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Motivation and Disability – Religion and Politics

As with just about any other thing in life, understanding of two subjects that seem separate from one another, but in reality are strongly related—in this case, motivation and disability—is not a simple thing with which to come to grips.

To begin with, the two seem entirely unrelated on first glance, and it’s not until you dig a little, that you begin to realize just how related the two really are.

To start my actual discussion of these two apparently unrelated things, I should begin by talking about a couple of folks I have known in the course of time who were unable to see (using their eyes).

The first was a mechanic (primarily diesel, as I recall) that I met many years ago. I don’t even recall his name, but it has literally been some forty years since I last saw him, and I only knew him fleetingly as a result of a school work experience program.

I may not have known him particularly well, but those I worked with in that program knew him quite well—at least from a work perspective (maybe personally too, I couldn’t say).

Multiple skilled mechanics had only high praise to heap upon the man. He was, they pretty much all acknowledged, as good a mechanic as they had ever met. Obviously, he had to “compensate” for his lack of visual acuity, by listening very carefully, using his hands with great skill, and to some lesser degree, counting on the visual ability of others to confirm things he could not discern through other means.

The man, it turns out, had worked in the same job for many years, and was a genuine asset to the organization for whom he toiled by all accounts I have ever heard.

Now let me leave my discussion of this man, to embark on the discussion of another, Johnny by name (not sure of the spelling).

I met Johnny rather more recently—only within the last five years. He ran (and I think, though I’m not sure, owned) a small restaurant that I came to frequent on a pretty regular basis for a time. To be fair, it was not anything like a five-star establishment. Even so, the food was good, as were the prices.

On most days, Johnny could be seen dealing with the same issues that any small businessman must confront and conquer. Will my staff be on time? Did this supplier actually send me what I ordered? Do I have enough of this or that?

On top of this, Johnny took phone orders (yes, you read that correctly), provided certain “side items” to his customers, and handled payment (including calculating prices in his head), and did many more things.

Rare was the day when I did not see Johnny at the counter of the little restaurant.

The point of bringing up these two individuals, is that, though they had what almost everybody would argue is a “legitimate disability,” neither person chose to allow that “drawback” to hold them back from doing things they decided they needed or wanted to do.

In fairness, not everybody having a disability (or more than one of them), can do everything he or she wishes to do or be all he or she wishes to be. As a matter of reality though, neither can those not possessing what appear to be any disabilities.

Put Simply we’re all “bound by” certain factors within both ourselves and in our environment. That’s an important realization.

An equally important understanding to have is, “We all have some sort of disability or disabilities.” That’s  not something I say to belittle or impugn those with more severe disabilities, or those who have greatly more difficult things with which they must deal. My simple point is that we all have our limitations. Some have far greater, some have comparatively few, but all have them.

I’m sure you’ve heard, too, of the world-renowned scientist, by name Stephen Hawking. I personally found Mr Hawking’s work to be questionable (more on a philosophical basis than a scientific one). Even so, I can’t imagine anybody counting Mr Hawking to have been anything but an amazing individual. And part of what makes this true, was his flat refusal to allow his “disabilities” to keep him from accomplishing a good many ends and purposes.

Do I at all assume that Mr (doctor?) Hawking’s road was at all easy? Do I think it likely I could have travelled that road with the same skill and ultimate finesse? The answer to both questions is an assured, “No.”

I’ve told you about just three “disabled” folks, but I’ve know a good many more who “made hay while the sun shone.” Some had horribly short and very difficult lives, some less difficult, some longer.

In the end though, the real question is, “Why was it that these folks accomplished so much, despite sometimes absolutely overwhelming difficulties?”

I submit that the answer was and is, “Motivation!” You see, when people decide they will accomplish even things that for them are very difficult, they may not always succeed, but when even comparatively able people don’t try, the chances are good they pretty much never do.

I further argue that we pretty much all possess disabilities, and that, even if we don’t start life with them, we come to “suffer them” along the course of our time on the planet.

When we become disabled—permanently or temporarily—we have a choice as to what we will do about it.

When you find life difficult, you can lay down and wait to die, or you can get up and act.

Remember too, even a person who lives a very long life is likely to be on this Earth for somewhere in the near vicinity of a hundred years. Of that time, the first twenty or more years, tends to be used “learning life.” Some people “get away with” less, some need a good deal more. 

For many, the last ten or more years are spent being cared  for by others.

This means that even out of a long life of around a hundred years, a likely bare minimum of thirty of those years will be spent somewhat unproductively.

