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Pets Versus People – Religion and Politics

It’s difficult for me to imagine a less useful thing, than to make fun of, or belittle those who love their pets—whatever type of pet they may be. I assure you that I have no intent so to do.

It is more than a little understandable that people form bonds with critters of various kinds. I have myself, in time past, had “friends” who “lived” in or around my house. As a rule, that meant the home of my family, either the one over which my father presided, or the one over which it can be said I did (and do).

You may imagine I am saying this in order to make a position plain so that people don’t assume I have ill intent towards such folks. Even more so, I know that people form emotional attachments with their pets. The result being that anybody who makes certain suggestions about either their behavior or how the ought or ought not treat or deal with their “loved non-humans” can and often will  evoke an emotional response—and sometimes one that is quite strong.

You can be assured that I am not trying to elicit from anybody, either  a mildly indignant emotional response, or one that is much more strongly or severely emotional.

What was said to this point though, is intended to be precursive to the main point of this article. The primary consideration for discussion, is what (obviously in my view),  is the comparative “value” of human and non-human life.

I can already hear the grumbling, but this is such an important thing to me, that I feel very strongly about proceeding to discuss it.

I may not entirely understand how you feel about the non-human lives you love so much. That’s entirely fine. I don’t believe I need to.

I want to take a second to present you with a quick scenario; I ask you to bear with me.

I would like for you to consider any desperate situation, put yourself in to a place where there are two living creatures counting on you, one being a dog, cat or other such beloved creature, the other being your child or significant other.

The situation is such that you can save one or the other, but not both. It doesn’t take any genius to figure out that such situations occur.  The obvious question is, “What now?” Do you save your child or life partner? Or instead, do you save the non-human entity?

I think I’m pretty well aware how most folks will answer this question. I would assume that most people would choose—not without trepidation and very likely extreme sadness, mind you—the human. If this is not the case for you, I suggest you might really think about that.

Here’s the thing, I have presented a situation where the lines were pretty clear. Now let’s imagine one where things are not so well defined.

Instead of your child or life-mate, replace the “human” element with a stranger who looks like someone with whom it a appears you could be great friend, yet have never actually met. In all of the exercises, assume the non-human to be a well-loved pet or companion.

Looking at the modified picture, I’m going to bet that the majority of folks will still be far more likely to choose the human over the non-human.

In fact, I’m pretty sure most folks would support saving a person who may well have only days to live and is not so wonderful a human-being over a non-human, even if it is greatly loved.

Like it or not, even the vast majority of folks with pets or companions that are not human and are very much loved and enjoyed, would almost certainly save or cause to be saved a human, rather than the revered non-human.

You can question the sanity and rectitude of such a decision as much as you like. Nonetheless, this is the case. And it’s not because the people hate, don’t like, and in many cases even don’t love their non-human “friends.”

I contend that, rather than their lack of love and care, it is because they far more count humans and their existence and worth to be greater than those loved non-human companions.

Again, I can well imagine that there are those with non-human animate companions who are grumbling loudly, but even so, I cannot imagine them not agreeing with what I’m asserting here. I want to make it crystal clear that I don’t at all berate their love for their non-human companions. Nor do I in any wise fail to accept, how strong such feelings might be.

I think everyone is well aware just how strongly many of those with non-human “friends” feel when it comes to those friends. And you can be assured I am not telling them there is anything wrong with those feelings. Even so, there are “levels and tiers” to life.

As much as most folks love their friends, they love their families more. Though many folks love cousins or uncles—even parents very dearly, they would severely grudgingly save their own progeny at the sacrifice of their less-close or slightly-less-loved or protected, family members.

Obviously, I would not wish upon any human being, any of the situations presented in this article. Nobody wants for others to suffer the horrible circumstances suggested. What I have done is strictly to present you with “though-exercises”—tools you can use to decide what is foundational to your beliefs. What I have done, is to provide you with “what-ifs” that will help you to “re-align” your thinking.

You love your various non-human “pals?” Great! You want to treat them in ways that others consider, “over-the-top?” Fine!

Though this is the case, I ask you to seriously evaluate not just what is more important to you, but to those are around you, special to you, loved by you.

