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religion
Posts

  • The Universe Hates Me

    “At first I was like, sooooo not sure if I should take a job as a Barista when looking at the sign that read, ‘Barista’s wanted.’ But then I was like, wait, that sign is totally a sign from the universe!”
    –Girl in Front of Me While In Line For A Smoothie.

    Have you ever heard a girl talking about signs from the universe and think that it’s a sign from the universe? Do you find yourself desperately seeking guidance from some unknown force, pushing you towards making the decision if Pat is “the one” even though Pat doesn’t give oral with vigor? Are you currently wondering if you should move, and then notice a robin outside your window and think, “wow, in 8th grade I had a friend named Robin whose family moved because her house got infested by termites – so yeah, I absolutely should move and start eating wood.”

    SO DO I!!!

    I like to think the universe is talking to me. It’s comforting. The thought of a conducting cosmos makes me feel like all the dumb decisions I’ve made are sensible. Like that time I went out dancing and staggered out of the club super drunk without my shoes on, took a picture with a cop, peed publically, then jumped into a passing convertible with my friend because we had no shoes on and couldn’t walk home – that would be crazy. Our feet would get dirty. So we got a ride home from a strange man, and as I was thanking him for not raping us, I drunkenly fell out of his car almost smashing my nose on the pavement when I saw a penny on the street – heads up mind you. IT WAS A SIGN that I was lucky!

    I do this constantly. I want to believe that there is an energy, or higher power, directing me through life. Despite my quasi-agnostic worldview, it is that draw that makes me understand the appeal of religion.

    Even though I was raised catholic, I’ve never believed in an organized religious system. As a very young child I questioned what I was being told at church, and struggled with “belief.” My dad was a professor and scholar of Greek Mythology, so I had always been interested in those stories because of him. Because of my personal exposure to the gods of ancient Greece, I didn’t think it was fair that the Catholic Church called their beliefs true, but the Greek religion of the past was considered, and universally accepted, as “myth.” I guess I was a very egalitarian 8-year old?

    I was also terrified of the concept of eternity. I didn’t want to be in heaven or hell for the REST OF TIME! That terrified me. I thought I would get bored in either place. The idea of forever kept me up at night – hence my childhood insomnia.

    Yet my grandmother, who I spent a lot of time with growing up, was very religious. She would say things like, “pray for me that I will die soon so I can be with Jesus.” Okay… but do you mind if I do that after the weekend? I kind of need you until my parents pick me up on Sunday. I’m six.

    My grandmother would take my brother and me to Church not only on Sundays, but also Saturdays. Which for a kid in the 80’s who really liked cartoons, was a real kick in the pants. But I loved my grandmother deeply, even though her idea of a good time was watching the movie Jesus of Nazareth. If you’ve never seen that gem of a film, not only is there plenty of Jesus-torturing happening, but also a scene where King Herod kills all the baby boys within a 100 mile radius in an attempt to stop the coming messiah. Believe you me, there is nothing like a good baby-killing scene to make a kid cry.

    So my childhood was fraught with a lot of church going, praying, and trying to reconcile the image of infants being mass-murdered. My parents also dutifully brought me to Church to appease my grandmother, and it wasn’t until I was 13 when I realized that my dad was only bringing me because he wanted to make his mother happy. It was then we agreed I was old enough to not only make my own choices regarding my spiritual beliefs, but also to start lying to my Grandmother that I still went to church.

    Even though I never found myself believing in the bible, I am grateful for my time at church because it was a space where I had to just sit there and think about mortality and the concept of God. I believe it was in the church that I created a relationship to my idea of God, which admittedly is much more abstract than a dude who has a son that wears a Coachella styled head band of thorns, which, although trendy, is just not that practical. Yet I realize that my obsession with “the universe” protecting me is much like the personification of God.

    Thinking the universe gives a shit about me maybe is totally absurd? Plus now we supposedly live in a multiverse so which universe am I even talking about?

    However the alternative – to think that no universe cares if I get a book deal or not – sounds super depressing! I enjoy the idea that the universe has a path for me, and I just have to see the signs to know if I’m on the right one. I want to think that noticing a cardinal in a tree wink at me is as a sign from the universe telling me that one day the Farrelly brothers will make my script into a movie. AND DON’T YOU DARE TELL ME IT’S NOT!

    Yet…. My belief system is getting slightly challenged right now. Mainly because there have been A LOT OF BAD SIGNS!

