Sunday, October 25, 2009

No, I will NOT tone down my Atheism

 You can always tell who the rational people are; they're the ones politely and silently letting others froth at the mouth over whose imaginary friend reigns supreme. They're quietly fuming and shaking their tolerant little heads as the frothers gear up for their annual whine fest over the stupidly  perceived War On Christmas. This whine fest is not rooted in anything real or reasonable, but because not every television channel is wall to wall Christian crap, and not every mall is playing Christmas music in July, and there are still a whole lot of people in the world who believe something different, or (gasp!) don't believe anything at all. And they won't stop whining until they take over the minds, bodies, schools, media, and countries of those who dare to think for themselves.

Check out how the early warm-up for the holiday whinefest begins in some parts of the country:

"Church leaders deem Good News for Modern Man, the Evidence Bible, the New International Version Bible, the Green Bible and the Message Bible, as well as at least seven other versions of the Bible as "Satan's Bibles," according to the website. Attendees will also set fire to "Satan's popular books" such as the work of "heretics" including the Pope, Mother Teresa, Billy Graham and Rick Warren."  read more

It's because of them that I refuse to be polite anymore. I'm not ashamed of my Atheism and therefore I refuse to keep silent about it. I will also actively continue to point out the dangers of uni-beliefs and the demand of religious cultists to follow their absurd ideology as the expense of our civil liberties.

I will continue to speak out against Religious Extremism because it tramples on the equal rights of others. If marriage was truly something that took place only in a church, then I'd say fine, work it out among your members. But we all know that marriage becomes legal when you sign that piece of government paper and hand over your check. At that point all marriages become civil unions. By denying one group rights afforded to another, the government discriminates against its own citizens.  And by allowing churches to enforce their specific religoius views on others, it promotes discrimination against its own citizens.

Churches are the primary funders against same-sex marriage. read more 

I will continue to speak out against the violent warmakers hiding behind religion. I've been an active, non-violent Pacifist since the first time I took to the streets in my teens to protest against the Vietnam war. I have studied war as one studies the opposition and what I have found over the years are the bloody hands of churches either funding or manipulating warmaking.

"Many wars that are not religious wars often still include elements of religion, such as priests blessing battleships. Differences in religion can further inflame a war being fought for other reasons. Historically, temples have been destroyed to weaken the morale of the opponent, even when the war itself is not being waged over religious ideals." read more 
 I am proud of my Atheism. It is proof that I can reason, that I can think independently and that my mind is not owned by anyone except myself. And I will adamantly defend my right to not believe as strongly as others defend their right to believe. If we truly are no different, then why should one of us be shamed into silence? Is it because we are afraid there's not enough of us? If so, then more thought should be given into exactly what FREETHINKER really means because I don't need anyone else to reinforce what I think if it truly comes from me. Atheism is not a belief system, it is not a church, it is not a cult. You can't refuse to believe in something that does not exist. Therefore, it is not that I don't believe in your god. It's that I see nothing there to either believe in or against. 

However, I make the distinction between belief and religion. Religions are cults as they meet all the definitions associated with cults. There's a list of things you must believe or suffer in some way for not believing. There is social and eternal damnation for stepping outside the belief structure. And there is an isolation from forced belief with nothing to challenge or vary that belief that turns religious cults into dangerous entities that threaten not only their own members, but anyone who dares to challenge their authority.

"Parents' involvement in cults can literally destroy a family. Individuals in cults do things willingly under the influence of mind control which they previously may have detested, for the sake of the group's "higher purposes." Reports of members of diverse cults committing illegal and reprehensible activities are widespread. Child abuse in cults is common, and children are often cults' most devastating casualties." read more 

If we learned anything from 9/11 it's that religious extremism is a very bad thing. And yet we failed to notice that we live among religious extremists. We neglected to admit this to ourselves, to educate others about their presence, and to go after our own Christian Talibanists the way we go after anyone who even looks like an Arab. After all, it was a white, racist, Christian extremist who parked a fertilizer truck bomb and blew up the  Alfred P. Murrah Building

"FACTNet has a duty to educate on the dangers of cults in general, mind control and religious fundamentalism wherever there is potential for harm. History has repeatedly and conclusively proven that nowhere is there greater potential for harm then when destructive cultic behavior and religious fundamentalism become part of government behavior. The information and links below are not intended to single out any particular government or political party, but are provided so you may formulate your own opinions about the real and potential dangers being discussed." read more 

It is for these reasons and more that I will continue to be very vocal, very annoying, and continue to turn out designs that promote Science and rational thought.

 But as much as I feel I have the right to think freely and according to my own set of ethics and education, I will not succumb to the error most religious loonies resort to--the loss of my sense of humor. Yes, I will continue to make designs that mock religious crazies, that educate others to the fact that Atheists are not evil satanists, and that can find humor in just about anything. I will not become dour and I will have enjoy life at the expense of silly beliefs. But I will continue to fight against the ones who threaten others because they believe differently. Those I do not find funny at all.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

To a remarkable woman

A couple times a week I receive emails about a blog entry or two. But a couple years or so ago I received an email from a woman who was just diagnosed with breast cancer. She didn't know me and I didn't know her.

