**PLEASE NOTE** - I use no other social media and my comments are closed due to persistent harassment and impersonation by one individual - sorry :(

Friday, December 31, 2021

RIP, Betty White ...





 

... just 18 days before her 100th birthday, on the eve of the New Year :(


I was just reading about her birthday preparations and her advice, this morning!


And when the news came across, I literally yelled - "Oh no! Noooo! Nope, not Betty White too!  Now I'm SURE the world is ending!"  

;)


Not really, of course - but this has been one heck of a week, losing several people considered cultural and spiritual icons, just a few days apart, between Christmas and the dawn of a new year - it's kind of freaky, right? 


I mean, I'm sure it's coincidence and there's a well-documented "holiday rallying" that goes on, a sort of "I'm going to make it to Christmas or the New Year" mentality in the elderly and terminally ill -  and yet still, there sure were a lot this week, right?


It's sort of like, "Okay ... what ELSE is coming our way in 2022?" LOL


Probably nothing -  but I WILL say - as crazy as this sounds - or crazier than I normally may sound (lol) - I do feel like something is spiritually shifting, I've felt that way all week.  

As you can see from my prior posts around New Year's, I don't really get especially spiritual around New Year's - New Year's Day has always been just another day to me, nothing especially spiritual about it.

And yet I've had this feeling all week - which is what these more spiritual posts have been about.  

Maybe it's just for us, maybe global.  And I can't tell you whether it's good or bad change - maybe both - but  it feels like something is on its way, something different?


I'm in hopes it will be "The Year of The Great White Settle-the-F-Down" -  but that's not looking too good :)


(And by that, I do NOT mean named for Betty White, who was irrepressible - I mean less noble "whites" who get their "knickers in a knot" over self-induced, paranoid nonsense.)


So maybe it's all just wishful thinking ;)


Or maybe subconsciously - which I didn't realize consciously until this moment - I was aware this was the 10-year mark of the end of the Mayan Calendar. 

From what I understand/what I've read of the Mayan culture, the end of the Mayan Calendar in 2012 did NOT mean apocalypse - it meant the "great clock of time resets itself back to zero" - and even the Mayans themselves had no idea what that meant lol. 
 





You see, the reason the Mayan calendar is circular (much like a  rudimentary form of Einstein's theory), rather than linear, is the Mayans believe that history will repeat itself in cyclical fashion, broken down by "epochs" of time, with each epoch lasting for approximately 70 to 80 years. 

The end of each epoch is marked by a tumultuous transition period into a new epoch, lasting at least 10 years, sometimes more.

The transition is tumultuous because one person, one world power, one political movement, and/or one "energy"  will "upset the balance of power" - essentially, he/she/they will make an unprecedented attempt at total "world" domination (their perception of the world), at "owning the world," in stepping-stone conquests.

But the good news is, thus far, despite owning parts of the world - not one of these attempts has ever been completely successful at possessing all of the world. 

That is, of course, because they are met with much resistance from those fighting for freedom and independence - which causes a ripple effect around the world, often lasting at least a decade - and then will settle down back down again in semi-acceptance, regardless of what land or power is gained or lost, which will bubble up again and build until the end of the next epoch.


Examples that match the "epoch ends" on the Mayan Calendar?

Go back roughly 70 to 80 years from 2012 - The rise and fall of Adolph Hitler/Nazi Germany and resulting WW2 (1933 to 1945), as well as the Chinese Civil War (1927 to 1949) both coincided with the end of an Mayan epoch, the transitional period, and the beginning of a new one.

Go back roughly 70 to 80 years prior to that - the polarizing of the U.S. leading up to the Civil War (1860 to 1865) over the ownership of human beings, as well as other major international domination VS. independence struggles in the 1850s and 1860s in Eastern Europe - The Austro-Prussian War, The Franco-Prussian War, The Hungarian War for Independence, The Crimean War, Russo-Turkish War, , as well as the U.S. VS. Apache Wars in the American West.

Go back roughly 70 to 80 years prior to that  -  the "shot heard round the world," The American Revolutionary War (1775 to 1783), then the French Revolution (1789 to 1799) and the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815), the Haitian Revolution (1803), and the Napoleonic Wars (1803 to 1815) - an extended epoch-end transitional period, lasting almost 30 years.

And so on and so on ...


Now you may ask - as I did -  but WWI doesn't match epoch end, or Vietnam, or the Bolshevik revolution?

Good question - I was told the Mayans might argue that that even though several world countries may be involved, these are actually regional conflicts that are residuals from the epoch-enders - and also, there was not one person or power trying to control the entire "world," just their regional sphere of influence, without using it to a stepping stone to world domination.


Not sure about that - but what they're basically saying is just because there's a major all-time conflict at an epoch's end mean doesn't mean there won't be residual conflicts and wars, that there won't be any turmoil during the epoch -  there most definitely will be.

In fact, social change will be met with much resistance by those desperately holding onto to their power from the previous epoch, even if dying.

Thus, these conflicts are considered residuals and not as dire, chaotic, and world-domination-focused and/or near-apocalyptic/globally war-like as it was at the end of the last epoch.


Now - again, when the Mayan calendar actually ended in 2012, nobody was sure what that meant, including the Mayans themselves lol.  
The Mayans didn't predict an apocalypse, though still a possibility, however unlikely. 

HOWEVER - the end of the calendar did also mark the end of a Mayan 70-to-80-year epoch.

Thus, Mayans predicted this might the mother of all chaotic epoch-endings, and not just typical end-epoch turmoil stuff -  but the beginning of an all-time global crisis, mass chaos, closer than ever to global war - but no one was sure what that would mean - climate, geopolitically, apocalypse, what?

