Agape and All That Jazz

Sleeping Beauty“You are free. You are free before the noonday sun. You’re free before the moon and you’re free before the stars, and you are free where there is no moon or sun, where there isn’t a single star in the sky.

But you are a slave, you are a slave to the one you love because you love him, and you are a slave to the one you love because he loves you back.”


 

I don’t know where the quote above comes from, if anyone else does please let me know I suspect it is part of a longer poem, ancient and likely Arabic. I think it is beautiful and the truth. We are all, at best, slaves to our hearts. Each of us, wanting to love and be loved in turn willingly opening ourselves to greater or lesser degrees throughout our lives to achieve acceptance and love.

We want to be loved, for ourselves, for who we are and what we bring without hiding anything. We want to open ourselves, explore and feel safe in those explorations without risking our core. We want love to blanket us and free us, all in one embrace. Love is one of the most frightening emotions of the human experience. Each of us feel it differently, our responses and reactions differ depending on our histories and how much we are willing to risk, to give away.

C.S. Lewis, in his book The Four Loves, explored love based on specific principles within his own life, including his own Christianity. His understanding of love wasn’t much different from many of our own; whatever else we might believe, including these:


CS Lewis

Storge – the basis of affection, the most natural and most emotive. Storge is both Gift and Need Love, the least discriminating and the most diffused, this love that pays the least attention to what is ‘valuable’ or worthy, giving without question and thus is the love that can lead us to be most hurt.

Philia – the bond of friendship, the least biological and the least natural according to Lewis. Based on his observations, even during his time friendship was a lost art and because it was the one bond we did not need for reproduction or protection, Philia is also the one Love that was most fully human of all the other loves.

Eros – romantic / sexual love, in a nutshell the bond of lovers.

Agape – the final and all-encompassing of the four Loves, although Lewis never referred to Agape specifically others later used the term. Agape subordinates the other loves, whether one refers to Agape as the love of God, or a broader love of mankind, charity, kindness or some other virtue. Agape is in my mind what makes us fully human and allows us the compassion and empathy to Love fully and with our entire hearts engaged. Agape can be found within our interpersonal relationships and is often found within Eros relationships. Where this is of a reciprocal nature these relationships work well with both partners being aware of the other, forgiving of foibles, generous in time and praise, patient and understanding of differences.


If we believe the premise of C.S. Lewis, then love is fairly simple, straight forward even. We are working with a set of principles that stay consistent throughout our lives; it is only for us to understand how they apply in any given situation and with any given set of people. The only other important thing to understand, we our history and whether we like it or not, we carry with us from one place to the next, all that came before us. We are formed by how we loved and were loved before, by family, by friends and by lovers.

I believe strongly in Agape, that we must strive to be compassionate, to be loving and forgiving; that our hearts should be generous and we should be patient with those we love, even when we disagree, even when we are hurt. Without Agape, the rest doesn’t work. It is my belief this is true whether applied within the context of relationships with lovers, family, friends or our relationships with the broader world. I may rage at times, I may find the world harsh and hateful even, nevertheless I believe it is within me to search for a way to make it better, even in some small way and this is the gift I can leave behind for those I love.

I do not always react in ways people expect of me. My friends, family and those I love all too often grow impatient, even angered at my reactions. Sometimes my reactions are directly tied to my history, the very real and active pieces of my history that trigger me. Those triggers cause me to retreat, hide behind pragmatism, logic or what seems to be no response at all. This takes us to the Storge / Philia love bonds, where Need Love and Choice Love are most important. We may not always remember another’s triggers or their history, just as they may not remember ours. We may not always react in the perfect manner, just as another may not provide us the perfect comfort when it is needed. The best we can do? Apologize when we have fallen short (Storge), stand together and try do better in the future (Philia) and most important forgive (Agape).

I am not even going to try to tell you I am an expert or have an opinion on Eros, I am not and I don’t. I have far too many failures to ever claim expertise. I can only say with any level of certainty, I believe without the other three; Eros isn’t even in the cards.

imagesLove in all its infinite and delightful permeations is waiting, is out there and is holding its breath if we are willing to open the door and lay our hearts bare, I am certain of this. Love is hard as hell and when you are human with history, it is even harder. Love burns, leaves skid marks across our spirits and our hearts, every single time we open the door, no matter what we do or who we are we can’t help but ‘want what we want’. It is our humanity seeking to be loved for ourselves, supported as we are right now not as we might be with some prodding to improve to be better than we are today. It is our humanness seeking to mold ourselves to be worthy of love, while still holding onto our uniqueness, our core.

