Friday, November 30, 2012

Consensual Conspiratorial Collusion

When you think of a conspiracy do you think of black helicopters flying overhead with jack booted, dark eyed soldiers of fortune ready to take control of the local library, or do you think of brain washed children, zombie like, stepping two by two from one classroom to another with a large Russian woman, riding crop in hand making sure no one steps out of line?

The fears of conspiracies are real.  The actual conspiracies are not quit so easy to define, there are so many that the actual belief in conspiratorial ideas often fall within the basic definition of what makes a conspiracy conspiratorial.  So in other words we are not only at the mercy of some clandestine, super-secret, nefarious sect of the government but we are also destined toward the anxiety of believing in these despicable machinations for lack of anything better to fill out minds. 

The number one conspiracy vies for world domination and a new world order, begging the question, what’s wrong with the old one and what level of new order, better traffic control, fewer lines while shopping or will it be as professed a totalitarian, one world government that suppresses all that is good with a devil like persona of eternal burning and wrath in service to the few at the very top?

These theories have persisted for thousands of years with perhaps the most well-known surrounding the burning of Rome.  It is believed by many that the Christians at the time started the fire but others believe that Nero himself started the fire to make room for his new condominium complex.  Will we ever know I doubt it?

The persistent rumors of the Illuminati, the Bilderberg’s, the Hashshashin, or Nizari, a mysterious band of Muslim assassins, still following the designs of some unknown fatwa, The black hand and the Knights of the Golden Circle to name but a few, have remained with us and continue to raise questions of validity and fear.  

Recently two former presidents have been rumored to have death squads working for them. The Bush name is connected to the JFK assassination and Clinton is connected with the Vince Foster death.  Do we really know if either had anything to do with these vile events or is it all fancifully concocted to generate the inner fear we all seem to crave?

The real issue here is not in the conspiracy itself for if there was a conspiracy and we knew of it then the secrecy surrounding that conspiracy would negate to a great degree the power of those who thrive on that secret power.  The issue is the desire we all have to create meaning where none now exists.  This is similar to the UFO sitting that seems to come in a cyclical pattern surrounding times of stress and uncertainty.  This is in no way a treatise against the possibility of extra-terrestrials only a possible explanation.  Keep in mind there are billions upon billions of stars in the universe, ET has got to be out there somewhere.

When we can’t explain or cannot understand our minds have a tendency to fill in the gaps of unfathomed goings on, preferring to believe in a wild theory than being forced to live without any understanding at all.  There has to be some truth to the untold stories of conspiracies but with each truth our minds are forced to endure countless alternate scenarios that might give meaning to why life is not fair, or why our bank made that error and we bounced a check to our kid’s piano teacher.  It could not possibly be our fault, it has to be a conspiracy, what else could it be?

There is a cure, its knowledge.  However hard it is to come by knowledge contravenes the secrecy, the unknowns that steal our rational minds and infect us with wild self-perpetuating mysteries.  We all know how difficult it is to get to the truth but we must strive to reach as far as possible toward those precious nuggets of veracity in order to lighten the darkness of our fears and expose those who would strive toward secrecy at our expense.  It has always been true, “knowledge is power”.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Solid Gold Christmas

There is a new meaning to decking the halls.  In Tokyo a jewelry store is currently displaying a solid gold Christmas tree adorned with laughing and playing Disney characters.  There is nothing that says Christmas better than Donald Duck poking fun at his friend Mickey Mouse.  My heart is so full of the gratitude at such a display that I can hardly contain my enthusiasm.

Image: Gold Christmas treeOur family spent the Thanksgiving Holiday at home, no travel to far away family, it would have been nice but the closest family is 1000 miles north, so we centered our efforts on cleaning the house, arranging the furniture and breaking out the decorations that would transform our home into a magical wonderland of Christmas.   We thought about retrieving our own golden tree but believed it a bit presumptuous, especially when we were having trouble making ends meet due to some unexpected expenses.  

We all understand the excesses of our society; we thrive on seeing the ostentatious, the gaudy and golden gods of gluttony and greed transform our hearts into maniacal shopping fanatics, forever chanting the mantra’s of unfettered capitalism.  The black Friday events  change us, transmute our previously friendly demeanor into a Hyde like persona, scrapping and pushing, prodding and gouging our way to the last big screen TV on display.

