Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Movember: How One Man Turned the Moustache Into a Movement

Mighty MO 

I read and enjoyed this article about the MOvember MOvement. I have to admit, the awesome illustration is what really drew me in! But pop on over to LinkedIn and read the story, too. It's well worth your time. Movember: How One Man Turned the Moustache Into a Movement 

And if like the idea of MOvember as a means of raising awareness about men's health issues like prostate and testicular cancer, please visit my personal MO space:

Three days of MOvember left!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Rogue's Gallery of Memorable MOs

In celebration of MOvember's goal--raising awareness of men's health issues--I offer this gallery of memorable MOs. One moustache can launch a hundred conversations, raising both awareness and cash for research. These are a few of my favorite MOs!

Did Duchamp desecrate this postcard, or did he make it MO betta? 

My MO-brother Todd  is hanging TOUGH!

My MO Papa

My MO-tivation: Grow a handlebar and forked soul patch like this Italian  Brigadier

I have a goal:

The MO-family

MOna Lisa rides a HOG and sports a Trucker as thick as a LOG

tee shirt with existential angst

Every little bit helps:

Andy Warhol and his wispy MO

My MO Nephew Alex

My MO Nephew Brayden

Drop some coin in the coffer:

My MO Bro Kyle
My MO Bro Teej

MO Mad 1

MO Mad 2

Stop on by and say hello:

UEd MO 1

UEd MO 2

Whiskers: the audacity of badassity

Rainbow 'stache
Donate to MOvember:

Mystery MO ???
Mellow MO Sista Mel

Magnifico MO Bro Angelo

Dada MOna
Brought to you by MO & Sons, purveyors of wisdom and fine moustachery

Support my MO site:

Fourth and Final MOnday MOment for MOvember 2012

Greetings and Welcome to the Fourth and Final MOnday in MOvember for the 2012 Campaign! Ladies and gentlemen, it's time for our weekly feature, the...

MOnday MOrning MOustache MOment

If you are so inclined and you have not already done so, kindly follow this link to my MOvember page and make a donation of any size to support greater awareness, more research, faster diagnosis, and improved treatment for men's health issues.

We've raised $165 and counting, with FOUR days left! Everyone who donates gets a cool Thank You poster and my undying gratitude.

Doc Holliday: "I'm your huckleberry."
In the past week, my brother was diagnosed with a serious condition. He's a fighter, and he's doing everything possible to tip the odds in his favor. But yeah, I am concerned. That's why now, more than ever, I am grateful for:

  • Early detection
  • Competent medical teams
  • Excellent facilities
  • Dedicated researchers
and most of all
  • Guys who are willing to seek help

Scarface: "Say hello to my little friend!"

Cancer sucks. I've been there. I know. But early detection set me up for success. 
  • Guys, don't wait until you have symptoms before you check yourself out mentally, physically, and spiritually. And if you do notice something that doesn't belong, get thee to a doctor, stat! 
  • And Gals, you can help, too. Be a MO Sista and help your favorite Guys do the right thing.

Now, I've only got 4 days to figure out a quasi-manly way of getting tighter curls on the 'stache and soul patch. Anyone have any hints?

My Brother Todd's Prayer Network

Post Script: Todd has created a web space where he is posting updates and comments. My brother's charm and wit really shine through in his postings as he describes his journey with brain cancer. You can see much more information there, including some medical details and some photos from Todd's adventures. If you are so inclined, you can sign his guest book. All further updates will occur on Todd's web space. No more updates to this post as of 14 Dec 2012. --Ed.


My brother is fighting cancer. He has already had one surgery to remove a tumor from his brain. These maps show the locations where people are praying for Todd and his medical team. I am grateful for this network of Angels!

Counties of the World

States of the USA

Provinces of Canada

Countries of Europe

Friends and friends of friends are really pouring out the power of prayer. Brother Todd is well cared for by this awesome global network of Prayer Warriors.

How this works: 

I will color in a state, province, or country if someone tells me that they, or someone they know is actually praying for Todd. That's all the confirmation I need. You may leave your location in the comments below.

The goal is to give Todd the assurance that he has family, friends, and friends of friends praying for him and his medical team. If we wind up coloring in the globe, that is icing on the cake but that is not the goal. Let's only add locations where someone has Todd on their prayer list and is actually praying for him.

