politics

Other…

I was talking to a friend. She called herself “other”, meaning “different”…

It occurs to me that we are all other. I mean, even the people we think are “same” aren’t. How could we be? As far as I know, there are no cloned humans with exactly the same experiences. We might share a gender, political views, religious views, and sexual orientation but, even then, we came to those spots inside our own skins…

So, why did this idea of Other stick in my head?

It is because of this…We need to protect other. We need to appreciate the Otherness of those that are other. Gaaaaack, this seems so obvious to me. We will never be able to fully understand any human. Hell, we don’t even understand ourselves. Anyway, *sigh* to not protect Other, we fail to protect ourselves.

There’s nothing wrong with not being the same.

Current society thinks Other equals Dangerous. If your political views differ, that person must be a threat… I suppose I could go down the list but, y’all get the point…Jumpin’ Jimmeny Christmas and The Easter Bunny, being different doesn’t present an existential threat.

The next part of this thought is, how do we develop and mature our own views if we are so hidebound that we refuse to listen to difference? If am so unwilling to listen to dissent and become so defensive of my own views that I refuse to admit the possibility that I could be in error, odds are that MY views are less valid than I think. Perhaps it’s just me but, I do make mistakes and continually look for holes in what I think and my personal philosophies…and adapt when some Other shows me error or invalidity…

*****

Other is also a trap when you apply it to yourself…

“I am Other and they’re all the Same so, they couldn’t possibly understand me…” That’s what a kid says to their parents and a 20-something says to someone in their 50’s…Not realizing the oldsters survived what they are living. I know I used the section up there to point out how we’re all different but, which in this case doesn’t mean “please disregard”, in quite a few ways we are the same. We all started out pooping our pants. We all want whatever form of “success” we deem. We all want to love and be loved. We will all face the same end…

…and not to drop into “politics” because I have avoided making any indication of any “political” view I might have…

…Our parents survived the Cold War. *I was born in 1963*. Their childhood was filled with above ground Atom Bomb testing. Their parents were the generation of WWII. The parents of kids today, are children of the Viet Nam Era. The World has been filled with “threats” to us since before the Dawn of History…

We, humanity, will survive and adapt. It is our nature to do that…

*****

Other, hunh? Celebrate it.

Other, hunh? Protect it.

Other, hunh? Ignore it.

Other, hunh? Learn from it.

Other, hunh? Yeah, and Same…

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Holy Smokes

It’s been almost a year since I last wrote…I left because I was fed up with “politics”. I felt that Reason had long since become disgusted and wandered away. I am not “political” in the sense that I identify with a party or specific ideology. I also believe that the topics that I’ve written about, meaning, Religious Freedom, the fact that Women have worth and should never be physically or emotionally abused and, LBGT Rights transcend politics…

I left because I was fed up with “politics”. I felt that Reason had long since become disgusted and wandered away. I am not “political” in the sense that I identify with a party or specific ideology. I also believe that the topics that I’ve written about, meaning, Religious Freedom, the fact that Women have worth and should never be physically or emotionally abused and, LBGT Rights transcend politics…

I also left because I was at a point where I felt like I had said all I could say and was reaching burnout. In addition, my own tiny family, meaning, my wife, needed every bit of my emotional energy…

I am writing this one because I want to reaffirm and restate what I always believed.

  • What your beliefs do not make you good or bad. There are bad Christians, good Pagans and, indifferent Atheists. The “content of your character” comes from within and not a system of belief.
  • Women have worth. Period. They are not chattel. They are not objects. They are not punching bags or targets for torment. They are our mothers, sisters, daughters, coworkers, fellow humans, wives, partners, and any other phrase or word you choose to describe them. They are the equals of men. They are the ONLY gender capable of giving birth to humans. We owe them our lives and they deserve to be treated with the respect that has well earned.
  • Your sexuality is your own. Yeah, I think the LBGT Community has gotten a rough deal from the majority of my Cis-het Christian Community but, the fact that you are ANY of the previous doesn’t make you “special”, it makes you human. There are over 7 billion people on the Earth. All of them have some form of sexuality … including a desire to have none. All it boils down to, in the end, is that you don’t deserve to be persecuted for who you f**k. That’s it.

