A Quick Religious Comparison: We’re Not So Different

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Remember when we were all kids who fought over whose mom made the best cookies, whose uncle belched the loudest, or whose dad was actually a super man? As we grew, we learned those petty points of contention were never going to be solved; everyone’s own mom, dad, or uncle were the best, at least by their own perception. It’s also likely they were probably all quite similar, just as many of the things we fight about as adults. Unfortunately, we no longer work out our angst with do-overs on the ballfield to prove who’s the best. Instead, we wage literal war against one another not only with words, but also real military weapons, fighting over whose god is best, or who is the most righteous.

While these deadly battles play out in villages and towns torn to shreds while children look on, the looming question is: what does any of this matter? Just like everyone’s dad was a superhero in his own right, each religion has their own important figure who is probably wonderful. Moreover, just like all the dads were similar in that they held similar positions: worker, father, provider, protector, each religion is strikingly similar.

Admittedly, this comparison leaves out a great many religions. It will not cover eastern or pagan religions. It completely excludes atheists and agnostics. The focus here is on the big three: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Why? The answer is pretty simple. We don’t see many wars fought over Buddha, nor do many Wiccans commit terrorists attacks in the name of a sacred crystal. That statement is only recognizing fact. It’s not meant to say any religion is superior.

Having an attitude of moral and spiritual superiority is what causes us to fight in the first place, so let’s put that aside to investigate how three religions are similar rather than constantly pointing out why one is right or wrong.

I’ve included a nifty Venn diagram I found on the net to help compare some of the bigger components. It’s not my own, but I think it’s fairly accurate. I also think we can add to it.

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As we can see, great parts of the beliefs are the same. Only a very few are different. There are some other similarities we can add:

Head coverings—
All three religions include some component of females covering their heads. Catholic nuns wear the habit, which includes a white coif. Married Orthodox Jewish women wear the tichel, or mitpachat. Lastly, Muslim women wear hijabs.
We tend to micro-focus on Islamic religions requiring head coverings for women, but as we can see, they are not the only ones. Furthermore, none of them feel oppressed when they wear them. It’s simply a part of their religious tradition.
We should also recognize it is not only women who cover their heads. Although the traditions vary and may not necessarily be religiously required, Muslim men may wear a prayer cap called the taqiyahs. Jewish men wear the kippah. Although men in Christian religions do not normally cover their heads, Roman Catholic cardinals regularly wear head coverings called the zucchetto and the biretta.

Beards—
Another common denominator betwixt the three is beards. No matter Jewish, Islamic, or Christian, beards can be required. Because of the media, we are more familiar with the Muslim beard, but the Old Order Amish also require beards, as do Orthodox Jews.

Modest Dress For Women-
While it seems Muslim women are the focus of many discussion concerning their modest form of dress, all three religions may require women to be covered and dressed in a modest fashion. This may include sleeves to cover elbows and dresses long enough to cover knees in the Orthodox Jewish and many Christian religions. It could also be a complete covering from shoulders to ankles in the Muslim and other religions. Regardless, the Islamic religion is not the only one to require women to cover themselves, especially if they are married.

• Raising Devout Children
Although we often hear words like “brainwashing” used to describe the way children are raised in the Muslim community, all three religions begin teaching children from birth, specifically when they are old enough to attend school, in the ways of their respective churches. The Catholic Church, in fact, provided all the education and educational materials for most of Europe until secularism gained popularity during the late 19th and early 20th century. While secular teaching was used as early as the late 17th century and was the subject of many philosophers like Locke and Voltaire, church-led education was still the standard until well past the Enlightenment. Yet today, if one so chooses, they might send their child to a Christian or Hebrew school. Muslims do not own the market on educating children in religion.

• Conflict—
There has been no shortage of conflict between the three religions. From the earliest crusades to now, the three have had obstacles between them. The Jewish and Christian communities do not have the long-lasting war we see between the Muslim and Jewish communities, but we cannot overlook the fact Hitler used religion against the Jewish community during the genocide he and others committed in WWII.

To say we have all been peaceful in our religious practice would be what we might now call an “alternative fact.” However, I’ve only listed a short amount of similarities here, omitting the similarities between these and other religions not listed. Why we continue this battle between whose religion is best astounds me. We’re all great in our own ways. We all have downsides. Most importantly, we’re all humans trying to attain the same thing.

It shouldn’t matter what word we assign for “God”. It shouldn’t matter on what day we worship. It shouldn’t matter what book we read the message from. All that should matter is if we would all stop killing each other, we might actually be living the way all three texts expect us to. If we all quit fearing one another, maybe we can see we’re more alike than we ever imagined.

