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The internet and social media sites provide numerous platforms for disseminating a variety of opinions. In response, a sleazy group of intimidating bullies and trolls have crept out of the shadows to find opportunities for flinging their dung with little chance of recompense. The experience reminds me of the children’s story Billy Goats Gruff. The troll is threatening until the big goat comes along. On the bridge of our social and political discourse I believe that largest ram is civility.

Civility is a set of rules and behaviors which assure equal and respectful treatment of everyone involved, even or especially when they disagree with us. Civility is not weakness, it is strength. People resort to demeaning others when their ideas cannot stand on their own. They hurl insults and threats when they are unable to justify their point with discussion and/or debate. The principles of respect and civility are often dismissed with a disdain for political correctness.

People are civil when they do not feel threatened, and accordingly standing by ideals is easy. Civility is actually a learned skill. Our hunter/gatherer self is all about protecting our tribe, the people most like us. We must learn that looking or talking the same are not the only things which make us alike. Science uses DNA to prove we have far more in common than we have different. Religion simplifies it to the Golden Rule; we are civil when we treat others the way we want to be treated. 

The sad truth is that tolls and bullies are telling us they don’t expect respect, the expressions emerge from their diminished self worth. Responding to them in kind will only encourage and validate their actions. 

I am drawn to the Coffee Party primarily because of their civility pledge. It goes, “I pledge to conduct myself in a way that is civil, honest, and respectful toward people with whom I disagree. I value people from different cultures, I value people with different ideas, and I value and cherish the democratic process.” I am willing to plant my feet on the bridge with that pledge and stand against the trolls. If more of us took that stance the bullies would soon crawl back under their bridge.

Civility and respect have been near to my heart for many years. Here ia a poem from my book Sensual Spirit.

 

Who Did It

Milk of human kindness

with lactose intolerance:

lack of social tolerance

stinks.

It may be hard

to accept and digest,

but don’t blame them

for your internal rumbling.

There are those that dine

and delight on difference.

If you can’t stomach it

it is not their problem

until you release

loud rudeness in response

to their natural nature.

Please don’t do it here.

People will look at you

with twisted faces

and turn away their noses

because it smells atrocious

and they all know

who did it.

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Religious Extremism

Posted on 15, Nov

Religious extremism is more than theology. The Iraq/Syria refugee crisis demonstrates that people are not flocking to the religious control of ISIS or Al Qaeda. It is not about property, greed, or even freedom and democracy. People in the region want the same things that we all do: security, shelter, food, water, health care, electricity and the employment and education which provides those necessities of life. When the items on that list are readily available, peace within and between religious groups is easy to achieve. From that place people can build a system of governance and secure their own future. I don’t believe drones and bombs can ever provide for those needs.

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This is how religious/cult thought works. It doesn’t have to be a religious organization, just one that uses the pattern. Many modern day social groups use at least some of the techniques. Before you join a group or movement you might want to first look for the signs; it is much harder to do once you have been sucked in.

They isolate their believers by demonizing “the other”. It is the first step of indoctrination. Then they establish themselves as the only source of truth. Often it is claimed that only special people can have access to their secret knowledge; they claim to be the gatekeepers. Resources which cannot independently be verified are sited as validation.

They also stroke the ego of their targets claiming that the person is uniquely qualified to be part of their group. Once the person joins the group people in authority will begin to beat the person down claiming it is the follower’s fault that the initiate is not achieving the assigned goals. It is similar to the actions of an abusive spouse. The group leaders attempt to cut followers off from other information, critical thinking, outside friends and family. From there it is simple to manipulate thoughts and actions. They establish strict codes of conduct and punishment to assure compliance. Anyone that does not submit to the will or ideology of the leader(s) is rejected harassed or even threatened with physical violence.

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Your faith is not our law

Posted on 2, Jul

As a Christian you have the right to believe homosexuality is a sin and the right to say so publicly. You may also choose to not fellowship with LGBTQ people. What you don’t have a right to do is to prevent those people from having equal treatment by our government or to have access to services that are otherwise publicly available.

Your faith is not our law. Many churches, congregations, faiths and people of no faith accept and support people who practice alternate sexual lifestyles. Your beliefs do not trump the beliefs of others. You do not have a right to call them fags, queers or sodomites any more than you want to be labeled as “missionary position.” How and with whom you have sex is no one else’s business, and theirs is not yours.

You can believe their lifestyle is not honored by your god, you can believe that punishment will pour out on our country for allowing homosexual relationships. But, if your god did not punish us for lynching blacks, killing thousands of innocent civilians as collateral damage in our wars and all the other evil we have done throughout history, what makes you think accepting same sex marriage deserves his anger and retribution?

Whether you accept LGBTQ people or not, they are not going to disappear; they are people and citizens that deserve the same rights as anyone else. Protesting and throwing hissy fits about homosexuals and transgender people having equal rights will annoy you much more than it will bother them.

Poverty, violence, hunger and environmental changes are much bigger threats to our society than a few folks that love each other, even if you do not approve of their relationship. Maybe it is time to focus on things that really matter, heck; we might even be able to work together on some of it.

 

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Every few years a major transgender person catches our attention and dominates headlines for a few weeks or months. I was listening to an old time radio program broadcast and noticed a couple of jokes about a person having sex reassignment; it was the Jack Benny Christmas Special from 1953. This subject has been around a very long time. The Christine Jorgensen story was popular while I was in eighth grade (1967). A teacher tried to explain to our class that sex reassignment as a means of coping with homosexuality, and then tried to explain homosexuality. Myra Breckinridge was popular while I was in high school; neither the book nor movie presented an accurate description of the experience. Sadly transgender folks are still dealing with those types of misperceptions.

