Tuesday, October 11, 2011

America, stop blaming your government. She's working perfectly.

I was on the Occupy-Wall-Street-vibed bandwagon of being a hater.  Hating on my government, on Wall Street, the banks, foreign influence....  From the rise of the Tea Party to everything that followed, there has been a paralysis in our government.  What I'm going to say does not excuse the Republicans that aim to derail the current administration at any cost.  They ought to face whatever punishment we have in store for them.

But what is in store?  Just voting them out?

And on that note, I think it's time we lay the blame for this gridlock flatly where it belongs.  It's on us.

Maybe we aren't a perfect union, but in building this union, some rules and principles were adhered to rather strictly; the biggest one arguably being that our government must be of, by, and for the people.  The two-letter word I want to focus on here is "by."

We went to the voting booths (or neglected to do so) resulting in a near perfect divide in our government.  That's By the people.  We elect representatives to represent what?  Us.  They represent the majority of the area that they represent--the majority of the people and their thoughts, beliefs, and sentiments--and the result is a government so equally divided that in this tug of war, the flag isn't moving.  At all.  This battle was created By the people.

The government IS representative of US.  We are divided, as a people.  One man thinks that the right is catering to the rich not as a way to create jobs and have the goodies overflow in that Reaganesque trickle-down economy, but in order to maintain their money lines.  One lady thinks that the left is a socialist-communist plot to take away all of the money from the rich and distribute it to the poor and that it must be stomped out like a bad street gang.

WE are divided.  Our government is a perfect spectre of what we are at any given time; this government that was put in place By the people.  That means that about half of America is for Obama, his job bill, getting health care for all Americans and protecting social security and Medicare.  An equal amount of folks are for protecting big earners as job creators, and warding off that threat that the poor (a.k.a. those too lazy to work who want to take from them, a.k.a. the system) bringing them down.  Who's right?  Doesn't matter.

I believe what I believe as a moderate with a slight-leftward tilt, and who cares?  What you should care about is not only that this current government slam-dance is not of their own doing, but more importantly that we created it; not intentionally, of course, but by just voting for who we believed in, who represent what we believe in; who represent us.  We created this government, By the people.

America's government is exactly what the people have made her, so stop blaming her and instead, ask yourself why we are so evenly divided, and how to either reach deeper understanding on both sides and the center or to jolt us one way or the other or this tank ain't moving out of this mud-hole anytime soon.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Your Five Senses are Only the Beginning...

Sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing.  Your ancestors had none of these senses, at one time.

They developed over tens of thousands of years.  I don't like the term "evolution," primarily because it suggests that we are evolving toward a better end.  It's not accurate.  We change to match environment (or die) and environment is in no way intelligently shaping us to be "better." 

Is there a "use it or lose it" concept at work?  What if you lived in a soundless environment (humor me, don't hang me on technicalities)?  What good would hearing be?  Our "changes" would cast out hearing.  It isn't worthy of physical features (ears) or the brain allocated toward its function if, in fact, it serves no function.

If that's true, then couldn't we just as easily be introduced to new physical or electrical stimuli that require additional sensory features?  This "sixth sense" we keep hearing about; isn't it possible that it's just a new sense that humans are slowly developing in response to the presence of at least a suggestion (environmental) that such a sense would serve a protect-or-promote service for us?  Nature's creatures adapt.  Slowly.

I've believed for a long time that we had the capacity for--even a propensity toward--developing further senses.  And not just two or three, but maybe forty or fifty more.  Maybe hundreds.  To save you some trouble, it's almost impossible to try to imagine a sense that you currently do not have, and even harder would be to explain it if you could imagine it.  Imagine trying to explain sight to a creature that could not see (and had never seen).

It's relatively alarming when you consider that we are only looking for things we can already sense.  Do you realize how much that leaves out?  Some of today's scientists are starting to put it together.  With the rise of the term, "dark matter" and "dark energy," we have, essentially, given definition to that which cannot be experienced.  That's encouraging.  That is truly thinking outside of the box, and I think we need a lot more of that, right now, to solve/prevent problems that human beings are going through/heading toward.

One of the things that impresses me more than most other things when I'm evaluating a thinker or theorist is one's ability to break out of the extremely limiting bondage of searching for only things that can necessarily be sensed, or even just breaking out of the typical framework of popular thought.  I feel a sort of crush on this idea; I just love thinking entirely outside of the norm.  Maybe there is an adventure to it... an Indiana Jones kind of unexplored-terrain feel, but more than that, I think it's attractive and useful.  That's not to say I've done any good with it.  I have yet to unearth any useful discoveries in my purposefully zany thought paths, but that's not the point.  The point is that these zany paths are where the good stuff is... maybe I'll discover something interesting to others and maybe I won't, but I'll most certainly be satisfied just in exploring these paths with no footsteps on them.  It's almost a way of life.  It's entertaining with the tease, like a lottery ticket, of a potential big payoff.