( Since this is not meant as a scholarly paper for publication, I did not cite the information in this piece. All the data and facts are easily searchable, and most is basic common knowledge, anyway. The source of the diagram is watermarked inside the graphic.Thank you for reading. I’ll include a couple links in case you’d like to fact check me.
The history of secular education: http://science.jrank.org/pages/11240/Secularization-Secularism-History-Nature-Secularization-Secularism-1914.html
Islamic Male headcovering:https://www.reference.com/world-view/muslim-men-wear-heads-1cdc44449fd15f2f
Traditional clothing for Orthodox Jewish women:http://www.orthodox-jews.com/jewish-clothing-for-women.html#axzz4XS3f9gRB
)

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A Cycle of Abuse:Understanding Why Women Might Vote for Trump

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If there’s one thing I know, it’s the mindset of the abused woman: how we get there, why we stay there. I was an abused woman; it’s not just observation that gives me this insight. So, when I read this New York Times article about why women chose to vote for President elect Donald Trump, I heard the voices of so many women, myself included, who have excused an abuser’s bad behavior. Many of the reasons some of these women cite could come straight from an abused girlfriend’s or wife’s memoir.

One woman, Kasia Riddle, used the “good earner” excuse, stating the PEOTUS has “good business sense”. Pam Cornett said the words many abused women say when confronted by loved ones about their abusive significant other, telling others they shouldn’t categorize him: You “can’t put him in a box.” There were other varying reasons, but two were particularly bothersome and telling. Guzin Karide says she believes Trump is “a voice for women,” while Sandy Pearson is quoted as saying Trump is a “good man, deep down.” Pearson, from whom the headline of the article is taken, suggests her choice was easy when she would overlook the bad and “focus on the good.”

Women have been conditioned to “focus on the good” for centuries. We are taught from infancy to speak only kind words and to never mention someone’s negative attributes, no matter how bad they might be. Ladylike decorum trumps being truthful, pun not intended, but fitting. We’re even told to smile through pain and difficult situations; our menfolk don’t like to be uncomfortable due to our disapproving facial expressions. We’ve also been taught we don’t have a valid voice in the world. As Karide’s statement suggests, we need someone to be our voice—someone besides a female, someone who the world takes seriously: a man.

Despite our struggle to escape this unfortunate truth, the word of a man, even an abusive man, is worth far more to the world than the supposedly overly emotional, indecisive, misguided, shiftless voice of a woman, regardless of her level of experience or expertise. Thus the reason women for centuries have married men who mistreated them, stayed with their abusers, and focused on men’s “good” qualities instead of giving them the boot. After all, both men and women describe females who choose to be single as “damaged” and “faulty,” or even as “rabid feminists” not to be taken seriously. We don’t even trust other women, let alone expect men to see us in a different light.

Understanding the fact women still rely on men who leave them battered and broken emotionally, financially, and physically makes understanding why some women can look to Trump, and his plethora of male-centric supporters, as the “voice of women,” the man who will “Make American Great Again,” the “good man, deep down” who, regardless of his repulsive rhetoric and actions, will lead us into a financially and socially secure place as a nation. Men have inculcated women to not only ignore, but deny abusive actions and words in order to protect the patriarchy and its power. Escaping this harsh truth is difficult at best.

American women who speak out about their decision to vote for Trump are reminiscent of the hundreds of women I’ve spoken with who try to excuse their abusers.

He only wants what’s best for me. It’s my fault he has to be so harsh.”
“He’s not that bad once you get to know him.”
“He really loves me. He just sounds mean.”
“He didn’t really lie. He just didn’t tell me the whole truth because he knew I’d overreact. ”
“He’s better than someone else who might abuse me worse.”

I’ve heard the stories over and again—different voices, same plot. Women who’ve decided to vote for Trump are largely the same. Just as we shouldn’t judge a woman whose significant other punches them in the face, we shouldn’t judge the women who choose to support Trump. Instead, this should open a new dialogue. Maybe if we changed the way we taught women to respect men and excuse their abuse, these supporters would have viewed our President Elect through different eyes. Maybe if we taught women not to accept misogyny,they wouldn’t accept it from the man who will be in a position of power strong enough to diminish all we’ve fought to achieve.

Marketing A Culture: Genocide, Racism, and The “Others”

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We want to talk about racism in the past tense like it was something that happened rather than something that is happening. No one likes to admit that while we can send an expedition to Mars, our country still cannot overcome this disease that’s plagued us since the inception of our nationhood. Like smallpox, racism came across the ocean from Europe to infect a land and a people who had never been exposed to its deadly effects. While it’s true the indigenous people of the US were not always peaceful amongst themselves, slavery and racism was as foreign to them as the other diseases brought here by the settlers. Sure, we’d like to say none of that is relevant in 2015. It only takes this one picture to prove otherwise.