I still don't know why she selected me to write to. I'm not exactly approachable. I am a very private person in real life and I protect that privacy very carefully. Most of the people I know don't even know I have a blog and if they do it doesn't interest them enough to read it, therefore I feel safe using a neutral version of my name and writing whatever I want. There's a strange sort of anonymity in being out front with yourself. My words rarely make people want to bond with me other than on an intellectual level.

But in real life things are different. I am not my words. I am a fairly ordinary person who lives quietly and simply. I don't have a whole lot of friends because I don't have the kind of social skills that allow me to blatantly lie and pretend I'm someone I'm not to people who don't really care about me as a person anyway. I also have an innate sense that allows me to detect scammers, insincere people, and the terminally stupid. I don't even try with them. I just disappear from their lives and ignore them when they try to enter mine. It's no great loss on either side.

Nothing went off when I read her email except that I was moved by her situation and felt compelled to reply. There was a raw honesty to it that I appreciated, especially in a world where little white lies take the place of honest interaction. Of course, my first question was why me? Didn't she have friends or family?

Her response disturbed me until I did some research and discovered that it was fairly common for those facing death to isolate themselves from their loved ones. She was in the process of doing this but she didn't want to die alone and without, as she said, being heard about things she couldn't explain to others. She knew that no matter how hard she fought, her days were numbered and she wanted to clear some things up in herself before she died. She liked what I wrote and felt I wasn't subject to other people's opinions, that I didn't allow others to beat me down into a version of me that was socially acceptable to them. I liked that she saw all this and didn't run away or exclude me or banish me or trash me as a result, so I agreed to be her pen pal. I realized I needed her too.

This is some of what I learned from her in the time we communicated. Like me, she grew up poor. And like me this poverty was the result of circumstances inflicted on the family by one or both parents. Her mother drank and when she was drunk she would lose whatever job she had or she would drink her paycheck. My father gambled everything away the moment he got it. It was an illness with him, and when you combined it with an intense hatred of women, well..let's just say we had a lot of similar childhood traumas.

We wrote a lot to each other about the hurts we suffered growing up. I was fortunate to have good teeth most of my life but she wasn't. I remember an heartbreaking email she wrote me about the chemo destroying her teeth and how she couldn't afford to go to a dentist so she never went out anymore except to the doctor. This was on top of memories where she was teased in school because her teeth were crooked. All her friends, as did mine, wore braces as teens. They were out of reach for us financially as were new clothes, the latest fashion trend, even a pair of shoes that didn't draw smirks and taunts from our classmates.

I thought I didn't suffer over it as she did but I learned a lot about how things like being teased for crooked teeth shape your concept of self. I learned that maybe I did suffer because I wasn't pretty enough, that some didn't accept me because I didn't look like them, or made fun of me behind my back because my family spoke with accents, or we were homeless some of the time. You really don't get over that stuff easily. I was just never able to admit it to anyone but her.

We both shared a passion for peace, often to the point where we alienated those who were wrapped up in some sorry excuse for patriotism, or they simply got tired of our one note song. It didn't matter to us any more than it mattered when others excluded us from their cliques because we weren't like them. Peace was something worth fighting for, writing about, preaching about. If not us, then who? We knew silence on issues like unjust wars just created an environment that allowed unjust wars to continue. We could not remain silent and yes, we suffered over this, but some pain is worth feeling. Both of us could not have lived with ourselves if we ignored our own voices.

But we knew there were selfish people in the world, the spoiled and pampered pooches who exaggerated their own minor sufferings just to get some attention. We knew that issues such as peace and equality and trying to make a better world were threats against their own needs for attention. We exchanged stories about the most outlandishly selfish people we knew.

I shared with her the time a few years ago when Jeff was diagnosed with a brain tumor and one of our neighbors who let her livestock run around unattended and disturb the peace of everyone around her as she played hippie farmer, ignored his need for the sleep, peace and quiet he needed to heal. We begged her to do something to take care of the problem but her response was that it didn't bother her so she didn't feel any need to do anything, and then a few days later when Jeff was facing a second surgery, she went whining at the top of her lungs to her neighbor across the street about her friend having brain cancer. It was one of those WTF moments I never understood, even years later until my pen pal explained it to me. "She has an awesome need for attention, it sounds like and she'll get it wherever she can. It's why I isolated myself. People love to flock around the dying so they can get sympathy for themselves."

Of course she was right. I saw it then as I saw a lot of what she pointed out to me. She helped me through the pruning of people like that from my life. "They just drain you, Kate, with their need for attention. Dump them before they eat you alive because they don't care about you at all." She told me this was the wisdom of the dying, to see the excess and reduce life down to what is essential for day to day survival.

I owe her for this. I will always owe her for this as I am much happier with the friends I kept. I don't feel as beat up or used anymore. She gave me that wholeness and it has helped me heal a lot of crap in my life.

