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Founding Fathers

Posted on 19, Jun

Okay, so some folks want to go back to the principles of our founding fathers, who by the way were a bunch of white guys with long hair (often wigs) and ruffles that thought women and people that did not own property should not vote and that it was proper for one human to own another.

Our freedoms have more to do with our willingness to amend and update our governing principles than they do with adherence to a set of original concepts. The majority will never acknowledge the rights of the few unless the minority is willing to stand up and demand that it be done.

 

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One Finger

Posted on 2, Jun

Do you pay any attention to international news? If so, you may have picked up on the themes that run through unrest in many places. The vast majority of developed countries have extreme unemployment problems. While the causes run much deeper, that issue has become a catalyst in movements against immigrants and other undesirable people. In many places people in a minority (religious, race, sexual, and/or political) are forced to flee in fear of losing their lives.

I think we all come equipped with a compassion-counter; it is a device for measuring our concern and empathy for others. When compassion gets dangerously low it emits an alarm, a sound that gets louder as compassion levels decrease; mine is currently deafening.

When I hear people in our own country ranting about immigrants, gays and etc., I instinctively connect the dots with world events. When I hear people supporting the rights of the super rich at the expense of the lower economic strata, my heart cries tears of anger.

I am unable to change anyone’s heart or mind and I cannot change the course of human events; I can however add my voice in opposition. I think of it like driving. I can’t take idiot drivers off the road; though, I can honk my horn, flash my light and make hand signal to notify folks that their actions are not acceptable.

My essays, poetry and in some ways comedy are all part of that signaling process. So as metaphor, rather than shaking a fist in anger, I’ll simply raise one finger as a signal that compassion levels need to be addressed.

 

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What is next, a gas chamber?

Posted on 24, May

A Baptist pastor recently suggested that “lesbians and queers” be put inside electric fences until they die off. Concentration camps? What is next, a gas chamber?

This type of attitude, while often unspoken, is pervasive. It is why we must fight to establish and preserve the rights of LGBT individuals; too many people feel gays have no right to exist, let alone live free and fulfilling lives. To make it worse, they pronounce that God has given them the right to oppress and abuse people that practice homosexuality.

It does not matter whether or not the majority agrees with or supports a gay lifestyle; homosexuals are people that deserve the same human rights as anyone else. Many people will always and forever do things others dislike or find distasteful, that does not mean free people don’t have the right to do them.

You don’t have to be gay to support gay rights; you need only be respectful of all people, accept their personal choices as their private business, and appreciate their contributions to our society. This will be a major issue throughout the election season. If an LGBT person has ever touched your life in a positive way, please be willing to take a stand to support them.

The oppressors can win only if supporters remain silent.

 

 

 

 

 

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You Need to Find a Better God

Posted on 11, May

I am really tired of the BS that gets passed around about the threats associated with gay marriage. The arguments against it are all based on a foundation of outdated religious beliefs; there are no compelling social, economic or ethical mandates against it except those based in dogma. Gay marriage is not bestiality, it is not polygamy, is not prostitution and it does not threaten “Traditional” marriage. The unspoken fact is that traditional marriage is a ceremony that gave religion’s, and by proxy God’s, permission for two people to have sex. We have dismissed that as a civil social standard long ago. We don’t in most cases condone sex as commerce and never sanction forced sexual assaults, but if two consenting adults want to have sex we let them. When was the last time you heard of a person being jailed for adultery? Hell, in some cases it seems to be a prerequisite to run for public office. This is no longer an issue of giving permission to have sexual interactions.

This is an issue of civil rights and social responsibility. God will not punish innocent people with tragedy, war and disaster because two people in love with each other make a public and legal commitment; if you think he will, you need to find a better God. We are not living in the Dark Ages; if you believe in that sort of crap, gay marriage is the least of your worries. It does not matter if you think homosexuality is a sin, many faiths and atheists accept it; just because your religion does not condone it that doesn’t mean you get to trump the beliefs of others that don’t have a problem with it.

Oh, and anyone that has cheated on their spouse and/or been divorced has no credibility in speaking about preserving the “Sanctity” of marriage.

Even if you will never consider doing it yourself, or if the thought revolts and offends you, in a “free country” there is no basis for denying another person or persons the right to make that choice and have it recognized as a legal status.

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Health Care Defense

Posted on 15, Apr

This is a thought that has been rolling around in my head; why isn’t health care part of the national defense budget? Aren’t our military leaders and politicians sworn to protect us from all enemies without and within? I would love to see someone run the numbers on it, but I feel it is not a stretch to say that more Americans have died from a lack of health care and poor nutrition than have perished by terrorist guns and bombs.

