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Being Progressive In A Hostile Conservative World


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Something that has always been a challenge for me, that has in recent years become increasingly difficult, is how to find common ground for communications and relationships in a world that in so many ways, political, social, and religious, becoming increasingly polarized toward conservative, fundamentalist, dualist, often irrational "us against them" exclusionism attitudes and ways of thinking opposed against liberal, progressive, "we're all in this together" inclusivism.

 

It seems as the economy has soured, and more and more people are being squeezed out of the American Dream and "the good life", increasing numbers of even honest, hard-working people finding themselves unemployed and unable to find new employment that can sustain their accustomed way of life, or even any emploment at all, there is arising a level of hostility, even cruel attitudes, toward those suffering, among those that are still holding onto their own relatively good postion in life.

 

The slinging of cruel epithets, lazy dead-beats, welfare riders, sluts popping out baby after baby just for the welfare, the bums that have decided its easier to just stop working and live off "those of us that do wark hard", have become so common and prevalent among many of those in the conservative community (unfortuantely, which I happen to live within, including most of my biological family) has reached the point I find it difficult to have even the most basic civil conversations with them. Dare suggest many people are in their dire straights due to causes and factors beyond their control, or that what is happening to so many others can happen to any of us, is a surefire way of triggering a vitriolic tirade and hate-filled argument.

 

It has always been so to some extent, but it seems to me to be so much worse now, and getting worse fast. Even people that consider themselves Christians seem no different, they just tend to throw in more supposed 'biblical' justifications for their hate and hostility. The change in what might be called common courtesy and polite social behaviors has deteriorated to a shocking degree, so that it is now, in many place and among many people, hard to find conversations that don't include vitriolic expressions of disrespect and even loathing for other people, anyone from their neighbors to those in political office. This seems across the board from school children to supposed mature adults. The disregard, outright disdain and disrespect for others has become part of being "cool", or "with it", in our society.

 

I find myself moving toward being a hermit, largely because it has become so difficult to find civil conversation, people that are not constantly expressing anger and hatred toward the poor, the unemployed, the abandoned young mothers and their children (somehow the absent dead beat fathers seldom take much of the blame), those that are loosing their homes, and most of all, oh, yes, most of all, it is all their own fault, and all at the expense of "us", the hard-working people that are responsible, that are living right, and doing right.

As an empath, I do not only experience, "feel", the pain and sorrow of others, I am deeply affected by the anger and hatred I "feel" emanating from these people as one might feel heat radiating from a fire....and it's deeply, deeply unpleasant, even causing me to feel sick at times. It down right HURTS. It rips through me, it feels sometimes, physically like a hot knife in my chest and gut. And I just cannot bear to be near it very often, or for very long, before I must get away from it, try to let it drain away from me, so I can feel normal and well and whole again.

 

I know I'm not alone in this. How do we that are sensitive to the attitudes, feelings, behaviors of others, find common ground with those of our communities and families that are caught up in this.... this.... whatever this awful, horrible thing that is happening in the world around us?

 

Jenell

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(snip)

I know I'm not alone in this. How do we that are sensitive to the attitudes, feelings, behaviors of others, find common ground with those of our communities and families that are caught up in this.... this.... whatever this awful, horrible thing that is happening in the world around us?

 

Jenell

 

Hi Jenell,

 

I too as you have of late seen much more cynicism and hate in general toward others whether they be individuals, family, groups or organizations even among some of my close friends. Perhaps i look at the world differently than many and as less hostile. I see every situation as a growth opportunity for myself and others so that its effect on me is less negative. My father was a great thinker and was indeed classified as a hermit in his later years. He was so disappointed with people in general. As a general rule I am only a bit disappointed at times which i shortly get over. I personally find in my own experience that humans are just being human and in reality could be no different in this moment than they are in their evolution. (myself included) As a result of my belief, i am not bothered in general by people being as they are. In reality, How could they be any different than they are ?

 

It seems to me, in our community outside of this forum, finding civil, non prejudice and non-judgemental conversation is indeed difficult especially in certain subject areas we are all aware of. Therefor, i find it best to avoid such topics with those whose are triggered and enticed by such and leave that perpetrator / victim game to others so inclined so that they may both through their mutual suffering learn a better way from their own experience.

 

The common ground i find is that i also am human with the potential inside for all that i abhor. That humility seems to leave me no room to find other than common ground in others.

 

Joseph

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Thank you, some good points I needed to be reminded of.

 

As to taking care not to myself raise issues with those people, I'm getting better at that, but it seems more and more other people don't need anyone such as myself raising these topics, they already seem to be so immersed in that kind of thinking on a constant basis, I guess would be the way to put it.

