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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Is This The American Dream?

 I've heard so much lately about how anyone who does anything to try to make a difference in this big, beautiful world, whether it be influencing socioeconomic issues, trying to shed light upon and help prevent and treat wars, attacks, and other world issues--who try to treat and contain the ramifications of the effects of such significant occurrences...that anyone who participates in science, politics, has their own system of belief, etc. but does not subscribe to X system of belief or perform X modality is "doing it wrong"--how they shouldn't be concerned-how caring about the world around us and having empathy of any kind is simply a shout into the void and only God/the universe, the law of attraction, etc is the way to go and that by thinking about how to solve world problems, we're "calling them in." Sadly, a lot of very impressionable people whose world views haven't yet been fully formed are out there listening to this malarkey. This is my answer to that...
 I know the world can be a tough place. I know that things don't always go our way. I know that it's comforting to think that there's some all powerful deity or law or what have you guiding you. That takes some of the responsibility out of your hands and it's okay to not want responsibility. That's okay. What's not okay is to give your personal responsibility and your astoundingly powerful, unique individual voice to some supposed divine law or to God or the universe or what have you and to absolve yourself of it in turn. What's not okay is to see suffering and to turn your head and say sorry, but I can't possibly be distracted from my path to riches/perfect spiritual enlightenment/God/etc, because when we do that, we're missing the point. We're unable to see the forest for the trees. What matters in this life--possibly more than anything else is being a good person--whatever that means to you. What matters in life is being empathetic and kind and compassionate and giving your voice to those who don't have or can't use their own. What matters in this life is leaving this world a better place than it was when you found it.
 I hear so many people raging against "politics" (i.e. what they perceive politics to be), science and against having important discussions 'because bad juju' and 'negativity' and 'because I can't be bothered to be torn from my path of perfect bliss and enlightenment in order to help you or in order to give back to the society that gave me the incredible gifts that I have--that created the impetus that set me upon my current path.' On one hand, I'm glad that people are so comfortable in their own lives that they actually feel that there's an invisible force taking care of them at every turn which absolves them of the need to make their own decisions. On the other, I think that they're completely missing the point. The point being that to live here means having the full human experience. The point of being here is to have the entire range of emotions and experiences and to learn from those experiences and apply that learning to the betterment of society in some way. I personally believe that if there is a heaven--an other side-and I believe there is (energy can only be changed and transmuted, not created or destroyed), we may choose to help those who are still here living in this universe in physical form once we no longer are, but then again I don't begrudge anyone else their own personal beliefs as long as those beliefs don't encroach on my freedom. My rights end where yours begin and vice versa.
 We are all different. None of us are the same. There is only one you in this world and the chances that you would be born with the exact features, quirks, character traits, likes, dislikes and skills are ASTRONOMICAL. We are truly all unique individuals of the highest order. We each have different life skills and different areas of expertise. We do however have one glaring similarity that binds us all together. We all came from a home of some sort where we were fed and clothed and provided with water to bathe a do drink, electricity and gas when extremes of temperature manifested at the appropriate times of year and we all had education and health care of some sort.
 If you think that God/the law of attraction/etc. provided you with that without the help of government in particular and generations of people who've fought and died for your rights, then you're either blindly ignorant, severely stupid or both. Case in point-how many cave men have you heard of with appropriate housing and the rights that are afforded to citizens of the country you live in? How may men and women in the Middle Ages lived past age 40 or so due to lack of health care? How many US presidents before about 1850 had appropriately functional and healthy sets of teeth due to dental care and science? And if that's not enough to make you reconsider your outrageous viewpoints, think about how many times you've been sick, given birth, had surgery, had to take antibiotics for a sinus infection or a UTI...
 You are quite literally alive today thanks to science, government and the empathy and ingenuity of other people. You're living the life you live today because and ONLY BECAUSE generations of men and women have fought, died, braved hunger, cold and exile from family, church and country so that you'd be able to live the relatively carefree lifestyle that you do today. Ladies and gentlemen, I think that calls for a modicum of personal and civic responsibility. I think that requires beyond a shadow of a doubt that you pay it forward. Now, you might ask what are you doing, Dominique? What are you doing to pay it forward. And my answer is this--it always will be--not enough.
 I'm a pagan/Unitarian Universalist/Secular Humanist. Personal responsibility is practically my middle name as it is, but I didn't stop there. I'm an outspoken social justice advocate, I work with animals, animal shelters and animal rescues, I've donated my time and money to some really beautiful causes thus far. I'm even running for office to make sure that you and I get to continue to live in the relatively carefree world that we do. But that is not enough. I'm not sitting around, patting myself on the back for all of my hard work and saying 'oh, I've done enough, why not let God/the law of attraction take care of the rest?' None of us should. As far as I'm concerned, we should all be writing, blogging, podcasting, working in the political arena, or dedicating our unique (potentially God given) skills to the community and giving back to it. I hear people congratulate me on making a difference in the world, and I love that my work is appreciated, but I have to wonder why people think it's so special. Literally everyone should be doing something to give back to this wonderful country of ours and to the beautiful world that gave us life. I heard someone (well, more than one person, actually) tell me this weekend that as a religious person, they felt that an individual that they came across who was clearly in desperate need of intervention and physical help-possibly even medical care-was simply a "distraction" to take them away from their religious paths. I was floored. Are we really that self centered?? Is human suffering now something that we are so far removed from that seeing someone suffering right in front of us seems like nothing more than a stumbling block along our paths to success?? If that's the case, maybe the American Dream has finally been achieved. Maybe the founding fathers achieved their goal of complete freedom--freedom that distances us so far from actual empathy and suffering that we no longer recognize it when we see it. But I'll tell you, that if that's the American Dream realized, I'm sending it back and asking for a refund.

 We've got so much work to do for the causes of equality, social justice, fair and equal treatment for all and maintaining effective, empathetic government. My message is simply this: let's not stop here. Let's not be so caught up in self congratulation that we take our eyes off the ball. Step it up and get out there.