You may think seventy years to accomplish your aims is a long time, be sure, by the time you’re over fifty, you’re likely to reconsider.

Final point? Life and time are precious commodities, for both, you get what you get and no more. “Able bodied” or not, I suggest you use your time to the best of your ability, counting each moment precious and  realizing when it’s gone, it’s gone.

Okay, here we are again, time to conclude this. May you have the best of times, and thanks for reading.

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Deflection and Inflation – Religion and Politics

One of the sad realities of discussions surrounding mortality—to be sure you read that correctly, not morality, mortality, as in death—in the United States (and frankly, probably around the World), is the tendency on the part of those talking about such things to not even begin to address the considerations that really need talked about.

There is a tendency to consider things like suicide (which at least, makes the “top ten” on most lists discussing causes of death), police brutality, the killing of “trans” folks, the killing of African Americans and a host of other things—which, don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all suggesting we totally ignore—rather than those things which are responsible for the deaths of the majority of those who cease to be in the course of a given year.

I didn’t look too hard, but the statistics I see at this point, indicate that the top three causes of death (which I grant, are aggregate in nature), account for more than 50 percent of all deaths in the United States (or did so in 2017, and I would be very surprised if that had changed substantially today). To wit, the “Top Ten” list on Medical News Today, is as follows:

  1. Heart Disease (23.4%)
  2. Cancer (22.5%)
  3. Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease (5.6%)
  4. Accidents (5.2%)
  5. Stroke (5.1%)
  6. Alzheimer’s Disease (3.6%)
  7. Diabetes (2.9%)
  8. Influenza and Pneumonia (2.1%)
  9. Kidney Disease (1.8%)
  10. Suicide (1.6%)

For your edification, the article talking about this can be found at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/282929.php

One need not be a genius to figure out that the top 10 on the list account for nearly seventy five percent of all deaths (73.8 percent, to be moderately precise).

It takes little more analysis to realize that all of the top six items on the list are either medical conditions or accidental in nature (and let’s be sure to mention only 5.2 percent are accidental, making a full sixty-five percent of deaths in the U.S., simply disease or physical condition related in nature—more than that, I’m sure, if you look at those below the “Top 10”).

As we walk through the statistics, we also ought to note another thing, murder is not even listed in the top ten. In fact, murder for the whole country for 2017 is shown at https://www.statista.com/statistics/195331/number-of-murders-in-the-us-by-state/ to be 17,284 people. 

Considering that suicides were listed on the former site, at 42,773, if one were to “do the math”, this means that murders would account for about .66 of a percent of all deaths in the United States in 2017.

Is this number appallingly high? Absolutely! Am I suggesting we ignore it? Not at all.

What I am saying though, is that this number is but a drop in proverbial the bucket of deaths in the U.S. over the course of the year of 2017 (just two years ago at the writing of this article).

My point? That we are ignoring a set of more major problems and sensationalizing a comparatively small number of activities and occurrences.

Those who are talking about suicide have almost three times as “many reasons” to do so, as do people talking about murder. People talking about murder in general, likely have a good deal more reason to talk, I’m relatively certain, than do folks talking about even the number of people killed in interactions with police (much less, those in which the police were incorrect in what they did).

Again, none of this is to say, “Ignore such things.” I just want to make it crystal clear what people are paying attention to, compared to what’s actually happening.

You may be thinking, “But what about ‘age adjusted’ mortality?” Put another way, you may be asking yourself whether or not you should care if more people die of heart disease by the time they’re sixty five, seventy or older, when people your age or younger are more likely to die in a car accident, or of suicide. Or if more people younger than you die of other things still.

My answer to this is, “Yes! You should be worried about that.” How can I say such a thing? Well I have a couple of pretty strong reasons. Firstly, where you’re more likely to die of different things at your present age, you’re also far less likely to die at your present age (assuming you to be twenty-something or thirty something) than when you’re older.

Secondly, I’m pretty sure if you look at the statistics, you’ll find more people are dying of things like heart disease today, than were dying of such things in years not-to-long-gone-by, and it seems to me we ought to be asking ourselves why this is the case. On top of this, you have relatives and friends who can and will die of the things that occur more frequently in the overall (read here, children, parents, siblings, grandchildren, etc).

Summing those two ideas up, the chances are, believe it or not, you’ll live to be old; the chances are, you’ll die of an “old person’s disease or condition.” You may have children, they are at risk of dying of “young people’s conditions and diseases.”

The result is, where I’m not telling you to be wary of the things that make take your life when younger—to be sure, you should—I am telling you that it’s not too early to think about those things that may well take your life as an older person (since the chances are reasonably good you’ll get to that place in life, seem like it now or not). And that you should consider the possibility that if you don’t have children now, you will in future, and they’re at risk for diseases and conditions that afflict the young.