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Normally the discourse of racism is centered on either African American lives or the lives of immigrants, and it’s true that those groups are subject to hate even yet today. However, the one group’s voice no one seems to hear is that of the very Native Americans from whom this country was stolen.

It’s a historical fact that Native Americans were taken from the shores of this country as slaves long before any Anglo Saxon settled. It’s also a historical fact that Columbus, while never setting foot in the United States of America, did enslave and kill countless Native people to our south. In fact, the whole idea of slavery hit our shores because Columbus designed the idea of enslaving Native people on the sugar plantations he started. Most of us know Columbus was no hero—he was just an attention seeker, lost in the world, trying to make a fortune. In the process, he committed genocidal acts. Without recounting the entire history of the US, suffice it to say Native people have been treated in the same manner as any other minority: they have been enslaved, forced to assimilate, and made into a group of “others” pushed aside and largely forgotten.

Ask my grandson who the Indians are and where they live. He is in kindergarten, and the only conversation he has really had about Thanksgiving is what he’s learned from his public school education, so he will answer “I think they’re out in the woods looking for food still”. We correct his school-led misguidance at home, but many kids don’t know any better. “Indians” are still portrayed as wild, uncivilized heathens who hunt wild animals under the cover of the forest. It’s sickening. No one tells these children the truth, but the school mascot of my grandson is the “Brave” complete with headdress, so they do learn it’s supposedly acceptable to appropriate the very culture Europeans tried so hard to eradicate. Call them uncivilized. Steal their culture when it suits our needs. That’s the Anglo-Saxon way, apparently.

Which brings me back to the picture. While walking through a Wal-Mart store (a place I despise, but that’s a different article for a different time, but yet another solid reason to boycott them), I noticed this bow and arrow hanging out for display. We’re a small, largely agricultural community, so archery equipment and guns are typical here. That’s not what bothered me. It isn’t the aspect of hunting that bothered me, either. My own family hunts. What astounded me enough that I snapped a picture were the words “Lil Sioux”.  Those words punched straight through my brain into my soul. There they were in big, bold letters as if buying this plastic archery set would somehow transform the child for whom it was purchased into a Native American, and not just a random Native American, but a Sioux. It can’t be lost that many associate the strong Sioux leaders of Sitting Bull or Red Cloud with the picture of what they believe all Native people to be. Seeing this inanimate object hanging there as if one can buy what real Native hunters and warriors spent a lifetime learning made my skin crawl. It was culture for sale. Moreover, it was more false ideas of what being Native really means, as if all Indigenous people are just running around with bows. It wasn’t lost on me that while someone decided to market how great it is to be a Sioux warrior, one great Sioux warrior remains falsely imprisoned as a political prisoner yet today, having been imprisoned since the late 1970s, Leonard Peltier. We will never admit that in a public display at Wal-Mart, though. Nope. We’ll just continue to market a culture for white profit whilst committing cultural genocide on the very people from whom we steal.

I wish I could tell my grandson that racism “was,” but instead I have to tell him that it “is”. I can’t look at a display such as this and think any differently. Had this been a different type of display with pejorative, racist term about another ethnicity, it surely would have been removed. It probably would have never been displayed at all, although that’s debatable. What is glaringly obvious is that we, as a Nation, refuse to recognize our racist underbelly. We hide the seeds of racism in areas many never look, one of which is the Native American community. We let them lie nearly dormant there while we steal away from an entire people what is their own: their identity. Racism hasn’t been eradicated. Hell, it’s not even close to being wiped away. The seeds of racism are still here, hidden away in store displays and mascots, team and school names, classroom discussions and lessons, movies and depictions. One need not search hard to find them. All we have to do is open our eyes to the real meaning behind the words before us in bold print. The very people we owe our success to—we took all the land and resources from them after all, we continue to disparage, and as long as we let these seeds stay buried in our treatment of one people, they will vine out to all people. Don’t think racism matters because it doesn’t affect you?  Just wait. The finger will point at you one day, too.

 

(Cover photo via: https://awakeningthehorse.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/culturalappropriation1final.jpg)

Musical Tastes and SAT Scores: Contaminated Correlatives

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So I happened upon this “study” that supposedly shows that intelligence can be determined by musical tastes. Admittedly, the author states it’s not actually a “scientific” study, so it really proves nothing in the way of being a true measure of intelligence. What it does prove, however, is to be disparaging and racist.