Constrained as we are by all that has come before, we dance with our demons. Every single one of us battle demons, some of our own making and some left behind by those who said to us once upon a time, “I love you and I will always love you”. Now, we question motives, reactions and responses. Now we devalue the love of the next person as they fall short of our demands and needs, because the one that came before them lied. Now each trigger carries with it a history, no time for forgiveness only remorse if we fail to hear, “I am sorry”.

I still believe in Love, in all of its great glory. I believe we deserve love, to be loved and to love. I believe we deserve acceptance, kindness, forgiveness, generosity, trust and comfort as part of  love, I believe mostly in Agape. I am forever hopeful, silly and maybe even stupid in my hopefulness; yet still I believe.

This remains the song I want sung into my soul someday, that someday someone will scratch into my heart.

 

Anonymity and AssHats

OpEdRecently I was listening to one of the various talk radio stations I listen to on the way to work, or on the way home I don’t remember which now. What I do remember about that day is the caller who was furious and righteous in his fury. Now and then I find myself talking to the radio, sometimes I even curse and I do know many terrible words in a couple of languages even. This particular caller caused me to use them all; I tell you he was beyond ignorant and bordering on downright stupid, perhaps even evil.

It is my assumption that most people have some grain of good in them and some grain of intellectual honesty as well. I know, it is never good to make assumptions they are usually wrong and they usually disappoint. Another thing I know, social media, as well as, radio call in shows allow people the mask of anonymity, thus giving the privilege / right to be gigantic Assclowns without fear of discovery or retribution.

So what turned my crank? Got me screaming foul names at my radio and most certainly looking like a raving idiot at 70mph, well it went something like this:

Radio Host: You are on the air, what did you want to say?

Caller: I just wanted to say, if it wasn’t for White People there wouldn’t be any science, art; nothing. Everyone would still be living in caves and dirt huts grubbing for food like they do in Africa.

Radio Host: What are you saying Caller that you think all advancements came from Caucasians in Europe throughout history?

Caller: Well of course. White people are the only ones with enough intelligence to invent anything; all the modern conveniences came from white people.

This conversation went on for a minute with the caller getting uglier, more racist and ultimately more stupid in his remarks, the host finally shut him down without ever explaining to him just how wrong he was.

I have a secret; it is an important one I think, something we should have all learned in school, something we should all know by now and should all consider critical in how we view the world and our fellow man. So I am going to share it and then find something else to talk about for a day or two, I am going to take a break from my current bout of rage for a few days. Honestly, I am weary of the ignorance I am surrounded by and it seems only to be getting worse.

So here is my secret.

If it were not for those people of Africa, Asia Minor and Asia there would be no Civilization as we know it today. Going back to the time before Christ (how time is measured) while Europeans were barely walking upright, great civilizations rose and fell. Do you wonder what in Hades I am saying, what in Hell I am referring to?

I just bet you do. Well, let me first refer you to the following maps so you understand the definitions of Africa, Asia Minor and Asia.

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I know, you know what Asia Minor, Asia, Africa and even the Middle East are and didn’t need that small refresher course, did you? However, really it was likely a good thing I provided it. Here you were thinking all good things came from Europe and White Men, just like that caller the other day. I mean really that is what you thought in the back of your mind, right? If you were raised in the US of A, it is what you were conditioned to think, no matter how Liberal your family, how well rounded your education, you were none the less trained to think all good things came from those with pale skin and with few exceptions, a penis.

Let me provide a baseline from which we can leap into the pool of understanding.

Were it not for the people of Asia Minor in particular, but also Africa and Asia there would be no “God” of the Jews, the Muslims or the Christians to fight over. Certainly, there would be no Jesus Christ for the Christians to claim as their own. Were it not for the ancient people of Asia, there would be no Buddha. There is not a single religion, not one that was founded by Europeans, that is by Caucasians or White folks. There are offshoots such as Mormons or Snake Handlers they are though all based on something that came before them and not ‘new’. So just to get this straight in our heads, the faith based religions most White Folks follow so fervently, the ones they are willing to kill for and die for these were all created by Brown Folk. Jesus Christ himself, he was of Jewish / Arab racial descent, would have been brown eyed, with black hair, swarthy skin; in fact he would look much like the men and women we fear today in the airport.

