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Archive for the ‘current events’ Category

A Note on Race

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I didn’t think my perspective was all that special or unique until recently. For those who don’t know, I am half white and half Hispanic. My father was Mexican (I want to say second generation American, but I’m really not sure), and my mother is white of, I believe, mostly Western European descent. Most of you would probably not guess that I’m anything but white. I don’t have my fathers’s last name (Garcia), both parents were lighter skinned, and I wasn’t raised in my father’s culture. Despite my father’s absence, I grew up knowing that I was a mixed race. My extended family would playfully remind me about that from time to time.

When I was a young child, I can remember taking my first standardized test. On the back of the test booklet was where you filled in your personal information, and in one section it asks about your ethnicity, and to mark all that would apply to you. So my first grader mind read that, then started looking for appropriate ethnicities. First, I looked for “Hispanic” and colored in the little bubble with my #2 pencil. Then I looked for my other ethnicity and saw the most challenging question in that whole test: “White (not of Hispanic origin.)” I actually raised my hand to ask to my teacher what to do, because I didn’t want to take the test wrong. I made light of it in the moment, as much as I could at 6 or 7. It may very well have been that moment when I developed a pattern I still hold on to: making a joke out of something that genuinely freaks me out to some degree.

This certainly isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things. It’s not like I’ve ever really encountered discrimination or racism the way many people with darker skin than I have. Recently though, a large swath of nut jobs have decided that White Hispanics are something the New York Times made up to turn popular support against a grown man who confronted, fought with, and fatally shot a young black man in an effort to support some liberal agenda. Regardless of your perspective on who was at more fault that night or the decision of the jury, the guy who pulled the trigger is a White Hispanic. His mother is of Peruvian descent, his father of German descent. I don’t see that being too different from my own heritage.

What bothers me a lot (but not more than someone getting killed who hadn’t done anything wrong), is that people on both sides of whatever debate is happening at the time want to point to George Zimmerman and say he’s either not really white or not really Hispanic. Identifying as a specific race seems to be so much more about how others perceive and treat you than it does anything else. No one has ever asked me to translate Spanish for them, or what the appeal of novelas are, or if I’d be more likely to vote against a Republican that voted for immigration reform despite my “firm family values.” People treat me like they would any white person with all the stereotypes that may entail. So when people hear neighborhood watch captain named Zimmerman, they will probably assume that’s a white person. That doesn’t make me or Zimmerman any less Hispanic though.

This could very well be my first real experience with racism or prejudice. Some “leading voices” have made the assertion that what I am doesn’t actually exist.

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Written by matt

July 23, 2013 at 9:17 pm

Logic Gaps: The Gun Debate

with 3 comments

(Disclaimer: I don’t know everything. I’m open to being wrong. I don’t think any less of you if you disagree with me and hope to write this in such a way that you don’t think less of me for disagreeing with you.)

In keeping with my New Year’s resolution, I’ve decided that instead of copying and pasting my response onto everyone’s Facebook posts, I’d write this. My goal here isn’t necessarily to change anyone’s mind or push some kind of agenda as much as it is to point out what I see as some pretty big gaps in logic on both sides. I see so many memes tossed around, and I know how easy it is to press that “share” button, but I really don’t see anyone’s cause getting furthered through that kind of thing. If these kind of silly internet things aren’t supposed to be taken so seriously, then maybe the leading voices on both sides shouldn’t be saying them first. And if Ramona High School-educated me can point out all these holes in the arguments, than get better arguments.

The gun rights advocate:

– “Blame the person, not the gun.” I don’t think anyone is legitimately saying that it’s the gun’s fault that murders happen. I agree that it’s the person that pulled the trigger who is responsible for the life they take or body they injure, but let’s be real: having a trigger to pull makes the act of violence way more efficient.

– “(Cars, knives, power tools, etc.) kill X amount of people every year. Should those be outlawed too?” I get the point of this argument, but I really think it’s a false equivalency. There’s a big difference in things that can be used as a weapon versus a weapon that might be used as something else. I’m not an expert in the long history of knives, but I would guess that knives have at least as equal a utilitarian purpose as they do a weapon. I’ll also go on record and say that guns are tools, but it’s time we all admit that they’re tools for killing things. Their primary function is firing a high velocity projectile at a distant object with the intent of putting a hole through it. There’s really no other utilitarian purpose there.