All of this said, I find myself yet again (this happens to me periodically) in digression. Probably the most important thing I’m trying to say is, “People are worried about things that, though they are not entirely unworthy of concern, are not as worthy of concern as a good many other things.”

That’s the long and short of it. People run around, waving their hands in the air in wild gesticulation over police brutality, or the death of a single individual, perpetrated by some sick moron because the person being murdered was “gay” or “transgender.” I’m not saying that shouldn’t be a matter of some concern, just that maybe it’s not nearly as serious as some other things about which folks ought to be thinking.

Okay, here we are at the end of “time and space” yet again. As usual, may your time be good, and thanks loads for reading.

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On Boasting – Religion and Politics

The first reality of life is, one must decide what one will and will not be, and what one will and will not do, as a matter of internal integrity, of what to one is correct and what is incorrect.

That being said, I have a “bone to pick” with many posting on social media. This particular “bone” is most common on Facebook, but can be found in a variety of places, some of them somewhat less expected and obvious.

I’ve heard various terms applied to this type of post, but I choose here to refer to it primarily as the “boast post.”

The first and oddest thing about the “boast post,” is that it appears most folks don’t even realize they’re boasting. Rather, they see what they’re posting as something born of personal inspiration, meant to inspire others “in turn.” The problem is, the folks in question seem to be either unaware, or uncaring about the fact that at least some of what they’re saying ought to be for others to judge, not something they should be saying about themselves.

Being honest, I well understand that I was raised in both a time, and by a family that took this sort of thing rather seriously. What made this even “more of a thing” was that I did a good bit of my growing up in Australia—and not in the “big city” either. I have been wont to say, “People call Missouri the ‘show me state,’ I call Australia the ‘show me country.’”

In Australia—at least the parts in which I lived and in the times I lived there—you were considered a “poser” if you spent much time talking about who you were or of what you were capable. It was not at all uncommon for a person to ask another, “Can you do this or that?” and for the other to respond, “Nah.” Or, “I reckon.” That was as much as you got, and that was if one was asked.

I can’t remember how many times I found out that another person was capable of something I never would have guessed because he or she would not say as much, but do it.

Being raised in such an environment not only made for interesting (and not in a bad way) times, it changed the way I looked at what I and others said.

The first and probably most important thing it taught me is, boasting about who you are or what you are able to do is pretty much “wasted air.” If you can do something, the only question is, “Should I do this, and if so, when?”

That’s not to say you couldn’t do things like, put skills on a resumé, or tell people you would handle a given situation or circumstance, but there was no need to “hype” yourself or your skills. In fact, among those I knew, it was generally considered “bad form,” so to do.

The idea of blurting out “I am this,” or “I can do this,” was entirely unconsidered by most folks.

This not only saved embarrassment when you proved to not be able to do something, but caused folks to be pleasantly surprised when you could.

Now and then, when I feel it’s really appropriate, I will divulge information about my past (almost always in an entirely factual way, no self-aggrandizement involved). I usually do this to explain things about my point of view, or help another to put their current—or sometimes, past or future—situation in perspective. There are other reasons, but not many. For the most part, it’s entirely unnecessary for you to know more than a little about me, and that’s true even for those I count friends. That means it’s definitely true for others.

All of this is to make clear to those accustomed to “tooting their own horns” and those expecting to hear others do so, that there are folks out there that seldom if ever will. If a person can and feels the need to, do something or other, he or she will do it, nothing more needing said.

This assuredly applies to something that may well travel around the World, like a Facebook post. In fact, it’s even more applicable to such things. The world at large has no need to know of what I am capable, what I have done, or who I am as a rule.

That’s not to say one cannot do and say things to help others, just that as a rule, they need not involve you telling everyone who and what you think yourself to be.

The fact is, one of the most important things about public discourse of one sort or other, is to use it in general to build others up.  Generally though, that doesn’t and shouldn’t involve jumping up and down in print (or otherwise) and yelling, “Look at me! Look at me!”

In my mind, the second most important thing about social discourse, is to use it to help to “break people down,” but only for the express purpose of helping to build others up as better people. But in this purpose, I see no more need or reason to “talk oneself up” than in the first.

You may well come to the understanding, I am not “for bragging,” no matter how or where it’s done. If you do, you would be correct. It’s not just in social media posts that I have a problem with this form of expression. Frankly, I would prefer that folks were humble and deferential as a general rule. There are some exceptions to this preference, but not many and not often.

