From Russia with Love: Did Putin help Trump win the election?

election

That pesky Putin and his friggin’ Fancy Bear hackers … did they help Trump win? The startlingly shallow exposé that follows uncovers nothing, but answers everything. Enjoy.

Election interference. A KGB connection. An East-Meets-West Bromance of Trumputinian proportions. It reads like a scintillating spy novel and plays in the press like an international crime of the century.

Did the Russkies influence the outcome of the election? Did the press blow it? “Fake news” hurt Hillary?

Here’s the cold, hard truth—it doesn’t matter one whit who did what—Trump is our president, and there’s not a dang thing we can do about it.

But it IS fun to point fingers. And conspiracy theories about Russia haven’t been this juicy since the Cold War.

Image may be copyright protected

Let’s dig deeper

Suppose the Russians DID influence our election. How’d they pull this off and why? Does Putin despise Hillary? If so, perhaps it’s because of that silly RESET button that translated to “overload” in Russian.

Did Putin take this as a subtle snark attack on his manhood? Like maybe he thought Hillary was zinging him for his many manly shirtless horseman photos? Or for his overcharged martial arts machismo?

Granted, Putin and Hillary don’t seem to like each other. But I figured it’s because he’s a man and she’s a woman. Does the hatred run deep enough to sic his Fancy Bear hackers on her?

Image may be copyright protected

What we know and don’t know

The DNC servers got hacked, and WikiLeaks laid bare Hillary’s operatives’ election misdeeds. Did this influence the election? Probably. Should whoever hacked the DNC servers also have hacked the RNC’s? Who says they didn’t?

If they did, but chose not to release Trump’s nefarious election dealings, is it because there was nothing to release? Okay, I know what you’re thinking—are you kidding me? Trump and his Trumplings are as crooked as the day is long. You’re probably right.

But we don’t know they’re crooked based on any hard evidence. We DO know about Hillary’s minions’ odious dealings concerning Bernie Sanders. Everything else is innuendo and blind Trump hatred. You can run with innuendo all you like—it’s a free country. Uber Doofus rolls with facts.

Image may be copyright protected

But it isn’t FAIR

What does fairness have to do with anything? The virtue making of fairness is a uniquely American construct. The rest of the world doesn’t play that way. And if we’re honest, neither do we. For sure, Putin’s (former?) KGB operatives don’t trouble themselves with fairness.

How hackers “interfered”

Let’s analyze this election interference stuff.

Hackers hack DNC servers. In doing so, they uncover bad and “unfair” stuff. WikiLeaks publishes it. Hillary takes hits in the form of distractions that slow her momentum. Trump capitalizes by bloviating nonstop about her untrustworthiness.

Seems like politics as usual.

Did the hackers make this stuff up about Hillary’s campaign? Did they create fake emails and disguise them as John Podesta’s or Debbie Wasserman Shultz’s? I haven’t heard or read any denials from either of these schmucks. Have you?

They screwed up and got caught.

Hackers uncovered damaging information, and WikiLeaks simply revealed it to us voters. Is this election interference? Nope. Did it influence voters? Yup. But there’s a big difference between influence and interference.

As voters, we influence each other. The media influences us with their bias. Voter fraud is election interference. So is tinkering with vote counting systems.

If this “interference” is actually influence by information giving, please, Russkies, interfere EVERY time. And make sure you do so with both or all the candidates.

When voting for president, I like raw information. We don’t get it from our media, so why not get it from WikiLeaks? It’s funny how every other scrap of info WikiLeaks has provided—NOT Hillary-related—is praised with none of this handwringing over fairness.

Image may be copyright protected

The BIGLY question answered

Did the Russian (or whoever) hackers help Trump win? Who knows? But here’s what we DO know:

Damning emails helped Trump win. Sleazy Hillary operatives helped Trump win. Hillary’s arrogance, secret server and elitist and dismissive deplorable comments helped Trump win.

Trump’s capitalizing on an eight-year anger build helped Trump win. INFORMATION helped Trump win.

American voters helped Trump win.

 

Does Putin have a bromance with Trump? I don’t know, and I don’t care. 

But I doubt it because Putin is all about Putin. He’ll do or say whatever he thinks will best preserve and expand his power while, secondarily, furthering Russia’s interests. Trump’s probably the same way, except for a niggling streak of patriotism that may counter his power trip.

Perhaps that’s why Putin and Hillary hate each other. They’re more alike than they are different. Maybe it’s a matter of conflicting interests:

Hillary wanted to reign in Putin’s power and Russia’s influence through sanctions and pressure. Putin wants to do the same to us by any means possible.

Trump wants to work with Putin by schmoozing and making deals. At least for now.

Siberian-cold, hard election truths

Those who keep beating this dead horse wouldn’t give a Russian rat’s arse about any election interference, if their candidate had won. Stop whining, and give our electorate a little more credit.

But they don’t and won’t because they can’t accept the idea that Trump voters may not ALL be the caricatures the “resistance” and our media portrays them as: Angry, ignorant, deplorable Bible-clingers and gun toters.

Maybe, just maybe, many are thoughtful, value-driven, high-information voters who carefully consider any and all information about the candidates—no matter how it’s acquired—and then vote accordingly.

Is it possible that some Trump voters voted for the platform and not for the pervert? Should they have voted for his criminal opponent? If they had, there’d still be a pervert in the palace—a prowler of interns with a presidential wife to protect him by destroying even more women.

Meme may be copyright protected

Next steps

Hey, Russian hacker/Putin monster makers—Get over it. The election is done and in the books. Instead of chasing Russian ghosts, let’s secure our servers.

Intelligence agencies—Show us what you’ve got on this election interference jazz. Otherwise shut up and stop hassling Americans who don’t deserve your carte blanche surveillance.

Angry protesters—Hack this: Your candidate lost because she sucked a little more than her opponent.

It’s high time to let it go.

Trump’s our president. Like him or not, we’re stuck with him until 2020, at least. Let’s make the best of it.

Putin and the Russians will.

Looking for Clover: Our pursuit of Paradise in a wonky world—Death is not the end. It’s the beginning.

Image my be copyright protected

Is this life all there is? Is there a resurrection? Or are we here to muddle around as best we can and hope and strive for a good life?

What does clover have to do with life and death? Consider clover a metaphor for significance, for purpose—for whatever it is that you think makes life worth living. Is it life for life’s sake? Carpe diem?

Carpe diem. Living life to the lees.

Seems inspiring, but the problem with this philosophy is that it’s absolutely unsustainable. We grow older, we get sick, we fight cancer or heart disease or a myriad of other ailments. It’s hard to seize the day when your arthritic fingers can barely seize the remote.

