Happiness

Happiness

“You got to pay your dues

If you want to sing the blues

And you know it don’t come easy.”

Ringo Starr, 1971

The photo below is courtesy of bestplacesin.com

 

 

Five years ago, I read the book, Wokini – Your Personal Journey to Happiness and Self-Understanding by Billy Mills with Nicholas Sparks (1990, Feather Publishing Company, Fair Oaks, CA USA, approx. 140 pages, paperbound).  Wokini from the Lakota language means new life, a life of peace and happiness.

In this essay, we present in brief summary form some of the highlights from this very insightful book.  Many of the points below are from our notes to a journal at the time.  (This is the kind of used paperback you can find in used bookstores, or even in thrift shops or at garage sales.  What a gem of a find.)

The author, Billy Mills, is an Olympic gold medalist (10,000 metre run at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics).  He is also a Native American, and was raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

Here are some of the tips for happiness from the book (paraphrased for brevity).

Try to be constructive at all times (easier said than done).  Don’t let small inconveniences upset you.

1. Laugh

2. Don’t be a perfectionist.

3. Count your blessings

4. Help others (when possible)

5. Adjust to life accordingly (dove tails with #2)

6. Set realistic goals (key word is realistic)

7. Live each day is if it is your last

I would add to this list: take pleasure in (& appreciate) simple things like the smile of a friend, a nice sunset (or sunrise), a flower in bloom, a nice song or piece of music, the flight of a bird, a rainbow, a cup of tea or hot cocoa, etc.

Keep in mind that nothing is perfect, nothing lasts, and nothing is finished.  Life is a process (an ongoing, continuous process).  These last 2 sentences are worth re-reading several times.  The journey is more important than the destination!

Let’s quote from pages 57 and 58 (emphasis in original):

WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER FEEL DESPAIR

Feeling despair or unhappiness:

Makes you feel anger, loneliness, and resentment.

Can’t solve your problems, and in fact stops you from solving them.

Often creates new problems.

Limits friendships with other people.

Has no positive benefits.

Will eventually destroy your life.

AND MOST OF ALL, YOU DON’T HAVE TO FEEL DESPAIR!  LIKE HAPPINESS, IT’S ALL UP TO YOU!

now for page 58 ….

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO BE HAPPY

When you are happy:

You feel good.  You feel joy, peace, cheer and contentment. …….

People enjoy being around you. …….

Your life is improved physically.

You can more easily solve any problems which may arise. ……..

end of quotes

Happiness is a state of mind.

Try to make sure that you never let some person(s), or some event, push you, rush you into a major decision or major commitment.  Hurried decisions are often less than optimal ones.  (That can be seen in hindsight.  But, we need to be more proactive, more ahead of the curve.)

The only moment we have is the present one.  And that is the only time we can live in.

By the way, my own “philosophy” (which, unfortunately, I often fail to live by or up to) is learn from the past, plan for the future, but remember to live in the present.  In other words, take life one day at a time.

The trick is (as in Zen) to be immersed in life, be in the present moment fully, yet still maintain a level of detachment so that you are not tripped up by the deceitful, selfish, people (or the unforeseen bad events) you encounter along the way.

“Easier said than done.”  Try to not let events, obstacles, and external pressures disturb or overwhelm your inner equilibrium.  Otherwise, you may make short sighted, non-rational, impulsive decisions.  We cannot choose what befalls us in this difficult world, but we can choose how we react to, and how we cope with, life’s challenges and problems.  (Do not be discouraged.  This takes much effort and practice.)

In a sense, we are our experiences.  And, we are not separate from our environment.  We learn and grow from our experiences (even from the painful ones).

We must not accept being passive onlookers to life.  Man is too self conscious.  We can choose to love life fully by staying fully focused on the present moment such that we are open to all it can offer to us.

Put aside worries of the future, and regrets of the past.  Do not let worries or regrets rob you of the present moment!!

Let out the built up frustrations through some healthy exercise.  Run, walk briskly, shoot baskets, swim, or pump iron.

Hopefully, these insights may be a help to you on your life’s journey.

This next and last image is from journeysofthespirit.com

 

 

Best wishes to all.

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Collective Apathy: Do you demoralise people when you de-moralize them?

Collective Apathy: Do you demoralise people when you de-moralize them?

Is people’s morale, for fighting and sacrificing for higher ideals and goals, lost or greatly impaired when they lose their moral compass by practicing raw hedonism, materialism, and consumerism?

We now actually have some historical perspective on this question, which is not an idle one.  We’ve had 45 to 50 years now of “sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll” in these United States.  (I won’t bore, nor possibly depress you with the deteriorating social statistics for that same time period; such as for violent crime, recreational drug use, divorce, out-of-wedlock births, teenage pregnancy, etc, etc.  If you are interested in these, you can research them online for yourself.)

Why the (current) indifference on the part of so many in our country to all the problems and pressing issues around them?  We see this indifference take many forms.  It is reflected in the fact of low voter registration and low voter turnout in elections.  In another facet, it is shown by the excessive emphasis, or paramount importance, in many people’s minds of one issue or another to the exclusion of all other serious issues and challenges facing us (you could call this the selfish tunnel vision of the special interest type voter or activist).

When people lose their personal moral bearings by engaging in, and ordering their lives for, the pursuit of raw hedonism, materialism, and consumerism, their horizon (or perspective) shrinks considerably.  It is no longer easy for them to see the bigger picture and look two or three steps down the road by taking a longer term view of events around them.  This is not really surprising when one considers that for too many individuals (in our society) the pressing issue(s) in their lives are when are they going to the next drug party to get high and/or drunk, and when will they commence their next sexual adventure with a new partner.

This is not just true of the young, who naturally tend to a certain recklessness in any society, but is also true of many people much older in all walks of life in our country.  We have accepted this (hedonism) and hence encouraged it.

Why the apathy?

Just food for thought.

(I am not trained in psychiatry, but that does not prevent a person from engaging in social criticism, and observing that our collective mental state is not the most healthy.)

Thank you for reading and for thinking about this.

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sometimes it is the little things that push you over the edge

sometimes it is the little things that push you over the edge

Greetings!

We sometimes endure the big frustrations, the large disappointments, the less frequent major losses and setbacks better than we deal with the small nagging, ongoing, every day irritations.  At least, that has been true for me over the years.  Life throws so much at us each and every day that there can be a constant undercurrent of frustration in our lives.

It is the seemingly never ending, nagging little things that can serve to wear a person down, and make him/her frustrated or irritable or, for some, despondent and depressed. One morning too often you wake up with a headache (we are not referring to being “hung over” from a night of drinking), for the umpteenth time you are late for work because of public transit delays, you are stuck in very bad traffic at a time when the roads are not usually slow going, your boss bullies you for the hundredth time, your teenage child gives vent to his or her rebellious adolescent nature and tells you off over a minor issue, your spouse disrespects you in the same irksome way that he/she has done so for years, etc.

The strange thing about the so-called little things – and in the grand scheme of things these often are petty nuisances – is that they can have a cumulative effect on you, even if/when you are not fully conscious of this effect.  This may be why some people “blow up” over seemingly or relatively minor inconveniences.  It can be the case of the “last straw” that breaks the camel’s back.  (After one too many minor auto accidents because of snow and ice on the roads, many folks have said “to hell with it”, and moved to regions with less severe winters.)  As well, these ongoing minor pains remind us that we do not, actually cannot, have complete control over our lives and over what happens to us.  This is rather humbling.

