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My World Of Hopes, Dreams, Fantasies by Princess Megan Rose 22 years
Rated: ASR · Book · Personal · #1935750
Entries for various Blog Challenges.
I will be expressing my hopes,dreams and fantasies.
Intro Rated: E Size: 1,232 Entries
Created: May 29th, 2013 at 8:06pm Modified: June 7th, 2024 at 12:46pm
Location: My Portfolio Genres: Personal, Inspirational, Writing


The Search For Self-Awareness

5 Questions I Would Ask God


(Lone Cypress Workshop)   I find it a real challenge to contemplate the existence of God. In the first place, mankind has found a way to create over 4000 gods and religions during our existence on this earth, that we know of, and I am confused and frustrated at the sheer number, and the lack of evidence as to each and every one of them. I neither refute nor criticize the belief systems that have been created, as I have freely chosen aspects, concepts and conclusions made by many of these philosophies. I thank them profusely for their assistance in my own journey of exploration and enlightenment.

I have not particularly found the answers that I initially expected, with many being complete surprises, and others remaining frustrating and challenging to this day. I have ceased to search for answers, but only to question and contemplate, and ironically, many answers have become apparent, simply making their existence obvious, while others have lost their relevance over time. Knowledge has great value, and objectivity remains important, and yet our subjective selves tend to create the narrative, and direct our actions. It seems that this is the way it is meant to be.

I know a bit about faith, and I find myself having faith in any number of examples. Faith in myself, faith in the trust of others, some faith in science, albeit it turns out that humans pervert and manipulate evidence and information. I would like to have faith in pure faith, faith in god, but while anecdotal and circumstantial evidence in the existence of god can be compelling at times, the individuals involved in management leave much to be desired, and that seems to be the challenge I have found throughout the history of mankind, but especially in my own personal existence.

Everything around us insinuates the existence of some higher consciousness, and yet it seems that he/she/they/it simply doesn’t want to make their existence known as an absolute. Do they want us to simply believe blindly and without question? I find that hard to accept, mainly because why would a god give me the ability to reason, and then ask, neigh demand, that I neglect and dismiss that same ability when exploring the concept of god? It is not reasonable, and I simply cannot acquiesce to such a suggestion.

Then why is so much being kept from us, deliberately made vague and even unknowable, instead of bringing clarity full comprehension to each and every one of us? It would change the world, would it not? That tells me that there is another reason. I have been searching for such an answer for a lifetime (70 years) and I think that I may be on the trail of something exquisite, and yet find it baffling that no one else seems to agree or understand. We will go into that after we address the following questions.

I find these inquiries somewhat simplistic and naïve, and yet they are irrefutable as well. Their simplicity suggests something profound and relevant at the same time. We have all asked these things of ourselves, and our teachers, clergy, our parents and friends during our formative years. I even continue to ask them today, and that, in and of itself, is a bit troubling and possibly amusing. Let us take a look at some fascinating concepts, that unfortunately, we may well have to answer for ourselves.

5 Questions I Would Ask God

Why do people abuse animals?
I love animals and it hurts me when people abuse them.
I find it hard to feel love for my fellow man who does this.
I would ask God to put an end to animal abuse.

(LCW)   I find myself in complete agreement when I see people abuse animals. I see no need, no reason. It is a heartless person that can terminate the life of anything, especially that of an animal, without due cause. It hurts my mind to try and understand and empathize with those that do, and it hurts my heart to the point of breaking as I try and experience what the animals themselves feel.

It is true that they are not human, but that is totally beside the point. It doesn’t make much sense, and I have often questioned why god, if he exists, does nothing to change the paradigm. I used to think that if I was god, they would cease to exist the moment they made the decision to take such a horrific action. I have come to appreciate some of the reasons why he does nothing, which gives me pause to contemplate exactly why he would do such a thing, would do nothing. You know what, he just might have a larger plan. Religion teaches us that we are not capable of understanding what that greater plan might be, but I refute such a position, and believe that we should be trying, should have been trying for the last ten thousand years of civilization, to ascertain and comprehend what that plan might be. I have some insights that I will speak of at the end of this essay. They will also address why God is looking for other alternatives than his own intervention when it comes to the ending of abuse.

Perhaps our difficulty in feeling love for our fellow men that do these things is an area where we might invest some additional contemplation, compassion, empathy and understanding. Religious instruction teaches us to love the sinner but hate the sin. I think that hate is probably a word we can do without. I would tend to believe that many, if not most of those people that do these things have any number of issues that they are struggling with, but I cannot disagree with the wish that this abuse could be done away with.

Why can't we have world peace?
People need to get along.
It would be nice to live in a world without war.

(LCW)   I would think that most people would agree with you, I certainly do. But I believe that the appropriate question is not why we can’t have world peace at some point in the future, but why we don’t have it right now. People do need to get along, and yet that has been a challenge and an obstacle since the dawn of time. What should we be doing that we are not doing now?

The desire is somewhat irrational if you think about it. Our species has a demonstrable difficulty in dealing with death and coercion, and it may be something that cannot be fixed, although I tend to embrace the possibility that mankind may someday triumph over his animal instincts and find peace and harmony without needing a master or some god. As time passes, I find myself questioning my own deliberations. Perhaps man is intrinsically inferior to my own expectations. I really don’t know. Maybe evolution will disprove my concerns, but it may take thousands, or even millions, of years to do so. Ironically, the animal kingdom does not abuse, and does not hate. They fear, and they will do just about anything to survive, but they, for the most part, only wish to be left alone to determine their own destinies, as is their right, as well as ours.

I like to think that I am not a part of the problem, but a part of the solution, and yet, here we are, ten thousand years into what we call civilization, and all of our difficulties seem to be the same ones being repeated over and over and over again. Why is that? Why has God and his religions not been able to even make a dent in the psychopathy that is mankind? Are we doomed to keep repeating our mistakes in perpetuity? I don’t think so, but for the life of me, I cannot explain why not.

The answer may be in some of our assumptions, such as why is someone ‘else’ not fixing the problem, why isn’t ‘God’ doing something about it? Perhaps, and this is just speculation on my part, he is waiting for us to get up off of our ‘duffs’ and do something on our own. Our own motivation, our own incentive, our own philosophies, our own moralities, our own thoughts and our own actions. I really think that all he has ever wanted is for us to solve our own issues, confront our own demons, make our own decisions, and take our own actions. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. All of your questions seem to direct me towards the same conclusions, and that is to not look to others to determine our futures, but to self-determine, for ourselves, our own futures, and our own destinies.

Why do people abuse children?
Children are supposed to be loved and protected like animals.

(LCW)   Upon reflection, the same answers present themselves to me that I experienced when we talked of animal abuse. The issues are virtually identical with those of animals. As you mention, children should be protected in much the same way for the same reasonas. They are innocent, they are vulnerable, they cannot fend for themselves, they are the epitome of what we see as valuable within life itself, and there is no rational reason to harm any of them in any way. God again does not show himself to be pro-active in these issues. Does he not care? I find that untenable and irrational. I may not have concluded that god exists, but if he does, I find it hard to believe that he would be psychopathic in nature and be immune to the pain and suffering and need. But who are we to question a god, and who are we to comprehend his nature? It may be outside of our experience and our understanding. That is why I focus on the ‘self’ and what can be done within that self, to the betterment both within and without.

I think it more an issue of ‘who’ should do the fixing, and I theorize that he is waiting for his creations to reach a point in evolution where they simply will not stand for it, and not allow it to happen, with or without his divine intervention. I don’t believe that he is shy or fearful of anything, only that he looks to the future, when his children will be able to take care of themselves, and all those they believe deserve the respect and the freedom to live a life, not at the mercy of others devoid of morality, ethics or integrity, but as independent and free individuals.

Why do we have disasters like:
Tornados, earthquakes, floods and volcanos erupting?

(LCW)   I have some unconventional perspectives when it comes to issues such as these as well. After seventy years of hearing the conflict between creationists and evolutionists, I have come to a somewhat unique conclusion. It does not address the natural disasters themselves, but they are called ‘natural’ and therein lies an answer, no matter how ineffectual it may be. Whether we are here through ‘creation’ or ‘evolution’ I find to be an irrelevant question. It will probably never be resolved, but does it not make sense that evolution may be something independent of some undefinable creator, or perhaps it was started by that very same entity, which would make everything evolutionary a part and parcel of creationism itself? Just something to think about when you are hunkered down in a basement waiting for the tornado to pass overhead.

I, for one, certainly don’t enjoy these natural events, and the death and destruction are difficult to explain if one believes in the Almighty, but the only alternative I can see is one where we all live in some divine ‘zoo’ where we have little fear, and even less to accomplish. The quest, the task, is for mankind to control and direct their own fates, and someone else cannot do that for us, it can only be done by ourselves. That is a question that we all need to ask ourselves, and not just from a perspective of protection and security, but from a reference point of success, pride, ability, achievement and philosophy.

If we ‘like’ nature, then natural disasters are only ‘natural’. Maybe someday we can control them and the death and destruction will be minimized or even removed completely. If God simply gives it to us, then we are little more than well-kept slaves, or pets, and I don’t believe anyone really wants that. I don’t think I have all the answers. Very few actually, but I contemplate and I speculate and I try to come up with options and alternatives. I like to think that I am a philosopher of sorts. I ask questions. I am only superficially looking for answers. It is the investigation and the exploration that inspires me. Like the existence of some god, it is the ‘not’ knowing that is fascinating and of consequence, it is the journey to knowledge through experience and my ability to discover those things that were once hidden from my perception.

Why does the world have illness and diseases?

These are some of the questions I would ask God.
I love God and Jesus and I pray a lot. I know he is there for us.
In heaven, we won't have to worry about disasters, illness,
wars and people and animals being abused.
That will be beautiful.

(LCW)   Do we blame our gods for these things? Or do we try and alleviate and find cures for them? Are we just waiting for a great knight on a white steed to come and save us? Are any of these things our own responsibility? But we are so small and insignificant, is there anything that we can do? Does that really matter? We have to try.

We can’t simply wait for our turn in heaven. Billions and trillions will follow us and have to endure the same behaviours and disasters that will exist forever until someone does something more significant about them. Who? Why, us of course. Do we long for a time when out own suffering comes to an end, or do we anticipate and become pro-active and fix what ails us? If God exists, and he has a plan, then it is his alone, and he will do as all Gods do, as he will and when he will. I question what that does for us right now, and for all those that have come before during the last ten-thousand years, and presumably much longer.


Because this was fundamentally a religious adventure in speculation, and I am an ignostic atheist, I thought I would like to delve into some of my own background to hopefully bring some clarity and understanding to my commentary.

I have absolutely no real conflict with those that believe in any god. As mentioned, mankind has created over 4000 god-concepts, and replete with religions to accompany them. I can’t even begin to understand all of them, but I do know that many of them tried to teach the same things, such as the golden rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) and concepts such as ‘thou shall not kill’. In their own ways, they all, I assume, were benign and had good intent, at least giving them the benefit of the doubt. Human beings often were the source of perversion and manipulation and intimidation. Not much we can do about that besides being aware and vigilant.

My own upbringing was in Christianity, more specifically Catholicism. My mother was fairly devout, with her brother becoming a Catholic priest. Her first-born (my own older brother) also became a priest, and he was a source of joy for her during her entire lifetime. Not saying she loved him more than me, but what can you do to beat that? I even became an altar boy for a short stint, but reality had something else in store for me. Ironically, according to many, even my ignosticism could be considered an integral part of that plan that God has for us. Can’t have it both ways. Either the plan works or it doesn’t.

In any case, my search for God has spanned almost all of my 70 years. I have researched twenty or more religions and have ‘skimmed’ twenty more. I have problems with almost all of them, primarily because of the lack of empirical data and the perversion of dogma and scripture by the inclusion of a multitude of less than well-vetted clergy. The church has made more than its share of mistakes, and I find no other religion that has not as well. It compels me to take all the teachings with a grain of salt, and to invest my time and resources into something we call philosophy.

This has allowed me to take bits and pieces from almost every source I have ever investigated, and bring them together to create and develop what I consider a considerably consistent and comprehensive world view. We all have to do something similar, in one way or another. We discuss, we discuss, there is a time of contemplation and a time for decision making and finally conclusions. We then incorporate our findings into a well-developed set of beliefs that ‘is’ the philosophy. The expectation is that a good amount of thought and considered thought and reasoned argument goes into this, and not just emotion and subjective opinion.

I find that a good and fundamentally sound philosophy, built upon a solid moral base, with compatible ethical behaviours and a well-developed character will define this philosophy, which, of course, is evolving much the same as our physical selves and our species in the larger sense. When flaws are found, they are deliberated and adjusted, or even rejected. The point is that it remains ‘our’ own decisions, and directs our thoughts and actions from early in life to that last day we exist.

I see no intrinsic difference between a good philosophy and a sound and legitimate religion. Yes, I have issues with the lack of verifiable information, but that does not negate belief, no matter the source. One still has to reasonably argue and defend belief, but that should be a responsibility that the individual accepts gladly, because that is from where knowledge and confidence and competence are derived.

As for that divine plan that God has spread out before him? It is his desire and his hopes for mankind, at least that is the way I envision it. If he actually gave us the ability for free will, then it cannot be determined and dictated by ‘Him’ but would necessarily have to derive from our own efforts, our own focus, and our own deliberations. I find that the only way to find a legitimate philosophy. Every religion is based on a philosophy, and it only needs to be interpreted and comprehended by the individual. When this is an ideology of substance and value, then it is legitimate, and it is a source of strength and peace.

He does not act because his hands are tied. Our own free will prevents him from getting involved in something that is not for him to direct. If he exists, and he gave us all of these abilities and talents, this wealth of experience and perception, an infinite amount of knowledge, as well as insight, creativity, innovation and a capacity for compassion, empathy and understanding, then might it not be our own obligation to repay him for all of these gifts by actually doing the right thing? Does he expect or even want anything else? I don’t think so.

Being ignostic does not mean I do not believe, only that my conclusions do not allow me to accept such a reality at this point in time. It is only that I see nothing other than myself that is necessary to prosecute a life of value and pride. I find the need for some god to be irrelevant from my perspective, although I acknowledge the strength and security that can come from such beliefs. I tend not to judge people based on beliefs, but more on behaviour and philosophy, which can be articulated or just exhibited by action and integrity. It really isn’t any more complicated than that.

I hope that someday we will be able to answer these many concepts and questions, and we will cease to question the need for resolution.

I can only wish everyone the peace and tranquility they need to address and confront these horrible things that people do to each other and every living thing on the planet. I can only speak for myself, and make the attempt to be a part of the solution, and not a part of the problem.


Lone Cypress Workshop


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Review of Hidden Trail  
Rated: E | (3.5)
20240304 – Hidden Trails by Foxtale

HIDDEN TRAIL by James Fox - for Phillip

Craig Styles lay on his stomach atop the inner-tube and trailed his chin in the cold water of the river. He could hear a woodpecker nearby, hammering on the tough bark of an old oak tree. Craig closed his eyes and listened to the sound of the water gurgling beneath the canoe that was towing him. He dipped his chin into the water in rhythm with the canoe paddle softly breaking the river's surface. Craig felt the warmth of the midday sun as it bore down on the back of his neck, above his lifejacket and the ratty safety string that he hoped would hold his eyeglasses on should he take a spill.

A competent intro. A good use of words and it paints a comfortable picture. Since it’s only about ‘Craig’ it’s probably not necessary to reuse the name three times but nothing else stands out.

With his thumb, Craig pushed his glasses back up onto the bridge of his nose, opened his eyes and using a stroke of his hand through the water, guided the innertube off to the side where he could squint toward the river bend up ahead. This should have been an enjoyable summer day on the river for a boy just turned twelve, but Craig was miserable.

The idyllic seems to have a dark side but ‘miserable’ has many flavours.

His parents had hoped this trip with the Scouts and Explorers would help Craig to fit in socially with the other kids. Too often tagged as a "nerd" at school, they knew he hadn't made many friends. So, their hopes were pegged to this campout. But it seemed to Craig, that so far on this weekend outing, everything had gone wrong. The trouble had begun yesterday evening, when the patrol he was assigned to was setting up the campsite. Craig had opened his Scout Handbook to a page he'd previously book-marked, to help him quickly locate the illustrations of knots he was sure the troop would use while setting up tents.

