Thursday, March 24, 2016

In the 90's, I became the Broker in Charge for a small Real Estate firm in South Carolina. The owner was a small, petty but very rich man. The company had the word American in it and I attempted a ton of marketing strategies revolving around the American flag, the colors of the American flag and all manner of lapel pins, car signs, etc. I even found it necessary to wage a war with the local newspaper over the use of the American flag in advertising. We eventually prevailed because we had the word American in our name. To say the least, I have a degree from the school of red, white and blue. I eventually left the company and forged a path to my own company. 
I find it extremely ironic that while I used American affects during my time at the above mentioned Real Estate Company, there were no shortage of good ole boys, hunters and basic redneck folks who would poke fun at me for wearing the colors of the USA and yet these same folks became the biggest "Patriots" in the world after 9-11 and even more so after the election of Barack Obama. True Patriotism is easy to prove. Were you eligible to serve your Country and did you do so? No reasonable person could argue with the Patriotic intents of folks who willingly defend the Country. The problem is, there seems to be an unlimited supply of militia inspired, chicken hawk cowards who choose to wrap themselves in an American flag in an attempt to display their pride for the Country. This was prevalent during the Bill Clinton years and it's become an epidemic during the Obama Presidency. During the Bush years, these same folks would consider any criticism of the President as an attack on our troops even though Bush took the troops into a war based on lies and even shut down the Government office dedicated to bringing Osama Bin Laden to justice. 
At some point, the gun crazy, anti government, fear mongering has to come to a head and stop. Never has this been more true than the after effects of the attacks on 9-11. We seem to have forgotten that instead of keeping us safe, Bush actually resided over the attacks of that day. Instead of being smart, Bush bought into the mindset that Bin Laden desired by spending ourselves into oblivion and declaring war on a tactic of war and by invading a Country that had nothing to do with the attacks of 9-11. 
We were all in unison after 9-11 but some of the patterns that have remained are actually disturbing. Firefighters in New York as well as all First Responders were rightfully supported and honored but in my opinion, some have abused the power and influence that they found after that day. Who could blame a Fireman, Policeman or Soldier for basking in the glow of Patriotism and especially attention by the opposite sex simply for being in a certain job position? 
The problem is, that many have now merged the love of Country, hatred of Government and false Patriotism into a hybrid energy that is doing us a lot more harm than good. My best example would be the case of a local police officer who was killed on the job. Don't get me wrong, this is an awful situation and any time an officer dies, it's a sad thing but being a police officer isn't nearly as dangerous as we make it out to be. In fact, a policeman is far more likely to commit suicide than to be killed by a criminal. That being said, there are police officers who die on the job and in the case mentioned above, we aren't even sure of the exact details yet (although the claim is that he was killed while chasing a drug dealer who also is dead). For some reason, this particular death was an epic reflection of police lives matter. My entire hometown was shutdown while hundreds of policeman...some from other states that made a procession to his burial spot. There were also hundreds of people who lined the freeway and roads waving American flags and saluting as the procession came through. Fire stations were also present and flying giant American flags from their trucks over the roads in a display of support. My question isn't to wonder why an officer would receive support but why has this sentiment peaked at this moment? Could it have to do with a white backlash against the Black Lives Matter movement? Could it be false patriotism by people who want to prove how patriotic they are? I think it's a sad combination of all of the above and why has this officer received so much attention while others before were an afterthought?  Please realize that I'm not being critical of the police or the good cops that are in it for the right reasons. I had this very conversation with a cousin. She was actually being pretty ugly and racist in relation to unarmed people being shot and killed by police. When I spoke up, she reminded me that her son was a police officer. I told her that I loved her and her son but that that doesn't change the fact that there are bad cops and that there is a need to call them out in order to preserve the honor of the good cops like her son. There's nothing as honorable as an honest peace officer but there's nothing as rotten as a crooked one. If you're a true Patriot, you'll support the good, the honest, the decent (regardless of skin color) and those who truly protect and serve but you'll also stop using the American flag or your since of pride to cover your racism, sexism and discriminating ways. When it comes to the USA, we are not Northerners, Southerners, Liberals or Conservatives when it comes to our freedoms or threats from terrorism but we are all Americans. Can we start to behave as such?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Bible and Sin

