Category Archives: Beliefs

How to Be – A Lighter View on Life

Permit me to say a few things that are about you, yes you, even though I’m going to say some things about me. It may seem like a strange intro, but it will make more sense if you read on.

49_ford_at_stoplight_cI’m rather like that old car you might have seen on the road or in a parking lot. You know the one that looks dated, the shine has mostly gone, but it’s not a rare classic, so you’re not going to spend a lot of time looking at it, or thinking about it. You’re just going to move along.

Here’s what you probably don’t know, the car looks dated, but it still provides the owner reliable transportation. It sometimes takes a bit more effort to start, it’s seen a lot of miles, but the joy in driving it is still there. Now that I’ve said that, and as limited as analogies are, let’s find out more about you.

Almost anyone who is a regular on social media writes things, and over time, you get to know who that person is, or at least how they perceive the world. Many of you are younger than me, quite a few are significantly younger. In a way, I’m that old car, which you pass, and the things that catch and hold your attention are not old cars.

Mike USMC Hawaii on the beachKeep in mind, that car was once new and shinier, more contemporary. You might say, I’ve been where you’re are now, but you haven’t gone through all the things that I have or you would look more like … the older car.

When I frequently read things that say something like, “I don’t give a F” or that this person (insert well known person’s name here), is a cretin, there’s something disturbing going on inside you. I’m not talking about someone who occasionally says such things, I’m talking about those of you that pitch and rant about somebody, usually that same someone, almost every day.

The other description I see, are about those of you that constantly assert, it’s my life and I’ll think, say, do, and look the way I want. Of course you can, you’re responsible for you, no one else is, but there are consequences of your actions and reactions to your appearance which may not be what you wanted. It goes without saying, you may do and think what you want, but you don’t live in a vacuum. If you’re feeling the need to tell people you demand independence, or you don’t care about others, why the need to constantly remind us? Remember, you’ve stated you’re not interested in the opinion of others, yet you frequently say this in a public forum. That’s a bit incongruous, yes?

beware-false-claims-2I think I’ve passed through these experiences before. I believe if you find yourself frequently angry, tired of the actions of an entertainer, a politician, professional athlete, or some other famous person, or feel compelled to tell others to go ‘F’ themselves; there’s things going on within your mind that require additional sorting and figuring out.

Whatever you’re doing, the places and people your mind is focused on, it’s not serving you well. You are spending time on a topic or person which you’ve declared to be offensive or disturbing. Do you really think that’s going to make things better, or the object of your dissatisfaction improve?

Find another place for your mind to travel, make new associations, listen, watch, read about other things. It’s not good for you to dwell on other people you don’t like. You aren’t changing or harming them, you’re only chipping away at yourself. I know this is difficult to see, you may not want to admit it, but there’s something going on inside that just isn’t right, and whatever it is, it’s not going to get better unless you decide to make a change in you.

Let me say that unhappiness most often isn’t your physical location. It can be, but are things really better if you move or travel to ______? Wherever that fill in the blank place is located, you’re going to be the same person when you get there. The same thoughts, frustrations, habits, will go with you.

So, I’m suggesting it’s more about you. You need to be able to enjoy things around you, now. You should feel happy, even alone, without stimulus, and in your present location.

a  walk at sunset.jpgTake a few moments, away from the things that make you disturbed, perturbed, or frustrated. It may mean you have to change your current method of making decisions, choices, patterns of eating, drinking, or with whom you associate. That disassociation can take several forms. It may be there are “friends” you should stop seeing, corresponding, talking to, or reading about. It may be that reading the news, watching the news, or listening to it, has you fired up. Get away, and find new sources, or none at all. You’re going to need some time, so don’t expect immediate positive results.

If you find yourself saying, I could care less, maybe you need to care more? Maybe your lack of concern about others is actually doing more harm to yourself than you think. How about finding people and circumstances that cause you to care more about them, and less time about yourself? Apathy isn’t a key to successful, enjoyable living!

If none of this makes sense to you, maybe it’s because it doesn’t apply to you. I can be reasonably certain it does for some people. Maybe even for many that don’t recognize they’re that sort of person. Whomever you are, no matter what you’re thinking as of this moment, you deserve to be happy.

