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How the Grinch Stole Christmas Back November 20, 2013

Filed under: Have you ever noticed...,Through a Glass Darkly — camcat888 @ 4:27 pm

Brace yourself, people.  For my children, there will be no “Santa.”  Oh yeah, that’s right.  My husband and I have carefully evaluated the hoopla surrounding the jolly old chap and have decided that it would be neither useful nor pleasant (long term) to carry on the ruse.  We don’t harbor any resentment toward our own families for playing Santa with us as children, but we recognize that not all kids come through unscathed.  We won’t be absurd about it, though.  Let’s face it:  Santa is everywhere (figuratively speaking).  Just like fantasy literature, we will treat him as fictional and enjoy Santa stories and movies as we would any other fairy tale.  In that limited capacity, he’s merry and harmless.  But when I look at American society today, I see Santa-worship, and that is no bueno.

So why are we giving St. Nick the stiff arm?  First off, we don’t want to lie to our kids.  However innocuous it may seem, a child’s trust in his parents is fragile and precious.  My poor sis still remembers the meal during which a careless relative spilled the beans (ironically, we were at a Mexican restaurant).  She was in such hysterics that she ran mindlessly out into the parking lot and mom had to chase her down.  Her anguish came not because Santa wasn’t real but because her mama had not been honest.  We can’t assume that this won’t come back to haunt us in later years as we raise our children to trust and be trusted.  Secondly, we don’t want them to doubt the existence of God.  A child – who can’t “see” Santa or God – may find it difficult to have faith in what is invisible but real.  Plus, the concept makes it very hard to teach a child the value of his parents’ hard work and sacrifice to provide for him.  And finally, a strange fat dude squeezing down everyone’s chimneys?  That’s just creepy.  But seriously, for children who are thinkers (as I was), it raises too many questions and severely undermines charity.  Why would we donate gifts to needy children if Santa has everyone covered?  We intend to implement merciful and charitable Christmastime traditions, but if Santa is omnipresent, omniscient and stocked with endless gifts, our charity is superfluous.

But wait:  there’s more!  Not only are we not doing Santa, we are not planning to do Christmas gifts of any kind until we have established the true meaning of the holiday with our son, which will probably take quite a few years.  My husband and I both agree that something was lost when we reached the age where we were no longer the center of a pile of presents.  It had been fun:  maybe too much fun, and it had consumed us.  Even as Christians, there was no denying the feeling of disappointment when we became “adults” and couldn’t rush downstairs to tear into our loot.  In “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” the Grinch steals everything – the tree, the presents, and even the roast beast – yet the Whovians are still singing joyously on Christmas morning.  How beautiful and utterly unrealistic.  Can you imagine the nuclear meltdown if that were to happen in America?  To prove my point, I refer to an interesting experiment done by late-night host Jimmy Kimmel (please look up the videos).  He challenged parents, on the morning after Halloween, to pretend to have eaten all their kids’ candy, and to record the reactions.  While hilarious, it should be impossible not to squirm at the little monsters’ (no longer in costumes) wretched misery and fit-pitching when they believe their beloved candy is gone.  Now, this is slightly less heinous than Christmas greed, since Halloween is mere entertainment without deeper value or meaning attached to it.  Christmas, on the other hand, is a religious holiday purported to be in recognition of God’s assumption of human form (i.e., the birth of baby Jesus) and therefore, is not simply an excuse for parties and more spoiling of our kids.  Wait, what was that last bit?  “An excuse for parties and more spoiling of our kids.”  It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, and I’m already fighting the gag reflex over radio ads, television commercials and flashy store displays.  Are they proclaiming the coming of the Messiah?  Nah – they’re offering to help with our parties and the spoiling of our kids.  Yeah, yeah, most Christian parents try to pay lip-service to the “reason for the season,” but actions tell the story, and an alien from Mars would hear something like this:  BUY, BUY, BUY, BUY, GET, GET, GET, GET, give, love, STUFF, STUFF, STUFF, STUFF, TOYS, TOYS, TOYS, CARS, JEWELRY, ELECTRONICS, jesus, family, SHOP, SHOP, SHOP, SHOP, PARTY, EAT, PLAY, PASS OUT!  Ouch.

