In the United States, bakeries the nation over have become the new “front” in the fight for equality for the GLBT community that is rapidly turning into a fight to maintain the First Amendment right to freedom of religion.
In several states over the last year or two, bakeries have refused to bake cakes for gay weddings, stating that “gay marriage” is against their religious beliefs and that they have a right to practice those religious beliefs even at work, therefore they are not required to bake a cake for a gay couple.
One bakery in Colorado refused to bake cakes for Halloween and bachelor parties because these too violate their religious beliefs. They seemed to imply that since no one is suing them to force them to bake cakes for these occasions, this proves it is a religious belief and therefore protected under the First Amendment.
There’s only one problem. The analogy doesn’t fit.
When one refuses to bake cakes for Halloween or bachelor parties, they’re not baking them for ANY Halloween or bachelor party, whether gay or straight. However, they DO back wedding cakes for straight couples and refuse to do so for gay couples. That is blatant discrimination and the First Amendment does not grant a public business the right to discriminate.
There are religions that are still being practiced today in which the belief exists that the races are not meant to “intermix”. Interracial marriages are against their faith and yet not once has it been reported that a bakery refused to bake a cake for an interracial couple. (There was a judge/justice of the peace in Louisiana who, in 2009, refused to marry an interracial couple because he did not believe in interracial marriages and there was a massive public outcry, even from those who support the ban on gay marriages that exist in most of the states of this nation.) This kind of discrimination is not tolerated in society anymore, although it was only in 1968 that the US Supreme Court overturned the laws that banned marriage between blacks and whites in the Loving v Virginia case.
There are religions who do not believe in interfaith marriages, yet there are no stories about bakeries who refuse to bake cakes for an interfaith couple. It is understood that everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and their own religion and that what one does in one’s personal life (ie, marrying someone of a different faith) is not up to anyone but the persons involved.
But apparently, there are those who believe it is their right to impose their religious beliefs on others through the refusal of services based on “deeply held religious beliefs”. In order to “protect” this “right”, many states are seeking to pass “religious liberty” laws that essentially gives someone the “right” to discriminate against anyone who violates their “deeply held beliefs.”
Where does this “right” end? It is my deeply held religious belief that left-handed people are agents of Satan (don’t laugh: that was once a widely held belief and it is one of the main reasons that we shake hands with our right hands and not our left!) Does that mean I can refuse to serve anyone who is left-handed? What if I am a doctor and it is my deeply held religious belief that single mothers are violating God’s laws? Am I allowed to refuse to treat single mothers? What if I’m a loan officer at a bank and I think that interracial people are abominations (a word often used by some Christians to describe gays)? Am I allowed to refuse to provide a loan to an individual who is Asian and black? What if I’ve got a house to rent and I believe that anyone who drinks alcohol is violating God’s laws? Am I allowed to evict my tenant if I see him/her drinking a beer?
Every single person in this world has the right to live his or her life as s/he sees fit according to the beliefs they hold dear. However, in order to create a society, there is really only one way in which everyone’s right to live this kind of life can be respected, and that is by voluntarily limiting your own actions so they don’t interfere with everyone else’s rights. But since some in society won’t do that, governments are created to make sure they do by passing laws against things like murder, rape, theft, assault, etc.
Forbidding discrimination is NOT violating someone else’s religious beliefs because providing a service to someone does not imply acceptance of, endorsement of, agreement with or condoning of their beliefs or their “lifestyle” (being gay is not a lifestyle, but that’s another article). Simply because one bakes a gay couple a cake for their wdding does NOT mean that one supports homosexuality, that one agrees with gay marriage, that one condones homosexual relationships or that one endorses the “gay agenda” (which doesn’t really exist but that too is another article). It simply means that one is not allowed to impose his/her religious beliefs/standards on others.
There is no need to create laws to protect “religious liberty” because that is already done in the First Amendment to the US Constitution. The “religious liberty” laws that are being written and enacted right now are nothing more than legalizing discrimination, something which we’ve been slowly eliminating over the years by recognizing the violation of the rights of women and other minorities and correcting those violations through laws. To now turn around and write legalized discrimination into the law is a step backwards and is blatantly unconstitutional.
I was recently in a discussion with someone about a well-known quasi-religious figure who is head of one of the largest right wing organizations in the US. This individual believes in a doctrine called “second grace”, which holds that someone who has undergone a second “moment of grace” from God is incapable of sinning ever again. Even if s/he were to willingly choose to sin, s/he could not do it because of “second grace”. In the hands of this particular individual, that is a frightening idea because in his mind, NOTHING he does is a sin! EVERYTHING he does, no matter how he accomplishes it, must be God’s will because he is unable to do anything that is contrary to God’s will due to having undergone this moment of “second grace”.
The other person in this discussion had never heard of the doctrine of “second grace” and as I was explaining it to her, I was struck by the fact that the CwG material also teaches us that nothing we do is contrary to God’s will. However, the difference in the teachings is the context in which they’re taught: the doctrine of “second grace” is taught from the context of a separation from God and the CwG material is taught from the context of Oneness with God. And it is this difference that makes all the difference in how these doctrines operate in the “real world”.
With the belief that we are all One with God comes the realization that we are also One with each other and that what we do to others, we are also doing to ourselves and therefore we seek to treat others with the same Love and Respect and Dignity that we want from others.