Life to the lees? Many can barely choke down their plastic cup of meds and juice.

Is this hopeful? YES!

Do you know that we’re made in God’s image and that he’s eternal? Do you realize what that makes us? God loves you and me and everyone reading these words with an EVERLASTING love. How would he love us everlastingly when we no longer exist? In memory?

“Today you will be with me in Paradise,” said Jesus to the penitent thief. He loved the man dearly and promised him eternal life with him and with God. He didn’t lie to him or offer some mild encouragement in the face of death.

Image may be copyright protected

 

Heaven is the original Paradise. And one that can never be compromised by what some spiritual leaders call the “messiness” of our lives. It’s the real clover—the dazzling green and fresh stuff. And it’s well worth dying for.

Do you know that death is only a perishing of our broken bodies? When they dig that hole in the ground, it’s for our flimsy shells—it’s not for us. We won’t be there. Burial is for the living, not for the dead. They need it.

We need it like we need a hole in the ground.

I appreciate the exhortations to slow down and live. But these words make me wonder if people who write them know WHAT to live for. Our momentary lives are like hairs on a never-ending highway. Poof! Like a vapor—they’re over.

But real life is forever. Death is merely a portal to a richer, much more significant, ETERNAL life.

C.S. Lewis describes Heaven as a wondrous place where everything is deeper and brighter and more substantial. His words make this world seem like pale reflections of the greater world. The real deal.

God loves us infinitely more deeply than we can love each other and this momentary life. Do you know this?

Image may be copyright protected

Here’s what encourages me.

These words were written by a man who talked with Jesus. I don’t mean talked in the form of prayer—I mean, he TALKED with Christ. And when he faced a sure and painful death, Paul wrote these words:

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.

For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed … then the saying that is written will come true: Death has been swallowed up in victory.

Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?

Now, that’s encouragement.

Cali Crazy: A Texan’s take on the Golden State—part 3—Holy Holisticism, Batman!

Image may be copyright protected.

Talk about crazy. California is blazing the crazy trail with every holistic “remedy” under the sun. Jeepers, Batman—it’s like there are snake oil salesmen on every corner of every city and town in this gorgeous, zany, backward-from-frontward Golden State!

Oil pulling. Essential oil therapy. Urine drinking. Sun gazing. TriVibamins (something to do with “Light Particle Gatekeepers”). It’s all so bewildering to this Texan. Call me simple, but this stuff just don’t add up.

Image may be copyright protected.

What ever happened to going to the doctor once a year, having your blood analyzed, eating your veggies and taking a couple of vitamins here and there … and just workin’ hard and livin’ right?

Not sure what to make of all this holisticism. But people around here seem to swear by it. My dentist wife’s patients tell her all about it; and she smiles and listens and helps them keep their mouths healthy.

Snake oil crazy

Take this oil pulling. From what I can tell, you swish a tablespoon of oil in your mouth on an empty stomach for 20 minutes. This supposedly draws out toxins in your body and improves oral and overall health.

Image my copyright protected.

Toxins? Isn’t that what a snakebite’ll give ya? Or spider venom? Shoot—if a wasp stings me, I plaster some cold mud on it like my dad showed me. Does that draw out toxins?

Essential oil therapy, huh. Kinda sounds like what happens to my hair while I sleep: The little Italian grease monkeys come out and pump away. Come morning … all natural mousse. It works so well my wife says I look like a Who from Whoville.

A taste’ll teach ya

I drank my urine once. By accident. I peed in my water bottle on a road trip and then forgot and took a swig. At first I thought it was old, warmish sour lemonade. Then it hit me. The only health benefit I got out of it was to aid my memory so as to never drink my pee again.

Sun gazing? No need for a Texan’s take on this one besides this humble piece of advice: It’s pretty dumb to stare at the sun. Nuff said.

crazy

My wife and I ran into the TriVibamin thing at a hot springs resort in a little nearby town that’s even smaller than ours. From what I can tell it has something to do with vibrating the atoms in vitamins. So … Viba- and -amin … vibrating vitamins. Get it? Nope.

Shake it up

“Because Your Energy, Vitality & Good Heath Depend Upon The Light Particles You Absorb” is what a brochure says about TriVibamins.

If light and vibration are good for you, I must’ve really benefitted from riding shotgun in a friend’s old rattling pickup during all those scorching-hot Texas summer high school days.

Image may be copyright protected
David Kozlowski, Old Ford Chevy Chevrolet Pickup Truck Blue Red Rust, Jacksboro, Texas Feed Mill. All rights reserved.

This Texan just doesn’t get why eating right and exercising and common sense preventives don’t do the trick for these crazy Californians. It’s like they’re always looking for something new and nutty when the tried-and-true works every time.

This holistic stuff is kinda like a religion around here. Takes more faith than most, too.

Maybe I should start pushing something just fresh enough to believe in. Like pleasingly packaged bovine excrement that when sniffed vigorously for 20 minutes is sure to purge all toxins and every last scrap of common sense.

Sound crazy enough to sell? In California, it just might.

For more Cali Crazy Texan takes on the Golden State, part five is in the works. Stay tuned.

Trump’s press war a threat to democracy? Get over yourselves, media—you’re not all that.

media
Cartoon used with permission from Ed Stein. All rights reserved.

Trump’s war on the media is a THREAT to democracy? Please. Here you go again with hysterics, hyperbole and chicken-little reports.

Dear, media, your estimation of your importance to our democracy is vastly overblown.

As a journalist, I know. Here’s one reason why:

Too many of you journalists are way too full of yourselves. Your vaunted “objectivity” is an antiquated notion believed by numbskulls. I don’t blame you for this—you’re only human. But humans are incapable of objectivity. Especially those who scribble in newsrooms.

And, most especially, those who still fancy themselves part of the … dun dun DUN! … Fourth Estate. What? Is this a secret snobby society? It’s not secret, but it IS secretive … and, yeah, kinda snobby.

Fourth Estate?

The Fourth Estate can be defined as: A societal or political force or institution whose influence is not officially recognized. The Fourth Estate commonly refers to the news media, especially print journalism or “the press.”

In 1841 England, Thomas Carlyle, borrowing the phrase from Edmund Burke, used it to trumpet the power of the press in the reporters’ gallery in Parliament. He saw the press as an essential fourth estate tasked to “check” the three traditional estates of the realm: the church, the nobility and the commoners.

In the U.S., the fourth estate—better known as “the media”—has no direct equivalent to the English estates of the realm. But it DOES serve as an independent check on our three government branches.

