The Repeal of The Affordable Care Act…

…theory does not practicality make.

Why can’t people extend logic just a smidge?  An iota?  A scintilla?  If you have the creative capacity to dream up scenarios to defend your shitty, weak hypotheses, what is the harm in thinking an additional minute or two to ensure your idea isn’t completely off-base or entirely wrong?  Wouldn’t it make it easier to sell?  Wouldn’t it make it believable?  Because, when you don’t take that extra five minutes or so, you’re left with being challenged by some nitwit, healthcare consultant in the South who doesn’t care much for people and certainly isn’t agreeable when she identifies significant gaps which she, in her distorted sense of ethics, deems immoral.

Alas, no.  Logic is not a consideration in Conservative decision making. Neither is decency.  Nor humanity.  If it was, these assholes wouldn’t be hijacking government via “special sessions” (imma lookin atchu, NC General Assembly) and the Senate wouldn’t be voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act when they should otherwise be in bed, fucking their rent-boys.

A few things to note:

  1. The costliest demographic to providers and insurers in healthcare is the chronically ill, age regardless.
  2. The general public will never escape the burden of funding care for those who cannot pay the bill.

In a society that relies on employer subsidized healthcare as the model, eliminating the consumer’s protection with respect to preexisting conditions is reckless, irresponsible and immoral. There is absolutely no guarantee any person can maintain constant employment. Costs for non-subsidized health insurance are unrealistic for middle and lower class citizens without opting for a deductible that is unreasonable.

With Ryan’s plan, the state and federal governments are still involved. The insurance providers are still involved. They’re still subsidizing the cost. Your tax dollars are still paying for this albeit less efficiently because you have diluted the market, as a whole. Your insurance premiums will still be offsetting the cost for the providers.

 “For sick patients who cannot continue coverage, Ryan’s plan calls for a return to state-run high-risk pools. These pools allow sick people to buy insurance separately, while states, insurers and the federal government help subsidize the cost. The president-elect’s website says he supports risk pools.

Risk pools have a long and controversial past. Before the ACA was passed, 35 states ran risk pools for people with preexisting conditions ranging from cancer and diabetes to more minor afflictions such as arthritis or eczema. Premiums for risk pool coverage were as much as 250 percent more than a healthy person would pay for individual insurance, and some states, overwhelmed with sick patients, had wait lists for coverage or imposed other restrictions, said Fish-Parcham.”

Additionally, as we see in other business models, when there is shrinkage or loss, the cost of business is passed along to the consumer. Do you honestly believe providers (practices or hospitals) are not going to inflate their charges to the consumer to make up for the bad debt of others?  Do you think you’re not going to be stuck assuming that burden?  YOU WILL BE.

And so forth.  Further reading here.

But it’s alright, ’cause it’s all white…

or is it?

Another day, another explosion, another Muslim to blame.  Expedient and convenient.  In rapid fashion The Deplorables emerge from their basket, full of rage and bare chested, arteries close to exploding as the Do-Gooder-Patriot thumps his chest in outrage.  The call to eject citizens or aliens, legal or non, grow louder and louder as crumpled cans of Budweiser hit the floor and Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless The U.S.A” bleats in the background along with Fox Noise, Alex Jones or whatever nonsensical voice from the Alt-Reich will serve as the clarion call to the patriots.  Pick up the guns, bruh.  We gots ourselves some work to do.

Let’s say The Deplorables get their way: Der Trumpenführer und Col Wilhem Klink Pence are elected in November.  The mass deportations begin.  Muslims *poof* gone!  Mexicans (And let’s be blunt about the definition of Mexican, shall we.  We all know the word “Mexican” encompasses anyone from Central and South America in this instance.) *el presto* dunzo!  African Americans who refuse to heel to the esteemed white man and accept institutionalized racism *boom* outta here.  Jews, sorry my fellow brothers and sisters, we’re off to live on disputed soil in a desert because Secretary of White Washing, David Duke, thinks were shifty, at best.  I’d cite more but, admittedly, I’m bored.  Also, why bother?

So, now that the Great Again United States of America is as white as a mountain of blow, all is good, right?  There are no longer any explosions (abortion is outlawed so no need to fret about that).  Crime no longer exists because white people don’t do that stuff.  Right?  Right?  Wait…I’m…wrong?

