There are reportedly 100,000 veterans in the U.S. with 'bad paper', or dishonorable discharges. Many of these people, trained to be professional killers, have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Many are on our streets, homeless and dysfunctional. These individuals do not qualify for Veterans' Administration benefits for health care or shelter. This is a contribution of the military to society. Hollow patriotism cannot excuse this atrocity.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
I received an odd piece of mail yesterday. A non-profit in Massachusetts is lobbying for assisted-suicide legislation. Compassion & Choices is the befitting name of the non-profit.
There is a creepiness in looking to government to grant human beings "permission" to die at their own choosing. It reeks of religion and its imprint on politics. This is an indication of the insanity of overpopulation and the distancing of human beings from their own animal wisdom.
Denial or mortality is a business in the U.S. and other so-called developed nations, which have been polluted for centuries by religious myths of immortality and reckonings after death. These myths are the basis of religious extortion of money for insurance against eternal damnation. Drug companies, medical suppliers and hospitals have also exploited the fear of death for huge profits. Rather than educating human beings about the inevitability of death, the medical-industrial complex pumped billions of dollars into methods for exploiting fear of death.
I was the clinical director of a hospice prior to my retirement. Hospices are lousy businesses in the U.S.. The reimbursement levels from government-funded insurance and private insurance are minimal. They do not cover the daily costs of residential hospices, where individuals can die without worry. They barely cover the cost of the daily expenses of home hospice. In other words, people who choose to establish and maintain hospices are very dedicated humanists, in my opinion, whether they would identify with my label or not.
Relying on government to die is unnecessary. Death can be actualized by anyone with his/her wits in seconds. The preponderance of guns in American society makes this very simple for the determined. Yes, this is a messy way to die and a traumatic one for survivors.
The criminalizing of suicide by government is both absurd and a measure of any constituencies level of development as socially responsible human beings. By this parameter, U.S. governments on state and federal level are medieval. I have lived with attempts of government control over my body. As a gay man, I was conditioned to loathe myself as a child. As an HIV-positive person, I was threatened with incarceration in the early days of the AIDS epidemic when government briefly debated imposing mass quarantine on HIV-positive people during the Reagan administration.
As well as seeking government approval, I encourage the leaders of the assisted-suicide movement to educate the public on the inevitability of death and the personal nature of dying. More documentaries should be produced for public education. Subversion of the medical-industrial complex by posting readily available information on the Web about effective and less violent methods of suicide would help. This would be a practical and compassionate action for those who need answers and assistance now. One example: www.assistedsuicide.org.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
|Jackson Pollock, Convergence, 1952|
The other day I visited the open house of a new Humanist Hub, an impressively large space for non-religious people in the center of Harvard Square, Cambridge. Greg Epstein, the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University, has facilitated a team of staffers and contributors, including myself, to develop this church-alternative. We have done a good job of it. Our individual daily practices have converged in concert to develop a community center. Some of us have devoted the majority of their waking hours to the task. They have done well.
Looking across a roomful of self-identified secular folks of various stripes caused me to wonder what various personal practices brought them to the same space. I prefer to think they were a convergence, rather than a simple congregation, a term which can too easily be associated with passive herding by a shepherd. Too many shepherds are actually wolves.
Between 1978 and 1982, I developed a group counseling program in a gay/lesbian clinic here in Boston, one of the first publicly supported gay/lesbian institutions in the U.S.. We provided low-cost or free counseling to hundreds of clients every week in the dilapidated rooms on the 8th floor of a dilapidated office building. My youthful passion, as a relatively inexperienced psychiatric nurse, was group counseling. I facilitated several weekly groups of six-to-eight clients each.
I learned from my experiences and study as a group facilitator that the power of any group lies in the development of the health of each member individually within the group by the caring words and actions of the members. My job, I realized, was not to lead. My job was to identify the beauty and strength of the individuals in each group in order to facilitate their sharing it with each other, to help each other become healthy and confident. These groups were a convergence of people questing for growth and health in their individual lives. Once established, these groups met for years and did a great deal of good for members who came and went. The healing which occurred had little to do with me. Its source was the convergence of seeking minds in a caring environment.