Perhaps one approach to the annoying minor pains is to each day make the conscious effort to let go of them.  Positive affirmations may help here.  One could say to one’s self: “This is not worth getting upset over.  Who cares?” or something like: “I choose not to let this miserable wretch get under my skin.  He (or she) is the one with the problem.”  Of course, at first, you may not notice much effect from these affirmations, but just the fact that you are consciously stepping out of an annoying situation and seeing it for what it is gives you the option of choosing not to let it upset you.  To be sure, this is easier said than done!  But, it may help.

Previously, we wrote an essay on bullying.  But we need to mention bullying and badgering of others here.  This type of behavior is very prevalent, sorry to say.  Who has not known or had a boss, one or more co-workers, or a spouse, a family member, an in-law, etc. that engaged in bullying and badgering type behavior?  Perhaps this behavior was directed at you, or someone you knew.  The bullying is done to make you feel bad about yourself or to punish you.  The badgering is done to weaken your resistance so that you can be manipulated more easily, or to provoke you so that the bully has a “justification” for abusing you even more.  Over the years, I have become weary (at a very deep level) of being on the receiving end of this behavior.  Bullying and badgering are indicative of a psychologically and emotionally disturbed person.  Have you heard the term “psychic vampire”?  Such a parasite sucks/drains your energy away from you to feed his or her twisted hunger.  (A parasitic relationship is always a zero sum game, or a lose-win, if you prefer.)

We cannot, in good conscience, advise you to ignore such abusive and needless behavior.  If you are capable of ignoring it, you still do not have to put up with such abuse.  One thing to consider is that most bullies are cowards.  They enjoy victimizing the easy targets, those they think of as weak and vulnerable, as easy prey.  Just giving them a reality check early on can help to reduce this abusive behavior.  Let them know that you know they are bullying and badgering you.  Yes, use those very words.  If you have an employer, supervisor (aka boss) that does this to you (or has been showing a nasty disposition), you can try another approach.  Speak to them in their office with the door closed to keep the conversation private.  Politely ask them if they are going through a tough time. Alternatively, ask them what is bothering them.  If they respond in turn with the question “Why do you ask?” (or “What makes you say that?”) – that is your opening.  You can tailor your reply as appropriate to your individual boss.  But, you could say “I ask this because for the past few days (or weeks) you have been coming across to me and others as a bully in how you interact with us in this department.  This is not helping the team players here to work more effectively.” Something like that.  Expect he or she to get defensive and try to turn things around on you.  However, you have let him or her know that you are on to him/her, you see their abusive, degrading behavior for what it is.  He/she may think twice before victimizing you again.  You do not have to endure a hostile work environment because of one maladjusted individual.  And, companies are more aware of this and more concerned than in decades past.  The obnoxious boss will be replaced if it is clear that the work group is unhappy and people are leaving the company.  Bosses, some of them at least, can be real pains.

more thoughts on suffering

In addition to death and taxes, everyone has some suffering dealt to them during their lives.  (As well, we sometimes inflict suffering on ourselves by engaging in self-destructive patterns of behavior.)  Suffering is part of the human condition.  Every child knows this after her/his first tummy ache or tooth ache or ear infection.  Infants cry frequently from various discomforts.  The body that can enjoy the sight of a sunset, and the taste of delicious meals, and experiences the fragrance of spring time flowers, that delights in the harmonic sounds of good music, and as an adult, can thrill to the pleasant sense stimulation during intense sex, can also experience many pains and aches (recurrent head aches, chronic digestive disorders, allergies, etc.).  The more highly attenuated and sensitive sense receptors of our bodies make for a 2 edged sword, so to speak.  (Alan Watts (1915 – 1973) observed this in one of his many books.)  It is difficult for the spirit soul – which is of a transcendental nature – to be encased, really imprisoned, in the nagging flesh.

But, not all suffering is physical!  There is much emotional, mental, and psychological anguish and pain in life.  At each phase or stage of life, there are frustrations and disappointments.  The problems and challenges are different at the various stages, yes, but the one constant is that there are obstacles, and painful experiences to be dealt with and lived through.  In the modern world, we may have reduced or alleviated to a degree some of the physical pain that has plagued mankind since the beginning, but we now have more mental stress and more mental and psychological pressures to face and endure and live with.  Truly, the constraints of the human condition are onerous.  One, upon reaching old age, might wonder just how he/she got through life after so many years of struggles.

What can a person do?  You know you will not be free from painful, stressful incidents as you go through life.  You are not free to avoid all suffering.  It simply is not possible.  But, you are free in how you choose to react to the pressures and the many, diverse stressors in life.

Here, I must be careful, dear readers.  I may have been somewhat helpful in my advice for others.  However, it seems that I rarely take my own advice.  I suggest to people not to use excessive force, nor try too hard.  Then, I later on fall victim to tiring of not getting successful results and become frustrated which then leads to anger, and bam! I use excessive force causing injury (usually to myself) and/or damage (and not always physical injury/damage, as you can do serious injury or damage to a personal relationship when you act from anger and frustration).

Do not expect nor demand a perfect life.  That is not realistic.  Try to maintain a broader and more mature perspective towards the painful experiences along the way.  With time, these will be behind you and there will be better times in the future.  Others have endured even worse suffering!  Actually, suffering can open your mind to being more sympathetic and empathetic towards the suffering of others.  Count your blessings.  Emphasize the positive.  Work at relieving the stresses.  Meditate, express yourself through art, take a walk, share some special moments with someone you love (And be loving!  Loving people are healthier people, both physically and emotionally healthy.), laugh more(!), enjoy the little things as you can (if the evening bus is stuck in traffic, look out the window, you may just be treated to glimpses of a nice sunset). Exercise. Listen to soothing music.   You get the idea.  Please do not turn to drugs and/or excessive use (or abuse) of alcohol in an attempt to anesthetize yourself to the pain.

For me, one proof of God’s mercy is that we do not have to live in this fallen, hellish world for more than several decades.  (We touched on this issue of lifespan in an earlier essay some months back.)  If the human lifespan were several centuries rather than several decades long, it would be terribly depressing.  So, do not despair.  You will not have to endure the pains of the human condition for centuries, but merely for decades.

Best wishes to all in your ongoing life’s struggles.  Do not despair.  Try to live constructively.

The below photo is of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge and was taken while driving west into San Francisco.  The eastbound traffic is on the lower deck underneath this westbound section.  The more famous Golden Gate Bridge can be seen (in the distance) from here if one were to look to the far right through the side window, provided their car is not too low to the roadway.

Bay Bridge driving into SF

We will be dispatching our blog’s photographer to east Asia late in May for a fortnight. Hopefully, she will take many good pics for photo essays in June.  In the meantime, we will blog on as/when the mood takes us.

Copyright 2014 – larrysmusings.com.

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it is society’s fault

it is society’s fault

Greetings!

We have heard the lamentation by various commentators “That it is society’s fault.”  This is used, at times, to try to explain away crimes or criminal behavior.  As well, it can be used to rationalize one’s apathy or indifference to injustices around us.  Let’s explore this a little in this essay.

 

fruit

 

Being a believer in personal responsibility, I scoffed at this phrase – “It is society’s fault.” – when I first heard it a few years ago.  It turns out there is some truth to it.  For example, the US is currently being governed by dangerous psychopaths in Washington.  We, the American people, put these miscreants into power.  Even for those who voted for a “lesser of two evils” in recent elections, I say you still voted for an evil.  Thus, there really is some collective guilt for the American people in this sense.

