Category Archives: Reflections

This Is A Call (Part One)

crossThe world encourages us to trust our hearts.  The Bible warns us however that the heart is deceitful and that we should trust in the Lord [Jeremiah 17:9; Proverbs 3:5-6].  Which is better advice?

My mother converted to Catholicism in order to marry my father, who was from a strict Portuguese-Catholic family. When this is done, the Church insists the children be raised Catholic- and there will be children. My parents made an effort at first, enrolling me and my younger sister in catechism classes and reading us Bible stories; they bragged that I could recite the Lord’s Prayer by age two.  I went on to receive my first communion, but then the religious instruction stopped.  Over time our family attended mass less and less.

My growing up was accompanied by a sense of being “set apart.”  It is doubtful to me that this resulted simply from my baptism as an infant, as many others received the same sacrament.  Did God choose me or did I choose Him?  The Bible tells us that God knows each of us, even before conception [Jeremiah 1:5].  I do not presume to say that I am special in any way, but I do recall praying for the truth to be revealed to me.  I rarely accept things as they appear on the surface; I am always careful to examine my own biases and motives, neither wanting to be deceived by myself or any religious authority.  I believe that God has permitted my questioning in order that He might be reproven in the end.  Because my prayers were always to know truth, I was led naturally back to the God of Creation that I have always had a yearning to understand.  With wavering faith, I walked along to this point, where the seeking ends and the mystery deepens.

As a young adult fresh out of high school, I took to recording music and journaling, which soon developed into a poetic form.  I experimented with marijuana as a way to enhance my creativity and communicate with my “higher self,” literally.  My experience was that it aided in removing mental inhibitions. While most of my friends were interested in getting stoned and getting laid, I was introspective; I took my stash back to my room, where I sought to create my own ecosystem, conducive to my late-night writing and recording sessions.  It was almost ritualistic the way I prepared my bong with ice cubes and bottled water.  My room had to be cool, with the window open and ceiling fan humming, lit only by my aquariums and a few candles.  I would burn amber or sandalwood. My music became more abstract, the poetry more stream-of-consciousness.  I experimented with automatic writing and at times believed I was channeling other “intelligences.” I took my sessions into nature, packing a pipe, a lighter, some water, a granola bar, my notebooks and my mini-cassette recorder.  As I hiked along, I would record whatever thoughts, lyrics or musical progressions that came to me.  I brought tobacco and corn meal as an offering to the Earth, for all the insights provided me that day.  I came to believe that nature was God, intrinsically, inseparably- there was nothing supernatural about it.  I had drifted far away from the Church and was heavily steeped in a new-age mysticism of my own concoction.  I felt a sense of peace and comfort, escaping to this other dimension whenever the real world got me down. I would journal through my problems or channel them into my music. It was therapeutic.

I credit my early interest in occult topics to my father, who kept various Time Life and Reader’s Digest volumes around like Mysteries of the Unexplained.  For a kid, I had acquired a fair knowledge of Spiritism, ESP, UFOs, ghosts, time-travel, Bigfoot, etc.  In college I studied cultural anthropology.  I had a curiosity about world religions and ancient civilizations.  One day while browsing a bookstore I liked to frequent, I happened upon a book by Louis T. Culling called The Pristine Yi King, which is Culling’s interpretation of the ancient Chinese I Ching or Book of Changes from the standpoint of a ritual magician.  I suppose it was something about the figures of the hexagrams that grabbed my interest, like a schematic of the universe, I thought.  It wasn’t long before I was waist-deep in the I Ching, Taoism and Zen.  I started my own pen-pal network and newsletter for I Ching enthusiasts and created my own cards for casting the oracle.  I would consult the I Ching frequently for “insight” into life situations.  As I networked and exchanged newsletters with others in the alternative-spirituality community, my interests expanded to include the pre-Christian religions of Europe.  I became attracted to Native American lore, recognizing the similarities in shamanic practice between the ancient peoples of Europe and the Americas.  Being of European ancestry, yet living in North America, it seemed a logical course.  I discovered the trickster tales of Coyote and Iktome as well as the concept of the Medicine Wheel.  I was building a spiritual framework for myself.  Ok, so I was a stoner, equal parts Joseph Campbell and Cat Stevens.  Incredibly though, there was no shortage of books at Barnes & Noble geared specifically for other armchair shamans like myself, presenting a fuzzy synthesis of new-age and neo-pagan beliefs, backed up by very little academic veracity.

I emerged from all this study with a world-view that basically concluded ancient peoples all around the world at one time lived in peace and harmony with the Earth, then Christianity came along and wrecked everything with its doctrines of sin, suffering and salvation.  While I chuckle at my simplistic thinking now, back then it was a very sincere concern of mine.  All the while, I perceived that God was watching over me and that all this knowledge would help me understand His true nature and the purpose of mankind.  I thought, maybe Jesus was misunderstood by the apostles and therefore the message of the Gospel was incorrect.  Or, the Bible was corrupted along the way- something added, something taken away.  Or, some shadowy group of control freaks conspired together to write the books of the Bible as a means to control the masses through fear of damnation, and Abraham, Moses, David, Joseph, Mary, Jesus, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John never really existed.