Let's not mince words here. Nothing sharpens the mind like staring into the jaws of death. I have been there, I know. I want my brother to stay calm during this ordeal so he can focus on getting better. I believe in the power of prayer. I believe Todd can relax in the comforting blanket of your sincere prayers and leave the details of his fate to the Universe. Sometimes a bigger blanket is just a little more comfortable.

We all hope for the best but the fact is none of us knows what the future holds. If this map project gives Todd the peace to move forward calmly, we will have done a good thing.

Thank you and God bless us all.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Today I would like to share a poem written by a dear friend. I'll share some of my own thoughts and responses at the bottom of the post. I invite appreciative readers to add their own reflections by posting in the comments section.

Prepare for reading the selected poem by previewing these leading questions:

  • How does this poem connect with you? In what way does it move you?  
  • How does the poem make you feel? What reactions does it inspire?  
  • What insights about universal Truth are revealed as you read the poem?



          --Julie Long


The beginning of a Flood
leaks into my mind

seeps through to my heart

washes over my soul
Inexorably filling
what had been drained by my tears

Washed-out Renewal


The beginning of a Word

speaks itself in my mind

wraps hard ‘round my heart
drags my soul to it
Compelling surrender
of what I guarded most well

Guarded Optimism


The beginning of a Mercy
once unknown in my mind
now a balm to my heart
keeps watch on my soul
Holding inside it
What I so fearfully, hopefully left unguarded

Unguarded Surrender


Some of my thoughts and responses to Julie's evocative poem follow:
  • This poem speaks to me about the balance between risk and assurance
  • As we move through our days, we are constantly torn: we feel the desire to reach out for new experiences and adventures on one hand, and the need to drive home the truth and deeper meaning of what we have tasted on the other. 
  • Over time we learn we are not islands unto our selves. The risks we take to gain experience change us, but they also effect others. It's difficult to balance these forces in one's own life, and even more daunting to maintain balance in relationships and communities.
  • To me, the poem is about the interplay of honesty and intimacy in mature relationships. (In fact, Julie shared her poem in response to an earlier PhilosFX post on that theme.)  How can we hope to be honest and intimate with others until we are first willing and able to be deeply and truly authentic? Until I accept myself and am truly comfortable in my own skin, how can I be a good friend or partner to another human being? If it's not OK to be honest with myself, how can I be honest with anyone?
  • I like the strong and clear structure of the poem: three parts, each part has a literal "beginning," a more figurative middle, and an end that flows into the next beginning. I would argue that the last stanza can be read as a prelude to the first in an ongoing cycle. 
  • Each of the three parts also has the recurring rhythm of mind, heart, and soul
  • The stanzas progress from a washed out renewal, to guarded optimism, to unguarded surrender. Surrender is an act of opening oneself up to new beginnings when the cycle inevitably repeats.  

When Julie first shared it with me as an inspirational and supportive comment to a previous post, the poem was neither named nor illustrated.  However, the name I gave it and the water-themed illustrations I chose for it seem (to me, anyway) to fit perfectly. Here's how they came about:
  • The title, Beginnings, plural, implies a series of iterative re-starts. I imagine life as a spiral ramp, leading onward and upwards in widening, concentric arcs. Hopefully we are aware enough to recognize the moments when we circle past the origin again on our way up. When we slip, we roll back down until we manage to stop our decent, collect ourselves, and start up again.
  • The first image shows two people  consoling themselves and each other as they silently survey a special place now covered in flood water. The colors are muted and the feeling is one of despair and isolation. Imagine or recall the moment when you rolled down the ramp, all the way to the bottom. Everything you had worked for: gone. The flood of your tears washed away all the old hopes and dreams until you realized--the ramp remained, The only thing to do? Get up, and start climbing again. 
  • The middle image is transitional and uplifting. The colors are muted, save for the bright ray of sunny hope at the top. A single bird takes flight over the water, soaring in the sun. The power of the water which washed everything away in the first stanza is not diminished in the second. If anything, the ocean is more powerful than the flood-stage river. But, guided by hope. the soaring bird is willing and able to fly upward and onward. 
  • The final image shows a swan gently caressing her cygnets. This is a beautiful imagery of mature love. The parent understands the dangers of the waters, but also the bounty that awaits. She cannot protect her babies forever. She has to let them go. She knows they will have to face their fears if they are to survive. 