How it’s supposed to work

Let’s say the executive branch, the president, acts in ways that are potentially criminal or “undemocratic.” Journalists ferret out information and evidence that exposes wrongdoing. They “blow the whistle” on the president just like they did when breaking the Watergate scandal. Boom! Busted.

media

By the way, members of the fourth estate—I’ll call them “Estatesmen” because it’s fun—raise the specter of Watergate any time they perceive an abuse of power by an administration. After all, breaking Watergate is the American press’ 20th-century crowning achievement.

Justices have more fun

So, what of the other two government branches? The judicial branch seems untouchable by Estatesmen. But then, legal decisions take much more time and effort to understand in order to attack. Plus, many of the big rulings have lately gone the way Estatesmen think they should.

The legislative branch—Congress—has always been open season. And it’s easier to take them down than it is a president. So, in a sense, the media does serve as a check on at least two of three genuine branches of government.

Which begs the question: Who CHECKS the media?

 

Check, yes. Government branch, no.

The notion that the modern media is a “Fourth Estate” that functions unofficially as a branch of government is merely a rhetorical device, not a serious statement of fact. It’s used to describe the power of the press in the realm of politics.

The American media is supposed to be this—a standard bearer for our right to freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment. Journalists, as citizens and members of the press, simply exercise their freedom of speech for a living—and are SUPPOSED to do so to INFORM us.

Specifically, journalists are trained to ask effective questions and craft stories for our information consumption. They inform us about our government by gleaning information through access to politicians, press conferences, and other info-gathering opportunities.

This should be the media’s function. There’s no mysterious, monolithic “Fourth Estate.” The fourth estate nonsense sounds impressive, but it’s fantasy and the stuff of Hollywood. It’s merely a media self-importance construct borrowed from an old English idea.

media

From informers to influencers

The fourth estate biz is silly. But it’s not dangerous like this truism:

Our media no longer merely provides information; they seek to shape public opinion. And what’s worse—they use their power to influence government policy so that it conforms to what they think is best for us.

That’s why, as a trained journalist and thoughtful citizen, the following relatively new teaser headline approach irks me … to the fourth estate.

It goes like this:

“Issue X: Here’s what you need to know” yada yada. Uh, excuse me; don’t tell me what I need to know. I can decide what I need to know based on raw information.

Hey, media—just do your jobs—INFORM me. Don’t try to INFLUENCE me by telling me what YOU think I NEED to know. The attempt to influence us and shape our opinions used to be more subtle. Not anymore. It’s obvious, ubiquitous … and dangerous.

media

The media’s self-appointed mission to shape opinion and effect change—change they deem best for us— THIS is the threat to democracy.

Journalists not entertainers

Just to be clear, when I refer to the media, I’m not talking about entertainment/partisan media—Fox, MSNBC, HuffPo and others. O’Reilly, Hannity, and Maddow aren’t journalists; they’re personalities and “opinioneers.”

media

It’s not about you, Bill. O’Reilly: Passion and pompousness in one “pithy” package.

I’m talking about hard-core news media like ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, BBC, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, et al.

We should expect over-the-top, red-hot, partisan and biased “news” from “opinioneers” and those who are under no illusions about what they provide and the bias they bring with it.

The real pretenders are the “venerable” journalists—the stodgy Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw, Woodward and Bernstein and now Jake Tapper types who claim objectivity and professionalism, but deliver biased, often overwrought opinion news.

And, by the way, media bias is not a right-wing conspiracy theory. Bias transcends media—it’s a uniquely and inextricably human characteristic.

Giggling grad student

While sitting in classes earning my master’s degree in journalism at the University of North Texas, I often had to stifle giggles when listening to one of my professors teach Media Ethics. As if the seriousness of the fourth estate stuff wasn’t funny enough, he ventured this hot opinion:

“You know, this thing about the media being biased, it’s not really true. The media is remarkably objective.”

I nearly fell out of my chair. At the time, I had recently finished a few months of internships at two local TV stations. The freshly tenured professor, I’ll call him Dr. Lane, was 10 years or so into his career, first in media development in Africa and the previous three years on faculty at UNT.

The professor probably had less recent newsroom experience that I did.

Typically, I would’ve challenged him on his ludicrous statement, as I had on a few others, but I couldn’t trust myself to choke down laughter. Plus, from the looks of a few of the other grad students, I didn’t have to. It was rich.

How do newsrooms seek to influence public opinion and, by extension, government policy? Allow me to show you the ways.

Media bias: Tricks of the trade

Story/no story
Now this is timely. Have you noticed how the media treats virtually identical circumstances involving Republican and Democratic presidential administrations in polar opposite ways? Positively/neutrally or negatively?

Look at these photos and tell me; is there an issue? And if there is a legitimate issue, how are the circumstances any different?

media media

Conway and Obama. Both work(ed) in the Oval Office. Both have at least either a foot or a shoe on a piece of furniture in the Oval Office.

Judging from media coverage, one is a HUGE story; the other is a non-story. Granted, the press covers stuff that sets Twitter and partisan media on fire. I get that. But if they cover one instance, shouldn’t they cover the other? They should, but don’t because they’re biased and agenda driven.

If either is disrespectful, shouldn’t the President of the United States be held to a higher standard? Wait? Is it disrespectful of a race? Does this look disrespectful?

media

More media bias

Story selection
Subjective editors select stories, headlines and photos that reflect their news entity’s voice (politics). Reporters write stories that push viewpoints they hold.

Perspective omission
This is the practice of omitting a perspective by ignoring it. Try this: Familiarize yourself with conservative and progressive perspectives on an issue. Then look for both viewpoints in an article. This is Journalism 101.

Story placement
Hiding a story is as simple as burying it. Because most people read only headlines, one can downplay stories supportive of an opposing view by burying them deep in a Web or printed page.  

Photo bombing
Want to make someone look foolish? Drop in an unflattering photo. Better yet, match it with a subtle dig in the headline.

media
Dominick Reuter/Reuters

The bomb above offers a two-fer bias benefit: Unhinged “hate” and small-handed compensation.

Story suppression
Want to suppress a story that could hurt your candidate’s election chances? Don’t cover it or give it short shrift even though you know that if it were about the opponent, you’d run it with everything you’ve got.

Labeling
The media’s power to label people is subtle, but potent. Conservatives are stigmatized as “alt or far right,” “ultra-conservative,” or “right-wing extremists,” while far lefties are “progressives,” “liberals,” or “moderates.”

Wait a minute, doofus—I haven’t noticed any of this. Prove it.

You prove it—to yourself. Gather information. Make up your own mind. But don’t be influenced by anyone you don’t know and/or respect.

