in the characters that we read about, the ones we watch on tv or on the movie screen. Or even the ones we picture in our heads while a storyteller spins a yarn around the campfire. Stories are who we are. Stories matter.

The Little Voice Whispering in My Ear….

Leadership. If you ever want me to run screaming like my hair is on fire, that’s the quickest way to do it. Seriously. I find the entire concept of me being any kind of a leader to be such a difficult concept. I know how fucked up I am, what all my weaknesses and faults are, and I just cannot see myself holding any aspect of leadership anywhere. And yet, I hear all kinds of aspects of praise aimed at me in terms of leadership. “You’re an inspiration to me.” “I love the way you maintain your cool in the face of issues and hardships.” Man, if people could only hear my lovely inner voice coming from my left shoulder, whispering all kinds of thoughts into my ear.

Most of what I know about leadership came from non-commissioned officers’ school in the United States Air Force. A leader is an example to others. The individual that manages to get things done. Knows the rules and follows the rules. The picture-perfect epitome of what the Air Force wants in its enlisted leadership corps. It took six weeks of training for the Air Force to realize I was *barely* capable of holding those aspects in my concept of bearing.

I could get things done, but not always by following the rules. I fractured, bent, folded and mutilated rules in order to get things done. My idea of completing tasks was to get from Point A to Point B. Just don’t ask how I got there. I wasn’t a spit and polish military individual either. Clean, wrinkle-free uniform? Well, that depending on the day of the week. Polished boots? What the fuck for? A spit-polish on my boots wasn’t going to make it easier or better for me to get the appropriate wiring through the small crawl-spaces of the bunker. Why worry about being completely clean when the job was going to get me dirty anyways? Yeah, my mentality wasn’t where they wanted it to be focused. I wasn’t their idea of a leader.

Capricorn – Max Ernst

I did learn leadership from the sergeants who got the job done. Want your subordinates to clean the head? Clean it yourself on the first day, show them what it looks like, and demand that they do the same job or better. Roll up your sleeves and help when things don’t go to plan. Talk about what happened and why it went wrong when everything is working right. Discipline only when necessary and ALWAYS behind a closed door. Praise their effort publicly and often. For me, those lessons meant so much more than the idiotic spit-and-polish concept that was presented to me.

So, knowing that of leadership, why do I run so far from the entire idea? Staying to the unspoken rules of leadership, a lot of that is part of my collective DNA. Why do I move away from the entire idea? What is it that I don’t want from all of that? That’s easy. I don’t like to be the center of attention. I am rather adverse to the feeling of being the primary example of anything. Like I said, that little voice whispering in my ear reminds me of all the issues that should make people shy away from me.

I am also reminded that much of these faults also provide the perspective that I am “just like anyone else.” We all fuck up. We all make the bad choices. We all live with the consequences, both mild and harsh. We all have our “battle scars”. Perhaps, because I am not afraid to publicly embrace my issues and mistakes, some folks find that to be an aspect that they can relate to. Maybe. Whatever it is, if it helps people step up in their own lives and embrace the fire that gets them there, wonderful. If that’s what is going to be a defining factor of leadership, inspiration or whatever you want to call it…so be it. I’ll keep denying the concept…because that’s the only way that I can truly deal with it. At least that’s what the voice on my shoulder keeps telling me….

“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.

Every Last Drop

Working with the Gods can be an intensely rewarding experience. But there are plenty of misconceptions over why someone might work with their respective Gods. One of the immediate perspectives is that such a bargain (ha!) is struck for access to arcane knowledge or power. And that can be the case for some, but I have not run into any large numbers of these types of relationships. Or at least none that may be acknowledged openly. Others agree to such a partnership through pure devotion to a particular God or Goddess, entering service to further whatever Their cause or need on this plane of existence might be. From my experience, this is a much more common aspect. It certainly describes a great deal of the relationship I have with Crow and Coyote, but certainly not the entirety of that balance.

Bargains with the Gods are something one should never enter into lightly. The terms of said bargain are important – because sometimes a bargain just ain’t a bargain, and you never realize it until that particular God or Goddess comes knocking for the rent check. I am reminded of a lyric from the AC/DC song “If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)”:

If you want blood / You’ve got it / Blood in the streets / Blood on the rocks / Blood in the gutters / Every last drop / You’ve got it

Yeah. Every last drop. Probably not exactly what you intended. Just a small cut and a bit of a squeeze. Smear all of that on the rock. You never expected a demand for every drop. But you agreed to it when you said you would give your blood. A bit of a grotesque example, and one I would likely not agree to. I’m squeamish about blood, in particular my own. But you agreed to give blood…you just never specified how much.

So, dealing with the Gods can sometimes be like working a legal contract for services. You have to be quite specific about what is being done, and what is being established in return. The same holds true when working with a group. I know, it seems odd to compare working with a group of people to be likened to cutting bargains and deals with the Gods, but hear me out.

