To Be or not to Be…art is the answer.

To Be or not to Be…art is the answer.

 

Being an artist has nothing to do with your level of education or your ability to be paid for your work. Being an artist is about how you think, how you feel, how you express. It has to do with the way you see the world, the way a sunset or the glimmer in a child’s eye, or disaster or the tragic death of a young person can make you feel the infinite extremes of opposing emotions. It has to do with your willingness to create, to discover, to mold, learn, grow and change. It has to do with a survival need to create.

For me–art is about a constant need to find the good in the world, to find beauty where there is pain and to see possibility where there is no hope. I seek these things through my vision and expression because half of my mind wants to die and the other half desperately wants to show it there’s a reason to live. For me–art is literally my life. It is how I think and feel and exist. It has never not been present. It has always been around me in the form of my interpretation of the world in which I live. It’s hard to recognize it sometimes but it is always there. Art is something I need for ME. Any sharing of that expression with others may be beneficial for them, but even that is for me. I need art. I need it in my life and I need it in my mind. I can’t breathe when I deny myself the opportunity to see the entire world as an active work of artistic creation and expression which is constantly being molded and changed by everything in existence.

We are all artists and creators–making an impact and an expressive change to everything we come in contact with. I think it’s just that many people are afraid to recognize themselves as an artist or a creator. But art is not about any one medium–painting, singing, Crochet–making you money. It is about your willingness to see that you, too, are a creator of worlds simply because you exist in this one.

Choosing to recognize this in myself has been very difficult–and continues to be. But with it comes direction and purpose. It’s not an easy path for sure–but I couldn’t deny it if I wanted to. (Trust me, I’ve tried.)

To be an artist in practice is to be a constant student of the universe. Always seeking a deeper understanding of your medium or purpose or expression. Always becoming a little better, and never putting your discovery on a timeline. I do not wish to master anything, per se, but to continue the spiral of learning, finding more and deeper ways to express the miracles of existence within certain mediums. There’s no hurry. The discoveries are infinite. Being an artist isn’t a mountain you suddenly reach the top of and know you’re there and never leaving. Being an artist is 100% about the process of creation. The process is more important than the end–for us. And by focusing on the process and creating for the sake of creation, you assure there is no end to what you can learn to express.

Being an artist has nothing to do with your level of education or your ability to be paid for your work. Being an artist is about how you think, how you feel, how you express. It has to do with the way you see the world, the way a sunset or the glimmer in a child’s eye, or disaster or the tragic death of a young person can make you feel the infinite extremes of opposing emotions. It has to do with your willingness to create, to discover, to mold, learn, grow and change. It has to do with a survival need to create.

For me–art is about a constant need to find the good in the world, to find beauty where there is pain and to see possibility where there is no hope. I seek these things through my vision and expression because half of my mind wants to die and the other half desperately wants to show it there’s a reason to live. For me–art is literally my life. It is how I think and feel and exist. It has never not been present. It has always been around me in the form of my interpretation of the world in which I live. It’s hard to recognize it sometimes but it is always there. Art is something I need for ME. Any sharing of that expression with others may be beneficial for them, but even that is for me. I need art. I need it in my life and I need it in my mind. I can’t breathe when I deny myself the opportunity to see the entire world as an active work of artistic creation and expression which is constantly being molded and changed by everything in existence.

We are all artists and creators–making an impact and an expressive change to everything we come in contact with. I think it’s just that many people are afraid to recognize themselves as an artist or a creator. But art is not about any one medium–painting, singing, Crochet–making you money. It is about your willingness to see that you, too, are a creator of worlds simply because you exist in this one.

Choosing to recognize this in myself has been very difficult–and continues to be. But with it comes direction and purpose. It’s not an easy path for sure–but I couldn’t deny it if I wanted to. Trust me, I’ve tried. I don’t have a choice. The severity of my need for creation combined with my great aversion to people, drama, and responsibility over other human lives makes it so my only coping means of creation is self expression onto inanimate mediums. There is no question for me of whether or not I can live this life without art. I live this life as an artist or not at all. To be or not to be may be the question, but for me the answer is art and creation.

To be an artist, in practice, is to be a constant student of the universe. Always seeking a deeper understanding of your medium or purpose or expression. Always becoming a little better, and never putting your discovery on a timeline. I do not wish to master anything, per se, but to continue the spiral of learning, finding more and deeper ways to express the miracles of existence within certain mediums. The mediums are a projection of my inner experience. Truly–I am art and through my expression I am creating myself.

