Second Verse, Same As The First


The title of this post, “Second verse, same as the first,” is a line from the Herman’s Hermits song, Henry the Eighth. I’m going to continue talking about morality so this post is sort of like the last one, but not quite. I only got one “like” on yesterdays post, (thank you Rachel) so maybe morality isn’t a popular subject. If we think about morals, we start thinking about our own morals and that leads to taking a deeper look at ourselves. That, can be uncomfortable. As with all things, I try to take the uncomfortable along with the comfortable, the good with the bad, that sort of thing. It’s good to be balanced. You see so many things today, such as Facebook memes, TV, newspaper, and magazine ads about being happy. Buy this, eat that, consume this and you’ll be happy. The truth is, it’s not good for you to be happy all the time. A good balance of happy/sad, comfortable/uncomfortable, is healthier. The bad times help you appreciate the good times more. Being uncomfortable, especially with yourself, helps you grow as a person. If we don’t know we have a problem, how can we fix it?

So, back to morality. How can two people have completely different outlooks morally, on the same subject. The pacifist feels that war is completely unnecessary, the killing of others completely unacceptable. The war hawk believes that war is necessary and even good. To accomplish your goals, to get what you want, sometimes you have to kill some people. Sometimes even siblings have viewpoints that are that different. Born and raised by the same parents, under the same conditions and they still have moral outlooks that are miles apart. I’m not sure if it can be explained, and that is why the Philosophy of morals exists. To try and find answers.

My own moral viewpoint as to war is somewhere in between pacifist and not pacifist. When it comes to conflict I think all other avenues should be explored before going to war, and only going to war when it’s necessary to protect yourself and your country. Even then, war is still morally objectionable. That’s my feeling. How did I come by that? I’m not sure I know, but it’s how I feel.

One of the ways people find war/killing/mistreatment of others more acceptable is to demonize the “enemy.” Make them seem less than human. Call them savages, murderers, rapists, etc. White Americans did that to Native Americans. They did it to African American slaves. And even today, our own president does it to Mexicans and Central Americans. Gay people have been called sick and immoral, Muslims are all called terrorists. If you make your target seem “less than” it becomes easier to treat them badly. This is all part of morality. Convince yourself that some people are just evil and you can justify many things that maybe you normally wouldn’t. Morality is fluid. Our moral outlook fluctuates depending on a lot of criteria. While you wouldn’t think of taking a big stick and beating your neighbor who’s nice to you, that guy down the street who’s always playing loud music at midnight deserves a whacking. Fluid morality.

So why is morality fluid? It depends on how we feel. It depends on what we fear. One neighbor is nice to you, the other one isn’t. Does one deserve less than the other one? Or more? Why do we feel more compassion towards one than the other? We feel compassion for people who are starving because we feel they don’t deserve it. For a brutal murderer who gets life in prison we feel little compassion because after all, she killed someone. She deserves what she got. Fluid morality. Our feelings change with the situation. Is this a protection system built into our brains to protect us from what we fear? Does our moral code change with our feelings because our morality is our feelings?

These are questions I ponder. No wonder my mind is such a mess! This is the reason I write. To get all this stuff out of my head helps me think more clearly about it. I’m endlessly fascinated by the question of why people are the way they are. How they see good verses bad and why. And more importantly, how do we arrive at our moral values and what happens to change them? Fun stuff!

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Fear Is The Enemy

angry crowd
we are human
If you follow the news these days like I do, you undoubtedly have noticed a rise in racism, bigotry and hate in America. It seems to be coming from all facets of society from the common worker to the (so called) elite, and from our government, congress and one presidential candidate in particular. The problem that we face in combating racism, bigotry and such is the same as combating terrorism. These things are constructs. They are ideas, emotions. You can’t fight them. You can kill ISIS fighters in the war on terror but more will take their place. You can oppose hate with love but more hate will rise up. What is needed is to understand why there is racism, why there is hate. Racism, hate and bigotry are symptoms of other problems. Find the problem and find the cure. Sounds easy, right? If it were, we would already have it licked. But we don’t and it seems to be getting worse. People are becoming more comfortable with public displays of some of the worst feelings and emotions humans can come up with. But, why?

Our society is geared toward finding happiness. Advertising tells people to acquire more stuff to be happy. People have to have the latest phone, car or clothes. T.V. commercials tell you that you will be happy if you get the newest products. Or try the latest diet. Book store shelves are packed with self help books. All this stuff to improve our lives and make us happy, but is it working? No. It’s not.