I started to write this as a response to the Fear that seems to pervade today’s society. Thing is people have been saying for thousands of years “the end is near” and it hasn’t happened yet. The fears of today are nothing but the flavor of the month. We have survived both wise men and fools in high office. We have survived War and Famine. We have made it through everything Nature can throw at us. The troubles of today pale in comprison to those of the past. The only difference it that today’s are happening now…

Perhaps it’s merely my age that gives me some tiny bit, I hope, of wisdom and perspective but, I am less concerned about how the World treats me and more concerned about how I treat y’all. It isn’t the Alfred E. Neuman, “what, me worry?” as much as it is that I really don’t want to waste the energy concerning myself with things I can not change and may not even happen…

…I don’t really know if this post means I’m back or is just to say that my views haven’t changed…

Being a Reasonable Person

I quit writing earlier this year. I hit burnout. It felt useless to write because of several reasons the primary ones being that I was, and still am, tired of everything becoming politicized and that the vilification of differences of opinion makes debate seemingly impossible…

Which brings me to why I decided to break my silence. Being a reasonable person is hard. It requires me to assume the person I am talking to is also reasonable. It forces me to maintain the idea that their beliefs and convictions have come from as much thought and internal debate as mine have and it means that, even if I disagree, I have to credit them with intelligence and rationality…

I’m fair minded enough…I hope…to believe that I am capable of being mistaken. I know that I have mad mistakes and will again but since I make mistakes and want my failings forgiven, I must be willing to return that same grace. It would be far easier to be a mean-spirited cynical old b****rd. It would simplify debate if my answer to anything I disagreed with was, “are you f**king stupid?”…and it would make lie to my claim and desire to be reasonable and occasionally rational…

My father says, “everyone has their flat sides.” The way I think he means it and the way I take it is to read that there are imperfect parts to all of us. I KNOW, read “bedrock belief”, that I have mine, see “mean-spirited cynical old b****rd”…and I struggle against that. I enjoy being that person. He’s comfortable. Part of that struggle is to, pardon the trite expression, I have to clean my side of the street before I worry about yours. If I decide to be against something, in Millerspeak, to be an “anti” I have to be sure that what side I take hasn’t done the same or worse than what I’m against. Just because I support something or person or view doesn’t give them a free pass…in fact, it means I hold them to a higher standard and if they fail, I reevaluate MY position.

Being reasonable both simplifies and complicates things. I’ll explain. It simplifies because I have zero tolerance for people that aren’t willing to be and return the same. As a result, I refuse to engage them in conversation. It complicates because, when people disagree rationally and reasonably with my views, I have to give some credence to their view and explain my view in a civil manner, see my comment are you f**king stupid?”…

Anyway, life is too short, my life is at any rate, to be more hypocritical than I can avoid. My own code requires me to give the same consideration and respect that I would want given to me. My friends and loved ones were too carefully allowed into my life to have me want to drive them away because I just decided to be a twerp. Live yours as you wish but, for me, being a reasonable and calm human is a worthy goal and part of my chosen path…

It isn’t how you treat the people you like that matters. That’s easy. What counts, what reflects on you, is how you treat the people you despise. That’s the hard part…

Because It Needed To Be Said…

I haven’t written in some time. I’ve been on “sabbatical” or just taking some time off. Truth be told, writing the blog hurts. I’m not big on saying that or making excuses so, please forgive me for that. I’m also not one to let a bit of pain stop me from doing what’s needed…

I was looking at a couple of old posts from last year and comparing them to what’s happening and see that societal change is slow. It seems that few people actually think or grow as they age, what happens is that they die off. *sigh* Meaning, that the next generation and their views supplant those that have become deceased. Very few of us have “semi-colon lives”. Those of us that do are still like the deceased ones in that our lives have splits in them, the before and the after. Mine is one so, I was lucky and able to change. I digress…

*****

I keep seeing people talking *editorial, I’m a Fb junkie* about “making America great again” and feel sorry for them. If they don’t recognize that politicians, ALL POLITICIANS, come and go and have nothing to do with the greatness of the country, they missed the point. It isn’t who is in office *editorial, please do not read into this that I am talking about any specific person or office* that makes this country great. The common citizens do. The fact that I am able to have and cherish people with widely differing political views is one sign of that.

The common citizens do. The fact that I am able to have and cherish people with widely differing political views is one sign of that. The fact that I am able to drive as far as I am able or inclined and still not have to cross a checkpoint does. That I am able to work at a job and occupation of my choosing does. That I have the freedom to  f**k up, stand up, and try again does. That I am not hungry does. That I have the freedom to publicly disagree with the government and individuals does…

*****

…and now for that disagreement…

This post was brought on by two things that boil down to one, blaming the victim.

Do you know what we call people that commit crimes? Answer: criminals. We don’t call them “rape victims”. We don’t call them “transgender”. We don’t call them “women” or “men” or “Christian” or “Pagan”. We call them “rapists”, “pedophiles”, “felons”, and “perpetrators”.