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The Road to Any Damascus is Laden with Potholes

The search for reality is the most dangerous of all undertakings, for it destroys the world in which you live.
– Nisargadatta Maharaj

I don’t know anything about this person, but I can say from my own personal experience, it’s absolutely true. If life has taught me anything, ”don’t steer clear of the tough questions, or even those you don’t have answers”. There are many more questions than any of us currently have answers, and even some in which we think we do, we may very well be wrong.

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For most of us, perception is reality. It drives our everyday decisions, but moreover, through assumptions, attitudes, observations, intentions, and habits, our behavior is altered. We do become what we think, so perhaps that’s the thing that creates within me, a desire to find out for myself. I know that I don’t have answers for many of life’s tough questions. I gain insight through the help of others. Ultimately, it falls on me to make my discoveries and choices.

Whenever you contemplate your own existence, how you or others perceive the world in which you live, it may not match reality. Furthermore, you may not even be aware of your misconceptions. Worse still, if you do nothing to challenge your own assumptions or those of other people, you’re stuck in a fundamental crossroad between reality and wishful, maybe even harmful, thinking.

No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life. There may be countless trails and bridges and demigods who would gladly carry you across; but only at the price of pawning and forgoing yourself. There is one path in the world that none can walk but you. Where does it lead? Don’t ask, walk!
~ Nietzsche

I’ve posted personal information before about my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”). I’ve also posted that I left that organization over 20 years ago. I still have a few friends who are members. None of my adult children, at the time of this writing, have any affiliation with that organization. It’s their own choice. Their mother still believes in this religious organization. I left it a few years after my divorce. Those two events aren’t connected.

What do Mormons believe about general inquiry & introspection?
The LDS Church “Mormons” believe that freedom of choice, “agency” is an eternal principle. Agency is the fundamental right of any individual to choose between good and bad, and to act for themselves.

Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” ~ 2 Nephi 2:27.

The LDS Church (easier to abbreviate than the longer official title), informs its members to read official “canonized” religious texts, ponder, and pray for personal answers to any questions they might have. They’re to develop a personal relationship with God. The religion is based on inquiry and individual revelation. If however, you come up with a different answer than that which has been given through official channels of communication, then you’re to accept the church answer, and re-think your own in attempting to further understand the basis of your differences.
For more information specific go here:
https://www.mormon.org/beliefs

question_button_imageThe purpose of giving you that brief background, if you’re not familiar with the organization, isn’t to examine any religion, it’s just to examine specific portions of their beliefs, and learn how your methods of finding answers, compare. It’s not so important that you have specific knowledge about any religion for this post to be relevant. What’s important is asking, how do you gain insight about the world around you, and how do you challenge your own beliefs? Most of us come to a “world view”, fairly early on in our life. We may revise it along the way, but peer (the society in which we live) pressure, often steers us into a general consensus with those to whom we associate.


How do you decide what’s correct and what’s false?
If you’re honest, at least with yourself, you know that’s not an easy process. So what do you read, listen to, or watch to help guide you in life’s journey? If you choose to respond, I’m looking for things more in depth than, you go for long walks in the woods. I’m not suggesting that you don’t or that it’s not a good idea. I’m looking for more specifics. What do you do?

“Your true educators and cultivators will reveal to you the original sense and basic stuff of your being, something that is not ultimately amenable to education or cultivation by anyone else, but that is always difficult to access, something bound and immobilized; your educators cannot go beyond being your liberators. And that is the secret of all true culture: she does not present us with artificial limbs, wax-noses, bespectacled eyes — for such gifts leave us merely with a sham image of education. She is liberation instead, pulling weeds, removing rubble, chasing away the pests that would gnaw at the tender roots and shoots of the plant; she is an effusion of light and warmth, a tender trickle of nightly rain…” ~ Parker Palmer

There are quite a few followers to this blog. Some have made it official by clicking on the link below, to follow. I’m not asking you to follow me, I see the statistics, but most of you are silent. I know better than assume you don’t have an opinion. I want to read yours. Don’t be bashful, be candid. Please, if you’re just someone that wants to come in and shout and stomp so that you can get attention, take your circus elsewhere. I’m looking for people who have taken the time to think this sort of thing through. cartoon-people-clapping

I’m also not looking for this to be about an open forum on religion. I’ve heard the canned answers, the public sermons, the pat answers. Let’s make this interesting.


