December Peace Party

forpeace6

Crappety crap crap crap. It’s over halfway through Decembar and I haven’t done my Bloggers for Peace post yet. I nearly almost forgot. So, what is it?

Plan a party that will ripple peace to the world.

Crappety crap crap crap. I’m not good at parties. I don’t like attending them and I don’t like throwing them. I will come to your party, find some alcohol and a place to chain smoke while making fun of all your guests. Then, I’ll leave without saying goodbye to anyone. The next day, you’ll come over to my house and say, “Where did you disappear to? One second you were there, and the next, you were gone.” I know this because those were the exact words a friend of mine said on Sunday morning after Saturday night’s party. I’m like a bad party ninja.

Party planning. Shudder. Alright fine. Let’s plan a party for the world.

1. Invitations. Everyone is invited to my party. I do mean everyone. It doesn’t matter where you live, what ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or race you are. My party will take place everywhere including the internet. Everyone is invited and there will be no squabbling. If you are involved in a kerfuffle, you will be escorted to an area where you can settle your differences diplomatically.

Since there are bound to be clashes, we will have a get to know you type of thing. Everyone will be assigned a random party buddy so no one has to come alone or feel like a wallflower. Your job is to get to know your party buddy. If they happen to be your enemy, you will set that aside. The aim is to have a good time, not settle political differences. Your party buddy is your friend for the night. Tomorrow, you can go back to killing each other.

Unfortunately, some people will have to work on the night of the party. If your job is one of those imperative jobs where you don’t get holidays off, like emergency services or bartender for my party, you get to pick a day off at some other time of your choosing. All you have to say to your employer is “party night” and you get 24-hours off no questions asked.

2. Booze. I have social anxiety and the only way I can really get through a party is with at least one drink. It’s a requirement unless you want me to hide in a corner, chain-smoking and glowering. So, everyone can have one drink with a maximum of five. Tipsy is okay at my party; drunk is not. If you are drunk, you will be excused for a little while to a sober up area. My bartenders are the arbiters of drunkenness. If they think you are too intoxicated, they will serve you placebo drinks for the remainder of the evening.

3. Music. So as not to exclude anyone, we’ll be playing the biggest dance hits from around the world in every decade from the 1920s up, heavy on the big band and swing music, because I don’t care who you are, you can’t hate big band music. If you’re under 70 years old, you might groan about it, but I don’t care. Learn to dance like your grandparents. They knew how to do it right:

4. Food. What would a party be without food? This party will be a pot luck because I want to try all of your food. I ask, not require, but ask that you bring one item of food that best represents your city, region or country. If you live in the American south, bring sweet potato pie or something. If you’re from Boston, bring clam chowder, etc. I would like to try one bite of food that best represents every city on earth. Please make sure that dishes are clearly labeled with an ingredients list. We don’t want any anaphylactic allergy reactions.

5. The big event. At midnight in every time zone, if you became separated, you will find your party buddy. We’ll hand out champagne or sparkling cider and everyone will count down like it’s the New Year, even if it isn’t. At the stroke of twelve, we’ll be celebrating a new openness in the world. Hopefully, by the end of the evening, you will have made at least one new friend from a different culture. You will have tried some food from a part of the world that you might not have tried otherwise. You will realize that maybe we’re not so different after all and this enemy business is kind of silly.

Billboard.green

Peace Through Insignificance

Wave for the camera.
Image from wiki.

This month’s Bloggers For Peace Challenge is about quotes. Specifically, we are to post a quotation that will bring peace to the world.

The first thing that popped into my head when I read that was Carl Sagan.

In 1990, Voyager 1 took a picture of Earth from a record distance of about 3.7 billion miles (6 billion kilometers). In the photograph, Earth is shown as a tiny dot (0.12 pixel in size) against the vastness of space.

Think about that for a second. The Earth, our home, has a radius of only 3,959 miles (6,371 km) with a surface area of 139.43 million square miles (361.132 million sq. km). We tend to think that’s pretty big. There’s plenty of room for lots of different kinds of climates and creatures. It houses all of our history. All of it from Galileo to Gustav Mahler; from Tyrannosaurus Rex to Neanderthal. Every lizard, bird, fish and person, every single living thing that we know of, has lived out its entire existence in that 139.43 million square miles.