We don’t really know if Craig’s interpretations of his parents’ positions are valid but they may well be reasonable. There are ‘so’ many reasons why kids don’t fit in with everyone else, from simply being the ‘new’ kid, fundamentally different from his peers, again for many reasons, or because of physical or psychological challenges. Making friends is at times an art, and many of us simply never accepted the social norms or even understood them. Craig may not have been very perceptive or naïve as to the kinds of tents being used and just trying too hard to impress the other scouts, also a good reason for the others to single him out. After all, it is inevitable that someone has to be the focus of the groups’ attentions, and for most, as long as it is not them, they are quite comfortable.

"Hey guys," Craig had called out, "here are the knots we should use for setting up tents!" Several of the scouts had looked at him as if he was from another planet. Craig suddenly realized all of the tents were modern dome tents which didn't require ropes or knots. Embarrassed, Craig tried to explain his mistake, pleading, "It's not my fault these illustrations show tents with guy-ropes. Tents with ropes would use knots, like what we need to learn to advance in rank." Shaking their heads, the scouts had turned back to unpacking and setting up all the tents.

Being defensive is invariable the wrong tack to take, probably being self-deprecating would have been more successful, but there did not seem to be any derision so perhaps he was able to bite the bullet, so to speak?

Exasperated, Craig had wandered back and forth between the patrols and the explorer's campsites, comparing the camp set-up to the illustrations in his handbook. Before he could stop himself, Craig had announced "These campsites aren't laid out like it shows in my Scout book." That had only annoyed some of the scouts and they'd started to squabble with Craig. Mr. Todd, the Scoutmaster, had to come over and warn the other scouts about laughing at Craig over the remarks he'd made.

I find little wrong with the narrative. I think that Craig, at this point, is the creator of his own plight as the story unfolds. I would have liked to hear some inner narrative that he might be having, as well as some dialogue with the other scouts to define the events as they unfold. At this point it is all supposition, there is nothing specific to grab on to.

Mr. Todd had then called Craig aside, and although he'd been friendly enough, Craig recognized the criticism. Tapping a pen on his clipboard, Mr. Todd had begun, "You recall at our last troop meeting you were told that before dinner you'd be trained in knots you'd need toward rank advancement. See that, over there," Mr. Todd had pointed to a rolled-up bundle of canvas, "that's a pup tent with tent-poles and guy-lines that the Troop Scribe will help you set up. It's for overnight storage of extra gear, like the lifejackets and canoe paddles. There are three of the knots you need to know. The scribe will teach you, then certify you know them." As Mr. Todd turned to go, he said "Craig, I am glad you studied the handbook. Be patient, once the scouts trust what you know, it's going to be easier."

It seems inevitable and reasonable that something of this sort needed to happen. The troop leader needs to discern and address any issues that may be percolating within the troop. His words and his call for patience seem appropriate.

But later, the troop's Senior Patrol Leader, Tim Rausch, had to stop an argument between Craig and "Choppy" Andersen. Although only Tenderfoot rank, Choppy had become the self-appointed bestower of nicknames within the scout troop and Craig desperately wanted to be "Craiger," or "Craigo," or any nickname that proved the other scouts accepted him. But now it seemed impossible for that to happen.

At this point we don’t know the ages or anything pertinent about the other scouts. Craig seems more immature than an introvert or what I would call an ‘other’. His abilities to anticipate and understand his place in the social order seem to be underdeveloped or non-existent. I would like to know how his parents treated him up to this point. Is this camping trip a means to negate their own lack of responsibility as to abilities at parenting? Craig does not seem to be at odds with the others as much as clueless as to social interactions and communication.

This is not to say that I don’t understand the possibilities. I had many similar interactions as a child, but I usually knew when what I did or said was going to inflame the others. He is not disliking others because of them being bullies or a know-it-all, but because he is trying to impress them with abilities and knowledge that he may or may not possess or does not know how to communicate to those around him.

You mention that Craig is (just turned) twelve but I have no idea the ages of his compatriots. Scouts are usually 11 to 17 so he is virtually the youngest member and if never a cub scout, then creates an even greater chasm between them. I know nothing of the dynamics of Craig the individual. Siblings? Stability with home and school. If they just moved here and he is also in a new school and being forced (?) to be a scout, these things would play into the reasons he is looking in from the outside. It is not an unpleasant story to this point, but to be more dynamic and substantial, it needs depth and intimacy. Perhaps that is why I am not a big fan of short stories, even my own. Development and personalities take time to define and explore.

Last night the scoutmaster had quietly asked Craig why he didn't explain anything quickly. Mr. Todd had said, "Craig, learn to keep it short and to the point, O.K.? Around the other boys you tend to launch into some scientific analysis, just like tonight when you helped light the campfire." Craig knew friction heated and then ignited the low tinder-point of the sulfur in the match-head, producing the flame and he had started to explain that to the nearest scout. That had started the argument with Choppy.

Craig sounds very much like Sheldon Cooper in the comedy series ‘Big Bang’. Highly intelligent, even genius as he likes to say, but with a strong inadequacy with social norms. I would think that this is almost always an indication of this ‘otherness’ that I talk about. The distinction would be that some simply don’t recognize what it is that they are doing, which seems to represent Craig, or the recognition of these same social norms, with a complete rejection as a response. Again, it seems more an ineptness on his part.

Later, while they were washing their mess kits after dinner, Tim had come over to separate the boys, again, when Choppy shouted "You're not Einstein and I'm not stupid!" In exasperation, Tim had told Craig, "Look, when you're helping with a task don't give some know-it-all lecture unless someone asks for an explanation. Do you understand?" Craig had nodded, but he really didn't understand why the other scouts didn't seem to care about knowledge, although most were just as smart as he. Craig sullenly thought over what Tim had said to him earlier; "You've got to try to fit in, or you will be miserable."

As I previously mentioned, there are many flavours of miserable. Tim seems to be losing patience with Craig and needs to have a talk with Choppy as well. Since we don’t have the dialogue that took place, I find it difficult to come to a conclusion if there was an attitude of ‘know-it-all’ or an extreme insecurity and ignorance on the part of Choppy. I am not sure I would suggest not sharing knowledge since that is one of the reasons many people are so unsophisticated and unable to perceive the world around them. It was interesting that Craig considered his peers to be ‘just-as-smart’ as he.

Back to miserable. Not fitting in certainly can result in miserable, but acquiescing to those that know little or nothing can make one miserable as well, and if truth be known, cause violent and destructive behaviour due to frustration and a feeling of oppression.

Now Craig felt that it was too late to fit in. This morning the scouts and explorers had teamed up, buddy style, to float the Stanislaus River and Craig had been paired up with Choppy, who, like Craig, had also brought a truck tire inner-tube. Some scouts had brought rubber rafts, others had kayaks and the girls and boys of the Explorer Post were in canoes, as were the adults. PFDs, Personal Flotation Devices, were required and most of the scouts had water-ski zip-ups and several Explorers had the kayaker sleek, wrap-around Lifejackets.

A bit more information than I would like on the safety gear. Not really an important point. It does show that he enters the environment at something of a disadvantage as to equipment. I again question the motivations of the parents in placing him in these circumstances. The pairing of Craig and Choppy would be counter-intuitive considering the conflict already experienced between them. My confidence in Tim is waning. They also did not begin the adventure tied together.

Craig had brought a bulky old "Mae West" style lifejacket, which made it clumsy trying to guide the inner-tube with a paddle. He'd ended up entangling his tube with Choppy's and wrapping the tether between them around a snag jutting out of the river. Mr. Todd had at first watched with amusement as the sudden angry water-fight ensued but had paddled his canoe over to stop the boys' argument before it got fully out of hand. Tim, in a kayak, had backpaddled to drift over and suggest towing the inner-tubes.

I believe the water trip began with Craig being ‘towed’ by Tim, with no mention of Choppy. There is no easy way to control an inner tube with a paddle. The pairing is yet another bad decision by the scout master. I just realized there are two scout-masters. My mistake. Doesn’t change the dynamic, but all the more reason to ‘separate’ the two immature combatants.

I am also a bit confused if this is a single water event with flashbacks or two different events. That would explain the inconsistency I seem to be experiencing.

Choppy, now behind Tim's kayak, had disappeared up ahead, leaving Craig in tow behind Mr. Todd who'd taken "sweep" for the trek, positioning his canoe as the last one at the back. As Craig forlornly dipped his chin into the river again, he thought he could hear an odd drumming sound, lightly echoing across the water. As the sound grew louder, he realized that it was coming toward the river from the bluffs above the bank. Suddenly, with a crash of hooves through the foliage and a chorus of angry braying, two little donkeys raced down a hidden trail among the rocks and weatherworn faces of the bluffs.

Ah, dipped his chin in the water ‘again’ indicates it is the same event. The distraught donkeys are a bit of a distraction. I can only anticipate that they will interact with the scouts in some definable way.

Startled, Craig lifted his chin out of the water so he could focus on the animals. Was he hallucinating from the heat, he wondered as he realized from their shaggy coats that they had to be wild burros! Craig quickly tried to recall the signs of heat exhaustion. But this was real; Craig saw Mr. Todd draw his paddle into the canoe and sit quietly, as he too watched the burros coming down to the river.

A little bit of backstory would have been appreciated. I have camped all across the country and have yet to encounter wild burros, not that they do not exist. I realize that there has been little context presented to this point, which makes it difficult to put the story back into perspective.

The burros' manes were unkempt, and their hides scarred from old battles. The animals began biting and kicking each other, as each tried to drink from the same pool at the river's edge. Craig was astounded. This scene could have been scripted straight out of a nature film about the Grand Canyon, yet they were only a half hour from town in the middle of California's Central Valley. As swiftly as they'd arrived, the burros turned and raced back up the trail to disappear among the wild blackberry bushes lining the bluffs.

And we have a little context. And yet, with their departure from the narrative, I wonder as to the relevancy within the structure of the story.

Astonished, Craig called out, "Were those burros?" Mr. Todd had started paddling again and he answered over his shoulder, "Yes, Craig, they were wild burros. Pretty cool, huh? " As the canoe rounded the next bend of the river, Craig and Mr. Todd reached the pull-out point where the other scouts, explorers and adults were already ashore and beginning to pack up the gear. Mr. Todd's canoe glided up to the sandy beach and Craig leapt from his inner-tube to splash ashore.

Something of an anti-climax from my perspective. A bit disappointing. The story was building and it just dropped off the map.

Craig called out, "Did you guys see the burros? Back there, wild burros came down to drink from the river!" The boys stopped packing and just stared at Craig. Then one laughed, "You almost had us on that, Craig! But wild burros?" Craig vigorously nodded his head, "yes, two wild burros came down the bank, just back there!" Several scouts laughed and turned back to the task of hauling the canoes up the sandy bank. "Really," Craig insisted, "Mr. Todd and I saw wild burros!" He turned, but just beyond where the explorer post was packing its gear, Mr. Todd was already starting up the bank with his canoe hoisted on his shoulders and he didn't seem to hear.

Not sure I like Mr. Todd being last out of the river and first up the hill, without being involved in Craig’s activities. His presence and confirmation would have gone far in giving Craig some credibility. It would seem he has a reason to feel on the outside when even those who are tasked with his security and protection shirk their duties.

Craig looked back toward the other scouts. "Wild burros," he repeated. One of the boys called out "Hee-haw" in Craig's direction as he made donkey ears with his hands alongside his head. "Hee-haw", he called out again, "Hee-haw! Hey, Pedro! Hee-haw Pedro!" A chorus of "Hee-haw Pedro" erupted from the other scouts. Craig glanced up the beach. Tim, now an obviously frustrated Senior Patrol Leader, was just standing there, shaking his head, not stopping any of the jeering.

Both scoutmasters deserve some criticism for their lack of involvement with everything so far. We all have to make our way through life, and it is often quite a bit unfair, but for a twelve-year-old, he has neither the skills or the strength of character to do so on his own. The scoutmasters are there specifically to run interference.

Mr. Todd returned just as Tim, several explorer girls and boys and some of the parents got the boys back on task. Soon the gear, kayaks and canoes were loaded onto several cars and pickups for the trip through the park back to the campsite. As the scouts hiked along behind the vehicles, Craig plodded along, last in line, totally discouraged.

Parents? Girls? Perhaps if going home but I find it hard to accept they are all going back to the campsite. Somewhat confusing. None of my scouting experiences were coed or mixed. It’s been a while so perhaps I am just archaic.

Craig had hoped for a nickname, but not "Hee-haw Pedro," like the little donkey, Pedro, in the magazine comics. Pedro hauled mailbags across the pages of Boys' Life magazine. "Hee-haw Pedro." How could he ever shake that?

When they reached the campsite, Craig glumly helped prepare "spuds," the foil wrapped potatoes cooked in the campfire embers, as part of the dinner. This entire campout was turning into a nightmare for Craig. Mr. Todd had mysteriously disappeared, and the other adults tried to help Tim keep order, but some scouts would still walk by, making donkey ears with their hands and mouthing "Hee-haw" at Craig.

I could not be described as a politically correct individual by any definition, but from my perspective the ‘adults’ (who are these other adults, by the way? Are Craigs parents involved at all?) are doing a horrendous job of treating ‘all’ the children, and they are all children if 12 to 17, equitably, and especially making sure that no one individual is allowed to be singled out and become the focus of attention of all the others. I certainly see no one with the qualifications to be allowed to be in charge of these kids with the little that you have offered at this point. Are none of these other adults making any comments? It is all quite confusing.

The explorers had left; the sun was setting, and the scouts were just dishing up dinner when Mr. Todd's van rolled in followed by a woman driving a pickup truck. Mr. Todd walked into camp with the stranger and announced, "We have a dinner guest. This is Mrs. Gates. She has a ranch just across the river from Caswell Park here." The scouts welcomed their guest and began to set another place among the adults at one of the picnic tables. The rancher sat down and opened up a scrapbook she'd carried in under her arm. Looking around she asked, "Now who is it that says he saw wild burros today?"

I was going to question the inclusion of a guest at this point, but I am pleasantly surprised at the turn of events. I am still quite disappointed that ‘Mr. Todd’ to this point has not voiced his confirmation of the sighting of the donkeys.

Amid the snickers and donkey ear gestures, Craig stood up. "I did see wild burros," he said quietly, "and Mr. Todd saw them too." An amused smile spread across Mrs. Gates' face as she licked her thumb and began to leaf through her scrapbook. "Well, I've got to say," she began, "I think that you must have stumbled across a secret trail for burros, hidden alongside the river." In the lantern light, Mrs. Gates held up the scrapbook and Craig stared in astonishment. There were photographs of burros being unloaded from a horse trailer. In the photos the burros looked just as unkempt as the ones today and they were trying to bite and kick the ranch hands unloading them.

It would seem that there is some sense of vindication in her words and pictures, and yet many of the boys may well choose to not believe Craig had actually seen them. And Mr. Todd continues to resist simply saying that he too had seen them.

"Donkeys," exclaimed one of the scouts. "Not donkeys," corrected Mrs. Gates, "actually they are burros, wild burros. I got them through the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Project." A scout asked, "What's the BLM burro project?" Instinctively, Craig answered, "BLM, that's the Bureau of Land Management and they are in charge of the wilderness lands. So, to make sure that the wild herds stay healthy, the BLM needs to keep the wild horses and burros from overgrazing the range lands."

Craig just doesn’t seem to control himself. Even if right, I am sure that Mrs. Gates knows at least as much as he does. It’s almost as if he has a self-destructive complex at work here. I guess that we could interpret it as damage control. It works to some degree.

Craig realized he had started off on a long explanation and he looked around. Everyone was listening. Mr. Todd winked at him and gave a thumbs-up signal, so Craig continued, "They used to thin out the wild herds by shooting some of the animals, but now the BLM project adopts them out, instead." Mrs. Gates nodded and said, "Some folks domesticate these animals, but I brought 'em out here and turned 'em loose to live as wild and free as they were born. My scrapbook shows just how spooked these burros get around humans, so nobody ever sees them. I was amazed when your scoutmaster showed up and said a scout saw these rascals on that hidden trail today!"

A pleasant interlude, and my assumption would be that this will in time create some kind of bond between Craig and the rest of the troop. I haven’t read the balance as of yet, I like to comment as the story unfolds. I like to be surprised. I like to anticipate.

Mrs. Gates looked up at Craig. "You're Craig, the scout nobody believed?" Craig nodded and in embarrassment looked down at his feet. From just beyond the lantern light, Tim, the Senior Patrol Leader, spoke up, "I owe Craig an apology." Stepping forward and nodding to Craig, he continued quietly, "A scout is trustworthy, courteous too. That's part of what we learned when we joined scouting. So, I should have realized you were telling the truth today." Sheepishly the other scouts also began to murmur their apologies.

