Sunday, May 23, 2010

What Constituents?

Politics is a realm where one can never be right. At least not completely right. Political parties exist, therefore it automatically means that one can never be wholly correct on any given subject. I suppose the same logic could be applied to our everyday decisions and opinions because a difference of opinion exists in the first place. But for now our collective focus shall rest on the twisted despair inherent in the political system.

You may be assuming that I will launch into a tirade concerning the US political system and it's inherent faults. You may also assume that I will side with one party or another. Some of you may even be so bold as to think that, since I am a Christian, I must be siding with the Republicans. You'd be wrong on all three counts. What I intend to do is address the overall failure of the governments of the world to act in the best interests of the people. When it comes to the United States of America, I will not choose party sides as my seat in the congress of my mind rests firmly in the isle. And for those of you who assume that all Christians are Republicans, a change in thinking is in order.

As a matter of fact, that makes a nice segway. A change of thinking is in order for the entire system. World governments have failed their people. North and South Korea are still at odds, the Middle East is still stuck in senseless bloodshed, Asian governments still lay restrictions on their citizens. What bothers me about the governments of the world is that we cannot seem to reach an agreement on anything. Deep within the soul of mankind, do we not all share a belief that taking the life of another is wrong? Do we not all long for starvation and malnutrition to end? Do we not collectively agree that each person, regardless of age, race, sex or creed, deserves access to the medical breakthroughs that could save their lives? Or do you look at each of the points above and become first concerned with the money it would cost? If I may, how much is a human life? Does the price go up or down according to age? If they were 73 and had a history of heart issues, does that decrease their overall value? Logically, of course. Now, assume this 73-year-old man was your father. The one who taught you everything you know, who raised you after your mother died giving birth to you and who worked two jobs at 70 hours a week just to insure that you had the access to a better life he never did. Does that increase the value of this man's life to you? Should we be so selfish as to pick and choose who is granted access and who is not? Do you deserve the power to decide who lives and who dies? For that matter, does anyone? Slave or master? Day laborer or business man? Immigrant or celebrity? Citizen or politician?

It is the heart of the issues we (all world governments) choose to ignore on a day to day basis. We allow grudges, mistakes, anger, loyalties, fear and money to rule our decisions and our lives. And as such no one steps up to make the decisions that will literally change the world. I am not alone in my recognition of the issues, nor am I alone in the desire for change. The themes are widespread. It is why a movie like 'Avatar' can sell out for weeks as some cry over a fictional tree being destroyed. It is why charity TV commercials know to project to you the images of sad and sickened children. It is why a movie like 'War of the Worlds' states that, "only at the precipice do we find the will to change." The knowledge exists. The hunger for radical change, both local and global, is pulsating within the wills of us all. But somewhere along the way, our wills have become brittle or broken.

As I am only privy to the way in which the government in the US functions, I can only realistically apply my opinions to the system in which I operate. First, let me state that I am fully aware that where humans are involved, so must be an allowance for human error. A political system made up of imperfect people can only hope to be imperfect. Knowing this, allow me to continue.

I have attained a very fatalistic view of our current political system. Parties on both sides of the isle have destroyed whatever was left of our once proud nation. In the face of fear, we have thrown away our freedoms little by little for a false sense of security. And for what? The system is more corrupt than ever. In fact, we joke about the corruption of Washington while simultaneously venting our dissatisfaction with corrupt politicians. We have become so complacent and detached from the idea that we can change the system, that we resort to making jokes about the way things are to mask our despair. I no longer laugh at political jokes.

Two paragraphs ago, I stated that, "our wills have become brittle or broken." Why? It is because we have allowed the notion that a lone individual cannot effect change to creep it's way into our minds. That is a lie, especially in this country. This country was once the envy of the world, not because of our wealth, but because we had a system which allowed a people dissatisfied with the government, to change that government. We boasted a government "by the people, for the people." We have allowed fear and pessimism to beat down our will to change the way this country functions.

