Life and Living: An Open Letter To The Stanford Survivor…and ALL Survivors

     I read your impact statement last night, in its entirety. Where do I begin? I felt the overwhelming desire, being the father that I am, to encircle you in comforting arms…but what can be said, to bring comfort?

     “It’s going to be okay”? “Everything’s going to be okay”? They seem like such empty platitudes, in light of everything that has happened since that terrible night. No. Everything is not going to be “okay.” Nothing about this is “okay”, or should ever be thought to be “okay.” That despicable act, the lack of any acceptance of culpability on the part of the young man or his father, and the equally despicable joke of a sentence handed down by the judge. None of it is “okay”, or ever will be.

     You, on the other hand, can find yourself firmly on the road to “okay”, but you’re going to have to dig deep. Some days will be better than others. Things that seemed inconsequential before, will now bring hesitation and trepidation. I’m not going to even presume to tell you that this is “normal”, because it’s not normal, unless a person has endured what you and many others have. When these triggers jump up, (and they will never do so at opportune times,) you’re going to need some personal ammunition to combat their impacts.

     You will survive…you must survive. Don’t give those bastards the satisfaction of ever caving under the weight of this. Yes, there will be times when the weight will seem unbearable, but in those times, remember that you are not alone. You’re never alone. You have millions of fellow life travelers, some of whom have been through similar trials, who stand with you, maybe not in person, but definitely in thought and spirit. Surround yourself with those who will uplift you. Cast off the negatives, the naysayers and the “don’t be’s.”

     You’re on our minds and in our thoughts. While we may not know your name, that’s not important. We’re still thinking about you, willing you feelings of love, peace, comfort and light, even in the darkest of times.

Life and Living: The Commonalities Between Snakes, Knives, and Philip Seymour Hoffman

Flirting with death? From l. to r. - Jamie Coots, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Cody Coots.

Flirting with death? From l. to r. – Jamie Coots, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Cody Coots.

     Now, they say that Blondes have more fun, but personally, I don’t think that’s true. In fact, it appears that some rural Kentuckians are having far more fun than even Blondes do; (ready for it?) indeed, more fun than they can shake a snake at! (Cue sad trombone.) Why else would someone want to risk their life doing something, even after their own father has lost his life in the very same way?

     That’s what Cody Coots, the new pastor of the Middlesboro, Kentucky “Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name” church, says that he’s prepared to do. (1) For those of you, my fine young readers, that aren’t familiar with the story, we’ll climb into the proverbial Chronosphere, and like Jonathan LaPaglia on the late-nineties show, jump back seven days…

     Last Saturday, Middlesboro, Kentucky pastor Jamie Coots lost his life, having been bitten by one of the poisonous snakes that he and fellow attendees of the Full Gospel Tabernacle are so fond of messing with in the “name of Jesus.” (2) They believe that, according to bible passage Mark 16:18, if their faith is strong, that those pesky little snakebites won’t hurt them at all;

“They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
(Mark 16:18, KJV)

     Now, I’ve suggested in the days since that either the Bible is wrong, that Pastor Coots misinterpreted it, or that he wasn’t “anointed” in the first place. Indeed, during my initial flirtations with this topic on Facebook, one of my friends even suggested that the elder Coots had been “released from his calling,” to which I responded with a reference to Romans 11:29, which basically states that God doesn’t “issue recalls.” The debate, though, isn’t quite about that. The true crux of the issue here, in my own not-so-humble opinion, is once again, where faith meets religion, and religion’s never-ending propensity for the misapplication of faith…or does the “rabbit hole” go even deeper?

