Our Culture’s Heroes Were Often Not Heroes

Every year around July 4th, we turn on our televisions and hear about the great Christopher Columbus.  He sailed across the ocean blue to establish European colonies in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.  What a hero!  What we don’t hear is that he was a brutal dictator, enslaved all the natives he came across, took the women as sex slaves, chopped off the hands of any native male above the age of fourteen (unless they could get him gold), and pillaged these people of everything he could get.  He regularly used torture and mutilation on everyone who opposed him and had hundreds of thousands of innocent people killed.

I’d like to highlight another segment from the same documentary I featured in my last blog post.  Here is an example of how the news networks run their little specials on Christopher Columbus every year.

However, this time they made the mistake of bringing in a member of the Cherokee tribe, a Native American historian, in as their guest.  This scholar goes on to tell them that Columbus was a monster unworthy of all these lavish praises.  The news crew quickly cuts him off, and as they shoo him off, you hear the producers yelling out, “What does that guy know!  Who does he think he is?”

Sorry to break your bubble, but Columbus truly was a brutal dictator.  In fact, he was so brutal that Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand had to send a replacement, Francisco de Bobadilla, to rule the colonies in his stead.  Babadilla sent back a report to the Queen which can be found in historical archives.  Quoting Wikipedia,

The 48-page report, found in 2006 in the national archive in the Spanish city of Simancas, contains testimonies from 23 people, including both enemies and supporters of Columbus, about the treatment of colonial subjects by Columbus and his brothers during his seven-year rule.

According to the report, Columbus once punished a man found guilty of stealing corn by having his ears and nose cut off and then selling him into slavery. Testimony recorded in the report stated that Columbus congratulated his brother Bartolomeo on “defending the family” when the latter ordered a woman paraded naked through the streets and then had her tongue cut out for suggesting that Columbus was of lowly birth. The document also describes how Columbus put down native unrest and revolt; he first ordered a brutal crackdown in which many natives were killed and then paraded their dismembered bodies through the streets in an attempt to discourage further rebellion. “Columbus’s government was characterised by a form of tyranny,” Consuelo Varela, a Spanish historian who has seen the document, told journalists. “Even those who loved him had to admit the atrocities that had taken place.”

Because of their gross misgovernance, Columbus and his brothers were arrested and imprisoned upon their return to Spain from the third voyage.

Our culture elevates monsters into heroes.  Vile, horrific people are lifted up as national treasures.

CNN’s Ready To Serve

Back in the early 90’s, television networks would broadcast their programs across a network of space satellites, all of which could be picked up if you had your own large satellite dish in the backyard.  This also applied to news networks.  You could watch broadcasters putting on their makeup, people stepping onto the set to move things around, directors stepping in telling newscasters what to say, etc.  It’s pretty fascinating stuff.  You can find a lot of it online.

Take this clip of CNN’s Larry King with then presidential hopeful Bill Clinton in the early 90’s.  Watch starting at time 15:12.

During a commercial break, the following conversation takes place.

Larry King:  “It’s crazy, Ted Turner changed the world.  He’s a big fan of yours.”
Bill Clinton:  “Is he…”
Larry King: “He would -ah- serve you, you know what I mean?”
Bill Clinton: “You’re kidding.”
Larry King: “Oh you’d be surprised. He’s ready. What’s he got left in life to gain?  I’d call him after you’re elected.  Think about it.  No dope.”
Bill Clinton:  “That’s for sure.”
Larry King:  “Great guy to work for too.”

Isn’t the phrasing so interesting?  Ted Turner and our news network will “serve” you.  As anyone who lived through the 90’s knows, CNN was so biased toward the Clintons that it became known as the (C)linton (N)ews (N)etwork.  I guess Bill made that phone call.

But what about the free and independent press?  Yeah… right.

I don’t even pay attention to it anymore.  They oftentimes have the news playing on one of the TVs at the gym.  I glance up at it from time to time and this is all I see.