I’m a capitalist, but a golden Christmas tree, riotous shopping?  I spent a couple of weeks in Japan a few years ago and coincidentally it was during the holiday season.  My wife collects manger scenes and we have accumulated quit a few from all around the world.  During my search in Japan for a manger I searched from Nagoya to Tokyo but nowhere was I able to find even a simple representation of the Christ’s Birth.  There were plenty of elves; Santa was in abundance, Christmas music in English blared from every available speaker but no Christ, no Savior, no religion of any kind, only the hope of that golden Christmas tree, the material god who currently speaks in all languages and dialects, his motives very clear, as the still small voice of God is overshadowed with the cacophony of blaring self-indulgence.  

You may not believe in Christ or in a God but you must admit that the gods of materialism are very much alive.  The motivations toward measurable success have eclipsed the silent works of charity leaving only a shell of spirituality during a time in the near past, when most dropped the pretense of hardness and donned the values of humanity, little acts of kindness, a smile, a helping hand, a bit more patients than before.  

Unruly crowds fight and trample to save a few dollars, drivers swerve and steal their way to park 10 feet closer, children cry and parents scream from stress and anger, the Christmas spirit is a forgotten value and with it the fundamental belief in the powers on high.

Christmas used to be heard in the simple tone of a bell, the subtle smells of cinnamon or pine permeating our senses, the stranger lending a hand or the simple smiles from passersby.  Now we have an amplification of every day frustration, a strung out and overstimulated system waiting for its next commercial fix.  Demented and frenzied shoppers vie for position never thinking of the reason for the season, the birth of Him who gave His all that we might be.

Be what?  Be nice, be patient, be kind, be prudent, be selfless, be Christlike.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Get Lost....

In the TV show Lost there was a mythical island, no one knows if it existed or not.  I watched the first two seasons but couldn’t follow the ever changing and to me, confusing plot twist and turns.  Gilligan’s Island is more my speed.  I must admit I liked Mary Anne; her homey, not homely, country attitudes were always appealing to my sensibilities.  I enjoyed the idea of being lost myself on a deserted island  having read Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island about a thousand times and wishing I could live the life of a pirate, from the perspective of a child not really understanding the horror and viciousness of piratosicity. 
 I still dream, not quite so often as before, about the seclusion and peace of an unpopulated island, the perfect weather, abundant food, all the creature comforts of course; I did say it was a dream, but that dream sure sounds nice.  As I was dreaming I was surfing the net looking for interesting topics to read about and I came across the story of a mysterious island with a mundane name, Sandy Island, located off the coast of Australia half way to New Caledonia.  This Island has been on maps since the late 1800’s but when a recent expedition was in the area of the Coral Sea they noticed the island was not listed on the ships navigation charts.  They double checked Google maps and confirmed the islands location and decided to change course to see for themselves.  

When they sailed through the middle of the island over thousands of feet of deep blue water the mystery was solved.  There is no island at that latitude and longitude.  Where did it go, did it sink like Atlantis, or was it fabricated like Jonathan Swifts Laputa?  There is an answer but to some the answers include serious nefarious inclusions into our reality.  

Maps are an important function of our everyday lives.  They help us get back home and help us find our way around.  The existentialist would say that maps help us define who we are in relation to where we are in the world or even in the universe, giving us meaning to our lives and purpose.  Maps also help us get lost, especially when we have trouble reading them or we put our faith in GPS systems that direct us to dead end roads or vacant lots, we’ve all been there, but to lose an entire island?

I did a little digging and found that the CIA (and please correct me if I’m wrong) has substantial control over the nations, and worlds mapping capabilities and could alter the maps we use.  Yes, I know a bit conspiratorial, but interesting non-the-less.  If this is indeed the case it explains why I couldn’t find that McDonalds in Paris California the other day; someone did not want me to eat that filet of fish.

On a more serious note, we rely upon the information we have on hand.  We use Google maps daily and use our GPS units to find our way around, but if those that supply that information have ulterior motives, you can dream about these options on your own, then we have a bigger problem than wondering where we are.

I think it’s safe to say that we are less able to rely upon the standards and conventions that have for years given us security.  Our politicians never tell the truth, our local governments are corrupted, our school system is broken, and all we have left is our belief.  We need to stand strong against the obvious efforts to destroy our very souls.  We have a mental map, a memory of who we are, a gift from God to all of us.  We can’t afford to be lost, or misplaced like Sandy Island.  We will be found, we will find our way home.

William Wordsworth:

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
     Hath had elsewhere its setting,
          And cometh from afar:
     Not in entire forgetfulness,
     And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
     From God, who is our home.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Death of a loved one.

With the economy struggling we all make sacrifices to keep the dream of a better future alive.  One of our dreams was shattered the other day, a terrible tragedy and senseless loss of an old friend.  It came so suddenly, out of the blue and she was gone.  No chance to say goodbye, only the regret of not having said so much of what we could have conveyed.

