My Viewmaster…

I look at what’s in my Viewmaster. Remember those things; they came complete with a free A-Team or Smurfs wheel cartridge depending on your age range. I’m sure there was a My Little Pony as well. Well it seems that all I’m capable of is walking around with one on strapped to my face like the fella with the caged rat from 1984.

Maybe that’s more a matter of perspective than reality, but perspective is what moves mountains and determines the course of history.

That’s it – that’s the problem: a complete and total loss of perspective.

It’s 2013, and I’ve somehow been dubbed a Liberal Utopian Homosexual enemy of the (American) Constitution and Christianity. As we’ve discussed, that’s just a perspective – but a non-unique one that is held by many. How the ____ does this happen? It’s not like I’m walking around with a gas mask on my face and a swastika on my jacket, proclaiming the benefits of government control, partial birth abortions, or sexual deviancy in the promotion of a welfare state and submission to my imperial rule.

While George Takei’s Facebook page is among my primary reading material, I take it for what it’s worth, not as gospel. Then again, the Gospels should be taken for what they’re worth and not as gospel. The perversion of a thing (in this case religion) by miring it in it’s original form – verbatim, without any context – is an abomination to that which it represents (in this case God), as well as those that espouse it.

If anything, I hold a belief akin to that described in Isaiah 12:2

God is my salvation. I will trust and not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.

I always put it, in my own words, as “God is your shield, to protect and save yourself and those you care for. God, nor the Bible (or any other religious text), are your sword to strike down those you see unfit or who do not comply with what you think is ‘right’.”

This is, apparently, an unpopular opinion, and it makes me (unknowingly and unwillingly) and enemy of Christianity. I was unaware until recently that Isaiah was written by a prophet (obviously of the same name or some variation of that) around 700 BC, living in the nation of Judah, during a time when it had become commonplace to proclaim the niceties of faith in public, offer trifle sacrifice, but live by no code, no standard, no set of values whatsoever. Imagine Pirates of the Caribbean, but without the ‘Pirate Code’.

This article is motivated by the pending demise of my Grandmother. This is a woman at whom I’ve been at odds for my entire life. I can name the things which we hold in agreement on one hand… the internet isn’t large enough to hold the list of things we do not agree on. However, it’s a non-issue. The intent is what mattered. And that’s what lead me to write this article.

Life is about the choices we make. Faith or no faith – everyone starts out clean. And we ultimately become something that is a result of what we choose, in those instances when we have the ability to choose. My relationship with my Grandmother is a sound and solid one, although on the surface it would likely appear to be quite the opposite.

Not a day went by that we didn’t debate something, many times culminating in a thorough “Fuck you” – which was responded to with a fervent, “Hah, then fuck you too!” It was a crap shoot as to who went first… Ten minutes later, I would be cleaning up and hustling out the door to school or work or wherever, and one of us would always catch the other for a hug, a kiss, and an honest “Hey, I love you – see you in the morning.” We have become masters of free thinking, upholding our convictions, but doing so whilst never losing sight of our common love and respect for each other.

I have no regrets for this. If anyone else had spoken to her in this manner, they would be picking their teeth out of my first. … and I don’t apologize for saying that either. It was the intent that mattered – it was the choices that mattered.

She made choices and took actions throughout her life that intimidate if not scare lesser people. Here’s some choices she made…

- What do I care about the gays? They’re not taking food out of my mouth – let them get married. They should get married. It’s wrong how we [as a society] treat them. You don’t think that if they could live any other way that they wouldn’t? You think it’s easy to live like that [under ridicule]? They’re not hurting me.

- So he’s black, so what? What did he ever do to you? Nothing – get over it. You don’t want to like him, fine, that’s your own ignorance. But when you treat him like shit it degrades not only him but yourself. It’s showing how stupid you are.

- I don’t care what my neighbors have. They can have a nicer lawn, a nicer fence, a nicer roof – nicer everything. It has no affect on me. I worry about what is mine, what I am responsible for. I try to do the best I can with what I have, and to do it in a way that I’m not taking away from something else or taking away from my family just because I want a new driveway.

- This isn’t for me; none of this is for me. When I do, I do because I could drop dead any minute [I heard her say this 20 years ago, so it has nothing to do with recent years], and after me they’re going to look back and either say I did right or I did wrong. I don’t want to do wrong by anyone.

- God knows. You may think you’re the only one who will ever find out, or it won’t hurt anyone else, but God knows. You have to live with that.

- I had men all over me when I was younger. You don’t hear me talk about it because I don’t give a shit. I didn’t encourage them, and I didn’t make a scene either. We [her and my Grandfather] were at a wedding. I was in my 20′s, and one of his relatives is talking to me like he wants to make something of it. Did you see me making a scene or causing a problem? Did I go to Vince and tell him that he better do something about it? No… but you didn’t see me give the son of a bitch the time of day either. I leaned toward him very quietly and told him to drop dead. After the wedding was over, I told his wife, and walked away. Being a lady has less to do with actually being a lady and more to do with not letting yourself be scared.