How I Got Into Meditation

As the months roll on, I find myself getting deeper and deeper into meditation.  I’ve been doing this technique called Kriya Yoga, which, the more I do it, the more I want to do it.  It’s getting to a point where I do it for hours and hours every single day.  It probably sounds strange to most people, sitting in one spot for hours, carefully concentrating on your breath, and running your point of reference within your imagination up and down your spine, but I’ve found it profound and transformative.  I don’t even know where to begin.

I ended up buying all kinds of books on meditation and yoga, and found out that these techniques that I’ve been doing have been utilized by sages going back into pre-history.  It’s used to find God, deepen their spiritual walk, find an indescribable peace, silence/focus the mind, and many other things.  I’m finding out that there are deeper aspects to the mind and this life that I’ve been unaware of, but I don’t really want to write about all of that.  Let’s just say I’m still processing a lot of this, and don’t want to get into on here for a while yet.

What I do want to discuss is why I was drawn to this.  Like I said, I don’t even know where to begin.  I guess I’ve just been very disillusioned with life.  Going back, I don’t know, twenty years ago, back then I thought that if I built a successful company and made contributions to the world, that would make me feel alive.  At that point it was sort of an unconscious assumption.  But I built up a company, I found varying degrees of success, and after all was said and I done, all I felt was disappointed and exhausted.  I realized, even back then, that accomplishments of all kinds were not going to “fix” whatever it was I was after.

Others told me life was to be found in romance.  Well over the years I’ve had lovely women interested in me.  People say it’ll be the most meaningful thing you’ll ever experience.  Find love, find a partner.  It wasn’t for me.  I met wonderful people, and I even liked them.  But they didn’t have what I was after.  What I needed.

I can remember being a young teenager in church and people telling me that “God” would fulfill me.  So in my youth, I remember spending countless hours praying, and praying, and praying, hoping for some experience, some sign from God.  I never experienced anything significant.

Then I thought I’d dedicate myself to science.  I’ll do valuable research and try to discover the mysteries of this universe.  And I succeeded.  I went to a good university for almost a decade and earned my degrees in theoretical physics.  I’m offered jobs to work at DARPA and other companies, big paychecks, the whole nine yards.  But it means nothing to me.  I kept thinking, no, this isn’t it either.

What was this incessant “something” within me.  Everyone around kept telling me, oh, you just need to get married, you need a good career, you need a richer social life, you need this, you need that.  That’ll fix it.  But twenty or more years later, I succeeded in all of these things, and while I accomplished all kinds of things, none of it meant anything to me.  I needed “something”, but I had no idea what it was.

That’s when I became very depressed.  I felt that nothing in this world had “it”.  But what was it I was after?  I didn’t even know.  Becoming quite dark, my mind began brooding a lot on death, even thinking it’d be a relief.  It’s a taboo subject in our culture.  I thought, well, I have what, 40 or so more years left, then I’m going to die.  If I don’t find “it”, this has all been a big waste.  Why?  I don’t know.  But I know it will have been a waste.  I certainly don’t feel alive here.  Maybe real “life” won’t happen until after death.  So what can I expect next?  Can I know anything about all of that, or is pursing that topic a big waste of time?

That got me into studying all kinds of things, eventually reading up on near death experiences.  Those truly fascinated me, especially when I found out that millions of people have these experiences and they’ve even been carefully studied and documented in certain academic institutions.  I heard about people dying, seeing the light, going through the tunnel, entering this heaven like realm, hearing this background sound “Aum”, and so much more.

So here comes the crazy thing.  After studying this stuff for months, not knowing what in the world to make of any of it, one day I just sat down on my bed and called out, “Great beings I read of who dwell in the light, in some realm unknown to me, God, great spiritual beings, whatever you are, I call out to the loving, benevolent entities who live to serve, living with the light, make yourselves known to me.  Help me.”  Then, for the first time ever, I felt this energy come all over me, like a vibration, my nerves began to tingle, my body even shook a little, and then I sat there in total peace.  The “it” I’ve always been searching for, that longing, it vanished.  For the first time ever, it was satisfied.

