Sunday, August 30, 2015

Enough About Me. What do YOU Think About Me?

So, here's the real question: Why do we think we are invincible?

This is part three of a three-part series that focuses on the selfishness so prevalent in the human condition. (Please see "Down in Front!" and "The Invincibles".) My question is, why DO we think ourselves invincible?

(I'm going to refer to the bible in this article. Just so those who haven't been reading my blog regularly are aware, I've recently finished a sabbatical. During the sabbatical I had come to the personal conclusion that the bible is not THE word of God, but contains the word of God, and therefore should be treated more like a guide book than law.)

The bible mentions that God has placed "eternity in our hearts" (Ecclesiastes 3:1). What does that mean? We all have this concept of existence, and we have no concept of "not". Let me put it this way: have you ever contemplated what it would mean to NOT exist? To have no consciousness? "But J.P., that happens every time I go to sleep." Actually, you still have a form of consciousness, most commonly known as "unconscious". Unconscious is to be "under conscious" - below that of full consciousness - not without conscious. During sleep we even dream (whether or not you remember them).

You cannot NOT exist in your mind. You cannot recall existence before you were aware of it, nor can you comprehend the concept of not existing. Atheists may claim that we cease to exist upon death, but they themselves cannot comprehend not existing! It has been considered that those in comas are still aware of their environments, even though they are incapable of interacting with that environment.

I’m hitting 50 this year. The big 'ol half a century. But to be honest, I don't see myself as aging. Why? Because I still look through the same port holes (my eyes - former Navy guy). I'm still surprised every time I see my nieces (amazing how they've grown!). Why? Because, I haven't changed. Oh, I can look in the mirror and see that the years have passed, but again, the bible mentions that it's like a man who looks in a mirror and after turning away quickly forgets what he saw (James 1:23, 24). Since we are always looking through our eyes, and not at ourselves WITH our eyes, we forget the changes that time has wrought. And I'm not even going to mention the grey hair that the dark towel collects when I trim my beard!

It is in this very method of viewing life through our eyes that emphasizes the selfishness we exhibit. The only existence is ours, and the only view that matters is ours. There is a concept that says we cannot consider more than about 150 people around us as "real". Outside of that, people become an incomprehensible entity. No more "real" than those on the screens of our favorite movie theater. We may feel "sorry" for those in crisis, but it is another thing entirely to be truly "empathetic" towards them.

And since life itself is viewed only through our own eyes, it is easy to disregard the hazards experienced by others as having any impact upon us. We are "invincible".

Now, you'll have to excuse me. I need to find my cane. My leg is bothering me again.

© Emittravel 2015

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Invincibles

(Note: As I type this blog, there is a red squiggly line under the title. That word does not exist. As a matter of fact, neither do those it describes.)

As a continuation of last week's blog post, I wanted look a little deeper into the concept that there isn't just one "Me" generation; that many people could be described in such a manner.

Last week I focused on those individuals who arrive late to a church service and make a "show" of their entrance. That mentality goes well beyond those sacred halls. There is a selfishness that goes beyond the "I'm more important than you", and rises (or falls?) to "I’m above that".

Let me explain. People think they are indestructible. Invincible. That no matter how much evidence to the contrary, they are immune to the hazards of life. It's one thing when that mentality only affects the individual, it is another entirely when it affects those around you - even putting them in danger.

There is the guy who stands outside of the funeral home to grab a quick cigarette break, while inside there is a casket with his father who died of emphysema. "My dad died from smoking, but that won't happen to me. I know I should quit, but . . . you know."

There is the lady who drives down the freeway with her head in her lap - checking her most recent Facebook activity, or reading that oh-so-important text message, or responding to one with those emoji's that are a matter of life-altering importance to the recipient - believing that if she doesn't hold up her phone no one will know.

I would like to refer you to a recent blog post from my darling wife that talks about those "morons" (my word, not hers) who would rather focus on that little 4.7" screen, than focus through that huge piece of glass in front of them. Please take a moment to read her post and click on the video she linked to at the end. It was watching that video that helped spawn these last two posts of mine.

Apparently, it doesn't matter how much evidence is presented, or laws are passed, people will still live like they are John Travolta in a bubble, protected from the hazards that affect only those "others". The American Lung Association used to show human lungs after years of smoking on their commercials. Didn't do a damn thing. You still see people huddled around their little embers, sucking ionized radiation into their lungs, with temperatures outside that are well below freezing. Smoking only hurts the "other guy". There are commercials (like the one my wife linked to in her blog post - don't forget to read it!) showing the hazards of the driver with more than driving on the mind. Or worse, driving like they've starred in every "The Fast and the Furious" movie.

I remember a bumper sticker once that said something similar to "Please don't risk my life by driving so you can arrive someplace three minutes faster."

© Emittravel 2015

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Down in Front!

Now that I've been attending church again (albeit, not all that frequently), I find I'm amazed at just how distracting people are. The pastor made a comment years ago that when this church started it was the perfect church . . . then the first people walked in (that was a joke - really!) One of the concessions that my wife and I agreed to was that she would attend with me (she was attending a local Catholic church while I was on my sabbatical), as long as I didn't "force" her to sit in the first row.

The first row. The dreaded, mostly empty, first row. A place I've been accustomed to planting my keister for many a year. I have never sat there with an air of "better than thou". I have sat there because I'm so easily distracted. Even back in school I'd sit in the front row. I'm the same with televisions. I actually hate dining in establishments with televisions on. Don't be surprised if I ever ask you to please turn yours off while visiting. I want to give you my undivided attention, and I'm just unable to do that with the damn thing on.

