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In Entertainment, history, National News, News Media, Opinion, Politics, Religion, sociology on November 20, 2017 at 9:10 am

Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks was just honored with the National Archives Foundation Records of Achievement award. During the presentation event, he commented on the current state of American politics.

“People are upset about what’s going on today. They’re furious, they’re frustrated, they’re worked up,” Hanks said. “If you’re concerned about what’s going on today, read history and figure out what to do because it’s all right there,” Hanks spoke with hope for our country’s future and noted that what is needed today is dialogue, not destruction.

It’s unlikely anyone to the right will ever listen to a “Hollywood” type, but what Hanks said is absolutely accurate. The solutions to today’s problems may very well be found in the conflicts of the past. Often, history simply repeats itself in a different time and location. Every situation that has every arisen throughout human history has one common denominator – people.

Most social, religious and political conflicts in America are caused by a lack of knowledge, an ignorance that is either innate or self-imposed. Without an understanding of the person standing next to you, his trials and tribulations, his background and motivation, it is impossible to identify with him and that leads to conflict.

Taking the time to compare today’s issues with similar situations in the past might help better manage current conflicts and find possible solutions because we know how they were finally resolved. Obviously, we should be investigating any negative outcomes, like war or civil unrest, to see how they can be avoided.

How many times do people say, “Wow, if I’d only known then what I know now?” An insight apparently lacking in President Donald Trump’s character. If he would look backward he’d learn that there were several other presidents that faced the same kinds of situations and resistance. Herbert Hoover, for example, was, like Trump, a terrible communicator.

A closeup of the word HISTORY engraved on a war memorial.

President on the eve of the Great Depression, Hoover was seen by many as mean and uncaring as the economy collapsed because of his rigid adherence to conservative principals. While he made efforts to lower taxes and create public works projects that would help with jobs, he refused any sort of outright relief programs.

As a result, the economy sank even deeper into depression and the shanty towns where people were forced to live after losing everything were nicknamed Hoovervilles, in his “honor.” Hoover is largely regarded, though often not by his conservative disciples, as one of the worst presidents in U.S. history. And Trump is on the road to the same end if he doesn’t learn from the past. Then again, it doesn’t seem like anyone who leans to the right these days is interested in facts unless they directly refute a democrat.

Trying to enact policy just because it defies the opposition seems to be how politics on both sides of the aisle runs today. At this point, no one at the legislative level cares about those of us down here in the real world, this kind of historical ignorance is simply ego and one-upsmanship.

You hear it every day in the news media. Some politician on the left will say something and everyone on the right refutes it, just because it came from the other side.

Imagine this exchange one sunny afternoon on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. “The sky is blue,” declares a Republican senator one day, stating a fact – something kind of new to him. While across the aisle, his Democrat opponent pops up from her seat and defiantly exclaims, “That’s a lie! It’s green!”

And it continues indefinitely, back and forth, with charts, graphs, testimony from non-blue-sky believers, and on and on. But neither will ever back down because to do so is weak, and the ego must remain intact, regardless of how idiotic they sound. Just resisting any other ideas but your party line is not only ignorant but potentially destructive.

The point is that we could solve a great many problems in modern politics if we just consider how history shows we dealt with some of the same kinds of people and issues. As poet and philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. More at gerydeer.com.

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Sexual assault is a societal problem.

In Crime, Entertainment, Health, National News, Opinion, psychology, Religion, sociology, Uncategorized on November 6, 2017 at 8:29 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

The continued exposure of alleged sexual assault and mistreatment of women within the entertainment industry have shaken some pillars of the Hollywood elite. But exactly what good will come from the heightened media attention? More to the point, since nothing about this problem seems much of a secret, why aren’t we addressing this issue in other industries with as much vigor?

A couple of weeks ago I was involved in a discussion about the idea that Hollywood’s misogynistic, casting-couch culture will likely never change. In case you’re not aware, the term “casting couch” refers to the practice whereby actors or actresses are awarded a part in a production in return for granting sexual favors to whoever is in charge. That could be a producer, casting director, agent, whatever the situation.