     Another friend once told me that the Bible is a “scary” thing. I don’t think so. The Bible, in and of itself, is just a book. This book cannot act of its own volition, can it? No. It requires a human element to use it, whether that be for good or ill. In that discussion, I likened the Bible to a kitchen knife. As everyone knows, a kitchen knife is a tool, designed and purposed to aid in the preparation of food for consumption. We don’t fear kitchen knives, do we? If I take a paring knife out and set it on the counter next to an apple, will that knife jump up, and cut my apple into several neat, little slices for me to eat? Likewise, will it jump up and stab someone? No, but it can be used to those ends! Once again, it requires the interaction of a person. In my opinion, some degree of accountability must be assigned to the person or people who are using the tool.

     Cody Coots has said that if he gets bitten by the snake, then he, like his father, will decline emergency treatment. He states that if he dies, then it must be “God’s will.” (Question: if there is a gun on the table that one knows is loaded and has a round in the chamber, and one picks up that gun, points it at their head and says, “If I die when I pull this trigger, then it’s God’s will,” and then pulls the trigger and dies, whose will was it actually that this person died?)

     Personal accountability. It’s something that, quite honestly, is fading fast in America. In 1968, then-Governor Ronald Reagan mused on this concept during a speech to the Republican National Convention when he stated;

“We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”

     So, at what point do we hold a person or group of people accountable for their actions? In the course of asking this question, I’m reminded of the recent, tragic death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. Now, before anyone starts accusing me of trying to “capitalise on the death of a good and decent man,” please read on a bit.

     As a lot of you know, Hoffman was found in his West Village, Manhattan apartment back on the 2nd of this month, dead of a Heroin overdose. Several small bags were found, and Hoffman died with a needle in his vein. (3) Since that day, those following and commenting on the sad story, have done what people often do; play the “blame game,” and attempt to find some kind of meaning in an otherwise meaningless death. They blame the drug. They blame the pusher. They blame the stresses of celebrity life…but does anyone ever place even a smidgen of the blame for Hoffman’s demise…on Hoffman?

     This needle, like any other needle I suspect, would not have been able to simply jump up and enter Hoffman’s arm. His supplier didn’t dose him, nor did any other Tinseltown actor or agent. No, Philip Seymour Hoffman did this to himself, knowing full well the dangers of what he was doing. The sooner we acknowledge this, the better we’ll be at viewing things like this objectively. Of course, there will still be those select few who, like Coots and progeny, will blame their own and others’ ill-fated actions on everyone else, including their God.

 

Life and Living: Real, Real, Really Real

     I’m going to start this article off by saying that I haven’t sat down and penned anything in a “really” long time. My last article was published back in late November, and since then I have been pretty much dialed in to taking care of IRL issues during the holiday season. Now that 2014 is here and the holidays are over…well, allons-y!

What is "real"?

What is “real”?

     A friend of mine posted the picture on the right to her Facebook wall, and it duly showed up on my newsfeed. More than anything else, it gave me a few moments of pause, causing me to start thinking about what “reality” is, and how we perceive and relate to it. It occurs to me, that there is not one, but two types of “reality”; subjective reality, and objective reality.

     Take for instance, my opening statement. My application of the term “really” is meant to attach an immenseness to the actual quantity of time that has elapsed since my last article was published. However! What might seem like a “really” long time to me, may not seem so long to another observer. In this case the reality is subjective, based upon the perspective from which it is being observed. Another example would be my observation of say, a rose. While I may see the rose as being red, someone who is color-blind may see it as being a shade of blue. Which color is “real”? To them, the rose is really blue, while to me, it is red. Does this difference in observation render their observation any less valuable than my own?

     Conversely, there are things that exist that, no matter who observes them, everyone will agree that they are real. Gravity, for example. Regardless of who observes it, gravity still pulls all things down to Earth at a uniform 32 feet per second, squared. (Now, I know that this brings up the argument of our standards of measurement, but for the sake of argument, let’s assume that 32′ /sec2 is universally true, where the Earth is concerned.) The point being, that the force of gravity is real, and can be proven across multiple disciplines and (rational) schools of thought.