Misdirected passion

It only takes a tiny twist to turn information dissemination into influence shaping. I’ve worked in newsrooms. I understand journalists and what many think about government. They’re smart and passionate, which makes them prone to activism.

Think journalists aren’t biased when it comes to politics? Trust me—they are. And like most persuasive, passionate people—they want you to think like they do. And they’re willing to help you think like they do by shaping your opinions on the issues.

Journalists know that influencing today’s media consumer is child’s play.

Most media members aren’t hacks. They know exactly what they’re doing. Activist journalists are blinded by their sense of the “rightness” of their causes. And whether they realize it or not, they sacrifice journalistic integrity for it.

media

 

Objective journalism? Humanly impossible

Journalistic objectivity is an impossibility. We all have our bents, perspectives and preferences. Objectivity is merely something to strive for. The problem is that many in the media don’t even bother striving anymore.

They seem more interested in helping craft the nation into their version of what America should be. And they want us on board. If for no other reason than to help elect leaders who share their vision.

This is activism not journalism. And IT, not Donald Trump’s silly, immature war with supposed “fake news,” is a threat to our democracy.

Hey, media, will you please stop the over-the-top apocalyptic warnings about threats to democracy and focus on your true calling? Strive for objectivity. Leave your politics in the break room. Inform us.

No president can revoke the First Amendment. Trump’s press war is nothing but thin-skinned, childish behavior. The threat you face is our distrust.

And no one can make you irrelevant, but you.

Looking for Clover: Our pursuit of Paradise in a wonky world—What is LOVE?

Love is a crock. I mean this in the way it’s defined in Western culture. You know what I mean. I’m talking about the sappy-sweet you-complete-me romantic sentiment that powers a billion-dollar Hollywood industry.

The longing for romantic love is a siren call of lofty proportions and a losing proposition. My wife does not complete me. I’m not half of a half-baked pink heart puzzle. And neither are you. One thing’s for sure though:

Love is a supercharged emotion. And one sure-fire attractive clover.

What does clover have to do with love? Consider clover a metaphor for happiness, fulfillment, significance, love—whatever it is that you long for that you think will make you happy. It’s something that if only you can grasp and make it yours, you’ll have found paradise.

Love is a form of clover we all look for. And if and when we find it, as hard as that seems to be, often the finding is a whole lot easier than the keeping. And finding it is only the beginning—love must be cultivated. If untended, it will grow cold and brittle.

love

Love means never having to say you’re sorry. What the? Real love—not temporal infatuation or “true love” or romantic love—means always having to say you’re sorry. Love requires a humbling.

The greatest love—the kind that dies to self and cares for others—is the rare one. As rare as it gets.

The Four Loves

C.S. Lewis, in his The Four Loves, lays it out quite well. I’ve listed the English word, followed by the original Greek word in italics, and then a brief description of the four loves as follows:

Affection, Storge—love that grows from familiarity, like between family members and people who find themselves together by chance.

Friendship, Phileo—the strong bond that’s built between those who share a common interest or activity.

Romantic, Eros—no need to elaborate here, but rest assured, I will do so below.

Charity, Agape—the kind of love that perseveres regardless of circumstances. It’s the giving, sacrificial, often painful love. If we love this way, it’s because we’ve found a true clover.

love

Loving supernaturally

Lewis considers charity or Agape (pronounced äˈɡäˌpā) love as the greatest love and describes the others as natural loves that are subordinate to it. He writes that God is the ultimate charitable lover. Does this mean that charity is a supernatural love? I think so.

How many times have I loved someone and showed my love by giving my time and tears without selfish motives? I can count them on one hand. Imagine a God who loves charitably every day, every minute of the day. His ability to love is as far beyond ours as he is beyond us.

And God loves lavishly. He lays everything on the line. For us, this higher love is unnatural. It goes against our broken nature. God loves us in spite of ourselves. And when we love someone God’s way, with Agape love, we give our all and expect nothing. We take big chances and are willing to suffer loss.

Affection and friendship are relatively safe loves. Romantic love, Eros, is dangerous because it’s a taking, selfish love. Romantic love is conditional and is ripped away when needs go unmet. This kind of love can be brutal and harmful because it’s overrated and misunderstood.

What is love? Baby, don’t hurt me. Don’t hurt me. No more. ~Haddaway

Romantic love

We misunderstand love because we’ve elevated precisely the wrong kind. How many rom-coms do we watch and quote dialogue from and base our dreams of romantic love upon? What of our songs? In my view, we’ve made romantic love, which is a lesser love, the greatest.

So, with that in mind, allow me to spurn the clover of romantic love and favor the others, especially charity, which I will refer hereafter as Agape, so as not confuse it with our perception of modern charity. I’m confident that affection and friendship need no defense, but in our culture, the selfless love—Agape—has been kicked to the curb.

If Agape love is rare and precious, the clover of romantic love is common and cheap. I don’t mean that loving another romantically is cheap. Come on, I’m married—I’m not about to put that live grenade in my pants.

In my view, romantic love, which often lacks commitment, is just barely above attraction and way below Agape. What I’m saying is that the search for the clover of romantic love is a wild goose chase compared to the real stuff. Love that lasts, selfless Agape, is the highest and best love.

I wish I’d read about the four loves long ago. Like when I was four. It would’ve saved me a lot of trouble. Love is an attractive clover—it can make you do and say some dumb stuff.

love

Dumb love

My friend, I’ll call him Seth, claims that when it comes to (romantic) love, no woman is safe from his advances until she has said, “I do”—to another man. Seth is ultra-secretive about girls he’s into. He goes to great lengths to keep everything hush-hush. Which is funny because the girls he’s into almost always live out-of-state, even out of country. Dude, why so secretive?

Seth dates online and has been interested in girls in Canada or somewhere far away. You’d think the distance would make him feel safe enough to share his love life with his friends. Maybe he’s afraid the single ones will use his all’s-fair-in-love-and-war philosophy against him.

Seth rails against people who prefer courting. He thinks modern dating is the way to go. A mutual friend—Seth’s roommate—blames Seth’s kooky love ideas on the fact that he was home-schooled. Maybe, but I kinda think his being a minister’s kid has something to do with it, too.

Dating: The case for courting

Dating is not all it’s cracked up to be. Same for romantic love. I experienced enough of both to realize this: Dating is one pressure-packed, heart-wringing butt kicker. It’s like a promising land-mined field of clover one must navigate carefully in order to avoid blowing oneself and a love interest to smithereens.

