Beware of Weirdos

Over the years, as Cass, Heather, and I prepared to leave for a festival or convention without Mikey in tow, he would warn us to be careful of all the freaks and weirdos that attend these things. He stopped coming with us about the same time I started telling him how good he would look in a kilt.

Shakespeare Festival: “Be careful. A lot of weirdos attend things like that.”

Radcon: “…careful…weirdos.”

Ren Faire: “Be careful… there are – ”

I can’t remember which event it was, but I finally cut him off, smiled reassuringly, and then pointed out what should have been obvious to my cowboy husband.

“You do realize that you married a weirdo. Bred with a weirdo. Are parenting two weirdos. Relax. We’ll be among our own kind.”

He response was to tip his head back a moment in thought, smile, and agree. “Good point.”

Not only did he not fuss at the most recent convention, he seemed to be encouraging us to attend another one in Seattle. I suspect that he enjoys the peace and quiet when we are gone, perhaps even sitting around in his underwear. But alas, still no kilt.

Voting for the lesser of evils is still voting for evil…

Try viewing this from the outside looking in: In the current U.S. presidential election, so many people are talking about voting “against” a particular candidate, and voting for “the lesser of evils” of two of the three candidates available. When considering voting “for” a candidate that appears to be anything but evil, maybe even the one with the best ideas and track record of following through, the common response is that this would be wasting a vote.  Well, what if everyone “wasted” their vote…?

Standing on the Side of Compassion, Love, & Logic

Jonathan Lovingly Taketh His Leave of David by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld

Jonathan Lovingly Taketh His Leave of David by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld

Watching the discussions, hearing concerns expressed, and I am often asked for details on why I land where I do regarding Marriage Equality.  Here are some points to consider:

Marriage being 1 man, 1 woman, and a “2000 year tradition”: In this country, this has been the legal status only since the mid 19th century. Many immigrants, and many people indigenous to this continent, were in marriages of more than two partners — usually polygamy.  Perspectives of homosexuality varied depending on the culture/religion of a particular group. And if you want to go back before this country, even before 2000 years, check out Ancient Greece — a society upon which many of our laws and values are founded.

Bible saying sodomy is a sin:  1) Most of the world isn’t Christian. 2) This form of sexual relations is not exclusive to homosexuals.  3) If the couple is Christian and believes this is a sin? Just like it is not the only option available to heterosexual couples, sexual intimacy can come in many forms for homosexual couples. Use your imagination.

Bible saying it is an abomination: 1) See #1 of above.  2) Go back to the earliest interpretations of Leviticus and you find different meanings.  Leviticus seems to be OCD — a don’t mix your peas with your mashed potatoes type of guy (thanks Cass for that analogy).  Leviticus is also adamant that you don’t wear clothes of mixed fibers. Now go check the tags in your wardrobe. The only thing clear about that passage is saying that you just don’t have relations the same way or in the same place — not that the relations themselves are a problem (those extra words such as “abomination” were added later by those wanting to force a particular interpretation).  Oh, and there’s even debate as to whether or not the passage was even talking about sex. Really.

Slippery slopes: 1) You do realize that this is a logical fallacy? 2) Marrying a fellow human being who is a consenting adult will not lead to marrying inanimate objects or other living creatures unable to give their consent — any more than current allowances to marry have already done.  3) Will marriage rights for same sex couples cause us to then reestablish legal rights to polyamorous relationships? This moves us from slippery slope to begging the question: does that matter?

Women having the right to own property (and thus not be destitute from a divorce); people being able to marry within their race; people allowed to marry outside of their ancestral ethnicity; and now people marrying partners of the same sex…. it appears that we continue to expand rights and freedoms with regard to marriage and could very likely continue to do so.

Marriage can have two parts: the legal contract, and a personal/spiritual/romantic component.  A marriage can exist with only one of either of these parts.  Atheists marry, people of many religious beliefs marry, and they might even use a word other than marriage, but marriage is happening regardless of the access to the legal contract portion.

So, with all of the above in mind, and even setting aside the emotional arguments, the only thing we are doing by *not* having marriage equality is telling one couple they can enjoy the benefit of certain details of their contract, while not allowing another couple access to the same benefits and protections from their contract.  The limitations are based on the sex of the contract partner, and as such is a form of sexual discrimination.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments regarding marriage equality. We cannot be sure on how they will rule, but even if they do not decide now to extend rights at a federal level, this will likely happen within the next generation or two.  Surveys are showing that over half of Americans favor marriage equality, and 80 percent of adults under 30 are fine with it, meaning their children will likely not see a problem with it either.  Unless something catastrophic happens, it is not a question of “if” but of “when.”