I am so glad that Tim finally became involved, but if he simply stopped everything when they were on the bank of the river and asked Mr. Todd if they indeed saw the burros, this would all have gone away immediately. An apology was indeed required here, but perhaps not for what was specified. Scouting in about honesty and integrity and morality and ethics. I am not sure why it took so long to come to the forefront.

The rancher closed her scrapbook and with a friendly smile she spoke to the boys, "Well, my boy was a scout when he was your age and I know sometimes the rules were hard for him to follow, too. I suppose today my little burros decided to make you think about what it means to be a scout. It appears to me that Craig should be welcome in your troop."

Choppy cleared his throat, loudly, then said "Excuse me, Mrs. Gates, he's not Craig! He's called Pedro!" Mrs. Gates looked astonished, but Choppy continued. "Yup, 'Pedro Craig', yeah, that's P.C. 'Old PC' with a mailbag full of knowledge!"

Craig blinked his eyes in confusion as the scouts crowded around to pat him on the back or elbow him good-naturedly in the ribs. Then as the boys gathered around the campfire to serve up dinner, one called out, "Hey P.C. pass those spuds on down!" As a warm glow seemed to fill his chest Craig grinned with satisfaction as he realized that a pair of shaggy burros had helped him earn his own nickname on the river today; a nickname magically transformed into one of pride and respect.

A little predictable. A feel-good ending. I am a little bit skeptical since I have been through many circumstances much like Craig, with very different endings. Groups of both boys and girls are at times, perhaps much of the time, ruthless and merciless, and it takes time for intellect and experience to teach them the fundamentals of philosophy and social interaction.

These events such as scouting are where they learn the fundamentals required.

I was expecting something maybe a bit more on the dark side since you had read and commented on my little blurb about ‘others’. All Craig needed was just a bit of friendship and he was completely captivated with the social acceptance he achieved. No real alienation. Not really an ‘other’ at all. True ‘others’ may never be acceptable into the social norms, and that is what sets them apart, whether through damage or through conviction.

In any case, it was an enjoyable little story. As stated, I always look for something that goes into more depth and explores the inner conflict of the individual, and that invariably takes an abundant amount of time and effort. I would welcome something along those lines if you ever take the chance.

Thank you for the read, and never stop writing. It’s how we communicate and how we learn about each other, and develop tomorrow into someone better than who we are today.

As always, I wish you nothing but peace.


Lone Cypress Workshop

If there is any confusion about my mention of 'others' in my comments, it is because foxtale referenced my own essay and thought there might be a connection. if interested you can take a look.

Who Are You ?  [E]
We are all 'others'. Some more than most. Do you know one? Are you an 'other'?
by Lone Cypress Workshop

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Rated: E | (4.0)
'Racistentialism' by Christopher Eastman-Nagle (71)

Debunking identity politics in the context of a multicultural society

I am going to go out on a limb and say that this will not be a review in the traditional sense of the term. I normally put some time and effort into my perspective, and usually end up with something twice as long as the original. I think in this case that would be something of an overkill although first impressions tell me that there could be much to discuss.

This is also probably not going to entail much on grammar and the literary niceties. I see passion and some focus, at least in the parts that I can comprehend. There are many that I simply lose my way with the abundance of terminology and words that at times seem to be made up, at least in the context presented. This is not a criticism, since I may well lack the ability to understand. I would tend to think it is something else entirely.

In any case, I will pick and choose where I feel compelled to lend my perspective. Your presentation is forceful and intimidating at times. I can only respect someone who can go into such depth, who cares enough to put 15k words to the page in the quest to find some sense of reality and some expectation of resolution. I hope that I do not overstep my bounds.

NOTE: After reading and commenting I realized that this may not have been primarily about the Australian ‘people’ even though it comprises the major bulk of the narrative. It seems that it was about debunking identity politics. I am not going to go back and re-contextualize my comments because of time restraints, and the fact that I am not sure identity politics actually ‘can’ be debunked. I know of very few who can define or explain what the concept denotes except from an extremely personal and subjective perspective.

I will stick with the narrative as presented and as interpreted initially.

For my American audiences the subject of our aboriginal 'first people' may seem arcane, but there are resonances here. Columbus Day is being attacked for much the same reasons as Australia Day is, which celebrates the arrival of the 'First Fleet' convict settlers and their minders. And we are seeing the same kinds of iconoclastic attacks on historical legacy memorials that are no longer regarded as morally 'acceptable' and ideologically 'appropriate'.

I am not sure of your presumption of what you call ‘American audiences’ but you may be surprised. I am a single American individual and I can assure you that whatever ‘neat’ package that you may place Americans in, I would have to think that I would fit into very few of them, if any at all. Perhaps all of them, to be honest, but minimally at best. I may be a part of the great American ‘melting pot’ but I have my own spice to contribute. Above all else I am a passionate individualist, with a unique perspective and interpretation of the events both historically and contemporarily, that I have experienced or studied.

I have minimal knowledge of the aboriginal ‘first people’ but from the very first introduction to them, I have had nothing but respect and admiration of their history and the tribulations of outsiders towards them and their often mistaken interpretations of the culture and their abilities. History has shown this to be the case in a hundred different scenarios. There should be no surprise at yet another example.

We would have to determine exactly why it is that Columbus and his day are under attack. I would tend to believe that the reasons are many, and the realities are ignorantly mistaken more often than not. Columbus was by no means a hero, but he was an adventurer and an explorer, and to be these things, especially at that time, you would have to be intelligent, perceptive, ruthless, and more than a little bit insane.

I think the historical legacy memorials, which were created and understood under a completely different paradigm, tried to pay homage to some degree to those that had to endure a different existence which in time led to present day individuals and society.
Much the same as Columbus and all of our ancestors, whatever variety we wish to discuss. The attacks we see today are through ideology, ignorance and hatred. I am not sure we can even hope to truly understand the lack of information and integrity that exist to create an environment where such depraved behaviour is allowed to exist.

The rise of Trumpism and the rebellion of the old white working class against the Woke Ascendency marks not merely a 'reactionary' rear guard defense so much as full on counter-attack on the democratic post-colonial consensus that emerged after the last World War. It parallels similar political movements emerging across the old Western World, as well as the rise of an increasingly global, confident and aggressive anti secular and anti-liberal religious fundamentalism.

The superficiality of ‘Trumpism’ is a just another digression and an ideological diversion from the fundamental attack on the very essence of what America was intended to be. Trump will soon be a footnote, but as long as those that wish the dissolution of America are able to control the narrative, they will continue to use him, since he is so much more use to them as the face of conservatism and capitalism and as an example of Americanism, which they intend to destroy.

I see no ‘woke’ paradigm, just ignorant and hypocritical ideologues that presume to be interested in diversity, tolerance, justice and equality when every word uttered epitomizes the exact opposite. For me, I can only dream of a woke existence, where people build their philosophies and moralities based on reason and intelligence, deeply considered insights and open-minded conversations and debates. What I see are what they absorb with their every breath. They are the walking dead, emotionally, physically, psychologically and philosophically. With their repulsive and relentless chants of “what do we want . . . . whatever . . . . when do we want it . . . . now!” like little children, unfortunately it is not just the ‘twos’ we are talking about, but an eternal downward slide into oblivion.

You may be correct that there is some form of ‘post-colonial consensus since the end of the last World War. I would passionately disagree, but I could certainly be wrong. That war ended over eighty years ago, and the political movement that you reference has yet to show a concerted majority on almost any issue that you wish to discuss.
Americans are far too comfortable and ignorant of their own country, its economic and political systems, it laws and the founding principles that drive these systems, and yet they instinctively want Americanism, as exemplified by the millions that risk life and limb to make illegal entry into the U.S.

We are the most welcoming and hospitable country in the world, bar none, and those that think otherwise come from countries with populations of 25 million, or less, and have no comprehension what it means to grant freedom to hundreds of religions, cultures, ideologies and philosophical perspectives within a country of over 330 million individuals.

This paradigm does not exist in Russia, obviously, but neither does it exist in China or India where they have vast populations, but not with the true diversity that exists in the U.S. We must remember that diversity has nothing to do with similarities, but only the irrefutable differences between people and cultures. It would be wonderful to be able to balance the differences and live in peace, but that takes time and effort, resolve and focus, and that does not seem to exist anywhere in the world today.

While there are social democracies that people like to point to in northern Europe, the differences far outweigh the logistics that America has foisted upon itself, not to mention being the policeman of the planet. Many call it imperialism and colonialism, but if not for America, who would have, or could have, stepped in during any of the last dozen world confrontations? Ask yourself what language you might be speaking if not for that ‘unwanted’ influence. They sure wanted it at the time. The U.S. has little if any power and influence where they have become involved, and I see no aspects of colonialism within any of the countries it has supported and virtually saved from domination by another ideology.

As we brace ourselves for increasingly heavy collisions over historical legacy, current policy and visions of the future, the aboriginal question and the notion of 'Racistentialism' are timely reminders that we are in need of new analysis, terminology and debate that has some chance of not degenerating into polemical crib, fudge and bluff, marked entirely by ideological cliches, stereotypes, slogans, aphorisms, euphemisms and dysphemisms (opposite of euphemisms).

There is no question that all of these things you mention are desired nor prerequisites for any solution of the issues at hand, in Australia as well as around the world. Who is articulating any alternatives or adjustments that do not include a complete overthrow of the status quo? Why are we not standing up for what we know is broken and corrupted? Does the majority of the citizens of the world even understand that a change in paradigm is essential to bring about any change at all? I am not so sure it does. What then? If they do not even recognize the problems how in the world can they envision the solutions? Revolution? There are many that salivate at the thought. It will not be the birth of a new day, but the close of arguably the most beneficial time that our species has ever experienced.

The degeneration that you speak of is real and demonstrative. The problem is that no one seems to comprehend the extent of the cancer that exists.

We are now in foreseeable danger of moving into a shouting match that will almost inevitably end in warfare as everyone hits axiomatic and nonnegotiable bottom lines for which they will fight.

No argument. They are not engaging to change minds, but to control and manipulate. There can be no middle ground. It has been happening for decades. We have allowed it to happen. We have no plan to counter it. The end result seems inevitable.

My agenda here is to establish a critique of Wokeism that parallels that of the market libertarians; that it is no more benign than its fellow pillar of indulgence capitalism; and that it no longer deserves to be in the ideological ascendancy. In short, if its apparatchiks don't get down off it, debate will cease and they will be eventually pulled down, along with their equally unsustainable regime partners.

I am confused if you even know that this point has already been passed, there is no discussion, no debate, only rhetoric and coercion. The ascension, and more importantly, the acceptance of the tenets of systemic racism and cancel culture and CRT (critical race theory) has infested every level of societal interaction without a single reasoned argument. Why argue when you can intimidate? Why convince when you can simply negate the existence of your opposition?

I have no idea of the extent of what you suggest is happening within Australia, but I am confident that it will become much worse. What is the answer when those that hate the past and are in fear of the future get control of the very source of power and control of every citizen in the country, any country, with no process or freedoms to express their own perspectives? It looks like we are going to soon find out.

The legitimacy of what has become of post-liberal Wokeism, particularly in the decades since the 1960s and '70s, is now in question....

I was recently watching a news segment on a young Australian ‘aboriginal’ figure skater, Harley Windsor and his Russian partner, who recently together won a junior Grand Prix championship in Tallinn, Estonia; very nice. Such news items about aboriginal success firsts always gives me a nice warm fuzzy …...until I noticed Harley’s face, which was entirely European and as Russian looking as his partner’s.

If someone hadn’t let it out of the bag that he was ‘aboriginal’, neither I nor anyone else would even suspect his racial/ethnic/cultural roots. My irritation was aroused because this kind of fudging is so commonplace and routinely accepted by the ideological cognoscenti, it rarely gets questioned in ‘polite’ company. I mean who wants to be a ‘bigoted racist’…. anybody?

‘Bigotry’ is a favorite because it is such a nasty smear...even though it is a word that came into use during The Reformation to describe some of the more radical religious intolerance and puritanical extremism of the time, not unrelated to the fanatically destructive wars of toleration that blighted it. Now it just means anybody who has the temerity to stand up for any beliefs at all, ‘that we don’t like’.

It has come to mean anyone that does not agree with you, and reason and legitimacy of fact and validity of evidence means less than nothing. How does one argue and confront such a paradigm?

And the word ‘racist’ does rather get bandied about, even though there is more ideologically juicy crib ’n fudge, slip ’n slide and weave ’n duck around this conveniently obfuscatory term than just about any other in the language of political discourse.

And yet every political dissident is a racist, preferring their own ideology, their own religion, their own culture, to that of any other. This is not an outlier, it is a fundamental. There is nothing wrong with embracing and admiring ones ancestors and culture, it is when you condemn and vilify those of a contrary existence to the point of hatred and violence that you step over the line and commit what we call racism and bigotry. Very definable and easily demonstrable. And yet nothing is done. Abject fear and intimidation. Hard to argue.

‘Race’ and ‘racism’ are classic hollowed out clichés that are so overlaid and overburdened with historical, political and emotional baggage, they are now etymological (relating to the origin and historical development of words and their meanings) mush. This makes them prime candidates for vague, opaque and conflated meaning, ideological mystification, heresy stereotyping and powerful delegitimizing in the courts of public opinion.

Words and meanings and ideologies have been totally perverted and corrupted with the misuse and premeditated hi-jacking of words, terms and language. If no one can interpret or understand what is being said, then half the battle has been ceded to them. It creates an unwinnable argument. For you, not them.

Your summary is spot on. An intrinsic vagueness and in essence a negation of communication and the ability to argue, persuade or convince another of virtually anything at all. Everything and anything is only what ‘they’ want it to be, and to argue makes you a bigot and a racist. That is what I see today. No contest.

When the ‘racist’ epithet is thrown at someone, it makes a lot of mess which is hard to get off, is politically toxic and requires no particular intellectual ability from the thrower. When it is used to support or bolster a ‘poor thing’ significant nonwhite, almost nonwhite and white nonwhite ‘other’, there is more blame shifting, excuse making and denialist rationalization than a Heartland Institute (free market neoconservative think tank) climate seminar. Anyone who has some aboriginal genetic material in their gene pool in the last two hundred years is ‘aboriginal’, even if 95% genetically something else. And if we believe the courts, we can all be ‘aboriginals’ if we want to, as long as the aboriginal 'community' include us inside their colossally forgiving and opaque category-without-boundaries.

It immediately puts one on the defensive, and the accusation is so vague how does not refute it? They cannot. Like proving a negative, it sounds immediately like whining and rationalization and you have lost the argument without ever being given the opportunity to offer verification or legitimate evidence of their own.

You make some excellent and, from my perspective, completely valid points, but you offer nothing to validate your own positions. I am uncomfortable even mentioning it, but I agree with your view, and yet see immediately a conflict of legitimacy from those that need no legitimacy of their own.

Offer almost anyone a benefit by being a part of any particular group, ask for no verification, and you have a new member. Instant support and vindication.

Phenotype (sets of observable characteristics of individuals resulting from the interaction of their genotype with the environment) notions of ‘race’ have progressively been overwhelmed by originally complementary meanings deriving from ‘ethnicity’ and ‘culture’, which are equally slippery characters that can mean almost anything one feels like. And these already well-greased numbers are made even more elusive and remote from any plausible notion of ‘race’, by claims of self-identification and community acceptance. This makes the race/identity suite really easy to deliver into an argument to further bamboozle anyone silly enough to question the core meaning of ‘racism’. And naturally, these terms are thrown about like confetti, because the bare mention of them is enough to cut off argument and potentially tricky questions about authenticity, meaning, context, history and analysis.

Anyone not immediately intimidated and skeptical of the validity of the conversation from these initial accusations are doomed to failure. If in a forum initiated and populated by the aggressive ‘anti-racists’ the ability to prosecute a reasoned argument is hopelessly lost even before a word is spoken, what is the point in having a conversation? So much for the concept of having an open-minded and relevant ‘dialogue’ about any particular subject. If you get bogged down in the definition of words and concepts you have already lost. Curiously, they never have to do so with their own presentation. I have seen this a thousand times. Reprehensible.

What was once mainly a categorization by primarily phenotype/breeding/skin color coding to define civilizational pecking orders during the European colonial period, gradually fudged into any categorization at all that is even more arbitrary than the equally dodgy claims of any other hegemonic group trying to turn their writ into a mystificatory sacred site.

This race/ethnicity/culture suite is slow baked inside a ‘racistentialist’ (a race based existential pseudo philosophy) identity politic which is a completely self-generating closed loop, by saying, ‘I am whatever I construct myself to be’, regardless of potentially contradictory externalities, or any other benchmark that might provide some objective basis for differentiation between realistic assessment (objective quantification/genealogy), ideological and economic opportunism (political/institutional leveraging and government funding) and solipsistic (a belief that only the self exists) fantasizing about something that towards its margins becomes little more than a social club, sporting rituals and dress ups that would do the Masons proud.

