Monday, November 14, 2016

Fear and Predjudice in America

     Today I sit in my comfortable and unafraid in my home, I am not in any danger outside of a really messy diaper today. Yet I have watched the growing storm of protest and counter protest occurring just outside my walls both literally and figuratively Social media has become a battleground and many of us are still confused as to what happened to our country to have fallen so far. I have no answers and according to some I should just sit down and shut up because I am not a marginalized person.

    How do I as a white male whom by all appearances who is so blandly "normal" as to make vanilla seem spicy and exciting act? Well folks its confession time to the larger world, I am not the bland individual that I have seemingly been so successful in masquerading as to the larger world. Lets start with one of my personally "sarcasm" favorite topics, religion. I am NOT christian, in point of fact, I am a heathen to be technically correct. I worship and follow the Norse Gods, yes those Norse Gods  and no not the ones from the comic books either.

    During my first combat tour in Iraq, I found myself praying to my "perceived" identification as "Christian"  to help me make sense of the insanity I had found myself in daily there. Yet no small voice came, nothing happened I felt hollow and empty. I went to my Chaplain and described what was happening to me, he spoke to me gently saying "You are having a crisis of faith." This was even more disturbing and frightening to me as I felt adrift when I needed my faith the most.

   I made it home and eventually was stationed at Ft. Huachuca, Arizona in 2004. For the next hear or so I watched myself try to reintegrate into a "normal" life of a stateside soldier. 2005 was an eventful year for me as I found my first marriage beyond anyone's ability to fix. Thus I joined yet another statistical grouping in America, those marriages that end in divorce. So yet another blow came to my identity and faith that had already been shaken to its core. 

   Mutual friends of mine asked me if I would attend a pagan group with them and finally I said yes. It was largely to get myself out of my doldrums and into interactions with other human beings. The first moment I walked into the grove, I hadn't been sleeping well due to stress and nightmares for a while, I felt a peace I had never felt before. While the ceremony went on and I kept silent as I watched and listened to the goings on, I felt something whisper to me and I looked up to see a Raven fly overhead, the voice continued to speak inside my mind.

    It was that day I swore upon the oath stone that I had been chosen by my patron God, Odin. This may seem silly to you but it is what I felt and saw that day. I have never looked back since. Yet this is not the only place I break with convention or what is expected of me as a white male in America. In that same time period post divorce I had found myself directing a local branch of what was then the Camarilla Fan Club in Sierra Vista, AZ.

   In 2005 we had our International Conclave Convention or ICC in Phoenix, AZ. That year also saw a major hurricane hit the United States so in order to help inspire our domain to give as much as possible to charity, I made a wager. I wagered that the could not raise a thousand dollars or more to donate to the Red Cross in support of their relief efforts. I lost my wager as they raised over 1,200 dollars for that organization.
   My payment for that loss was to appear in public at opening ceremonies at the convention in full drag. At the time there were several coordinators, all males, who were making the same statements as I yet I was the only one to show up in full drag and even role-played that night as a female character to cement my honoring the wager. Ask anyone that knows me I don't go in for half measures nor  do I hold back in keeping my word.

    I spent weeks learning how to walk in heels as a woman walks, yes I spent hours learning how to swing my hips. I went shopping for the full kit, including women's undergarments, ladies you have my respect and I too want to beat the bastard that invented the underwire bra to death because that shit pinches like hell.I even did a few practice runs as well prior to the event, risking my security clearance and job to honor my wagers. 

    Here is a pic of me at that event;

      I went to that event, armed out of acknowledgement of the dangers I could potentially find myself in due to my appearance as woman but clearly a man underneath. So I can understand why Gays, Lesbians, Bisexual, and Transgendered people could be afraid of Trump and those who voted him into office. I researched my role and completely got into character and for a few moments I saw into a world that I still only barely scratched the surface of. Yet when I took off the dress and make up I had not changed, I was still employed and enjoyed the benefits of being white and male in the worlds eyes.  

