Wednesday, April 12, 2006

And...why hasn't George WMD Bush been impeached and charged with war crimes?


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Writing Project Numero Uno

Topic: Falling

I'm twelve years old and after years of sitting back and watching others stand forth, heads bowed before God, I finally decide that I am ready. I'm going to take the plunge and let Jesus come into my life. Up until this point he's only spoken to me through an intermediary like the pastor whose voice now resonates in the vastness of my church. His tone reflects how important this moment is for me, and the others like me who want to get acquainted with the Son of the Lord, but he must be speaking in tongues because his words never register in my mind. Tears begin to fall down my face and sobs wrench through my body as I release a lifetime of confusion, fear and apprehension. I feel unknown hands upon my shoulders offering support. This will be a defining moment in my life, I just know it. As the light opens up within me I suddenly realize, with extreme clarity, that I have no idea who I am.

Many years have passed since then and every day I become more aware, I learn and understand this life a little better. With each day the memory of that day in church slowly fades into the shadows of the past. I remember thinking on that day that my life would now be different, I was now on the path to redemption. I spent my entire childhood in that church and it was always supposed to provide clarity and ultimately help me lead a happy, fulfilling life (and so much more of course). But the choices we make in life always have deeper meaning than what initially appears on the surface and sometimes the reasons we step forward aren't the ones that caused us to get out of our seat in the first place.

In the years following my courageous leap of faith I fumbled through a succession of choices that found me in a tumultuous fall from grace, which left me in the throes of Hell. I took drugs, became a sexual deviant, stole from my employers, lied to everyone, you name it and I got away with all of it. The entire time I grew more and more miserable. I was constantly depressed and fatalistic. I didn't care whether I lived or died and I soon realized that I was on a path that would lead to my demise one way or another.

During this time I stopped going to church. I realized that even though I'd followed it my whole life I never actually believed anything that Christianity taught me. I was an agnostic. Then, shortly after I recognized my fatalistic tendencies, I found Buddhism. I immediately began to find reason and understanding through this new philosophy. I became aware of how my life was intimately connected to everything in the universe. The stars, the air we breath, each human, the entire ecosystem of the planet is aware of this interconnectedness. The turmoil in my life began to dissipate and I opened up to a world of peace based on courage, wisdom and compassion. I started to understand what it means to be truly happy.

Now, decades later, I realize that this was the quality of awareness that I was searching for so long ago when I didn't sit down that day. I was looking for how I was connected to this life but couldn't find the answer in God because He had never found His way inside me, even after a heartfelt plea of faith. I know now that the answers I sought were always right there for me to see. I just needed to open my life in the correct way. I know that for some people they find those answers in the Christian community and have discovered the beauty of life using their faith. I continue to be skeptical, although I have learned more about Jesus' wisdom as a Buddhist rather than as a Christian.

I now know the reason my tears flowed heavily out of me that day. Deep inside of me I knew that instead of allowing Jesus to enter my life I was actually turning my back on Him and I was scared to death. I stood forth that day hoping to find the meaning in God, but my search for the divine needed to follow a different path.

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Most of the time I consider myself a progressive when it comes to many of the issues facing people in the world today. I may not be fully informed on a lot of these issues, but I feel that if we refuse to take action toward creating a better world (or simply decide to remain where we are because it appears that we are safe) is just as destructive as consciously trying to destroy the world. I often try to sum up the difference between conservatives and progressives in this way, "conservatives don't want things to get worse and progressives want things to get better."

Which one is right?

That's the type of question each person must answer for themselves. I can never be a conservative because I truly believe that life is an ever-constant-changing-process that we are always facing. Things will never stay the same.

One of the periodicals that we've been reading for the past few years is "The Sun" magazine. It's a collection of memoirs, poetry, short stories, reader's perspectives and quotes. Everything in it can help you look at the world differently, which as human beings (and as progressives) is one of our constant challenges. "The Sun" always begins with an intervew with an inportant progressive voice in the world today. These interviews always give me new insight into the diversity of the world that we live in and opens my eyes to the hope that humanity can live together peacefully regardless of borders, culture, religion or language.

--"There is an emerging progressive Muslim voice in the U.S. that is trying to remind American society of the foundation on which this country was built. The task of all progressives in America-not just Muslim progressives-is to ask: Are we living up to those values? Or are we instead abusing the rhetoric of freedom, insisting merely that other people be more like us? Progressives must refuse to give in to the lack of will and imagination among dominant conservative groups. They have to create solidarity across religious and political divides. In all societies, progressives will always be a minority; their role is to be the culture's conscience."