I sat there thinking to myself, did that just happen?  How to explain the experience.  It’s best described as peace and silence.  My normally racing mind stopped.  Emotional turmoil and dissatisfaction ended.  But it’s not like anything “supernatural” happened.  I didn’t see angelic hosts or anything like that.  I just sat there in a brilliant silence and it was glorious.  Things were just fine and I was fine, probably for the first time since I was a child.

Now this story gets more bizarre.  That feeling didn’t last forever.  A few days later, day to day life caught up with me, and that peace went away.  My mind was once again in turmoil, my normal depression was creeping in, and it sucked.  But then a thought entered my mind.  These beings helped me once, maybe they’ll do it again?  So I called out again.  Then I felt the vibration come over me, particularly like some energy flowed in from the back of my neck, making me want to yawn while it was flowing in, and then, BAM, I’m back in brilliant silence.  Thoughts ceased, emotions flattened, and the suffering I was experiencing ceased.  Wow!

So I kept doing this, again, and again, and again, calling out to the beings living in the light near death experiencers enter into upon death, and each time I had the experience and “they” gave me this supernatural peace.  Then I got to thinking, ok, millions and millions of people die and report this happening, saying there’s some reality beyond death, and there were these wonderful beings who helped them.  These beings would appear as to some as angels, Christ to others, Buddha to some, etc, though from my own research, these entities were beyond form entirely and took on forms familiar to those who had died.  Maybe I was the naive one to doubt such things exist simply because they’re beyond what I understand.  Question is, what are they?

I got to thinking, huh, I wonder if I can communicate with these things.  But how in the world would that work?  I guess it’d be telepathy.  They’d probably put thoughts in my head.  But I quickly realized my mind was a complete train wreck.  I’d sit on my bedside and be like, ok, I’m going call out and then just sit here and listen for transmission!  Problem is my mind was all over the place.  It wouldn’t sit still.  It was like trying to receive a quiet signal and there’s just lots of noise and garbage.  I thought, well, I have to remove the garbage.

But how in the world does one quiet the mind?  Then I thought, wait a minute, quieting the mind.  Who talks about that all the time.  Alan Watts!  I remember he would talk about meditation and yoga.  Yeah.  I think that’s right.  Meditation and yoga.

I had never studied yoga.  I thought it was all about cute girls putting on tight yoga pants and doing crazy stretches for hours.  But I decided to buy lots of books on the topic, and it turns out that the physical stretching is a tiny tiny component of yoga.  The most significant aspects of yoga are about mastery of the mind, quieting it, and connecting to God.  I thought, wow.  This is what I need!

So I’m reading all this stuff and these ancient texts are going into how this spiritual energy comes in and out of our physical bodies and how it all works.  I had never heard any of this stuff before.  Then one evening I’m reading these yogic texts and I come across a strange passage, talking about how this “prana” (life force) flows into the body and it comes in through what’s called the “moon” center.  Lo and behold, it comes in from the back of the neck!  Oh my gosh, when I call out to the light, that’s where the I felt the energy flow in!  My mouth just dropped to the floor.  This stuff is real!  If they’re right about something like that, the rest of this stuff is probably real too.

I’m reading these texts, and they’re going into bizarre stuff.  Here’s how you cleanse these energy centers.  Here’s how you activate them.  Here’s how you close them.  Here’s how these energy flows affect your body and emotions.  I’m just gobbling this stuff up.

Through reading these texts I figured out exactly what was responding to me — Christians would call it the “Holy Spirit”, though in these texts it’s referred to as the Atman, or sometimes “higher self”.  Cool!  I think to myself, this is sorta coming together.

So after reading all these texts, studying how emotions work in conjuction with these energy centers, being the scientist that I am, I decide to “clean up” my own mental/spiritual mess, instead of calling out to “the light” to do it for me.  This was exciting!  Can I be in a slightly depressed, out of it state, go into meditation, cleanse the energy centers, and then silence my mind, all on my own?  Can I draw in fresh life force energy to make me feel refreshed and at peace?  I’m going to give this a go!

