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You Herd It Here First.

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Life is hard.

Very hard.

Even for the most fortunate among us, it… is… hard.

For the “most fortunate” of us…all the money, all the opportunities…earned or given…, all the hard work, breaks, intelligence, first chances and second chances, windfalls and blind-stupid-stupid luck that any one person might have…life is still hard.

I believe that.

Having all of those things even in spades does not make a person immune from sadness, anger, heartbreak, loss, death, tragedy, mistakes…or regret.  Maybe it helps sometimes, but it doesn’t make them immune.

I am not one of the “most fortunate” among us.  And neither are most people I know.  I consider myself  and my circle to be in the “very fortunate” category.  We are fortunate, but not excessively fortunate in terms of worldy things….we are comfortable.  We have enough of what is considered “good”, enough so that our families can live well; not “want” for anything we need, and usually not want for anything we want.

We have homes.  We have food.  We have employment.  We have a good education.  We have doctors.  We have friends.  We have love.  We have opportunities afforded to us through our own hard work, and sometimes given to us through the most fortunate or equally fortunate network of people we meet while living our lives.  These things give us comfort while we try very hard to deal with and endure the hardships that are simply a part of being  –  human.  And so we are comfortable.

But I wonder often, very often, what it would be like to be one of the “least fortunate” among us.

We all know what poverty is, but have you actually seen it with your own eyes?  Known anyone who… has lived in it, or tried in vain to move past it, or begged-borrowed-and-stolen to break free of it? 

We all know what bad-luck means, but have you actually known anyone who… has suffered through seemingly unending streaks of it? 

We all know what a lack of an education means, but are you friends with or personally involved with anyone who… has received a very bad one, or very little, or none at all? 

We all know what a job is, but do you know anyone who… has lost one and cannot find another to support his family, or who despite their best efforts is unable to keep one, or who is not qualified to earn one, or who has never seen an example of a respectable one?

We all know what a home is, but do you know anyone who… lives transiently, or lives in a shelter, or finds shelter on the street, or simply “exists” nowhere at all?

We all know what food is, but do you know anyone who… doesn’t have the means to buy it, or grow it, or must beg for it, or who is hungry as a permanent state-of-being?

We all know what health care means, but do you know anyone young or old who…has no means with which to see a doctor, or receive check-ups, or pay for the simplest of medicines? 

We all know what love means, but do you know anyone who… has repeatedly lost it or who never had it to begin with or has been betrayed by it to the point that they essentially can’t conceive of or remember what it means…at all?

Do you know anyone in your life for whom the answer to all of these questions is………… “yes”?

I don’t.

Now let me ask you this:  do you think about those real, flesh-and-blood human beings?  Do you think about them?  Have you ever tried to empathize with what it would feel like to answer “yes” to just one…one…of those questions?  What about two of them?  Three??

I do.

And I’d like to think the majority of people do.  To what degree our empathy shapes our beliefs and actions varies, of course, due to our own personal circumstances.  But your average, every-day, healthy cynicism aside…I think most of us as individuals, when asked to picture walking a mile in the shoes of the least fortunate, feel compassion.  I believe it truly pains the overwhelming majority of us to see other human beings in anguish, desperation and need.  I believe that to be true, literally…for nearly every single person.

I believe that one-on-one, human beings have an instinctual desire to do right by each other.  To literally care for one another and act on it in ways that are measurable.  And I believe that one-on-one, there is no enemy in the person in need – and no enemy in the person who wants for nothing.

Imagine you’re on a street, alone.  Save for one other person…you know the one…the one for whom all the answers to those questions is “yes”.  It’s you and him and the lamp-post.  No matter your political affiliation, race, creed, upbringing, social standing…I truly believe that no matter who you are it would be nearly impossible to fight against your instinct to see that person as a human being who needs help.  And your gut tells you to do just that – help.  Care.

But oh my God…how is it that our innate desire to truly “take care” gets so unbelievably screwed-up when we amass as collectives?

Why does that happen?

Some say The Rapture is coming.  On May 21, 2011 to be exact. The day that God will literally call up the “believing” and “worthy” of us…and leave the rest of us sorry-bastards here to fend for ourselves against the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse…something like that.

But I don’t know.  Something about that smells a little fishy.  Soooo… God will call to Heaven the “individuals” who He deems righteous enough to warrant it?  Seems simple enough, albeit very time-consuming.  But will God judge us on our merits as an individual?  Or, rather, will he judge us on our merits as a collective?  Very often, these two things do not mesh.  There is the individual.  And then there is….the herd.