Julie's poem touched me profoundly. Its insights are too powerful to leave as a comment to a previous blog post. Don't you agree? Please share your own thoughts and reactions in the Comments.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Honoring the Spirit

"You know the first moment of dawn has arrived when you look into another human being's eyes and see yourself."-- as told in Mark Nepo's book, Awakening, pg. 377.

Namaste is both a gesture and a spoken greeting.

"The gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a Divine spark within each of us that is located in the heart chakra. The gesture is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another.
"In Sanskrit the word is namah + te = namaste (Devnagari/Hindi: नमः + ते = नमस्ते) which means “I bow to you” - my greetings, salutations or prostration to you. Namaskār (Devnagari/Hindi: नमस्कार) literally means "I bow to [your] form."" --Wikipedia

Evidence of Our Human Seasons

My little bamboo tree stretches for the Sun.
Its leaves are candy to my black & white "Panda" cat.

"As trees have leaves that are nicked and eaten, human beings have feelings that are just as worn by the act of living. We have a right to these. They are evidence of our human seasons." -- Mark Nepo

Leaves from this stately Dumbarton Oaks tree  now mulch the forest floor .
There, they will provide nourishment for next Spring's new leaves.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dream Big and Believe!

Photo from

Despite my skepticism regarding the Law of Attraction (LOA), sometimes cynically referred to as the fLaw of Attraction, I am a proponent of certain things which sound an awful lot like LOA, namely:

  • Thoughts become things
  • Attitude is everything
  • Dream big and believe

And that's why I was drawn to this quote attributed to W.H. Murray on page 382 of Mark Nepo's amazing day book, Awakening

"The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision which no one could have dreamed would have come their way." 

I found this quote evocative, Pantheistic, and ennobling--and not the least bit flaky. It immediately reminded me of the best aspects of the LOA. I had never even heard of W.H. Murray. Googling, I discovered William Hutchison Murray (18 March 1913 – 19 March 1996) was a Scottish mountaineer and writer.

Notice how differently Murray's quote appears in the original (emphasis added)!

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back-- Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. I have learned deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets: Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now."

The foregoing passage occurs near the beginning of Murray's The Scottish Himalayan Expedition published in 1951. Two things jump out at me. I am interested in just how Nepo modified the original when he republished it in his book. I am not just talking about the reshuffling and recrafting of words. Notice how Nepo capitalized Providence, and made the statement gender-neutral. That's interesting. Providence is personified, and all people are included.

The second aspect of the passage that attracts me is the couplet attributed to Goethe. I wondered, "When and under what circumstances did Goethe say that?" Come to find out, Goethe did not actually say this at all! According to the Goethe Society of North America, what Goethe actually wrote (Faust, 214-30) was this:  

Was heute nicht geschieht, ist morgen nicht getan,
Und keinen Tag soll man verpassen,
Das Mögliche soll der Entschluß
Beherzt sogleich beim Schopfe fassen,
Er will es dann nicht fahren lassen
Und wirket weiter, weil er muß.

OK, my German is a little rusty. In Stuart Atkins' translation (Goethe. The Collected Works. Vol. 2: Faust I & II. Ed. and trans. Stuart Atkins. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1994. 7), those lines read:

What's left undone today, is still not done tomorrow;
to every day there is a use and purpose;
let Resoluteness promptly seize
the forelock of the Possible,
and then, reluctant to let go again,
she's forced to carry on and be productive.

The lines Murray attributed to Goethe actually come from John Anster's "very free translation" of Faust from 1835. The lines in question are spoken by the "Manager" in the "Prelude at the Theatre":

Then indecision brings its own delays,
And days are lost lamenting over lost days.
Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute;
What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it;
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

The point, and at long last I do have one, is this: 
  • Truth is universal--and independent of human construction. 
  • Our human minds are imperfect, transmitting and receiving only a small portion of the full spectrum of reality.
  • When some image or some words or some feeling resonates with us, it's because we recognize a glimpse of universal truth it both the thing observed and in us.
  • The words Nepo attributed to Murray resonate with me (and maybe with you?). The value of Nepo's words do not come from the accuracy of his attribution, but from the glimpse of universal truth in them.
  • The words Murray attributed to Goethe are valuable, too. Goethe's words and the accurate translation left me cold. Anster's version connects deeply.