It’s not just okay for you to love your dog, your cat, your snake, your lizard—whatever—it’s fine with just about everybody. Never forget though that your human family and friends almost certainly are more important (even though it often doesn’t seem like it a lot of the time).

Okay, out of time and words. Here’s hoping your time is good and that you’ve enjoyed reading. 

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Robin Hood – Religion and Politics

We’ve all heard the name, fictional though it is, and to so many, he is a hero—Robin Hood.

In reality though Mr Hood is anything but a hero. In fact he sounds a great deal more like government than about anything else for which one might mistake him. The primary difference being that government takes far more that they don’t need or deserve than would Robin Hood for himself.

Other than that though, he bears a striking resemblance to much of the World’s modern government. Take from the “rich” and give to the “poor.” The first interesting fact about this idea is that, perhaps in the time when Robin lived, it was truly possible to know by some measure other than look and the apparent opulence thereof, who was and who was not wealthy.

The second idea, is that it appears that, in Robin’s world, there were pretty much only the rich and the poor. Put another way, the concept of a “middle class” seems to have been an entirely foreign one.

Now to be fair, in many societies, this has tended to be not too far from reality. It has not been very long at all, that South Korean society more or less entirely lacked a middle class of any size at all. People there tended to either be rich or poor. There was little in between them. This may therefor, be said to be fairly true in Robin Hood’s world as well.

Even so, there are some interesting realities to be explored in the story. One thing is that, where some of the people who happened to be wealthy may have come by their gains illegitimately, we have to ask, “Was this always the case?” If not, the question arises, “Did Robin Hood distinguish between the ‘noble’ rich and the ignoble?”

I’m no expert on Mr Hood, but I see in most of the presentations celebrating his escapades, no such distinction. It’s entirely possible that those telling the tale simply see no reason to talk about the existence of those who were not wealthy as a result of ignobility. This seems highly unlikely, but it’s possible.

But even if we ignore the possibility that one may acquire substance without defrauding others in the process, there are other issues with the tales I have heard.

One such conundrum surrounds the idea expressed in an old adage I have in past employed. The essence of the saying in question being, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a liftetime.”

I should say, to begin with, that this expression is actually incorrect. Why? Because if teach a man to fish, you make it possible for that person to feed him or her self for a lifetime. Put simply if you teach a person to fish, you take yourself out of the equation in large part.

What Robin Hood appears to have done, by and large, is give people fish. What this means in the long term is, most of those people were probably little better off after his actions than before them. And let’s be fair, if that were not the case, unless Mr Hood actually did differentiate between the noble and ignoble rich, as time went on, those who gained from his actions likely ultimately became his potential targets.

While we’re at it, let’s consider another idea. Let’s think about the concept that Mr Hood chose to take wealth, and rather than use it to build a lasting legacy for himself—making so he could help so many more people with what he created than continuing to risk his life and liberty—forgetting that of his “merry band of thieves”—instead “gave it away,” making it so he continued to count on others for his ability to “help others.”

If by this point, you’re not seriously questioning the fictional legacy of Robin Hood, I have to ask if you’re really paying attention to what I’m saying.

Even if you’re not, perhaps you should consider the lesson Mr Hood passes on to those younger than himself.

One of the interesting realities of life, is that folks looking on already don’t tend to  pick up on nuances regarding the things those people do. Imagine, for example, in Robin Hood’s case, that children watching him rob others are entirely unaware of a couple of facts:

  1. That he wasn’t just keeping what he got.
  2. That he was robbing people because they were the “ignoble” rich.

The second is more likely, I think, than the first, but both are certainly possible. You see, Robin Hood never seems to be concerned about the appearance of his actions. I’m not saying that one ought to go about failing to take action because what one does appears to be something other than what it actually is. I am saying that controversial actions are more likely to result in misunderstandings, than standard or uncontroversial ones. As such, a person doing things that are “out of the ordinary,” ought probably to be more concerned about how he or she looks to others doing them.

Adding all of this up, you really begin to wonder exactly why it is that Robin Hood has gathered such a “following.”

As for me, I believe the reason to be that there are a good many people out there “guilty of wishful thinking.” The problem being that those folks often more or less completely fail to consider the unintended consequences of the actions they applaud.

From the standpoint of a “poor person,” it probably seems like a wonderful idea that someone is “taking from those that have” and “giving to those who don’t.”