What about the Muslim immigrant to Europe who assaults and rapes a woman or a girl? (This is happening every day throughout Europe.)  Yes, it is society’s fault that Muslims are allowed to immigrate into Europe.  Yes, it is a segment of society that is responsible for women not being protected and safe in Europe from sexual assault.  That segment responsible is the European men.  What is wrong with European men these days?  If someone were threatening my wife or even a female neighbor, I would be moved to quick actions to defend and protect her.  At the societal level, why do not Europeans, en masse, call for an end to Muslim immigration?  You certainly do not need such immigration as you have millions of your own citizens unemployed right now!  Oh, I see.  When Europeans have spoken out against immigration, these people have been smeared as “Nazis” or “fascists”, etc.  The bitter fruits of leftist thinking.

As to personal, individual responsibility, the Muslim assailant is responsible.  Some Muslims youths charged for their abominable crimes have claimed that they did not know it was wrong to rape.  Can you believe that?!  I do not make this stuff up.  What does that tell you about Muslims and their “religion”?  They can do as they please as regards “infidels”.

Now, let’s bring this closer to home for each of us as individuals.  (Atheists and agnostics need read no further.)  If you believe that we as individuals will be held accountable for our actions (sins of commission) and for our failures to act (sins of omission), then consider the possibility of asserting, as a personal defense, “that it is society’s fault” on judgment day.

Yet, we are a part of that “society”!  When we choose to turn a blind eye to injustices around us, then we are guilty of failing to help our fellow human beings.  When we make no serious effort to stop the injustices, and make no effort to help innocent victims, we are guilty.  For society to change, we as individuals have to make the effort and the personal sacrifices to move it to change.  What we call “society” is the collective aggregate of all of our actions and inactions.  Think about that.  Make the effort to overcome your personal inertia and personal apathy.  You can make a positive difference in the lives of those around you.  Start a ripple effect.  We so desperately need more individual citizens to start caring and start acting in a constructive manner.  We can reach the “hundredth monkey” point, the inflection or tipping point, and then “society” will change for the better.

Question political correctness.  Seek the truth.  And, reject leftist fantasies and hypocrisy.

copyright 2014 – larrysmusings.com

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book review of Primetime Propaganda

book review of Primetime Propaganda

In this essay, we play the role of social critic.  Reader discretion is advised.

We recently perused the book, Primetime PropagandaThe True Hollywood Story of How The Left Took Over Your TV, written by Ben Shapiro, 2011, Broadside Books (an imprint of Harper Collins publishers), 394 pages including appendix, notes and index.

The author makes 2 main points in his book, and we will address these at length.  1. Hollywood and the US television industry have a liberal bias and promote a liberal (leftist) agenda on the major issues of the day.  2.  Many of the key players (writers, producers, directors, executives) are Jews.  As the author is Jewish, he can expose this and not be labelled as “anti-Semitic” – although he leaves himself open to being smeared as a “self-hating Jew”, whatever that means.  But there are other subsidiary questions raised in the book.  Let us note these as well.  Near the end of this essay, we will share some specific quotes from the book that are relevant.

the liberal bias

The author traces the history of television programming in the US from the 1950s to the present time.  Please note that Mr. Shapiro actually interviewed many Hollywood insiders in the few years preceding publication of his book.  Therefore, the reader gets a glimpse into the thinking of these insiders from their own words.  In these personal interviews, many of these Hollywood insiders admit their bias and some admit that they have a liberal agenda to promote or push in the programs they write and/or produce.  Such agendas are often contrary to traditional values.

A little historical context is needed here.  After the debacle of 1968, the communists and radicals that presidents Truman and JFK had run out of the Democratic Party returned now calling themselves “liberals”.  Television executives and writers opportunistically exploited the situation in the US, mainly the widespread opposition to the war in Vietnam. Programming began to include more treatment of various political or social issues.  Prior to the late 1960s, television had only really weighed in on racism and civil rights in the US. The television industry was correct in condemning racism and supporting civil rights.

Mr. Shapiro’s principal complaint is that most social, or cultural issues that are treated in television, especially in the evening “prime time” programming, are not presented in a balanced way.  If these issues are treated in a balanced manner, such treatment is very rare.  (These elites do not want diversity in people’s thinking.)  There is the presentation of all the major societal issues (since the 1960s to today) from a liberal viewpoint.  The author cites many examples of one-sided presentations or treatments of various “controversial” issues in many different television series of various networks from the 1970s to the present.

The trivialization of sex and related issues is not good for children.  Since the early 1970s, there has been more sex on US television.  Much of this is implied or via innuendo, but now more of it is near explicit to explicit in a rather “soft-core” style.  The author notes how the TV execs and producers kept pushing the limits of what they could “get away” with.  While the government strove (in the 1970s) to reduce violence on television, it allowed more sex on the home TV screen.  (Per the author, studies have shown that childhood exposure to sex on TV is more harmful to children than exposure to violence on TV.)

I think it tells a lot about us (Americans) as a people when you consider so many of our movies (our “entertainment”) are filled with violence and sex.  Perhaps, these movies and television programs merely reflect a violent, promiscuous (and/or sexually frustrated) society.  But all this exposure to violence and sex from early childhood can serve to make children and adolescents callous to the seriousness of sex and too accepting of, or indifferent to, violent behavior in society.

The author expresses, near the end of the book, optimism that Hollywood can reform itself, and present issues in a more balanced manner.  He assumes the basic “goodness” of the liberals in the industry based on his personal interviews of many of these folks.  Only time will tell, but it is hard to share this optimism.  Why should these folks change?  There are no serious pressures nor incentives for them to do so.

other relevant questions

Larger questions are raised by this book either explicitly or implicitly.

Is the programming (and the changes over time therein) on US television merely reflecting the changes that have occurred in society?  Or, is the programming serving to reinforce and further those societal changes in mores, attitudes and behavior?

The question, perhaps not articulated early on, is what is the proper purpose of TV?  Is its purpose to inform and/or entertain?  Or, is the purpose to indoctrinate, at times subtly?

Or, looked at slightly differently:  Is television in the US entertaining and informing the public or is a certain, subtle or not so subtle indoctrination or “re-education” going on?

Should we expect balanced treatment and fair and honest presentations of the various positions on the hot issues of our time?

Do we (in the consuming public) want a very liberal elite to be stifling open, balanced debate of serious societal issues?

the Jewish factor

Dear readers, we do not believe that any group in society ought to be above legitimate criticism.  We have in earlier essays criticized the Communist Chinese (as a major threat to world peace), US doctors (for their abysmal ignorance and their refusal to admit errors), some Christians (for their cherry picking of Bible verses to legitimate their choices and actions that are often not moral), Muslims (for their wanton, blood thirsty violence across the world), radical feminists (for the destructive excesses of radical feminism), and US blacks (for their slavish support of President Barack Obama who has done nothing constructive for them, and for their own racism).  And, we could criticize those white southerners who are still fighting the Civil War (or the War Between the States, or the War of Northern Aggression, if you prefer).  As well, we have taken on Christian Zionists and Talmudic Jews before, in a lengthy essay in October, 2012.  No doubt some readers may consider us as “racist” and/or “anti-Semitic”.  However, name calling or ad hominem attacks only serve to stifle free and open debate.  The blogosphere is, after all, a marketplace of ideas.  Enough said.

One could view this book as a catalog of Jewish producers, writers, executives, etc. within the US television industry during the past 60 years.  I had to put the book down at one point having read of so many individuals the author identifies as Jews.  One after another after another being identified as “a Jewish kid  . . . . “.  It was becoming tiresome to read of this continuing litany of Jewish individuals with their respective axes to grind.  One thing to note is that I was surprised to find out that some outspoken and politically active actors and actresses on TV were Jews that I had not known to be Jews.