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!

We all have just this one life to live. Nothing holds us back but our own perceptions of reality. Maybe Goethe did not write these words, but he could have. And you could have, too!

Dream Big and Believe! 


At the outset, I referred to my skepticism of the Law of Attraction (LOA).

I am not a proponent of the so-called "Law" of Attraction, as it is very often a merely means for unscrupulous people to make money off the misery of others. The idea of manifesting a parking space (or a fat bank account) by simply expressing this wish to the Universe is absurd. If you don't get that parking space, you obviously were not clear enough in your intention, since the Universe always responds to clear signals.


The Secret is a deeply flawed film and book, even though (or perhaps because) it has made Rhonda Byrne a very rich lady.

For a decidedly practical and "un-woo-woo" book about LOA, see Deanna Davis, The Law of Attraction in Action.

For a more scientific look at the benefits of positive thinking, look into the Positive Psychology movement led by such pioneers as Donald O. Clifton,  Martin Seligman, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

If you want to study and examine a "Law" of another sort which explains how the universe really works, I recommend Design in Nature: How the Constructal Law Governs Evolution in Biology, Physics, Technology, and Social Organization, by Adrian Bejan and J. Peder Zane.

Health, happiness, and prosperity to all!

Mark Nepo Talks about The Book of Awakening


Mark: the Man and the Message

Mark Nepo survived a difficult "first half" of life: abusive parents, the untimely end of a career, the loss of dear friends and family members, cancer (twice), divorce (twice),  and more. Not only did he survive all this, but in the process he transformed himself into a Philosopher-Poet whose day book has inspired millions.

I am grateful to Mark for all the many ways he has helped me. Life is such a great gift. Might you also benefit from learning how to be more present to the life you have? If you would like more information about this book, please leave a message in the comments.

110th Anniversary | Harley-Davidson USA

Worldwide and year long – Harley-Davidson is celebrating 110 years of freedom in a big way!

My goal is to attend 25% of the 16 worldwide events, and I'm already 25% there.

  • Sturgis (August 2012--Done!)
  • Daytona (March 2013)
  • Rome (June 2013)
  • Milwaukee (August 2013)

Are you planning to attend any of these events? Let me know in the comments, and let's meet up!

Monday, November 19, 2012

MOnday MOrning MOustache MOment

Greetings and Welcome to the Third MOnday in MOvember! Ladies and gentlemen, it's time for our weekly feature, the...

MOnday MOrning MOustache MOment

One more week to go! Please visit my MO site and drop some coins in the coffer: 

I'm hairy high and low
Please ask me why so
We talk about my MO!

Gimme a face with MO
Long beautiful MO

Shining, gleaming,
Streaming, flaxen, waxen

Give me down to there MO
Shoulder length or longer
Here baby, there mama
Everywhere daddy daddy

Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it

Let it fly in the breeze
And get caught in the trees
Give a home to the fleas in my hair
A home for fleas
A hive for bees
A nest for birds
There ain't no words
For the beauty, the splendor, the wonder
Of my...

Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it

I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy
Snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty
Oily, greasy, fleecy
Shining, gleaming, streaming
Flaxen, waxen
Knotted, polka-dotted
Twisted, beaded, braided

Powdered, flowered, and confettied
Bangled, tangled, spangled, and spaghettied!

Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it


Hair song lyrics from soundtrack cf "Hair" are property & copyright of their owners and are provided in lightly edited form for educational purposes only. Visit Hair page to find more, or use search.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Perfect Crime: the Movie

"It was a dark and stormy night...."

"Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts and minds of men? The Shadow knows...."

It's late at night. You are reading a detective novel in bed. Wouldn't a nice glass of dark ale be the perfect accompaniment? A whispered warning comes from the shadows, "A dark and stormy brew is about to steal your palate." 