     I have a ginormous issue. It has to do with the penchant on the part of some, to try applying the term “real” to ideas, institutions and concepts, in order to impose their own beliefs on these things. A “real” American. A “real” Christian. A “real” man. (Word to the wiser amongst you, my fine, young readers! Whenever anyone presents this “No True Scotsman” statement as a representation of fact, it should set off alarm bells in your rational thinking centers!) Take the picture above. According to the creator of the meme, a “real” man is monogamous, devoted and, most importantly, heterosexual. Anything else, and the man is not “real.” So, a man like George Takei, who has devoted his love and life to another man, is not “real” according to the meme’s standards. Likewise, someone who truly loves, and is devoted to two women…a polygamist, (as allowable in Islam) is not “real” according to the meme.

     The idea that I’m attempting to get across to you all, what I’m saying, (if I’m saying anything) is to exercise a modicum of caution when attempting to present your own opinions. Sure, we’re all entitled to possess our own opinions, but that doesn’t necessarily elevate them to the status of being factual. Wikipedia defines “reality” as:

“…the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined. In a wider definition, reality includes everything that is and has been, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible.”

     In other words, “id est quod id est.” (“It is what it is.”) Any standards that someone might seek to impose on it, regardless of what “it” may be, are subjective. (Which circles back to my observation on gravity, which we can get into in another article!)

Life and Living: All That Glitters…Is Perhaps NOT All That Exists!

brane_world     Ghosts, the soul, paranormal phenomena, such as precognition and auras. Photons, electrons and neutrinos. How could they be related?

     In the course of discussing things like religion and faith versus proof and evidence, I started thinking about existence. What is it? How do we observe and measure it? What are some of the weird, unexplainable phenomena that have been borne out of those observations and measurements? Then, my fine young readers, I started connecting the dots between these questions, and the fledgeling field of “String / M Theory.” It was when I did this, that I came to the realisation that we may exist and interact as part of a universe that is far more amazing, filled with much more “awesome-sauce” than we ever imagined!

     For ages now, we as a species have been attempting to explain our world, and the things that we can observe. We’ve looked into the night sky with ever more accurate devices, in an attempt to decipher the secrets of the very large. Conversely, we’ve dug deeper and deeper into the very small, with ever more powerful devices, in our attempts to unlock the mysteries of what we’re made of…and our efforts have yielded some very strange, counter-intuitive results!

     Take for instance, the “Double Slit Experiment.” In this apparatus, a beam of photons (light) is generated from a coherent light source, passed through two narrow slits, then projected onto a screen. Now, based on what we see in the everyday world, we would assume that what we would see on the screen would be two vertical shafts of light…and we’d be wrong. What we in fact have observed, time and time again, is what is known as an “interference pattern.” or multiple shafts of light! This would seem to indicate not only that these photons are behaving like waves instead of particles, but also that each photon is capable of going through both slits at the same time! (My fine young readers, you can call bullshit on this if you wish, but it’s true! This experiment has been performed several times, in several ways…each time with the same results!) The same experiment can be done with a single slit apparatus, capable of being narrowed manually. As the slit is narrowed, the light beam, instead of narrowing and being eventually cut off, actually spreads out horizontally! Ah, but this is not the only instance of “quantum weirdness” that has been seen.

     In other experiments, we’ve observed such things as neutrinos passing through solid matter, and electrons (and other point particles) that seem to pop in and out of existence. BUT! Are they actually doing so, or are they in fact just passing in and out of our three observable dimensions, from and to other “planes of existence”? This idea might sound pretty “Ghost Hunter-ish” at first blush, but there are in fact, mathematical equations and scientific theorems that back this up. String Theory, and its offspring “M” Theory, postulate the existence of no less than seven other spatial dimensions in addition to our own. If the equations of string theory are an accurate description of our universe, then the behavior of things like electrons and neutrinos becomes like text on a page, coming into focus once we put a pair of glasses on. (See where I’m going with that? Foster Grants…for quantum mechanics!)