One of my favorite economists (Thomas Sowell by name) makes an interesting point about this approach to life. At least in the United States, the rich don’t necessarily stay rich and the poor generally aren’t always poor. If we apply the “If it’s good for one, it’s good for all.” Measure with which so many seem to agree, that would mean a poor person who managed to acquire wealth would become a target of such a philosophy.

There’s certainly more I could say here, but as is often the case, I have “run out of time and words.” As such, they probably will find themselves taken up in another article. As usual, thanks for reading and I hope your time is good.

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Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” – Religion and Politics

Most who know me are well aware that Christmas as celebrated is not an important thing to me. Visiting family can be a fun and exciting time for many. Getting gifts is a desirable thing for most, particularly young, people.

Where I’m not inherently against either thing, I do consider the timing of at least the second to be bad. This is all contingent on the idea that one believes the birth of Jesus called Christ was on or near Christmas day (as it happens, I do not, which makes the point more or less moot but for the fact that the day is “sold as such”).

That having been said, I wanted to take the time to focus on something that was, for me, a periodic tradition in my family in the Christmas season, my mother’s reading of the Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol.”

You see, in these days where many expect government to “make everything right,” in my opinion, it’s important to come to the understanding that Dickens seemed to desire no such thing. In fact, I would be surprised to hear he didn’t think it more or less impossible.

I wanted to take a moment to discuss this idea by talking about one of the passages out of the book, and possibly expounding somewhat on what was meant by what was said. Let me quickly  quote a piece of the text of the tome:

It certainly was; for they had been two kindred spirits. At the ominous word “liberality,” Scrooge frowned, and shook his head, and handed the credentials back.

“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”

“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.

“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

“And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”

“They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”

“The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.

“Both very busy, sir.”

“Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”

“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”

“Nothing!” Scrooge replied.

“You wish to be anonymous?”

“I wish to be left alone,”

I know that without the text around it, there are pieces that will make less sense. To explain Mr Scrooge and Mr Marley (his erstwhile partner) owned a “counting house.” Neither believed at all in charity. The word “liberality” can be understood in this instance to—at least in part—represent the word “charity.” I think most of the rest of the text is pretty self-explanatory.

Two important things come to light when reading this extract. The first of these, is that if not all, most of the entities about which Mr. Scrooge speaks are government entities. The remainder are those put in place by businesses and other such entities.

It can be argued that government has changed in a great many ways since this passage was written—even in the country in which it was written, England. On the other hand, it can also be argued that government cannot be trusted to stay as it is, or do things in proper and efficient ways based on the fact that it has been as described and could well be again, protests to the contrary aside.

The second thing of importance to note, is that the gentlemen who came to talk to Mr Scrooge did not come to talk to him about supporting government programs, or even business or organizationally sponsored programs in aid of the poor or needy. Rather, they wanted to discuss the idea of his contributing in the form of charitable donation, to the cause of pretty much directly helping those in need.

I’ll be the first to admit that, sometimes folks are made into legends or otherwise lionized for less than perfect ideas. On the other hand, I believe that many looking at Mr Dickens were interested in lifting him up on the basis of a misunderstanding of what he intended to say.

Further, I think that a lot of folks today who count themselves among the Liberal and “warm hearted,” fail to see that Mr Dickens is not about “letting the government handle” poverty and the like. Rather, from what is here written, it seems obvious he accounted the place of every able person to help those in need through charity—the giving to those in need liberally as a private matter.

You may agree with Mr Dickens. You may find Mr Dickens’ premises to be in some fashion “broken.” Be that as it may, please do not try to make his words an attempt to say that government should be in charge of (or, really heavily involved in) helping those in need, for he seems to have said no such thing.

I have to acknowledge that it took me reading these words as an adult, to come to a clear understanding of what was being said. If you read them, or were read them as a child or young adult, I encourage you to read them again. Doing so may well change your perspective,  at least with regard to Mr Dickens’ intent, if not on how poverty should be “handled.”

Okay, out of time and just in time (also out of “words”). As always, thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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Free Isn’t Free – Religion and Politics

I have to acknowledge that the subject about which I’m going to speak in this article is one that has been addressed by thousands of people in oh-so-many ways. I further must make it clear that likely none of my expression will not have been made by at least one or more of the people having talked about the subject. I’m proceeding on the basis that, maybe some folks who have not seen the message will see it here, and that maybe I can help it make sense to them.