The bible and sin. Let's first of all talk about what sin is. Sin is not a list of do's and don'ts. Sin is basically doing anything that you feel is against God's will. It is a personal conviction and not necessarily constant from person to person. Also, God would be the ultimate judge of mankind and would have no need of a militant enforcement group to do his bidding in a hateful and mean spirited way. I have located 11 verses in the bible that supposedly reference homosexuality. 7 of these verses are located in the old testament and anyone who understands anything biblical would have to admit that the old testament is basically the wild west of religion and if you believe in Jesus, you would further understand that the new testament and the messiah being born cancels and voids the old testament and the contract written in it. It is not really possible to cling to a single point or cluster of verses without embracing them all. That would include clinging to a required way of living that no man could ever live up to. The new testament verses are the following...Romans 1:18-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 1 Timothy 1:8-10 and Jude 7. I have not included any translations because you might want to do your own research as well. What I observe in these is that these scriptures group together behaviors for the most part. There seems to have been some liberties taken with the translations from the original language with a particular mindset or outcome in mind. There can also be a case made that there is no big sin or little sin and that hypocrisy is very prevalent when the people who worry about homosexual behavior are themselves guilty of the other sins mentioned...enslavers, liars, perjurers,unholy and profane, those who strike their fathers and mothers, murderers, the sexually immoral,who worship idols, or commit adultery,or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or that cheat people. The religious right wing of politics is filled with people who are guilty and would be condemned by the same list. I would also offer another old testament verse for all who insist on using it to bash people. Psalms 82:3- Defend the weak, the poor, and the fatherless. Maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. In the case of the Duck people, can you please tell me who the weak or poor or oppressed is? I can assure you that it's not the wealthy family of television stars who use the bully pulpit to extract fame and fortune from their followers. Let's just be very careful before we condemn others and use any religion to further hatred or bigotry. The same excuses were made originally for slavery. There are at least 100 bible verses that deal with slavery and as just 1 example consider Titus 2:9-10- Slaves are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. In the same way that the church had to change on the issue of slavery and racism, it may also find itself at a similar crossroads with homosexuality. Only the future will tell.