Harvey Weinstein has become the poster boy for Hollywood’s misogynistic culture. But he is certainly not alone.
(Photo by Ray Tamarra/GC Images courtesy Variety)

Because the entertainment industry is, even now, dominated by men, this despicable practice has largely been perpetrated on women. These men promise stardom, fame, and prey on lifelong dreams for a few minutes of repugnant self-gratification.

Cultural change within an organization, or an industry, is not so much different from that of a society. There is a status quo that has developed over time, fueled largely by the ambitions of people hoping to succeed and by those already at the top who abuse their power for nefarious gain.

It’s a struggle between the powerless, trying to achieve some level of status, and the powerful, who already have it and may not have achieved it solely on merit, but by largely more devious means. As the floodgates of these allegations began to break down, more women – and men – came forward.

Although this issue should be about decency and civil rights, it has, of course, also turned political. Many of the women coming forward have been labeled publicity hounds and opportunists, primarily by conservative media. While there is certainly some measure of that going on, who can say what is real and what is unscrupulous? Only by investigating each situation can the truth come out and to not do so would be an incredible injustice.

Additionally, the entertainment industry is certainly not the only one where this kind of atmosphere is prominent. Every business has its unspoken norms, with the same stigmas attached to coming forward.

Mistreatment of women is a society-wide problem, with no isolated industry or socioeconomic group. And, while these issues tend to involve women being the subject of the abuse or misconduct, it can happen between anyone in a position of power and a subordinate or a person who feels they are required to accept such behavior because of their status. Unfortunately, we may never know the broad-reaching effects of this issue, especially when so much goes unreported or unprosecuted.

Very few of the well-documented cases within the Catholic church over the years have seen justice. It’s sickening to think that the church has so much power as to avoid the prosecution of potentially hundreds of priests who have spent years sexually abusing young boys. You’d think that the faithful would want to end abuse of any kind, but religion often plays a major role in perpetuating the oppression of women.

Many faiths persist in the subjugation of women to lower status than men, keeping them in positions of service. Young girls are taught to be fruitful and multiply and have as many children as possible to increase the congregation to better serve their god. It is one of the prime duties under the doctrine of their beliefs.

This is a disgusting level of abuse that no one seems to even want to discuss, let alone change. And, because this speaks directly to ignorance and misogyny so prevalent within the Bible-belt following of the conservative right, nothing will be done while they are in power.

Sexual assault and harassment are known and accepted practices in virtually every industry throughout the country. From entertainment to sports and government to big business, the exploitation and mistreatment of women (or others in a subordinate position) is a national, social problem. Society, as a whole, must work to end the stigma surrounding this issue and provide support and justice for those who come forward.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. More at deerinheadlines.com

 

 

What’s in a label?

In Education, Health, Local News, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Religion, sociology, Uncategorized on March 18, 2017 at 9:22 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

One things that human beings have in common is an insatiable need to label each other, both individually and by groups. I’m no expert at human evolution or psychology, but I’d guess that categorizing our fellow man must have been a leftover from prehistoric times. Our instinctive ability to size up a potential adversary may have served us well as cave people, but today, those emotions can inadvertently damage our relationships in the civilized world.

For our discussion purposes, the term “label” generally implies a negatively-focused word that’s used to identify someone based on visible stereotypical characteristics, like behavior, clothing, language, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. It’s not a factual assessment but rather an assumption, and it’s nearly always wrong. I’ve never found labels particularly helpful and arrived at from a single action or characteristic.

It gets a little confusing when you think about how to accurately describe someone without bias or negativity. If I were a Muslim, for example, it would be OK to say, “He’s a Muslim,” if you are stating a fact. On the other hand, if it’s stated in a way that has a negative connotation behind it like, “He’s one of those Muslims,” that’s not a fact, it’s a label. It comes with images of terrorism or other undesirable stereotypes.