Despite accumulating all this knowledge, I was hopelessly failing at putting it to good use.  I became melancholy.  I developed a psychological dependence on marijuana.  The increasing responsibilities of work, college and my expanding newsletter began to take their toll.  I was angry.  I was frequently dishonest to cover up my mistakes and inadequacies.  I had neglected my girlfriend, being quite oblivious to the requirements of a relationship.  Then one night, in the midst of our break-up, I had a bad trip.  The stresses of life compounded by my lack of sleep (and one too many bong hits) propelled me into an anxiety attack.  I felt like I was in spiritual danger.  I clutched a silver crucifix that had adorned my grandfather’s casket and pleaded for God to protect me.  I would go to the emergency room that night with heart palpitations.  When I returned home, I attempted to calm down and tell myself that the effects of the marijuana would wear off soon.  I was exhausted, but I resisted the urge to fall asleep for fear I would slip into a coma.  When I finally fell asleep, I had a horrible nightmare:

dog_nightmareI was hiking up in the hills by my home.  This was a familiar location that I hiked to regularly and often stopped there because of the shade to rest and cool down.  There was a small pond there surrounded by trees.  As I approached the pond, I noticed a pack of four or five dogs on the other side.  They were rabidly snarling and snapping at each other as they ripped apart something on the ground- a carcass.  When I came closer to have a look, I realized the carcass was my dead body!  I panicked and started grabbing what I thought were sticks, throwing them at the dogs in desperation until I hit one in the head and they scampered away.  I looked down at my feet and to my horror, I saw that I was picking up bones, not sticks!  In fact, I was standing on piles of human bones!

The nightmare was part of a series of disturbing dreams that night.  For a week, I went about my daily business in what a psychologist would describe as a dissociative state.  I did emerge from this state, but never to be the same again.  Sounds like a ridiculous episode of The 700 Club, you say?  I ditched the I Ching, which proved to be unfathomable, my newsletter, which was expanding into subject matter I had little grasp of, and the marijuana which kept me… stuck.  I focused more heavily on my music for a couple years, until I discovered the internet, which lured me away again into a world of online pagan chats and introduced me to a host of unstable characters, some of which I met “IRL.”  I started smoking marijuana again.  I continued down this lost and lonely road a little further, made a series of bad choices and wound up in a depression again over a couple failed relationships. A buddy of mine who had recently started studying with the Jehovah’s Witnesses started sharing their literature with me, but the message felt a little dumbed down for me.  They were able to familiarize me with several basic Bible teachings, but I was not ready to believe.

Soon I would fall in love with my future wife. We separated from the online chat room where we met, as it was quickly degenerating into a den of gossip and debauchery. We chatted online and over the phone for two years before she bravely made the move from Missouri to California to be with me. We soon married and she became pregnant with our daughter.  I was happier than I had ever been in my life, but as marriage inevitably does, all the problems I had sought to escape in my early twenties were exposed.  I failed to confront my issues with anger, intimacy and honesty, still preferring to escape problems instead of dealing with them.  Years of financial instability, constant moving and ongoing family disputes nearly destroyed my marriage and left my wife in pieces.  I felt empty inside too.  I was blessed with a wonderful family, but struggled to connect with them because, essentially, I had lost my connection to the true and living God.

If it were not for my faithful and loving wife, I might have exited the story here. For months I threatened to leave, I acted incredibly selfish and cruel; I was in full recoil.   I once told my wife that she was just holding on to me for fear of being cast into the void. When she asked a nun what she should do to help our marriage, the nun responded by telling her to pray for me, because it was I who was in the void. Despite my reprehensible treatment of my wife, she prayed for me; she prayed for our marriage, through all her fear and pain. Her commitment to our marriage taught me invaluable lessons about faith, sacrifice, trust and love.

In an effort to save my marriage, I went to my first confession and broke down about all my transgressions.  I would meet monthly with the priest who heard my confession, a Jesuit.  I desired spiritual counseling, as opposed to secular, psychological analysis.  The priest was surprisingly down-to-earth and easy to talk with, to a fault; what I really needed was Jesus, not an easy-going priest.  I wanted a moral reprimand; I wanted His love and direction.  I felt I wasn’t getting the help I needed, and was left to fend for myself.

I was drawn to reggae music for a time.  The idea that we were all living under oppression in a figurative Babylon seemed appropriate to living in America circa 2014.  Biblical themes of justice, perseverance and reliance on God run throughout reggae music, with bands frequently incorporating Scripture into their song lyrics.  While I understood the incompatibility of Rastafarianism and Christianity, I overlooked that for the moment and sought to connect with the broader, mystical “Jah” vibe.