     That’s not all, though! Once we begin to consider that the world we live in is far bigger, and contains far more dimensions than what we experience with our five senses, then things like paranormal phenomena might also be explainable, scientifically! Everything from auras, spirits and other things that we have wondered over, scientifically measurable and known.

STTNG_Q_100pxw

“Exactly. For that one fraction of a second, you were open to options you had never considered. *That* is the exploration that awaits you. Not mapping stars and studying nebulae, but charting the unknown possibilities…of existence.”
(“Q”, Star Trek TNG, episode “All Good Things.”)

Life and Living: Existential Epiphanies and Dreamscapes – Reflections of An Only Child

Ripperdan_300pxw“Tuesday’s child is full of grace…”

     I can never go back. I can never relive those days so long ago, when life was much sweeter and simpler, viewed through the prism of the present. Life, such as it is, will press me ever onward, into the uncertain future. I can do nothing else, but try to be the best me that I can be, for myself and those I hold nearer and dearer.

     There were golden, wrapped individual roses, and copies of our eighth-grade yearbook embossed with gold seals. Everyone was there; talking, dancing and reminiscing about days long since passed. It was a reunion. Faces I hadn’t lain eyes on since 1984 appeared vividly in my mind’s eye as I lay in the dark, silently dreaming. I dreamt of dancing with a former girlfriend, I dreamt of the possibility of stealing a kiss from a girl I had longed to steal one from decades ago. Then, in mere seconds, the images faded as I awoke from the dream. Feeling bittersweet, I rose from my bed to greet Tuesday morning.

     What has my life been, up to this point? Have I lived my life honestly, openly to its fullest, while making a positive impact on the world around me? Have I kept the friends I had long ago, as close as I possibly could? These and other questions washed over my mind like waves on the shore as I poured my morning coffee. What is my life? What is my present, when compared with my past, and what does my future hold?

     Sitting at my computer screen, I catch myself looking through my list of friends on Facebook. Social networking, it seems, has become all but a staple of 21st-century life for some. I see the faces and read the names of those I have come to know over the years; few if any, from my childhood days, but conversely more from my adulthood. It occurs to me that many of us have grown to become quite different people than we were in our childhood, and perhaps that’s why there are so few names in my list from those days.

     I too, have changed over the years. As a child, and through my teen years, I often felt that I never quite fit in with the majority. I was the type who kept largely to myself, only interacting with others when pried from my shell through activities such as drama, band and my middle-school’s “GATE” program. Otherwise, I was in school as I was in the home; an only child.

     I am far from alone in my adult life. I have a loving and talented wife, who I have been wedded to for a quarter of a century. I have three wonderful children of my own, two of whom have grown to adulthood and one entering her pre-teen years. These are the prime movers of my existence, my motivation to live and to love.

     So I press on, into whatever the future may hold. Regrets will never do, so I do my best to make my peace with the past…and move gracefully forward.

The Chaser: Edible America – Did You Order a Side of Ridicule With Your Panera Baguette?

Judgmental_bread_300pxw     Wow. I really need to start paying a lot more attention to Buzzfeed! Today, I stumbled across an article on the site, entitled “31 Ways To Be The Worst Person At Panera Bread.” The article relies largely on screen captures of various tweets from the Twitter page, “PaneraProblems.” As I scrolled down through the Twitter postings, one thing stood out from everything else; the people posting these tweets are some pretty judgmental arse hats! The majority of the posts appear to be from people who are employed by the restaurant chain, which is based in the Sunset Hills suburb of St. Louis, Missouri. While some of them do express frustration at seemingly inane requests and behaviors, the larger part come off as nothing short of persnickety, stuck up and judgmental. Here is a choice selection of these “Panera Posts” (No, I will not be masking anything, since the posts have already been made public.):

The Pronunciation Police

The Pronunciation Police

Intelligencia?

Intelligencia?

No friend of Foster's...

No friend of Foster’s…

Another PP Officer...

Another PP Officer…

     The page admin at Panera Problems is even joining in the fun;

Nice.