 

Pursuit of Wisdom & Happiness

I often tell my daughters to be wise, to stop a moment and think so that they can make good decisions.  Note that they are both teens, so the “stop a moment to think” part is rather important considering the typical teenager’s brain.

But can they ever truly obtain wisdom? Can any of us?  Or is it instead something we strive for, continuously? Is it the pursuit itself that is important – the journey toward the destination that might never be reached?

I was recently reading something by Dr. Adler discussing the “goods of the mind” as being information, knowledge, understanding, and the pursuit of wisdom. I found it interesting that he did not indicate simply “wisdom” or “obtaining wisdom” but instead the pursuit.

It reminded me of the movie “Pursuit of Happiness.”  Have you seen this movie?  If so, do you remember when the main character’s narration was reflecting on the phrase “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?”  He noted that instead of saying one has a right to happiness, one has a right to the pursuit of happiness.

We might recall moments of feeling happiness, perhaps even feeling happy now.  Perhaps we have made wise decisions in the past, or we might currently feel wise.  Does that be we *are* wise?  Do we ever become “happiness” or “wisdom?”

Even if not, it seems foolish (unwise?) to suggest that one stop reaching for happiness and wisdom. Avoiding an entitlement attitude of the self-proclaimed victim, one realizes that happiness, wisdom, and similar states are not to be delivered on a silver platter.  Instead, we each have the right to the pursuit – and it is up to each of us as to what to do with that.

The power is in each of us.

Thanksgiving: All About the Presentation (In Your Mind)

When it comes to Thanksgiving, it’s all about presentation.  And I’m not talking about the food on the table, but what’s served up to you in your own mind.

Perspective determines reality. What most people don’t realize is how much control they have over that perspective and – in turn – reality.

The past few weeks leading up to this Thanksgiving serve as a good example. One kid was slammed with a flu and fever that kept increasing in spite of medicine and tepid water, almost warranting a trip to the ER before it finally broke. Another kid seems to be going out of remission with Von Willebrand symptoms. And my husband had no less than two near-death experiences while out of town, one resulting in some quick hustling to get him back home, requiring four flights over the course of two days.

And how do I feel about all this? Graciously happy! Yes, a little tired… but thankful.  Thankful that the fever broke, and that my daughter is healing. Thankful that our modern medicine gives my oldest daughter options for a full life.  Thankful that my husband is home, safe, and recovering. And thankful that we have medical insurance to help with the costs!

Life is good.

Yes, sometimes life is hard, and things happen for which it is difficult to perceive anything to be thankful about.  Sometimes the distance of time, and the gained wisdom during that time, is needed. For example, the loss of a parent can be a source of grief; the loss of a parent at a young age can create questions of fairness.  However, in looking back at such experiences in my own life, I am able to see that there was a purpose in the timing.  I can also celebrate what was.  Not everyone is so blessed to have something worth grieving.  As Dr. Suess said, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

Some people are better than others at choosing happiness. When born and raised in a society that encourages negativity, this happiness thing can take a whole lot of practice! However, brain research suggests that we can “fake it until we make it” on our way to happier (and healthier) thought patterns, and conscious practice can lead to mastering our perspectives and habits. In A Complaint Free World, Will Bowen addresses this by noting the following steps in breaking a bad habit or forming a new way of being:

  • Unconscious Incompetence: you’re not aware that you are engaging in the bad habit.
  • Conscious Incompetence: you’re aware, but you struggle to overcome the habit.
  • Conscious Competence: you avoid the bad habit, but only with conscious effort.
  • Unconscious Competence: you are now a natural! The bad habit is gone, and you don’t even have to think about it anymore.

Avoiding complaining puts the focus on creating solutions.  Instead of saying what you don’t like or don’t want, begin stating what you do like and what you do want.  This helps build an appreciation for the good things currently in your life while inviting more good things your way.  As Gandhi explained, you can “be the change you want to see in the world.”

Try this. Look at any social media site to notice how many complaints or negative comments are posted, even those supposedly nested in humor.  Do the negative or the positive posts get more interest? Pay attention to your own communications, both written and verbal.  Do you let others entice you into negativity? Do some people even react negatively to other people’s positive or proactive statements, as if they are somehow personally threatened or worried that a positive perspective is a judgment on their negative ones?

More importantly, how do you respond to these situations?

How do you define your own reality?

May you be blessed with many things to be thankful for… and the ability to recognize each and every one.

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