There’s no hurry. The discoveries are infinite. The more I discover about myself and the universe, the more I have to discover. Being an artist isn’t a mountain you suddenly reach the top of and know you’re there and never leaving. Being an artist is 100% about the process of creation. The process is more important than the end–for us. And by focusing on the process and creating for the sake of creation, you assure there is no end to what you can learn to express.

Ending the Debate on Abortion Rights

Pro choice vs. Pro life is not a political debate, and we need to stop allowing it to be. It’s an ethical debate, which does not have a place in politics–at least not with situations as specific as abortion.

Let’s go through the reasoning, because as much as we think of this as a complex debate topic, it isn’t in the context of our laws. It may be a complex ethical debate, but in regards to legal right, there is no debate here.

Allow me to elaborate…

If you’re “pro-life” because of religion, that’s cool. But also, your religion is yours and not mine or anyone else’s, so my choice is still mine and your religion does not get to make laws that take that choice away from me. Separation of church and state. That’s it. That’s where your God arguments end. You do not get to put through legislation based on individual beliefs that counter our collective laws and shared reality. We can talk ethics and morals all day, but as far as law goes—you’re done when you bring up god and religion. It has zero place in politics. Done.

Take God out of it and its still super easy. You say its a life and to abort is to take a life? It’s killing someone. Let’s completely skip the debate on when life begins for s fetus. Whether it is at the time of conception, the moment of birth, or anywhere in between is completely irrelevant to the logistics of legality. Again, this is a debate of ethics, which could go on forever. However, one thing makes it irrelevant–body autonomy.

Body autonomy laws protect us and are already in place in the medical field. I can refuse a dying person my organs because of body autonomy. It may not be easy to watch them die, but I have a choice to say, “No, you cannot use my body or my body parts to sustain your own life.” If my own mother needed a piece of my liver, I have a the choice to say no and live with the consequences of that choice–even if the consequence is the death of my own mother. It is legal for me to refuse. The ethical and moral dilemma of whether or not I could sacrifice a piece of my liver to help my mother live is entirely my own, but legally I am in no way obligated to give her a piece of my liver.

Same principal applies to the medical procedure and choice of abortion. If a fetus cannot survive outside of my uterus and I decide not to allow it to live there– it doesn’t matter whether or not it is a life. It’s still my body and I get to decide who uses parts of it for their own survival. Just like the person who will die without my liver, I have the right to refuse another being the use of my body for their own sustenance and survival if I so choose. Think me a horrid person if you will–I still have the legal right to my own body. A fetus will not live outside of a uterus. It will die. A person needing an organ transplant cannot live without a new organ. They will die. I am not required to give them my organ, even if it is my fault they need an organ. I am not required to give an undeveloped baby my womb for the same reason. Body autonomy.

The reason for becoming pregnant is irrelevant. My body, my choice. It doesn’t matter whether I was raped or just have a really promiscuous sex life and am irresponsibly about protection. Your personal opinions of the reason behind someone getting an abortion, those reasons are not relevant to the debate of legality. Not relevant at all.

Body autonomy is not a privilege of the sexually responsible. It is a natural right of all body owners. I get to decide who touches me, and who uses my body for their own survival.

It’s not a hard debate. Its just difficult ethics and morals–which you don’t get to decide for any other human on the planet but yourself–not even your own children. So you cannot, should not, and will not take away someone’s legal right to their own body because you disagree with their lifestyle, morals, or ethics. That’s manipulative. That’s narcissistic. That’s abusive. When it’s being done on as large a scale as an entire society, it is oppressive.

Also, everyone needs to stop assuming people who get abortions don’t understand the gravity of their decision. Estrogen, a side effect of owning a uterus and ovaries, makes us uterus owners very deep feeling, very self aware, and very empathetic. We understand the gravity of choice. Stop shaming people who already understand the gravity of their life decisions. The only different between the hurt they cause and the hurt you cause is that they have to acknowledge it and you write yours off with your ignorance and privilege. You’re not pro life. You’re not fooling anyone. Get off your fucking high horse and come back down to earth. Your morals don’t make you any better than anyone else. Not even a little bit.

