What’s In A Name…

Yesterday, in response to an innocuous post my brother put up on social media, I offered a single word reply — fag. I’ve been calling my brother fag since I’ve been able to speak.

One of his connections took offense to this, and asked me whether I would use the N-word in reference to blacks or if I ever referred to Mexican as Spics. He then asked if I would be offended by the word kike.

In my life, I have been called kike, heeb, names that have compared me to an animal, and much worse — all for having been born Jewish. The good news is, I was born with thick skin so I don’t let it get to me. I never have.

My commenting that my brother is a fag was not in reference to his sexuality. It was in reference to the fact that I’m better than him at everything that we’ve ever done, that I always will be, and that he is giant puss. It’s part of the language we speak as brothers — even in our 50s and 60s.

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To me, this is analogous to two words in two different languages, that are spelled and look the same, but carry very different meanings.

Fag, in the context of a derogatory term used towards homosexuals, is written in the language of hate. I don’t speak hate, ever.

Beyond that, I have been an avid supporter of, and an active voter in matters of gay rights. I have raised a daughter, now an adult, who is an activist championing gay rights in the communities she has lived in since she was in her teens.

That type of hate, prejudice, and hate speech have no place in this world, and I will speak out against it and vote against hate every chance I get.

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Fag, in the context of my brother being the world‘s biggest puss, is used in the language of a sophomoric boy trapped in a man’s body, which is a language I speak with fluency.

That is, my brother was born at fag, lives is a fag, and will die as a fag. When he gets to the pearly gates, Saint Peter will greet him and say “What’s up, Fag…?“

At which point my brother will reply…

“Shut up fetus face, now show me to my room…“

Mark and Saint Pete will punch each other on the shoulders, and all will be good in heaven as it was on earth.

I extended an apology to the man who took offense to that term, and offered him the explanation I have given above. I also sent him a friend request. Both apology and the friend request, thus far, have been ignored.

I know more than a few people who read this will also take offense to me using that term, lash out at me, attempt to initiate an argument, unfriend me, or block me altogether. Some though, may simply attempt to change my mind and ask me to quit using the term. I won’t.

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I stand strong with how I use the term, and feel I’ve given an intelligent, if not well received explanation. I will always have some faults in the eyes of some or in the eyes of many, and for some, one of those faults may be speaking in the language of a sophomoric boy stuck in a man’s body. At the end of the day though, this is about two words, spelled the same and that look the same, but mean two distinct things, in two different languages… Jhciacb

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Soul Food… For Thought…

Ruminating on souls this morning — who gets one and who doesn’t. Most assume that all human beings get a soul, and many of us believe that some or most animals get one also. 

However, it seems for as many people who believe that most mammals may get souls, and maybe a few select birds and fancy fish too, they don’t believe that insects do — or bacteria or even bushes. At the very least in the minds of many, there is limited soul distribution among living things. Some critters get ‘em and some don’t. 

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And for all of it’s lofty expansion in the last hundred years or so, science is still unable to establish clear evidence of a soul in any creature or in any plant.  Science might be able to prove emotion and/or feeling in living things, but it can’t show evidence of a soul. The soulascope  has not yet been invented. And of course, there’s that question as to where souls come from to begin with…

For a great many people, the only answer to the question of where souls come from is God. 

With little investment though, I can create a soul in my own home.  All I need to do is to put two dogs together who kind a favor each other, and let them get more familiar with one another, and within weeks of that, there will be a new soul in the house, perhaps a half dozen or more…

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For my part, I believe that all animals have souls, including fish and insects.  I regularly entertain whether or not plants have souls, but on that one, I remain undecided, but ever curious. 

Also for my part, I believe that all souls should be treated as equally as possible, though in a complex and often chaotic world, that can’t always be the case. 

A great majority of people in the world have no problem with the extinguishing of souls, all day long, so long as they get eaten or provide us with useful products such as shoes, costmetics, or some light-hearted amusement. This haunts me, ongoing, but I am guilty too. 

Taking souls is acceptable for most, in order that we each preserve the soul within us, or advance the collective causes of all human souls. Again, haunts me. 