HOWEVER, despite being written in stone, the future itself is not written in stone - the Mayan calendar also leaves room for us to change our course, for several options at a future, a chance to to change it - each epoch's end is merely test us on how well did we learn our lessons from the chaos at the end of last great epoch end, when the chaos emerged again at the end of this one?

Regardless, here's to hoping the Mayan "epochs" are right and the end-of-epoch chaos is on it's way out, amen? lol


And we thank you -  Archbishop Tutu, John Madden, Harry Reid, and Betty White - for making us laugh, entertaining us, touching our soul, uplifting our spirits, fighting for social change and justice, and/or bringing our country our first fledgling attempt at a national healthcare system - in short, making the world a better place, because you were here :)






Thursday, December 30, 2021

"Stories of a Generation, With Pope Francis ..."

 




Continuing along this theme of self-examination of our spiritual selves, this week, as we go into the New Year, "Stories of a Generation, With Pope Francis" has just dropped on Netflix - and I'd like to strongly encourage everyone to watch it, and feel as blessed as we did, for having watched it :) ...





Narrated by Pope Francis, several episodes tell true stories of remarkable people around the world over the age of 70 ...


... from the famous, like primatologist, Dame Jane Goodall ...





... and Academy-Award-winning, legendary filmmaker and director, Martin Scorsese ...






... to lesser-known nobles, like Vito Fiorino - who admits he didn't know how to love and be a husband and father when young - but nevertheless, from his own nearby boat, rescued 47 drowning Somalian refugees off the coast of Lampedusa, Italy - who now call him father, and whom he considers his children :)





In a beautiful and adequately expressed sentiment by Pope Francis, at the end of Episode 1 - which I'm paraphrasing, and thus won't do it justice -  Pope Francis essentially says:



"When you are mountain-climbing, and you are above someone below, who is struggling to get up to where you are, what do you do?" 

"Provided that you are on at least firm enough footing yourself, you give them a hand up."  

"If you are looking down upon them and their situation with any other thought than doing this, for another human being -  it is not morally correct, it is immoral."





Amen :)


I'm not Catholic (Evangelical-turned-agnostic-turned Episcopal)  -  but my husband is - regardless, we love the man :)



That is because Jesus said his true sheep will always hear our true master's voice and follow it (John 10:27).




If you are a self-proclaimed Christian, but you either legitimately can't hear - or choose to ignore - the voice and true spirit of Christ, in the words of people like Pope Francis, or Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama, mentioned two posts below ...

... if you can't get past your own agenda, your politics, or the dogma "law" of your denomination enough to hear your master's voice, in these people - or you choose to ignore it - in favor of your chosen earthly idols, i.e. your politicians, your church dogma, or Babylonian-based Old Testament law - like the Apostle Paul sometimes did?

Then perhaps it's time to to listen more closely to others, shouting about your own rights less ...

... and instead, spend this time before the New Year as we are - in deeper spiritual self-examination, as well as finding our joy :)




Tuesday, December 28, 2021

"Don't Look Up" on Netflix ... Why I Love It (So Far) :)

(*Edited - content added, nothing removed)



 


Okay, so I can't give a full review of this star-studded movie yet because I haven't seen it all yet - but I will say that from what I've seen so far, it's an absolutely brilliant, scathing satire of our culture - and accurate!

Just a forewarning - you may see yourself - OR - it may cause arguments with whomever you're watching it with - if they see themselves among the people being satirized.


Because I'm sorry, as much as we want to skewer just the political right, and claim this movie is skewering just the political right - it's actually skewering all of us, American culture in general, with us liberals included - and we need to admit it if we're going to make things better ;)


Otherwise, it's hilarious and spot on (so far)!

Thus far, it's been about 50/50 on critics' review of the film -and to be honest with you?

Though I haven't seen the full film yet, I honestly think, from what I've read -  they're just pissed that they saw themselves being skewered, too ;)

It's all fine and dandy to hilariously skewer Trump as the poster boy for white-male privilege - but don't you dare point out how even we liberals ourselves have benefited from white-male privilege and enabled this broken socioeconomic system and overly value materialism too! (Harrumph) 

;) 


So the premise is, an astrophysics PhD candidate at Michigan State University, Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence)  - yes, that Michigan State University, my husband's alma mater - discovers a comet, 5 to 10 km in size.  

When she shares it with her team, they, and her supervising professor, Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio), do the math - and they discover the comet's trajectory is headed straight for earth - and will cause an extinction-level event.

The only problem is - neither the press - nor the president - nor anyone at all - cares.


Instead, they care about things like the latest breakup and make-up of pop stars.  

They care about a presidential nominee for the attorney general, who never went to law school, and in fact, was just discovered to have been in a soft porn movie - and yet his political party pushes for him anyway (taking the Christian forgiveness/redemption angle again, without the person having admitted wrongdoing or remorse?)

They care about which of them can be the first press member to cover those stories, rather than the fact that there's a comet headed directly to earth that will annihilate us - either that, or trying to distract from that fact, focusing instead on their political agenda, calling it fake news and assigning conspiracy theories to it.


Now - I'm gonna get really honest and candid, here, about this interaction, and why we didn't watch the rest of it yet - because it momentarily caused an argument between myself and my husband, last night (which has now resolved).

In fact, it got uncharacteristically ugly.  We usually use pretty textbook good communication, but for some reason, this one set us off on ugly paths, I guess.


Okay, so the background/setup ... 

First came the scene where they're trying to brief the president on the event.

The president's son - who is inappropriately Chief of Staff, of course, and a complete douchebag - disses them for being from Michigan State rather than Ivy League.

For those unaware, Michigan State indeed does have an outstanding astrophysics program, actually in the top 10 in the nation - and it's true many people don't know it - but it really doesn't matter which university discovered it - if it's real, can be proven, and the math works out, then we should listen.