Why the author’s seeming obsession with identifying so many key players in Hollywood and the television industry as being Jewish?  I think that it is an attempt to account for the liberal bias in the industry.  Basically, from the book, the industry is pretty much run by liberal Jews and they decide what content gets in to the programming.  They decide how major social and/or political issues are presented on television.

A note of clarification is appropriate here.  Many ethnic Jews, raised in an atheist or agnostic home, who do not have nor share what many would call “traditional values” are called “non-Jewish” Jews by more religiously minded Jews.  (Another perplexing issue: “religiously minded Jews”.  Many Orthodox rabbis are fighting, in the current culture war in the US, for a return to traditional family values and are opposed to the destructive licentiousness that has gripped US society since the 1960s.  However, those rabbis who are immersed in the extremely chauvinistic writings of the Talmud are another issue all together.)  These secular Jews are thus not religious Jews and cannot be expected to promote religious or traditional values.

(Now, there are conservative Jews in the media in the US.  One thinks of 2 widely known radio talk show hosts, Mark Levin and Michael Savage – both of whom are conservative (both are social and political conservatives), and both men are Jews.  Ben Stein is a conservative in Hollywood.  (We heard Mr. Stein speak on a conservative cause at a dinner in the late 1990s in Oakland, California.)  David Horowitz, a former 1960s leftist, has been for many years a conservative writer and speaker (after his rejection of leftist ideology in the mid 1970s).  Horowitz is very critical of the Left, and of academia in the US.)

These liberal Jews of the television industry have undeniably contributed to altering or transforming the social fabric, the values and mores of society during the past 5 decades. Depending on your personal point of view, what they have helped to bring about is either “progressive” or “regressive”.

But, we can put this into an even broader context.  The sad fact is that Jewish liberals or radicals have tended to be more aggressive in pushing their agenda.  Many Jewish individuals are driven to want to transform society.  But, these individuals are not guided by traditional moral values.  They do not seek to reform society in an effort to curb abuses or social ills, but rather want revolutionary change.  They are social revolutionaries, not social reformers.  Equity feminism, which is a good thing, got hijacked in the 1960s by a few radical Jews, and now it is radical feminism which fosters antagonisms between the sexes. One thinks of 3 radical judicial activists currently on the US Supreme Court (Ginsburg, Breyer and Kagan).  There are 3 strident, very aggressive US senators who seek radical change to our society and the gutting of the Bill of Rights (Schumer of New York, and Feinstein and Boxer of California).  A little known fact, as it is not in the standard history texts in the high schools and the colleges, is that the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia was largely a Jewish affair.  Not every Russian Jew was a communist, but the vast majority of communist leaders and agitators were ethnic Jews.  (The same was true of the communists in Weimar Germany in the 1920s and very early 1930s.)  And, much of the top leadership in the first 25 years of the Soviet Union was Jewish (including of its security services).

So, what are we to conclude from all this?  What can we do?

The main thing to be aware of is that we cannot expect traditional values to be portrayed positively, or at all, in television programming given that the individuals who control and manage the television industry do not share those values.

For those who believe that society would suffer less social ills if more individuals lived more responsibly (as in personal responsibility), you may want to counter these messages on the TV that your children are exposed to.

Americans do spend too much of their free time watching TV.  As Mr. Shapiro notes, TV for many acts as a desensitizing narcotic.  Watching less television is an option many never seriously think about.  But, you can opt out.  (For the past 12 or so years, I have not watched much television, and have more time for other activities/interests.)

Parents may want to monitor what their children watch and make adjustments where necessary as to appropriate programming.  There is too much illicit sex (implied or explicit) in much of the programming on TV.  And, younger viewers are especially vulnerable as sex is often trivialized in its potential and real consequences.  Talk to your children about values at appropriate ages as they are growing up.  Do not let the popular culture and television form or unduly influence the formation of their values.  As well, peer pressure can be effectively countered as children still look to their parents hoping for parental concern and guidance (even if they do not say so)!

relevant quotes from the text

From the prologue, pages XI to XII:

“It hit me that I was watching the culture being changed before my eyes.  These weren’t just television episodes – they were pieces of small-scale, insidiously brilliant leftist propaganda.

And they weren’t merely anecdotal incidents.  . . . .

The overwhelming leftism of American television was too universal to be merely coincidence.  It had to be the product of a concerted effort, a system designed to function as an ideological strainer through which conservatism simply could not pass.  And the more I investigated, the more I saw that Hollywood was just that: a carefully constructed mechanism designed by television’s honchos to blow a hole in the dike of American culture. . . . . “

From pages 3 to 4 in the introductory chapter:

“At the same time, many of these artists were cultural outsiders in their original small-town communities and therefore rejected the values of mainstream society as a defense. This is to some extent the nature of the artistic beast: Artists of all sorts consistently engage in the self-aggrandizing “outsider” delusion that their job is to “speak truth to power.”  The result is a liberalism that continually attacks the prevailing power structure.

. . . . For today’s artists, however, it’s not just about rejecting the status quo – it’s about shock value in toto.  It’s not enough to reject society – they must forcibly enlighten the society that rejected them.  They do this by shocking middle-class sensibilities.  . . . . . But shocking the public is no longer merely an incidental hallmark of liberalism – it is the dominant goal for the television left.  . . . . “

From page 6 of the introductory chapter:

“Based on the testimony of hundreds of writers, producers, actors and television executives – the most important figures in television over the last 60 years – it is abundantly clear that television has evolved from a medium for entertainment and advertising into a funnel for socially liberal messages.  It is controlled by a small coterie of largely like-minded executives who are geared to pleasing a like-minded cadre of advertisers who seek to cater to a like-minded corps of consumers.  Content is provided by a like-minded clique of creative artists who have generally studied under like-minded mentors and interact with like-minded colleagues.  . . . . Almost all of them think alike, too.  . . . .  The political and ideological purity in the television industry is almost awe-inspiring.  Hollywood, in the cultural and democratic sense, is no longer American.”

Seems there is not much diversity of thought in the television and movie industry.

From page 7 of the introductory chapter:

“Meanwhile, I would encourage liberal readers to focus on the broader point of my critique: the television industry is completely dominated by liberals, as even most liberals agree, including the television figures I interviewed.  Many will admit that their liberal values seep into their work – and some openly boast of it.  . . . . “

From page 14:

” . . . . Since the very outset, many of television’s power brokers have seen their mission as something larger than pure entertainment: they’ve seen it as promulgation of “progressive” social values.  . . . .  And so they began to push the envelope of culture, consciously or unconsciously, trying to open and liberalize the American audience just a bit at a time.

Because they were crusaders who thought alike, they hired alike.”

From page 25:

“Liberalism remained a subtle phenomenon on television in the late 1950s and early 1960s, but it was there.  Hollywood types pushed consensus issues ranging from racial tolerance to a more overt role of government in the economy; all of it was relatively uncontroversial.  As the decade progressed, however, television leftists began to embrace more subversive and dangerous politics.  Where the liberalism of the 1950s had aspired to a better world, 1960s liberalism sought to set the world aflame, tearing down the status quo through vulgarity and shock value.”

It is rather surprising what we have come to accept as the norm in American society in just the past few decades, or more accurately, the past 45 years or so.

From pages 32 and 33:

“The Vietnam War burst the dam wide open.

. . . .