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I’m just thinking about souls this morning. In truth, I think about them all day long — always bubbling under the surface… Jhciacb

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Addressing Obesity In Others…

I’ll state from the start that I’m less trying to initiate a discussion, than I am sharing the experiences of a career fitness trainer.

Discuss if you wish, but I reserve the right to delete, ignore, and to pass judgment based on my experiences.

As a career fitness trainer, I’ve been privy to discussions on obesity at many levels. My expertise has been sought to advise, to consult, and to help in framing such discussions.  I’ve seen the obesity of others addressed by family, friends, and coworkers from every possible angle.

Hint: these discussions almost never go well, and often have a negative, and even a contrary result on the individual’s behavior in matters of eating and drinking.

In cases where it’s a parent talking to an adult child, a spouse talking to his/her partner, friends talking to friends, or co-workers talking to their contemporaries about the need to lose weight, it can go south very quickly — even if the intentions behind those conversations are good.

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The primary example of such good intentions usually cited is “for reasons of health”. That is, an individual wants to guide another individual towards weight-loss for reasons of improved health. And though that may be the foundation for many of these discussions, it’s my opinion that at the root of them it often relates as much to what the person looks like, as it does to their level of health or wellness.

Even in matters of obesity, human beings have the ability to cleverly mask their prejudice with so-called good intentions.

I have a client who has been with me on-and-off for nearly a decade. He’s approximately 80-lbs overweight. His parents speak to him regularly about the health implications of his obesity.

Though I am certain the parents of this man, who is now 30-years old, do have concerns that relate to his health, he is also the face of the family business. And as the face of that enterprise, I am just as certain that the parents of the young man would prefer he be at an aesthetically more pleasing weight.

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Each time his parents address this with him, they speak in terms of improved health, but often segue into matters of appearance. This can send my client into a depression, and his eating and drinking tendencies often increase. He has confessed this to me.

Did I mention he was not far from a healthy weight when he began working with me…?  The whole reason he became a client was because his parents wanted him to trim down a little for photographs and videos that he would appear in on behalf of their business.

As he resisted and went in the other direction, his parents applied even more pressure, to which he resisted more, and the snowball effect was an 80-pound weight gain over an approximate 4-5 year period.

The pressure from outside, as gentle as it might be, was not always gentle.  For my part, I have tried to do my best to provide him with beneficial workouts, and I’ve encouraged him to eat in support of those workouts.

This is not an isolated case. I have known many like this, too many, and have known of many more.

I once had a client who was a contestant in the Miss Los Angeles pageant. She was in my studio one day with her mother there to photograph the session. Suffice it to say that if you’re a contestant in the Miss Los Angeles pageant, you’re drop-dead gorgeous to begin with, and probably quite fit, despite the very slight muffin top hips.  I was demonstrating an exercise for the young woman when her mother said in a voice loud enough for people in China to hear…

“Look at her, she’s fat!” pointing to the muffin top.

I wanted to hang myself. Instead, I just stood silently, broadcasting the most apologetic look I possibly could toward my client. I was grateful that she wasn’t obese, or she probably would’ve been disowned. And that feeds into my message more than a little bit…

If we have the ability to be judgmental and prejudice over people that we love being 5-lbs overweight, it probably gets much easier for us to be inexcusably judgmental over people we don’t know who might be 100-lbs overweight. Many people I know carry that level of prejudice and more. They put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the individual who is carrying the extra weight.

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No adult who is overweight, be it by 5-lbs or 200, is ever unaware of their situation or caught off-guard by it. Never.

From my perspective, whether a person desires lose 5-lbs or 50, they need cheerleaders, not false natured pundits of change hiding behind the facade of good health. There is no doubt that if I were the only voice in the ears of my weight-loss clients, they would be less likely to push back, even subconsciously, to their own detriment as many do when guided by the so-called voices of love.

By today’s sideways and prejudiced thinking, opioid abusers are now most often seen as full-on victims of doctors, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies, while obese people are seen almost exclusively as weak gluttons. This, in my opinion, is not the case.

Though we all do get to make choices about the foods that we put in our bodies, we all exist in ever expanding systems of complexity in which corporations and marketeers work harder than ever, and more intelligently, at leading us into lesser choices.

