Freedom of Movement

There is an excellent yardstick for measuring liberty and quality of life. Simply consider how much freedom of movement you have. From that basic indicator, you can determine if you live in a police state and/or a cult, you will know how much information and education you have access to, and you will have a good sense of the level of prejudice you are being exposed to.

Your ability to travel goes hand in hand with your freedom. If you live in a country where the women cannot travel without the permission of their husbands or fathers, you live in a misogynistic police state. If you are in a religion that does not allow you to interact with outsiders or learn about opposing points of view, or worse yet, cuts you off from family, then you are in a cult. If you can’t go anywhere without having your papers constantly checked by authority figures, then you are a slave.

Inhibiting your ability to go where you wish is an effective way of controlling the information that you have access to. If you can’t even move about the internet, then someone else is controlling your narrative, and they have an agenda that is not in your best interest. If someone wants to leave and you don’t let them, then you have just reduced them to a mere object.

Also, preventing women or minorities from having access to education is a self-defeating power play. One should be able to travel in mind as well as body. If your opportunity to learn is hindered, you should wonder what the powers that be don’t want you to discover.

People who put up walls to restrict movement are the worst kind of racists. They are either attempting to keep a group out or keep a group in. Either way, they are restricting the flow of information, and preventing the masses from becoming unified. Divide and conquer.

The only things that should prevent you from being able to travel are your own priorities and your own budgetary constraints. And even that is a can of worms, because income inequality is another great way to keep us all ignorant and close to home.

The more you travel, the more you learn. The more you travel, the less you hate. The more you travel in mind, body, and spirit, the more you know what it is to be free.

Freedom

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Much Better than a Cult

As strange as it may seem, it took me years to figure out that I should only surround myself with kind, loving, and decent people. No one ever told me that. I think deep down, had the concept even occurred to the younger me, I wouldn’t have really believed I deserved it.

So I wasted a lot of time desperately trying to gain approval from people who were way too busy pumping toxic waste into my life to ever grant said approval. What a shame.

But slowly, ever so slowly, the number of amazing humans in my world started to outnumber the bad apples. That made that rotten fruit seem increasingly unpalatable to me. I’ve come to realize that it’s okay to expect quality in all my relationships. What a notion.

It’s so wonderful to know so many outstanding people now. It’s a gift. It’s priceless. Sometimes it brings tears of joy to my eyes.

But recently I’ve come to see what it would have been like if I had kept my emotional garden free of weeds and decay all along. My boyfriend seems to have done an excellent job of doing so, and the results have been profoundly positive. There is so much good in his world. It’s one of the many things I admire about him. He is a lodestone for kindness.

Recently we announced our engagement, and the outpouring of love and support has been overwhelming. In the best possible way. This is all new to me. I keep telling him I feel like I’m being love bombed. He reassures me that I’m not joining a cult. Receiving this kind of encouragement is just as it should be.

Well, alrighty then! I’ll take it. Please and thank you!

In case no one ever told you, dear reader: Look for the good in the world. Accept nothing less. You’ll be amazed at how much it multiplies. Proof positive that love conquers all.

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For Real

Have you ever had a conversation with someone that made you question reality? Sometimes two people can draw such different conclusions from a situation that it makes you wonder if you come from the same planet. I had one of those recently.

A friend said, “You just called me an (xyz).”

I replied, “What are you talking about? That word never came out of my mouth. What I said was (abc).”

My friend repeated his assertion. I felt like I was in the twilight zone. Especially since we were communicating via text.

So I said, “Dude, scroll up. Where are you seeing (xyz)? Where? Show me.”

Long pause.

Then he said, “I just talked to (mutual friend E) and she agrees with me. I’m not an (xyz).”

Me: “Wait a minute! Where is this coming from? What are you talking about? I never said you were!”

Him: “It really hurts my feelings that you disrespect me so much that you think I’m an (xyz).”

At this point, my feelings were kind of hurt that he would think I was the type of person to say such a thing. So I said, “On my life, I never said that! I don’t know where this is coming from. If I struck some sort of a nerve somehow, I’m sorry. But I’m not responsible for the nerve being there in the first place. You’re pulling facts out of thin air, so I really think we should leave it at that.”