Yet, this is what we look like from the edge of the solar system:

Wave for the camera. Image from wiki.
Wave for the camera.
Image from wiki.

The sun, the engine that keeps our solar system moving, is only one of the estimated 200 to 400 billion stars in this galaxy alone. The observable universe is 93 billion light years. Its scale is so vast, we can’t measure it in miles or kilometers because numbers don’t go that high. We had to create a new system of measurement–the light year. Just one light year is about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers). We live in a universe that has 93 billion of them, and that’s just what we can see so far. There’s a reason earth is technically the center of the universe: we can’t see the whole thing.

All of human existence is but a speck on the timeline of the universe.

Some of you think that concept is pretty scary. Some think that humans and dinosaurs ran around together collecting firewood in the early days, and that the earth is only 6000 years old or so. It was created in only seven days by one person, or deity, if you will.

This post is not intended to be a religious debate. I just wanted to point out that, if you don’t believe in the nearly infinite age and vastness of the universe, you’re missing out on all the wonder. It takes all the spunk and pluck out of our story. The intestinal fortitude, good fortune and absolute doggedness in our very existence is lost.

I don’t find it scary. I find it exhilarating. We do not know what’s out there. If we had all the answers, life would be pretty boring. I am giddy like a schoolgirl when the concept of the universe is mentioned. I find all of this stuff absolutely fascinating. If I had a better head for maths, I might have gone on to be an astrophysicist or cosmologist, but I suck at it.

Had I been alive in a different era, I would be one of those people who packed up all of their belongings in a horse cart and ventured west to climes unknown. Unfortunately, I was born in an era of Google street view. There is only one frontier left to us; that of the solar system and beyond.

It is not me against you. We–you, me, Ghandi and Saddam Hussein–are all Homo sapiens. We are all the same. We have the same basic genetic structure. We’re all bipedal humanoids. The differences between us are quite small in comparison to our similarities. Just like dogs, most of our differences are but a tiny fraction of our genetic code. Dogs share 99.8% of the same DNA. That means this and this are essentially the same:

Chihuahua, Scottish Deerhound. Images not to scale.
World’s smallest dog breed–Chihuahua, giant dog breed–Deerhound.
Images not to scale.

And so are this and this:

Frederick Douglas, Sonny Chiba. Images not to scale.
World’s most intense stares: Frederick Douglas, Sonny Chiba.
Images not to scale.

Do you see how both dogs have four legs, a snout, tail and fur? And how both humans have two eyes, two ears, a nose and a mouth arranged on an oval surface perched atop a neckhole with hair on top and sides? That’s because they’re not that different. All of us in the same species, whether it be Canis lupus familiaris or Homo sapiens, share the same basic genetic structure. We are all mostly the same, no matter how differently we think, act or look. Humans should act more like dogs. They don’t care about size, color or appearances; all they see is dog.

We share the same planet, a pale blue dot in the Virgo Supercluster. We share the same genetic building blocks. We share the same bipedal movement and the same history. We are one species among many on a pretty blue planet wobbling around in infinite space. It’s time we stopped thinking of ourselves as so disparate. It’s time we accepted each other as the same species and stopped killing one another over our differences, don’t you think?

Enough of the preamble. I’ve gotten sidetracked from my quote. Carl Sagan said it better and more succinctly than I can, so I’ll leave you with his words:

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

This Song Goes Out To You

FOGmix

Halfway through August and I haven’t done my monthly Blogger’s For Peace challenge yet. Tsk tsk. I have an excuse though! I’ve actually been working on this for a while, trying to get it right.

This month, We are to invoke the power of music.

My favorite inanimate thing on earth is music. One could argue that music is anything but inanimate. It stirs the soul, it makes you feel, it makes you think. Music has the power to bring us together by involuntarily triggering emotions on a visceral level. It is humanity’s culture, values and emotions wrapped up in a tidy auditory package. It is our oral heritage.

Music can change my mood. It can lift me up when I’m feeling down. It can make me feel not quite so alone. It can inspire me. And, really, what’s the most peaceful emotion that humans have? If you said stabbing someone with an icepick, you’re wrong and should probably seek help. The correct answer is love.