On a societal level, this disenchantment with America’s military foray combined with the sexual revolution, the civil rights movement, the drug subculture, and the growing socialist movement on college campuses to form a powerful counterculture.  Early on, television contributed to the counterculture in relatively minor ways . . . . But once television picked up the current of the counterculture, it elevated it to new heights in the public consciousness; the honchos on television realized that for the first time, the counterculture had an element that received majority approval – namely, opposition to the Vietnam War – and they capitalized.”

From page 281:

“In the beginning, members of the television industry had a thoroughly contrarian view toward government.  They wanted as little of it as possible.  They wanted to be left alone to pursue their profit making.  They objected to governmental regulation.  But as the industry matured – as the honchos began to protect their territory – they began to realize that governmental relations could benefit them.  The networks, the creators, the producers all began to work hand in glove with the government and  government officials.  Instead of the industry being purely capitalist, it became corporatist.

. . . .

Liberals in Hollywood support liberal interest groups who support liberals in government. That’s because Hollywood is being paid off by the government on a regular basis, as we’ll explore next.”

 

flower tea cup 2

 

The above tea cup is older than I am.  It is rather delicate or fragile.

Copyright 2014 – larrysmusings.com.

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some thoughts on the achievements and contributions of gays

some thoughts on the achievements and contributions of gays

 

dessert new

 

We had heard some years back that Michelangelo may have been gay.  As well, there were no doubt some artists, philosophers, writers, scientists, doctors, political leaders, military officers, inventors, athletes, etc. in the past who were gay.  Today, there are gays in virtually all walks of life.

The question that comes to mind here is:  Would these same individuals have made their contributions – achieved what they did – if they were not, or had not been, gay?

Or, put differently:  Were these specific achievements (and contributions) only possible because the individuals were gay?

My opinion is that the achievements and contributions of individuals who were, or are, gay, were made by these individuals independent of their sexuality.  In other words, these people would have made their contributions even if they had not been gay.

Does being gay confer special talents (or special abilities) on individuals?

(We recognize the need for role models within the gay community.  But, that is not relevant to our questions.)

I have never been a fan of identity politics.  I am not gay.  But, if I were gay, would I think differently on this issue (of the achievements and contributions of individuals who were/are gay)?  Would I have to think differently about it (because of the demands of identity politics)?

Just food for thought.

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the 2 sides of the coin of justice and the lack of justice in this world

the 2 sides of the coin of justice and the lack of justice in this world

The police in New York City

They chased a boy right through the park

In a case of mistaken identity

They put a bullet through his heart

(from the song, Heartbreaker, 1973, The Rolling Stones)

Whether referring to a real or an imagined incident, these words tell of injustice.

 

lotus

 

Often, the first thing that comes into our minds when we hear the term justice is punishment for bad actions, or for the people who commit terrible deeds.  Yet, that is only one of the 2 sides of the coin of justice.  The other side is some type of recompense for the wronged, for the injured.  The making whole of those harmed is sometimes over looked. And, of course, for some – the dead – recompense is not possible, at least not in this world.

We see everyday much injustice around us.  As well, the news media day after day informs us of injustices, terrible crimes, and tragedies occurring throughout the world.  It is no exaggeration to say that every second of every day has some injustice, some pain, some hurt for someone somewhere in this world of 7 billion souls.

Aside from the suffering inherent in the human condition, much suffering and injustice is inflicted by people on each other.  This is true at the individual level of human interaction and at the collective level of society and the interactions among nation states.

Why?  Why so much injustice?  Or, rather, why is there not more justice in this world? These questions are not new.  As injustice and tragedy have always existed, so too these questions, or similar ones, have entered people’s minds in every generation.

In the Vedic philosophy or religion of India, karma, the inexorable law, is used to explain what befalls us during our time on Earth.   Justice is achieved through the operation of this law (that was set in motion by God). There is a certain logic to this law of karma, at least at the conceptual level.  We addressed this concept of karma previously in the essay “the law of karma in question” (April, 2013).  In that essay, we asked if this karmic explanation (or rationalization?) is plausible, or satisfying, given that many people who suffer terribly throughout their lives do not give much evidence of being malicious or evil individuals.  (For those who believe in reincarnation, is it likely that a person’s disposition, or moral character, would change by 180 degrees from the immediate previous life to the current lifetime?)  For some, it may appear that this concept of karma is akin to blaming the victim(s), and is thus not very persuasive, nor comforting.

Before proceeding with our main thesis, let us note just a few current injustices around us.

One wonders about those whose last act is to commit mass murder (suicide bombers, terrorists) and who expect that they will then be welcomed into some type of paradise state after doing so.  Similarly, gruesome atrocities are being committed today in Syria and elsewhere by murderous fanatics.  Injustices done and no justice to be found.

What about the injustice done to children (and to their mothers) when their father abandons them, before or after they are born?  Today, in the US, this abandoning children and their mothers is at epidemic levels, especially in the black communities across the nation.  What a terrible disadvantage (both economic and emotional) these children are at throughout their entire childhood.  Many of these children are scarred for life.  Again, injustices done and little or no justice to be seen.

What of those in positions of power who either recklessly or wantonly abuse their authority?  Consider the current Chief Justice of the United States, John Roberts.  In a 5 to 4 decision in late June, 2012, he attempts to rewrite the law (The Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obama Care”) so as to make the law pass the test of constitutionality.  (That is not the job of the justices.  The law as passed by Congress and signed by the President is to be tested.  If the law fails the Constitutional test, it is to be struck down, and the Congress can then revisit the issue and draft a new law that does not violate the Constitution.)  I bring this up because so much hardship and suffering is being experienced now by many millions of Americans because of the so-called Affordable Care Act.  John Roberts is responsible for this injustice inflicted on the American people every bit as much as the politicos in Congress who voted for this law.  Injustice, on a massive scale, without any justice or remedial actions, at least not to date.

Some people will choose not to believe in God because of this lack of justice in this world – but, I think that is a mistake.  Yes, the grievous lack of justice and the fact that much terrible suffering comes to good people does seriously strain one’s faith in God, at times. For some, it is not their belief in God (in His existence) that is weakened or threatened, but rather their faith in the goodness of God, and/or their hope that we as human beings matter in the eyes of God that can be weakened.

(One thing we have observed over the course of our lives is that people have a need to believe in something.  And, people often believe what they want to believe.  Even the atheist believes in his nullity.  The ardent Marxist fervently believes in dialectical materialism.  Some people may believe that this world is a level of Hell.)

With all that is allowed to go on in this world, one may ask:  Does God not care about the injustices?  Some may go further and ask: Are we just play things to God?  Is all this injustice and suffering we see and experience just part of an ongoing entertainment for God?  (If we were polytheists, we would use the term “gods”.)  If one reads some of the ancient Greek mythology, you get the impression that is what early Western man thought. The gods were capricious and vain.  (Recall the story we are told in The Iliad.)  The vagaries of human existence were often caused by the capricious and unjust actions of the gods.

In the Vedic teachings, there is the concept of lila.  You have no doubt heard of maya – the illusion that leads us to believe that this world and its phenomena are ultimately real. Perhaps a better definition is the illusion that living in this temporal, material world is the ultimate purpose for man.  Lila is the divine play.  We are all participating in a play so to speak.  A terrible and tragic and, yes, an unjust play.  But it is a divine play as God is the ultimate controller of it all.  As well, God (Krishna) is the enjoyer and we, spirit souls, are the enjoyed.  The play does have a purpose, even if we cannot or do not see it.  Just food for thought.  The suffering appears to us as very real while we are here on Earth.  Of course, here on Earth we do not have the best vantage point or perspective, do we?  The majority of us are at a bodily level of consciousness.  We identify too closely with the body and its needs, and often pursue sense gratification.  If we could achieve a spiritual level of consciousness, we would no doubt view things differently.