God, how I hate being misunderstood. Even worse, I hate trying to explain something that seems perfectly obvious to me, only to discover that the other person just doesn’t get it. “But… the sky isn’t lime green with purple polka dots! Look at it! Look!”

I would probably be easily sucked into a cult. Because eventually I’d just give up and I’d really want to believe the sky was purple and green, too. Anything to make the world make sense again. After a while, I might actually see a tinge of green. And maybe a spot or two.

Or not. Who knows?

green and purple

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Corey Feldman Fouls His Message

I’ve written about Corey Feldman’s starvation sex cult before. The fact that it still exists tells you a lot about this man and his perspective on life. Now he’s trying to rebrand himself as a force for good, which is admirable, I suppose, but he’s doing a horrible job of it.

He claims to want to expose a Hollywood child pedophile ring. To do this, he’s got an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign going on. He’d like to raise 10 million dollars so he can make a documentary about this ring. So far, he has actually gotten 230,000 dollars’ worth of stupid people to participate.

Evidence of Corey’s lack of sincerity:

  • His campaign is named after his latest album.

  • If he had any honest-to-God proof of a pedophile ring, and genuinely wanted it stopped, he’d turn this evidence over to the police and to the media immediately. Instead, he’s been hinting at it for years, while, one assumes, more children are being abused. In other words, he’s positioning himself to make as much profit as he can from this tragedy.

  • If he genuinely was anti-abuse, he wouldn’t be teaching women that in order for them to be a success, they must prance about in public in lingerie. He’d instead be teaching them to rely on their own agency: their intelligence, and also that their talents don’t require soft porn to prop them up. (That’s probably difficult to grasp when you’ve grown up in Hollywood, but there you have it.)

Seriously, Corey, how do you expect people to believe you care about children when you have such a low opinion of women? The unequal power dynamic and the demonstrated subservience alone is enough to indicate that you are no white knight. And that’s a shame, because protecting children from sexual abuse is a great cause. If you weren’t pooping all over your message, you might just make a difference.

Do I think pedophilia exists in Hollywood? Most definitely. I doubt it’s so organized that there’s a “ring”, mind you, but scumbags abound, and in an industry where looks matter, they’re no doubt attracted to these child stars like moths to a flame.

So, yes, I think these slime balls need to be outed, but not so that Corey Feldman can bring in the money that allows him to continue to mislead women into eating nothing but fruit while wearing wings and a halo. He really must enjoy watching them wander about his house, scantily-clad, light-headed, and in heels. Because doing so isn’t furthering their careers.

Shame on you, Corey. You are the worst kind of hypocrite, acting like the low-rent lovechild of Hugh Hefner and Michael Jackson. You could so easily do better than this. Prove it to us.

Corey and his angels

Kittens: Not Just for Youtube Anymore

In this world of increasing insanity, I find it strangely comforting that cults aren’t just a phenomenon of the English speaking world. Exhibit A: Turkey’s Adnan Oktar. I find this man fascinating in the same way car accidents cause me to slow down.

His main goal in life appears to be to debunk evolution. He has published dozens of fancy-looking, elaborately illustrated books, using the pen name Harun Yahya, that promote creationism. Based on my perusal of his website, these books contain a lot of rambling pseudo-science that require a great deal of suspension of disbelief to digest. They also seem to feature wildly falsified images of fossils.

In addition, he has a mansion that overlooks the Bosphorus, and it’s so gaudy it puts Donald Trump’s apartment to shame. Apparently the yard is teeming with rabbits and is surrounded by an electrified fence.

He is also as litigious as Trump. I’m fairly certain he will never read this criticism of him, because according to several articles, he apparently managed to get WordPress banned from Turkey after several bloggers wrote less than flattering posts about him. (I find this hard to believe, because I know I’ve had Turkish readers in the past, but given the number of lawsuits he’s brought to the courts, it wouldn’t surprise me if he hadn’t at least tried.)

