Here are some unfinished thoughts on this matter; I plan to finish this later.
Have you ever called someone a moron, idiot, fathead, dope, or retard? No? Never? Amazing!
Maybe not to their face. Perhaps you were behind the wheel driving your car and someone swerved in front of you without signalling; or walked in front of your car in the middle of the street without looking; or threw some litter on the ground next to an empty trash can; or said that all immigrants are lazy; or that all Jews were selfish; or that all liberals hated America; or … I could go on and on. Are your really sure you never called anyone a term deriding their intelligence?
OK, then you admit it. You have. More than once. And you’ve done it passionately. As if you were Pavarotti. What was it that really set you off? Was it a clear demonstration of a lack of intelligence? If that were the case, you’d be hollering at everyone who made an arithmetic mistake, or a grammatical error, or danced incorrectly. No, it was not just a matter of intelligence; there was something else involved. The person who pissed you was being consciously negligent; they swerved in front of you without looking because they simply didn’t care about anyone but themselves. That’s what made you angry; the fact that they were being so selfish.
You wouldn’t call an intellectually challenged person a retard or moron. But you would append that label to a physics professor who misplaced or lost your final test.
Being retarded and being a retard are two different things. You’re born with the former disability but you develop into the latter. I can’t stand retards; I have a lot of affection and compassion for those who are mentally challenged. The latter have to work so much harder to achieve their goals. The latter seem to work hard to keep others from achieving theirs.
Do I ever like a retard myself? Yes. I sometimes step on others’ toes without realizing it. But after it happens, I feel guilty about it and try to apologize – if the other person will still speak to me.
I wonder how many of you have muttered under your breath those words regarding what I’ve said today. Have I stepped on some toes and been inconsiderate?
Littering is one of the primary causes of war. Of course, there are other causes of war like, for example, politics, religion, greed, the quest for glory, and just plain meanness. But, if you look deep enough, it all starts with littering.
What is littering after all? It is a way of marking territory the way a dog does. Now this is my land, property, area, whatever. You piss on this property and claim it is yours to do with as you please.
What’s the next step after that. You’ve marked your territory and claimed it as your own – now you can also steal from it or simply destroy it or anything or anyone in it.
Who’s involved in littering? The litterer, those who witness the littering take place, those who see the littering and/or the litter, and those responsible for stopping it from happening.
What kind of person litters? Sneaky, inconsiderate people who are contemptuous of others’ rights.
What kind of excuses do litterers give for their misdeeds? They’ve had a tough life. They figure: I had a rough childhood so I’ll mess up your lawn.
The traits of litterers are the same ones of those who steal and murder.
New York cut crime be prosecting litterers.
There are different degrees of littering. Throwing a cigarette butt in the street right off the curb where it can hardly be seen and will be washed away with the next rain. Or dumping toxic sludge in the middle of a pristine park.
What is the ultimate form of littering? Think big now. No, bigger than that. Think land mines. Let’s go even further – dropping bombs. That is littering the property that is not yours with a huge lethal explosive device.
You mark the territory with your bombs; then you can steal the land, water, air, oil, minerals, and even enslave the residents.
So my message is: Stop littering and the culture that allows it. In that way, you will have taken a giant step towards world peace!
These are just a few of the topics I’m considering writing about – please let me know if you’d like me to write about any one of these or else suggest a topic for me to write about.
Incivility - Inconsiderate people litter but get angry at others who litter; cut people off when driving but curse others who do that to them; racists are sensitive to being unfairly stereotyped themselves; biased people hate being unfairly judged, etc, etc.
Obama’s poor civil liberties performance – his defenders say he is being practical or hasn’t gotten around to progress in this area; but he has aggressively fought against progress.
Obama’s terrible choices for high level admininstration positions – courrupt bankers regulating banks; torturers leading war campaigns; justice dep’t being lead by a lawyer who defended Chiquita for killing union leaders and workers; etc, etc.
Gay Rights – All citizens should have equal rights – including the right to marriage.
Dying with dignity rights – Unlike every other group seeking civil liberties, the dying includes everyone whether they realize it or not – everyone should have the right to end their own lives as painlessly and peacefully as medically possible.
Hypocrisy in high places – those who get caught should transform their attitudes towards respecting the privacy of others’ lives.
Driving etiquette - please don’t hog the left lane or any lane other than the rightmost lane.
Listening - it’s an art that encourages others to open up about themselves.