Courting is different. I never courted, but rather wish I had. But then, I may have married young and dumb and would be sitting down to dinner tonight with eight bonnet-wearing, suspender-clad children—crops tended, fields filled with clover and horses stamping the field. Stereotype? Of course, it’s fun.

I’m glad I didn’t court, but not because I don’t believe in it. Relying on the boundaries of courting is an effective way to build genuine love based on sharing personalities, joys and values rather than bodily fluids.

And besides, had I courted young, I would’ve missed out on my wonderful wife and our little family of two dogs. Not looking for that clover anymore—I found the real thing. Suckah! Just tipped my hat to romantic love.

love

Dating disaster

I don’t write this to denigrate dating, per se—my real target is the romantic love myth. Dating is merely a component. I know that one can find love by dating, but it’s a risky business.

My first date was a disaster. When I was a high school sophomore, I invited a girl I didn’t even know to get ice cream after school. I arrived at her place in my first car, a 1968 Mustang—candy-apple red, black leather interior, chrome mags and white-letter tires.

Up until the moment we drove away, I’d thought my aging Mustang was the coolest, tightest machine ever. By the time I dropped her off, my beloved pony seemed like a squeaky, lurching pile of junk. The whole experience was nerve racking—like a wreck.

Makes me wonder if my car was as embarrassed as I was. Like if it could, it would have said, what’s gotten into you, boy? We don’t need HER. Turn the radio back on and crank it—you’ll forget about my squeaks, if you don’t hear ’em. Let’s roll.

I have a high school friend who rode the exciting dating wave all the way to bed and then to the altar. He got to know his wife after building a relationship on the false intimacy of sex. Two kids and numerous legal battles later, they divorced.

I’m not saying that dating is a false clover love-hunt. It’s a crapshoot. I mean, let’s face it—on a date, everyone’s on the their best behavior. And real intimacy is developed by a whole lot more than sex.

love

Love is not Paradise

Our problem is not love. It’s with our fallacy about love—that finding it is the key to happiness. In truth, it’s a seductive clover hunt that rarely leads to happiness. Here’s why:

No one can make you happy. And looking for someone to make you happy is selfish. It isn’t love—it’s loss. It’s not paradise—it’s parasitic.

If you want someone to make you happy, you have to take it out of him or her. And they out of you. So there it is—two people trying to squeeze happiness out of each other. Or worse, one emptying oneself for an emotionally grasping other.

At least in the case of two love-suckers, each will eventually realize they’re not getting what they think will make them happy, so one or both ends the relationship and moves on. But when one gives while the other takes, it can be a long sad sucky story.

“You are the answer to every prayer I’ve offered. You are a song, a dream, a whisper, and I don’t know how I could have lived without you for as long as I have.” ~ Nicholas Sparks

Spoiler alert

Here’s a spoiler: There is no such thing as a soul mate. How do I know this?

Well, for starters, there’s no ONE person in this world who’s ideally suited for you or for me. On a planet of nearly 7.5 billion souls, there are at least thousands who would be a good match for either of us.

Do you realize how arrogant I would be to think that only one person among billions could be my perfect match, my soul mate? As if my needs in a mate are that incredibly unique. Even eHarmony founder Neil Clark Warren can’t really believe this tripe.

Another reason soul mates don’t exist is because the maker of your soul is not nearly as interested in mating your soul to another as he is in you loving him back. God is not a heavenly matchmaker. He’s not Chuck Woolery looking to make a love connection for you and some other sucker.

That’s not to say that God isn’t interested in gifting you with a well-suited mate. Or that your husband or wife isn’t crazy wonderful. Don’t mistake me for a sourpuss soul mate scoffer. I love my marriage and my wife, and I love our love. But we’re not soul mates. No one is. It’s a rom-com myth.

love

Love is bigger than us

Do you see how our perception of love makes love seem small? We think love is meant to be found, to be enjoyed for what it gives us. For how it makes us happy. That makes love a what-can-you-do-for-me proposition.

When we long for a soul mate, we elevate our need for love for and from another person above God’s love for us and his desire for us to love him back. The romantic love mythicized in movies, music and any other form of culture is fool’s clover. It’s not about us … with us. It never has been.

God is all about making a love connection with us. He loves you infinitely more deeply and completely than some schmuck like you or me. He wants you to love him back. If you do, maybe he’ll give you someone to love. But don’t settle.

After all, why would you settle for the gift when you can have the giver? We settle for less all the time—to our loss and God’s pain.

God’s love is the real deal and is free. A relationship with him, however, cost him infinitely more than we could ever pay—the death of his beloved son. This is how much he loves you:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” ~John 3:16

What will you do with this kind of love?

The greatest love is not a form of clover. Nor is it found in a person. It’s found in the one who created love because he is love. God is the ultimate lover and you are his love interest. He—not Tom Cruise or Renee Zellweger—can complete you.

Looking for Clover: Our pursuit of Paradise in a wonky world—Desire

clover

Thoughts on Desire from C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity:

“The Christian says, Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex.

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.

If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage.

I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.”

More to come ….

 

Cali Crazy: A Texan’s take on the Golden State—part 2—Flunking Cultural Appreciation 101

cultural

Here’s a Cali cultural caution: Asking an Indian-American how to make chicken tikka masala is NOT AT ALL like asking an Italian-American how to make spaghetti with meat sauce. When hankering for a favorite Indian dish in a tiny California town with no Indian food joint for miles, care is needed—especially for a Texan.

I flunked Cultural Appreciation 101.

Here’s how it went down:

For months, I’d been eating sandwiches in my first California digs—a travel trailer in the barn of a friend and his family. I began craving ethnic cuisine, namely chicken tikka masala. No. Beyond, craving—I had to have it.

In my previous life in North Texas, I enjoyed access to virtually all manner of fare, but in my new mountain town that boasted one Mexican restaurant and one Chinese place, getting chicken tikka masala was a pipe dream.

The Big Blunder

One day my friend’s youngest daughter (sixteen or so at the time)—I’ll call her Clara—introduced me to her Indian-American friend—I’ll call her Nina. I said, “Nice to meet you.” And then blurted, “Hey, do you know to how make chicken tikka masala?” I figured if I couldn’t get it, maybe I could make it.

Clara slumped in her chair and stared at the table while Nina answered politely, “I don’t, but my dad probably does.” Her dad owns a gas station/car wash/mini-mart in town. I thanked her for the tip and went about my day—sans a chicken tikka masala recipe—and blissfully ignorant of the culturally insensitive faux pas I had committed.

I found out later, to my amusement, that after the painful (for Clara) exchange, Nina asked, “Who is that guy?” To which Clara responded, “Oh, he’s the guy living in our barn.”