– “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” This is actually one of the more reasonable things I’ve heard from this side of the debate. If a bad guy with a gun comes at you or anyone else, you would want a good guy with a gun to stop the bad guy. The problem here is that the concept cuts both ways. Maybe the bad guy has better aim, or is better trained, or has a more powerful gun. How many good guys with how many guns do we need? The underlying issue is that this becomes a personal arms race of good guys vs. bad guys. Psychologists still don’t know and can’t predict what the final straw is that makes a person turn to violence, and maybe the well armed good guy that’s a little overzealous is one bad breakup away from being a well armed bad guy.

– “Gun control infringes on the 2nd Amendment.” I’ve spent a lot of time reading up on the 2nd Amendment since the debate reopened after the Newtown shooting. First off, an assault weapons ban like the one in effect from ’94-’04, though unpopular, wasn’t seriously thought to be unconstitutional by a majority of the people. It didn’t end up disputed in the Supreme Court and a strict interpretation of the 2nd Amendment probably wouldn’t have overturned the assault weapons ban. Strictly interpreted, there are still plenty of arms to keep and bear even with an AR-15 type rifle out of the equation. Neither this administration, nor any previous one, has passed a law that would seize firearms from lawful citizens. For that matter, Constitutionally speaking, it’s only been a relatively recent issue in U.S. history that the Supreme Court has definitively interpreted the 2nd Amendment as meaning that it’s specifically an individual right to gun ownership as opposed to a collective right of “the people” as in an organized militia type scenario. In fact, the Supreme Court decision that decided that matter was Distict of Columbia v. Heller, in which Justice Scalia in his writing of the majority opinion of the court also took time to write that “It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

– “Israel/Switzerland has a high rate of gun ownership and a fraction of the violence. Guns aren’t the problem.” There are a few things wrong with this statement. First, the rate of gun ownership. The Small Arms Survey, a research project in Geneva, focused on gun ownership per country per capita in 2007. Prior to the recent boom in gun sales in the U.S., there were a reported 88.8 guns for every hundred citizens. Factoring in the gun sale surge since 2008, there are an estimated ~300 million privately owned guns in the U.S. and about that many people as well. This means on average, there is one gun for every man, woman, and child in the U.S. According to the same report, in Switzerland there were 45.7 guns for every hundred residents, just slightly less than one gun for every two citizens. The same survey reported that Israel had only 7.3 privately owned guns for every 100 citizens. Neither country is a particularly apt comparison, but for the sake of argument I want to point out some other differences with Switzerland as their rate of ownership is still fairly high. There are a couple of reasons why the Swiss have a high rate of ownership. The primary reason is that almost every male between 20 and 30 is conscripted into military training. Switzerland doesn’t have a standing army, opting instead for a citizens’ militia. As part of their service, they keep their service weapon at home and all service ammunition at a nearby depot. This is part of Switzerland’s very tight regulations on guns. Some of my information may be outdated (or poorly translated from Swiss German), but at some point recently they had and possibly still have universal background checks, mandatory permits to purchase guns, limits to three guns per citizen, and a requirement that each gun have a registered serial number. So even though Switzerland has a high rate of gun ownership with a very low homicide rate, it’s still not a valid argument against strict gun control, especially when compared to the U.S.

– “Violent entertainment is just as responsible.” I don’t buy this for one minute. Just about every other country in the world has the same video games and watches the same movies we do and we’re still near or at the top of the list when it comes to violent crimes and murders among developed nations. So either other countries don’t have access to guns to carry out the supposed violent fantasy we’re all being inundated with, or the inability of separating reality from fiction is a distinctly American mental disorder. Also, when gun advocates say something like this to blame violence on something other than guns, I can’t help but find it hypocritical that they’re condemning a piece of media as “violent” that shows people actually using guns.