Most of the music frequently associated with any ethnicity other than white is plotted on the lower ends of the SAT spectrum. Are we to believe that people of color are stupid? No. Surely that is not the point, is it? (Perhaps the author should clarify that.) What it does seem to point out is that more affluent schools have a higher rate of a white students. Why is that? Oh, well, let’s see: Lack of access to affluent schools by people of color—and this happens for many reasons. I won’t address all those here. The article also points to the tragic failure that is standardized testing.

Basically, charts like this prove nothing, and are quite offensive. Not to say people of color can’t like Radiohead, but why can’t smart people like Rap? Moreover, do all “smart people” veer away from music associated with certain cultures to assimilate? Is that forced assimilation?

It’s also interesting that “classical” isn’t associated with Beethoven. Maybe, and this is just my judgment, the author of this piece should reevaluate his own ability to classify and group pieces of information—maybe we should ask him his preference in music to see where he falls on his own scale.

Don’t Armchair Quarterback The Ebola Conversatoin

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You know what really angers me to no end? 4th quarter armchair quarterbacks. Nah, I’m not talking about football. What I’m talking are those people who just now decided to join the Ebola conversation.

Ebola isn’t new. We’ve been fighting this disease for decades—4 at least. The troubling thing is, I can’t count the people I know who didn’t give a shit 20 years ago, 10 years ago, 5 years ago, even 1 year ago.

To them, Ebola was a “foreign disease”. It was a “them” problem. So many people just shrugged it off because this virus only affected a small part of Africa. Who cares then, right? Dark-skinned foreigners die from a virus? That’s their problem, right? They probably brought it upon themselves somehow, right? —All these and many other ridiculous statements that I’ve heard prior to this year concerning Ebola.

Oh, but you let this shit show up on American soil? Now they’re ready for business.

I’m not sure why it never occurred to folks that this virus could spread, what with the advent of global travel, the automobile , the airplane and such. (in my snarkiest voice ever))Why—how could we—the great and mighty US citizens –ever fall victim to such a disease?

But now, these assholes are sitting upright in their recliners shouting at the top of their lungs, pointing fingers, and panicking.

We “liberals” probably planned this to “thin the herd”. “Liberal pansies” afraid to deal with this “the right way” (what the fuck ever that is) caused all this. Yes folks, once again it is the fault of Obama. Obama “single handedly gave us all Ebola”, and we’ll probably all “be dead by December”.—Such is the talk from the people who didn’t care last year when people in Africa were dying. These loudmouths didn’t care 2,3,4,5, 10, 20, 30, or 40 years ago, either.

Is this the way to handle a global crisis? Are we just going to point fingers and say “he did it”?

The truth is, it doesn’t really matter who dropped the ball. What matters is it was dropped—and way before this disease ever touched American soil. Now, we need a solution. Blaming the current administration isn’t a solution to Ebola any more than blaming Peyton Manning will make the Broncos win last year’s Super Bowl.

All pointing fingers does is create a bigger divide. It brings nothing to the conversation of stopping this disease. Not to mention, had anyone in power so much as breathed the thought of addressing this years ago as a measure of humanitarian aide, these same fools who are whooping and hollering now would have been up in arms demanding we stop. (See where not wanting to help folks will get you?)

So far, three people in the US have been diagnosed with Ebola. Several more are in quarantine. Meanwhile in Africa—thousands of people have died, thousands have contracted the disease, and fighting it becomes increasingly difficult without clean, hot water, soap, and a vaccination.

The conversation doesn’t always have to be about us. Sometimes, believe it or not, we’re supposed to make the conversation about people who don’t even live on the same continent….and guess what? By doing so we also make life better for us all because we can explore a cure and vaccination.

This shit of people not caring about people who live differently or look differently from them exhausts me. It tires me even more that those people who didn’t care now place blame on folks like me because we are “liberal”.

So while they’re busy playing Politic Dick, what they seem to do best, the rest of us can figure something out. In the meantime, prepare yourselves for an onslaught of disinformation, conspiracy theories, and tales of panic.

Just in time for Halloween—Terrified Loudmouth Conservatives

“Passing” in 2014

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I’m really troubled by the fact so few white people are willing to admit their privilege. Moreover, I’m even more appalled that so many white people will accept people of color only if they “act white”. Although I don’t have time to expand on this at the moment, I feel white people expecting people of color to “pass as white” is an incredibly important part of the equation we’re working with. I’ll explore this more in just a few days. Stay Tuned…..