    For one, the other day a nest of birds that had been in my chimney must have come apart, and 3 baby birds fell down the shaft and into my fireplace. (Hehe shaft.) Anyway, I called animal rescue thinking that they would come and save these birds… or I don’t know… give a shit at all. They told me to put the birds in a basket and bring them back up to the roof. However, my roof is at an angle of 80 degrees, and without rock climbing equipment, it’s impossible to get up there. So I called back.

    Toni: I picked up the birds with gloves and put them in a basket with grass on the bottom – but I can’t get up on my roof.
    Wild Life Protection Lady: Okay then put them outside.
    Toni: But what if their mom can’t find them?
    Wild Life Protection Lady: From the picture you sent they are fledglings and will figure it out.
    Toni: But it’s raining out there? Is there anything else I can do?
    Wild Life Protection Lady: Just put them outside.
    Toni: And then what?
    Wild Life Protection Lady: Nothing.

    I put them outside and prayed for their mom to come. I tried to keep them covered from the rain. I went to work to teach my dance classes and when I came back they were all dead.

    THEN…

    Last night I went up to my room to sleep, and as customary before I get into bed, I first did a meditation in my meditation corner. The lights in my room were off because I was trying to calm my brain and prepare my body for sleep. After all, I still am an insomniac thinking about forever of course. When my alarm went off I opened my eyes from the meditation, and picked up my phone to shut off the timer. During that process, I saw something. Right in front of my mediation pillow was a dead chipmunk that my cat had brought in – without a head.

    I wanted to scream, but I am a grown-up, so instead I squealed in horror. I went downstairs to get a broom and a dustpan, and tried to pull myself together. I couldn’t understand why this was happening to me. What was the universe trying to tell me?!

    I said to myself while drudgingly walking back up the stairs to my room, “Well, at least I didn’t step on the dead chipmunk. That would have been horrible. I can at least have gratitude for not stepping on it. Maybe that is the lesson of the universe? That even when horrible things happen, they could be worse so I should always have gratitude?”

    I mustered up all my bravery and swept the headless body into the dustpan. I didn’t want to turn on the light, because I wanted to see as a little as possible, so I was using my phone flashlight. I descended the stairs, and brought the carcass outside.

    At least it was over right? At least I didn’t step on it, right?

    With the lights still off I entered my still dark room and that’s when I felt it. I stepped on something cold and wet. I knew what it was even before looking. The half eaten face of the chipmunk.

    This time I fucking screamed.

    I ran to the bathroom to wash my foot. Now I was freaking the fuck out, especially because I had stepped on it with just the right amount of pressure so that the face was stuck to my foot. The water pressure alone wouldn’t release it, and I had to use my hands to scrape off what I think was its tongue. I then had to get toilet paper, go back into my room that for whatever reason I was still keeping dark, and use my flashlight to pick up pieces of chewed up face and brain.

    After about ten minutes of that, and a lot of dry heaving, I went back into my room with my flashlight and started walking towards my bed. But you guessed it. I stepped on yet another wet mash. This time it was on my decorative rug – which was why in my cleaning process I hadn’t seen the thrown up chipmunk neck that my cat had vomited.

    I didn’t squeal. I didn’t scream. I cried.

    I then washed what I’m pretty sure was a chipmunk esophagus off my foot, went back downstairs, got cleaner, and then went back upstairs to clean up the regurgitated chipmunk throat.

    At that point I had been cleaning up this massacre for 30 minutes. I collapsed into bed shaking in horror. But at least I fell asleep!

    Then this morning as I was still recovering, I was making the Munch breakfast when she called to me.

    Munch: Mama there is something disgusting in my playroom.

    Thinking it had to be more chipmunk debris I gathered my wits and entered the room. You’d be happy to hear it wasn’t the chipmunk at all, but instead the face of a mouse. Not it’s head or body, just the face. So now I have the task of finding the rest of it to look forward to for the rest of my day.

    WHAT DO THESE SIGNS MEAN?? Pretty sure the universe is not telling me I’m going to get that TV deal – but actually that the universe just fucking hates me.

    Nothing to see here… just the universe shining its rays of hate upon me

  • A White Chick’s Thoughts on the Police State, Steroids, and The Deception of the American Dream

    Have you ever taken an information detox? You know, like when you only juice the news? I am just emerging from mine, and even though I feel lighter without the burden of digesting world events, I also know I will gain all the weight back as soon as I start eating up content again.