– “Changing gun laws won’t affect criminals who break the law.” In the most direct sense possible, this makes complete sense, but it doesn’t take into account what enforced regulations can actually accomplish. Let’s start with an assault weapons ban. I don’t think one would stop murders or mass shootings. What I think is that having 7-10 rounds instead of 30 in a magazine would cost a shooter more time and energy and reduce the body count. Now, in a ban like this there would still be plenty of these weapons and magazines available, but with them no longer being manufactured for commercial sale it makes them more difficult and expensive to get. To compare, you can still get a full auto machine gun these days, it’s just incredibly difficult and very expensive. Next, universal background checks. Of course criminals will circumvent the law in order to get a gun without submitting to a background check. Just as with a ban on a certain type of weapon though, the laws of supply and demand take over. People willing to take the risk of selling a gun illegally will know that they’re taking a much bigger risk by doing so. There’s never been a law written that’s 100% effective. The laws that are currently being proposed realistically can’t stop criminals from engaging in criminal activity, but they can make that activity far more difficult.
On a slightly different note, by giving this defense of “criminals won’t obey the law,” there’s an inherent absurdity in attempting to only make laws that criminals would obey.

– “More guns equals less crime.” I have a hard time believing this to be true. I’m not saying that guns as a defense don’t act as a possible deterrent to crime. What I will argue is that statistically speaking, crimes that do occur with a gun present have a drastically inflated chance of a fatality as a result. So maybe this is true, and a further proliferation of guns in the U.S. will make the crime rate plummet. If that’s the case though, I can almost guarantee that the number of fatalities (victim or perpetrator) per crime would sharply rise.

– “The 2nd Amendment exists to protect people from a tyrannical government.” This is absolutely true. From what I’ve read, that’s not the sole reason for inclusion in the Bill of Rights, but it’s definitely one of them. Unfortunately, that’s not the case anymore. We have a government with nuclear weapons, predator drones, fighter jets, all manner of heavy artillery, and God knows what else. If an armed insurrection by the populace happened now, it wouldn’t exactly be musket on musket warfare. From this point though, you could equally argue that the 2nd Amendment has been made at least partially obsolete or that every American constitutionally needs access to their own personal arsenal. I think only the former is a realistic possibility.

The gun control advocate:

– “Guns make us less safe.” Based on the statistics I’ve researched, I understand what they’re trying to say. America’s violent crime rate is still the highest among developed nations despite its decline in recent years. Also, crimes tend to be much more fatal when a gun is present. This is maybe the worst way to make this argument though, because it still comes down to the actions of the person holding the gun. A more accurate, if less expedient, way to say this would be, “The ease of guns falling into the hands of those who would recklessly keep and use them make us less safe.”

– “The 2nd Amendment is outdated.” Again, I’ve done a lot of reading about the 2nd Amendment lately and there’s room for that argument. The problem is that by the same line of logic, everything in the Constitution and Bill of Rights is outdated and deserves another look, which is a whole other debate I won’t get into. The problem I’ve seen in hearing people’s use of the text of the 2nd Amendment is that depending on which side is doing the talking, they want to read very literally one part of the text and not mention the rest of it. There’s no denying that it says, “… the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” As long as the Bill of Rights exists in the U.S., this can’t be denied or done away with. What I will say is that the 2nd Amendment also starts with, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state…,” and was written at the same time that the Constitution explicitly forbade the creation of a national standing army. I really feel like both sides are only getting their 2nd Amendment arguments half right. From what I’ve read and been able to understand so far, the Founding Fathers envisioned an America that relied upon citizen soldiers, much like the Minutemen that fought and won the Revolution. Oddly enough, it’s the first phrase of the sentence that has been made obsolete, but the second part that gets all the attention.

– “Gun control will save lives.” I think that although this will likely be a true statement, it’s impossible to accurately predict what would happen, and fairly misleading. This phrase makes it sound like enacting gun control laws like the ones being currently proposed will make the murder rate plummet overnight. If gun control advocates were serious regardless of the political costs, they would find a way to make handguns less proliferate. Assault weapons (and yes, I know the difference) get the most attention because they’re the scariest looking. Ironically, that’s also why they’re one of the top selling rifles in America. However, assault rifles are far from being the most used guns involved in shooting deaths. Where assault rifles are often used is in mass shootings, along with magazines capable of at least 15 rounds. Gun control may end up saving lives, but there’s no way to measure possible reductions in casualties.