With the belief that we are separate from God, there is the “need” to “reunite” with God, which naturally infers that there is a “right” way to do so and a “wrong” way to do so. The wrong ways are called “sin”. But the soul recognizes that we are NOT separate even if the mind says we are, so to resolve this internal conflict, the mind creates a belief that allows us to recognize that we cannot violate God’s will, although the belief in separateness says that only those who have already done enough things the “right” way can reach this point.
This got me thinking about other doctrines in the teachings of organized religion that “mirror” the things God reminds us of in the CwG material. I realized that there are a lot more teachings in the context of organized religion that I absolutely disagree with but in the context of our Oneness with God and with each other, make perfect sense. However, like the doctrine of “second grace”, these religious teachings are “warped” by the fears instilled in us by the belief of separateness.
Take, for example, the belief that is one of the cornerstones of the Christian faith: that Jesus came to save us and to “pay the price” for our sins with his death on the cross. In the CwG material, God reminds us that there is nothing from which we need to be saved because nothing we do lessens God’s Love for us. During his life, Jesus told us many times of our oneness with God and with each other. However, he also knew that there would be those who would hear the underlying truth of his message and those who would not. For those who could not set aside their fear caused by the belief of separateness, Jesus’ death provided them with the hope they needed to continue to believe that they would one day be “reunited” with God. They were therefore “saved” from our fear of death because Jesus was willing to “pay” with his physical life, which also demonstrated to those who could understand that death is an illusion.
So the next time you hear someone talking about a belief they hold dear that you simply cannot accept, ask yourself what the belief would be like in the context of the Oneness with God versus the separateness of organized religion. You will find that every religious belief that may not make sense to you makes perfect sense in the context of Oneness.
Last month in the United States saw the return of CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) in which the conservative political groups get together and toot their own horn and hold a straw vote as to who they want to see run for president in 2016. And as the reports on CPAC speakers began emerging, I was utterly amazed as how the definitions of some words have been twisted to the point where they mean exactly the opposite of what the common definition holds them to mean.
For example, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie stated that the Republican party is the party of “tolerance”. Say what? This is the party who has, 50 times now, tried to repeal the Affordable Health Care act, something that the Republican party’s 2012 candidate, Mitt Romney, advocated for and signed into law in Massachusetts years prior to Obama’s becoming president. This is the party who is pushing for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as one man and one woman. This is the party who considers some human beings “illegal aliens” (as if a human being could be illegal!) and who refuses to lift a finger to help the poor and the unemployed/underemployed. This is the party who is making a concerted effort to block the ability of the poor and minorities to vote in the next presidential election, both through laws requiring voter ID cards and through redistricting. This is the party who believes that a woman’s body won’t get pregnant if she is raped and seeks to refuse to allow a woman to have an abortion for any reason. This is tolerance?
During a panel discussion, right-wing talk show host Michael Medved claimed that gay marriages have never been banned by any state in the US. Of course, that’s because a gay person can get married IF they marry someone of the opposite gender. Racists used the same argument for not getting rid of laws that banned blacks from marrying whites: blacks could get married as long as they married another black person! We weren’t violating their civil rights by not allowing them to marry who they loved!
Michelle Bachmann, once a candidate for the US presidency, says that gays are “bullying” the American public and contends that the bill recently vetoed by Arizona’s governor that would have allowed legal discrimination against gays based on deeply held religious beliefs was about same sex marriage and had nothing to do with gays! This redefining of “bullying” is an insult to those who are truly being bullied.
Mark Sanford, former governor of South Carolina, claims that the federal government did NOT “shut down” last October! I guess not conducting business for fifteen or sixteen days is just an extended break for Sandford. (Of course, this is the man who told everyone he’d be hiking the Appalachian Trail and then took a flight to Argentina to be with his mistress. I never new the Appalachian Trail went that far south!)
The Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber recently compared the “persecution” of anti-gay business owners to that of the Jews under the Nazi regime. (Liberty Counsel is closely associated with Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University (Falwell of Moral Majority fame)). Such a comparison degrades the true horror of the Jewish persecutions of the Holocaust.
Scott Lively, a virulently anti-gay pastor, called Vladimir Putin a “defender of true human rights”!
Fred Phelps (who has nothing to do with CPAC) is another example of how the meanings of words have been twisted. Fred, who recently celebrated his transition day, ran the notorious “God Hates Fags” and “God Hates America” websites (along with a lot of other sites of groups God hates), believed that he was being loving by picketing the funerals of soldiers who died in Iraq or Afghanistan because unless we stop being a “fag-enabling” country, according to Fred, we’re all going to end up in hell. So by making us aware that “God hates fags”, Fred was doing something very loving and trying to save our souls. (It was recently revealed that Fred had been kicked out of the Westboro Baptist Church, the church he started and who organizes and participates in the picketing of funerals, several months before his death.)
There is a renewed push for laws to protect what has been termed “religious liberty”. While this sounds like a wonderful idea, what it is really pushing for are laws that would allow people in the public sector (business owners, landlords, etc.) to discriminate against someone who violated their “deeply held religious beliefs”. In other words, legalized discrimination.
