Friday, September 9, 2011

Killing in the name of annoyance

Tonight I watched as two cats mercilessly taunted and battered a huge mouse that was in the house. At first I was stoked, I mean more excited than I was for the first football game of the year, but as the torture continued I began to feel remorse for the poor little mouse that was pretty much done for. If it was a quick and easy kill I could chalk it up to nature, but the cats just kept toying with the animal and I began to question their instincts.

This leads to the questioning of my own instincts and also those of others. Having grown up on a self sustaining beef farm, I learned at an early age the utilitarian benefits of animals. Our pets (the cows) were kept to provide my family with nourishment. Honestly, we named our cows after family members and friends whose birthdays landed closest to birth of our baby cows. That didn't deter us from butchering them when the time was right, and keeping them in the freezer until they were needed. That doesn't mean we didn't care for and about our animals. It makes the relationship sound even weirder, but we would play with the cows. When they were young they would snort and charge at us, but we learned how to grab them and spin them to the ground, where they would get up, snort stomp and charge again. It is a lot like the relationship between my brother and I.

I bring this up because these animals were treated very well and given the best of accommodations. We truly loved our animals, yet when the time came we killed them and put them in the freezer in order to provide sustenance to our family. To a lot of people this outrageous and cruel, but I know that these animals are treated better, and therefore have a better quality mean than most any farm in the country.

So that brings me to my next point.

What is life, and at what point is it ok to extinguish? A lot of vegetarians and even a few vegans I know hate mosquitoes. They slap the shit out of a bug that is biting them without a second thought. I don't mean to say that I don't do the same thing, in fact if I knew of a nest of baby biting bugs I would kill them faster than you can say st...  I would napalm that colony like a politician in the 70's.

It takes me back to the simpler more barbaric times of my youth when it was perfectly acceptable to burn ants with a magnifying glass. If fact, it was called science. In my learned adulthood I question such practices. Although I am still a carnivore, I have reduced my carne intake significantly due to spices, and recipes that have fooled me into thinking I am satisfied. A good trick for meat-consumers to be satisfied by a vegetarian dish, is to make it just a little more spicy than the consumer is used too. Then put dill pickles on the top to even it out. It will be hard for the meat eater to finish because of the spice, but because there is no meat in it they will want to finish it in order to complain that they are still hungry, or will not finish it because of some other excuse, like gas.

So with that in mind I still wonder what is more in-humane? Is it worse to eat baby cows, (veal) or baby carrots (baby carrots)? Is the taking of a plant life less inhumane that the taking of an animal life? Why? They both have cells that grow, they both reproduce and neither one of them speak English. This is just the beginning. What about baby bok Choy?  And other produce with baby in the name. Why do their lives get to be shortened due to deliciousness, as opposed to organisms that make noise and have motor skills?

The crazy thing is after I began to read Buddhist texts and to buy into the idea that all life is sacred, I began to realize that it doesn't mention plant life as being sacred. Apparently mobility determines validity. We all know that when you uproot a chloroplast producing, square celled organism it loses its ability to spawn and create more offspring. Even though it can't protest to its demise, does that mean it doesn't deserve to live?  I wish I had more answers than questions, but considering I'm not running for office, I don't think I need to have answers. Especially since no one is paying me to have them. If the vegetable lobbyist want to pay me in order that this blog doesn't get out then I'll take it. I've got six other blogs that I hope will yield me lawsuits soon anyway.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Yes, I beleive in Jesus.