The lectern model of religion is a failure. Look at the most religious. Fundamentalists of every kind look to leaders to steer moralist revolutions. What they get is quite different. They get demagogues who often steer them into the worst forms of isolationism, homophobia, militarism and mental illness. I am hoping that Humanism as a movement seeks to bring people together in community to share their individual strength and intelligence, rather than develop another congregational religion which exists to support its clergy.
Monday, December 9, 2013
Sunday, December 8, 2013
Today, December 8th, is the Catholic Feast of the Immaculate Conception. When I was a youngster being indoctrinated into the Papist cult in post-WWII America, there were jokes about the impregnation of the Virgin Mary being celebrated the day after the 'sneak attack' at Pearl Harbor. I once thought about writing a play called, "Screwed by an Angel". It would be all about growing up a gay Catholic in the 1950's and 1960's.
Virginity is the finest wine in the cellar of misogynist patriarchy. How odd. The same patriarchal religious fanatics who would stone pedophiles in the public square drool over the idea of taking the virginity of a female adolescent. They blow themselves up to get to a heaven where they can deflower virgins with the blessing of their patriarchal god and his prophet.
I always hypothesized that gay men were attracted to the Catholic priesthood because of its adoration of heterosexual virginity, with which they were blessed due to their sexual preference for males. No pressure to test one's fertile virility there.
Our forebears wrote poetically about the virginity of the North American continent. Virgin prairies, virgin forests, virgin lakes. Well, we have seen what patriarchal men do to virginity in the way America's leaders have raped and squandered its bounty after committing genocide to wrest it from its previous custodians, the American Indians.
I will be attending the preview of a new Humanist Hub in Cambridge, MA, today. Greg Epstein and his staff at the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University have constructed a new friendly space for non-religious folks. This conception of a space for freethinkers occurred by no mystery nor angelic conveyance. Hard work, fundraising and outreach will determine the course of this form of intentional community. I hope this virgin Humanist Hub continues to be impregnated by down-and-dirty intercourse of inclusive ideas, questions and experimentation.
Saturday, December 7, 2013
Much is made these days about inclusion. Politically correct bourgeoisie bow their heads at words like "multiculturalism" and "diversity". The allegedly ethical religious Americans are always going on about food banks and "helping the homeless".
Actually including people in a society means actually doing something to include them. Lip service is cheap.
- Including the uneducated means educating them well in well-funded public schools.
- Including immigrants means requiring them to access provided (by taxpayer money) language and acculturation methods.
- Including chronically mentally ill (homeless) means providing actual homes and treatment.
- Including lesbian/gay/transgendered people means respecting their right to control their own bodies.
- Including people without children means not always asking them if they have children or miss having them.
- Including people of various races and ethnicity means not always focusing on their difference from the perceived majority.
- And so on.
U.S. society is increasingly media-driven. Audio-visual media are not real life. They are representations of real life concocted by the perceptions of journalists, writers and musicians. These perceptions are most frequently the illusions or projections of an upper economic class, from which these journalists, writers and musicians spring or to which they have climbed while motivated by greed.
Inclusion begins with me, in my everyday life. Practice encompasses the inclusion of each person I meet into my life with consciousness and compassion. This is a goal of a work in progress, not an accomplished skill. I pay my taxes without trying to cheat in order to support public inclusion. I try to be open on the street. I try to be respectful in everyday interactions with whomever I encounter. I try to encourage the disheartened. I give what I can. I take only what I cannot achieve with my own labor. This is my way of promoting inclusion of all people in society.
Friday, December 6, 2013
Nelson Mandela's life was a journey of a good person through a hate-filled and violent world. His was a rare victory. He was victorious over his own history of participating in violence to achieve freedom for his people. His life history is an outstanding example of the power of persistence of personal practice, a practice of self-education, self-sacrifice, compassion and consciousness.