Classism: The Discrimination That Knows No Bounds

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What is it like to be poor? That’s a subject I think more people should investigate as I’ve heard so many disparaging comments made about those who aren’t as well off financially as others. Funny though, people seem to believe that because they have a new car, the largest cable package on the market, or some fancy electronic device this somehow points to the fact they are light-years ahead of those who need government assistance. I’m here to tell you, folks, you may not be as far ahead as you think. Moreover, if you ever hit the ranks of those who are forced to, as so many wrongfully phrase it, “apply for entitlements,” you will find that the word “discrimination” is now part of your vocabulary—and here’s a shocker for you—even if you’re white.

If you’re poor and can’t afford to pay your bills on time, an employer can deny you a job as they may conduct a background check, including a credit check, to decide if you are reliable enough to hire. Landlords can refuse to rent to someone with shoddy credit history. Getting a credit card is out of the question, so if your car breaks down, you might be out of luck in getting it repaired.

The poorer you are the more likely it is you might land in jail for debts you cannot resolve as well. While we do not have “debtors jail” proper anymore, we still have what is known as the Writ of Attachment.

Let’s say you are forced to go to the emergency room, and without insurance, are left with a hefty bill you cannot pay. Once that bill hits the hands of a collection agency, they will drag you into court to try to resolve the issue. Credit agents will use all means possible to drag money out of debtors, and many people just agree to payments. If those payments are not made, the agency will drag the person back to court, and here’s a huge problem.

Poor people are often forced to move faster than the mail system can catch up with them. So sure, the court mails out a notice, and often an officer will sometimes serve a notice to appear, but if the person can’t be found, the notice can’t be delivered. It might be left with a relative or neighbor, but not always. The court date comes, and the person does not appear because they had no way of knowing they’d been served. The court can then issue a Writ of Attachment, which calls for the arrest of the individual. All it takes is to get pulled over for a busted tail light, and BAM! you find yourself in handcuffs, and often without money for the hefty bond a Writ usually carries. (Generally the cost of the bill you owe.)

These people are not criminals. They’re simply unable to pay a bill. Now, with not only being a poor, but an arrest record to boot, they’re definitely going to be discriminated against. No one cares to hear why they went to jail. They just know they don’t hire, house, or educate criminals. The world of opportunities they once had shrink before their eyes as being poor becomes a criminal offense.

Of course, men of color experience this disparity two-fold with the intersection of both ethnicity and class, and women of color experience this three times over where gender, ethnicity, and class meet. Nonetheless, white folks, when I say we need to end discrimination, the new Jim Crow laws so many people of color are experiencing, you better open your eyes because if you’re poor, they will affect you, too.

See, we’re big on covering our eyes to issues with which we have no personal experience, but I’m betting most of you out there are not eternally wealthy. You probably have not amassed the kind of wealth that can’t go away. Sure, you might have a nice car, a home, and maybe even a boat, but I’m betting you’re so far in debt that you’re no more than a paycheck or two—maybe a month or two’s wages from living in poverty.

It doesn’t take much, really. A heart attack. One nasty divorce. A death. Maybe a natural disaster. Life changes easier than we might ever believe. I know folks who, in 2008, went from massive mortgages and expensive car payments to $400 per month rentals, used cars, applying for food assistance, and bankruptcy court. They waved good-bye to six figures and tried to find ways to live on unemployment. Some of them still haven’t fully recovered six years later. Most of them were college educated and had never broken the law. Nearly all of them have ended up in court being sued for monies owed to some creditor.

Humiliation is bad enough. Being discriminated against for something beyond your own control is mind breaking. In fact, I know of at least one man who committed suicide because he lost everything, couldn’t find help, and was denied employment because he was a “theft risk” due to his dwindling credit score. He had only experienced this discrimination for a small portion of his life. I cannot imagine the psychological effect on those who experience discrimination for the entirety of their lives.

If we ever think discrimination only happens to people who aren’t like us, we should look around us at everyone who is being treated poorly. No one should face discrimination for things of which they have no control—not the color of their skin, not their gender, not their sexual orientation, not physical and mental disabilities, and not the size of their wallets.

Now more than ever, it’s important that we all stand together. It’s time we quit looking for ways to differentiate ourselves from others, and realize that most of us, 99% probably, are very much alike. We all face similar issues, just in different ways. We all struggle to make it through life, and the best way to win that struggle is by helping, rather than fighting, one another. Holding one person down to get a head up helps no one, because while you’re busy trying to hold that person under you, someone else is plotting your demise for their own benefit, too. You’re not safe in a world where it’s acceptable to criminalize others for things which they do not control. First class passengers may watch as the poorer passengers below struggle and drown, but they should remember as they watch idly by, they will regret their inaction as the ship slips under the sea.