In fact, trying to find any unoffensive example of labeling was a challenge, but I figured if I use myself as the subject that would be OK, so here it goes. I was raised on a farm in a rural community. Some people have a predetermined “image” of what someone like me should look, act and sound like.

My corn-fed brethren might even be labeled with a term that I find incredibly offensive – redneck. Despite what some might think, it’s just as intolerant to pin a racial slur on a white person as anyone else. It does, indeed, go both ways.

People are people – not labels. (Infographic courtesy of TrustLifeToday.com)

The general assumption is that someone with my background is uneducated, ignorant, with a “hillbilly” accent, bad grammar, less than stellar dental hygiene and who prefers to date within his or her own family. Throw in some right-wing, gun-totin’, Bible-quotin’, racism and that’s pretty much the way the liberal left sees us too.

Absolutely none of this is accurate where I am concerned, nor is it for most people I know. I’m well educated, I have no discernible accent, I’m not racist and, while my grammar isn’t perfect all the time, I’d like to think I’m above average in that area. The point is that the “rural” label is usually so far off as to be laughable. In fact, when people meet me they generally have no clue as to my background. None of this implies anything positive.

All that said, a close friend reminded me recently that labels have a positive side as well. In some cases, when people are vastly different from ourselves, a label can sometimes give us a reference point to understanding.

If you’re like me, a rural-raised American, you may have never met someone from, say inland China. When that opportunity arises, a label might be helpful as a starting point. If I say, “she is Chinese,” you probably already have an idea of what that means in your mind and an image forms based on your past understanding.

This type of labeling can be helpful provided the assessment does not end there and you keep an open mind about the individual. We must be respectful of the fact that we are each far more than the sum of our parts. I’m a farm boy, but a quick Google of my name will tell you there’s nothing “typical” about me. And that’s true for most of the people I know who grew up like I did.

Remember that labels are generally bad, but could have a positive application if people are willing to look beyond the surface and learn about the individual. Categorizing anyone can be incredibly destructive and serve only to perpetuate nonconstructive stereotypes. Give people a chance and learn about them before you slap a tag on their forehead. Our diversity in the world really is our strength. Let’s start behaving that way.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. more at deerinheadlines.com

 

Hope in a world of tragedy.

In Health, Holiday, Opinion, psychology, Religion, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on December 30, 2016 at 10:46 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOHope – A small word that carries a great deal of weight. Hope inspires people, gives them purpose, direction, even courage. For some, hope is all they have to motivate them.

If you look up hope in a dictionary its synonyms include: aspiration, desire, wish, expectation, ambition, aim, goal, plan, and so on. But I’m not entirely convinced that these are accurate. In my mind, hope is not a simple thought or expectation, but one of the most powerful of all emotions.

Yes, hope is an emotion. It has no medical or biological origin. It is a complete figment of the heart, which can move the mind and body to do incredible things. Unlike other aspirational emotions, I believe that hope requires the additional element of faith.

The type of faith depends strongly on the individual. It could be faith in God or some other supernatural belief. It could be faith in one’s own character and accomplishments. For me, faith in the integrity, loyalty and support of others is what fuels my hope. If hope is to have weight, faith must be unwavering and consistent.

Action is also needed in the equation in order to move you towards your goal. You can’t just sit idly by and dream of something, you must act. You “hope” your child will be accepted to a good school. So you do things to support that hope by helping her along the way providing, music lessons, math camp, whatever supports the end goal.

Hope without action is merely a wish, void of substance or direction. A wish is fine if you’re throwing a penny into a fountain, but hope is usually focused around a mindset of action.

Sometimes, people still have hope for things over which they have no control. A great many people hoped the 2016 U.S. presidential election would have turned out differently.

Others hope the new president will do all of the things he says he will and meet their hopes for America. Either way, it’s all about your perspective – and that’s often the very nature of hope.