We have become a nation of shamers and blamers. We shame people when we think they’ve done wrong and hand out blame like a free ham at Christmas. We thrive on division and demonize differences. What this does is create minority groups for people to verbally attack and look down upon and for radical individuals to go further with physical violence. But again, why? Why do we need to look down on others? Why do we need someone to hate? That is the real question. Simply enough, people are dissatisfied. They are simply unhappy. And most don’t know why. If you’ve ever listened to people gossip you quickly understand that they do it to put those they gossip about at a lower level than themselves. They do it to feel better. If I can believe that you are worse than me, that means that I’m not so bad. My life doesn’t suck nearly as bad as yours so I must be doing alright. We need someone to hate, to feel better about ourselves. These are the roots of racism, bigotry.

Yet again, the question is, why? Why can’t we feel better on our own without hurting others? Part of the problem that brings about racism, hatred and bigotry is fear. We are afraid. Of what? We are afraid of the unknown. We are afraid of people who have a different skin color than us. Of people who speak a different language. Who worship a different God, but why? Why are we not secure enough in ourselves to not be worried about others? What makes us fear other people? Two parts of this problem are media and government. They make money from fear. Fear fuels the Military Industrial Complex; the machine built by a combination of government and industry that makes and sell weapons for war and creates the conditions for war. If they keep us afraid, through media bombardment, expecting the next terrorist attack, then we won’t squawk about how much is spent for the military. We won’t complain when we invade another country because we’re “doing it to keep the world safe.” People are just plain scared. Scared of dying, of losing what we have, or what we think we have. So, differences are demonized and we fear them. Then our government tells us it will keep us safe with more government, more war, more weapons. The NRA tells us we need more guns. Why? Because, they make money off that. Gun manufacturers pour millions into the NRA to keep pushing guns. To keep shouting about the second amendment.

So fear means money for government, for weapons manufacturers, for insurance companies and banks. For the NRA and media. And when we are afraid, we are not secure. When we are not secure, we fear. And that’s when racism, bigotry and hatred rears its ugly head. When we fear something long enough we resent that thing for making us afraid. Resentment turns to hatred and hatred to racism and bigotry.

Religion is another component of the fear complex. Televangelists scream hatred for the LGBTQ community. They tell us that our only salvation is through their brand of religion. Other religions are false and should be feared. Atheism should be feared. What kind of person are you if you don’t believe in God? How can you have morals if God is not steering your ship? Send us your money, and we will pray for you. They have people believing things that have nothing to do with what that religion was originally based on. One of the ways in which religion does this is by getting you to stop thinking for yourself. If you put your faith in your church to figure things out for you, you stop thinking. When you stop thinking, you’ll believe anything they tell you.

So how do we stop the fear? That’s a question that’s hard to answer. It may be different for each person. One of the ways we can stop fearing other people is to realize that we are equal. Even though there are lots of skin colors, lots of languages, and lots of religious faiths, underneath all the trappings we are just human. We all have the same human qualities. The sexual orientation of another human may be different from yours but all that means simply is that that person is different than you. We have to realize that differences need not be feared. Gay people having the right to marry, means that they are being treated equally. Gay marriage will not ruin straight marriage any more than straight marriage will ruin gay marriage. People who have a different religious faith will not cause your faith to falter. Speaking another language is not wrong, it’s just different. That’s all. Just different, and different need not be feared.

Isolationism breeds fear. People that don’t have gay friends or relatives are often found to be afraid of, or bigoted toward gays. The same goes for skin color, language, religious faith, etc., etc. If you don’t know any Muslims then chances are, you know little about them. Fear of the unknown. In my work I have come to know a few Muslim people. I have found that they are warm and interesting people and they welcome questions about themselves and their faith. Muslim refugees in America have often gone through HELL before they were forced into refugee status and found themselves coming here. When they get here they find an unwelcoming people who fear them because they have been trained by the government and the media, church, etc. to believe that these people are all terrorists. Muslim refugee’s lives have been utterly destroyed by war in their home countries and they leave everything they have ever known to come here for a better life. And here they are faced with racism, bigotry and hate.

