Wise words for the day

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The Four Noble Truths

First Noble Truth

Life is suffering.  But by living a mindful existence we can learn to avoid suffering and achieve true happiness.

Second Noble Truth

Suffering is caused by craving and aversion.  Rather than struggling to achieve everything we want, we should modify our wanting.  Wanting deprives us of true happiness and contentment.

Third Noble Truth

Suffering can be overcome and happiness can be attained.  True happiness is possible.  If we give up useless craving and learn to live each day at a time (not dwelling in the past or worrying about the future) then we can become happy and free.  We then have more time and energy to help others.  This is Nirvana.

Fourth Noble Truth

Nirvana can be achieved by perfecting our understanding of the world, acting out of true love and compassion, using only true, uplifting, non-harmful communication, acting in an ethical manner, living a life which does not exploit others, consciously working to better ourselves, developing complete awareness of ourselves and the world around us, and by developing not only complete consciousness and awareness in mind, but in being.

Taken from Thich Nhat Hahn’s Peace is Every Step. A short, easy, comforting read, if you’re interested.

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Let’s get serious for a minute or two

First, let me start by apologizing for the lack of posting recently. Everyday, I say I will update with a new Wine Wednesday, a new recipe, a new Fun Friday Find, something…. but everyday, that thought eventually moves to the back burner.

As some of may know, I battle depression on and off. And the last few months have been more on than off. I almost hate to actually type that out here. It seems too personal to put on a blog that I mostly keep on mundane topics. But it is the truth, my truth, and I’m tired of hiding behind fake smiles and never letting anyone in to that side of my life. At times, the whole pretending nothing is wrong is even worse than the actual depression, which is ten shades of suck to begin with! While that is not a complete excuse, this is my biggest reason for not posting recently. Some days it just takes a lot to get out of bed. But I’m trying to do better with a new routine, working out, getting spring cleaning done… that all helps. But this is really just a digression– it’s not what I came on here to talk about today.

What I really want to discuss is recent news. Some of you who follow the blog or see links from Facebook or various message boards I’m on, may not give a flying pig what I think about recent political and social issues, but I feel the need to get it out anyway. Feel free to stop reading here and go about your day. (I promise, I won’t be offended, ha.) But sometimes my annoyance and anger with the world at large get too built up and I just need to address it. So if you’d like to read me rant, feel free to continue- hey, it’s at least a way to procrastinate a little while longer on whatever you are avoiding doing right now, right??

So…

1. Trayvon Martin: Back in UVA, in my very first anthropology class, I had a professor, who on the first day, in front of a lecture hall filled with 300 students, claimed that we were all racists. He went on to claim that we were all sexist and homophobic. As you can imagine, this riled many students up, but his claim was a sensible one. Our society as a whole is racist, and sexist, and homophobic (among other things). And no one can be raised by a society and later step outside of that society. Because we are Americans, we are ingrained with a certain amount of prejudice simply by being American. Of course, we went on to study how there are many variants to this prejudice and no, just because you suffer from societal racism, doesn’t mean that you are ready to go out marching with the KKK. But it’s an interesting thought that I’ve continued to ponder over the years.

How anyone can claim that this case is not racially motivated or at the very least heightened in emotion due to race is beyond me. Follow the details that have been sketched out by 911 calls, police reports, and media interviews and you find an overzealous man, who had a penchant for calling the police on random black men he saw around his community, who chose to pursue an unarmed black teenager who just happened to be walking in his neighborhood. This man chose to bring a gun to a Skittles fight and one of them ended up dead.

Now people can bitch and moan about the media all they want, and they can whine and cry about everyone not having all the facts. But let’s get real. Are all the facts out in the open yet? No. Does that change what is already known? NO. Don’t forget that had the media not gotten involved, this would be just another dead black teenage boy that died in vain while the police did nothing to bring his killer to justice. In the days immediately following the shooting, the police did not bother to check Trayvon’s cell phone in an attempt to identify the body and when they were told by Zimmerman that he had shot and killed Trayvon as self-defense, in accordance with Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, the police took no further action. Nevermind that common sense says that anyone who chooses to actively pursue another person can not in good faith claim self-defense. All animals, including humans, are granted two basic instincts when it comes to situations where they fear a predator is chasing them and possibly causing them danger. Those two instincts? Fight or flight. So even if Trayvon did turn around at some point and try to defend himself against this “man” who had taken it upon himself to follow this teenage boy, there is no excuse for Zimmerman’s use of a gun to shoot Trayvon in the chest.

My heart aches for this family who has lost a child. My heart also aches for the family of Zimmerman who must endure harsh criticisms and seeing their family member now go through this process on a national stage. But mostly, my heart aches for our entire nation. A society where mothers of little black boys have to warn their sons about the dangers of walking in their own neighborhood as they go to the corner store for some candy and tea, because there are those out there who will wish them harm or question their existence or not trust their integrity. All because of the color of their skin.