In hope, as in life, perspective is everything. Your hopes are dependent upon your life view. You hope for things that will improve or enhance the lives of yourself and those closest to you. Hope also requires time.

Action is rarely instantaneous, so time is required for hope to be a motivator. That’s hard sometimes, particularly if someone is in dire need. When we hope a sick family member will recover, we have to be patient while the treatments are applied.

Also, we generally “hope” for things to turn out for the best. Our anticipation may grow because of hope. Good news about a potential raise or promotion at work can build hope. It’s not often that hope is associated with something negative.

But again, hope is nothing without faith and action. If you are someone who generally sits idly by praying that God or someone else will fix your problem, I’m afraid you’re in for a big disappointment. You have to take steps towards what you want – even if it doesn’t feel you have much control over it.

With so much tragedy in the world – wars, mass shootings, and xenophobic politicians – how can you find hope? If I had the answer to questions like that, the Dalai Lama would have some competition or his job.

The fact is that we should have hope despite tragedy. Keeping our hope alive is what gives purpose to human beings in perilous circumstances. No matter how well off someone might seem to be in position, finances, love, work, whatever, we all have hopes for something.

Hope isn’t as much about answers but more about questions. What do you want out of life? Have you done anything to move towards getting those things? Are you making a plan to get there?

It’s been said that hope is the desire for something with the expectation of getting it. Well, as I’ve pointed out, I don’t believe it’s quite so simple. If it were, hope wouldn’t be such a powerful influence on human existence.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. 

 

There is always another way

In Education, Health, Holiday, Media, Opinion, psychology, Religion, Uncategorized on December 12, 2016 at 8:55 am

By Gery L. Deer
Deer In Headlines

For some people, maybe even among those close to you, every day can be an emotional struggle. The problem might be not enough money or too little work. Still, others struggle with personal demons, addictions, mental illness, or family difficulties. The list is endless and, often, there is no way out for those fighting such overwhelming internal battles.

edouard_manet_-_le_suicideWhen life becomes too difficult to manage anymore and the odds seem totally stacked against them, some simply choose not to go on. According to the most recent statistics, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, averaging 117 per day. Those are staggering numbers.

Much of the time, a suicide attempt is a plea for help. The sufferer will talk about it, threaten it; even make the attempt. But when someone really wants out, there is rarely a warning or long, dramatic leader – they just do it.

By then, it’s too late to help. Sometimes it’s up to the rest of us to try to recognize and help the individual before it gets that far. Sadly, that doesn’t always work. You can’t help someone who is unwilling, or if there is mental illness or other medical issues in play, the sufferer may not even realize it.

Life can be daunting for someone dealing with these kinds of struggles especially when trying to meet the expectations of others, exhibit self-expression without judgment, or just deal with outside criticism. All of that can really knock joy out of even the happiest of everyday activity. Usually, there is a clinical reason for all of this, whether it’s ever treated or not.

Let me be clear, I’m no psychologist or counselor so I’m speaking generally and colloquially about all of this. But suicide has touched my life on more than one occasion.

I know that for those struggling with severe depression or suicidal thoughts, the world must seem a really dark and unforgiving place. It doesn’t help to lob useless platitudes at someone like that either; it’s neither helpful nor productive.

And the reality of someone considering suicide is not obvious or cliché like it is on some Lifetime TV movie. Someone struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts may not look “sad” or anxious in any way to an observer. People who have to deal with this kind of roller coaster of emotion can learn to hide it pretty well.

Also, expecting or nagging someone to just “snap out of it” is not only impossible it can actually make matters worse. When you do that you may be reinforcing the idea that there’s something wrong with the person, that they’re not “normal.” A caring, nonjudgmental ear can go a long way easing some of the emotional pain.

The truth is, depression and other similar issues are, in fact, perfectly normal. It’s the level and cause of the issue that changes the effectiveness of treatment. But every treatment is dependent on the individual seeking out help – and that can be tough. But suicide is not inevitable. Opening the conversation is a start.