As a people, we need to change things. We need to stop the fear. We need to vote new people into public office who are not afraid of the status quo. Women and men who will look to the future as a better place than today is. We need to change the media. We need to stop accepting the lies they tell us to keep us hiding in our bedrooms. The Military Industrial Complex needs to taken apart and scrapped. We need to stop making money off of war and fear. There is no other way to do it than by grassroots movements. Black Lives Matter, is one such movement. They bring attention to the fact that since our country’s inception, black lives have not mattered. The Gay pride movement is another. People need to understand that different is not wrong. Different is just different and need not be feared. We need to stand up to the way things are and believe that they can be better. We need to know that individuals can and should make a difference. How about if we start right now?

And The Killing Continues

dead bodies
Killing each other seems to be the thing that humans turn to, to solve their problems. Americans tend to see the U.S. as a virtuous nation. A nation built on the premise that all people are created equal and all deserve a chance at the American dream, to wealth and health, freedom and security. And yet in reality, our nation was built on the killing of millions of Native Americans and on the slavery and killing of millions of Africans. We tend to overlook these things because they happened in the past, and we can’t change that after all. We look to the future and tell ourselves that we will make our country a better place. While making our country a better place is a virtuous thought, we’re really not doing that. Our country today has become a place of suspicion, fear and hatred. Maybe that doesn’t apply to your personal life, but overall it is what’s happening and it’s being fueled by our politicians and our media. A constant barrage of news about terrorism, and refugees and radical Islam awaits the TV watcher. The people running for president are a group of spiteful, hateful, fear mongering men and women who will have you believe that we should be killing Muslims and abortion doctors and gays. The question is, how did we get to this place?

People fear change. Not the kind you find in the bottom of your pocket but change as in, ‘things changing’. We cannot handle change very well, It makes us worry. It makes us fearful. We are creatures of habit. We like to know that our toothbrush is the second one from the end of the holder. We like our newspaper on time. We want our cup of coffee in the morning. We like to know that our job is the same as when we left it yesterday. We like sameness and habit. When these things are disrupted we worry. A lot of the problems we face today have been brought about by rapid change.

In the U.S. the majority race has been White for a very long time. Before that it was Native American, but killing millions of them took care of that problem. Up until the Industrial Revolution, things progressed rather slowly. And then progress took off like a rocket. White industrialists and scientists were mostly responsible for the changes. There are people of color who played important roles but mostly it was White people. The changes benefited everyone but as Whites were the majority, they reaped the most from it. And the changes were acceptable because they were good changes. Industry meant money. It meant progress and growth which meant more money. It meant families like the Rockefeller’s would become billionaires, and the American Dream was born.

What made White people comfortable with these changes was being in charge. They ran everything and made the rules. Men married women and women stayed home and raised the kids, cooked the meals and if you believe the advertising, they adored their husbands. White people married White people and Black people married Black people. White people were in charge and felt a sense of entitlement, a sense of belonging. Even if you lived in a broken down shack in the poorest county in Arkansas, you were still White and this was a White country, and White people were in charge. I should rephrase that by saying, White Men were in charge.

And things stayed this way until the late 1950’s. Rock ‘n’ Roll music, born out of American Black Blues music started to get popular. The Vietnam War began in the late 50’s. The Pill was introduced to America in 1960. The Hippie generation followed with it’s message of peace and love and Pot and Acid and parents thought their children were going crazy. Never before had Americans acted in the ways they were acting then. Women suddenly had a choice about getting pregnant. Teens were rejecting the society that their parents had built. Of course teens grow up and society mellowed somewhat but these changes simmered in the background. The rights of people of color started to be a conversation and White people were still in charge. A lot has happened in the years to follow that writing about would make this article very long. So I’m going to skip to today.
Donald Trump
Here we are at the end of 2015. As Jimmy Buffett once said, “If I knew I would live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” Today we have White politicians (except for one) spewing hatred for anyone who isn’t them. They want to “Take back their country.” Which in political speak means they want to go back to the place where White men were in charge and women and Blacks knew their place. And they want a Christian country. Although most people do not adhere to what Christianity was meant to be, it is their rallying cry. They don’t understand “Black Lives Matter,” they don’t understand Gay marriage rights and they don’t understand why a women would want the right to make her own health care choices. All these things scare the hell out of White people who are in charge because it means they just might be losing their grip. It is projected that by 2040, the White race may not be the majority any longer.