The Southern Donkey 2013

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Clingers

46 years on this earth have taught me many life lessons. They have also allowed me to learn a great deal about myself as well as others. In many ways, I have transitioned from defending what I was taught religiously above the State, The Nation and the world to being open minded enough to realize that I'm incapable of having all of the answers. Politically, I made a sincere effort for some of my life to remain a neutral or independent observer but it simply became impossible to not choose a side when religion decided to incorporate with the republican party in the 80's. I found myself more and more often at odds with church people who agreed with Limbaugh, Jerry Falwell and everything the conservative political agenda had to offer. 
I have heard of religion or Christianity being referred to as a crutch and until recently, I really never fully got my mind wrapped around that analogy. During the 2008 Presidential campaign, Barack Obama endured lots of criticism after he mentioned how people in the rural and suburban areas find themselves frustrated and bitter with the political process and cling to their religion or guns as a result.To those who already hated that fact that a Black Man would dare run for the presidency, this was an obvious target to pin him as a secret Muslim who hated America and our "official" religion and God. It also feed the tenacious gun lobby and their mindless minions who wanted to believe that all Democrats would take away your guns. As I've pondered this statement for 5 years, I believe I have arrived at the true meaning of least in my own mind.
Religion seems to be man's way of reaching up to God. Most religions are very similar in that each claims to have exclusive access to God, forgiveness of sins and access to a Heaven or afterlife. Each tries to encourage behavior that is moral and beneficial to our fellow human. Most also tend to offer a punishment for not observing the rules. Reflecting back on the crutch reference, I can't help but think of many Christians that I know and have come in contact with over the years. There are those who find it necessary to believe every word that proceeds from the lips of a pastor or what they have been told is in the bible. It's not so much a true belief system but rather an obedience out of fear and motivation. It appears that there are moral people in this world and people who struggle with these issues. Many are able to retain a moral structure only when there is a threat of eternal damnation hanging over their heads. Religion and morality are not synonymous and there are plenty of moral people who have absolutely no religion. I realize that this runs contrary to everything we have been taught but do you really believe that a Nation could be formed and grow without organization or rules or laws regardless of any religious institutions? The clingers are those who are unable to function on their own and be moral. It is the fear of a deity or punishment that binds them with fellow clingers and keeps them in check in their own lives and in the way that they treat others. It is this clinging mentality that is counted on and exploited by many churches and religious establishments. The clinging mentality enables church to become a business in which people are willing to do whatever they are told, pay whatever the dues should be and to take the leaders word as the gospel without even reading it for themselves. It's a self fulfilling prophecy and a system of guilt and greed. There is nothing wrong with having a belief system. There is no shame in loving a God figure and living your life in a moral way while helping others but when you can only function as a robot being programmed or out of a guilt complex, there are severe issues and they are found within yourself. We have been told about free will and the dangers of it but we are not encouraged to be free thinkers. True religion that is not corrupted by greed has nothing to fear from competition from science and institutions of higher learning. If the product is worthy, it will stand on it's own. Clinging to guns has taken on a life of it's own. The gun lobby and manufacturers of weapons as well as ammo have enjoyed never before seen prosperity on the strength of inducing fear. Fear that the President is going to outlaw guns and send thugs to our doors to collect them. The President doesn't make laws but he makes for a great Boogeyman because high society and racist people already despise him. There are many who know full well how afraid some are and have in many ways set up a new religion...the church of the gun brotherhood. New and bigger gun shops open daily and it's almost impossible to keep ammo on the shelves. Gun prices have never been higher. Here again, there's nothing wrong with having guns for protection or even hunting but when will you wake up and realize that you are being used for greed and profit? Hatred and fear are strong emotions and bind many together because nothing unites people like a common enemy. The things that you cling to will own your soul. Wouldn't it be better to be owned by your family or your desire to help others? A strong work ethic is also to be desired but if you gain an empty wallet and a feeling of moral superiority, what have you gained in the end? 
Think for yourself and be moral for yourself and stop being a puppet for others. Spend your money and time on the things that prophet your soul and not you fears. Believe in yourself and others and cling to your family and friends and not the things that make others wealthy. 

The Southern Donkey 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Choosing Sides

Dear Republicans,

Every day you are choosing sides and in almost every instance, you're making the wrong choice. Do you realize that when you support and implement strict anti abortion laws that you're choosing the side of the rapist and the incestuous family member over the victims of these violent acts? No matter how convinced you are on a personal level about abortion being wrong, it's never in God's plan to be raped or sexually assaulted. As a single issue voter, you have also fallen into the mindless mass of sheep that the Republican powers count on to do their bidding. The anti abortion laws are also in direct conflict with the law of the land. If you find yourself an "issues" voter, perhaps a quick visit to Romans 13 would be in order. Do you further realize what a complete farce it is to call yourself pro life and yet support war and the killing of thousands of innocent civilians? Pro life and pro war are competing and opposite agendas no matter how hard you want to believe the contrary. When your chosen leaders run on moderation and then do the complete opposite they become nothing more than deceitful liars. How can you support people who you can't trust and how can you trust people who are incapable of telling the truth? 
Immigration is another area that is being used and manipulated by the rich and powerful. Do you realize that as Christians, you are obligated to protect the stranger in our land?  Leviticus 19:33-34 as well as the other linked verses should make any religious person utterly ashamed for their hate and racism cloaked in what they have been told is patriotism. When you choose to be anti immigrant, you have sided with major corporations over the human rights of those who are used and abused in the name of cheap labor. Do you not also realize that supporting massive tax breaks for the wealthiest is in turn supporting the exportation of manufacturing from the US and into the hands of foreign Countries and inhumane labor policies and wages? Patriotism is supporting a living wage for Americans and making corporations pay more to send work abroad than to keep the goods and services in this Country. Patriotism is never using the force of the military to expand capitalism in the name of freedom. 
Finally, do you not understand that when you repeal and restrict the rights of others to vote that you choosing the side of the bully in the fight? In much the same way that people want to force Christianity into our politics and to force us to have a State sponsored religion, they also only want people voting who feel exactly the same as they do. Do you understand that allowing a State sponsored religion could some day mean that the National forced religion could change to a Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, Buddhist or other type belief system that you would not support? Do you not realize that others might someday restrict your right to vote for the same reasons? Fairness means not always getting what you want and Democracy demands doing the will of the majority of the people and not just the wishes of the most elite or blessed among us. Health care reform is already working and will only improve the lives of the majority of Americans. When you speak of repealing, defunding or shutting down the Government to stop the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, you are choosing the side of big Pharma and the Giant Insurance Lords over the health and safety of your fellow Citizen. Smart choices always begin with being fully informed and not just doing what you are told. Make up your mind and exercise free will but do the due diligence required before jumping to conclusions or following blindly. 