If you’re reading this and know someone who might be dealing with these kinds of issues, there is help available. If that person is you, I have a personal plea – please don’t give up. Think of the people you love and who love you and what you mean to them and what losing you will mean. We all have a much bigger effect on those around us than we realize.

Confide in someone close to you. If there is no one then call a local hotline or visit a nearby support group. You can usually stay anonymous and people can help direct you to where you can get long-term assistance.

If you’re in need of support right now, please don’t give up! If you have no one else or can’t talk to those close to you, then call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. It’s free and confidential.

It might not seem like it, but there is plenty to live for, just take the first step, ask for help, and give it a chance. You have no idea what it will mean to those around you. There is always another way.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communication, Ltd. More at deerinheadlines.com.

Dare to Defy Productions Presents Children of Eden Thanksgiving Weekend

In Children and Family, Dayton Ohio News, Entertainment, Holiday, Local News, Music, Religion, Theatre, Uncategorized on November 2, 2016 at 8:19 am

Dayton, OH – Dare to Defy Productions is bringing the captivating musical Children of Eden to the beautiful Victoria Theatre for a limited 3 performance run Thanksgiving weekend.

photo2Featuring one of the most beautiful scores in contemporary musical theatre from the composer of GodspellPippin and WickedChildren of Eden is a heartfelt and humorous musical about the unique family bond. Inspired by the Book of Genesis, it tells the timeless story of what it means to be a parent.

From the moment you bring a child into the world everything changes; you learn to protect, cherish, and love unconditionally. But as they grow you have to learn one more thing, to finally let them go one day.

The Dare to Defy production of Children of Eden stars John Benjamin, Alan Ruddy, Esther Hyland and is directed by Mackensie King with music direction by Lorri Topping and choreographed by Lisa Glover.

“This is the perfect show for families over the Thanksgiving weekend,” said Dare to Defy Productions photo1Executive Director, Becki Norgaard. “It has great music and a wonderful, family story that can be enjoyed by all ages and backgrounds.”

Show times are November 25 at 8 p.m. and at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on the 26th. Tickets are available at the Ticket Center Stage Box Office located in the Schuster Center, by calling (937) 228-3630 or online at ticketcenterstage.com Senior, military and student discounts available at the box office. For more information visit the Dare to Defy website at d2defy.com.

Media doesn’t control anyone

In Economy, Education, finances, Media, News Media, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Religion, sociology, Technology, Uncategorized on August 4, 2016 at 10:01 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOIf you do a Google search for, “how the media controls what we think,”you’ll find dozens of articles, videos and feature stories on the subject. Each claims that news programs, TV commercials and even movies are so powerful they can actually control your mind.

To say that I find fault in these kinds of reports would be an understatement, but what exactly are they talking about? Let’s briefly examine these as separate concepts. First, there’s the advertiser. How is it that advertisers create commercials that convince people to buy things they didn’t even want in the first place?

Well there are countless components to creating an effective advertisement, but the primary way to get customers to buy is through media saturation. This is where you see and hear an ad for a product or service over and over again, on every medium – radio, TV, online, everywhere. Eventually, the message is so engrained into your mind you can’t help but remember it.

If you’re a commercial radio and television consumer, the best example of this kind of advertising is from auto dealers. Car dealerships flood the media with the same, nauseating advertisements, chock full of shouting announcers or gimmicky slogans.

Actually, when advertisers saturate the airwaves like this, the ads don’t event have to be particularly good, just slightly memorable with the name and product repeated over and over again. It’s the frequency that causes you to remember them.

There is no question that the media gets in our heads. Today we are so connected by the Internet and on every manner of device that some people struggle to be away from the constant flow of information even for a brief period of time. All of this has led to the idea of what is sometimes called “media mind control.”

You're probably far more likely to be "brainwashed" by a company like Apple that convinces you how "cool" something is and play on your own vanity. You're still making the choice.