My suggestions?  Well, I only have one kid so far and this is his first Christmas.  He is the only grandchild on either side of the family, so this year we will be making an exception to the “no gift” policy.  Since he won’t even be 6 months old until January, he will be oblivious to all the presents anyway.  Thereafter, we want to build Christmastime on giving charitably of our time and money.  Notice I said “build.”  Lots of people contribute during Christmas, like stuffing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, and that is wonderful.  But for us, it’s not enough.  On my son’s birthday, he will surely be showered with presents.  So if we truly celebrate Christmas as Jesus’ birthday, why do we give ourselves so much stuff?  What do we give to Jesus?  He tells us what he wants:  Matthew 25:35-40 and James 1:27, for starters.  This may involve giving gifts, but to those who have real needs that are more than material and which are rarely met by the latest gaming console.  I’m not content to buy a bunch of toys and hand them to an organization to distribute.  I have no problem donating toys, but I want to spend more than money.  And I want my son to do more than save pennies to put in the Salvation Army kettle – I want him to learn to live like Christ, loving the poor and needy face to face and therefore treasuring more fully God’s deep love for us. 

I know there’s great joy in seeing kids open their presents on Christmas morning, and I don’t pretend we won’t frequently be tempted to cave.  I’ve spoken to several wise parents who enforce gift restrictions to avoid the windfall.  For example, they buy each child 3 gifts:  a book, a toy and an item of clothing.  Some require their kids to donate a corresponding number of older toys when they receive new things.  These are excellent ideas that we may adopt in future years, but while he is young, we feel we must center Christmas solely around Christ so our son can grow up purely delighting in the core of the holiday.  Any expectation of “getting” – even one present – can quickly overshadow altruism in a little one’s heart, so an early, solid foundation is critical.  If you asked a bunch of children (from Christian homes) to draw a picture of what Christmas is about, I’ll bet most of those pictures would involve a nativity scene or something similar that would make parents beam with pride.  But what if you pulled a “Jimmy Kimmel” and pretended that everything under the tree was for charity?  Though possibly cringe-worthy, this would be a more accurate indication of what the holiday means to them. 

We give because we have so much, and we have so very much because the Father has freely given to us.  I’m not out to vilify anyone for celebrating Christmas with gifts for their kids or even playing Santa, but the subject does deserve sincere consideration.  You might first ask yourself, like Charlie Brown, what Christmas is all about.  Then ask how you are imparting such meaning to your children, and whether an outsider could identify your beliefs by your actions.  We intend to fill our holiday with activities and emotions that will make us better Christians and that truly reflect the Savior we seek to honor.  Yes, this Grinch stole Christmas, but in 21st century American affluence, the “stealing” is actually the “giving back.”

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A Shot in the Arm? October 31, 2013

Filed under: Grab Bag,Through a Glass Darkly — camcat888 @ 8:46 am
Tags: , ,

[Foreword:  Because I have strong opinions on vaccinations, my tone may sound harsh.  But I believe it is a family’s choice and I have never criticized anyone either way.  In addition to encouraging parental research, my purpose here is to defend those – like me – who decide to “opt out.”  We have our reasons and don’t deserve to be told we’re abusing our children or endangering society.  If you are pro-vaccine, that’s fine; if you feel the need to lecture or condemn me because I’m not, we have a problem.]

 

The vast majority of the US population religiously vaccinates themselves, their children, and their pets, but there is an emergent challenge of the mandate to inject these mysterious serums into our bodies – particularly the bodies of infants.  The CDC has categorically denied every objection raised, and on the whole, physicians will defend with their last breath (and sincerely enough) the safety and necessity of vaccinations.  So are dissenters taking life into their own hands on a tragic whim, or is there sufficient cause for bucking the trend?  I am not a doctor or a scientist, and I don’t presume depth of knowledge in either field.  That being said, I have no intention of letting “experts” in any subject wholly dictate my decisions.  The Internet is both a blessing and a curse in this context:  one can find compelling arguments for every imaginable viewpoint, so while “truth” is readily available, plucking it from the falsehoods will feel like a game of Russian roulette.  Even the doctors and scientists can’t agree, so there are “experts” on every side as well.  With complexities like these, it’s wise to identify “who’s who.”  What do the naysayers have to gain by crying foul, and what do vaccine makers have to lose if the underlying truth is ugly?  There is an intense battle over what the population believes about vaccinations.  One side generally has nothing at heart but truth and human welfare.  Suffice it to say that the other side has more than a few “tangled webs” possibly hindering its motives.