Regardless, my husband could not get past the president's douchebag son dissing his alma mater of Michigan State as not being the most well-known university for astrophysics.


I get it - but even more frustrating is that 20 minutes later in the movie, Dr. Randy - who is ordinarily a shaking, nervous-vomiting, rambler, whom the usually very calm Kate has to rescue and interpret - takes a Xanax before their first press interview - and Kate now loses it in frustration, yelling at them for their apathy, after the inappropriately gleeful press duo continues to joke about the severity of the situation.


Shades of Ellen Ripley in Aliens, trying to convince the corporate-government that the colony they just set up was in great danger.






As you may recall, Ripley keeps a very cool head in an actual crisis, but became frustrated with what the board room thought was so important, which was the bottom-line dollar rather than human lives, and lost her cool (and she did have PTSD) - getting her labeled as unstable and crazy - until they later lost contact with the colony and they realized she wasn't so crazy after all - she was telling the truth, the situation was as dire as she said, and they should've listened to her, and she was the perfect candidate to go back and deal with the situation, having prior experience with them.



Back to Kate finally reaching her frustration tipping point with the press and momentarily losing it on camera, I found myself also saying: 


"No, no, Kate - don't do that -  they're going to call you crazy and skewer you and discredit you, and that Scarlet Letter brands forever, even if you're later proven right, even if you never lost your cool again." 

"Remember, these days, with social media, snapshot-moment public perception is reality -  the public believes that single poor moment is who you are overall, for better or worse, no extenuating circumstances perhaps we can't see allowed - so sayeth our gnat-attention-spanned culture - especially for women." 

 


Because you know how people of color cannot get angry on camera, it will be flipped back on them as overall disposition? 

This is especially true of women, regardless of skin color - with black women getting the worst of it.

Only men -  specifically only white men -  are allowed to get angry on camera or publicly  - in fact, these days, it's encouraged and applauded - even when white men behave like unwarrantedly like overprivileged "Karens."


In fact, we don't even have a name for overprivileged men who behave like "Karens" and throw fits over nonsense, when they can't have their way, do we?


But I have met plenty of male "Karens," too, believe me - if you've ever waited tables, you know what I'm talking about - you'll meet plenty of "Karens"  while waiting tables - both male and female, believe me.

(In fact, I've dated a few male "Karens" previously lol.)



Back to the show and Kate momentarily losing her shit - which was not over nonsense -  it was over a comet crashing into our planet, and the overly gleeful press making jokes and dismissing it  - the morning press dynamic duo turns to Dr. Randy, who is Xanaxed out, and asks:  "Is she always like this?"


It was a perfect opportunity for him to say, "No, she isn't - she's just reached her tipping point of frustration with the amount of inappropriate gleefulness or apathy being displayed thus far, over the 99.7% chance that an extinction-level comet will crash into the earth, six months from now."


But he doesn't.


Instead, he jokes, "I should've given her one of my Xanax."


Which would've been okay - had he also answered the question -  responding that Kate wasn't normally like that - she was normally the calm, cool, articulate one.

In fact, again, she was the one bailing him out of his laboriously loud anxiety breathing, shaking, stumbling, and rambling -  it's just this time, he took Xanax before the interview, and she didn't - but both of them were frustrated with the apathy and dismissiveness of it all, and trying not to panic themselves about the comet situation.


So of course, he's the darling of the day, with really horrible memes being shared about her being a crazy bitch, and him being f---able - and he's totally getting caught up in it, instead of focusing on the comet problem.

Then her boyfriend, a member of the press - who, mind you, hyperventilated and was stumbling around in the street like a crazy man, when she calmly told him about the comet - and constantly asks her for the correct words to use in his articles - became so embarrassed by her anti-apathy outburst, that he writes a piece called "You Know The Crazy Girl on Morning TV?  I Slept With Her" - which she finds out like everybody else does - by reading the article in the news.

Literally no one - including Dr. Randy - was defending her, and doing their best to distance themselves from her - because of one poor moment - and despite her being absolutely right and them knowing it.


It was at precisely at this moment, this scene -  this inappropriate time -  that Mark chooses to turn to me and say:  "That f--ker dissing Michigan State.  Pisses me off."

???


Okay, so this is where it starts to get ugly - from both of us - and I have apologized for my part (see below). 

I'm sharing this because it's really honest and it's really important for us all to have these types of conversations (just not with such venom) - and Mark knows I am and also agrees these types of conversations actually need to be had, with all of their emotions, if we're going to get anywhere as a society - only not allowing it to get as uncharacteristically ugly as we allowed this one to get :(


Me"Oh my God, are you still on that?  Really, right now? That scene was like 20 minutes ago."

"You just watched the woman who discovered the comet, and bailed out her nervous-wreck, rambling boss in front of the POTUS -   AND talks down her hyperventilating boyfriend, panicking in the middle of the street like a crazy man, over the comet - get skewered for a momentary lapse after being met with inappropriate cheerfulness or apathy by government and press - and all you have to say is the unfairness of Michigan State being dissed by an obvious idiot, 20 minutes ago?"

 

"First of all, Michigan State is not you - you are two separate entities." 

"Secondly, the president's son is clearly a douchebag, only in that position because he's the president's son, rather than his own merit, so who cares what he said - 20 MINUTES AGO?"

"Thirdly, the entire point of this film is the stuff that we think is so important, really isn't - how important is it that some idiot dissed Michigan State in either the grand scheme of this film OR in life?  

"That's the entire point of the movie that you're completely missing - that status shit we think is so important really ... isn't."

"Lastly, you have nothing to say about how they treated her for a momentary lapse versus how her boss usually is when not on Xanax?"

