Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday Night Videos: Land of Confusion

When I started writing here, I would put up post after post of whatever information I could find that presented the case I was trying to make against what I saw as the most oppressive and repressive force in America; our newly elected President, Barack Obama, the Democratic Party, and the liberal establishment media in America.

Many times in those early days of my blogging experience I posted things that went over the top in their rhetoric. Some of those things were shared from others; some were words of my own. I put up pictures, video and audio, and writings created and shared by others with whom I found a common bond. We were joined unanimously in our desire to state our case against the political ideology we saw as intrusive big government, higher taxes that led to waste, fraud, and abuse, and the general decline of the country we love so passionately.

In the process of stepping away from this space and now returning to begin a new era of growth, I have come to learn I lost my own voice in the effort to speak as loud as, or louder than the voices of others, and ultimately I now see I was becoming exactly that which I was speaking out against. I greatly disliked the “blame Bush” mantra of the political left, because I knew it was wrong and based in ideology over substance, yet I was first in line to blame Barack Obama for everything, sometimes without gaining a greater understanding of the situation.

One thing I did enjoy about blogging back in the day was my Friday posts; “Friday Night Videos” I called them. I’ve decided I’m bringing them back.

When it was released in 1987, I disliked the Genesis song “Land of Confusion.” I disliked it because I was burned out on Phil Collins and the band Genesis, and because I didn’t appreciate the way it made fun of our President. Those Muppet-like characters and the image of Ronald Reagan as a senile old man who had lost his senses so badly he hit the “nuke” button instead of the “nurse” button was right out of the leftist playbook at that time in our history, and the imagery of such a kind and decent man as some kind of throwback to the dinosaur era ripped at my sense of patriotism. Even though I didn’t then understand the greatness of The Great Communicator, I found the visual presentation of this song to be greatly offensive, and so I disregarded the music and lyrics as unworthy of my attention.

Today on the radio in the background at work I heard Genesis’ “Land of Confusion” for the first time in a long time, and I started to listen… to really listen... and I was quite astonished as I realized the magnificent words I had not been hearing for all those years. I actually got a little choked up because I couldn't believe how much this song tells the story of today, which is the story the Reagan years, which is the story of the tumultuous 1960's when I was born, and I’m sure it is the story of generations and generations before then...

After a little more thinking, I realized that more than likely, it will be the same story tomorrow. There are too many people making too many problems, with not enough love to go around. It is a very idealistic statement, but it holds great truth. We are constantly fighting amongst ourselves over issues we really do not disagree on all that much in the first place.

Visual symbolisms sometimes speak louder than the important words to which we ask others listen, and sometimes it is extremely important to look past the hyperbole and over-the-top rhetoric and actually listen to what people with differing opinions are trying to tell us. While it may very well be true that a picture says a thousand words, what we sometimes forget is that listening to just a few words can make the difference between salvation and sorrow.

I am pretty sure we all agree life should be respected as the most sacred creation of our kind and loving Creator, and the majority of us place protection of the innocent above the needs of those who should be responsible for their own decisions. At the same time, some people find themselves in circumstances that no other human being can understand, with some of those circumstances being no fault of their own. Because of that, and the desire for a less intrusive government, it would be wise for all of us to take a step back and listen to someone who may know more than we do about the effects such trauma may have on an individual.

I believe as Americans we all basically agree that the individual should be free to pursue his own happiness. We agree that our greater good as a community is the greatest responsibility of our government at all levels; we differ about the exact definition of “greater good” sometimes, but generally we agree it is best to return to the sanctity of life as a measure of responsibility for our government.

The issues of health care and abortion are two places I see where people of a conservative value set can learn a little bit. Within the confines of fiscal and moral responsibility we can present our case to, and make agreements with those who see the other side of these highly contentious issues.

I personally understand the abortion situation from both sides; when I was a teenager, my girlfriend got pregnant. Blessed to have good parents to guide us, we were given the choice of abortion with our parents’ understanding, but instead we opted for adoption. To this day I am overwhelmingly grateful that in our youth and relative ignorance about the incredible decision we had before us, two young people listened to voices of those with more wisdom than we could ever understand. We agreed that the life we would save was far more valuable than our own desire to avoid peer pressure. We didn’t take the easy way out; we did the right thing. I believe more often than not people will do the right thing when difficult circumstances arise, just as my girlfriend and I did in the midst of an emotional firestorm.

When I moved here to Arizona in February, 2001 I was very active, and I was specifically very into mountain biking. There’s quite a bit of personal history that led to my move here and I’ll be writing more about that in the coming days, weeks, and months. But for the sake of this discussion, suffice it to say I was young, limited in finances, and running from emotional troubles to find a fresh start.