Summary

Obviously, the arguments addressed above aren’t the only ones being made in this debate. The reason I’ve addressed so many more points being made by the pro-gun rights side is simply because I personally hear so many more arguments so much more loudly from that side. There were also a few phrases of outright insanity that I chose not to dignify.

After the hours of reading and weeks of writing this, I don’t think there’s a magic bullet (crappy pun) that will solve our violence and murder problem. There’s little we can do to change the collective heart of America’s people to make murders a thing of the past. Murders (and suicides for that matter) will always happen, and if nothing changes, America will still have a gun problem. As much as enacting gun control is treating a symptom instead of the disease, it has the potential to be very effective at preventing deaths. At this point, I can’t really see why it would be such a big deal to limit magazines to under ten rounds, require and enforce background checks on every gun buyer, have a short waiting period to buy a gun, and maybe even have trigger locks on handguns. If you think you need 30 rounds in a magazine, you probably just need better aim. If you have something to hide that would show up on a background check, the only person that wants you to have a gun is you. If you absolutely have to have a gun this very hour, I seriously question your motives. And if you need your handgun (as opposed to your shotgun or rifle) ready to fire that quickly, I pray you know for a fact who it is you’re aiming at.

If you’ve ever held or fired a gun, you recognize that beyond it being a well engineered piece of machinery, you’re holding the power of life and death in your hand. Guns are both a symptom and a problem. Other symptoms/problems include our collective value of human life and the state of mental health care in our country. Where I feel like all these things collide at a currently impossible obstacle is that in this country owning a gun isn’t just a freedom, it’s a right. Not the right to self defend or rebel against the government (which is constitutionally covered with our voting rights), but to specifically own a certain kind of weapon. A freedom is something granted and potentially has limits, while a right (like voting) is something you feel compelled to exercise. The difference is subtle, but important. I have the freedom to practice religion and I can choose not to exercise it, but if I don’t vote it’s like I’m spitting on the Founding Fathers’ graves. Let’s face it, there are some people who shouldn’t have the right to own the power of life and death. I’m sure gun owners and gun control advocates alike know people who own guns and think to themselves, “How did anyone let them out of the store with a gun?” At the end of all this, I really feel like the best first step that both sides could potentially agree on is trying to make it so that the only people buying guns are people who are responsible enough to own one and making people accountable for the guns that are out there.

P.S. While researching this it’s become incredibly clear just how big an issue suicide is in America. More are committed with a gun than people are murdered with a gun, and no matter what happens with gun laws I sincerely hope that mental health and helping the people who need it becomes a larger priority.

Written by matt

February 18, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Unpopular Opinions

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(I actually started writing this on Wednesday of this week, continued on it last night, and finished it this morning. Due to current events, the overall tone and direction changed during the writing.)

It’s an odd feeling to want to write about several things that you may not want to have out in the open, especially when you feel like the topic could warrant a book’s worth of material. I’ve been struggling with this dilemma for some time. I’ve dabbled in openly saying what I actually think and feel about “controversial” topics from time to time with increasingly predictable results. What has typically occurred is that I say something in the form of a question with the genuine intent of expanding my mind beyond knee jerk reactions and my own innately human narrow point of view. The responses tend to go beyond mere disagreements and veer into heated borderline disrespectful territory. I don’t know how it comes across to others, but my reason and tone has always tried to be that of honest searching. It’s been difficult to walk that line of needing to write for my own mental health knowing that the majority of the subject matter that goes through my mind (religion and politics) is so inflammatory to most of the people who would ever read anything I write. I’ve tried alternatives. I have a Twitter account that maybe four people know about where I can say anything I want to. I have pages of paper that I’ve written on that no one will probably ever see that are completely unfiltered.