Although I felt I was drawing closer to God, my heart was still languishing in sin.  I continued to pray on a regular basis, for strength to defeat my demons and lift up my family.  I did not understand what surrendering to God meant.  It did not mean trying harder, it meant giving up and admitting defeat.  Understanding this was the key to my conversion.  I let go the reins of my life, handed them over to Jesus and said, “Only you can do this.”  Instead of praying for strength, I began to pray for Jesus to transform my heart. He responded. Apparently, He was well aware of my lacking faith and skepticism.  I was working out an intellectual understanding of God and Creation, but I was missing that heart-to-heart relationship with Jesus.  Then, I experienced a visitation while at work:

angel_visitationI work in wood manufacturing.  As I would normally do, I was sorting through wood frame pieces and grading their quality as they scooted toward me on a conveyor belt.  From there I banded the pieces together and stacked the bundles on pallets.  It is fast-paced and repetitive. Often the work becomes automatic and I find myself lost in my thoughts and the music playing in my headphones.  One particular morning around 10 a.m. I noticed the ambient light of my workspace increase dramatically.  Although I did not physically see it, I sensed a presence slightly behind and to the left of me that was very tall, radiating a golden-white light.  I recognized the holiness of this being as it communicated with me, not with words but telepathically, through an “emotional uplink” of sorts.  It is very hard to describe how this communication occurred.  It was like having an intense spotlight on me, a light that burned through all my layers of protection, all my deceptions, all my excuses, from which there is no hiding.  It was overwhelming and frightening but understanding and merciful at the same time.  I was brought to tears. This was a messenger from God- an angel.  I am henceforth convinced!  I received the moral reprimand that I desired and the confirmation that my skeptical mind needed.  This was a communication from God the Father, for it was a spiritual father whom I needed to direct me.  I thought, if this is what it feels like to be in the presence of an angel, how incredible it must feel like in the presence of God Himself.

I developed a hunger for the Word.  I began listening to Catholic radio.  I began reading the Holy Scriptures.  I began seeing the world through new eyes.  It was like I was re-aligning myself with Truth; my questions were being answered; things I failed to understand starting making sense.  I considered returning to the Church with a full confession to receive my confirmation.  Thanks to my wife, I was already listening to The Alex Jones Show regularly and was quickly awakening to the state of the world.  Not only was I transforming in my spirit, but my politics and worldview were changing as well. I recognized that Alex was a Christian.  It was through him that I learned of Steve Quayle, whom he interviewed about Jade Helm back in April.  I gravitated to Steve instantly, and sought out more of his interviews.  I too had gotten swept up in the Ancient Aliens craze, but felt as if the alien explanation was missing something.  After hearing a Steve Quayle interview in which he discussed the fallen angels and Nephilim, everything clicked. I found The Hagmann & Hagmann Report, where Steve is often brought on to speak with Pastor David Lankford, who became another favorite speaker of mine.  I discovered Rick Wiles, Paul McGuire, Nathan Leal and other watchmen, all of whom resonated with me because of their passion for Jesus Christ and in-depth analysis of Scripture and Bible prophecy.  Their general scorn towards the Roman Catholic Church, in particular the Pope and Vatican, has caused me to rethink where I belong within the body of the Church, but I’ll save that discussion for another post, This Is A Call (Part Two).

I abandoned ideas for novels and screenplays I was working on. The focus of this blog shifted.  I have no doubt that it is the Holy Spirit who has acted on me and led me here, pulling me down from the fence and back into camp.  I suppose it is the urgency of our times that is compelling people to decide on which side they fall.  I believe there is a sorting occurring now.  I predict in the coming weeks, months and years, we will experience many surprises as celebrities and other public figures choose sides.  Those we thought were atheist may suddenly proclaim Jesus Christ; those we once thought righteous will come to embrace the Evil One. We will see this sorting amongst our friends and family as well.  Believers will be challenged and faith will be put to the test.

While Christians are looking to science to prove the existence of God, scientists are turning to God for answers.  It is strange that I am being called back to God and the Church at a time when Christians are under attack around the globe and the Catholic Church is headed up by a Pope that seems all too comfortable in the political realm.  I find it ironic that I am returning to God during such a tumultuous time, when it would be far easier to embrace the wind and drift along with the current of the world’s hedonistic, YOLO ideology. Now more than ever, perversion is excused, blasphemy is celebrated and immorality is protected by law. The world today provides a very cozy environment for the unrepentant sinner.

But I know what that spotlight feels like…

Advertisements

Dolly, Google And Original Sin

dollyRemember Dolly?  I do.  I was twenty years old in July of 1996.  Back then, I spent most of my free time smoking marijuana, hiking and recording music in my tiny bedroom studio.  You might say I was on a spiritual quest of sorts (think: Frodo).  So it must have been one evening, feeling more than a little frustrated with the progress I was making on a particular song, when the announcement came across the television that researchers in Scotland had successfully cloned a sheep, named Dolly.  I remember grabbing the first thing I could find and tearing it up- it was my mattress.  Needless to say, I was against cloning.