One of the political mantras heavily bandied about by certain political groups, can be summed up in the idea, “We’ll give everybody free this or free that.” Some folks even go so far as to say, “You deserve free this or that.”

The two things I hear this idea so commonly applied to are education and health care. There are many more, of course, food and housing (particularly when you’re in “hard times”), and other things that people consider “basic necessities.”

There is a basic problem with this approach to things—several actually, I may cover only one here, I may try to get into some others, depending on space considerations.

The one problem I most want to cover is the idea that, “Free isn’t free.” It sounds like a very odd thing to say, so let me take some time to explain what I mean.

In the U.S. Medical system, there are a variety of people who spend a great deal of time becoming “qualified” to do what they do. Nurses are a great example. They go to school for relatively long periods, study things that are not easily understood, become adept at “patient management,” and for all of this, they pay (or somebody else does).

Obviously, and this is no slight on nurses at all, doctors take even longer to become “qualified.” First earning the “title” of Medical Doctor (MD), then more often than not, going through yet more training to become specialists in some field, and again, somebody pays for that process (whether a hospital to which they go to work for far less than they can make elsewhere, or the individual him or her self).

And this is but the beginning. If a doctor, a nurse or another healthcare professional is to afford to eat, to have a place to live, to be able to “afford” children (in order to help propagate the human race), he or she must be paid for what he or she does.

It can be argued that some medical professionals (doctors, for example), make far too much money—that they could “afford to” live on a good deal less than they make. Though I can say that the argument is valid, it should be understood that the person in question devoted a large part of his or her life to becoming proficient at what he or she does. As if that’s not enough, he or she must then constantly continue to study to stay abreast of changes in his or her area of expertise. This is no mean feat.

But even if one could get doctors and nurses to “work for free” (in itself an entirely unreasonable idea), there is still the cost of buildings, the production of various medications, and so many more things surrounding health care—and the more “holistic” the care, the more things there are to be considered (food and drink while in a facility can, for example, be considered health care in such a setting).

The argument has been made that free to the person being treated is not the same as cost-free, and it is a valid argument. Yet again though, the point is, someone must pay. This, by nature, means the thing discussed is not free. I should also make it plain that this is already happening. The government collects taxes for medicare and medicaid, for example. I can spend my entire life paying those taxes and never come close to recouping what I paid into them. In fact, the more carefully I plan my retirement, the less the chance I will see a penny from either.

The important “takeaway,” though, is that this is already happening, and not just through medicare or medicaid either. When you go into a “state hospital” and lots of “private” ones, they are required to treat in emergency situations before even talking about payment. When they do talk about payment, they are required to give you terms that are wholly unreasonable for them and all but “take you off the hook” when it comes to paying for service (“Ten thousand dollars of service? You have to pay five dollars a month until it’s paid off.”). It doesn’t take a genius to see that the facility recovering the cost will take basically your entire lifetime. Then of course, payment typically cannot be coerced. You must pay it voluntarily

The best part of all of this? The agencies responsible for the various programs that make all of this possible, spend a huge  amount of time and effort combating fraud. People see a possibility to “get over on the system (mostly “providers, ” but often “patients” too) and take the chance they will not get caught doing so.

The infrastructure for managing these programs is enormous. I have worked in support of them myself (not directly, mind you, there is a ton of “indirect support”)—from multiple angles.

Okay, I’m running out of time and space, but I wanted to take the time to say one more thing. That being, I think we should attempt to help others when and where possible, but I think the systems and infrastructure in place for doing that today (both free and for pay), need a good deal of “oversight” (and frankly, not by government) in order to reduce the sometimes-ridiculous cost of care.

Let’s be clear, I am not saying that all care is overly expensive, just that at least some, if not much of it is. That, however, is the subject of another post.

As usual, thanks for reading, and may your time be good. 

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Yes, That’s “Racism” Too – Religion and Politics

If you’ve read much of what I’ve written, and most particularly if you’ve read anything I’ve written on the concept of “racism,” you’ve probably come across a disclaimer similar to the one I’m about to write.