It’ s not enough. Ask any artist if they’re fulfilled after spending hours painting a picture only to have no one see it. Ask a musician if they’re fulfilled when they write a song that no one will hear. And ask a writer if they’re fulfilled knowing that no one will read what they have to write. I know this sounds intensely arrogant, but I can’t keep needing to write with the intent of lukewarm neutrality. I’m not placing myself in the realm of great thinkers or writers or artists whose work needs to be seen by the world, and I’m not demanding that people read and agree with me. All I know is that I’d rather experience silence in response to something I’ve actually written instead of something I was afraid to write to begin with. Know that if we disagree, that that’s all it is. Assuming I know you, I still love you and still would love to have a relationship with you.

Starting now.

There’s five stages of grief. The first is denial. After that, anger. Those are followed by bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. I posted a relatively mild statement this afternoon about gun control in the wake of the tragedy that happened in Connecticut. I don’t know how clear it was, but I was in the second stage of grief and probably still am. I honestly don’t know how it’s possible to not be angry about a psychopath killing 26 people , 20 of them children between the ages of five and ten. I wrote my thing about gun control out of anger. I stand by it, but it was out of anger.

Whenever a massacre like this happens, which feels like it’s becoming more frequent in this country, the two camps come out to discuss more gun control versus potentially even less gun control. There’s one group that says if guns were harder or even impossible to acquire, that this tragedy could have been avoided. Then this other group says that the weapon isn’t the problem, it’s the madman who pulled the trigger that’s the issue. Some in this group will even say that had more people had a gun on them at the time that there might be fewer casualties.

Inevitably, there’s also the group of people that will say that all this talk about gun control is too soon; that this should be a time of mourning and not of playing politics. I honestly don’t think anyone is playing politics when it comes to this or that it’s “too soon.” I don’t have any points to score or anything to gain from wanting to engage in that discussion, but I am angry about it. And if you’re someone who has said that it’s too soon, just know you’re in a different stage of grief than I am. It wasn’t too soon to have the discussion after Columbine, nor was it too soon after Virginia Tech. It wasn’t too soon after Aurora, and it wasn’t too soon after Michigan or Oregon. It’s never been too soon to talk about this for the simple fact that it has always been too late.

Gun control isn’t The Answer to preventing mass shootings like this. I’ve read the same stuff you have. We all know that there were obviously mental health issues at play in probably all of the massacres in recent history. That needs to be addressed too. We need to address the culture of violence that we’re all guilty of by virtue of complacency. And I think we need to realize that it’s possible to have a real discussion on things without going overboard. For example, I’m pretty sure that 100% of responsible gun owners don’t want crazy people to have access to guns, and I’m also pretty sure that 100% of non-gun owners recognize that there are such things as responsible gun owners. Also, we have to remember that this is a fallen world. As a Christian I believe that in the world as it is there’s nothing you or I could do to redeem or prevent every act of evil that could possibly occur, and until Christ returns we have to be examples of what the kingdom of heaven could be one soul at a time. So no, tighter gun control isn’t The Answer to this, but I think maybe it’s time to recognize it as part of an answer. The sooner the better.

Written by matt

December 15, 2012 at 1:52 pm

On The Economy of Music

with one comment

Every few months or so there re-arises the debate about the current state of the music industry. What’s fun is that all the blog posts that go viral (the post that started the current debate, the artist’s retort, and an industry pundit’s take) make competing but valid points. Without going into every detail those posts do, here’s a brief rundown of the overarching issue:

  • Artists/musicians create music and expect to be compensated fairly for their time and effort.
  • Companies like record labels used to have a monopoly on which music was sold by who and when.
  • Technology has leveled the playing field among distribution of music, consumption of music, and even creation of music. Anyone and everyone can record, sell, or listen to anyone else’s music with a couple clicks of a mouse button and little else.

So the problem is that every group believes they deserve something. Artists think they deserve to get paid for their work, companies believe they deserve the amount they used to get 15 years ago, and the general public believe they deserve music for free because there’s no roadblock to do so. As it stands, this a problem without a solution.