One hot day in late May, just a couple months after my arrival in my new home city, I flipped my bike as I was riding down a very steep blacktop road. I tore myself up really, really bad. I had road rash all across my left arm and shoulder, my hands were shredded, both my arms had small fractures in them, half my left ear was dangling by threads of skin, and I hit my head so hard I was on concussion monitors for two full days and nights.

And I had no medical insurance, because although I was working two jobs to make ends meet, neither offered me insurance because I was a new hire.

I was given the care I needed, because that is what is required of hospitals at the emergency level my injuries met. I was required to fill out a truckload of paperwork; financial disclosures, mostly.

The thing that worked against me which I had no control over was this wonderful gift my parents had created for me at some point in my youth; a “whole” life insurance policy. That policy had a cash value which exceeded the amount designated by the hospital and state as eligible to receive government assistance, by about twenty dollars. And because of those terms dictated between the hospital and the state of Arizona, I was sent home with about $20,000 of hospital bills.

I decided my top priority was payments to the surgeon who did the plastic surgery on my ear, because I felt his particular expertise was most worthy of my effort to do right. He did keep me looking pretty handsome, after all…

I wanted to be responsible and pay all the bills, but I was never able to, and ultimately I ended up in a situation that was so dire I filed bankruptcy. It wasn’t a proud moment, but I used the resources available to me through the American economic system to wipe my slate clean and have a fresh opportunity, and since then I am proud to say I’ve been responsible to those who extend me credit.

My story falls in line with the reasoning presented by supporters of “Obamacare,” yet I vehemently opposed the concept, and largely still do. I received treatment for the injuries I needed taken care of as would be expected regardless of my fiscal circumstance, and when I was not able to be responsible to the costs of that treatment I worked within the system to alleviate myself of the burden caused by the costs of the help I received. I don’t know all the details of the other side of a bankruptcy case, except that my creditors were notified and given opportunity to petition the case in open court as my hearing was held.

I understand there are circumstances more extreme than mine. The idea that people are refused treatment for conditions beyond their control due to credit worthiness is very difficult for me to comprehend, and I pray my family and I never face such a situation. People who are born with conditions beyond their control certainly deserve to be treated humanely; I don’t know if there is a line to be drawn, but I do maintain my position as life being sacred so I am open to discussion.

Yet there must remain the standard of individual responsibility. People cannot just expect that they can live life however they wish, consequences be damned, and that the “greater good” will look out for them when their irresponsibility catches up with them. Some things people do to themselves cause illnesses or medical conditions that clearly could have been prevented by understanding what it means to be accountable to one’s own actions. Just as elections have consequences, so do cigarettes, alcohol, Big Macs and cheesy poofs. And when your fingers turn orange, the junk food may be tasty but it’s destroying your insides. Try a salad and a banana, you’ll thank me for it later.

Somewhere between Karl Marx and John Galt, I believe we will indeed find Superman. We will never find our Superman through the cult of personality of a politician which is what we saw happen right before our eyes in 2008. I believe we will find Superman within ourselves, if we all just listen a little more closely to one another.

We need to listen to our coworkers, fellow students, neighbors and friends. We must listen to and learn from our parents, and we must teach our children well. We must listen to, and always hold close the love we share with our brothers and sisters, both those tied to us through the bond of blood and those with whom we've never spoken, those whom we may never see again.

I am learning to see the bigger picture through communication with those people I hold most close to my heart. I am learning to speak my mind with my voice. My voice is my writing, mostly; I am also learning to speak more clearly and more distinctly in the spoken word, which I believe is greatly improving my ability to communicate in written form. While I’ve not perfected communication yet and likely never will, I know my greatest strength comes when my words are polite, yet strong and certain. I am learning to make the extra effort to listen closely to those with opinions different than my own.

I am learning more and more every day to value each and every second of this wonderful existence we call life. I am learning to appreciate the little things in life, while being constantly amazed by the magnificence of the world around me. It is a wonderfully unpredictable journey, this thing called life, and I’m so grateful I am learning to recognize the important role I can play in society, even though I am just one individual amongst a world of so many other unique and wonderful voices.

It took me a long time and a lot of hardship to understand, but today I understand that it’s in my best interest to control my own destiny rather than accept the fate that befalls me. So it is with that in mind I am making the extra effort to take ownership and responsibility for every step I take, every word I speak, and every act I make toward my fellow man. Sometimes I will stumble, because to err is human after all, and I am just a man, no greater than any other man, yet I feel a deep yearning to reach higher, to become the greatest man I can be. I may not be Superman, or maybe I am. Maybe I’m a little more Clark Kent on a daily basis, but when that moment arrives I’ll have my cape ready.

I am learning to be the ball. I am learning to make the effort seize the day, every day. I push myself to saddle up, grab hold the reins and hold on tight. I do all this because after all, this is the world we live in and these are the hands we’re given. So I will use them; my hands, my words, my ears, and my heart. I will use the tools given to me by the grace of God, and I will use them always trying to make this a place worth living in.

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