Final word? Before you choose to post something on social media, or frankly, say it out loud, truly think to determine whether it passes the “brag test.” If it sounds like you’re “talking yourself up,” chances are, it’s because you are. When that happens, take the time to decide whether or not you really want to do that, you may find yourself posting, or even talking with an apparently totally different attitude and perspective.

Okay, as is so often the case, this is where I need to “leave off.” As usual, may your time be good, and thanks of reading.

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On the Idea of Colonization – Religion and Politics

There are so many interesting, exciting and worthwhile things about getting older. Granted, there are some bad as well, but that’s probably true with just about everything you can name this side of Heaven.

One thing that happens is that one gains experience. This results in a number of different things, but one of them probably should be, that one should be quick to listen and slow to speak. That’s a lesson hard (and sometimes not well) learned for many. It’s been a hard one for me, though I think I have gotten better at doing this over the course of time.

One thing that makes this so significant is, one realizes he or she must take time to analyze what is said. One must work to understand where others are “coming from” and what they mean by what they say—two things that are definitely not always “in sync.”

In doing this, one (hopefully) comes to understand what others have correct and what they don’t have so correct. One can also examine the integrity of a presentation and help others—if they are willing to hear it—to spot anomalies like cognitive dissonance (the tendency towards non sequitur-ness of the process by which ends are achieved).

As usual, it may seem like what I’m saying here has little to nothing to do with the subject of this article. The reality is though, it has a great deal to do with it.

You see, there is a tendency for folks to fail to consider the ramifications of the concept of colonization—most particularly when it occurred more than two hundred years ago.

This brings me to my first point about the idea that people like myself are “colonizers.” You see regardless what my great-great-great grandparents did, I was born in the United States, and have lived here for the majority of my life. As such, expecting me to “de-colonize,” would pretty much require that I move from where I’m now living, which is, and has been for most of my life, my home. Further, I have never lived in any of my former or present home(s) illegally.

I wasn’t born where my ancestors were, I was born here, in the United States.

This is the first of many points I could make about this, but allow me to make just one or two more.

There are a good many folks who are making the claim that others should “leave their country” who have at least partial ancestry from the supposed colonizers. Even if one consider that some of them were “forced to unwillingly foster children to their colonizers,” still, the childen of such unions have questionable claim to the land at issue.

Equally importantly, a good many of the relationships in question were not “forced,” but entirely consensual. In such cases, the children technically have little standing to claim citizenship in any country.

One final point. History is absolutely replete with instances where one group “colonized” the land of others, sometimes by force, sometimes not. In fact, so common is such behavior, that it could certainly be termed “normal” in about every group of whom I’m aware.

The reality is, pretty much every group of people has at least encroached on the land of their neighbors—even more, entirely taken their land without supposed “right” so to do. What’s more, many groups have stretched their “colonization” to far more distant lands.

And I might say, even if Africans were dragged to the U.S . in chains (some where, some were not, but let’s assume for argument’s sake that all were), that doesn’t somehow magically give them any more “right to” the land upon which they now live, than the people who dragged them here.

Then again, their ancestors, just like my own may be considered colonizers, but just as with myself, the further away from the “colonization event” and the generation who came to the place where their families could lay no claim, the less you can continue to count them as colonizers and the more you must consider them native, regardless even fairly recent history.

In the end, the idea of colonization as an evil by default is questionable to begin with—the further back you go, the more questionable. By the way, this also goes for counting people in the modern day slave holders. Even if my ancestors held slaves (and it turns out that, as far as anyone is able to tell they didn’t), I never did and further, I would not do so. Nor for that matter, do I agree with the treating of any group of people as “second class citizens,” except it be as a result of actions, rather than things that cannot be controlled, like familial origins.

In the end though, the significant point about all of this, is that folks who were born in a given country—regardless the origin of their ancestors, are native to that country, the further back a generation was born in the country in question, the less able you are to argue that their ancestors citizens of the country of any ancestor’s origin.

Keeping in mind that you can make that argument for “anchor babies,” the difference would be that my forebears entered the country in which I live legally.

You may choose to argue that according to “modern laws” they would not have been considered legal, but this argument is specious, since attempting to apply law retroactively except where it exonerates people, is considered “bad form” just about everywhere.

So, in finality, the concept that I am a “colonizer” is ridiculous on the face of it, regardless the acts of my family long gone. And that certainly applies to the majority of people for which folks attempt to apply the term.

I would love to hear from anyone who can explain to me the “fly in my ointment,” though I’m doubting this will happen any time soon.

