Gandalf Stormcrow

A bringer of news. A wielder of truth. If you wish to remain in the shadow of ignorance or delusion, this is not the place for you. Go back to the shadow! Those thoughts will not avail you here! YOU SHALL NOT PASS!

Archive for the category “Life”

Stand By Me (A Video by Playing For Change) – Plus a Bonus

Quite possibly my favorite YouTube video of all time. Imagine if we didn’t have things like religion to divide us and keep us from being our best selves.  Enjoy, and live in peace.

Bonus video: (Gimme Shelter by Playing For Change)

Equality vs. Being “Special”

Click to enlarge. Please feel free to share this image.

Click to enlarge. Please feel free to share this image.

Peace…

I am here to challenge your comfortable and familiar perceptions and paradigms — to help awaken you — to make you think.” — AAJG

Everything Happens for a Reason?

Everything happens for a reason.”  People say this all the time, and I never really gave it much thought—until December 14, 2012, when a deranged psychopath walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and executed 20 innocent, beautiful children and six brave educators who had devoted their lives to teaching and caring for them.  I sat in shock as I watched the news reports.  I cried.  I mean, I really cried.  It was the saddest thing I had ever heard of.  It’s so sad and it’s so horrifying that it defies description.  I have two wonderful daughters and a sweet little granddaughter.  As a Dad and a Grandpa, I can’t even imagine what the families of those children must be going through.  I can’t imagine what was in the minds of those beautiful little six- and seven-year-old babies as the terror of the situation unfolded and engulfed them one by one.  There are no words.  There are literally no words!

After December 14, 2012, can anyone ever again say, “Everything happens for a reason?!”  That this happened for a reason?!  If they can, then I think there must surely be something wrong with them—with their thinking—with their heart and their belief system.  This was senseless.  This was pointless cruelty at its worst.  It was purely evil.  No deity or “higher power” would have caused or allowed such a thing to happen, much less would they have caused it or allowed it in order to teach the rest of us a lesson of some kind.  Happen for a reason?  Hell no!

It seems to me that the idea that “everything happens for a reason” would suggest a predetermined and possibly unchangeable path of “destiny” of some sort.  That there was a “higher power” at work in Newtown, Connecticut—actively orchestrating and directing the path of events—actually causing or purposefully allowing this unspeakable tragedy.  This is something I simply can’t accept or believe in.  Especially when such beautiful, innocent people are hurt for NO reason.

Certainly, everything happens because of (or as a result of) one or more reasons, but I do not believe that anything happens for a reason (i.e., as a necessary “precursor” event that will allow or cause the next event to occur in a “predetermined” sequence that was “supposed to happen,” or as a so-called “teachable moment” for the rest of us).  No way.  The people in Newtown, Connecticut were not supposed to die like this.  No!  Things happen “because of“—not “so that.

So why did this happen then?  It happened because of one or more failures in the mental health system.  Because of one or more failures in the school system (the shooter’s school while he was enrolled in the public school system).  Because the shooter’s mother either didn’t recognize dangerous warning signs, or she didn’t take them seriously enough.  Because the shooters mother had several guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in the house and that she had spent copious time at the shooting range with her deranged son actually training him to operate these weapons with a certain amount of skill.  Perhaps it happened because of his mental disorders, or his social ineptitude, or the personal choices he made throughout his life, or built up anger at his mother, or feelings of isolation, or maybe because his father wasn’t involved in his life as much as he should have been.  The numerous investigations into the shooter’s life will probably reveal much about why this happened.  Remember, tragedies such as this happen because of… not so that…  This did not happen “for a reason.

Nothing happens “for a reason.”  Nothing happens, “so that”  There is no “higher power” directing the events of our lives and leading 20 perfectly innocent little children’s destinies on a collision course with a murdering psychopath.  No, the future is completely unwritten and fluid, and how things turn out is largely up to us—individually and collectively.  Events simply occur/cascade through time as the result of previous events and circumstances, natural forces, and human influence, and part of the trick seems to be (through our individual and collective choices and behaviors) to effectively manage/minimize risk in order to prevent bad things from happening if we can, and to maximize positive outcomes by trying to make good things happen at the appropriate time in the sequence of events (within our lives, or within our areas of influence)—if we can.  (We protect our personal honor so that, We go to college so we can, We lock our doors at night to prevent, We don’t take drugs because, We try to be responsible, involved citizens so that, We choose our friends wisely so that, We are faithful to our spouses because, We wear our seat belts in case, We put a fence around the pool to prevent, We don’t drink and drive because, We enroll our children in a safe school where they can)

Sadly—unfortunately—tragically, we can’t account for all the possibilities (due to natural forces and, of course, the choices and influences of other human beings) and invariably the unexpected will occur.  Sometimes, the horrible and the tragic will occur.  And often, it seems there is little we can do to prevent the next tragedy in a free and politically polarized (and therefore, paralyzed) society, but that’s the fault of our manipulating, power-hungry politicians and a topic for another discussion.