You’re probably far more likely to be “brainwashed” by a company like Apple that convinces you how “cool” something is and plays on your own vanity. You’re still making the choice.

But, in my opinion, as a working part of the media in question, all of this is nonsense… sort of. If you really believe an ad can “make” you buy something or that the news can force you to vote for a particular candidate for office, then that’s pretty sad. Where is your own free will? Why follow the lemmings?

Media can “influence” the decision making process by presenting information tooled towards a certain message or ideology. But the decision to buy into any of that is all on you. The people writing the mind control articles I mentioned earlier have forgotten one, basic idea – we all have a freedom of choice and will.

Even though it might not seem like it sometimes, people choose what they’re going to believe. Advertisers and politicians are hoping you don’t exercise that free thought component of your brain and just follow blindly where their media leads.

Yes, they will play your heartstrings like a cheap fiddle and go at your sense of need and desire until you feel like you can’t live without … whatever they’re selling. But if you are so brain dead that you actually fall for their nonsense, then that’s your fault, not theirs.

We must stop blaming the media for everything and take some personal responsibility for our own bad judgment. News outlets reporting on a shooting did not cause the next mass murder, the guy on the trigger chose his actions. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton didn’t “manipulate” anyone into following them, the choice was made by each individual. Period. Any other conclusion is a bit delusional and conspiracy-minded.

Again, influence is the key word here. You can be influenced easily enough, but full on “manipulation” by the media, or anything else, is based on a level of control that we, as individuals, have to give up in order to be affected by it. If you choose to hand over your independent thought and free will then the problem rests with you, not the media you consume.

This, no doubt, will be an unpopular statement considering the “my bad behavior is someone else’s fault” society we live in today. But it’s true, nonetheless. Without threat of harm or other level of duress from an outside source, the only person who can make you do anything – is you.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at deerinheadlines.com

Is America ready for a Muslim president?

In Business, Opinion, Politics, Religion on October 12, 2015 at 9:50 am

 Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOPresidential hopeful, Dr. Ben Carson, recently stated that he believes a Muslim should not be president of the United States. No sooner had he finished the sentence than the Internet exploded with sharply negative responses.

It’s hard to say exactly what Carson meant by this comment, which was most likely intended to endear him further to his conservative base. But, although it may not be politically correct to say so, there is a logical and practical concept behind the idea.

Professionally speaking, there is no reason a Muslim couldn’t or shouldn’t be president, anymore than there is for a Catholic. Perhaps a more correct statement might be that America, over all, may simply not be ready for a Muslim in the White House.

That said, a recent Gallup poll reports that six out of ten Americans questioned would say “yes” to a Muslim presidential candidate, that’s about 60-percent. That’s a higher number than one might expect but keep in mind poll numbers reflect only the demographic being surveyed. And, some might respond more positively so as not to appear bigoted, even if they don’t totally approve.

Can a Muslim achieve the presidency? Conservatives continue to debate the religious leanings of President Obama.

Can a Muslim achieve the presidency? Conservatives continue to debate the religious leanings of President Obama.

Christianity and Islam are the two largest religious groups in the world, at 33-percent and 21-percent of the population, respectively. So it’s only logical to assume there would be a greater number of each who are already serving in public office and aspire to something higher.

One major concern against the idea of a Muslim president seems to be that his faith would somehow force him to undermine or find himself in conflict with certain anti-terror policies. However, it’s vital to remember that it wasn’t “Islam” that attacked the U.S. on September 11th, but extremist terrorists – something with which Christianity should be all too familiar.

It only takes an eyes wide open look over the shoulder of Christianity to see that, historically, its followers have been responsible for more and bloodier deaths than any other single religious sect on earth. It may not be a popular truth but it is, in the end, the truth. As with most emotionally driven ideals, people have selective memory when it comes to Christianity, ignoring the bad and highlighting the positive.