This Perfect Crime is the product of three shadowy collaborators: Evil Twin Brewing / Stillwater Artisanal Brewery / Stone Brewing. The mysterious concoction was conceived in Copenhagen and born months later in San Diego. It is said to be slowly, quietly taking over the country, one palate at a time.

While you are waiting for this potent brew to sneak up to a shelf or tap near you, watch this Film Noir-style detective movie, "Perfect Crime.'" You may learn more about how this criminally inclined beer came to life. 

As it turns out, the Perfect Crime may very well be a Smoked Black Saison.  So far, our gumshoe-shod Private Investigator has sleuthed out these tantalizing tidbits:

Stats: 6.8% ABV, 60 IBUs

Availability: Limited 12-ounce bottles and draft, beginning November 12

Hops bill: East Kent Goldings, Chinook and Cluster

Distribution: AZ, CA, CO, FL, IL, MA, NC, NM, NJ, NY, OH, OR, PA., SC TX, VT, WA, and (lucky me) VA.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

So Much More than a MO

Check out how we’re helping to change the face of men’s health around the world.

Movember started with a conversation between mates, so there’s a nice synergy to the fact that, today, it’s conversation that is central to everything we do; it’s just a bigger conversation.

That single conversation in 2003 about growing a moustache, has grown into millions of conversations taking place each Movember and it’s the impact of all this talk that we want to tell you about. All too often it’s only the funds raised by a charity that are remembered but equally important, especially at Movember, is the awareness raised.

It’s awareness that educates and prompts people to change behavior and take action, it’s awareness which in our case can ultimately save lives. 

As you know, we raise awareness for men’s health by using the growth of a moustache to prompt conversation. But does this actually work? Is all the talk actually making a difference? These are questions we constantly ask ourselves and I’m sure you might have stopped to think about it, too. The answer is without doubt, yes. And we want to take this opportunity to show you how each of you, as part of the Movember community is making a difference through the awareness you spread during your personal Movember journey. The facts and stats featured in this short video-clip come from a recent piece of research we did, something that we do each year to ensure that our Awareness & Education program is delivering in line with our objectives. 

Get the full scoop here


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The 2d MOnday in MOvember

It's a MO thang

Halfway through Movember, the handlebar 'stache and forked soul patch are beginning to take shape. It's a little bushy and unkempt, but at least I have something to work with. Soon, I will be ready for some professional grooming tips! The Wild Thang must be tamed (brushed, colored, waxed, and trimmed) for Men's Health Awareness Month and the MOvember Gala Parte!

Please visit my site and support the cause!


Friday, November 9, 2012

The Dalai Lama's Rules for Successful Living

This is too good not to re-post! I have seen it before, always attributed to the Dalai Lama. There are some variations out there, so I know for a fact that some versions have been edited from the original. I am still searching for a primary source document. Meanwhile, I do not want my quest for proper attribution to get in the way of some powerful words and images. Enjoy!

1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
2. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
3. Follow the three Rs:
-Respect for self
-Respect for others
-Responsibility for all your actions.
4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
6. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
7. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
8. Spend some time alone every day.
9. Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.
10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
11. Live a good, honourable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a second time.
12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don't bring up the past.
14. Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality.
15. Be gentle with the earth.
16. Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.
17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

Health, happiness, and prosperity for all! 

Pro-choice? Pro Life? How about, "Choose Life!"?

This is a post-election follow-up to my recent post entitled Friedman: Why I am Pro-life.

In his recent, "Why I am Pro-life" piece, Thomas Friedman wrote about being Pro-life in the broader sense of the sanctity of life. Of course, American politics being what it is, "sanctity of life" has boiled down to the distorted Democrat-Pro-Choice vs. Republican-Pro-Life debate.

Which brings up a good question: Pro-choice? Pro Life? How about, "Choose Life!"?

And while we're at it, Republican? Democrat? How about, "Forget who wins or which side controls policy! Let's focus instead on cooperatively solving problems which enable people to make the best choices for themselves and pursue happy lives in liberty!"?

The Pro-choice and pro-life labels are about as useless to me as are the party labels. How about, "Forget party affiliation! Which candidate has the better prospects for cooperative problem solving? Who best represents me and my values, and who is accountable to me rather than special interests?"?

Maybe it's time to unite under a revised and revitalized "Choose Life!" banner.