But by far the most fascinating thing about this man is that he surrounds himself with women whom he calls kittens. These women are young, from rich families, and their hair is quite often bleached that color of blonde that can only come from a bottle. Their lips are pumped up with collagen, and they wear so much make up it looks like it’s been applied by a putty knife. They also wear skin tight clothes, stiletto heels, and emphasize their cleavage. Needless to say, this is quite a departure in the Islamic world.

For a really eye-opening look into  Adnan Oktar’s world, check out this documentary.  (It’s only subtitled for a tiny bit. Mostly it’s in English.)

This is Adnan Oktar’s idea of feminism. He says he believes all women are kittens. (Gag.) And he claims they are superior in every way. If that’s true, then why the need for all those creepy alterations? Shouldn’t they be perfect just as they are? And why are these women expected to regularly gyrate on camera? (Oh, yeah. I forgot to mention he has his own television station.)

In every video I’ve seen of these kittens, they all have a guarded look in their eyes. A vacant look, actually. There are complaints by family members that they are never allowed to see them alone. I found myself feeling sorry for them, and more than a little disturbed. I wonder what will happen to them as their beauty fades.

I’ll never get over humanity’s desperate need to give away its power, to fit in, to feel loved. It’s heartbreaking. And apparently it’s universal.

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Adnan Oktar

 

Hug Vibes

According to an article I just read in Global Post, “Physical touch stimulates certain hormones that are essential for child development… premature infants who are touched regularly display 47 percent more weight gain… Physical touch has a powerful influence on brain function and mental health.”

I really never thought about the importance of touch until I moved to Seattle, where I don’t know a soul, 7 weeks ago. Since I’ve been here I haven’t been touched, even in the most casual of ways. I’m starting to feel as if my skin is going to atrophy, like one day I’m going to wake up and my skeleton will be exposed. Okay, that’s a little extreme, but you get the point. I need a hug.

Thank God for my dogs. I’ve been cuddling with them so much lately that they’re starting to get uncomfortable. “Here she comes again. Brace yourself.” I can’t even imagine how I’d cope without them.

I hesitate to put myself into the dating world in this state. I might very well attach myself like a barnacle to the first serial killer who crosses my path. I now understand how people get sucked into cults. If Charles Manson were to hug me right now I’d fall madly in love.

A long distance friend of mine sent me some hug vibes the other day. That counts for much. But still, I may start stumbling in large crowds so that someone will offer me a hand. Any port in a storm.

hugs_040

[Image credit: db18.com]

When the Punishment for a Good Deed is a Lifetime of Regrets

Everyone probably has a story about trying to help someone and instead unintentionally making things worse. This is one of those stories. But if you’ve been reading my blog, you probably know I don’t ever go half way. I strongly suspect I may have ruined someone’s life, and the worst part about it is that I’ll never know for sure. I’ll always have to live with that.

In college I had a friend whom I will call S. She was a sweet girl. Kind to everyone. Gentle. A talented artist. She was one of those people who kind of seems like they may have grown up in a secret garden, surrounded by butterflies. She even had the faraway look. She was oblivious to the world’s ills. She had no concept of self-protection, and didn’t have a skeptical bone in her body. I honestly don’t know how she had made it through 19 years of her life without something terrible happening to her, but apparently that was the case. If I believed in angels I’d swear that one had to have been watching over her. We spent a lot of time together in school. We were even roommates for a while, and took a two week trip to Spain together. Lovely girl.

After graduation, we kept in touch for a time, but life has a way of pulling people in different directions, and that was the case with us. A couple years passed with no contact, and then I got a phone call. Probably the strangest call I’ve ever received in my life. It was S, but it wasn’t the S that I knew. This was…how do I explain it? This was S on laughing gas. This was S in the Emerald City, complete with ruby slippers. She was so euphoric I considered recommending hospitalization. It was just…weird. Don’t get me wrong. Happiness is a good thing. But this wasn’t that. It was more like head trauma happy. She said she was in town and she had to, absolutely had to see me. I have to admit I was curious, so I told her to come on over.

