world improvement thru smarts & hearts

sermons

The Crucible

No cheesy pseudo-cult pretense this time. There’s just too much going on, and too much pain and fear to make light of it. And I’ve frankly been so wrung-out emotionally that it’s hard to even formulate coherent sentences. Because here in America, we have just royally fucked ourselves, and good. The rise of Trump and the sharks circling in his wake have made the divisions that we have long tried to ignore far too glaring and obvious to deny any more. I’ve spent the last week and a half cycling through stages of grief and mourning; I’ve cried, I’ve yelled, I’ve bargained, I’ve eaten a metric ton of junk food, I’ve tried to ask “why?”, and I’ve even started planning my post-apocalyptic compound. But the most helpful and cathartic thing I’ve done is just silently been in community with people who feel the same way. And that’s what has given me the hope I cling so desperately to right now.364e4d08071c3adbf7148391dcbf3ebd

And I do have hope. Not for the immediate future – I’m pretty sure that’s totally fucked. I have no doubt that the GOP Resurgent will do its best to destroy the environment, deplete our resources, exploit anyone and anything they can, and just generally try to turn our country into a fascist theocratic police state that would make George Orwell gasp. I mean, we literally are straying into 1984 territory here. All we’re missing is the Thought Police… unless you count the NSA’s surveillance of social media, so I guess that’s sort of covered too. But I digress.

The Rise of Trump is a clarion call that we must now act upon. Evil has literally taken over our country. People masquerading as religious people preach hate and are calling for concentration camps. The president-elect is setting up state-regulated foreign trade that will directly benefit his companies and dynasty. And so forth. We knew this was coming, though. To pretend otherwise is to deny the suffering and marginalization of countless Americans over the last 200+ years. Because make no mistake, this has everything to do with the Civil War and the fundamental difference in philosophy between those who embrace a multicultural society and those who reject it.

We like to quote statistics about the election and analyze every little detail to death, but the core of the matter is that there are two primary worldviews in conflict with each other in America and they are simply not mutually compatible. We can slice and dice the two camps in whatever terminology you want: rural versus urban, educated versus under-educated, Republican versus Democrat… but the reality boils down to people who are tribalistic versus those who are globalistic. (And while I’m pretty sure those aren’t the sociological terms for it, hopefully you know what I mean.) And because the globalistic folks were so busy pointing fingers at all the other problems we have, we let the tribe of barbarians into the city and they took it over.

So what do we do now? I really don’t know. There’s no easy solution. Or at least not an effective one that will allow all of us to walk away with our ivory towers of morality intact. Because I strongly believe we are at a true turning point in human social evolution: we must choose to push forward as a global society, or let ourselves remain mired in the evil and backwardness of the Dark Ages. Rome may not have fallen in a day, and America won’t either. But it’s crumbling quickly, and we need to make some difficult decisions about the greater good. And it will get bloody. It’s already gotten bloody. And yes, the other side has a LOT more guns (thanks, NRA) and willingness to use them. But we have other weapons we can use to fight back: Intelligence. Compassion. Innovation. Love.

Love is a powerful force. Perhaps the most powerful in the ‘verse. It’s what makes us alive, and yearn for something better. We love our children, so we want them to flourish. We love our planet, so we want to protect and nourish it. We love our each other, so we march in protest and we yell and scream and WE DO NOT FUCKING EVER GIVE UP. Because that’s how we got here. A lot of good people gave up and didn’t vote. Or they voted for candidates they knew weren’t feasible. But the time for throwing tantrums because you didn’t get exactly what you wanted is over. We’re now at war, and we have to stick together. United we stand… divided they triumph.

This is our crucible as a nation. Perhaps as a species. What we do and where we go from here will resonate in time for centuries to come. America IS great, and always has been. But we must take it back from the greedy corporate assholes and the small-minded bigots who only want to benefit their own tribe that prop them up. Because we know there are no more tribes… we are all one tribe, now and forever. And we may come out of this crucible burned and diminished, but also stronger.

I don’t believe in divine intervention or in fate. But I do believe in the power of humanity to accomplish amazing things. We will work together and survive. Because we must. I believe in us.

Be excellent to one another, my friends.

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Congratulations! You chose: Despotism!

 

This is the best of times; this is the worst of times. This axiom always seems to be true, but no more so than during an election season. And what a season it is, my fellow Geeks! We stand at the cusp of a major cultural shift, not just in the USA, but across the globe. In the last one hundred years, we’ve seen the balance of power shift from being exclusively in the hands of rich white men to… mostly just rich white men. But that’s not to say there haven’t been significant advances towards a more enlightened society: universal suffrage, civil rights, marriage equality… these are not small accomplishments. They’re YUUUGE, to borrow a phrase. And we should be proud of coming so far in such a relatively short time, but we still have a lot of work to do before we can all truly be excellent to one another.

If you’ve ever played any of the Sid Meier’s Civilization games, you should be familiar with the guilty thrill you get when you get to select the type of governmental control over your civilization. And the best part is: no one else will ever hold you accountable if you choose to be a despotic, theocratic tyrant who enforces your rule through police state brutality… though the same is true if you decide to be a benevolent secular humanist democracy either.

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Hmm, shall I be Stalin or Gandhi today?