==== + + + ====

In 1985, my then 12-year old brother came to visit me for a 4th of July in DC. I took him to the National Mall. I was wearing one of those billboard-sized t-shirts popularized by George Michael of Wham!


Of course, no good deed goes unpunished. We were soon accosted by a small but angry and vocal group of women my age (mid-20s at the time). They were highly agitated by the anti-choice implications of my ginormous t-shirt. They felt my shirt was an affront to their freedom, and they made their agitation abundantly clear to me.

So somewhere between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, in front of my younger brother and a semi-circle of hostile women, I explained that the shirt promotes an anti-drug, anti-suicide, anti-hate, anti-despair message. I went on to say that I support a woman's right to determine her own reproductive destiny. Being outnumbered, I stopped short of saying that I consider killing babies an immoral choice. The bottom line, abortion may be the lesser of two evils in some circumstances, and the choice ought to remain with the mother. In my view, a compassionate person would not limit the mother's options. Rather, compassion ensures the mother has all the support and information she needs to make the best choice.

There you have it. My kid brother got a little more than he bargained for when he came to visit our Nation's capitol. He got first-hand experience with the political nature of life in DC. And hopefully he appreciated the value of living to argue another day by deftly defusing a volatile situation. Maybe all he really learned is to spend an extra second thinking about what to wear....

==== + + + ====

Fast forward to the Presidential election of 2012. Michael George, the one-time CHOOSE LIFE poster boy, is now most famous for tabloid stories of his penchant for using drugs and cruising for anonymous sex. The public perception of Congress is at an all-time low. Partisan rancor is at an all-time high. The Nation is lost without a moral compass. The choice between Big Government and Big Business does nothing to satisfy the longing most people have for a sense of vision for health, happiness, and prosperity. Some have seized on the single issue of abortion as a proxy for moral values.

Why has the Democrat party under President Obama lost the support of many conservative Christians? Is it because of his handling of the economy, our biggest political issue? Or because of his administration's handling of the attack on our Consulate in Benghazi? No. Polls show that these issues have not caused President Obama's support among Catholic voters to droop. The swing issue? Abortion, a matter which has been settled in law since Roe v Wade in 1973.

That's right, abortion. Not overall quality of life, not eliminating hunger, poverty, illiteracy, crime, or disease, but the question of whether a woman has the right to control her own sexual productivity.

Said another way, it's about whether a group of mostly conservative white male politicians has any right to tell a pregnant woman how to she should deal with the life inside of her.

As I have said and repeated, it doesn't help matters that a few vocal "right-wing nut jobs" have sullied the pro-life (or shall we say, anti-abortion?) movement with horrendously insensitive comments about rape. Also unfortunate is America's short attention span, and our tendency to think in terms of soundbites and bumper stickers.

Policy and morality are different. Morality must be taught and modeled at the lowest levels: families, neighborhoods, churches, school. Morality must not be legislated from on high, or we cease to be a free country. On the other hand, public policy is meant to reflect public values. However, at ever higher levels of policy-setting, it becomes harder to represent the values of all constituents.

Abortion is an immoral, yet legal choice. The way to end abortion is to prevent it, one mother at a time. In my view, a compassionate person would not limit the mother's options, but ensure the mother has all the support and information she needs to make the best choice.

Are Republicans really Pro-Life? If so, are only Republicans Pro-Life? As Christians and compassionate people, can we think holistically about the sanctity of life from conception all the way to the natural end of the cycle?

Supporting a woman's right to choose is not tantamount to promoting disregard for life in the form of abortion on demand. People who feel strongly that abortion is a horrible solution can still protect a woman's right to make that choice, and to live with the soul-wrenching consequences. By the same token, claiming a pro-life label on the basis of an anti-abortion stance does not confer moral superiority  particularly if the pro-life stance focuses exclusively on the unborn.

Pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion. I don't personally know anyone who is pro-abortion. Abortion stops a beating heart, and for that reason I am morally opposed. Yet at the same time, I dispute any man's right to hold forth on the issue. No man has ever become pregnant after getting raped. No man has ever been forced to carry a rapist's spawn to full term inside his body. No man has  ever been expected to bear the pain of childbirth for someone else's sake.