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Without religion, there would be no philosophy. Just thought I would throw that one out there as a bone to chew on.

The next great one that did not come from Europe, did not come from Caucasians or more commonly known as White Folks…Writing. Nope, we did not invent any form of written communication. This was first discovered and then improved upon in other parts of the world. In fact, those same parts of the world we are so quick to condemn as barbaric and backward are the seat of early civilization where the first forms of written communication and math are documented.

Some of the Great Wonders of the World could not have been built without Architectural genius and advanced Mathematics.

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None of them strangely enough in Europe, none of them oddly enough from White Folks. With all this being said, I don’t want anyone to believe I don’t give credit where credit is due. Once the Romans conquered, marching through Asia Minor and parts of Africa, along with much of Europe, spreading joy and book burnings wherever they went, things changed quickly. Slavery for the sake of slavery came into vogue, violence and blood sports as a national pastime (think murder for the masses) and new forms of economic Democracy (vote buying) that have been passed down to us here in the good old US of A.

In the meantime, simply to put things in perspective here are just some of the Black Folks who have contributed to the betterment of our human society.

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To the caller and anyone else who thinks this way, please educate yourself or simply find the pit in Hell and jump in. You and your kind are why we are in the pitiful condition here and elsewhere in the world. It is your thinking that causes the problem. It is your thoughtless ignorance that starts the wars, kills our children and draws borders around nations. It is you, your ignorance that has people, both men and women, young and old lying on the streets of this nation dead by police too quick to fire their guns. Your ignorance, your xenophobia, your misplaced pride in something you had nothing to do with other than being born with the ‘right’ level of melanin.

You are the problem and you truly should seek help for your ignorance. Someone I love continues to tell me racism is a disease. I wish you and everyone like you would work toward a cure, I truly do.

White Man Improvements

Department Of Justice To investigate Entire Ferguson Police Department…Too Late For Me.

The DoJ is finally opening an investigation in Ferguson, not just into the murder of Michael Brown but with broader scope. The Mayor and Police Chief were on TV today trying to convince all who would listen everything was just fine in Ferguson, no need to turn the light on there. As Mr. Baker says, this is as stupid as, ‘That’s as stupid as the Captain of the Titanic telling passengers “everything is OK, we’re just testing out the Titanic’s ability to be a submarine.” ‘

Look Over There

OpEd

Today, in the United States of America, we have a national tragedy on our hands and we casually turn our backs, shrug our shoulders and with aplomb blame others, including the victim, for outcomes we own entirely. In the year of the Lord 2014, we continue the slow and sure genocide of those members of our society we first enslaved and then disenfranchised, no matter the dreck we pretend to, post racial my happy azz. Then throw in those members of society we stole the very land we call our own, the land we stole through hook, crook, death dealing and broken treaty, yes they remain on lands we continue to try to steal ‘back’. Finally, there are those who cross our borders in search of a better life, we have the gall to stand before them as if we ourselves are not the descendants of immigrants, demanding they return from whence they came pretending there aren’t criminals and other shady characters slipping about our family trees. We are a soulless community hate filled hypocrites that make me ashamed to claim my citizenship most days.

But just in case anyone doesn’t know the history of pap and dreck called Civil Rights, it includes:

  • Emancipation Proclamation of 1863
  • Thirteenth Amendment of 1865
  • Executive Order 9981, giving ‘equality’ within the Armed Forces
  • Brown v. Board of Education, 1954
  • Twenty-Fourth Amendment of 1964
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Voting Rights Act of 1965
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1968
  • Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, 1971
  • Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988, overriding Reagan’s original Veto
  • Civil Rights Act of 1991, overriding a threatened Veto by Bush
  • Shelby County v. Holder, 2013 the current SCOTUS reverses the voter protections of section 4 and made section 5 toothless of the historic 1965 Voting Rights Act. In a strongly worded dissent, Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “Hubris is a fit word for today’s demolition of the V.R.A.” (Voting Rights Act).