After all that expended energy – the culling of the herd, the elimination of the undesirables, there is still crime?  There are still people who are (scratches chin) bad?  But, how could this be?  It’s a white, christian utopia full of hard working, non-welfare taking, non-idle people who spend their non-work time at church or building homes for Habitat for Humanity (although why HH exists when everyone has a job and can afford a home escapes me entirely).  When do the adults find time to commit crime?  When do the studious angels find the time between school, volunteerism and extra-curricular activities?

The fact of the matter is, Dear Deplorables, you can eliminate as many brown, yellow, black, olive, purple, polka-dotted, twenty-armed, two-headed, nine-footed humans from your country as you wish.  You will never eliminate bad behavior.  It could be debated that the Deplorable is the embodiment of bad behavior but that’s tangential and not relevant to the discussion.  The bad behavior remains.  What will the basket dwellers do then?  Do they systematically jail their brothers, sisters and cousins or do they bounce them out of the country, too?  Back to Europe, for you guys!  You are so fucking horrible, you white criminals, we’re going to make sure you have to endure the hell that is democratic socialism with its stupid healthcare, its 36-hour work week and guaranteed four weeks of paid holiday a year.  That’ll show ’em!

Deplorables, you will never have a society free from crime, free from vice and free from bad behavior.  Certainly not when you’re a part of it.  But, regardless, the bad behavior will always be here.  Even if your nation becomes a sea of white faces as you so desire.  Your solution of toting guns and eliminating those who look and think differently than you is about as rational as a two year-old’s fallback of a temper tantrum for not getting a second cookie or a sixteen year-old’s screaming “YOU ARE RUINING MY ENTIRE LIFE” because she can’t have the keys to the family truckster.

Throw out everyone.  Make every minority leave.  Oust everyone who has a dissenting opinion.  I guarantee you there will still be things blowing up, people walking around crowded places with guns and knives, women still being raped and children still being abused.  I guarantee you will still be in physical danger to a degree.  Otherwise, in your white utopia that you have achieved, you wouldn’t have any need for that gun you’re clinging to, right?

Hillary Clinton…

…and smashing the glass ceiling.

Milkface, being born in 2009, does not understand the significance of Barack Obama’s presidency. In his frame of reference, a person of color could always be president, should always be able to be president. As of tonight, we can add women to the talent pool. Milkface, his friends and many children will be blissfully unaware of the significance of tonight’s event, too.

Regardless of one’s feelings for Hillary Clinton, tonight we should celebrate an event I honestly believed I would never see. And when the celebration is over, we need to resume the hard work of advocating and supporting those who remain unrecognized and overlooked. Our nation has come so far but has much further to go.

I look at Milkface’s friends, my friends’ children, random children and want them to live in a world where opportunities are not limited by gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, economics and geography. The notion “It was that way when I was a kid and I turned out fine” must be rejected.

I’m not saying this as a mother. I’m not saying this as a professional woman who has been sexually harassed at work, paid less than a male peer, denied a job because I was “at the age most girls have children” or invited to make someone a sandwich. I’m not saying this as a woman who has been the victim of sexual assault.

I’m saying this as a human being who happens to be a woman, who recognizes that a single hole in a glass ceiling doesn’t automatically mean there is a ladder for the rest of us to climb. We, still, have to build the ladder.

Tonight, we celebrate.  Tomorrow, we get back to work.

Munich…

…and jumping to conclusions.

Why wait for the facts when it's easier to act like a total asshole?

Why wait for the facts when it’s easier to act like a total asshole?

Completely emotionally drained from yesterday’s bullshit, I went to bed early.  Early enough that I didn’t stay glued to the news as I usually do when stories such as these break.

This morning, I woke up and did my usual routine of coffee grab, dog duty, breakfast for the Milkface and checking Facebook for birthday reminders.  I was distracted by two things at the top of my feed:  an article from The Local – Germany and a rambling verbal tantrum about Obama’s failure to protect German citizens from Muslims who want to see the world burn.  It came as no surprise that an American would ignore basic facts and twist a story to suit a political narrative:  Obama is the problem, our foreign policy is weak, we are soft on terror, we enable terrorism by allowing immigrants entry into our country.

