Saturday, December 25, 2010

"The Atheist Christmas Carol"

While logic and reason may have prohibited me from believing in a supreme being; I have definitely known and experienced the power and the joy, of  both love and hope...

Lyrics by Vienna Teng

"It's the season of grace coming out of the void
Where a man is saved by a voice in the distance
It's the season of possible miracle cures
Where hope is currency and death is not the last unknown

Where time begins to fade
And age is welcome home

It's the season of eyes meeting over the noise
And holding fast with sharp realization
It's the season of cold making warmth a divine intervention
You are safe here you know now

Don't forget
Don't forget I love
I love
I love you

It's the season of scars and of wounds in the heart
Of feeling the full weight of our burdens

It's the season of bowing our heads in the wind
And knowing we are not alone in fear

Not alone in the dark"

Just Thinking   about Love and Hope

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Just Thinking about Faith and Christmas...

As I was attempting to exit the parking lot of my neighborhood Publix this afternoon.  I got stuck in stop and go holiday traffic.  When I noticed this middle-aged man walking slowly through the cars carrying a sign that read...

 "Alone, Broke and Homeless for the Holidays - Please Help". 

You gotta give this guy credit, I thought, cynically.  That's a pretty clever sign!  It strikes just the right chord of sentiment.  It's pity provoking and seasonally appropriate.  Not what you'd expect from the average drunk living under the Palmetto overpass.  So maybe he's an unemployed advertising executive, who's fallen victim to these hard economic times.  Either way, that sign should serve him well.

I don't usually pay these guys much mind.  But then again, traffic is seldom this heavy and I usually don't have to look at them for such a prolonged period of time.  It was Christmas Eve, after all, and unfortunately Publix shared the strip mall with both a Target and Best Buy.  So the place was a mob scene.

As I continued to observe the stranger.  I must admit, my heart began to soften.

Besides, this guy was different.  He wasn't even trying to make eye contact with me or anyone else , which is what they usually do.  You know how they try to stare you down with guilt, but not this guy.  He was looking straight ahead as he walked with a rather lost, blank expression on his face.  I also noticed that he was a gringo, a white guy, even whiter than me.  If that's possible.  He looked very unkempt with strawberry blond graying hair and beard.  A true rarity in my mostly Latin, upscale Miami, neighborhood. He didn't look like a wino or drug addict, but he did look down and out.  He just appeared to be sad and overwhelmed by life.

No one seemed to be paying any attention to him.  Usually I'll see at least one or two people give these guys a little something, but not this time.  This guy was being completely ignored and I was beginning to feel for him.

That didn't last long though, as I began to get more cynical again.  I noticed that his sign was in English. Perhaps some of these people may not even be able to read it.  His clever marketing technique is completely lost on this audience. Should've gone bilingual,  I chuckled to myself.

Then, wouldn't you know it, I realized he was slowly making his way towards my car.  That's when something really strange happened.  Instead of trying to avoid eye contact with him, which is what I usually do in these circumstances.  I found myself attempting to engage his gaze.  Yes it's true, I was actually trying to seek him out.  But he wasn't having it, his eyes remained unfocused as she slowly meandered forward.   He seemed to be oblivious to me and everyone else around him. No wonder it was so easy for people to ignore him, he was ignoring them! 

I don't know why and I don't know what came over me, but I suddenly felt the need to give him something. Was I being influenced by the ghost of Dickens Christmas Future and worried that one day this could be me?  Or was I just becoming a soft touch in my old age?  Whatever it was.  I found myself waving to get his attention but he didn't notice.

So I put a dollar bill in my hand as I leaned over and waved it out the passenger window at him, but he still didn't notice as he slowly past the right side of my vehicle.  I waved and yelled out the window even louder, but he ignored me.  Then some other guy began to yell, but the man kept walking.

Finally a young Latina, jumped out of her car and physically approached him. She stopped him and put a dollar bill directly into his hand.  The man looked down at the dollar.  He just stared at it motionless for a while.  Still not making eye contact with anyone, as he then began to cry.  Next thing I knew we were all getting out of our cars and rushing to give him money.  Not just dollar bills either, but all denominations.  As the man literally began to sob, some of us were so moved that we began to cry as well.

When I eventually got to drive home from this rather Surrealistic Miami Moment, I proceeded  to bask in the glow that one gets when they realize It's Better to Give Than Receive.