The fracking industry is running commercials on television and radio about how safe fracking is for the country and the benefits that fracking provides us by making us more energy independent. And yet in 2012, the fracking industry produced more than 280 billion gallons of toxic wastewater (which doesn’t include the other toxins produced by fracking, such as methan poisoning of groundwater tables, which the fracking industry claims doesn’t happen.) Much of that wastewater was produced in states that are in the midst of droughts and in states where water is a scarce resource. There has been a marked increase in the number of earthquakes in the states in which there is a lot of fracking as well. In Oklahoma, for example, there has been average of about 75 earthquakes of 2.5 magnitude or greater in the four year period from 2009-2012. In 2013, that number jumped to 222. And if the pace of the first six weeks of 2014 continues, Oklahoma will experience a whopping 780+ earthquakes this year! (Source) And when they wanted to frack near the home of an Exxon Mobile corporate bigwig? He joined a lawsuit to prevent it from damaging his property value. But it’s “safe”!
Don’t get me wrong: this kind of thing has been happening for a very long time. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Maggie Gallagher, Pat Robertson, James Dobson (just to name a few): all these right wingers have been twisting the meaning of words for years. Some for decades. (Yes, it happens in the Democratic party and among liberal causes as well, but these groups have nowhere near the media coverage and exposure as the conservatives.)
But what is surprising is how blatant the distortions are becoming. And what is frightening is that many recent studies have shown that there is something called the “backfire” effect. This means when you explain the distortion to people and explain the real truth, they become MORE likely to believe the distortion is true!
And the problem isn’t just with the famous (or infamous). It’s among the “common” folks as well. Just the other day, a friend of mine posted a cartoon in which one character stated that she was pro-choice and the other asked a series of questions like “Can I choose to smoke?” and “Can I choose to drink a large soda?” The first character always replied “No” and gave some reason like “It’s bad for you.” After six such questions, the second character asked “What can I choose?” and the first answered “An abortion.”
I pointed out to my friend that this cartoon was filled with lies because people CAN smoke, they just can’t smoke in public where their smoke will be breathed by others who do not smoke. (Her response was “Then don’t go to places that allow smoking”, but if that’s everywhere, then what choice do I have but to sit at home?) I demonstrated to her that every statement was a lie, except of course that one can (for now) choose to have an abortion, usually after jumping through a bunch of hoops.
She replied that the cartoon was just an opinion and everyone was entitled to an opinion. I proceeded to explain to her that opinions have no right/wrong and cannot be shown to be demonstrably true or false. And she simply repeated that she was entitled to her opinion, as if repeating it was just an opinion would change the definition of opinion!
What, you might ask, does this have to do with the Global Conversation?
Our goal, so to speak, is to open a dialogue so that we can discuss possible changes in that which we have refused to change (or even discuss really!) for the past 2000 years: our understanding of God. It is going to be challenging to hold a meaningful discussion if the different sides of the conversation don’t even have the same meaning for words.
We are going to have to find ways around, over or through this very large hurdle if this dialogue is to take place. Talking amongst ourselves really accomplishes nothing because we’re “preaching to the choir”. We know we have to change and expand our beliefs about God and our Oneness and the role of humanity in this universe. The key is to get others involved in the conversation in order to have a chance to create the kind of world we all say we want: a world of peace in which we all live according to the beliefs we hold dear, respecting the rights of everyone else to do the same.
When people don’t even agree on the definitions of words because the national figures that support their current beliefs twist words so that they mean sometimes exactly the opposite of what they actually mean, this conversation becomes much more difficult. Not impossible, mind you. But more difficult. And it becomes all the more urgent because now, before we can even begin to discuss expanding our beliefs about God, we have to find common ground once more on what we mean when we say “compassion” and “tolerance” and “liberty”.
If you call someone a “Judas”, most people in the western world will understand that you’re calling someone a traitor or a false friend or a turncoat. Someone who will “sell out” their friends. Someone who values money above human life and above truth and above Love.
The reference, of course, is to Judas Iscariot, who, according to most interpretations of the four gospels of the Christian Bible, betrayed Jesus to the Romans for 30 silver pieces. Most people seem to despise Judas and blame him for the death of the Son of God. For his part, according to some accounts, Judas felt so guilty that he later hung himself and, if asked, most people would suggest that he now rots in hell in eternal torment.
I have a very different view of Judas. Jesus states that one of his twelve chosen disciples will betray him. And he knows it’s Judas. So if Judas is not “in on” the plan for Jesus to be crucified, then God/Jesus is using Judas as a pawn, against his free will. And this is something that God will not do! Therefore, Judas is an integral part of Jesus’ soul’s plan: to be crucified and rise from the dead after three days to show all of humanity that death is not the end. That life and Love go one forever without end.
And, in fact, if it were NOT for Judas’ “betrayal”, the Romans would have had no reason to crucify Jesus and his soul’s agenda would have been unfulfilled. The way Jesus led his life, the only way TO be crucified was to have Judas “betray him”. So if it was NOT Judas’ choice to help Jesus to fulfill his soul’s agenda, then he was “used” by God/Jesus and that is simply not possible.
So I believe that Judas accepted the role of Jesus’ betrayer, knowing full well that his name would be vilified and demonized for thousands of years afterwards. That he would be hated and scorned and, if others had their way, would be severely punished for his “betrayal”. I view Judas as Jesus most trusted friend. As the one who Loved Jesus the most because he was willing to be forever hated to help Jesus fulfill is soul’s agenda.