   That single event by no means makes me any kind of expert on those groups or issues that they face daily. I will never know what it is like to be a Muslim in this country or to be Black and yet still treated as some kind of second class citizen simply because of my skin color. So I can only stand along side them and other groups that are fearful for valid reasons. To say that they don't have at right or a reason is to be a hypocrite of monumental proportions.  

    Yet I am about to break silence upon something that at this point I feel as though I have no choice. I am bisexual and I have slept with at least one man in my lifetime. Who and why is no one's business and that I will NOT ever share to anyone. This is my first open and public declaration of such and thus I recognize that many will be angered and hurt especially my extended family who did not know this about me.

   It pains me to see anyone marginalized and disenfranchised for a simply difference of faith, race, or sexual identification (gender as well as sexuality).  I have sought to live my life honorably and faithfully adhering to a code that was taught to me by my parents. To be honest, forthright, and treat everyone equally based upon their character alone. To that end I will raise my children whom I have been blessed with the same way I was raised. 

   I will stand in defense of my fellow human beings to be who they are as they are without limitations other than they do no harm to themselves or others. I am no one special or unique in who I am, I am simply human like the rest of you. Yet know this, I have yet began to fight for what I believe in and I believe in the inherent goodness of all humankind. I believe in the promise of our nation as dedicated to the inalienable rights  of "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." I believe and honor the ones who have come before me and fought for those same things.

   I am not afraid, I am not cowed, and I will not be silenced by ignorance or hatred ever. I stand with everyone who desires to be free to choose for themselves a life that is their choosing. I accept responsibility for my obligations as a human being and citizen of the United States, I ask you to answer that calling every day and do not hide yourselves. I love you all and stand with you against those things that would deny us our hard won freedoms. 

I you?

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A few minutes of your time...can change the world

     The year was 1863, the place Gettysburg, Pennsylvania  where a gathering was going to take place to consecrate the grounds there as a memorial cemetery. President Abraham Lincon was invited at the last minute to speak, he wasn't even originally scheduled to attend. The reason for his invitation was due to the inability of a famous orator who was to speak that day. The "Gettysburg Address" as it is known was written on the way up from Washington DC and was roughly 11 minutes in length. It is considered to be one of the greatest speeches ever given and certainly one that has relevance today.

     "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the idea that all men were created equal" This is the first line of the speech, and we see here that Lincon spoke to the roots of why the United States came to be. While the language could be interpreted to mean "white males" Lincon talked about "men" as to say humanity. Equality of opportunity is the equality of which he spoke and did so with great eloquence.

    The next few lines of his speech expound further upon his initial point as follows. "Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this." Lincon lays out the reason for why he's speaking and the purpose of his words. 

    The election of 2016 was vicious and divisive in its entirety, leaving deep scars upon the psyche of our nation. Here in 1863, the United States was in the midst of a greater danger of lost entirely and due to differences in our beliefs as we see today. I am not suggesting that we will face a second American Civil War but that we now see that that struggle for freedom still goes on even today. American's have never shirked their duty to fight for the ideals that founded this nation or to even die for those beliefs. However, it is this author's opinion that we have forgotten to live for our beliefs, martyrdom is not the way forward for our people.

    The final paragraph of the address then challenges us as a people and a nation to renew that will to live for our country, its ideals, and most of all to honor those who have sacrificed so much for us. Please read below.