Sucking the juice out of life - make the most of each moment, each encounter with another person, each life episode.
Be Grateful - and you’ll be as happy as your circumstances allow and they often allow a lot; and your gratitude itself can often lead to your circumstances improving.
Movies mean a lot to me - why do I feel so passionately about some movies? I’ll have to examine that.
Life has no meaning but it’s important to live as if it does.
If we look at our lives from the perspective of 5 billion years in the future, it’s evident that our lives have had no ultimate effect on anything and anyone.
Yet we live our lives from within at each present moment. So, we need to invent a meaning that is an expression of our fundamental values.
I believe that fundamental values should be the same for all people – you may think that it’s relative. My values can be summed up in one word: care. Caring for people is kindness; caring for ideas is curiosity. Of course this is a simplification. But it’s neat.
Here’s an assortment of the things that I think are important and may inform someone about my values:kindness, compassion, respect, tolerance, passion, involvement, awareness, truth, generosity, family, friendship, curiosity, work, relaxation, contemplation, wonder, striving, intuition, conscience, survival, freedom, justice, self-examination, perspective, humor.
Once you’ve identified your own set of values your next task is to prioritize them. In other words, what’s more important that what. Is earning a lot of money more important than having a warm, fuzzy feeling from healing people? Stuff like that.
Then you’re ready to create a direction for your life to take that you feel will most satisfy your prioritized values.
Then comes real life, random events, serendipity, setbacks, opportunities, chance, luck.
Re-evaluate your values, priorities, and re-create your meaning whenever you feel the need.
You are completely free in this wonderful, strange world. That is frightening to a lot of people and they decide to renounce their freedom and accept someone else’s package of values, priorities, and meaning from off the shelf. This can come from a religion, a mentor, a guru, or a philosophy. But it’s never a true fit. Only what you create from within the wonder of your own mind will really fit your need for meaning at any moment.
The fact that you’re reading these words indicates that you’ve acknowledged to yourself that you would like an answer to the question, “what is the meaning of life?” or “what is the meaning of my life?”. You should keep asking yourself this same question for the rest of your life. No one other than yourself can ever really answer the most fundamental questions you have about life. Cling to your questions and never believe that they have ever been finally answered.
Believe it or not – everyone is in the same boat as you – it’s just that, at this moment, you are being more honest than most about your wonder.
Socrates said that wisdom begins in wonder. I say that it not only begins there, it remains there.
The reason it costs so much to run for Congress is that the price of lying has gone up so much.
The news media has failed in its mission to speak truth to power and to vet the truth of candidates’ statements. They confuse impartiality with stenography.
We each need to select these people that have so much influence on our lives with at least as much care as we select tomatoes at the supermarket. If we’re not careful, the tomatoes will go bad very quickly before we can get any benefit from them – the same is true of Congressmen.
Our government is broken. It obeys the will of corporations; not of people. People have consciences; corporations don’t. Corporations have virtually unlimited money; people don’t. We are being ruled by sociopathic institutions; not by people. Money is not speech; it is yelling. We are being outshouted by screaming corporations.
How can we fix this system?
Tune in next time for the solution … and the path from our current status to the desired state of democracy in this country.
In the year 2000, almost half of the American electorate decided to choose a beer drinking partner to have his hand on the nuclear trigger, control the economy, and regulate fresh air, water, and worker safety; and oh yes protect us from foreign invasion. Apparently they wanted a man of absolutely no character who would not think for himself and do the bidding of the major corporations. They got their man – and we got the bombing of the World Trade Center, a war in Afghanistan, the real estate bubble, the collapse of the American economy, a huge deficit, torture of many innocent war prisoners, and the erosion of civil liberties. Many Americans voted for this same sleazy arrogant illiterate again. BTW, both of his elections were stolen in Florida, by the Supreme Court, and then in Ohio.
We then elected a constitutional scholar who promised us that that we wouldn’t have to sacrifice our principles and our rights in order to keep ourselves secure. And what did we get? An eloquent man who has continued the repressive policies of the buffoon that preceded him. This is what sparked the Occupy movement; we don’t seem to have any choice anymore – we just have the illusion of a choice. No matter whom we select, we get a puppet of the collective corporations of America. They have no consciences; just an eager desire to maximize the bottom line by raping workers’ rights and the environment and by avoiding taxes.