 

There are two main bases for opting out:  safety and ethics.  In the past few decades, deeper investigation has been made into the causal link between vaccine ingredients and other diseases (though sadly, when some of said research was labeled “fraudulent” and dismissed from consideration, it damaged public credibility of any study with similar findings).  The CDC lists all ingredients on its website, but it’s quite cryptic and to most of us will be nothing but geek-speak without additional research.  Yes, there is mercury in some vaccines.  Yes, there is formaldehyde and aluminum.  Yes, there are many curious chemicals and compounds that ought to at least raise some eyebrows.  But try to do the research and the aforementioned roulette begins.  “They’re toxic; they cause autism; they weaken the immune system.”  Or, “they’re perfectly safe; these trace amounts are harmless; no links can be found between the vaccines and other diseases.”  Pretty soon, your head is spinning.  I won’t pronounce the truth, because frankly, I don’t know what it is.  I do know there is more than a murmur of discontent when the government starts strong-arming parents, and there happens to be a billion dollar business in the global production and administration of vaccines.  They are working as a team – the government and pharmaceuticals – and whether for our good or otherwise, they’ve got enough money and power between them to make us believe anything.  Juxtaposed with growing evidence that many vaccine ingredients aren’t safe, resistance becomes rationally justifiable. 

 

There are also valid reasons to question the morality of vaccine development, and this slope is no less slippery.  It is an uncontested fact (even admitted on the CDC’s website) that many vaccines contain cell matter obtained from what were originally cells of two electively aborted fetuses.  These two abortions – back in the 1960’s – were not performed for the purpose of collecting fetal tissue, and the CDC insists that they were the only abortions from which human cells were taken.  It maintains that any additional “cell lines” have been cultured in labs from those original cells alone.  At the very least, this means that vaccines contain genetically modified (human) organisms, the dangers of which are now undeniable.  However, it seems impossible that cells could survive and replicate for over 50 years without sustenance from additional human tissue (query “biological immortality”) and therefore, there is an enduring market for freshly aborted fetuses.  The logical conclusion is that the vaccine industry is thriving on the business of abortion, and even if it could be proven that no additional aborted cells are components of new vaccines, it is nonsense to claim that they aren’t involved in constant research and development in the field. 

 

As a side note, people often try to assuage this dilemma by focusing on bringing some good out of evil.  I’ve frequently heard the aborted-cell connection likened to receiving an organ from the death of a murder victim, but this is a flawed analogy.  Murder is a terrible fact of life, and last I checked, it was illegal.  No one would say they are glad murders occur because other lives can be saved from the residual organs, and every moral human being would rejoice were murder eradicated.  Death, however, is not a crime and as far as we know, will continue to occur forever; moreover, if it were to cease, there would presumably be no further need for organ transplants.  Rather, the use of aborted fetal cells for even progressive scientific purposes is more comparable to a doctor’s allowing a homicide in one room and taking the necessary parts next door to save another dying patient.  The pharmaceutical industry enjoys a despicable commensalism with the abortionists, making profits that depend upon the perpetuation of fetal murder. 

 

With so many legitimate concerns related to routine vaccinations, it’s surprising how doctors still react to a word of opposition.  They will likely quote rhetoric from the CDC or the WHO or any of the myriads of studies – many of which have been conducted and funded by the drug companies themselves – demanding that you “Keep Calm and Vaccinate.”  You may hear:

 

  • “This is how we eradicate deadly diseases.”  Yet there is substantial evidence showing such diseases were already declining due to better sanitation and dietary practices prior to the introduction of the vaccines. 
  • “You have an obligation to your community.”  But if vaccines truly and permanently immunize, what risk is posed to anyone who has received them?  And if the risk to society is so cataclysmic, why not mandatorily vaccinate everyone?  (Think “Obamacare.”)
  • “There is no proof that vaccines cause autism, sudden infant death syndrome, or any other serious conditions.”  With billions of people, thousands of variables (diet, exercise, heredity, drug intake, etc.) over half a century, how could you definitively prove it?  But it’s not paranoia to strongly suspect certain connections exist and to believe that the risk outweighs the benefit.  (Fact:  from 1980 to 1999, there were 162 cases of paralytic polio in the U.S.  Eight cases were imported from other countries, but the remaining 154 cases were caused by the vaccine itself.)
  • “Some vaccines do contain cell matter taken from aborted fetuses, but it was just the two abortions, a long time ago.”  Well, there are viable indicators to the contrary, and my conscience is convicted by a host of very consequential “ifs” and a dearth of transparency all around. 
  • “Your unvaccinated child could contract one of these diseases and die.”  My child could be hit by a bus tomorrow, but as his parent, I’ll do what I believe is necessary to prevent it.  I plan to keep him from disease by allowing his immune system to develop with minimum chemical assistance.  And “vaccination” isn’t guaranteed “immunization.”

