I’m Sticking to It

Just yesterday, I stopped at a traffic light behind a Lexus SUV with three stickers on the painted portion of the rear hatch. One was an image of a US flag with the word pray in the blue field where the stars go. The second said something about prayer and the USA, but I forget exactly what it said. But the third pressed my ponder button.

The sticker said, “I am Christian, and I vote.” My first thought was I am not and so do I. I like stickers, but I seldom put them on my car. When I do, they get peeled off when the election or whatever reason for them has passed. But my laptop and iPad are covered with them (nonpolitical).

I cannot consider the …I Vote sticker as anything other than a political threat or intimidation intended to state the owner’s political and governmental priority. That would be the Christian religion. I could not determine if they were Evangelical Protestant, Mainline Protestant, or Catholic. But I suspect one of the first two since while papists consider themselves the original Christians, they usually use Catholic.

Another bumper sticker I saw about 10 years ago said, “You cannot be both Catholic and Pro-Choice.” It was about then that I took my money and left the Catholic Church (the religion). It had nothing to do with the bumper sticker. But how’d that work for them?

So, the person in the Lexus likely opposes any separation of church and state (as long the church side is Christian). They claim to be one of 215-million US citizens identifying as Christian (now 65%, down from 75% in 2015, according to PEW Research), and one of the 16-million Texans (53% says ASARB) who identify as such.

I must assume the Lexus Christian has no qualms forcing his or her religious beliefs onto non-Christians. What a strange way to wring out freedom of religion (so long as it’s Christian) from the US Constitution. And they are downright proud of it, in a much holier than thou sort of way.

Then I pondered on with ideas for I’m (something), and I vote stickers. My ideas:

I’m old and I vote. I’m (single, married, divorced) and I vote. I eat bacon and I vote (hello CA).

I’m bald and I vote. I’m non-denominational and I vote. I’m an Aggie and I vote.

I drink and I vote (but not at the same time). I’m (Irish, German, Mexican, Swedish, Mediterranean, Apache, or ???) and I vote.

I’m atheist and I vote. I worship Satan and I vote. I’m (rich, poor, middle income) and I vote (and hopefully pay taxes). I’m antigovernment and I vote anyway.

I read and I vote. I’m a writer, artist, creative person, and I vote. I’m a teacher and I vote. I’m a flat Earther and I vote. I’m an old yellow dog and I vote.

I’m a (vegetarian, vegan, meat eater, vampire) and I vote. I’m a nudist and I vote. I’m a pluviophile and I vote. I am apathetic and I vote (I just don’t care).

I’m snarkastic and I vote. I like rock and roll, and I vote. I (do or don’t) own a gun or play golf, and I vote. I drink coffee and I vote. I can dance and I vote.

How about you? Do you vote? Do you have any stickers on your car, bike, computer, or whatever?

Bill

I Didn’t Know

Twenty-five years ago, I began to find comfort in admitting I was wrong when I realized or thought I was. Who knew? Before that, being right was important. Then, poof—it wasn’t.

To that 12-step teaching (tenth step, admitting wrong) I would add fewer apologies, or saying “I’m sorry” when I was harmlessly wrong. Out of habit, I still say it when I do no harm. But I try not to. I’ve decided apologizing too much might reduce the sincerity of my true contrition when something was mea culpa.

I’ve had ideas. We all do. Most of mine have been based on nothing more than my personal preference or life experiences. When what I thought I knew turned out to be wrong, admitting that simply ended things. Life continued peacefully.

This morning, on his Patheos.com blog, I read James H. Haught’s piece, “Skepticism is All About Honesty” (July 21, 2021, FFRF). Therein, he relates a eureka moment when someone told him the “answer” is “I don’t know.” I recall speakers and teachers admitting temporary ignorance but promising to return after some research. Many did. It is a good way to go.

Haught goes on to write, “To me, the bottom line is honesty. A person with integrity doesn’t claim to know supernatural things that he or she cannot know.” I agree, but my reasons are little more personal and emotional.

Of course, honesty is important. Claiming to possess knowledge one cannot possibly have is not only dishonest, everyone knows of the dishonesty, except for the delusional (as so many are). But when I realized that I could say I don’t know to any question, I felt a sense of relief that is still difficult for me to describe.