 

Mark:  "Of course, that's horrible - it just pisses me off, Michigan State has some of the best programs in the world, my particular master's program is the best in the country, but because it's also a Big 10 sports college, people don't take it seriously." 

 

"I'm smarter than most people that say that anyway, most don't even have master's degrees."

 

Me "Oh, is that so?  You think having a master's degree makes you better than everyone else?

 

Mark:  "Better than most of them, yes, particularly the rednecks here (Kentucky)."

 

Me"Oh, HELL no, you did NOT just say that to the half-redneck girl you met here and married, without a master's degree." 

"So does that mean me, too?" 

"Okay, maybe that's fair - but my redneck grandfather only had an 8th grade education, and was the smartest man I ever knew.  God, what a lawyer, doctor, or scientist, who could've made, or maybe a philosopher, but he had to quit school to work on his family's farm." 

"My other redneck grandfather, from Harlan, Kentucky, scored the highest on the state civil service engineering exam in history, he set the record, and was later given the key to the city of Louisville, never having gone to college - you think you're smarter than they were? 

"I bet both of them are 10 times smarter, it's just they didn't have the money for college or even to finish school, they had to work to help their families."

 

Mark:  "Thanks, appreciate that.  Hey, I worked hard on that, I got in by my own merit, and I got the GI bill for being an Army ranger, which I earned, and took out loans.  My family didn't pay a dime on this one." 

"Okay, I didn't mean that, I was just pissed at Michigan State being dissed.  You know I think you're brilliant and you had extenuating circumstances, and I don't think you're a redneck OR include you in that redneck category.  And your grandfathers, too." 

 

*Sigh* - I'm just arrogant, that's my flaw, you know this. "

 

Me:  "Oh?  That's your only flaw, is it?

 

"And why is it when white men say "arrogance is my flaw," it actually sounds like yet another badge of honor rather than remorse?"

 

"I have never heard a woman or person of color, male or female, ever say such a thing, with pride, like that. Maybe they do, I just haven't heard it.  " 

 

"Arrogance is among the worst of human flaws, to me - it shouldn't be a more socially acceptable flaw in men, and it definitely shouldn't be so easily dismissed - arrogance is America's biggest flaw and will likely be our downfall."

 

"I know you worked hard, I know you're extremely intelligent - but you can't pretend that your family's shady connections in Detroit, your grandfather being a multi-millionaire, your being from upper middle class, your being the social director for a top-tier white fraternity at the same school as an undergrad,  and your just being a white male  - didn't give you opportunities that others who worked just as hard, and are just as smart, if not more so, to get in, right?

 

"By the way, you've never mentioned the ____ requirement, how you did on that.  How did you do?"

 

Mark:  "They ... um ... (ahem) ... waived it ... for me?" 

 

Me:  "Wait ... they WHAT?!?

 

Mark:  "Okay,  I ... didn't complete it.  I asked them three times, but X and Y said not to worry about it, I'd get in. I'd already pretty much done the work as an undergrad."

 

Me:  "Would this be the same X and Y who degraded women and stated that they aren't smart enough to complete this program, that supposedly pissed you off later, but you still put on your resume as references?"

 

Mark:  "Erm - yes."

 

Me:  "And this is the first time I'm hearing about them waiving one of the key requirements to enter the program for you?

 

Mark: "Yeah ... and now I'm sorry I told you."

 

Me "You have GOT to be f-cking kidding me!  You think that would've flown at any other university but the same school as your undergrad?" 
"Any other school besides your undergrad would require you to fulfill that requirement. You know that, right? That's an objective assessment of ability in that field, rather than subjective decision, that's why it's there.  It's not perfect and still somewhat socioeconomically biased, but it's at least some effort at objectivity."

 

Mark:  "I know.  And again - REALLY sorry, I told you -  and getting sorrier by the minute."

 

Me:   "Yeah, you're not helping your own argument, that's for sure - you're actually helping me prove my point." 

 

"So ... you're NOT sorry that you took advantage of white male privilege, keeping God knows how many women and people of color out of a STEM master's program, who did complete that requirement and aced it, because you're a white male -  you're just sorry that you told me about it?  Got it."

 

Mark: "Hey, I argued with them later about women and people of  color.  And you know all my friends in Detroit are black. "

 

Me:  "Oh, don't give me that white-fragility bullshit defense of yourself - they bent the rules for you, openly not wanting women and people of color in - and you went along with it until you were actually in the program, then argued with them, and you think it makes it all okay?  I'm sorry, but the end doesn't justify the means.  You knowingly took advantage of white male privilege."

 

Mark "Hey, I didn't know any of those people denied personally, I just knew I had an opportunity. " 

"Do you think I was like, sitting there, rubbing my hands together, like "Aha, I'm getting in versus all these other women and black people without completing the requirement?" 

 

Me"Ergo my point - that IS white male privilege, getting  more opportunities and advantages than women or people color, then excusing your taking them by objectifying them as people you don't know - and worst of all, you can't admit it!"

"And yes -  though I doubt you broke it down by race and gender, no -  but to a certain degree, you were rubbing your hands together with glee - because you knowingly went along with this unfair opportunity - you just didn't want to think about what demographic of people that really affected and what that really meant, who was being shut out, they were nameless nobodies to you."

I also think you avoided telling me because you knew how I'd react - which is why you keep saying, "I shouldn't have told you."  You already know it wasn't right." 

 

Mark:  "What did you expect me to do, not take the opportunity?"

 

Me:  "No - I expected you to insist on completing that requirement anyway, just like everybody else." 

"Then nobody can ever question that achievement, you did complete it all - and most importantly, when you say ridiculously arrogant things like "Having a master's degree makes me better than most people, especially the rednecks here in Kentucky," you at least have something to back it up with -  but as it stands, they bent the rules to get you in anyway, so WTF are you talking about?!?"