Herd Mentality:  The inability or refusal to listen to one’s own instinct or ‘gut feeling’ but to instead follow the majority for fear of being wrong, ostracized or ridiculed.

I believe in God.  I can’t say I haven’t gone through my rough-patches with Him…if “rough patch” includes not believing in him at all at different points in my life (cymbal crash…”Don’t forget to tip your waitress on the way out!”)…..

But seriously folks, I do believe in God.  I also believe that he surely isn’t fooled by the fair-weather philanthropist who gives at the office, but who throws up a little in his mouth at the very thought of supporting the people who answer “yes to all of the above” in any meaningful, long-term, societal way.  His gut might tell him what’s-what, what is right and true and good.  So he appeases that gut with his generous contribution as an individual.  What though, does that philanthropist support as part of his “herd”?

Does his herd frown upon the downtrodden, the weak, the strong-but-unlucky, the indigent, the poor?  Or does his herd put forth into the world the same amount of compassion stirring in his gut?

All I’m saying is that I believe God is efficient.  Come The Rapture, I’m thinking he will look at the the herds as opposed to the individuals.  Courage and convictions are only truly righteous when what you feel in your soul is made known to the world, regardless of the consequences of what others may think.

In my humble opinion.

If you think this is all a thinly veiled cautionary metaphor of  political malpractice regarding oh say, something like the Tea Party….come on.  ((laughing, snorting))… That is only a coincidence.

Ugh.  That’s not true.  It’s not true at all.  I’m lying.  I’m sorry.  I’m sorry!

Trying…..to keep…..it inside………..

I THINK MAYBE GOD MIGHT SUCK THE ENTIRE “TEA PARTY” UP

WITH A VACUUM CLEANER ON

MAY 21st!!!!

((Exhale, exhale…..whew)).  There, I’ve said it.  I know.  It wasn’t very nice.  I am sorry.  I just had to say it.  It’s been trying to BUST outta me for a week now…..lemme catch my breath.  Hold…on…..hold….on….

Okay.  Again, I’m so sorry.

I’m hoping that God has a sense of humor.  Or at the very least appreciates lame attempts at it.  Or at the very, VERY least, you know, maybe likes the Lib-herd a little and I’ll be able to blog to you come Sunday.

Then again…..I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t push my luck right now.

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What the…?!?!

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So I get one of those e-mails sent to me by a very conservative relative, someone I really love and respect.  But you know the e-mail I’m talking about…”I Vote Democrat Because”…and then an onslaught of ridiculously implausible and stereotypical declarations follow, all designed to really get-my-goat.  Goat gotten.  Feta being churned as we speak.

Yeah, one of those.  I’ve blown those damn things off so many times that I’ve created my own weather pattern.  Not today.  Not the day after the revelation of  THE LONG FORM BIRTH CERTIFICATE.  No.  Couldn’t blow.  I’m a proud Lib. I retorted with my own not-so-implausible-not-so-stereotypical declarations of my own.  See us Libs, well, I tend to think our beliefs – flawed as they may be – come from a little bit of a “better place”.  Possibly from that place of “moral superiority” that our detractors are always talking about.  My point is, I’m not above taking it as long as I can dish it out.

I wrote this on the fly today and e-mailed it out.  I can’t account for 100% accuracy in my assertions.  Again, you know us Libs…we’re so, so…emotional.

TOP 12 REASONS…WHY I VOTE REPUBLICAN:

1. I voted Republican because I drink the kool-aid and believe that the oil companies raking in billions in profits in the worst economy since the Great Depression is a coincidence and has nothing to do with my party’s allegiance to big oil’s lobby.

2. I voted Republican because I believe that in an enlightened democracy, the greatest the Earth has ever known, I shouldn’t have to give one red-cent to my government to help those in need or in desperate situations (job loss, too old to work and garner insurance through an employer that won’t hire them, etc) – just so long as “I’ve got mine”, and because I’m too smart and invincible to think I’ll every need the help of that government. But if I do need that help or safety net, it better f*&%ing-a well be there.

3. I voted Republican because Freedom of Speech is fine, as long as I can shout “Socialist/Marxist/Communist” and “You’re not an American!” at the top of my lungs toward anyone who doesn’t believe what I believe, without a shred of evidence to support those claims other than they don’t wear a flag pin or want ALL Americans to have a shot at basic healthcare and not have to rely on a private company hiring them in order for them to afford it…you know, stuff like that.