The tragedy in Munich is not an IS related incident.  The tragedy in Munich was committed by a man called Ali Sonboly who was born and raised in Munich.  He has no ties to IS.  Per reports, Sonboly was obsessed with mass killers and inspired by Anders Breivik.

For those who do not remember Anders Breivik, he is the far-right extremist who shot up a summer camp on Utøya in Norway in July 2011.  Breivik had written a manifesto of explaining his ideology and his desire to to deport all Muslims from Europe.  In short, he’s a racial purist. Utøya was carried out as a means to draw attention to his manifesto.

This morning, there are people who are inferring that the atrocity in Munich is related to the nightmares in Nice, Paris and Istanbul.  This line of thinking needs to stop immediately.  We must understand the difference between Utøya and Munich and Nice, Paris and Istanbul.  Utøya and Munich were perpetrated by members of the far-right who want Muslims, non-whites and immigrants out of their country.

Not unlike many people who are currently supporting Donald Trump’s “platform.”

Obama is not the problem.  Muslims are not the problem.  Hispanics are not the problem.  Immigrants are not the problem.  The problem is with people who are reluctant to embrace change, accept those who are different (from them) and perpetuate hate because they are unabashedly ignorant.  The problem is with those who live in a fear of losing control and no longer being a majority.  The problem is with those who actually believe that being white and Christian means that they are better than those who are not.

Fear and Loathing Subsides……..

Wow.

It’s June 27th, 2015, ten days after the slaughter in Charleston’s AME church, and a day after Barack Obama delivered a eulogy in that same church, at the funeral of the Reverend Clementa Pinckney.

I have just had to time to watch it in full.

This is a good man. A real man. A man of substance.

I find my thoughts drawn to Hunter S. Thompson. HST was the keenest poltical writer America has ever known, in my opinion. He saw the big picture. Always. In a way it was his curse, and I think what created his cynical, biting edge. But he wasn’t cynical for the sake of cynicism. He was that way because he saw the whole machination at once. Many of us only see the figures that appear out of the cuckoo clock on the hour, but Hunter always saw the wheels behind those doors and understood them. One of his last books was Better Than Sex, an almost grudging tribute to Bill Clinton, whom HST saw as a perfect politician, because of his natural charisma, and his ability to play that machine better than he ever could that saxophone of his.

But HST could not have foreseen Obama. He could not have dared to have hoped that large, except perhaps maybe in his heart of hearts, where only few, if any could see. I think if Hunter were around today, and had not taken himself out (yes, I’m still pissed at him for that, I miss his voice in this world) he would be describing Obama as “the perfect blend”.

Does he know and play the political game? Of course he does. He has to. No one becomes President any other way. But no President in living memory could represent what he stands for, and could have stood in that pulpit, and delivered that eulogy in the way that he did. He did so from his heart, with conviction and passion, and in a way that showed what Christian ideals are when they are understood and lived properly, regardless of the theology. The social side of the church. He did not bow, or hide his faith, nor did he trumpet it as better than any other.  Indeed, he spoke of the church’s actions in fighting actively for change as representing not just Christians, but all Americans.

In a time with so many divisions, Barack Obama is a courageous, tireless, intelligent, passionate, unifying force. Sisyphus with a mission. Sisyphus with a quiet stubborn streak. This man is something we have not seen in leadership in a longtime. He is an inspiration.

I am willing to bet that Hunter would have admired Mr.Obama a great deal. Would he have found some stuff to be cynical about and written about that? Of course he would. But looking at the span of what could have been his lifetime – from Richard Nixon, whom he viewed as the epitome of evil, all the way up to Obama, and the escalation of changes in between, I am convinced he would have seen Obama as just that – the perfect blend, and the person America, and the world, was ready for and needed.

May the remainder of his term give him the leeway to continue the path he is on, and has been on from the beginning, and may his legacy become clear in his lifetime, and even moreso in the history to be written.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/obama-clementa-pinckney-eulogy-charleston

 

 

:stammers:

Suspend the prose.  Suspend the creative process.  All I can do is get on my soap box (well…box of soap containing bottles of CeraVe) and just look at the world with disbelief. And shock.  And disgust because I’m usually disgusted by humanity.