 

Perhaps unclear in my post is that much of what I'm dealing with doesn't have to involve my or anyone else raising issues, and aren't neccesarily directed at or toward me. And the anger, hostility, I speak of that as a sensitive, an empath, doesn't have to be directed toward me...it is something that just emanates, radiates, from so many people, even when they aren't actually talking about such things. It's like they are in a more or less constant state of anger, resentment, held under the thinest veil of restraint, like an angry motor sitting there on idle, ready at any instant to explode. My empathic perception of that is what is so uncomfortable....they don't even have to say anything, and I don't have to make a conscious observtion of its presence. I just feel it. I don't know if that makes sense to anyone not also highly empathic. Just as I internally experience, "feel", the pain, sorrow, grief, of others I'm around, so too these other things.

 

You are right, in that whatever is going on with them, it is "where they are" in their own journey...for whatever reason or purpose, it is what they must be going through right now. I do try to keep that in mind. I also try to avoid in my own reactions, such arrogance as to feel in any way personally "disappointed" in other people, for I know well that I have no right to set or impose standards or expectations for others to meet or live up to, in my own judgement. Actually, I think I usually do that quite well.

 

So I don't think it is so much a matter of being dissapointed with people, that wouuld really be more of a cognitive thing...but rather simply that it is mentally, emotionally, physically unpleasant, even painful, to just be around someone in an angry, resentful, negative mental and emotional state. As re my analogy above, liike standing too close to a burning hot fire, it seems to just radiate from them like heat form a fire. The only way to reduce the discomfort is the same as if standing too close to a hot fire, to move back away from it.

 

This is something that doesn't really present unmanageable difficulty with casual contacts, but its very hard when otherwise I care about, even love someone, and would want to not have to withdraw myself from. I think perhaps there is a part of me that seeks what I might do, if anything, to alleviate their anger, much as when it is a person with whom I am empathically experiencing their pain and sorrow, and would want to respond in some way to help allevate their pain and sorrow. When I am around angry people, it is not their anger per se I "feel", but pain, frustration, agitation. Perhaps in just writing that last sentence I just answered my own question, in which I might find the insight into how I might better deal with them. Isn't it amazing how we sometimes answer our own questions if we simply try to articulate what we are feeling in spoken or written words?

 

Jenell

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Jenell,

 

I once posed this question to the Pastor of my church. "What then is the function of prayer?" His answer went something like this ...

 

There are times when a person reaches "compassion overload" and that is where prayer and meditation enters the picture. In your words then, prayer and meditation are brief periods of time where we take on the role of the "hermit" to renew ourselves and then re-enter the world.

 

Myron

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...from one insight to another...that seems to be so often with me, whenever I come to some answer to one question, a new one quickly surfaces...

 

One of my personal weaknesses that has caused me much difficulty and personal grief in my life, my awareness of which has only in recent years made it up from within my unconscious and into my consciousness, has been that from early in my life, I developed a very dysfunctional response to other's anger...I have been a placator. This has allowed others to manipulate me in often terrible ways. Both my parents tended toward histrionic personalty, and used mind games of uproar and outrage to keep others walking on egg shells to avoid upsetting them. I've now consciously recognized how that was much involved in how and why I found myself married to a man that used such tactics, that were very much involved in why the marriage failed....not just once, but four times. Yep. Four marriages, four divorces, all with this kind of problem clearly evident, at least in hind sight. I've been single over a decade now, and for now, content that this is what is best for me.

 

So now, to integrate this understanding into this present difficulty. I need to let go of my old dysfunctional way of coping with other people's state of anger, resentment, frustration....it's not my job to try to placate, or fix them. If their presence causes me discomfort, I need to respond to that in a way healthier for myself. Just as was the case in my four marriages, when the manipulation became so outrageous as to no longer be something I could accept living with, escalated to such an outrageous degree of abuse that I could no longer tolerate it, and stopped allowing it, stopped responding to it with attempts to placate, to go along to get along and to keep the peace, the marriages ended. I didn't have to be the one that formally ended the marriages, when I stopped allowing them to manipulate me with such tactics, they ended on their own, because I had ended what the other was getting out of the relationship. I had to realize I had never been the "peace-keeper" I had believed myself to be, I was instead being an enabler.

 

Jenell

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(snip)

Perhaps unclear in my post is that much of what I'm dealing with doesn't have to involve my or anyone else raising issues, and aren't neccesarily directed at or toward me. And the anger, hostility, I speak of that as a sensitive, an empath, doesn't have to be directed toward me...it is something that just emanates, radiates, from so many people, even when they aren't actually talking about such things. It's like they are in a more or less constant state of anger, resentment, held under the thinest veil of restraint, like an angry motor sitting there on idle, ready at any instant to explode. My empathic perception of that is what is so uncomfortable....they don't even have to say anything, and I don't have to make a conscious observtion of its presence. I just feel it. I don't know if that makes sense to anyone not also highly empathic. Just as I internally experience, "feel", the pain, sorrow, grief, of others I'm around, so too these other things.