In the current issue, there is an interview with a prominent Muslim scholar here in the U.S. and it is very enlightening; a clear perspective about American policies in the Middle east that isn't coming from a so-called fundamentalist. In our society, where it is very easy to fall into media-fueled prejudices it is refreshing to hear a different voice, one that is filled with understanding and clarity.

--"The regimes we support in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt invite fundamentalism because they leave no room for rational political discourse, for voicing one's opinion through elections, for working within the system to remove people from power. Citizens come to see violence as the only option."

We tend to forget that all the terrorists that we are currently fighting are coming from countries where brutal dictators are being supported by the U.S. As the War on Terror continues and questions regarding the causes of it begin to be revealed, the U.S. will not be looking so morally divine.

--"The irony is that most Americans think they are moral yet remain unconcerned about the immoral way their government exercises power. That's what I find hardest to understand; the level of self-delusion that Americans allow themselves. Then again, I suppose that if Americans really thought about what their government is doing, they might go crazy."

Thus...conservatives are born!

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Eighteen Months

The other night we went to see Feist and even though it was a Sunday it turned out to be the perfect day for the show. All night long we listened to her ethereal voice shimmy around our brains, begging to carry on just enough to survive the evening. Her voice is so haunting and delicate that it feels like the world can't contain it forever. Someday it seems it will fade and even the memory won't quite hold true even if she's become digitized immortality. It really was quite impressive.

But what does that have to do with being a father? Two things actually.

I've really been struck deeply to the core of my being with every creative spectacle that we've partaken of in the last couple of weeks. I feel the heat of inspiration rising up within me. Something that both Xtina and I have always agreed upon regarding how we are going to raise Lucas is that he must do something that will encourage him to explore his creative intuition in some way. Music, Art, Poetry, Film, Anything that will help him tap into that deep inner soul that furthers his imaginative experience. The value that it provides in our lives is extraordinary and we don't want Lucas to miss that natural self-guidance.

So, at the show it turns out that the band that Feist plays with and records with is a group of brothers who all play various instruments. After watching them play with such joy I started wondering about the environment those guys were raised in. I can only imagine. I have grown to truly love music, so much so that at times Xtina must request that we have quiet time since the stereo always seems to be on, but I never learned how to play an instrument. I was never given the tools durng my youth and even though we often talk about the bands we're going to form, right now all we seem to be doing is talking.

This is a common problem for so many people in the world. The plans of our most noble intentions often don't go beyond the words that come out of our mouths. I don't want that to happen to my little guy. He constantly has music in his environment, everywhere he goes, everyday we catch him shaking his tiny little butt to some crazy pop song that belts forth from our speakers. I hope that we can encourage him to embrace the joy that I witnessed on the stage the other night with Feist and the musician brothers. Life really is joyful when you express yourself with deep emotion creatively. It's the true spirit of freedom.

Freedom that can't be controlled beyond your skin.

Another thing that came up after seeing the show is that Xtina's mother told us a story about her friend who took her eleven-year-old and seven-year-old children to a Black Eyed Peas show on the same Sunday night. At first it didn't really bother me that much that this woman would do that, despite the fact that I would never take anyone to see that band nor wish it upon anyone else, but each of us are attracted to our own demons for various reasons, right? I always imagined that I would be one of those parents that would take my children anywhere, unencumbered by the rules that society tries to impose upon me. I would take him camping and skiing and to museums and to experience many different cultures concerts, but once I started to think about it I realized that I wouldn't take him to a concert. Not now. The music's too damn loud and he'd probably hate it anyway. He may love music when I play Jens Lekman on 15 at home, but he doesn't want it pounding his brain because that tiny brain is just too delicate right now. But would I take him when he's ten and he wants to see the new version of Jens Lekman that all the kids at his school can't stop talking about? Will I introduce him to that world or shy away with the fear that I am bringing him to a world that is a notorious gateway to the seedier side of life?

I really don't know how to answer that now. I'm glad I don't have to. I've been farely confident with the choices I've made and I know that right now he pretty much accepts what I tell him, but the day will come when those difficult choices will raise their ugly heads and I hope that I'm up to the task of enlightening his life...or at least just enough not to send him into the dark spiral to hell.

Who knows? We'll just have to wait and see. Why am I thinking about all of this stuff anyway? He's only a year and a half.

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