Nice.

     I’d love to know exactly what the folks at Panera’s corporate HQ think of all of this negative publicity. As for me, if I ever have want of being judged for what I order, how I pronounce it or when I order it, I’ll try placing an order at a church. Otherwise, Panera Bread won’t be receiving one penny of my money…well, I might be inclined to toss a few pennies into the parking lot as I drive past, while uttering the following in Latin, with perfect pronunciation: Potes meos suaviari clunes.

[POST-SCRIPT:] If Panera Bread corporate is at all serious about respect for their customer base, they’ll climb all over this. If that happens, I might be inclined to try Panera once their shop opens locally.

Life and Living: Remembering And Honoring Our Veterans’ Sacrifices – Musing On a Poppy

WWI_flanders_banner_600pxw

In Flanders fields the poppies grow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

poppy_field_300pxw

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

     These words were penned in the spring of 1915, by Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, after burying his friend and fellow soldier, Alexis Helmer. The century that has passed since these words were penned has witnessed another world war, while also being punctuated by several regional conflicts between nations. Here in the U.S., we have borne the pain of not one, but two attacks on our own soil. We have been embroiled in overseas conflicts, including a few which were not at all viewed favorably by those back here at home. Through both peacetime and war, however, there have been brave men and women who have sacrificed much, including their very lives, to ensure the freedom of others.

     Veteran’s Day. It can’t be mere coincidence that this day falls within the same month as Thanksgiving, and I would hope that the implications of this arrangement of days aren’t lost on my fellow life travelers. I for one, am thankful for the many sacrifices that our men and women in uniform make, on a daily basis. In contrast to the days of WWI, our military is now a completely voluntary endeavor. This means that the sacrifices start when a man or woman makes the conscious decision to sign their name on the dotted line, raise their right hand, and swear an oath to “support and defend.” Since September 11th, 2001, men and women have done this while our nation has been on a wartime footing, knowing full well what the ramifications are, which makes the sacrifice that much more meaningful.

     A cursory Google search of the words “Veteran’s Day,” will return page results that make mention of various discounts, sales and freebies that our brave soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines can avail themselves of, which is all well and good as long as we don’t lose sight of the true purpose of the day…which brings me back to Lieutenant Colonel McCrae and his rondeau, “In Flanders Fields.”

“Earn this.”
(Captain Miller’s last words to Private Ryan, from “Saving Private Ryan,” ©1998 Dreamworks / Paramount.)

     As not only a veteran myself, but also as a civilian whose freedoms are currently being watched over by those in uniform, I honestly feel that the question we should all be asking ourselves, is this: “How can I “take up the quarrel with the foe”? How can I “hold the torch high and keep the faith”?” How do we honor their sacrifices, not only on this day, but every day that follows?

     If we’re truly thankful and appreciative in our hearts for the many sacrifices made by our veterans, the question becomes easier to answer. It can start with something as simple as (sincerely) thanking a veteran for their service, but it cannot stop there. We need to press our government to take better care of our veterans, especially our disabled and wounded veterans, than they have done so far. We need to encourage our elected officials to seek peaceful solutions to geopolitical differences. We need to act more favorably and magnanimously toward our fellow life travelers…and ourselves. In short, we need to strive to make the world a place where war is what it should have always been, the last resort of last resorts.

The Chaser: The Facism of Racism…Tweet Tweet

Miss America 2013, Nina Davuluri, and AGT winner Kenichi Ebina.

Miss America 2013, Nina Davuluri, and AGT winner Kenichi Ebina.

     Now, some of you might be saying, “Huh, now that’s a weird title for an article! Is J. Pat losing a few marbles?” No, my fine young readers, I assure you that all is as well as it usually is in the mental “Casa de Morgan.” In fact, what I’m about to rip into here at The Cybersattva, bears a scary correlation to the mentality behind Fascism, and was smeared all over the Twitter-sphere on the 18th of this month.