Nobody ever said getting an abortion was an easy choice, but it is now and should forever remain a choice for the uterus owner which takes away the biological inequality of responsibility for the consequences of sex.

This is not a debate of legality. It is a debate of morals and ethics that has been mixed and confused into our laws and politics. When you take the emotions of individual perspective out of it, pro-choice is the only legal reality.

Denying Science in Politics=Abuse of Power

I heard a politician say something that was very important. When approached by a reporter about the science of climate change, this politician said, “I believe that coal is a necessary power source and does not hurt or pollute the earth.”

He started the sentence with “I believe”. Generally when people do this it is because they know what they are saying is not a shared belief with the person they are speaking to, or the general populace they are speaking within. They say “I believe” so as to not push their beliefs on others, so as not to start a fight but simply to express their beliefs. Its a polite thing, really.

I hung out with a lot of LDS believers when I was in high school. One family in particular always said, “We believe” which was a super nice way to hear about their beliefs. It didn’t feel like they were saying their beliefs were unavoidable fact for everyone, it was like they were just offering their beliefs to the conversation as fact for themselves, and giving the listener a choice to believe or not.

In debates where people are simply speaking on morals, ethics, and personal values, this is a fine strategy that allows for the ego of the listener not to feel defensive or attacked or trapped and so it allows the debate to continue in a less confrontational way–which is always more productive to understanding and allowing diversity between friends.

However, when the person saying “I believe” has power over the lives of the people/person he says it to–that’s not ok. That is a severe abuse of power. That person is saying, “I believe this, and even though I don’t want to hear what you have to say or get you angry or make an argument out of it, I’m going to impose those beliefs on you and make it seem like you have a choice, but you don’t.”

So in the case of this politician, he is using his personal beliefs about coal and pollution, which contradict science, to make decisions that affect our entire planet.

The importance of separation of church and state, in our modern world, is not necessarily the separation of organized religion and organized politics. It is a separation between the beliefs we hold as individuals (church) and the beliefs we know as a collective species (state). I like to refer to these things as Individual reality and Shared reality. The truth is that we all hold individual opinions and opinions that can be held to the collective, and we need to stop thinking those individual opinions are only held by organized religions and those collective opinions are rightly reflected in our government. That is not the case.

Our individual reality is the reality we exist within as individuals living our own lives. This reality is lived, hopefully, from your singular perspective, understanding, and belief. It is dogmatic in nature, even if you have cleansed yourself of societal dogma, because it is a construct in your own mind. It is the routine of your thoughts, the motivator behind your life decisions, the roots of your expression of Self. It is based in a series of personal, subconscious beliefs held by the individual which affect the way that person experiences the collective or shared reality. Individual reality is your spirituality, your morals, your values, your beliefs about yourself in the world, other people and the way the nature of the world functions. These beliefs can come from anywhere. They can come from fear, experiences, upbringing, nature, manipulation, society, personal exploration, etc. But they are not always shared or acknowledged by the whole of existence. Individual reality is abstract. It can be understood from the outside, it can be empathized with, but it cannot be experienced by anyone except the individual to which that reality belongs.

Shared reality is the reality we all collectively experience. It is our physical world, the laws of that physical world. Science is the study of our shared reality. Science is an undeniable fact for us all. We cannot deny that the sun rises, that things fall when you drop them, that people’s physical bodies die, etc. Some individuals may deny pieces of it, but the evidence is tangible. You can see it, measure it, and know it to be true. We all can, and not based just on a feeling.

While Individual and Shared reality affect each other, and are certainly interconnected, they are separate entities, separate ideas and should be seen and acknowledged as such.

Moving on, anyone using their personal beliefs to limit the freedoms of our shared reality is abusing their power. My father did it to me growing up. Many parents do it to their children in our society, because our society does it to us and people gain the habits and beliefs of the society in which they exist implicitly if they aren’t careful. My father would impose his personal beliefs on me. His beliefs were based in his own experiences, which were scary but not mine. I did not have the choice or option to disagree and so his individual reality became mine, except while he was very comfortable in that reality, I hate myself and everything I am in his reality because of how he believes. This is called narcissist abuse–and our politicians have been doing it to us for thousands of years.

