Freedom, Responsibility & Faith

The ability to shape our experience is called freedom.  The ability to transcend time is called responsibility. The freedom to shape our experience from the things outside our direct control is called faith.

The process of selecting experience is called a decision.  A decision is the alignment of conscious transformative energy with one of 2 potential outcomes.  All decisions are ultimately made between only 2 possibilities because consciousness is a binary structure.  The root of the word decide means ‘to cut off’.  The word decide is also like the word divide, which is to split into two.

You see evidence of the binary structure of consciousness in perception.  All value statements and judgments are perceived only when their binary opposite has also been defined.  For instance, there is no light without dark, no up without down, no short without tall, no you without me, no this without that,  no right without wrong,  no happy without sad, no love without fear (aha!), ad infinitum.  Even things are understood this way, though the mind processes physicality a little differently.  ’Unshirt’ could either be all things that exist outside the physical boundaries of a shirt or more precisely, it could be described as whatever is observing the shirt.  I like the latter definition because that means whenever I’m looking at a chair, I’m the unchair!

The Yin and Yang of Chinese philosophy symbolize this duality (dualism?).   The philosophy of dualism states that the body and mind are irreducibly distinct.

The greatest variable of our binary consciousness at this point in our evolution is how much of reality exists within our conscious control vs. how much of reality exists outside our conscious control.  This shared question has yet to be definitively and globally answered and as such, each person answers this question for themselves.

Control is a continuum that contains 2 spheres.  The inner sphere is called the sphere of influence (everything that is under conscious control), while the outer, larger sphere is called the sphere of interest (things outside our conscious control).  Because control is a continuum, there is no clear boundary between the 2 spheres.   The sphere of influence can be called the sphere of responsibility while the sphere of interest can be called the sphere of faith.  The lack of division between the 2 spheres implies the freedom to move freely between them and this is in fact a great definition of freedom itself.  The mind operates as a reflection of the physical universe by continuously expanding.  In time, the sphere of influence expands into the sphere of interest.  As we look at the younger generation and perceive a more disaffected state (’slackers’), I believe what we are witnessing is simply byproduct of expanding consciousness.  The sphere of interest is gradually being overtaken by the sphere of influence.

9

After watching the movie ‘9′ this evening, this little mnemonic popped into my head. Only just now did I realize it has exactly ‘9′ words:

Right makes Will.
Will makes Might.
Might hides Right.

For those of you who haven’t heard me say it a thousand times, I’m a big fan of etymology, the study of the source meanings and history of words.  I always seem to find little pearls of wisdom, little interesting angles on understanding things, by thinking about and toying with the words used to describe them.  I’m surprised how often 2 more of different definitions of words (homonyms) can be combined to form a unified concept.

For instance, if I ask the question “Which is more powerful or more effective: human might or human will” and then make 2 statements using the “other” definitions (the homonyms) of those two words:

It ‘might’ happen.
It ‘will’ happen.

then it suddenly seems quite clear that ‘will’ beats ‘might’.  Seems like Ghandi had a very deep understanding of these 2 words.  His mandate of peaceful, non-violent, non-cooperation gave India the will overcome the might of the British empire in a very literal sense.  I wonder if he thought about words this way.

Then there’s the word ‘right’. Here are some of the statements I can combine to form a deeper understanding of the word:

I’m right.  You’re wrong.
I have every right to do this.
The right wing.
Those we call terrorists call themselves righteous.
There’s one right way to do this.

Seems like the word ‘right’ has a lot to teach as well.  No wonder it shares all of its letters with the word ‘fright’!

These interconnections of concepts hidden within words and language imply our interconnections with each other and always seem to offer up good food for thought.

Zoe, the Wheaton TERROR

The absurdity that is me blogging about my dog Zoe is somehow perfect.  Short of giving her away or putting her to sleep, I simply seem to be out of options.  She owns my behavior completely at this point and has even managed to take over my sleeping habits.  Those of you who know this dog are already well aware of her issues, but it’s really coming to a head right now and I simply MUST write something to try to express my frustration.

Rather than even attempting to start at the beginning, let me start with right now.  I woke up this morning and walked into the kitchen to find 2 piles of shit, 2 puddles of piss, a new corner ripped from a carpet and a huge pile of puke containing the pieces of the carpet that were chewed.  It took me 30 minutes and almost a whole roll of paper towels to clean up the mess.

The reason for the mess?  I slept in the guest bedroom last night, away from Zoe.  Why the guest bedroom and not my own bedroom and why away from Zoe?  One word folks, and my new favorite issue: ticks.

About 3 months ago, Zoe started scratching herself.  An unhealthy, incessant, compulsive scratching that would basically consume every waking moment.  I thought maybe she had fleas.  Wasn’t sure how since she was on once-a-month Advantix.  But I knew something needed to be done when a huge sore appeared on her head from all the scratching she had done.  And it got worse and worse.  Trip #47 to the vet was to treat the wound she had scratched into herself.  It took well over a month for the wound to heal even with antibiotic pill and dog collar.  But before the first completely healed, Zoe started scratching a new ‘hot spot’ into herself and now instead of dealing with 2 holes

Hot spots are new.