    For an entire month I was (gasp) too busy to look at Facebook. I know… a tragedy almost too tragic to tell. This meant my lifeline to the outside world was broken. Without my newsfeed, there was no one are around to feed me news. When I finally sat down to catch up on what I’ve been missing I was so disturbed that my face actually buffered.

    I have a theory about the police force in America. I think there is a HUGE population of officers who take steroids.

    The last time I was in New York City, I was looking at the body types of the cops. They all look like super heroes in the 3rd installment of their movie franchise. I don’t think it is possible for people who work at least 9 hours a day at a job to also have the time to be at the gym long enough to get that muscular.

    Yes I know fitness is part of the criteria of being a cop, but in order to get as fit as a LOT of the police out there, you have to literally spend HOURS every day lifting and training. There is almost no way they have the time to achieve those bodies naturally.

    Just like we test athletes for steroids, we need to test policemen as well!!!!! There is a hell of a lot MORE at stake then some records being broken.

    “Roid rage” is a real thing. Steroids majorly impact your psychology – causing nervousness, mood swings, extreme irritability, delusions, hostility, aggression… When I watch videos of police brutality/ MURDERS, it’s like these guys are possessed!!!

    Yes racism is for SURE a factor in the rampant problems within the police force, but I would argue that steroids are enflaming the violence. There is currently no standardized testing for cops. I think every police officer that’s involved in an unwarranted ferocious attack should IMMEDIATELY be tested – as should their entire department. Drug use does not exist in a vacuum. Just like in sports teams, usually MANY people are using together. A culture is created where it’s not only accepted, but you are WEAK if you don’t.

    Also, why the hell do traffic cops need guns? Okay fine you can have a Taser just in case, but I really don’t think if your main objective is to pull people over for speeding or rolling through a stop sign, you also need a gun to shoot people in the head. Not every police officer needs a gun to do their job. I would like to see the stats of how many policemen are murdered because of traffic stops vs. how many citizens are UNJUSTLY murdered because of driving with a “wide nose.”

    The question most rational people are asking themselves is; what do we do about this very obvious pandemic?

    I don’t think people are being consciously complacent. I see that many Americans deeply care about this gross inequality. Yet at the same time, we are allowing it to happen because – it KEEPS HAPPENING! There is UNDENIABLE EVIDENCE of these events occurring – videos that tell the story of a crime – yet cops are STILL getting off, aren’t persecuted by the law, and often receive massive pensions if they leave the force.

    There seems to be this disconnect between what we know to be VERY WRONG, and not knowing how to take action. I think this is partly because as a society, modern Americans have very little context when it comes to genuine rebellion or dissent. We have been protected for many years from the fears that a huge population of the world deals with daily. There is no war outside our front doors. We are not risking our lives to go to school. America is not perfect by any means, but it’s a hell of a lot safer than a country that actually experiences drone attacks.

    We live in a first world bubble of potential and opportunity. Although the promise of the American dream may have an idealistic value to the psyche of our country, it’s also an extremely dangerous mentality to believe in.

    In order for a population of people to be controlled, they have to be divided. Because American has such vast diversity, both with race, culture, economics, and religion, we are less united. Even if we share a similar social justice belief system, there is a vast range of the kinds of people involved in any movement, and they have very different levels sacrifice.

    If you look at the youth movement in Palestine, they are mostly coming from a very similar frame of reference. They are all equally oppressed, and feel their inequality equally amongst themselves. There is a community in dissent, because they all mostly have the same risk. They see no future in their country, so risking their lives to fight for one seems logical. The promise of zero opportunity frees them from holding back. They are literally fighting against injustice with rocks and make shift weapons because they have nothing to lose.

    Yet here in America, there is this looming promise of opportunity. It’s scary to sacrifice everything because what if you miss out? The diversity of our experience of being Americans keeps us divided. The hope of achieving the “American Dream” keeps us from really going balls to the wall in fighting a system we KNOW is corrupt. Even if you live in a poor community that is constantly patrolled, there is still this lingering hope that you can get out. You could be one of the few exceptions, and fit yourself into a different potential future if you just kept quite and kept working.

    So this leaves us in a philosophical conundrum. We have all the information to know how dangerous and unjust the corrupt justice system is; yet we are passive observers to it. Although words are crucial when it comes to paradigm shifts, and many people are speaking out, there is something more needs to be done with our actions.