Ladies and gentlemen, I succeeded.  I’d do the pranayama breathing techniques, I’d do the Aum chanting to draw in the energy, and I’d start the meditation.  BAM!  Give me ten or fifteen minutes, I can go from some jumbled depressed state, to a complete silence.  And once you learn this stuff, you don’t want to even let yourself get “screwed up” to begin with.  So I became obsessed with love, joy, peace, kindness, and the rest of it.  I became far more careful about what was coming in, and what I let stew inside my head!

I can’t tell you how all of this works, at every level.  I don’t know.  What I do know is it works.  This stuff is very real.  There’s more to our conscious experience than just the brain, and these energies are somewhat controllable and can be understood.  Call it nonsense if you want to, but I dare you to put in some serious effort, study this stuff in depth, and try it for yourself.

Can everyone do these sorts things?  I don’t know.  I know that I can.  I don’t know enough about it to say whether it will work for all of you.

All of this eventually lead me to Kriya Yoga.  It’s a big subject, far beyond the scope of this blog post.  Though this is too simplistic, the main techniques I’m focusing on silence the mind and emotions.  In life, we have all kinds of ups and downs, some things exciting us, and for most of us, far more things that depress us and make us angry.  These techniques level your mind out, making it basically unresponsive to physical stimuli.  You think clearly, you understand everything going on, but it’s very difficult to get you worked up.  It’s hard to get you excited, and even more difficult to make you angry, upset, or sad.  You’re always clear and level headed, with a razor sharp focus.

Ever since discovering all of this, I’ve ceased to experience anything remotely like depression.  My biggest form of suffering has ended.   I can meditate, silence the mind, silence the emotions, and hit the “off” switch.  I’m not the body, I’m not this mind, boom, bam, shut it off.

Being able to resist all the mind’s compulsions and remain at peace is, to me, probably the single most important thing in life.  Now I look at the world, and it’s always pulling, screaming all these things at me, claiming I need this, this, and that, and I just have my arms crossed, yawning, saying, nope, nope, nope!  It’s always saying some external thing, often outside of my control, holds my happiness.  Oh, if only I could get ahold of that thing!  Then I’d finally feel at peace!  Nowadays I’m like, nope.  That’s baloney.  “Jason!  You need a wife!  Aren’t you lonely?  Be lonely!”  And I’m like, nope.  I’m at peace, regardless of external circumstances.  I’m just fine, thanks.  “Look over here, think of this nice car!  Wouldn’t it be nice to have that?”  -shrugs- life doesn’t consist in external things at all.  Car, no car, doesn’t have any major effect on how I feel inside.  “You need to work hard, accomplish all this research!  Contribute!”  Do I?  Why is that exactly?  Are things not fine now?  What if time is an illusion and all possibilities exist simultaneously, and I’m living in an eternal now?  This is one experience, and there are other experiences.  I sit here and meditate and I’m just fine.  Sure, I’ll help make things better, but why are you obsessed with changing everything?  When will things be good enough for you?  Oh, and whether the world outside of me acknowledges anything I do is irrelevant.  My emotions are mine to control.

Think about why people chase all these things in life.  What are they hoping to do?  They hope that spouse, that career, that home, that car, that whatever, is going to put them in some mental place where they can say, “You know what, I like my life right now.  I’m happy.”  But is that really how you achieve that state of mind?  I currently have a successful career, things, and I’ve met and dated nice girls.  Maybe those things are “it” for you, they are definitely not for me.  Girl or no girl, fantastic career or mopping floors, walking back and forth or driving around in a Ferrari, it makes no difference to me or my state of mind.  Crazy as it sounds, I feel 1000x more fulfilled concentrating on my breathing and introspecting the depths of my mind, than playing with the temporary illusions which appear all around me.

Ravings On The Media Circus

In the media, we often see feminists promoting an idea that we need to always believe women when it comes to cases of sexual assault and rape allegations.  Should we?  If all you have to go by is “he said, she said” sort of evidence, any leaning toward the man or the woman is personal bias and prejudice, and trying to criminally prosecute based on flimsy accusations leads to social media circus trials, character assassinations, and ridiculous theater.  In all criminal accusations, a person is innocent until proven guilty. We can’t have it any other way.