Some of you are groaning now, but love isn’t just about making out with tongues. It is a universal emotion felt not just by humans. We can feel it towards anything: our kids, pets, friends, hobbies, the color blue, art, words, songs, chocolate and even our planet. Love is the common bond that living things share. We all love something, even if it’s only stabbing with an icepick.

The art of the mixtape has been lost with digital technology. We don’t think about putting a few songs that speak volumes together anymore. That’s a shame. So, this month, I’ve decided to put together a mixtape of the songs that express all sorts of love, except the goopy kind. This mixtape is a love letter to my faithful readers. It’s my way of saying thanks for being here. Enjoy.


Flaming Lips – Do You Realize?

“Do you realize that you have the most beautiful face?
Do you realize we’re floating in space?
Do you realize that happiness makes you cry?
Do you realize that everyone you know someday will die?

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes, let them know
You realize that life goes fast
It’s hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn’t go down
It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round”

(A little dismal perhaps, but a valid message nonetheless.)

Flogging Molly – If I Ever Leave This World Alive

“If I ever leave this world alive
I’ll thank for all the things you did in my life
If I ever leave this world alive
I’ll come back down and sit beside your feet tonight
Wherever I am, you’ll always be more than just a memory

If I ever leave this world alive
I’ll take on all the sadness that I left behind
If I ever leave this world alive
The madness that you feel will soon subside
So in a word, don’t shed a tear
I’ll be here when it all gets weird

So when in doubt, just call my name
Just before you go insane”

(I’ll definitely be here when it all gets weird.)

Edith Piaf – Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m a stupid American who doesn’t speak French so I had to translate into English.

“No, I regret nothing
Not the good things that have been done to me
Nor the bad things, to me these are the same
It’s paid for, removed, forgotten
I don’t care about the past
With my memories I lit the fire

My troubles, my pleasures
I don’t need them anymore
I start again from zero

Because my life, my joys
Today, it begins with you”

(Hells yes.)

They Might Be Giants – Don’t Let’s Start

“No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful
Everybody dies frustrated and sad and that is beautiful”

(there are way more lyrics, but I included this song simply because of those listed.)

Prince Buster – Enjoy Yourself

“Get wisdom, get knowledge and understanding
Those three were given free by the maker
Go to school
Learn the rules
Don’t be no faker
It’s not wise for you to be a foot stool

So enjoy yourself
It’s later than you think
Enjoy yourself
While you’re still in the pink
The years go by as quickly as you wink
Enjoy yourself
It’s later than you think”

(Excellent advice.)

Descendents – Original Me

“Mirror, mirror please believe
I need to find a sign
All of my life spent wondering whose hiding behind this face of mine

Confusion, illusion, misinterpretation of the original me

I need a sign, a simple chime
A windblown kiss across my mind
Solitude in the craziness
Of a world gone mad, a world behind

What big thoughts you have
I can see them in your eyes when you pretend to laugh
The reflection I see reminds me of somebody like me”

(You have very big thoughts – I mean that in a good way.)

The Brought Low – A Better Life

“Oh, my city lies in dust
My head’s about to bust from all the smoke
Oh, my back’s about to break
I took all I could take, not anymore

Deep in the dark night, I hold my pillow tight
Dream of a better place, of a better life

Oh, my friends they are lost
Some I can trust, some I don’t
Oh, my family has fled
Left me for dead by the road

Deep in the dark night, I hold my pillow tight
Dream of a better place, of a better life

I won’t let go
I won’t lose hope
I won’t let go
I won’t stand down”

(I won’t stand down, dammit.)

Led Zeppelin – Thank You

“Little drops of rain whisper of the pain, tears of loves lost in the days gone by.
My love is strong, with you there is no wrong,
together we shall go until we die. My, my, my.
An inspiration is what you are to me, inspiration, look… see.

And so today, my world it smiles, your hand in mine, we walk the miles,
Thanks to you it will be done, for you to me are the only one.
Happiness, no more be sad, happiness….I’m glad.
If the sun refused to shine, I would still be loving you.
When mountains crumble to the sea, there will still be you and me.”

(I’m not actually going to hold your hand. We don’t have that kind of relationship, unless you really want me to.)