    There are all these inspiring speeches going around with people talking about how there is no “race,” except for the “human race.” Race is a complete social construct that was created by Europeans to oppress and objectify Africans when they were being colonized. There aren’t different races, just different physical attributes. But “race” is still very alive in our imaginations and to pretend that it hasn’t embedded in our culture isn’t working. Being aware of our current paradigm of race is the first step to restructuring its significance – especially because of the danger with the ignorant identification with those of your same race.

    When Philando Castille was brutally murdered while reaching for his gun permit, where was the outrage from the NRA????!!!!!!!! This is like their thing… isn’t it??!! Why aren’t they speaking out about this issue and using this story to further their cause. Because they are all a bunch of white dudes who think they can only identify with white gun owners?!

    The assumption that race is the defining indicator of identification is so archaic. If I were in a room with a 20 white women who all came from a similar socio-economic background, all attended private school like I did, all went to college, and all had 6 year old daughters, I would still identify more with the Asian man in the corner making a mandala out of neon sand and talking about his chakras. My tribe of people are NOT white women, but rather anyone who is counter culture and challenging convention. Those people that want to stand out from the status quo while talking sincerely about energy centers, past life regressions, and conspiracy theories they got tattooed onto their back.

    This pretty pretty much sums up my feelings about all this… Sad day to think NWA’s “Fuck the Police” is just as relevant now as it was 18 years ago 🙁

    munch NWA

    July 14, 2016 • Current Events, Political Banter • Views: 1190

  • The Left Wing Tea Party and The Church of Conspiracy Curiosity

    I know that everyone thinks Bernie Sanders supporters are their most annoying Facebook friends. Personally, I think we aren’t annoying enough. Just as the right has their Tea Party, it’s time the far left, who believe in the ruling lizard elite, build real political power and replace party members who don’t share our values. I want a congressmember who openly questions the Federal Reserve and a Senator who believes in chem trails. We need elected officials who genuinely question the status quo and don’t dismiss alternative understanding of politics as conspiracy theories.

    If the far right can elect extremists who influence the Republican party, we far leftists need to get the aliens that live in that hollow space station scientists call the “moon” to start influencing ours!

    Half of all Americans think our presidential nomination system is rigged. Millions question if their votes are counted. Bernie supporters are widely discontent with this system, who believe the current paradigm of the ruling 1% is devastating to the future. They can’t just be brushed aside, and need to be taken seriously. We’re spreading like HPV — soon everyone’s genitals will have traces of it.

    The Democrat’s slogan might as well be “Better than that guy, but still fuck you.” This endless war on terror will continue under a Clinton regime and fossil fuels will continue to be sucked from the earth like the enthusiastic blow job of a first date. The prison industrial complex will still shatter communities nationwide, and most alarmingly, the unsustainable profit model of Wall Street and the big banks will continue as business as usual.

    I know the rhetoric “progress takes time,” “you can’t build Rome in a day,” and “always wipe from front to back,” but nothing great has ever been accomplished by succumbing to convention. We need to break the rules and try something new. Maybe every generation feels this way, but holy shit I feel like we are genuinely running out of time. I don’t know about you guys, but I never see articles about the environment that are like, “You know what? Let’s keep this up. We’re gonna be fine.”

    The difference between the power of the far right and the far left is two unifying forces we don’t have: super rich donors who bankroll their movement, and religion.
    Sure we have “spirituality” and 97 recipes for Kale, but the bible ties people together much more tightly because of their common fear of hell. Yeah on the left we are genuinely terrified of gluten, but no one would go to war over that. Yet.

    Not only do we need billionaires to fund this movement, (which might be tricky since we are trying to dismantle the paradigm that empowers billionaires), but we also need a united belief system. I suggest the Church of Conspiracy; political spirituality mixed with how jet fuel can’t melt steel beams. I’m not saying I believe every conspiracy out there, or that sound vibrations built the pyramids, but I am saying I don’t blindly buy the official story of anything. If the mainstream media reports it, I have to question it.

    I don’t think there is some evil overlord named Zolong who is planning everything from 9/11 to the Boston Bombing (although I am not saying Zolong doesn’t exist either). I do think that there are many people invested in a system that is out of control. When the system benefits you, of course you will do anything to maintain it – even if that means selling your soul to Zolong. The system itself is the problem, and the people propping it up need to pushed out of power in order for a new one to form.