When S showed up, I was horrified. She was skinny, had dark circles under her eyes and looked kind of feverish. And ecstatic. I was thinking drugs, but didn’t see any tracks on her arms. Of course, that’s not the only way to take drugs. Then she told me about Lifespring. This was an organization I’d never heard of, but she said it had changed her life. She had come to convince me to join. Fortunately I’m not a joiner. (My mother couldn’t even get me into the Girl Scouts. After one torturous school year in the Brownies, I put my foot down.) She told me that Lifespring conducted seminars that changed your life in some way that she just couldn’t articulate. Yes, of course they cost money. She had spent every penny she had on them, but she wasn’t worried. She knew she’d be taken care of. In fact this was the first time she’d been outside of the company of a fellow Lifespringer in, oh, months. She had convinced several of her family members to join as well, and this is a family with money. She was so happy she barely felt the need for sleep, which was good, because they were always there, and rarely gave her time for it. But that was okay, ‘cause she was happy. Happy, happy, happy. So happy. She told me that she had given my name and address to the organization.

As you can imagine, I was floating in a veritable sea of red flags at this point. After she left, I went straight to the library. (This was before internet.) I started researching Lifespring, but wasn’t finding much, other than that some considered it a cult, and that a few people had left Lifespring and then committed suicide. I also discovered an organization called the Cult Awareness Network, and they had a great reputation back then*. I called them, and they sent me a packet about an inch thick, full of documents about Lifespring. The more I read, the more horrified I became. This cult uses all the standard tactics such as sleep deprivation, influence and persuasion and mind control methods to suck you in and then bleed you dry financially. Their main method of recruitment was to have members approach family and friends, or, barring that, befriending strangers under false pretenses and slowly introducing them to the concept. And she had given these people my address! Rest assured I was highly suspicious of new “friends” for about a year after that.

I like to think of myself as a loyal friend. And I hope that if I were in a cult, someone on the outside would care enough about me to intervene if possible. I brooded about this for about a week. If this were someone with a modicum of self-protection or was capable of even a soupçon of critical thinking, I might have let it go. Let her live her own life, make her own mistakes. But this was S. Her secret garden surely didn’t prepare her for Lifespring. So what to do? I couldn’t call her mother. Her mother was in Lifespring, too. So I decided to send the inch thick packet of information to her father, along with a note explaining that S had joined this organization. I would just let him take it from there.

So far, so good, right? And maybe it was a happy ending. It could have been. I hope so. But here’s the twist. I was not exactly a woman of the world back then, either. So it didn’t really consider the ramifications of what I did. You see, her father is Pakistani. So there are several possible ends to this story aside from the happy and loving one I hope for:

  • He disowned her, cut her off financially, and she’s out there somewhere, probably still in a cult (although Lifespring, apparently, no longer exists).
  • He dragged her back home and
    • Married her off against her will. (She had said he was pressuring her, but she was resisting.)
    • Locked her away somewhere.
    • Worst case scenario, killed her off for shaming the family and depleting their fortune.

The reason I tend to think the results were negative are not because I’m Islamophobic. Quite the contrary. It’s just that S seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth. She has not contacted anyone we knew since her calls to me, attempting to get me to join Lifespring, petered out about a month after our last visit. She hasn’t given a current address to our Alumni office. I never heard back from her father, either. And she has a relatively rare name. I have Googled and Facebooked her about every six months for as long as there has been Google and Facebook. Nothing. Not a trace.

S, if you’re out there, I hope you’re genuinely happy. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’ll probably never know for sure. But hey, I did the “right” thing. Right? Didn’t I?

*Please note that the Cult Awareness Network is not the organization it once was. In 1996 it had been bombarded by so many bogus lawsuits by the Scientologists that it had to close its doors and the Scientologists bought out its name so that they could spread disinformation about their own cult. Any “help” that this once reputable organization will give you now will surely be warped, twisted, and biased to their way of thinking, so I’d avoid them entirely, but if you do feel the need to contact them, approach with caution.

Doomsday Postponed: The Antidote for All This Holiday Cheer

Well we survived the Mayan Apocalypse. Whew! What a load off the shoulders of all those doomsday preppers out there. Or is it? I mean, once you get past the feeling of being a total fool, what do you do for fun?