During the Crusades, horrible wars were fought between European Christians and Muslims, so the arguments between the two groups are certainly nothing new. Over the millennia, Christians have fought in support of some pretty awful ideals including slavery and anti-Semitism. Even the spiritual beliefs of the Native American nations are all but extinct because of Christian influence and forced conversion.

In addition, given the sheer power and reach of the Catholic Church, it would seem far more dangerous an influence on U.S. policy than any Muslim could achieve. The resources and impact of the Vatican are as great as any first world country.

On the flip side, why would anyone in the Democratic Party vote for a Muslim? The liberal base is made up of civil rights heavies and women’s issue activists. If push came to shove, wouldn’t they steer clear of endorsing or giving any kind of authority or power to an individual whose beliefs include the subjugation of women and other groups?

Should a Muslim be president? Why not? But, is America prepared for it yet, probably not, despite what Gallup says. For the most part it’s not because of bigotry or racism, at least not intentionally. It’s just that people are often very frightened of change.

Still, as the election draws nearer over the next year, remember that the best reason to vote for someone is not because of gender, religion, or the color of his or her skin. Choose because of sound qualifications and agreement with the platform.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com.

Can there be gratitude without God?

In Opinion, Politics, psychology, Religion, sociology, Uncategorized on September 7, 2015 at 11:59 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOFor those who live without a God to thank, some kinds of gratitude might seem an awkward concept. So, whom do atheists thank for the world around them? Where is gratitude concentrated when benevolent events occur from what non-believers would accredit to random chance? Well, here are two ways people without a god express their thanks.

First, intransitive gratitude, as it’s become known, is a broad, indirect, sense of thankfulness. The beneficiary is thankful in general for life, health, flowers, bugs, whatever, but the gratitude is directed toward nothing specific.

From a practical standpoint, the concept of intransitive gratitude falls apart upon deeper analysis because it leaves people to a perception that random chance has some kind of purpose behind it, which might as well be called “supernatural” in nature. Suddenly, it becomes something akin to religion.

Perhaps then, a more tangible and less unbalanced concept of gratitude is preferable for those who would rather have it more focused. Most “non believers” direct their gratitude at those individuals they consider responsible for the positive events.

Say, for example, atheist Bob has a great meal at a friend’s house one evening. Obviously, he wouldn’t pray over it, but instead thanks his friend who worked for the money that paid for the food that she then cooked. From Bob’s point of view, there was no deity or other supernatural involvement.

yarpBob could trace that gratitude all the way back to the friend’s parents, who decided to have a child, and on and on. It’s more of a cause and effect concept but with some level of human direction.

For someone like Bob, directing the gratitude at some invisible, supernatural force seems illogical and improper. Instead, he prefers to honor the people directly responsible for the events or their subsequent results. It might not be accurate, however, to call this type of gratitude a “belief” because it has tangible beneficiaries – Bob’s friend, her employer, her parents, and so on.

The devout likely see this practice as sacrilegious, to say the least. For them the only “one” responsible for all the good in the world is the god they worship. He or She or It is responsible for everything, and nothing is random.

But is someone like Bob wrong or is his gratitude misplaced? Is he evil? Is he a heathen? Therein hangs the question, and one that can only be answered by the individual affected. Any prejudice or personal judgment, however, should be left out of the equation.

Indeed, it would be hard to argue against the idea, in the case of Bob’s meal, that the people who grow, package, ship, prepare and serve food, share a fair portion of the responsibility in his enjoyment of it, godly intervention not withstanding. So being grateful to those people would be highly appropriate.

On the other hand, to the logical eye, and without context, someone clench-eyed, bowing over the dinner plate with clasped hands and appearing to be talking to his or herself would seem quite silly. As with so many concepts, it’s all a matter of personal perception.

Gratitude must be measured and delivered by the grateful in his or her own way. If someone is religious, they’ll likely pray in thanks. For the less rigidly devout, it may be something more informal. Atheists or agnostics may thank the people directly, as Bob did in the example.