Hyper Cacher happened.  I started thinking humanity doesn’t deserve religion because we don’t play well with it.

Shortly thereafter, the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz happened.  My feelings about that aren’t any different than any Jew (practicing or non) or any human being with a soul and a shred of decency.

In response to these things, I found myself rooting through my massive piles of jewelry (because all Jews have tons of gold at their disposal – not just sewn in the hems of their clothes) and plucked out a necklace with the Magen David charm and put it on.  Not because I’m a religious Jew but to send a message that I am a Jew, that this Jew is not going anywhere and that this Jew made another Jew who will likely breed at some point. My father, also not observant, had started wearing his Magen David a while ago.  Maybe it’s our way of telling the bigots to fuck off?  Neither my father nor I are random people. We’re deliberate people and, chances are, if we’re doing something – our actions have meaning; we’re sending a message.

For reasons which have no place in this post, I crawled into bed very early last night, pulled the blankets over my head and avoided reality.  I also spent a good amount of time unplugged yesterday.  It was a Mommy-Milkface Day.  I did not see the news until I woke up.  And, before we go any further, because I’m so awesome and American news is anything but, most of my sources for news are foreign.

From Haaretz:

Danish police shoot and kill suspect in fatal attacks on synagogue, cafe

One dead in Copenhagen synagogue shooting, hours after man killed at free speech event; Danish PM condemns ‘cynical act of terror,’ says: ‘When the Jewish community is attacked, all of Denmark is attack.’

(…moar…)

The shooting at the synagogue in Copenhagen (one of my most favorite places on Earth) wasn’t the only one.  The precursor was a shooting at a free speech event.

From The Guardian:

Jens Madsen said the killer may have been “inspired by militant Islamist propaganda issued by IS [Islamic State] and other terror organisations”, but it was not yet known whether he had travelled to Iraq or Syria before the attacks.

(…moar…)

Honestly, I have no words for this.  None.  I cannot even describe my emotions.

The shit…it needs to stop and it needs to stop now.

It had to happen…

…eventually.

Being married to a self-proclaimed Evangelical Agnostic and drifting further and further away from my faith, the question loomed large. What are we going to do with the child? Since there is more to being a Jew than the religious aspects, we really were faced with a significant challenge.  The Evangelical Agnostic is not shy about his feelings.  At one point, he said anyone who followed any religion was “stupid.”  I was sitting in the den.  EA was standing in the doorway.  Hanging on the wall, facing me was a plaque that reads “Shalom” (it’s still in the same spot but the den is now Milky’s bedroom).  My house is not outfitted with Judaica but there are bits and pieces here and there.  I collect dreidels.  I have menorot (one via my grandmother and namesake).  There is a mezuzah on the doorpost.  None of these things speak to my level of commitment to my faith, though.  At least not on a conscious level.  They’re more along the lines of “things Kang likes” or “things you just do.”  When you move into a home, you put a mezuzah on the doorpost.  It’s just what is done.  As Milkface grew inside me, I thought of the whole “stupid” comment while sitting in my den, looking at the word “Shalom” and trying to keep the definition and spirit present within and wonder…what do we with the kid?

While I’m of the Reform persuasion, looking back, my upbringing was leaning a bit conservative.  Had it not been an interfaith marriage, I’m pretty sure our family would have been members of the Conservative temple.  For years, my stepfather dragged me to and from shul for Hebrew school (Mondays or Tuesdays), Sunday school and confirmation classes.  My mother would deal with my sullen, unpleasant tween self by forcing me out of bed, into a dress and over to temple for whatever classes were on Saturday and services. I’m a proud member of the Jew Camp Illuminati (credit to Foster Kamer for that brilliance), having gone away to the Poconos for eight glorious summers of shenanigans, kosher food, prayer and the opportunity to not be a minority for at least four to eight weeks a year.  Jewish summer camp is a pretty big deal and I highly recommend reading City Boy: The Adventures of Herbie Bookbinder by Herman Wouk if you’re interested in learning about the long tradition of sending little Jewish kids off to the mountains in the summer since it’s been going on for nearly 100 years.

