Dreaming of Hope

My Daddy once told me that unless a man had something useful to say, he should keep his mouth shut. As most of you realize if you know me, or have read my writing it’s obvious that I should keep my mouth shut most of the time. I just can’t help it though, useful or not I have to say what I think.

What I am opening my mouth (or keyboard literally) to talk about today is hope. That’s right, hope. I have to have it. It has to be there, like a piece of driftwood in the vast ocean when you are drowning. Something to grab hold of and stay afloat. My hope is for the future. The future in which I will be missing, but my children and grandchildren and whatever descendants that I may be blessed with (who will never know I existed,) will know.

Right now, it kind of looks bleak, and that is why I have to have hope. I don’t think there is any way that the members of my generation, the baby boomers, can fix the mess that we are in now. It’s not just one mess, but MANY different messes going on simultaneously which make things so complex.

There are the changing demographics of the entire world. People of different races and cultures are traveling far and wide in this day and age and settling in places their ancestors would never have imagined. As they do this, they become familiar with each other and one thing leads to another and you have relationships being built between these members of different races and cultures. Some still try to stick with their own cultures, but inevitably I believe will fail. The children of the future will probably look like all the beautiful little biracial and multiracial children we see running around. I think at some point there won’t be any black, yellow, red and white anymore. There will be one color and one international culture at some point. I don’t know how far in the future that this may occur, and I don’t know if mankind can keep from destroying each other first with nuclear weapons but if they can then that’s one thing I think will happen. It will be a huge challenge for our descendants who are at the “transitional” stage. (Or maybe that’s where we ARE now?) It could well be that the future inhabitants of this planet will “ease” into this situation so gradually that no one will ever know it’s happening until it’s upon them. I don’t think it will be a bad thing either. One of things that continually breeds discontent, distrust and war is the difference between people’s race and culture. If there IS not difference then they will have to find something else to fight about. Maybe they won’t be able to.

There is the quickly changing face of technology. I would have NEVER in my wildest dreams as a child imagined the world as it is today. There have been so many advances in the last 50 years that it makes the 1950’s seem like the Stone Ages. What we take for granted every day now, would have seemed like a trick of magic back then. Computers will continue to advance and now that robotics IS actually taking off like Isaac Asimov thought it would, our descendants can look forward to a world where the physical part of living will become easier and easier.

There will be issues that come up, ethical issues, which will challenge the very core of the morals of our society. What about a computer program that can store the “essence” of a person on a program, and come up with a “virtual” person who is exactly like the person who is dying. Anyone ever seen the movie “Freejack” with old Mick Jagger? That’s science fiction still, BUT so was Jules Verne back in the late 19th century. It may not be that a person’s “essence” can be stored on a computer and then put back into another person’s body. I am not sure it will ever get to that point. BUT to create a “virtual” person with the knowledge and character of a real live person is but a few steps away from becoming a reality. You can “store” Grandma or Grandpa on the handy dandy virtual person program, and pull them up to talk to any time you want. How would you like that? Kind of a spooky thought isn’t it? Yet, right now people who play the high tech computer games that generate “characters” to play through (the avatar type games) are already interacting in a very close knit way with these “quasi-people.” You can give them character traits, physical characteristics, and other things which make them “almost” seem human. It’s only a few steps away until you can do the same thing with your dear Uncle Bob, believe me. Soulless, yes. Interaction there will be. There could also be a use for this type of program to reduce overpopulation, in that people who are not allowed, or don’t want to have a “real” live child, can have a virtual child which they can “raise” from a baby all the way up through adulthood. The cost would be quite a bit cheaper to raise this type of “child” too.

Medically speaking, the people who can make it 20 or 30 more years are likely to be able to live practically as long as they want. With the research and discoveries in genetics that are now taking place, it won’t be long until the genes that cause “aging” as we know it, will be discovered and neutralized. People who are well off enough financially will be able to benefit from this expensive technology and beat “the system” Dick Cheney may actually still be here in the year 2100! Arrrr…?

