Tuesday, October 5, 2010

But That's Just Me...: The Bully Pulpit

But That's Just Me...: The Bully Pulpit: "One of my very good, long-time friends has recently posted two very moving video clips from celebrities who rightfully decry and condemn the..."

The Bully Pulpit

One of my very good, very gay, long-time friends recently posted two very moving video clips from celebrities who rightfully decry and condemn the bullying that recently led to the suicides of  four different teens in this country.  They accurately reflect that there are probably many more that we don't know about.  And then, in an irony that one would have to be in a parallel universe to ignore, they turned right around and did precisely the same thing that they are condemning in the first place... bullying.  The main difference seems to be NOT that bullying itself is wrong, but that the "wrong group" is doing the bullying.

There has long been a glaring double-standard in the LGBT community.  Every argument, every issue, every cause, every nuance of the interaction between the LGBT community and... well... the other 98+% of us... is colored by the rationalization that if you are gay, anything you do or say, no matter how hateful, factually incorrect, bullying, hurtful, unjust, outrageous, dishonest, disingenuous or inappropriate is gleefully acceptable, justified, and even rational.  And if you're not gay, well, you're a bigotted hater.  End of discussion.  And, unfortunately, end of dialogue... and tolerance...  as well.

When I was young, I grew up during the last agonal breaths of the Cold War.  And one of the things I remember learning about was the Soviet Union's practice of spreading "disinformation."  This practice involved the intentional skewing of the truth to make something appear different than it really was.  It was a tool, artfully and skillfully used, to sway public opinion by the painting of one ideology with dark, hateful and condemning brushstrokes, while painting the opposite position with bright, sunny colors and cheerful accolades..

Unfortunately, this practice is alive and well in the LGBT community.

Take Kathy Griffin's video clip condemning the recent suicides, for example.  Not content at condemning the actual bullies who caused these young people to take their lives, her rant quickly turned into a wholesale condemnation of anyone who "voted for Proposition 8."  She's "not a lesbian," she intones with a straight face... "but she plays one on TV."  Yes, she actually said that.   And she was serious.  Apparently that gives her the right and authority to wield the logical fallacy of Moral Consequences like a wrecking ball.

This attempt at disinformation tries to leverage the emotional collateral of a "hot" issue like "suicide-from-hateful-bullying" into massive LGBT political hay, by not-so-subtly attempting to emotionally tie heartless anti-gay bullies with anyone who believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman...  a completely different issue... but one which is at the heart of the LGBT agenda.

Kathy Griffin, not content to merely make a passing reference, continued to reinforce this ridiculous association by actually declaring that anyone "who supported Proposition 8 has blood on their hands."  Seriously???!!!  Such comparisons are obscene.  And such attempts to paint anyone who disagrees with the LGBT agenda as a hateful, murderous bully should be deeply embarrassing to the LGBT community... as was her skewing of the actual demographics of the LGBT population in the U.S., which she stated was "10-12%," but which the U.S. Census places at just .5% (2005 American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau).

These impassioned pleas by celebrities such as Cindy Lauper and Kathy Griffin, while noble and moving, are nothing more than tired old Soviet propaganda, and proof positive that the LGBT movement is not only blind to the depth and breadth of its' own hypocrisy, but that it simply doesn't care... freely sacrificing its own credibility on the altar of desperation.

When any minority "movement" rationalizes the righteousness or nobility of their ideology or lifestyle to the point where there are no boundaries, where no holds are barred, where no action is inappropriate or unjustified, where no lie is too egregious... where even violence is encouraged...  when the "movement" will be content with nothing more or less than the forcing, if necessary, of it's principles and beliefs on the majority... the "cause" has ceased to be a "cause."  It has become an Opposing Force.  It has become an Enemy of the People.  It has become a threat to the very fabric of our society.  It has become dangerous.

The very principles of tolerance, patience and acceptance that are plied so deftly and frequently by the LGBT community to urge the majority to allow them to quietly assimilate into society unopposed, are routinely turned and used as weapons of hate and violence against anyone, and any thing, that gets in their way.  If the LGBT community truly wants open, refreshingly honest, and straightforward dialogue.. they need to walk the walk, and not just talk the talk.  They need to drop the embarrassing bullying tactics, the wholesale rabid-dog attacks on anyone who dares to stand up for an opposing point of view, and ACT like they truly believe in tolerance and love of their fellow man and respect for the differences of others.  They need to SHOW us that they are willing to respect OUR right to disagree with their ideology and lifestyle, without vilifying us in the process for no other reason than that our beliefs differ from theirs.

The bottom line, which seems to be totally lost on our LGBT brothers and sisters, is that tolerance is a two-way street.  You cannot demand it on one hand, and refuse to extend it on the other.  And until that message is embraced by every single member of the LGBT community, there will continue to be strife, contention, and opposition.

But that's just me.  Your mileage may vary.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

"But I DESERVE Whatever I Want!"