Percy Sledge – Dark End Of the Street

“At the dark end of the street
That’s where we always meet
Hiding in shadows where we don’t belong
Living in darkness to hide our wrong
You and me at the dark end of the street
You and me

I know time is gonna take its toll
We have to pay for what we stole
It’s a sin and we know it’s wrong
Oh but our love keeps coming on strong
Steal away to the dark end of the street
You and me”

(This song is actually about an illicit love affair, but I think it applies to all my bloggy friends, too.)

Tom Waits – Take It With Me

“All broken down by the side of the road
I was never more alive or alone
I’ve worn the faces off all the cards
I’m gonna take it with me when I go

Children are playing at the end of the day
Strangers are singing on our lawn
It’s got to be more than flesh and bone
All that you’ve loved is all you own
I’m gonna take it with me when I go”

(Me too.)


If you’d like to listen to your mixtape from start to finish, you can do that by clicking on the tape below:

FOGmix


This post is part of Bloggers For Peace.
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More B4peace posts for this month’s challenge:

Dear Universe

Our tiny little corner of the universe.

You are very big and very old. I mean that in the nicest possible way. I don’t mean you’re fat, although maybe you are compared to the other universes, but I’ve never seen any others. I’ve lived my whole life inside of you like Jonah in the belly of the whale, so I’m not really sure what you look like on the outside. Perhaps you are whale shaped.

There is so little that we actually know about you and we’ve gotten many things wrong over the course of centuries. At first, we didn’t even know you existed. We could only see our own little planet. Then we discovered the solar system. We thought our pretty blue planet revolved around the sun and that’s all there was to it. But now we know you exist. We know that our little corner of you is as small as a cell is to a body, maybe even smaller since we still can’t see you as a whole. This is only what we can see of you, so we’re in the middle:

Wave for the camera.

You are all-encompassing and you’re getting bigger. You are literally everything we have. Every laugh, every tear, every idea and scientific breakthrough that the man-ape known as human has ever made has happened inside of you.

Some like to think that you’re fair. Some like to think that you have a plan for us, that you’re sentient and paying attention. I don’t think any of that is true. You’re no more fair and just as random as accidentally knocking the cue ball in the pocket on break.

CueBallOnOpeningBreak
Image from indianetzone.com

Except no one is in control of the pool stick, and you are all the balls and even the table. We really have no idea how the stick hit the cue in the first place; we’re still circling the pockets, waiting to land.

It’s a nice notion to believe there is a purpose in this or that someone has a plan, but I think the randomness of it actually makes it more exciting. If we knew how long we would live and what would happen, if we had all the answers, it would be a pretty boring existence. We don’t know how you came to be or how we got here. There are still so many questions and I think that is pretty neat. The unending quest for knowledge is the most noble trait we have.

You are as complex as the creatures that live inside of you. No human is entirely good or entirely evil. We all have done horrible things that we regret. We all have the potential for evil lurking inside of us, but in the same sense, we have the potential for greatness, too. It’s up to us which path we choose.

I don’t think you’re fair. I don’t believe that, because if you are, you’ve got a pretty fucked up sense of fair play. Some good people live their entire lives in misery, while others who sew evil and selfishness live in total impunity. They achieve power and do terrible things to the people just struggling to live day to day.

For me, the fact that you are not fair is actually the nicest idea, because it means that you are not biased and we are free. We are free to choose good or evil. We are free to be decent to each other and help each other out. We are free to love, laugh and live. Freedom is the best possible gift you could have given us. It means that we won’t always do the right thing, but we are capable of choosing.

There is evil in you, there is no doubt about that. Some people are truly terrible creatures. But there is good in you, too. There is joy and love. There is compassion. There is the possibility to choose our own paths. We have it in us not to ignore someone in need, but to stop and help. We can listen to each other and sympathize. We can help each other when we’re struggling and lift each other up. Not all of us will choose this path, but there are enough good people in you that it makes it all worthwhile.

So, while I don’t think there is an innate plan or a purpose or a sense of justice and fairness in you, that’s alright. We don’t know why you exist or why we exist, but we are here nonetheless. The why doesn’t matter. What matters is what we do with our time inside of you. What matters is how we love. Thank you for existing. I’m proud to call you home.