So when police in Missouri recently arrested Craig Michael Wood on suspicion of murdering 10-year-old Hailey Owens and later reportedly found child porn on Wood’s computer, my initial reaction was the same as everyone else. “What a monster! Lock him up and throw away the key!”
Then I remembered Judas.
Most Christians— both back then and nowadays— would, I think, have said the same thing about Judas. “Lock him up and throw away the key!” (As an aside, many of the comments I read on various news sites and social media sites proposed punishment for Wood (who is still innocent until proven guilty in our legal system!) and other pedophiles/child murderers that was much more cruel, violent and ruthless than simply removing him from society for the rest of his life!)
Judas sacrificed his “good name” and his “reputation” for the greater good. Jesus chose to die the kind of death he did to help every soul who lived after him to remember that death is not the end. Judas accepted the scorn and contempt of generations that would follow him to help Jesus get this message out to the world.
God tells us in CwG that there are no victims and there are no villains, even if it appears that way sometimes. So Craig Michael Wood is not a villain and Hailey Owens is not a victim, although most people will see it that way. On some level, their souls (apparently— remember innocent until proven guilty) chose to meet in this lifetime in this manner so that we, collectively as the human race, might learn from the experience. So that we might be able to more fully express our divinity after Hailey’s death.
Please understand, I do not condone what Wood has been accused of doing. But I recognize that there are many, many souls alive today that sacrifice their physical, mental and even emotional well-being to provide us with opportunities to demonstrate Who We Really Are. As history has demonstrated to us over and over, and as personal experience has shown us over and over, it is the most trying times and the most heinous acts that give us the greatest opportunity to grow the most spiritually.
I am relatively certain that many people reading this are going to be very angry at my words. At the challenge they present us as Divine Children of God to Love everyone, even the “least of our brothers”, unconditionally. Maybe even at me. Some may even think I’m as “bad” as her alleged murderer for suggesting that Hailey “planned” this and that Wood was (allegedly) helping her fulfill her soul’s agenda.
That’s okay, because sometimes I myself wonder if these kinds of thoughts are “valid”. And yet when I look back on my life, I realize how many important relationships in my life were with survivors of childhood abuse. I volunteer to help in domestic violence shelters and on sexual assault hotlines. I wonder if maybe the reason for so many relationships of all kinds with survivors of abuse is so that I could think these very thoughts. That I could come to understand that even those who society despises the most are still Divine Children of God. Are still worthy of unconditional Love. Are still contributing members of the human race.
What message was Hailey Owens trying to get out to the world? Did Craig Michael Wood give up his “good name” just as Judas did by committing an act that most of us find vile and inexcusable? What message was he trying to teach the world? And, just as importantly, are we willing to learn those lessons?
I remember the exact date that my path in life began going in directions I had never even thought about. It was February 5, 1983. I was going to be the DM for a group of friends who were getting together to play Dungeons & Dragons at the apartment of a girl I worked with at a fast food restaurant. Her boyfriend had driven out to one of his classmate’s houses to bring him into the city to play. The minute his friend walked into the room, I turned to my co-worker, who was sitting beside me, and said, “I’m going to marry that man.” I was so sure (without any reason to be sure! I didn’t even know his name at this point!) that I asked him to move in with me that night and two weeks later, he did just that.
His beliefs were about as far from the Roman Catholic up-bringing as they could be and it was through many long talks with him that I started down the spiritual path that led me to my current faith (or, as I prefer to call it, knowledge!) On that journey, I learned from my different teachers: Richard Bach, Shirley MacLaine, Louise Hay, Marianne Williamson, Ann Hardin Strauss, June Burke, Neale Donald Walsch,…the list is long. While every one of those teachers had a different way of explaining what they were teaching, they were ultimately teaching the same thing: that we are where we are in our life because of choices we have made, either consciously or on deep soul level.
I have shared my beliefs with many people over the last 30 years in many different ways through many different forums and I have found that most people are very resistant to the idea that they are the co-creators of their universe. One would think that such an idea would be joyously embraced! We no longer have to feel victimized! We can feel empowered and make choices as to where we want our life to go with total freedom! But so many people get caught in a trap, confusing responsibility with blame.
To say that there are no victims immediately puts someone’s defenses up. “What about someone who is raped? What about children who are abused? What about the couple who are sleeping in their beds and someone comes in an murders them? Are you saying they’re responsible for their own rape? Their own abuse? Their own murders?”
Yes, I assure them, that is exactly what I’m saying.
Before I can clarify anymore, the response that follows is usually something along the lines of, “You have one screwed up belief system if you think those people are to blame for the things that happened to them through no fault of their own!”
Responsibility and blame are not the same thing. We often use the words interchangeably but they are vastly different in this spiritual context.
Responsibility means simply that one acknowledges that one’s choices have co-created the situation in which they find themselves. For example, for the couple murdered in their beds, they chose where to live, they chose whether or not to be home that night, they chose to be sleeping at that time. What other deep soul choices they made are not something we can determine, but it is certain that they were made because otherwise the event would not have happened!
Blame, on the other hand, implies that someone did something wrong. (Yes, I know that there really is no such thing as “right” or “wrong”, but these are the limitations of our language when discussing these issues.) That if they had done “X” instead of “Y”, they could have avoided being murdered. Moreover, blame can also imply that the person should have known better than to choose “X” and should have no better and chosen “Y” from the start!