 

Jenell

 

Jenell,

 

Thanks for the clarification. I definitely am not an empath by your description or by definition. It would seem to me to be a great gift and a burden at the same time. I think Myron's message of renewal through prayer and meditation alone seems to me to be an excellent suggestion. Jesus is recorded using time alone to renew before reentering the spirit of the world.

 

Joseph

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I agree that meditation is a great way to discern the path we call our life. It seems we are a light unto ourselves and sometimes others don't see that light so that is a time to listen and for me to try to see the light within them.

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....it's not my job to try to placate, or fix them.

 

I think this is key, Jenell, the realization that people's switches are on the inside.

 

I grew up in, believe it or not, the backwood sticks of upstate New York. My first "knowledge" of real evil and suffering came when I was about 8 years old and the school bus that drove our route didn't stop one Monday morning to pick up a neighborhood child, Cindy. Someone on the bus whispered, "Didn't you know? Cindy was killed over the weekend." Apparently, some guy had broken into the home and raped and killed the girl. She was older than I, about 12 or 13. My young mind and heart couldn't grasp why anyone would do such a thing. I didn't go anywhere near that house after that, treating it as if it were haunted. For me, it was. It was a symbol that there is uncomprehensible suffering in this world.

 

Christianity offered me an answer to this problem. It told me that the world was fallen, under the control of the devil, and that everyone was, at heart, a sinner, evil to the core. :o It also told me that God would someday fix everything. I no longer hold to such Augustinian theology or the promise that Jesus will drop from the sky with his heavenly toolkit. In his book, "The Road Less Traveled", Scott Peck opens with the line, "Life is suffering." That, to me, is undebateable. Whatever the reason, theological or otherwise, we have suffering and probably will continue to have it as long as there are humans.

 

But how we respond to suffering is, to me, key. As you know, one response is anger. Not just anger at suffering, but anger that we were allowed or made to suffer. So, behind the anger, which seems to scream the loudest, is a person who is wounded and doesn't know how to cope with it. Often, the only way they can cope, which is not effective at all, is to pass the suffering along to others. So a hostile person find hostile friends who form a hostile community and can lead to hostile nations and a hostile world. We want the suffering to stop, but because we can't find a way to do it, we enter a self-preservation mode of living where others become the enemy and are expendable.

 

I admit, I don't know the answer to this problem. But I agree with you that the answers are not to become further entrenched in dualism, in seeing everyone and everything as out to get us.

 

My daughter called me a few weeks ago, wanting to discuss some of the things that I, as a parent, did wrong to my own children or failed to do right. I listened to her as she recounted some of her suffering to me. And I, from the heart, apologized that I wasn't (and still am not) a very good parent. All my children deserve a better father than what they have. :( But life is what it is and the only counsel I could offer her was to realize that, ultimately, her switch is on the inside. She can let her suffering make her bitter...or make her better. The choice is hers, not mine. I can't undo the past. Nor can I make her today and future a bright one. As you've said, I can't fix her. Hell, I can't even fix myself. But I know that I am, to a large extent, responsible for the kind of person I want to be and am becoming. That means being aware that there is hurt behind the anger and trying to find ways to deal with it so that it doesn't keep me from living today.

 

Despite some claims of Christianity, we can't fix the world. But we can, as Jesus did, help people to realize that the kingdom is within and that they have a choice in living out that kingdom or in building their own little kingdoms of protection. The switches are on the inside.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Something that has always been a challenge for me, that has in recent years become increasingly difficult, is how to find common ground for communications and relationships in a world that in so many ways, political, social, and religious, becoming increasingly polarized toward conservative, fundamentalist, dualist, often irrational "us against them" exclusionism attitudes and ways of thinking opposed against liberal, progressive, "we're all in this together" inclusivism.

 

It seems as the economy has soured, and more and more people are being squeezed out of the American Dream and "the good life", increasing numbers of even honest, hard-working people finding themselves unemployed and unable to find new employment that can sustain their accustomed way of life, or even any emploment at all, there is arising a level of hostility, even cruel attitudes, toward those suffering, among those that are still holding onto their own relatively good postion in life.