Ever since, I’ve been trying to understand why I reacted so strongly to the news. My wife jokes with me now, “Don’t go tearing up our mattress” when I get enraged over some bit of disturbing news, and there is a lot of that out there.  Yet, I’ve never quite matched that peak of intensity.  I haven’t become desensitized, just more tempered.  If not, this blog would be full of insane ranting, and there is a lot of that out there, too.  It wasn’t so much a reaction to Dolly herself, I’m sure she was a very pleasant sheep, completely oblivious of her artificial conception, it was the realization that if they could now clone sheep, soon they would move to clone human beings.  In fact, since Dolly, scientists have been successful at cloning other mammals, like horses and bulls and it is fairly routine now for scientists to experiment with chimeras, or creatures made up of elements from more than one species.  For example, mice with human brain cells or pigs with human blood, all in the name of advancing science and medicine.  Surely somewhere, somebody, in a top-secret lab, is experimenting with human cloning right now.  Human curiosity, especially under the manipulation of unscrupulous benefactors, frequently outstrips our sense of morals, with unforeseen, sometimes grave consequences.

There seemed to be a buzzing in the air
The barnyard creatures settled off to bed
All at once they heard the sound
Soft vibration filled the ground
Now it came as they were sleeping

Now the magic science knife
Is cutting up the molecules of gold
Now the magic scientists
Patching up the fabric of the soul
A slip of the coil

From “Clone” by The Meat Puppets [2009]

The line, “a slip of the coil” from the Meat Puppets’ song “Clone” might be referring to the double-helix structure of DNA, with the “slip” forcasting a mistake.  Knowing the Meat Puppets, it could also mean nothing at all.  But the message seems clear enough; science is continually unveiling a universe so complex in its simplicity that we would be foolish to assume we understand any of it, much less seek to control it.

I can’t help but be reminded of the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  We all know it.  Is this not like eating from the forbidden tree?  In the book of Genesis, Satan appears to Eve and lies:

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

[Genesis 3:4-5]

In the Qur’an, the story of Adam and Eve is similar, except that Satan claims Adam and Eve would become like the angels or immortal by eating from the tree which God forbade:

Then began Satan to whisper suggestions to them, bringing openly before their minds all their shame that was hidden from them (before): he said: “Your Lord only forbade you this tree, lest ye should become angels or such beings as live for ever.”

[Al-‘A`raf 7:20]

It is understood that “bringing openly before their minds all their shame that was hidden from them” means their reproductive parts were revealed to them.  In fact, some versions of the Qur’an translate the Arabic as such.  Might we speculate that becoming aware of their private parts, while causing them to feel shy for the first time, also made them aware of their mortality?  Angels are immortal spirit beings whom God created prior to creating human beings.  They do not possess reproductive parts because they do not need them.  I’m not a religious scholar, but perhaps the shame came not from modesty about their nakedness, or guilt from their disobedience to God, but from knowledge of their inferiority to the angels and Satan (who is not a fallen angel in Islam, but another being called a jinn, made from fire).  In the Islamic account of creation, Satan would not bow down to mankind, whom he considered lesser beings, made of clay, more akin to the animals and susceptible to instinctual drives.  He was jealous of Adam and Eve and vowed to lead them astray.  Part of Satan’s strategy was to make humans feel lowly and then manipulate them though their desires.  Yes, first he damaged their self-esteem, then through careful persuasion along the way, caused them to choose bad relationships and ruin their lives- sound familiar?

In both religious texts, it is recorded that Adam and Eve became ashamed of their nakedness- of their humanness- by listening to Satan and responded to their new awareness by covering themselves.  So, while Islam places no more blame on Eve than Adam and there is no concept of original sin from which a redeemer is needed to free us, it is clear that in Abrahamic thought, evil has its origin in Satan’s defiance of God and his mission to disgrace God’s favorite creation- us.  The creation story is an allegory of the human condition.  Our very existence, at times, seems like an experiment dreamt up in heaven.  Our moral struggles are reflective of a greater struggle going on in the spirit world.  Regardless of your religious tradition, there is a mystical truth concealed here that binds all of humanity together.

It is also taught that Satan is a deceiver.  Christians say that Satan disguises himself as an “angel of light.”  To shed light is to illuminate, to give knowledge.  And who has made “Don’t be evil” their motto?  Google of course; the same company that seeks to create artificial intelligence that will “be like the mind of God”; the same company that recently appointed Ray Kurzweil, the renowned trans-humanist, as their director of engineering.   As a proponent of trans-humanism, Kurzweil believes that we can transcend our own humanity by controlling the aging process:

“We have the means right now to live long enough to live forever. Existing knowledge can be aggressively applied to dramatically slow down aging processes so we can still be in vital health when the more radical life extending therapies from biotechnology and nanotechnology become available.”

– Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity Is Near

The September 30, 2013 issue of Time Magazine featured the cover story: Can Google Solve Death?  In it, the article discusses Calico, Google’s new venture into life-extension technology.  Trans-humanists believe human beings can, through the aid of technology, control our own evolution.  They envision a time where human beings merge with technology, becoming post-human, essentially a new species.  If that doesn’t disturb you, then perhaps the announcement that Google has acquired Boston Dynamics will. Boston Dynamics is an engineering and robotics firm which sprouted from MIT in the early nineties.  It is the eighth robotics company Google has snatched up in recent months.  With funding from the Defense Advanced  Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Boston Dynamics has developed some of the most advanced robots and AI software in the world, much of it for military use.  For example, BigDog is a quadrupedal robot meant to accompany soldiers in battle.  It is capable of carrying up to 340 lbs. of gear while traveling at 4 mph.  Atlas is a six-foot-tall humanoid robot designed to cover rough terrain and assist in search-and-rescue operations.  Google’s emerging robotics division is being overseen by Andy Rubin, the executive responsible for the development of Android, the world’s most widely used smartphone software.  Regarding Google’s acquisition of his company, Boston Dynamics founder Dr. Marc Raibert said in a recent New York Times article, “I am excited by Andy and Google’s ability to think very, very big… with the resources to make it happen.”  The internet giant has been suspiciously quiet about what it has in the works, however.