 "But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion" -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

   Lincon challenged the nation on that day in 1863 over a hundred and fifty-four years ago.  We have elected Donald Trump, yet many feel as though they in the loss of Hillary Clinton, were cheated. Before this President-Elect Trump refused to comment if he would accept the results if he had lost the election. This result disturbed many people, this author included, as such his conduct appeared unpresidential if not outright dangerous. While this nation has endured many trials and tribulations our next four years and beyond will be more so. 
We are called upon to stand together to move our country forward, working for that "rebirth of freedom." It is incumbent upon each citizen of the United States of America to become educated in the duties and responsibilities of being a citizen of our Federal Republic. Do not rest on your laurels waiting for someone to show you the way or to do it for you. America does not need or want such people in her borders. Freedom requires hard work and sacrifice, and it is each of us that must do this daily.
Freedom is precious but like life itself, it must be cared for daily and lovingly maintained regardless of the cost. So in this, I say clearly and loudly "I will stand for the rights of all citizens regardless of race, creed, color, or religion to live as they so choose within the laws of our nation." Furthermore I will stand in defense of all human beings for the rights inherent as a member of the human race regardless of where or how they came to be. I ask and humbly beseech the rest of my countrymen to dedicate themselves to the same.

 In short a few minutes of your time really can change the world...


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Questions, Answers, and Truth...why they matter.

   Waking up this morning was simply another day for me. I woke up in a  house with running water, food to eat, and I was safe in the knowledge that the most fearful part of my day would be changing diapers. As I comforted my twins, both are quite ill, this morning my mind does as it is often wont to do, wanders. My thoughts over the past few days have ranged from anger, disappointment, hopefulness, and much more.  I have watched my social media pages abound with friends who are terrified of what may happen to them in the incoming Presidential Administration.

   I have also watched first hand as friends and family belittle and dismiss those fears as "whining" about losing an election. Worse I have seen media figures and pundits alike attempt to explain how Donald Trump won the election, with some on either side of the political spectrum casually disparaging or outright insulting anyone who disagrees with them. My background from a former life is as an Intelligence Analyst, so my brain has been literally on fire as I try to make sense of all that happens and I am still attempting to gather data.

   I am a white male and thus often feel as though I am an outsider in my homeland. I have felt this way for most of my life, never quite fitting in with the norm since I can remember. I am bombarded daily with various snippets of sound or images that leave me feeling even more lost within myself. Images such as a banner on a news site claiming "White men are responsible for 90 of reported rapes" or a commentary from a non-white individual about how "White people are all racists and want to oppress others." I recognize these as hyperbolic generalizations used to grab one's attention to the actual questions asked by the commentators.

  It can be hard to see that because of factors that I had no choice over how I to bear some responsibility for the actions of others who look similar to me. I will not say that I do not have racist thoughts or sometimes make judgments based on factors that are rooted in a visible or perceived difference from me. Even among people who look like me, I feel as though I don't belong so what does that mean?

  Do I deserve to feel the guilt and shame cast upon me by people who bear the same skin color as I do, even though I don't feel like a part of most of them? A term I have found very useful in attempting to understand myself and how I fit into the world that doesn't ever quite seem to fit me is cognitive dissonance.  This cognitive dissonance is what appears to place me at odds with the world around me and other individuals in it.

   Human beings are social animals, and it is here that the basis of our shared responsibilities to each other begin.  Oppression of one group humanity will have secondary and tertiary effects upon the larger population as it ripples outward. So racial injustice or social inequalities to what we as human beings need to thrive and prosper affects all of us eventually. One of the strongest impulses of humanity is to secure resources designed to ensure the survival of our progeny, biologically we reproduce and then strive to acquire what they need to grow and do the same.

  Thus it is the social constructs that we create to share on a larger scale than simply a single family unit, that we find our greatest source of conflict as human beings. This drive for resources impels us to act in our most primitive natures as selfish or at least in obvious self-interest above others around us. Human society as it grew into larger and larger groups saw the need for a common foundation for sharing resources and roles within the community.

  As these societies grew and expanded into a size large enough to have to go further and further afield for securing what it needed to survive. Human beings came into contact with other humans who were the same biologically yet seems very different; barriers such as language, cultural norms, and other structures made understanding and acceptance nigh impossible.  This led to the actualization our impulse to fear anything that is different or unknown as a threat to our survival thus provoking an aggressive response.