The news media covers the current administrations actions, both positive and negative, with blatant fatalism. While the media must remain impartial to one side or another to survive, the tone in their voices echo's that of the rest of Americans. We are dissatisfied with the way things are, no matter who is in the White House.

In the 1960's a large section American citizens, mostly youth, rose up and decided to 'fight the man'. This generation of hippie's desired change for not only the progress of America, but for the betterment of mankind as a whole. They strove for change through protests, petitions, demonstrations, rallies and music. And change began. John F. Kennedy was elected to the White House and the will of the people began to take shape. Martin Luther King Jr. led the civil rights movement, intent on the equal treatment of ALL, regardless of their race. Both revolutionaries were taken down in front of our very eyes before any lasting change could take hold. Granted, given enough time in office, Kennedy too could have succumbed to the corruption of Washington. Given enough time, Dr. King could have began jumping at shadows of racism that weren't there to begin with, thereby discrediting his cause. But regardless of the outcomes of could-have-beens, these two individuals inspired a hope in the people that had been missing from the American political system since the revolutionary war. And when they were taken in front of the people, the spirit of change they instilled broke. Civil rights activists became angry and hippies dissolved into nothing more than spaced out drug addicts. Granted the civil rights movement effected the goal Dr. King set out to accomplish, but only through those who did not allow the world to break down what they stood for. Something poorly lacking in today's society.

The other day, while listening to the radio, I heard a 42 year old man call in and express his frustration with the way the government functions. This individual then stated that his frustration was the reason he never once voted in any election. In essence, this man hopes the system will mend itself together as others stand up as one and act, but he himself has done nothing to contribute. To quote a comic book I recently read, "Hope is nothing without willpower."

My non-involvement in the political process (except for the occasional voting) has jumped from flippant disregard, to utter despair. What hope does my generation have for significant, lasting change, when our parent's before us failed? The hippies massed together a movement that spanned the country from coast to coast, and now that they're grown up, the system remains broken still. The hippie generation accomplished many things, but in the face of fear (or perhaps exhaustion) they stalled. It has therefore fallen to our generation to effect the change the generations before us could not. And it starts here at home.

We cannot allow OUR children to face the same broken system. A system with zero accountability. A system that enters into wars we do not wish to fight. A system that bails out businesses with OUR money. A system that only jumps into action, when election day is edging closer. As trivial as it sounds, we must start our own, more effective 'hippie' movement. We start by listening to the opinions from both sides of the argument. We start by finding the facts. We make our OWN minds up and either run for office (be it small town school board or the White House) or vote for those who really do hold our beliefs as their own. We start small and vote big. It's time to make a lasting change in the way things work in our country.

Then the era of political ideologies focused on self interest and power can begin to revert back to a government "by the people, for the people."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Dear Friends and Family,

It's time to be more honest than I've ever been. This blog is coming purely out of necessity, not (hopefully) from the dark shadows of pride and greed lurking within my heart. It's time to get real, as they say.

Much of what say won't make sense. Some wording and grammar may come across as muddled or repetitive. My ideas and inner monologues will be flaky and irresponsible. This blog isn't about feeding my oversized ego or flexing my creative muscle. This blog is about the reality of my life. And this blog begins now.

I'm sitting in the living-room of an apartment I share with my girlfriend Jennifer. It's newly vacuumed and organized and usually this lends enough comfort to allow me to write coherently. But I can't focus. The blank white page glaring up at me from my laptop is taunting me now more than ever. My pride is begging me to write something epic and seemingly selfless. As much as I've given into these demands of my personal demons, I cannot now. What I have to say is too important to allow the fiends of my subconscious mastery over my focus.

I mentioned that I shared this monument to my own independence with my girlfriend. The time has come for this two year relationship to end. I've been whining and complaining about her and all the things she does or does not do for weeks, even months. I toss in meaningless lines like, “I mean, I know I'm not perfect either, far from it actually.” and “Shes a great person and all but..”. I've been so busy searching for reasons within her to end this relationship that I've neglected to search MYSELF. While there exist many reasons and flaws within her that I could easily call to your attention, I cannot and will not. The time for anger and excuses has past.