    Sure, any democrat is better than Trump, but the ethos Bernie represents if far more interesting and crucial than avoiding Melania as First Lady. I don’t think there has to be a civil war within the Democratic party, but rather an acknowledgement that if we want change, we need to be bold. It’s not about rhetoric or pandering to centrists, but a genuine belief system that doesn’t tolerate greed and destruction.

    I’m ready to join this party! We can be just as wacky as the right wing, but less scary because we will all be a bit tired from avoiding GMO’s all day.

    toni gita floor

    April 28, 2016 • Current Events, Environmental Impact, Political Banter • Views: 997

  • The Goddess Journey From Divinity to Salad Dressing

    The other day I was going to hang out with my friend, and had the bright idea of bringing us lunch. I stopped at one of our favorite organic new-age yoga-hipster pretentious restaurants, and picked up two “goddess bowls.” When I got to her house, we were debating when to eat said “goddess bowls,” because she had also made popcorn we had to ingest… along with tomato mozzarella bruschetta, and some cookies. Oh, we were super high obviously.

    Toni: Do you want to have our goddess bowls now?
    My Friend: Sure, let me go get them!
    Toni: Will you put my goddess bowl in an actual bowl?
    My Friend: No problem.
    Toni: Isn’t it kind of insane that it’s totally okay to call some rice, veggies, and sauce a goddess bowl? In what context would you ever make a meal, and refer to it as a “god plate?” That would be considered seriously sacrilegious to use God as the logo for your product, yet it’s completely acceptable for the Goddess to sell sprouts and tahini?

    Yeah, fine, there is no current western religion that acknowledges the goddess as their spiritual icon, but the historical significance is still vastly relevant! At the inception of our human journey the goddess was the object of divine worship. The history of religion begins with a reverence of the female life-giving principle. Fertility of crops was crucial to survival, and early man saw the connection between what sustained their life, and mother Gaia female energy. So how the fuck did the Goddess become a notion that is so devalued that it is totally okay to use as a marketing ploy for hippies to buy salad dressing?

    I’m not saying that every woman has to become a Wiccan, and gather the uterine lining of a wolf and paint her face with canine blood ancestry to dance naked under the full moon – but we can hold the concept of the Goddess to a higher standard! In order for the feminine counterpart to regain her significance, we can’t allow her identity to be so flippantly used.

    This Goddess comes in “light” so your fat ass doesn’t get any fatter

    (PS I actually love Goddess dressing)

    IMG_5742

    August 31, 2015 • Musings • Views: 903

  • Losing My Virginity

    I am not sure why I feel compelled to tell this story. Maybe because I spent an ample amount of time watching Madonna videos with my child over the weekend? By the way, if you ever want to challenge yourself intellectually, try watching “Like a Prayer” with a four-year old who expects you to explain the symbolism of making out with a black Jesus statue that cries blood.

    When we got to “Like A Virgin,” and I watched as Madonna writhed around Venice with a lion, I began to think back to my own virginity. Where had that pesky thing gone, and could I get it back for this networking party I am going to?

    Virginity is sacred. I say that not from a religious or moral perspective, but rather an observation of its impermanence. There is innocence to virginity because you are protected from the absurdity of mashing your genitals against another person. Although at times if can be hard to appreciate, it is still something to maintain and cultivate like a bed of flowers – even if you want someone to garden with. Virginity deserves to be cherished. Once you start having sex, you never stop. Everything after it is colored with a different context. A kiss no longer begs the question of if it will lead to sex – but when. That is the main reason to hold to your virginity is once you let go, it never comes back.

    Fly little virginity bird… fly far far away!

    We all have our “losing our virginity” stories…. This just happens to me mine.

    I was in the 8th grade, and one of my best friend’s was the “bad boy” of our class – so obviously I was into him. By the way… I went to a really preppy school, so being “bad” meant he took French instead of Latin. One day we were on the phone talking about sex while I was doing my math homework.

    Toni: What is the big deal? I don’t get it. Anyway… do you know what 30% of the square root of whatever is?
    The Boy: I don’t know… Hey, so maybe we should just do it and find out what it’s all about?
    Toni: Okay fine.

    I actually didn’t really care what it was all about, or what the big deal was. I had never even kissed a boy except once while playing “truth or dare.” It wasn’t the worst thing ever, but I also found that experience to be less enjoyable than eating skittles. I guess I was curious about sex… but I think my real motivation was that I was bored.