This politician, who used his personal beliefs on coal to override the collective reality of science and fact, he is abusing his power. He is bringing his personal beliefs, his personal dogma, his personal reality into consideration when making laws that affect the whole, collective reality. He is doing this, not based on facts or things he even dares to say out loud, but based on his personal dogmatic views which are clearly influenced by his own agenda. This happens all the time, actually. It’s manipulation. It’s abuse of power. It’s narcissist abuse, actually. It’s costing people their well-being and lives. It will eventually cost us all our lives and the planet we live on.

Your personal reality is valid. But you do not get to use it to deny the shared reality and impose your personal beliefs on others.

Americans–we are stronger United.

Americans–we are stronger United.

My Fellow Americans,

We’ve been dividing. It has been unsettling to say the least. Families have been torn apart. It seems one side is at odds with the other. There is a bi-partisan loyalty that has been taking priority in many of our hearts and minds.

I’ve had a recent shift in loyalties. After this weekend, and Trump’s first week in office, I have seen and read and participated in so much. I’ve been overwhelmed–so over involved in my personal political beliefs that I missed the big picture.

I’m an advocate of admitting when you’ve made a mistake or made assumptions in ignorance. I’ll live by my own words now–I did not see this coming. I underestimated the Trump administration in a very dangerous way.

 

There are some things we may never agree on. I don’t think we’re going to agree on God/Goddess/Universe/Spirit/Allah/Jehovah/Nothing/other. I don’t think we’re going to agree on immigration, refugees, or national security. I don’t think we are going to agree on reproductive rights or marriage rights. I don’t think we’re ever going to agree on which News sources are fake, which are real, which are biased or unbiased. However, I’d hope that one thing we can all agree on is that we are Americans.

Now more than ever, I feel a loyalty to my country. I remember visiting Washington DC in High School and laying eyes on the nation’s most fundamental documents. I didn’t comprehend what they meant then–not like I do now.

Democracy is a beautiful vision, and our founding fathers were truly enlightened men–even if they were also men of their time. They won a revolution that should have been impossible. They thought things through, and planned for the checks and balances that keep our system democratic. The amendments put in place by our founding fathers were brilliantly constructed to keep the government in balance with itself, and to empower the people if the government fell out of balance.

I will admit to you, Obama was not perfect. He had things going on I don’t agree with. He’s as corrupt as any of them behind the curtains–I’m sure. He’s a wonderful man, but he’s a politician. His administration did some wonderful things for civil liberties, but they were still financially sketchy and not always transparent. He’s a man, flawed as any. That’s what the 3 branches of government are for. They kept things in check. They kept him from gaining too much personal power.

We need to stop debating who is the better president. We have to stop comparing Obama to Trump or justifying Trump with Obama’s mistakes (or even his triumphs).

Can we please admit, openly and on friendly terms, that there might be some things wrong with our government right now?

The gag ordered silence, the executive orders, firing the AG, sudden travel ban–its only been a bit over 1 week. ONE WEEK! The change that has occurred in one week is so dramatic, I’d compare it to an entire 4 years of another administration. Some might say this is good–successful. However, I encourage you to think about why this is happening. There’s a reason for this, and it’s not good.

The democratic process is being abused.

The reason it takes other administrations so long to get things done is because our system depends on a very organized process of checks and balances. Those checks and balances are fundamental to maintaining American Democracy, as it was put forth by our nation’s founders. If those checks and balances are being overlooked or completely ignored so that ANY party can get this much done this quickly, Democracy itself is being threatened.

Trump is a business man who is not used to politics. He is used to making decisions for a bureaucracy, not a democracy. He’s not waiting for permission from the branches, he’s just taking action. In business, this is successful! I’d commend him! I can actually see this being a very aggressive business tactic, and I’m not surprised he has been so successful.

But in politics, this can be fatal for millions of people–and in the US, it violates our constitution. It’s illegal. It’s unconstitutional. It’s very dangerous.

I think one thing we can unite on as a people is our Constitution and the Declaration of Independence–the genius, enlightened documents on which our country was built. I am loyal to these documents. I have studied them, and I will continue to study them for further understanding. I will defend them because I understand them and I agree with the vision they put forth. The general outline of American democracy is brilliant–but its being abused more than it has been for decades.

The checks and balances that are necessary to our system are currently being tested, and it is vitally important that people from all over the political spectrum stand up–not on behalf of a President but on behalf of American Democracy. We need to hold the government to the utmost standard of balance with respect and responsibility to the democratic process as it was put forth by our founding fathers’ pens.

