As the 2016 campaigns, primaries, and debates waged on, I came to believe that something was seriously amiss in this country. Exaggerations became lies; insults became threats. I felt as though the country's id was trying harder than usual to rip a hole in our traditional veneer of civility.
For oldsters like me, the name “Wallace” might prompt memories of George Wallace standing in front of the entrance to Alabama U shouting, “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!” For twenty-somethings, perhaps Wallace conjures memories of chasing a “gym leader” character in the Pokémon game “Ruby and Sapphire”. (I have no idea what that means.) Film geeks might respond to the name by yelling, “they can take our lives, but they will never take … “, etc.
First, permit me to offer some context and disclaimers. I hold you in high regard. I consider you to be a rational and insightful thinker, an eloquent writer, and a conversationalist without equal. I’m also convinced that you and I share many views, including a belief that truth claims should be supported by evidence, a respect for scientific inquiry, a rejection of superstition as a source of wisdom, and a curiosity about the nature of consciousness. Yet, whenever you grapple with the topic of Islam – a topic that you have admitted dominates your writings and discussions to a degree you find undesirable – I struggle to accommodate one of your main theses: that a belief in the ideas espoused in the Quran and its supplementary texts represents the primary cause of contemporary terrorist activities. Or, as you have more directly stated it, “It is time we admitted that we are not at war with ‘terrorism’ … We are at war with Islam.”
I recently completed coursework for a master of arts degree in counseling psychology. I plan to work as a marriage and family therapist during my “golden years” - that period of life when the plumbing begins to rust, while the heart continues to pump in earnest.
Why do our eyes shut and our jaws clench when we watch the torture scene in The Marathon Man? It has to be more than just our collective fear of dentists. In that scene, Dustin and Larry dramatize one of our most primal needs – our need for safety.
The Buddha, that imperturbable thorn in the side of Judeo-Christian dogmatists, warned us about the pitfalls of finger pointing. As he ostensibly explained in one of his Q & As, “my teaching is a method to experience reality and not reality itself, just as a finger pointing at the moon is not the moon itself.” Gautama’s analogy points to the impediment created by each label. Naming and understanding are not equivalent.
By Geoffrey Geddes
Take care of yourself.
Accept each moment as it happens.
Don’t regret the past; learn from it —
Don’t worry about the future; welcome it —
Plan hopefully; do courageously; be happily.
Saying goodbye is often difficult, especially to a long-time companion. We’ve been together for nearly 60 years now, since long before I could even speak. You comforted me when Mom first had to abdicate her feeding duties to my disabled father and my babysitter in order to support our family. I quickly learned to find solace in the substance rather than in the provider. You comforted me when Mom or Dad or the babysitter or Grandma or my aunts or my uncles or the neighbor would (always with good intentions) pacify my yearning for attention with a cookie or a donut or a candy bar. I quickly learned that I could snatch a little more attention and a little more comfort by asking for just one more (and maybe just one more).
By Geoffrey Geddes
Happiness is not good feelings. It is not a sweet taste or a comforting scent. Happiness is not a dream house or a faster car or a promotion or a good hair day. It is not a relaxing bath or a deep massage or a jackpot or great sex. (Just hear me out.) Happiness is not victory; it is not relief; it is not satisfaction. Happiness is not a result or a consequence. It is not a thing to be had.