Monday, July 20, 2015

Hope and faith keep us alive

There are days I am keenly aware of my shortcomings. And then there are other days "I'd admit my faults if I had any." I know in my heart that I mean well. I want to be understood. I want to understand.
It is that awareness of my shortcomings and the sincere belief that I mean no harm, that leads me to have faith that most other people are the same. And then there are other days when I'm certain I must be from some other planet because this one seems so at odds with what I believe.
I just can't stop believing - even if only the hope of another planet - that most people despite their shortcomings actually mean well.  Despite disappointments and what many might call evidence to the contrary, I keep believing. I refuse to be jaded. But then there are other days....
It's hope and faith that keep us alive. We have to believe in something more. We need to see something beyond because if no one has hope or faith or a vision of something better, there will be no better.
There have to be people driving toward something better. We all should be driving toward something better. Think of any major achievement in history - ANYTHING. It happened because someone pushed for something more - something better. They sought a cure, a better way to do something, or created something totally new and unheard of before. They sought to overcome injustice. They said the world was not flat, it was round. They said the earth was not the center of the universe, it was the sun. They defied convention and sought greater truth.
Most of us won't be remembered for some gallant contribution to humanity. But you could be the teacher of someone who will be. You might donate money that buys a tank of gas for someone to get to an interview and that person starts a career that leads to.... You might say or do something that gives a hopeless person hope. Can you remember someone like that?
We can be passive in this life. We have shortcomings. Others have shortcomings. I don't want to live a passive life. If I can leave anything as a legacy, let it be hope and faith that there is something more to be discovered in this world that is better.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Symbols such as flags....

Symbols are an important part of our culture and human history. Companies carefully create logos and build their "brand" around them. They want us to see that company symbol and associate it with their products and with their values. It's an identifier intended to create associations and companies spend a lot of time, effort and money to carefully develop those associations.
Symbols take on greater meaning as those associations grow. They're hoping it will be the associations holding the company in their light but sometimes our experience overrides their intended meaning. Think of any company logo - Ford, GM, Amazon, Facebook, Exxon - and consider the associations you have. Why? What has been your experience? Those associations may be based on personal experience, news stories, relayed information... Does seeing the logo give you a positive feeling or a negative feeling? Why?
Our symbols are steep in meaning. That's the intention. We don't all look at the same symbol and attached the same meaning. At the heart of the debate over the confederate flag, the argument seems to be over its meaning. Many embracing the flag argue that it is simply a symbol of southern pride. To view it this way, one has to disassociate the history and intended meanings as it first flew in the Civil War and when it was raised again in the 1960's.
The original meaning of the stars and bars confederate flag was succession from the United
States. It symbolized all the reasons behind the effort to succeed. At the end of the civil war, the stars and stripes flew again across the south and much effort was made to heal the wounds that separated this great nation. Confederate flags came down.
The confederate flag was raised again in the 1960's as a symbol of protest against de-segregation. In other words, it was a rallying cry to fight against the civil rights movement for equality. It is the flag embraced by the Ku Klux Klan.
That history and this meaning for this symbol remains. Its a symbol of succession, segregation, oppression, and subjugation. Rallying around that flag is dis-comforting in light of what it symbolizes. Does "southern pride" encompass a continued yearning for succession, segregation, oppression and subjugation? The stars and bars flag is not separate from those. The flag is just a flag. It's not the flag that is offensive. It's what that flag has represented that is offensive. The desire to keep that flag flying raises the question - Do you support all that the flag symbolizes? If so, it explains much about the underlying issues that aren't getting resolved.
Let southern pride raise a new flag that symbolizes hospitality, warm weather, warm hearts, great food, and visits on the porch with an ice cold mint julep.

Monday, July 6, 2015

I don't support "gay" marriage.

It struck me today that I do not want to say I support gay marriage. Why?
I believe straight people should be able to marry people of the opposite sex and have equal benefits that same sex couples have. They should have the same protections under the law. They should have the same property protections, the same tax benefits, the same health related benefits and protections.
I support marriage equality.
I support the individual right to determine with whom a person wishes to share their life, their property and their personal life decisions. I think the law should protect that decision and not require layers of legal paperwork to do that. And there should not be provisions in the tax code that favor one above the other.
So, what about non-discrimination laws?
Yes, I support those too. You should not be allowed to treat straight people with any less dignity than you would LGBT people. In fact, you just shouldn't be allowed to treat people badly on the basis of being straight, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender. Let's have a civilized society.
So, what about religious freedom.
Yes, I believe you should be able to go to whatever church you want. And to protect everyone's religious freedom, you cannot try to coerce anyone else into practicing what you believe in that church. If they don't go willingly with you to that church, you cannot use your business or your government as a weapon of coercion. You have to choose to be in business for the public or be in church. You are free to choose. That's your religious freedom.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Weddings I have supported.....

