Rudy Francisco: Adrenaline Rush

Rudy’s words are stronger than any I can provide. I hope they resound with you as they did with me.

Advertisements

Equal and Different

I may be one of the few people I know who loves the idea of equality and hates the idea of equity. I’m sure, with that one statement, I’ve pissed off at least 1/3rd of the people I know. If you’re pissed off, go away until you can come and read through what I have to say like a rational adult. I don’t look at things the same way as you, so if you expect that from me, you’re being irrational.

Now, the reason I dislike the idea of equity stems from the fact it requires an inherent inferiority. The most common picture used to demonstrate equality vs equity is the one with the fence. In the equality picture, three people of varying sizes are all standing behind a fence. The tallest can see over the fence while the other two cannot because they are too short. In the equity picture, three people of varying sizes are all standing behind a fence on boxes that put them at the same height as the tallest person (who needs no boxes). There is an inferiority of height being implied in the picture of equity – the person who is tallest needs no help. But the other two need boxes to see over the fence. They need help to get to the same height as the tallest, and there is an indication there that the tallest person holds the identity a person wants to reach. The two short people, in that way, become followers of the tallest, and, to become equitable with the tallest person, they have to become the same as the tallest person – at least in terms of height.

That’s where the inherent flaw of equity stems from – the assumption that because the tallest person can see over the fence, it is best to give the other two people the same opportunity by providing them with the resources to see over the fence by doing whatever is necessary to make the person the same as the tallest. Like, somehow, the person with the clearest view over the field has the best perspective and needs to be emulated.

This teaches people nothing except how to resent others. It teaches people to resent those naturally born with more resources. It teaches people born with more resources to resent those that have less than them. It becomes an unending chain of resentment, and I can’t abide that.

On equal footing – with everyone at different heights – the opportunity for different perspectives come into play. The fence is an obstacle to be overcome. The tall person has little to do to overcome the obstacle – they simply stand behind it and can see the world. The person of middle height has to be more creative in order to capture a view of the field for themselves. Perhaps they fetch boxes to make themselves taller. Perhaps they find a small crack in the fence that they can see through. If they find such a crack, then they have overcome the fence and have gained valuable insight – a perspective other than the one of the tallest person. The same goes for the shortest.

Obstacles aren’t put in our way to frustrate us; they are put in our way to help us grow and to help us develop new perspectives on life. The different lives we lead allows us to form perspectives and opinions different from the people around us. If we spend our entire lives trying to catch up to an abstract ideal, like equity, then we miss out on our own lives. Instead, we’ve spent our lives following others around.

Equality, unlike equity, is based on the premise that everyone has to face a similar set of circumstances to the people around them. The tall person may be able to see over the fence, so they have an advantage in that particular set of circumstances. In other set of circumstances – say, walking through a house with a low ceiling – they have the disadvantage, and the short person the advantage.

We all have different advantages and disadvantages that occur naturally because of the environments we were born into, the world that shaped us, the people around us, and the identities we hold. In an equal world, all perspectives would hold merit. Everyone’s voice would matter. Not one voice more or less than another.

Equity says that people who have been downtrodden and abused by society deserve to have a louder voice than those who haven’t been as deeply affected. I absolutely disagree. What everyone deserves is to have access to the same resources, the same benefits, the same social guarantees.

The problem we’re truly facing is the fact that our world isn’t equal. Everyone doesn’t have access to the same resources. People are discriminated against because of the identities they hold. In turn, those discriminated against discriminate against those with dominant identities. The vicious cycle repeats and continues and nothing gets done.

All the promise of equity does is build resentment in both directions, and I refuse, outright, to admit to my principles a concept that builds resentment towards others. At the end of the day, every person – no matter what their walk of life or the identities they hold – is a human being. As humans, we are all equal but we are not the same.

Equal and different. That’s the world I want to live in. Not equal and same.

Loki University

While I originally planned to write a book for Loki, that morphed into putting together a school instead.

The school is intended to introduce people to Loki and the Lokean path, and it is also intended for people who often find themselves on the fringes of Heathenry and Paganism as a whole.

That school can be found here: https://lokiuniversity.wordpress.com/

Please feel free to take a look around and get acquainted with the curriculum.

If you are interested in applying, please read the enrollment requirements. We will accept applications now – just know that we will not start the course until after January 1st. Classes will begin when ten students have been accepted.

