To borrow a few words from the eloquent North Carolina preacher whose infamous rant is captured in the video clip at right: It makes me pukin' sick to listen to this kind of vitriol being spewed from pulpits in the United States of America. And you know what? I'm uh-gin' it.
There are two issues to consider here. One, of course, is whether the Tar Heel State was somehow excluded from the 21st century and is still living in the 1950s while most of the rest of the country occupies 2012. Other recent headlines and events emanating from there seem to reinforce the possibility. The church whose pastor is responsible for these hateful (if barely intelligible) remarks is located less than 40 miles from Charlotte, the state's largest city. Sad — and scary.
The other issue at play is the poisonous effect that religion can have on a society. A few months ago, I tried (with very limited success) to articulate this in another blog post, borrowing the agnostic concept that there is a difference between belief and truth.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Monday, May 21, 2012
|Here's me — a tiny, insignificant being — standing |
inside a living thing that was itself once tiny and insignificant.
This weekend was no exception. During my first hike of the season — an amazing eight-mile trek through deep forest alongside a rushing mountain stream, decorated with crashing waterfalls and moss-covered boulders — I came across the massive, ancient tree pictured at right. The tree was obviously still alive, but it was so enormous and so old that the inside of its trunk had hollowed out over the years. High up in the air were live branches, sustained by the thickness of the tree's walls, which still provided a pathway to the roots.
Inside the hollow trunk was an almost cavernous shelter. Someone could have easily camped out in there. I probably would have wanted to if my hiking buddies had been staying overnight.
Two thoughts came to mind during my encounter with this tree:
- How tiny, insignificant, and fleeting must I be if I can stand inside a tree that not only dwarfs me, but was around long before I existed, and most likely will still be there long after I'm gone?
- How does something so enormous, majestic, and ancient result from a tiny, fragile seed that could have been washed away, burned, or otherwise vanquished by forces of nature hundreds of years ago?
Thursday, May 17, 2012
|With the way the Democrats have squandered this opportunity, I'm afraid that Wisconsin has to get ready for at least two |
more years of this narcissistic joker and his obnoxious, nasally voice.
The decision of the Democratic National Committee not to provide financial support to the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall campaign might be defensible if none of the following were true:
- Wisconsin is a classic swing state whose elections can almost always go either way;
- This race is a chance to deal a decisive blow to the poisonous, extreme ideological bent that the GOP has adapted at the hands of the Tea Party and its supporters;
- It's also a chance to remove a toxic politician from office whose worldview, personality, and style of governance has been deeply destructive to his state;
- For better or for worse, it has national implications and will help set the tone for state and federal races for the remainder of the 2012 campaign season; and
- The Republican National Committee is throwing money at this contest as though they have nowhere else to spend it.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
|History's dishonorable moments will repeat|
themselves — unless and until we stop them.
Whatever fight was waged in the Tar Heel State against this despicable ballot measure was a losing battle. I know that's pessimistic, but it's true.
North Carolina's political leanings have moderated a bit in recent years — it very narrowly backed Obama in 2008 after supporting Republican presidential candidates for more than three decades — but it's still a Bible Belt state that didn't even officially recognize interracial marriages until the early 1970s. It has sizable cities, but none that are large enough or liberal enough to outweigh the conservative suburban and rural votes. The amendment in question effectively banned both gay marriage and civil unions, but the latter is rarely enough to dissuade religious voters from privately registering their prejudice against the former at the ballot box. (Check out this interactive map of the results. The numbers are really quite abominable; one rural county in Appalachia along the Tennessee border approved the measure with 89 percent of the vote.)
Left to its own devices, it will probably be at least another decade before North Carolina (or, for that matter, any other Southern state) recognizes same-sex unions on any level. That could be a cause for discouragement. But it only strengthens my resolve to do what I can where I am — and I hope my readers feel that way, too.
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Contentment — the state of being satisfied or at peace with one's present circumstances — should not be confused with complacency, which I wouldn't define the same way. Complacency is the result of becoming so adapted to one's current situation that growth or fulfillment of personal aspirations is no longer sought.
I have the opposite problem, as do most people, I suspect. I create a (sometimes absurd) vision of where I believe I should be and evaluate that against where I actually am. Of course, the two are never the same, and internal dissonance inevitably ensues:
- Why do I still live in this bland apartment, which is utterly devoid of character or style? I should own a house by now — or, at the very least, a condo whose interior isn't decorated by 1970s faux wooden paneling.
- Why am I not yet married? I'm pushing 30 and still nowhere close. People significantly younger than me are already hitched. I must be missing out on the one thing that will complete me and fill whatever emotional voids I currently endure.
- Why am I still doing the same job after five years? Everyone else seems to be moving on to greener pastures. Shouldn't I be doing the same?
Life doesn't work that way. In five years, I've pretty much run the whole gamut of emotions: Joy. Despair. Fulfillment. Emptiness. Peace. Resentment. Intimacy. Loneliness. Elation. Depression. Expectation. Nostalgia. That's not even scratching the surface. And none of the events or scenarios that led to those emotions happened the way I expected. Life almost never does, which is why you can't plan too seriously — or be too devastated when your plans fall through. You can only learn contentment with what you have, where you are, and, most importantly, who you are.
For most people, the importance and benefits of said virtue is self-explanatory — but for me, there are four reasons in particular.