We don’t get to claim “presumption of innocence” for ourselves while denying that to those we don’t understand. Period. If we presume to label one group because they are different than ourselves, then we should have the moral courage to desire that same label to be applied to us.

I don’t know if I know anyone that is transgender. I haven’t asked. It really has no bearing on anything, to me anyway. What gender someone appears to be and carries themselves as is what they are.Why would I question that? I suppose, if they want me to know, they could tell me but, I just don’t really care. Being transgender doesn’t make them either good or bad. I’ll base what I think of them on their character and not anything else. Always have been that way, always will…

On the other hand, I know several people that have told me that they are rape victims. Again, I didn’t ask…and am not really sure why they think I’m worth their trust that they’ve shown by telling me. I’ve said something similar to this before but, I’m doing it again…

Your worth to me is because of who you are, not what happened to you. To those of you that I’ve used the word “love” to or about, what happened to you neither increases nor diminishes that. You, the individuals are precious and treasured. I can not tell you to “get over it” because nightmares fade but never quite go away. All I have to help is to let you know that before you told me, you had a place in my tiny heart and after finding out, that place is still yours as long as you allow me to keep it there for you. I hope that is enough to help because that’s all I have.

*****

Do you know what will be the downfall of America? When we pretend to be victims and forget that we are not. When we diminish the REAL victims because we are selfish and full of ignorance.

 

Reason Has Left the Building

 

I am a Facebook junkie. I have friends that the only way to keep up with is through it. When I am home, it is almost always open in a tab. I am also open to enough views that I do not filter the people I know based on politics, faith, or if they’re LBGT or straight. I am getting tired of people, though. I’ll explain, it is now popular to vilify and demonize people that have, for lack of a better term, “beliefs” that disagree with our own. We no longer seek balance or conversation. We have become mentally lazy. Note the word “we”, I’m just as guilty no matter how hard I try.

To digress, the World is becoming less “nice”. To be honest, I’m two-faced. There is a Nice Miller and an A$$hole Miller. Both are true and both have their uses. Back to the digression. Because of the Web, we are more connected and more able to find views that confirm our own. *editorial, this is not an original thought* There’s even a term “confirmation bias”. Briefly, it means that we tend to believe that which agrees with our views and see falseness in that which does not.

Further digression, I was talking to Z and we both agree. I think I’ll just quote her directly. *editorial, this is a copy/paste from the conversation* “The world is not nice right now…It’s easier to look to blame than to reach out a hand or try to find what is similar and build from there. Most won’t take the chance instead allowing fear and distrust to rule… I think if I have to TRY to find something similar, we aren’t. Similarities are glaring. Out there. Visible. I DO fear a lot of things. Seeing what happened in Paris and Colorado recently, the people who don’t value human life scare me. Because THEY have no fear. They have nothing to fear…”

When we turn people into a label, we remove their humanity. As an example, if all you see of Z is “that dyke b**h”, you just removed her humanity. You don’t see what I see. You don’t see the first person I go to with my fears and prayers. You don’t see a mom that loves her kids. You don’t see someone that acknowledges both her weaknesses and her strengths. Z is not perfect but, she’s the very best at being herself that she is able to be. You don’t see someone that is uncompromisingly honest with herself and everyone else. You don’t see one of the rare few HUMANS that I trust. You also miss the person that is brave enough to have been the example I have used for two years of this blog and the partner and encourager since the start. All you see is a label. All you see is your bias.

We, again including me, label. We are quick to forget the underlying humanity of the person. Because we can not “walk a mile in their shoes”, we do not understand what shaped the views of the other person. We did not live their life and have their past. We might have shared some of their path but, not all. We only see what they project and a “sound bite” of their thoughts. We may think we do but, no one truly knows the inside of someone else’s head.

Back to the spot I started…well, maybe the middle…Today, we excuse dehumanizing those that disagree with us. Read the comments sections on any political site. It doesn’t matter if it’s liberal or conservative. At some point, some person will advocate violence against those that disagree. People of faith, some anyway, advocate death to people that are not of the same faith. People that will admit the existence of a kind and loving God are willing to say that “all (fill in the blank) must die”. In parts of the world that are not the USA, it is a capital crime for Z to be Z. In the USA people are willing to advocate, and act on, a belief that people need to be non-judicially killed for legal actions. Again, all as a result of not seeing humans as human.