Our tiny little corner of the universe.
Our little corner of the universe, the Milky Way Galaxy.

This post is part of Bloggers For Peace.
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Remaking The Peace Symbol

peacefeature

This month’s Bloggers For Peace Challenge is about art. One of the prompts was to “create a piece of art that brings peace to the world and post it on your blog.”

I’ve been ruminating on this topic for a couple of days, trying to think of what I could do for it and I’ve been coming up empty. You see, I really am not fond of the tree-huggin’, granola-crunchin’, free love, flower power, hippy-dippy set that looks like it belongs in the 1960s. I don’t think this is relevant anymore:

For fuck's sake, take a shower! Image from uncyclopedia.wikia.com
For fuck’s sake, man, take a shower!
Image from uncyclopedia.wikia.com

That is not me. In fact, if I stumbled across that dude in the park, I’d be severely tempted to kick sand in his face. I wouldn’t, but I’d be tempted.

Not only am I not really down with the hippies, but I’m a graphic designer and I absolutely abhor hippy design like the peace symbol… Oh, how I loathe the peace symbol:

GAH! KILL IT WITH FIRE. Image from sodahead.com
GAH! KILL IT WITH FIRE.
Image from sodahead.com

It hurts my eyes. That is just godawful. Why does peace have to be so ugly? Can’t it be peaceful without spewing forth every color into a pile of dreck? Can’t we have peace that’s visually interesting and not in an “OMG, I can’t stop looking at that car crash” sort of way?

Don’t even get me started on the damn dove with the olive branch…

image from zazzle.com
image from zazzle.com

What the hell do doves know about peace and what does an olive branch have to do with anything? Yeah, yeah, I know, the olive branch is an historical peace symbol, but seriously, the ancient Greeks were some warrin’ bastards. I don’t think we should take their advice on peace. And doves are just fancy pigeons. Have you ever tried to talk to a pigeon? They know naught about peace.

I’m going to combine two prompts into one here. Kozo’s monthly prompt for Bloggers for Peace and Rarasaur’s Prompts For The Promptless. This week’s PFTP topic is “remake: to make anew or in a different form.” I’m going to remake the peace symbol.

What can I make that isn’t a dove, olive branch, peace symbol or a dirty hippy? I think the finger peace sign is alright. You know, this one:

peace sign
image from drpinna.com

I think that’s the least annoying sign of peace. Besides, unlike the peace symbol, you can make this one with a hand. So, let’s work with that.

peace1

Hm. It’s certainly not very hippy-dippy, but maybe the flames aren’t very peaceful. Let’s try again:

peacered

Hm. I think the red is a little too communist, like we should all be singing the International workers song. Let’s try green:

peace4

That’s a little too Saint Patrick’s Day. It looks like there should be a leprechaun in the background trying to steal me Lucky Charms. How about blue?

peaceblue

Yes, that’s better. Blue it is. And since the peace sign means different things in different cultures, here’s a plain old peace symbol: peacesymbolblue

And I suppose since not everyone speaks English…

peacesymbolblue.nt

There. I think I’ve covered all bases now. New peace symbols for all hand drawn by yours truly with a custom font. You’re welcome. :)

This post brought to you by…

Picture 2

Also…

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How The Giraffe Got His Neck

planet5

Once upon a time, there was a pretty blue planet.

planet

All sorts of animals lived on the planet. Each animal was perfectly suited to where it lived and each was perfectly happy to live there.

The fish learned to live in the water. They grew flippers and fins to help them swim. They grew gills to help them breathe.fishBirds learned to live in the sky. They grew wings that helped them fly. They built nests way up in the trees.

BIRD The fish lived in the water, the birds lived in the sky, but there were animals that lived on the land, too.

The pretty blue planet had deserts and forests and jungles and plains. It had mountains and meadows and grasslands and wetlands. It had someplace for all of the different kinds of animals to live and each was perfectly happy to live there.