 

The slinging of cruel epithets, lazy dead-beats, welfare riders, sluts popping out baby after baby just for the welfare, the bums that have decided its easier to just stop working and live off "those of us that do wark hard", have become so common and prevalent among many of those in the conservative community (unfortuantely, which I happen to live within, including most of my biological family) has reached the point I find it difficult to have even the most basic civil conversations with them. Dare suggest many people are in their dire straights due to causes and factors beyond their control, or that what is happening to so many others can happen to any of us, is a surefire way of triggering a vitriolic tirade and hate-filled argument.

 

It has always been so to some extent, but it seems to me to be so much worse now, and getting worse fast. Even people that consider themselves Christians seem no different, they just tend to throw in more supposed 'biblical' justifications for their hate and hostility. The change in what might be called common courtesy and polite social behaviors has deteriorated to a shocking degree, so that it is now, in many place and among many people, hard to find conversations that don't include vitriolic expressions of disrespect and even loathing for other people, anyone from their neighbors to those in political office. This seems across the board from school children to supposed mature adults. The disregard, outright disdain and disrespect for others has become part of being "cool", or "with it", in our society.

 

I find myself moving toward being a hermit, largely because it has become so difficult to find civil conversation, people that are not constantly expressing anger and hatred toward the poor, the unemployed, the abandoned young mothers and their children (somehow the absent dead beat fathers seldom take much of the blame), those that are loosing their homes, and most of all, oh, yes, most of all, it is all their own fault, and all at the expense of "us", the hard-working people that are responsible, that are living right, and doing right.

As an empath, I do not only experience, "feel", the pain and sorrow of others, I am deeply affected by the anger and hatred I "feel" emanating from these people as one might feel heat radiating from a fire....and it's deeply, deeply unpleasant, even causing me to feel sick at times. It down right HURTS. It rips through me, it feels sometimes, physically like a hot knife in my chest and gut. And I just cannot bear to be near it very often, or for very long, before I must get away from it, try to let it drain away from me, so I can feel normal and well and whole again.

 

I know I'm not alone in this. How do we that are sensitive to the attitudes, feelings, behaviors of others, find common ground with those of our communities and families that are caught up in this.... this.... whatever this awful, horrible thing that is happening in the world around us?

 

Jenell

 

Hello Jenell,

 

I feel for you.

 

I live surrounded by middle class poverty and working class unemployed. In general, people are very distressed and scared of their future. My brother who belongs to a fundamentalist church and pays tithing and he is always poor and votes conservative. My mom subsidizes him and his wife and their lifestyle.

 

I don't know what to do or say to him so I say nothing.

 

Shalom,

 

Tee

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Actually, it is my observation that the most hostile and loudly critical and demeaning toward those suffering hard times are not those such as your brother, but those that are suffering the least, at least at this point. They have good jobs, good incomes, above average incomes...they enjoy 'the good life', can afford what they want, and yet, to listen to them, the poor and the unemployed and the illegal immigrants are the ones living the 'good life' at THEIR expense...THEIR tax dollars...

 

They will not hear that low income and unemployed people are not living high with free medical care while THEY have to pay for theirs, they insist every time they grocery shop they see people with food stamp cards buying fine fancy foods like choice cut steaks and lobster that even THEY can't afford to buy, and on and on....And this from people I know that have good incomes, some with 6 figure incomes, live in paid for McMansions, have 3 or 4 luxury priced vehicles in their driveway, an expensive RV and maybe a big boat as well, take 3 or 4 expensive vacations a year, at least one of which involves travel abroad, etc etc etc ad nauseum. They are just so damned self-righteous! And so indignant that THEIR tax dollars are going to let dead-beats that find it easier to live off the government tit than to work, like THEY do, that live as good or better than they do. What CAN you say to such absurdity??

 

It's as if they are just so ANGRY and resentful that others might get any help of any kind, no matter how needy. Its as if they refuse to believe anyone could even BE needy if they'd just work hard 'like the rest of us'...that poverty is a CHOICE to live well at someone else's expense.

 

People like your brother are probably living in contant fear that others, their fellow church members, neighbors, will find out they are struggling, not doing as well as the front they are trying to keep up, because they hear all this, too, from those they rub shoulders with at church or among friends and neighbors. The whole idea seems to be determination to make any that are suffering poverty, job loss, economic hard times, feel guilty and ashamed of their situation.

 

Rant over.

 

Jenell

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AThey will not hear that low income and unemployed people are not living high with free medical care while THEY have to pay for theirs, they insist every time they grocery shop they see people with food stamp cards buying fine fancy foods like choice cut steaks and lobster that even THEY can't afford to buy, and on and on....

Jenell,

 

This sounds like Reagan's mythical welfare queen. She is taking their hard earned (or hard inherited or hard married) money.

 

George

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Absolutely, George, that's pretty much right on it.