2. The War on Women:   Well, it’s not just racial issues that we have here in the good ole’ USA, ha. Now, I know that it’s all in vogue to talk about this war on women that the Republicans are supposedly waging right now, but I would argue that in a society – truthfully, world – where women continue to be beaten, raped, assaulted, murdered, and molested by the men in our lives, men have waged war on women since time began. So many recent laws and statements, of course, are the reason for the current incarnation, however. And I can’t say I disagree when you look at what is being said by those around you. Our own beloved VA wanted to make patient-paid, state-sponsored rape a law. They have semi-succeeded with the passage of the ultrasound-before-an-abortion bill. Because of the national uproar, now women in the great state of Virginia can politely request that their doctor use an external ultrasound before their abortion. What a win for women! But we’re not the only state drinking the cray-cray soda.

How about women needing to explain their usage of birth control to their employers or doctors being given the OK to lie to women about the health of their unborn children in order to prevent abortions? Totally cool, right?? There was a letter to the editor in this week’s paper from someone who actually thought the Arizona proposal regarding employers being able to ask women about their usage of birth control was a good idea and something all bosses should have a right to know. For reals? Who really supports that? Draconian morons is the best answer I can come with. Seriously, if you feel this is ok, how do you feel about employers being able to ask you about a Viagra prescription? Or any medication, for that matter? I mean if it’s all being covered, they have a right to know, right? God help us.

Of course that also brings me to the whole employer-covered birth control issue anyway. First, let’s set this straight. If my birth control is covered by my employer, you, Mr. Random Taxpayer, are not paying a dime of it. Want to know who is? The others at my company who are paying insurance premiums. That’s how insurance works. And let’s also discuss how it is utterly ridiculous for organizations like the Catholic Church to want to be treated like businesses when the need suits all the while tucking tail and claiming religious exemption when that suits their needs. Make a choice. You can either be a church with no political sway/say or can be a business that must take care of its employees (and in the case of Catholic-run hospitals, its patients). Not for nothing, however, but we could avoid this whole issue with a single-payer system that didn’t require our health insurance to be tied to our employment- a completely ridiculous notion to begin with.

Also, gentlemen, please note. Yes, it is offensive to most women to refer to any of us a sluts, prostitutes, whores, tramps, bitches, or cunts. It is not funny. It is not endearing. It is unfortunate that so many who would never date to utter a racial, ethnic, or religious slur do not even think twice about uttering sexist ones. Women are people, and we deserve more respect than what those words allow.

Of course most of this has to do with political pander anyway, which leads us to…

3. The 2012 presidential election: I swear if Ron Paul wasn’t so batshit crazy on social issues, I would actually vote for the man. At least he is principled. He says what he means regardless of who it offends in the party base and means what he says. He has also toed the same line for the last fifty years. That is truly refreshing in politics.

I’ve really gotten a kick out of watching the whole Republican primary this year. I usually enjoy these events, but for some reason, this year has been special. I swear the Republican base got together last year and said, “Well, we won’t beat Obama in the general, so it doesn’t really matter who we put up. Let’s just get some of the dregs out of the way so we can mount a real challenge in 2016.” I mean that has to be it, right? Aside from Paul’s passionate “old school” conservatism, you have Rick Santorum. God, I don’t even know where to begin with this guy. He would prefer women still be barefoot and pregnant and relegated to the kitchen, in my opinion. I can’t believe there are people who would vote for this man. (That’s not really true, I guess. Having been alive on this Earth for over 30 years now, I do believe there are people vile enough in their hatred of women and homosexuals that they would indeed vote for someone like him.) And of course, Mitt Romney. I actually don’t mind Mitt all that much. It’s a shame he feels the need to sell out to the Tea Party base of the Republican Party. I have a feeling that in reality he’s far more practical and is genuinely interested in more middle-of-the-road policy. Everyone gets so hung up on his being Rockefeller rich, but come on, when’s the last time we had a middle-class president? The truth is that you have to be a millionaire in order to run any sort of successful campaign in this country, let alone get elected to the highest office in the nation.

I’m sure I’ll still be voting for Obama once November rolls around, so none of that really matters anyway. While I am one of those liberals who isn’t as thrilled as I had hoped with Obama’s first term, I do feel that he has made good on many promises and made a lot of headway on important issues (see healthcare, ending the Iraq war, ending don’t ask/don’t tell, etc). There’s just a part of me who’s hoping that his entire first term was just a ruse for re-election and he’s getting ready to go all pinko-commie socialist on everyone during the second term… I somehow doubt this will happen. But a girl can dream.

and finally….

4. Facebook: When did Facebook become the place for people to shamelessly whore out their inhumane, spiteful intolerances. Everyday it seems people have found new and inventive ways to shun compassion and rational thought. They constantly feel the need to put others down and make asinine comments regarding how superior they are to the world. Of course when these people aren’t doing that, you can always get minute-by-minute updates on the potty training successes of your friend’s two year old or look at inappropriate pictures your old high school chum should not be sharing on a public forum. It’s a shame really that a tool that can be used to reach out and reconnect and keep in touch with those who have impacted your life in some way has seemed to jump the shark so far. I’m rarely on anymore, perhaps a little cyber stalking here and there (HA), but anymore it’s just to message with a few people and that’s it. I will say that I’ve found that if you can go for a good week or two without checking in on the Facebook, your heart will be lighter. Replace the obsession with looking up random quotations from Buddha and Confucius and your life could become damn near perfect!

So to close out?

Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind. To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue.
Buddha

Go with god, y’all.