No wonder the late great Florynce Kennedy said: "If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament." Men condemn women for getting pregnant, but if the roles were reversed I am quite sure many men would go to a sports bar and thoughtlessly chug a morning after cocktail over a cigar with friends.

==== + + + ====

Richard Mourdock lost to Democratic nominee Joe Donnelly in the general election, greatly hampered by his comment that pregnancies resulting from rape were "a gift from God" and shouldn't be terminated. Christian apologists and Mourdock defenders have pointed out that a raped woman cannot be un-raped; therefore, the resulting pregnancy is a separate issue. Why visit the violence of abortion on top of the violence of rape? Two wrongs don't make a right. right?

Even if one looks beyond the soundbite to the carefully considered moral underpinnings of Mourdock's conservative point of view, one must admit that no man has ever been forced to bear the pain of childbirth on top of the pain of violation. And so I conclude that even Mr Mourdock's words are shockingly insensitive. When are these so-called Pro-lifer's going to look at the bigger picture?

Pro-life? No! Pro-choice? Maybe. CHOOSE LIFE? Yes... YES!

Health, happiness, and prosperity for all! 

The Parade of Infamy: DEFEATED!

Image via: Andrew Vachss

Remember the so-called Parade of Infamy I wrote about Sunday before the election?  I am referring to the group of white Republican conservative men who, in the months leading up to election day "have sullied the pro-life (or shall we say, anti-abortion?) movement with horrendously insensitive comments about rape."

Having been singled out for their insensitive remarks and pilloried in the court of public opinion, every single one of them was summarily dumped at the polls. Here's a post-election re-cap:
  • Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin in Missouri DEFEATED
  • Richard "rape is something God intended to happen" Mourdock in Indiana  DEFEATED
  • Roger "some girls, they rape so easy" Rivard in Wisconsin DEFEATED
  • Joe "opposes abortion even to save the life of the mother" Walsh in Illinois DEFEATED
  • Tom "a baby out of wedock is similar [to rape]" Smith in Pennsylvania DEFEATED
  • John "the rape thing" Koster in Washington state  DEFEATED
  • Paul "forcible rape as a method of conception" Ryan on the Romney ticket  DEFEATED

(Note: if you compare this list to the one I originally posted, you'll note the order has changed, and I added the two candidates in blue. I modified the list to match the graphic.)

What does it mean that all seven of these conservative white republican men were defeated? What do their losses say about the American electorate?  Was this result a repudiation of far-right conservative ideas? Will Republicans stop promoting un-electable women-haters in the Primaries? Are we moving as a people toward a more Enlightened state?

Apparently, some sarcastic pundits are beginning to declare that rape is a Republican value.  How could excusing rape possibly be a good thing for anyone, especially God-fearing conservative politicians? What gains have we made as a society at the cost of seven political careers?

To the above parade of infamous individuals I would add the following groups of people who also suffered a form of defeat, albeit collectively
  • Religious leaders who passed out abortion-focused "How to Vote" instructions,  DEFEATED
  • Voters who view abortion as a litmus test for any public office  DEFEATED
  • Narrow-minded, misogynistic, paternalistic Cretins DEFEATED 

I'd like to hope that the lessons learned here include the following:
  • Respect for the difficult choices a woman makes. I may not like the idea of abortion, and I may even try to talk a woman out of having an abortion. However, it's not my body and it's not my baby. For a conservative white guy like me to remove an option because I don't like it simply forces the woman who wants to abort to seek the unlawful, unregulated, and unsafe option. 
  • Pro-life discussions that begin at conception but stop at birth are absurd! To be truly pro-life is to believe in the sanctity of life throughout the whole life cycle. It is certainly philosophically illogical to focus 100% of the attention on the left-most part of the spectrum. I would go so far as to say that it is immoral.  
  • The idea that thoughtful people can disagree is fundamental to American-style democracy. The idea of telling people how to vote based on ONE issue? Offensive, to say the least.

I'll give the last word and a tip of the hat to Jerry, retired UCC pastor and Facebook friend concerning the Defeat of the Cretins:

"It should be an eye-opener for the narrow-minded men and an encouragement for women and those who care about them and their ability to make their own decisions."        
--Jerrold L Foltz

Health, Happiness, and Prosperity to all.