And now we have mass shootings. (back to the killing) According to Mother Jones magazine, 64% of mass shootings have been carried out by White men almost exclusively. And they have been middle class or affluent Christian Americans. This form of terrorism is on the rise. So is this a symptom of White men feeling their reign of power slipping away? Statistics show that Christianity is on the decline. If you listen to Christian preachers today you will find they are getting more radical all the time. The more decline, the harder they will fight to hang on. Is that what’s happening with these mass shooting? Are white men seeing the end coming and fighting hard to resist it? Even if White people won’t admit it, we know how horrible we have treated people of color and to someday be the minority must really be a nightmare for some.

So what are the answers? How do we come to understand that killing people won’t solve our problems? Our government certainly doesn’t understand this because it actively promotes killing throughout the world. We need to think about this. It needs to be on our minds.

A Footnote Of History

Israeli wall 2
The wall and razor wire keeps them in
as it keeps the others out.
As kings of old, they trap
themselves inside,
their world becomes smaller.
Destruction they reign,
suffering they pledge.
1948, their rallying cry: We are!
Their death has been slow
they do not see.
Their determination to be, at
the expense of others
will choke them on their own blood.
Time. Time is the enemy.
As they slowly wither
the world watches. And waits.
The words are whispered, shouted.
Those who wish to destroy
will be destroyed.
Not by others,
but by their own hand.
Hate seeps into your veins
and becomes you.
They will not withstand it.
A footnote of history:
They were.

The Sword Of Freedom

bloody sword
As hands are brushed together, dead bodies fall like dust
and a girl in a dress called freedom whirls and twirls
but makes no sound but the sound of a mothers cry.

With the constitution in one hand and a bible in the other,
flames suddenly leap and turn them to ash and
they blow away on the wind called justice.

Crowds leave the synagogue, cathedral and mosque and file
into the furnace while factories make more furnaces
and governments send more children to burn.

The minds eye is blind and feeling it’s way to find
emptiness and sorrow where love once lived.
Time turns backward to other wars with the same stench.

Liberty’s crack grows wider and the clapper has
disappeared to be replaced by the
sword of freedom, and a mother cries again.

And do we watch with hands folded in laps and on
our knees pray to a god who doesn’t listen? And do
we tell our children that this is righteousness?

As our world disappears in flame and ash do
we wish we had done the right thing? Do we say the
words that will set all to right, or collect our pay?

As the wars rage on and refugees muliply we go to our
jobs with blinders in place and plugs in our ears and
pretend we do not see the girl dancing. And bleeding.

And as she falls to the ground her wounds ooze into
the sand and she reaches out to be picked up but
we turn away, not wanting to get our clothes dirty.

With clean hands and clothes some walk away, but
some stoop to carry away the hurt and their
voices are being heard. Quietly now, but getting louder.

The Sword Of Freedom

As hands are brushed together, dead bodies fall like dust
and a girl in a dress called freedom whirls and twirls
but makes no sound but the sound of a mothers cry.

With the constitution in one hand and a bible in the other,
flames suddenly leap and turn them to ash and they blow
away on the wind called justice, replaced by money.

Crowds leave the synagogue, cathedral and mosque and file
into the furnace while factories make more furnaces
and governments send more children to bleed.

The minds eye is blind and feeling it’s way to find
emptiness and sorrow where love once lived.
Time turns backward to other wars with the same stench.

Liberty’s crack grows wider and the clapper has
disappeared to be replaced with the sword of freedom.
(or was it a dress) and a mother cries again.

And do we watch with hands folded in laps and on
our knees pray to a god who doesn’t listen? And do
we tell our children that this is righteousness?

As our world disappears in flame and ash do
we wish we had done the right thing? Do we say the
words that will set all to right, or collect our pay?

As the wars rage on and bodies pile high we go to our
jobs with blinders in place and plugs in our ears and
pretend we do not see the girl dancing. And bleeding.

And as she falls to the ground her wounds ooze into
the sand and she reaches out to be picked up but
we turn away, not wanting to get our clothes dirty.

With ash covered hands and filthy clothes some walk
away but some stoop to carry away the hurt and their
voices are being heard. Quietly now but getting louder.

Baseball Scores

As Americans sit in front of television sets
watching talking heads tally deaths like baseball
scores, vultures chase doves from olive branches.

And the olive trees burn.

Through the flames the vultures wait. Another dove
is consumed and they descend. Pecking out
it’s eyes they eat greedily. Bellies distended.
Who will be left to enjoy a life made
of blood and fire?

