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While We Still Have Time

In spite of the grimness of the times in which we live, there is still hope. If you feel, like I do, that the usual discourse about matters of critical concern tends to be superficial, misguided, and false, then you might find some solace and inspiration here. I will try to offer insight and a holistic perspective on events and issues, and hopefully serve as a catalyst for raising the level of dialogue on this planet.

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Location: Madison, Wisconsin, United States

I was born in 1945, shortly before atom bombs were dropped on Japan. I served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1971. I earned master's degrees in Economics and Educational Psychology, and certificates in Web Page Design and as a Teacher of English as a Second Language. I followed an Indian guru for eight years, which immersed me in meditative practices and an attitude of reaching a higher level of being. A blog post listing the meditative practices I have pursued can be seen here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Odyssey

Cibolo Creek Ranch, Shafter, Texas (http://www.cibolocreekranch.com/)A few years ago I went to a wedding at a ranch in the southwest corner of Texas. The event took place over four days, with roping, riding, bow and trap shooting, tours of historic sights in the area, a Texas barbecue, and a country dance. I learned "The national dance of Texas," the Cotton-eyed Joe.

The music included a Western Swing band, a Mariachi band, a Mexican folk duo, a cowboy singer, and a Soul group from Houston. The place even had a family of camels, and the sweetest mule west of the Pecos. The guests, including family members of a well-known "right wing" pundit, were from all over the U.S. and several other continents, and some paid as much as $500 a night for their rooms. I was the low-budget guest, staying in my own tent(s). Invite me and I will come.

Big Bend National ParkI had a great time, though the drive down there was something akin to Homer’s Odyssey. Texas is a very big state. As well as the events surrounding the wedding, I got to see some beautiful country, visited the Big Bend National Park, and spent a bit of time in the great city of Austin on the way back.

Cowboy singer at Texas barbecue, Cibolo Ranch, Texas, May, 2002The reason I was invited was that one of the brides is my cousin. That’s right. One of the brides. It was a lesbian wedding. In Texas. Macho country. On a big ranch, with cowboys, cowgirls, horses, cattle, mesquite, buzzards, javelinas, rattlesnakes, and scorpions.

The newlywedsI mention this wedding because the subject of gay and lesbian marriage is such a hot-button issue these days. According to the conventional wisdom of the evangelical "right," and the political hacks and "clergy" that feed on their fear, anger, and prejudice, same-gender marriage is a threat to our stability and order, and will corrupt our youth.

I can understand their fear and anger. I don’t like homosexuality either. I find the acts revolting. But I also find heterosexual acts revolting if they don’t involve me. And therein lies the rub, so to speak. Sex, as Carl Reiner once observed, is an ungraceful act. It’s not particularly appealing if you’re not in the thick of it.

Hmm. I guess watching other people in the sex act is appealing to a lot of people, or we wouldn’t have such a big porn industry.

So maybe I’m a little bit prudish, but I trust my sense of propriety. I also believe that sex without love, or at least strong affection, tends to be a degrading experience. This attitude, sad to say, is more than mere opinion. I also believe the Buddhist precept of limiting sex to a long-term commitment is a worthy practice.

That should be enough to please a "conservative" or two. It pretty much stops there. I may not like what other people do in bed or otherwise, but it’s mostly none of my business. If someone is being harmed, that is my business, because a functioning civilization looks out for the well-being of its inhabitants.

Consensual sex between adults, same gender or otherwise, is not worthy of my concern. If disease is being spread, then my concern is for promotion of public health through education, prevention, and treatment. Beyond that, it is for each individual to find his or her own way to what is true for him or her self. Ultimately, that is what life is for: to find out what brings you to a higher ground.

When the issue advances to the subject of marriage, it enters the realm of the absurd. People get married because they love each other. They marry to bring their commitment to a deeper level, to make a promise to each other before the Absolute. And of course to avail themselves of the legal benefits of marriage, though these benefits are generally not available to same-gendered couples.