I think that many diseases which afflict people such as cancer, heart disease, and all the big killers will be beaten. People will have to be run over by a Fire Truck in order to die. That’s about the only thing which will do it. However, I am sure there will be a lot of volunteers to be “uploaded” into the computer program which I mentioned in the previous paragraph. After all, who REALLY wants to live forever? And you probably will still have the old aches and pains that won’t go away. (Maybe not, they may have something for that too) Besides, you might be able to do things on that computer program you could NEVER do in real life, like fight dragons, or fly.

That would be a hoot, right?

Hmmmmm…..

I Wish I’d been in the Band

We have one of those Amazon “Alexas” and from time to time I’ll holler “Alexa play songs from: ” and then just choose an artist I want to hear and she’ll start playing the songs. I asked for songs by the group “Chicago” today while we were in the kitchen messing around. I’ve always loved them. In my list of favorite groups they would have to be #2 behind the Beatles. I’ve always loved their songs…especially with the brass in the background. It always makes me a little sad at the same time too, though. Hearing that “band sound” always reminds me of a lost opportunity to do something I really wanted to do.

I always loved music when I was a kid. I sang, and played guitar and I could “pick up” tunes and play the chords for them and sing just “by ear” I never learned to read music though….still haven’t.

In the seventh grade in school, in the spring time was the time for band tryouts for the next year. I always wanted to be in the band. I’d looked forward to it for several years leading up to that time when I might be able to join. I did all the sign up stuff and tryouts on the instruments and was told that my instrument would be…..a clarinet. A clarinet? That was a surprise, as I’d always supposed I’d be a trumpet guy, and I liked the fact that there were only three buttons on top of a trumpet. The damn clarinet looked like something from outer space with all of those buttons and places to press down.

I gave it a try though, and I finally got some sound out of it. So, we then went on to have some practices. They put a sheet of simple music in front of me, and after going over what it meant a couple of times, we had to try and play. I couldn’t discern heads or tails out of that sheet of music with all of it’s notes and squiggles and dots. Other people didn’t seem to be having as much trouble as I was having, so I figured it was me. I was such a dummy I couldn’t learn to read music. I was deficient.

I followed along for a couple of weeks by ear. If I heard it once or twice through I could replicate the melody pretty closely. I wanted to ask about the music though. I wanted to get somebody to teach me how to understand it…how to “read” the music. I was too embarrassed to ask the band director though. I got increasingly frustrated as we got new music. Finally, a few days before school was out, I went to the office and dropped out of the band.

In hindsight, I wish I had asked for help, and if not I wish I had stuck with it even without asking. I think I could have “faked it” good enough to stay in the band, because once I learn a tune…I don’t forget it. Maybe if I had stayed until band camp the next year, they would have stuck me on the bass drum…cause I was a big guy. Maybe if the band director had just a little more perception about what was going on with me. I supposed it wasn’t meant to be though. At least I got to try. My poor Paula wanted to play in the band at her school in Maryland, but didn’t know what to do to sign up. They had nobody there to even ask them if they wanted to play…no adviser or teacher to guide them in how to sign up for band. She was too shy to ask around and find out.

So as I listen to the brass play in the background on “Saturday in the Park” I wonder what might have been if I’d been a little more assertive, and if someone had been there to tell my wife, “this is how you sign up for band” Maybe we’d have ended up in an orchestra or something!

We lived band careers vicariously through all of our children and our grandchildren, I suppose…..but it would have been nice to have been a “part” of something during my High School years. I never was….

I guess there are advantages to being a “lone wolf” too……. I’m not sure exactly what they are yet though.

Racism

I would opine that anybody who celebrates those quotes are racists, and why not? America is, and always has been a nation of racism justified through religion.

Life like a Raindrop

One raindrop falls, and then another….then many, many more. All separate individual entities, until they hit the ground and unite into a stream, run into the creeks…into the rivers, and finally to the ocean.

So are we…like raindrops. Living our lives from cloud to ground. Uniting in the end, and flowing into the Universe.

….and wherever we end up together, and make no mistake it will be together, but wherever it is, there will be great joy. There will be music, and there will be dancing.

There will be forgiveness, and there will be reconciliation.

Couldn’t we begin with a little of it now while we are on our way from the heavens to the earth, and beyond?

It would make life easier.

Capturing a Memory

I realize more and more every day that when I leave this existence that there will be nothing which goes with me.

