Am I A Pathetic Parent?

Upon reflection, I freely admit that I am a changed man. Gone are the days of careless partying, carefree spending, and hedonistic living. My life consists of working 50 plus hours per week, driving and participating in my son’s minimum seven hours of basketball practice (x2 if he has a tournament during the weekend), minimum five hours of proctoring my son’s studies, and some time spent with my wife.

No complaints, whatsoever; I absolutely love every minute.

I am leaving this week for a business trip for the first time in three years. I’m excited that I get to visit a city I’ve always wanted to visit, San Diego, but at the same time I’m feel guilty that I will not be there for my son. Don’t get me wrong, I will miss my wife, but I have this strong bond with my son. I am his father, coach, and teacher. He has primary coaches and teachers, but I also fill those roles, and this week I will not be there to fulfill those roles.

Am I pathetic or what?

I’m not sure if I feel guilty not being there for him, or selfish for my own self-interests. I guess one is a means to an end if you look at it objectively, but I am biased either way you slice it. We are in the last quarter of 5th grade, and his AAU basketball team is struggling big time. He is making individual strides with his game, but his team is not. I cannot help the team; hell, I don’t even think the coach(s) can help this team, but I still want to be there to help my son work through it. We found a new coach this past week close to home, and we are excited to start working with him.

Thankfully, it’s only one week, and surely it won’t be that bad. My wife is a decent fill-in (joking – she’s the glue of this family), and friends that will be there during practices to give me summaries of how they went. Skype will allow me to help with his homework if necessary. Still….

Now that I’ve written this blog entry, I’ve decided that I am not pathetic, just at peace and extremely thankful. There is nothing better than being a parent. How some detest it boggles my mind.

Good Is On The Left…

I am reminded of a lyric from the song “Hell’s Bells” by AC/DC: “If good is on the left then I’m sticking to the right”. That song was written around 1980 and appeared on their “Back in Black” album (yes, I’m old; I still call them “albums”). I loved that album, and it’s sold a gazillion copies and is one of the best selling of all time.

However, even though it appears that “good” is on the left, more and more people are leaving the right and going with progressive and/or liberal political leanings. When Barack Obama was elected POTUS back in 2007, the tide turned against the Republican party, and they knew it. Forget the fact that the people of the United States elected their first Black President, his election signaled a tremendous shift in political thought and decision-making that frankly has scared the living shit out of the Conservatives.

Think about it: Fox News has always favored the Right, but the full frontal assault on President Obama and the left has been both brutal and ridiculous. Business leaders have poured billions of dollars into promoting strategies that leverage fear, lies, racism, and the limitations of mediocre intelligence to do whatever they can to save their ways of living. I can spend a day making a laundry list of examples, but I won’t.

Listen, I’m no expert, but I do consider myself somewhat intelligent and not blind to stupidity. Common sense has always been assumed, but it’s been proven it’s a commodity and not a given. The best example I can give is the good old Bell Curve. You know, we are suppose to cut off the far left and far right, and focus on the middle? That’s where the GOP has failed miserably.

The Republican Party has done a wonderful job speaking to those that already believe that Obama is the devil, gays will ruin future generations, and that ISIL will soon invade the USA and impose Sharia Law. Instead of focusing on those, like me, that consider sane arguments on both sides over important issues, it appears they thought by brain-washing those that already followed the Republican platform would be enough to win back the White House.

Wrong.

Now, they GOP did win back the Senate, and held control of the House courtesy of gerrymandering. Two things handed the Senate back to the Republicans: Low voter turnout and the Democrats distancing themselves from President Obama. The latter was the perfect example of why Democrats are considered weak; they rather duck from a fight than stand up for what they truly believe in.

Now, in 2015, we are witnessing the GOP’s worse nightmares: After 50 attempts of trying to overturn the ACA, i.e. Obamacare, they hoped the Supreme Court would overturn parts of the Act that would begin the dismantling of it. Instead, the SCOTUS upheld ACA. The next day (today), the SCOTUS made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. Both victories for the Left, and ironically won with a Conservative majority sitting on the Supreme Court.