I have come to realize through the course of this relationship many things about myself. And to be quite honest, I JUST learned this lesson not 20 minutes ago while cleaning aforementioned living-room. As I write this it is Wednesday May 12th 2010 at 7:01 pm. Not an hour ago I was standing in my little sisters apartment talking to her boyfriend about Jennifer. I used the same lines I mentioned above and while I said nothing damning or even rude about Jennifer, my intentions were still of pride and ignorance.

For awhile now I've been struggling not with the existence of God, but with my relationship with him. How do I relate to him? How do I speak with him? How do I know when to hear him speaking to me? And so on and so forth. Today I got my answer, to a degree. For so long I've been blaming Jennifer for nearly everything. For oftentimes being the root of my anger. For being lazy. For being selfish. For being rude. For being isolated. I have fallen into this well rehearsed dialogue with others regarding her, that I twist their perceptions with astounding ease to sympathize with me rather than her. In reality, the blame should be on both of us. And to be honest, and not self deprecating for the sake of being self deprecating, the blame rests largely on my own shoulders.

My anger stems not from her. My yelling and language aren't the result of her eye-rolls or scoffing. It's not deep seeded from my relationship with my mother or my sister. It's not from observing my father in the early years of my rebellion. It stems from within me and me alone. It is my own fault for flying off the handle. It's my own fault for making her afraid of me. It's my own fault for allowing someone else to master the hair trigger of my emotions.

I need to be bigger than this. I need to grow up. I need to take responsibility for what I've become.

I feel the need to mention that I HAVE NOT physically harmed Jennifer in any way, shape, or form. But having a 275 lb, 6'1” man yelling at you is not conducive to a healthy respect of one another. Let alone building a sense of safety.

My cursing, both in high emotional situations and relaxed environments, is not something I should be proud of or neglect as an issue. One of many issues I have regarding myself is my cleverly hidden pride. I'm so prideful, I'm even proud that I've hidden it so well for so long. One of the many things I pride myself on is the fact that I'm a deep, philosophical, open-minded individual. My direct overuse of foul language directly contradicts those beliefs. The way I operate my whole life has been illuminated to me as one large contradiction. I wish I could say that I will begin working on my language. I know I will not. At least not now. It's a habit that is destructive to the mind and as such, very hard to destroy itself.

Another issue I face is my selfishness. Looking back on my conversations about Jennifer to others, I never once mentioned doing the things she wanted to do without having a motive behind mentioning it. In other words, the only time I DID talk about it, was to build myself up in the other persons eyes. I would always talk about the things she didn't do or wouldn't say. I would focus solely on the issues that directly or indirectly affected how I lived comfortably within my own life. I unrealistically expected her to mold to fit me and never once considered that we should BLEND into one rather than ADAPT. I was, AM selfish. My focus on this issue needs to overtake any other goals I may have. Goals that are selfish in and of themselves need to be obliterated. The selfishness itself needs to be near the pinnacle of my focus.

Yet another issue I'm coming to grips with is my greed. I realized that I would go the comic book store or to the grocery store and buy anything and everything I wanted when I had money, but when Jennifer asked me to buy the milk, I would cringe. I may have not said anything, or maybe I did, but its MILK. I have a cart of $120 worth of grocery's just for me (half or more of which are unnecessary) and I take issue with buying a $3.50 gallon of MILK?

Or if I did not have money, as a direct result of the above mentioned greed, I would guilt her into buying things for me. Sometimes I did it intentionally, other times I allowed her to think buying me something would make me happy. There were times during our relationship that I would be moody or upset either for legitimate reasons or selfish ones. During these times Jennifer would suggest that we go somewhere and I would agree (if for no other reason than to get out of the house). Oftentimes we would visit Half Price Books or one of the 3 comic shops I frequent. Jennifer consistently would suggest I pick out a few things and she would buy them with the intention of making me happy again. And I would let her, all the while struggling to ignore the demonic little laugh of greedy satisfaction in my own head, knowing full well that my mood would switch right back to where it was within ten minutes.