My daughter had a photo shoot set for that afternoon and like many of her gigs I tag along as the second shooter, snapping my photos and trying to look important, but on this occasion we never made it.  The heartbreaking events of that day made the trip impossible.

For years we have had a great relationship, no real complaints.  The association was mutual and very beneficial for our family and for our companion. Every day we would meet and every day we would work together solving the issues of the day, happy at the end of each day that all was well and everyone was safe at home and ready for the morrow.  

It was last Friday, nothing unusual about the day. We went together for a checkup and said we’d be back in a couple of hours.  Arriving back, we were in a hurry to get to the photo shoot but nothing seemed out of the ordinary, so we left and started the drive toward San Diego. 

It was only a small complaint at first, a low rumbling, a groan of discomfort, nothing serious by any means and nothing to indicate the events that would turn our lives upside down.  We simply continued to drive and talk, thinking of the events coming rather than the throws of demise that were unsuspectingly upon us.

We knew something was wrong when the quite rumblings turned into shaking and almost violent convulsions.  I quickly pulled the car to the side of the road and called for help.  It took forever it seemed for help to arrive but when it did, he took a quick look and smiled a faint understating grin of understanding, knowing with one look what the diagnosis was and probably what the prognosis would be.

It took another few minutes to arrive at the facility and a few more minutes to be given the bad news.  There is massive internal injury.  There is really nothing more for us to do at this point.  We knew, we knew the end was near and we knew we would never have this old friend again.  It was so tragic, so senseless, we were angry, frustrated, but mostly we were numb at the loss of our good friend.

I won’t name names, it seems superfluous really.  It was their fault, they were extremely negligent and had it not been for their carelessness we would still have our trusted friend with us.  But we had to come to terms with this loss and holding a grudge would not be helpful. 

In the end we discovered the truth.  The technicians had forgotten to put oil in the car after draining her life’s fluids.  They had used the wrong filter and as we drove away from a simple oil change we had no idea of the damage we were inflicting upon our trusted friend.  From a simple oversight to awful and irreversible consequences our once loved Toyota Corolla ended its useful life with the ignominious conditions of being forced to drive without oil.

In comparison to our lives how often do we drive and live without the “oil” that lights our way.  How often do we rely upon the efforts of others when all we have to do is check for ourselves, pull that dipstick out once in a while and check, it will save you the trauma of living with and through someone else's mistake.

Through the simple  effort of gauging our own levels we can prevent a multitude of errors inflicted upon us by others.  We have little or no control over what another does but we can certainly mitigate and minimize those effects that can have tragic results through self examination of our surrounding, our lives and our motivations.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Count your many blessing...

For many of my readers, the Thanksgiving Holiday means nothing more than overstuffed bellies from overcooked turkey and a day off from work to fight against and compete with ravenous crowds looking for a deal at Wal-Mart, or it's simply a day away from the daily drudgery that is our lives.

For those around the world, Thanksgiving holidays are generally a celebration of harvest, of the bounteous fairs from mother earth.  A few are religious in nature but all have succumbed to the ravages of modern cultural relativism and the United States is no different, having mostly lost the initial meaning of why we celebrate and why we devote a single day to giving thanks.

There must be things that each of us is grateful, small things perhaps, a little smile from a child or an adoring touch by a loved one.  This holiday regardless of where you’re from should be more than epicurean gluttony and sporting events; more than waiting in long lines for bargain shoppers.  The ability to give thanks is being lost during the very time we should be devoting our thoughts and actions toward magnanimous endeavors and introspective gratitude

Like so many others I am having some difficulty in defining gratitude.  Complaining is so much easier and garners the sympathy, if only for a short time, of others while creating a bubble of indifference between your personal problems and the not so obvious opportunities that surround us all.  Like the air we breathe, we are inundated with beauty and bounty and obvious greatness all around us.  Blindness and stubbornness cause an impaired inadequacy to see what is right in front of our eyes.  All we have to do is open our eyes and we shall see.

“When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost.
Count your many blessing; count them one by one
and it will surprise what the Lord has done….”

This is a challenge in our day.  We are inundated with negativity, passiveness and an overall deleterious demeanor, making the good and beautiful hard to see.  One by one, one at a time is all it takes to change that negativity to opportunity and gratitude, a thanksgiving for what we have.  Difficult as it is the rewards are endless.

Wherever you may be, whatever your countries customs the cultural attitudes that created the Thanksgiving festivals can be recreated.  If not nationally, individually, the benefits of giving thanks can be accomplished one person at a time.  Open our hearts and our minds to the possibilities of gratitude, start with one, list it as a blessing and others will follow, filling your life with the reality of the gifts of life so abundant that you will not be able to count them all.