WHY AM I WRITING?
The answer to the above question is because I don’t feel I can remain silent.
Let’s consider some of the things that are happening in the world today, both the big picture, as well as a few of the smaller, passing details. First of all, and this IS the biggest, there’s the fact that we – pretty much all of us – seem to be a sad bunch of some seven billion or so Neros, fiddling about while the globe burns. And while I don’t suppose I have to say that I’m speaking metaphorically here and that the world isn’t actually burning, it is heating up faster and faster. Is the cause of global warming activity on the part of human beings? Yes! The great majority of respected scientists in the world resoundingly reply in the affirmative to that question. And those who claim that such changes in climate are merely naturally occurring phenomena fail to take into consideration the fact of how quickly the climate is changing. Naturally occurring climate change normally takes millennia, if not longer, not decades.
There are, to be fair, some individuals who are sounding the alarm about it, just as there are even a few programs here and there, a couple of items on some people’s agendas, that begin to hint at a start at addressing the problem. But in terms of the speed and the size of the changes that are taking place on the planet, the enormous challenges to our ways of thinking and of how we actually lead our lives on a daily basis, these efforts feel like we’re fighting a raging forest fire with a garden hose – and one without much pressure at that. So, there’s at least one good reason why I feel as though I have to speak out.
In addition, there’s a whole slue of other topics that intrigue, fascinate, captivate, enchant, engage, engross, pique, arouse, annoy, miff, rile, exasperate, or just plain preoccupy my thoughts, things for example having to do with politics and world affairs, art, religion and spirituality, popular culture, economics, science, history, education, language, and lots of other subjects that come up on a daily basis.
I will eventually go on to talk about any number of them, but the more I think about it, the more I begin to wonder if there isn’t also some funny, fuzzy connection that links all of these things together, maybe in a subliminal sort of way. At least in my mind. I wonder if what connects this string of otherwise disparate items might be a tendency on the part of many of us to refuse to put in the hard work that it takes into discovering answers for ourselves. It takes time, and thought, and reading, and analysis of events, and a willingness to look the truth in the eye, even if it takes you to an uncomfortable place. And the process most definitely does not rely on a sacred book written a few thousand years ago, for example, no matter how revered, to tell us how we ought to lead our lives today.
Instead, if we make mistakes, let them be our own mistakes. If we misconstrue, miscalculate, misunderstand, or otherwise mess up, let the onus be on ourselves. In the case of this blog, let the responsibility be mine for what I write. But in doing so, in attempting to make sense of the complexities of the world of the twenty-first century, at least let it be said that I took the time and did my best to find answers that make some logical sense. Personally, I can’t think of a better use of my time, or a better aspiration for any human being, than to search for the truth to the best of one’s ability, and then to speak that truth fearlessly. At any rate, it’s definitely better than endlessly watching TV, or shopping for the latest gadget or accessory, or listening to some preacher tell you what he thinks his God tells you’re supposed to think or do.
So, this is why I decided to join my old, liberal friend, Kevin, in starting this blog. You may not agree with me, or with us, and you may not like what either of us says or espouses, and if you don’t, you should say so. But at least it’s my hope that whatever I write will be as truthful as I know how express it. And in the end, I can at least make this promise, that whatever I write, it will always come from the heart, not just from the head.
So, thank you for reading this, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts, too, on these topics, or on any others that pertain.
Paul (one of the two old liberals)
WHO GETS TO CHOOSE?
I suppose I ought to say upfront that I have my convictions – some might say my prejudices. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be writing here in the first place. And what follows from convictions are choices – specifically, choices in regard to how we act.
At least for the most part, people have the right to choose. Let’s not get crazy about it, of course. You don’t have the right to choose to bang your neighbor’s door down, even if his barking dogs are really, really annoying (yes, I AM talking about my actual neighbor here!), and you can’t choose to yell fire in a crowded theater etc. These are, of course, the obvious cases. But beyond the self-evident ones that pretty much everybody would agree on, where do we draw the line?
That seems to be at the crux of so much of our politics lately. For example, I’m gay and have been in an amazingly happy relationship with the same man for thirty-two years now. What follows, logically enough at least to my way of thinking, is that my partner and I ought to have the right to choose whether or not we want to marry each other. I’m not talking about a church wedding. That’s probably the last place on earth either of us would want to get married anyway. No, let the churches, with all their rules and their bigotry, choose NOT to marry gay people. Fine I say! But marriage is a legal contract. A LEGAL contract! From that point of view, it’s not all that different from a license (a sanctioning by the state) to start up a business. In this case, it’s a legally binding agreement between two people to spend and share their lives together, and it ought to be as open to two men, or two women, as it is to a man and a woman. This makes perfect sense to me, and it solves everybody’s problem, right? Churches can continue to discriminate against gay people in this regard, if that makes them happy, and gay people can still have the legal document that affords them the rights and privileges of the married state. No harm, no fowl, as far as I can see.
The same thing goes for abortion. To be honest, I don’t know what I would do if I were a woman and experienced an unwanted pregnancy. I’m not sure, in fact, if ANY man can really put himself in the position of a woman who is in that position. Do I believe that fetuses are living human beings? I have to admit that I am not sure. And I have to think that none of us can be really sure. How could anyone be, one way or the other? Therefore, the whole thrust of the argument has to fall on the side of allowing a woman to choose what SHE thinks, when and if she is in that circumstance. And it not up to society, or to our legal representatives, or to some priest’s or some preacher’s interpretation of God’s will, to make laws that dictate how a woman ought to act when it comes to such deeply personal matters. For each woman, it’s her body, and therefore her decision, as far as I can see.
Now, a lot of the current Republican contenders for their party’s presidential nomination seem to want to take these choices away from us. They think that the teachings of their particular church ought to become the law of the land, even though not even every church agrees with their church. So, whose church gets to be the best of churches? Which one gets to boss the rest of us around and tell us how to live our lives?
Let’s hope that Mitt Romney, or Rick Santorum, or Newt Gingrich never gets to be president of the United States, because if one of them does, you’d better prepare yourself to toe the line. They’ll have no problem giving you the answer to the above question about who gets to choose. Unfortunately, a lot of us may not like either the answers they give, or the consequences to us that follow from their choices.