There were Panda bears that ate bamboo leaves in the forest.panda

There were grizzly bears and brown bears and black bears and polar bears, too. Each one was suited for their own home. Black bears lived in the forests, while the polar bears lived on the ice.

bear

There were lots of different kinds of monkeys. Some of them lived in the trees. Some of them lived on the ground.

monkey2There were all sorts of snakes. There were desert snakes and plains snakes and forest snakes and even water snakes. There were big snakes and little snakes.

snakeThere were large, quiet, gentle apes called gorillas. Some lived on the plains and others lived in the mountains.
grilla2
There were big elephants, too. Some lived in the forest and others lived on the plains.
elephant

There were bunnies and rabbits and hares that lived in meadows, woods, forests, grasslands, deserts and wetlands.
bunny2

There were a lot of animals on the pretty blue planet. Each one was perfectly suited to where it lived and perfectly happy to live there.

All except for two animals.

In one part of the pretty blue planet, there was the gazelle that lived on the open grass plains and ate herbs, shrubs, short grasses and shoots.

gazelle

In the same part of the pretty blue planet, there was the giraffe that lived on the open grass plains and ate herbs, shrubs, short grasses and shoots.

giraffe-for-storyBecause both of them lived on the open grass plains and ate herbs, shrubs, short grasses and shoots, they were always causing trouble. The gazelle and the giraffe always fought over who would get what.

One day, the lion, king of all the animals, came along and asked what the trouble was.

lion-2The lion pulled the gazelle aside. The gazelle told the lion that the giraffe was always eating his food. “This is my home and my food,” said the gazelle.

Then the lion pulled the giraffe aside. The giraffe told the lion that the gazelle was always eating his food. “This is my home and my food,” said the giraffe.

The lion thought long and hard about this problem until he came up with an answer.

He got all of his lion friends around the giraffe, some on one end and some on the other. They pulled and pulled and pulled until the giraffe’s neck stretched and stretched and stretched.

giraffe

“There,” said the lion. “Now, you, gazelle, can eat herbs, shrubs, short grasses and shoots. And you, giraffe, can eat the fruits and leaves of trees.” The lion told the giraffe to give his new long neck a try.

The giraffe walked over to an Acacia tree that he had never been able to reach before. He swung his long neck up and easily plucked some leaves off of the tree. “Well, what do you know? This is delicious!” said the giraffe and then he ate some more.

The lion was satisfied. “I don’t want to hear either of you complaining about home or food again. You can share the same home and eat different things.”

From that day on, the gazelle and the giraffe got along well. They happily share the same open grass plains with the gazelle eating herbs, shrubs, short grasses and shoots, while the giraffe eats the fruits and leaves of trees.

There was peace on the pretty blue planet once again.

The End.

This post is part of Bloggers For Peace.

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Drawings and story by Goldfish. :)

Goldfish’s All-I’ve-Managed-To-Learn-So-Far Guide To Forgiving Oneself

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This month, Bloggers For Peace are supposed to publish a post that exemplifies the power of forgiveness.

This is not an easy topic for me. I can either preach about the benefits of forgiveness and come off like a total hypocrite, or talk about how I am incapable of forgiving certain people and defeat the purpose of the post.

I already wrote a post about forgiving others called G*dd*mn M*th*rf*ck*ng Forg*ven*ss. In that post, I talked about how I cannot forgive two monsters. Forgiveness is just not something I have in me for the crimes that have been committed against me. There are some transgressions that are so life-altering, so despicable, so low-down dirty and evil that you just can’t forgive them. Or I can’t anyway. Maybe some people can, but I can’t. At least, not quite yet.

Not a very peaceful way to start, is it?

I’m honestly not even sure whether I believe it’s possible to forgive certain things. In my view, not all crimes are equal. A starving person stealing a loaf of bread is not the same as a corporate CEO embezzling billions of dollars causing countless people to lose money, although they are both theft. A police officer shooting an armed criminal committing a crime is not the same as a serial killer, although they are both guilty of killing. An 18 year old having sex with his 17 year old girlfriend is not the same as repeated sexual molestation of a child, but they both end up on the sex offender registry just the same.

Murder isn’t just murder. Theft isn’t just theft. There are degrees of culpability and gray areas. When someone does something wrong, they should make amends for their crime, but for some crimes like murder there really are no amends that you can make. A life is not something you can ever replace.

Can you forgive this man? What if it was your family that he killed? What if he personally tried to strangle you to death?

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Uh oh. Godwin’s Law

That’s how I see my abusers. I see them as pure evil, because nothing but the purest evil could do what they did.