     This has to do with the recent winner of a show called, “America’s Got Talent.” Earlier this month, a contestant (dancer) named Kenichi Ebina beat out every other contestant to earn the highest accolade of the program. From what I understand, he emigrated to our fine shores from his native Japan a while back. I don’t personally watch the show, but from what You Tube and other online footage that I’ve seen, this guy does have talent! This event, coupled with the crowning of our first Miss America of Indian descent (Nina Davuluri) a few days prior to that, has unfortunately resulted in the exposure of a cancer that is eating away at the fabric of this nation and its people; xenophobic racism. (Yes, I know. Please excuse the apparent redundancy of that descriptor.)

     Make no mistake beloved, there are some extremely hate-filled people in the world. Here, for all of the world to see, are the Twitter postings (complete and utter dreck!) of just a few of them:

CANCER...EXPOSED

CANCER…EXPOSED

     What’s truly ironic, is that I just finished watching a documentary on the “Human Family Tree” on NatGeo, which explained how the different mtDNA haplogroups can be traced back to “Mitochondrial Eve.” In other words people, we’re all related! We’re all part of the human race, regardless of how our group and individual traits have changed over the millennia. Even more ironic, is the strong possibility that the above posters could belong to some of the same, if not closely related, mtDNA haplogroups as Nina and Kenichi!

     Oh, but these few. These people, comporting themselves as nipple-headed, xenophobic cesspots. I’ve decided that something needs to be done to address the issue when and where it resides, and this is my small part of that. The following is a list of the above users, and their Twitter accounts. I would encourage each one of you to drop these people a line or two, and let ’em know the following; we stand together, and will not be tolerant of the hate-mongering and racist rhetoric being spread like so much rotten jelly on our societal “bread.” Do it lovingly, but sternly, my fine young readers!

     Racism, you’ve just been outted by The Cybersattva! Remember people, shame the deed but love the person.

“But there’s one lesson that stands out from all the others; it’s a lesson about relationships. You, and I, in fact everyone all over the world, we’re all literally African under the skin. Brothers and sisters, separated by a mere two-thousand generations. Old-fashioned concepts of race are not only socially divisive, but scientifically wrong. It’s only when we’ve fully taken this on board, that we can say with any conviction that the journey our ancestors launched all those years ago…is complete.”

Dr. Spencer Wells, Geneticist

From the program, “Journey of Man”

Life and Living: An Open Letter To Rensselaer Parents From WGY Morning Host Kelly Lynch

News Radio WGY morning host Kelly Lynch. Photo courtesy of WGY (810 AM / 103.1 FM) Schenectady, NY

News Radio WGY morning host Kelly Lynch. Photo courtesy of WGY (810 AM / 103.1 FM) Schenectady, NY

     It’s very seldom that I find material on the internet that is worth reblogging in its entirety. The following letter however, is one of those rare items. It is an open letter to the parents of the “Stephentown 300,” the three hundred teenagers that broke into former NFL star Brian Holloway’s Rensselaer County home, and proceeded to throw what can only be described as a brutally bacchanal bash, (yes, three times, really fast!) replete with acts such as urinating on the floors, destroying memorials and laying utter waste to the property. What’s even more outrageous is that these teenagers had the sheer audacity to post pictures and messages about the torrid event on twitter! Holloway was made aware of the ongoing trouble as it happened, via retweets from his 19-year-old son.

     But I digress. The rest of the torrid tale is contained within the details of the letter below, penned by Kelly Lynch of the News Radio WGY-AM morning show team in Schenectady, New York:

“What planet do you live on?

Last week, word got out that your children had broken into a home in Stephentown and threw a party. More than 300 of them partied and drunkenly smashed windows, urinated on the floors, stood on tables, punched holes in the ceiling and stole a statue that was part of a memorial for the owner’s stillborn grandson. Oh, it gets better.  Before, during and after the party, they tweeted about it and posted pictures of themselves engaged in this behavior.