The epitome of today’s trans-gender paradigm. I am whatever I wish to be, irrespective of what I am physically or psychologically or culturally. I am he/she/it/we/them if I simply wish it to be so. Nothing empirical, nothing reality based, nothing based on societal consensus. Whatever they want, and whenever they want it.

And finally, this spurious identity brew is further elaborated with the sort of ideological exceptionalism (a form of special pleading that claims a uniqueness that is not subject to the ‘prejudicial’ rules and standards of ordinary critical judgement) beloved by adolescents, turn of the century dot com ‘entrepreneurs’ and banksters circa 2008. You know, one cannot ‘understand’ or critically evaluate unless one is personally involved empathetically inside 'the lived experience' of ‘being there’ and ‘on the front line’, because the claimed reality paradigm is so shifted and ‘unique’, it is beyond mere ordinary judgement and ‘outsider’ analysis, which makes any attempt to do so ‘judgmental’ (critical), ‘prejudiced (applying legitimate beliefs), ‘insensitive’ (baloney resistant), ‘oppressive’ (firm) and naturally, ‘racist’ (???), leading to ‘unwarranted’ (without the subject’s permission) and ‘unqualified’ (see ‘being there’) ‘stereotyping’ (legitimate group political modelling) and ‘meddling’ (unwelcome ‘interference’).

Therefore there can be no definitive judgment, nothing reasoned or credibly argued. Is this not the essence of nihilism? Nothing really matters anymore because anyone at any time can refute and reject. No standards, nothing to compare against, no evidence presented and none needed. The epitome of self-absorption and irrational selfishness.

In all its many and varied contexts and terminological vaguenesses, racistentialist identity politics and ideological exceptionalism are pure unadulterated obfuscatory (confuse, muddy and bewilder) bollocks used to bog down and fob off scrutiny and accountability, that might hold anyone to critical analytical benchmarks and some sort of standard in their attitude, conduct and ideological claims.

Accountability is much too onerous. Unfair to those that have nothing to say, cannot defend their positions and are really upset that you even ask them to.

But above all, these terms and the ideological and political buttressing around them provide the narrative shell to legitimize and empower a criticism proof style of self-justifying declamatory (to speak pompously or bombastically) oracular (as in mystificatory oraclespeak) orthodox (authorized doctrine or practice), dogma (a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true), moral status and platform for infallibly authoritative condemnation, once solely reserved for church clerics.

Yet another example of a double standard, where they reject any responsibility, obligation or culpability for their words and actions while demanding an inconceivable amount of legitimate evidence from the target of their attacks. Like taking a Q-tip to a gun fight. Not going to end well.

And the whole aboriginal ‘industry’ is a past master at populating this game like an ideological theme park, with the tunnel of horrors on one side and the roller coaster of light on the other; or perhaps within an older ideological context of divine providence vs the works of the devil.

In the context of recent multicultural migration, questions of identity are fairly simple in the sense that say someone who has recently stepped off a plane from China will be bringing with them a fully intact suite of racial appearance, language, customs, religious/ideological beliefs and lifestyle preferences that reflect some blend of traditional and modern, depending on the region they come from, whether they are urban or rural, rich or poor, educated or not. There can be no question about their ‘Chineseness’.

Which ironically is the epitome of bigotry. They don’t even seem to realize that with their perspective, they have negated their own existence and legitimacy to argue their positions.

But what if one were talking about someone with a Chinese ancestor who came to Australia as a gold miner and married a white woman whose progeny all married into other ethnic cultural groups, but who still, five or six generations later, has a ‘Chinese’ passion for doing brilliantly at school and university in the sciences, studies mandarin (with an eye to future opportunity) at school, has a keen interest in his/her genealogical roots (that say include an Afghan cameleer), and loves eating sweet and sour pork? Would he or she be ‘Chinese’ in any meaningful racial, ethnic or cultural sense? Would we say, as he or she collects his or her Nobel science prize for work done in collaboration with researchers from Peking University, “Ah, there goes a ‘Chinese’ Australian!”

I don’t think so.

And even if this person acknowledged remote Chinese roots, why would he or she draw particular attention to them, when the Afghan cameleer might seem so much more interesting and romantic…. unless of course the Chinese government were offering attractive incentives to the more remotely connected elements of its diaspora (the dispersion or spread of any people from their original homeland), to become more engaged with ‘The Motherland’.

Even the Nazis, who were the very fussiest people you could possibly ever meet when it came to matters racial, would, under the 1935 Nuremberg race laws, still accept one as an ‘Aryan’ German, if one’s single Jewish great grandparent had converted to Christianity, married a Christian Aryan and his/her children were baptized in a church. The religious conversion/baptism stuff was not so much evidence of an exercise in Jewishness cultural ‘decontamination’, so much as a cultural crib to cover the awkwardly unexpected extent that Jews had intermarried (and Christian converted) into the German population over the previous 200 years.

Perhaps this is the only path to some sense of equality, this mongrelization of the human race? It certainly creates a wide swath of indecisive judgments. But then one must choose which aspect of their DNA they wish to associate with, and the intimidation and coercion works its historical and ideological influence once again gain control and domination over the masses. It really never changes, does it?

The fact was, the Nazi racial purists were prepared to place and justify a ‘forget-about-it’ line under the Jewish racial/genetic demographic in the Aryan population, for an antecedent single entry in the fourth generation back; i.e., one eighth part Jewish.

In Germany today, mixed Jewish/non-Jewish people will acknowledge their Jewish heritage and their long massacre prone history, but unless they are religious Jews, they are not necessarily going to be making a big deal about their ‘Jewishness’, any more than my own cousins (whose father was a secular Jew of orthodox parents) would see themselves as ‘Jewish’ Australians, even though to look at them, they have unmistakable Jewish genetic heritage. Their Jewish ethnicity and culture is largely tangential and incidental to them, unlike the intense feeling, discipline and sense of religious community, tradition and observance that one would find amongst the orthodox, who are the ones who actually maintain ‘the culture’.

And this is where ‘cultural’ analysis needs to be a bit more careful, specific and structured than just open-ended categories and talking vaguely about ‘my culture’....as if the damned stuff filled the room with campfire smoke, rhythm ‘n didge and a mournful choir of thousands.

If heritage is simply a ‘choice’ that I make personally in relation to any particular subject, then what is really the significance or value of culture to begin with? It is very much like joining a religion and then wanting to change the rules. The rules? They are the word of the god that you have just embraced. You have the hubris to improve on his positions? If I can pick and choose what I wish, then culture ceases to be relevant or of any real importance except when it is my best interests. Self-absorbed irrational selfishness once again.

Jewish ‘culture’ is most clearly articulated by its religious orthodoxy. It is a strict, demanding and resilient tribalism, and a great survivor in often very hostile environments. It is a culture that is as dynamic, true to its roots and as all encompassing for its devotees now as it was three millennia ago.

When orthodox Jews talk about their ‘culture’, it is a very specific, disciplined, intensive and extensive commitment that keeps their onerously (burdensomely) elaborate traditions alive and in good health, regardless of how difficult circumstances can get, or how long they would have to wait for divine providence to rebuild their tribal fortunes. And that sits alongside their dynamic secular, entrepreneurial, science and arts culture, armed with commitment to focused hard work in all areas of endeavor. Jews are heavily overrepresented in the notable achievement stakes, wherever they have gone.

But this is their ‘claim to fame’, their reason d’etre. Without the legitimacy that comes from that historical fundamentalism what else do they have? It then refers to the abilities and the achievements of the individual and the whole structure of culture falls by the wayside. Individuals are determined to be of value, if at all, by the results of their own personal motivations and successes. There is no shared value in culture. You can be proud of one of your own being successful, but the focus is on you and what you have achieved. I am not saying that there can be no shared success, but at some point you have to do something for yourself. Every culture has its heroes and its genius. It is a small segment of the whole. Your stature is not enhanced by the words or actions of someone with your historical background. It’s about time that we reject the concept.

If one wants to talk glibly about the virtues of ‘culture’ and ‘ethnicity’, the Jewish version would be a gold standard reference point for how our aboriginal brothers and sisters are travelling at the moment and ought to introduce a measure of conservative hesitancy and humility when splashing the terms around, unless of course vague and opaque self-categorization were a deliberate ploy to avoid real scrutiny….The mere mention of aboriginal ‘culture’ is meant to induce a Pavlovian trained reverential acceptance that heads off awkward ‘racist’ (critical) questions.

One needs to be able to differentiate between what was and what has become. No one can live on past glories forever, no matter how long they have lasted, which is what I think aboriginals are doing and what their ideological sponsors are promoting. The Jews have never done that. Yahweh made them a land promise, and if they kept their part of their covenant with Him in all things, at all times, indefinitely, He in His infinite wisdom and mercy would eventually honor it. And that overwhelming belief and dynamic tradition got them over the line nineteen centuries after the Romans expelled them from ‘their’ land. That expulsion taught them that they could never take their deity for granted. That trauma signaled to them that they had to make even more effort to regain the divine favor.

The fact that the land claim and their relationship to ‘their’ God was a bogus tribal conceit invented by creatively literate priests to justify their original invasion of ‘the Holy Land’ and whose deistic historicism (the belief that the deity directly intervenes in human affairs) was so powerful it overwhelmed the older religious models, is beside the point. Making their own tribal version of it stick over three millennia by strictly keeping religious and lifestyle observances in pristine condition, is the point.

Even in defeat and under constant pressure, they did everything to keep hope alive; never relaxed, never gave in and kept the laws of the Tora, to the letter. They have been constantly preparing for the ultimate return of ‘their’ land. But they also committed themselves to the same standards in their secular enterprises, often in the teeth of intense surrounding hostility. They were constantly suffering from economic exclusion and had to be very adaptable. Education was very important. If one were a Jew, one needed, if possible, both a profession and a trade, so that if one were thrown out of one, one could resort to the other. Education couldn’t be confiscated. Wealth needed to be portable (like cash, gold, furs and diamonds), because having to flee was always a possibility.

Their reasoning may have been suspect, but the intent was completely legitimate. How can one argue with an expectation of continued success through education and ability? This should be the goal of each and every culture. Reliance on the largesse of others or the ability to care for oneself? One does not negate the other. They can exist in sympathy with one another. They are compatible.

They had and have access to a tradition that was and still is both very creative and adaptable in its working environment, as well as deeply entrenched in its customs and beliefs. They were and are no less rooted in the present than they are and have been in their past.

I would consider that a highly successful and beneficial ideology.

And when they did get ‘their’ land back, they put in place a modern state with the 11th most powerful military force on the face of the planet, with a Jewish Israeli population of just under six and half million.

An admirable achievement under the harsh circumstances. I would note that they did not take their land back by force, but by a consensus, no matter how reluctantly, to do so by their hostile neighbors. The demand by certain segments of that contingent to give back much of what was agreed upon is unprecedented and inappropriate.

People have to be really on top of their game on all fronts to pull off something as totally unlikely as the establishment of Israel in 1948 and the even less likely prospect that it would still be there nearly seventy years later, in the teeth of some really formidable enemies. And that is why, for 99.9999% of the time, with anyone else but The Jews, adaption to the often traumatically disruptive historical waves of history and a preparedness to let go of much of the past, is really the only practical way forward.

I strongly agree with many of your points but fail to see a direct connection to the issue of the indigenous peoples within Australia. Would seem to be apples and oranges. Anecdotally of interest but how does that impact or support them? I am not sure I understand the point being made here.

The take home here is that if a group cannot maintain such an enormous protracted commitment at a very high inter-generational standard, the project will fall to bits, and eventually, so will the community and the individuals within it, as their existential structures crumble alongside the customs, institutions and traditions that once held them up.

It is not a given that it will destroy the community but it will certainly create substantial changes to their paradigm which could create an environment drastically different from what they have been experiencing.

That is why the Jewish orthodox are not that fond of their more secular brothers and sisters, regard them as cultural underminers and freeloaders, and are hesitant to even regard them as Jews. And to have that attitude, it is necessary to be able to offer something demonstrably viable, that ticks all the really tough boxes, maintains the focus and discipline, and has a proven and reliable track record of being bulletproof, literally and metaphorically, for nearly a couple of millennia of living in the diaspora.

I am again somewhat confused. All of the players in that region of the world are totalitarian in the way they wage government and culture. Are you saying that the Israelis should be more open to change and cooperation than those around them, those that demand they make these compromises to promote peace and harmony? In that part of the world it would demonstrably be a sign of weakness and lack of motivation.

So, the question has to be asked, what is the big deal about ‘aboriginality’? Why has it become such a cloying and exaggerated artefact, that if even the slightest whiff (or none) of its genetic material is detectable anywhere in one’s genome in the last two hundred plus years, one is (or can be) ‘aboriginal’? Why are those roots more important than all the other ones that aren’t? And in particular, why would one identify with a group that hasn’t ever been exactly full of economic, social and intellectual top feeding role models that one could boast about at parties, unless one were directly related to that rather lonely, missionary educated, religiously devout, and ethnically unrepresentative genius, David Unaipon (a prolific inventor known popularly as ‘the black Leonardo’), who has a well-deserved pride of place on our fifty dollar note?

I think it important to make the point that these issues would be more relatable with the Black experience in the U.S. much more so than the issue of Columbus Day festivities and the person and achievements that are represented by the celebration. For decades the positions have changed but this playing with DNA percentages is something where comprehension has always eluded me. For the longest time, the determination of race was that if you were born to a black mother, you were black, which conflicts with one of our last presidents who was born to a white mother and yet is never identified, or wants to even acknowledge the fact of his ‘whiteness’. As you present, it has now come to the point where any percentage of African genetic material is enough to make your case, although your skin tone certainly plays into whatever claims are made. In this way, Europeans have been negated, or ‘cancelled’ by the term in use today, although the connotation of this concept that all of those involved have seemed to distance themselves from the word due to bad promotion and an inherently and surprising understanding by the vast majority of people as to the reality of what happens when implemented.

It is very much the same with our own indigenous peoples, with a deliberative process to determine exactly how many ‘eighths’ or ‘sixteenths’ of Indian ancestry you possess to get a piece of the resources and casinos that they now control. This has nothing to do with the horrible treatment they had to endure at times. There is nothing about this country that embarrasses me more than the lack of integrity and character our leadership and political representation displayed in the conflict with the Indian nations. Reprehensible and despicable. There is a greater relation between the indigenous peoples of both our countries than first offered with the example of Columbus but I see the similarities with both.

Yes, they were here for sixty thousand years, but all our ancestors have been somewhere or other for sixty thousand years. Aboriginals were able to maintain their long and continuous continental occupation and stone age culture here for as long as they did by no particular virtue of their own. It was their entirely fortuitous, but inevitably temporary isolation at the far end of the planet from where all the action was happening, that was always going to make them the last frontier for the peoples who were convulsing, disrupting, uprooting and transforming the rest of the world.

The very moment the rest of that world started to move away from stone age hunting and gathering and began to develop agricultural surpluses, the doom of any society and culture that did not follow that developmental track was sealed. It was just a matter of time and accessibility.

I am not sure it is quite that simple, and yet I tend to agree with what you have set forth. Outside the culture there is a radically different set of imperatives. As they say, time waits for no man, and reality dictates that change is inevitable. But as you show with the Jewish condition, the culture can change and they can enter the modern world, but it takes a huge amount of motivation and confidence in their own beliefs. It would be nice if cultures could be left to their own devices, but that is not particularly practical or desirable, but it should be the individuals that make up the culture that make such a decision.

And yes anthropologists couldn’t believe their luck that they could actually meet the very same sort of people whose only traces elsewhere were to be found in cave paintings, like the ones in France at Lascaux. However, what they found, while a scientifically fascinating insight into an ancient demographic, wasn’t a mystical revelation. It filled gaps in understanding of Mesolithic stone age society and satisfied academic curiosity, but it would hardly add much to a modern society, any more than it would have done for neolithic and bronze age village based cultures, whose own new consciousness, astronomical knowledge base and related megaliths, more abstract cosmological beliefs and developing hierarchical and territorial institutions would have pushed aside the ‘the old ways and beliefs’, and rendered them obsolete, starting five to ten thousand years ago.