  There is a biological root to our divisive nature yet we fail often to see that ultimately we are all biologically the same. Even socially there are commonalities to be found such as the need for protection of children. So why does racism occur? How does it negatively affect society as a whole especially the group that is the oppressor? It can be distilled into a simple concept that conflict without benefit to the whole of society, drains needed resources and energies that could be used to better all into entrenching and attempting to over come barriers that are created by that conflict.

 This process can be applied to just about any human conflict and you will see a similar result. Conflict over resources or the power to secure and maintain those resources at the expense of an other group hurts the whole of society due to wasted resources and efforts better applied elsewhere. So how does this deal with our current social anxiety within the United States due to the election of Donald Trump? This event and my explanation of how to understand the base issues gives us a plan to go forward.

   Do not allow yourselves to be divided into tribal or  sub-groupings, understand that what effects others will eventually affect you. Seek knowledge of differing points of view especially those in oppositions to yours. Critically assess those differences with an understanding of your own biases. Confront and overcome those biases and do not accept them from others either. What we can accomplish as a species is nothing short of amazing when we get beyond those barriers that we have created for each other. This is what I will fight for daily and what I shall teach my children.

Friday, November 11, 2016

A Call to Serve on Veteran's Day and Everyday

    Good morning America,

    I hope you slept well or at least rested enough to function as a human being. I wanted to take today to discuss a topic that now more than ever is relevant to our daily lives. Aftershocks of the election and the reality to many who fear for themselves or others still ripple across our hearts and minds today. Today is Veteran's Day yet like most holiday's that denote Military Service or honoring our war dead, it will be simply a day off for many American's.

    We as a nation after the first World War, this day was known as Armistice Day as today is the day the first World War was ended. Yet like all things Armistice  Day changed into something else as our nation grew and moved ever forward. Military service to one's nation is a calling yet many come to this calling out of reasons that are as diverse as we are as a people. My own reason for choosing to serve was as complex as I am as a person, I joined because I was the son of a Vietnam Veteran, the grandson of a Veteran of both World War II and Korea, because I believed in the documents and beliefs that led to the founding of our imperfectly beautiful nation.

    Less than one percent of our nation's young men and women have served in our most recent conflicts. Let that sink in for a moment we place our nation's security and sovereignty in not even a full percentage point of American's who are willing to serve. Our nation and its people have a tradition of service to each other and to the world at large. Study our history and along with our darker selves, you will find stories of selfless sacrifice to serve others needs before our own. What makes us do this as a people? What drives our hearts and souls to commit to the larger whole? How do "We the People" find the strength of will to serve like this?

   These are not rhetorical questions but ones we should ask ourselves daily as we are the beneficiaries of those sacrifices. How many of us can think of how hard our parents worked to care for us or at least some person who gave a damn about us? When is the last time we went without so others could have something, however, small that was theirs alone? When have we as a people come together and stand against injustice, intolerance, and ignorance? How do we continue forward with honor and dignity for our fellow citizens and even those who are not?

   Today I call upon you, my fellow citizens to serve without reward or recognition of your service as so many have before you. I call upon you to think of others before yourself, to stand in defense of those who cannot defend themselves. I call upon you to defy those who abuse and denigrate their fellow American's and humanity for not being "like them." A life of service is NEVER wasted nor is it useless to try. That is the language of the weak and cowardly who speak such that one person "can't do much" or "why try?"

   Find a way to be of service to others, do a random act of kindness each day to a random stranger. Look for opportunities in your local communities to take a stand against bigotry, intolerance, and hate. Educate yourself and others as to the rights and responsibilities that are inherent as a citizen of our beloved Federal Republic.  We have a calling to serve the needs of others because in doing so we serve ourselves and our future generations.

   Don't let so few of us sacrifice so much without your contribution, let us renew our faith in the goodness found within the promise of "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." We stand on the shoulders of giants who have bled for us and continue to do so to this day. Find it within yourself to look outwards against what is wrong or unjust, act vigorously but tempering that vigor with civility and humility. This not a call to crusade but a call to serve as so few of us have both living and dead.