Way to go.

The house is owned by former NFL player Brian Holloway.  It is his second residence, paid for in part by his Super Bowl bonus.  He lives in Florida and the Stephentown house is on the market.  He watched this unfold online while at his home in Florida.  Instead of demanding the arrest of your kids, he instead created a website, www.helpmesave300.com where he reposted their photos, identified the people involved, and called for ways to reach out to young people and show them that there are better ways to spend their time than drinking, drugs and vandalism.

He is a better person than I would have been in that position. It takes class and compassion to see beyond the urine stained carpets, broken windows, damaged walls and blatant disrespect to reach out to your kids. He even offered to welcome these derelicts back to his house for a picnic, where they would work together to make repairs and clean up the mess they left behind.  I don’t know that the rest of us would have been able to react the same way.

And one kid showed up.  One, out of the 300 teens who were there.

Instead of dragging your kids back to apologize and clean up the mess, you lashed out at Brian Holloway, threatened to firebomb his house, and are now planning to sue him.  For what? For identifying your kids online.  Well guess what?  Your little Johnny did that himself the minute he tweeted that iPhone photo standing on the dining room table, holding a red solo cup filled with beer.

Look, I don’t blame you for what your kids did.  Heck, I don’t even really blame them.  Teens will be teens, and they do stupid things sometimes.  We’ve all been there. It’s not fair to judge parents on the mistakes their kids make.  It is how you handle that behavior afterwards that reflects on you as a parent.

Instead of sitting little Johnny down and reminding him that what he did is not acceptable and then dragging him by the collar to apologize to Mr. Holloway, you chose instead to harass and threaten the victim.  Let’s not forget here, your child victimized this man by destroying his home.  How dare you respond with anything other than regret, embarrassment, and a sincere apology instead of righteous indignation, threats of violence and lawsuits.

Parents like you are responsible for an entire generation that expects the world handed to them, because you have given it to them all along.  Instead of teaching your kids to work hard and earn things, you give a trophy to every kid in youth sports and then hand them an iPhone in middle school. You are the parents screaming through the fence at the Little League umpire instead of teaching good sportsmanship. You are the ones criticizing the teacher instead of realizing they just want to help your child learn.

Can you please just step back and look at what you are doing to your kids?  This is the generation that will grow up to lead our country and make decisions regarding our lives.  Personally, I hope NONE of them come from Stephentown.

-Kelly”(1)

     Kelly, as a parent, I couldn’t agree more, and couldn’t have said it better myself.

__________________________________________________

Life and Living: What Makes Bad Words…Bad?

RRated Language

CAUTIONThe following article addresses the use of language that some may consider foul or coarse, and includes words to that effect. Readers who possess strong reservations against this type of language are advised to proceed with discretion.

TLDR ADVISORY: This article exceeds 1,000 words, and may be lengthy for some readers.

     My father is a church board member. He attends services most every Sunday, and is an upstanding member of the community. At home, he does his very best to live his life accordingly, the way that he believes that God would want him to. I love my father very much.

     That being said, I do have a slight issue with his restrictiveness of my speech freedoms whenever I’m down visiting. I am a former soldier, and as most people know, soldiers tend to pick up quite a bit of “colorful language” along the way. As a result, sometimes I slip and give utterance to words that my father doesn’t necessarily appreciate; and of course, he’s quick on the trigger with the “hey, language,” or “watch your mouth” retort. So, I started wondering; what exactly is it that makes “bad words” bad?