There are people who want to see the world in a binary, black and/or white form; they often claim that gender is determined only by the sexual designation assigned based on observation at the time of birth. Firstly, genital sex organs are only one variable in establishing gender. Even the most casual look across history and any society will find a rainbow of gender presentations not assigned to genital determined sex. A transgender person is often considered gender variant. However, if we are honest with ourselves we realize that all of us are on a continuum of gender. We use numerous biological and social criteria to establish what we call gender. They include sex assigned at birth, secondary sex characteristics, perception of our own gender and gender projection or expression.

At one time women wearing slacks was considered gender deviant and a football player who loved to knit was condemned as a traitor to his sex. Within the general population gender identity is most often perceived as somehow connected to sexuality; within that mindset variant gender expression is linked to homosexuality. In reality the traits of gender and sexuality are not correlated any more than gender and a preference for Italian food. There are many tracks of sexual attraction and satisfaction, some of them are gender specific, and many others are not. Separately there is a plethora of gender expression options.

There are hundreds of books and academic studies concerning and explaining transgender behavior and feelings; anyone can become an expert in a relatively short period of time, though few people outside of the experience have the time or desire to do that research.

What I suggest is simply taking time to listen as people share their experiences. Do not project any form of sexuality or sexual behavior on to the experience; that is completely separate. Then take a few minutes to note your own small ways of pushing formerly established gender definitions or boundaries; we all have a few. From there it is easy to see that a transgender person is just a bit further down that sliding scale. From that vantage it is easy to see transgender people are not much different than anyone else.

Author’s Note: My own transgender experience is detailed in the book Saddling Dragons which is available at most online book stores in trade paperback and e-book formats.

Chrystine Julian

#transgender

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Marriage Equality?

Posted on 17, Mar

Marriage-Really

Janis Ian posted this on her FB page. Facebook removed it because someone complained that it violated community standards. WTF?! They also banned her for 12 hours to allow her to review and reflect on those standards. I guess some people just don’t want to see the truth. 

 

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Are you ready for the fight?

Posted on 28, Oct

As said by an unnamed Senator in the year 2015: Perhaps it is time that we consider banning books in all of their forms, and also shut down dispensaries like library and book stores that have popped up in nearly every town. We can no longer refute the evidence pointing to books as a gateway to thinking. That type of thinking, without exception, leads to the formation of dangerous opinions within the brains of readers. Those options may interfere with controlled order, and cause readers to act out in irreverent and socially unacceptable ways.

Our society is being undermined by companies and individuals set on destroying the foundations of our country. They indoctrinate children with stories decorated by colorful and artful illustrations in a hope to hook them on reading for a lifetime. People on the street, in private meetings and through social media are encouraging people to read. This threat to our control and security of society must be stopped immediately, and it must be done with shock and awe. My fellow Americans, I encourage you today to declare a war on books.

Naturally, certain materials which are dispensed through approved organization and with proper supervision and control will be allowed.

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Drumming blurs the line between ancient and modern societies. For thousands of years it has been believed that a beating drum is the sound of earth’s heartbeat and that it opens a doorway into other worlds. Most tribal cultures have a history of spiritual, mental and physical effects facilitated by rhythm; while bestselling authors like Oliver Sacks and Don Campbell highlight contemporary scientific studies documenting the potential physiological and mental benefits. The tools and techniques used today have changed very little from those of antiquity.

In a melding of tribal and modern worlds, author and shamanic teacher Chrystine Julian is to lead a participatory adventure using rhythm as a vehicle for experiencing various states of altered consciousness. Attendees will work hands-on with rhythm tools from an extensive collection of tribal instrument styles gathered from around the world, in addition to modern percussion and found sounds.

For this presentation Ms. Julian draws from her experiences as a corporate executive, minister, mystic, musician, recording artist, workshop leader, and drum circle facilitator. She is a Redlands resident, but has shared her various skills from North Carolina to Southern California and Denver to Delaware along with many locations in between. She is the author of numerous books and has produced several music projects. People in more than 140 countries have used her Shamanic Journey Drumming video on YouTube. Information about her work is available at ChrystineJulian.com

This event takes place at 6:30 PM Saturday September 22, 2011, and is open to the public. It is hosted by The Spiritual Treatment Center 602 Church Street Redlands, CA 92374 (909) 793-3004. An R.S.V.P. is requested by September 20. There is a $10 requested donation, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

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I don’t mind people speaking their religious preferences on political issues like gay marriage; in this country they are free to practice their faith as they see fit. I have serious problems when they try to make those beliefs the basis for our civil structure and/or government. As an example the current Chick-Fil-A issue is based at its core on a statement that “…we are inviting God’s Judgment.”

We cannot allow one religious group to trump the beliefs of others. This country has many non-believers and members of various faiths that embrace alternative lifestyles. When we support Gay Rights we are speaking for religious freedom. Fundamentalists are welcome to practice as they see fit, but we cannot allow them to define the experience for everyone else.

I support traditional marriage; I just don’t think it is the only marriage. Same sex marriage in no way threatens anything about traditional (biblical) marriage except the notion of traditional meaning only.

What changes about traditional marriage if same sex marriage is allowed? It does threaten an underlying concept that is rarely discussed, which is that the Church has the ultimate say in deciding with who you can have sex. If you accept a church’s authority, no laws are required to enforce it. If you don’t accept that authority, a church has no right impose it on you.

Gay rights equal religious freedom.

 

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Party

Posted on 14, Jul

Not to stereotype, but it is generally accepted that many LGBT people love to party, large elaborate parties. The country needs jobs. So why can’t we legalize gay marriage to boost the wedding and hospitality industries? It is private business, requires no government subsidies or stimulus. Sure, some religious conservatives think it is a sin, but so is gluttony and you don’t see them protesting fast food row. This should be a big idea with conservatives.

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