But the problem with reality is that you can’t start a new game if you really fuck up your civilization – you have to deal with the consequences of your decisions. History is rife with lessons, if we’re willing to listen, about people who gave in to fear and hate and let the Forces of Darkness triumph. You don’t need me to give you a history lesson on dictatorships, you have the interwebs and Netflix. So you know that we are extremely privileged to live in a society that allows us (or at least most of us) the right to determine our own type of government through that most magical and mundane of experiences: voting. As imperfect as our system may be, it’s what we’ve got and it ain’t too bad. While it technically isn’t a democracy (which depends on a level of public education and awareness yet to be realized in any human society that I know of), we do largely get to determine who runs our government.

So while it’s easy and self-affirming to blame the corporations, it’s also a cop-out. We’ve allowed rampant capitalism to become our primary value in the good ole’ US of A… allowed it with every time we feel it’s too much work to vote, or stand by while the corporate cronies who make the laws bend them to protect corporations over human beings. Or when we allow said cronies to make laws that benefit or protect a select elite while disenfranchising others. By giving in to the consumer greed that permeates everything in our culture, we give Crap Capitalism more power. But what can we do? Stop playing the game, for starters. Stop buying a new smart phone every year or two – and I’m totes guilty of this too – because you do NOT really need to play with the latest and greatest apps to be fulfilled as a person.

But, you say, isn’t capitalism GOOD? Well, let’s examine it. What’s the defining concept of capitalism? If you said “independence” or “competitive advantage,” you’re wrong. It’s greed. That’s it. Just greed. Capitalism relies on the basic premise that we should allow our tiny little lizard brains to hoard as many resources as we can, and fuck off if you’re not part of the tribe that’s worthy of being on the dole. I’m not saying capitalism is mutually exclusive of being a good person, but it sure makes it more difficult when your worldview is based on the concept of “exploit everyone else before they can exploit you.” And the Presumptive Candidate for the Grand Obstructionist Party is basically the embodiment of corporate greed.

There comes a time when every generation needs to stand up to the previous ones and tell them that it’s time to go sit down and let us run things. The Greatest Generation has failed in some of the worst ways imaginable, and it’s time for those of us who have grown up with a broader view of our tribe to take the reins and reign with compassion and true justice for all. So do not go softly into that greed-filled darkness – fight, fight, fight with all your heart. Because the world is ours, and it’s time to reclaim it from the tyranny of evil men (and some women) that would drain our world into an empty husk simply because they do not care about anyone else. And the easiest way to do it? Vote for the candidate that speaks to your values, or if that candidate isn’t available, the next-best option. Just don’t give up, that’s how they win. And we can’t restart this game if we lose.


Know Thy FOE

Hear me, o children. I shall now speak of that against which we toil and fight. The darkness that has spread and must be brought into light. The Forces of Evil, or Foe as we shall call them, are insidious and ubiquitous. But by knowing our Foes, facing them, and unleashing our amazing Geek powers upon them, we shall vanquish them. But before I go into detail about specific Foes, I will give a general overview of the nature of anti-Geekly Forces of Evil and how it affects us all.

In the beginning, there was an emptiness, a black field of nothingness. Then, structure began to appear; first, a sphere of light here and there, then more complex forms and designs. After a certain time, the universe began to pixelate into discreet branches and pathways, with countless spheres of energy populating it. Boundaries became part of reality, separating energy and matter, dark and light. And with all such analogies, good and evil. Did Evil come first, or Good? I don’t claim to know; perhaps it doesn’t matter. And as was inevitable in an evolving universe, life formed. And with that life, struggle.

It is the nature of life to seek to continue itself and, in order to do so, it must feed on and use energy. The energy that ultimately comes from the creation of the universe, which is in all things. However, as you know, some life craves its own continuance too greatly and hoards more energy than it needs. Thus is born all struggle and strife; the great ongoing fight to sustain oneself in the universe. Life competing with other life for access to finite energy resources. But what happens when access to those resources fall out of balance? Strife. Famine. War. Death. Sometimes on a scale too great for our puny human minds to comprehend. “But,” you ask, “how do we know how much energy is fair and balanced for me to take?” Let me answer by asking you a question.

Consider the creation of the universe as described above. Now, instead of humans and dolphins and spiders and slime mold evolving, imagine a universe populated by ghosts… and Pac-Man. A vastly simplified universe where entities compete for energy. There seems sufficient energy pellets for the number of inhabitants, but somehow they are never enough. Why? See the truth!!pacman_french_citation__eat_the_world__by_okman179-d82s4dd

Consider Pac-Man versus his ghostly enemies. Why do we assume Pac-Man is the hero? What have the ghosts done to deserve such torture and death? Pac-Man’s entire purpose is to gobble up all the available energy and then persecute and destroy his competitors. Are the ghosts attacking him because they are Evil or because they are trying to defend access to their fair share of the resources? What is left of the universe when it is full of Pac-Men? Emptiness.

Therefore, we must consider the ramifications of our actions and motivations. Is what we are doing in keeping with the balance of the universe, or seeking to upset it? Chaos. Order. Good. Evil. Light. Dark. Bacon. Tofu. These are just words and concepts, meaningless in the greater scheme. All things are natural, as they are part of natural existence. But not all actions and behaviors support the healthy existence of the universe and are thus, in our definition, Evil.

As I said before, the Foe is insidious and will disguise himself (I say “him” as it’s just easier… rest assured there are plenty of the “herselves” too) and attempt to deceive and confuse you. This is why we must always ask ourselves “why?” and “what impact does this have?” for this is how you can cast off Evil’s spell of deception and recognize it.

Meditate on this, children, and speak your minds. For no man is an island, though some dudes can get pretty fat.