Christians may protest that we ought not question nor complain about the suffering we endure on this earth given that Jesus also suffered terribly during His passion and crucifixion.  Thus, who are we to question injustice and suffering?  Still, suffering and injustice are painful to see around us (more so when there is little we can do to alleviate these), and even harder for us to experience and endure.

Five years ago (in early 2009), I read a book that offered an answer to this question of why we do not see more justice in this world.  The book is Heliotropium, Conformity of the Human Will to the Divine, by Father Jeremias Drexelius (1581 – 1638), TAN Books and Publishers, Rockford, Illinois, 1984.  (A more recent edition is available now.) Heliotropium roughly translates to Sunflower.  As the sunflower always seems to turn towards the sun, the individual human soul ought to turn to God in all things.

The answer Father Drexelius puts forth (drawing heavily from the Old Testament and from the writings of early Christians) is basically this 2 fold assertion.  Keeping in mind that we do see a small measure of justice here . . . .  1. If we, as men (generically, meaning men and women) saw complete justice enacted or delivered in this world, many of us might choose to think or believe there was nothing after this life.  If all were settled here on Earth, we would lose hope or belief in an afterlife.  2. If, at the other extreme, we were to see no justice at all here in this world, we might despair of, or doubt God’s existence, or of His caring about what goes on here on Earth.

No doubt there are other views, assumptions, conjectures, and opinions on this question of justice.  This essay is not intended to offer an answer, but is written to stimulate thinking.

Let me conclude with my thoughts in this area.  Personally, I believe that things can only be made right through or by God.  But this, of necessity, assumes that God is truly loving, just and merciful.  Sadly, as we all know from our experiences, this world is sorely lacking in love, justice and mercy.  I consciously and freely choose to believe that in some way justice will come in its proper time for both the innocent victims who need recompense, and for the those who harmed others through selfish, evil, and destructive motivations.  Sure, I cannot prove this belief to you.  It cannot be proved as we could offer proof that the Earth is round, a sphere, and not flat.  It cannot be proved in the way one could prove that 2 plus 2 equals 4.  Yet, I choose to believe in a God that does care deeply about what goes on here on Earth, and will make things right at some future point (on His timetable, not on ours).

And, I try to order my life around this belief (though I am no saint).  What I suggest to everyone is to strive to be just, loving and merciful in your lives towards others and towards yourself.  We cannot change this very flawed world at the macro level, but we can make a big difference, a positive, constructive, loving difference in the lives of those around us.  If you want to live a meaningful life, then make the effort to be more loving.  Help those who have suffered injustice and/or tragedy in their lives.  Work against those who perpetrate injustice, and condemn hatred and violence.

Whether you believe in the law of karma, or in a judgment day for us as individual souls, living a loving life is the best path to take if you desire a better future state of being.

Please feel free to forward this essay, or a link to it, on to anyone you know who may be interested in its contents.

Below, is a picture of a curio we purchased in a thrift store some years ago.

 

mask 6

 

Thanks for reading.

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a suggestion for the 2016 US presidential election

a suggestion for the 2016 US presidential election

Greetings!

 

noodle and asparagus

 

The current speculation is that we will have Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush (former governor of Florida) facing off against each other 2 years hence in the next US presidential election. Are the American people going to put up with this charade, this farce?  Sadly, yes.

We have 2 very corrupt and inept (yet power hungry) major political parties here in the US.  We desperately need better than what these parties can offer.

Here’s an idea.  In all 50 states, have a selection on the ballot that simply reads “None of the above”.  Place this choice at the bottom of the listing of the candidates for president.  A few states already have this as an option on their ballots.

Now, if “None of the above” wins a plurality of the votes cast in a majority of the states (in at least 26 states), a new election with new candidates will be held in 6 month’s time.  This process will be repeated until a candidate wins the required 270 electoral votes.  (We do not want the US House of Representatives to select the next president if neither candidate wins 270 electoral votes.  We want a new field of candidates that are acceptable to the people.  Mr. Obama can remain as part of a care taker government until we have a winner.)

The above scenario would serve to counter act the current presidential nomination process that is manipulated if not controlled by party elites.  Voter turnout might actually increase if citizens could use their votes to send a needed message to those entrenched in power.

Is this ever going to happen?  No.  But, if it did, this would send a clear message to the corrupt politicos in Washington that the people are sick and tired of them and their failed approaches to governing the nation.

The photo at the top is of a dish that my wife prepared the other night for dinner.  Noodles and asparagus (with a little corn thrown in).

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the problem with some Christians’ thought processes

the problem with some Christians’ thought processes

In this essay, let’s take on those who claim to be Christian, yet cherry pick verses from the Bible to legitimate their self-centered behavior.

 

Galaxies%20And%20Stars%2036

 

If you are interested in more such images, then you can check out this essay from deep in our archives (recommended for the agnostics among our readers).

http://larrysmusings.com/2012/07/04/our-bodies-are-made-of-star-stuff-but-who-made-the-stars-the-flowers-the-bees-the-birds/

Atheists can enter the terms “atheist” or “atheism”in the search box on the blog site to find our previous essays addressing atheism.

Now to the topic at hand . . . .

Disclaimer:  We are not attacking Christianity.  This is not a “hit piece” on Christianity. Rather, these thoughts are meant to get people’s attention and hopefully motivate at least a few individuals to greater honesty and the effort to live a more authentic Christian life.

Nietzsche (1844 – 1900), the son of a Lutheran pastor, observed that Christians live their lives just like those with no religion.  G. K. Chesterton (1874 – 1936), a Christian, lamented that “Christianity was found difficult and left untried.”

When I read some of the posts and comments on some of the many Christian blogs (or on blogs whose writers’ claim to be Christian), I am puzzled and bemused.  Many of these bloggers will quote from the Bible to justify their positions on a wide range of issues (concerning behavior, conduct, allowable actions, etc.).  We will not address specific issues here as readers would lose sight of the main point I will try to make with this essay.  There are those who look to the Bible for guidance and instructions on how to conduct their lives, and then try to conform their decisions and actions to what the Bible tells them.  From some of the posts and comments, it appears that this process is reversed in some Christians’ thinking, and these individuals make a choice – often a self-serving choice – and then go to the Bible and seek a verse, or two, that appears to support, or validate, their choice.

A person can selectively look for verses that seem to give support for a choice already made.  One can also choose to ignore other verses in the Bible that would contradict one’s choice(s).  What some of these Christians fail to consider is that the Bible does not contain specific instructions for every situation under the sun, for every conceivable situation, for every possible action or activity.  Those who wrote the Bible (actually when referring to the Old Testament, those who eventually set the oral tradition down in writing after several centuries) did not foresee, could not have foreseen, many of the issues of the current times.  Inspired or not, the future was not an open book to them.

As well, it must be said here that the authors of the Bible, and many ancient pagan philosophers (Aristotle is the best example), were woefully ignorant on many subjects and thus had a flawed understanding of these subjects.  They had limited knowledge and much that they thought to be accurate was actually not correct.  For example, the current medical and scientific knowledge tells us how human reproduction works.  The Aristotelian view of human reproduction was and is incorrect.  What puzzles me is why Aristotle’s view was accepted without question for so long.  Simple observations (such as women who are older and no longer menstruate also do not become pregnant) and a little common sense leads one to the conclusion that there must be more factors at work than what Aristotle claimed.  We have recently seen verses from the Old Testament – that give evidence of similar ignorance and incorrect knowledge about human reproduction – being used to justify or rationalize actions that we do not see as moral in light of the current knowledge. But, I digress.