Cringeworthy Texan

That evening I saw Clara and remembered her slumping, so I apologized for any embarrassment I’d caused her. Turns out, I hadn’t embarrassed her—she was embarrassed for me. 

She intimated that by asking her Indian-American friend about an Indian dish I loved, I’d crossed the line because I’d assumed that because Nina is ethnically Indian, she might know how to make a popular Indian dish.

Apparently, it’s culturally insensitive to assume anything based on someone’s ethnicity. Oops. “Well, shucks, I’m just a big ‘ol dumb, backward Texan.”

cultural

Cultural appreciation?

Call me crazy, but I would think it’d be gratifying to know that someone of another ethnicity would love one of your ethnicity’s dishes so much that he might ask you how to make it. Seems like a clear case of cultural appreciation to me.

After all, isn’t that what cultural appreciation is all about? Eating?

Apparently, this is what I should’ve said to Nina, “Nice to meet you. You appear to be of Indian descent; may I be so bold as to ask if you are?” Wow. This would make me sound like Dwight Schrute.

Oh, wait, that could backfire. She might have replied, “Why? Because I have dark skin and dark eyes and straight black hair?”

Or she might have simply said yes. Whereupon I could’ve followed with, “Is it at all possible and without meaning any insensitivity whatsoever, but rather only appreciation, might I ask, do you know how to make chicken tikka masala?”

What gives?

Here’s my Texan take:

Clara responded the way she did, in part, because she’s a product of the Zeitgeist—the spirit of the age—that champions cultural diversity over virtually any other social value and regulates its appreciation through the censorship of political correctness.

She perceived my question to Nina as clumsy, backward, and culturally insensitive because she has been unknowingly inculcated with an oversensitivity to “cultural insensitivity” by her California secondary education and her Millennial value system.

Political correctness censors expressions of cultural appreciation by discouraging assumption and stereotypes. Therefore, to avoid offense, one should take great pains to appreciate another’s ethnic and cultural diversity—without saying anything stupid or insensitive.

Texan translation? If you want to know how to make chicken tikka masala, Google it.

For more Cali Crazy Texan takes on the Golden State, here’s part three: Cali Crazy: A Texan’s take on the Golden State—part 3—Holy Holisticism, Batman!

The “resistance?” Its followers wouldn’t know a real reason to resist, if it punched them in the face.

resistance

Warning: This post is intended for mature readers who can disagree agreeably, resistance soldiers and those who are considering joining the resistance.

Dear resistance,

I’m trying desperately to understand what drives your resistance.

It seems that you’re watching the implosion of our country and its values at the hands of a misogynistic, bigoted, ill-suited-for-the-job monster of a new president. You’re still reeling from the loss of your preferred candidate and feel galvanized to resist the tyrant at every turn.

You witness the 120-day ban on immigration from seven countries, and you see a “Muslim ban” that reeks of discrimination and bigotry and fear of a religion. But let’s consider—Is this a ban based on a religion or on points of origin? Muslim emigrants and refugees from Libya, Egypt, Turkey and Afghanistan can come.

If it’s a ban on a religion, why are they welcomed?

Discrimination is not always a dirty word

This temporary ban IS discrimination. But it’s discriminatory not of a religion, but of citizenship. And though the seven listed countries are majority Muslim— Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Scientologist emigrants from those nations would also be denied immigrant status under the ban.

Also, let’s be factual—this discrimination against citizenship doesn’t apply to green card holders or to those with legal status—only to those seeking a path to citizenship via immigration.

The ban also discriminates based on behavior. Consider this hypothetical scenario:

Let’s suppose you have a guesthouse on your property, and you advertise it for rental. Among the applicants are three guys, let’s say, who are devout Satanists. You do some research and discover that according to their satanic bible, they’re required to offer animal sacrifices to their god.

You also discover that other Satanists have used house cats and dogs captured in neighborhoods where they live as sacrifices. You have dogs and cats—and young children. And there are other applicants—one is a retired schoolteacher and the other is a “gearhead” who was sporting a greasy t-shirt when he came to see about the rental. What do you do?

You discriminate against the gearhead because you don’t want drip pans filled with oil sitting around the back yard. Now you’re left with two applicants: the retired schoolteacher who could be a potential positive in the lives of your young children as a very close neighbor and three young committed Satanists. How do you choose?

You discriminate based on potential behavior and politely tell the Satanists that you’re renting to someone else and secretly wish them bad pet hunting—somewhere else.

reistance

Actions AND words

How does this relate to the behavior of Muslims?

While most Muslim refugees who seek to immigrate are fine, upstanding, good-hearted souls in search of a better life, there are other Muslims who may want to come who’ve pledged to follow Islam to the letter of the Quran and who burn with desire to force infidels to embrace their religion or die.

What do you do, resistance? What does a president who’s responsible for protecting Americans—Muslim or of any other faith—do to prevent those committed to perpetrating more 9/11s, more San Bernardinos, and more Orlandos from coming here posing as immigrants?

We can agree that the ban is discrimination. Do you truly believe it’s based on religion? Do you care what it’s actually based on? I fear that you don’t care—that you employ the ban-on-Muslims narrative for effect. Tell me the truth—I want to believe you.

This temporary immigration ban is NOT a ban on a religion. It’s not a Muslim ban. And we have yet to see if all its provisions will become permanent, or if it can stand up to legal scrutiny. In my view, At THIS POINT, it’s not a legitimate reason for resistance.

Here is, to my mind, the logical, rational truth:

Your resistance is a farce. You’re fighting phantoms. You’re breathing fire because you’re fearful of what you think a president will do based on his foolish words and an equally frightened media. Please get a grip and some perspective.

resistance
When the delirium hits home. Quincy, CA 3/3/17

Worthy of resistance?

Is this temporary country-based ban on immigrants worthy of resistance?

How about past and potential discrimination by high-ranking officials in government agencies toward businesses and religious groups they disagree with?

How about Muslim Americans who push for the adoption of Sharia law, which calls for the subjugation of women and sanctions honor killings?

Or resistance to the drug cartels who exploit open borders and use human beasts of burden to provide drugs to addicted millions? Do you really think resisting the building of a wall that could help reduce this double enslavement is more worthy of your resistance?

How about resisting terrorist-sanctioning theocracies’ that want to wipe a country and an entire race off the map?

Do you actually think that resisting attempts to get sanctuary cities to enforce state and federal laws regarding illegal aliens more worthy of your resistance?

Here’s a challenge

Try explaining your reasons for resistance to someone who understands real racism. Talk to people who have experienced the hatred and intolerance and fear that genuine fascists use to foment the murder of “undesirables” and infidels and Jews.