And yet human beings not only survived but flourished in the distant past. To what degree is indeterminate, but some of the structures, maps, calendars, mythology and spirituality gives me great pause at times. Modern thought has little if anything to do with morality, with character or with the knowledge of self. The information and technology we have amassed is prodigious and impressive, to the point of incomprehensibility, and yet we kill and rape, we use violence to achieve selfish ends, and we dominate and coerce those around us at a level at least what was experienced ten and twenty thousand years ago, and the argument could be made that it is much worse, for the simple reason that we should know better, but we know nothing of the sort.

Animism didn’t suddenly disappear so much as residualized into increasingly minor roles in the cosmological (creation and end-of-the-world myths) pantheon (all the gods and spirits of a people), eventually becoming children's fairy tales.

Like religion, animism is provocative and compelling in its simplicity and the desire to discover answers to the questions that philosophy has been asking at least as long as civilization has existed, perhaps longer. Even without the presence of some godlike entity, there is still the possibility of things we do not understand, and ironically, may have been understood in greater detail by the peoples in cultures that no longer exist in any real respect. While I am highly skeptical in many of the alternatives and possibilities, both the philosopher and scientist in me have to acknowledge that I do not know the answers, and will let time determine a final resolution. Like God, it can neither be proven nor disproven, and may well remain so for a very long time to come.

As a small digression among many, I really like fantasy. It is this ability to think and speculate about possibilities that I believe to be the fundamental strength of mankind. Everything we have comes directly from that ability to question and create a myriad of alternatives. Even those that are deemed impractical may lead to momentous insights and discoveries in the future. The critical thinker who is open-minded to that which was considered impossible are the handful of individuals that have changed our world. It is those possessed by some evil essence that are the only ones who wish to destroy it.

As a child, I was read a ‘fairy story’ about a beautiful princess and a young prince who wanted to marry her. Her father didn’t want to approve his suit for her hand, because if he ‘struck’ her with iron three times. she would die. The prince assured him that he would remove all iron implements from their life and persuaded the father to accept him as a son-in-law. He eventually relents. Of course, the inevitable ‘accidents’ happened despite all the prince’s best intentions, and she did die, with her grieving and now helpless husband looking on at her bedside.

This is an iron age myth of the interaction between iron age and stone age peoples, which is a lot more benign than what actually happened, but it draws attention to the terrible fragility of stone age society in the face of the new technology.

And let us be clear as to what that means. The death of the princess is symbolic of a larger ‘death’ within a given historical timeline. History’s losers ‘die’ because they can no longer carry the ‘zeitgeist’ (the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time) that animated, legitimized and empowered their span upon the stage of history. The fundamental truth of history (if there is to be ‘truth’ found anywhere) is that every new regime is built over the literal and metaphoric corpses of its predecessors; every last one of them.

But it is the deliberative conclusions made by the individuals that survive that determine whether that new ‘regime’ is to be one of freedom and benefit, or the pain and suffering of coercion and tyranny. Choices perpetually exist that are overlooked or dismissed due to fear or ignorance. We have much more ignorance than we need.

In my culture, such moments were encapsulated in the Roman, Viking, Saxon and eventually Norman invasions of Britain. The Norman King William crushed Saxon insurrection when in 1069-70 his troops massacred/starved perhaps up to (but probably rather less than) 100,000 people. The regicide of Charles 1 after a long and bloody civil war was another.

When part of the regime starts to have regrets, it is sure sign its own ‘time’ is coming, because the wear and tear of history has worn down its legitimacy, revealing its own weakness, self-doubt, shortcomings, decadence and inability to coherently and confidently focus on why it still has a right to be there. It is vulnerable to anything floating by, like any old entity waiting to die, usually first symbolically and then later concretely, as a fact of history.

Is it truly the ‘wear and tear of history’ or is it the degenerative environment created by the incompetent, the ruthless, the horrendously and irrationally selfish, or is it some kind of natural progression? In every instance I have ever seen, it is the quality and integrity of the religious and political ideologies that deteriorate over time and creates a dystopian paradigm with an inevitable conclusion. No regime has ever gone out a winner, or on a winning streak. They all wither and die from the inside. The epitome of a cancerous growth.

Pathological identification with history’s losers is a bit like an inverse Stockholm Syndrome, whereby the winners fall for their victims by clutching redeeming latter day defeat out of the jaws of discredited old victory.

But even many Empires had beneficial and positive aspects and concepts. The fact that they could not sustain them is founded in other attributes and vices that brought the systems down. Even today in the U.S. it seems that it is in decline, but not because of the system as originally created and developed, but by the intrusion of corruption, nepotism, drastically ideological and hidden agendas, irrational self-interested and incompetent players with no concern for anything past the time of their own existence, even in relation to their own families and legacy. It is the existence of these horrible individuals that are allowed to remain in power by the very people they have sworn to protect that dilutes whatever positives that the system may have made evident to begin with.

Without individuals of moral philosophies, those of character and integrity and with the ability to think critically, there is nothing that can replace what already exists without those same inappropriate players taking over within the new paradigm. Without fundamentally and consistently good people, it is simply the attempt to do the same things over and over again, and expecting to achieve a vastly different result. As we all know this is commonly known as insanity.

And yes our aboriginal brothers and sisters have been very easy for urban ‘intellectuals’ to romanticize into Rousseauian ‘Noble Savages’ blessed with an ideal lifestyle ‘at one with nature’ and ‘the spirits of the land’. But the truth is that this might only be very nice for everyone if the population of this over seven and half million square kilometer island continent were still between three and seven hundred and fifty thousand (or whatever the latest Woke 'historian' has fluffed it up to), which was what is speculated to have been here before the outside world crashed in. That micro-population, which was divided into small bands spread across the continent, was likely the maximum sustainable for an ultra-low productivity ‘walkabout’ economy with a Mesolithic stone age standard of living.

The challenge is to recognize whatever beneficial aspects we can take away from an investigation into the culture, to continue to respect and understand the existence that they had to endure, to put all the information into a reasonable historical context, and to conclude what could be an advantage or a benefit to us all in the future. It is the same with every culture that has ever existed, whether it be the Australian aboriginals, the American Indians or the African tribes. A cornucopia of failures and successes. It is our objective to determine what may help us as we walk into the future.

All up, this insignificantly small and scattered continental population was around 150,000 (or more) fewer than the city of London in 1800 and the lower end of that estimate was the same as the accumulated British army losses for the Napoleonic wars, which were about par for the course for major territorial conflicts of the time. To have pretended that the population of a small European principality could legitimately claim some kind of continental 'nation' sovereignty would have been regarded as laughable. For those still in possession of their rational faculties, it still is.

The concept of ‘property’ is well beyond the understanding of most of our demonstrative protestors on the street. It would do them well to comprehend that which they condemn. I find it amusing that while they will tell me I cannot own the resources below my feet, or should not, it is perfectly logical to them that a handful of individuals, even if the first to set foot on some parcel of land, up to and including a continent, can claim sovereignty simply because they existed. Not an easy conversation by any means, but without focus and context, there can be no discussion, no definition of problem and absolutely no considerations of resolutions.

Yes they did stone age really well, considering how much practice they’d had, but who wants to live a stone age way of life now, even if it were remotely possible, except perhaps as a tourist who might, as a transient observer, appreciate an ancient narrative of place, of tall tales and true from the legendary past….? It might even work as part of a Duke of Edinburgh style living-off-the-land challenge for young bourgeois urban softies in need of a bit of bush ‘hardening up’. But it there is no way of bringing the stone age back from the dead, because even in really remote Afghan villages in the foothills of the Himalayas, the local gunsmith can make you a moderately reliable and serviceable AK47, for a very reasonable price, from scratch.

But who actually believes in land spirit worship anymore? Are we getting all indulgently dewy eyed about aboriginal ‘culture’ because our own is bankrupt and we can no longer bring ourselves to believe our own creation myths any more? Anyone for Genesis? …. I don’t think so. So what is the river serpent telling us that Adam and Eve don’t?

I have no issues with individuals believing in land spirit worship, but it is the idea that they somehow can arbitrarily proclaim themselves as caretaker without the need to converse, discuss, debate, consider and determine exactly what it is that needs to be done.

We should all respect and venerate the planet we live on, but there will always be practical considerations unless the intent is to create a genocide of historical proportions to bring the population numbers into a more manageable number. No one is promoting that . . . . yet. It’s in the works.

It can only be education, and philosophy is a part of that, that can ever hope to bring about a resolution through true cooperation and understanding. I see no intent or even acknowledgment that this might just be the answer. I hear nothing else in the cacophony of the demands of the ignorant. But then again, that would suggest that their positions are of little or no value whatsoever.

Why is it in some circles really fashionable to make fun of the Biblical Genesis and then go into reverential overdrive about equally unlikely stories of ‘the spirits of the land’? What sort of ideological gobbledygook is that? And is it really a good idea to be blithely encouraging the more atavistic (relating to or characterized by reversion to something ancient or ancestral) and reactionary (diehard opposition to ‘progress’ or reform)) elements within aboriginal society when so many of them haven’t really got their heads around the modern realities?

There seems to be an intense dislike of religious belief systems for any number of reasons. One is that the morality of many religions often clash with the ideology of those we may call secular. The contradictions lie in the fact that they both paint their criticisms with the same broad brush of generalizations, when they should be determining similarities to set standards, and argue differences with all of those ‘attributes’ that they both profess, tolerance, open-mindedness, empathy, etc. I find that I disagree with both of them most of the time, and ironically, for the same reasons.

While religion and God are quite mystical, the natural mysticism is easier to embrace and there is no real dogma or hierarchy within the parameters of this spirit worship. This reduces the effort needed to confiscate the legitimacy that others feel for the movement.

Sure, modern societies are making a mess of the Garden of Eden, and they’ll have to do something about it if they do not want to end up themselves on the rubbish dump of history. But it won’t be ‘the spirits of the land’ that wake us from our modern dreaming so much as scientists, or failing that, disaster. And we won’t be going back to hunting and gathering, even if the worst happens; Mad Max perhaps...Aboriginals have nothing to tell us about that because they haven’t the first idea how we are going to support twenty-two million people in an environmentally disturbed, chaotic and violent world, or even themselves if the government welfare money stops turning up every fortnight. The old bush skills aren’t what they used to be in most places these days….

Things are rarely and obviously black and white in practice. I am not so sure that investigation and contemplation of the ‘spirits of the land’ could not be instrumental in making an attempt to get back to some natural basics such as respect, empathy, compassion and cooperation. Perhaps not in the context of the ‘stone age’ as you put it, but with the addition of our modern knowledge base as well as technological and scientific findings. A blend of both might give us the opportunity to discover more about ourselves as well as those around us, and give us a more substantial and legitimate chance to make some of the changes that are so desperately needed.

Instead of allowing us to be pulled backwards into that Stone Age, maybe we can pull the best of what they may have understood within nature into our own paradigm to create change.

Sure, some elements of aboriginal communities still have an extensive knowledge of their environment, and it has become increasingly obvious that the rest of us have plenty to learn about their traditional fire management practices, bush tucker and pharmacopoeia.

There you go. There are valid and rational reasons to look at what is known as the big picture, and refrain from throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Had aboriginal communities been more engaged with their modern neighbors, and got enough modern education to be able to adapt their very considerable knowledge to modern forest management, horticultural and agricultural production methods, and marketed them properly, these practices and products would have impacted fire management, taken up significant space in our food and drug manufacturing and distribution chains, and gone into export overdrive, long ago. And in the process, some of our aboriginal brothers and sisters would have made some serious contributions to fire management science, made some money out of native species horticulture and showed the way out from being fortnight to fortnight welfare pensioners to being professionally paid forest managers and environmental scientists, to being enterprising creators of wealth.

The question being who is it that gets to make such a decision? They need to want to do this, and it is irrelevant what the rest of us think is an appropriate response to the relentless march of time and technology. This is not to say that I don’t agree with you to a large degree, but only that the issue of coercion is what perverts and corrupts our own modern systems to begin with. We need a more rational and human-based perspective to accomplish such an objective.

Right now, the main players in the indigenous foods industry are, as one might expect, non aboriginal. Ditto for bush pharma products. And the sellers of indigenous food are presently screaming for more supply because their local and global customers are realizing these products are very novel, tasty and nutritious eating.

How does one attempt to control such an environment without coercion, more laws, and that simply complicates the whole corruption and power struggle thing among the parasites and opportunists that feed off of any society at any time throughout history? This is a fundamental question. I support the right of people to take opportunities and turn it into something positive and beneficial. How do we rationally control the time and effort a fully legitimate individual puts into a creative and innovative outlet? I am not sure that mankind is mature enough to even consider this question. We have failed miserably to this point in the attempt to address these kinds of issues.

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review of The Enigma  
Rated: E | (4.5)
It seems that I promised you a review back in January, which I did, but neglected to send it. At least I can't find a record of it. If sent, please accept my apologies for resending it. If not sent, please accept my apologies for the oversight. In any case, here it is.

I enjoyed 'Enigma'. There were many of your words that resonated with me. I appreciate those things that make me think, to re-examine what already exists as truth, and investigate those things that I have yet to discover. You've done that, and I thank you.

I could say that it would be nice to have a deeper insight into the things you mention, but it is not my decision. While it is intriguing and compelling, it is unfinished and yet still inviting. I guess I do much the same with my own writing. People always want to know more about me, when I really desire that they learn more about themselves. No matter how much I relate my own experiences to others, they can never really comprehend because of the overwhelming expanse of their own experience and perspective.

It sounds like a capitulation and a farewell, and yet it talks of the future. I was a little bit confused. I also feel the wear of many years, but am unwilling to give up what little time is left me to despair and the unknown. I persevere and continue my path, enjoying the journey, reluctantly accepting there may well never be a destination.

Life is a bitch, and yet I sit here knowing that I am who I am only because of that bitch. I wish to be no one else, and find contentment in knowing that I played an integral part in that evolution.

Ah, alone. I long ago realized that we walk that path alone, no matter how many may share it with us. Was it real? It was the only 'real' I know. I think I may have been able to direct it better at times, but I embrace the fact that it was the creation of 'I'.

I have no solace in the memories that I have left behind. Very few ever really knew me. I barely knew myself. If my words or actions touched someone else, then I am somewhat content. We do what we think is right, and nothing else is within our control. That is my focus.

Existence is a highly personal experience.

I enjoyed your final quote. Is it one of your own? I play with poetry myself at times. I found it insightful and intriguing. Thoughtful. I have a bit of an obsession with 'self' so it resonates.
Review of Lazarus  
Rated: E | (3.0)
I've been meaning to take a look at your suggestion for a while. I am sorry it took so long.

I always find it somewhat difficult to assimilate the written word, especially when it is based on a religious principle, that relates to what someone says, or what is written in a book, and not so much the reaction and interpretation of the individual because of some real-life event. As I read it seems more of an explanation or a translation than something that was actually experienced. I don't want to call your belief system into question, because I understand at least some of what you are trying to do. I related to you that both my brother and uncle were priests and that I have been exposed to the belief system on an intimate level.

When I began my search for answers about life and truth and god, one of the first things I researched was the Bible. I read virtually the whole book, trying to find something that would resonate with my limited experience at that time, to try and make sense of a world that did not hold a lot of answers. While there was much of value in parts of what was presented, there was much contradiction and things that just made little or no sense to me, it didn't bring me any deeper understanding of myself or those around me. I found it wanting. This is not to say that it cannot be something of value and substance to someone else. If it assists someone in becoming a better person, then I make an attempt to appreciate what that individual was able to find in the teachings and stories about life. I accept it as a piece of the puzzle, with valuable lessons and a hint of direction and suggestions for thought and actions. I embraced those things that could help me with my quest but had to reject those things that were thought to be less than complimentary to my already developing a personal philosophy. It is just the way that I process things, and I have done so with a number of other religions and disciplines, some traditional and others much less so, from Catholicism and Christianity, as already stated, as well as Muslim and Judaism, through Buddhism and Confucianism and Daoism, even Shintoism and Paganism, not to mention American Indian cultures. They all have something important to say about what is needed to find god. They all have given me direction and aspects of thought and action that I have accepted as instrumental in finding that which I am looking for, which is peace and harmony, and I find it hard to believe that any god would hold my expectations against me.

Our thoughts on what god, if he exists, are quite disparate. I find benefit and satisfaction in discovering what is right, and doing whatever I can to integrate that into my everyday actions. You believe that your god gives direction and imperatives. I believe that God, if he exists, wants us to experience understanding without coercion or direction. I am more than willing to face him, again, if he exists, and to make my case to him, and no one else. He has never spoken to me, and I await the event. If it never happens, then I will determine my own destiny. I don't believe anyone else can do that for me, including you, my brother, or any sage or representative of a divinity. I try not to judge your own decisions and actions, and I hope that you are willing to do the same for me.

