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The Calm Reflection of a Sunny Day

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Each day we wake and ponder just for a moment that blazing ball of light in the sky, that wondrous giver of life that shines down upon our world like a beacon bestowing its radiance upon a realm that knows much about its existence but must theorize over its creation. It glares at us some days, it seems to look upon us with great appeal on others, but always it is there, even when hidden behind the gathered clouds that seek to dim its radiance and hide it away from view. Its light presses against them and reminds us that no day is ever without light, no matter how dim it might seem.

Each day it tracks across the heavenly vista as we watch it rise from one horizon only to reach its peak before falling to the other. It moves, yet we perceive it only peripherally, marking our day by its passage and lamenting its loss as it sinks beneath the landscape yet again, its life-giving warmth just a memory upon our skin as the cool touch of night caresses the land once again. With baited breath we wait for it again, enduring the night in variety of ways as we seek to once again feel that shimmering brilliance upon our skin, the golden light that bathes us and brings joy to so many.

What is night then? Is it the cessation of light? Or is it the grasping cold that seeks to steal away the remainder of that day we so cherish? No, night is the intermission between one day and another, the necessary pause that allows us to take a breath before we are bombarded once again with the scintillating touch of the heavenly body that is as necessary to our lives as it is enriching.

The sun rises, and so I must go, the light of day is calling.

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Optimal (beginning)

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Banks, OR

April 21st, 2020

I see everything now, whether I want to or not. My eyes were normal in the beginning, they saw only the normal things that anyone would see, whether you wanted to be real or get philosophical. There was only what was in front of my face though, nothing mystical or unseen that could be noticed. Not now though. Now I can see everything that people don’t want me to, and a lot that I was better off not knowing in the first place. It’s kind of funny really, and ironic, that all these things in life you take for granted are the things you’re better off not knowing sometimes. You might argue that point, but to be honest you’d be a fool to do so.

At the very least I can say that the hardest part is over. Now comes the tedium, the waiting, and the constant hide and seek that comes with it. You see, the people that did this to me and so many others can’t find me if I don’t want them to. It’s been tempting to let them some days, since it would appear that, according to them and what I’ve seen so far that I’m the last of the bunch that fell for their charade. The procedure that was supposed to be a cure for so much turned out to be a mistake that Costa Del Mar figured would make them a sweet deal when it came to their expensive eye wear, but as it turned out they’re now considered to be in league with the biggest swindlers the American public has seen in a long time.

If you inferred that right then hooray for you. The government sanctioned this I found out, even the FDA, who were the last chance to see right through this controversial procedure. They passed it without so much as a sniffle regarding what could possibly happen. It was deemed perfectly safe, a sound procedure that many people found to be so highly suspect that a good number of folks thankfully stayed away from it. Those were the wise ones. The ten thousand that signed up however, yours truly included, turned out to be the biggest suckers that ever lived. It’s easy to lean into your fading sense of hope however when you’re suffering a disease that’s slowly taking your sight away from you, especially since it was one of the last things in this world I still had to count on.

Retinitis pigmentosa it’s called, this disease that’s still in my blood. It’s not gone, as I inherited it from my parents. The disease is exceedingly rare, but once it starts there’s no way to cure it. Vitamin A apparently slows it, but that always seemed to me like putting a road block in front of an oncoming freight train while you’re on the tracks. You might as well toss the block and accept the inevitability. But something, some spark of hope deep down in what’s left of my heart, decided to get me to sign on for this procedure. I hadn’t lost my sight, not yet, and so I managed to get through the initial screening that was given. They didn’t want those that were blind or had any sort of optical damage you see, and it’s kind of an oddity how I got by since my condition had been worsening through the past few years.