 

Some people need drugs for a hangnail, and then there are cases of children with fatal heart defects whose parents refuse all medical attention.  Those are extremes, but we each must decide where it is necessary versus unhelpful – even harmful – to inject foreign substances into the body.  I believe we are marvelously designed to thrive in harmony with the rest of natural creation.  I’m not opposed to modern science or medicine since God also gave us brains to solve problems, but it shouldn’t supplant a healthy lifestyle and the complements He provides through nature.  It isn’t contradictory to normally strive for natural maintenance of our bodily systems and yet occasionally resort to western medicine.  Even the cleverest scientists and doctors admit that we are far from a complete understanding of humanity’s inner-workings, so common sense must acknowledge the peril in over-tampering with the intricate unknown.

 

Imagine the government urging every household to own a pistol for protection.  Many families would consider an accidental shooting far more likely than a home invasion and thus would view the handgun as an unacceptable risk.  We could go back and forth, exchanging statistics and quoting studies, but both views are defensible – regardless of mainstream popularity or evidence – because people quantify “risk” very differently.  It boils down to this:  there is no infallible method of curing or preventing sickness.  I respect the doctors I’ve chosen.  They give their professional opinion and I usually proceed as advised.  But doctors themselves get the flu, suffer heart attacks, develop arthritis and so forth; if they had all the answers, they would be without illness.  Were my doctors personally responsible for vaccine production, I might consent.  However, numerous (and nebulous) sources of ulterior motives, questionable ethics, and controversial ingredients render this equation unstable at best, and to me, downright terrifying.  In general, there is rampant public suspicion of dishonest dealings between politicians and big business.  We habitually distrust and scrutinize everything they say or do…with a few alarming exceptions, when all misgivings are forgotten and we cling to them as unimpeachable guardians.  The government and the drug companies insist that we vaccinate because it is safe and ethical and necessary.  I protest and suddenly am castigated as a fool or a heretic.  “But children’s lives are at stake!” chant the masses.  And on that, we are agreed. 

 

I’m not interested in a “pro/con” war, so refuting my views would be wasting your time and missing my point.  I don’t even aim to change anyone’s mind.  There will always be volumes of conflicting information, so do your due diligence, but let faith, conscience and basic sense finalize the decision.  If you conclude that there are too many variables to proceed comfortably, that doesn’t mean you are naïve or ignorant.  You shouldn’t have to defend these deep convictions to anyone’s satisfaction, and it probably can’t be done.  Whatever your choice, don’t allow yourself to bully or be bullied.  After all, God gave you your children for a reason.

 

After Newtown, What Now? December 17, 2012

Filed under: Anger Management,Redshift Blueshift — camcat888 @ 1:51 pm
Tags: , ,

When I stated elsewhere that this was not a “gun rights” issue, I was referring to the actions of the shooter himself.  Anti-gun proponents use these awful scenarios to argue the need for greater gun control or the complete eradication of civilian firearm ownership.  They contend that if guns were only available to military and law enforcement, these tragedies would not have occurred.  Sadly, the root of these heartbreaking events goes much deeper than whether or not someone can legally obtain/possess a gun.  The seemingly random and meaningless killings over the past decade may have involved firearms, but they are hallmarks of a culture that is increasingly sick and depraved in both mind and heart.  Guns happened to be the tools of choice, but a will always finds a way.  Deranged murderers will either secure firearms illegally or devise some other malevolent plot, and ridding the world of all sharp or inherently dangerous objects will neither cure nor assuage this disease of soul that is devastating our nation.  On the other hand, for those unwittingly caught up in the madness, this is absolutely an issue of gun rights.

 

I don’t intend to start an ugly debate, but I must make a point and raise a few questions.  I’ve seen lots of news coverage grappling with “how we prevent this sort of thing in the future” and thus far, I’ve heard no legitimate solutions.  We obviously can’t predict “crazy” with any degree of certainty, so we can only focus on combatting it when it rears its hideous head.  It’s important to note that these deadly rampages are occurring in places where law abiding citizens are not expected (or allowed) to be armed:  schools, churches, theaters, etc.  So the practical question begged is, what could have stopped this gunman from killing 26 innocent people?  As parents around the country are fearfully sending their kids back to school today, what comfort can they be offered that this won’t happen somewhere else?  The solution:  let them take up arms.

 

First, there is the “deterrent factor.”  When a home or a vehicle is equipped with a security system, that info is clearly posted for any potential burglar to see.  I don’t propose that it wards off every malefactor, but thugs will generally choose the easier targets.  So can’t we reasonably assume that some shooters might be hesitant to attack a church or school if they knew in advance that they would encounter resistance?  Sure, “crazy” doesn’t heed logic (especially if a killer has no expectation of survival), but where self-preservation still exists, a visible warning goes a long way.