I was sitting in the First Aid Station at King's Dominion Amusement Park last night, desperately trying to coax the clock into moving faster so that I could go home.  I'm a park Medic there, and was the only ALS provider on duty, so I couldn't scoot out early.  With my luck, even though the most serious patient I had was an employee who somehow managed to staple his palm, it would be my luck to have some hapless soul choose to have their "Big One" about 10 minutes after I walked out the gate, and I'd get in trouble.  So I passed the time by reading an interesting article in an arcane EMS magazine that someone had left behind... it was titled "Ambulance Abuse."  It immediately grabbed my attention.

The article was written by a physician who was commenting on a mindset or mentality that we seem to encounter on an alarmingly more frequent basis... both in the medical field, and in life in general.  And anyone who has spent any time on an ambulance, a fire engine, or in a hospital ER knows that there are people out there... and an unnervingly large number of them... who seriously, earnestly, believe that they are "owed" something by society. Or the gub'ment.  In fact, everything.  Whatever they want.  You see, they are "entitled."

These people stub their toe, or run out of a prescription, or don't feel like taking a taxi to a doctor's appointment, or just want a ride across town, or think they'll get to bypass the 2-3 hour wait at their local ER, all by calling 9-1-1, and requesting that a $250,000 piece of equipment scream to their domicile, lights and siren, placing crew and citizens alike at extreme risk, because... well... they can.  They're "entitled."

I can't tell you how many homes I've pulled up on to find the "patient" standing at the curb with their bag packed.  Or sitting in their living room, too absorbed watching "Wheel of Fortune" (and yes, they would thank you to please SHUT THE HECK UP until the show's over, thankyouverymuch) to even tell you what's wrong.  Or wait until they're at Day 7 of the 10-Day Flu to call you because they're annoyed at still being sick... in the middle of a hurricane, with rain coming down in sheets... sideways.  It's "no big thang."  They're entitled, you see.  These people can have 14 perfectly functional cars sitting in their driveway/yard, with a dozen able-bodied family members standing around, all of which are perfectly capable of driving Ms. Stubbed Toe to the ER or Doc-In-A-Box, but the thought literally never crosses their mind.  Why?  They're "entitled."

Unfortunately, all too often this means that Mr. Innocent-Patient-Who-*IS*-Having-The-Big-One is going to die, because the $250,000 piece of equipment, and the highly skilled, highly educated minds who know how to use it, are 20 minutes away, out of service, taking Ms. Stubbed-Toe-Entitlement, all comfy-cozy, with LOTS of attention, to the ER  all the way across town (which she is promptly going to walk out of in an Oscar-worthy snit when she finds out they're just gonna send her to the lobby anyway).

Oy.  What have we done to create this monster?  And better yet, how do we put this very ugly Genie back into it's "teeeeeny tiny living space"?  Many ideas abound.  The author of the article I read suggested making some personal payment mandatory... that even a modest charge would discourage system abusers from taking advantage of the system... and charging the fee to their cell phone... which is more likely to get paid than a normal bill.  But I can just hear the backlash from the Entitlement Brigade now.  "But I pays my taxes, I DESERVE this... I'm ENTITLED to you bein' here whenever I call, for WHATEVER I call for... b@$%#."

Still other remedies involve putting more paramedics on the street to "screen" patients in Community Medic roles, effectively putting them in a combination role of ad hoc primary care provider and social worker... making "frequent fliers" their only responsibility... making sure, for instance, their prescriptions are filled, and that they have proper referrals to health care agencies, and transportation to their doctor's appointments.  Washington D.C. just implemented this, putting 30 more paramedics on the street in an effort to stem the rising tide of entitlement-driven "frequent flyer" calls that overload and tax almost all EMS agencies in the country. 

Will either of these be the ultimate Magical Solution?  Of course not.  Until we address the actual cause of the Entitlement Syndrome, all of this is straightening deck chairs on the Titanic.  It's high time the pseudo-religious, who will call an ambulance for a sniffle, but who show up faithfully at church every Sunday, to dust off their Bibles, use them for something other than doorstops, and take the time to seriously look at the Bible's teachings on idleness and sloth.  More realistically, it's high time that families... moms and dads... kick in, and teach their children the precious (and all but extinct) ideals of personal responsibility, accountability, self-sufficiency, and LAWDY LAWDY, the ultimate profanity of the Entitlement Set, "hard work."   Our grandfather's adage of "There is no free lunch" has been replaced with today's "like HECK there isn't, and I'll take fries with that."

Our society is teeming with the Terminally Lazy, and careening toward the potentially prophetic societal vision of WALL*E.. where humans are reduced to great non-ambulatory quivering blobs of flesh, unable to and unaccustomed to moving because someone else is doing it all for them.  How do we stop this train before its' too late?  Teaching the value of good ole'-fashioned elbow grease at home.  And lots of it.

But that's just me.  Your mileage may vary.

Preaching The Gospel Of "Beats ME..."

I found a recent study by the Pew Research Group to be fascinating... it underscored what I've been lamenting for a long time now in our society regarding religious belief... that too much of it requires the act of sacrificing knowledge on the altar of Blind Faith.  This has always baffled me, quite frankly.