The couple who is murdered is not responsible for the actions of their murderer. They are only responsible for their own actions and choices. Those choices, along with those of the murderer, were such that at that point in time, their choices brought them all into the same time and space. At that moment when their “timelines” crossed, the murderer had several choices and the couple is not responsible for any of them.
I think another reason so many people have difficulty with the concept of being responsible for where we are in life is that they don’t believe that someone would make a soul choice that would result in their being subjected to rape or abuse or murder. The idea that someone would “sacrifice” their long-term physical safety in order to allow their fellow human beings to demonstrate Who They Really Are is something many people seem to be unable to accept. The reasons for that, in my humble opinion, can be traced back to religious ideals. But that’s discussion is for another day.
I think the following short story illustrates the idea of “sacrifice” very nicely.
I know a man who had a very abusive father. I once asked this man, in the early stages of my new spiritual journey, why he would choose to have an abusive father.
His answer was simple and yet eloquent. “Because I had the ability to stop the cycle of abuse.”
Accepting responsibility is not the same as accepting blame. Accepting responsibility empowers us to take control of our lives and make it what we want it to be. It allows us to respond to life in whatever manner we choose! Accepting blame relegates us to being victims of another’s actions. We must react to what life gives us and give up control of our lives to those who have “victimized” us.
Which option sounds better to you?
Apologies to the rest of the world, but this is aimed more at the advertising industry in the United States and how they use the subconscious mind to brainwash Americans into believing that a.) there’s something “wrong” with them, b.) they should be ashamed of what’s “wrong” with them, c.) if they don’t fix what’s “wrong” with them they will never be happy and d.) that that advertiser has THE perfect fix for what “ails” them.
Make no mistake: the advertising industry is fully aware of what they are doing. They spend billions of dollars each year coming up with ads that send subtle messages to the subconscious mind. Have you noticed how, in the last 20 years, the pace of many commercials has gone from dialog to a head-spinning flash of images and words and music? The conscious mind is often not able to take in the huge quantity of images and sounds and but the subconscious mind remembers everything. But without guidance from the conscious mind, the subconscious draws its own conclusions from what it sees and hears.
There are several commercials for a medication that treats plaque psoriasis, a skin disease that creates red, raised often scaly patches of skin. It is a disease of the immune system. It’s not something you can catch from someone else; it’s not something you get because you don’t have good hygiene; it’s in no way an indication of what kind of person you are. And yet if you watch the commercial for the medication, you are led to believe that you should be embarrassed and ashamed because you have plaque psoriasis. I understand people are going to judge others based on appearance, but rather than suggesting that those who need the medication not give into the stigmatization of those who have the disease, it reinforces the stigma by showing people staring at the red patches and then walking away or looking at the person with plaque psoriasis with scorn. It even talks about the “embarrassing” problems of plaque psoriasis.
Then there’s the commercials for incontinent products. They promise to ship them in plain brown boxes so that no one knows what you’re getting. They too say something about no more embarrassing trips to the store. Incontinence is a medical condition! It has a plethora of causes, ranging from traumatic injury to cancer to old age.
Women have been told they must shave their legs and their underarms and to that end the business world has developed razors with built-in moisturizers, waxes, sprays and even some hair-removal piece of equipment that fits in the palm of your hand. No more embarrassing hair issues! As if where the hair on your body grows is within your control, so you should be embarrassed if it grows where society says it shouldn’t grow!
Men are not immune to being shamed by commercials! You’re not a “real man” unless your body looks like the ones on those body building commercials. Or unless you can achieve an erection at the drop of a hat!
Both men and women have been told they should be ashamed if they’re experiencing thinning hair, as if it is within their control how much of their hair they lose during their lifetime. Testimonials from satisfied clients talk about how embarrassed they were by their appearance before they had their treatment.
And these are just some of the things that we humans really don’t have any control over, but according to the advertisers, we should still be ashamed that this is an issue in our life!
Then, of course, there’s your common, everyday commercials that suggest that your car isn’t big enough, fast enough or have enough gadgets to hold your head up in the neighborhood. Or you’re not eating the right foods or drinking the best bottled water or wearing the correct shoes or your dishes aren’t spot free and if you just buy their brand, you’ll be on top of the world and everyone will look up to you and respect you and think what an amazing person you are.
The advertisements don’t always have to be on television either. Magazines that are supposed to be “empowering” women have ads on virtually every other page that tell women they look too old and need some cream or treatment to prevent aging, that they don’t look really pretty unless you wear a certain eye liner or mascara or foundation, and, of course, your hair has to colored so that no one can see any grey because God forbid you be proud of your grey hairs! And you must be skinnier. Always.
There are some studies who say that most Americans see anywhere from 3,000-10,000 advertising images every single day! Others put the number at about 250. But just think about how many times you see ads on your cell phone, on billboards, on the television, how many ads you hear on the radio, how many you read in magazines.
Each one of these ads is saying something to your subconscious and the vast majority of the time, the message is not a healthy one. Most of them tell your subconscious that you are not as good as the person who uses the product being advertised. Most of them tell your subconscious you are somehow “less” if you use another product. Most imply that you are lacking something vital without their product in your home. Some even flat out state that you should be embarrassed for conditions that are beyond your control.