Note that the earlier you apply, the lower the expectations for the initial applicants will be, as we have nothing to judge against.

To all my Pagan/Polytheist wordpress friends, please spread the word about this school. Post about it on your blogs, on your social media pages. Talk about it on Youtube or Twitch. Please do whatever you can to get the word out about this new school.

In return for you help, I will offer my services as a guest writer or speaker – or I will promote you in turn. Let’s all help each other.

Blessed Yule,

Kyaza

Fight for Net Neutrality

If you’re interested in keeping the net neutrality laws that make the internet accessible to everyone, please visit https://www.battleforthenet.com/ and fight for that to happen. The cable companies are fighting hard to end net neutrality so they can impose bandwidth limits, throttle access, and potentially even block content. Information control is one of the worst things a government can impose on its people, and if the net neutrality laws are rescinded, there’s no telling what our social climate will end up looking like.

If you don’t want to be told what to think, then you need to fight for net neutrality. Visit the site, call congress, spread the word, and participate in the internet-wide protest tomorrow.

 

 

Stream of Consciousness Essay (Untitled)

The following is a stream-of-consciousness essay I wrote, and I decided to share it with everyone.

Note: I first wrote this 3 years ago, and it is incredibly relevant today. Note that it is long, but it is worth reading.


Why do we spend so much time insisting on avoiding sad feelings? Why do we spend so much time running away from the hurt we feel? In our culture, being sad is like a social death warrant. No one wants to be around a sad person. So, even when what we really need is to just be sad, we instead are faced with comments like, “It’s not worth crying over,” or “Think happy thoughts.”

But sadness serves a purpose. Every emotion has a reason to exist. If we feel sad, it’s because we are hurting. And ignoring the pain doesn’t make it go away. In fact, ignoring the pain can make it worse. Generally, none of us would go up to someone who had just broken their arm or leg and tell them not to cry or to find something pleasant to think about. Just the suggestion that anyone could be that crass is slightly horrifying.

Yet emotional pain is treated as somehow lesser than physical pain. Perhaps the reason lies in the fact that emotional pain is invisible – physical pain is, for the most part, visible. But just because someone can’t see your pain doesn’t mean the pain isn’t real. It doesn’t mean you don’t have a right to feel that pain.

In fact, I’d say that you have an obligation to yourself to feel the pain of sadness. Because we cannot heal without feeling – we cannot heal by turning ourselves into apathetic monsters. It is when we do this that sadness turns into depression. Depression is sadness and anger magnified a thousandfold because the emotions are being denied. It becomes a vicious cycle of “I shouldn’t feel like this – I should be happy. Why am I not happy?” And our focus becomes how happy we are failing to be, rather than how we cope with our sadness.

All of the suggested coping methods entail trying to force yourself to be happy – that does nothing but exacerbate the problem. To cope with sadness, you have to allow yourself to feel sad. You have to be okay with being sad. Okay with crying. You have to learn to tell yourself that sadness is just another part of life – a normal part of life. And it doesn’t matter what makes you sad – emotions are personal. Out of everything in our lives, the one individual component that no one else can steal from us is how we process the world through our emotions.

Instead of cherishing our own world views, however, we drown ourselves in anxieties like “If that situation makes him/her happy, it should make me happy, too,” or “If that situation makes him/her sad, it should make me sad, too,” or “If he/she likes that particular type of person/show/movie/thing/etc, then I should, too.” But why? Why should we try so hard to be like everyone else? Why do we need to mimic the emotions of the people around us? If I see a scene in a movie that moves me to tears while everyone laughs around me, why should I pretend to laugh with them when my emotions aren’t synchronized with theirs?

Why are we forbidden from being who we are, from wearing our hearts on our sleeves, and being honest about what hurts us? Why do we have to consider everything we do from the perspective of how everyone else will view us? Why do we have to worry so much about making an impact on people? On the world? Why are we not allowed to worry about the impact that others have on us? About how the world is seen through our eyes? Why is it so much about everyone else and so little about self?

Ironic, perhaps, to say it this way – but our society isn’t a selfish society – we aren’t self-focused, we aren’t self-absorbed. We are other-focused – we are other-absorbed. We care so much about what we look like, what we wear, who we’re seen with – not because we’re afraid of our own reputations, but because we’re afraid that other people will look down on us for the choices we make. We are afraid of being judged.