A lot of people like to blame the evil record labels. While I won’t say that they’re inherently evil, but it’s not like their biggest concern is anything but making money. Maybe we should blame the public then. They’re a bunch of no good thieves, right? Surely it couldn’t be the all important artists who do nothing but make song after song that reaches deep into our soul with such heartfelt lyrics as “SHOTS! SHOTS! SHOTS, SHOTS, SHOTS, SHOTS!” or “Baby, baby, baby, oooooh.”

I honestly don’t think the question we should be asking is who deservers what, but rather what has value. Prior to ubiquitous internet use, we, the generally public, were being trained to want music on all the time. We were convinced to have CD players at home, in the car, on our person and to pay dearly for that privilege. None of those things happen now, but we still get to have music everywhere we want. Know what else doesn’t happen anymore? No one buys an album for $15, takes it home, listens to it, and regrets buying it because the only good song was the single. We’ve now arrived at a time where the cream truly does rise to the top. Now, just because a song “hits it big” doesn’t mean that it’s creators or purveyors see near the amount of money that they would have several years ago. What I’ve learned though is that despite the no-cost availability of music, people will absolutely still pay for quality.

Example: I’m willing to bet you’ve all heard the song “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO. It was all over commercials, TV shows, YouTube videos, they even played it at the Super Bowl this year. I’m not saying there’s not a place in the world for party music, but I think we can all agree that this song isn’t exactly a prized piece of art. Anyway, despite how huge that song became, it only translated to about 1.3 million album sales.

As a counterpoint, Adele’s album “21” was released about five months prior to LMFAO’s album and is currently standing at a total of 22 million album sales. Not only has it sold a ton of copies, it’s still selling tons of copies as it currently stands at number 3 in the U.S. It’s one of the best albums released to a wide audience in recent memory and is still grabbing people’s attention.

Artists of the world: just because you make something doesn’t mean you deserve people’s time and money, so don’t feel ripped off when you don’t get it. We all know that with so much competing for our attention we will only invest in that which we believe in. That’s a rule of economics: something only has worth if someone is willing to pay for it.

Record labels of the world: This isn’t the same world where you were the only game in town. Money is tight for everyone, music can be had at no cost, and $15 can buy a lot more groceries than it can CD’s. Until time travel becomes possible, give up trying to make the same amount of money you did in ’96. Know that if you push garbage to the masses, they might not want to pay for it.

To the general music loving public: If you are touched, moved, or otherwise enjoy music from particular artists, spend money on them. Be generous so that they are still able to make music. There’s a very small number of artists out there who live comfortably, and the rest are struggling. If you truly love their music, don’t just buy the CD, concert tickets, or T-shirts; donate to them directly through PayPal, share the music with your friends, and see if there’s anything else they’d like from their fans.

I know I didn’t solve anything here, but I thought this might help explain to some of you why you keep hearing “The Music Industry is DYING!” and didn’t already have years of seeing it firsthand under your belt.

Written by matt

June 21, 2012 at 9:06 pm

my response

with 4 comments

it got way crazier than i expected on facebook the other day. (you can see for yourself here.) as most people know, i am for universal health care. i don’t believe in socialism, fascism, communism, capitalism, or too many other “-ism’s” for that matter. ferris bueller taught me that. the only beliefs i truly regard and try to follow are those passed down throughout the bible; specifically, what Jesus taught about loving God the Father and loving our neighbor as ourselves. after reading through the currently 46 comments, i thought i should maybe take the time to explain the reasons about why i’m so vocal about this issue.

i had health insurance as a kid, and like most kids, never really thought about it. then i turned 18 and was no longer under my mom’s coverage unless i currently lived with them and was in school. that only lasted a year. my mom and her new husband moved and i made a very difficult decision to stay in riverside despite not having a car that worked, a consistently paying job, or a place to live. i was a homeless college dropout for precisely one week. i also for the first time realized that i had almost literally no safety net. if i got sick, i couldn’t afford to get help. because i was technically self-employed i couldn’t qualify for low-income care either. fortunately, i’m a relatively healthy person overall and nothing really happened. during the two and a half years between then and when i got married, that was my situation. i got married and my wife happened to be going to a medical school. she had great coverage simply by being a student, but student’s spouses aren’t covered by that. we made just enough money to get by and there was definitely no room in our budget for me to buy health insurance. one day, i got sick. it was different than any other kind of sickness i’d ever dealt with, and i was scared. after a couple days, we made the hard decision to go to the emergency room. my poor wife was so scared and worried about what it was going to cost us. we were just hoping and praying that it wasn’t something worse than it was for the sake of my well-being and eventually our finances. in the end, the virus of whatever it was ended up lasting about five days and i’m no worse for the wear. after a 20 minute doctor visit and a quick lab test, it actually only cost us about $150. it was a ton of money to us at the time, but we were able to pay it eventually. i can’t help but think about what might have happened if it would have been something worse though. it would have put us so deep into a financial hole that, between student loan payments and the the current economic climate, i don’t know we would have been able to get out of for quite some time.