Next time you sit down to watch TV or listen to the radio or read a magazine, pay attention to the messages that are being delivered to your subconscious mind. Until you are aware that these messages are being projected, you can’t do anything to counter them! Instead of buying into the shaming tactics of advertisers, be proud of Who You Are!
CwG tells us that we are all perfect just the way we are! That Goddess loves us unconditionally and accepts us without question! We do not need to change anything about ourselves in order to be acceptable to and loved by the Divine! That we have nothing to be ashamed about because there are no mistakes. Everything is the way it is supposed to be because we co-created it that way!
Celebrate that which makes you a unique individuation of the Divine! You have a unique role in the Divine plan and no one but you can play that part, so let your light shine and don’t hide it under a blanket of shame because some advertiser wants to sell you a product you don’t really need.
I wonder if any of us are truly aware of how often we moralize and judge not only ourselves but others during the course of a normal day. I am currently taking a free class online on moralities of everyday existence that is offered by Yale (yes, the Ivy League school– but you get no credits or grades for the class.) The first week of class reminded me just how careful we have to be to avoid moralizing and judging the events in our daily lives.
Let me give you an example from my daily life. I am a paramedic. Invariably, at some point during the course of any given day, a call comes in to respond to such and such an address for a patient with flu-like symptoms. A groan often accompanies this summons and it’s exacerbated when you get to the residence and find five apparently capable drivers and three cars parked in the driveway. “This,” we think to ourselves while in the patient’s presence and say aloud when the call is over, “is why our health care costs are so out of control! Anyone of those people could have taken that person to the hospital!”
What we DON’T know is that one of the driver’s has a suspended license for a DUI, one has no car insurance because she can’t afford it, one has three kids sleeping upstairs that are going to be getting up from their nap soon and two of them are also sick and don’t want anyone by mommy/daddy, one just took some cold medicine that makes her drowsy and the fifth’s car isn’t inspected or registered because he couldn’t afford to do it last month when it expired. (As an aside, I recently suffered from a bout with the flu and I have never been as sick as I was for that nine days and there were times when I wanted to call an ambulance to come take me to the hospital.)
How many times have you been standing in line and watched someone pay for steaks with food stamps and thought “How fair is that? I’m eating hamburger helper and you’re eating steaks on food stamps!” Of course, what we don’t know is that the steaks are for the man’s son, who has terminal cancer and this is to be the last meal they have as a family before he goes out of state for experimental treatments that still only give him a 2% chance of survival.
Or here’s one I hear often when someone sees a woman with lots of kids that are apparently very close in age. “Keep your legs closed so I don’t have to support another of your brats!” Of course, what we don’t know is that the woman has taken custody of her sisters kids (which were born in between her own kids) because her sister is fighting a drug addiction and is in rehab and the woman doesn’t want the kids to get stuck in the system.
But what about the smaller moral decisions and judgments we make every day? Are you eating meat? Do you know if the animal who sacrificed their life for your food was treated humanely during its existence? Does it matter?
Are you vegetarian or vegan? Are you eating all organic foods that were harvested by people who were paid a fair wage? What happens to all the migrant workers if everyone buys only foods that were harvested for a fair wage?
Did you flip someone off while driving down the road today because you got cut off or someone didn’t use his turn signal? Maybe you didn’t flip him off but called him a nasty name or even thought what a horrible driver he was. Would it change your mind about him if you knew he just found out his wife was taken to the hospital after a serious car accident and wasn’t expected to survive?
In the area I live in, we have had 22 people die of heroin overdoses in the last two weeks because the heroin is laced with fentanyl. I’ve seen stories about it posted on Facebook and local news websites. Comments range from “Good! One less addict to worry about!” to “And we’re supposed to care about these people why?”
Do you catch yourself judging how your siblings are raising their children and think that you could do a better job? Do you find yourself looking at the clerk in the store and thinking that he needs to find a better barber? Do you overhear your waitress talking about her wife and leave her a smaller tip because you don’t agree with the “gay lifestyle”? Do you see a stray cat running around your neighborhood and think “Someone else is probably feeding it…”? Do you think that the person who is talking in line behind you, who is obviously the opposite party affiliation than you, is a stupid moron for what he believes? Do you speak up when someone in the break room makes an off-color or racist or sexist or homophobic comment or joke? Do you constantly buy pre-packaged meals so you don’t have to cook despite the amount of plastic and cardboard that goes into making just one of those meals and is going to end up in our rapidly filling landfills? Are you more pleasant with someone you know who shares many of your beliefs than you are with someone who thinks your beliefs are a joke? Did you notice that many of these questions are judgmental and moralizing? Or do you think that only the “other side” (or, in other words, someone else besides you) does that kind of thing?
Perhaps some of the most subconscious moralizing and judging we do is with ourselves. How many times have we said about something we did, “That was stupid!” or “I’m such an idiot!” or “How could I be so naive?” How many times have we judged what we have done as “less than” what it should have been or even as a complete failure? How many times have we said that we “really screwed up” on that one? How many times have we belittled or diminished our contribution to the co-creative process of life? It is a habit we are taught young (“we’re all sinners worthy of death”, “there’s nothing we can do to get into God’s good graces and it’s only his mercy that allows us to live”, “we’re born with original sin on our souls”, etc.) often by religion and it’s a habit that is very difficult to break.
I’d be willing to bet that there are those who are saying “So what? As long as I don’t voice my thoughts or hurt someone else’s feelings with what I’m thinking, no harm done!”