 

Mark:  "Are you saying I'm not smart enough to get in?"

 

Me: "Of course I'm not saying that - of COURSE you are smart enough to get in - and you DID ace the program once in  - it's just you should've insisted on completing that requirement and proving it, just like everybody else."

 

"How many other women and people of color weren't simply waived through, who did have to complete it and aced it, only to be turned down by a couple of sexist, racist assholes?"

 

"You think we women or people of color can get away with not completing national-standard program prerequisites, and instead, just go play a round of golf at the country club with them, or have a scotch with the big boys in the boys room at Grosse Pointe Yacht Club,  or go to an MSU game together, and we're in?" 

 

"It doesn't work like that for the rest of us - in fact, it's a slap in the face to the rest of us that you won't even acknowledge." 

 

Mark:  "Are you saying that they bent that rule for me simply because I'm a white male and because of my family's connections?  They didn't even know me. And again, my parents didn't pay a dime of my college tuition, that was all GI bill and loans."

 

Me:  "You keep saying that, whaddya want, a lollipop? There's one right over there." 

"I'm not dissing your Army ranger experience, you earned that GI bill - but in addition to having your courses, books, and equipment being entirely paid for, you got extra low-interest loans - PLUS - you got enough money from those so  you could join a prestigious white fraternity - AND - you didn't have to work an actual job  -  you could focus exclusively on your school work and your frat-boy shit." 

"I took out regular interest loans, worked full time AND went to school full time, and still got a cumulative 3.77 GPA - which was higher than your undergrad, by the way - and huge loan bill I'm still paying on, when I'll never earn as much as you - where's MY lollipop?  Where's MY waive in without completing the requirements?" 

"We can't afford for me to go back to school, especially since I still owe so much still already, plus I'm too old to be doing that stuff now - and even if I could, if the powers that be, like X and Y, decide I'm not good enough because I don't have a penis, then it's a no-go anyway."

 

So you're damn right I'm saying that - that IS white male privilege.  They don't have to know you - it's the automatic presumption that you're smart, capable, and a good person just because you're a white, upper-middle-class male, instead of making you prove it."

 

Mark:  "You think Michigan State allows cheating or acts like good ole' boys, favoring white privilege?"

 

Me:  "I think things are changing there, but yes, I do - what would you call it?  You think this shit only goes on at the University of Kentucky, or even just in the South?"

 

Mark: "I'm not a good ole boy and I'm not like Trump."

 

Me"No, but you sure as hell went along with that system and took advantage of that opportunity others didn't have because of their gender or skin color or poverty level, didn't you?"

 

Mark:  "Michigan State does NOT ordinarily bend rules and they do NOT cheat (sniff)." 

"They bent the rule because they liked me, I worked hard in undergrad."

 

Me"Oh, so your precious Michigan State doesn't ordinarily bend rules or cheat -  the rule-bending for YOU was "special,"  because YOU are so "special?" 

 

"Hahaha!  That's hilarious!" 

 

"Three words for you - DR. LARRY NASSAR" 

 

*crickets*


(For those unaware, the FBI finally investigated and uncovered, with video evidence, that Dr. Nassar of Michigan State -  sexually abused dozens of female gymnasts at both MSU, and on the US Women's Gymnastics team, for over 20 years  - and Michigan State University knew about it and covered it up, allowed it to continue.)


I was absolutely furious.  

I was too mad - probably mostly at arrogant men I once knew more than my husband, taking it out on my husband :/

That doesn't excuse the near verbal abuse I gave my husband, which I realized later wasn't just about him - it was about the system - and our liberal men who benefit from it and condemn it at the same time, out of both sides of their mouths - and say to themselves, "Well, when I'm in a position of power, I can change it."


No, liberal white men - the fact is, you wouldn't be in that position if you weren't afforded special opportunities because of your being a white male - extra opportunities you knowingly took, telling yourself you'd combat the system later, when you were in power - the end does not justify the means.


Regardless, when I woke up this morning, I apologized for my part:


"I'm sorry.  I love you.  Of course I think you're brilliant and a hard worker - and my grandfathers weren't smarter then you, I didn't mean that, I was just trying to put a pin in that momentary arrogance bubble to pop it, having dealt with prior arrogant men." 

 

"My grandfathers were the template, the high bar set for men - and all of those requirements, you met - which is why I married you :)"

 

"I don't know why I got so mad, I think my anger wasn't just at you, it's really at prior arrogant men I've known, abusing  their power, and just this entire bullshit socioeconomic system we keep clinging to beyond all reason - and how there's no end in sight - because we white liberals talk a lot, but we still benefit from it, so we talk much and do little, all the while, continuing to enable it." 

"That's not excusing what I said, I'm just explaining my anger level so that you know it wasn't about you, or at least just about you.  That was damn near verbal abuse from me, and it wasn't warranted." 

"It doesn't mean my actual points weren't valid, mind you -  I just I didn't need to be so mean about it to make my point, get so angry.  I didn't mean it and it mostly wasn't even about you."

"But in my one small defense -  you may want to think twice about ever saying that a master's degree makes you better than anyone else, especially Kentuckians, ever again LOL." 

"White male arrogance sets me off crazy, it's a very old trigger with me, that I clearly need more work on, but just an FYI - you may not want to push that button until I have LOL"

"Not saying you deserved what I said because of it, mind you, just saying - that's clearly not going to go over well with me."

 

"Look - all I'm saying is, if this society is ever going to change to what we want, then we have to take a good hard look at ourselves, how we enable it - how we've benefited from white privilege and even white-male privilege, even ourselves as liberals sometimes - even me, whom other people have considered especially woke for a white girl, for a lot longer than most white people, who just woke up like two years ago."

