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.