Good is on the left.

The Internet is a wonderful tool for many reasons, but in the case of politics it is an important and wonderful tool. No matter how much BS the Right spews, those of us in the middle have the Internet to discover truth above lies. Those that embrace logic over emotion can come to conclusions on issues without some right-winger claiming that the end of the world is near if we do not impeach President Obama. The far left will never vote anything but Democrat, and the far right will never vote anything but Republican. The middle, on the other hand, is more and more choosing the view of Liberals/Progressives, and it will continue as long as the GOP continues to spout non-sense, and/or refuse to work with the loyal opposition party to do what’s best for the country via compromise.

The Evangelical that fills their back pockets with the dollars of the powerful to spout right-leaning Christianity, enjoy it while you can. More and more people are leaving because they too see what is written in the Bible is different than the interpretation of those standing behind the pulpit.

The billionaire (e.g. Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, and who could forget Donald Trump) that think they can buy elections, please continue to spend your money while you can. Citizens United’s shelf life is short and soon will be overturned.

Others that for whatever reason cannot see that more and more citizens of our great country are sick and tired of wars, tax reductions for the wealthy, the sick and poor neglected, and again a laundry list of opportunities for us to improve, then I don’t know what to tell you. Some of you are too far gone and cannot be helped. Some of you are to ignorant for your own good. Some of you are on the payroll, and the money is too good for you to do the right things. Whatever, the train is at the station, and it will soon leave without you.

Good is on the left, and I’m leaning that way.

Numb, Sad, Lost….Just Fill In The Blank

I just don’t get it. I really don’t. I’ve spent the last 24 hours trying to get my thoughts in line with what has happened, again, this time in Charleston, SC. It’s not like we haven’t seen this before—senseless killing without a second thought from perpetrators that decide to forever change people’s’ lives.

He, Dylann Roof, allowed hatred to control his actions, and while blaming nine African-Americans who were sitting in Bible study in a historic church, he decided to shoot these unarmed church goers because, in his words (paraphrasing), they were raping our women and taking control of our country.

I’m going to say something that I have no problem saying: Racism is alive and well in the United States of America. Let’s no longer stick our heads in the sand and ignore the facts. There are Americans that feel to whatever degree that whites are better than blacks. Somehow, these Americans were taught that African-Americans are inferior. Racist seeds were planted early in life and were allowed to grow within their corrupted souls. Blame it on their parents, communities, families, lack of education, mental illness…whatever, enough is enough.

I watched Jon Stewart’s opening monologue and was brought to tears because everything he said was spot on correct. Yes, international terrorists must be dealt with, but what about domestic terrorists? Let’s be clear: This was a racist hate crime, but it was also an act of terror on the African-American community. That being said, we have people already dropping the same old bullshit that this was a crime against Christians, and if they were armed with weapons they could have stopped it, etc. etc. etc. Yes they were Christians; that is quite evident since they were murdered while praying in a church; however, why should be expect and/or require people to arm themselves to prevent being attacked especially in a religious sanctuary?

When will our country begin dealing with the problem of racism? I don’t have the answer, but I wish I did. I have to try to explain to my 11 year old son why someone would feel the need to murder innocent people for any reason whatsoever. I have to try to explain to him why some people feel they are inherently better than others based on the color of their skin. I have to continue teaching him that all people are created equal, but a sickness continues to permeate our society that infects people’s minds to think that it is perfectly acceptable to treat others differently; to hate them based on these differences; to kill based on their twisted view of the world we live.

To those of you that feel you are better than others, I feel sorry for you. To those of you that consider yourselves “Christians”, if you feel you are better than others and do not accept that Jesus told you to love everyone, but continue to think people of different creeds, beliefs, or color are inferior, then you need to pick up the Bible and read it again. Those of you that do not believe in God, that is your right, but if you feel you are better than others then perhaps you should look deep into the mirror and let reality slap you in the face because you are not better.