We are the final balance put in place by our founding fathers in their construction of this political system. WE are THE PEOPLE and we are here for the United States of America–life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness! Democracy!

Going forward, I’m sure the protests will continue. Regardless of where you stand or what you stand for, we must keep the government in place, in line, and in balance. Democracy is at stake. The most important thing right now is not whether or not you agree with your government, its whether your government is operating legally and constitutionally. If you support the president, but he breaks the law or does something unconstitutional, you should be concerned. We have to stop comparing to the past. We have to acknowledge that, right now, something is very wrong and we have to stop blaming each other.

The future of this country depends on people from all sides coming together and keeping our government in check.

An out of balance system is not a win for any of us. It leaves us vulnerable to more than just terrorism. It leaves us vulnerable to political takeover, trade excommunication from other countries, war on our own soil, nuclear war even. The most valuable defense we have against foreign enemies is a united community of Americans and a polished and balanced democratic system. We have to be infallible politically. We have to be practicing genuine American Democracy to keep up the strength we wish to maintain. That is more powerful than any size military.

I’d love to debate liberal and conservative politics with you, but first we need to make sure that we all maintain the right to do so.

The People are the heroes now.

We, the People are the final check when the 3 branches fall out of balance. Things are very unstable right now. If they continue to fall out of balance, we will have to stand up together to fix it. We have to find a way to unify. We have to find a way to stand up as a people. Left and right wings are attached to the same bird. It takes both wings to fly.

We are most powerful as a country when we are united as a People.

I don’t know how to unite us. We’re so torn by hard moral topics. It is so difficult to have conversations nowadays. I will say, make your voice heard and listen other’s voices. Try to reach out, try to build bridges. Be willing to build bridges. Be willing to stand up against your president if he crosses the boundaries of democracy, even if it benefits your beliefs. We must maintain the checks and balances of the American democratic system. Our Nation depends on it.

It will take all of us.

Every single American.

Freedom to Speak, if I may, about the Freedom of Speech

I feel like a lot of people have been misusing the First Amendment. I’ve heard many people throughout my life use the “Freedom of Speech” claim to excuse themselves from unpopular opinions they might hold. It doesn’t sound like many of them have read the Constitutional Amendment they are citing. If they had, maybe they didn’t understand it fully. Maybe they had someone interpret it for them in grade school and the interpretation was mucked. Maybe they heard someone else use “freedom of Speech” as a scapegoat and they decided to do it too. Whatever the case, I think it is vitally important to the future of our country to understand this Amendment and use the “Freedom of Speech” claim properly.

To properly understand and interpret anything we must consider context. For example, as a classical musician, when I am performing a piece of music it is near impossible of me to perform an authentic interpretation of the song if I do not first research the composer, the time period, the performance norms of that time period, the history of notable performances, and any changes to performance norms of that piece since it’s composition, in great detail. The more information I have for the context of the piece of music, the more genuine and authentic I can interpret and perform it.

For the interpretation and understanding of something as significant and vital to millions of peoples’ lives and well-being as the US Constitution, we should undergo the same process. We need to consider all the context we can. Too often I hear people throw out the phrase “Freedom of Speech” as a justification for their expression, but they couldn’t tell me the actual words of the Amendment, let alone its meaning. Let’s consider the words, the context in which they were written, and how they apply to our modern society.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

There are a lot of parts to this. To understand it, lets break it down into parts and make it more visually appealing. (That always helps)

Congress shall make no law;

  • respecting an establishment of religion
  • prohibiting the free exercise thereof [religion]
  • abridging the freedom of speech
  • [abridging the freedom of] the press
  • [abridging the] right of the people peaceably to assemble
  • [abridging the freedom] to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

The first two points are talking about Freedom of Religion. Religion, when you consider it on a more global, infinite, unlimited perspective, is really the organization of your beliefs. So though our Founding Fathers wrote this with religious Churches and places of holy worship in mind, I think the progressive and modern interpretation has to consider “Religion” as personal spiritual beliefs, especially considering the rise of Atheist and Panthiest spiritual practices.