Fortunately, some good can always come from even the most tragic situation; as can meaningfulness if we are willing to look for it.  Positive change can come—if we are willing to set aside our personal biases, ideologies, and agendas and work together for the common good.  Something positive coming from a horrible tragedy may give the appearance that “everything happens for a reason,” but it doesn’t really.  No, we are just shaken from the busyness of our lives, and for awhile, we pause and refocus and reflect and grieve and for a time, hopefully, we unite our hearts and try to work together for something better.  Something better and safer for the children.

So please don’t say that, “Everything happens for a reason.”  No one is killed by a drunk driver “for a reason.” Catastrophic natural disasters don’t happen “for a reason.”  Human slavery and genocide don’t happen “for a reason.”  Mass starvations and deadly pandemics don’t happen “for a reason.”  Hopelessness, despair, and suicide don’t happen “for a reason.”  Precious little children aren’t abandoned or lined up in a classroom and executed by a psychopath “for a reason.”  To say that “everything happens for a reason,” is to say that those 20 beautiful children and six brave educators and their families were meant to suffer this fate—that some “higher power” preordained it—that they never even had a chance; and that I refuse to believe.

———————————

To the victims:  You were beautiful and lovely human beings.  You did not deserve this.  I cried for you again today.  My heart breaks, as I think of you.  I see your faces in my mind.  You were all much loved by your families and your friends.  Now, you are loved by the world.  I am deeply saddened that you are gone, especially like this, but I am inspired and moved by the great courage and sacrificial love shown by six wonderful teachers who perished trying to protect their students.  Thus, beauty and hope endure.  You will never be forgotten.  Rest in peace.

It’s Not Really About the Germs

You hear it all the time—someone being labeled a “germaphobe.”  Some, like Howie Mandel, wear the title almost proudly.  Good for him.  Others either ignore it, or are embarrassed by the name-calling—and it is name-calling.  But is it really about germs?

For some, it probably is—but not for all of us.  Personally, I don’t like touching certain things in public places either.  Not because I’m a so-called “germaphobe,” but because people can be well pretty nasty.  They pick their noses, sneeze all over their hands, and more people than you even want to know about don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom or changing their baby’s diaper.  It’s sad, but true.  As unique and wonderful as people can be, they are often well very unclean.  Nasty, even.  Spreaders of filth.

So it’s not really about the “germs.”  At least it’s not for me, and I have to believe that there are others out there who feel the same way.  Germs are part of life.  They are everywhere—on us, inside us, and on every surface.  There is literally no way to live apart from bacteria and viruses.  So except for taking ordinary precautions against exposing myself to sick people, I could care less about bacteria, for the most part.  For me, it’s the nasty stuff that people smear all over the place that grosses me out.  Seriously.  Stuff you probably wouldn’t even believe.

Until a few years ago, I never even thought about any of this stuff.  I went about my life like most people, and never gave a single thought to the things I was touching in public.  And then my oldest daughter wrote a paper in college about the dirtiest and germiest surfaces in public places.  When she shared it with me, I was appalled—disgusted—incredulous, at some of the stuff she had learned.  I was changed—immediately and forever.  Sure, there are germs on all surfaces, but the real problem—for me was the human filth that was to be found, literally everywhere!  Things like:

  • Human and animal fecal matter (That’s other people’s poop!)
  • Human blood
  • Urine
  • Mucus (You know, snot and boogers!)
  • Human vaginal secretions (Ugh!!!)
  • Ear wax, skin flakes, hairs, and other things

Sick!  Gross!  Disgusting!  Right?  And guess what… now it’s on your hands!  And then as you scratch a small itch, it’s on your face.  Other people’s poop and vaginal secretions are on your face!  And as you sweep your hair back behind your ear, it’s in your hair.  And then as you shake hands with your friend, you pass it to them.  And then as you comfort your child, it’s on your child’s face.  And then as you eat lunch with your friends, it’s in your mouth and in your digestive tract.  And then you get into your car and smear it in your car, and you go home and now it’s on your phone, your refrigerator handle, your door knobs, the milk carton…  Well, you get the idea.

