In the following blog, i will probably piss off or alienate plenty of people. It seems to be one of my basic skills, along with cooking and being able to rip pieces out of my brain and put them on paper.
In a recent discussion with my parents, one in which i was (probably accurately) described as being "too extreme" and/or "paranoid," i was ranting (as usual) about the current state of affairs in America, the world, and so on and so forth, blah blah blah, yackety smackety (i'll spare you the play-by-play), i was told that if i didn't like the way things were, i should run for office. Now, that's a really ridiculous idea: me, Todd Pack, aka Grendel, running for public office. Forget for a second that there's a lot in my past that could (and would) be dredged up and media-pumped into a huge scandal. Forget that the people with the most financial resources usually end up winning (like, say, having the manufacturer of voting machines being one of my major supporters). Let's zero in on what most of America totally ignores when voting: the issues. Oh, the candidates will TALK about issues, or take stupid things and transform them into issues, and then make promises regarding those issues that they intend to break as soon as they're in office. But, are the issues what it's really all about? Well, in case i'm ever stupid enough to try a stunt like this, and in case there are people in America stupid enough to vote for me, let me lay out a few of these issues and my opinions about them.
1) The Economy: Economists have been warning us, over the past decade--at least--that the consumer-driven economy (which is not quite the same as capitalism) is doomed to fail. Our current economy is based on consumers and commodities, and assumes that there will always be consumers capable of purchasing these commodities. Basically, the economy is top-heavy . . . those with the most pull the strings on what's popular, what's promoted, what's ignored, and all with the singleminded goal: to earn a profit. So far, so good. But, as we've seen in recent years, the accumulation of wealth seems to reveal a common flaw: GREED. Having more money doesn't satisfy . . . like any addiction, it reaches the point of diminishing returns, whereat the addict requires more of the same thing in order to reach that "high." I have nothing against capitalism in and of itself, but our economy is not BASED on capitalism, but is rather a malignant cancerous outgrowth of it. My attitude towards the economy is simply this: "You cannot serve God and Mammon." Period. The word "Mammon" represents material wealth and the things it can acquire. You might as well say "The Bank," "Profit," etc. I find it ironic (and infuriating) that so many people who self-avowed Christians seem to completely avoid this Biblical truth. It's as if the thought of Christ flies right out the window when it comes to turning a buck. Will the economy recover? Possibly. Will it take another down-turn? Probably. Will it ultimately fail altogether? ABSOLUTELY. I could get on a long side-track here by dissecting what people SAY about money and what their actions regarding money say about THEM, but that would probably turn into another rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth rant, and i do that enough as it is. So, let's turn to another subject.
2) War: What is it good for? Turning a profit (see the preceding paragraph). The United States, France, Great Britain, Russia, and China ALL turn a profit on arms sales. They sell to both sides of the fence. Don't think so? Well, those of you who are old enough (or have read history and retained any of the knowledge gained therefrom) will remember that when Russia was invading Afghanistan, the United States was supplying the Taliban with weapons, military technology, and training, in order to help keep Russia out. The same group of individuals who were involved in the 9/11 attack on American soil. This is just one recent, modern example of something that's gone on for centuries. Huge corporations stand or fall based on whether or not a war will occur, and how long it will go on, and how much profit can be gained from it while it continues. The people who supply these arms seldom--if ever--have to look on the carnage firsthand, or suffer one iota of the misery caused. Is war a necessary evil? Well, given mankind's track record, i'd have to say it probably is. But, if war is a necessary EVIL, how can ANY war be called "good?" Nowhere in the Quran do the words "holy" and "war" appear together, but the words "holy war" are bandied about by many who claim to be Islamic. Likewise, you'll find a lot of people who claim to worship the Prince of Peace, the One who commanded "LOVE YOUR ENEMIES," calling for war, citing "patriotism" as their reasoning. How exactly are we "loving our enemies" by lobbing bombs at them, by gaining huge profits from arms sales and developing new and improved ways of killing off more people, and then actually claiming that God WANTS this? Even if you're an agnostic, an atheist, or a voodoo priest, this "playing both sides of the fence" HAS to be ridiculous. The fact is, one one hand, we're (and by "we," i mean the United States) are condemning and attacking Islamic leaders and people in Iraq and Afghanistan because of human rights violations, and on the other hand are oppenly supportive of an individual like Suharto, who has kept his countried embroiled in civil war that has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths, an Islamic leader who, according to Bill Clinton, was "our kind of man." The war in the Middle East has been going on for thousands of years. Our "intervention" and "liberation" are insignificant drops of water in the comprehensive ocean of that war. But, now that we're there, and feel we have to protect our investments, we've been caught in what could be aptly described as a combination of a bear-trap and a land-mine. We're stuck in an explosive situation, and whether we stay there or leave, it's going to explode . . . but that's not a valid excuse to add more explosives.