The only thing, or things I will have to my “credit” will be those memories I leave behind. I always wonder why I didn’t try to make more of them when I could, when I was younger.

We worry, worry, worry about the workaday world, and it’s understandable. There are bills to pay, kids to raise and everyday crises that keep us awake at night. But we all know by now that “life is what happens while we’re making other plans”

I find solace in the fact that nowadays I can capture a memory as quick as a wink with my camera. I am keeping careful track of these photographic memories, and I hope that in the future my children and grandchildren will be able to look at them, and maybe have it trigger a pleasant memory.

I wish I had more photos of my parents and grandparents from my childhood, because my memory is often like a soupy fog. The ones I do have are more precious than gold to me, although I guess sometimes you wouldn’t know it from the way I store them. What we have now is certainly one boon of technology.

In All Things be Grateful

“In all things be grateful.”

I find that is a very sensible philosophy, don’t you?

Be grateful for this life, be grateful for each moment because as soon as one ticks, the next one is upon you…and soon our allotted moments here have ended.

I certainly realize I’ve been a little more sensitive to those ticks of the clock lately. Who wouldn’t be!?

After all, when I think back really far….

I can remember a time without even a television. Without air conditioners. I remember a time when walking from my house on eighth street to the triangle shopping center was an everyday thing. I remember Coke in bottles, with the city where it was bottled on the bottom.

I remember using cloth diapers on my kids, and then rewashing them and using them again. I remember the train coming into town at midnight, bringing a load of coal to fire the boilers at the mill, every night…

I remember writing all my school work with a pencil and lined paper from a wire back notebook. I remember when almost everything we ate came from our garden, even in the winter…with canned soup mix, and frozen veggies.

I remember having only three pairs of jeans for school, and five shirts…and one pair of dress pants and a white shirt for Sunday. I remember spending all afternoon on some weekends listening to vinyl records on a little flip top record player.

I remember fishing in the river with a big old ball of earth worms for bait. I remember when the creek running into that river was a rainbow color of dyes…

I remember so much more. It’s funny how these memories always seem good, and happy…but that wasn’t always the case. When we old people long for those “good old days” our memory tends to be very selective.

Now, our good days are tomorrow…and the day after.

Be grateful for what you have. Be grateful for your life and the good day ahead of you.

Most days it is more than enough to see us through.

Tom Paine

SUNDAY JULY 14, 2019

James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Jesus Goes Up Alone onto a Mountain to Pray, 1886−94.

On May 12, 1797, while living in Paris, France Tom Paine wrote the following letter to a Christian friend who was trying to convert Paine to Christianity. Paine’s response fits perfectly with this page regarding the origins of the Bible.

“In your letter of the twentieth of March, you give me several quotations from the Bible, which you call the Word of God, to show me that my opinions on religion are wrong, and I could give you as many, from the same book to show that yours are not right; consequently, then, the Bible decides nothing, because it decides any way, and every way, one chooses to make it.

But by what authority do you call the Bible the Word of God? for this is the first point to be settled. It is not your calling it so that makes it so, any more than the Mahometans calling the Koran the Word of God makes the Koran be so. The Popish Councils of Nice and Laodicea, about 350 years after the time the person called Jesus Christ is said to have lived, voted the books that now compose what is called the New Testament to be the Word of God. This was done by yeas and nays, as we now vote a law.

The Pharisees of the second temple, after the Jews returned from captivity in Babylon, did the same by the books that now compose the Old Testament, and this is all the authority there is, which to me is no authority at all. I am as capable of judging for myself as they were, and I think more so, because, as they made a living by their religion, they had a self-interest in the vote they gave.

You may have an opinion that a man is inspired, but you cannot prove it, nor can you have any proof of it yourself, because you cannot see into his mind in order to know how he comes by his thoughts; and the same is the case with the word revelation. There can be no evidence of such a thing, for you can no more prove revelation than you can prove what another man dreams of, neither can he prove it himself.

It is often said in the Bible that God spake unto Moses, but how do you know that God spake unto Moses? Because, you will say, the Bible says so. The Koran says, that God spake unto Mahomet, do you believe that too? No.