She also helped me become less of a victim to others, because as she pointed out, those of us who are excluded and ridiculed in school, in the workplace, on mailing lists, on social networks, soon develop a victim complex. "Once you give in to this, then it's like sharks smelling blood in the water," she wrote. "They'll use you to pay back anyone who ever did anything to them. They got left out of a clique in high school, they'll make sure they exclude you from their clique in adulthood."

Yes, that happened to me I admitted, reluctantly because I felt a sense of shame over not being liked, as if it was my fault somehow. She taught me it was not my fault, that it was something defective in others when they felt a need to judge, to exclude, to treat others as personal doormats for things done to them by others. "One person is as good as another to them. Get out of their way and let them move on to someone else. We're all interchangeable to people like that."

We wrote a lot about love, about what it means to accept someone flaws and all. We agreed there are no perfect people, but that doesn't mean we had to let ourselves be abused by those who were both imperfect and mean.

About six months after we had been writing to each other she got involved in an abusive relationship. It went bad after a month and it left her terrified and drained. She asked me for help. We lived too far away from each other for me to gather up some big old dudes and go pay her boyfriend a vist, so I got some virtual help. At the time I was on a discussion list and I asked the women on there for donations to help her get out of the abusive situation she was in. They came through as only women can and the money they donated helped her get away and spend her final days without worrying about being beat up for crying.

I remember the day she emailed me from her one room studio apartment that let her feel safe for the first time in many years. I cried and cried for her that day, for all women who find the courage and the means to leave. My mother never did and we all suffered for it. My pen pal became a symbol of hope for all women the day she walked out that door. I wanted so much to hug her but had to satisfy myself with sending her a bouquet of flowers I couldn't really afford but needed to send anyway.

In the last month she wrote less and I could tell she was having a difficult time. Social services provided a caretaker for her so she wouldn't die alone on the floor trying to reach the phone, which was her greatest fear. "I want to be alone but I don't want to die alone and helpless," she wrote me in one of her final emails.

I didn't hear from her all last week and I knew then she was gone. This morning there was a bulk email from one of her relatives who didn't identify his relationship to her. It said simply that she died yesterday and her mail account would be closed in a few days. There would be no services.

And with that, it was over. I knew she had suffered a lot in the last couple months, that even the pain medicine didn't help. I knew she was ready for it to be over and in my heart I have to find a way to let her go peacefully. But today I miss her. Today I have all kinds of unfinished words to say to her, but I will leave it at two: thank you.


Friday, October 09, 2009

Crazy Old Lady Of Peace: Tattered Peace Flag: Store

Tattered Peace Flag shirt
Tattered Peace Flag by orsobear
Buy a t-shirt online from Zazzle


Obama and the Peace prize

True to their reputation as moronic and poorly educated juveniles, the GOP and their goose-stepping mouthpieces are attacking Obama's winning the Peace prize. They truly don't understand how they are the tools of the weapon manufacturers and corporate warmongering Fascism admirers.

I shouldn't be surprised considering their behavior over the last few months-- things like the Teabaggers fighting for the right of insurance companies to screw them out of affordable health care, the spewing of hateful racist rhetoric that belongs under a KKK hooded sheet, the blatant sexism that attacks Speaker Pelosi with 1950's era little woman terminology, and the outright advocacy of violence against anyone who disagrees with them.

These are the actions of petty tyrants and their easily manipulated minions. It is why Obama was awarded the Peace prize. The Nobel committee understood the biggest fight Obama faces is not the Taliban, not terrorism, not two wars dumped on him by the perpetual failures of George Bush, but from the violence-fueled ignorance within his own country.

It is time to call these attacks what they are: treason. They are advocating the violent overthrow of a sitting President. There are people currently serving jail and prison terms for daring to make anti-Bush comments during his administration. Those dark age inspired eight years of Goposaur rule consisted of rhetoric associating anyone who disagreed with Bush, with the war, with corporate greed with terrorism.

And it is time to call these attacks on President Obama what they truly are: racism in all its ugliness. If the Birthers are so sure their obsession with Obama's birth certificate has any validity, then let them demand with equal fervor that of John McCain, or for that matter, produce their own.

Let the talking heads who spew their hatred back up their claims that Obama is a Socialist-Communist-Nazi by actually reading History and discovering what those words really mean and the number of people who died under those regimes.

Let the paid shills on the news prove they are not getting money from corporate funds to shove lies down the American people's throats.

And let the media prove they are not bedded down with the worst tyrants, the most ignorant and hateful band of thugs to ever try and usurp the will of the people.

Until then they should shut the fuck up and understand that those of us who voted for Obama voted against them and their hateful propaganda.

Sane people want peace and those who attack Obama for trying to bring the world together just reveal the sickness deep in their own souls.

They also need to accept that Obama was awarded the Peace prize because of them and if they want to whine about it, then maybe they should take a good look at themselves and see how they were responsible for him winning it.


Thursday, October 08, 2009

The craziness of life

To those seeking the meaning of life: I'm more convinced than ever that people make it up as they go along.