Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Personal Profile

On the left hand side of this Blogspot  page there’s an “About Me” section. Under it is my picture and along side the picture a link that says “View my complete profile”. I need to let everyone know that this actually is not my complete profile. As I think over my 64 years of life, it’s apparent to me that I’ve left a few things out. This is the “facebook” section of the blog. I’ve never been comfortable with Facebook. I’ve been invited by “friends” to join , but always decline.
Social networking is a huge phenomenon. Mark Zuckerberg was an intelligent college guy, but awkward around girls. He discovered how to enhance the college dating atmosphere, creating a way for fellow students to put their profiles out there for other students to see. The blog profile feels to me like an extension of this mentality.
Right next to my picture is the category “gender”. I dutifully put “male” in there, but I suspect the mustache gives it away. If you need both a picture and label to help people identify your gender perhaps you should choose another medium for social interaction. The next most important thing it tells you about me is that I’m a Libra. Nobody ever asks me my astrological sign anymore. It happened a lot in the ‘60s and ‘70s. I take that back. When we’re vacationing in California sometimes someone will want to know. I’ve never put my sign on a resume though.
The other most important info about me according to the profile section are my favorite movies, music and books. There are no categories for politics or religion or for that matter my favorite car, my favorite food or psychologist. Katie has a favorite kind of garlic press. I think the “my interests” category is meant to cover all these other areas.
I suspect people put down only what they want others to know. Social networking then becomes an extension of our egos, or more specifically, our personas. The whole truth about ourselves is yet to be discovered. Few people are going to put down that they suffer from anxiety, have a bad temper, are addicted to prescription drugs, have hemorrhoids or hate their bodies. Those things are to be discovered later on in the relationship.
I like thinking and talking with others about favorite books, movies and music. I mostly choose favorites from the past, when things tended to have a greater impact on me. Having a favorite anything is an interesting concept. What I like changes over time. At one time in my life, my favorite book was Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine. It was a great book about a boy who invented a machine that did all his homework for him. I rarely have current favorites of anything. Actually I don’t think much in terms of favorites anymore, but I used to. I often have trouble choosing one thing over another. My favorite food tends to be whatever I’m eating at the time.
I’d like to add another category to my profile, “religion”. For my favorite, I choose Hinduism because it has something for everyone. It has plenty of Gods and Goddesses, and many different paths to God. In a sub-category of favorite Hindu Deity, it’s a tie between Krishna, the young good looking dude who played the flute and had groups of adoring young Gopis following him everywhere (not unlike my favorite rock ‘n’ roll star which would be in another category) and Hanuman, the monkey warrior, who was the devotee and protector of Rama. He was one fierce and devoted dude.
Under the sub-category of favorite style of Zen Buddhism, I would have to go with Soto Zen. Practitioners can just sit and mind their own business, whereas in Rinzai Zen the master silently creeps around in the background and then whacks you with a bamboo stick when you least expect it. I hate that.
Under the sub-category of favorite New Thought writer I would go with Joel Goldsmith. This New York Jew and renegade Christian Scientist created The Infinite Way. His teachings cut to the chase and can be summed up: Every moment of your life, practice the presence of the Christ within.
Under the sub-category of favorite  saying by a Guru that could be put on a bumper sticker I choose Meher Baba: Don’t worry, be Happy.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Briefly Marching With OWS

Katie and I were in Tucson a few weeks ago for the Tucson Meet Yourself Folk Life Festival. After I performed with the Chinese Martial Arts Club, we walked around to take in the rest of the Festival. We ran across the “Occupy Wall Street” protesters who were marching through the streets of Tucson, so we joined them. I didn’t know much about the movement at the time. We thought it had something to do with the rich getting too rich and too powerful in this country and influencing our politicians too much. We agreed with that so we entered the slow moving stream of people.
I don’t like being part of any large movement or organization. There is always something I don’t agree with. I’m sure it’s related to my experience in the Army and more specifically in Vietnam. We wreaked havoc on that beautiful country and its people and I was part of that effort. When I got back and decided to join the protest against the war, I found out that to the protesters I symbolized what they were against. I didn’t feel welcomed by them and didn’t like many of the things they were saying.
I recently allowed my membership in the American Legion to lapse for that very reason. For example, I didn’t agree with their efforts to amend the constitution giving Congress the power to prohibit the desecration of the American flag. The Legion is very hung up on the flag. I don’t want to burn a flag, but I believe in my right to do so. If I can buy one and own one, then I can burn it. Strangely I supported the right of that wacko preacher who wanted to burn the Koran. I also have a right to burn a Bible, which I don’t especially want to do either, but I don’t think the preacher would have agreed with that. The issue is individual freedom of expression. The flag is a symbol of that freedom, not the freedom itself.
When Katie and I fell into step with the marchers, I felt slightly uncomfortable. There was a young man directly behind us yelling about the greed of the fascist capitalists etc. and he kept stepping on my heel, causing my shoe to come off. He did that twice. Finally I turned around and gave him a dirty look. He looked back at me, but didn’t seem to care. He was too busy yelling nasty remarks for the cause. I feel these demonstrations should be peaceful and not have any destructive behavior or aggressive words, at all. But my wanting to turn around and knock that asshole down on the ground and give him a memorable experience with my shoe, didn’t seem in harmony with my message. So instead we dropped out of the procession.
The Occupy Wall Street movement was started by a group out of Vancouver, BC called Adbusters. I’m not sure how it made the transition from Canada to the US, but on Jul 13, 2011 they put out a call to those who read their website and publications to: Occupy Wall Street!, and the following statement:
In Solidarity, and as a response to this call, a planning group was formed [], and an info sharing site established. The participation of every person, and every organization, that has an interest in returning the US back into the hands of its individual citizens is required.
Our nation, our species and our world are in crisis. The US has an important role to play in the solution, but we can no longer afford to let corporate greed and corrupt politics set the policies of our nation.
We, the people of the United States of America, considering the crisis at hand, now reassert our sovereign control of our land.
Solidarity Forever!
The first OWS protest was on September 17, 2011. Wikipedia says that within one month there were similar demonstrations in 70 major cities and 600 communities around the country. World wide protests similar to these have happened in over 900 cities.
This movement has obviously struck a chord with people and during the first month it grew very fast. The protestors call themselves the 99%ers. This alludes to the fact that 1% of the population has a disproportionate amount of the wealth. The 99%ers believe that because of the way our politicians are elected, they become beholden to those with the most money. This highly influences how these politicians govern and the laws they pass. We can’t trust the government to change this because they are the very ones perpetuating it.
Only time will tell whether this movement will continue to grow and affect some kind of change. Much of the third world is rapidly trying to become more capitalistic while the OWS movement is saying we all need to be less capitalistic. The western world has lived this wasteful consumer lifestyle for a long time now. We are in no place to tell the billions of people in the third world they can’t have it too. It seems pretty clear that if the billions of people in the third world do become affluent in the same way that we are, the earth will not be able to sustain all the waste and pollution and the energy demands will be astronomical. It’s apparent that we are heading for a big change.
With all these huge problems facing the world, do we want big business calling the shots? Capitalists are most concerned with making a profit and less concerned about the welfare of the people and the environment. So even though I support much of what the OWS movement stands for, I don’t think I’ll be marching with them again any time soon. Well maybe I will if they get rid of those angry, nasty, shoe destroying assholes.