Recent thoughts on Religion

This past year—2020—my views on religion have changed. I suppose in some respects they’ve long been this way, but with the Trump Presidency and COVID I’ve come to feel more bold in those beliefs. I’ve seen how the world has been effected by superstition and can no longer remain quiet and polite. As I recently told someone, “I don’t know why we’re told to automatically respect all religions. Shouldn’t they have to earn it just like anyone or anything else?”

And like that I woke up.

At last count there are 7.8 billion human beings on the planet. That’s the largest population of any mammal in the history of our small, blue planet. For most of that history we’ve governed ourselves by beliefs that were handed down to us, beliefs that were often not based in reality. We’ve believed in gods plural and singular. We’ve believed that mystical powers control the night and the day, the passing of the seasons, the health of our crops. These beliefs have, to some extent, provided adequate to ensure the human race survived to the next day, but not necessarily better or healthier as a whole. Now, as a globally interconnected species, the application of ancient belief and tradition in key decisions of governance only serves to harm us.

Take for example the obvious: America’s handling of COVID.

Handling a pandemic is straight forward. Prepare. Test, test, test. Contact trace. Wear masks. Social distance. Close down non-essential business. Modify existing business and organizations to ensure the virus doesn’t spread. Devote money towards research and a vaccine. It’s not easy, as we’ve seen, but the steps are made obvious by science.

America has not consistently used science, however, to guide its hand. Both states and the federal government have changed their strategies at the beck and call of political and religious belief (are they not, in many respects, one and the same?). It is not uncommon to hear an individual flaunt restrictions either based on their belief in some undefined “freedom” claimed to be in the ancient text we call the U.S. Constitution or that if it’s time God will decide. These singularly selfish, non-scientific, and frankly superstitious beliefs have resulted in the deaths of millions of people now. It is unconscionable.

So the question is, why should I respect any religious tradition if many of those who are members make decisions based on superstition when those decisions have negative and even deadly impacts on non-believers? Why should I respect a politician or voter who supports legislation that is sexist, agist, racist, or otherwise pushes their own sense of “right” and “wrong” and others? Why should I have anything but disgust for people who quite literally believe in gods and demons, fictions such as “original sin”, or that such anachronisms should be forced on intelligent, critical, free minded people?

To be clear, I have no problem that people are religious anymore than I care what folks eat for dinner. Just don’t eat babies. And don’t force me to eat babies if that’s your thing. To me that’s freedom. It’s starts with believing what you want to believe and doing what you want to do as long as it doesn’t put other people in cages. And that’s, in my humble opinion, the only true sin: to rob someone of the ability to believe and live as they choose. As the core tenant of Wicca teaches, “Do as you will as long as you do no harm.” You’d think if America really were based on the idea of freedom for all we’d follow that path.

I hope I’m able to.

Chapter 2

Writing is still difficult. Actually, it’s always been difficult. But there was a day and a time where I filled my spare time with writing hoping, in large part, to become a professional writer some day. I thought what I had to say had meaning. More important, I thought what I wanted on paper worth reading.

In less than 24 hours I’ll be 47 years old. It’ll be almost a decade since I blogged on an almost daily basis. Back when I thought I had something worthwhile to share. I don’t know what happened between then and now. Maybe it was the Lyme, robbing me of years of my health, my life, and tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. Maybe it was all of the social drama I experienced or put myself in or created. Maybe I just realized what a small cog I am in the big picture and that fundamentally, the universe could do just fine without me. And maybe it was simply that I realized for all the things I’d learned in this so called life I really couldn’t make the kind of impact on the world I want to.

I’m back to editing old stories, short stories I’d written in my youth for people I’d loved, admired, and/or was infatuated with. These were stories with meaning. But as with most past endeavors I look back and see how clunky my steps were. Can I improve? What effort would be necessary? Is it worth it?

Will anyone ever care to read what I have to say?

It’s my hope that once I’m happy with these relatively minor edits I can publish these old stories in an e-book, possibly even self publish soft bound copies. “There,” I’ll say to myself, “I’ve done it.”

Reasons 11 through 38

I know, I know, I said I was going to write every day. In my defense, I stopped smoking two weeks ago and have been somewhat scatter-emotioned ever since. And I just don’t feel compelled to write like I once did. There are many, many reasons behind that. One day I hope to “feel compelled” again so I can write about how I haven’t cared about writing or sharing or opening up anymore. For now I will say this: I’ve become so tired of the level of bullshit that’s come to permeate the internet—especially the political “discussion”—that I’ve all but stopped using Facebook and have absolutely stopped giving a shit about whether anyone will listen to any evidence I have regarding the doomed Trump administration. America has really become a country where we’re going to fist fight on the playground regarding the merits of Ford vs. Chevy and we’re willing to put people’s futures on the line for such brainwashed idiocy.