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The President said today, “We will not be intimidated. Their horrific acts only unite us as a country and stiffen our resolve to take the fight against these terrorists.”

No the President of the United States of America was not talking about the Terrorists in our midst, he was talking about others far away, others we in fact created. Created through our love for war and our propensity for nation building and the spreading of the falsehood of ‘Equality’, ‘Democracy’ and ‘Freedom’. This nation is built on a lie, a great huge sinkhole of propaganda. We are neither Equal, Free nor are we by any stretch of any imagination a Democratic Republic and we get further and further from this shining ideal every single day of our existence.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t talking about the police who are terrorizing and brutalizing entire communities. Killing children, men and women in the street and in their homes. Beating them on the side of the roads with impunity. Raping them without fear of retribution. Arresting them for no reason other than they are Black and sitting on a public bench outside a bank in broad daylight. I ask, what is the difference in these four killings?

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I personally do not give two tinkers damn if IS (ISIL, ISIS) continue to make their way through every nation in the Middle East, let them fight their own battles. I am unwilling to spend another drop of American blood, another drop of American sweat untangling the mess. I personally have no desire to see another American life destroyed for greed and the ignorance of rich white men who don’t give a damn whether any of us survive so long as their bank accounts thrive and they can ultimately negotiate another contract with another puppet government when it is all over.

This is what I give a damn about, right now, right here, today and without equivocation.

  1. Educating our young people from pre-K through grade 12 and making it possible for every young person to gain either a trade or a university education without going into a lifetime of debt. I want this education to be ‘real’ and I want it to include Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, History, Philosophy, Human Biology, Age Appropriate Sex Education, Science, Political Science and Comparative Religion and the Arts. I want sports to be secondary but PE to be mandatory. I want every child to have access to Head Start, Healthy Meals, Technology and Books (real ones). I want education to be PUBLIC and every school no matter where it is to have the same access to information, facilities, books, equipment and teachers. I want children to be taught to alleviate ignorance not to pass a f’ng test.
  2. Invest in our INFRASTRUCTURE, now and without trying to pick and choose who has the ‘best’ must kiss-ass-suck-up Senator or Congressperson. There are plenty of reports that identify the roads, bridges, ports and rail that are in the most desperate need, start there and work forward. This nation should be ahead of the curve instead of decades behind our competition, we should have high-speed rail for transporting goods and people. Our airports should be state of the art rather than third world nation, our ports should be pristine, we suck at all of it.
  3. Pass gun laws, now. No bullshitting on this one, no pansy ass negotiating with the NRA, tired of them. Let’s all face it, guns have one purpose to kill, that is their only purpose. Screw the Second Amendment, repeal now. Want to shoot stuff, want to kill stuff? Join the Army and volunteer to go over to the Middle East or wherever the latest hot spot is, otherwise no guns on your back, in your car, on your hip; no armory in your house. It is ignorant and stupid. We do not live in the Wild Wild West and guns are unnecessary.
  4. De-Militarize the police and start testing all applicants for sociopathic and psychopathic tendencies. Take away their toys first. Put cameras on their cars and their uniforms next. Anyone who turns a camera off is subject to automatic unpaid suspension. Establish external, citizen investigation of all complaints of police brutality. All police killings investigated by DoJ. Internal affairs essentially to become null, departments should never be allowed to investigate themselves, ever.
  5. Let’s start emptying our prisons of non-violent criminals, shall we? These mandatory sentencing laws are ridiculous. Three strikes, can you guess who this hurts the worst? How about life-sentences for juveniles, any guess who are sentenced most often? While I am at it, I want an end to the play for pay scheme all together, no more private prisons in the Good Ole US of A, no more Governors boosting their coffers by emptying streets into these horror shows.

I want; damn what I want is for all of us to be lifted up out of this soul sucking poverty we seem to have fallen into without a fight. I want an end to dead men, women and children of all races lying in the street at the hands of cops who are not held accountable for their actions. I want all of us to give a damn again, to give enough of a damn that we demand a change and demand it now rather than allow our horrifying descent into us-against-them feudalism, where all of us lose to continue. We have turned our backs on what we were supposed to stand for, what some of us did once stand for and now we are burying our dead, every single day without a tear shed.

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