When I say I believe in someone it doesn’t mean that I validate their existence through speech, it means that I trust in them to do what they set out to do and to be who I know they can be. Regardless of whom it is that I believe in.  Do you think that it is more important to believe and say that Jesus existed and died on the cross for our sins, than it is to love and forgive one another as Jesus did? I believe that Jesus experienced all of the great things that are bestowed upon us just for being born human, such as misunderstanding, being hated, being loved and being human, but he didn’t succumb to greed, jealousy, and control issues that we are plagued with to this day. The way he lived his life is not human, and thusly is how we should all strive to live. We should forgive our oppressors because we can never fully understand why they oppress, just like we can never fully understand any other person’s motivations for anything. Because life is so strictly individual there is no actual understanding of another’s burden and the challenge is to love them anyway. I grew up with a small placard that stated and illustrated the phrase “Don’t try to understand me, just love me”, and I have lived every day accordingly. I don’t fit in anywhere. I am too conservative for where I live and too progressive for where I grew up. I am too masculine for most women and too feminine for most men, but that just gives me a greater understanding of the variety God has created in people and also their motivations. I can see when love is not a motivation for progress rather than a tool for control. I don’t think Jesus would turn anyone away from his table, because love doesn’t do such a thing. I struggle with that idea because I don’t understand why Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate birthdays, I still get a little grossed out by homosexual relationships and I find it hard to forgive child molesters and killers. I am somewhat successful because I know we are brethren and try to love them anyway.

When I say I believe the Bible to be infallible, I mean that I think that anyone, regardless of race, sex or religion who reads it with an open heart and mind, will gain the knowledge that God intended, to treat people with love. I don’t believe a person has to know who begat who in order to fulfill God’s wishes, nor do I believe eating pork or shrimp violate my relationship with God. People have dissected the book and over analyzed each phrase and in doing so have destroyed the overall message. There is a simple metaphor to use in this case and it is that of the frog. In biology class I took a live frog and euthanized it so that I could dissect it and take the individual parts out to study them and understand the system of life, but after I put the cotton ball into the jar I extinguished the life and instead began to study death. I learned that I can easily destroy life, but as soon as I do so, I am no longer studying it. That is the same as taking the Bible one verse at a time, to back up the individual institution. This is how the Bible has been used to control the masses into thinking that what is good for the individual in control, must also be good for the population. I think God is greater than that. I am a teacher and the greatest thing I have come to understand through my few years of experience, is that every child is different, and a successful teacher can teach the same lesson to many different kids using many different methods. I live to serve and I am grateful for the opportunity to do so, but I am not so proud to think that I can, or should do it by myself. That is the power of God.

Man has an incredible ability to justify their actions through any means necessary; in order to serve themselves alone. Jesus never had a Bible to refer to, to show him how to love. I hope this doesn’t come off as me claiming to be the second coming, because I know I have too many faults for this to be even a glimmer of an idea, but I still claim that Love is more important than recognition, and always will. To suggest that God has “wants” is egotistical and lacking of faith. If he is in complete control, as most of our history and literature suggests, then he can command recognition if desired. Instead what I have come to believe is that he would rather us come to a lifestyle of love through learning and sacrifice and in doing so honor his wishes.  The sacrifice he asks of us is not that great, it is just to trust in him and to love everyone, even those you hate. That is what creates a great faith, seeing how forgiveness works and utilizing that to create peace in your own life. Resent and unmet expectations fuel all hatred.  So, if you can change your expectations and love and trust God enough to love the rain that falls in your life and see how it makes your crop grow, then an individual is honoring God, regardless of their language. This is where my argument comes to a head. I believe that we honor the same idea and strive to achieve it, but I still think that people rely too much on words in order to fool the spirit, usually their own. I also think that God has worked in you specifically to fulfill his needs and continues to do so in order for his message to be spread. In my specific case he has taught me differently. If I approached my friends and peers in the same vein that the Word has been given to me, I would lose them instantly.  It means more work for the individual, but that is ok, we have all the time in the world. 



Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Can I put Heaven in my GPS?


Is there truly only one way into Heaven?
 

I think that there are many people that are living according to the teachings of Jesus, without actually knowing it. I believe there are many Christians who are not. Luckily I also think that God recognizes the difference and being surprisingly not human doesn't really get caught up on things like recognition and names given to him by his own creation. Because God is Love, those things cannot manifest in its true existence. There are many different words for love, and it cannot actually be proven, yet most people believe in it and recognize it when they experience it. The unfortunate thing is when it is absent it is also painfully recognizable. So God has spoken to me and convinced me to act in love the best as I can, through the words and life of Jesus. Forgiveness is another word for true love. How can we believe that God/Love is not greater than language and ego. I mean God confounded the speech to deter them from building the Tower of Babel. But here I am babel-ing on myself.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A smattering of sketches and drawings.