Could it be that partisan political and ideological agenda drives your resistance, not a reaction to real injustice? Do you not see the absurdity of your resistance when compared to resistance to the Third Reich or to the Pol Pot regime or to Stalin’s reign of terror?

You’re clamoring for resistance to “fascist” actions that have yet to happen. And you’re calling for others to join you based on fears filtered through election disappointment, ideological bias and personal disgust.

Your fear and loathing of a thin-skinned, heavy-handed, loose-cannoned neophyte of a president has shaken your grip on reality.

Yes, Trump says foolish, objectionable things. And I know—his thoughtless words and machismo do nothing to allay fears. But is it possible that he uses bravado to mask inexperience and dispel doubts about whether he’s up to task? Have his actions risen to the level that warrants the intensity of the resistance thus far?

It IS possible that you’re resisting a bogeyman. Let’s wait until the bogeyman shows himself a tyrant, then let’s resist him. With everything we’ve got.

But until then, open your fists, and get a grip.

resistance

Get real.

Suppose the tyrant orders suppression against Muslim Americans with a form of Kristallnacht—German for “night of crystal”—during which hordes of Nazis broke windows and vandalized Jewish-owned stores and property throughout Germany and Austria.

Resist.

Say that devil Trump signs an executive order to round up and illegally deport Mexican Americans suspected of harboring or aiding undocumented workers.

Resist.

I’ll join you in a heartbeat.

Now I’ve heard about fascist Trumplings smashing windows and scrawling swastikas on mosques and minority-owned businesses. This monstrous stupidity is worthy of all our resistance. To the point of resorting to our resistance fists, if necessary.

Here’s my point:

In my view, at present, your “resistance” is much ado about nothing. I grant you—Trump’s actions have crossed ideological lines. But they haven’t crossed legal or moral lines, in my opinion.

I know. You probably hold that Trump HAS crossed legal and moral lines, or that he’s about to. That’s your perspective, and I invite you to persuade me on this score. Persuade. Don’t dodge questions and call names.

Let’s talk about it. But first, let’s talk about words.

resistance

Racist, bigot, hater, intolerance

You in the resistance hurl these words like toxic grenades to neutralize and demonize opposition. Do you realize the damage you’re doing to honest debate?

Scroll up to the five-fisted recruitment banner at the top of this page. Spread the deliria? Really? Do those in the resistance even know what they’re calling for or to what they want us to join?

To “spread the deliria” is to propagate:

A more or less temporary disorder of the mental faculties, as in fevers, disturbances of consciousness, or intoxication, characterized by restlessness, excitement, delusions, hallucinations, etc. A state of violent excitement or emotion.

I hope that you those in the resistance who crafted this message simply couldn’t be bothered with the meaning of deliria. Or maybe they just thought it sounded rad. I fear it’s worse—to them, meaning is irrelevant—it’s  all about effect.
 resistance

Soldier Tim

Is it possible that most of you in the resistance have yet to face real bigotry or genuine hate? Will you consider the possibility that much of the intolerance is coming from your side?

I posted a question on the Facebook page of John Pavlovitz, a former pastor and now blogger, speaker and author who appears to align closely with the resistance. I also posted a link to my Trump is not the devil. And God is not a clockmaker post, in which I argue that God rigged the election.

Based on the tone of his answer, I made the mistake of commenting (subjectively) that he seemed angry and arrogant, for which I later apologized. He hasn’t responded, but one of his followers did. I’ll call him Tim.

Tim’s world

Here’s a portion of Tim’s opening comment:

“Realistically, no politician in America is going to FORCE you to do anything, but in the case of many of the things Trump has done and continues to do, it really is a choice between his views and God’s. Trump’s immigration policies are plainly contradictory to what the Bible teaches about loving refugees and welcoming immigrants.

You can’t be a strong Christian and succumb to fear of Mexicans and Muslims. You feared that Hillary would be the one to make you choose between your faith and the US government, but in fact Trump has done just that. You probably don’t regret your vote just yet (I’m quite sure you voted for him) but you will.”

resistance

My world

Here are the top and bottom sections of my reply:

“Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I agree that American politicians don’t force us to do anything and didn’t mean to imply that in my blog post. Glad you pointed that out though, so I can tweak it. I think we just disagree about Trump’s immigration policies.

To my thinking, placing a temporary immigration hold until extreme vetting processes can be developed and implemented is wise. I think many who decry Trump’s immigration policies are assuming the worst and inflating his intentions based on bias and actions that have yet to happen.

I don’t regret anything about my vote—my vote is irrelevant—I live in California. Unless you’re into the popular vote nonsense. I don’t regret it and won’t regret it because I believe God is in complete control and that he appoints leaders—good and bad—not for our comfort or sense of rightness, but for his master plan.”

Blame gamer

Tim:

“I believe you’re a coward. Sorry, I know that’s blunt, but i believe it to be true for a couple of reasons:

1. You believe more “vetting” of refugees is necessary- even though NOT ONE SINGLE American life has ever been taken at the hands of a refugee. This means your fear (yes, it is FEAR) of those refugees is based not on facts or reason but by something else completely–the fact that they look different and worship differently than you, perhaps. Irrational fear of different cultures is cowardly.

2. You refuse to take responsibility for your vote. If Trump leads us into WWIII, I am 100% sure people like you will throw your hands in the air and say “It’s in Gods hands” when in fact YOU were the one who elected him.

Take responsibility for your part in this. I don’t care that you live in CA. You’re sitting here blogging about how we should “submit to our new leader.” You did this. If you’re not comfortable with that, then repent. It’s not too late. The resistance is just starting.”

I added italics because it’s more spooky and fun that way. Not to mention creepy. The resistance is just starting? V for Vendetta?

resistance

Name caller

After repeatedly telling me what I think and how I feel, Tim proceeded to call me—sprinkled throughout our combined 18 comments and replies—coward, fearful, irresponsible, irrational, hypocrite, foolish, apathetic, denier, satanic, and an embarrassment.

I encouraged him to read my post decrying name-calling, Uncivil Discourse: How we’re vilifying viewpoints, warping words and destroying debate. His response? To tell me that he’s not Jill, the open-minded, big-hearted modern progressive “thinker,” of the post’s hypothetical debate scenario.

From this point our “conversation” plunged downhill and eventually off the cliff despite my many attempts to engage him respectfully and ask clarifying questions. I spent most of my time trying to get him to stop telling me what I think and to accept my telling him what I think.

Unhinged

During the free fall, Tim came up with these highly empirical stats and predictions:

“Trump has proven himself, beyond a shadow of a doubt, to be 100x more dangerous than any Syrian refugee.