The Southern Donkey Blog

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Kids are not Alright

What is easy to screw up and almost impossible to fix? The answer is children. While some find it hard to remember what it was like to be young, I remember it with blazing clarity. I come from a place with a strong mother and a father who poured himself into his work with addictive commitment. Our household was bathed in religion and filled with love. I eventually learned to form my own opinions and as my life has taken many turns, I have arrived at solid ground in my personal life. Along the path, many of my stops have involved working with youth groups and talking to kids. Below, are just a few experiences that I want to share.
David was a kid in one of my youth groups. He was raised in a broken home by a mom who often exercised poor judgement, especially with men. I took a large group of kids on a retreat and as we sat around very late one night, David began to talk. He shared that he was aware that some people considered him to be crazy and he wanted to explain what makes him the way he is. He reflected back to a time when he lived in a trailer with his mom and she had started dating a guy who wasn't very good. Although he was only 12, he tried to tell his mom that she could do much better. His mom ignored his warning and as he came home from school one day, this same guy had his mom pinned against a table in the kitchen and was yelling at her and slapping her. He went in and pulled the abuser off his mom. As a reward, the guy hit David and went back after his mom. David remembered going to his bedroom and getting a baseball bat and returning to the kitchen. He admits to blacking out as he went after the man who was hurting his mom but he also said that when he snapped back to reality, the guy was out of the house and his mom was safe. He recalled that he determined in his mind that nobody would ever be able to hurt him again (physically) and as he looked over to me...he said, and they haven't. He apologized to the other kids in the room if he had ever been rude or mean to them. Later, there was a time when a kid ran into the room where we were working with the kids and said that David was about to get into a fight outside with another kid in our group. As I arrived on the scene, the two of them were nose to nose. I ended up squeezing between them and as David said he wasn't going to back down, I said well I guess we''ll all have to fight then because you gotta swing through me to get to him. I watched as David's hard heart began to break and a tiny teardrop formed. We went from the edge of a free for all to a life changing event in an instant. David began to change and to trust people again and my last interaction with him was his announcement that he was going to be a father. I'm not sure how the story of David has unfolded since that time but one thing I've learned is that it's easy to screw a kid up but nearly impossible to repair one. All stories are not as dramatic as David's but there are tons of others to choose from. When you become a parent, doesn't it make sense to at least take care of your kids and to love them? If you want to take an only child and make them believe that the world revolves around them, you have every right to do so but they will be in for a rude awakening when real life sets in. If you insist on playing the game of favorites among your offspring, I can promise that you will set the entire group up for a lifetime of insecurity and comparisons. If you deny your kids the love and affection that they deserve, they will spend their entire lives in an empty pursuit of it. There's nothing worse than watching grown children gathered around the bed of a dying parent who has been hard, indifferent or abusive to them. The emotions wash through their faces as they flip though feelings of guilt and regret. If you're a parent, don't be lazy with your caring, conservative with your emotions or too prideful to be humble. It's never to late to start over if you've failed but the journey back is a long one.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Armed and Stupid