Do women lie?  Of course they do, all the time, just like men.  And sadly, because we often have no way of proving the matter one way or the other,  both men and women take advantage of the situation.  Some men rape women and tell the poor woman, “Who will believe you?”  I think it happens a lot.  At the same time, we have women who will lie and use false rape allegations for their own reasons, possibly hoping to ruin some man’s life in an act of revenge, etc.  Also, today we have feminists with an active agenda to dismantle what they believe is the male patriarchy, and are attempting the leverage these situations to gain social and political power.  They are working hard to build a society that always takes the side of the woman. Take a look at this New York Times article.  You’ll hear about a feminist who doesn’t care if innocent men go down in this process.  She says “it’s their turn for some sleepless nights.”  They justify this by saying that it’s women more often than men that are the ones exploited in these rape situations, so justice is better served overall if we just believe the women.

This mindset led to the recent media circus with Judge Kavanaugh.  During his Supreme Court appointment, a woman comes out of nowhere, claiming she was groped in a bedroom 30-40 years ago at some high school party when she was 15 and he was 17.  According to her, he pushed her on the bed, groped her, and was trying to take off her clothes.  She tried to scream but he covered her mouth.  Lucky for her, his buddy jumped on the bed too in all the excitement, propelled them all on the floor, and she took off running.  There’s obviously no substantial evidence.  How could there be?  There’s obviously a huge political component, but the moral component has everyone wondering to themselves, maybe it’s true?  Hysteria ensues, the left believing the woman without question, and the right yelling out, “what a farce.”  Who should we believe?  Who is more believable?

This is the central problem.  Things get crazy when we have to resort to who is more believable.  When all this began to go down, we first had a giant group of conservative women who have worked with Kavanaugh, signing a petition saying, “We’ve known Kavanaugh for years, he’s an honorable man.  Don’t believe these lying women and their leftist agenda!”  Then the left has their group of women who do the same.  All those who went to that university and high school see it as an opportunity to further their politics, and so they all sign a petition, “Oh yeah, Kavanaugh?  We all heard stories about the nasty things he did!”

I would love to have a time machine and go back before this media circus trial started and ask these people about Brett Kavanaugh.  I wonder if they’d even remember him?  Maybe they would?  -shrugs-  But according to them now, oh, he was a menace to women everywhere, a slimy, dirty young man!  We flip on the news to hear the theater discussions about how this woman had mentioned this teenage groping to her therapist and also her husband a few years ago, and how her fears led them to doubly reinforce their front door.  This is presented as “evidence” for why this man shouldn’t be appointed to the Supreme Court.  She claims her friends knew about this traumatic teenage groping, but when FBI investigators checked into the matter, none of her friends remember this happening, and they were there at the party, supposedly.  Keyword is supposedly.  They don’t even remember Brett or the party, it’s been so long ago.  A few other women came forward saying he did similar things to them in college back in the day.  All these women tell the FBI to just go and ask their friends.  They do so and none of their best friends can even collaborate the stories.  Not a single one of them is like, “Oh yeah, I remember it like it was yesterday.  She came into my dorm room, crying.  Told me this guy did these terrible things to her.”  They’ll say they believe their friends, but none of them remember it happening.

What truly happened?  Who knows.

Thankfully, sometimes there is evidence.  And do women lie?  Yep!  Take this video.  At the University of Southern California, a young woman accuses a young man of rape.  He says, “No, I did not rape her.  It was consensual.”  Who should we believe?  Should we just throw the young man in prison, believing the woman’s word without even looking into the matter?  Should we kick him out of school, ruining his life and career plans?  Should he immediately be fired from his job?

If we’d done that, we never would have found out that this young woman was lying.  Security footage from the bar shows this woman was all over the young man.  As the young people like to say, she’s thirsty.  Later on, she wants to get out of there, leads him out to the street, hand in hand, where outdoor security footage shows this woman and her roommate teasing this man sexually, talking about all the things they’re about to do to him.  It’s obvious that they’re the ones pushing for this to happen.  Following this further, they all end up at the women’s apartment where further footage shows the women excitedly letting the man up to their room.