But God and science tell us energy is neither created nor destroyed: it simply changes form! So your thoughts are energy that you’re putting out into the world and that energy, if it’s judgmental or moralizing, is helping to co-create the reality in which all of us live.
It takes being completely aware and in the moment at all times to catch yourself doing the moralizing and judging that the vast majority 0f us do without a second thought. Take the time before you think a thought or speak it aloud to ask “What would Love do?” or, even simpler for some, “Is this how I would want to be treated or thought of?”
Try, for one hour, to pay attention to every thought that comes into your head. See how many of them are truly judgmental or moralizing and figure out what you can replace that thought with. Sometimes a simple “Bless you” is more than enough.
I have a daily practice of saying affirmations. I publish a new affirmation on my Facebook account every day (ok, on most days….). Affirmations are a way in which we can “reprogram” our subconscious mind, replacing thoughts that no longer support our highest goals.
I hear so many people say something to the effect of, “Simply repeating the same thing over and over to yourself isn’t going to change anything! It can’t be that easy!”
And yet these are the same people who are wearing “Duck Dynasty” hats, “Keep Calm and (fill in the blank)” T-shirts and who hum the latest jingle to their favorite fast food restaurant as they wait in the drive through to order.
The Bible says “In the beginning was the Word.” Words are what creates. We first have a thought, which is nothing more than “silent words”, and those words are energy that is put out into the universe and when enough energy surrounding those words accumulates, those words take physical form.
You’re frustrated at work yet you say nothing. Every day, your frustration level increases. Soon you begin to notice that you’re having stomach problems or your blood pressure is rising. These are physical manifestations of your thoughts of frustration.
You think of a new idea for a more efficient way of doing something at work. You spend time putting together a presentation for your boss. She loves the idea and your original thoughts are now a new company policy and you have a nice bonus check to bank.
You want to try skydiving, but you keep thinking “What if the chute doesn’t open?” or “What if I land in a tree?” and soon those thoughts create a real fear and you don’t ever go skydiving.
There is an undeniable trend in society today: we are becoming more and more violent. We see this violence manifested in our lives every day: mass shootings— some by children, suicide bombings, car bombings, people murdered over the clothes they’re wearing, road rage….
Some say that art imitates life, but I’m of the belief that it goes both ways: life also mirrors art. The movies we go to see, the video games we play, the television shows we TIVO so we don’t miss a single episode, the books we read, the music we listen to— all have become so much more violent.
The lyrics of some major artists like Eminem (among many others!) glorify the beating, degradation and even rape of women.
Television shows, especially “reality TV” shows like Survivor and Big Brother, glorify lying, cheating, backstabbing and deception in order to win lots of money. “True life” shows like “Wives with Knives” and “Deadly Affairs” (among many, many others) make murder and violence a big money venture. Other reality shows, like “American Idol” and “The Bachelor” take special pains to show some of the participants in their worst possible light, some even making entire episodes that are devoted to making fun of someone for following their dream.
Video games, wherein a player gets to rape a prostitute or steal cars or shoot gays or burn down buildings, are being played by children who are far too young to understand the difference between fantasy and reality. The traditional joystick has been replaced by guns or steering wheels or “wands” that recognize the realistic movements one must make to accomplish what their character onscreen is doing, thus blurring even further for some the difference between reality and fantasy.
Of course, the makers/publishers/producers/directors/writers of these violent media products deny that these have any influence on the level of violence in society. They say that they’re only giving the people what they want. Then they turn around and spend $4 million dollars on a 30 second commercial to play during the Superbowl because they understand the power of advertising and the power of words to influence what you buy and what you think.
And that is the paradox with the power of words. Until you recognize that words only have the power that you give them, words have an enormous power over what you think, what you feel, what you believe and what you do. The more you understand that the power of words is in your control, the less power words have over you.
We have been inundated with words from birth. These words, because we do not yet understand that words have no power over us, affect what we think, feel, believe and do. And we hear them repeatedly, time after time after time. The average person in today’s western society sees more than 240 images every day that are specifically aimed at advertising. That’s not including the ones our brain does not register. We’re hearing these messages over and over and whether we want to admit it or not, if we’re not doing something to consciously prevent it, those messages are becoming part of our subconscious thinking and directly influences our behavior and our thinking patterns. (There’s a reason subliminal advertising is illegal!)
And so we come back full circle to the use of affirmations. Affirmations combat those messages from advertisers that say we can’t be happy unless we buy their product or we won’t be pretty unless we use this make up or we won’t find our true love unless we use this perfume or we’ll lose our partner to another if we don’t know how to perform this particular act.
Affirmations are taking conscious control of our subconscious. We are reprogramming the subconscious and building a wall of protection around it that limit the influence that media input of all sorts has on what the subconscious believes. In doing so, we are creating our own reality in which our happiness doesn’t depend on anyone or anything but ourselves. In which Love is not measured in how many times we have sex or how big the ring is on our finger. In which success is not determined by how big the house we live in or the label of the clothes we wear or the kind of car in our garage. In which beauty is not determined by weight, the appearance of age, the color of our hair or whether we have “flawless” skin. In which the world of peace and harmony and brotherly love that we all profess we want to live in becomes reality.