We have drones flying over several Middle Eastern countries in an effort to kill terrorists that threaten American lives and our way of life; perhaps, and I’m spit-balling here, but maybe we should consider using these drones on domestic terrorist groups to protect Americans here at home.

Again, I don’t have the answers; I am struggling big time. Right now I can only think of those nine people that were gunned down for absolutely no reason. I mourn their deaths, but I am more saddened by the inactions of we Americans to do anything about it.

Are Religions At The Crossroads of Individual Salvation and Societal Control?

Years ago, I had a personal conversation with a Catholic priest, and I asked a question about the Gospels. Specifically, why are there noticeable differences between the text written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John regarding the life and times of Jesus Christ.

His answer was simple and clear.

“Imagine a car accident on a street, and the sidewalks are filled with pedestrians. The police begin asking the witnesses what they saw to begin their investigation. Each witness would describe the big picture, but add differences from their viewpoint. What one witness saw may be completely different from another witness, or another witness may have had a better viewpoint to add additional information to paint a better picture”.

Makes sense to me.

Now, I am not a Christian scholar or historian, but it is my understanding that the Gospels were written several years after the death of Jesus Christ. Did Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John write based on what they were taught, or what they were told to write? How could they write about someone’s life many years after the fact?

For a long time now, I’ve accepted that the opinions of those that preach and/or teach religion go off their understanding of scripture. The word “religion” basically means “belief”, so once a person reads text from any bible, he or she is going to comprehend what they want and/or are capable of understanding. That being said, it scares me that any one person can wield so much power over a group of people based on their interpretation of religious text.

Religious leaders have always had some degree of influence over politicians, but today, in my opinion, it is getting way out of hand. Until churches and their spiritual leaders pay taxes, they should stay out of politics. Directly instructing congregations to vote a certain way should be explicitly forbidden. Stick to interpreting the bible, not the U.S. Constitution.

Consequently, more and more people, due to the onset of the Internet, are beginning to see through a lot of the vitriol spewed from pulpits across the world, and think for themselves. Before the development of the World Wide Web, people relied mainly on network news and Sunday sermons. Back then, each remained on script and focused on their direct message. Some may argue that networks leaned “left”, and to a degree I would agree, but I would also add that just because intelligence and facts were leveraged during broadcasts isn’t a bad thing. When I went to church, the Priest would read from the Gospels, and his sermon would focus on what he had read.

What happened?

Now we have news broadcasters casting their opinions on the state of the world, political leaders, etc., and church leaders are more focused on politicians and their actions and ensuring that their flock vote a certain way.

Listen, I don’t need a bible or minister to instruct me on how to be nice, not steal, cheat on my wife, murder another human being, etc. Nor do I care how a news anchor feels about President Barack Obama; that’s now why I watch the news (or used to). I think it’s common sense that just because my neighbor left his car running in the driveway doesn’t mean it’s mine to take and use however I like.

Now, I understand some folks need something to hold on to; they need to believe that a better life is out there somewhere. Me? I think once my heart stops beating, I’m done. I’ve got one life to live, and while I’m here, I want to have fun, earn a good living, raise my son to be a good citizen, and add to the community however I can. I also want to be the best husband I can for my lovely wife. Again, I don’t need the King James Bible to tell me how to do that. I don’t need to confess my sins to God via a priest to clear my consciousness. Just like preachers like to tell us; we are all sinners. I know that. I learn from my mistakes, try not to make them again, and move on.

If you or anyone needs religion to get through this thing called life, I have absolutely no problem with that. We all need a helping hand, that’s for sure. Unfortunately for me, I feel religions were designed more of a societal control mechanism than a guide to salvation. Was Jesus Christ a real man? Yes, I believe he was. Was he crucified? Yes, I believe that. However, the reasons why are different in my opinion than the ones taught on Sunday morning.

I believe Jesus Christ was a man that preached good teachings for the common man. The Virgin Mary? That one is up for debate. I do, however, wish I could have seen the look on Joseph’s face when he found out Mary was pregnant. Surely, that was an interesting conversation, if Joseph truly wasn’t the “real” father.

