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