This means that our government cannot make a law which establishes a religion, or which keeps others from practicing religions. That sounds contradictory and confusing to most modern speakers. Historically, what could this have meant? There is a long history of the church being tied up with the state. Our founding fathers came here from England. England has a history of changing religions when a new family assumes power. Example, prior to 1509, Henry VIII was a Catholic. He married a Catholic Spanish Queen. During their reign, practicing any other religion openly was punishable by death. In 1509, he established, through his “Divine Right” the Church of England. He did this for purely selfish and Patriarchal reasons– so he could divorce his Queen and remarry Anne Boleyn–a secret protestant. England was forced to convert to the Church of England. Catholics who protested or criticized the King for his betrayal of the Vatican and the Pope were put to death for heresy. When Henry’s daughter, Queen Mary, took the throne after her father and brother, she went on a rampage to hunt down all the Protestants, and many of them were sentenced to die for their beliefs. Her younger sister Queen Elizabeth took the throne and the whole country went protestant again. Though Elizabeth is historically seen as more tolerant the the other Tudors, many Catholics died under her rule for their beliefs. The Church of England is still around today. It was established by a government.

England is the country our Founding Fathers came from. Understanding the history of their country–their establishment of one central religion and persecution of all others– can understand what an otherwise contradictory sounding statement means. The government is not allowed to make a law which respects the establishment of a religion, or prohibits the exercise of it. In simple words, the US government cannot own or represent or establish any one religion, as was done in England. Similarly, the government cannot make any laws which keep individuals from practicing their religion, regardless of what that religion is. The government is not allowed to be involved with personal beliefs.

The final four points of the First Amendment go together. They say, the government cannot make a law which infringes upon our freedom to speak, freedom to be published, freedom to peacefully congregate and make up a petition of grievances.

Once again, lets looks at the Founding Fathers’ context. In England at that time, to speak out against the King, the Royal Family, The Church (which was entwined with the Royal Family and, politically, with the Monarchy) was considered High Treason, and was punishable by death. The Founding Fathers recognized that this was not a healthy environment for political success on behalf of the People. In fact, it was a tyrannical environment. Those who protested were risking their lives and often killed. Those who wrote pamphlets about how to improve the state of their country were risking their lives. Anyone who spoke out was risking High Treason. Even the wrong opinion at a cocktail party in front of the King’s men could get you hanged if they needed a reason.

The First Amendment was put in place so that the people could protest the government without being tried for High Treason when they say something negative about the government. Our right to Freedom of Speech is about speaking out about the government. Our right to the press is our right to publish things against the government. Our right to peacefully assemble is our right to protest. Our right to petition our grievances means we get to tell the government when we don’t like what they’re doing, and they cannot throw us in jail for it.

I want to point this out because it seems like many people believe that the First Amendment is protecting our right to speak our opinions to each other. Often, I will hear people justify hate speech toward other citizens with the phrase “Freedom of Speech.” This isn’t at all what the Founding Fathers were thinking about when they wrote the First Amendment, I would bet money. I fear our true 1st Amendment right has been so blurred and stretched and reinterpreted we’ve forgotten what it was put in place for. The purpose of the first amendment was to give us the lawful right to protest our government, not to justify the use of ignorance and hate speech toward citizens.

The “Freedom of Speech” scapegoat is so overused, some people actually use it as an avoidance tool. The truth is, we’ve always been allowed to talk shit on other people. We’ve always been allowed to sling hate speech at another citizen. (Do you bit your thumb at me, sir?) The Founding Fathers were probably not thinking about whether or not they could call someone a mean name and it started a gun duel and someone died. There’s an easier solution to that–make it illegal to kill people and make all humans suffer the consequences of their actions. Your right to say basically whatever you want in public is protected by laws against violence, assault, and murder, not by the First Amendment.

You were always allowed to talk shit on a fellow citizen. Sometimes, it makes you an asshole, but its not really against the law and we certainly didn’t need to put it in the constitution.

Your right to be an asshole is not what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they wrote the First Amendment.

The Constitution was not written to be the law of the people. The government writes those laws. It was a philosophically and politically researched collection of rules for the Government to follow so that we could remain a true democracy. It was written in the perspective of the people, but its a guideline for the government. This is a guideline which would hopefully prevent any level of corruption from turning the Founding Fathers’ precious Democratic brain child into an oppressive Monarchy, or a censored Tyranny, or an Oligarchic Servitude. A brilliant idea–until the guideline itself became corrupted by misinterpretations and reinterpretations.