    The Boy came over while my parents were at the movies. He brought some weed and condoms even though I am pretty sure neither of us had any STDs, nor had I even gotten my period yet. We smoked a joint, and reality melted in that unique way that it does when you get high at 14.

    We went over to my bunk bed, and he went down on me. It lasted for about an hour, and I know that because I was looking at this pink radio clock next to my head. It would play “Here Comes The Sun” to wake me up, and I remember thinking how that song was probably my least favorite of Beatles – except for Revolution! That one really sucks. I didn’t hate what The Boy was doing, but I also wasn’t really paying attention. I knew it was a nice gesture though.

    Eventually I got up, and we sat next to each other wondering what to do next. We talked a little bit about how our English teacher was an asshole, and how science class would be okay if we dissected more stuff. We then decided that They Boy should take off his pants. Now, I had never seen a penis besides my brother’s when we were kids in the bath, so I didn’t understand why The Boy’s was pointing upwards rather than hanging down. I asked The Boy “Why is your penis floating like that?” and he looked at me REALLY confused.

    You guys this was the 90-s!! There was no easy access to porn! I had never seen an erection before!!! The only adult nudity I had ever been exposed to was my grandfather’s Playboys – and those were all naked girls. I had heard of boners before, but I didn’t really know what it meant in the flesh.

    After staring at his suspended penis for a while, we then discussed the concept of my giving him a blowjob – which also needed an explanation. I felt this was a fair trade considering The Boy’s previous effort, but I was also tentative about actually putting a penis in my mouth.

    Toni: But you pee out of there?

    I then had the amazing idea of going down stairs to get coffee ice cream to put on his penis so it would taste better. I guess had a lot to learn about the laws of physics, and the effects of cold on tissue… but I was right about the ice cream tasting delicious.

    We then had sex. At least we both thought we did. At one point he told me to turn around so we could try doggy style. I still had braces on my teeth.

    We then swore each other to secrecy and went back to being friends. I feel lucky that I happened to have a partner who was not only kind, but also prioritized my taste buds over his shrinkage. Even though we were both WAYYYYY to young to be having sex, at least he spoke French.

    (Here is my braces clad 8th grade self)

    virginity-blog-(i)

    November 10, 2014 • Musings, Old School Stories, Relationships, Sex Stuff, Vagina Stuff • Views: 2554

  • James Foley, ISIS, The Perpetual War for Resources

    James Foley was a courageous man who knowingly risked his life for the pursuit of the truth. He wanted to expose the injustices committed against the Syrian people, and his morality took precedent over his safety. The Islamic extremist group ISIS recently beheaded him, and is now threatening to kill more.

    Murdering a journalist is a horrific attempt to have an impact on American foreign policy. ISIS is demanding Obama leave Iraq or else another kidnapped journalist will be executed. Yet they have to know these brutal acts are ultimately ineffective when it comes to having genuine influence on the White House’s decisions. Even though the American people will be devastated to watch more innocent citizens die, the political system will not adapt because of the sacrifice of the few.

    The American government has an agenda with Iraq, and it is far more complex than conceding to ISIS. ISIS is targeting the US because the American vision for Iraq is in direct conflict with what ISIS is trying to organize. ISIS wants a complete failure of Iraq in order to create a Sunni Islamic state – the rationale being that if there is going to be a Jewish State, then there must be an Islamic one as well. ISIS has exploited the chaos in Syria to hold territory, and funds itself through oil and extortion. The land ISIS is trying to dominate is obviously rich with oil, as Iraq is home to 4% of the earth’s oil supply – which is the 5th largest in the world.

    A military presence in the Middle East gives the U.S. leverage to shape political outcomes, and benefit economically from that molding. America has already empowered the Shia majority – whose Prime Minster refuses to accommodate Sunnis. That is like if Iraq came to the US during our Civil War and gave tanks and advanced military gear to the South/North. Our intervention to embolden one group has drastically angered the other.

    Despite how much trauma it would cause if subsequent journalists suffer the same fate as James Foley, the stakes are too high for the US government. This is hard to conceptualize because the wars we fight are not on our land. The relationships we have to them are more abstract than if we were being constantly attacked on our home turf. We can feel compassion for the families who lose their loved ones overseas, or a deep anger for the injustices of good people dying – but our daily lives are impacted differently by war than in the lands where the actual fighting is occurring. Bombing and airstrikes are not going to stop a momentum so strong it has taken over the Middle East.