Why not? Because you will say, you do not believe it; and so because you do, and because you don’t is all the reason you can give for believing or disbelieving except that you will say that Mahomet was an impostor. And how do you know Moses was not an impostor?

For my own part, I believe that all are impostors who pretend to hold verbal communication with the Deity. It is the way by which the world has been imposed upon; but if you think otherwise you have the same right to your opinion that I have to mine, and must answer for it in the same manner. But all this does not settle the point, whether the Bible be the Word of God, or not. It is, therefore, necessary to go a step further. The case then is: –

You form your opinion of God from the account given of Him in the Bible, and I form my opinion of the Bible from the wisdom and goodness of God manifested in the structure of the universe, and in all works of creation. The result in these two cases will be, that you, by taking the Bible for your standard, will have a bad opinion of God; and I, by taking God for my standard, shall have a bad opinion of the Bible.

The Bible represents God to be a changeable, passionate, vindictive being; making a world and then drowning it, afterward repenting of what he had done, and promising not to do so again. Setting one nation to cut the throats of another, and stopping the course of the sun until the butchery should be done. But the works of God in the creation preach to us another doctrine. In that vast volume, we see nothing to give us the idea of a changeable, passionate, vindictive God; everything we there behold impresses us with a contrary idea – that of unchangeableness and of eternal order, harmony, and goodness.

The sun and the seasons return at their appointed time, and everything in the creation claims that God is unchangeable. Now, which am I to believe, a book that any impostor might make and call the Word of God, or the creation itself which none but an Almighty Power could make? For the Bible says one thing, and the creation says the contrary. The Bible represents God with all the passions of a mortal, and the creation proclaims him with all the attributes of a God.

It is from the Bible that man has learned cruelty, rapine, and murder; for the belief of a cruel God makes a cruel man. That bloodthirsty man, called the prophet Samuel, makes God to say, (I Sam. xv. 3) ‘Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not, but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.’

That Samuel or some other impostor might say this, is what, at this distance of time, can neither be proved nor disproved, but in my opinion, it is blasphemy to say or to believe, that God said it. All our ideas of the justice and goodness of God revolt at the impious cruelty of the Bible. It is not a God, just and good, but a devil, under the name of God, that the Bible describes.

What makes this pretended order to destroy the Amalekites appear the worse, is the reason given for it. The Amalekites, four hundred years before, according to the account in Exodus xvii. (but which has the appearance of fable from the magical account it gives of Moses holding up his hands), had opposed the Israelites coming into their country, and this the Amalekites had a right to do, because the Israelites were the invaders, as the Spaniards were the invaders of Mexico. This opposition by the Amalekites, at that time, is given as a reason, that the men, women, infants and sucklings, sheep and oxen, camels and asses, that were born four hundred years afterward, should be put to death; and to complete the horror, Samuel hewed Agag, the chief of the Amalekites, in pieces, as you would hew a stick of wood. I will bestow a few observations on this case.

In the first place, nobody knows who the author, or writer, of the book of Samuel, was, and, therefore, the fact itself has no other proof than anonymous or hearsay evidence, which is no evidence at all. In the second place, this anonymous book says, that this slaughter was done by the express command of God: but all our ideas of the justice and goodness of God give the lie to the book, and as I never will believe any book that ascribes cruelty and injustice to God, I, therefore, reject the Bible as unworthy of credit.

As I have now given you my reasons for believing that the Bible is not the Word of God, that it is a falsehood, I have a right to ask you your reasons for believing the contrary; but I know you can give me none, except that you were educated to believe the Bible; and as the Turks give the same reason for believing the Koran, it is evident that education makes all the difference, and that reason and truth have nothing to do in the case.

You believe in the Bible from the accident of birth, and the Turks believe in the Koran from the same accident, and each calls the other infidel. But leaving the prejudice of education out of the case, the unprejudiced truth is, that all are infidels who believe falsely of God, whether they draw their creed from the Bible, or from the Koran, from the Old Testament, or from the New.