 

When the threat of resistance isn’t enough, it needn’t remain merely a threat.  Those opposed to loosening concealed carry restrictions cite the Batman shooter, claiming that even an armed “good Samaritan” could not have stopped him since he was wearing body armor.  Well, that debate will never be definitively settled because nobody tried.  And he was the exception, as most of the recent shooters have NOT been similarly outfitted, nor have they been firing from defensible positions.  What if a few staff members with pistols could have abated this Newtown killing spree?  Yet here is another question that will never be answered because concealed carry is currently illegal at educational institutions.  You cannot convince me that none of those grieving parents have considered this “what if,” which may have meant the difference between life and death.

 

Lawful or unlawful, guns aren’t going to disappear.  We can’t abolish evil or foresee psychosis, but we can “fight fire with fire” when innocent life is threatened.  And no government should be able to rule otherwise.

 

Know Your Role, Bob! December 3, 2012

Although the 2012 election saga is generally over, we are apparently not finished hearing celebrities use their limelight to burden us with their political opinions.  Don’t get me wrong:  the rich and famous have the same rights to freedom of speech as the rest of us, and they also happen to have a captive audience (voluntary or otherwise) for every cause that stirs their passion.  However, I think most people have grown weary of having politics woven into arenas which ought to be strictly for entertainment.  When I go to a concert, I want music:  not a diatribe from a singer on a soapbox.  While Hollywood and the music industry have been particularly plagued by political interruption over the past decade, the world of sports seemed to remain as the last unpolluted stronghold of nationally syndicated entertainment…until this weekend.

 

On December 1, 2012, a football player for the Kansas City Chiefs allegedly shot and killed his girlfriend (the mother of his young child) and later committed suicide in the parking lot of the football stadium.  Without question, this was a shocking tragedy.  The NFL reportedly spoke to the owner and coaching staff of the Chiefs (two of whom actually witnessed the suicide), who insisted that Sunday’s game continue as planned.  I initially shook my head at this decision, but the more I thought about it, it made sense:  sports are meant to help us take our minds off the dark, heavy burdens of the real world.  So while everyone would have understood if the team had wished to postpone the game, it is equally understandable that they would want to carry on as scheduled.  Ironically, the Chiefs put on what was arguably their best performance of the season, showing remarkable drive and unity and ultimately winning the game.  I don’t believe this was coincidental, and it was a fantastic display of the triumph of the human spirit.

 

Later on Sunday, during halftime of the primetime game, the sports world attempted to give “perspective” on the horrible events through the words of Bob Costas – a long-time and well-respected sports broadcaster.  And this is where it all went wrong.  Bob’s speech even began on the wrong foot.  He contemptuously cited the cliché that “something like this really puts things into perspective,” implying that the nation follows sports mindlessly and without regard to the fact that it’s “just a game.”  He also (and not indirectly) implied that fans are so shallow as to quickly forget that perspective and to need repeated reminders in the forms of future tragedies.  First of all, Bob has obviously overlooked the main purpose of sporting events, which is to provide us a much-needed escape from what is often disturbing reality.  It isn’t that we don’t know or care about the terrible and sad happenings in the world today; on the contrary, we know and care about them very much.  It is reasonable to say that we are sometimes unduly shocked when tragic reality crosses over into our realm of escape, but it is completely undeserved to suggest that lovers of sports have no concept of what is truly important.  And coming from someone who has dedicated his entire adult life to a career in sports media, his words – if warranted – should cut him to the heart.

 

Unfortunately, Bob wasn’t finished.  After unfairly chastising his entire viewing audience for their lack of proper priorities and apparent human decency, he launched into a rant on the need for more gun control.  In what I imagine was a preemptive attempt to mitigate his damages, he offered his bold opinion through quotes from a local Kansas City columnist, Jason Whitlock.  He did preface his reading of those comments by saying that Whitlock “said it so well that we may as well just quote or paraphrase from the end of his article,” thereby fully acknowledging that he shared the writer’s viewpoint on the matter.  I would probably have had more respect for Costas’ views had he used his own words without hiding behind another’s editorial, but then again, an editorial column is the correct venue for political opinions, while halftime of an NFL game is not.