So, I'm accustomed to sitting in the front row. But now, we are in the fifth row from the front, sitting at the end of the row (I've been having a lot of on and off trouble with my knee/leg, and being able to stretch it out helps), and I find people are so annoying.

At this church, the service starts with about 20 minutes or so of (praise and worship) music, followed by a new visitor welcome, a meet and greet, the offering, and then the sermon. As I said, the service STARTS with about 20 minutes or so of music. The service doesn't start with the sermon. Do you hear me people who like to come in three-quarters of the way through the music?!? The music is part of the service. Those songs are not the trailers before the main feature. It's one thing to come in late to a movie and miss a couple of trailers. It is another thing entirely to come in after the main feature has started. I have rarely, if ever, seen anyone come in after the movie has begun. Why? Because nobody would come in late to a movie! So, why do people come in late for a church service?

I've written before about the purpose of the music at the beginning of a service. It is a time to prepare your heart and mind for God - to set aside your burdens and put yourself in a position to truly commune with Him. When people come in late, they disturb those at the end of the aisle - because they want those coveted middle seats - with "Hi!"s and "How are you!"s, taking people out of their spiritual "moment" and forcing them to give THEM attention.

(Being a couple of rows back, and being so easily distracted, I can't help but be pulled out of MY spiritual "moment" either!)

Listen! Why don't you get your ass up out of bed 15 minutes earlier so you get yourself all dolled up and get into your precious seat and not disturb other people who have come to church instead of the local golf course to commune with God. If you can't spare that extra 15 minutes of sleep, don't come in! Go and get your "slam" at the local Denny's instead.

We should get the ushers to close the doors once the service has started, and refuse to let anyone in!

Bruce Campbell, a.k.a. "the man!" in Spider-Man 2
Maybe it's just a part of the nondenominational/charismatic/Protestant mentality. I've never seen anyone ever come in late to a Catholic service. Oh, they've left early all right, just never came in late.

Or maybe if they served popcorn . . .

© Emittravel 2015

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Does the RNC WANT Me to Vote with the DNC?

Dear Republican National Committee (RNC),

I am writing to you as a registered Independent. My political leanings are as follows: I am fiscally conservative and socially liberal. This means that I'm okay with most social policies, as long as we are in the black financially and can afford them, and they are consistent with a small, Constitutional government. For most of my voting life, I have voted along with the Republican Party, mainly because they have espoused fiscal responsibility and limited government. But I have to wonder, are you doing everything in your power to get me to vote with the Democrat Party?

First off, the Republican party talks spending cuts and frugality, but its actions are opposite. I was so upset with President George W. "Compassionate Conservative" Bush. Do you know what I heard every time someone said "Compassionate Conservative"? LIBERAL! From what I remember, President Bush never met a spending bill he didn't like. Oh, he threatened to veto each one, but signed each into law. It wasn't until halfway through his second term before he finally did. Often I wanted to mail him a pen, since he never seemed to be able to find his own. Of course, why should I have been upset? After all, you DO know how successful a businessman he was before he became our President, don't you?

And don't get me started with Congress - especially when the Republicans had control!

At least with the Democrats, when they talk spending, they follow through with action. They are reliable if anything.

Secondly, we recently we had the GOP Primary Debate. As I write this, it is August. Why so early, RNC? Was it to give the media more time to skewer the candidates? The Democrats don't plan on theirs until October. Speaking of media, everybody knows that FOX News is in bed with the RNC, much like CNN is in bed with the DNC. Knowing this, why did you have only FOX News moderate? Was it to make sure only softballs would be tossed to the candidates? And were you honestly surprised that there would be a kerfuffle concerning Donald Trump and Megyn Kelly? The reason most people even tuned in was to watch Trump implode. And who placed him front and center anyways? Now you are trying to distance yourselves from him? C'mon! You know what happens if he decides to run as a third-party candidate: the conservative vote is split and you hand the election over to the Democrats.

I shouldn't be too surprised, after all, the RNC gave us John McCain as a candidate - the "conservative" who spends the majority of his time on the other side of the aisle. If you were so set on running a liberal, why didn't you try for Hillary Clinton?

Face it: the RNC never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. And this is one Independent who is seriously considering the opportunity to vote with the DNC.


18 Electoral Votes in Ohio

© Emittravel 2015

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Stuff My Brain Says #5

Speaking of the current debt/budget crisis: I find it rather ironic that the party that ran on "hope and change" hopes that nothing will change. Any cuts in spending have been labeled nothing short of criminal. What do they think CAN be changed if they sincerely hope for this nation to survive? And don't say "increase taxes on the rich": they've been spouting that for years - that's not change, that's a worn-out record!

(I just realized that many of my readers may not catch the "record" joke above. I need either newer jokes, or an older audience!)

© Emittravel 2011

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Stuff My Brain Says #74

I think I figured out why the United States government wants former CIA employee Edward Snowden, currently living in Russia (a.k.a. "asylum"), to stand trial. It's not that he (only) leaked classified government documents, or that he exposed the NSA's multiple global surveillance programs. I think that the most embarrassing thing that Mr. Snowden did was give credence to the aluminum-foil wearing conspiracy theorists. Before the leaks, the government could get on CNN or FOX, two very credible 24-hour news services (I'm sorry - I couldn't even WRITE that without smirking) and laugh off anything the paranoid "truthers" would say.

You know the old joke: It's not paranoia if they really ARE watching you.

© Emittravel 2015