I think I’m on the brink of another “Dolly” moment.  Trans-humanists and proponents of a world increasingly reliant on technology might refer to me as a Neo-Luddite, because of my resistance to these sorts of “advancements”.  Well, sticks and stones.  I’m not against scientific reasoning or human advancement, but with each scientific endeavor, should we not be carefully analyzing our motives, especially considering prior advances in technology which almost always result in more inequality and de-humanization?  Always under the guise of helping people or making life more convenient, technology masquerades as a savior, but really only increases the scope and influence of the power-elite.

I am convinced the true power of human consciousness lies dormant, forgotten.  Only a few enlightened ones throughout history have glimpsed the possibilities of the human mind and have understood our role in the universe.  Technology will never solve the problem of death, because it is not a problem to be solved.  Technology will never succeed at traveling through space or time or contacting alien intelligences, because, these are not puzzles technology can piece together.  I believe we will not advance through better and faster microchips, but through complete freedom from material limitations.  But I’m just One American, what do I know?


One American, 2014

eagle2013 was a tough year for freedom, here in America and around the world.  But as we saw with the crisis in Syria, we will be heard when we stand up collectively and say, “No!”  Thwarting the globalist agenda in Syria was a small victory in a year where liberty took some major blows.  As we head into another year of looming financial and environmental disasters, corrupt politics and massive media distractions, I thought it important to reflect on the reasons I started this blog back in August.  Already, 2014 promises to be a touchstone year for how this battle will play out.  Fukushima is near total meltdown with the Earth basking in deadly radiation, teenagers mindlessly rampage throughout suburbia and an “unknown” virus is on the loose.  Meanwhile, the dear leader is conveniently on a two-week family vacation in Hawaii playing golf.  We must, as a nation and a species, wake up from our trance!

“Governments fall from sheer indifference.  Authority figures deprived of the vampiric energy they suck off their constituents are seen for what they are: dead, empty masks manipulated by computers.  And what is behind the computers?  Remote control, of course.  Look at the prison you are in- we are all in.   This is a penal colony that is now a death camp, the place of the second and final death.”

– William S. Burroughs, The Western Lands

08/24/13: One American (An Introduction)

With politics more divisive than ever, it’s nothing special when another political blog pops up featuring the hallmark, “I want my country back!” rant.  It’s just another red-state, right-wing, rifle-toting redneck who somehow managed to figure his way ‘round the internet, right?  Or, it’s one of these regular, disenfranchised, middle-aged white guys just looking out for their families, who turn into raging xenophobes when their wallet is targeted.  Except, if you read a little further, you’ll see I don’t quite fit these profiles, and that’s important.  Because those who seek to control you want you to believe there is no common ground among the American people; they want our country polarized and divided, because it serves their purposes.

I was born in 1975 and grew up in a working-class family in the San Francisco Bay Area.  My dad was a Portuguese immigrant and my mom was born in Mississippi to Scotch-Irish parents.  Upon their families converging in California, they met and married.  My dad was a Teamster and drove a forklift.  My mom became a teacher and also worked at a semiconductor fab in Silicon Valley.  Our household was white, blue-collar and Democrat.  Ours was that mythical, normal, suburban life.  You know, Cub Scouts, soccer, skateboards and Nintendo.  We shared that lifestyle with families from many different backgrounds:  Black, Filipino, Korean, Mexican, Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, etc.  And on Independence Day, we would all have block parties, barbeques, water balloon fights and shoot off fireworks together.  We were the melting pot.

As a teen, I was repulsed by politics and politicians.  I was spiritually minded, introspective and non-competitive; I leaned about as far left as possible in my manner of thinking.  Eventually, I reasoned I should be a good citizen and participate in the election process, so I cast my first vote for Bill Clinton, who defeated Bob Dole (and Ross Perot) in 1996.  In the 2000 election, not impressed with either George Bush or Al Gore, I voted for Ralph Nader on the Green Party ticket.  The events of September 11, 2001 changed my trajectory.  I remember wondering to myself that day why our jets weren’t in the air within hours.  Why the delay?  I started to open my eyes, but not in the way you might be inclined to think.  I didn’t develop a fear of Osama Bin Laden or Muslims.  Living in the Bay Area gifted me with great cultural diversity.  I had friends and classmates who were Muslim.  I studied world religions in college and as a personal interest.  I read poetry by Rumi.  When the Bush Administration decided to invade Iraq in 2003, despite no evidence of weapons of mass destruction, I started having serious doubts about the true motives of our government.  I remember the distinct feeling that something was wrong while watching the media coverage of the “shock and awe” bombardment of Baghdad.  In 2004, I voted for John Kerry and in 2008, I voted for Barack Obama, disillusioned with the declining state of the nation under Bush, but hopeful.  In 2012, I decided not to give Obama my vote for a second term and instead voted for Gary Johnson, candidate for the Libertarian Party.