Obama isn’t lying about health care – a basic lesson in logic

Obama isn’t lying about health care reform.  Nothing in the current plan is a lie.

If you think otherwise, you’re wrong.  And I will now prove this fact to you using a fundamental construct that we call logic.

If you think Obama is lying about health care reform or that anything in the current plan is a lie, it’s because you don’t know the definition of the word.

In the context of the health care debate in particular, the word ‘lie’ is particularly inappropriate, because by its very definition, a lie is a false statement made with intent to deceive.  And because NONE of the statements Obama has made regarding what will happen in the proposed plan have even come to pass, NONE of them can be false.  And if a statement isn’t false, it isn’t a lie.

Even if we keep the ‘intent to deceive’ part (which of course is even more absurd because it basically can NEVER be proven), use of the word lie is incorrect.  At worst, we could choose different words, such as deceptive or ignorant and appropriately place such accusations within the realm of opinion, where they belong.  At best, we could realize that our perception is a choice and work on improving it.  But to use the word lie in this context is, in my opinion, both deceptive and ignorant.

It’s admittedly frustrating for those of us who are “encumbered by logic” to talk with any of you who declare Obama is lying about health care, because all it accomplishes is demonstrating that you don’t know the definition of the word.

Obama’s health care plan – the easy outline

General Regulation:
• Basic Health insurance will be required, like auto insurance is now
• Businesses will be required to either provide health care or ‘chip in’
• 95% of small businesses (based on profit threshold) will be exempt from the requirement to participate
• There will be a hardship waiver for those who still can’t afford coverage

Those with insurance:
• Neither employers nor individuals will be required to change plans.
• Illegal to deny coverage based on pre-existing condition
• Illegal to drop or alter coverage once you get sick
• No cap on coverage in a year or lifetime
• Cap (limit) on out-of-pocket expenses
• Insurance companies will be required to cover routine exams such as mammograms and colonoscopies at no additional charge

Those without insurance:
• Affordable coverage via exchange/marketplace which will take effect in 4 years
• Insurance companies will want to compete because of millions of potential new customers
• Those who still can’t afford will be given tax credits determined on amount of need
• Current pre-existing conditions will be offered low-cost insurance immediately if they become sick (McCain’s plan)

Rumor control
• No death panels
• Illegal immigrants will not be given health care
• No federal dollars used to fund abortions

The Public Option
• Public option preferred, but any option that guarantees some form of choice will be considered, including co-ops or trigger option
• Rationale for public option is to hold insurance companies accountable
• Public option would only be for those without insurance – those with insurance would not be required to change
• It’s projected less than 5% of people would sign up for the public option
• Public option expected to be entirely self-sufficient – no taxpayer dollars, but with reduced overhead and salaries, should still be able to provide lower cost options
• Public option expected to augment, rather than replace private system – much like public universities augment, but do not replace private universities

Paying for it
• With savings, projected 900 billion over 10 years  (less than Iraq & Afghan wars and less than tax cuts for wealthy started by Bush)
• Must add 0 to deficit over lifetime
• No money borrowed from Medicare
• No reduction in Medicare benefits
• Provision requires spending cuts if promised savings don’t materialize (sounds like trigger option)
• Reduce waste in current system including Medicare and Medicaid: fraud, unwarranted subsidies to insurance companies, communication, etc
• Create independent commission of doctors & medical experts charged with identifying additional waste and encourage best practices modeled after high performing health systems
• Revenues from drug and insurance companies: insurance companies charged a fee for their most expensive policies
• Tort reform to stop frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits (Republican proposal)

Universal Health Care. Make it a moral imperative.

The overarching question in the health care debate can logically be whittled down to whether health care should be considered first a financial or a moral issue.

Opposers of health care reform are arguing that it is first and foremost a financial issue. They are debating the role of government in any for-profit private business sector in general and in the health care industry in particular. It’s a great topic for debate.

But the core of this debate isn’t really about whether we should allow government involvement in health care. The government already runs 2 public health care programs (Medicare and VA) so its involvement in health care isn’t new or scary. The real debate is whether health care should be touched by the private sector at all, or more fundamentally, whether it should be a considered everyone’s right or remain the privilege of those who can afford it.

One of the reasons this debate has become so heated and ugly is that the insurance companies (for-profits with incredible influence via lobbyists) are fighting to ensure health care stays exclusively in the private sector (as any good company would be expected to do), while so many Americans (including myself) feel the private sector itself IS the problem – in a July 2009 poll, 66% of Americans favored a public option (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/08/05/politics/main5215880_page2.shtml?tag=contentMain;contentBody).