Religious or not, it’s important to keep in mind that nothing happens without some human intervention, somewhere down the line, even if not readily apparent. Every decision made by each person has some kind of an effect on the lives of countless others. So directly thanking people for their participation in some good fortune is always a kindness.

Regardless of where gratitude is directed – God, the grocer, a famer, an employer – being generally appreciative of the goodness in life will never be misplaced, even if it’s just within one’s own thoughts.

Remember that good things happen, not to those who wait, but who act. Recognizing good fortune and taking action is just as important as thanks given to those believed responsible.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com

Don’t talk to me about, “life.”

In Health, Opinion, psychology, Religion, sociology, Uncategorized on May 28, 2015 at 11:10 am

Deer In Headlines

Special Edition 

By Gery L. Deer

dih-logo-SE“I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, ‘Where’s the self-help section?’ She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.” ― George Carlin

No kidding, don’t talk to me about life. I don’t have a clue what to tell you. It’d be great if I could suddenly sound like one of those know-it-all high-dollar advice columnists but, really, they’re full of it too.  You’d have more luck following the meaningless advice from inside your next fortune cookie at the local Chinese restaurant.

Advice columnists, TV experts, so-called “life coaches,” or your favorite self-help author or motivational speaker must be infinitely smarter than any of us regular folks. After all, they motivated your money right out of your wallet; genius, wouldn’t you say? In reality, one can tell you what to do about the perils and promises of life except you.

Life is one of those subjects about which I have never felt confident offering an opinion, nor should anyone else. The very idea that anyone has it figured out or could possibly understand the complexities of someone else’s situation is not just ridiculous, it’s a little insulting.

Special, personal hat tip to the late author, Douglas Adams, who helped to put this writer's perspective into focus.

Special, personal hat tip to the late author, Douglas Adams, who helped to put this writer’s perspective into focus.

If anyone could actually manage such a thing, it would mean that there is nothing inherently special or unique about our lives. It implies that everyone lives a sort of cookie-cutter existence, with no peaks, valleys or crevices, and that’s just silly.

Life is complicated. It cannot be sorted out with an hour on the psychiatrist’s couch or because of some nonsense from a self-help book. We all have to iron it out for ourselves. That’s not to say we don’t need some help sometimes, but it’s not going to come from something you saw on an infomercial at 3 o’clock in the morning.

Even religion offers no answer to such multifaceted issues as, “What should I do with my life?” Religion also guts your wallet without providing a single, concrete solution. In fact, without an incredible level of ambiguity, religion couldn’t exist at all.

Your faith may provide you with peace of mind, but leaving everything “in God’s hands,” is a little like letting go of the wheel while barreling down the highway at 70 miles per hour. I’d say He probably expects you to steer. And, to be fair, science has no solutions either.

For those empirical folks out there, Charles Darwin might have been able to tell you how animals changed over the millennia, but he had no clue how the evolution of your life should proceed. Sometimes you just have to work things out on your own.

Life coaches, support groups, psychobabble – it all comes down to the person you see in the mirror. Everyone has an opinion about your life, but before taking it, you need to look at the source of that information. What kind of shape is their life in?

It’s always puzzling when someone takes marriage advice from a friend or relative whose relationships are a wreck.  That’s kind of like asking a demolition derby driver to teach drivers education. They know how, but the results might be less than desirable.

Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss) once said, “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” That is probably the best way to look at your world. Occasionally we’re looking too hard for answers to difficult questions with straightforward resolutions. But you won’t find your answers in a self-help workshop or in an advice column.

When standing at a fork in the road, there comes a time when you have to pick a path and start walking. You put one foot in front of the other, get moving and own it, whatever the outcome. If you do that, on your terms, at least you’ll know it was your decision to go left instead of right, to charge ahead instead of turning back. It will be yours, because we are responsible for the paths our lives take and, after all, the journey is the real destination. Make it a good one.
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com