Yesterday, I ran into a statement on Facebook from one of the Pagan Pride events that is held in the United Kingdom. Essentially, the organization had seen the event grow, while monetary and human resources dwindled. Its always sad to see events come apart at the seams, especially when it comes to getting support from within the community. Now, I am not admonishing the community for its lack of support from a monetary or physical perspective or whatever else might have been an issue.

Having helped plan, organize and run a Pagan Pride Day event for two years, I am well aware of the hard, difficult work that takes place behind the scenes, as well as other internal factors that can easily create internal divisions that the rest of the community is not aware of. There is a lot of work that goes into making these events work, so that many others can enjoy the atmosphere, meet folks they haven’t seen in a long time, and/or meet new folks. All of that behind the scenes stuff comes with implied agreements between folks to make these events come together.

Much like the bargains between yourself and the Gods, these behind the scenes agreements must be beneficial, well thought out, agreed upon, and implicit in what is to be done by both sides, lest there be draining of every last drop.

All of this implies trust. We do not lay as much trust in individuals as we do with the Gods. Or maybe its vice-versa? I have always said that I would take someone at their word until they proved otherwise to me. Yet, I am as careful as a nuclear fission technician when dealing directly with my two Gods. Its not that I don’t trust Crow and Coyote…but….well, Tricksters. Yeah.

Hearthstone Grove’s (ADF) Imbolc Retreat 2015 – photo by Amanda Godwin

Perhaps, I should put the same degree of trust into people as I do with my Gods. But if I did that, the constant Ronald Reagan perspective of “Trust but verify” where would I build the relationships that I would want with others? Those relationships where I know folks have my back, and I don’t have to worry about things?

The reality is that I do have those relationships. Those were verified way back in the day, early in our relationship. Those folks know exactly who they are. They know that I will be there for them as much as I can, no matter what the personal cost to me. My relationship with Crow and Coyote has taken time to get there. I do trust both of Them, but Tricksters are Tricksters…I still have to be on my toes. And be ready to laugh too…

Oh, and one more thing – you want Pagan Pride Day festivals? You want public rituals and celebrations? You want Pagan conferences? Be ready to support those with money, sweat, tears and blood…every last drop.

Many Perspectives, So Little Consideration

One of my favorite moments of the past year was being admonished by one of my followers for my liking posts from a variety of sex-workers from the Bunny Ranch over in Nevada. So many folks I know get all pissed off when Christians toss their morality all over what they do as Pagans, but may the heavens rain frogs and fire on you for showing support of folks who make a living in a manner that doesn’t mesh with their own squeamish nature concerning sex.

Let’s be clear about something before I get too far past the second paragraph. These are folks who chose their profession, not individuals who are forced into prostitution for whatever reason. Human trafficking is a foul, disgusting practice that I completely disagree with and fight completely against. The individuals that I support chose their profession for a variety of reasons, but not because they were forced into it. Now with that caveat out of the way, let’s step back to where I was originally headed…

We all rail against various things that we dislike and for a variety of reasons. However, I am left to wonder how often, we think of how the other side of that perspective may see things? Do we just react with a knee-jerk reaction to something because we are uncomfortable with a perspective, or have we really thought through the myriad of perspectives that are part of things?

A singular instance that recently occurred is the debate of the memorial aspect to the Confederate states in the American Civil War. Certainly, much of the debate was centered around the aspect of slavery, but a scan of American History shows that this was one of a wide-range of factors that led to the violent clash of political sides within this country. To paint the Civil War as primarily (or even solely) centered on the idea of race is to ignore large aspects of entire secession movement that occurred, and to dismiss much of those arguments as being minor or invalid in the entire aspect of what took place.

Now, there will be those that will take my position as a measure of advocacy for racism. If that is the case, all I can do is shrug my shoulders and move on. Its not my point, nor am I trying to minimize that aspect. What I am trying to showcase is that much of the manner in which we approach delicate or inconvenient topics is to paint things in terms of “this or that” with no measure or understanding of the middle ground or any other complex mixture of other issues.

However, as I have observed over the past few years, there’s very little measure or respect for understanding the context of any aspect. My support for sex workers, some of whom are very dear friends of mine, has likely had me branded as a “dirty old man” or a “pervert” – a pair of terms that hold no measure of branding with me. Unlike many Americans, I see no shame or dirtiness in the nude form or in the act of sexual intercourse. Nor do I see any shame or vile aspect where sex workers are concerned. I see people trying to make it through their lives, one day at a time. Who am I to judge how they manage it?

In our “woke” society, we certainly do a lot of talking about how we understand and work on complex issues. My experience, on the other hand, suggests that doesn’t really hold true for every perspective. Would we ever get to the point where we can truly work on these complex, difficult and sometimes inconvenient issues? I think we can, but first, we have to really open ourselves up to the idea that everyone’s perspective has validity to it – even those that we don’t agree at all with. And to be honest, I’d hate to live in a world where everyone’s opinion is the same as mine…what a boring place that would be. And yes, I do realize and respect that there are folks who will not agree with what I have written here or nearly anything else that I have written. 🙂