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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Money Is Not the Goal

When I say that Money is NOT the Goal in today’s society, you may be thinking that I’m trying to transcend the idea that people don’t need money and life is about happiness and togetherness or something like that. But that is not the argument I am going for today. All that stuff may apply to life in some way but we all agree that money is necessary to survive, function, and flourish in modern society.
            With all the noise of the political parties and their drastic differences in their views combined with the constant drone of advertising and the idea that products and trips make people happy, it can be almost impossible for the average working person to not go crazy. The impact of money in our lives is so strong that we are constantly thinking about it. Either consciously or subconsciously, we are regularly evaluating our value as it relates to dollars. This psychosis starts to take over the natural thoughts and emotions that should drive our actions individually which therefore lay the social foundation of a society.  And without having to get into the political debates about systems of government and economics, let’s just understand that here we are in this system that needs help. I believe that all the tools of our society are here and we are using them. We are just using them in the wrong way. So, let’s talk about money’s role in our society versus how I think we can better use that tool to work for us.
            Right now, it seems that money is the end goal. People go to work to make money. They get promotions to make more money. We label success on those who find a job that pays them a lot of money. The richest people in the world have amassed wealth and keep it in locked vaults and hide it away offshore as if it is the most precious item in existence that needs to be protected and hoarded. But there’s a reason, right? People get stuff for that money. They can buy food, clothes, nice things, secrets, people, influence, power, politicians, and most importantly the ability to make people trade the truth for lies. It’s no wonder there is a lot of confusion, waste and inequality at all levels. We are all clamoring to collect as much cash money that we can imagine that we start to sacrifice bits of all other aspects of life. It appears that both individually and we as a society are working for money when it should be working for us. After all, money is just an inanimate object that we created. It should not be the most important thing in our lives. So, the <ahem> $64,000 question: What can we do about it?
            Well, unfortunately it’s not an easy answer, but there is an answer. First, it will take a mind shift on several fronts. We, as a people, need to confront this psychosis, and any psychologist will tell you that that is a time consuming and difficult process. We have to work on the idea that money is not the goal. We have to understand that money is really the catalyst to the goal. It is the life-blood of our economy. The goal is a better society. We get a better society by investing in it. We have to invest in schools to better education in our people; we have to invest in infrastructure to deliver the services and utilities to the people efficiently; we have to invest in people and businesses to continue to stimulate the economy and we can’t leave anyone behind. We have to aim for the lowest and most underprivileged and raise their potential. Which, unfortunately for the richest in our society, means that a lot of that money must come from them. The Republicans would be right about their view of lower taxes if the money were the goal. Again, money is the life-blood of our economy. And like any circulatory system, it works best when it’s healthy. All the currency locked away in vaults and over seas banks is making the body of our economy weak. Imagine your body operating with half the blood. You would be a sickly dying person with only responsibilities and no enjoyment out of your short life. Which ultimately means that evil word, “Taxes”, is actually a good thing for a society. Maybe we all bitch about it individually and somehow the loudest complainers make billions of dollars in profits, but for our society, it is key to progress. We should be circulating the money through our economy much faster than we are doing it now. We should be happy to spend money, have the government spend money, pay taxes, and as the generations grow, all the amenities that our society has to offer will get better. Processing food will become healthier and less impactful on the planet. Creating energy will be more efficient and less expensive and, also, less impactful on the planet. There will be fewer carcinogens from the lack of short cuts we take in manufacturing. We wouldn’t cut corners on spending for regulations that are actually needed, and therefore save ourselves from the setbacks of oil spills, explosions and disease. There would be less drive for war. Schools will get better. People will be better. Society will get better. The world will follow suit. That is the goal.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Religious Doctoring

This article is in response to the recent law in Indiana that incited a pizza place to lash out at the idea of a homosexual wedding. And as the Right-wing Conservatives say in politics (the ones overwhelmingly supported by Religious Fundamentalists), the free market will decide. Well, it did. Social media was ablaze with reactions from people responding to the bigoted statement of the pizza place owners. The actions of the owners has come full circle and started affecting their sales and profits. So what happens next? Religious fundamentalists across the country donate almost a million dollars to that family. This all in a time where food banks for the poor are begging for donations and have nothing to offer the actual people in need.

In order to wrap my head around this, I have to break down the elements. This all stems from an idea of a “Freedom of Religion”, which is a false understanding of our constitution. The First Amendment opens with, “The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion…”, it continues with freedom of speech and the press and so forth, but for the purposes of this article, let’s just stick with the sections about religion. So, Indiana’s law is unconstitutional, for it is a law respecting the establishment of religion. Period. There is nothing that impedes anyone’s freedom to exercise their religion by living with homosexuals… or does it?

This brings me to the next step in my argument. In response to the overwhelmingly high dollar amount of donations to the bigoted pizza owners, they stated, “God has blessed them for standing up for what they believe and not denying him”. This, I think, is the key to understanding religion in our modern culture. Here’s the hypothesis: our modern culture cannot understand religion. We are living in a world where we are learning to embrace all kinds of people and ideas. Sure, we are learning slowly. But some of us are trying to learn quicker, and trying to understand the things that are not easy to understand. Religion eliminates that journey to understand. It basically says, there is ONE way and all other ways are WRONG. Even when those ways are clearly observed and proven possible. So, they are only having conviction when it suits them or seems convenient. All while, stating superiority and starting conflict where there does not need to be one (something that God in the Bible has professed to hate ~ Proverbs 6:16-19). These are prehistoric mindsets where the idea that “My God is better than your God” is so simple and childish, and just not practical for dealing with real life. But the attitude is; ‘God has blessed them for standing up for their beliefs’. Does that imply that God is not looking out for those who don’t share those beliefs? In a time where the top three Gods from the top three faiths are all at odds with each other; is the idea that 'one of them is right and the others are wrong', an idea that should continue in this modern world? Because, If you have 100% conviction, you have to believe that.