I can’t go an hour online without somebody putting information in front of me demonstrating how the corporations behind our technology and behind our pharmaceuticals work hard to lead me into being more dependent on their technology and their pharmaceuticals. With that in mind, I can assure you that the corporations behind our food products are working just as hard to get us to eat more, and more frequently.

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Take a good look around in any room, social setting, store, or playground.  Though the temptation may be to blame an individual’s weakness for their excess bodyweight, they are increasingly tempted, if not outright lead into lesser eating choices.  That’s why it’s happening to so many more people with each passing year, myself included. This, all done by companies that make a little more profit with every pound that we gain.

So if you have a concern that a friend, family member, or coworker might be overweight, and you truly are concerned about their health, maybe mention it to them one time, and then let it go. After that, channel your energies toward the ever-changing structures and institutions that have allowed obesity to be on the increase.

Hint: It begins with your vote each November.

Lastly, and I cannot be more clear about this, if you use the word ‘fat’ in any fashion when addressing or describing an individual who might be overweight, that is moral equivalent of using the N-word… Jhciacb

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The Strangest Accent…

In 1989 I was working as a scheduling analyst in the pilot planning department for America West airlines. They had sent me to Hawaii to help open a crew base there in preparation for flights to Japan.

With little for me to do there during my first few days, my workdays usually ended by 10 or 11 AM. My afternoons were spent walking the beaches, exploring shops and restaurants, but mostly surfing the gentle waves of Waikiki beach.

One afternoon, after paddling out, I sat mid-point on my surfboard taking in the peaceful scene. There were few people around and I remember feeling as though I had won the lottery. After a half-hour or so another man paddled out and sat beside me waiting for waves, but like me, was in no hurry to catch any. The man was quite tan, extremely lean, had blonde hair and blue eyes. He looked like he belonged in Southern California more than Hawaii.

While striking up a conversation and making small talk, I noticed he had a unique accent. I pride myself on being able to identify accents, even within regions, and I’m usually quite good at it. His, however, was distinct and I couldn’t figure it out. So I asked him leading questions in order to get him talking more. The more he spoke, the harder I had to work at identifying his accent, and the more lost I became in doing so.

I just couldn’t pinpoint his accident. The blonde hair and blue eyes lead me to believe he might be German, Scandinavian, or from somewhere in northern Europe. His accent though, sounded nothing like a European accent.

Eventually I just asked him…

You know, I’m pretty good at identifying accents, but yours is eluding me. Can I ask where you’re from…?

“I’m from Japan” he said through a small but noticeable chuckle.

Never saw that comin’…

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We talked for a few more minutes and explained that he gets that all the time. He was from a 3rd generation family of German immigrants who settled in Japan as missionaries before the turn of the last century. He told me he spoke no German whatsoever, and English was his second language. He had been raised and educated speaking Japanese, hence the accent.

Once he explained this to me, it was clear as a bell. He sounded Japanese. He was Japanese. He was just a blonde haired, blue eyed Japanese.

On one hand, I should get a pass for not being able to identify his accent. Blonde haired, blue eyed people rarely have Japanese accents. But the lesson learned that day was quite simple…

There is an explanation for everything, even for those things that are strange and unique. Sometimes though, those explanations are very well hidden and require a little digging…. Jhciacb

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Heat Wave…

In recent days, temperatures here in Fallbrook have reached into the mid-to-high 90s, and even into the 100s, though yesterday we entered a cooling trend. Seems like there’s a lot of hot going around beyond Fallbrook too. Everywhere that it’s summer right now, my friends, family, and acquaintances are talking about — complaining about an exceptionally warm summer.

It’s hot out. Rumor has it, the globe is getting warmer.

I’m about to complete the book The Devil’s Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea. It is among the most humbling books I’ve ever read or listened to.

Despite that it’s beautifully written — lyrical even, it’s a very hard book to take on. The Devil’s Highway is the detailed account of the Wellton 14 or the Yuma 26, depending on who you ask — the dozen or more men who died in May of 2001 attempting to cross the border from Mexico and United States.

Urrea’s descriptions in the accounting of this story are detailed and harsh. He was granted liberal access to personnel, records, and information involved with the tragedy, and uses that information to share what is probably the most accurate picture of what is both a tragedy and a modern mystery.