But I made it in, and I got my glasses. The program, called Optimal Vision ironically enough, was meant to be a breakthrough in improving the sight of an individual by cutting out the need to undergo laser surgery, which some say is horrifying, and others say isn’t that bad. I wouldn’t know since no surgeon would ever bother with me. But these glasses were revolutionary idea that had already been field-tested on one hundred test subjects, and had been deemed as safe and, even better, highly effective. I didn’t have any hope in hell of it working for me, but it would seem that fate isn’t without a sense of humor.

Costa Del Mar hosted the procedure, making an event of it as we were taken in groups of one hundred, the same number as the test group. It took nearly a week to get us all through, but we were carefully sectioned off and then brought into an auditorium where reporters and journalists alike were waiting for the results. I can honestly believe that some of them were there to see a grand spectacle of sorts while others were there to see a tragedy so that they had something to report, some horrific science experiment gone wrong. That didn’t come until later, much later.

You know the gist of laser surgery on the eyes, right? Well, if you don’t then the long and short of it is that normally you’d be lying flat on your back as the surgeon took a laser or a scalpel and cut a flap in your cornea, your eye in other words, and removes whatever needs removing before putting the flap back as it’s supposed to be. The healing process is beginning the moment you leave the office, and the whole procedure takes about a half hour, maybe a little more. In other words your vision is fixed in less time than it takes to fill out the paperwork.

These glasses do the same thing, more or less, and do so while you’re wearing them. You can imagine because of this that they would be for one-time use, but the lot of us were allowed to keep the glasses, as the company believed that after the one use we would never need them again save for mementos or something cool to wear. They’re nice glasses to be honest, but I don’t need them any longer. I found out that a lot of people that had problems similar to mine, people that, like me, shouldn’t have been allowed into the procedure, found themselves in a position like I did. Like I said, to my knowledge I’m the last of them, and I’m the only one that still seems to realize the danger of the glasses.

They were only supposed to be for one use like I said, but the problem is that the supposedly limited power source they came with was able to be recharged fairly easily. I found that out when my vision started failing me again. As you can guess, something happened, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for…..

 

*There will be more to this story, don’t worry.

The Third Side to the Story

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It might sound a little odd to say that there are three different sides to any story, instead of just two, but quite honestly it shouldn’t. Any time you hear a story in the news, on TV, or from anyone that speaks to you, there’s a high probability that you’re hearing it through a very biased filter. So how do you decide just what that third side is then? Because like it or not, that third side that is unbiased and has no affiliations to one side or the other will be the one that sees the most truth and is capable of divining just which side is at fault in any given situation. Sometimes it’s both, other times its neither, but there is always a shifting balance of blame and credit that those on both sides of an issue try to dispense and partake of during any discussion, argument, or situation. It’s a very natural human trait to see your own side as the right side, the justified side, and the way that everyone else should believe.

But that’s not the truth. We’ve become a society, well, we’ve BEEN a society where believing as you want has long been a belief that has allowed us to push forward and become what we are today. Obviously that’s not entirely true since there are those among us, even to this day, that would gladly force their views and their beliefs onto us without any consideration for what we believe or think. But for the sake of argument those that oppose one another when it comes to anything in this world are all the wiser when they can step back from their own view and attempt to see the third side of any discussion/argument/situation. It’s then that they can get a better idea of what the other side is talking about, how they feel, and what’s prompting them to act as they do and say the things they’re saying.

It’s tougher than it sounds to stand back and see life from the perspective of another.

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No one wants to believe that their side of the story is incorrect in any situation, so it’s common to see people double down on their beliefs and become even more entrenched in what they consider to be the “right” side. Even if a part of them is screaming at them from within that their side is not the right one, they will simply be too afraid or too resolute in their convictions to see any other side but their own. This is unfortunately the dark side of belief, when your conscience tells you one thing and you stubbornly choose to believe in something simply because it’s become habit.

It’s a stretch and it’s not easy, but training your mind to see each and every side of an argument is the way to finally understand just where each side is coming from, and then ascertain what truths are being spoken by both.