Yet, there are larger moral principles in the Bible that can help us to deal constructively, morally, with contemporary challenges.  Perhaps we could say that the spirit of the moral law can help us when the letter of the law is silent.  We can, as rational beings, use our reasoning ability to deduce from the spirit of the law, from the larger principles found in the Bible, what is the right thing to do in a specific situation where the Bible is silent.  We can do this if we are honest and objective in our thinking.  From some of the posts and comments that I have read, it appears that factoring in the larger principles is not happening in the thinking of some Christians.  At least, in reading their comments, one rarely finds mention of a larger perspective, of looking to the larger principles.

What if something is neither explicitly nor specifically condemned or prohibited in Scripture, but such action or activity violates the larger context, the larger spirit of the law?  Do we give ourselves a free pass?  If so, we then do not have a properly functioning conscience.  (I will mention in passing that this approach is rather similar to what some of the judicial activists on our courts do.  For some jurists, if the US Constitution does not explicitly prohibit something that something must, by default, be a “right”.  The Constitution’s silence on so many issues then proves to be fertile ground for finding many so-called rights.)  Yet, I have read on some blogs that (paraphrasing) “we do not find, or cannot find a verse that prohibits such and such action or activity.  Therefore, it is or must be permissible.”  Depending upon the particular action(s) in question, this myopic approach, these conclusions, can lead people to take actions that are not truly moral.

I do not think that one can find a verse in the Bible that specifically condemns the use of heroin.  But, one can learn from the Bible that we are not to harm others or ourselves. Since the use of heroin is so very dangerous and destructive to one’s health, we can see that it is wrong and needs to be avoided.  Similarly, if we truly believe that murder is wrong (and forbidden), then it must be wrong (and thus forbidden) in all its forms, even if the Bible does not specifically mention all the forms that murder can take.  (Murder can be defined as the purposeful (intentional) taking of innocent human life (not in self-defense). Killing in legitimate self-defense is not murder.)

To stress the point:  it seems to me that many who claim to be Christians, look to the Bible to justify or to validate or rationalize their choices, their actions or their failure to act, even when these are not moral or ethical.  These folks are being intellectually dishonest with themselves.  Some appear only to want to live by the moral law when it is easy to do so, when it requires very little effort, little sacrifice of themselves.  Self-deception.  Many of these individuals are fond of quoting the Scriptures.  It makes them feel good.  However, actions do speak louder.  Christians need to be wary of hypocrisy and living like a Pharisee.

This is what we might refer to as “comfortable, easy Christianity”.  Give lip service to being a believing Christian, yet then continue to live as we please, for ourselves.  (Nietzsche’s observation was true in the Germany of the late 1800s, and it is true of many Christians in the USA of today.)  Follow the moral law when it is convenient and easy to do.

But, consider for a moment, what might Jesus say to those who claim to be Christians, and yet cherry pick or selectively interpret verses in the Bible to contradict or circumvent the main moral principles that we should observe and order our lives around?

The moral commandments actually call men to freedom – freedom from our own very self-destructive tendencies, both individual and collective.

Here is a revolutionary idea for Christians: try doing what is right, and do not strive to be popular.  Make your loving actions a positive example to all.  Do what is right even when it is not easy to do so. Do the right and proper thing when it is not convenient to do so, when it requires that you make a sacrifice, that you give of yourself.  Actually live the Christian principles.  And, do not twist Scripture so as to make it appear that something that is morally wrong (because it is destructive) is somehow not wrong (and thus permissible).

I do not usually quote the Bible.  But, we will include this passage as food for thought.

“The folly of a man supplanteth his steps: and he fretteth in his mind against God.”  Proverbs, 19:3.

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a tribute to Blood, Sweat and Tears

a tribute to Blood, Sweat and Tears

Target: Earth, third planet in star system number 6792.  Begin transmission.

While gathering our thoughts for other upcoming essays, we recollect on some very good music from the late 1960s and the early 1970s.

Blood, Sweat and Tears (BS&T) was a musical group that produced songs with rich sounds and good lyrics.  I would not classify them as either hard or soft rock.  Their music made use of more than just guitars and drums.  Listening last night to their songs that we first heard more than 40 years ago, was as enjoyable as when we first heard them.

We share these links to some of their more memorable tunes.  If you are not familiar with these, you may want to give a listen.  Most everyone has heard You’ve Made Me So Very Happy, and Spinning Wheel.  Therefore, we include some lesser known but very nice songs.

Sometimes in Winter – a haunting song that tells of lost love.  Deeply touching.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEwKyie8jkY

Lucretia MacEvil   –  “Oooohh, Lucy, you just so damn bad.”  (at 2:22 of the song) Video features the vinyl LP playing on a turntable.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trJkB5XtfXM

Hi De Ho

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_gY82cgg4k

And When I Die  - a great tune to sing along with.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XS-gwb8eSc0

God Bless the Child  -  on this song you hear more of the rich full-bodied sounds made by the various instruments accompanied by the moving vocal of David Clayton-Thomas.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04rClGsbWp4

Lisa Listen To Me

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pcZHo_sieI

And, here is the full greatest hits album now on CD.  (I bought the original vinyl LP back in 1972 with money earned on my paper route.)  As one of the comments on YouTube says:  “This kiddies, is real music. “

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAi0MzxFcGc

Enjoy!

End transmission.

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sundry musings: individual worth and unreasonable expectations

sundry musings: individual worth and unreasonable expectations

Upon  waking early, after battling with the monsters of my subconscious, these thoughts thrust themselves in to my mind.  We share them with you now.

Not every person can be a genius.  Not every one can be so very handsome or “pretty”. Not every person is going to be financially wealthy in modern society (independent of which economic model your country operates on).

Yet, modern (post-Modern?) Western society and its mass media (in movies, music, books, mass marketed popular consumer items, etc.) hold up to us standards that we are to measure ourselves against.  This is not always obvious to us.  These standards, really ideals, tell us that our personal value is dependent upon, and defined by, how much money we earn or currently possess, whether we are “good-looking” (truly a subjective measure but made into an objective one by current popular tastes), how healthy and fit we may be, etc.  Some may disagree with me.  Consider current product advertising, say on bill boards or posters, or in magazines.  There seems to be a disproportionate use of the photos or images of young women and men who are in good physical shape (not over weight) and appear to be quite attractive (at least visually).  The principal measure of life success in the USA for so many people is money and how much of it you have acquired during your working life.  (Along with money, the evidence that you have it is esteemed.  Do you live in a large home?  Do you drive an expensive car?)  For some, sorry to say, money has become a false god.  People lose sight of the fact that money is a means to an end, not an end in itself.  Or, in other words, you work in order to live, and you do not live for your work.

If society’s values, or the values of a majority of individuals within a society are shallow, that ought not surprise us.  In any given generation, most humans will be at a bodily level of consciousness and will be dazzled by material nature and sense gratification.  At least, that is what the wisdom of the Vedic philosophy of India tells us.

We are all vulnerable to a varying degree to what others are saying and doing around us. It is easy to follow the crowd.  It is not so easy to choose different values and thus pursue different priorities in one’s life.  However, there is a danger here.  Very few of us can achieve these ideals that are thrust at us by the mass media, by popular culture, and even by our family and friends.  Seriously, not every child can grow up to be a doctor or a very highly paid “professional” athlete.  How many of us are born with good looks like a movie star possesses?  Not many young men are going to have the physique of a Mr. Olympia (even if they spend years pumping the iron in the weight room).  Women, after say 30 or 35, are not going to be as shapely and trim as the 20 year old “hotties’ in their swimsuits. (Do these girls ever get into the water, at the pool, the lake or at the beach?  Perhaps, for some the term “show suits” would be more apropos than swimsuits.)