In essence, I don’t really believe in the idea of racism. This is because I consider race among humans to be a largely arbitrary, entirely non-scientific distinction or set thereof. That doesn’t mean that people don’t discriminate and form prejudices on the basis of what they like to refer to as “race.” It simply means that I don’t agree to race as the true basis for their discrimination or prejudice.

Having gotten this out of the way, allow me now to proceed with the subject about which I intended to write this post.

I was having a generally amiable discussion with someone about the fact that a friend of theirs only “preferred” men from a given ethnic group. Who the person was, about whom they were talking, and the ethnic group are not significant (and, in fact, it would cause more harm than good to occur if I were to disclose them here).

A part of the conversation was how others had reacted to the “look of” the person of that group she had taken to an event on a “date.” I can’t say with any certainty, but it sounded like the folks were telling the young lady in question, that they “didn’t feel right about him because of his look,” and that what they said may have been a matter of his ethnic origin. If so, that would have been “racism.” I will say, that sometimes, regardless of how well a person “cleans up,” I’m able to look at that person, and decided I don’t care for their mannerisms or attitudes, and that those “come across in” their, “look.” That being said, I am not trying to excuse the bias since I can’t know what caused it to exist in the first place. On the other hand, I flatly refuse to find the statements made by the others irrational, discriminatory or prejudiced without more and clearer information.

The thing I find interesting is that the person with whom I was speaking, indicated that the person about whom he or she was speaking was not being discriminatory (read here, racist), by “choosing to be with” only men from the ethnic group in question.

I want to make something plain. I have never seen any ethnic group that didn’t have women in its ranks, that were not attractive to me. This includes—I should make clear—people of “mixed ethnicities.” And I have never had a mindset that I would restrict with whom I would or would not be in a relationship based on ethnicity. Don’t believe me? My first wife was Korean, the next was a “non-Hispanic European,” and the last (probably in every sense) is Hispanic. Just because I haven’t dated or been in a relationship with folks of other ethnicities, doesn’t mean—were it possible (it is not)—that I wouldn’t be in a relationship with somebody in that ethnic group; it only means I haven’t been.

You see, from my perspective, I am “about” the “person inside the skin,” not the outward appearance. In fact, the older and more experienced I have become, the more this is the case.

But I need to get back to the point—please forgive me for having “strayed,” even if what I have said is related.

When a person of European ancestry “lifts up” only people of similar lineage, can you agree that such a person is guilty of discrimination and prejudice? I can! The basis for “lifting folks up” ought not be the person’s parentage, rather it should be merit.

The point here is actually pretty simple. Whether you’re discriminating or forming a prejudice against some group, or discriminating or forming a prejudice for a given group, you’re still guilty of discrimination.

To be clear, that’s not inherently  a bad thing. Yes, I  do discriminate and hold prejudices against rapists and murderers. Is that wrong? I don’t tend to think so, most particularly if they done such things multiple times.

Discrimination and prejudice have—it can be readily argued—“gotten a bad rep.” I have said this before, and maintain it to this day.

You don’t eat moldy food as a rule. You don’t count serial killers good and proper by and large (if at all). These are examples of “acceptable discrimination and prejudice.”

That being said, when you hold one thing up over another as “better than” that other, if you do so on a basis like the amount of melanin in the thing’s skin, I have to wonder if you have really thought things through.

I get that one might like or support a given culture. Personally, I’m fine with that to a point. An example would be dating only people of asian heritage, based on cultural attitudes and perspectives. Where that begins to “go wrong,” is when people allow such things to affect choices with regard to things like work, or cause harm to come to people of other groups, based on that discrimination and prejudice “for” or “against” one more groups.

Personally, I have a hard time “limiting the field” even based on cultural differences. There are a few such limitations I have in place, but funnily, they do not tend to fall on such lines as a given person’s country of origin (or that of their family).

You must make decisions about who you will be and what you will or will not support. That considered, I truly hope you will think seriously about your prejudices and those things against which you discriminate and decide whether or not your choices are good ones.

As for me, I am constantly  examining how I deal with people, what I consider reasonable and what I don’t. And I see no future in which I don’t “continue that trend.”

Okay, I think I’m ready to “call this post done.” As usual, may your time be good and thanks for reading.