You talk of gods' will, and I respect that, but I am sorry that I cannot accept that. I have talked with many that say God has a plan. If so, it may well be that this is his plan for me, and I intend to live a life of integrity doing just that. Can you tell me that he does not have a plan for me? Can you tell me that what I am relating to you is not that plan? How can you possibly say that?

My interpretation is that you have a strong belief in what you are saying. Belief and passion are wonderful things. I have that as well. Is it not my right to come to these conclusions by my own volition? I acknowledge your desire to help in some way, but when does that wish to help become coercive?

You say that I cannot see 'further than these things' but I will be able to with Jesus. This may well be so, but I seem to be making a credible attempt as we speak. All of these trials and tribulations of marriage that you present are real enough, but my wife and I just celebrated our 46th anniversary just last week. It seems undeniable that we are doing something right. While many of those things he taught in the Bible are a part of our lives, he is not a part of our lives, nor his father, or any other god from any other belief. Perhaps we live in some degree of denial, and yet we live in harmony with each other, and bring no harm to others. What is it that we are doing wrong? I am comfortable with our efforts.

Your narrative tends to lean towards preaching at times, and that, at least in my case, does nothing to convince me of the righteousness of your positions. You are relating nothing from personal experience, but simply relating what is said in a book. Without the existence of this tome, there is nothing to provide legitimacy for your words. I find this troubling which leaves me unsatisfied. If you wish to have me reconsider a lifetime of thought and contemplation, you are going to have to do much better than that. I mean no disrespect. It is a simple reality.

I accept that evil exists in this world, but find it difficult to acknowledge an actual satan. Can I be mistaken? Most assuredly, it is possible. I have been wrong about so much in my life, it could fill volumes. The whole concept of truth is somewhat humourous. If I am able to recognize good and evil and work towards defeating the existence of evil in our lives, does it really matter what motivates me? Is it not of more importance whether I really have a legitimate comprehension of what evil is? At some point, I need to know, with some surety, or I will fail in my quest. God may be able to help, but the revelation cannot come through you, it must come directly from God himself. It will simply be next to impossible for me to accept anything else.

I am very uncomfortable when I start hearing about obedience and an arbitrary judgment of my 'ability' to 'learn' faith. This is normally understood to be a determination to be made, but not by me, and that invariably makes me resist and reject. Be careful when you begin to speak in these terms, they are dangerous on so many levels.

The narrative continues to relate to us, albeit with some colloquial re-phrasing of the storyline, but it remains a regurgitation of Bible passages and consistently in a preachable format. Speaking of format, another aspect of being taken seriously is to put the time and effort into your own submission. To have the reader respect your work, you have to respect it yourself. Spelling, grammar, formatting, using text-ese. These things reflect on the whole piece. This is not to say that mistakes are not made, things overlooked or simply not recognized as wrong. It is an imperative for the writer to try and remove as many of these distractions as possible, or the reader can get lost in the story and eventually lose interest, not something that you want to happen. Proofreading is an integral part of the writing itself. It is so difficult to entice someone to read a work, even harder still to engage with them and keep them interested, it is self-destructive to be sloppy or lazy in your presentation.

As mentioned, there is a certain strength and passion in your writing. The writing is capable, but the flow can be improved by reducing mistakes and some tweaks to delivery and presentation. I don't know if you reread your postings before submission, but reading it aloud will help you find those areas that sound forced and discordant. I can't help but reiterate that the preaching is a real turnoff for me. I have been accused of it repeatedly. Passion will make you do that with any subject and seem to be preaching even when there was no intent to do so. With religious-related items it is almost impossible. I don't normally subscribe to the absolutism demanded by many to show, don't tell, but in this case, it would seem that it would be much more palatable if there was a more intimate revelation that involved you as opposed to quoting or paraphrasing from the scripture. This is all the opinion of a single individual. It is simply my observation after reading your work. We look at this life from different perspectives, but at no time do I say that you are wrong, only that if you wish to create a larger impact, in my humble opinion, you need to make some adjustments. But in the end, it will be your decision. I sincerely wish you well. What you are attempting to do is extremely difficult, as I have found out. I have a few essays on god and religion, and try very hard to refrain from alienating people with limited success. If that is what you wish to do, you will have to accept, re-evaluate and adjust accordingly continuously. I can only wish you good luck in your efforts.

I think that the piece would be so much more compelling if it was more a narrative about your own personal thoughts, no matter how much they are influenced by your faith. It is admirable in many respects to hold strong beliefs, but the level of preaching is going to turn many people off. I guess it depends on what type of audience that you are trying to reach. If you are looking to start a movement or develop your own community, it may be more valid. If you are trying to simply engage with believers and non-believers alike, then you need to approach this with a totally different perspective. Those that have similar beliefs will not give much push-back, but those that are already skeptical, or uninformed as to your beliefs, are going to be concerned with the tone and direction of the narrative. This is just my opinion, of course, but I think it a valid one. My own position is a well-established and developed system of beliefs, and I have heard nothing that I have not heard before, in many guises. It would be necessary to make me question some of my own comfortable positions before it would be even possible to actually make an effort to re-investigate what I consider bedrock tenets that my philosophy is built upon. You have not done that. You are not saying anything new, and you need something I have never heard of or thought about to impress me.

I truly wish you well. I hope you are able to find your way through the 'mind-field' of conflict and resolution. Maybe you can write some reasoned arguments about specific concepts within the religion that are open-minded and welcoming to those that may disagree with your position. Your kind of writing can be very intimidating and interpreted as aggressive. You have to find a way to get around that or I fear that you will be frustrated with the results. I am all the time. I hope that you can accept these observations in the manner in which they were intended, as information that may be of some use to you. If not, it can be rejected and discarded. It was meant to help, and not to hurt. I hope that you understand that.

Enjoy your day. Keep writing. I wish you nothing but peace.


Lone Cypress Workshop

Rated: E | (3.5)
I appreciated your somewhat nebulous interest in my attempt at starting a group on the subject of essays. I hope that you will decide that you would like to sample what my 'group of one' may have to offer. I read this piece at your suggestion and found it relevant to what I am hoping to do with the group, that being to understand and develop the usage of the essay in our writings. I found your essay a perfect example of what an essay is, and what it may be.

As a reviewer, I tend to shy away from telling a writer what to do, and what to say, and how to say it. It is my position that it is for the author to ultimately decide his direction and style. Having said that, there are some comments and observations that I would like to share for your consideration. Just something to think about if you are going to develop the piece, or for possible use within something else in the future. It may give you some insight into the kind of conversations that we may have within the group.

My first reaction to your introduction was that conventional wisdom would suggest that you make it more a narrative than a 'list' of things that you would like to accomplish. In either case, you do have to accomplish the same things, but a list can be rather dry to the reader, and while you may 'hook' them with your comments, since most readers are not going to be enthralled by the subject of mathematics, it may alienate even more of your audience.

Myself, I am a student of mathematics and have always had an interest. I recognize the importance of usage in everyday life and enjoy hearing anecdotal stories about the subject. The problem with an essay is that it is not normally a story, but a rigid presentation. The formal essay does this by design, and to some degree, it sometimes works but lacks a certain 'entertainment' value. This is one of the reasons that I tend to favor the 'informal' and do not believe that it cannot be enjoyable at the same time.

I am somewhat ambivalent about your intro. At first, it seemed a bit clinical, but upon reflection, it is, in essence, a direct and personal invitation to the reader, and I appreciate that. I could see some others possibly criticizing that it is not structured and formal enough, but I like the informality of the presentation.

Your first points, while technically valid, are not particularly cohesive. While they are legitimate statements they don't seem to have a relation to one another and takes me out of the narrative to some degree. They need to be tied into one another, as well as the concept of 'lying' that we are expecting. Perhaps with more explanation it might make more sense. Each point could be the nexus of a sub-narrative, building upon the intro and setting up what is to come. While it creates some anticipation for where the piece is going, it also disconnects the attention.

I am not sure that there is evidence that mathematics is suspect at this point, but you suggest that your next argument may rectify that. You introduce contradiction between different proofs, but at some point, in pretty much all of the 'sciences', we have to rely on previous conclusions to make progress. Most science is not built upon factual evidence, although there is much that does exist, but upon consensus and acceptance. Theoretical science is taking over all the disciplines, and the existence of truth gets more tenuous with each passing day. Don't get me wrong, I actually agree with much of what you say. It is just that it comes across as more confusing than convincing, especially for those that are not scientific in temperament. I believe that you are presenting too many aspects too quickly, and not giving the reader more information to understand where you are going with the narrative. I, of course, do not really know the audience that you are attempting to reach, which has many implications for delivery and intent.

The reference to the Milky Way, while illustrative of a three-dimensional example, does not prove your point. Even two-dimensional representations, using multiple perspectives, could define and present three-dimensional objects. I am not sure what you are trying to prove here. We have to represent things that exist to the best of our abilities, with mathematics no exception. It seems more of a limitation that we continually try to improve upon, than a misrepresentation.

As for the creation of a 'new' mathematics, that is an intimidating challenge. All the sciences seem to evolve in a way that is very difficult to restrict and direct. It is like they have a mind of their own, and this inevitably creates errors on many levels. It is like saying that our politics or our laws should be more fair or consistent. I certainly would not argue the fact, but the challenge is in making the changes necessary. How do we accomplish that? I have no idea. I don't get to make the decisions, and no one seems to care about my opinion.

In many ways, Physics is not even really mathematics, although they are intimately related. You seem to be losing the reader with your foray into changing one of our most sacred beliefs, that E=MC2 to E=M. I think even some scientists are scratching their heads at this point. The following points are difficult to follow for most, including myself. I think that you are presenting a daunting amount of information into a demonstrably inadequate-sized narrative. It does not draw the reader into the conversation but removes them from the narrative, and that is probably not what you are looking for.

But. . . . I completely agree that these 'theoretical' disciplines have gotten so complex and intricate that they are allowing themselves to be forced into not proving in any compelling way that their conclusions are real, but they are forcing the proverbial square peg into the round hole, making it work by adding even more theoretical numbers and terms into the formulas to get a satisfactory result. Not what science was supposed to be about. I guess you can understand the frustration, but science is not made to respond to the impatient, but to the focused and rational on a long-term investigation.

The concept that mathematicians lie is finally introduced but a bit forced into the narrative ending, almost as an afterthought. It could have been referenced with some of the points brought up previously to set up the ending. It seems that the effort was over-ambitious for a conventional reader. Many of your points demanded much more information and clarity, and some of them might require quite a bit more background. If you assume that the reader understands much of what you presented, the audience is inarguably restricted. For the normal reader, it would have to be more instructional so they could follow the storyline. I have found that adding that instructional component makes it that much more complicated to make an essay an engaging submission. We have to understand and accept the makeup of the audience here on writing.com, with most not particularly informed with your subject matter.

I hope that this does not come across as highly critical, because it was not meant to be. It is exactly what I hope to attempt to do with the essay group, to talk about how to make the 'beast' palatable to the normal reader. To instruct and entertain is difficult enough, but to engage and hold the reader, especially with subjects and concepts that may not be their 'bread and butter' so to speak, is never going to be easy. To get them to want to continue to read something that they would normally not be interested in is almost impossible. It begins with the beginning and that 'hook' that everyone talks about. To get their attention and to 'help' them to think about something in more detail than they might want. I think that you did that, but the need to keep them engaged during the whole process of the entire essay is just that much more difficult.

As I said, I enjoy mathematics and have enough background that I know what you are talking about, and was still having difficulty staying focused on what was presented. I could see the eyes possibly glazing over with many readers. It was not that it did not have substance, and there is nothing wrong with your ability to write, but the reader needed it to be offered in a manner that it would remain both interesting and enjoyable. With mathematics, that is a difficult challenge. Personally, I think it is something that could be done, but it might take a couple of thousand words to do so, or perhaps make it a series of mini-essays, with a limited amount of specific items at a time that could be covered sufficiently, and allow the reader to finish and contemplate what was said, and hopefully return for an encore.

Thanks for the opportunity to read it. Keep writing.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review of The Sun Also Sets  
Rated: 13+ | N/A (Review only item.)
I am so glad that I took the time to sample your submission.

I found it to be refreshing and creative. Well structured and with a consistent, and surprisingly believable quality to it.

A good point of view and perspective. I have some experience with the bovine community and Hooves is well above average in his intelligence and philosophy. His ability to find clarity was evident, although he did end up in Spain, but he basically foretold his own demise, so he was prophetic as well.

I guess we won't go into the logistics of a traveling bull, not to mention his admittance into a bistro. The allusion to 'Midnight in Paris' gave a good backstory to the narrative, provided of course you saw the movie. Which I have.

An insightful and contemplative bull, and that's no S#@t!

It was nice that they were 'simpatico' although Hemingway was the only one that lived to write another day. I had a fondness for Hooves and it was sad to see him go. It seems it was somehow inevitable.

He truly is a legend.

In this time of turmoil, this was a welcome and entertaining distraction. Well written and consistent. Good dialogue. Smooth transitions and not much to critique in PS&G.

Well done. Thanks for writing. Thanks for sharing.

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Rated: E | (3.0)
It is difficult indeed for me to give much criticism since it is a belief that I hold deep within. It is nice to see it articulated in a poem. Which is too short I might add. A simple poem, and yet one of strength and reeking of truth. I am not sure that one cannot live a rich and full life without the love of another, A life of solitude can be a thing of beauty, but very few are capable of withstanding the perpetual burden of self. I think the real misery comes from a life that does not know love at all, and never finds the path to love of oneself. That is truly a crushing pressure to endure.

The sentiment is strong, and difficult to dismiss or to argue. Love is not a trinket or a piece of candy. It has value, and it can be precious if you understand what it means, and you so aptly voice what many have uttered over centuries, but few have been able to understand fully. It cannot be bought or sold, and it cannot be given in a mindless manner. To know love, one must know self. And for that to happen, there are obligations and responsibilities that must be contemplated and experienced.

I am only a single individual, but I find it difficult, if not impossible, to love someone that I do not respect, deeply, and therein lies the crux. If you do not know and respect 'self' and understand the concepts, there can be no love. Love is the most selfish, as well as the most selfless thing that anyone can do, and to understand the difference is not easy.

I always appreciate when someone touches on a fundamental to happiness and peace. Your piece did that. I would have liked for you to expand and contemplate the concept in more depth. If interested, I have given the concept some thought as well. You can find my perspective in my portfolio in 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love' and 'What's Love Got To Do With It'.

Thank you for sharing, and never stop writing.

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review of Salt  
Rated: E | (3.0)
When I look at someone else's work, it is an attempt, for me at least, to try and interpret what I read, primarily as a reader, and not as a writer. It is difficult not to recognize that it is also seen as a work in progress, because nothing is ever really finished, depending on what the writer is trying to accomplish. PS&G is not my strong suit. I disagree with much of what 'traditional' or 'conventional' sources believe is the 'proper' way to produce literature. My views are rarely mainstream. There is no intention to promote those positions. These observations of mine should be taken with a 'grain of salt' as the saying goes. No attempt is made to rewrite the piece, although many suggestions and alternatives may be offered. These are made only to give the writer the ability to look at some other perspectives. Everything I do, from reviews to essays, is offered as an opportunity to entertain other possibilities. My own situation is similar in the respect that I truly listen to what someone else offers by way of observation and opinion, but I find that I receive as many points of view from those that have an opposite and just as credible view, and I am invariably left pretty much where I started, and the result ends up being adjustments or changes from a personal decision anyway. But they give me much to think about, and it all goes into the process. I do listen, just not as much as others would like. The assumption, for me, is that you will go through much the same progression. If there is something that interests you, that is gratifying. If not, there is no regret for my words or my opinion. I understand the frustrations of being a writer. I respect what they are trying to do. There is no intent to be harsh or to hurt feelings, although being honest almost ensures that it can be a possibility. It will always be given as a single individuals' opinion, nothing more. At that point, it is up to the writer to find value in my thoughts. Feel free to keep them and think about them, or to disregard them at your leisure.

I find that there is often a need to define a word or concept that I wish to cover in my work. So many words in our language have been 'hijacked' by special interests and they have perverted or simply promote an explanation that was never intended. Difficult to stop that, so the writer has to present exactly what their interpretation of that concept is. Normally, I would go through at least ten sites to get the varied information from origins and usage and possibly use it in context to attempt to make the word more interesting. What you have done, while there is nothing wrong with it, comes across a little bit dry. More like something from academia. I realize that the title tells us this will deal with salt, but we don't know in what way. It could be any of the four you include. It could even be all of them, but the piece would have to be longer, possibly much longer. That is something that I would suggest in any case.