Who knows why this woman later wanted to press rape charges.  But I ask you ladies and gentlemen, don’t you think this woman was shedding all kinds of crocodile tears as she went around telling police and authorities that she was raped?  Don’t you think she told quite a tale, and painted this man out to be a nasty predator? If she’s a feminist, she probably had the whole act down, knowing all the right words to say.  I don’t know if this happened or not, but I can imagine the feminists marching around with their “Believe Women” signs.  But lo and behold, she was full of it!  The surveillance footage tells another story.  Who would’ve thought!  After examining this evidence, the judge dropped the charges.

Like a lot of people, I wonder how many men’s lives have been ruined because of lies like this?  Sorry ladies, but I’m not just going to just take you at your word.  I’m not going to take the alleged male rapist’s word either.  I’ll have to examine the evidence, and if there is none, it’s all “he said, she said” to me.  I have no idea what happened and in my mind, you’re innocent until proven guilty.  The same applies to Kavanaugh and Ford.  I’m happy he received his appointment, regardless of what I think of his politics.  I don’t want this to become a precedent.  Any time we disagree with someone politically, can you imagine if both sides are busy digging up ancient unsubstantiated events from 30-40 years ago, claiming this or that happened, and we have media circus after media circus, derailing whatever it is we are trying to accomplish?  Both the left and the right will be using this tactic, and our entire political process will break down into a big joke.

My Personal Politics and Yay, Missouri Relaxes Marijuana Laws

I really wasn’t planning to vote in the mid-term elections.  I’m sure it’s no secret to any of you, but I’m not much of a fan of Republicans or Democrats; I see them as the right and left arms of billionaires and powerful corporations, serving the exact same masters.  I’m trying to stay hopeful, but I’m not going to be naive.  It makes me even more sad when people are at each other’s throats, fighting with family members and friends over a political process that abandoned them a long time ago.  I see little evidence indicating to me that either Republicans or Democrats care about us, I’m afraid to say.  I hope that changes and will do what I can, but I’m just a university lecturer and don’t have much say in it all.

I can summarize my politics these days.  Here’s what I’d like to see, in order of my personal priority.

End The Wars and Stop Being World Policeman
My primary issue is to end the wars.  No more bombings and no more killing.  Remove all our bases all over the world and quit meddling all over the world.  We’re bankrupt, we’re spending trillions of dollars, and getting nothing out of it.  Bring the troops home and quit these unjustified wars.

Protect The Environment
I’m for any policy that is best for our environment in the long term.  Clean energy, strict pollution regulations, etc.  We’re ravaging this planet, creating an unprecedented extinction event on this planet.  We’re so short-sighted, not thinking about what we’re leaving behind.  Recycle.  Don’t pollute.  Take care of this place.

Balance The Budget(s)
I’m very open minded about what we spend money on.  You want a lot of social programs, ok, fine.  Want people to fend for themselves?  I can understand that too, though I request at least some minimum social safety nets for people in need.  But I won’t budge when it comes to balancing the budget and paying our bills.  If you’re going to spend money, find a way to pay for it.  Raise taxes if you need to.  But don’t borrow all this money, build up trillions of dollars in debt, and then pass it off to the next generation like, “Well, it’s your problem now!  See ya later!”  That really irks me.

You know what that’s like?  Imagine working in a restaurant and you work the night shift.  The day crew makes a giant mess, leaves the entire kitchen and restaurant in shambles, and you start your workday, walking straight into madness.  The day crew runs off and is like, “It’s your problem now!”  How irresponsible.  I have no respect for that.  A good man/woman leaves an inheritance for his children’s children, not a big pile of unpaid bills and screaming debt collectors.  When you take an action, don’t just think how it will affect you.  Also consider how it will affect others around you.  Better yet, also consider how it will influence people further down the line, possibly multiple generations down the line.  Don’t be narrow and short-sighted.  Think long-term and consider everyone, not just yourself.  This exact mindset is why protecting the environment is important.