 

I can't say about other states, what may really be available as to assistance to the needy, but here in Texas, funding for any and all kinds of public assistance is near the bottom compared to the rest of the country, just number 1 0r 3 above the bottom of the list, just above Mississippi and Alabama I think. I'm know I'm standing on solid facts in this issue.

 

Texas has no "welfare" per se...Good ole G.W. Bush took what little there was away, while governor here, with his "Welfare to Work" program....what that boils down to is that since the reason people need help is that they don't have a job, the answer to their problems is to get out and get a job. Emergency food stamps, small amount that is available, are granted for 3 months at a time only, the process for application and re-application is a convoluted nightmare, the maximum amount of food stamps a month for a non-pregnant adult is $40, pregnant women and children $100, and maximum monthly income for adults without children is to qualify for food stamps is $360 or combined total of documented costs of rent/houuse payment and basic utilitiies, whichever is greater. Federally funded programs such as TANF and federal housing subsidy administered by the state are very limited.. Texas Medicaide is available ONLY to extremely low-income children and children under state foster care, pregnant women whose coverage entends to 6 mos after giving birth, for pregnancy/birth/gynecological medical care only, Texas Medicaide for adults is limited to back-up to Medicare for specific disabled, such as blind, paraplegic, and end stage renal disease, and seniors over 65 in long term care facilities. That about sums it up. Texas is as far from being a 'welfare state' as it gets!

 

The other big bitch and moan complaint is all the illegal aliens that get free Medicaide, welfare, housing subsidies, food stamps, on and on, it matters not how plainly state eligibility websites make it clear illegal aliens cannot be qualified for ANY state or federal benifits....

 

There's no reasoniing with facts in these issues, yes, like that old Welfare Queen myth, these people that are doing just fine for themselves, just won't budge on their angry demeaning and degrading attitudes, what can only be called 'despising' of the poor and needy. And of course, in the present economic situation, more and more people that have always been hard working and responsible are loosing jobs and falling into poverty, and of those, these 'despisers' of the poor come up with yet another line of hateful 'reasoning', those people are in trouble because they were 'living above their means', that thought they just had to have too expensive houses and too expensiive cars and too expensive cell phones and Wii games and too expensive everything, when fact is most are just ordinary hard working people that were no more extravagant in ways like that than anyone else. People who are hurting bad as it is, being in those circumstances, and sure don't need any more shaming and blaming and guilt-tripping laid on them!

 

And the kicker to it all is all the ranting about 'taxes too high', connecting high taxes to costs of assistance to the poor and sickand elderly, allthe while ignoring, again, the FACTS, that taxes are lower now than they've been since Eisenhaur was president, and the costs of all 'public welfare' programs put together pale beside what the government is spending on military budgets and fooliish, senseless wars!

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You know, an aspect of this that really discomforts me, could even say troubles me, is that I see all ofthis, these feelings of concern and compassion for, the needs of those suffering whatever set backs that have put them or holds them in poverty, and our society's responsibility to them, as very much a part of, an element of, my faith....and yet, these with such attitudes, though many are Christians, even attend church or even very involved in church, do not....they see these as social and political issues, purely secular issues, entirely apart from their faith.

 

The wording of something in the Old Testament, can never recall ch and vs, but these words have always just stuck in my mind...God calling upon the nation and people of israel to not just consider and provide for the poor, but to "consider the cause of the poor"....the CAUSE of the poor....to me that seems clear, to consider the social, political, economic, any and all practical CAUSES of poverty among us, within our communties, societies, cultures.

 

Jenell

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The wording of something in the Old Testament, can never recall ch and vs, but these words have always just stuck in my mind...God calling upon the nation and people of israel to not just consider and provide for the poor, but to "consider the cause of the poor"....the CAUSE of the poor....to me that seems clear, to consider the social, political, economic, any and all practical CAUSES of poverty among us, within our communties, societies, cultures.

 

"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." - Helder Camara, a Brazilian archbishop

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I'm going to close my comments on this one with a sad addenda, that is perhaps par of why this has been on my mind and heart of late.

 

Many of these people that so frustrate me are members of my own extended family.

Yet.

 

Several weeks ago, the third member of our family, since the first of this year, passed away of a type of cancer for which the prognosis is very good when detected in early stages. All three were relatively young, middle aged the youngest, early 60's the oldest.

All three died within mere days of being admitted into a hospital through an emergency room crisis. That admittance through an emergency room crisis led to their first diagnosis of their cancer, at this point, in very advanced late stages. Bluntly, they were brought into an emergency room because they were dying. From initial diagnosis to death was less than two weeks for all of them.

All three were poor, and had been able to find no access to the "health care system" to try to find out why they felt so bad, so unwell, for so long, until an emergency room was required by law to admit them, because they were dying.