My problem is that it does not 'hook' the reader, so some kind of narrative that contains the information would probably have been easier on the reader, and you could have introduced something specific that could be the reason that they, the reader, continue to follow the story. It might also be better to drop the secondary meanings that you will not use in your work, although I think they all could have been incorporated into the piece if you wanted to. If you had touched on the flavor of life, with all of the trial and tribulations, the common-sense conclusions that you came to after your deployment, the skepticism that has overtaken you with the changes in society, the need for steadfast individuals to fix things, and especially the 'old salt' sailor, since you ARE a sailor, and a writer, and that, in essence, is what an old salt is. All of these things could have given so much depth and interest in conjunction with what you actually put down to paper.

The writing is competent and consistent. It flows naturally and the thoughts are consistent throughout. There were some good phrases like behemoths of steel and stabbed the darkness falling over the sky. Nice stuff, but most of the time the narrative was in simple and matter-of-fact form. While everything related well, and I liked the story, it was missing something that I can only describe as 'introspection'. It was not personalized enough. There is a 'relaying' of what you did, but little depth as to why you did it, and especially what you were really thinking during the 'doing'. Some of what you are thinking comes through, but it is distant and superficial. The deployment is life-changing. I want to know exactly how. The fact that you talked to the MMC is not particularly interesting, although the fact that he came to you instead of going to him could be. But you didn't say why. This comes across more as something of a memoir, and, of course, it is since it is just about you and your experience during this event, but I never really get the sense of your fears and anxiety, both before leaving and then the turn of events that change the paradigm. It is obvious that you had no premonition of the pandemic but you didn't really relate how that affected you.

There is some good information and the story is interesting, but a bit superficial. Now, I am prejudiced, I like introspection. I always want to know the things that people say, but I really want to hear the things that they do not want to talk about. The things that they are afraid to share, that makes them vulnerable and open to criticism. I think many feel the same way. That is how you get the reader invested in the story and the character. Readers like to feel that they are just like the people you write about, or they want to know how they deal with many of the same things that they do, or they want to feel that they are doing better than them and get some satisfaction that the decisions they make are working for them. But the bottom line is that they want to know more. Always more. The development of you, as the main character, and being vulnerable and open, is what will 'catch' them. That 'hook' everyone talks about? It doesn't have to be right at the beginning, It can come at any time when the reader decides that they want to read it all and find out what happens next. The problem is that if it is not sooner rather than later, there may be no reader left to get 'caught'.

Another personal preference is that, with all of this depth I suggest, it means the length increases. Many critters will tell you to say with four words what you have done in ten. I say, maybe it will take a hundred. There is no rush to get to the end of the story, and fewer words mean less information, not that you can accomplish more with less at times. But not often. As a personal example I will give you a quick peek into my thinking. One of my favourite books of all time is Ayn Rands' 'Atlas Shrugged'. I know a lot of people don't like her work, but I think it is more an issue of her politics and philosophy. But the book is well done from a literary point of view. Second best-selling book of all time behind the Bible. The book is long, over a thousand pages. Most say way too long. Me? I wish it was twice as long. Length is not intimidating. Boring is. If there is value, and I found value on almost every page of one kind or another, length ceases to exist. Reading is a journey into a timeless place where you lose yourself in thought and fantasy. That is what you get with introspection and well-developed thoughts and dialogue.

Speaking of dialogue, this episode with the girl was just begging for some dialogue. Not to mention some dialogue with yourself with all of these issues. Dialogue is not my strong suit either, but it gives a different dimension and flow to the overall piece and a buffer between all the narrative parts. Back and forth between them gives a nice continuity.

Every paragraph there is something mentioned but not developed further. Those great behemoths of steel? You never mentioned what you felt about them. No mention even of exactly what your position was, and it seems like after your two months you are leaving and never coming back? How do you feel about being on these monsters? How does it feel as you progress through the ranks? What are your goals? What are your dreams? What do you hope to accomplish? We never found out what you did while on board the ship, just that you worked half of every day. A good amount of information. The potential was endless. There were questions flying around like fireworks in my head throughout the whole piece. To me, this means opportunities lost.

Most people that join the military (merchant marine? / Coast Guard?) have an interest in history, at least of their particular branch. You took the time to mention that it was 'never important to me'. Why not? It is to me, why is it not to you? Is this certification germane to the rest of the story? It doesn't seem so. Who is this guy that you wear on your chest? I can't find anything. Hamilton, Jones, Barry? I can find nothing that points to anything on the uniform of any branch of the military. These are distractions that can affect a reader. If you mention something there needs to be context, and if you can add some introspection, all the better.

The pandemic is something I am pretty ambivalent about. But you bring it up and again just go over the peripherals. Another opportunity to go into some detail, both surface and deeply. It must have been difficult to get basically imprisoned on a ship while this goes on, and you never let us know just how long that imprisonment was. You continue to relate a story but it continues to be under-developed. Don't get me wrong, I think the piece continues to be consistent and with a good degree of information and interest, it's only that it is so limited in scope and depth.

You move into the concept of salt now, and this again is interesting. These ships are made of nothing but metal and open to the weather and the worst nature can throw at it, and always in a salt-laden environment. It is a never-ending challenge to keep up with the work necessary to keep it sea-worthy. Again, while interesting, it comes across as a relating of information. And then you make the analogy with the 'scars after the hurt remains'. It kind of drove me crazy. What an absolute perfect segue into some deep insights into the human condition, integrated with the salt and the military and the hurts that we experience every day, with what you had to go through, and everyone everywhere, whether just staying alive, or dealing with the coronavirus. Another piece of fruit on the vine. You didn't go after it.

And that could have transitioned right into the fact that there was no one to care if you even ever returned to port. But you offer no explanations of why. No thoughts of what was lost or never existed. I think many readers at this point are dying to find out more about our MC. There are expectations. You have my attention, most assuredly. You then start some reflection of sorts, and you go into some good fertile ground. "The ocean blinds you of distractions and your (you're) left to whatever horrors you've locked in the depths of your mind". I love it! This is what I want to see all the time. This is more poetic that introspection, but both if you read it slowly. This is good stuff.

Not sure why you called her an 'acquaintance'. Wasn't she just another 'shipmate'? Good place for that dialogue here when you 'cast her off' twice. You cried and she comforted, and you came to realizations that you are never really alone, and there is always a soul in reach. There is no doubt in my mind that you could have made the narrative so much more inviting. Even here, you are giving us a view from a distance of what happened, when we should have been right there with you.

"We pushed our birds out of the nest to fly in a storm". Another good line and another good opportunity to lose yourself in a reverie about whatever was in your mind. You told me to not hold back when doing this review. My strongest impression is that you should stop holding back when you are putting pen to paper. But you say you only give the sea a glance one last time as you say goodbye. Where are you going? Are you never coming back? I am not sure I have ever read something with so much mystery and unanswered questions.

Again, I have to say this was a real opportunity to put something together that was as real as it can be, and would have reached people on a number of levels, all of them good. Those other definitions I mentioned that maybe were not all that important to start? They all could have been brought in. Especially the sailor part, the 'old salt' teller of tales. The common sense as we confront and address our problems with society and self. The singular nature of human beings and the interaction we have with them, from our own conversations with ourselves in our own mind to our relationship with pandemics and strangers that bring us solace and comfort when we least expect it.

This is a good story. Unfortunately it needs work, but I see nothing that would tell me you can not do it. It needs to be more poetic, and you showed in many instances that this is not a problem. It is something that you have the ability to do. I keep asking myself why you didn't. Don't overdo it but do it more. It needs to really leave your mark as to who you are, and that may be the biggest problem. It means letting all those readers see you naked on the page. I think it will be worth it, but who am I to say? I know nothing about you except what I read on these pages. You really did everything right. You need to put more of yourself into it. It could be something that is really good. I would think that all depends on what you are willing to do to get there.

I think that I have already given more 'suggestions' than I am normally wont to do. The problem is sometimes I just can't help myself. I did some quick research while doing all of this and I found some references into what historically is known as an 'old salt'. It jumped out at me as an interesting and inviting title for the piece itself. Old salt is the saltwater after the moisture evaporates and leaves that crust of salt on everything, and I am assuming that much of what you did on board was involved with that. The old sailor is the analogy of the person who spends their life on board various ships, with adventures innumerable, continuously coated with salt, and they end up a crusty caricature of their original selves, full of stories and anecdotes, with a wit and a perspective few people will ever experience, which of course is why it is so interesting to listen to their tales, even if they are stretched or even fabricated. The connection to any writer is an eerie comparison. I might envision myself as that old salt, and the story my reminiscence one from years in the future, instead of last week or last month, with all the same events, and all the same feelings. A flood of memories of my youth. And that would leave the door open to remember and recall almost anything else from your life that you wanted to add to the story to make it poignant to the point of profound. Once again, just another suggestion. I am confident this could work. I would like to see it happen.

All the fundamentals exist, it would only be the actual presentation that needs attention. A bit of focus on the prose itself. Let yourself get lost in the memories more. I have no idea what processes you go through, but one that I have found invaluable, and many others do as well, and that is reading your work to yourself, out loud. There is nothing that I write, from essays to reviews, that I do not read to myself, out loud, to work out the timing and the simple cadence of the sentences and delivery. I find that it is invaluable. And not just once. With every rewrite, there is another reading. I find many flaws by doing so, and it is surprising how many times mistakes are overlooked by the writer themselves.

I've given you some observations. I then ask if you have your own list of misgivings, and did I touch on any of them? Don't you want to share more with the reader than you did? If so, then you need to think about it more. If not, then you need to think about it even more. There were some spelling and grammar questions, but I leave them for you to discover, or someone else that may review with the need and ability to do so. I hope that you continue to work on this. I think it will be worth the effort, and it sounds like a story that deserves to be told.

Good luck with the writing. Thank you for sharing your words and your thoughts. I hope there is something contained in all of this that can be of some assistance. Nothing would make me happier.

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review of Enrichment  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Well played. I liked it quite a bit. You almost lost me in the beginning. If you had led with the 'lemonade' you may have. But the 'marshmallow' was enough to get me to continue. Rather simple to start but it built well to some pretty complicated concepts. The progression was natural, if not unusual. Just the interaction with this character was refreshing since many would not wish to encourage conversation with what I tend to call an 'other', those that are vastly different from us on the outside, and yet surprising on the inside, not so different at all, at least in some respects.

It is a chance to take, to interact with these 'others' but while potentially dangerous, it can be rewarding as well. If for no other reason than to remind us that things are often not what they seem.

You took it a step further with his ability to exhibit knowledge superior to those around him, which no one would ever know without taking the chance of engagement. Many questions beg to be asked. How did he get to this point? Was he a scientist, or just a curiosity? Does he even really know what he talks of? Is he here by choice or by way of tragedy, either from the outside or from within? The mind scrambles to put some perspective. Is there another reality than my own? I enjoy the challenge of the unexpected. I appreciate the impulse to think of things not so 'mundane'.

And it does not stop there, even if it could have and still be enjoyable. You introduce one of the fundamental philosophical questions of all time. The proverbial 'which came first, the chicken or the egg?' One of my all-time favorite quotes from Descartes, "I think, therefore I am" can really only be considered in relation to Jean-Paul Sartres' "I am, therefore I think". Which is more credible? Which is true? I fear we will never know. Do I exist because I think, or do I think because of that same existence? You assume that he misquoted (and you are the author so I feel obliged to defer) but perhaps he was not the 'Essentialist' that you thought, but instead, an 'Existentialist' in disguise? But you are right of course. The order of the words may be insignificant. And yet?

I applaud your acknowledgment that you are a richer man for the meeting with a not-so-simple vagabond. We are all enriched with every event that helps in our growth and understanding of self, and our enlightenment of the reality around us, which again, is often not what it seems. With every thought we take, there is the potential to be the better for it.

I am the 'better' for reading your piece. I thank you for sharing and for thinking outside the box. It gets stuffy in that box, doesn't it? I really enjoy surprises, and you presented me with more than one. Good luck with any future endeavors. I hope to read something else in the future. Well done.

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review of The State of Play  
Rated: E | (1.5)
I try to refrain from commenting directly on political issues. For one thing, it tends to be a personal issue, normally highly ideological, and not objective, as is necessary for a society to be able to govern appropriately. For another, it is normally highly inflammable to simply disagree, without context, and does little to further the discussion. Lastly, it is usually so faulty from an intellectual and reasonable perspective as to have little or no value in the actual issue at hand. Let us take your 'editorial' as an example. I have no intention of going into great detail. Not because I cannot, but more because, at least on the surface, it would seem to be an exercise in futility.

An editorial, at least in essence if not in actuality, is simply an opinion piece, as yours most certainly is. But ... it is also 'supposed' to be based on some semblance of information that is based on fact, and not 'just' emotion. I had so many questions as I read your words. You wish to be specific as to the date, and I applaud that, but we will return to that in a minute. You mention it is bad form to criticize a sitting President, as you proceed to do so. Bad form? Indeed. It has also been bad form for an ex-president to do so, and yet that 'rule' has changed as well. Also bad form indeed. Is it just as bad form for a sitting President to do so for an ex-president? In that, you would be right. But I guess that means you believe in the 'two wrongs' DO make a 'right' or some such. I do not.

It is true that the president of 'any' country has the obligation to 'protect' the lives of its citizens. But you say he is receiving 'failing' grades? From whom, exactly? While the political opponents and the 'unbiased' media may agree with your assumption, who else does? The polls, and I have to admit I am not a big advocate of the way polls are conducted, seem to say otherwise, even the polls from these same media outlets that do not agree with the President. A slim majority, but a majority nonetheless, support his efforts to date and have done so consistently. What exactly do you believe that he has done wrong? Specifically? He shut down flights in from China before everyone else and paid a political price. Every other country followed suit. This inarguably saved lives. What was 'your' suggestion? If it were not so tragic, it would be amusing the way these politicians and talking heads climb all over one another to try and place the last nail in his coffin, which they may ultimately do to the glee of many. But they all, almost without exception, have been consistently wrong with their own suggestions. Who among them would like to have the responsibility for the welfare of 325 million souls? They fail miserably trying to manage their own cities, states, and 'constituencies'. Every one of them begging the Federal government for help with things that 'they' have neglected forever in the aftermath of their social engineering. And the government, and this cannot be disassociated from the President, did more than a credible job of finding, and supplying the necessary equipment to them, irrespective that the obligation to take care of the states resides with the elected officials from that state. That is the way the system works, That is the autonomy of the states themselves. Don't get me wrong, I acknowledge that mistakes have been made, it's just that I passionately believe that there is no one, and I mean 'NO' one, that could have done a more credible job than what has happened. Every mayor and governor has offered praise for the efforts, while immediately going on-camera and spitting on the hand that fed them. Despicable.

But that is not what I wanted to talk about today. It has to do with the specificity of dates, and the factual content of mindless comments to promote an ignorant position based on nothing but emotion, and that primary component of political ideology, the freedom and ability to hate. First of all, as a side note, the election year is 2020 and not 2021. The beginning of the term is in the year following the election. Another problem with our system, we do not teach civics in our schools anymore. We haven't for decades now. But you made a comment that "I was shocked at what unfolded in a re-election rally for 2021 and the words said to the audience by the sitting President. The words used were to the effect of: "I don't care if you're on your death bed, stay alive till November and make sure you vote for me." I realize that this will make little or no difference to many, but that was not said at a rally in 2020 but back in 2016, years before the issue of a corona pandemic even existed. Does fact have any meaning when slandering a person? Does context mean anything at all? It was a joke, and he said so at the time, but that is not really important, is it? Not if you want a particular narrative out there. It doesn't say much for the ability to research and understand what one is talking about. It also doesn't say much for 'Rita' since she did not correct your remark, either afraid of confronting a zealot, or not caring in any case.

I don't really expect to change your mind on any particular issue. I just find it so disappointing when people look silly when they argue from a position of ignorance. Disagree if you must, but try to do so from a position of fact and not fiction. With each discrepancy, you damage your own credibility. At some point, it is difficult to take the comments seriously. I would imagine that one would wish people to listen to their arguments and even consider them reasonable and possibly even change their minds to some degree, or just to gain respect as an individual. Why else does one promote ideas if not to be a credible source for future discussion? Why talk at all? It is the way we grow, It is the way we develop our own personal philosophies. It is the way we evolve into better human beings. I do not follow an ideology. I follow reason. I follow the truth. I do not follow the beliefs of another, but my own hard-fought philosophy. And I do not lead, nor expect others to follow me. They can discuss, and suggest. I hope that they are open-minded and willing to listen. I try very hard to do so. I search for answers. A convoluted quote I have seen on the net jumps to mind. 'I am not who you think I am, you are who you think I am' or something similar. Words to ponder. It's better to think and know than to guess and judge.