Ultimately, we decided that, at the very minimum, Milky would be culturally Jewish.  He would identify as a Jew.  Half of his family is Jewish.  Random Yiddish words pop up in conversation so naturally that I’m completely unaware of the occurrence.  My family is delightfully neurotic and prone to self-deprecating humor.  On my part, there is a very strong passion to keep the family folklore alive – from how my father’s family managed to evade a Pogrom, my stepfather’s family experience with the Holocaust and the general immigrant experience that many Jews either had first hand or have heard via tales from their Bubbes and Zaydes.  Then there’s the ugly baggage that comes along with being Jewish (culturally or observant) – bigotry and rampant racism.  If the child is going to be raised as a Jew (practicing or non), we, as parents, are going to have to prepare him for that.  There is no avoiding that.  Not even if you grow up in suburbia with other Jews.  The bigots…they will find you and depending on where you are in life, what your experiences are and how you are adept at managing this bullshit, your life will become a temporary hell.

Now that we consigned Milky to his fate, without his permission (something oft criticized by the EA set), all we needed to do was put the plan in motion.  Here you go, kid.  Have fun with your new identify!  You is J00, now.  You will have latkes, gefilte fish and chopped liver and like them.  You will grow up being told that you will be a doctor and a doctor you will be (Sorry, it’s your father’s fault you were born male).  Your mommy will wreak such havoc with your psyche that all future romantic partners will curse my existence for perpetuity.  And don’t even think about looking at a state college, pal.  It’s Hopkins, MIT or Duke for you.  Fret not, you’ll find other young, Jewish males whose soul has been sucked from them, too. You will sit around bars and basements with them, watch sports and critique the game play at an expert level while being completely unable to play said game yourself because, let’s face it, we’re not exactly athletic people.  You’re welcome.  Really. You should be a little more gracious and appreciative, however.  Mommy had to do an enormous amount of work and sacrifice a great deal of herself to provide you with all of this.  And you won’t even pick up the phone and call…

Since we are not religious and are not practicing anything other than how to not leave the living room looking like a toy tornado ripped through it, religious symbols, holidays and other things haven’t exactly been high on the list of things we discuss.  Sure, we’ll whip out the menorah at Chanukkah and light the candles but we also have the tree and give presents on Christmas.  Dock may not like the concept of religion but he sure as shit loves the concept of presents.  This year, however, things are changing as Milky is in kinderMAPP and is learning *everything* at a pace that defies description.  This includes symbolism.  Last month, it occurred to Milky that the “stars” are ours and the “t’s” belong to everyone else.  Ok.  Time to discuss religion, explain symbolism and tell him that there are many more flavors at the old ice cream parlor.  But the point – Milky knows he is Jewish and he seems pretty down with that.  Kewl.  Let’s hope he doesn’t decide he wants to go to synagogue or have a Bar Mitzvah because I’m not sure I want to deal with that aspect of it for reasons I’ll explain later.

The drawback to Milky’s realization and self-identification is now he knows he’s Jewish and to my point earlier, this privilege comes with a whole lot of unnecessary and unpleasant baggage.  The other day I wrote about my experiences on Rosh Hashanah where the Jews were eating each other.  I don’t want Milky to experience that.  I don’t want Milky to have to listen to ramblings about how Jewish he is because his lineage isn’t 100% Jewish.  I don’t want Milky to be put in the position of questioning his identity as I was when I was a teenager.  That shit hurts!  You think you’re in a safe zone when you’re among your own and it turns out…you’re not!  Scripture is murky and can be interpreted many different ways.  Some may say that certain people aren’t Jewish but others will accept that they are.  People outside the faith make no distinction when it’s time to put us on train cars, though.  So, that’s huge problem number one:  potential discrimination from within the tribe.  I don’t like dealing with that.  Do you think I want to put my child in those crosshairs?  Say what you will about my parenting methods but no one can say that I’m not one hell of a protective mom.

