Just bitchin'

Faithless

Been bumping heads with so many Christians lately.

I find this odd, because I consider myself a Christian, and, even if Man invented religion and splintered it into so many sects that it bears no resemblance to its first and oldest emergence, the basic tenets should remain as touchstones for all.

In the trauma that is the Trump administration and the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, however, a different kind of light is beginning to shine on my personal beliefs. This is of no interest to anyone other than myself. Still, I feel compelled to write it out.

Because that’s what I do when I feel the need for comfort or clarity or a clarion call.

So…

There is a sense of entitlement that pervades all major religions; a conviction that yours is the best of all possible paths to reach the highest spiritual destiny. It takes a certain amount of enlightenment to acknowledge that your private path is really only ‘right’ for you. It takes a certain amount of tolerance to understand that all the divergent paths that bolster millions of people and are dissimilar to yours, are still and always viable, valuable means of spiritual direction.

Many intellectually grasp this. Few practice it.

For most, the strictures of their religion are the guiding principles by which they try to live. No one succeeds completely, but, when faced with conflict or a major juncture of your life, you try to apply these principles. They form the part of you where honor and dignity and compassion intersect. How much effort you put into living according to these precepts when the chips are down is a defining aspect of your character.

There’s a lot of bad out there. It’s hard to watch. It’s hard to know there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s hard to know that the only recourse you have is to set an example by holding yourself to your personal standards. It’s hard to realize you’re not the best example. All you can do is try.

The catch is, the people you see as reprehensible think they’re doing exactly what you are: setting an example of how they wish others would live.

I’ve been angry and confused and upset about the things people have said to me and posted on social media to me. These are people who think they represent the highest and best that faith has to offer: God’s law. They blast me with their Christianity and make it clear how sad they are that I don’t fall in line behind them and support their beliefs so they can be that much surer of those beliefs themselves.

It took a headline from the Associated Press in the wake of a hurricane to break through and shed a little light on my troubled musings. The oversized type caught my eye.

Black, white, rich, poor: Storm Harvey didn’t discriminate

And I understood.

I wish for a society that would treat people the way Nature does. Indiscriminate. Colorless. Shorn of faith and creeds. Equal. In a way that says all the outer trappings…the accents, manners, ethnicity, positions and possessions are ultimately unimportant.

That’s not necessarily the way God does things, nor Jesus. Not if you listen to the Christians who’ve been haranguing me. To them, there is…and SHOULD be…preferential treatment for those gathered around the cross at church every Sunday.

So maybe I’m not a Christian after all. Maybe I’m merely a person of conscience and spirit.

I hope so.

I think I like that better.

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Just bitchin'

The Nature of Expansion

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“Your problems are so big compared to mine.”

Not really.

The thing about problems is their intense individuality.

There is no large.

There is no small.

The thing about problems is their ability to expand, to reach into every corner of your life.

Your intellect tells you that losing a loved one is so much more devastating than losing a job. But the heart engages on a different level. Both misfortunes expand, consume, fill. The sufferer’s life is colored; time divided into a Before and an After.

Lost loved one.

Lost job.

Lost pet.

Lost reputation.

Lost limb.

Lost opportunity.

Lost love.

Illness.

Pain.

Misunderstanding.

Unfulfilled desire.

There is no large and there is no small.

There is full, and there is free.

Use this knowledge of volume for compassion.

And for hope.

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Just bitchin'

Weaving Ugly Cloth

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It’s all coming together.

The disparate threads are entwining, interlocking, forming a pattern.

The first thread grew out of the internet.

Social media had the potential to unite; to form global communities. It could bond, and reach out, and relieve loneliness, and provide information, and ease troubled souls. But, as sure as human nature, the flip side raised its head: trolls. The veil of anonymity and distance enabled anyone and everyone who felt a dark impulse or a sudden spike of anger or hate to express themselves with consequence-free impunity. So easy to lash out and then ignore your victims. So easy to turn off your device with the smug knowledge that you ‘got away with it.’

The second thread came from reality TV.

In order to pull in viewers, behavior that would never have been tolerated previously was encouraged. When it didn’t materialize fast enough, it was engineered. Situations were fostered that would push participants’ buttons. Bullies and boors were granted pop-culture stardom. Fame and wealth were doled out in exchange for abusive behavior. The loud, the stupid, the obnoxious garnered more attention, more rewards, than the quiet, the thoughtful, the kind.

The trolls from thread #1 watched the activities of thread #2. They were lured by the accolades. They felt empowered. A culture of rudeness and cruelty for entertainment’s sake asked…no…DEMANDED…that extremes be exhibited, loudly and often. But, poor trolls, most of them had no outlet that would showcase their newfound aggression, until…

…the third thread, it could be argued, was a matter of time, circumstance, and culture intersecting.

The United States Presidential election.

A segment of the population watched in horror as the troll culture emerged into full visibility. Ugliness was condoned, substantiated, lauded, applauded.

News media reports that, no matter who wins, this troll-fest will have presaged the least popular President in history.

It’s unsettling how many Americans look traumatized, shocked…are shaking their heads and asking ‘How did this happen? How did we get here?’

It’s as if a puppet master holding the strings of a nation has gone mad. Yet the puppet master remains hidden. All any of us average citizens know is that next week the threads come together, and the highest office in our country will be draped in bunting of ugly cloth, the weaving of which we don’t understand.