Anyway, I’m not going to waste my time digging into these other reasons I was going to write about, the titles speak for themselves:

Reason #11: Trump Cares About Winning (more than he cares about you)
Reason #12: Trump Doesn’t Want Everyone to Vote
Reason #13: Trump Ignores Experts
Reason #14: Trump is a Male Chauvinist
Reason #15: Trump is Obviously Predictable
Reason #16: Trump Lacks Humility
Reason #17: Trump Manipulates the Government to Fill His Coffers
Reason #18: Trump Spreads Doubt About Trustworthiness of Elections
Reason #19: Trump Trashes the Medal of Freedom
Reason #20: Trump’s a Disgrace to the Office
Reason #21: Trump’s Blatant Disrespect for Veterans
Reason #22: Trump’s Continued Obfuscation Regarding His Tax Returns
Reason #23: Trump’s Disgraceful Lack of Knowledge of American History
Reason #24: Trump’s Disgust for the U.S. Constitution
Reason #25: Trump’s Disrespect for His Own Base
Reason #26: Trump’s Hypocrisy Regarding Protests
Reason #27: Trump’s Near Silence on the Historical Western Fires
Reason #28: Trump’s Nepotism
Reason #29: Trump’s Requirement of Complete Loyalty
Reason #30: Trump’s New SS (the DHS)
Reason #31: Trump’s White House Pays Women Less than the National Average
Reason #32: Trump’s Wild Claims about COVID Treatments has Killed People
Reason #33: Trump’s Willingness to Supporter’s Lives at Risk
Reason #34: Trumps Views of America’s Enemies vs. His Enemies
Reason #35: He’s the World’s Most Accomplished Failure
Reason #36: Trump is a Bigot
Reason #37: Trump Runs Things Like a Reality Show
Reason #38: Trumps Sides with Kim Jong-Un

Stopping Smoking

For this of you that can’t, you’re likely to never have smoked. If you have, you should be able to relate that like me, you’re really good at stopping smoking given all the practice you’d had over months, years, or decades. We’ve all become experts; the only problem: We’re just as good at starting again.

I starting smoking at 18 as a way to get back my parents. They were both teachers at my high school and as a straight A student I thought it was the best (most passive-aggressive) way to get back at them. Needless to say, I had it as much as possible from them. I didn’t smoke at home and generally only smoked in the car with all the windows open. Hell, for at lest six months to a year I didn’t really “smoke” at all as I just liked to light up, suck a mouthful of smoke in, watch it dance the air as I exhaled. And I absolutely loved flame.

This year I’ve had limited success quitting. Already having multiple pre-existing conditions, the COVID pandemic made it a very clear choice: either I quit smoking or potentially die. Even then, it’s been stop and go. Every other weekend or so I’ll go cold turkey or put on patches but never seem to be able to make it to the other side. I like smoking–no, I love it! I love sitting on the deck several times a day reading the latest news and articles on my Facebook feed. I love that it wake’s me up in the morning. I love I can focus on it when I’m frustrated, tired, scared, angry, or feeling defeated. I love that it makes me feel tough. And I especially love, after a long day or all my emotions are frayed, sitting on the deck with a dram or two of Scotch drinking, commenting on FaceBook articles, and forgetting all the physical pain I’d been in all day.

Damn, smoking is damn good.

It’s not easy to quit. I’ve smoked on and off for decades. Even changed from cigarettes to a pipe back to cigarettes and then finally on Swisher Sweet Cigarillos. But whatever the input device, the reality is quitting is never quite the same any time. Generally though, the several days I tend to feel increasingly confused. For example, if I were sitting in a chair ever minute or two I’d wonder why I was sitting there watching tv instead of doing something more important. If I get up to do something important in hopes of keeping my mind off of it (as if one can as it’s completely screwing with ones thoughts) I find my mind will go into all sorts of wonky territory. Why did I go into another room? Why am I cooking? Why do I go to the work in the morning? Why am I here? As it gets worse uncontrollable anxiety kicks in, something no drug or meditation can put a dent in. And regular actives, like reading news, becomes pointless. The mind wanders uncontrollably. Then when I go to sleep at night, at least that first couple of nights, I’m likely to wake up with night terrors, my mortality somehow being thrown like a giant Redwood tree into my face. Somewhere around day two the mind is a chaotic confusion. Time slows down. One minute can become five, five ten, and so on—the whole idea of saying to oneself, “This will all be over in n days,” becomes meaningless when time stretches ones patience to its limits.

So here we go again. I’ve only had a couple today, one this morning, two this afternoon. Since this is a three day weekend I’m going a combination of patch and cold turkey tomorrow, in hopes that I can lower my dependency enough to be full cold turkey come Monday (Labor Day). I know I won’t be running on all thrusters come my first day back on Tuesday. And despite how difficult it is to write while “Jonesing” I will continue my daily reasons for not voting for that jackass in the Oval Office.

Gotta keep moving forward.