We don’t seem to have any choice even when we work so hard for someone who claims to be different. Americans have been remarkably docile in the face of growing income disparity and the degradation of our civil liberties, the inequity of our justice system which hold major criminals unaccountable, and lack of protection for our workers and our environment.
Where is the fury? Where is the concern? Where is the fairness? When will the voices of individuals be heard? A lot of questions answered by Congress’ sounds of silence on the important issues and a lot of bluster about meaningless trivialities.
This is some of what’s been upsetting me. Now you know.
I’m learning to be a comedian … very slowly and painfully. I figure that each time I show up and stand I’ve accomplished 2/3 of my task for the day. So far, so … well, we’ll see. Persistence has never been my strong suit.
It’s tough being funny … on command. It’s easy if your task is to say a few funny things over the course of the next few days. But to allocate a few minutes and to try to say nothing but statements or stories will crack strangers up is a difficult chore. That is a skill that I obviously have not mastered. But bear with me … I’ll probably say something that you’ll find humorous … by Thursday.
There are many styles of comedy and an equal assortment of topics of humor. It’s possible to be amusing with short or long jokes or stories about light, dark, heavy, or profound subjects. There’s a special chemistry that takes place when music of communication flows; there’s rhythm, harmony, communication, resonance, recognition, learning, and enjoyment. It’s wonderful when it happens, and does actually occur … with other comics on other days and in other places … but not here and now with me. Sorry about that.
Bad comedy is painful. When someone tries to be funny and the joke just doesn’t connect, the audience feels the pain of the jokester … and it hurts. The good news tonight is that I’m not trying that hard to be funny … just honest and a bit interesting. Since, I’m trying to learn my craft, I feel that I’ve been successful if I’ve made a few connections with some ideas and people are glad that I spoke rather than there simply being background sounds. This is, admittedly, a low standard … but hey you’ve got to start someone. And I chose to start with low expectations … and then live up to them.
Think of someone in your life who demonstrates complete insensitivity to others’ feelings. Now, recall how that person has reacted to minor annoyances they attribute to others. I’d be willing to bet that these same individuals that stomp on others’ privacy over-react to any perceived such incursions upon what they view as their own territory.
Who is the most self-centered, selfish, insensitive people in the world? That’s right; teenagers! How do they react to annoyances? With grace, tolerance, perspective, compromise, tolerance? Ha!
Now, let’s go to extremes. Thieves, murderers, all those who feel no compunction about stealing someone else’s property or even their lives. How do they react to even perceived slights on their honor? They whip out a gun! They expect others to concede to them a right to trample on others’ rights but they no not give an inch to someone who they imagine is intruding on their shadow.
Insensitive to others; sensitive to themselves.
Who are the most considerate people you know? How do they react to those who attack them? A lot better than would those attackers when being attacked. Those who are kind to others often show consideration even of people who steal their property. They’re not happy about it but they don’t hire vigilantes to hunt down and kill the thieves.
Consider an author who wants to think about and resolve personal, private, and sensitive issues in his or her own life. What does he do? Does he write it out just as it is? Perhaps. But another course for him to take is to wrap the issues within a fictional story. I think that’s what I would do if I wanted to unburden myself of secrets that have remained hidden deep within me unresolved.
Secrets have a way of congealing into dense masses of dark matter obstructing the free flow of thought and life within a person’s, for the lack of a better word, soul. What started out as the awareness of a painful experience, becomes covered successively by layers of shame, distortion, distraction, and forgetfulness. But it always remains there doing damage indirectly with its searing pain. Like the massive gravitational pull of an undetectable black hole, its presence can be detected by the effects it has on adjacent thoughts, memories, and decisions.
The next time you read a fictional story of personal triumph over inner conflict and pain, think of the author’s own struggles and his motivation for expressing this story; it often is not to gain commercial success but rather to display in plain sight the dark underbelly of his heart.
Fiction authors that deal with these sensitive issues are some of society’s most sensitive, perceptive, and courageous communicators. They reveal the profound concerns that all of us share to some degree; and they do it in such a manner that we can recognize the currents that run deep within us. In releasing their heretofore repressed thoughts and emotions, they give us a tool to dig within our own minds. When such a story resonates with us, it often evokes tears of recognition and provides us a measure of self-insight. Such a story offers us the hope that we too may be able to triumph over the burdens that we have been carrying with us for so long.
These authors offer us insight, understanding, recognition, perspective, and hope within the covers of a book. They are the ones who should be running our country – not the politicians!