The truth is, I’m not a Libertarian.  I’m not a Liberal.  I’m not a Conservative.  I’m not a Progressive.  I’m not a Democrat or a Republican.  I’m not the Tea Party.  I’m not a Socialist, a Communist or a Capitalist.  I’m not an environmentalist.  I’m not Occupy.  I’m not Anonymous.  I’m not an anarchist.  I’m not a conspiracy-theorist.  I’m not LGBT.  I’m not a Portuguese-Scotch-Irish-American.  In other words, I don’t have an agenda.  I am One American.  And I don’t own a gun… yet.

Without disparaging these groups, I have to ask, why are we, as a nation of individuals, so inclined to identify ourselves so narrowly?  Liberals are not liberal and Conservatives are not conservative.  I started this blog, in part, to demonstrate that despite our differences and contrary to what the media conditions you to believe, we all have a lot more in common.  And, we all have a lot at stake.  I am proud to be an American.  I love American culture.  I love American values.  I don’t believe in “tolerance” I believe in celebrating and embracing diversity.  I love all people.  I believe in family.  I believe in humanity.  I believe in love and compassion.  I believe in freedom.

Fully acknowledging the many blemishes on the history of the United States of America and the imperfections of the men who founded our country and wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the ideals that we, as Americans, value and aspire to are noble and unmatched in the history of Western civilization.  The values of liberty, truth and justice are worth fighting for.  The errors of the past and present should be held up to this light and made right.  Even if one argues that the Constitution was not originally meant to protect Natives, or Blacks or women or immigrants, it shall, by will of the people.  The problem is, the idea of “government of the people, by the people, for the people” is rapidly being washed awayOur ability to function as a free nation will end if we do not identify the true enemies of freedom and stop them.  In America, the idea of representative government has been usurped by subservience to special interest groups, the military-industrial complex, multi-national corporations and banks.  In this type of society you are not a citizen, you are a subject.

The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees my freedom of speech.  Despite this, for what I have just written in these few paragraphs, I can now be targeted by our government as a potential terrorist.  That should be disturbing to anyone reading this blog.  In fact, to be considered a terrorist, you no longer need to express disdain for the government, you merely need to proclaim support for the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.  If you’re a veteran returning from war or you proudly display the American flag, you’re dangerous.  I have always been an independent thinker.  As such, I have witnessed my own philosophy and world view morph several times.  Now it’s beginning to crystallize.  My core values and beliefs, those which have been constant throughout, have triggered an alarm inside me.  I am distraught.  Even I, not being a member of any Tea Party group, not owning a gun, not being particularly religious, can see the injustice of the IRS targeting conservative groups.  Perhaps you think this is ok, since you don’t agree with Tea Party politics.  But the fact of the matter is, wrong is wrong.  It is not politically relative.  They’re coming for everyone, eventually.  They’re coming for you too.

Those crying “I want my country back” can’t be so narrowly categorized anymore.  We’re not all “bitter clingers” or “joe sixpacks”.  We are students, engineers, laborers, farmers, veterans, journalists, police officers, taxi drivers, scientists, artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, truckers, doctors, teachers, designers, athletes, mechanics, small business owners- people from all walks of life and ethnic backgrounds.

Ironically, in 2004 I stood on a street corner in Northern California with my wife, who is Lakota, and our newborn daughter holding a sign reading “Iraq Lies Cost Lives”.  Even in “liberal” California I was cursed at and threatened.  It distresses me to see people who so vehemently opposed the Iraq War and then President George W. Bush, now lining up in support of President Obama, when he has only extended and deepened Bush’s abuses of executive power.  We are a label-handicapped society.  Is this irrational support of Obama because he’s a Democrat?  Is it because he’s a Liberal?  Is it because he’s Black?  Now, as I witness liberty groups, defenders of the Constitution, gun owners and people opposing President Obama’s policies being labeled as racists and potential terrorists, I have to wonder, who do they think we are?  If you and I are the enemy, who are they?

Originally published: 08/24/13


Lamenting The Coast

bean_hollow_tide_poolIn 2006, before my family left the San Francisco Bay Area for the state of Montana, my wife had a dream.  In the dream, her and I were living in a futuristic apartment near the shore, but there was something separating us from the ocean.  It was a dome.  We couldn’t figure out how to get down to the water, which washed against the exterior of the dome.  Inside the dome there was a form of artificial daylight, but gazing outside, we could see a starry night sky.  We were upset.  At the time, she didn’t know what the dream meant.

