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A Death in the Family

graveNo one’s getting out alive. One of the few constants in the universe is that there is an ultimate end to everything. If we’re to believe all of the philosophical euphemisms surrounding death, we shouldn’t fear it. It comes to all things. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is inescapable. All things are ultimately buried, even if only metaphorically.

When the end comes, whether it be expected or a sudden and shocking event, the process of grieving begins.  People deal with their grief in different ways, some constructive, others not so much. In her landmark book, “On Death and Dying”, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross spoke of what she called the five stages of dying: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Although she directed her words to those who were dying, the five stages also apply to those forced to grieve the loss of a loved one.

As the “survivor”, I too am confronted with the five stages. I seem to be following the classic path, but having that knowledge doesn’t seem to mitigate the suffering. I remain intermittently distraught and withdrawn. Anyone who has gone through the five stages knows you can bounce back and forth as you move toward the inevitable “acceptance”.

When I first learned of the illness, my initial reaction was indeed denial. There was just no way it could be happening. As the months went by and evidence of the disease manifested itself more and more, I gradually replaced my denial with anger, at times, fairly extreme. I’m sure friends wondered why I wasn’t my usual jovial self. Occasionally, I was overtly unpleasant.

As a non-believer, I wasted little time in the bargaining phase. I’ll confess that I did contribute a substantial sum of money in the hope that it would be used to reverse the progress of this ugly ailment, but most of my time was spent in anger. I have moved on to the depression stage. My sense of humor has gone dormant, hopefully, not dead.

The only remaining stage is “acceptance”. I’m definitely not there yet. In some respects, I hope I don’t get there. To accept is to surrender. Submission has never been one of my finest attributes.

The funeral is scheduled for Friday, January 20th. I truly hope it helps me get out of my current funk, but optimism is in short supply. The funeral takes place in Washington, D.C. as a new President is sworn into office. Together with many of my fellow citizens, I will mourn the death of civilization as we’ve known it for all my lifetime. It has been said that American democracy was an experiment. It appears that in the wake of our past election, that experiment has failed.

I mourn the death of civility in American politics. I lament the passing of a great country where people of all races, religions and lifestyles had nearly gained the respect of their fellow countrymen. I shed a tear at the departure of the era of truth where honesty mattered. I’m white, male, financially comfortable and in good health. By those measures, I should be celebrating. But I can’t bring myself to turn my back on others who face the loss of their hard earned freedoms. I don’t want to see the rise of hate, a new era of bigotry, the face of misogyny and a world of misology.

I’ve never liked funerals. I especially am not going to like this one. From dust to dust.

 

Making Amerika Great One Swastika at a Time

aunt-beulahBy Aunt Beulah

Aunt Beulah is a former comatose pseudonym who woke from her slumber when the country lobbed a grenade through her nursing home window.

Is it not refreshing to see America and its citizens finally paving The Path to the Moral High Ground? It’s about time we jumped on High Horse and galloped over the Constitution of the United States of America. Just between you and me, I feel the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, not to mention the Declaration of Independence, are pretty lame. After all, the Founding Fathers of this country couldn’t even be bothered to establish a State religion or mention Christianity at all in any of these documents. I’m almost positive that was an oversight, although I can’t be sure as I wasn’t there and there was no Twitter. Perhaps they were sidetracked while separating church from state and couldn’t find their way back to the pew to ask for guidance. Damn Deists. Horrifying Humanists. Sensible Secularists.  What were they thinking by leaving the construal of those documents to the commoners?!

I, for one, think we owe white nationalist groups, evangelicals and self-abused women a debt of gratitude for electing someone as our president with the fortitude to bypass the governing documents of this country so he can make America great again. Someone like Donald Trump. Or Donald Trump. His thin skin, tiny tweeting fingers, and keen grasp on reality was instrumental in illuminating the malignant tumor of hate festering under our noses in the dank swamp of America’s fringe. Putrefying long before political correctness drove it underground, that oozing tumor popped to the surface like a pus pocket, spraying the country with a sickly yellow infection that turned half of this country into a cesspool of hate-filled cholera. What a relief that the tumor is free at last. Now we can get on with bleaching the country.

Did I mention that a Big Thanks also goes out to those who “voted their conscience”? Not sure what lurks in the gray matter above those brain stems but their moral compasses tossed them Through the Looking Glass into the clutches of the charlatan Red King. At least they can bury the Bill of Rights with their scruples intact so all is right in their world. Without actually checking the Trump box on the ballot, they guaranteed their conservative values would remain mired in the medieval bogs of millennials past but can say without blinking, “Don’t look at me! I didn’t vote for him!”

Lastly, kudos to those who sat out the election in their living rooms watching The Price is Right or Let’s Make a Deal or Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, because they didn’t like either candidate, or any candidate for that matter. They all had at least one dog in the fight but won’t realize it until the canine crawls bleeding onto the porch and dies at their feet. Guess what, you lost your right to lament the state of the country from this point forward so don’t even go there. Stick your head in the cat box and think about what you’ve done.

On a particularly low note, with the KKK on the loose again we should give serious consideration to repealing every civil rights act back to1866 beginning with 1964 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. The Republican power is there. Hell, we chose the right man for the job – Donald Trump has a 43-year head start in that arena (forgive my language, ladies. I don’t mean to make you swoon. You’ve probably run out of smelling salts by now what with the ribald, raucous rallies that swirled around The Elected One. But you shall overcome. Or be overcome by grabbing, trolling, vicious, self-entitled narcissists.)