 

While these three are fresh in my mind and heart, and cases those self-rightous family members have had to face as well, these are not by any means the only ones similar I've known of.

 

How can so many in our society deny this reality?

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. . . they see these as social and political issues, purely secular issues, entirely apart from their faith.

Jenell

Jenell,

 

Our basic values motivate both our politics and our theology. We should not, IMO, leave our values at the door.

 

George

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  • 2 weeks later...

For me, there is a huge disconnect between my sense of personally experiencing God in my life, how that affects how I try to live my life and how I percieve "spiritual growth" and any intellectual concept of God, what God is, the nature of God, how my "salvation" is accomplished (salvation to me is having overcome the barriers of this world (the veil) so as to come into awareness of God or spirit, that whichh is beyond myself, as well as any "beliefs" regarding biblical prophecy or even what happens when we die

 

I guess that disconnect could be summed up as experiencing God at the personal level vs religious beliefs "about god."

 

Giving up on the idea of biblical inerrancy and that all scripture within it is "God breathed", "God's Word revealed", or even worse as I've heard some put it, "written by the very finger of God", was not difficult for me at all.truthfully I don't think I ever accepted it to begin with, so there really wasn't any point of letting it go.

 

The concepts of Heaven and Hell as the eternal reward or punishment in an after-life existence seemed early on to me to be human constructs that people came up with to try to address two great problems...Heaven, the fear of death as ceasing of consciousness and awareness, of moving from being to non-being, and hell, as a need for some authority greater than mere human authority (which without a God concept, one human has no more authority over how other humans act than any other human) in enforcing civil co-existence between people and within communties.

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Continued from previous post, somehow it posted before I was ready....

 

As to trying to explain this disconnect, I can only say that my personal experiiences just don't seem relative to any of the religious teachings I was exposed to from childhood through even now. But I do have something of a theory about my perception of death and what might come after.

 

Fear of death is something I've never really known or experienced. It took me years to realize that, the extent of it in comparison to how others experience fear of death, for that I cannot remember a time when I felt differently. It is still only by effort to take the role of other that I can even try to contemplate fear of death. I never really gave much thought to how I felt about death, or even recognized it as different, until well into my adult years. It's not that I have a "death wish", just that I don't fear death, even it it means my consciousness, awareness, ends.

 

To be sure, I have concerns, even fears, about the suffering and pain that the dying process might entail, and I am concerned that at my death, my family and loved ones not be everly burdened with problems caused by my failure to have things in order. But I see that as apart from thhe fear of death itself. And, of course, i am very much aware of their pain in grieving, missing me and the part I've played in their lives, just as I've felt for those I have loved and lost.

 

But on the other hand, the idea of merely ceasing to exist, or my conscious awareness ceasing to exist, is also something that while I contemplate the possiblity, isn't something I personally comprehend. My personal sense of having a "connection" or conscious contact with something or someone greater than myself cannot comprehend that ending with the death of my body.

 

From time to time I have encountered others that have a similar lack of fear and concern about death. Long before I learned I myself might have had such an experience, I had recognized that many of these other people had at some point in their life suffered a traumatic crisis that came near to taking their life, some actually having had aparant 'near-death' experiences. When the 'near-death' phenomenon first began to get media attention in the 70's, I remember having a strange, unexplanable, yet powerful reaction to what was presented about it..I felt a 'deja vue', a powerful sense that somewhere, at sometime, I HAD known that experience, but could think of no such incident in my lifetime. It wasn't until I was in my 40's, after my Dad's passing, that my mother and a few other family members opened up and first told me about an incident when I was only 18 months old. It had been a 'hush hush' topic all those years, because it had been the result of a heated argument between my parents, in which my dad had thrown my mother overboard from a moving boat. Unfortunately, my trying to cling to her resulted in me, too, going over board. And sinking like a stone, the exact point at which i hit the water as the boat continued moving forward was impossible to guess quickly and accurately. Many by-standers joined my parents' efforts, but from the point someone realized they needed to mark the time I had been underwater, it was another 20 minutes before I was found. Rescusitated at the scene while awaiting an ambulance, I regained heartbeat and breathing, but not consciousness. In those days, there were no accurate EEGs that could determine extent of brain damage or brain death, but given my time under the water, the doctors at the hospital made the decision that if my heartbeat and breathing ceased again, there would be no efforts to revive me. Family came and sat death watch for over 24 hours, at which time I opened my eyes, awakened, with no aparant impairment due to brain damage.