I don’t know how the universe came to be, if our solar system was a coincidence, or if there is life in any form after death. I don’t know of life in other galaxies. I have no idea if nature has consciousness or what that might look like. I have no clue about why so many humans are either evil or good. I don’t know if human energy is healing. I do not need to know any of that.

When someone tells me, “There must be something,” such as a god or consciousness, I ask, “why must there be?” There certainly might be, could be, or we may like there to be. Something may feel good or be comforting about ideas. I get that. Indeed, there may be a cause or a reason for things that happen. But I’m not feeling the must, as in compelled by fate or natural law, or any other definition of must.

I’m unopposed to differing hypotheses or opinions, but that is what most proposed answers are, something less than a theory. If there is scientific evidence, proof, or if a concrete theory is developed and tested, that would be wonderful. Until then, I don’t know. If I find out, I’ll get back with you. I assume you will do likewise.

I cannot say I am sorry that I do not believe what others do, or that I think something true they may deny. If I am wrong and someone convinces me of that, fine. It happens. If I learn something I did not know, even better. But if no skin was removed from any part of anyone’s anatomy (or wallet), I am unlikely to apologize for being wrong. I was wrong and I am not sorry.

Xin loi (xin lỗi, pronounced zin-loy) is a polite Vietnamese phrase which literally means excuse me or pardon me. I like it. However, during the Viet Nam War, American soldiers used the phrase sardonically to mean something like sorry about that (or worse). When I’m mistaken, I’d like to say excuse me or pardon me. But, since xin loi was hijacked, I will settle for saying excusez moi, perhaps with a wee touch of snarkastic arrogance, for which I am so sorry.

Bill


Poetry: To Be Chosen

To be chosen, preferred, favored
from among the many typed or penned
by Him,
to be selected as a creation
of Creations,
to know this favoritism
is of His own doing
brings light with pleasure.

Gratification being a true piece
of self,
of Him,
of art.

Is there to be joy
in words
or pity for the many
not so selected?

How does the poem know the poet?

He who worked weeks
to trickle a passive single
or wildly, emotionally
swinging for the fence
and finding a home run
from the glory of gut—
if it is sin, prideful sin.

Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (FOWC): transient

Essay: That Uneasy Feeling

The problem of homeless folks wandering about this part of town had grown and was written-up in The Times. The panhandlers had become more aggressive and demanding, bordering on threatening extortion.

As I walked through the park, I admired all the happy people, children playing, observant pets, but no sign of the city’s human nuisances. I walked into one of the ubiquitous coffee shops. As I waited, out the window all seemed well.

I walked out with a drink in my hand and turned toward the 8th Street bridge to walk back to our condo. I could feel his approach before I saw him. Then his footsteps matched mine. When I slowed, he slowed. Walking faster, he followed.

The small talk began as he walked beside me. He said he was a transient from New York City. I was blunt. He accused me of being rude. He was right.

I hesitated at a trash can and dropped my coffee cup in. He stopped too. I just stood there. He did not leave my side.

When I noticed the police-car parked up the street, I headed directly for it. He asked me where I was going. I asked why he was following me. He said he was just being friendly. I told him to leave me alone. I heard him mumble some expletive.

I leaned over. Looking into the car, I asked the two officers for directions to Washington Street, where the condo was located. I knew the way but complaining about being harassed would have divulged my own transient status. Technically, the man had indeed been friendly and had not harmed or threatened me.

After they told me the way, I stood up, looked in all directions, and started jogging back. He was gone.

I felt a little guilty when I walked into the condo we had rented for the week. I told my wife that I had changed my mind about moving to Seattle. When she asked why, I told her that I had decided we couldn’t afford it. Too many coffee shops. Maybe we should try New York.

FOWC with Fandango — Transient

Fandango’s One-Word Challenge – Poetic

Otherwise known as FOWC. A poem for poetic karma.

***

Some like to call it karma,
I much prefer poetic justice,
a revenge as sweet as the Mystic River.

Preachers, teachers, political thugs
All due a bit of comeuppance.
Some days I wish there was a hell.

I know that life is seldom fair,
and I know I really shouldn’t care,
yet smile I must, as they get theirs.

***