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So Wednesday, when I was riding my bike on a 100° day, exerting myself and exhausting myself, I was thinking quite a bit about the mid-day heat, though I wasn’t complaining about it. I was thinking about the walkers — those lost me walking in circles under the hot desert sun for several days trying to get into this country for a better life, and what they were willing to do to get here.

My life, with all its difficulties, stresses, and frustrations, is incredibly easy, if not too rewarding nor fulfilling. I kept thinking about that as I was pedaling through the heat and humidity — about how good I have it, and contemplating whether I really appreciate any of it in the ways that I should.

Yup, the world is getting hotter, in physical climate and in social climates.

This is the hottest early summer that I can remember here in Fallbrook, and of course the temptation is to complain about the heat — nature’s beat down, but I can’t and I won’t.

I have access to water, shade, air-conditioning, and ice. None of the 14 walkers who died in that tragedy had any of that as they roamed through the desert walking themselves to death in the heat in search of a better life. But the truth is, they didn’t have any of that before they left home.

I believe in border security. I believe in legal immigration. I believe in working hard to do things in the proper way.

However, when I see what people are willing to do — what they are willing to risk in order to get to a place where they think they might have a better life, I completely understand. I share this, not to discuss immigration, not at all. I share this, for everyone who’s complaining about the heat, to keep it all in perspective.

A little food for thought on a hot summer’s day… Jhciacb

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A Faith Of One…

I am resolute in my faith. I believe deeply, but don’t subscribe to any denomination or persuasion. I contemplate, but don’t fall into suit with any school of philosophy. I pray, but I won’t suggest I truly know who is receiving those thoughts. My life has a dogmatic structure, but it is self-designed, practiced with consistency, and always with gratitude.

Still, there are those will come to know these aspects of me and suggest that my faith isn’t real or outright false because it lacks a name, a well-defined deity, ancient decrees, or leadership from beyond my own mind.

That amuses me — the very idea that my faith is less legitimate, less sincere, or less worthy because it’s self-assembled, self-administered, and freelance.

My faith is my faith. It is just as real and just as sincere to me as anyone else’s is to them, though there is no way to accurately measure one’s faith in contrast to that of another — thank God. Or should I just say thank goodness…?

I’m proud of my faith. I’m proud in large part, because it’s MY faith, not anyone else’s. Over time, it has been customized to within a millimeter of my soul. It’s a well-tailored suit of spirituality that fits me like a glove. Along with my daughter, my business, and my most immediate personal relationships, my faith is the most important aspect of my being.

I just wanted to throw out there this morning as a reminder that, although actions can be measured, faith cannot. Criticize my actions, praise them, or ignore them altogether. To question my faith though, would be to take on a task that will fall well short of completion… Jhciacb

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Where To Let Them Age…

With coffee at my side and my dog on my lap this morning, I lightly run my hand over his graying head. I tell him that I love him and assure him that he’s safe in my home. This is the most important part of my morning routine. If there’s going to be any peace in my day, then holding my dog and reassuring him is the down payment for that peace.

At 13, I accept that he probably has just a few years left with me, so I do my best to make each day for him count and to ensure his comfort and safety.

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My house is not a veterinary hospital nor a kennel. I don’t have all the medicines at my disposal which he might need for the illnesses that come with age. I don’t have any technicians or assistants on staff checking on him throughout the day. In an emergency, I would have to get him to a hospital as quickly as possible. Despite this absence of medication, trained help, and facilities, nobody tells me that as he ages he should be living in a veterinary hospital or in a kennel.

People accept that this is his home, and that despite me not being set up with as a pet care facility, this is where he belongs. Still, rarely a week goes by that a well-intended client or friend doesn’t suggest that my mother might be better off in assisted-living.

On one hand, that may not be a fair comparison. As people age, their need for care can be more complex and more far-reaching and that of an aging pet.

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On a more visceral level though, I have to question why it is so easy to put older human beings in care facilities, yet this is never done with our pets. Is it strictly a matter of health, hygiene, or safety…? Or is it a matter of convenience…?

The answer to that, of course, is probably somewhere in the middle.