 A picture of Deadpool, that I painted using a tablet and Photoshop.
 My attempt at political humor.
 A portrait of Elston Howard.
 A small detail I did for a cartoon.
 A self portrait using Flash as a drawing tool. (before I learned Illustrator) 
 A rough sketch of Marvel's Gambit.

 A portrait of my Grandpa Enos before going of to WWII


 This is an illustration done for a friends children's book that was never realized.
 A life drawing of my dog.

 This was done in highschool, using Windows Paint. (before I knew what photoshop was)


Just a little color addition using photoshop.                             The original.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Planting Flowers in the Desert

I am a substitute teacher in Ulster County, aspiring to get a full time job teaching art. As a substitute I have been fortunate in being able to teach many different subjects to all different age groups and all levels of cognitive and physical ability. One of the tools that I have developed as a substitute to deal with gaps in plans left. I love to tell stories, and I have a few of them filed away for days when they are necessary. I was recently filling in as the regular teacher for a sixth grade class. The kids were really well behaved on this particular day, but during their snack time I could see the seams starting to come apart as the kids began to loosen up and push the limits. I decided I wanted to tell them a story and I started to develop a brand new idea that just seemed to come to life. It was really one of those moments where you realize you aren’t in complete control and when the time is right to give a message sometimes you are just the vessel. I wanted to write the story down because I was so touched by it. Here it is.
Planting Flowers in the Desert.
Sue and Drew are twins that live in a desert. Even though they look so much alike, they are actually the exact opposite of one another. Drew is a kind, caring, sensitive and extremely optimistic. He always looks on the bright side of things and is usually smiling. Sue, on the other hand, is a sarcastic, mean, and overall a negative individual.
Living in the desert can be hard some days, but Drew always looking on the bright side would say “Isn’t the sun shining so very bright today?” Sue would respond “Are you kidding me? It is so bright that I have to squint all day long.” Drew would thoughtfully announce, “The warm sand feels nice between my toes.” And Sue would dispute it saying “Ugh! The sand is everywhere. I can’t stand it!” One day Drew decided that he was going to start dropping sunflower seeds everywhere he went. Sue saw this and laughed “Ha, that’s a dumb Idea trying to grow flowers in the desert. You would be better off planting weeds, at least they might grow.”  Drew being extremely optimistic ignored Sue’s criticism, and just kept dropping sunflower seeds everywhere he went. Sue was so annoyed by her brother’s unyielding positive attitude that she decided that she was going to start planting weeds everywhere she went just to prove him wrong. This went on for months and months. Everywhere Drew left a sunflower seed, Sue left three weed seeds. After, many months Sue exalted, “See Drew, I told you. Look at all of the weeds that are growing everywhere. I told you that it was a waste of time dropping flower seeds in the desert.” Drew didn’t hear Sue say this because he was so excited over the long stem that started to grow higher than all of the weeds.  Sue came over to gloat over her apparent victory only to see the same thing that Drew saw. One Sunflower was growing tall above the weeds that covered the ground. The flower grew taller than both Drew and Sue so they were both looking up in awe as the flower opened up and bowed its face to the two in a gesture of gratitude for existing.
Drew turns to Sue and says “You see Sue, you were right. I would have been more successful to plant the weeds like you did. But all of your hard work yields only weeds. The best that you can ever hope for is more weeds. I don’t know about you Sue, but I would rather have one beautiful flower than a hundred spiny, spindly weeds.”
The End.

Everywhere we go we have the opportunity to be kind and loving to one another, and each kind act is a seed of a beautiful flower. We also have the opportunity to be indifferent, detached and inactive. This is doing nothing at all. We also have the opportunity to be cruel, advantageous and self indulged. This is like planting the weed seeds.  We all know how easy weeds grow, so it is up to you whether you live if a world of flowers or a world of weeds.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Oh My God

I recently came across a documentary film called “Oh My God”, directed and created by Peter Rodger. He goes on a global journey to ask the simple, yet earth changing question; what is God? You get the idea from the beginning that Peter is just another cynic trying to prove how detrimental religion is on society. Mr. Rodgers even says that he had expected for everyone to tell him why their God was the best. Accordingly what usually happens when one takes the time to do some research, and discover for themselves the true answers instead of relying on what we are told, the filmmaker stumbles upon many beautiful examples of faith and tolerance from every stretch of the globe.