 

Did I have what is called a "near death" experience, that for my young age at the time, I am unable to call into my consciousness? Since I do not have a specific memory of it, I can't say with any certainty. But it does raise some interesting possiblities about the differences I've always felt about such things as death, God, Spirit, and lack of concern for what miight "come after" this life. And that such experiences characteristically result in a distinct loss of fear of death, even when they greatly feared it before, is, I think, very relative to the questions all have about death. This effect of these experiences seems also entirely unrelated to the persons 'religiousity' before the incident. If those that have "been there, done that", so to speak, no longer fear death, isn't that a strong indiicator that death isn't such a scary thing after all, to be worrying about trying to secure a place in heaven through religion?

 

Jenell

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  • 1 month later...

Jenell,

 

I would like to suggest a move to Australia where we have an Atheist for a Prime Minister, where we are experiencing low unemployment (5%), and where only this morning the headlines of our national newspaper are blaring "Decades of wealth from boom" (on the back of China and India we are experiencing an unprecedented mining boom of our resources).

 

However, sadly I experience many of the same issues you raise. We still have homeless people, we still face some restricted access to healthcare (although I understand our system is supposed to be miles ahead of America's), we still have many people who refer to the unemployed as 'bludgers' (people who 'sponge' off the system), but the worst of all (I think) is that we have raging political debate on 'boat people'.

 

So many hateful remarks are made by many about refugees who have escaped from the likes of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and who have travelled by leaky boat to Australia. The big thing here at present is 'offshore processing' where 'illegal arrivals' in Australia are transported to another country for processing. Apparently this discourages the 'queue jumpers' and 'people smugglers' (well, statistically is has actually shown that) because the people are afraid they won't be accepted by Australia. It has become such a political football that both major parties (you have Dems & Reps, we predominantly have Liberal & Labor) often fight to show the public who can be the 'toughest' on 'illegal immigrants' (of ocurse what they don't mention is that the vast majority of our illegals actually arrive by plane and overstay their visa, not arrive by taking a life-risking journey across the ocean in a crappy, little boat).

 

Apologies about all the quotation marks but I'm just highlighting the negative terms our leaders and media are using to stir up emotion and create sensationalism amongst the electorate. Clearly calling these people 'refugees' or discussing the fact that they and their little children are trying to escape their own living hell, and subsequently encouraging Australian's to practice empathy and compassion, is simply not to their political advantage. How sad.

 

I too get frustrated witht the lack of compassion some of my 'strongly Christian' family demonstrate. "Send them back to where they came from", "round them all up and stick them in the desert", "they don't bloody belong here", are not unfamiliar phrases. To me it seems their ignorance contributes to a fear of some kind. Maybe they are afraid that 'that' could be them, so they have to categorise these people as something different to comfort themselves.

 

It is so hard not to feel anger over such attitudes. But all I try to do is remind myself that many of these people are a product of their own environment. They are acting out how they were taught, how they grew up, how they experienced the world, and who they listened too. They do have a responsibility to themselves and to us to think things through more, but I think they probably think they have given such things enough thought (whereas I might suggest they haven't).

 

Subsequently the best I can do is set what I think is the better example and try to help them think empathically. "What if that were you?", I say. "What would you do with a wife and two little girls living in a war-torn, poverty-stricken, religously-intolerant country. Would you want to escape to somewhere like Australia? Wouldn't you want to provide a safer life for your children? Can you blame these people for wanting the best, or even just a little better, for their children?". I also try to have them think about why they think 'they' own the country - I mean let's face it, it's was just pure luck that us born here and not as a baby girl in say Afghanistan.

 

I do so much hope that this is just part of human evolution and that one day humans will overcome this tribal mentality (or at least act as one tribe) and that empathy and compassion will flow as freely as carbon dioxide! However, to do so I feel I have to contribute and not just give up. I guess I'm saying that as hard as it is, becoming a hermit is not really an option, if you would like to see things different. If all people such as yourself Jenell, simply shut themselves away, then who is going to influence the change we would all so much like to see?

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Yeah, I know...but sometimes, I just have to go crawl in a quiet dark hole somewhere just to lick my wounds, recuperate, find strength to go back out there and take up the task of one crying in the wilderness again.....

Sometimes, what I hate most, is it can start getting to me, I start getting too negative myself, even a bit (or more) distaff gendered canine attitude....when I realize that's happening, I've GOT to withdraw for awhile.

Jenell

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....boat people...yes, we went through a lot of similar conflict as things went down in the US pullout from Vietnam....it eventally mostly calmed down...our issues with illegal mmigrants from south of our border is more complicated by no vast ocian to cross, just walk acorss...and, that it has ALWAYS been that way, from the beginning of this country...much of what is now SW United states was once actually part of Mexico. Many are interrelated across the border, so it is often simply Mexican born Juan and Juanita coming to visit or live with their American born blood cousins Mario and Maria. The "hispanic" designation can be confusing to some...most of these peoples have little to no "Spanish" (European) blood ancestry....most are descendants of indigneous native american peoples that have been freely transversing this continent for thousands of years before Europeans settled the Americas.