My wife and I were married on the beach in 2002, and it has always been a spiritual place for us.  We honeymooned along scenic Highway 1, from Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz to Monterey.  Some of my most cherished memories center around our many trips to Pescadero or Bean Hollow: falling asleep together on the sand dunes and waking up sun-burnt, playing the kalimba to the sounds of seagulls calling and the crashing surf (I still have a mini-cassette recording somewhere) or watching baby sharks swim through my legs- baby sharks!  When I was a teenager, my friends and I would frequent the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in the summer and go boogie-boarding.  We would marvel at the golden flakes of iron pyrite in the water as they shimmered in the sun.  In high school, the ocean nearly took my life when I caught my leg between some rocks while trying to escape the incoming tide.  The ocean is home, and when my wife moved to California to live with me, it became her home as well.

Life has not been easy for our family in Montana and for years we have tried in vain to return home to California.  One thing or another has always stood in our way:  family, money, college and now it seems atomic radiation, due to the ongoing situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan.

If, in reconsidering a move back to California, I were to attempt to explain the very real dangers of radiation exposure to my folks, they would undoubtedly say I was overreacting.  After all, if all you do is sit in front of the television watching mainstream news, you would assume the whole Fukushima nuclear disaster was over and everything was under control.  The current media blackout on Fukushima is even more complete than the blackout over the 2010 BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  With cooperation from the media, TEPCO and the governments of Japan and the U.S. have largely downplayed the risks.

But many scientists and experts believe the risks are significant.  We know that the Fukushima nuclear plant is still in crisis.  We know that TEPCO continues to evacuate hundreds of metric tons of radioactive sea water into the Pacific Ocean.  The initial disaster resulting from the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in 2011, has already exposed thousands, if not millions, of people in North America to a sizable amount of radiation, and, as I write this post, a massive plume of contaminated water is heading straight for the West Coast.  It is set to arrive in 2014.  Hardest hit will be Hawaii, Alaska, British Columbia (Canada), Washington, Oregon, California and Baja California (Mexico).

Furthermore, next month TEPCO will begin the daunting task of manually removing over 1,300 fuel rods from the facility’s damaged No. 4 reactor.  The entire operation will take years to complete and is wrought with potential mishaps, reports RT and others.  Worst case scenarios approach the cataclysmic, but best case scenarios are bad enough.  Even now, high levels of radiation have been detected in cow’s milk from U.S. dairy farms, which indicates the radiation has penetrated the food and water supply.

Surely Montanans are being radiated too- we all are.  But what kind of exposure levels should we expect if we decide to move back to the Bay Area?  What should we expect after visiting the beach a few times, wading in the water and breathing in the ocean mist?  What if my wife or daughter were to develop thyroid cancer or leukemia several years from now?  These are the risks that need to be analyzed and addressed by our government, for the safety of our citizens.  But as cancer rates see a sharp rise in North America, or more dead sea creatures wash ashore, more than likely it will never officially be blamed on the Fukashima disaster.

It’s surreal.  These days, I feel as if I’m clinging to my memories of the ocean like a fading dream, meanwhile my wife’s bizarre dream is becoming more and more like a prophetic vision.  I understand dream symbolism.  Of course the dream represents obstacles to returning home.  It represents being separated from a peaceful, comforting place.  My thoughts brought me to tears the other day.  It was not an ordinary sadness, but an exasperation over the dire condition of our planet and what we are facing as human beings.  Perhaps God is working to keep us from going back to California, to protect us from one calamity or another.  I have tried to comfort myself in this, knowing full well that our nation is teetering on major upheaval.  Maybe I am overreacting; maybe we’ll go back after all.  I’m confident God will reveal his plan to us, that our path will become clear.  In the meantime,  I guess the mountains are nice too.


One American (An Introduction)

we_the_peopleWith politics more divisive than ever, it’s nothing special when another political blog pops up featuring the hallmark, “I want my country back!” rant.  It’s just another red-state, right-wing, rifle-toting redneck who somehow managed to figure his way ‘round the internet, right?  Or, it’s one of these regular, disenfranchised, middle-aged white guys just looking out for their families, who turn into raging xenophobes when their wallet is targeted.  Except, if you read a little further, you’ll see I don’t quite fit these profiles, and that’s important.  Because those who seek to control you want you to believe there is no common ground among the American people; they want our country polarized and divided, because it serves their purposes.

I was born in 1975 and grew up in a working-class family in the San Francisco Bay Area.  My dad was a Portuguese immigrant and my mom was born in Mississippi to Scotch-Irish parents.  Upon their families converging in California, they met and married.  My dad was a Teamster and drove a forklift.  My mom became a teacher and also worked at a semiconductor fab in Silicon Valley.  Our household was white, blue-collar and Democrat.  Ours was that mythical, normal, suburban life.  You know, Cub Scouts, soccer, skateboards and Nintendo.  We shared that lifestyle with families from many different backgrounds:  Black, Filipino, Korean, Mexican, Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, etc.  And on Independence Day, we would all have block parties, barbeques, water balloon fights and shoot off fireworks together.  We were the melting pot.