To be clear, it’s not my opinion that capitalism and the scarcity principle and for-profit and competition are ‘bad’. To the contrary, I could happily go on for hours on what makes them great. But when it comes to universal health care, capitalism needs to take a back seat to good old fashioned morality. What could be more morally bereft than to knowingly allow someone to die because they don’t have any money to give you? As long as the for-profit motive goes unchecked, this will continue to happen. Universal health care is certainly a financal issue, but it’s clearly first a moral issue.

FDR said famously, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. Has there been a debate our lives where this has been more apparent? Listen to the fear in the majority of the argument opposing heath reform. Death panels. Pulling the plug on granny. Socialism. Rationed care. These truly are fearful concepts, but they do a far better job of describing the current state of health care than they do in predicting the future.

Health care reform is an idea whose time has clearly come. 45 million uninsured is unacceptable. But let’s make sure we all agree with that statement before we continue the debate, otherwise we’ll be in danger of repeating the same error that created this crisis in the first place: not doing what’s right because it’s not fiscally feasible. I see reform as a financial issue second, but a moral issue first. The best argument for health care reform is the recognition of its importance as a moral imperative.

What I like about the single payer option as it’s currently the only option that completely removes the profit motive from the equation. And yes, when it comes to health care, I think removing the profit motive may be our best hope of success. It is ultimately the only real reason that people are denied care, and the number one goal of reform is to ensure no one is denied care. Another potential approach would be to somehow legislate coverage – a ‘pay if you can’ system. Determining who can afford to pay and who can’t seems really tough, but maybe we can figure it out.

Those of you who support reform, I say be patient and don’t be angry if others are fearful of the approaching change. Do your best to divert angry rhetoric directly back into discussion of potential solutions. Don’t waste time talking about the problem – talk about solutions!

Those of you who oppose reform should try to stay focused on your arguments for whether health care can and should remain for-profit and take the fear-speak out of the discussion. Talk of socialism and pulling the plug on seniors is the type of unproductive, inflammatory rhetoric that denies the recognition that we’re all in the same boat together and keeps us focused on the problem instead of the solution.

With issues as vital as universal health care for all Americans on the table, it’s important not to let our fears keep us from doing the right thing. This means universal health care needs to happen even if it’s not financially feasible. Can we all agree that it’s better to save lives than to save money? If we can start from this shared perspective, the debate will become constructive because we will have, in the words of Steven Covey successfully put first things first.

Palin, God & Politics

War in Iraq…God’s will?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9H-btXPfhGs&feature=related

Alaskan Pipeline…God’s will!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Q9MMJESywA&feature=related

I would say I believe in God. Perhaps in a very very non-conventional way, but the belief is there in it’s own form. I’m fundamentally at odds with injecting religion into any part of the political or governmental spectrum though, precisely because of the wide variance of the perception of truth.

If everything that happens is the will of God, then these 3 logical statements must follow:

There’s no need to state that anything is the will of God – because everything is the will of God, it’s a redundant/meaningless statement. It would be like stating the name Robert is Robert. Or this car is a car.

Stating that the outcome of any event is the will of God is an implication that that event not occurring would be against the will of God – which is impossible.

If God wills everything, then to know the will of God is literally to know everything.

Then there’s the issue of perpetrating violence in the name of God – BIG problems there. The Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, radical Islam?

Plans for America: Obama vs. McCain (the actual plans)

For those of you interested in becoming informed about the actual plans each of the candidates has for his tenure in the White House, you can read the detailed plans here:

Obama:
http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/ObamaBlueprintForChange.pdf

McCain:
http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/Issues/

These docs are fundamentally the only way to get informed about your decision, given that all the major ‘news’ networks have reduced themselves to reality TV-style opinion shows.

Palin facts, just the facts

Here are some key facts about Palin for those of you who may not know:

  1. Palin is anti-abortion and will seek outlaw abortion.
  2. Palin is an NRA member who opposes gun control.
  3. Palin is a creationist who wants creationism to be taught in schools alongside evolution.
  4. Palin questions the human influence on global warming.
  5. Palin has no foreign policy experience.

Many more facts will come to light soon, as Palin will be exposed to the most heinous scrutiny ever pushed upon a human being in the short weeks to follow. I will post those facts as they are clarified and will actively seek to avoid superimposing my opinion upon them. I leave that to you.

Palin a Creationist – could indicate problems with judgement.

http://dwb.adn.com/news/politics/elections/story/8347904p-8243554c.html

Not sure what to say about this other than to remind our gentle readers that the ‘theory’ part of the Theory of Evolution concerns HOW we evolved, not WHETHER we evolved.

Could Palin could be critically lacking in judgment for ignoring the 150 years or so of scientific evidence that clearly proves evolution is fact?

Should we really teach creationism in our schools alongside evolution and just let the kids decide for themselves?

Perhaps. But if we do, I think it would only be fair that we also consider throwing a few other theories up for ‘consideration’ as well – namely the ‘theories’ of relativity and gravity.

Palin also apparently questions the validity of global warming.