Thursday, June 9, 2011

Religious Tolerance: Essential for Survival

Source: jmhullot
United we stand and divided we fall. This we know for sure. History has proven this statement true for as long as we humans have been recording it. So what is different this time?
This is the first time in recorded human history that we have had mass communication that allows every person, who has access to a computer connected to the Internet by a nationally neutral server, to have an uncensored voice. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on whether or not you hold a megalomaniacal view, that may be coming to an end for Americans. The American government can breathe more easily as they do already in North Korea and Thailand. But how to get people who love freedom on board with this? Aha! Let’s divide them.
There are writers who are more than willing to drink the fluoride and tow the party line if there is something in it for them. Isn’t that the American way? Sure it is! It’s called capitalism. So let’s capitalize on fear, ignorance, greed, and every other base human trait and say it’s in the name of God. Cool. I'll make money and anyone who disagrees with me is a heathen and a traitor. You don’t even have to be American to be a traitor to the United States anymore. The treatment of Julian Assange has paved the way for that one.
The rallying cry is Believers (in what, isn’t exactly clear in the article I read, since it was expanded shortly after publication from those who believe in Jesus Christ to now include Muslims and Jews ) versus Non-Believers.
Jews do not worship Jesus. Muslims do not worship Jesus. So now the article in question has become an inflammatory Us and Them except for those who can beat you up on the way home from school and those who shared their sandwich with you. If you automatically typecast on that one, shame on you.
The last time I’ve seen something quite this simple was on the elementary school playground during recess and today, we call that behavior bullying.
This article names Buddhists as being among those in the enemy camp. This probably comes as no surprise to the Dalai Lama, which may be why he is trying to lead his people to religious tolerance and harmony. I’m not sure, but I imagine Gandhi is also on the kaka list since Hinduism was not mentioned among the good and true. Neither are the native Americans. In fact, their beliefs are clearly listed as among the opposition.
History remembers tirades like this. People were killed, holy places burned, and suspicion reigned supreme so that unscrupulous and manipulative people could gain and maintain control.
Jesus was not a bully as far as I know. He embraced strangers, told stories of working together to make life better for everyone and not once embraced and endorsed a political party. He did have an issue with those in positions of power who used beliefs to manipulate people and maintain political control.

What would Jesus do?

Well, let’s look at what Jesus did instead of making it up to gain HubPage views or votes. He had a lot of issues with both the Pharisees and Sadducees and found himself in conflict with them most of the time. Who were these people?
The Sadducees were mostly the aristocrats of the day and they were usually wealthy and held powerful positions. The ruling council was called the Sanhedrin and Sadducees held the majority of seats. They usually went along with Rome’s decisions and were more concerned with politics even though they maintained a pious view and were more conservative when it came to the Word of God. They gave authority to only the written Word. It is also important to note that what they actually did was often at odds with the scripture they held holy.
The Pharisees, on the other hand, gave the oral tradition equal authority. The Sadducees often had to go along with the more liberal ideas of the Pharisees because the common man related much more with this party.
Muslim prayers
Muslim prayers
Holy Baptism in the Roman Catholic Church
Holy Baptism in the Roman Catholic Church
Source: Melchior 2006
Dalai Lama awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, October 2007, Washington DC
Dalai Lama awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, October 2007, Washington DC
Source: Mark Peters on Flickr
Hindu marriage ceremony
Hindu marriage ceremony
Jewish chaplain conducts services aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln
Jewish chaplain conducts services aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln

Political & Religious Arenas

While both parties can be commended for doing the best job they knew how to do, let’s not neglect the blatant similarities to today’s American Conservatives and Liberals or Republicans and Democrats. Why do some people think Jesus would feel any differently now than he did then?
Remember the old adage “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”? There you have it. What you think, imagine, or believe does not count. What you do counts. If it works to bring people together in harmony, it is by nature in keeping with the teachings of many great men, Jesus among them.
Can you think of anything more insidious and quite frankly, evil, than dividing and judging people according to their thoughts and ideas? George Orwell covered that quite nicely in his novel 1984. His timing was off slightly but the message is one to heed. The Internet is like the modern Garden of Eden. You have free will and can write and read whatever you like but remember that ultimately, it is what you do that counts. If you use this gift to cause harm by dividing people, according to all major religions, it will not go well for you.
Remember, we do not have the answers. We have only guidelines. If you are a person who holds the Bible as a holy book, then you know that to be true. You do not have the answers. We are told that now we see through a glass darkly. Does it really take being hit over the head with a 2 x 4 to understand that WE DON’T KNOW. The paradox is that to assume otherwise is to challenge the very God you are striving to believe in.
The books are here to read and learn how societies can work better if we make laws that follow a certain mode of behavior.
I may choose to believe some ideas to be true but that does not make them true for everyone. What matters to me more is how we behave day to day.
How we treat this earth matters more than whether God created it in seven days or it is the result of a big cosmic bang. Respect the earth.
How we treat each other matters more than whether we are all the result of incest or of evolution. Respect each other.
If you believe you have found a good path, then by all means share it by your actions and not your dogma. Share what you have with your neighbor who is in need. Share your gifts to make the world brighter than it was before your birth.
These problems are not new. The fighting and bickering over what makes a real Christian and what the emerging church esteemed goes back a long way. Paul addressed exactly this issue in his letter to the Corinthians while attempting to convert them to Christianity.
Jesus did not address any such thing - ever!
Religion and politics do not mix. Keep them separate or they will both be denigrated. When they become one and the same, they are both defeated.
1 Corinthians 12:1-10
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing.
Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