 

I will not deny that I am a vocal advocate of the 2nd Amendment rights of American citizens, and I believe we currently have far too much regulation in the way of “gun control” in this country.  I do understand that many people feel differently, for various reasons, but in cases where the need for gun control is loudly touted, it is often done in conjunction with false or misleading statistics or only half of a whole picture.  Costas (quoting Whitlock) claims that the legal ownership of handguns leads to rising statistics in deadly domestic disputes and confrontations.  Handguns, he asserts, don’t make us safer but rather the opposite:  they bring out the worst in us, cause us to lose control of our tempers and encourage us to “fight” when we should “fly.”  All of those insinuations are based on biased statistics intended to support the anti-gun cause, and they ignore the giant elephant in the room, which is this:  human nature isn’t changed by having or not having a handgun.  Not to mention the fact that in a vast majority of firearm murder statistics, the actor was not in legal possession of the weapon used to commit the crime.  If handguns made us inherently more evil, the number of crimes committed by legal gun owners would be quite close to the actual number of legal gun owners, and even anti-gun activists can’t allege that to be true. 

 

Possibly the most irritating assumption made by Costas (Whitlock) was that “if Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.”  Costas’ ignorant conjecture disregards the number of lives saved every year by handguns in possession of law-abiding citizens.  His argument speciously concludes that gun control is necessary and worthwhile if only to have prevented these two deaths, but that is hardly persuasive for the anti-gun movement.  Conversely, the same argument could be used against gun control by pointing to two instances where lives had been spared by possession or use of a handgun.  But Costas’ claim itself is pure speculation with absolutely zero evidence to prove it.  Belcher did commit the alleged murder and his own suicide using a handgun, but the instrument meant for protecting life is also a convenient way to take it:  the gun itself knows neither morality nor immorality.  To defensibly contend that the murder-suicide would not have occurred without a handgun would require statistics showing that murders and/or suicides didn’t take place prior to the permission of citizen gun ownership.  Moreover, statistics from cities, states and countries with tougher – or total – restrictions on firearm ownership would directly correspond with a drastic decrease in violent crimes and murders, but in fact, those statistics reflect the exact opposite.  The cold, ugly truth is that a person whose heart and mind are so darkened as to even contemplate killing themselves or someone else will do so regardless of whether there is a firearm at their disposal.

 

While it might have been remiss on the part of the NFL to make no formal mention of the tragedy in Kansas City, Costas’ insensitive and biased tirade was not the way it should have been handled.  Regardless of one’s personal views on gun control, hopefully we can agree that this was in poor tasted and discretion.  When an analyst or commentator speaks in such a setting, they ought to be – to the best of their ability – representing the views of the league and its players, rather than using network airtime as a platform for their own political agenda.  After all these years in sports broadcasting, Bob, you of all people should know your role.  It may well have been Jason Whitlock’s place to project his anti-gun sentiment upon his audience, but it was certainly not in any part of Bob Costas’ job description.

 

Lesser of Two Evils August 24, 2012

Filed under: Redshift Blueshift — camcat888 @ 12:34 pm
Tags: , ,

I’m hearing lots of this sort of talk lately:  “I don’t support the views of either candidate” or “my candidate of choice didn’t win the party’s nomination.”  These are platitudes used as justification for a refusal to vote in the upcoming presidential election.  I completely understand the disdain for the “lesser of two evils” philosophy, and there certainly is a time and place to keep your hands entirely clean.  Yet I submit to you that this November 6th is no such occasion.

 

People who abstain in these situations usually suffer from an overinflated sense of self-righteousness, a poor comprehension of the full implications of the “greater evil” or just a general lack of touch with reality.  I suppose some experience gratification at being able to say “well, I didn’t vote for him!” in the face of any predicament arising in the wake of an election.  Then again, when my spouse makes an unwise financial decision of which I did not approve, there’s no satisfaction for me in gloating, “I told you so” since I, too, am feeling the burn.  It comes down to analyzing the stakes…realistically:  what is to be gained versus lost by standing your ideological ground.  If you forget your homemade lunch one day and are stuck with a greasy hamburger or a byproduct hotdog, it may well be best to forgo lunch.  Assuming you object to those options due to health concerns, you can guard your digestion at the price of a few hours of tummy-growling.  If, however, you are in a long-term situation where normally “taboo” foods are your sole source of sustenance, your decision might be a bit harder.  In the one case, the consequences of abstention are merely brief discomfort; in the other, you’ll starve to death over your steeled resolve.

 

I will freely admit to being an avid Ron Paul supporter.  I donated to his campaign, sent emails, posted articles to my social media sites and voted for him in the primary.  Neither of the mainline candidates represent what I believe Paul would have meant for this country, and I don’t deny my frustration over the current political forecast.  It’s troubling to determine whether to vote for your true favorite – who has no viable chance of victory, or for the “lesser of two evils” – with a legitimate shot at success.  The argument can easily be made that when people speculate about “who everyone else will vote for,” the “means” and “end” are manipulated for a skewed result.  However, history has clearly shown that a majority of voters will choose from the names provided on the ballot and one of them is going to become president.  Remember, we must distinguish idealism from realism in order to cast a sensible, meaningful vote. 