To say that I've had enough of the gun violence and the gun culture in America, would be an understatement. Even though the right wing loves to call for violence and then they refuse to take any responsibility for it when their misinformed and mindless followers act on their commands, it's far passed time that not just Democrats but the people who care about a better and safer future, go on the offensive. 
There have been 181 incidents of gun violence at schools since the events at Columbine. The assault weapons ban has expired thanks to a congress who is afraid of the NRA and their lobbyist and yet, the very first idiots out of the gate after any act of violence are the "guns don't kill people" crowd. I've heard all of the arguments and claims that the conservatives love to make and all of them are baseless and clueless. 
"We don't blame the car or ban cars when a drunk driver kills an innocent person so why should we ban guns?" First of all, nobody is trying to ban all guns and if you believe anything to the contrary, you're just not very smart. Intelligent gun control is how society deals with these problems. I'll accept your car challenge. Let's place guns on equal terms with owning and operating a car. Driving is a privilege and not a right, a license is required to operate one, a minimum age is required, registration is required and if you violate the law while operating one, there are extreme consequences. Wouldn't it be a good idea to at least require the same standards for guns that we require for cars? And, when I speak of a license test, I'm not talking about the farce currently known as the concealed carry courses offered around the Country with some guy named Cletus or Jimmy Bob handing out the certificates. I personally know of a local church that had a concealed weapons class that is a shining example of this stupidity. One of the participants shot himself in the leg during the course and still passed it. 
The second group out of the gate after these violent incidents is the "God isn't allowed in schools" crowd. Our religious culture has merged and become an arm of the republican party. Pat Robertson calling Obama a Muslim and a socialist, Franklin Graham calling Obama a sinner and deleting the reference to Mormonism being a cult from his website so that Christians would feel comfortable voting for Romney and who could ever forget the hit job from hell that took place every Sunday through Jerry Falwell? We have church members carrying weapons into church and believing that their real gods of Rush, Hannity , Beck and Capitalism have given them the right to use violence to overthrow the Government and any Democrat who crosses them. My question would be, is God everywhere or can he be blocked out by chalkboards? The argument of God being removed from schools is asinine at best. Students can bring bibles to school, they have rallies at the flag pole, they have religious clubs and Lord knows there is ample peer pressure in America to be a believer or risk eternal damnation. If kids can bring bibles to school and can pray there, how exactly has God been removed? Just because teachers do not force a certain version of religion upon their students, it doesn't mean that hell has erupted at school. These same folks would be angry beyond belief if a teacher was offering their views on Islam or encouraging their child to consider atheism. Religion and belief systems should be taught at home and shared at church. Church and State combined can only produce bastard and inbred results. What exactly is the prayer quota for keeping gun violence out of schools? Is 3 times a day good enough or is there another equation?
The NRA will send it's armies out in waves to try to debunk any relationship between guns and violence. We will also have political figures who will suggest making our schools into compounds with fences and body scanners. These folks will go to great lengths to distract from the real  discussion that is needed in America. This argument isn't unlike the healthcare debate. If every other modern Nation on the planet knows how to provide quality healthcare to everyone and they also have much less gun violence, are we above learning from tried and true methods? Lies can only be carried so long in a right wing bucket before they begin to evaporate. 
I, like many Liberal and Democrats, own guns and have my whole life. We are not trying to end gun ownership or to stop hunting or self defense but there comes a time, when the people become sufficiently pissed off and will demand change. Only certain people should own certain types of guns and some people shouldn't own any guns. The often quoted second amendment says "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. When this was written, the idea of a militia was relevant and there were no semi or fully automatic weapons as we know them today. Until we can have a discussion without the influence of big money and the NRA, we will continue on a downward spiral of violence and our kids will continue to pay for our sins of omission. 