The danger, as you may have already realized, is that for the majority of us who fail to measure up to these expectations (ideals), we can feel that we have little self-worth, and/or that we are failures.  If we look to the approval of others for our self-esteem and do not obtain that approval, we may be devastated.  (Parents with teen age children take note.  You do need to get involved with nurturing your children during their teen years when they are so vulnerable.  Do not leave this task to the schools with all the politically correct, cultural Marxism espoused by so many “teachers”.  Teens tend to attach too much importance to the approval of their peers.  Teen suicide and drug use are major problems. Lacking a healthy and positive self-image, many teens can become very depressed.)

Taken to a grotesque extreme, we see society in its institutions (government and the medical profession) decides which lives have value and are worth the expenditure of health care resources for.  No, this is not from the history of totalitarian regimes.  The further you are from the ideal, from perfection or from robust physical health, the more vulnerable you are.  Older people, who are in poor health, are being denied treatments that may help to improve their health.  New born infants (those not “terminated” prior to birth) that have serious health problems or suffer from serious birth defects or deformities are being denied basic care such as food and water.  This is happening today in the US (do an Internet search and see for yourself).  Rather ironic, is it not, that the US that never tires of lecturing the rest of the world about human rights does not score so highly itself in that area?

You do have talents and abilities.  You have worth, even if society and your peers do not think so.  Instead of striving to achieve such unrealistic ideals, choose other values and live your life accordingly.  You may be happier.  Direct your efforts at worthy goals that are achievable.  Live a constructive, helpful and loving life with the talents and abilities that you already have.  You can make an important contribution to the world.  And, please do not base your feeling of self-worth on such shallow, current pop culture ideals, nor on the approval of your fickle peers.  If you do, you do yourself a bad turn.

This picture, from our photo essay archive, shows a map of our home state of Nevada.  Do not be misled, most of the points on the map are very small towns.  As well, there is a typo as Lovelock does have a “c” in it.

 

Nevada cup 2

 

We share one more image.  These are nice cobalt blue tea cups.

 

cobalt blue cups

 

Best wishes to all.

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the human condition: free will, decisions (choices), and consequences

the human condition: free will, decisions (choices), and consequences

The constraints of the human condition are painful.  One of the more painful aspects of being human and living in this very imperfect world as imperfect beings is that of making mistakes, poor or seriously flawed decisions.  Whatever is done is done, and cannot be undone.  We are constrained by the linear nature of time’s progression in this material plane of existence.  No amount of regret, remorse, or guilt can undo what has been done. Our decisions (or call these choices) do have consequences, at times tragic in scope.  And, we freely make decisions (except in those rather rare situations where we are under serious duress).  Making mistakes is also a blow to our pride and reminds us that we are frail, fallible beings.

There are some who believe that we are as puppets in the hands of – and at the mercy of – puppet masters (higher entities) and thus have no true free will.  One comes across this view in some “occult” literature.  Others believe that our karma (from past lives) determines much of what happens to us.  Many are fatalistic.

I think that we do have free will, and not simply because Christianity teaches that we do have free will.  Free will means that we are responsible for our choices and actions. Looking back on the poor decisions made during my life (I have made many mistakes, and sadly are still making mistakes), in each of these situations there was an alternative course that could have been chosen.  Even in a somewhat fast-moving “crisis”, there was a brief time where I consciously chose to do one thing rather than another.  In some major mistakes, there actually was a part of my mind saying to me at the time “No, do not rush into this.” or “Is this really the right way to go?”  or “Why the hurry?  Take more time to think it through.”  If only I had listened to that “little voice”, that inner voice of shall we say inner wisdom.  My point is that in almost all decisions there was that time, in some instances very short in duration, where I consciously chose to pursue one course of action rather than another, or rather than opting for doing nothing.  (Sometimes doing nothing is the best, least hazardous course of all, especially so when one’s mind is agitated or stressed.)

Why do we not listen to that inner voice?  Call it what you will – our intuition, our conscience, perhaps our sub-conscious, our guardian angel, etc.  Why do we hurry into making choices that have profound impacts on our lives and the lives of others?

This is difficult to answer.  There are several factors in play.  For me, it appears that we are so geared to wanting and even expecting quick resolutions to problems that we often hurry decisions so as to try to achieve quick solutions.  We may feel that we have to act quickly even when such rapid action is not necessary.  The inner voice that counsels caution and suggests considering alternatives is thus ignored as that would take too much time.  A very real danger in taking a decision in haste is that we are too focused on short-term effects of the decision and neglect to fully consider the longer term effects or consequences!  As well, many of us really do not like the stress of having to make a choice in certain areas of our lives and wish to get the process over with as rapidly as possible. We are uncomfortable with any prolonged uncertainty.

Emotions undeniably come into play in the decision making process.  When emotions overrule the reason, we can be at grave risk of making a poor decision, a non-rational decision.  (Later, we think “How (or Why) did I do that?!”)  Anger, frustration, impatience, and despair all serve to cloud our reason and impair our ability to make constructive choices.  Be on guard against them!  The anger and frustration or despair that we feel can be so strong that these basically drown out the inner voice that says “Give this more time. There may be another course to take.”.  Courses of action that I chose when I was angry and frustrated never worked out well.  In fact, some such choices were terribly destructive and caused me (and others) much pain, loss, regret, remorse and guilt.

What can we do to make better choices and avoid those choices that are destructive to others and to ourselves, that have such negative, painful consequences?

First, consciously attempt to take the needed step back and look at the bigger picture. This is not easy to do given that emotions are usually very strong and we are mentally agitated. Slow the process down.  Unless you do need to call an ambulance or the fire department or the police, many “crises” can be managed over at least a little longer time frame.

Second, while taking more time, and striving to listen to your “inner voice” or intuition, consider alternative courses and the longer term effects of any choice you make. Remember, you will be living with the consequences of your decision.

Seek the counsel of others (whom you have confidence in) who are at arms’ length from the situation and can more easily be objective and may be able to offer alternative solutions (worthy of consideration) that you may have overlooked or would be unaware of.  If you are married, involve your spouse in any major decision as the choice you make will impact your spouse as well as yourself.

Pray about your situation and any decisions you need to make.   Pray for guidance.  This is no trite remark.  One thing that I have learned is to never underestimate the power of prayer.  Do not be so proud that you do not ask loved ones and friends to add their prayers to yours.

Try to look at the big picture and the longer term effects of any choice you make.  Consider whether the actions you will take are constructive for/to others and to yourself.  Seek the counsel of others.  Take enough time.  Pray about it.  Then, when you are confident you are making the right choice, go forward with it.

As to the human condition, I have always had a problem believing that we should glorify suffering, as some religions would have us do.  Plenty of suffering, in various forms, comes our way all throughout our lives.  We need not seek suffering as it continually seeks us out. (It is no virtue to be a masochist.)

Hopefully, these thoughts have served to help a few readers.  Life is difficult.  It is a struggle the whole way through, but we can choose not to give in to despair.

Perhaps, if we include a picture, folks will read the essay.  Here, from our essay on rubber stamps (about one year ago), is an image of sundry stamps (a pheasant taking flight, a tea cup, and Chinese New Year firecrackers).

sundry stamps

Thanks for reading.

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