Forgiveness makes me angry. While I don’t dwell on it, when I think about who I would be giving it to and for what, it makes me angry. So, I’m not going to worry about forgiving the people who have hurt me. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to forgive them, but that’s alright. Instead, I’m working on forgiving myself. I can’t give away forgiveness to others until I have it myself.

Forgiving yourself is harder than forgiving others. Humans are more critical of ourselves than anyone else around us. We all have a little voice in our head telling us that we’re not good enough, smart enough, strong enough, etc. It’s about managing that voice and turning it into something positive.

If you cannot forgive yourself, you are constantly chewed up by fear of vulnerability, burning with anger, and living with the constancy of guilt and hurt. Our own perceived transgressions eat away at our insides. They make us cringe late at night lying there in the dark.

Rationally, I know that I am not to blame for the things that have happened to me. I didn’t choose to be a victim. I choose not to live like one now. So, here’s Goldfish’s Handy All-I’ve-Managed-To-Learn-So-Far Pocket Guide To Forgiving Oneself:

  1. Stop holding yourself to a higher standard than others.
    The next time you start doubting yourself, ask yourself what you would tell your family and friends if they were in the same position. If you are capable of forgiving someone else for something, you are capable of forgiving yourself for it, too.
  2. Own your mistakes.
    Mistakes are how humans learn. We know not to put our hand on a hot stove because at one point, we realized that hot stoves are hot. Don’t cringe at your mistakes, own them. Laugh at them. Be proud of them because they prove that you’re capable of learning.

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    Loser mistake.
  3. Stop punishing yourself.
    Forgiving yourself isn’t condoning behavior. It’s just not punishing yourself for it anymore. Do you have an embarrassing faux pas that you regret from 20 years ago? Yeah, stop that. Nobody cares anymore. Neither should you.
  4. Cut yourself some slack.
    Remember that forgiving yourself is one of the hardest things to do. It takes a lot of introspection. It takes time. Forgive yourself for not being able to forgive yourself overnight.

You are human. We all are. We all make mistakes. Some mistakes are worse than others, but we all fuck up. The difference between you and me on one side, and Hitler and the monsters on the other is that we learn from our mistakes. The monsters never will and that’s what makes them monsters. We are not monsters, are we? It’s time we forgave ourselves, don’t you think?

High fucking five.

Advertisement For Peace

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This month, Kozo asked us to construct an advertisement for peace, so I threw this little billboard together. I’ve never designed a billboard before, but here is mine.

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Wouldn’t it be nice to see this driving down the highway?
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Check out other bloggers that I follow blogging for peace:

Electronic Bag Lady’s Bag of Bits
Breathing Space
FEC-THis

If you’re a b4peace blogger and you’d like a link, please let me know. Peace out!

Personal Peace

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It’s the start of Kozo’s Operation Knock Off This War And Hate Business. That’s what I like to call it, but it’s really Bloggers For Peace. He gave us a challenge to write about: write about a daily/weekly gesture or act of kindness that you perform to create peace in your home and/or community.

Well, I don’t rightly know how to answer that prompt. I don’t think I necessarily do anything to promote peace on a grand scale. I don’t have a peace symbol on my car. I don’t give free hugs to strangers. I have been known to hug a tree before, but there were extenuating circumstances.

So, what do I really do to promote peace? I think it comes down to the little things. I hold doors for people I don’t even know. I say thank you, please and excuse me. I tip well at restaurants. I write thank you notes when people do nice things.  I don’t leave a pile of dishes in the sink when I’ll be gone for 10 days (like my roommate did). I try to be considerate.

These are not things I actively do. They are purely instinct. I was raised that way. My parents may not have been the best parents in the world, but I was raised with manners. They are ingrained in me now.

When I go out to eat and I see children running around under tables and screaming, I cringe. I cringe not because of the disturbance, although that is a part of it, but because I think about what my mother would do to me if I ever behaved that way. If I so much as looked at her funny while we were in public, she shot me The Look™. It could stop any infraction big or small. It was powerful and portended doom. Most of the time, she didn’t have to do anything more than use it. I behaved.