The Southern Donkey Blog

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Hangover PartI

Now that the election is over and the good guys and girls have won, it's time to reflect on the events of the day. I assumed that we could at least have a day to enjoy the victory and that the losers would be in full retreat. I was wrong on both accounts. While I enjoyed a leaf and match moment after Ohio was called, there were others who were already crying foul, doom, disaster and decrying the end of human civilization. Don't even try to give me the insane talking point about how Democrats don't know how to lose or win with grace and dignity. Al Gore and the year 2000 is all the proof you would ever need to blow that theory away. We celebrate with positive affirming actions and look forward to a bright future when we win and when we lose, we accept defeat and begin the hard work of trying again. We don't make subversive and private deals to destroy the other sides governing power.
Perhaps the most disheartening things that have been posted on the day after the election are the extreme religious reactions and the failure of people to separate church and state within their lives. I was born and raised in a religious family and was given no choice in the matter until after high school. I remember when the attitudes at church in relation to politics changed in the mid 80's. The church became infected by the Reagan mentality and it was convinced by Falwell and others as to how much of a Saint this man was. The denomination that I came from consisted of non drinkers and they believed that anyone drinking would burn in hell but of course, this was overlooked when Ronnie would partake in giant beer chugs. Thanks to the 700 club, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Focus on the Family and christian radio, church and state have been joined in an unholy matrimony that can't be broken. The Christian world view is an offspring of this union and has brought guilt into the mix. I observed a post today claiming that God would bless the USA despite what happened in the election and some saying that this was God's way of bringing about the end of the world and the most concerning were the postings about how could they face their kids and church classes and what could they say after this election result? I have several statements for these types of people. Number one on the list would be that if you serve a God who produces political guilt in your soul, then I want nothing to do with your version of God. There is no moral high ground in following a political party and there is no eternal impact upon a person's soul if they vote against the party that you believe in or fail to vote. We have gone from being consumed with hatred of Muslim culture and it's practices to a place where we insist and expect anyone running for public office or participating in a sporting event to show their Christian credentials at every opportunity. Christian persecution does exist but it's in reverse. It's the Christians who are doing the persecuting. Try being a Deist or an Atheist, a Jew or a even a Catholic and see how easy it is to live a life of  freedom. I have long since walked away from all of the guilt and strings that the church attempted to place upon me. I find myself looking in from the outside and it's hard to imagine that I ever truly believed all of the rituals and mind controlling philosophies shoved upon the masses. Churches that insist upon preaching the gospel of politics should have their tax exempt status taken away and then we would see if the faithful flock would stick around without the tax deduction benefits. When they make a point of preaching hate, partisanship or discrimination, it's not a matter of Big Government suppressing their freedoms but it's a matter of getting what they've asked for and deserve. I see so much racism dressed up and disguised as religious freedom and political party association. When 90% of a church congregation supports drug testing for welfare recipients and yet has no problem with corporate welfare or subsidies for Big Oil which trumps social welfare at a 10 to 1 clip, something is horribly wrong. The prevailing mentality and unsaid insinuation is that welfare goes to Black Americans who do nothing but sit around all day looking at their fancy cars, smoking weed and drinking cheap wine that they bought with food stamps. If it wasn't based in racism, the accusation wouldn't sting so badly for right wing, Christian republicans.
Reaching across the isle has been mentioned a lot lately but it doesn't count if you're reaching across to join hands with another republican on the other side. Believe me, Democrats know how to reach out and extend olive branches and we also know first hand what it feels like to have our hands slapped and the olive branches thrown back at us at full speed. Democrats have moved so far to the middle that we've crossed midfield. Until republicans figure out that America means more than a pledge to Grover Norquist , we can never begin to solve our problems as a Nation. We stand ready and willing to work on big solutions to big problems but the road blocks get really freaking old.
The current political climate demands that anyone running for political office be supportive of drone attacks and killing terrorist at any cost. It's not that it's correct or proper but just a sign of the times. The defense contractors make millions from the operation, development and building of these items and they are huge political donors to the campaigns. Some day, a truly brave soul will stand up and speak out against the atrocities committed in the name of homeland security and hopefully, the American People will be ready to hear the message and change our ways for the better. Exporting war should be a last resort and not an excuse to create wealth for the richest corporations in the world.
All this being said, there were some moments of great meaning on election night. As I started interacting with the members of the Southern Donkey group, I became emotional as many responded and thanked me for doing what we do. I find great comfort in our numbers and could never convey just how much each and every one of you mean to me. It's times like these that make me know that it's all worth while and make me feel like we're making a difference. The South can be a beautiful place but only as attractive as the manner in which we treat our fellow man regardless of their skin color, religion, sexual orientation or wealth. The republican party continues to exert control and dominion over the South in elections and politics but it's not as one sided as it once was. Overall, the South is locked in an approx. 60/40 split between republicans and Democrats but my hope is that someday we can rise up and speak out without the instant judgement associated with daring to break away from the approved religious and political standards that many have come to expect and assume.

TSD 11/07/2012