Once Jesus had enough followers, he must have become a grave concern to the leaders of the day. Good old Pontius Pilate must have gotten an ear full from all the powerful men in ear shot. Control, once gained, is both hard to maintain and even harder to release. They decide to eliminate Jesus, so they beat him half to death, then hang him on a cross with two other poor SOBs. His mother and followers watched and cried while he died on the cross.

He dies, is prepared for burial, and placed in a tomb.

No, he did not rise. He was either cremated or buried elsewhere, and the story continued.

I’m sorry, but once a following is created, people will find a way to leverage it. Now I understand why leaders want to keep society controlled and not allow it to get out of hand, but like everything else, people take things way too far and the original purpose becomes an afterthought.

Today, racism is still an issue, and many in this country are afraid that minorities, i.e. African-Americans, are gaining too much power. They cannot fathom that by 2050 Caucasians will be the minority. African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and other ethnic minorities are growing in numbers, and the 1% are panicking. Why do you think the GOP has become a puppet and the wealthy are their masters? They are absolutely terrified that good old Christian values are falling by the wayside.

The LGBT community are made up of human beings that want to be treated just like everyone else. They want to love. They want to thrive. Why is that such a hard thing to understand? What is wrong with any human being loving another human being?

Now, if you believe in a religion that calls for you to be a heterosexual or else you will rot in Hell, that’s your business and choice, and I respect it. Do not, however, force your beliefs on me and society. You made your choice now live with it; the rest of us will live with our own personal beliefs.

Again, when I die, I want my family and friends to get together, bury me, and have a party reminiscing over the good times. Once the party is over, go on living your life and think about me from time to time. I want to be buried so my body, when it deteriorates, adds something to Mother Earth so she can continue on. If you believe in the after-life, then good for you. I hope it exists for you. I, however, believe that once I die, I’m dead.

But that’s the point to all of this diatribe. We are individuals living together to get through our lifetime. Understand we are different. Understand we think differently. Understand we have different tastes. Understand we will have strengths and weaknesses, and for the most part, will try our best to do what’s write for themselves, their families, and their communities. There will always be outliers, and must be dealt with accordingly. Hopefully, common sense will take over the insanity we are buried in daily and we will all live happily ever after.

I Just Realized That I Only Have a Little Over 6 Years Left!

Damn. You know the old question, “where has the time gone”? That’s what I asked myself today about my son’s life. He’s 11 years old, and will turn 12 later this year. Before I know it, he’ll be 18 and off to university.

I better get to it.

The way I look at it, if 11 plus years have blown by this quickly, well six surely will travel at light speed. He already acts like a grown up constantly discussing his plans for college and professional career. He is steadfast in his conviction to be both a basketball and football player at the University of Florida and then the NBA and NFL, respectively. He works at his dream extremely hard, so who am I to bring him back down to Earth with a sprinkle of reality from time to time? It’s his dream, and I’ll be damned if I attempt to get in his way.

I will, however, support him in any way I can.

Surely his chances are slim, but who cares? The way I look at it, if he continues to do well in school, and works hard at improving in either or both sports, then who the hell knows. He definitely has the passion for it.

Even though I absolutely love being involved in his sport activities, I treasure the moments we share every single day. That’s the part I’m going to miss when he eventually moves on. One of my favorite times is when we are riding in the car. You wouldn’t believe the conversations we have had; anything from sports (of course), to questions he has about his friends and school, and his observations about the world around him. Let me elaborate on the latter.

He views the world quite like I do. He isn’t afraid to question anything and everything, and I love that. The conversations we have are intriguing and challenging. He keeps me on my toes. One of the most recent questions he asked: “Dad, should I walk closest to the curb when walking with a girl?”

Wow.

A dear friend of mine told me not too long ago that I possess and “old soul”. She was right; I do. I believe in manners. I believe in chivalry. I believe in romance. I believe in being kind and polite to anyone and everyone. So when Jake asked me that question, it brought a huge smile to my face. I’ve never gone out of my way to instruct him to do it, so I asked him why he asked. “Well, I see you always walk closest to the curb when you are walking with Mom”.