It seems a lot of people these days didn’t have a mom like mine. Some parents don’t seem to care that their children are squealing feral monkeys. People are inconsiderate. People are rude. People are entirely concerned with themselves. They don’t pay attention to others around them. Not all people, of course, but a lot of people are just inconsiderate of others. It’s rude and it’s wrong. We all have to live together on this planet and no matter what you may think, your actions do affect others.

A lot of the little niceties I do on a regular basis are selfish. I will give someone a quarter if they’re in line in front of me and don’t have enough to buy whatever it is. I will give them a quarter not just because it’s a nice thing to do, but because they are delaying me and I would hope that someone would do the same for me if I were ever in that position. It’s not that I expect anything back; it’s just that if someone sees someone do something nice, they’re more likely to do the same. If everyone else was considerate, they’d feel like a right arsehole. Every little act of thoughtfulness makes the world just a little better.

While holding the door for the person behind me may not ever win me the Nobel Peace Prize, I think it makes a difference. If you are having a rough time and someone shows a very simple act of kindness to you, well, it could turn your day around. Sometimes, all it takes is a little consideration for others to make a difference.

Peas On Earth

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Anyone who knows me even a little bit probably knows that I’m a crotchety old vertebrate not given much to tree hugging or hugging in general really, so when I saw Kozo’s Bloggers For Peace idea–that maybe we can create more peace in the world in 2013 by writing about it–my initial reaction was “Pshaw, pffft, hooey and harrumph.” Then I thought about it. And, well, why not? Why not write about peace as if it is actually an achievable goal? At the very least, Bloggers for Peace might remind people that peace should be a goal and we should all be working towards it.

So, here I am, the grumpy fish, writing about peace. Strangely, in a very roundabout way, I’ve written before on my concept of it. To paraphrase from the post The Fairness Sham:

“White/black, male/female, straight/gay; we are all humans on one little planet floating around in incredibly vast space and time. We are all descendents of primordial ooze. We are all the same. We all benefit from some extraordinary luck and timing to have evolved to where we are now with our thumbs and our big primate brains. So, humans of Earth, stop frittering away your big primate brain power on hatred. Accept that, no matter how differently we look, act or think, we are all humans, and as such, we all share the same fatal outcome. Make of life what you want. Stop being awful to each other. We are all in this together.”

That’s how I see it. I see absolute futility and absurdity in humans killing each other. I see how infinitesimally tiny the earth is in comparison to the vastness of the entire universe. I see that we are all the same. We are all Homo sapiens. We are all worker bees in the hive called earth and we should be working together, not tearing each other apart.

Given that it’s the time of year where people are generally a little nicer to each other, let’s try to keep that going even after the holidays.

Merry Fuckballs and Happy New Peace, motherfuckers!

If you’d like to participate in Kozo’s thing, which I really think you all should (or I will come to your house and thwap you hard on the back of the head–in a peaceful way, of course), here are the rules:

  1. Devote at least one post a month to/for/about peace. If you write poems or fiction, write a piece about peace. If you take photos, post a photo or gallery that reflects, symbolizes, defines, or creates peace. If you write rants, rant at something that disturbs the peace or rant about something that promotes peace. If you are into zen, post a blank white page. If you are an artist…you get the idea. Feel free to be creative. Peace has no boundaries. There are no mistakes. We have no enemies.
  2. Put a “Bloggers for Peace” badge on your blog. Put it anywhere on your blog–in the post, on your “about” page, as an image widget on your menu bar (feel free to link the badge to this post and put “click to join…”), on your “awards” page, on your avatar page, or get a tattoo on your chest.
    Link your post to at least one other post from a different Blogger for Peace. Hopefully, this will create a symbiotic synergy that will inspire others to create art/poetry/prose/photos/love on their posts about peace.
  3. You might also want to add the tag “B4Peace” to your post. This will also be a great way to get to know other Bloggers for Peace. I envision a virtual circle of us all holding hands in solidarity for peace.
  4. Put instructions on your post for others to join the group or link back to this post. This will help grow the movement. Can you imagine if we get enough bloggers to join so we can have a post on peace everyday? Imagine the impact we could make if everyday the internet would have some new creativity/energy/emotion/positive vibration about peace. Imagine if we linked all these posts together to create a web of peace and positive energy.

This post is the first in the Bloggers For Peace series.