 

"It's a jagged little pill to swallow, isn't it? 

But it's the only way we can get better." 

"As I said, I've been pretty woke for a long time, longer than most white people, because of my experiences - but I STILL have to swallow jagged little white-privilege pills myself sometimes. 

"There were times, as anti-racist as I am, I still enabled the system, even went along with implicit racial bias without even realizing it, even as recently as a couple of years ago  - and I also had to recognize  my own white privilege to a certain degree, as a child at least. "

 

"My childhood was shittier than most, yes -  but before my dad left, and before I was homeless even later, at least we had everything we needed and more, at least I experienced that." 

"In addition to that hell, at least we didn't have to also worry, at that point, about a roof over our heads or food or  clothes or toys to play with on top of those things, like so many -  and I went to a top-notch nationally ranked public high school - like that meant shit as far as opportunities or giving the benefit of the doubt, if you were poor and/or from a troubled family, they pretty much pigeonholed you and didn't support you are your future- but still, the educational opportunity was better than inner-city schools." 

"And people assumed we were a decent, sane family because my mom was a devout evangelical nut who loved Jesus - and she got a "Get out of a mental-hospital admission free" pass, one too many times, because of her evangelicalism beliefs." 

"So yes, as woke as I've been for longer than most white people, I too, benefitted from white privilege, even white male privilege - it's a jagged little pill to swallow and it sucks, but it's truth - and if I'm brave enough and strong enough to take that on the chin and admit it, you can too."


For his part, Mark says he never really thought about how many others were kept out of the program because they didn't get that rule bent for them, and he now feels terrible about it - and again, that he shouldn't have said that about his master's degree making him better than most people, especially here in Kentucky, he didn't mean it - he was just mouthing off after a diss of Michigan State.


I said:

"Well, good morning, you're more awake.  Welcome to even more wokeness.  And I bet there are other examples, if you think about it some more.  There were for more for me, still today, as woke as I've been for a long time."

"Guilt sucks, doesn't it?  The wishing you had a time machine and could go back and change it.  I've been there." 

"Guilt is appropriate, but no shame.  Not only because you had help with this broken system of ours being ingrained in us, but because shame leads to depression and immobility, it stops all progress.  Guilt is uncomfortable, but unlike shame, it's a motivator - we remember it,  and strive to never do it or allow it again - whether it's an argument with our loved ones or enabling white privilege ;) 

"I love you, and again, I'm sorry :("


We'll resume watching the movie soon ;)






Sunday, December 26, 2021

The Beautiful Friendship of Archbishop Desmond Tutu And The Dalai Lama :)

 

(*Edited - content added regarding Theraveda versus Mahayana sects of Buddhism, and PS added.)

I'm sure most of the world has heard by now that we lost a great man and spiritual leader on Christmas Day - Nobel Peace Prize winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Anglican, big brother to my Episcopalian church) of South Africa - he died of prostate cancer. 

Yes, he won the Nobel peace prize for helping to end apartheid in South Africa - but he was also known for his great joy, the man exuded laughter and joy, and he also gave spellbinding sermons.

He also had a lifelong good friendship with the Dalai Lama, having very similar personalities - some might even say of a similar spirit - both of them known as loving to joke and laugh. 

Here's a mix of some their best moments, times, and talks together :)

These moments are part of the 2021 documentary "Mission Joy - Finding Happiness in Troubled Times" which is about their remarkable friendship (but unfortunately cannot yet be streamed).




What many people don't realize is that Christianity and Buddhism actually have much in common.


Now, when I say that regarding Christianity, I first mean the actual words of Christ as opposed to first the Old Testament, which was heavily influenced by their captors' law, Hammurabi's Code stone, a Sumerian/Babylonian literal carved-in-stone law -  in which all punishment was merciless, harsh, and swift, as they did not believe in an afterlife.


In fact, if you compare OT Levitican law (and most law in the OT), you can see for yourself that many of the same OT laws were already carved - word for word - on their Babylonian captors' Hammurabi stone of law - which predates Israelite arrival and their captivity by the Babylonians.

I secondly mean the actual words of Christ as opposed to even those in the New Testament who came after Christ, who still adhered to this Babylonian-influenced/incorporated Old Testament law, or waffled on adherence to it.


Namely Paul - who clearly did so in vain effort to play politics and prolong his own life and save his own skin, rather than follow the message of Christ and be arrested, crucified/killed, too.

(And I say "in vain" for a reason - because Paul also did not die well, despite his best efforts to avoid Christ's fate by trying to please the Pharisees by following OT/church law, playing politics).


Though the bible didn't narrate them as clearly as previously (likely because they were written by Paul himself) - we were supposed to learn from Paul's mistakes, just like other prophets and disciples in the bible - not follow his mistake examples!


Thus, when Paul said or did something that was the opposite of Christ's instruction, in favor of OT/church law to please church leaders?

Then we shouldn't do it.

Duh?!?


Jesus himself repeatedly repudiated Babylonian-influenced Old Testament law, and yet Paul - and us still today - continue to adhere to it.



Likewise, when I say that regarding Buddhism, I mean the actual words of Buddha  - as opposed to modern Mayahana Buddhism, most of which has incorporated the prior religion of ancestor worship into the philosophy.

Buddha was speaking to a culture, who at the time, was either predominantly Hindu (Buddhist's parent religion, like Judaism is for us) or practiced animism and worshipped animals and ancestors, warning them of the possible futility of doing so, the setting oneself up for disappointment - and yet the majority of the the religion continues to do so.


Unlike Christ, Buddha himself repeatedly said he was NOT divine and not a deity, and NOT to pray to him or leave him gifts, or to any of their ancestors - and yet modern Mahayana Buddhists still do.