On to problem number two:  discrimination and intimidation from everyone and everywhere else.  I mean, do I really have to cite specific examples?  Is that really necessary?  Were we not paying attention in history class, folks?  Very well – what happened yesterday in Paris? Unsatisfied with the outcome at Charlie Hebdo’s office, the fanatics decided to raise the bar on the berserk scale and go buck wild at a kosher grocery shortly before the start of Sabbath.  Four people were killed.  Why?  Wrong place at the wrong time?  Did they do something offensive?  Did they run over a cute little bunny on their way to work?  Possibly.  Nope.  Nope.  They were killed because they were Jewish. Of course.  Now, France doesn’t have the best track record managing anti-Semitism and I feel fairly comfortable pointing a finger because I did spend time in France and did spend over ten years of my life studying all things French.  So no, I’m not rambling from a knee-jerk perspective, looking for a source to assign blame.  That said, you know it’s bad, you know it’s legitimate when François Hollande flatly declares the attack at Hyper Cacher was anti-Semitic.

Awesome.

I should like to add – as the events of yesterday unfolded and I was jabbering with my family, this came as a surprise to no one.  We all saw this coming.  As soon as the words “kosher market” were said, we knew.  We knew why.  We knew what the outcome would be.  We know these things because we have lived this directly or indirectly.  And, as I mentioned the other day, there will be plenty of commentary stating that the evil, horrible Jews deserved what they got.

Tell me, again, why I chose this life for my child?  Of all the things I could bestow on my kid, I decided to give him a life of managing this? What was I thinking?  Why am I even thinking these things?  I’m not the one with the fucking problem.  Neither is my family. Nor most Jews.  And please, shut the fuck up about Israel.  This is about being Jewish; not Israeli.  Stop linking the two every single time something happens and stop using politics as an excuse to be a fucking racist asshole.  Jews don’t deserve to be targeted because of the actions of a nation they don’t live in.  YES.  It is that simple.  Furthermore, if people keep attacking Jews and killing us, these people are simply enforcing the need for a Jewish state where we nice, minding-our-own-damn-business Jews can go about our lives without having pennies thrown at us, having to endure hate speech, see swastikas, listen to “jokes” or worry about being killed.

My question about whether or not human beings deserve such a privilege as religion may be nearing an answer in my own brain.  I’m beginning to lean towards:  NO.  It’s far too destructive and we do not use the tool/device as we should.  Looking back through history, we haven’t been, either.  My personal perspective – I’m very close to cashing in the old chips and walking out the door with my remaining kitty.  I know I’ll never cease being a cultural Jew and that part I will not relinquish.  That part I will pass along to my child.  As for the religious aspect, I don’t think I am capable of fully relinquishing that, either. There’s too much guilt and fear.  Yet another reason why I wonder if religion is a good thing.  If you think about walking away from it but don’t because you’re guilty or afraid – that isn’t a good thing.  That’s an abusive relationship, is it not?

Another day, more words, continuing frustrations and no answers.  And in due course, I’m going to have to have the conversation that all Jewish parents have with their children. I’m going to have the good fortune of trying to explain why, throughout history, people have been killing us because of religion.  No amount of self-deprecating humor, jokes about the IJC or funny stories about the insane allegations that Mommy is an agent of Mossad will soften the blow, either.

I do not want…

…your fucking shirt.

Everybody’s talking at me
I don’t hear a word they’re saying
Only the echoes of my mind

People stopping, staring
I can’t see their faces
Only the shadows of their eyes

I’m going where the sun keeps shining
Through the pouring rain
Going where the weather suits my clothes – Harry Nilsson

No, he wasn’t talking about the cacophony emanating from the human race but the lyrics really suit the mood of the day regarding cacophony.  With the pain of the mass murder of the great minds at Charlie Hebdo still fresh, condemnation freely flows.  A good amount of it is justifiable.  From our perspective, no one has the right to silence another because the message may be unsavory.  We have a right to argue.  We have a right to disagree.  We have a right to ignore.  We have no right to kill another human being because we find their particular message distasteful or blasphemous.  This seems to be lost among many (regardless of preferred religion).