Though it’s true that my mother might be better off with trained professionals in her proximity in case of emergency, a little red knob she can push if she needs help, or a cafeteria, none of those people or facilities will hold her hand each day and thank her for all that she’s done. Nobody will be there to tell her that they love her and actually mean it.

She might be in a safe room, but she wouldn’t be in a home. From that perspective, I see a little difference between taking an aging pet and putting him in a cage 3 miles from here, and doing the same thing with my mother, despite that the cage might have a sofa, a TV, and bingo on Tuesday nights.

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What I am willing to do for my dog, at the very least, I should be willing to do for my mother, including putting a pill in a piece of cheese and throwing it quickly to the back of her throat, and rubbing her neck to ensure it goes down. That’s a joke, kind of…  Jhciacb

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Paul’s Left Foot…

Paul is my neighbor across the street. He’s a retired Hispanic man, probably in his late 50s. Paul is about my height with a large Buddha-like belly and skinny legs. He is a genuine person who’s always been gracious to me. We often stand in the middle of the road shooting the breeze when I’m in-between sessions. We make small talk about music, travel, and current politics.

Paul’s yard is mostly dirt due to regional drought conditions, but it’s lined with well planned shrubs, flowers, and has several trees in strategic places. Despite that it’s mostly dirt, the yard is well groomed and pleasing to look at. Paul spends a good portion of each morning walking around his yard raking the dirt, trimming the shrubs, occasionally bending down to pull weeds, but most often just surveying and inspecting his landscape.

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In the 3 years I have lived here, I’ve seen Paul in his front yard almost every day. Most days, even in winter, Paul is shirtless, seemingly proud of the belly that blazes the trail ahead of him.

A couple weeks went by recently and I hadn’t seen Paul. Because he’s not a supreme physical specimen and due to his age, I began to wonder if he had a stroke, a heart attack or worse. After the third week of not seeing him I walked across the street to speak with his wife one morning. She explained to me that Paul had lost his left foot due to diabetes and was hospitalized. She told me he would be coming home soon and would have nursing care coming to the house to help him with the transition.

“After he settles in” she told me, “you can come over and visit.” That made me smile. I then offered my sympathy, asked her to say hello to Paul when she visits him in the hospital, and made sure she knew I would be available for any help they might need once he returns home.

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A few days ago Paul came home. One morning his wife reached out and asked if I would help get Paul’s wheelchair out the front door and help him into the car for a medical appointment. This would be the first time I had seen Paul since his return home. When I stepped into the house he was in his wheelchair with this back to me. As soon as he knew I was in the house he began crying and said…

“I’m sorry Roy, I fucked up. I really fucked up. They told me what to do — I knew what to do and I didn’t do it. I’m really sorry Roy…“

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I couldn’t understand why he’s being apologetic to me, but he was clearly embarrassed, distressed, and regretful.

I assured him that I wasn’t being judgmental, that I was there to help, and I that I will continue to help whenever needed. I gently suggested to him that he look forward and think about the future and recovery now. I helped get the wheelchair out the front door and ease Paul into the car. During the process, he never quit crying and expressing his regret.

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Before they drove away, I told Paul I’d stop by in a few days and we could catch up a bit more. He looked down, mumbled something I couldn’t understand, and they drove away. I haven’t seen Paul since, though I plan to knock on his door in the next few days to visit with him.

I’ve been chewing on his words though, quite a bit over the last few days. It was one of the most human experiences I’ve had in recent years. Those words keeps resonating…

“They told me what to do — I knew what to do and I didn’t do it.”

It doesn’t get any more human than that, does it…? We all know what to do about so many things, yet so often we fail. We know what to do, and we just don’t do it.

When I think about this — really think about it, I am reminded of the importance of being forgiving and accepting of others as I hope they will do so with me.

I think about the human side of failure. I think about perfection being within anyone’s grasp, yet I look around and I see so little of it anywhere.  The idea of knowing the path to perfection yet never getting there was at the heart of most of Augustine‘s writings. There but for the grace… Jhciacb

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Step Back…

Step Back…

If you enjoy eating sausage, the old political cliché goes, you should never watch it being made.