He didn't say this because he believed it was sinful or wrong -  but because he believed it was futile and setting themselves up for disappointment - because he won't receive their gifts, he can't hear them, and he can do nothing to save or help them - because  he'll be dead! lol

Further, he said he was not here to offer salvation of the soul, that we should seek out our own salvation with diligence elsewhere - his purpose was instead to teach us a better way to live, while we're on this earth.


Thus, Buddhism was meant to be a philosophy instead of a religion -  with Tibetan Buddhists (Gelugpa Mahayana) being the second closest to the actual words of Buddha with Sri Lankan Buddhists (Theraveda) being the closest.




Just as an FYI, as best I can remember from my comparative religion college days (so forgive me if there are errors) -  there are basically two main branches in Buddhism -  Theraveda Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism - with several other sects falling under the main "umbrella" of branch of Mahayana Buddhism.

You can look at it very similarly to how Christianity also has two main branches, Catholicism and Protestantism, with Protestants having multiple denominations under the protestant umbrella.

HOWEVER - be careful - because unlike Theraveda Buddhism, which truly is the most closely adherent to the actual words of Buddha, many might argue that conversely, Catholicism has come to favor it's own man-made doctrine over the actual words of Christ (confession, prayers to Mary, etc.) - and that this is why Christianity split in the first place.


But then again - haven't we all? :)

Including even sometimes Theraveda Buddhists - though they adhere the most closely to Buddha's words, their interpretation of Buddha's words have a bit of doctrinal sprinkling sometimes, too - more on that below.

Though there are several differences between the two main branches, one of the main differences is that in addition to meditative chants, Mahayana Buddhism includes some form of formalized ancestor prayers, often to Buddha himself, (similar to Catholics asking saints to intervene),  as well as token gifts left and atonement requested for them.

Most Theraveda Buddhists do not (because as stated above, Buddha said not to, he won't hear them, he's dead and can't help them).  They may believe their ancestors are around them, even talk to them sometimes, like we do - but not formally in worship.  They're mostly concerned with meditation and focusing on good spiritual energy in general.

Also, though the two main branches of Theraveda and Mahayana Buddhist both believe in reincarnation, many older sects of Mahayana Buddhism tend to believe the bad things that happen to us in this life are brought on by our prior misdeeds either done in this life or a prior one - karma.

Theraveda Buddhists, on the other hand, believe some bad things happen to us in life are karma, but they also believe sh*t just happens - bad things sometimes just happen and have nothing to do with what you have or haven't done - but it's how you deal with those things now that dictate your next life's status, they're spiritual tests.

Some older Mahayana sects believe this life should be simply be accepted in piety as punishment consequences for your past life, and that offering prayers of atonement and offerings are the only way to achieve enlightenment and improve your next life.

Other "reformed" or more modern Mahayana sects believe you should actively attempt to seek enlightenment in this life, by living your life for others, ending their suffering, in order to improve not only your next life, but the next life of others.

Now, when I say "modern" or "reformed" -  understand that this doesn't mean 21st century modern - "modern" or "reformed" in Buddhism still means at least a thousand years old.


On the negative side of Theraveda Buddhism, they tend to be a little less tolerant when it comes to how to achieve enlightenment - following Buddha's words to the letter are the only way, no nuances or gray areas.

Whereas in Mahayana Buddhism, most sects - particularly reformed - believe it doesn't matter which sect or even which religion you choose - take any "raft" you like to shore of enlightenment, just so long as you get there :)



If you're curious about The Dalai Lama's sect, Gelugpa or Tibetan Buddhism is considered one of those "reformed" Mahayana sects - actually a sort of a mix of both Theraveda and Mahayana - again, with "reformed" or "modern" still meaning at least 1,000 years old.


They also believe the latter - that you don't have to accept your current lowly life circumstances as karmic punishment in piety, as being the only way to better your next life - and that you should actively seek to change your life now, by serving others and ending their suffering, in order to improve not just your current life and your next life, but this life and the next lives of others.

Also, like Theraveda Buddhists, Gelugpas believe a sort of Mahayana/Theraveda mix as far as karma - some bad things that happen are karma for past misdeeds, but others are simply spiritual tests that you must overcome to improve your next life.


Theraveda Buddhism is practiced almost exclusively in Sri Lanka  (followed by Hinduism and Islam) -  and is the closest adherent to the words of Buddha.

Interestingly, in Theraveda Buddhism, women can become monks just the same as, and equal to, men - and there is no special pre-designation of holiness from birth like in Mahayana types of Buddhism.


That is because Buddha's whole point of separation from Hinduism was to do away with a caste system of predestination reincarnation from birth that cannot be changed during one's own lifetime, because it's your punishment, your karma, for deeds done in a prior life.

Buddha separated from Hinduism on this exact point -  preaching that anyone who wanted to follow the path to enlightenment could reach it during their lifetime - regardless of  their social class at birth, their gender, race, or ethnicity at birth - and that they should try, lest they repeat the same life they live now.


Unfortunately, however -  today, not only do Indian and Nepalese Hindus still believe the status you're born into is your punishment for misdeeds and should not be tampered with -  but most Asian and Southeastern Asian sects of Mahayana Buddhism also believe that, too :/

As mentioned, all Mahayana sects believe, to varying degrees, that your birth status is your karma - and the Gelugpa sect is no exception when it comes to this - believing the Dalai Lama himself was predestined to be born into holy status.

HOWEVER - in the Gelugpa sect of Mahayana Buddhism -this can be changed, and your status at birth can be a lesson for others.