When you have examined the Bible with great attention I have and permit yourself to have just ideas of God, you will most probably believe as I do. But I wish you to know that this answer to your letter is not written for the purpose of changing your opinion. It is written to satisfy you, and some other friends whom I esteem, that my disbelief of the Bible is founded on a pure and religious belief in God; for, in my opinion, the Bible is a gross libel against the justice and goodness of God, in almost every part of it. Main source Richard Carrier and Raphael Lataster.————–bp

Tired Old Man-2014

The old man staring back at me from my bathroom mirror tonight was intrigued by what he saw, but not surprised. A mere ghost of the one who stood in that same spot when we move here in 1987. An even more pale and fading shadow of the man who moved back to this city, this home town, in 1974.

I’ve tracked the steps I have walked since October of last year…over 600 miles. I shudder to even think of the miles I have stepped since 1974. The pounds I carried loading tractor trailer loads of mattresses by myself in the 100 degree heat of the summers of 80’s. Ten hour days building sewing and bagging them in the mid 80’s. On to better jobs from the late 80’s on, for the most part. Except the last 10 years of interminable long hours and super stress. I know we all have done the same though. I don’t claim to hold the patent on hard work and stress. Although it has taken it’s toll from what that old man in the mirror tells me. He’s always tired, and often grouchy. Ashamed. Always just on the razor edge of being somebody, but never quite cutting it. Now he’s wore out. Can’t stand the summer heat, with the ailments of old age and a worn out body his only personal legacy.

Wispy, baggy eyed, and faded as a 12 year old pair of Levi’s.

It’s always good to be able to still function in some capacity, however. But I’ve gotten my reminders lately about being too cavalier with my activities.

As long as I can put one foot in front of the other I’ll keep on going until I can’t get up one of these days. And in the meantime I’ll just quit looking in the mirror. And go to sleep and rest up for tomorrow.

Listening to JC

It doesn’t matter which JC you listen to, both had great advice….regardless of whether or not it is “Love your neighbor as yourself” or “Always let you conscience be your guide”

The Voice

There is that voice which is there all time in my head. He has been there ever since I can remember. He was the one who told me back in the fall of 1953 when I was almost 4 years old to ride my tricycle down the front steps on my house. A busted forehead and several stitches later the voice told me we would never, ever do that again.

He sings constantly to me, in any style. I can have a country song by Johnny Cash followed by Imagine Dragons singing “Demons” At times he scares me with my personal demons, but at other times he soothes me with sweet poetry. He will be with me until my last breath.

I have read a lot about this… “Inner voice” our internal narrator, our personal monologue which I think….at least from conversations which I have had with others… I think we all have going on constantly in our head. I know all about my guy. I know what to expect from him most of the time. He comes up with some weird things, some good things, and some thoughts which are verbalized which I would never consciously say to another human being. He says some very rude and vulgar things. He also comes up with some tender and moving soliloquies. I hear him just as if he were another person speaking to me. It is never like an invisible or hidden voice, but always speaking directly to me just as another person would. I don’t know how other people hear their inner selves, I really do not know if everyone even has an internal voice.

I’ve heard some people say that our internal voice comes from the way our parents and those around us speak to us as babies and early toddlers. I’m not so sure I accept that theory. I just cannot hear my parents or any other relatives I knew as a baby or child in my monologue. I also can’t accept that people like John Wayne Gacy , or Jeffrey Dahmer had normal inner voices which came from their early associations. I would have really, truly have hated to be inside their head, listening to what was being said. I think their voice must have been riddled with hallucinations, or nightmares.

On the opposite end of the spectrum I would have loved to have heard some of what Leonardo da Vinci, or Albert Einstein had to say to themselves…maybe. I can imagine their inner voices having a sort of discourse, bouncing ideas off of their own walls in order to make discoveries of new things. One cannot imagine what might be going on in the mind of the genius.

Jiminy Cricket would have called our inner voice our “conscience” In Zen, they would think of it as “Nen nen ju shin ki” which means something like “Thought following thought.” I personally think of it as my heart.

Whenever my inner voice speaks to me of any deep emotions it always comes from the heart. I have never had a headache from something bad happening, but always have the feeling come welling up from the center of my chest. My tears start in my heart.

When my voice tells me to be happy, I have never had my head spin. My joy starts in my heart, and radiates out into the rest of my body.

My inner voice comes from my heart and tells me the things no one else would or could tell me. I’d sure hate to lose him because he’s my oldest and closest companion.