That’s my boy.

He too is a lover of history, and we often talk about our next trip to Washington, D.C. and the Smithsonian. However, with the recent 50th anniversary of Selma, he asked me to help him understand the significance of the event. Now mind you, he is an avid admirer of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., so my description focused more on voting rights and not just inequality and racism. “I didn’t realize it was a struggle for people to vote back then” he replied, and I responded with “the struggle continues to this day”. “Well”, he said, “when I’m old enough I am going to vote because it is my civic duty”.

Again, that’s my boy.

I know—I’m gushing over my son. If you’ve read this blog before then you should be used to it. If not, then I don’t know what to tell you.

So, I have a little over six years left to watch my son grow up, become a man, help him discover his life’s passion (other than being the next LeBron James – his sports hero), and do whatever it takes to support his endeavors. I’m his father, but also I’m his biggest fan. He has so much more to learn, discover, and experience, and I can’t wait for it all to happen.

In the meantime, I have to continue to be a role model, and set an example for him to follow. Believe it when I say that I never, in a million years, ever thought I would think or say such a thing. Then again, I never thought I would have a son as incredible as Jake.

I worry that I may fail him. I worry that I may disappoint him. I worry that I may not be able to support him in certain situations. But the one thing I will never fail at is loving him and trying to do what’s right. That type of failure is totally unacceptable.

Six years to go—it’s going to be one hell of a ride.

A New Chapter In My Professional Autobiography Begins Tomorrow

Damn I’m peculiar, and I mean that as a compliment. There are certain words that when read or heard immediately conjure negative images. The word “peculiar” is one of those words. I’ve tried to explain myself to many people over the years, and recently I’ve found that peculiar is the best word to use.

When I was laid off from Washington Mutual in 2006, I began a professional roller-coaster ride that I had no idea would last nine years. Several jobs have come and gone as I’ve searched for that perfect career opportunity. What is the perfect career opportunity you ask?

Most would answer a job that pays well, provides great benefits, and is enjoyed, in no particular order. Those things matter for me, too, but I also require mental engagement. The word “challenge”, in my humble opinion, is way overused especially on resumes and in interviews. I’ve come to dislike that word. Instead, I prefer “engagement”: I must be 100% mentally engaged in my work or else I will tire easily and/or become quickly bored. Either or, for me, is professional disaster.

During the past seven months, while I was unemployed, I dove deep into self-discovery. For those that know me, most would agree that I am difficult to understand at times. It’s not that I am a grouchy son-of-a-bitch, but frankly I grew tired of finding jobs that bored me, and refused to take on another one that would end in another lay-off physically and/or mentally.

I am what the infamous Briggs-Meyer assessment calls an INFJ – Introverted Intuition/Extroverted Feeling/Introverted Thinker/Extraverted Sensor. It is the rarest of the 16 personalities, i.e. 1% of the population. Yes, for every 100 people, I alone have a unique personality.

Go figure.

I’ve struggled with this for most of my life. Especially as a kid growing up, I felt different than all the other kids including my friends. I had a mediocre relationship with my mother, and my father and I were estranged at an early age. I grew up an only child since my twin brother was stillborn, so frankly the only way I could communicate my feelings were to write them down in a journal. Yes, I was writing even before blogs became cool.

I know it was common for kids to have diaries, but for me it was more of a FAQ of life that I had to have. I would actually write answers to the questions I wrote so I could fall back on the information later down the line. I would “see” things other kids and adults did not, but was afraid to point them out. I wrote those observations down, too, and added context to those observations when the information or data was found. Seriously, I wish I still had those journals; I bet I could still use them.