What do I take from this?

It’s simple. We know nothing of the workings of the universe so for now, just shut up, do the right thing, and be the best person you know how to be without hurting anyone else. Regardless of doctrine, you’ve been shown a way, not given the key to the entire universe.
Wait a minute! Isn’t that a Buddhist directive? Yes, it is.
This hub is not to ridicule or deride anyone for their beliefs, but it is certainly meant to deride those who use honest people and religion as an excuse for control, power, war, or personal gain.
If your perception of God has a trick question section, shame on you! And shame on me for giving you page views and comments. I will not change anything by challenging your words and engaging in a pedantic dance. Change may occur if I accord you respect as a human being. Instead of finding fault with you, I could appeal to you to be your personal best and assure you that you do not have to diminish others in order to further your own journey.
Let's all have some respect and start behaving in a way that reflects the true values of the real people of a free world. Right now we have a voice. Let's use it! Together we are a choir. Divided we are only voices crying in the wilderness.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What is Politically Correct?

More and more statements are coming under fire for wording that is being viewed as politically incorrect. I think we all agree that negative statements about specific people, cultures, or belief systems validly falls into this category but in some cases, are we going too far?
On the contrary, perhaps we are not going far enough.
(Badly drawn conclusions by SilverGenes)

(Badly drawn conclusions by SilverGenes)
The sign above is not politically correct. Although it does not identify in writing any particular species as being a predator, the illustration clearly indicates a shark. Is this fair? That depends on your view. Fairness, like pornography, is a question of geography. Is it politically correct? Absolutely not. The dangerous marine life might be a shark but one could put forth the argument that it may just as easily be a jellyfish, crab, moray eel, or a psychotic sea cucumber. Let's be very clear. It is no longer considered correct to insinuate in any way that there are any differences in people, places, celebrations or events unless, of course, you include and embrace ALL people, places, celebrations or events.
Let's study the box of crayons below.

Source: Nathan Gibbs
Kermit and friend  clubbing in Aspen.
Kermit and friend clubbing in Aspen.
Source: Asparagirl
Not a company to miss out on opportunity, Crayola has issued their special Multicultural pack that includes eight skin tones innocuously named white, apricot, peach, mahogany, tan, burnt sienna, sepia and black. Weren’t these colors already included in the original pack? Yes, indeed they were, but someone at Crayola had the bright idea to use our social insecurities as marketing tools. However, it occurs to me that this sort of thinking serves to divide and categorize people even further on a prejudicial basis. And does anyone on earth have white or black skin color? No. We are all varying shades of brown.
Naughty, naughty, Crayola! In their bid for political correctness, they are flagrantly politically incorrect. I could write them a nasty letter but wouldn’t have a clue as to what color crayon to use. I thought perhaps green would be safe but then remembered that sad song by Kermit the frog, or rather I should say, Kermit the amphibian species.
So instead, I am posting a lovely little poem by Emily Dickenson with the appropriate political corrections in italics.
I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us – don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like an amphibian species
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring dryness-challenged area!

Just when you thought it couldn't get worse

Source: C. K. Hartman

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Odyssey Part 2-Five Day Report

This has been an interesting work-week. Beginning on Monday morning, I have been using Sun Warrior protein powder as my only food. It's a well-balanced mix of amino acids, vitamins and minerals and I have been blending this powder with water, taking it to work with me and having one cup every two hours.  The one saving grace is that it is chocolate flavored powder. Even though it is one of the best tasting protein powders out there, by 4 p.m. it tastes more like 'chalkolate' than the nectar of the gods. Added to this glorious diet is all the organic green tea I can drink. I have been going with the mango, berry, and jasmine green teas and brewing about two litres at a time in my handy-dandy tea thermos from Costco. Supplements are at a minimum since the whole idea is to shock the body into believing it has to burn all that nutrition I have been stashing in my body fat to survive. Apparently, it's working. Between Monday and Friday, I have lost 6.5 pounds and have not been hungry, tired, or otherwise inconvenienced. There was a slight headache the first couple of days but nothing that couldn't be taken care of nicely with a cup of skullcap tea.