All this to say, stop claiming Freedom of Speech when you’re expressing an opinion against another citizen. That’s not Freedom of Speech, so much as its just you speaking. Know that if you say something cruel or ignorant, you are an adult making a decision and there may or may not be consequences for that decision depending on who you say it around. The consequences will not be delivered by the government, but it doesn’t mean your fellow citizen owes you, or your opinions, respect. The consequences of speaking an ignorant opinion in the wrong crowd is pretty basic–you’re probably not going to be a part of that crowd anymore unless you are willing to be humbled by them. That has nothing to do with the government. That has to do with being a decent person.

Don’t use the First Amendment to oppress other people, or to justify your hateful words and bigoted expressions. It was made for the opposite–to unite and strengthen the people against their government. The proper understanding of our Constitution is necessary to maintain Democracy.The misuse of this Amendment is threatening Democracy. We are already an Oligarchy, and most of the lowest classes are living as indenture servants to the work force and the Banks simply so they can survive.

PS, the 2nd Amendment was made with the same intention in mind. Not so you could protect yourself against criminals like a civilian vigilante, but so you could rise up against your government if another revolution becomes necessary–which the more lucid they get with these interpretations the closer we are to revolution. Also, it has nothing to do with regulations, it just makes sure the government can’t ban all citizens from owning guns. The Second Amendment doesn’t protect anyone from the necessary regulation of weapons purchasing–just says that we’re allowed to own them for the purpose of the Second American Revolution.

Our New Tower of Babel

Our New Tower of Babel

11 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward,[a] they found a plain in Shinar[b] and settled there.

They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building.The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel[c]—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

-The Bible, New International Version

The story of Babel is a pretty straight forward anecdote, it seems. This story depicts how God confused humans with language to keep them from being able to reach the kingdom of heaven. This story was always simplified to me as the creation of different languages.

Its interesting, because the entire point of the Bible is so that people can eventually create a relationship with God and reach the kingdom of heaven through that relationship, through faith, through hope–through love. However, the point of this anecdote, I believe, is that we cannot reach the kingdom of heaven externally, and though we can encourage each other, we each need to find Heaven on our own through an inner journey.

Depending on your personal theology, Heaven could be a place you go when you die, or a place you know when you’re living. It could be the place where you sit eternally in the right hand of the father God, or it could be finding a peaceful state of mind in your everyday life to ease the suffering of existential living. It could be the completion of a cycle of Samsara, it could be enlightenment, it could be empathy and understanding. It could simply be inner-Love, leading to inner-peace.

Regardless of your personal ideas of Heaven, the successful means to achieving it is through inward reflection–not through outward achievement. Religion calls it prayer and meditation–developing and deepening your relationship with God, Goddess, Jesus, Buddha, Nature, self, the Universe– whoever or whatever you see as divine and unconditional Love. Psychology calls it mindfulness and credits it to calming the mind of its constant rotating function and slowing the function of the body to lessen stress and turmoil. Either way, it is achieved through making an individual and conscious choice to turn inward. It is a choice made by the one who will experience it and it is a choice made in the moment it is needed, which for some is constant.

What I find interesting is the evolution of these biblical anecdotes to fit our modern understanding. Nowadays, the issue they faced in the story of Babel is not an issue. We have learned to bridge the gap of languages. So, if we were to take this story literally, it might prove to show that we could reach the Heavens through combined intellect and group work. However, we know that sky scrapers and airplanes have not gotten us there. We know that space exploration has not gotten us there. We have far exceeded the attempt of the men of Babel to reach the kingdom of Heaven, and yet as a whole we know God, or divine Love, less than ever in many ways.

I think this story has its own evolution, and as we evolve and grown as a species it is important to recognize how this anecdote is relevant to us. I believe that, societally and individually, as our understanding grows there is still always something which keeps us from concretely knowing the great mysteries of the universe. There is always more to know and learn. This brings to mind the question–what is our barrier beyond language, and beyond that?

I believe that once we overcome the confusion of world languages, the next factor of confusion is a different type of language. This is the language of understanding. Now, the differences between English, Spanish, Italian, Tagalog, Japanese, etc. are difficult, but not impossible barriers to overcome. However, within those languages, we speak many other languages linked to our personal understandings of the realities we individually and collectively experience.