i’m not for universal health care because i so strongly believe that wealthy people need to share. i think they should though, and hope that were i in their position would hold to that value. i honestly don’t care about the particulars of one reform plan versus another. also, the more i think about it, the more i become convicted that i shouldn’t care if illegal immigrants get health care or not. that last one is a struggle for me. my true honest belief that is the one that makes me think that health care for all should be a reality is that according to the Christian faith, money is not something to be withheld to the detriment of others. believe me, as far as political ideologies are concerned, i am for as little government as possible. our government is going to take our money anyway, and if they’re going to take it and use it for something like universal health care, then i’m much more ok with that than the myriad other uses of tax dollars.

i also feel the need to be completely open about the fact this isn’t some conviction i’ve decided upon a whim either. i struggle with this. like i said already, i’m not a fan of big government or even necessarily higher taxes. also, i periodically have to truly check my motives, more so if i’m bringing my religious convictions into play. i truly believe that every human being is a child of God whether they acknowledge that or not. we could very well be spending eternity with those souls our greed and selfishness has caused us to turn our backs on. most of my life i’ve felt like i didn’t totally agree with the idea of “christians are by default aligned with the republican right,” and a lot of the time feel like i’m fighting against a stereotype. if there’s one thing i’ve learned though, it’s that “fighting against” something is rarely, if ever, a better idea than fighting for something.

i don’t expect to have changed anyone’s mind with writing this. the most i’m really hoping is for whoever reads this to have a better understanding about where i’m coming from with this. in the meantime, let’s keep challenging each other. please, let’s all be checking our motives though, especially those of us who are called to have more eternally minded motives

Written by matt

November 11, 2009 at 1:17 pm

seriously,

with 4 comments

can someone tell me what’s wrong with free health care in the u.s.? especially if you’re a christian? i honestly don’t understand what the resistance is to it. is it because we’re collectively scared of the word “socialism?” as a christian, why do we even seem scared of socialism? because of evil dictatorships in the first half of the 20th century? read matthew 25:34-46, then tell me what’s more evil: a system that feeds greed and ego, or one that steals from the rich to give to the poor? right now, i’m young and woefully ignorant, so please educate me. i’m probably not seeing every angle and i’d like to. so, what are your thoughts, and how do those align with what Jesus has taught us?

Written by matt

August 7, 2009 at 11:17 pm

2008

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the year is just about over. just shy of three hours from now until it’s officially 2009. looking back on the year, it’s hard for me not to be pessimistic about what 2009 has to offer. 2008 started off so well and then began a slow decline, and so far, this night seems to be a very fitting end to cap it off with. the biggest thing I’m struggling with is in terms of my career. I’m one of many I’m sure, but this is a new thing for me and I’m kind of starting to really freak out about it. and now that I’ve written about the more depressing parts, I can try to focus on the good things that happened this year. most importantly, I can take solace in the fact that I have a clearer idea of who God is which I think will lead to a closer and more meaningful relationship. secondly, I think that me and my wife have built an even firmer foundation for our marriage, and that we’re understanding each other much more clearly. and lastly, I’m really enjoying the friendships I’ve recently made or grown at my church. it’s nice to know that my church has a lot of quality people there and that there’s more I haven’t even met yet. so, 2008, you weren’t exactly a banner year for me, but once again I’m going to let hope be a deciding factor about 2009

Written by matt

December 31, 2008 at 9:18 pm