Not bad. I expected it to be much worse. I do miss food, though. It's not the hunger part at all - it's the pleasure of tasting and enjoying flavor. I've come to realize that eating, one way or another, is at the core of most of my social interactions. 

There are a group of people out there who have made 'minimum calorie/maximum nutrition' a lifestyle. This movement developed from some rather compelling research that has shown a direct correlation to calorie intake and longevity. Those little lab rats that ate a very calorie restricted diet outlived the rest by sometimes as much as 50% while maintaining good health and an excellent quality of life - aside from being denied the pure pleasure built into eating. I am not concerned with living to 130+ unless all my friends and family were doing the same. For now, I am concerned with resetting my hypothalamus and eating well after doing so.

Time for another chalkolate shake.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Odyssey Part 1- Health and Weight Loss

Given the dizzying array of choices in natural health, I have opted to make myself a guinea pig to see how it all turns out. Make no mistake. I am not a virgin dieter nor am I a virgin health promoter. I have no monetary interest in how this experiment turns out but I do have an inherent interest in not passing out during this phase.

Let's be candid. Weight loss is a multi-billion dollar industry. Is it in the best interests of anyone to divulge the secrets without securing a position of gain? No. What is my position and how do I gain? Nothing and not at all. I am a regular person with a weight issue. Even worse, I  am a woman with hormones coming into play. So here it is. 

I am now menopausal. That means I have passed one year without having a menstrual period . It does not mean I have not had cramping, sore breasts, foul moods, hot flashes and insomnia. I have had some or all of these symptoms at one time or another. The jokes are to send the number of menopausal women in America to Afghanistan with AK47s and we could end the war. This is probably more true than it is funny. I am a boomer and proud of it. That came to me in a flash as I was editing my profile on here and realized that publishing my age is a good thing, not something to hide. I know more because I have lived more. Am I incompetent because of it? No, quite the contrary. I am in the wonderful position of beginning to understand the needs and necessities as well as the contraindications of being human. I am female and everything I have to share is based on my experience as such. I have had children early and I have had children late. My hormones and the intelligence I have inherited have made me what I am. So here is my story. 

Am I obese? No. Not in the strict sense of the term. But I am overweight in comparison with what I should be for optimum health. I feel it in my everyday activities. Beyond this, I see a very real difference in performance. My muscles are not there to support me in ways they once were and I am not ready to accept this as an inevitable part of aging. I have tried every diet under the sun and with no long-term success. So what is the answer? I don't have a definitive answer but I am embarking on an experimental journey and invite you to join me with questions, comments, and suggestions as I go forward. 

The last thirty days have been spent cleaning up my nutritional act, which means cutting out additives and eating organically. On Monday, April 20th I will begin a 2 to 3-week program of maximum nutrition while maintaining just under 500 calories a day in an attempt to reset my hypothalamus. I am not recommending this to anyone else but will journal my experience here and record everything as it happens. Wish me luck. 

Health Canada

Immortality - Is It Possible? was the title of my article for a journalism class many years ago. I admit to using blatant tools of the trade to incite readership but despite the provocative headline, there was some very compelling research that supported the idea. I'm not talking about the sensational reports. We have all heard the Walt Disney and cryogenics story. Wishing upon a star and freezing whatever is left at the end of the day is not what this is about. Nor is it about proving the biblical stories true - nobody in living memory has lived 800 or more years. This is about real possibilities.

The human body is made to be regenerative. This is not fantasy. This is fact. We regenerate cells every minute. How these cells are reproduced is both the problem and the answer. As we age, things change. Why? Because we change our environment and we change the input to our genetic code. 

Two of the nutrients I am most interested in are acetyl l-carnitine and l-carnitine. They are not the same. One is a precursor of the other and they do very different things. First of all, they are not amino acids as was once thought. They are part of the vitamin B complex. L-carnitine is important in maintaining muscle and is valuable in protecting the heart and all muscles in the body. If you are undergoing chemotherapy, it protects the muscles from wasting away. Acetyl l-carnitine is what l-carnitine is transformed into. It crosses the blood/brain barrier and has been shown in recent studies to be of major importance in treating and  reversing Alzheimers disease, enhancing the capacity of Downs Syndrome patients, preventing and reversing dementia, and otherwise reversing the memory loss and alleviating other neuro-deficiencies in aging. Both aid in the conversion of fat and the health of mitochondria in the process. Why is it illegal now to buy in Canada without a prescription? Because Health Canada has decreed you now need a prescription which protects the pharmaceutical companies that have otherwise no vested interest in your health. It's all about money. If it works, regulate it and make sure only those who can pay can receive it. 

Speak out now before it is too late. Being Canadian has long meant being polite and speaking softly when it comes to change but we can learn from our American neighbours without adopting the things we don't like.  Make change for the good and make it now. It's now or never for your parents' health, for your own, and for that of your children.  Demand change in our laws and when prescriptions are necessary, shop at Costco for better prices!