Gaining clarity . . .

Today is April 5th, 2017.  I wouldn’t (quite) call this a major breakthrough in my understanding of myself, but mostly that is because I don’t see how this can lead to anything.  But, I do have an idea.

I had a dream while I was sleeping last night in which I wrote something bemoaning the state of politics in the US.  In the dream, I specifically used this statement: “There are no liberals or conservatives in US government.  There are only those who are greedy or despots, and there are plenty of both in both parties.”

That needs some explanation, especially in this era of hyper-partisan politics.  What I mean is that there are those who went to Washington for the ability to enrich themselves financially, or there are those who think their idea of an ideal government is so great that it is okay to use the power of government (force) to compel those who disagree to submit.  As of this writing, I don’t see anyone in Washington who doesn’t fit into one or the other group.  There hasn’t been anyone in Washington, to the best of my knowledge, who didn’t belong in one of those groups FOR OVER 30 YEARS.

I’m not just talking about elected officials, either.  Every non-elected bureaucrat who works in Washington is in one group or the other.  Every Presidential appointee is in one group or the other.

The longevity of this partisanship in Washington is infecting every facet of society.  Christians think it’s okay to use the 1st Amendment to compel atheists to attend SOME form of church.  The GLBT crowd think it’s alright to use the force of law to compel some form of “equal treatment” from those who do not want to associate with them.  Liberals think they are being “tolerant” when they write laws that compel submission from conservatives.  Conservatives think they are looking out for themselves and their families when they empower businesses and churches to exercise greater influence and control.

EVERYONE IN THE UNITED STATES needs to learn the meaning of TOLERANCE.  We can not build a more tolerant society by empowering an ever-growing, ever more powerful, government.

Oh, and just in case someone cares – I’m picking on the United States because it is my home, not because it is alone in experiencing this problem.  The whole world needs to wake up and realize the perils of hyper-partisanship.  And ALL Muslim mosques need to start speaking out AGAINST the use of force to compel change for non-Muslims.

Mystic Lands series . . .

One of the things my wife and I have been watching lately is a documentary series (available on disc through Netflix) titled Mystic Lands.

It was conceived rather ambitiously for a network TV series (originally airing on the Learning Chanel).  The idea was a 13 episode series looking at numerous different locations of the world, and the spiritual practices that were (or, in some cases, are) practiced there, without cultural bias or prejudice as to the views of the practices being shown.

We’ve seen 4 episodes so far, and I have to say that I think they succeed.  Series director Chip Duncan (who is interviewed about the project in an extra feature on Disc 2) wanted to show spirituality as a potential unifying force of humanity despite the diversity of beliefs, and I respect that view tremendously.

I would choose to phrase it this way: WHAT you practice is not so important as IF that practice means something to you. On the other hand, something being successful as a faith for you is no indicator of it’s rightness for anyone else.  You have a right, and obligation, to do what is right for you, but you have no right or authority to enforce it on anyone else.

Ultimately, your decision to make someplace a spiritual place for you is the only thing that is necessary.  You can make it spiritual just by setting up an altar in a room in your basement.

Cholesterol check . . .

I’ve been sitting on this for over a week, waiting for a chance to talk to the lawyer who’s handling my claim for Social Security disability.  Unfortunately, she’s having health issues herself, and hasn’t returned my call yet.

Anyhow, through the last 5 years the doctor at the VA clinic has been “concerned” about my cholesterol levels and has wanted to put me on drugs to lower them.  This year, he didn’t even have a lab on-site to get the results from, but he went full-court press on pushing the statins just based on LAST YEAR’s results.

I swear, being an MD is nothing but legalized drug pushing anymore.

Anyhow, I told him I wanted to see what the results of the NEW blood work were before making any decision, and they could contact me with those results by email.

I got the email the next day.  My results were that the total cholesterol went up over 40 points.  Here is an excerpt of what he said:

“LDL (bad cholesterol) has gone up from 240 mg/dL to 280 mg/dL  Patient has been very resistant to taking statin drugs.  Complications of untreated high cholesterol including heart attack.  I would advise him taking ATORVASTATIN … in order to get his LDL down.  Possible side effects include muscle weakness, muscle pain.”

First – ATORVASTATIN is generic Lipitor.  Notice that the only side effects he mentions are muscle weakness and muscle pain – nothing about LIVER DAMAGE, which all the literature on the health websites claim is the #1 side effect.

Anyhow, I still haven’t talked to my lawyer, but I also haven’t been sleeping well for the last week, mostly because I’ve been stewing over this.  I still want to talk to my lawyer, but I think I have figured out what to say to the doctor.  It would go something like this:

Dear Doctor:  Please notice in my records that I am a Scientologist.  This affects much more than just my attitudes towards drugs that have psychiatric actions.  It is WHY I have an Advanced Directive AND a Living Will, both of which stipulate a DNR order.  It is my religious and spiritual belief that the end of this life is only an opportunity  to begin the next one.  I am happy to discuss health care options that affect the quality of life while I have it, but I have no interest in extending it.  If I have a heart attack, it will be the end of my life, and I’m comfortable with that.  I will not take anti-cholesterol drugs now or ever, and you will not ever bring it up again.

Well, I think that’s what I’d say.

Freedom?

First, let me share a paragraph that was in the email I got yesterday from US Senator Jerry Moran (KS).

“This week, an activist group from out of state pressured the local post office in Pittsburg to remove a patriotic banner – a sign raised by veterans and post office employees in response to the attacks of 9/11. The banner has been proudly displayed since Sept. 11, 2001. I commend the Pittsburg community for rejecting this decision and I stand with them. The Constitution guarantees a right to freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. This banner is an expression of faith and of love for country. Expressions of patriotism, faith, and community should be welcome in our society and I have contacted USPS officials to express my concerns about their decision and to request reconsideration. Since the local post office branch is unable to display the banner, I am proudly to displaying it at my own office in Pittsburg.”

Now, let me focus on one phrase in that paragraph – “The Constitution guarantees a right to freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.”  There is just one small problem with that point of view – it has been used to totally invalidate “atheist” as a religious choice.  If it was the official position of the government, it could be used to state that everyone MUST choose some acceptable religion, which then throws open the doors to government deciding what religions are valid and which are not.  Of course, this would all be subject to the efforts of special interest groups and lobbyist organizations, and upstarts or independent churches would loose all claims.

THIS is why I have long advocated that a person’s individual religious beliefs should remain private, and should NEVER be given consideration when determining laws that oversee the fates of nations.  A nation like the United States of America needs to embrace ALL of its citizens, including those who do not accept any religion as valid, or it cannot function as anything less than an emerging police state.