Okay, I think this is a good place to “close.” As such, may your time be good, and thanks as usual for reading.

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One Gets What One Gets – Religion and Politics

I very much doubt that anyone I know believes they would be sad or disappointed at living in a perfect World—in ideal circumstances at all times, as it were. The truth is, I’m not sure how long anyone would last in that world. To begin with, I know that my introduction to a perfect world would virtually immediately relieve it of its perfection. On top of this, I’m pretty sure that, were my version of perfection enforced, I would become very bored very fast. That being said, the first reality of life is that, we don’t get to do so in any case—at least not one we count perfect.

In fact, not only do we not get to abide in perfection, but the place in which we find ourselves would certainly be—at least by our own measure—quite distant from that “mark.”

Starting with this realization is important, because it allows us to see that there will people and things out there that are “less than ideal.”

Among those people, are folks who chose to live their lives committing a variety of infractions; some criminal in nature, some not.

For just a second, let’s talk about one group of such people, rapists.

If I hold with the idea that “no sin is greater than any other,” I would be inclined to count rapists no worse than any other sort of law-breakers. I have a hard time doing that myself (even though I have it on good authority that what I stated at the beginning of this paragraph is in fact, the case), and I don’t think I’m at all alone in that.

It seems to me that rapists—particularly strong men, who choose to rape weak women (with no implication that women are always weaker than men, or that this is the only kind of rapist)—are a pretty horrible lot of human beings.

Further, it seems to me that it’s entirely unreasonable to tell women (or men, if they are raped), that they are “responsible for” the act that has obviously been perpetrated upon them.

I think the majority of my fellows on the planet can agree with me upon what has been said to this point, and frankly, I think if they were to open their hearts and minds, they would find themselves agreeing with what follows as well.

Here’s where things get a little tough for a lot of people to take, though. The fact is, where it assuredly is not the “fault” of the person being raped, that how they dressed or acted caused the rapist to respond by raping them, the person having been raped may well have acted or dressed in ways that attracted the attention of the rapist. And as little as I like it, doing so may have made them into a “target” where that person is concerned.

Let’s be clear here, I can not even imagine having relations with a woman outside of marriage. I personally have no time for “casual sex.” I have even less time for forcing others into sexual activity against their will.

And the thing is, though those standards apply to me alone (that is, I cannot ask or expect others to abide by them, as they are crafted by me, according to my beliefs and intentions), I think almost everybody can agree with some part of my statements that indicate how I view sexual interaction. I think too, that they can count that part of my personal standards, to be reasonably codified into law.

To wit, I believe the average person would agree that unwanted sexual advances and activity by one or more parties towards two or more affected parties, should not be acceptable according to the law.

The problem is rapists don’t follow the law. They do what they desire, likely even being perfectly and completely aware that what they’re doing is incorrect.

To be “fair,” in this regard they are far from alone. Most people have a tendency to act in direct contravention with the law, and even with that which is morally or socially considered by the vast majority, to be right and proper.

But certain “crimes” are, rightly or not (and I’m not willing to argue the rectitude of such a thing at present), considered far more serious than are others. Rape is among the aforementioned, and understandably (correctly or not) so.

Here’s the thing though, if I walked down a street known to have an excessive problem with criminal activity on it, waving a stack of one hundred dollar bills and yelling, “I have all this money and no idea what I should spent it on.” Would anyone be surprised if someone decided I was a good target for robbery?

Would it matter even for a moment that my taking the actions I have talked about, “Shouldn’t cause me to be a target of aggressive action on the part of others?” I’m sure just about everybody would be strongly inclined to argue this was not the case. The simple reality is, when you have folks around you who are inclined toward breach of law, if you present them with ready targets, you probably ought not be surprised when they “take advantage.”

Being crystal clear, by no means am I saying even a little bit, that they cannot be blamed, held accountable, and punished for their actions. Even so, making oneself a target is not a wise expenditure of time or effort. This is true even if that was not the intent of the person having made him or her self a target.

Again, in saying this, I do not mean even that those having perpetrated crimes on others who feel they can state that they were “provoked,” should necessarily be more lightly dealt with than those who seem to be able to provide no provocation.

Further, am am not saying that the supposed “provocateur” is somehow guilty of even inspiring, much less directly causing the attack.

Takeaway? The World is the World, those in it are those in it. You won’t stop the World from being what it is, or the people thereon from being who and what they are. One thing we can do though, is at least try to not provoke those who will act inappropriately.

Okay, out of time and space. As such, allow me to wish you the best of times, and thank you for reading.