As a teen, I was repulsed by politics and politicians.  I was spiritually minded, introspective and non-competitive; I leaned about as far left as possible in my manner of thinking.  Eventually, I reasoned I should be a good citizen and participate in the election process, so I cast my first vote for Bill Clinton, who defeated Bob Dole (and Ross Perot) in 1996.  In the 2000 election, not impressed with either George Bush or Al Gore, I voted for Ralph Nader on the Green Party ticket.  The events of September 11, 2001 changed my trajectory.  I remember wondering to myself that day why our jets weren’t in the air within hours.  Why the delay?  I started to open my eyes, but not in the way you might be inclined to think.  I didn’t develop a fear of Osama Bin Laden or Muslims.  Living in the Bay Area gifted me with great cultural diversity.  I had friends and classmates who were Muslim.  I studied world religions in college and as a personal interest.  I read poetry by Rumi.  When the Bush Administration decided to invade Iraq in 2003, despite no evidence of weapons of mass destruction, I started having serious doubts about the true motives of our government.  I remember the distinct feeling that something was wrong while watching the media coverage of the “shock and awe” bombardment of Baghdad.  In 2004, I voted for John Kerry and in 2008, I voted for Barack Obama, disillusioned with the declining state of the nation under Bush, but hopeful.  In 2012, I decided not to give Obama my vote for a second term and instead voted for Gary Johnson, candidate for the Libertarian Party.

The truth is, I’m not a Libertarian.  I’m not a Liberal.  I’m not a Conservative.  I’m not a Progressive.  I’m not a Democrat or a Republican.  I’m not the Tea Party.  I’m not a Socialist, a Communist or a Capitalist.  I’m not an environmentalist.  I’m not Occupy.  I’m not Anonymous.  I’m not an anarchist.  I’m not a conspiracy-theorist.  I’m not LGBT.  I’m not a Portuguese-Scotch-Irish-American.  In other words, I don’t have an agenda.  I am One American.  And I don’t own a gun… yet.

Without disparaging these groups, I have to ask, why are we, as a nation of individuals, so inclined to identify ourselves so narrowly?  Liberals are not liberal and Conservatives are not conservative.  I started this blog, in part, to demonstrate that despite our differences and contrary to what the media conditions you to believe, we all have a lot more in common.  And, we all have a lot at stake.  I am proud to be an American.  I love American culture.  I love American values.  I don’t believe in “tolerance” I believe in celebrating and embracing diversity.  I love all people.  I believe in family.  I believe in humanity.  I believe in love and compassion.  I believe in freedom.

Fully acknowledging the many blemishes on the history of the United States of America and the imperfections of the men who founded our country and wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the ideals that we, as Americans, value and aspire to are noble and unmatched in the history of Western civilization.  The values of liberty, truth and justice are worth fighting for.  The errors of the past and present should be held up to this light and made right.  Even if one argues that the Constitution was not originally meant to protect Natives, or Blacks or women or immigrants, it shall, by will of the people.  The problem is, the idea of “government of the people, by the people, for the people” is rapidly being washed awayOur ability to function as a free nation will end if we do not identify the true enemies of freedom and stop them.  In America, the idea of representative government has been usurped by subservience to special interest groups, the military-industrial complex, multi-national corporations and banks.  In this type of society you are not a citizen, you are a subject.

The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees my freedom of speech.  Despite this, for what I have just written in these few paragraphs, I can now be targeted by our government as a potential terrorist.  That should be disturbing to anyone reading this blog.  In fact, to be considered a terrorist, you no longer need to express disdain for the government, you merely need to proclaim support for the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.  If you’re a veteran returning from war or you proudly display the American flag, you’re dangerous.  I have always been an independent thinker.  As such, I have witnessed my own philosophy and world view morph several times.  Now it’s beginning to crystallize.  My core values and beliefs, those which have been constant throughout, have triggered an alarm inside me.  I am distraught.  Even I, not being a member of any Tea Party group, not owning a gun, not being particularly religious, can see the injustice of the IRS targeting conservative groups.  Perhaps you think this is ok, since you don’t agree with Tea Party politics.  But the fact of the matter is, wrong is wrong.  It is not politically relative.  They’re coming for everyone, eventually.  They’re coming for you too.

Those crying “I want my country back” can’t be so narrowly categorized anymore.  We’re not all “bitter clingers” or “joe sixpacks”.  We are students, engineers, laborers, farmers, veterans, journalists, police officers, taxi drivers, scientists, artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, truckers, doctors, teachers, designers, athletes, mechanics, small business owners- people from all walks of life and ethnic backgrounds.

Ironically, in 2004 I stood on a street corner in Northern California with my wife, who is Lakota, and our newborn daughter holding a sign reading “Iraq Lies Cost Lives”.  Even in “liberal” California I was cursed at and threatened.  It distresses me to see people who so vehemently opposed the Iraq War and then President George W. Bush, now lining up in support of President Obama, when he has only extended and deepened Bush’s abuses of executive power.  We are a label-handicapped society.  Is this irrational support of Obama because he’s a Democrat?  Is it because he’s a Liberal?  Is it because he’s Black?  Now, as I witness liberty groups, defenders of the Constitution, gun owners and people opposing President Obama’s policies being labeled as racists and potential terrorists, I have to wonder, who do they think we are?  If you and I are the enemy, who are they?