It’s not a new phenomenon. It’s probably been going on since the beginning of time. People have used religion to justify their discrimination for time out of mind. Even the Bible seems to support it: the last plague God visited on the Egyptians (according to the Bible but not according to God 😉 ) was the killing of every firstborn child or animal who resided in a home that was not marked with blood on the the doorpost.
The very reason that the Puritans came to the “New World” was to avoid the persecution they were suffering because of their faith. (Of course, once they got here, they turned around and revisited that prosecution on other faiths, but that’s another story….)
So pervasive was discrimination based on faith that the founding fathers of the newly formed United States of America wrote an amendment to the US Constitution that expressly forbids the government from creating laws that are based on faith. This wall of separation between church and state is hotly contested by religious fundamentalists, but it is clear that it was intended to exist and to prevent religious persecution.
It has not always been successful.
- In many states, beer stores cannot remain open on Sunday because of the Christian faith.
- Until relatively recently, school prayer was allowed to be led by school officials.
- We still have “In God We Trust” on our money (how ironic!) and the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance (in direct opposition to the desire of the Pledge’s author, Francis Bellamy, a socialist pastor who was so disgusted with the infighting and discrimination of the Christian faiths that he intentionally left any mention of God out of the Pledge)
- The only faith to have a holy day as a national holiday (two holy days, actually) is Christianity.
- Laws banning abortion are based on religious beliefs.
- Laws banning gay marriage are based on religious beliefs.
But the separation of church and state is an ideal to strive for that will, when we finally reach it, insure that everyone is free to follow their conscience.
The religious fundamentalist movement has seen the writing on the wall: the courts are overturning laws based on religion and are allowing to stand those that protect freedom of religion. So those in the fundamentalist movement have started using a new tactic: conscientious objector, but with a twist.
The basic scenario goes like this: new laws are passed that give everyone equal rights, triggering fundamentlists to declare they are no obliged to follow the new laws because of their faith. The twist is, that in NOT following the law, they are not only following their faith but forcing thousands if not millions of others to also follow their faith.
Let me give you a few examples.
- Hazelmary and Peter Bull ran the Chymorvah Hotel, Marazion, Cornwall, England. Their Christian faith dictated that only married couples be allowed to rent their rooms. But in 2007, the British Parliament passed the Equalities Act, which prohibited discrimination based on orientation. At the time, it was illegal for gays to marry in England, but they could obtain a civil union, which was supposed to be the “legal equivalent” of a marriage. But this couple refused to acknowledge their civil union as the valid equivalent of a marriage and refused to rent a room to a gay couple.
- Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado, refused to provide a wedding cake to a gay couple, stating he had nothing against gays, but gay marriage violated his religious beliefs.
- Baronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers, refused to provide the floral arrangements for a gay wedding because of her religious beliefs.
- Recently, the state of Utah began issuing gay marriage licenses after a federal judge overturned the law banning gay marriage. Yet there are still some clerks who refuse to issue the licenses based on their personal religious beliefs.
- Similarly, the Catholic Church is behind a push for a “religious exclusion” to the required coverage of birth control under the Affordable Care Act. They claim that being forced to provide birth control to the employees of Catholic business owners violates their religious liberty.
- There are pharmacists who refuse to dispense legal prescriptions for the “morning after pill”, stating religious objection to abortion as their reason. Now that the morning after pill can be obtained without a prescription, there are still pharmacists who refuse to dispense it based on their personal religious views.
These are just the tip of the iceberg. (Google “refused services for gay wedding” and you get more than 4 million hits alone!) These are the ones that make the news. But this goes on daily on a smaller scale all across the United States.
Where do the religious exemptions end? Can a Muslim employer request that he not have to provide health care coverage for someone who gets food poisoning from eating pork? Can a Quaker employer ask for an exemption for someone who seeks health care from injuries suffered in a war? Can an Amish employer request a religious exemption for any injury obtained by the use of “modern equipment”?
Yes, individuals have the right to live their life according to their religious beliefs. But they do NOT have the right to force even one other person to live according to their religious beliefs. An employer who denies employees coverage for birth control because his religion believes it is wrong is forcing his employees to abide by his religions dictates as well. That is why, time after time, these cases of “religious liberty” are being thrown out of court.
Such cases used to anger me and I’d jump on the bandwagon condemning the business owners. But now, knowing that all change is for the better and understanding that everything happens in the perfect time-space sequence, I now see that these cases are pushing the cause of social change along faster than any demonstration by pro-change forces could ever hope to have achieved.
These “conscientious objectors” have forced the courts to be very clear about any “loopholes” that some might try to use to avoid following the law. They also bring to light the utter lack of logic in the reasoning that is used by those in fundamentalist organizations as well as they hypocrisy and fear-mongering in which they engage. It brings otherwise “taboo” topics to the forefront for discussion and for open communication. They expose individuals to topics they might otherwise never be exposed to and force them to think about it and to consider where they stand on the issues.
Given that we are all One, that we are all created by Love, from Love and with Love and that Love is the very essence of our being, many (most?) people are coming down on “the right side of history”. Not only in the the push for equality for all human beings but in other areas that concern all creation as well, such as the stewardship of the planet earth, access to clean water, access to decent housing and access to life-saving medication. The groups that have always supported these causes are obtaining new allies at a rate heretofore unheard of.
All because of a bunch of people who want to claim a first amendment right to discriminate.