4. I voted Republican because semi-automatic and automatic weapons with the capacity to hold 20, 30+ round clips was EXACTLY what the Framers of the Constitution meant when they spoke of the right to bear arms, and any person who attempts to restrict my right to go anywhere I damn well please with a portable arsenal, is not only Anti-American, he’s an “appeaser”, a “coward” or a “hippie Liberal”. As a Republican, I have a divine knowledge of what the Founders meant by everything they wrote.

5. I voted Republican because I have a unique ability to deny what I can see before my eyes – that glaciers and polar icecaps melting couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the toxic spew we’ve been throwing into our air, Earth and water for generations. And as a Republican I have a unique ability to not-care about any visible evidence that our planet just might be in trouble from what humans are doing to it. AND, as a Republican, because the polar ice-caps melting doesn’t affect me directly, any even microscopic attempt to regulate pollution will only be seen by me as an attempt to harm the corporations who produce the waste – and that means that you are at the very least anti-Capatalist, and definitely a Socialist.

6. I voted Republican because I have the unique ability to refuse to accept or understand that a human embryo/fetus is encapsulated inside of a… woman… who by law has a CHOICE, not a mandate, to decide what is best for her own physicality or that of her embryo/fetus. Because I am a Republican and do not believe in “big government”…I know that what is RIGHT (and naturally “small government”) is to pass a law forcing my own religious and social beliefs on that woman and to FORCE her to give birth to a child against her will – regardless of how she became pregnant, whether or not she can care for a child, regardless of the health of her or that child in the womb or once it will be born…AND…once it’s born I know, as a Republican, that it’s not even a blip of a thought in my head as to the kind of life that child/mother will live. And I don’t care, because in this world you just pull up your bootstraps, never get sick because you can’t afford to, get a great college education and get a high-paying job. Remember, I’m a Republican….I don’t believe in “big government”.

7. I voted Republican because I think anyone who is foreign is scary and I know that they are after what is “mine”. I only see things as black & white, and forget that by undeniable, stupid luck I was born on American soil and am therefore inherently just kind of, better, than people who weren’t. I have no real capacity to see illegal immigration, or even legal immigration, on a multitude of levels aside from just the “icky foreigner” one. I don’t have the capacity to see the human side of it. Well, that’s not true, I like Carlos a lot. He’s the illegal immigrant who cuts my lawn and who I pay in cash under the table, and Thank God, because well, that job is really beneath an American anyway.

8. I voted Republican because I believe the dogma that my party spews at me in that businesses should be treated as “people”… only really, really “special people”. So special, in fact, that they shouldn’t have to adhere to any sort of guidelines or restrictions or taxes of any kind that are in proportion to the profits they make. As a Republican I believe that every very wealthy business or person inherently pays their fair-share for the upkeep of our Republic and it’s populace simply by hiring people or pumping money into the economy…and so be it if the people they hire or the money they make and then pump out is into a foreign country. As a Republican I believe that the tax loopholes our lobbyists have created for the wealthy are uniquely American, and so is our right to make sure that we pay as little as possible to non-Americans for the work they hire them to do. I like “trickle-down economics” because trickle sounds like “tickle”, and who doesn’t like a good laugh?

9. I voted Republican because I believe that Conservative “activist” judges are perfectly within their rights to decide American Presidential elections, declare that corporations have the same rights as individual people, and hopefully overturn a law that currently guarantees choice for a pregnant woman and votes to make that same pregnant woman a criminal if she doesn’t forcibly give birth. Remember….small, non-intrusive government.

10. I voted Republican because I absolutely refuse to accept that oil is a finite, destructive resource and think that it’s better to drill, baby, drill as opposed to sinking that money into reliable, clean renewable energy. Because I’m Republican I look the other way when our party’s leaders “go to bed” with the “people who hate us” when it comes to oil. And I look the other way and scoff, naturally, when the hippie Democrats complain that drilling will completely wipe out entire species of living, breathing things on this planet, and ruin what little pristine land remains in our world…forever. Why drive a Prius when you can drive a Hummer? I’m sure that’s what the Founders would say.

11. I voted Republican because the words “hope and change” upset me a great deal. Living in America, what could we possibly hope for, or change, that would be any better than what we’ve already got? Why strive for anything better when right now, I’ve got what “I” need? It’s not about the Democrats’ moral-imperative to help others who have a very difficult time helping themselves, it’s about “hoping” those sorry people will just go away and “changing” nothing so long as I’m ok.

12. I voted Republican because I really actually LIKE my head up my ass. The view from in here really stinks, but it’s my stink…MINE….so I don’t mind it so much.  And there’s a flag-pin in here, which is nice.

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