I know that this article may be insulting to some for challenging faith, so this part may get worse. I have always found religious fundamentalism rather ridiculous. It doesn’t help you work through your real problems in everyday life; it does not strip away the barriers between people and really connect them to other human beings, unconditionally; and it is not teaching society to become better. In my opinion, history has shown it is doing the opposite. For instance, Louisiana doesn’t believe in sex education. It’s just abstinence-only education, which some can argue is not education, and they’d be right. Louisiana has the 6th highest teen pregnancy rate in the country. So it’s not about educating our children. Also, the environment does not seem to be an issue for Conservative Christians. If you are waiting for a better afterlife, then what’s to keep you caring for this one? War seems to be the go to answer for most religious politicians. And the way we treat animals?! By their own words, the Lord has given them dominion over the animal kingdom. We are supposed to be caretakers of this Earth. We should be ashamed to be a country that treats animals with such cruelty and lack of concern. Truly some of the most egregious standards, and in response, I see no picketing protests. Speaking of protests, In Las Vegas, on any given night you can see religious extremists spouting hate speech against the LGBT community because it’s their idea of a fun thing to do. Meanwhile, Las Vegas is one of the largest purveyors of shellfish in the area, yet no protests. The Bible mentions shellfish as a sin many more times than homosexuality. Also, there is adultery, divorce, and even pedophilia coming from the institution itself and it finds no wrong in that. There is no public stoning, money and religion are becoming synonymous, and no one cares for the poor. So where is the conviction? Answer… There isn’t any. If these institutions and the people who followed them had conviction, we would all see how ridiculous it all is. The only groups that act as their religion commands with no compromise are the Muslim Extremists terrorizing the whole Middle East. These groups are fundamentalist extremists that all rational people see as crazy, and are in fact following their thousand-year-old, archaic teachings. If the Christians of this country acted with the conviction they pretend to have, and without compromise, then the rest of us rational Americans would be able to see it and those that follow it as being equally ridiculous. And if we looked at all religious fundamentalists the way we look at those that follow ISIS, we may get some headway on educating our children, caring for the poor and elderly, and cleaning this earth so we can move on to the next stage of society that we are supposed to achieve as human beings.

Let me also say, that there are many people who follow any given religion and are exceptional people. I am only calling out Christianity because many in this country seem to think that the United States is a Christian nation and that this country was founded on that faith. That could not be further from the truth, and it is a misconception I want to erase. Whatever you need to believe to be happy is your choice, but let’s not rob the freedom of other people, especially while you really don’t have 100% conviction. Religion or spirituality is something that you personally feel in your heart and something that no one can take that away. So let people find it in their heart for themselves, not from laws down or popular suggestion. If we move past all this, I believe we will be a happier Earth.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Can I just settle world peace, for now?

I know, that's a bold claim to make, and I just cant help myself.

So, half of America has been aching to go to war with Iran. I bet you think I'm going to talk about the 47 US Senators who, again, lowered the bar for dick moves, but you'd be wrong. Well, you'd be right since I just did, but that's not what I'm here to talk about.

Iran Sanctions! Come on, let's make it fun!

This complicated problem sounds very simple to me. On one hand, Iran wants to research and develop their nuclear capabilities, not for a bomb, but for energy.  Israel, and by extension, America, thinks they are lying and want to make a nuclear bomb to attack the west.  It's a classic case of "Liars Dice".  Somebody has to convince somebody of something.  See... Easy!

Now, I'll make it even easier. Why do we have to play this game? IF the goal in this situation to avoid a long and costly war, is that Iran wants energy development, why nuclear? Nuclear power is so 90's. It's on it's way out. The world experienced a recent disaster in Japan, the consequences of that have yet to be calculated or relayed to the rest of the world.  Nuclear power is so far beyond our understanding, in a sense. Its by product, even when things go well, is highly radio active for potentially Hundreds of Thousands of years. And we have no safe way to store it and plan for that future. Is that really something we should continue to play with? Moreover, what happens when things go wrong? That part of the world has not been exactly stable for the past thousand years, so the gamble goes up even more.

So, when there are so many other power sources available, why would nuclear be a good option for Iran even if we took them at their word?

The coalitions that are being developed to deploy sanctions, wag the finger, and then start wars could also come together to build one of the grandest solar or wind farms in the region. We could spend a fraction of the cost of war, spend 0 lives, and even make an ally or two in the process. Iran would then have unlimited, renewable power for as long as they maintain it.  They could grow as a nation as they wish to. We would be happy that their nuclear development has ceased. And the world may even learn from that lesson. The model for harnessing power could spread. We could start to change the way the whole developing world gets power, moving from fossil fuels to unlimited renewables. The world will be come cleaner and cooler. Droughts in that region would let up, easing more tensions. New industries would be created. Information would be spread. New technologies would be developed. The Earth would be saved. A new age in the palm of our hands.
...Or so it would seem.

Compared to war and people trying to convert everyone else to the same religion, this seems easier.