His comment was poignant, and profound, whether this was his intent or not. He asked everyone who was reaching the end of their life to think about making one last statement. and vote for what they believe to be right, before they do not have the chance anymore. Do the right thing before you leave us, for your children, and those that follow, even if you will not be here to savor the benefit of that vote. Vote for America, and not the socialist and communistic America that is attempting to emerge from the ashes of discontent and division, but the America envisioned by our forefathers and those that truly believe in freedom and equality. Do not allow unbridled hatred and prejudices to allow the American Dream to dissolve before our eyes. This country has many flaws and challenges before them, but they are capable of being resolved. Nothing will solve them except the actions of good people who deal in fact and can discuss issues, and even agree, when things do not go their own selfish way. We are probably well past the point of agreement anymore, and for that, I feel discouraged and forlorn. And yet. And yet I have to believe that it is still a possibility, to work together to achieve something greater than its parts. The parts are disturbing and disappointing. They hurt my heart. We can still do it but only with people of character and integrity, people who care about facts and truth, and people who are determined not to allow the hatred of ignorance to win the day.

I also wish that God will Bless America. But I fear that we are not on the same page. We do not want the same America, and we do not envision the same God. He needs to come down and put one of us back onto the right track. Maybe both. We will never resolve these issues if we are not capable of conversation and debate. We need to listen as well as speak. It is so easy to talk, and so much more difficult to listen, to really listen. I welcome the opportunity. The question I have is if you do as well? We all need to think about it. What do you search for? Complete victory at any price, or a rational resolution where we can all live together at peace with one another. It truly is up to 'us', and not 'government'. Time will tell. The sands of time are running out.

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Rated: E | (4.5)
I came across your piece by accident, which I guess you can say about most things I end up reading. I have seen many people make an attempt to talk about the subject with different degrees of success. I found this particular item to be one of the best. Many writers do not put the time and effort into thinking about these kinds of things. They are focused on their expectations and immediate goals and fail to understand the most advantageous ways to get 'there' from 'here'. I thought your narrative was insightful and can only be beneficial to anyone and everyone that ever dreams of being a successful writer.

You'll notice that I did not say a published or acclaimed writer. That is something that is peripheral to our quest of being good at what we say we are trying to accomplish. To be a writer. I do not write to make friends. Oh, I've picked up a few here and there along the way. If you are just looking for friends, seek them out on Facebook or some such social media outlet. But the deeper meaning of friend is what we really need to become better at our craft, and it is indeed a craft, and not a hobby, at least for most of us. A craft means hard work, focus, and invariably those people who can help us reach the level that most of us, unfortunately, will only dream about.

Whether in life or in writing, a friend is someone who cares about our best interests. Friends give encouragement and comfort, of course, but they give something else that is so much more valuable than a pat on the back. They give us that thing that is elusive and so fundamentally important to our evolution as a writer. They give us their honest opinion of our work. They give us a perspective into our own work that is unique and ultimately necessary. The best ones do so with a willingness to help, with compassion and understanding. They are friends, but they are human. They make mistakes and offer insights that we may not have seen ourselves, and what they offer may, at times, not be what we need nor want, but it should be considered and weighed as we make our journey through whatever reality we are trying to develop.

A friend without honesty is like no friend at all. If one wishes to be a writer, they have to take whatever they can find as feedback, ofttimes unwanted, if they truly want to improve and control their words, make them say what they envision, and bring interest and pleasure to those that see those words. The life of a writer is not an easy adventure. We need to embrace our own vision, and look for those that can help us find the answers necessary to achieve that dream.

And that is the conclusion to my rambling rant. Probably not. But I wanted to make some comments in direct response to your own.

I think people put way too much into these star ratings. Not that they do not have a certain importance. They give an indication that the reader found enjoyment, or issues with your piece, not that it is good or bad. They may have a point, or not. It is always your decision to give their rating value. I think it more important to weigh and consider the comments themselves. Do you see the truth in their words, their observations? Or not? The 'critter' is but a tool we use to investigate our own inclinations and expectations as we try and go through an evolution from idea to reality. We pick and choose what to embrace and what to reject. We are responsible for the final product, not the reviewer. They can help, but they cannot write it for us. If they do, then we are not the 'writer', they are. The ratings are simply an indicator and one that we should contemplate without malice or dread. I myself find the negative reviews usually of more value than those pats on the back. I know when I write something that is 'good'. but I often need some assistance to make it better, or dare I say, very good.

The best way to encourage a writer is to give them an insightful and well-balanced perspective through the review. If there are both good and bad in the piece, which is normally the case, then make sure that you touch on them all, no matter how small. It is tough to dismiss someone who criticizes an area of your work when they also call attention to those things that are done well. I had a writer that I gave a pretty harsh review one time. There was much that I thought was enjoyable. It was a pleasant read, but I thought I saw the opportunity to make it so much better. It seemed that they were a bit lazy with many aspects of the piece, and I said so. I told them that I thought, with some time and effort that it could be much better than all-right or good, it could be something to be proud of. I spend a LOT of time crafting my comments when I review. I thought I had been considerate and respectful. They responded by saying that they were 'sorry' that I didn't like it and asked me to not review further pieces. It is a shame that more writers don't understand the importance of that 'constructive criticism' that I personally crave so passionately. I daresay that this person may well never become that writer of which they dream. They think that everything they write is gold. I understand the feeling when you finish a piece of work. I have also come to understand that the writing of a first draft, of anything, is only the beginning of the journey, not the end.

The writer needs to understand that if reviewers do not really enjoy their work, they will often pass on it for something else. When we receive comments it is because someone saw something that caught their eye, from something as simple as the title to the concepts presented or the writing itself. They need to make an attempt to discover exactly what it was that worked, as well as what didn't. And then fix it, to the best of their ability, and then do it again. And again. It's a process, and very few can do without it.

There are distinct differences between 'reader' and 'reviewer'. A reader reacts to a story with a perspective of enjoyment and presentation. The reviewer delves a bit deeper, and points out things that may be known to the writer, who may have included them for their own reasons, or may have eluded the writer and they may need to consider them. And, of course, they see discrepancies and obvious mistakes, or perceived issues, as well. In the end, it is for the writer to decide. Important decisions. to investigate or to reject. I tend to be more of a reader, and react to the story and relate my feelings as the story unfolds, but certainly point to whatever discrepancies come to my attention. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses as a writer, a reader, and a reviewer. It is important to contemplate all of these things for our abilities to evolve. I have found that reviewing can be every bit as important to our overall ability to write, and in many cases, indispensable.

Reviewers can get overly invested in the rating system, and it turns into a distraction. Like 'counting' your 'likes'. It is like the difference between 'telling' and 'showing'. The stars are like the telling whereas, through your words, and explanation, is the showing of what you mean exactly. A star to me is vastly different from whatever the recipient may interpret. The reviewer is a writer, so they should write (the review) which is just another exercise in the development of your own style and voice. Take every opportunity to do so. It's all a part of the journey.

All of these questions the reviewer asks as to what is expected is misplaced. Be honest, and be respectful. 'Tell' them what you are doing, and why. Who could ask for anything more? Why would anyone want you to skew your impressions and conclusions? That would be living a lie, and will never result in the growth and understanding we are all searching for. Give what you would like to get, and think about what that means. Do you want undeserved praise or 'destructive' and 'unfair' comments? Of course you don't. Who would? Honesty is the greatest gift you can offer to another writer, even if they do not realize it immediately. I search for brutal honesty. I want to be the best writer that I can be. I accept anything and everything one wishes to share. I am perfectly capable of separating the wheat from the chaff, as it were, even if it brings a tear to my eye at times. It is the price we pay to achieve our goals. We should all try to be considerate and empathetic as we try to offer truth and assistance as we all take that next step towards our destiny. How many writers simply give up when they are not as good as the ratings they receive? When publishers reject them continuously, even though they have talent, because they never put in the thought and effort required to develop that talent and were discouraged?

A reviewer should never question what the writer is expecting, as far as a review is concerned, unless it be specifics from them as to grammar, dialogue, arc, etc. Everyone wants good ratings. The whole point is that they be credible and reflect only the reviewers' interpretation of the work. The writer is left with the challenge to develop the work to improve the results. What could be more encouraging and satisfying than getting an improved rating from someone that has bee 'critical' in the past? That shows growth and development. That reeks of success.

Reviews are not given with the intent to be 'appreciated'. It is meant to be a sharing moment. Sharing your feelings with another writer with your observations of their work, irrespective of the level of ability of either player. It is meant to be a teaching and learning moment, to both of them, as they investigate the words before them. A time to grow and comprehend one another. A time to be an invaluable asset to the other. To be a friend, in whatever way we can. To help a kindred spirit, another writer, be the best damn writer that they can be. Why else are we doing all of this?
Rated: E | (3.5)
I liked the poem. I find many of the sentiments floating around in my thoughts repeatedly. I wasn't so sure about the repetition at first but I think it works. While I agree with most of your words, I can't help but question some things in my own mind. They seem to want out so here they are.

I agree that we cannot really ever 'fix' someone else. We need to fix 'self' first and support others in their quest to resolve their own issues. We can help others to understand their challenges through our own experiences and possibly some empathy but in the end, only they can find an answer. Only they can make the decisions necessary to move forward. But I don't think that we should never try to be a part of the solution for them. Always do what you can.

Our essence is ours alone. We are unique. It is what makes us interesting. The world would be so much less exciting if we were the same. Acceptance is integral to being happy and to sharing with others. The goal is to like being oneself but do you believe most people are? I wish they were. I think we would ultimately all get along if we could do that. In the end, we are who we decide to be, or are forever unhappy.

Growing and learning together is instrumental to those ends. But we are all broken to some degree, some much worse than others. I am not sure that they cannot be repaired. But it takes much time and effort, and recognition by all that they need some assistance to do so. If we are not willing to participate, then they may well never be able to 'fix' themselves. We, both them and us, need to search for alternatives, possibilities.

We are indeed all flawed, and perfection is something of a fantasy, and yet the striving, the path to perfection, is the development, the evolution, of who and what we are. The destination, the 'perfection' loses significance as we investigate the many ways we can improve ourselves along the way. Perfection may not be a 'reality', and yet giving up on the concept would tend to suggest a certain acquiescence to mediocrity. We should reach for the stars, even if we can never grasp them. I would tend to disagree that perfection is lifeless, mindless, and unfeeling. I see it more as the epitome of those things, and noble goals, even if they are little more than an impossible dream.

You are certainly spot on to suggest fixing self before ever trying to help someone else. Our 'imperfections' should make us leary about trying to fix another. We can hinder as easily as help. The more we fix 'self', the more we can help others, if only with encouragement. And whatever we do should never be an imposition. We give what we can, an offer, a gift. For the other to accept or decline. I am not sure there can be any other way.

Everything I write is with one specific objective in mind, and that is to get the reader to think. You have done that with this piece. It makes me take a closer look at myself, as well as those around us. It makes me question their limitations and the challenges they face. We need to cut them some slack, and if we cannot help, let us at least not be an obstacle to their ability to make the changes that are necessary for them to find resolution. Thank you for putting your words to paper. Thank you for making me think. You have given me much to contemplate. Thank you for sharing.

*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Rated: E | (4.0)
I found the poem to be heartfelt and poignant. The sentiment is real and tragic. I find myself thinking similar thoughts every day. I often say that I am trying to understand why people do the things that they do, why they hurt so much inside that they hurt others as well. You would think that they would know better than anyone what it means to be damaged. I guess many of them don't realize it. Probably because they are damaged in the first place. I don't condone the things that they do, and in many cases it is unforgivable, but we should at least try to understand. People talk of empathy, and I have attempted to experience it, but from my perspective, I am not sure it is something that is even possible. We all have those experiences that hurt us more deeply than anyone could even imagine. How could someone else understand? We just have to acknowledge that these bad things happen and try to put life into perspective.

Your words illustrate very well some of the challenges that we all face when we look around us as we travel through life. So much just doesn't make sense. My experience with god and religion has invariably brought me to question if god exists. I haven't particularly given up on him, but I have seen many question his existence because of all the pain and suffering he allows (?) to exist in this world. They point to war and hunger, and the unthinkable conditions that people, and specifically children, have to endure every single day on this planet. Not tens or hundreds, but millions. It is incomprehensible, it verges on the edge of madness. People blame this entity, which for the most part we created ourselves, to put this right, to fix everything. They don't want to do it themselves, but I have asked myself many times, maybe, again assuming he does indeed exist, just maybe, he wants us to take the lead and fix it without him. It is just a thought, a musing of mine, but it's there all the time. What are WE doing to fix these things?

People die every day. Counting abortions, over a hundred million souls cease to be every year. So death is not something we can hide from, but I have to question those that could have been prevented, should have been prevented. Old age and disease are inevitable, although as our current situation forces us to address intent, the fact is that it is normally a completely normal course of events. But when someone sixteen, or younger, and especially the unborn, have to endure the end of existence when they have not had the opportunity yet to live their own lives under their own terms, it seems like such a waste, such a shame. I think you clearly showed that with your words.

I am not sure that humanity ever really shows that it is 'back on its feet'. I like to think that there is progress, but it is so difficult to objectively profess any real progress in our 5000 years of a so-called 'civilization'. It is extremely frustrating and eternally disheartening. We live in a potential Eden. I don't understand why more people do not understand that and work towards that goal. I recognize that some do, but however many there are, it seems that we need so much more. Or is it nothing more than a dream?

Love is such a vague word, and sentiment. We seem to say we love everything and everyone. Or they say we should. I get a lot of negative feedback for such a position, but I think love can only flower and have value and substance through the power of our minds, our intellect. Philosophy is the culmination of that. Perhaps then we can turn our intentions and expectations into something more tangible.

I like your passion and your sensitivity. I think it was well done. I would have liked something a bit more flowery and poetic. It would have made it more memorable than it already is. I love words, and that is one of the reasons that I am here. No matter what we do, it can always be improved. It is insightful and heartwarming to know that people think of these things, and wish that our reality could be different. We can only hope, and yet do what we can. No one can ask for more than that.

I have some other comments that I will follow up on in another thread. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed it. I hope we talk again soon. I wrote a piece on empathy that happens to be available in my portfolio; "Is That All Ya Got?". It deals primarily with empathy among other things. I invite you to take a look. I strongly insist that you take a look at it on the website (link in the piece) if for no other reason than the featured image that goes along with it. I always have an accompanying image with all my items on the website. I believe it is easier to read it there as well. If you by chance do read it I would love to hear your comments, in as much detail as you are willing to offer, on anything that catches your eye. I thank you again.

I wish you nothing but peace.


Lone Cypress Workshop


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
Review of Live Geology  
Rated: E | (3.0)
I liked the analogy. A bit rough at times but some good visualizations. Perhaps a bit rushed but I enjoyed it.

Yes, I am because I think. I would exist in any case but would be less interesting. Just look around you for examples. Without me, there exists nothing, at least for me. And finally, my reality is always objective, except when it isn't. All interesting questions that can only be answered by a single individual. That would be 'I'.
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
RE: TAGS & KEYWORDS: I would like to know the proper way to insert tags/keywords when I am setting up a static item. I have no idea if this is set up and working. Do you just need a space between words, or is it necessary to have a comma or a slash. Any help would be appreciated.
Rated: 13+ | (3.0)
TAGS & KEYWORDS: I would like to know the proper way to insert tags/keywords when I am setting up a static item. I have no idea if this is set up and working. Do you just need a space between words, or is it necessary to have a comma or a slash. Any help would be appreciated.
Review of The Bamboo Cutter  
Rated: ASR | (4.0)
Nice story. Well written. I enjoyed it.
What is the name of the original folktale? I would like to see that as well.
Rated: 13+ | (1.0)
I am having problems understanding the 'community' we have here. I read a piece named 'scars' (#2191134) and wrote a review. I cannot find it now at all. Is this normal. I take the time to write a review and I can never see it again? I found the article and it asked me to write another but should I not be able to see at least my own review, and why not any and all reviews by others? It is a disincentive for the future. I wanted to relate my comments to my wife, and except through memory, I cannot find the words That I wrote.

I would appreciate knowing what I am doing wrong, how I can alleviate this in the future, or an explanation of why this is necessary. I just don't understand what is happening. Your interface is extremely complicated and not intuitive, but if you could explain it would be greatly appreciated.

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