Which is the real threat? How many billions have been spent on defense? Wouldn’t a small portion of that cover every person in this country with modern health and nutrition services? I think we need to halt military spending, not spend another dollar on a plane, ship, gun or bomb until every person in the country has appropriate health care and enough to eat.

Maybe I’m too silly or dumb to understand our national priorities, but it makes sense to me.

 

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Date Night

Posted on 8, Mar

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(This note was emailed to the White House on 10/09/11)

Dear Mr. President,

I am very concerned about the rate of unemployment, my personal rate which has been at 100% for more than 2.5 years. None of the current proposals seem to include me or the thousands of other people in my position.

Though I had a successful career, I cannot elicit a response, let alone an interview from potential employers. Because of age (late fifties) and time unemployed, I am statistically unemployable. Building roads and bridges or similar activities will not create opportunity for many of us in the unemployment pool; we need options that will utilize our professional and creative talents.

I have three suggestions:

First, it might be helpful to have a national arts foundation feature work created by the unemployed. I believe the funding to do this would be minimal. A project of this nature would raise the awareness of the vast pool of talent that is being wasted during this struggling economic challenge.

Second, we could use the mind-pool of skills and expertise among the unemployed to create non-partisan local and regional think tanks to advise government and business. Because many of us do not have the money to influence campaigns, our voices appear to go unheard. These people would draw on their backgrounds to help guide processes about creating jobs, but also be a resource to assist small and medium business with a level of talent they normally could not afford. They would also provide feedback to government as to the effectiveness of their efforts.

The bottom line is that we need to reposition the vision of the unemployed from that of social rejects or victims to one of sweet ripe fruit withering on the vine while it waits to be picked. We need less talk about job creators and more promotion of the people and skills that truly are the low hanging fruit in this economy. There is nothing conservative or progressive about this; it is simply a people issue. Do you remember the news story about the man with “the voice” on a street corner? He gets on the news and suddenly has job offers. Why can’t we have a private/government program to highlight the tens of thousands of other talented folks that are being ignored? It might be advantageous to make businesses feel smart for snapping up previously underutilized talent.

Chrystine Julian

http://ChrystineJulian.com

 

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Sticks & Stones

Posted on 11, Aug

I am going to cut against the grain with this one, but this is a hot button issue for me, and I accept that I may be alone.

Frankly, I am bit annoyed at self-appointed lexicon police type people. I have recently been part of a discussion concerning people with special needs and the term(s) we use to identify them.

Disabled people become people with disabilities who then become people with special needs. How long before Special Needs becomes a negative term? You think not? What images are evoked by the term special ed or children on the little bus? I see a progression from cripple (crip), to handicapped, to disabled, to special needs. Each transition was intended to take away the stigma attached to the previous word. Are we preparing the next politically correct term to be used when special needs becomes associated with the stereotypes of those groups?

In my life I have watched the transition where “old people” became a negative term because it evoked images of people that were frail. In turn the term “elderly” was adopted until that term became associated with old people. So instead of “elderly”, people wanted to be called “seniors”, until that term was tied to images of old people, so the term “active seniors” became the catch phrase.

Or think of Indians – American Indians – Native Americans – First Peoples

There is no end to the progression once we take that route.

During the United States war for independence the British often called colonists Yankees, which was a derogatory term with a meaning similar to a modern day yokel or hillbilly. Instead of complaining, the colonists took it on with pride and redefined the word.

To me it is more important to teach people how to take pride in themselves, once they have done that any name they are called will be a symbol of esteem.

I think that all people deserve respect, but that respect is better demonstrated by our eye contact, listening, and individual attention much more than by the monikers we choose to use. I believe in the age old truth that how you say it is more important that what is said.

I prefer to be called a “drummer” instead of “a person with a drum”, though some people may feel the second is more accurate. Part of why I drum and do drum circles is because within that space we are only an expression of rhythm; labels, stereotypes and distinctions seem for a time to fade away.

There is nothing wrong with being sensitive to people’s feelings and doing our best to choose a vocabulary that is appropriate. My angst is not with any individual, but rather with some of the underlying principles.

Someone mentioned the concept that a person or group of people can choose/use a name for themselves that if used by an outsider it is considered an insult. I recall a line from a Joe Jackson song that said, “Don’t call me a fag unless you’re a friend.”

As a younger person I had a job selling shoes in a department store. One day a mother brought her wheelchair bound daughter in for new shoes. The girl’s body was twisted by one of the devastating muscular disorders. Another woman, dressed in a sequined sweatshirt and horn rimmed glasses approached the girl and told her that she had no right to be out in public and that her appearance was offensive. The mother and young girl were unaffected by the comments.