There is no “one side of an argument is truthful and the other is lies” scenario. No matter how distasteful it sounds, no matter how fiercely two sides oppose one another, there is always a binding reason to any argument that will serve as the basis of truth and the common thread that will serve both parties.

 

Religion in the Modern World

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Religion within a debate can get messy, heated, and close people off to certain venues of discussion, or it can be used in a rational, calming manner to point out the differences between individuals as well as the similarities. Fighting over religion is unfortunately a natural act that humans have been practicing for uncounted generations, and have never been able to find a true compromise for. Each and every side of religion will gladly extol their virtues upon the world any that will listen, and some will even attempt to convert others to their beliefs. But so many different religions tend to miss the mark when it comes to the binding, universal truth that connects every single person that has ever been or will ever be.

As humans we are bound to believe in something, even if it is nothing.

That’s a bit confusing isn’t it? It’s too simple for some and too minimizing for others, but it is a very solid truth that underlies every last religion and belief in this world. The act of coexisting with another religion is nearly impossible for some, and is exceedingly easy for others. The funny thing about this is that it has nothing to do with the religion, and everything to do with the individual.

Many people use religion for their own purposes.

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This has been seen for many a year in which people will use their religion for a singular purpose and seem to eschew the original purpose for which it was intended. Many would cry out “that’s not right!” and denounce such a statement, but as history has taught us and continues to teach us, this is in fact the case.

It doesn’t matter if pastors aren’t using the church as a solicitation device, the need to be in the spotlight is, for some of them, still the main reason they’re there. One would like to believe that our teachers in religion are guides, mentors, and those that will forego the need to believe in the “I” and the “me” complex that is so prevalent in the rest of society. But there are moments when those that guide us seem to regard themselves as the shining figurehead we must follow and obey.

Another criticism of any religion comes when they seek to ask their congregation to pay for things that many of those in the congregation feel is excessive. If you look at it, many churches require a great deal of space for their parishioners, but anything extra tends to be a bit ridiculous. Seriously, who in the world needs a jet for religious practices?

Too many religious leaders these days seem to feel the need to be superstars and celebrities, which is a serious step away from the word and the gospel they seem eager to preach. It is unfortunate, as many religious leaders throughout the world still believe in the word and tenets of their religion, that anyone would think to give praise to themselves for the misguided attention of those that so willingly follow them. Maybe some of those that have forgotten need a refresher course. Here you go

Luke 12:15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 1 Corinthians 6:10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Hate is a strong word, but then so is religion.

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So let’s set it straight, as much as it possibly can be. Religious extremism in fact a huge problem. Those that take the scriptures and tenets of their religion seriously and factually do pose a very serious problem as the way of life described in ancient texts is at times quite brutal and not at all in keeping with how many people choose to live in this day and age.

As far as impeding science goes however it has been seen that religion and science have coincided quite nicely throughout the years. There are indeed scientists who are religious and there is room for religion in scientific matters. Both are able to work together unless a person adamantly refuses that such a union can be possible. In such a case however extremism is still quite possible and can be highly disruptive to the harmony that is so badly needed.

As far as how religious individuals treat and interact with those that do not believe in the same ways or do not believe at all, it is upon the individual to decide how they will treat others, not their religion. Religion is not the end-all of life, nor is it the driving force for many that simply wish to live a moral and happy existence.

Proverbs 18:15

An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

Religion is one’s choice and the belief that people desire, it is not the only way to a good and fulfilling existence. So long as people can realize this it is possible to live with one another no matter our beliefs.

Taking Care of US Veterans

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It’s not much of a secret that America has been neglecting its veterans for so long that it seems to date back to the Revolutionary War. Soldiers that go to fight for their country tend to come back and find that the same country they fought for now gives them the runaround when it comes to finding a job and gaining much-need assistance. This kind of occurrence is something that should shock the general public and send up a general outcry loud enough for the government to hear and respond to immediately. Unfortunately this has not been the case, and though there are those that have managed to get access to the kind of medical treatment and resources they’ve needed, there are still many, many more that go without and are forced to wait for the services that they so desperately need.