It was a pleasant part of the journey to see the filmmaker’s heart open up, as he discovered more examples of the kindness of people when they are truly following the spirit of each of the represented religions. I was also moved myself to examine more closely my feeling towards other religions. When I was younger I immediately dismissed other religions, solely on the fact that they weren’t mine. I thought that they were wrong, violent, and against everything I believed in. I believed in their right to worship, but not in what it was they were worshiping. I think that there are a lot of Christians out there who exist in this thought plane. To paraphrase an old Saturday Night Live sketch “If its not Christian, ITS CRAP!”

I have recently been doing a lot of research on Buddhism and Shinto in Japan for a graphic novel I am working on. In the genesis of my research I was really hesitant as to whether I should read Buddhist scripts, being a Christian and all. A guilty mind asked; would these texts have the ability to cloud my mind, and steer me away from Christ? The further I read the more similarities I found. I began to become more comfortable and began delving further into the subject. I started to see how the different sects developed over similar social issues that caused splintering of Christians into many different sects. I learned that texts were translated differently when they traveled through Korea and through China, and were again modified when they reached Japan. But most importantly I learned that the ultimate goal in Buddhism is peace.

The film “Oh My God” pointed out to me a situation in the Muslim community that we also face as Christians. Extremist are misleading people using the isolation of specific parts of scripture to manipulate a situation, while conveniently ignoring the main point. Christians used the scripture to justify slavery, and some are still doing it to promote the hatred of homosexuals. These are both are in direct violation of Jesus’ order to “love one another as I have loved you.” Extremist in the Muslim community are using the Quran to justify the killing of Christians and Jews. While a majority of Muslims are like a majority of Christians, we just want peace.

It is my belief that people mostly want to promote peace and love. The media only portrays the corrupt and ignorant misuses of these systems, so if we don’t do our own research and find out for ourselves we will never know the full potential man has to live together in peace and tolerance.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Mosque Debate.

Recently the nation has been in an uproar about the proposed Mosque/community center that is scheduled to be built in the neighborhood of the site of the 9/11 attacks. To start off NYC is a religiously as well as culturally diverse place. I can’t drop statistics on people because I cannot find a pair that agree, which is another story altogether. What I have found to be true is that there are more than 100 mosques in the city, plus an unknown number of small mosques that worshipers set up in their apartments or places that are not visible from the street. There are an estimated million Muslims in New York City. (Some sources claim 1.4 million; the New York City Community Affairs Bureau states the figure as 800 000.) With that being said, these citizens are protected under our Bill of Rights, as much as anyone else is. If you are an American, you cannot disagree with the following statement.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

It is the first amendment. The reason we fought for our independence from Britain. If we as a nation wanted to dictate what, where, when, why, and how people worship, why is this first natural right that we as Americans claim? How can you tell one citizen that they do not have the rights that others do, based on their religious preference, without seeing the obvious hypocrisy .

How can our children give their lives for these freedoms, only to have them revoked by the same crotchety old men that sent them there in the first place to liberate a country just enough to take all of the rebuilding contracts and give them to our own company. Basically we have been building up this resentment towards foreigners since they made us change our names at Ellis Island. Now we forget our roots, we forget the reasons we had for claiming independence from Britain. We even forget the heritage that we may have left behind in order to assimilate into this amalgamation culture. Now we are Americans, we’ve been here long enough that we don’t want strangers coming in and changing everything, taking jobs we don’t want, wearing clothes we don’t like, and building community centers that offend our vaguest connection to the devastation that was the attack on the Twin Towers. The community in which the attack was felt the greatest has given their approval of the project, yet people who live hundreds to thousands of miles away think that they should weigh in, and that their opinion should be heard; “because damn it, I’m an American and if I am offended by a Mosque that is being built in a neighborhood that I will never visit, then it shouldn’t be built. We will have to alter the inalienable rights to; life, liberty and the pursuit of Justice, and… never getting your feelings hurt.” If we knock out this pillar of our foundation as a nation, the rest is sure to come crashing down.