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What if whatever costume you picked on Halloween steered your life for the next year, but you didn’t know it? You couldn’t choose to be a rich and famous rock star for the next year. Or maybe you could but, like a twisted Twilight Zone episode, you wouldn’t get what you thought you were going to get. And then…if you didn’t dress up…you’d stay that way forever!
Radicalize: “cause (someone) to adopt radical positions on political or social issues.” or “cause to change; make different; cause a transformation”
Radical: “(used of opinions and actions) far beyond the norm”
So, to be “radicalized” one would be changed far beyond the norm. I hear of people being radicalized in religious and political situations, mostly “right-wing” “conservative” or “Christian” and “Muslim” groups do it according to the news media, but I wonder if people realize that you can be “radicalized” to the left or right and in any or no religion.
If you only read and believe information from one type of news source, you may become radicalized to that position. I’m trying to put this into the right words and it’s so difficult. The problem is that I have friends on both ends of the political spectrum and they both seem radicalized these days. If I were to post an article praising one politician and his or her accomplishments or ideas, I’d get one side or the other saying that the politician was a monster and advocating some kind of violence to stop them and their plans. By violence, I mean any kind, not just the guns and fists kind. You also use violence against people when you tell them that you will put them in jail if they don’t do what you say to do. Even if we all voted and the majority approved of it, it’s still violence.
I think we are all being radicalized lately. We’ve all stopped looking at each other as fellow human beings and more like opponents in a violent game of life. We aren’t trying to learn more about each other and understand each other, we’re trying to stop one of side from winning against us. To most of my friends, each election and its aftermath is a matter of life and death and they feel they need to anything to stop the other side from getting their way.
I’ve read and retyped this at least five times. I have more in my head, but I just can’t seem to put it together right. I just wish more people would stop playing this game. Government is not a football game. These are your fellow human beings. They have just as much of a right to be here doing the things that make them happy as you do.
How about we try treating each other like brothers and sisters, instead of opponents? I don’t know what else to say.
There was a big old half dead pine tree in our yard when we bought this house. It was about thirty feet tall and right across the driveway from the livingroom. It still had some green tips on its sad branches and it did provide a little shade to the house in the summer, so I decided to try to revive it. I dug a well around the base of the tree and filled it with water every day for more than a year. It did grow a few more green tips, but we took a three-week vacation and when we got back all the progress was gone. It was just not worth the cost of all that water to keep trying.
It stood there dead for a few more years. The woodpeckers loved it and I enjoyed watching them from the west window. Whole families of them were constantly chattering away, poking holes in it looking for bugs. I hung some bird houses that I had in it, but no one wants to take up residence in a dead tree with no cover. It started to look like any day it might fall on the house and cause us more problems. When we got a new travel trailer for our road trips, we found that the driveway was too narrow at that point to pull it all the way around. We’d need to widen the driveway and that old tree was in the way. It needed to go.
My husband started by cutting it down. He felled it pretty easily for an office man and proceeded to cut the old limbs off and stack them. The smaller branches were super brittle and easy to smash up and put in the trash. The thicker branches he cut into fireplace pieces along with some of the trunk. The man that is coming to grade the driveway offered to take a big piece of the trunk for a project he has in mind. He’s a woodcarver too. He put it in his truck before he left.
And now we’re left with the stump. Naïve as we were, we had asked if he could knock it over with the tractor and he emphatically said he couldn’t. He was sure it wouldn’t budge. We’d have to get it out some other way before he could finish the job.
My husband is an industrious man! He got out all the “shovels and rakes and implements of destruction” early Saturday morning and started to dig. He cut roots and shoveled all morning, took a break while our teenage sun took a crack at it, and went back to work on it on Sunday morning. He hooked up our VW bus to it and tried pushing and pulling to loosen it up. No dice. That stump is seriously stuck. It’s going to take a ton of work to get that thing out!
“How can a big dead tree, with all its multitude of dead and breaking limbs, have such a strong and hearty root?!” I told my friend as we stood looking at it this morning.
We all have big dead trees like that in our lives. A failed relationship, a dependence on a substance, bad habits and bad people are something everyone has at least a little of. When we lay them out on paper or in conversation with a close friend, we can see it’s not serving us, it’s actually hurting us, holding us back. We should cut them down and get rid of them.
We start by knocking it down. We ditch that relationship and move out, get another job, or leave town. We clean up the house and sell all our extra stuff in an effort to live more frugally. We go through drug rehab or get some professional help for our mental struggles. It feels great because we’re moving towards getting better, but then we hit a wall.
Suddenly, the project or recovery seems so damn complicated. There’s so much work to do! So, we stop. We got rid of it, that should be enough. And there we are with a dead stump right where the new driveway should be. It’s still a royal pain in the ass to pull the trailer around. We need to finish the job to be well. We have more work to do.
The power tools come out, the pick, the shovels, the sweat, and the aching back. We may have to resort to dynamite as a last resort. But it will be worth it.
Once the long labor is over, life will go more smoothly. The limbs of the big dead tree in your life may be easy to break off. The trunk of it may need a power tool to get down. But the root will still be there and it’s going to be a long painful process to get it out. It will be worth it though. Get to work!
Philosophers have been generally despised throughout history. We don’t like those people that come in with their wild ideas, making us think about what we are doing and the reasons behind it. Just because one of those thinkers comes up with an interesting idea, doesn’t mean we have to adopt it, so why do we get so upset?
I think it just pisses us off to have to think about things that deeply. Think of it this way. You’re humming along, taking your kids to school, going to the grocery store, picking up the mail. Sometimes you may feel a little frustrated or disappointed with how things are going, but that’s just life, you think. If you just tweaked something a bit, if your kids would just straighten up and behave, if your spouse was a little more helpful, everything would run more smoothly, and you’d all be happy.
Along comes this philosopher guy and he questions what you are doing. She says, “Hey! What if you didn’t need to send your kids to school? What if you were actually harming them?” He writes a post that asks to reconsider getting married in the first place if all you are thinking is that you’ll have a controllable permanent partner if you do.
Suddenly, you’re thinking about your life. You’re thinking that maybe there is something to what he’s saying, maybe you should reconsider how you do things…but that’s so freaking hard! So you tell him to jump off a cliff and continue on your way.
If you’re a thinking person at all (which most people are), you now have some little inkling of another way of life tickling the back of your brain and it bugs you. It sets the balance off on your day, like an unbalanced set of tires on your car. It bugs you and now you have to give it some of your precious time. I mean, really, we are all limited on time and energy. Why can’t things just run along smoothly?
That’s why most people don’t like philosophers. If you are saying anything important, life changing, or meaningful at all, it’s going to make most people irritable. That’s the nature of it.
For those who believe they are in control of things, it’s even more difficult to take into account what a philosopher might be saying. If what the philosopher says is true, or even if it isn’t, the person in control may be losing that control. That is really irksome to us. Think about it. There you are with all your ducks in a row, marching off to wherever ducks are supposed to go (regardless of how the ducks feel about it), and along comes some guy that scatters them. Now you’ve got tons more work to do and nothing is running smoothly like it should. Some one should stop that guy!
It’s not just the philosopher’s that get hated either. It’s those that consider their ideas and try to expound on them. Those that take new thinking and run with it, try to change their own lives to see if it works or maybe improve the lives of others. Those people…what a pain. There they are, living in ways you choose not to, being happy in their own way, making you think that maybe what you are doing may or may not be the best for you. Oh…the thinking, the consideration, the debate…it’s unbearable!