America gladly supports the troops when they’re serving the country’s interests, but coming home is another story.

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So what does that mean exactly? It means less access to medical care, less access to facilities that veterans need for various purposes, and even less access to cemeteries so that they can obtain an honorable burial when they pass on. Veterans did their absolute best to protect this country and its interests and in return they’re being treated like second-rate citizens when their service is up. Is this fair or is it simply the act of a government using their militaristic might as child might use their toys? Taking care of our veterans should be a top priority upon their return, and yet some of them are treated as broken and easily discarded by the system.

It’s time for those that don’t do the fighting but are still in control to feel the pinch.

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Now if this doesn’t burn you up a little bit it should. The average Congressman or woman will make upwards of well over $100 thousand dollars a year during their term, and will still make close to that as their pension. Veterans don’t even make a fraction of that on average and don’t enjoy the same benefits that the taxpayers are granting those that serve in Congress. While some of those that sit in their comfortable seats might have once known the uncertainty of the battlefield, others have never even been near one.

Perhaps it’s time to switch things up a bit.

The time for thanks will always be present, but the time to take care of our veterans has been long overdue.

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Too many of our veterans are homeless, too many have gone without the proper care, and far too many have been lost because they did not receive treatment in time. It will take more than words and far more than thanks to make this right, though words should help to ignite the fire that will hopefully burn bright enough to shed a light on the treatment of our brave men and women that deserve so much more from us.

What is a “Real” American?

It’s a fair question. What is a “real American”? Is it someone that’s born here and speaks only the native tongue, English? Or is it someone that claims this country as their own and yet feels free enough to speak whatever language they please? Many people seem to have forgotten that being an American is more than just being born to this country, and that it has almost nothing to do with how a person speaks to another in public. Should all US citizens know how to speak English? It would certainly help, and it does seem as though other countries would require the same of US citizens that decided to live abroad. So perhaps it is advantageous to speak one of the most prevalent languages of the nation, but it certainly doesn’t meant that a person is any less American for speaking in the tongue they are comfortable with when in public. And it does give anyone else the right to deride them for it.

In truth, some non-native speakers possess a more extensive and superior vocabulary to those that were born in America.

It’s a bit sad to think that those born in this country are those that are often have the most limited vocabulary and show it in the simplest of ways. This clip above for instance shows that some folks, whether under duress or not, simply fall back on the simplest things they can think of to say. It’s almost as though hearing people speak in another language short-circuits the language area of their brain and causes them to spit and sputter the first thing that comes to mind. I realize the man is in a wheelchair and that speaking ill of the handicapped is not a welcomed practice, but aside from his physical condition his sense of morality and ethics was just as suspect as his limited vocabulary.

Worse still, we have people in positions of authority that seem to have trouble figuring out what America is about.

The higher one goes in politics the more the morals and ethical practices seem to fall by the wayside. Beyond the language issue is the human issue that “real Americans” are split by when it comes to practicing what has been preached in the past. “Give me your poor, your tired….” is no longer the saying it would seem. Now it seems that “no vacancy” is the American way and that our morals are based upon not only the laws that cannot be agreed upon, but biblical practices that state that our laws are what justify the treatment our country has given to others in the recent past.

Our “Real American”.

It’s hard not to criticize the American president, and at the same time one cannot hope to condemn him entirely either. At this moment he has said things that have truly irked a great many people and terrified others as he is the type that will speak his mind and let it be known what he wants. And unfortunately what he wants at times seems to fly in the face of Americans everywhere as it does not stand by the virtues that this nation was founded on and does not coincide with the best interests of the people. While it is necessary for our country to to have a president and to follow the president, it is also necessary for that president to represent the nature and philosophy of what America stands for, and unfortunately at this point our nation is falling far short of the mark.