We are approaching a time in the world when we should realize it’s more than politics that is sausage. That everything we touch, look at, enjoy, entertains us, and/or influences our lives is, in one way or another, sausage.

Culture itself, is sausage.

We are also approaching a time in the world when our primary form of entertainment seems to be staring into little reflective boxes to watch all of these sausages being made. Once we are disgusted with observing the process, we attempt to have our way with others in the form of oneway conversations about all that’s wrong with the sausage making process.

This is social insanity.

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I think we really have to wrap our heads around this, and that’s not easy. Not at all, but…

If our primary form of entertainment has become picking apart the very things that benefit us, and that we and others enjoy, and as we attempt to impose our curt thoughts on others with no intention of viewing things in their way or with any intentions of empathy, the making of the sausage is not the biggest problem we have.

Simply put, a problem larger and far more cancerous than sausage making, is the entertainment value we place on picking apart the things that we and others enjoy and that also benefit us. We’ve been in a state of social advancement for over 15,000 years.

If one is of color, transgender, missing both arms, developmentally disabled, or even a child in-tow approaching a border with the potential for a better life, right now — today is the best day on earth to be alive. Because right now — today, one’s chances of prosperity and far-reaching social support have never been greater than they are. That fact is inarguable, though you’re welcome to try.

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BREAKING…

The world isn’t going to be lifted from the potters wheel, trimmed, glazed, baked, and set on a shelf to be observed and admired in our lifetime. The world was not designed or Designed to be an end-product for any of us.

With the ebbs and flows of man and of social morality, we are well into the net-positive of flow. After more than 15,000 years of culture, ebb (toward the negative) today represents roughly 25% of moral movement, with flow (toward the positive) representing 75%. Those numbers, by the way, are my crude  interpretation of an approximation based on the cosmetologist George Ellis’s work on morality being built into the fiber of the universe. Slowly, and over time, ebb continues to decrease, while flow increases.   This is just where we are today.

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It takes a lot of work to take such a large step back and to see the world from this point of view, but it is a step worth taking, especially on a day like today…. Jhciacb

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On Food System Beliefs…

This debate, as to whether or not we should eat animals, and how they should be raised should we decide eating them is acceptable, is slowly turning from a simmer to a boil. That conversation, now in the periphery, is headed into the mainstream and it’s going to get loud.

I believe within a generation, maybe two, the question of whether or not we eat animals, and if we deem it proper to eat them, how they might be raised, will be as central to political discourse as abortion rights, energy policy, and international diplomacy. This debate will someday influence elections at local, national, and global levels.

Fundamentally, this will be a continuation and an expansion of the right to life movement. It’s just that in the future, human lives will be having to scoot over some, to make room for the hundreds of millions of non-human lives who are beginning to matter a little more to each new generation.

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As I have attempted to sort out my own thoughts on these, and to separate my feelings from the logic required to maintain a civil, environmentally aware, and properly nourished species, I have come to realize how complex and far-reaching this conversation is. I’ll suggest that these issues (and all those connected to them) are even more complicated than abortion, immigration, and threats of nuclear war.

I say more complicated, because the aforementioned all have the potential for unanimous conclusions. The question of whether or not animal lives matter as much as or even more than human life, can never be resolved — at least not until they begin to write and speak on their own behalf.

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I have strong feelings on these issues and I know where I stand — today. Have no idea though, where I might stand tomorrow. My feelings are malleable and have shifted as my explorations have gone deeper. The one thing I can say, beyond any doubt, is that my uncertainty about any of this is greater than my certainty.

Regardless of where one stands on veganism, vegetarianism, eating meat, or how to raise meat, there is one fact that is rooted in mathematics and is undeniable…

That when we eat more than we need to survive, and do so habitually, it has a negative impact on the environment — globally. That statement, has nothing to do with obesity levels, fitness, or anything related to health. Simply put and worth repeating, when we eat more than we need to survive, and do so habitually, it has a negative impact on the environment — globally.

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I feel for those who drown in this type of uncertainty. It’s no way to go through life. I pity though, those with absolute certainty relating to any of it, for they are likely responding from their emotional side and not a logical one. This does little to pave the way for an acceptable future…  Jhciacb

If you’re not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so. Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from The Prefab Messiahs. Enjoy…!