- You don’t know the value of a dollar. You can’t. You’ve always had everything – you haven’t had to go without. We were a family of 7 girls. My mother and father had a hard time [financially]. In the dead of winter, my father would walk up and down the tracks – through Lackawanna, into Buffalo, and back again. He would pull a little red wagon behind him, and he would pick up all the coal that had fallen off the trains as they went by. He’d use it to heat the house. He would come back covered in snow, with blue fingers, but his girls never went cold. If we had money sometimes, and we could buy what we needed, we would, but he’d still go out. Because he knew there would be days when we wouldn’t have enough. My mother would sew our underwear from potato sacks. You think that’s awful – it wasn’t. She would cut the potato sacks and clean them, and clean them, and clean them, and clean them some more. Her hands would be raw, and her arms just throbbing so. She would spend hours at it. And when she was done, it looked like the finest pure white cloth you had ever seen. Then she would cut them to size and sew them by hand. She never complained. She was happy to have what she had, and we were happy to have her. That’s why I handle money the way I do [which was a very loaded statement, because she would pinch pennies one minute, and then give it away without so much as a question the next minute – if she felt it just.]

- You give it away too easily [money].

- my response = ‘So what, I try to help out when I can. One way or another, I’ll always figure something out. I’m crafty like that. Some bastards just can’t make ends meet though, especially worthwhile causes that may actually be able to make a positive change in the world.’

- her response = ‘They’ll use that against you [caring]. They know you’ll fall for a sob story.’

- my response = ‘Then that’s something they’ll have to live with, not me.’

- her response = ‘But you’re paying the bill.’

- my response = ‘So how do you deal with it then? Because I’m not the one dumping money into the SPCA.’

- her response = ‘Go to hell. Those little dogs need food.’

I could go on and on, but the point is made. Her choices have resulted in a life that I hope she is content with and takes pride in. I’m proud of her, that much is certain.

When my time comes, likely brought about early by these oh-so-tasty Kool Filter Kings, I hope that I can look back and feel solid… confident.

I am a Liberal – if that’s what you want to call it. I believe that strict interpretation of anything is a sign of ignorance, and the ‘grey-ish’ viewpoint of the Liberal political spectrum is in keeping with that. I support the American Worker’s Right to Unionize. I support government sponsored Health Care. I don’t support carte-blanc welfare, Communism, Socialism, or abuse of Social Aid Systems.

I am a Utopian – if that’s what you want to call it. I believe every person is born with the ability to do great and powerful things in their life. I believe that we have a duty to try and live up to that potential, and that challenging people when they fall short is not a manner of ridicule but a manner of constructive motivation. We must drive each other to excellence.

I am a Homosexual – if that’s what you want to call it. While I have relationships strictly with women, intend to (if the opportunity arises) marry a woman, have never had any interest or interaction with men, and live happily as a straight male; I fully support a human being’s right to date / marry / share life with someone of the same gender if that is how they are driven. So if wanting to protect someone’s right to be happy makes me a raging ‘butt-fucker’, then bend me over and let’s get to it.

I am an Enemy of the Constitution – if that’s what you want to call it. I interpret it in the manner in which it was written, not the manner in which it reads. The primary author of the American Constitution was Thomas Jefferson. He stated clearly, and it is enshrined in chiseled beauty at his memorial…

I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

So, if interpreting the Constitution and then applying the context of modern society – accounting for the evolution of that society from the time the document was penned, and making appropriate, intelligent adjustments in order to keep with the spirit of the original document… if that makes me an Enemy, then arrest me for Treason now.

I am an Enemy of Christianity – if that’s what you want to call it. The same argument which applies to the Constitution applies to the Bible, only strengthened by ten-fold due to the substantially greater time lapse in years since each was penned. I firmly believe that God would take Jefferson’s statement to heart as much as I do, and be more concerned that the spirit of the original document be understood rather than the details. You cannot claim yourself to be a good Christian because you have obeyed God’s law of not coveting your neighbor’s male servant or donkey. Your neighbor shouldn’t have a male servant – slavery was abolished 150 years ago; and unless you live on a farm, your neighbor probably doesn’t have a donkey either. And your not coveting a non-existent person / non-existent donkey does not make you a just and holy man. It makes you a fool for literally interpreting a document that was intended to convey a deeper message, a concept, a platform for thought and evolution of the mind and soul. Grandma got it right… scroll up to “I don’t care what my neighbors have…”

So, I guess I am all these terrible things – but I’ll sleep like a baby knowing it.

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