Of everything we know about faith from the various religious sources that we hold sacred, nothing in any of them promotes the concept of blind faith.  Or blind obedience.  Rather, with the Bible being a rather shining (and well-known) example, faith is succinctly taught as only being efficacious if it is combined with action, and knowledge.  Without knowing in what we have placed our blind faith we are nothing more than superstitious.

Knowing assumes more commitment than simply paying lip service.  Knowing requires more than "going through the motions."  Knowing denotes studying. Studying denotes spending more time investigating a subject than simply reading.  One very wise man that I had the privilege to meet once, when asked what one could expect if they read the Bible every day, said "To be a better reader."  His point was that reading alone will never enable the reader to attain knowledge.  In order to do that, one has to be committed enough to actually study... diligently.

I found even more amusing that Mainstream Protestants rated lower than those they constantly seek to condemn as heretics, or who they claim worship the "wrong Jesus."  After reading the results of this survey, one could quite justifiably ask, "How would they know?"  Apparently, those they seek to condemn know better than they do who that is. Ouch.

So... why would Black Protestants and Latino Catholics rate LOWER on the religious IQ scale than... wait for it... people who described themselves as "nothing in particular"?  My own guess is that they have chosen to sacrifice knowledge on the altar of spiritual laziness.  "If the Priest says it, that's good enough for me."  "What?  The pastor said it in Church?  Sounds good to me."  This isn't faith in God.  It's faith in Mammon.  In man.  In fallible, natural, corrupt flesh.  And wasn't it Christ Himself who said, "No man can serve two masters.  No man can serve God and Mammon.  Either he will love the one and hate the other, or he will hate the one and love the other."? 

Mark Noll, author of "The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind" said that the "scandal of the Evangelical mind is that there is not much of an Evangelical mind.  Evangelicals are not known for their much thinking."  Which, of course, begs the question... WHY?  Because, like their predecessors in the Dark Ages, our religious culture regards asking too many questions as a sign of weakness... a sure indication that one's faith is lacking.  The remedy for that used to involve a rope, the liberal application of wood, and a match.

Even though we don't  burn people at the stake for asking questions anymore, serious study, outside the professional clergy, has been sternly discouraged for a long, long time.  "Bible study" groups are carefully fed a steady diet of pureed pablum, and "troublesome" passages or issues are avoided at all cost.  In fact, it's one of the "dirty little secrets" in Christianity.  "Don't mind the man behind the curtain."  "Don't question the Priest."  "The Pastor surely knows more than YOU do.  If you question what he says, you don't have saving faith.  You're a backslider."  Asking too many questions only "proves" to the terminally-threatened that you're "in the grasp of Satan.  Satan wants you to question."  And so, generation after generation is content to sit quietly in the quagmire of ignorance, too paralyzed by fear and conditioning to gain any meaningful knowledge or insight into what they, themselves, profess to believe.  Or anyone else for that matter.  This is why people drink the koolaid.  This is why people don brand new Adidas running shoes, and lay down their lives to meet the Mother Ship.  This is why people are burned alive in isolated compounds.  The reality is, at least to me, that the more closely one's faith is based on truth, the more firm that person's faith becomes when they study and gain more knowledge about it.  Knowledge is the most effective solvent for cleaning out the mental cobwebs that blind faith creates.  It's also pretty good at getting rid of the stains of false ideologies and erroneous theories.

That being said, of course, we need to make sure that our knowledge is pure, and comes from original sources... whatever your own source for truth is... and not "some guy" who sold you a bill of goods or has an agenda to push.  Knowledge is only as valuable as the purity of its' source.

There is nothing to fear from gaining knowledge... even about religion.  The greatest minds of our generation thrive on the thrill of being challenged... tested... stretched.  It is the playground of genius.  It is the yeast of creativity and insight.  The only thing we have to lose by striving to gain knowledge is blissful ignorance.  And, let's face it, sometimes our very faith.  But if we are truly fearful of losing our faith by gaining "too much" knowledge," logic demands that we should be taking a good, hard look at what we have placed our faith in all along.

But that's just me.  Your mileage may vary.  :)

New Beginnings

My wife chided me the other day (no one on the planet is better at that, or more prolific at that, than my sweet wife), because I had not committed my thoughts to our blog in a long time.  Somehow, adding on to the previous blog we shared didn't seem appropriate.  The thoughts that either of us share with the world are diverse and unique, and Tracy deserves her own forum to express the vast breadth of wisdom that is her.  Likewise, my musings probably are different enough from her world that I thought it more appropriate to move my thoughts to a new home as well.  So here we are.  :)

I apologize in advance for some of the posts in my previous blog... I've suffered from chronic depression for as long as I can remember, and have only recently (within the last few years) found the healing and cathartic value of writing.  The problem is, some of those musings are just downright maudlin, so I'm just going to gently tip-toe away from them, and hopefully they will not be aroused from their fitful slumber and follow me here.

I will be posting the link to this blog on the old one, and will also be adding it to my FaceBook page, so that those who wish to follow it can do so.

Oh.  And be prepared for a wild ride.  My mind can be a scary place sometimes.  :)