 

Finally, I speak directly to my fellow Paulians when I acknowledge that our R and D options are far from ideal.  You and I shared Ron’s visions for returning this country to the limited government and spending intended by our Forefathers, but this just isn’t our year.  In reality, a big party candidate will win the election, and one has an agenda that will render America – as we know it – unrecognizable in four years.  Will you sleep more soundly knowing that by withholding your vote entirely, you avoided soiling your garments with the “lesser of evils”?  Will you observe the impending socio-economic collapse, the surge in homelessness and poverty, and the disintegration of individual liberties while commending yourself for refusing to compromise?  And what is ultimately to be gained by boycotting the party nominations and abdicating any voice you could have had in the matter?  In the words of a legendary rock band, “if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”  Your point will have been made, but America may die of starvation because of it.

 

A Monster in the Making June 1, 2012

Filed under: Grab Bag — camcat888 @ 12:36 pm
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John Edwards married his college sweetheart, Elizabeth, in 1977.  They had four children together and endured their share of hardship.  Their oldest son was killed in a car crash in 1996 at age 17, and Elizabeth was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004.  Edwards served as a U.S. Senator from the state of North Carolina before two unsuccessful runs for president – in 2004 and 2008.  In his 2004 bid, he was selected as the VP running mate by Democratic nominee John Kerry (who subsequently lost to incumbent George H. W. Bush).  He came from a middle-class home in the south and although he had made millions as a high-profile litigator, many supporters in the rural, blue collar demographic still felt he could strongly identify with them.  He and his wife seemed like the all-American family.  Unfortunately, Edwards had some skeletons in his closet, and there’s nothing like a run for office to uncover your deepest, darkest secrets before a watching world.  In 2007, The National Enquirer began reporting that Edwards was having an affair with a former campaign worker, and in mid-2008, he was filmed visiting the woman and his alleged “love child” at a hotel in Beverly Hills.  He initially denied the allegations altogether, but then in August 2008, he confessed to the affair while adamantly protesting any connection to the woman’s child.  Another campaign worker, Andrew Young, claimed that he – not Edwards – was the father of the child.  The exact details get muddled here, but Young later recanted stating that Edwards had begged and paid him to take responsibility for the child.  Young accused Edwards of orchestrating the entire cover up and cited voicemails left by Edwards to his mistress, in which he promised to marry her after Elizabeth died and asked her to have a doctor fake a DNA test.  In early 2010, Edwards finally issued a press release admitting that he was the illegitimate child’s father.  His lovely, faithful wife of 33 years filed for separation, and less than a year later in December 2010, she lost her battle with breast cancer.  He was indicted in 2011 on six counts of improperly accepting and abusing campaign finances, and yesterday received verdicts of “not guilty” and “mistrial” on the charges.

 

If you are anything like me, you’d like to spit in John Edwards’ face.  He’s a liar, a cheater, a scumbag; he’s a monster.  His wife was dying of cancer while he was sleeping around, planning his next marriage and buying people off in every direction.  And sadly, we don’t have to delve far into recent history to find other appalling examples like this one.  It would be easy to conclude that there is no hope for humanity, especially those with fame or power or money.  It’s also easy to mentally contrast ourselves with the monsters like Edwards, and to feel a bit better about our own morality.  But I wonder:  when John was a little boy, did he aspire to be an adulterer and to drive a sick wife to her grave?  Of course not!  Yet when we view the totality of the circumstances, we simply cannot imagine how a decent man could do such horrible things.  I contend that Edwards – for the rest of his life – will wonder how it all went so wrong.

 

The prostitutes on the street begin as misguided teens, runaways looking for a brighter future, or unwed young mothers trying to pay rent.  Somehow, a rough decade later, they no longer even recognize themselves.  When we hear of a shocking scandal, we usually get the big picture at the end where hindsight is 20/20, but these debacles are products of a series of individual bad decisions which, over time, stack up to a teetering tower of deceit and immorality.  At each juncture, the builder has a choice:  tear down the tower or add another stone.  It would appear that to continue stacking, the builder must be becoming more depraved by the minute. But the builder doesn’t need to be evil; he only needs to be weak.  And with every stone, the cost and consequence of honesty grows exponentially until he’ll do the unthinkable just to avoid its destruction.  Tangled webs, indeed.