I had an amazing experience fitting the girl with shoes. When I looked at her contorted body I saw a crippled person, but when my focus was limited to her feet and I listened to her speak I saw a normal young girl. Since that day I have tried to see that “soul” in everyone I meet.

In a polite society it is important to avoid deliberately using terms that people will take exception to. Though, I’ve seen many cases where it was not the person suffering from a condition that was offended, but rather some “do-gooder” who wants the power to set the names. I honestly feel that many people are not offended until someone else tells them they should be.

Remember the old adage about sticks and stones? Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. There is a core issue here; to me, (again maybe only to me), being offended is a personal choice. If we want to take offense, anything will do. I recall hearing about a lawsuit over a racial slur because someone called a woman a “fat cow.” By contrast, if we choose to stand in our own power the slurs will roll off with no effect.

In a world where people are offended by terms from Uncle Remus or cartoons of spiritual figures, we need to make a shift. Call me anything you wish; if it is inappropriate I may consider you to be stupid, but under no conditions will I ever give you the power to offend me. If more folks adopted that attitude I think the world would be a much happier place.

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Jobs and Taxes

Posted on 6, Aug

There was a time in our history when companies counted employees as assets, a pool of talent more precious than physical property or inventory. Over the past couple of decades a shift has happened where people are now a cost to be managed out of the system. Our current employment environment is a result of that change.

There are reports today that 14 million American are out of work, an unemployment rate of 9.1%. Some estimated that with the people that have given up looking for work the number goes to over 20 million. In my region of the country the unemployment rate is over 11%. However, there is only one unemployment rate that matters to me – mine, which still stands at 100%.

Due to my long period of unemployment (2.5 years), state of the economy, age and other factors it is statistically possible that I may never again find meaningful employment. Discussing the situation involves pushing down tears and fears when it feels like a judgment on and rejection of my value in the world. It has become a lesson of being in the moment, celebrating each breath and appreciating that I have is all I need.

Despite my battles over worth, I understand that it is not personal. A thousand or more people apply for each job opening. Yet a company like Apple sits on more cash reserves than the US government. Second quarter profits for S&P 500 companies are at an all time high. Oil companies are making historically high profit dollars while still receiving government subsidies. The people running the show find it far too easy to turn a deaf ear towards those at the lower end of the scale. For people at the top life is better than it has ever been, they have no reason to pay any attention to anyone else.

We need to stop believing that giving a company tax breaks will create jobs; it’s a myth. Remember the Clinton years? With higher tax rates companies are motivated to either spend the money or have it go to taxes. In a large percentage of cases the company will choose to spend on expanding their business, which means jobs. If the job creators won’t start creating jobs on their own, perhaps we need to give them some additional motivation.

 

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A friend I love and respect posted a note on a social network site; her remarks supported Florida’s new law to drug test welfare recipients. I wrote a response, but have since deleted it. (I think it is not fair to use someone else’s page to promote your own views.) So here is my vantage on it.

I am not as bothered by the idea as I am by the attitude and philosophy behind it. For a few bucks at the head shop anyone can have a clean drug test. This will not solve any problems, but will add layers of bureaucracy. This is just another way of further marginalizing people already living on the fringes of society.

Do you test the whole family or everyone living in the house? Why don’t we also test for nicotine, alcohol, high blood sugar and high cholesterol? Can we make them buy only store brand goods rather than wasting my money by splurging on brand names? Maybe we could ban them from eating at fast food restaurants? Oh, oh, oh, I know… let’s ban anyone receiving welfare from buying guns or ammunition; try getting that one past the right-wingers.

This law is built on a presumption of guilt and requires people to prove their innocence, before they receive benefits. So receiving state or federal benefits requires you to give up your rights? This is welfare, not prison, right? Though I understand there are some people that would prefer we move all of those social dregs into camps.

I don’t want to live in that type of country. In fact, didn’t we fight some huge war to stop that sort of behavior? I prefer the United States where people are innocent until proven guilty. Just because some percentage of welfare recipients may be drug users, it does not justify testing all recipients.

I have another idea; let’s test everyone before we give them a driver’s license. Imagine the money we’d save on law enforcement, the savings on hospital and reduced insurance costs from accidents we prevented. Heck it would create jobs for testers and stimulate the economy.

Or better yet, let’s cut off all benefits to ugly people. That might slow down their attempts to overtake our traditional values of America the Beautiful.

Okay, everybody get in line and let the tests begin.

For me, I think we need to stop trying to micromanage people’s lives and focus on education and opportunity. In the long run those things will produce better results.

 

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