Why We Still Debate the Civil War

Here we are, in 2017, we’re still debating the causes of the Civil War, which began in 1861 with roots that stem from centuries before. This blog post isn’t about statues, racism, social justice or the like, it merely is written to clarify the actual primary cause of the Civil War. No doubt there are many reasons, that were evident at the time, but those were subordinate in the grand scheme of events leading to the war.civil_war_stamp

The Civil War, also known as “The War Between the States,” was fought between the United States of America and the Confederate States of America. The CSA was a collection of eleven southern states who left the Union in 1860 and 1861 and formed their own country in order to protect their continued usage of the institution of slavery.

Slavery was introduced to North America by the British as far back as the early 17th century. The south believed in the dissolution of the Union after they couldn’t come to an agreement with the dominant north over the rights of states to control commerce. Slavery was a component of commerce, not in its entirety, but an essential component. It was legal at the time the country was formed, and the southern states saw no justifiable reason to change when they knew most of the northern leadership agreed with them. Negroes, as they were called, were not equivalent to Caucasians. They weren’t allowed to vote, own property, inter-racially marry, or if they lived in the south, couldn’t participate freely with the fruits of their labors.

The northern leadership believed, once the union of states were created, no one or more states had the right to leave that union. They were willing to negotiate, but when the matter came to a head, they willingly took up arms to preserve that union and stop the south from seceding.

events leading to the American civil war
The slavery extension question was thought to have been settled by the Missouri Compromise nearly 40 years earlier. The Mexican War, however, had added new territories, and the issue flared up again in the 1840s. The Compromise of 1850 provided a temporary respite from sectional strife, but the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, a measure Stephen A. Douglas sponsored, brought the slavery extension issue forward again. The Douglas bill in effect repealed the Missouri Compromise by lifting the ban against slavery in territories north of the 36°30′ latitude.

The Supreme Court decided a case brought forward by an escaped slave. He in effect was suing for himself and his family’s freedom. The Dredd Scott decision rendered in 1857, declared he wasn’t entitled to his freedom; that Africans were not and could never be citizens of the United States; and that the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which had declared free all territories west of Missouri and north of latitude 36°30′, was unconstitutional.

This further set in motion the events leading up to the Civil War. In effect, it supported the institution of slavery, and the southern states now believed it was their personal right of sovereignty. In effect, the Constitution was a voluntary agreement, as easily broken as it was initially agreed upon.

The Douglas doctrine of popular sovereignty, was to permit new territories and states the right to self-determine their status as a free or slave state. This slavery extension proposal, provided the background for the Douglas – Lincoln debates of 1858. Their debate, addressed the problem that had divided the nation into two hostile camps which threatened the continued existence of the Union.

Slave_kidnap_post_1851_bostonIn 1859 John Brown, an abolitionist, working in concert with others, formed a rebellion in Harpers Ferry Virginia (now West Virginia). Brown had previously met abolitionists, Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth while living in Springfield Massachusetts. Brown was convinced slavery wasn’t going to end through peaceful negotiations. Brown’s personal attitudes evolved in Springfield, as he observed the success of the city’s Underground Railroad and made his first venture into militant, anti-slavery community organizing. In speeches, he pointed to the martyrs Elijah Lovejoy and Charles Turner Torrey as whites “ready to help blacks challenge slave-catchers.”

The choice of allowing slavery for some admittedly was a compromise, so the fledgling nation had enough backing to form a binding union, and thereafter break away from British rule. As we see today in politics, challenging problems are pushed forward in hopes that someone will solve the problem in the future. Doing so, means a crisis builds until the inevitable fateful day, and it can no longer be ignored.

Flawed From the Beginning

Many of the Founders wished to abolish slavery in the Constitution. The irony and hypocrisy were not lost on them, and they weren’t shy about saying it. The compromises in the Constitution regarding slavery placed the short-term need to form a Union ahead of a contentious debate with no resolution. The alternative was two countries, one without slavery and one with. Several founders later emancipated their slaves.

In 1807, Congress passed a law and Jefferson signed banning the importation of slaves to begin on January 1, 1808, the very first day permitted under the Constitution. Some have argued that this only made existing slaves more valuable and the South already had sufficient slaves to breed to meet their needs. I give our Founders the benefit of the doubt. If for no other reason, a slaver would vote against this to maintain his right to hold slaves on principle.