Jennifer would buy me my favorite things, things she KNEW I enjoyed and made me happy, just to make me smile again. And I LET HER, knowing that it wasn't going to do a thing and gladly accepting a new, free addition to my collection.

People, I'm selfish, angry, greedy, rude and prideful. In the coming weeks, months or even years; I might allow myself to slip into dismantling the image of Jennifer in my mind and yours. Do not allow me to. Today God as answered my question.

What do I do Lord? Do I stay in this relationship or do I leave?

The answer was never about her. It was about me. My dad told me very recently that every relationship (romantic or otherwise) is either Love or a Lesson. Jennifer has nothing but love for me. Granted, she has her own issues to resolve within herself and in her own time-frame, but regarding me, there is nothing but love. I was too self absorbed to see it and have ruined a relationship beyond the point of fixing the damage I myself caused.

And THAT is MY lesson.

I once thought that I was the ideal man for a woman. Labeling myself constantly as the perfect guy based on the quality that I THOUGHT I understood women and how to relate to them better than any other man. I thought that because I once was a shoulder to cry on for so many women in high school, that I must be someone they inherently felt they could trust. And perhaps the impulse to trust me was a real quality I possessed. I told Jennifer these things. That I was a nice guy, the perfect guy, that I would always be there and would never hurt her. Being a writer I made a convincing argument. I even believed myself.

I lied.

I am no longer convinced that I am the perfect guy. If I did possess the ability to have people trust me, I have abused it and am not ready or worthy to hold the mantle I once bestowed upon myself. I am not even sure any longer if I can even be labeled as a good guy. I have become painfully aware of more character flaws than I ever thought possible. There is a lot of work to be done, and I cannot rightfully call myself a man until I take them on one at a time, let alone call myself a good boyfriend, husband or even father.

I don't want your praise on these realizations about myself. While appreciated, they'll only feed the ego I need to destroy and the more its fed, the harder it becomes to destroy it. I don't want your sympathies on my personal journey or on the end of my relationship. My selfishness will only cloud your intentions into twisted versions of themselves.

I only ask for your support.

My selfishness is deep rooted. My greed knows no limits. My ego is ever inflated and will take more than a needle to deflate. My anger rests on a hair trigger and I need to find a way to dispose of the gun. I cannot continue to allow myself the comforts of blaming others for my flaws. It has already ruined a relationship that in reality began with so much more potential than you could ever be made aware of. I cannot allow it to ruin any more relationships. Romantic, family, friendship or otherwise.

I know I promised some of you the chance to lash out at Jennifer for the things I've spoken to you about. I must break this promise. Jennifer is off limits. TO ANYONE. Though the breakup may go bad, though my anger rage or my depression haze my better judgment, I stand by this. The things I have said about Jennifer's habits may be true, but they are nothing more than excuses masking what I've done.

I need you all to understand this. I need your help to become a better man. I need the wonderful women I know (Ashley, Tracy, Amanda P., Amberlyn F., Carol B. and so many others) to teach me the REAL way to relate to and treat a woman. I need the good men in my life (Mark T., Jason G., Mark B., Jamie C., Jamie B. and more) to instruct me on how to become a responsible man. I need my family to not let me become lost in my flaws and to point me to the things I SHOULD be proud of. I need the prayer warriors (Rosemary M., Amberlyn F., Mark T., Jamie B., Mark B. and my bible study group) to not let me hide behind the excuse that I'm not important enough to pray for, that to pray for myself is selfish.

Make no mistake. I alone am to blame for the things wrong in this relationship. Though fault may rest with us both, I did nothing to stop the deterioration of this relationship and though the outcome may lead to something better for us both, it is something that I should not have done to another person, let alone one I promised I'd never hurt.

To my friends, my family and most importantly Jennifer; I am sorry. I should have known better. I should have been better. I should have lived up to the ideals I claimed to hold firmly to. I should have done many things that I did not.

And for this, I am sorry.

There is nothing more I can say.