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If Only I Were… – Religion and Politics

I wonder how many older people, when they were younger, did not have the thought, “If I were rich, the world would be a better place.” I’m not saying that’s exactly what they would have thought; nor am I telling you that’s exactly what I thought. What I am  saying is that just about everybody has thoughts of this type when they’re younger. I pick on this particular idea for a reason that often causes me to begin a blog post—someone I know wrote or shared something that basically echoed an old sentiment long gone from my mind in its original form.

I’m going to take the time to address this idea, not for this idea alone, but because it’s pretty exceptional in demonstrating the “folly of youth” through which most everyone passes—myself assuredly included.

I can distinctly remember thinking how I could (and, of course would) make the world a better place were I just wealthy. That was a good place to start but not a good place to stay. To begin with, unless one has the mindset to get and stay well-off, the chances one will become or remain so are rather low. I’m not saying that I could never be or continue to be “rich,” but I am saying that doing so without a perspective that continually seeks wealth is not highly likely.

What that means “out of the gate,” is that, my desires aside, unless I gain control of someone else’s resources or acquire the correct mindset, I will never put my, “If I were only…” plan into action.

But let’s dream for just a moment. Let’s assume that I somehow managed to get wealthy, and we’ll even go to the place where I stayed that way. Obviously, the level of opulence matters. If I were but a millionaire, my ability to change outcomes would be much more limited than if I were, say, a billionaire. Keep in mind that the average retirement planner will tell you that you should have at least million dollars to retire comfortably. So if I became a millionaire, would I just go ahead and help people, or would I seek to become a billionaire where I could help so many more?

What this leads to, is the idea that helping people is not really dependent on what you have. You can help folks when you have next to nothing (In fact, this is a long established idea, so much so that it’s found in the Bible).

But here’s the kicker. Let’s say I end up with enough substance that I never have to worry about money again (a pipe dream, by the way, since things outside one’s control can cause fortunes to dwindle to oblivion without constant care). Now I start to give to and help, those I see as being “in need.”

Firstly, there are those I don’t see. Those never get my help unless I seek them out or they come to me (not highly likely).

Secondly, the decision regarding who needs help, now rides (to the degree that I choose to help them or not) on my shoulders. If my perspective regarding those needing help is “broken,” so also will my actions be. The result is, inasmuch as I am the one choosing where my substance ends up, what will “make that choice” is my viewpoint on what “neediness” looks like.

To add to this pile, many people hold that the rich are the reason the poor are poor (a fallacy, but worth addressing). If only the rich didn’t hoard their resources, the poor would be “taken care of.” This is, of course, not true. Why? Because as a rule, unlike what folks assume, the rich did not get where they are by robbing the poor. In fact, if they did anything, it was to try to help others while they amassed that which they had.

They paid people (a thing they didn’t have to do, they could have stayed poor as well) to work for them, and help them to accomplish wealth. And those people got something out of the process. Maybe they didn’t get everything they ever desired, but funnily, the wealthy person probably never got that either. The truth is though, rich folks seldom ever get there alone.

If you look at a corporation like Microsoft, you realize that it has produced multiple rich folks, even more well-off folks, and even more who were at least content with what they ended up with as a result of working for Microsoft.

On top of this, that corporation produced at least one billionaire who has created multiple vehicles designed to help needy folks.

Funny thing is, with all of those folks with resources trying to help others to “not be in need,” most of the time, the best they accomplish is temporary aid.

There are so many “old sayings” out there and many of them sound wonderful, but one of my all time favorites is, “If you give a person a fish, you feed that person for a day, if you teach them how to fish, you feed that person for a lifetime.”

The first important point is, this expression has little to do with fishing, and much more to do with helping people to not need the resources of others so much to survive. That’s not to keep people from “taking what is mine,” you understand. Rather it’s to make it so when I have not, or am no longer around, they can continue to survive regardless my ability or existence.

The simple reality is, the more we count on others to survive or be healthy and happy, the less chance there is that we will remain that way!

I’m not saying that one ought not participate in society. Nor am I saying one ought not help those “less fortunate” (a very temporal idea, by the way). Rather, I’m saying, “Maybe only a small part of help is giving somebody something right now.” Perhaps a more important thing, is to help people to understand that, unless they develop the needed “survival skills,” they will continue to be dependent on others for their survival.