After the law passed, US Naval forces commenced to patrolling the African coast and seizing slave ships. Great Britain was already doing the same.

Slavery, was officially ended by the British, and the US was trying to figure out how to completely eliminate it within its own borders, and not criminalize its own citizens. Those same citizens were part of the framers of the Constitution, and supporters of Independence. Virginia was the home of Thomas Jefferson and the cradle of independence. It was a natural place to be the capital state for the Confederacy.

tenth_amendment_states_rightsThe dilemma for America was from its very beginning. As an ideal, the framers and leaders knew that all men were created equal but their society, their practices, had accepted distinctive differences in race as a basis to allow slave holdings.

Slaves were the means by which the south could compete against the more industrial north. This economic disparity, along with punitive tariff’s against the south, created additional friction. After the insurrection by Brown, the southern states believed violent uprisings were going to part of their future, they also thought they had a legal right to secede, and no peaceful option in which to exercise that right.

“Historians agree that the Harper’s Ferry raid in 1859 escalated tensions that a year later led to secession and the American civil war.” Put down by Colonel Robert E. Lee of the United States Army, assisted by First Lieutenant J.E.B. Stuart the temporary insurrection was quickly suppressed.

There are many who insist the Confederate States of America were formed through a common cause theme just as the United States did against Great Britain decades before. They believe the south chose independence because of the continued encroachment against states rights by a central federal government. They see Lincoln as a dictator not an emancipator. Lincoln, despite his Illinois state speeches against slavery in the 1840’s, and his famous debate’s against Douglas in 1858, stated if he could keep the Union, he would have accepted slavery as a compromise. History shows that he didn’t.

That’s the historical irony, the individual states agreed to be part of the union at the Constitutional convention of 1783, as long as they could keep slaves. By 1860, after decade of debates, court battles, and slave rebellions, the south’s insistence that slaves were property, not equal as humans, and they had every right to decide what they could do with their property. This property kept the wealthy land owners in business. It also increased their wealth, a wealth which was the driving force for southern economy, seemingly threatened by the more industrialized north. As in all things, contemporary, or historical, there are many reasons, and aspects to conflicts.

compromise_of_1850As much as some people want to “window dress” the motivations of the Civil War, the overwhelming unresolved problem was slavery. To say it was over states rights, economic factors, or encroachment of federal law into individual states commerce, is by varying degrees, true. The long-standing tensions and disagreements about the use of humans as a means to an end, in providing an economic base were the ultimate catalyst. None of those would have been significant factors if not for the conflicting arguments over slavery.

Between election day and Lincoln’s inauguration in March, seven states had seceded from the Union: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. They were to be followed by four more: North Carolina, Virginia, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Missouri, and Tennessee were divided within specific geographic boundaries, depending on who were the predominant community leaders. Kentucky started out neutral, but voted to become part of the union. West Virginia broke free of Virginia in 1863 to become part of the Union.

Republicans captured over 60 percent of the Northern vote in 1860, and won three-fourths of its Congressional delegations. The Southern press said that such Republicans represented the anti-slavery portion of the North, “a party founded on the single sentiment…of hatred of African slavery“, and now the controlling power in national affairs.

Abraham_Lincoln_emancipation

The cause of rebellion – Civil War 1861-65.

Opening volley – Why Fort Sumter?

The Top Nine Events Leading to Civil War

An Educators Guide to the Civil War

Here is an excerpt of the Declaration of Secession by the State of Georgia.

“The prohibition of slavery in the Territories is the cardinal principle of this organization.”

“For forty years this question has been considered and debated in the halls of Congress, before the people, by the press, and before the tribunals of justice. The majority of the people of the North in 1860 decided it in their own favor. We refuse to submit to that judgment, and in vindication of our refusal we offer the Constitution of our country and point to the total absence of any express power to exclude us.”

Continue to read this secession document.

” … It will be a glorious day for our country when all the children within its borders shall learn that the four years of fratricidal war between the North and South was waged by neither with criminal or unworthy intent, but by both to protect what they conceived to be threatened rights and imperiled liberty: that the issues which divided the sections were born when the Republic was born, and were forever buried in an ocean of fraternal blood.”

Lieutenant General John B. Gordon, CSA

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