   I will close with this thought,  in the face of confusion and terror do not falter nor let your heart quail in fear, stand boldly and firmly against the darkness around you and say "No you move..."

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Violence as a political expression and why its threat to all of us

     On November 8th of 2016, Donald J. Trump won soundly within the confines of the law as far as the election for the Presidency goes. Yet this election cycle normally quite peaceful was marred by recurring violence by political partisans of both sides. While no one was killed or severely injured in the violence, it sets a disturbing trend for American politics.  Such violence lends credibility to the extremist groups throughout the  American political spectrum for advocating their adherents to prepare for more of the same.

    While there has always been low and somewhat discrete amounts violence due to strong and deeply held beliefs throughout our history. The overall history of our nation even in the midst of a civil war was a peaceful and smooth transition of power during the election process. It has become a point of pride that we tell the world of our ability despite deeply held beliefs that often divide us, America respects the rule of law above all else. Thus any violence reported is quite shocking to see reported as we have become so accustomed to a peaceful political process and transition of power between Presidential administrations.

    President-Elect Donald Trump ran a campaign using language and at times clearly urging his adherents to commit themselves to violent actions due to their strong revulsion to the "Establishment and Liberal Elitists."  This combined with language that was highly inflammatory remarks regarding various racial groups such as Americans of Latino extraction particularly those of Mexican descent among others lent credibility to those who sought to violently oppose the participation in our political process. Groups that were once nationally shut out of open participation in the process such as the KKK were now openly endorsing Trump and his rhetorical vision of "Making America Great Again."

   Yet the violence and the encouragement of such was not entirely one sided to the Trump camp. Various protests against Trump such as San Jose, June 6, 2016, were marred by violence directed at attendants to those rallies (1), This bodes ill for what is seen by many as a rise in partisan violence directed towards differing points of view on how the United States should govern itself. While political campaigns are infamous for their brutal and nasty effects those are largely restricted to character insults and other items using nonviolent methods to disrupt one's opponent

   Violence within the American social and political process is a direct assault on one of the most clearly defined elements of our Constitution, the right to peaceful assembly and to demand redress of grievances. We are too large and diverse a group to have a homogenous vision of our culture and that is what makes us such a strong nation. Americans draw from cultures from around the world and this dynamic energy thrusts us firmly towards the future. We are not a nation that idly waits for the future but instead seeks it out.

   I would call upon all who read these words to remember that tradition of peaceful protest and respect the rule of law. If we fail in this the consequences are very dire and could spell the end of our "great experiment".  While I detest the rhetoric and actions of President-Elect Trump and the various extremist groups that have sought legitimacy under his banner, we must not lose ourselves in the opposition by resorting to violent means to "end" or "stop" his tenure as our elected President. It is beyond my comprehension that we elected a man who was so clearly willing to encourage violent action on his behalf or at least to benefit from his "passionate followers".

  We are the American people and while we may be divided into many issues, it is clear we must respect the rule of law lest we descend into barbarism. It is the goal of this author to encourage all of us to  educate ourselves on the laws and nature of our government intimately. Our Federal Republic requires us to be active and knowledgeable, passively accepting what we are told IS NOT an American trait or tradition. But please leave the violence to your imaginations regardless of what side you march upon, it is unbecoming and dangerous to our cherished freedoms.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

This We'll Defend...

To all my fellows who follow my silliness and general misanthropic adventures in being an Adult :)

We have just ended one of the, if not the most divisive, election year in my lifetime. I have posted to my friends and to anyone who could read my words that I do not share the enthusiasm that half of our nation does at this moment. You see I started out with my political identity as solidly conservative with an eye towards a strict interpretation of the United States Constitution with a firm mindset on the checks and balances contained within that document. I still believe in our constitution and our Federal Republic to which I swore an oath that has no expiration date.