Along with the justifiable outrage, sheer terror and tremendous heartbreak, now we get to wade through the sea of bigotry because this is what happens when a subset of a particular group behaves horrendously.  The few become the sole representation of the many and unfairly so.  Being a religious minority myself, I certainly appreciate that special feeling of mortification and understand the dread in anticipation of the backlash.  Each time Israel blunders, I steel myself for the hate speech and look at the computer monitor through splayed fingers with a turning stomach and legs that feel like lead.  Today, tomorrow and, potentially, the following day, decent Muslims will be attacked by the ignorant masses who presume that bad apples represent an entire belief system.  It’s shameful and disgusting.  It’s why so many people looked at Australia with wonder in middle-December when they responded to an attack with love instead of hate via I’ll Ride with You.  The rest of the world seems completely incapable of doing that.  It’s why I have a tendency to get a bit twitchy and bitchy when I hear people say :insert random demographic here: are dangerous/evil/vile/must be wiped off the planet.  It’s why I won’t allow others to besmirch what they do not know or understand – at least in my presence.  It’s very easy to look at something, form an opinion and stick to it when you lack basic facts and knowledge, especially when everyone else appears to be doing the same.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news but that is the very definition of prejudice.   Oh…and you thought you were so very evolved and enlightened, didn’t you?

Alas, this isn’t a tentacle wag at the bigots.  This is actually something a bit different.  The above is actually a rambling aside.

I freely admit that I spent a large portion of my time in my 20s in a drunken stupor or stoned (possibly).  If you’re unmarried, childless, gainfully employed and unencumbered by any other responsibility, your 20s are the appropriate time for fucking around and fuck around I did.  That said, for as drunk as I was, I don’t recall the world being as barking mad as it appears to be today.  Could it have been because I spent ½ of my 20s living outside of the Bible Belt where religion was just one of those things that was a part of life and not the sole point of life?  I really don’t think so.  I lived in predominantly Catholic Western Pennsylvania, went to a state university and for the life of me, I don’t recall the cafeteria feeding us meat on Friday.  It was fish.  Every Friday in Western Pennsylvania was fish and mac and cheese day.  Yet, no one was hounding me to surrender my faith.  Those who even bothered to ask really didn’t care that I wasn’t one of them.  Oh, and I really loved fish and mac and cheese day, too.

Religion didn’t really become an issue for me until I moved to the Bible Belt.  Since then, I have had the joy of experiencing discrimination at every single job I have had.  It’s not pleasant.  But what’s really unpleasant, what’s really the catalyst behind my picking up my ball and going home (reevaluating my entire position on religion, in general) is the incessant attempts at evangelization.  Yes.  I understand that certain groups have instructions to go forth and seed.  And, yes, I have tried to be patient and respectful of this but a person can only stomach so much before it becomes offensive.

As I see it, religion and attempts to shift someone away from their existing ideology to the ideology of another is just madness.  And it’s presumptuous, rude and in very poor taste.  Think about this scenario:

You’re out and about doing whatever it is that you do and someone walks up to you with a shirt in their hands.  They see that you’re already wearing a shirt but that doesn’t really matter to them.  That person thinks their shirt is better than the shirt you’re currently wearing.  They say “Look.  I have a shirt for you.  I think you need to put it on right now.  This very minute, to be exact.”  You tilt your head in confusion.  You point to your shirt.  You tell them that you’re already wearing a shirt that you quite like.  Yet, the person you’re speaking to is neither listening nor caring about the words coming out of your mouth.  Instead, they say “NO.  You must wear THIS shirt.  This shirt.  Right here in my hands.  Wear it.  Wear it now.”  Again, you look at your shirt and the slightly deranged person talking to you and you say “Allow me to iterate, I have a shirt.  I’m wearing a shirt.  It is a comfortable shirt.  No thank you.”  Still in denial, they thrust the shirt in your face and adamantly exclaim “But MY shirt is better than YOUR shirt.  It will save you!”  “Save me?  Save me from what?” you ask “Is it made of Kevlar and thus bullet proof?”  The shirt bearer stares at you like you’re crazy and says “No.”  You ask “Is it impregnated with some sort of anti-bacterial and/or anti-viral substance that will keep me immune from all disease?”  Shirt bearer shakes head no.  “In the event that I’m standing atop a very high building, near the ledge, and someone decides to shove me, will a parachute deploy and will I float safely to the ground?”  The shirt bearer, again, responds “No.”  You follow with “Ok.  Given that there is zero evidence that this particular shirt will save me from three imminent threats (or three terrible traps, three terrible traps, three terrible traps – so terrible!), please tell me how and why you think this shirt can save me.”