And who but eagles could stop them?
But the eagles have strings tied to their wings.
The puppet master demands obedience, pulls the
strings and the eagles dance. They dance for fear.
Fear that their position of power will be taken.
Fear that their influence and money
will be gone.

They have no shame. Their drug of choice is
dangled in front of them like cheese on a
mousetrap. Dance little eagles, dance.
Where is your jesus? What would he say?
Where is your soul? In the talons
of a vulture.

Eagles deaths are as meaningless as doves
to vultures. It’s all the same. Carrion is carrion.
Death is death, where ever it’s found.
Turn on the TV. The talking heads have more
scores.

A Poem For Gaza

Jagged metal falls from the sky
smoke and fear and death
a mothers love escapes into the air.
Six million Jews died
preparing the way for the
ones who followed to become
the ones who killed them.
They die over and over again.
The graves are empty their
souls are lost. They die
over and over again.
Running in the streets
sirens and screams
and laughter from the hilltop.
Laughter resounding around
the world. And we watch
and do laundry and buy
tickets for the game.
And we pay for their death
so happy we are safe and warm.
And the six million die again.
Voices of the dead call out
call out injustice asking is
this what we suffered for?
Is this what the gas chambers
meant? Is this what we have achieved?
Did we not die for you so
you could live? Was it
all for nothing?
Where is the day when
we all stand together?
Where is the day when laughter
is for everyone?
Jagged metal falls from the sky
and the six million die again.

Perspective

My friend Bill sent me an email today. This is it: “According to activist Naz Hendrix of Cape Town, from 2000-2008 In Israel more people died from peanut allergies than Hamas rocket fire.” Now Israel tells the world that it needs it’s apartheid walls, razor wire, checkpoints and military guards around Palestine to protect itself from terrorist acts by Palestinians. And yet terrorizing Palestinians by shooting at them and killing children is okay? If Israel needs all this to protect itself against children how will they ever be safe around peanuts? I think it’s time that the world comes together and eradicates the peanut menace from Israel once and for all. I mean for god sake people, peanuts are worse than Palestinians? How did this escape Rupert Murdock’s NewsCorp? Where is Fox News?

Not only did Israel choose to make it’s country right in the middle of someone else’s country, and not understand why Palestine didn’t like that, but now they are being attacked from within Israel itself. By Peanuts! Who knew? Who knew that peanuts could be more deadly than Hamas rockets? What kind of defenses will Israel build to protect themselves from this new menace? Will there be a propaganda campaign? “Save yourselves from Nuts.” Or, “Peanuts are deadly to Israelis, shoot on site.” Or how about, “Forget the Palestinians, It’s the Nuts that will kill us.”

All kidding aside, if you are reading this post, take some time to really look at the situation in Palestine. Israel has controlled and occupied Palestine for more than sixty years. The people of Palestine just want to be free. They go without food, and electricity. They go without basic things that you and I take for granted because Israel controls everything that goes into or comes out of Palestine. This is not right and it needs to stop. People should not have to live this way and the U.S. government should not be supporting it. Our government gives Israel millions of taxpayer dollars everyday which is used to oppress the Palestinian people. The powerful political arm of Israel is the lobby called AIPAC. They coerce American politicians into supporting Israel by threatening to ruin them politically if they don’t. Israel holds the leash of American government. So how do we change things? Boycott Israel. Don’t buy Israeli goods. Lobby your congress in your state and the Feds to divest from Israel and stop supporting them militarily. Join groups, give money or protest. Every thing you can do helps, no matter how small. No people should have to live as prisoners in their own country. Ever. I know, Lets throw peanuts at them.

The Killing Machine

tanks, war

The killing machine eats the bodies of the young men
and women whose ideals brought them to the front lines.
Gnashing its teeth, it grinds flesh and bone into
meal to feed the dogs of war.

Bullets, bombs and chemicals, are its inner workings.
What better way for the machine to survive than to give
the enemy what it desires and then kill them for having it.
The headlines list the body count and the horrible ways they die.

To do good is its guise, support democracy, set people free.
But it cares for nothing but money and power
and strives only for its survival, wearing death like a
expensive suit and spreading its lies like the finest honey.

And the dogs of war howl for more, always hunting, always hungry,
waiting, to start the machine and send it to a new country where
people need to be free. And there, its democracy will spread,
and the men and women of the front lines will die once more.