Where am I going with this diatribe? Tomorrow I begin a new marketing job, and I am thrilled beyond words. For the first time in what seems like forever, I am looking forward to getting out of bed in the morning—not personally, but professionally. This past Friday, I dropped my son off at school, and drove to my new office to determine the best path, ascertain the time it would take to get there, and other possible variables I hadn’t thought of. I’ve been freshening up on my digital marketing knowledge especially SEO and Content Marketing information all weekend. Hell, I even picked out what I was going to wear on my first day Saturday morning.

The best of all things happened today when we returned from my son’s two basketball games. As I was about to take our dog for a walk, my son Jake walked up to me, gave me a hug, and said “I’m proud of you, Dad”. I smiled, and after three seconds of complete speechlessness, I said “thank you” and kissed him on the top of his head. I then walked out the door with the dog before he could see the tears in my eyes.

Am I worried that my penchant for being laid-off will continue? This time – no. Of course it’s in the back of my mind, but this time it feels different. It feels right. The journey for the perfect gig has come to an end with the discovery of this new job, and it’s time to feel accomplished once again.

It’s been awhile. Wish me luck.

Explaining Religion and Santa Claus To My Son

“Dad, what is the deal with religion?”

Great. No one ever said being a parent was easy, but when you have to answer a child’s question that you have absolutely no idea how to answer, even though you may think you have an idea what the answer is, well…let’s just say the conversation gets extremely interesting.

You see, the older I get, the more I think the concept of God is the same as that of Santa Claus.

Let me explain.

Leaders since the dawn of time have tried to keep people in line. They have created rules for everyone to follow and abide in order to mold a peaceful and orderly society. They have attempted to control the way people generally live their lives.

Like almost everything else, a story, concept, whatever…starts as one thing and becomes something else over time that it really never was. A common activity in team meetings at work is to ask a group of several people to stand outside, and have one person at a time enter the room. The story is told to the first person that enters, and he or she is asked to reiterate said story to the next person that enters the room. By the time the last person enters and is told the story, the original is forgotten, and a totally new yarn is created.

Welcome to Christianity, and I’m sure the same could be same for most other religions.

The Old Testament has been copied and rewritten into several different languages. I find it hard to believe after that after many translations that the stories have remained the same. There are stories of men that lived hundreds of years, arks built to hold people and animals for 40 days and 40 nights because God was mad and made it rain out of anger, and other phenomena that the world has never seen. People rarely live for 100 years; the Bible speaks of many who live multiple centuries.

The New Testament was supposedly written in response to the birth of Jesus Christ. There are four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, that discuss Christ’s life and times. They discuss the lessons He taught, and the promise of life after death in Heaven if they followed Him and his Father. Three days later after he died, he rose from the dead, and is seated to the right of his Father. There is also a Holy Ghost/Spirit, the third of the trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that makes up God.

Okay.

Do I believe that Jesus Christ existed? Yes, I do. Do I believe that he lived a life of good and preached to his followers to do the right thing and treat others with love and respect? Yes, I do. Do I believe that he was born via the Immaculate Conception, rose from the dead, and eventually return?

No.

This is where I believe reality steps in. Again, after repeating the story so many times it is now stretched a bit thin.

I believe that a following began, and the ideas and beliefs Christ preached continued. However, to get more converts and society in-line, spectacular and dramatized stories were told. Back in the day, it was not uncommon to believe in ghosts and other spirits, so to have people believe in the Virgin Mary and “Rising from the Dead” wasn’t too much to ask.

Catholicism was the only form of Christianity up until the Church got out of hand and pissed a few people off. A priest named Martin Luther posted his 95 Thesis because to receive forgiveness the Pope made people pay money (i.e. Indulgences), along with many other reasons. When “The Vicar of Christ” pissed off King Henry VIII of England by denying his request for divorce, the King told the Pope to pound sand and created the Anglican Church (now the Episcopal Church in the United States).

So much for the absolute word of God.

I have gone to Church many times, and technically I am a baptised Roman Catholic. I remember a conversation I once had with a priest, and during I asked a very simple question that I am sure many Christians have thought.

“What proof do we have that God exists?”

“Faith my son. You must have FAITH.”

Sorry, but I want proof.