Here’s the thing, people: the end of the world has apparently been coming for a long, long time. The first prediction I can find through my lazy Google search was for 634 BC. Apparently a lot of Romans thought that 12 eagles had revealed some mystical number that was supposed to represent the lifetime of Rome, and people arbitrarily decided that that each eagle represented 10 years, so Rome was supposed to be destroyed 120 years after its founding. I wonder how you prepare for the end of the world in an era when you don’t have canned goods?

There were many predictions that the world would end on December 31, 1999, but this kind of millennium prediction is, apparently, old hat, because the same thing happened 1000 years previously. Even the Pope at the time was in on that prediction, causing riots throughout Europe. Boy, I bet Pope Sylvester II felt awfully sheepish the next day. Doomsday predictions based on calendars that are made up, often quite arbitrarily, by humans make me laugh. (See more about that in my previous blog entry entitled “I’ve Got Your Number. Right here. https://theviewfromadrawbridge.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/ive-got-your-number-right-here/ )

Oh these pesky, impetuous popes! The ironically named Pope Innocent III predicted that the world would end 666 years after the beginning of Islam. So we should have been toast in the year 1284. Honestly? Is this responsible behavior for God’s Representative on Earth? I don’t think so!

But the funniest predictions, if you ask me, are from the people or groups whom I call “revisers”. These are people who have the audacity to push the date further out into the future when their previous predictions don’t come to pass. Case in point, the Bible Student Movement, the group responsible for originating those delightful Watch Tower tracts that get stuffed under your windshield wipers at strip malls to this day, has predicted that the world would end in 1874, and then (oops!) 1878, and then (our bad) 1881, and then (we mean it this time, really we do) 1908, and then (seriously) 1914, 1916, 1918, 1920, and 1925. For crying out loud, people! What’s it going to take for you to stop getting sucked in to this stuff?

The Jehovah’s Witnesses branched off from the Bible Student Movement, and jumped right on the doomsday bandwagon. They have predicted our ruin would occur in the years 1941, 1975, 1984, and then they wised up and got more vague and said it would all be over “sometime” before 2000. Well, so much for that. And yet I still get these people knocking on my door. When is THAT going to end? That’s what *I* want to know.

Another one I find amusing is Elizabeth Claire Prophet. She was the leader of the Church Universal and Triumphant. She became convinced that the Russians would start a nuclear attack and had her followers spend millions building an enormous fallout shelter. But we all know that construction projects are rarely, if ever, completed on time, so when the bunker wasn’t done by the predicted date of the nuclear attack, she simply revised the date. You’d think that would have been a bit of a red flag, but no. When the structure was finally completed, everyone took shelter and waited for the explosions, which, of course, never came. Not surprisingly, the movement lost a lot of followers after that, including her own son. Search her on youtube and you’ll see a lot of interesting footage of her in full military garb, or speaking in tongues. She came by her flair for languages honestly, though, as she claimed to have been previously incarnated as Nefertiti, Queen Guinevere of Camelot (apparently she was real after all), St. Theresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Sienna and Marie Antoinette. She died of Alzheimer’s disease in 2009, leaving behind a big ol’ honkin’ fallout shelter in Montana, in case you and a couple thousand of your friends should ever need one.

Okay, so I have been poking fun at all these doomsday chumps, but sadly, these predictions can have a very negative and sometimes tragic fallout, if you’ll excuse the pun. People often spend a great deal of time and money preparing for an end that never comes. They also warp their children into living a life of fear and anxiety and paranoia. And even worse are the predictions that lead to death. On March 26, 1997, Marshall Applewhite and 38 of his followers in the Heaven’s Gate Cult committed mass suicide so that they could be picked up by a space ship and live lives at “a level of existence above human”.

Of course, I have no answers for all of this, and I’m certainly not going to make any predictions. I just know that there are a lot of people with anxiety disorders in the world, and there are even more people who are so desperate for answers that they’re willing to follow those people. I prefer not knowing the date of my demise. If the bombs are going to fall, I’d rather have them drop right on my head while I’m living my life to the fullest.