How did we get here? How did the Sixties and “live and let live” turn into this? I am not a “hippie” in the classic sense. Nor am I advocating lawlessness. What I am trying to say is that we need to give as much “space” for others to live as we demand ourselves. If we set a standard for a person we disagree with, are we willing to have that strict, or open, a standard applied to ourselves? If we accuse someone of bias, do we admit our own? If the dogma of my faith is valid for me, does the same context apply to someone that does not share mine?

I’m not saying we have to agree. I don’t even agree with all of the things my wife thinks. What I am advocating is a return to reason. To the rational thought that disagreement can be civil. That dissenting opinions are not “treason”. That conversation designed to persuade is still possible.

*sigh*

I’m tired. Perhaps the solution is to quit paying attention to jerks? Maybe I should avoid the news and politics? It isn’t too much to ask that we be civil. It isn’t too far a stretch to expect adults to quit calling names like children. “He hit me first”, never worked when we were kids.

*sigh again*

It isn’t that I feel picked on. This post isn’t about how I’m treated. You want to blame white, straight, Christian, middle-aged, Texan, males for the sins of the world, have at it. It doesn’t make me any difference what you think of me. Just, please, don’t blame everyone else. Don’t blame Z. Perhaps, though, before you blame someone else, you should look in the mirror and see what part that person gets, too. Not one of us are innocent. Once we start with our own imperfection, then we begin to see reason.

*Apologies for the awkward ending*

The Silence of the Middle

The Christian Bible says “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. I believe that. I believe that allowing something to happen without saying anything is an action just as much as doing the action.

We are the middle. We are the ones that do not fall to either end of the political spectrum. We are the ones that have a mild distrust of politicians and pandering words. We are the ones that go to work every day. We live our lives and want to be left alone. We don’t carry signs, march in parades, or scream into microphones. We think that if we keep our heads down, nothing will happen to us. We tell ourselves that “it doesn’t affect me”. We ignore injustice. We are the guilty parties…

I know a couple living in Springfield MO. They have been married for 17, I think, years. In October of last year, the City Council passed an ordinance protecting their rights as citizens. This year, a difference of around a thousand voters in a special election took those rights away. We, the middle allowed that to happen. We sat silently by…

I’m a Texan. Here, we have a history of worrying about “me and mine” before all else. We tend, as citizens, to be independent and not wanting much government.I understand that. I fall well into that group. I have tended to believe that if something needs to be said, an individuals are capable of speaking for themselves. I had to face the fact that this is not always the case. Sometimes, we need to speak up for others. Sometimes we need to say “this is wrong”.

We don’t need to shout. We just need to join enough voices that our quiet tones drown out the extremes. We need to tell people that their little snarky remarks about “those people” aren’t acceptable. *editorial, I have good reason. I am a friend of Z. Calling her “those people” where I can hear it doesn’t sit well with me*

We need to remember this, too. It starts with “those people”. That’s not where it ends. We become, “done unto”. Once we stop defending the rights of all of our citizens, then we no longer deserve to be defended. Our apathy is our downfall. It isn’t our action. It’s our inaction. It’s our failure to say, “I object”. Honestly, we the silent middle do not deserve any better that what our actions have shown. We have allowed people to be treated like second-class citizens and diminished the value of our own rights.

I was one of the silent. I know exactly how easy it is. I know the feeling of security that comes from risking nothing by staying silent. No one will disapprove of your opinion if you don’t voice it. No one will judge your thoughts or disagree with your words. I had reason to change. I became aware that I was allowing a friend, a trusted and loved friend, to be treated with contempt by a society and a country that she had gone to war to serve. I realized that my inaction was really action. I changed the direction that my actions took by starting to write. I decided that Z deserved a voice for her that said “This is wrong”. She deserved a voice that said, “She’s not a ‘those people'”.

I AM NOT saying you have to write a blog. I AM NOT saying you have to write a blog. That was my way. I’m not saying that you have to carry a sign or march in a parade. What I am saying is that you need to do SOMETHING. When someone around you makes a comment about “those people” talk to them. When they try to repeal a law that protects the Rights of Citizens, vote against the repeal, about a thousand votes would have made a difference. Do something. It doesn’t have to be brash or loud. Our combined whispers will drown out the shouting. silence-poster

Sitting on the Fence

I’m pondering on the nature of fences. Specifically, what does it take to stop sitting on one ? I’m not sure that there’s a conclusion for every case.

I know that there are issues that I will always remain apathetic about or will have decided that there are enough voices. Politics have worn me down. *editorial, I have no intent of going into party politics or debating the merits of either political party* I also think that there are some issues that have enough voices that mine is lost in the crowd. I may have a view there and might vote that way but, it really doesn’t mean I’m going to be vocal. 