Jenell

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It seems often to come down to a world of either/or, rather than the world of both/and....this latter world far closer to reality as such, allowing for the various paradoxes.

 

I spend a bit of time on a Soapbox dedicated to the activities of my local soccer team. Its a bit of light relief, certainly so from one of the other Forums I'm on, where only during the past couple of weeks I have been called a liar, that I speak for satan, plus one of two other accusations best left unmentioned! Anyway, I say light relief, but just recently the moderators for some unknown reason allowed a thread to be started on a totally non-soccer related subject, namely the various riots that have happened in England recently. I found myself shocked, in the sense that posters who I associated with quips about my soccer teams sad attempts to play soccer. quips about the standard of refereeing, and all the usual light-hearted stuff, became posters who wanted to "hang 'em high", "flog 'em" etc etc etc. This was sad for me, that so many seem to have this attitude just below the surface.

 

I stayed clear, it just did not seem worth it, given the normal purpose of the forum. It just seems to me that the idea that, yes, a rioter should be held totally responsible for their own act, and should be punished according to the law, but that such does not preclude the idea that in a sense we are all implicated in every act, that the cause of any riot can go far beyond individual greed, that we need to look at ourselves and the whole spectrum of society, of how it is structured etc etc. To speak up is to be condemned as a "mamby pamby liberal" who only wants to "kiss them ( the rioters ) better"..........there seems, as I said at the beginning, no thought of "both/and".

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Tariki wrote: To speak up is to be condemned as a "mamby pamby liberal" who only wants to "kiss them ( the rioters ) better"..........there seems, as I said at the beginning, no thought of "both/and".

 

You are right on both elements of this issue that I am so often frustrated by...1, that it pervades EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE...I just can't seem to be able to carry on the most casual conversation about the most non-political topics, with it somehow turning into as venomous dissing session, someone venting their hate and blaming of whomever. It seems this horrible hatred and anger is always there, in so many, like a kettle just at simmer, just waiting for anything they can take as the cue to blow their lid and boil over.

 

The second is very much the feeling that if there's anything or anyone they hate even more than all the other sterotyped categories of people they are so vehemently disprespectful of, it is anyone that dares suggest they consider those are real people, with real feelings, deserving of the same basic respect and decent treatment as anyone else. I am constantly reminded of memories of attitudes back in the 60's, when among many, the only thing worse than a "N" was a "N lover."

 

It feels to me like some vicious, insane mass lynch mob mentality that is pervading our society...

 

 

 

 

Jenell

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I wonder if it's simply a 'sign of the times'. I don't mean that in some sort of 'last days' context, but rather in the context of an insecure world facing global financial upheaval. It seems the media are constantly reporting how bad the financial situation is for the world, the USA & EU in particular. I think this really makes people insecure. Insecure about their finances, their employment & career, their mortgages, their children's future, and so on. And when we feel this way, we try to comfort ourselves by identifying an 'enemy'. I take the prison system as an example - men can be imprisoned for rape, murder, armed robbery, etc. But if a man gets imprisoned for child-abuse he generally has to be protected from the mainstream population lest they seriously harm him. This is called 'prison justice' but to me it just seems like a way for insecure prisoners to feel a little better about themselves by focusiing on someone 'worse' than them.

 

But if it is a sign of the times, I think it is a repeated one. The same sort of thing (loosely) happened in Germany prior to WW2 where Hitler focussed this anxiety against Jews. People went along with it because it made them feel secure (IMO).

 

That said, what does one do about it, if anything.

 

I wonder if the answer may just be 'relax'. Still hold onto the compulsion to move forward and not stop tryingto achieve change, but at the same time let it go to a certain degree knowing that this is a repeating behaviour that the genus homosapien will outgrow eventually (hopefully). Until then, perhaps recognise that we are just a drop in the ocean and whilst we can make some difference, we can't change everything.

 

And utilise the friends who are aligned with your values, whether they be friends in the flesh or cyber-friends, to refresh and recharge your batteries.

 

Just my thoughts.

 

Paul

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Yes, have to agree mostly...howver, the hard part of it is trying to continue to hold onto anything in relationships with family and others I've been close to, love, care about, that are caught up in this insanity....I'm afraid some of them, perhaps even many of them (the relationships), are not going to survive this. I am seeing first hand and close up, a social "civil war", that is destroying friendships and is pitting brother against brother, parent against child, in truly terribly painful ways...

 

Jenell

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