There are three reasons some people are so incensed at the idea of same-gender marriage. One is that they are not used to it. Another is that they think they know what other people experience, based on their projections of what the experience would be like for them. And the third reason is that they think it is their privilege to control what other people do. The "Biblical" arbledy-garbledy we hear is for justification of these neuroses. Religious "authorities" can excuse anything: abortion clinic murders, the Iraq war, American sponsorship of the Israeli state, stealing the presidential election (twice), invading other countries, and, let’s not forget, slavery, lynching, and segregation. But they can easily condemn into Hell for eternity those who do things they don't like. Such moral inversion generates bad luck. They are in for a spell of comeuppance themselves.

I have written before on this blog about the Kansas preacher Fred Phelps, the man who risks eternity on the bet that "God hates fags." He and his followers don’t present their thesis as a gamble, though, insisting that God speaks through their hatred. In gambling that is known as a sucker bet. "Got no chance of losin’ this time," as the Grateful Dead song "Loser" goes.

This is beyond none of one’s business. It is rabble rousing, inciting mob violence. Fomenting hatred. All for the sake of expanding one’s power and influence. Fred Phelps is but a hyperbole of how low our level of public discourse has become.

God doesn’t hate anyone. Hate is a human emotion. It is based on the delusion that one or more other persons are responsible for one’s unhappiness. Unhappiness is not consistent with the level of being of the Absolute, which in the Indian philosophies is called Satchitananda. Sat stands for existence absolute, chit for consciousness absolute, and ananda for bliss absolute. In no religion on Earth is there a precept, save evangelical Christianity, that "God hates fags."

I like homosexuals. At least the ones I know who are decent people. Some aren’t, just like heterosexuals. Indeed, the vast majority of downright evil people I have dealt with in this life have been heterosexuals. People who take advantage of other people. People who try to dominate other people. People who steal from other people. People who deceive other people. People who intend harm for other people.

Then there are the corporate criminals who swindle millions of people and befoul the environment. Arms merchants who manufacture the depleted uranium that is poisoning Afghanistan and Iraq. Soulless politicians who are sending so many of our military men and women to their deaths. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Heterosexuals, by and large.

Since I prefer to end my writings on an upbeat note, I emphasize that change is on the way. Civilization is here to advance. We are now experiencing what it is like to sink to the depths of human degradation. War, hatred, environmental destruction, social division, and criminality are all being fomented by the elites of American society. It will not last. The hypnotic trance that grips the nation will end as if by the snapping of fingers. Mankind is not doomed. It is the nature of potential to seek realization. The force of the universe is far greater than the puny Bush crime family, and most certainly far greater than the hatred of Fred Phelps and his ilk.

We fear sexuality. It is a mysterious realm, with urges and desires that can overwhelm. But it is also a beautiful mystery. Like all of life, it can be approached with courage, respect, wonder, and joy. To do so is to be in tune with the true purpose of human existence: to return to our true nature, the Divine. Have a great Odyssey. And as they say in Texas, cowboy up!
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Here's a few tunes that fit the story: Click, click, click and click.  Here's another. And, of course, this.

Some songs about Texas enhance the experience. Deep in the Heart of Texas. The Yellow Rose of Texas. El Paso. An alternate version of El Paso. That's Right, You're Not From Texas. Streets of Laredo. San Antonio Rose. Dallas. Fort Worth and Dallas. Abiline. Houston. Galveston. Amarillo by Morning. Beautiful Texas. Luckenbach Texas. Waltz Across Texas. Texas Rangers. Ain't No More Cane on the Brazos. Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind. The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You. Miles and Miles of TexasTexas in My Rear View Mirror. Boogie Back to TexasAnother Stupid Texas Song.

Here's some Mariachi music.This video shows a Mariachi festival.
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Update, February 15, 2016: Cibolo Creek Ranch, where the wedding took place, is where U.S. Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia died on Saturday, February 13.

Update, February 18: Here's a perspective on the legacy of Antonin Scalia.
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February 21: Here's another update about Scalia.

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