It should be no surprise that I hate cliches.

Your senses, if humans manage to survive long enough, will continue to grow if nature offers the bait to the depths of your mind that would spark such change (not to rule out the possibility that some major, sudden change in environment could make this happen much faster).  When our offspring look back, many thousands of years from now, will they wonder how we survived without (fill in the many blanks)?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Half-times in your Life: Fear Fate or Fight Ferociously?

When I played football in high school, I never really told anybody but as the coach would have us gathered 'round way off of the field in the dark by a fence that we first peed upon before gathering near to hear the goods and the bads of the first half and the plans and corrections needed for the second half, I favored... watching the band.

They were awesome.  BOOM BOOM bom bom boom bom bom boom boom boom boom... the dancing, the energy of their performance... it fired me up, even as I struggled to see them from the steam usually rising off of our heads, making a virtual fog between those placed toward the rear (facing the band) and the band itself.  But the band performed with energy... such intense and pure energy.  The whistles of the drum majors and synced movements of the flag girls.  The fanatic beat of the drums and electric charge in the air that matched perfectly with the other instruments--this made me want to go out and destroy anybody in the wrong-colored uniform, and I usually did my fair share of it.

Injuries were throbbing by this time in the game--this half-time--as we chugged on our Gatorade and nodded at our coaches as they took turns in lecture.  The muscles in our legs were begging for relief, but something coming from a greater place than just brain-chemical magickery seemed to rise up inside most of us as we went out for the second half.  This was, in essence, the "real game..." quarters three and four. This is where you can lose all greatness you had in the first half, where you can recover from any shame you had... this is where the men really were separated from the boys because endurance was not always athletic in nature--it was of the mind, heart, and will.

Today, I got to thinking about what half-time really meant for a lot of people in different circumstances.  My nature told me to believe that half-time in life (in this case, believing that I'm about halfway through or maybe even more at the age of 39) meant a few things.  First, you better be well on your way toward fulfilling your dreams, because the "real" clock starts ticking now.  Secondly, you have no more time to procrastinate or squander even if you don't feel any needs or goals tugging at you to come toward them unless you are perfectly content to just exist (some people are, and they are ones I envy).  Finally, you are now beginning to succumb to the insurmountable forces of nature working to take you back down into the Earth.  The aches become pains, the pains become severe pains; bone is lost, muscle atrophies, testosterone levels drop, menopause, sexual desires and abilities begin to fade, weight control becomes all but impossible... oh yeah, Mother Nature is a bitch and she won't be making any apologies for it.  She's got to keep shit moving.  And she will.

I'll confess that I'm getting a bit... realist/pessimist in my thinking.  Not in all areas... just that life is painful more than pleasurable, no matter how "good" it feels to be alive as compared to ("what?").

But instead of accepting that rather bleak view I offered of what life could and possibly should be seen as as you pass through your half-time lectures, what if you chose a different view?

What did Secretariat do in the first half of his races?  Hung around in the back.  It was the second half that was his turn to whoop ass... to dig into the track with hooves of fire, not to just pass everybody... that wasn't enough... but to blaze past them like they were standing still.

What did Muhammed Ali do in Rumble in the Jungle with a younger, stronger George Foreman during the first half of their fight?  It was in that fight that he proved in many ways, not just a few, that brains beats brawn.  Not only was he throwing right leads (a punch that has to travel further to get to an opponent, meant to embarrass that opponent if he can't stop or duck it with the extra preparation time).  He hadn't thrown right leads in the films Foreman's camp studied.  He introduced a brand new strategy to the boxing world, the "Rope-a-Dope," in which a boxer absorbs the best shots from his opponent to tire him out by simply relaxing against the ropes instead of doing the traditional "stick and move."  That, also, was not in the films the Foreman Camp studied.  In fact, Foreman had been training in the ring by focusing, more than anything, on cutting the ring off--that is to say making it harder for a dancer like Ali to get away from him.

But all that training was for naught.  Because Ali stopped moving and lay stationary in the ropes.  George swung.  And swung.  And swung and swung again with loud thuds, being teased with the occasional left jab as he drew back.  People believed Ali was hurt and used up. 

As half-time came and went (the middle of the 8th round) and the 2nd half began, that's when Ali began.  Stiff jabs.  Hard counter rights.  He saw that Foreman was absolute Jello, and finally just turned on the Secretariat storm of not just competing, not just winning, but winning hard.  He knocked Foreman out before the end of the round.

I'm sure you can think of 10,000 other examples of how half-times in people's lives have not meant half-over.  They say life begins at 40.  There seems to be something to that, doesn't there?  Are the half-times in your life as well as all of those half-time moments within your life a call to accept that the first half has decided the second half, or are they, really, whatever you decide to make them be?