Healthcare For Those In Need
We have an epidemic in the United States.  I don’t remember exact numbers, but there is a massive percentage of people without health insurance.  It’s immoral and intolerable.  My Dad pastors a church and there was one congregation member years ago who wasn’t taking insulin for his diabetes.  He was trying to go without because he couldn’t afford it.  C’mon.  His body can’t process the glucose.  This isn’t up for debate, he needs insulin.  People can lose their vision, lose fingers, toes, even die.  The same applies to many others with serious medical conditions.  Give them their medications.  Tax me.  I will pay for it.  I won’t stand for that.  I recommend some form of universal healthcare, but do you want it to be private?  Fine.  But at least come up with something for those who can’t afford it.  Those living below the poverty threshold, just take care of them.  Then make some sort of graduating income bracket ladder providing assistance based on need.  So many jobs lack benefits these days.  Everyone deserves basic dental and access to doctors and medications they need.  Everyone.

Digital Privacy
Maybe I’m a pessimist but I don’t like where all this technology is going.  I don’t want my TV, cell phone, or other devices spying on me.  I don’t want all my personal information sold to any corporation who wants it.  All of this applies to governments and corporations both.  I want some sort of digital bill of rights, protecting our privacy. I don’t want to live in a world where every aspect of my life is available online in a simple Google search.  Privacy is important.

The Drug War and Private Prisons
End this stupid war on drugs, especially on harmless things like marijuana.  Way too many people are locked up and then are put in private prisons, where corporations put them to work for 10 cents an hour.  What a racket.  There should be no incentive structure for corporations to incarcerate the population.  Instead of wanting to lock everyone up, I’d rather see money spent on dealing with mental health issues and set up addiction clinics to help people get off of addictive substances.  Drugs can lead people down a nasty spiral and we need to throw a rope down to them to these people, offering to pull them out when they’re ready.  I’m also advocate that we send social workers out to befriend those with drug addictions, distribute clean needles, etc., to minimize the spread of disease, and constantly be offering advice and help to these people.  We have trillions for worthless wars, but we can’t help those deepest in need.  So many just want to ignore these people and hope they’ll just go away, but the moral integrity of our nation is based on how we treat those in their darkest hour.

College and Higher Education
This is a complicated one for me.  Universities are charging way too much money, they’re building too many unnecessary buildings, administrative overhead is way too high, etc., but I don’t really see any other institution in place in our society that can teach people advanced mathematics, medicine, the sciences, etc., to train young people to work in our new high tech world.  We currently pay for K-12 education and should extend this to a four year BS degree.  Tuition, books, etc., should be paid for.  I’m even an advocate of providing some minimal housing to students while they are undergoing their studies.  Poorer rural students should be able to relocate and get a good education somewhere without burying themselves in debt.  I’d like to see alternatives arise to this process though.  College takes too long, and as I mentioned, it’s way too expensive.  I’m a huge advocate of corporate certifications, online education/certification programs, etc., that will allow people to quickly learn the skills they need to advance their careers and better their life.  There’s a lot of wasted time and money in universities, and our society would really benefit from cheaper, more streamlined alternatives.

Freedom / Leave People Alone
There’s a whole lot of things people do that I don’t personally like or agree with.  I’ll be kind to you, will you be kind to me?  You leave me alone, I’ll leave you alone.  Fair enough?  And when it comes to issues where we have to come to some agreement and work together, respect me and I’ll respect you, and I’ll be open-minded.  I’m flexible, please be flexible with me.  Let’s discuss everything, civilly, and we’ll find what works best for everybody.  I’m not going to try to run you off.  This sounds like common sense to me, but it seems to be more and more rare these days.

Those are the main things I came up with off the top of my head.  There may be a few other issues I’m not thinking of at the moment.  But yeah, we Missourians were allowed to vote on marijuana reformation laws.  We actually now allow for medical marijuana and are in the process of decriminalizing it.  Excellent!

If you like to smoke marijuana, you’re not bothering me.  I see little harm in it.  Also, there are many medical applications for the substance, such as those suffering from epilepsy.  By all means, if it helps them, use it!  I’d like it to be treated just like cigarettes.  I hope it eventually comes to that point.