I've attended a lot of weddings in my 50 some years. Many years ago I was a bridesmaid in some. I've sung in some. I never thought about whether or not I believed in their marriage. It never occurred to me that I needed to decide whether or not I should scrutinize their relationship.
I respected their decision to marry the person they chose.  I cared enough about them, and thought they cared enough about me, that it was honor to share in their celebration. I supported them. That's what we do for people we love.
Should I have questioned their choices? Did they choose correctly? How can I decide that? Even now having watched outcomes - How can I decide? Did the successes or failures in those marriages change society forever? I don't know. Maybe it did. If I believe it did, would I go back and change my support?
I can safely say I would not. Even if love is fleeting, love is powerful. Everything done in the spirit of love will yield positive results. It may be just a seed. That seed may sit dormant for many years before it grows. It may seem to fade away but love never dies. I will not presume to know where it will go and where or when it will grow. And I will always celebrate the hope of it. I will support the hope of it. And I will support and honor those that I love who are sharing the hope and promise of more love, honor and support. We all need a lot more of those things.

The Supreme Court Ruled - Henny Penny

The Supreme Court has finally ruled. The majority of Americans and the majority of major corporations are embracing marriage equality AND non-discrimination efforts. While many of us are celebrating this great milestone, a very vocal minority will continue to fight. For those of us directly impacted by this decision and the history leading to this day, the rhetoric and actions that will accompany this fight will be hard to take.
Our getting angry about dissenting voices will be counter productive. It will take generations for society to evolve and there will always be a portion of the population that will not let go. Watching the reactions, it's interesting to try to dissect the logic behind their beliefs. Keep in mind that these are beliefs that have been taught and re-taught for millennia. It's much easier to learn something totally new than to un-learn something that is totally false.
The most important thing we can do is to keep talking and stick to the highest standards of compassion and honesty. Listen carefully to the concerns expressed by the dissenting voices. Use logic. Be calm. Try to calm their fears. The reason the tide has turned is that many of the arguments against marriage equality and against equal treatment in general were NOT logical. Myths and lies are UN-raveling.
It has now boiled down to "we shouldn't be made to accept something we don't want to accept. Why? Because we don't want to accept it." Sprinkle a little God on top - call it tyranny to "make me" and there you have it!
It's going to take a long time for many of the dissenters to realize this has become their logic. Some never will. Now that the tide has turned, I can't help feeling sorry for them. But we need to be careful not to allow their misguided logic to build into a swell of fear that turns the tide again. Listen. Be logical. Be calm and stick to the highest standards of compassion and honesty.
Don't let Henny Penny sweep you up on the way to the king. You could get eaten.

Friday, June 26, 2015

What is your effect?

THE most important spiritual truth is that we are all connected. Absolutely nothing is "an isolated incident". NOTHING!
There is a "butterfly effect". Your decisions and actions matter and will effect the world!
Breath in. Breath out.
You have just shared air with millions of living breathing things before you and millions of living breathing things that will follow you.
NOTHING is separate from you.
You are, at most 5 or 6 degrees separated from every other living being. Count the actual direct contacts you have every day - every transaction, every conversation, every connection. You cannot disconnect yourself. Even in death, you are tied to something, someone, somewhere. You cannot separate yourself.
Let this spiritual truth sink into your soul. Every transaction, every conversation and every move you make, has an impact on something. This is truth. This is deeply spiritual.
What are you breathing in and breathing out? That's the question and it is the answer to what you leave for the world. What is your effect?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

No Truly Lone Wolves

By Dee Lane - My cousin and kindred spirit
There Are No Truly Lone Wolves

One must take exception to the theory that claims “lone wolves” are the cause for the increase in mass shootings. This “lone wolf” idea is simply another way for the Social Darwinists and the Ayn Randians to blame only the flawed individual who perpetrated the act, while not dealing with the social and economic root causes that contribute to such violent behavior.
A survivor of the Mother Emanuel Church massacre, Marcus Stanley, rightly stated in his Facebook posting to assailant Dylann Roof, “Somewhere along the line, you were taught to hate people that are not like you…” It is this fundamental truth that merely blaming the individual fails to address. Those who teach hatred and intolerance enable violent behavior, and as such, also have blood on their hands. We as a society need to take action against hate groups; they are homegrown terrorists who are indoctrinating people with their violent agenda in exactly the same manner as ISIS. We need to out these groups for the terrorist organizations that they are.
Secondly, we need stricter gun laws and to stop telling religious leaders to arm themselves. Any place of worship, regardless of religion, is a spiritual and physical sanctuary. There is simply no place for guns in any sanctified space. The increasing frequency of mass shooting events also indicates that the lack of gun legislation is making the massacre problem worse. Guns must be kept out of the hands of hate groups and the violent individuals; such organizations and people do not have any legitimate Second Amendment rights.
Thirdly, we must address economic inequality which is rapidly leaving more and more people behind, and stop merely blaming individuals. The system is broken and rigged in favor of the top one percent, leaving most people with little or no hope of a better life. That said, there is nothing more dangerous than an individual or group that has nothing to lose. As income inequality has increased, so too has the level of desperation and the number of mass shootings.
None of this excuses Dylann Roof, or any other assailant, from their heinous crimes. However, to characterize these attacks as the actions of “lone wolves” is merely an attempt to ignore our collective responsibilities to treat hate groups as terrorists, develop sensible gun laws and ensure that the vast majority of our citizens have access to the economic ladder.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we ARE our brothers’ keepers.