3) Prayer in Schools, "Under God" in the Pledge, and Other Voodoo Semantics: The Christian Church has gone to bed with politics, and whenever that happens, the child of that union is a monster. I'm not going to belabor the point, just point out a few truths that should be self-evident. First of all, if you teach your kids to pray at HOME, then they'll carry that with them wherever they go. I often prayed in school . . . particularly before exams. There's nothing to prevent anyone from praying silently while they're IN school, or at work, or anywhere else. The government, by definition, cannot prohibit or forbid--this would be a violation of a Constitutional guarantee. Simply put, this "non-issue" is a way of throwing off responsibility. Christian belief is rooted in the concept of individual responsibility, and "family values" vary depending on the family in question . . . so, flush those buzzwords down the toilet. I ENCOURAGE people to pray at home, in school, at work, on the road, EVERYWHERE. And "prayer" isn't a wish-list, or a hotline to complain about the service. Prayer is intimate conversation with God. I don't want an unholy world having ANY say in how or when i pray. And, "In God We Trust" printed on our money is outright blasphemy, because when people get their hands on those bills, God's usually the last thing on their mind. "One Nation Under God"? Get with the program . . . ALL nations are under God, and just because people are repeating it by rote doesn't mean that they're actually thinking that . . . in fact, it's the other way around. Anyone can recite scripture, and they're often apt to do that if it makes them look good in public. But saying it and MEANING it are two different things. Jesus said of the Pharisees, "You strain at a gnat but swallow a camel whole!" It's the same thing here . . . you're quibbling over mere dogma and completely ignoring God's Spirit while you're doing it. YOU CANNOT LEGISLATE MORALITY. Christ's life, death, and resurrection put things back in order, making each of us responsible, making each of us "ground zero" for our own "revolution." You cannot please God by following rules, but rather by letting the Holy Spirit motivate you, changing you from the inside out. And if THAT happens, people around you will notice. Sure, you're going to encounter opposition, that's part of the deal . . . in fact, REJOICE when you encounter it, because it means you're doing what you're supposed to be doing! But others are going to follow your example, and be enriched by the way you live your life, and that's God working through you. Don't let the government, or any other earthly body, control the way you live your life before God. If you want to pray in school, pray. If you don't, don't. It's as simple as that.
4) The Sanctity of Marriage and the Right to Life: Okay, this could actually be a continuation of the preceding paragraph, but i've separated them for thematic purposes. I don't believe that homosexuals should be forbidden to have civil unions. Why not? Well, the same government that blathers about "the sanctity of marriage" has allowed legal brothels in Las Vegas. If they REALLY believed in it, they'd repeal those laws. It's hypocrisy for the government to deny homosexuals the right to be "married" in a civil ceremony . . . of course, nobody would THINK of interfering with Las Vegas' legalized brothels because--you guessed it--that's MONEY. PROFIT. Now, i don't think the Church should let itself be influenced by what the state does, one way or the other. First of all, the Separation of Church and State is healty for the Church, and for the government to try to demand that the Church allow such ceremonies infringes upon the Constitution. So, stop clamining that the "sanctity of marriage" is what you're really concerned with. It's just another holier-than-thou scheme, putting yourself on a higher level than other humans, acting like you don't or haven't sinned in ways that are just as wrong. If a man sleeps around with another man's wife, it's a small scandal; if he sleeps around with another man, that's a big scandal, but THEY ARE BOTH THE SAME SIN. Adultery is adultery. Now, as to the right to life, i DO NOT support abortion as a method of birth control. There are plenty of methods of protection, the best of wish is abstinence, to avoid creating a new life. If you ARE pregnant, carry the baby to term . . . because there are plenty of families out there who are willing, in fact EAGER, to adopt a baby. BUT: i don't believe that it's the right of the state to forbid it. In function, this works much like the Prohibition. The Prohibition did not stop drinkers from drinking . . . in fact, it just opened the door for organized crime, and resulted in more calamity. If you prohibit abortion, you open the door for free-lance abortionists, and women who want to get an abortion will do it somehow . . . there are records of women dying because they attempted to give themselves abortions using broken bottles stuck on the ends of broomsticks. If abortion is murder, it's on them . . . creating convoluted laws to make it illegal will only increase the prison poplulation, and as Charles Dickens observed, "in the courts, nobody wins but the lawyers."
There are plenty of other issues i could comment on, but my fingers are growing numb. Probably, i'll continue this in another chapter, as new ideas come to mind. Now, given the preceding paragraphs, there is no political party in the world that would have me as a member, and running as an independent is like painting a target on yourself for both Democrats and Republicans to take cheap-shots at. I'm better off remaining a poet, successful or non-successful, because poetry--thus far--has been the only vehicle that is capable of supporting my emotional storms. Everybody expects poets to be a little weird, anyway, and in that department i'm quite capable. I am as vocal a supporter of Freedom of Speech as the Right to Bear Arms, and in my case they're both the same thing. I have a hard enough time controlling myself, let alone guiding a city, state, county, or nation. I've got my hands full . . . i wouldn't want to burden others or myself with a position where i'd be attacked on all sides, both with pressures to conform and pressures to resist.
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