According to what I’ve read, some of the most common public places you find this kind of nastiness smeared are:

  • Door knobs and handles.
  • Shopping cart handles (and the area where young children sit).
  • Gas pump nozzles.
  • Public bathrooms.
  • Escalator handrails.
  • Restaurant & food court tables and chairs.
  • ATM and store payment keypads.
  • Publically displayed computer keyboards, iPads/iPods, information kiosks, etc.
  • Publically used ink pens.
  • Child play equipment in parks (which has been found to be far worse than a public bathroom)

In fact, shopping cart handles are among the filthiest public surfaces around.  So, YES!  Every time you go shopping, actual human feces and vaginal secretions are on your shopping cart handlealong with most of the other disgusting things listed above.  And they are on the gas pump nozzle, and the door handle to your favorite restaurant or public hangout spot.  This may not bother some people, but to me it is way beyond disgusting.  And when I factor in all the secondary contamination to myself, my children, my home, etc., it’s no longer just about me.  Even if I didn’t mind it (which I obviously do), it seems extremely disrespectful for me to mindlessly expose my children and others to that sort of nastiness without their knowledge and consent.  So out of respect for myself and the others in my life, I avoid touching most things in public if I can.  I try not to go overboard about it, but the idea of putting that stuff in my mouth and on my face is just sickening to me.  So, as I said, I take certain precautions.  Here are some of the ways I try to eliminate my exposure to the (literally) “human waste” that is found in so many public places:

  • I put a plastic produce bag over the shopping cart handle in the grocery store.
  • I use a paper towel to hold the nozzle at the gas pump.
  • I open doors with a napkin or an old receipt from my pocket—and then throw it away.
  • I use my own pen to sign my name, rather than the publically available pen.
  • I don’t touch escalator handrails.
  • I use my pinky finger on ATM and store payment keypads and clean it with an antibacterial wipe when I get to the car, if they aren’t available in the store.

Other than that, I pretty much do things just like everyone else.  Sure my family and I get funny looks occasionally from people for taking the precautions that we do, and one can only imagine the judgmental things that go through their minds.  It doesn’t happen very often because we’re as discrete as possible, but you just know that they think you are the weird one for not wanting to put your hands in someone else’s poop—only they think it’s about germs.  And it’s not really their fault, so I don’t let it bother me.  They’ve just been taught to think that way and to judge others by their favorite celebrities and television gossip-mongers.

People are funny, though, in that they hate to be labeled or called names, but most love to label others, and are often quick to do so—and usually without the slightest idea of what they are talking about.  So I figure that people are going to want to label me (and those like me).  So let me help find the right label for them to use.  Hmm  If you must label me, maybe you could call me a “Poop-a-phobe.”  No, that’s not right, because it’s not really a -phobia.  I’m not afraid of it.  It just sickens me.  I am revolted by it.  A very important distinction.  Hmm  Let’s see  The suffix “-misia” (pronounced, “meez-ia”) is Greek for “disgust for, revulsion of” so I guess one could label me a “Filth-a-misiac” since I am quite disgusted and revolted by the thought of touching public surfaces smeared with other people’s body waste.  (Ugh!!)  Other forms of our newest label might be:

  • Filth-a-misia (the “condition” itself)
  • Filth-a-misiac (the afflicted person)
  • Filth-a-misiatic (when referring to a symptom of the “condition”)

So there you go.  Label away.  I can take it.

As you can see, for me at least it’s sooooo not about the germs.  It’s about the nasty, inconsiderate, disrespectful people out there who don’t wash their hands and then smear their bodily secretions and fluids all over the place!  I’d bet there are other “Filth-a-misiacs” like me out there, too—or there would be if they only knew.  So the next time you see someone taking precautions against touching surfaces in public, try not to be so quick to label them a “germaphobe” and think badly of them.  It just might not be about the germs after all.

Oh and please… don’t forget to wash your hands.  Thanks.

Happy shopping!   😀 

***  By the way, a nice secondary benefit is that I haven’t been sick in years—literally.

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