For example, the Dalai Lama may be a holy soul reincarnated, but he can be born of poor parents and circumstances, and is not required to be Asian or Indian (although he usually is) - in order to better teach us to look deeper than one's outward circumstances for truth and enlightenment :) 

In that way, the Gelugpa sect is likely the closest form of Mahayana Buddhism to Theraveda Buddhism, who are, again, the closest adherents to the actual words of Buddha.


This brings us to one of the many similarities between the actual words of Christ and Buddha (versus what we say and practice in those religions today) -  though Jesus claimed to be a deity and Buddha did not - they both preached that spiritual enlightenment is available to anyone -  despite your gender, race, ethnicity, economic status, or social  class.

Because remember, importantly, Mary and Joseph were poor, homeless immigrants, and Christ was born in a stable,  and he grew up to preach that salvation, redemption, and spiritual enlightenment were available to anyone that asked.



This then brings me to my overall point - how both Christianity and Buddhism have been inappropriately influenced by, and have incorporated, prior cultural influence and religion - despite both Christ and Buddha repeatedly repudiating our doing so - to our own selfish desires, cultural comfort level -  and to our own detriment.



Regardless, in this way, you can be both Christian and Buddhist - a Christian in faith and a Buddhist in adjunctive/supplemental/addendum philosophy :)



But the main tenet that the actual words of Christ and the actual words of Buddha have in common is the same -  "end all suffering" - not of ourselves, but of others.



I think most of today's Christians have forgotten that.

Jesus did not come to redeem, bless, and end just your suffering or just your family's suffering, or even just other Christians or just other white people!


In fact, Christ actually said your life would be worse regardless, and include suffering, for being a true Christian, not easier and better.

As for prosperity, he said it's easier for a camel to enter the eye of a needle than it is a rich man to enter heaven.

Thus, according to Christ, if you're wealthy, there's a greater chance you're doing something wrong, than you are doing something right ;)


(I personally believe most of God's true blessings actually come in the form of spiritual/emotional healing, typically not prosperity.)



Regardless, he did these things for all - and he instructed us to do what we could to end the suffering of others, Christian or not, in his absence - because they were the right thing to do - regardless of what they believed in and whether or not they became a Christian later because of it.

In fact, he preached countless parables on the subject - i.e. parables such as The Good Samaritan, The Merciless Servant, etc.



Because if Christ were here, he'd do it anyway, because it's the right thing to do - whether they believed in him or not,  appreciated it or not.

How do I know?

How many times did Christ heal people, only to have those same people later vilify him and call for his crucifixion, and yet he died for  their redemption anyway?

Besides that obvious point -  and the above-mentioned parables - there was that time Jesus healed the non-believing Roman Centurion's ear, who arrested him in the Garden of Gethsemane, after his disciple, Peter, tried to cut it off, right? :)

(The same Peter, mind you, who later denied he knew Jesus three times.)

And yet Christ healed and died for them both anyway.

That's how I know.



Christ clearly didn't heal or even die to "win" souls or gain anything for himself - he did them simply because they were the right thing to do, to end their suffering and at least offer redemption - whether they made the choice to believe in him or not, denied him or not, or even if were aggressive towards him or not - and he encouraged us to do the same :)


Of course it's hard and anti-human nature - that's the point!

And it doesn't mean you enable harmful behavior or put yourself in harm's way repeatedly, either - ending suffering can take many forms, even including what a person really needs most, versus what they want or crave most.



Thus, I don't recognize the Jesus that people are carrying on about, these days, with shouting, tear-gassing and flash-banging those in peaceful assembly - themselves brazenly and arrogantly carrying their guns and their rude, angry, cruel and hate-filled signs in Christ's name ..

... bearing false witness/falsely-accusing others in conspiracy -  for which they have no proof other than their own wild speculation and paranoia, or they twist innocuous events into danger and detriment, even pronouncing them as Satanic.


I don't hear the voice of Jesus in self-professed Christians displaying lack of mercy and compassion for others who aren't of their faith, skin color, gender, consensual sexual proclivities, politics, or socioeconomics - making excuses for not doing so, or only doing so with the intent of saving souls.


I can't reconcile the Jesus that I know with the Jesus people are carrying about like a weapon today, justifying it by calling it self-defense, despite actually being the aggressors, as the same Jesus ..


... all the while, praising Jesus as being of equal value to their own greed and prosperity as "God's blessing"  - as if they were more deserving of of God's grace, which cannot be earned - trying to convince us Jesus saved just their souls and ended just their  suffering - when in fact, it seems they actually suffer from a self-induced, paranoid, angry, hate malady.



I see Christ better in people like Archbishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama :)

And I'm going to continue listening to them, and others like them, instead - despite how much rarer they've become - because Christ said his true sheep will always hear their master's true voice :)

Happy to be a "sheep" to my true master's voice - not politicians and many other self-proclaimed Christians, shamelessly using Christ's name as subterfuge to cover their own multitude of grave sins, selfishness, greed, lack of mercy, encouraging aggression/violence, for their own selfish gain.


 _____________________________


PS - After reading this post, my husband privately said, "Okay, but I thought all Buddhists revered and recognized the Dalai Lama as their supreme holy leader?"

Well, not all do  - it's a bit like all Christian faiths somewhat revere the Pope as the most educated human being in Christianity on earth, but not all believe he is ordained by God or follow his teachings.

Likewise, the Dalai Lama is considered the most educated in Buddhism on the planet - HOWEVER - there is even greater respect among Buddhists for the Dalai Lama than all Christians have for the Pope - because Buddhists believe there must be universal balance - and to them, the Dalai Lama is the perfect balance of all the different sects and denominations of of Buddhism combined AND Hinduism - he's the best of all Buddhist and Hindu worlds.

In other words, the Dalai Lama is "The Great Balancer" of differing beliefs.

Make more sense now? :)