 

John Edwards will not be serving prison time for breaking any laws, but he has in no way escaped unscathed.  He has obliterated his reputation.  He has a four-year old daughter who will always know that her daddy denied she was his.  He has an estranged mistress with whom he will probably not reconcile.  He has shattered the trust of his children.  He has caused friends and confidants to violate their own consciences on his behalf.  And he broke the heart of his dedicated wife and will never have the chance to make amends.  He may go on to write a book or even return to practicing law.  He may recover his wealth and possibly repair his reputation.  He may seemingly rise from the ashes of this whole ordeal, and I hope he finds sincere repentance that his soul may be spared.  But what might he give to turn back the clock and resist the playful flirting with a pretty campaign worker?  There’s a contemporary Christian song with this refrain:  “It’s a slow fade, when you give yourself away…thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid – when you give yourself away: people never crumble in a day…”  By his choices, one by one, he slowly gave himself away until there was nothing he could do to fix the damage.  Don’t let yourself be fooled into thinking that John Edwards was born an unethical, malicious, conniving monster.  More importantly, don’t let yourself be fooled into thinking that this couldn’t happen to you.

 

Peace, Love, Dupe? May 10, 2012

Filed under: Anger Management,Redshift Blueshift — camcat888 @ 1:11 pm
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So far, I’ve exercised restraint in commenting on the marriage amendment debate, but since controlled burns are the best way to prevent raging forest fires, I’ll speak this piece.

People are zealously venting their disappointment and anger over the passing of Amendment One, and one particular word seems to be on the tip of each tongue:  ignorant.  Their common (albeit the minority) opinion is that nearly 2/3 of NC’s voters cast ballots without any idea as to what they were voting for!  In every election there are varying degrees of comprehension on issues and candidates.  We’ll certainly never reach a consensus on what constitutes a fully-informed citizen, and thus “benefits of doubts” are sensible before pointing fingers or alleging incompetence.  That’s why I am incensed at being labeled a dupe or a moron – repeatedly and irrefutably – simply because I chose to support this amendment!  While I do make mistakes, I am generally characterized – by those who observe me in real life – as making wise decisions, giving sound advice, living respectably, and showing compassion to people of all kinds.  The name-calling only begins when I present – to those who barely know me – a less-than-trendy view on a polarizing political subject.  Yet there must be more justification for calling someone “ignorant” than how that person casts his vote.  If my actions consistently reflect kindness, rationality and selflessness, it is an insolent judgment to reduce me to the box I checked on a ballot.

There are also some who hear me say “Christian” or “religion” and are thus further convinced of my idiocy.  By way of reminder, the word “ignorant” can reflect a dearth of knowledge as well as a misinformation or lack of understanding.  You are welcome to disapprove of both my position and my religion, but unless you know anything else about me, you still possess no evidence to demonstrably prove that I am anything except in disagreement with you.  By the same token, I have equal ground to claim that you voted against the amendment based on media propaganda or peer pressure.  With sheer dislike or divergence the only burden of proof, we’ll vainly bicker until the cows come home.  For that reason, though subjectively fitting in many situations, the word “ignorant” should be reserved for special, verifiable instances.  It is impossible to consider the bulk-labeling of a majority of the state such an instance, since none of said labelers know even most of those voters personally, and since a mere not knowing is insufficient logic to conclude that they had no defensible reason.

As to the loud clamor over hatred vs. love, on which side do childish invectives fall?  And if voting for the amendment supposedly projected spite and bigotry, what do you espouse by insulting the intelligence and religious beliefs of others?  Ultimately – and whatever the explanation – your view didn’t prevail, and your deep-seeded convictions make it painful to excuse anyone who feels otherwise.  Hey, there’s no shame in that, and every man will take a few turns in that boat.  However, there are things worse than being ignorant:  “slanderous” and “hypocritical” spring to mind.  Take care lest by harsh, unsubstantiated speech you undermine the noble virtues you desire to promote.

For the name-callers yet unwilling to concede that they spoke brashly out of passionate persuasion (an easily pardonable sin), I offer one closing thought.  If you become convinced that you are surrounded by irredeemable hatemongers, bigots and fools – your co-workers, doctors, bankers, your kid’s teachers, your neighbors, and almost 2/3 of the community you interact with daily – are you not doubly ignorant for choosing to remain in their midst?  I do not attempt to change anyone’s mind on the issue itself, as I sincerely treasure the freedom to establish personal views and vote based upon them.  But please do reconsider your hasty judgments, your choices of words, your generalizations…and if not, perhaps your state of residence.

 

 
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