I wonder… did we choose to erase fifty years of progress due to food additives? Or mind-numbing drugs? Perhaps we are simply waxing nostalgic and long for the Sundays when we packed our picnic baskets anticipating a bit of entertainment after church.  Still dressed in our Sunday best, we strolled to the town square to watch the torture and lynching of blacks while we ate lunch under the trees. The number of sub-humans and inferiors to choose from has grown exponentially to include all people of color and religious affiliations so there will be years of fun to be had after Sunday worship.

On Liberty Island stands a statue. Perhaps you know of it or have actually visited the site. Written on a bronze plaque attached to the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty is a sonnet by Emma Lazarus titled, “The New Colossus”. A section of the sonnet reads:

                      Give me your tired, your poor,

                        Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

                        The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

                        Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:

                        I lift my lamp beside the golden door. 

 

With the current climate of this country being what it is we should add a caveat: As long as “these” are white Christians and speak English, preferably without an accent (forgive me First Lady Elect). On a side note, Emma Lazarus was a New York City-born Jew, and a woman, from an immigrant family with roots in America that predate the American Revolution.

 

All of that being said, I congratulate us all for putting our best foot forward as the country aspiring to lead the free world with what we like to label as our Christian ideals. Way to trip and fall off the Plane of Values. This country, America, land of the free and home of the brave, was once a shining beacon to the world with a “lamp beside the golden door”. Wait, what do you mean no one can see the beacon through the fog of hate? Is the light on? Oh, Martin Luther King-on-a-tree-branch. Who forgot the match?

 

The Value of Faith?

A Google quote-of-the-day caught my eye this morning. It amounted to a backhanded slap to the arrogance of humanity. After all, we’re all so damned important or so we think.

The greatest mystery is not that we have been flung at random between the profusion of matter and of the stars, but that within this prison we can draw from ourselves images powerful enough to deny our nothingness.

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The Creation Museum – Disneyland Revisited

I unapologetically acknowledge that I am trained as a scientist. My father was an engineer. My grandfather was an engineer. Logic was revered on the alter in the home of my youth. It has long intrigued me that a substantial percentage of Americans reject the concept of Darwinian evolution. At the risk of offending those who fall into that category, what the hell kind of Kool-Aid are you drinking? I can’t see how anyone with a touch of education and a hint of cerebral activity can believe otherwise. I can think of few things in the scientific world that are so incredibly self evident.

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Pat Robertson – One Sick S.O.B.

I’ve been a little neglectful of this column recently. Most of my efforts have been going into writing a book about a homeless, mentally ill man who served as a unifying force in a community in California. The book is nearing completion and will hopefully shed light on the plight of the mentally ill in this country. It is a touching and compelling story.

As I write about the difficulties of living with mental illness, I see that being a mentally sick individual doesn’t have to be an automatic condemnation to poverty and discomfort. Look at Pat Robertson, the good Christian who is known to call for the death of his fellow human beings from time to time. As most everyone knows by now, this delusional whack job says the tragedy that has befallen Haiti was brought about by God because Haitians many generations back made “a pact with the devil.”

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Oh How Loud Sing the Guilty

Isn’t it funny how so often those most guilty of an offense are the ones that cry foul the loudest when others do the same thing? Case in point, the United Coalition of Reason, a Washington based group that works to raise the visibility of local groups in what it calls “the community of reason.” This community of reason includes a variety of non-theistic organizations including secular humanists, agnostics, atheists, and other non-believers in the realm of the supernatural. Some groups even include Jews and other progressive thinking members of more traditional religious groups.

The United Core of Reason has provided assistance to local Coalition of Reason groups in a variety of American cities to erect billboards and bus signs reaching out to other non-theists to let them know they are not alone and that numerous local groups offer everything from education to social forums for like minded non-believers to get together. The billboard campaign came to Phoenix earlier this year and arrived in San Diego this week. Billboards have also appeared in Boston, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Chicago, New York, Dallas, Houston and a host of other cities around the nation.

The billboards proclaim . . .

“Are You Good without God?  Millions are.” or “Don’t Believe in God? You are not alone.”

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The Reader and the Witness

Lest you be forced to guess, Allen Sherpa is an avid reader. Trained as a scientist in college, I find that later in life the subjects in which I had the least interest in my younger years have become those for which I now have a burning passion. History, philosophy, economics, politics, all topics that rest on the nature of humanity and the behavior of mankind. I have found that a lust for new learning is what keeps people young no matter their age. I hope this elixir serves me well as the years go by.

Those that know me well also know that I am not a particularly religious man (I hereby submit this claim for the “Understatement of the Year” award). However, I am not anti-religious, at least until someone’s beliefs impinge upon the rights of others. When the religious-right actively engages in the politics of hate, I draw the line. When religious zealots strap explosives to themselves and wipe out a couple dozen diners, I draw the line. When someone guns down a doctor because he doesn’t agree with his philosophy of life, I draw the line. When someone forces a school board to teach kids, in spite of the overwhelming preponderance of evidence, the earth is only six thousand years old and evolution is a myth, I draw the line. Frankly, I view proselytizing missionaries as cultural terrorists that are attacking the belief systems of others with their own arrogant life views.

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