It will look like the shroud a troll should wear…

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Image: ‘Trolls’ by Brian Froud

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animals, Just bitchin', poem, writing

Ebony

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She follows me,

a slinking, silent presence filled with expectation.

Her coat is dusty.

She’s been rolling in dead leaves,

rubbing her skin against pavement and stems.

She itches;

a pleasure that will turn to torment with age.

A black ghost, a shadow.

I offer food, water, play, affection.

Green-flame eyes bore into mine.

Stupid human not to understand.

They are everywhere.

She is near the end of her life

and her world is thick with spirits

I can’t see.

Yet.

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Just bitchin', writing

#ThomasGibson and The Insidious Art of Attraction

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Never been a fangirl.

Made it through pre-pubescence and adolescence and entered adulthood without papering my bedroom walls or my locker at school with depictions of male (or female) pulchritude. Never stood in line for hours to gather with adoring masses bent on ogling an idol on stage or screen.

Never swooned. Never sighed. Never stalked.

Felt kind of superior because of it. Wore my immunity like a smug, intellectual haz-mat suit. The rest of you can waste your time mooning after people you’ll never meet or really know. As for me? I’ll forge ahead with ‘real’ life…

But then…

Gibson.

Not a tsunami. Not a thunderclap.

Rather, an insidious invasion.

Innocent channel surfing. Hmmm…nice voice…easy on the eyes, too…this guy’s fun to watch. I put the remote down, unaware of the treacherous terrain I’ve entered. Like Little Red Riding Hood, flitting from butterfly to butterfly, I am drawn, episode by episode, along a path the destination of which I would never have chosen.

I begin to pay attention to more than physical attributes. The multifaceted character, a dark and stoic FBI agent, lures me in.

But I’m not a fangirl.

It’s just an intriguing depiction by a talented actor. It’s subtle with twists and turns that begin to fascinate. More. Want more.

So, being a writer, I frown when a television show’s plots don’t reveal enough or go far enough. In the back of my mind, as I’m otherwise engaged, idle musings begin to form. Next thing I know, I’m writing my own tales of Hotchner. I discover a place that wants them. Fanfic. With trepidation, I enter.

But I’m not a fangirl.

It’s just fun to have a place to write where editors and publishers aren’t staring down your neck, picking at every word. It’s freedom from having to compromise and capitulate. I can write my heart out without censor. And that’s where the devious, dark Hotchner makes his sly entre into my literary soul.

But I’m not a fangirl.

Fast-forward.

Three years later, this fictional character has become my guilty, secretive hobby. Someone who sits on my shoulder and whispers scenes and dialogue; who opens himself up to endless, psychological investigation. Someone with whom I now look forward to spending time.

And then, he’s gone.

With guillotine swiftness and scalpel-keen incisions, he’s gone.

I am bereft, blinking in the sudden glare of reality when I wanted to continue, feeding off of the tragic shadows that surrounded the Hotchner. The tremor that quakes through my peripheral, little world starts small, then spreads. I sit at my keyboard with nothing to say. The blood has drained from my writer’s brain. Somehow, some-when, Gibson’s portrayal snagged me and infiltrated my carefully cool psyche; his departure not only crippling my hobby, but my capacity to write at all.

I realize I’m in mourning. I realize…

Oh, crap. I’m a fangirl.

Worse…I’m a fangirl grieving for a character I didn’t know had taken control of a sub-level of my mind.

Damn you, Gibson, you magnificent bastard…how the hell did you manage that?

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Just bitchin'

The Stupidity of Terrorism

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I awoke to the headlines like the rest of the world.

Another terrorist attack.

Another hostage situation.

Another bevy of sociopaths masquerading under the guise of religious piety.

Poor Bangladesh.

But this time I read deeper. I looked at Facebook pages of some of the victims. I read through as many eye-witness accounts of survivors as I could find. I spent a little time, though not as much as such an atrocity deserves. At least, not if one wishes to honor the victims. As for the instigators, they are less than nothing in my estimation. They deserve only contempt.

Because they’re stupid.

Yes, it is possible to terrorize individuals, but this whole campaign started out as a quest to terrorize the entire world. The goal was to make the planet cower and quake in submission.

You fucking morons. Haven’t you realized yet that the terror of people is not the same as the terror of countries?

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Are you so dumb that you haven’t yet seen the equation? Well, let me spell it out for you. Every time you run shrieking Allah and firing guns and blowing yourselves up, it’s like stinging a very large grizzly bear. The bulk of the animal will survive. Not only that, it will exhibit extreme fury. It will turn on what stung it, and rend it.

Terror  x  50  =  Rage  x  Billions

Terrorists are short-sighted sadists. This time around they took pleasure in torturing their hostages by requiring they recite from the Koran. If you couldn’t do it, you were killed. That’s a very particular kind of sick cruelty. Very inefficient. Very risky. It proves nothing other than these sociopaths wished to spend their last moments of life engaged in misguided brutality.

And they’re too dim-witted to realize that, in the bigger picture, their antics produce anger, not fear.

Because the rest of the world knows that each life, each spirit, is a gift. Each murder is the theft of potential.

This is not a Christian concept. It’s a human one.

It’s easy to grasp, unless you’re mind-numbingly stupid. You know…

…like a terrorist.

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