Trump’s careless pen stroking has already cost the lives of over 30 civilians and a US Navy SEAL. So yeah, trump has killed more Americans than Syrian refugees have. It’s proven and measurable. Perception doesn’t change the fact that those people are dead and many thousands more will die if the ACA is repealed.”

resistance
Hier [sic] Trump. Courtesy of the anti-fascists at the Tuluwat Examiner

Unanswered questions

Dear resistance,

Does a president “cost lives” by “pen-stroking” (signing executive orders)? Did Trump’s predecessor’s pen-stroking cost lives?” Is the costing of lives based on your agreement or disagreement with the merits of an executive order?

These are the kinds of questions I asked Tim. Ad nauseam. Each and every time, he either ignored or twisted my laser-focused questions into assumption-bloated, over-generalized and absurdly false caricature.

It was like playing catch with someone who kept throwing the ball AT me, instead of TO me, and so ruined the game.

Missed opportunity

Had Tim reigned in his zeal and buffered his bias for a nanosecond, had he addressed my questions and points, had he taken me at my word concerning my thoughts and feelings, we both might have learned something.

Instead he engaged in talking points, bullying and name-calling—the most uncivil of discourse. We missed an opportunity to better understand one another’s perspectives on some crucial issues.

Here’s a question for you, resistance: Is Tim the exception or the rule of the resistance? To me, he seems to have embraced the call to spread the deliria by waving and brandishing both fists.

Shared joke

The resistance’s call to spread deliria is apparently being taken quite literally by groups like the actionnetwork.org. Here’s their statement of purpose from their Website:

“This election has shaken us to our core. Millions of Americans are feeling desperate to find ways to get involved. We need to show the whole political establishment that there is a massive progressive force that will fight against Trump’s extreme agenda of greed and hate every step of the way.”

Agenda of greed and hate? Really? It’s silly, lazy fighting phrases like this that make the resistance difficult to take seriously.

Here’s a more militant sounding call to action from The Donald J. Trump Resistance (at least they’re respectful in adding his middle initial.) And they seem to think that making Each Word Start With Uppercase Letters Makes THEIR Tagline That Much More Impressive:

“Where WE Make Hatred, Bigotry, Xenophobia, Sexism, Racism, and Greed Pay the Price”

What IS the price, exactly?

resistance

Good advice

Here’s some advice for you, resistance that, if heeded, would make your cause much more attractive to doofuses like me:

Shelve your exertions until the time comes when resistance is truly necessary. Wait for genuine governmental abuses of power—and then act. If presidential overreach in the form of executive orders is the standard, shouldn’t we have resisted during the last eight years? Where was the “resistance” then?

And finally—and perhaps most importantly—resist the urge to engage in uncivil discourse. We can disagree agreeably. Ask and ANSWER clarifying questions to better understand another’s point of view. Listen, THEN talk.

I believe in resistance. If I were in the Star Wars universe, I’d join the Rebellion. Or better yet, the Jedi Knights. Or even as a third with Han Solo and Chewbacca.

But I won’t join a joke.

I resist you, resistance. In fact, in light of events as they stand AT THIS TIME, I wouldn’t join any of you jokers—even if you offered me the Millennium Falcon.

Stop muddling meaning and lobbing word grenades. Get a grip on the gravity of our issues. Save your powder for the real battles, if and when they come.

Get serious, not delirious. Then, count me in.

Looking for Clover: Our pursuit of Paradise in a wonky world—the intro

clover

I love clover. It’s soft and fresh and springy and vibrantly green and is supposed to yield good luck. And though I don’t believe in luck, I want to believe in it—I want it to be real. But I’m after something far better.

I think most of us are seeking clover. What does the doofus mean by clover? Consider clover a metaphor for happiness, peace, satisfaction, fulfillment, significance, the good life—whatever it is that you find yourself longing for, working for, striving to get your mitts on. It’s something that if only you can grasp and make it yours, you’ll have found paradise.

“Everybody’s looking for something.” ~The Eurythmics

Maybe it’s a zeal to leave your mark on this world, to make a difference. Or a drive to achieve a level of success that will allow you and yours to live happily, to live well, to live with freedom. You know what your clover is—or, at least, that you’re seeking something.

My clover search has been a pursuit of joy. As a child and young adult, my clover was thrill seeking and a kind of fun-love, which was really a longing for happiness and truth and approval—from life, from others, from God. Now I’m looking for more, much more.

Can we all admit that we’re looking for something … more? Now, I know some will say that they have everything they need and couldn’t want anything else in life—a loving family, a good living, a favorite fishing hole, amazing friends, whatever.

clover

Better than Nirvana

To them I say, look deeply beyond the laughter, the paycheck, the shiny car, the beer bubbles or wine tannins—look deeper than whatever you think brings you the most happiness, and see if you can honestly say that you long for nothing.

Now there’s nothing wrong with feeling happy. But I’m talking about joy, and there’s a profound difference between the two. Here it is: happiness is dependent on circumstances; joy comes with inner peace. But that’s another subject and a new post.

Like chasing squirrels

There’s nothing wrong with seeking clover. As Americans, we can’t help but do it. It’s sanctioned by our Constitution: Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But its seeking transcends country and culture. It’s driven by an innate need, a longing for joy. And it’s not optional; we must seek clover. It’s coded in us like chasing squirrels is in dogs.

So why fight it? Search away. But be careful—you may find the wrong stuff. Most clover lacks staying power. It’s everywhere in Spring, but soon dries up, withers and disappears. It looks fresh and green and supple, but isn’t made to last.

Clover: the skinny

Here’s the straight dope—the clover I’m talking about isn’t monetary or upwardly mobile, and it isn’t measurable with numbers or levels of power or respect or earthly freedom. It’s infinitely more valuable.

After all, what could be more precious than something that’s chock-full of joy? Something brimming with significance and truth and selfless love and peace that’s beyond circumstance and limit.

Let’s face it—we’re all looking for something. I call it clover. You may call it something else. We seek something more because we think it—whatever IT is—will make us happy.

No nada

What are you looking for? Some variety of clover? Not sure? I know what you mean. So many species, so much confusion. But consider this—most clover leads to disappointment and regret and, in the end, nothingness.

This series is for those who, whether they know it or not, are actually pursuing Paradise. And they’re doing so in a wonky world. Keep looking. Don’t give up. The search can be an amazing adventure, but it’s also time sensitive. None of us knows how much time we have left to find the real stuff. The clock is ticking. Let’s go.

If this clover idea intrigues you, please comment below. I’d love to hear from you.