In this case ignorance isn’t bliss, it’s a cancer eating at the fabric this nation was built upon.

So many seem to feel that they’re entitled to this country by dint of being born into it. Well yes, this is our home, our sanctuary, and our birthright. But it does not give us, or anyone, the right to deny any other individual that has come to this country, or that desires to come to this country, the right to their happiness. Yes there are legal ways to go about it and yes those that go through such channels have done it the right way, but being an American is about more than just following the laws and being tolerant of others. It’s about more than simply accepting those that want a shot at better life.

It’s about understanding that no what matter what language you speak, no matter what culture you belong to, we are all part off the same country. United we will stand, but divided we will fall.

When Friends Tear You Down

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We’ve likely all experienced this in our lives by now. You make friends, you grow up, you lose friends, they move away, you acquire different interests and go down different roads, and things change. That’s natural, it’s expected, and eventually one day you might reconnect and find that you still have at least a few things in common. But when a friend crosses that unseen line and betrays your trust and attempts to bring you down to a level that you’re not accustomed to then it becomes something entirely different. If there’s one thing that can end a friendship quickly without allowing for anything resembling a comeback it’s the act of tearing each other down, as this is a serious betrayal of what it means to be a friend.

There are moments when such a thing is done out of spite, misguided fear, anger, and even jealousy, but no matter how it happens that sudden split is often enough to sever or at least severely damage a friendship. Manipulating another person, especially a friend, is an act of psychological violence that is hard to forgive, and tends to stick in a person’s mind for some time to come. There might be some that say such things as “get over it” or “you’re overreacting”, but the truth is that a person that attempts to manipulate a friend for their own ends is someone that will generally stoop to anything to get what they want.

Let’s be honest.

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We all manipulate one another at some point in life even if we don’t mean to. But quite often those manipulations that are meant to enrich a person’s life rather than coerce them into doing something that goes against their better judgment are to help them, not hinder them or in any way force them to do something they are opposed to. Friends aren’t there to force or coerce you into anything, they’re there because they want to be, because you want them to be, because there’s a mutual respect between the two of you.

Unfortunately there are empty people in this world that, through some tragic twist of fate, have learned how to attract friends as a spider attracts flies. Once you’re stuck, it can take a monumental effort to get free. Cutting loose a toxic friend is a difficult proposition, as many friends want to believe that they can help a manipulator by showing them how to act like a real human being. The trouble with this however is that a manipulator knows this act quite well, but they lack the capacity to trust anyone for various reasons. A person can choose to weather the storm and get to the root of why such an individual acts in such a manner, or they can cut them loose. It’s a hard choice, but those that are hard-wired to tear others down don’t usually stop on their own, and will defend their behavior through any means possible.

Sometimes moving on is necessary.

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Nobody wants to abandon their friends to an uncertain and possibly miserable, lonely life, but no one deserves to be continually torn down either. It’s very hard to forgive those that have done you wrong, and in some cases it might never happen. But moving forward is the best way to make the sting go away, as is finding those who will truly respect you for who you are and not for what you can do for them.

We all have at least one friend, or more, that we had to let go of in our past, and it hurts to think about them sometimes. But the toxic nature of those friendships in which only one person truly worked for it is not the kind of life that people need in order to grow. Friends are those that are there when you’re down and do their best to lift you up, who share your triumphs and your losses not to build themselves up, but to insure that you have your moment. Friends are those that will do such things because they know that you will do the same without question.

Life’s too short to stop and wait for those that don’t want to make that journey with you.

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You’ll go through friends as you grow, you’ll see some leave and some pursue different interests. Some will come back occasionally and you might welcome them. But those that were left behind for a good reason are often better left in the past, as their constant need to be built up by your efforts would only insure that you remained at their level and never grew as a person. It’s hard, it’s painful, but sometimes it’s necessary to keep on living.

You might never forget them, but friends that seek to tear you down are best as a memory and a life lesson, not as a constant fixture you can’t get rid of.