Leaning In

I’ve been awake, off and on, since 1:30. About four hours ago. I almost got up for the day at 1:30, but fortunately I looked carefully at the clock before I made the commitment to get up and get dressed. This is not a rarity. I’ve arisen in the middle of the night on numerous occasions, slipped out of the bedroom, made coffee, and prepared myself for the day, only to discover my mistake. Sometimes, I stay up for the duration. Other times, I slink back to bed, cursing my inattention under my breath. Last night, I did not get so far along. I tried to go back to sleep. I succeeded in spurts, but I woke myself from light slumber with squeeks and snorts and other such noises. Not snoring; simply breathing through corroded pipes, I guess.

But I’m up now and ready to tackle the world, more or less. First things first. I will write until I feel like stopping, sipping my coffee along the way until I finish my one and only cup. Then, after a quick shower and shave, I’ll get dressed for the day. A little more formal than usual because I have an appointment in Little Rock at UAMS with my surgeon’s nurse practitioner, my 20-month follow-up. I have an appointment for a blood draw there, too; I committed before surgery to allowing them to include my blood in a hematological study of lung cancer patients over time. I may go to Colonial Liquors while I’m in town to buy some Arkansas beer to ship to a friend out east, if they sell warm beer. My understanding is that beer degrades considerably if it’s chilled, then warmed, then chilled again. So, I don’t want cold beer. I want warm beer.

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Yesterday afternoon I facilitated a Zoom conversation about race with twenty-seven other members of my church. It was an interesting discussion, I think, though I was very conscious of the time each person, including me, took to express their thoughts. Consequently, I do not think I adequately made the points I wanted to make. I may write an article for the next church newsletter to expound on my ideas; of course, the church newsletter, like many information resources, is largely ignored or skimmed with such superficiality that my words probably will be overlooked or utterly ignored. I’m not complaining, just stating what I believe to be fact. My fundamental point was to be this: white people must take the lead in dismantling systemic racism; that may be quite painful because aside from changing minds, it will probably require dramatically reducing our privileges vis-a-vis replacing heartless capitalism with a system that more closely resembles socialism. One person yesterday (maybe two) mentioned the need to change from a capitalist society to one modeled on socialism. The chances for success are slim in my lifetime, but perhaps in the next generation or two. Youth do not have so many experiences of failure to impede their efforts.

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I extracted some thoughts, on matters presently on my mind, from posts of the past. I incorporate them below. I think I’m doing this because I have a growing urge to rifle through all of what I’ve written over the years, extracting what I consider to be the better or relevant materials into a collection I might publish. This idea, of course, is not new. I’ve thought about it extensively and have written about it here on my blog. I need either to commit to it or to abandon the idea. But, for now, I stick a toe in the water and wonder whether the effort would be worth the outcome.

Communal Society Versus Individualistic Society

There are so many other laws, social and legal, that impose the social preferences of one group of people on every individual. Think of nudity, extramarital relationships, profanity, alcohol, marijuana, Sunday liquor sales…the list could go on.

I find it offensive that society can impose its collective will on so many things that are, to the extent they cause no harm to society at large, personal matters. The trick, of course, is to define that line of demarcation at which personal liberties infringe on the social order. But, often, that line of demarcation is ignored entirely.  Too little attention is paid to the concept of freedom and too much is paid to what a large or influential group of people find disagreeable. The result is the imposition of unreasonable restrictions on personal freedom.

I could easily take an opposing view of the imposition of social mores on individuals, though. I believe individualism is a negative force in society and that a sense of community and communal efforts better serve us. Mixed thoughts; much complexity.

The Suffocation of Communication

I resent Facebook. Facebook extracted depth from communication, replacing meaning with volume. Depth now splashes in shallow Facebook pools, trying in vain to find its way to the life-sustaining oxygen of conversation. Conversation that died at Facebook’s hand. Conversation withered in the absence of air, replaced by meaningless chirps—the sorts of noises made by wind-up birds whose wings keep the attention of infants for a few moments while their parents try to breathe. But the parents don’t breathe; they perish while listening to the shrill noise of artificial love-bots.

On the other hand, Facebook has enabled us to dramatically expand our circle of interaction. And it enabled Russian trolls and bots to steal the 2016 election. I still weigh in heavily against Facebook. And against Twitter, the enabler of the Dissembler-in-Chief and his insane cult of followers.

On the Contents of “Holy” Religious Texts

My sense is that,  from the start, the “supreme being” has been ourselves, our own consciences. The stories helped some people better understand the concepts. And they were contorted and bent and wrenched into shapes that changed them from myth to reality. But the reality isn’t real. At least not from my perspective. But the original motives were probably good.

And so I am spiritually promiscuous.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes "Intimacy is never wrong. It can be awkward, it can be unsettling, it can feel dangerous, it can seem out of place, but it’s never wrong."― John Swinburn
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