Listen, the teachings of Christianity and other religions mostly are great. Be a good person. Do not steal. Do not commit adultery. Honor your mother and father. Be kind to your neighbor. Do not murder. Yeah, all of that makes great sense to me.

However, according to Catholicism, when I die I must travel to Purgatory before ascending into Heaven. Protestants I guess didn’t like the whole Purgatory thing and have decided to omit that part, along with not being able to divorce your spouse if and when your marriage goes to shit.

I understand that some people need something to cling to in order to get through life’s trials and tribulations. Let’s face it – life isn’t always a bowl of ice cream. But for me, when I close my eyes to think and work things out in my head, I know I’m talking to myself and not asking “God” for help. God isn’t giving me answers; I am thinking and coming up with my own answers based on experience and/or intelligence. What I come up with may be right or wrong, but it is me and not a deity that came up with it.

To me, religions start out with great intentions, but become a tool for good AND evil. Also, by default, they are too rigid by their original design, and as civilization continues to grow both mentally and emotionally, people see it’s faults and disadvantages.

Think about the wars fought in the name of “God”. Right now, world-wide terrorism compels us to focus on Islam. The Middle East has been in one war or another for thousands of years; however, today technology has allowed it to spread well beyond it’s borders. Also, these wars have not always been courtesy of Islam; Christianity has done a wonderful job creating wars in the past (check out the Crusades if you would like a history lesson).

Hell, in the United States, people have wanted to maintain power and control by leveraging Christianity to keep African-Americans in check for decades, and some argue they continue to do so (e.g. the KKK). There are plenty of hate groups that do their absolute best to keep non-Caucasians down and out. Many a man behind a Christian pulpit has spewed hate when clearly the Bible states to love your fellow-man.

I guess it’s all about someone’s “interpretation”.

Moreover, Homosexuality has existed forever. However, it was decided a very long time ago that men and women who were not heterosexual were deviants and could not be accepted in society. Forget the fact that they are excellent people who live honorable lives and contribute to society; what they do in their bedrooms and/or private lives was too much for a “decent” society to accept. Unfortunately, this is still an issue with some people today because somewhere in the Bible (where I have no idea because I can’t find any discussion about homosexuality or Jesus speaking against it) it is a sin to love someone of the same sex.

As I mentioned earlier, one of the biggest problems I have with religion is that it does not evolve with society. It is too rigid. However, Pope Francis appears to see the 21st century light, and is taking the Roman Catholic church in a different direction by focusing on helping people instead of dictating to them. The Pope said that if an Atheist is a moral person and lives a good life – who is he to judge.

Bravo, Papa!

I guess the best way to answer my son’s question is to keep a difficult subject as simple as possible: People will and are free to believe whatever they wish. When the time is appropriate I will tell him that he will never see Santa, or hear his reindeer and sled land on the roof. On Christmas morning there will always be presents under the tree, and we will always celebrate the holiday. I believe in the idea of Santa Claus, and he can choose to do the same.

Likewise, as religions teach, we will live honorable lives that compels us to treat people with honesty, dignity, and love. We will strive to always do the right thing by allowing the use of our minds – emotions, logic and facts, to dictate the appropriate action necessary for each situation. Yes, we will make mistakes but strive to learn from them.

That being said, I will never tell my son what to “believe” – that is for him to determine on his own. That will be part of his progression as a human being. Hopefully, he, like I, will never look down upon someone who loves another human being of the same sex. I will also teach him that part of the First Amendment of our country’s Constitution provides for the “Separation of Church and State” and religious freedom, which means the right to believe or not to believe in any religion, not to allow any religion, including Christianity, to dictate how we create and interpret laws, and/or how laws are created in the future.

All religions provide excellent life lessons, but no single one provides all the answers. All religions depend on interpretations, and at times that has led to serious trouble. Again, relying on “faith” will never be good enough for me. Perhaps later in life it will be enough for my son, and that’s fine, but for me I will always rely on moderation, logic, and good old common sense.

Religion is either a great tool or brutal weapon—it all depends on it’s use.