Normally I do not disclose whom I voted for as I firmly believe in the absolute sanctity of "hidden" or "secret" ballot. Yet in the ever charged and negatively so, the swirl of my beloved nation's political discourse. I find myself needed to break with tradition that I have set for myself. I fully expect to be ridiculed and ostracized for my choice but I hope to explain why I fee the way I do. I pray that you do me the basic courtesy and respect my choices as I respect yours.

Thus I ask you please to not respond at all if you have to respond with insults to either my parentage, my mental status, or my basic human decency. I have earned the right to speak as I will within the confines of civil discourse and the rule of law as well as the time-honored principles upon which our nation has relied upon from inception. I served my country in a time of war as did my father and his father before him. Royka's now have bled for 3 consecutive generations in our Nation's conflicts for those rights we exercised yesterday and every day.

I voted for Hilary Clinton, a woman whom I had serious issues with on multiple levels. I voted for her not because I was deranged or deluded, I searched the facts as they were available and made my decision to give her my vote. I can already here the divestiture of friendship due to the above statement. While she was and is an extremely flawed candidate and I believe the Democratic Party did us all a disservice by their unabashed push to cement her as the "heir apparent." Hillary was one of the most qualified political figures of the past 30 years, even more so than her husband who did serve two terms as President, in my personal assessment.

I felt that even with her flaws she was a better and stronger choice for our country. It is clear that my fellow citizens disagreed with me and that IS their right to do so. That is the risk we take in engaging in a Federal Republican form of governance, we risk not choosing the winning side of the ticket. To President-Elect Trump and his supporters, I congratulate you on your victory. Yet let it be known that I will oppose vociferously any attempt to harm those very freedoms I have fought for personally.

To that end, I will call anyone out that tries to push an agenda that harms or seeks to subvert the inalienable right to "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." I welcome those who flee oppression and tyranny to seek a better life here in the United States for themselves and their families. I believe in the fundamental rights of all our citizens and even would-be citizens to a basic respect of their humanity and individual persons.

I believe in the sanctity of private property and ownership of said property this includes one's body. Yes, I know I am jumping right into the rabbit hole from hell on the thorny Abortion issue. I fundamentally disagree with "Roe v. Wade" as it violated the Constitution as the Judicial branch overstepped their authority to "legislate" an issue that clearly belonged to the legislative branch yet they felt compelled due to the political climate of the day.

Yet I firmly believe in the right of a woman to do with her body as she sees fit. Yet we must acknowledge that there is something that must occur in this regard if we are as men to be held equally responsible for the creation of life. I do not wish to delve solely into this issue but to use it as a highlight as to why my political views are not black and white or some other shade of tribalistic purity. They are complex and thorny like most human beliefs and ideas.

Yet I am always looking for empirical evidence to disprove my beliefs as well as my ethics and morals to guide those beliefs. I am a lover of freedom and the right to be wrong, I despise those who cloak themselves in the flag or in religious rhetoric that if it came from a follower of the Muslim faith, would cause a firestorm of rage and rightfully so.

We are a nation founded on the clear separation of church and state. This separation must be clear and unequivocal that NO religion or spiritual belief should be used to oppress anyone's faith or lack thereof. Even the most hateful speech used by Trump during his candidacy for the Presidency is still his right as a US Citizen to do so. But this freedom of speech comes the price of the consequences of one's actions or words, so long as you are willing to accept them fully and without limitation or exception.

I have uttered and will continue to do so the words of Voltaire "Sir, I may not agree with what you say but I will defend unto the death your right to say it." I will spend the next 4 years and beyond watching and researching for those who would abuse or erode that which I have shed blood and soul to defend. I am not a liberal or a conservative, I am not Christian nor am I an atheist. I am a patriot who believes in the inherent goodness of my nation and her people and in the motto of the United States Army, "This We'll Defend"...

There Will Be MORE to follow so please read and offer your thoughts if you can do so respectfully.