    There is an extreme desperateness on the part of this radical faction, because although ISIS craves supremacy, it is still dwarfed by the Iraqi army and its allies. This has created a culture where barbaric acts amplify their voice on the global stage. To get attention politically, ISIS engages in drastic attempts to be heard. The pursuit for power blended with religious fundamentalism breeds a mentality that rejects humanity. Yet this story is not new, and will continue to be a theme because religion and the fight over resources are the prevailing components of war. They represent the most fundamental parts of the human experience – the will to survive, the desire for power, and the fear of death.

    The violence won’t stop with ISIS just as it didn’t stop with Al-Qaeda (who recently splintered from ISIS). Many predicted this type of uprising, as it is the logical consequence of US interference. The only way these perpetual wars will end is if the heads of state recognize the importance of sharing and distributing the earth’s precious resources in a more reasonable way that prioritizes humanity over power.

    foley-blog(-(i)

    August 21, 2014 • Current Events, Political Banter • Views: 1846

  • I have a lot of fear about the power of fear

    This morning I had breakfast with my grandmother and she was telling me about a memory she had as a young girl with scarlet fever.  Now I don’t know about you, but I would much prefer a scarlet letter to scarlet fever.  Not only was she on the brink of death, but also during her affliction she was quarantined in the hospital with all the other infected children.  Something about the thought of being isolated to deal with my own mortality as a 7-year old seems kind of extreme.  Especially because in my imagination she was covered in leaches because I assume that is how they took care of things back then.

    My Grandmother: So you see Toni, there I was unable to see my mother or anyone else I loved because we were confined.  My roommate was a little girl from New Hampshire who I guess came from a very religious family.  Before we went to bed the first night she asked me if I was Protestant of Catholic.  Now, I had no idea what she was talking about.  I had never heard either of those words so I told her that I didn’t know.  And do you know what she said to me?

    Toni: I don’t

    My Grandmother: She said that I was probably Protestant, and I was going to burn in hell.

    Toni: Oh dear.

    My Grandmother: Now I was terrified.  I didn’t want to burn in hell, and was afraid I might die and do just that! So my mother would visit the hospital, but I could only look out the window and wave to her.  To cheer me up she would bring various pets from home – like our duck, or guinea pig.  She would hold them up and I would lean my head against the glass with tears in my eyes.  My mother of course thought I was crying because I was homesick.  But really I was lamenting because I was going to hell, while all my animals would still be frolicking in the fields without me.  When I was finally allowed to leave the hospital I ran into my mothers arms weeping.  She asked me what was wrong and I told her how I was going to hell and that I was terrified.  And do you know what she said?

    Toni: What?

    My Grandmother: She said ‘whatever made you think there was a hell you silly goose?’

    This conversation made me think a lot about the concept of fear, and what a motivating force it is. I had always assumed that the opposite of love is hate, but maybe it is actually fear.  Fear and love are move people more than anything else.

    I think both politics and religion directly address, and in someone ways manipulate, the fear we all have in our hearts. Religion helps calm the fear of the unknown and politics pray on the fear of vulnerability.  When I think of Syria and the pending threat of war, I believe politics, religion, and fear are all playing major roles in the escalation.  I keep asking myself how the threat of a World War is even possible considering we can all look at the history books and see the devastating impact of World Wars.  Not to mention the obvious consequences of technology of modern weaponry.

    In my word view, I often look at capitalism and corporate greed as the major driving force of war. And maybe that is true, but only for the very few elite who actually profit from it.  I think the majority of people that are fighting these wars, the citizens on the ground level, are not killing each other with the idea of financial gain, but because of ideological reasoning.  Politics exploit the fundamental belief systems of the people that are actually dying.  The real causes of war are hardly discussed in the public sphere.

    I think the paradigm of fear, although powerful, can be turned on its head if love could become just a profitable.  I say, “go ahead global elites, have all the money and power you want.  But why not manipulate the people with love instead of fear so we don’t all die?” Thanks.  Love Toni and Munch.

    scarlet-fever-blog-(i)

     

    September 5, 2013 • Current Events, Musings, Political Banter, Talking and Not Talking • Views: 1006

  • Can You Define Spirituality?