     Now, up to this point in my musings on and forays into the human condition here at The Cybersattva, I have done my level best to do so without resorting to using language that some would deem “profane” or “coarse,” words that one would normally hear in another setting, such as a bar or a pool hall. The “F” word, the “S” word, the “P” word and the “B” word are nigh present as of this article. I find myself wondering, for the sake of the article itself, if I should include them…

     What makes bad words bad? Is it the words themselves? Let’s look at a few, starting with the venerable George Carlin’s list of the “Seven Dirty Words You Can’t Say on Television.” (For those of you who are absolutely averse to “coarse language” of any sort, now would be the time to go browse for nice pictures of cats or flowers.) These words are:

  • Shit
  • Piss
  • Fuck
  • Cunt
  • Cocksucker
  • Motherfucker
  • Tits

     Does anyone besides myself notice a pattern forming? If one considers the generally accepted definitions of these “cuss words” and others, they will begin to note that almost 95 percent of them describe functions relating to, or parts of the human anatomy and human sexuality. Then there are words such as;

  • Bitch
  • Bastard

     These are words used to disparage a person directly, although they also have more acceptable uses within the English language. For instance, a bitch is the proper term for a Canine female, and a bastard is a male child born out of wedlock. These types of words make up about four percent of the “cuss word pie.” The other one percent is taken up by words such as “damn” and “hell,” which are words with a decidedly negative religious connotation.

     What makes bad words bad? Is it their intended effect or contextual use? If I stand up before leaving my parents’ house and say, “Well, it’s time to get my shit together so I can get on the road,” is the word “shit” within the context of the previous sentence, still a “bad word”? What I’ve done there is use the word “shit” as a synonym for the word “stuff” or “items”. Now, I know some people who purposefully use words that are considered profane, purely for their “shock value”. However, if that was not my intent, why would it still be a “bad word”?

     Is it how others perceive what we are saying? If you did not speak or write even a blip of English, and I walked up to you on the street and said, “Hey! How the fuck are you doing?” and shook your hand, you would only know that I was greeting you, and would do your best to respond in kind, with no offense taken. If on the other hand, you do understand the English language fairly well, you might or might not be offended, depending on what context you apply to what I’ve just said. In other words, exactly how much of the onus for offense lies with the offended person, if any at all?

     What makes bad words bad? Why are they collectively referred to as “profanity”? Let’s stop for just a second, and examine the definition of the word “profane”:

pro·fane  /prəˈfān,prō-/
adjective:
1. relating or devoted to that which is not sacred or biblical; secular rather than religious.
2. (of a person or their behavior) not respectful of orthodox religious practice; irreverent.
verb:
1. treat (something sacred) with irreverence or disrespect.

     Once again, we see religion’s influence on society, specifically how the expression of thoughts and ideas through language is measured against a sense of what is “holy” or “sacred”.

     There are also words (and please forgive me ahead of time for committing these words to electronic media!) that have been used throughout history to disparage select groups of people, words used to discriminate;

  • Nigger
  • Spick
  • Wop
  • Chink
  • Chin
  • Dago
  • Raghead
  • Kike

     These and similar “racial epithets” have varying degrees of conversational acceptability, depending on the company one keeps. I even know people who are perfectly comfortable using a racial epithet, but cringe at words such as “fuck” and “shit”, regardless of their contextual use. (If you ask me, no racial epithet is acceptable at anytime.)

     Gets you thinking, doesn’t it? In my own, not-so-humble opinion, we should all give a lot more thought to the words we use, and how we use them. What does our vocabulary say to others about us? How does it convey what kind of person we are, our upbringing, our value system and our level of consideration for our fellow life travelers? Within this respect, there are words which should be considered far worse for use than words such as “bitch” or “fuck”;

  • Idiot
  • Dummy
  • Retard (or any of its politically-motivated variants!)
  • Stupid
  • Moron

     To what degree do we value our fellow human beings? The words listed above are used primarily to demean another’s intelligence. Other words, such as “ugly” or “fat” are used to demean appearance. Shouldn’t those words be considered equally as unacceptable as the original seven? What does it say about us as a society, or individuals, when we have no problems calling someone a “dummy”, but cringe whenever someone says the word “fuck”? What does that say about our value system?

     I’ll close with this thought; be excellent to each other. Communicate better with each other, and use your words meaningfully!