Marginally flummoxed, the shirt bearer responds in the only manner they can “Well, it’s because that is what I believe.”  You, finding this data insufficient, tell the person that you disagree with them which prompts the de rigueur “But then you will go to hell.”  Not one to pass up the opportunity to scramble brains, you say “Well, the joke is on you.  I don’t believe hell exists.”  Completely exasperated, the shirt bearer hollers “PUT ON THIS SHIRT!”  You calmly say “Please take your shirt and leave.”  “MY SHIRT IS BETTER THAN YOUR SHIRT!  I WILL NOT BE DENIED” howls the shirt bearer.  You repeat “Please take your shirt and leave.”  “WHY WON’T YOU WEAR MY FUCKING SHIRT?”  Losing patience, you testily snap “Please take your shirt and your very un-pious self and go away.”  “I HATE YOU.  I WILL ONLY LIKE YOU IF YOU WEAR THIS SHIRT. “  Again, “Please take your shirt and leave.”  Shirt bearer snarls “YOU ARE A VILE HUMAN BEING AND I’M GOING TO SPEW HATEFUL WORDS AT YOU, YOU BLASPHEMOUS, SINFUL PIG!”

In that scenario – do you want to put on that shirt?  Do you want to spend time with that shirt bearing freak?  NO.  And now you understand why many of us are growing tired of religion, in general?  Is the popularity of the Flying Spaghetti Monster starting to make sense?

Within the first few months of living in North Carolina, a colleague asked me out to lunch.  I was excited as I thought “Hey!  Friend making time!  Hooray!!!”  And, since we know how much I love putting myself out there and trying to make friends, this was a pretty big deal to me.  On our way to lunch, she played Christian rock which I found peculiar but kept my mouth shut.  At lunch, she openly prayed before eating.  Again, for someone not from the Bible Belt – different but something I was going to have to accept as the cultural norm.  Then she proceeds to talk to me about religion.  She expresses her grave concern for my soul since Jesus is not my savior.  She is very worried that I’m going to hell; so worried that she invited me to lunch to talk to me about where I was going astray.  All I could do was look at her, smile and say “I’m not concerned about hell.  I know you’re praying for me and that should take care of it.”  We never went to lunch together again.

Mind you, all of this isn’t meant as an indictment of Christianity.  Like every family has its crazy relative, each religion has its crazy zealots who taint the rest of the followers.  Each religion has its own issues with thinking it’s the only path (towards what…who the fuck really knows).  Each religion sits in judgment of the next.  Shit – each religion judges itself.  I spent one Rosh Hashanah listening to a Rabbi drone on forever about how horrible the Hasidim are towards those who are less orthodox.  The Rabbi condemned someone in our own faith for condemning us.  It was one of the most fucked up experiences I have ever had.  I wanted to walk out of synagogue but I was too afraid that the Almighty above would smite me for leaving temple in the middle of a High Holy Day.  And don’t even get me started on how fucked up being afraid of something that may or may not exist is.  My attempts to reconcile that one over the past 18 years have proven unsuccessful.

And this is why I sit with a very fatigued brain and heart and wonder if any of this is worth it.  Aside from some inner peace which could, theoretically, be obtained through various other methods, what is humanity getting out of this whole religion thing?  War.  Discrimination.  Murder.  Death.  Women being treated as chattel or worse.  On a good day, we’re lucky if someone is simply offended by hearing their religion used as a verb, it seems.  That’s not sufficient enough for me.  Not anymore.

There are many things I think humans are not capable of handling responsibly, as collectively, we all do a wonderful job of dropping the ball and screwing things up.  I’m starting to wonder if religion is one of those things.  Have we bastardized the whole concept to the point where it is more detrimental than beneficial?  Is religion simply an outmoded technology (a series of laws before there were actual governments)?  I  genuinely do not know.  What I do know is this – I cannot bear another yesterday.  I don’t want to raise my child in a world where yesterdays are not only possible but normal.