    What is spirituality?  No seriously.  What is it?  People often say they are not religious but they are spiritual.  Yet that feels really vague to me with such a broad spectrum of possibilities.  Even my own understanding seems convoluted to myself. Am I still considered spiritual if I worship the dark lord Ungoolu and believe my child is an immaculate conception from the venom of his black seed? But don’t worry it didn’t hurt.  It was only a little prick.

    When I was growing up I went to Catholic Church every Sunday until I was 15 years old.  My father’s mother was very religious, and it was important to her that my brother and I attended mass, so my dad made sure he honored her wishes.  But neither of my parents every told me what to believe.  They just brought me along and exposed me to it.

    My dad was also a professor of ancient Greece, so I was very familiar with their Gods and the stories of Zeus, Hera, Aphrodite and the rest.  So herein laid my conflict as a 6-year old trying to wrap my head around God and religion.  I couldn’t understand why the religion of the Ancient Greeks was now so commonly considered “myth” where the modern religions were said to be “truth.”  What made one a fable and the other one fact?  Why were the gods of the past relegated to fairytale?

    I didn’t like the idea that one religion was right another was wrong.

    My other issue was around the concept of eternity.  My grandmother would tell me that when I died I would go either to heaven or hell forever.  I don’t know about you, but that concept freaked me the fuck out.  Eternity.  Forever.  Still gives me the heebie-jeebies.  I didn’t want to be in either place forever.  Even being in heaven for eternity was a terrifying concept.  So I asked my dad if he ever felt this way.

    Child Toni: “Dad did the concept of forever scare you when you were a kid?”

    My dad: “Of course.  It still scares me.”

    Child Toni: “I don’t want to be dead forever.  I really don’t want it happening for that long.  Why can’t it just be over? What does the after life have to be so long?”

    My dad: “Well, the idea of eternity in the western mind is very linear.  Like a line that just extends forever in one direction.  But the Greeks thought of eternity as cyclical.  So they had this concept called Telos, which means coming full circle.  That always makes me feel better.  To think of time as a circle not a line.”

    Child Toni: “Okay.  Can I have fruity pebbles for breakfast?”

    My dad: “Maybe another time.”

    Even though I had these fundamental questions that made me feel unsettled, I would go to church every Sunday, and I would think.  I would contemplate the concepts of life and death.  I wondered about mortality constantly, but never felt like I was getting any closer to comprehending it.  And then when I actually lost someone I truly loved and cared about I finally understood.

    When I was 20 my best friend died, and it broke me.  She was an angel of a person, and the tragedy crushed my soul.  But I realized that if I still let myself love her, that we would still be connected.  There was an energetic tie that kept us together even if she was no longer living on the planet.   I allowed myself to love her just as much as I ever did and even though I missed her more than anything, I still felt close to her.  I had to let go of the expectation I would ever see her again in a way that my human mind understood, but I would forever hold on to how much she meant to me.

    And then spirituality started to make sense… even if in a very esoteric way.  Thinking in terms of love, energy, vibration, and connection.  It was around the time that my friend died that I started getting interested in Yoga. And through my physical practice came the introduction to the philosophical and spiritual elements.  Although I have never actively studied eastern religion, over the years I have had many experiences with meditation and chanting.  And it is through those practices that have helped me find a small semblance of inner peace.

    It is when I am meditating or chanting that I can turn off that voice in my head that keeps chirping.  The connection to “Godliness” or “spirituality” I think can only truly be felt when the chatter of the ego is quieted.  It’s hard to have a spiritual moment while your ego is saying in your mind’s ear “I think yellow suede boots would make my butt look tighter.”

    So I meditate and chant to help quiet my inner mind.  But I realize that I don’t really even know what I am saying half the time.  I bring The Munch to Kirtan where we chant in Sanskrit, and I could be singing how “I want a pigeon to peck my armpits” for all I know.  But I go because I believe there is healing in mediation and chanting.  That it connects you to the vibration of the universe.  Through those channels you can find moments of genuine noiselessness in your mind in heart.  It is in that silence where the truth is hidden.

    The Munch loves going to Kirtan and all the other new-agey things I drag her to.  She sings along, plays with her babies, and emulates the weird dancing of hippies swaying their bodies around while failing their limbs.  But hopefully through these experiences she will contemplate the greater mysteries of existence and one day find her own beliefs.

    (Notice that Munch is wearing her lady bug bathing suit…)

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    May 22, 2013 • 2 years old, Adventures, Education, Mommy Mind, Musings • Views: 6070