Unfortunately, the "Warm Fuzzies" quickly began to fade as the skeptic in me began to speculate.  Had I just been taken?  Were we all in fact, the victims of some kind of shrewd mass manipulation? 

The truth is, I don't know and I hate to admit this, but I'm not even sure I want to know.

Yes, I guess it's true, even agnostic atheists like me, sometimes feel the Need to Believe in Something.

So even if I can't put my Faith in some Invisible Guy in the Sky;

Maybe - Sometimes, I Can Choose to Believe in My Prominently Visible Fellowman.

Just Thinking

And Happy Holidays Everyone!

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Don't Ask Don't Tell Is Finally Repealed!

Credit: CBS/AP

It's been said that the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is the biggest civil rights victory in years. It’s an example of America finally living up to it's highest ideals of equality and fairness.

Young gay men and women will now have the "Opportunity" to openly serve in our nation's military.

A Long Overdue Civil Rights Victory for Sure!

The only question is, however, what happens if and when that "Opportunity" to serve becomes an "Obligation" to serve,  i.e. a Military Draft?

Will the young men and women who fought so hard for this victory still be celebrating?

Most young people today, do not know of, cannot conceive of and in many cases have never even heard of,  "A Compulsory Military Draft".  This at a time when reinstatement of the draft is more of a possibility than it has been in decades. 

Our volunteer army is already greatly overextended and having a hard time getting and keeping qualified recruits, while the world becomes more of a tinderbox with each passing day.  Whether it's the North/South Korea conflict, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the situation in Iran.  Not to mention Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen.  Etc. etc. etc.

Given the circumstances, can the day be that far away? 
When our Uncle Sam will once again say, Greetings...

And, By the Way,  That's Not a Request - That's an Order!

You Must and Will Serve, You Must and Will Fight,

You Must and Will Kill!

Even If It's in an Immoral, Unjustified War That You Do Not Believe In. 

Fight or Go to Jail!  -  Love It or Leave It, Baby!

Just Thinking Please feel free to comment below, ( just click on the word "Comments" if the panel is not open).

Monday, December 6, 2010

Life's a Funny Proposition!

Just Thinking About Life... 

On the season finale of Boardwalk Empire, HBO's brilliantly written new series.  They chose to close the show with an old turn-of-the-century tune by George M. Cohan.  It's a song that I first became familiar with back in the 1960s, when I was just a wee lad.  (as Cohan might've said)

When most people think of Cohan's music and lyrics;  They tend to remember the light hearted ditties like "Yankee Doodle Dandy". 

The serious being that I am however, always seemed to remember the insightful, darker and more somber songs.  Such as the poignant lyrics contained within the immortal tune...

Life's a funny proposition, after all  

"Did you ever sit and ponder,

Sit and wonder, sit and think,

Why we're here and what this life is all about?

It's a problem that has driven

Many brainy men to drink,

It's the weirdest thing they've tried to figure out.

About a thousand diff'rent theories

All the scientists can show,

But never yet have proved a reason why

With all we've thought

And all we're taught,

Why all we seem to know,

Is we're born, and live a while and then we die.

Refrain 1

Life's a very funny proposition after all,

Imagination, jealousy, hypocrisy and all.

Three meals a day, a whole lot to say;

When you haven't got the coin you're always in the way.

Ev'rybody's fighting as we wend our way along,

Ev'ry fellow claims the other fellow's in the wrong;

Hurried and worried until we're buried and there's no curtain call.

Life's a very funny proposition after all.

Verse 2

When all things are coming easy, and when luck is with a man,

Why then life to him is sunshine ev'rywhere;

Then the fates blow rather breezy and they quite upset a plan,

Then he'll cry that life's a burden hard to bear.

Though today may be a day of smiles, tomorrow's still in doubt,

And what brings me joy, may bring you care and woe;

We're born to die, but don't know why, or what it's all about,

And the more we try to learn the less we know.

Refrain 2

Life's a very funny proposition, you can bet,

And no one's ever solved the problem properly as yet.

Young for a day, then old and gray;

Like the rose that buds and blooms and fades and falls away,

Losing health to gain our wealth as through this dream we tour.

Ev'rything's a guess and nothing's absolutely sure;

Battles exciting and fates we're fighting until the curtain falls.

Life's a very funny proposition after all."

Just Thinking

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