Some times, I just don’t care. There are Issues that are not personal enough, will not affect me, or do not have a solution that makes enough sense to use. Other issues are really “non-issues” that have convinced people that they exist. Then there are issues that I have decided to not spend “emotional energy” on. Aj warns me about that quite a bit. She’s kind of my “emotional energy police”, in a good way. *editorial, Aj is my “best friend that is not my wife” and she tries her best to protect me from myself. She does a good job when I actually listen to her*

I think it comes down to when it becomes personal. When I decided that the issue was one that hit home. When I found a reason to WANT to spend my energy on it. I very rarely react publicly from an emotional point of view. My views are, usually, well pondered and thought out. Not to say that I’m unemotional but, I don’t let them make my decisions for me. It is, for me, counterproductive to get to a point where I’m slamming down the keys as I type. 

For me, faith and love are the same sides of the coin. *editorial, I’ve said that before, just don’t remember if I did here or not* That’s where it became personal. I first learned I had faith in something greater than myself. Then I realized that I was capable of love. I believe that love is also something “greater than myself”.

I met my wife. Learned that I loved her. Married her. Maybe not as simply as that but, that was the progression.

If you have read any of these, you know about Aj and Z. I’ll spare the details of how much I care for these ladies but, I’ll hit the high points. Aj is a person of strong faith. It happens to be Pagan. Z is also a person of strong faith, Christian, who happens to be gay. Because I had known them as people before I found out that either had an aspect of their life that I didn’t know, I didn’t really have a chance to apply any of my preconceived notions. Funny how that works. Neither wears a name tag that says “Hi my name is (blank) and I’m in a group that you are not.” They just go about their lives and let you make your decisions about them based on who they are. 

That was what pushed me off of the fence. Sure, there are a bunch of voices advocating religious freedom. *editorial, my Pagan friends might debate my choice of the word “religion”. It’s what I have so, it’s what I use*

Sure there a bunch of groups advocating “gay rights”. *editorial, please don’t get upset if I didn’t quite phrase that one to your liking either. Again, it’s what I have*

There is one group advocating Aj and Z. *waves*. I’m it. It became personal. I got nudged off of the fence. I hope that my voice and my words might sway someone else to change their views. I hope that my views of my friends might persuade someone else to see them as I see them and, by seeing them the way that I do, decide that they are not to be feared or scorned. I hope that my views might help someone, anyone else to overcome their apathy. I hope that by trying to show my friends as people, that they might gain additional support of their rights to live and love. I also know, that for Aj and Z to have the rights that they deserve that it’s going to mean the same for a bunch, millions, of others. For me, the millions are incidental to the two and those others that I know that fit either demographic. 

It is, and will always be, personal. I think that is where we always decide to get off of the fence. I think that when we do, we are able to speak with passion. I hope that my passion comes through. I believe that change will come when we can use that passion to persuade. I’m glad I’ve gotten off of the fence and spoken out. I’m glad that I was allowed into the yard. I remember, as a kid, sitting on the fence and watching the game. I wished I could play.  Life is not a game but, it is not worth living if you sit on the fence and watch it being played out.

Musings

I really think I have to stop writing as much as I do. I think the signal to noise ratio is off. The signal is getting lost in the noise. The idea of the blog is good. The subject matter, sorry guys I just called you “subject matter”, is worth the effort. Just causing overload on the part of the people I am trying to reach. Wonder if I need to back off or just quit thinking so much?

I was thinking about the word “agenda”. Specifically in the context of “gay agenda”. I’ve decided that phrase is only used by people that feel threatened. I don’t think that I have fallen for the “gay agenda”. I think that asking to be treated equally, not preferentially, isn’t an unreasonable request. Z called me on it the other day. She said that she doesn’t want the USSC to put her in a “protected” group. She just wants the same chances to succeed or fail as anyone else. That’s not an “agenda”.

I do not ever go into politics here. I don’t think that the things I write about are political. I think that treating people equally is apolitical. It is neither conservative nor liberal.

I know what I write about is an emotionally loaded set of issues. I know that self identity is a cause for deep passion. I keep trying to be reasonable and get people to see past the emotions. It’s hard, for me, because of the love I have for the ladies I write about. The simplest way to convince people to side with Aj and Z would be for me to introduce Aj and Z to everyone that I possibly could. There are not enough minutes left in our lives for that. I try here. I don’t know if it’s working or not. *sigh* 

I wish that someone would send me comments. It’s hard to know if these are effective or not. I’d almost welcome hate mail. That way I’d know someone was reading and I’d have input about how I might reach them.

That’s enough for now.