Religious dogmas from many different origins have great similarities in their message, in their concept of divinity, in the means to getting there. The thing that keeps us from collectively bringing our thoughts together at that point is this difference in truths and our inability to acknowledge there is more than one way of living a divine life, there is more than one way to develop a lasting relationship with the Love in ourselves and the universe.

For example, Christians often talk about The Truth, The Way. Traditional Christianity believes their means of finding God, their understanding of God, is the only one. So, while many Christians might be incredibly tolerant of other religions, they do not believe that what they have found and what another enlightened person has found are the same thing.

I have a dear friend who is Christian and tell me all about the many ways in which God speaks to her. When I tell her the many ways in which the Universe speaks to me, she discredits them as demonic and ungodly. Not because they are unlike the messages she is receiving, but because I believe the messages are coming from the Universal Divine and she believes hers are coming from God through Jesus.

We are all saying the same things. Almost all the time.

The most important messages which lie underneath every dogma are universal. Unconditional love. Forgiveness. Compassion. Charity. Grace. Faith. Trust. Hope.

These are the universal messages because they are necessities for our being–no mater what you believe yourself to be made of. My soul needs Grace, Faith, Hope, Trust, and Love. My mind needs forgiveness, compassion, charity, and empathy. My being as a whole relies on these things as much as it relies on food and water. The Human Condition is the undeniable craving we have for these things, and all beliefs seek to fulfill that need.

I believe the current “Tower of Babel” is this; we are building up our own beliefs and our own philosophies at the cost and expense of others’. We are allowing some religions to control others, some beliefs to dominate the world. Each dogma is building its own fortress of infrastructure with its beliefs–manipulating gospels to withstand the storms of time. But the pieces of the gospel that withstand the storms of change hold greater strength than the messages which need manipulation.

I think, throughout history, the need to gain a following for any one dogma has been partially motivated by the need to validate the inner experience. It is a task to validate one’s inner experience as real–as it is an abstract experience. So when we have a spiritual awakening, or a moment of clarity, or a conversation with God, or a sensation of love all around us, we need to tell someone about it and have them agree enough to validate, in a more tangible way, that the abstract experience we are having is real. The whole point of seeking that relationship internally is that is shouldn’t matter whether or not we have other people’s validation. Our experiences are real simply because we are experiencing them. It doesn’t matter that they’re not universal experiences of our shared reality. It doesn’t matter if the means by which you experience the divine is different than someone else’s, so long as it is pure and good and brings you peace.

Currently, the forces that be (God, Universe, etc.) are challenging us to see beyond separatism. The current state of our world is showing us the demonic powers of control, greed, fear, hate and individualism. God is tearing down our towers–every single one of them.

We are being reminded that no external power is as strong as the limitless potential that lies within each of us.

The Kingdom of Heaven (or whatever eternal peace you seek) cannot be reached externally, and it is not reached in only one manner. It must be reached internally, and the journey must be made alone. Each individual’s understanding of “God” will be as unique as the person themselves. Their understanding and path to Love will be a comforting collection of wisdom from their own experiences, influences, history, ancestry, and mental/emotional capacity.

If we are able to accept our differences, not as a threat to our identity and sense of reality, but as a difference of experiences and perceptions of reality, then we can bridge the gaps that currently divide our planet currently. We could empathize without ego. We could find purpose without false pride. We could collectively grow as a civilization, rather than watching the privileged defaults of our society constantly win at the expense of the “others”.

I believe the religion of the future will be much like some, less known dogmas have been in the past. It will not be one collective religion, but rather a collective understanding that all beliefs are equal so long as they focus around internal reflection, love, forgiveness, and the other universal messages which have withstood the storms of time in every religion and dogma. For these are the elements of existence which do not hold back or condemn any one group, but which allow us to peacefully coexist without the need to shine brighter or bigger than any other living being.

Every person should, essentially, be taught a variety of beliefs from which they can assemble their own toolkit for connecting with divinity. Some methods will work better for certain people than other methods–and that should be ok. It should certainly not be a means of persecution or isolation–so long as it doesn’t harm or take away freedoms from others.

If we can overcome this modern Tower of Babel and recognize that every being is divine, no matter how they seek it, we will be able to empathize, love, and coexist more peacefully–which will bring us closer to the kingdom of heaven–collectively–then we have ever been before.

The journey must be made alone. Divinity is found, first and foremost, within the Self.