Okay, out of time and over my word count—never out of things to say! May your time be good and thanks for reading.

Health and Fitness Philosophy Politics Religion Religion, Politics and Philosophy

Love Versus… Everything Else – Religion and Politics

I can’t think of any subject about which I both feel myself less qualified to speak and less able to fully understand than the subject of love. Sadly, love is—at least to me—one of those things about which one can say, “I may not be able to tell you what love is, but I can assuredly tell you what it is not.” And before we get off into, “Love is different for everyone.” Allow me to take a moment to talk about why that’s not the case.

I will readily acknowledge that, when one person uses a word, he or she is likely to mean something different than when another person uses the same word. What I am unwilling to accept, is that this is the way things ought to work. More correctly, the fact that I mean one thing when I use a word, and somebody else means another, should result in one of three things:

  1. I should strive to understand a definition that would clearly express what the other person means when they use a particular word. This is the least desirable of the three, since it only facilitates clear communication between me and typically, a single other person.
  2. I should clarify the definition of important terms through some mechanism; the more complete a mechanism, the better. This can be cumbersome and time consuming, and so, is the second best of the three.
  3. Society at large should work to use language as it was intended, which of course, first required that we work to understand how language was intended to be used. Though this is the most desirable, it is far and away, the hardest to attain. Since the definition of one word is likely to be built on other words which may be equally badly defined, it is likely that folks will come away with different meanings without a great deal of work.

Given the above, it seems to me that the most likely to be “successfully implemented,” is the second—though even the second option relies on people “taking away” the same things from a given definition. As such, I will attempt here, to give what I consider a reasonable “definition for” the word, “love.”

I’m entirely sure my “definition” will be called into question by others. I’m not only okay with that, but as far as I’m concerned, such social discourse is instrumental in coming to agreement about things. Now comes the hard part, defining love. I have sought to do something similar in lesser ways in prior posts (usually as a “sub-point” to some “more major” consideration for the article in question); let me see if I can “nail things down” somewhat here.

To begin with, allow me to make a distinction between the concept of “love” and the concept of “lust” that is appropriate in my view. Lust is based on chemical interactions in one person, typically when confronted with another person. It is largely, if not entirely physical in nature. When a man says, “I like or love women or men.” They’re typically taking in a superficial way, and one that largely encompasses the physical. You’ll often find that the person in question is drawn to a particular trait or set thereof as well. And if, over time, the person possessing that trait (or those traits) ceases to do so, the person who lusts after them is far less likely to be interested in them. They will often make excuses rather than admit the truth.

Now let’s talk for just a second about the word like. Just as with lust, a person who likes another person, will likely have transitive interest in that person. Put another way, if and when one person likes another, he or she may “fall out of like” with that person based on some quality he or she believes the other does or does not possess. This—equal to lust—is not love.

I would venture to say that the average person who is not a parent (and even many who are) has never experienced love. Allow me to try to illustrate the difference between love and other feelings or emotions from a parental perspective.

Each of my children has done one thing or another that would be a “deal-breaker” in most relationships at some point or other. They may have chosen to break with me over such things, but I have not chosen to break with them over them. You see, I love my children, and a part of that, is being unwilling to ever entirely “let go of” that child. They may not see that as being the case, but I promise you it is. That doesn’t mean we’re not often separated by a lot of space. It also doesn’t mean that I “force myself” upon my children. What it does mean though, is that I will never give up on, nor count my relationship with one of my children “over.”

As a younger man, I refused to accept that this was what love looked like. As a result, I got into more than one relationship that should have been “permanent” (inasmuch as any relationship can be), but where the relationship fell apart.

In pretty much every case, part of the “blame” was mine, and part the other person’s. Even so, since I can only be responsible for me, I take full responsibility in every case. I’m not saying I beat myself over the head with my responsibility, just that I recognize it.

I’m rapidly running out of space so allow me to take a moment to say just one more thing about love and what it isn’t. Love is not always giving the person you love what they think they want.

This is an important lesson learned at least in part from parenting. Children think they want things that may well have permanent, harmful consequences. As a parent, my refusal to give them what they want is often an outward manifestation of love, not the failure to love.

Okay, out of time and space. As usual, allow me to wish you good times, and thank you for reading.