So, we pre-judge ourselves because we are already inclined to view the world through the eyes of “others.” We don’t see ourselves. We don’t see our own strengths or weaknesses – we let other people tell us what we are good at, what we fail at, and what we are sort of okay at. We let everyone else invent our personality. We let everyone else shape the way we view the world. We let everyone else tell us what to think.

None of us consider this – none of us think about this. We are too busy wondering whether the boy (or girl) we met at a party (club/bookstore, wherever) will like the way we look better in this or that outfit, whether he or she will find our jokes funny, whether he or she will be impressed.

But we don’t ask ourselves questions anymore. Now, we let other people feed us answers. “How do you think the world got here?” transforms from a speculative question to more disdainful comments like, “Go read the Bible,” or “Go ask a preacher,” or “I don’t know, go look it up on Google.”

I really do wonder how many people follow faiths they don’t understand simply because their parents told them it was “the right way,” or a preacher in their church told them that “Jesus was the light,” or “Allah is all,” or “Jehovah is the name of God,” etc. and so on – how many people actually question their faith but are afraid to voice their fears?

And are these people afraid to ask their questions because of the fear that others will view them as a person who is “rocking the boat?” Are they afraid to ask out of fear that they will be ostracized, judged, condemned? Or maybe they are afraid to ask because they are afraid that if they ask, then their faith will fall apart. That the world won’t make sense because what they have always been taught to believe doesn’t make any sense.

We live in an other-centric, fear-driven world. And because of that, people are afraid to ask questions. Afraid to be themselves. Afraid to even ask themselves questions about who they are. Instead of asking ourselves questions like, “Am I funny?” or “Am I smart?” or “Am I pretty?” or “Am I interesting?” we ask everyone else. Everyone else holds the answers, somehow.

But how is that possible? How can a person who is not living inside my mind, who is not wearing my flesh, who does not have my soul – how can that person tell me who I am? Am I not the best equipped for that? Why should I, or anyone else, feel obligated to seek the answers to questions about who they are outside themselves? Why do we continue to insist that everyone but ourselves know best?

These are the questions that haunt me. This is the sadness that plagues me. Because nearly every person I have met has been lost inside themselves. Beautiful people with amazing souls, with amazing potential – and yet, trapped. And yet, trapped in such a way they are themselves unaware of being trapped. And seeing people like this – so trapped in their pain that they have gotten lost in it and are unable to find the way back to their true light – this kills something inside me every time I meet someone new.

And yet, I love meeting people. I love hearing their stories. I love learning what they have gone through, what they have experienced. But the pain they have gone through always rends my heart alongside theirs – I bear their scars with them, and I grieve for everything they’ve lost and the price of everything they’ve gained.

Because it is sadness, not happiness, that allows a person to find themselves – to embrace themselves, to learn who they are, and to be okay with themselves. Happiness is temporary. Sadness is temporary. It is the balance between the two that we are seeking – that is the hole inside the heart of every human being.

Some people think that the hole they feel inside them is the yearning for another person to live their life beside, a companion to walk down the path with them. Others believe that the hole inside can be filled by their faith. But if that were true, then a relationship wouldn’t simply lessen the feeling of emptiness – it would eradicate it entirely. Same with faith. And yet, despite having experienced an abundance of both, I have never once felt that the hole inside my heart has been completely filled.

But perhaps that is because it is not a hole at all, but simply my heart. Our heart. The heart of all life. Because no matter how we feel our hearts break, we can always recover – there is no such thing as a break our heart can’t mend. Why is that? Why are our hearts so resilient? Even when we feel weak and sad and horrible, the truth is that our hearts are still there inside us, still crying out all the pain we feel even if we can’t cry it ourselves. Because our hearts know what we don’t – our hearts know what we need. And that need, I’m sure, is different for every single person out there.

If all of us had the same heart, then how could we bear to watch the pain of another person? How could we bear to cause the pain of someone else? We hurt others. We say mean things on purpose. We are cruel with cause – but is that cause really us? Are we really looking to hurt the people around us? Do we really want others to go away crying because we said words fed to us by another about situations we don’t understand?

If you’ve ever bullied anyone, online or in person – I don’t care where – have you ever asked yourself what the person you bullied is feeling when you do it? Like, if you’re a guy and you’ve stuffed someone else in a locker, have you ever taken the time to wonder what the person in that locker must be feeling? How terrified they must be? How humiliated? And does it make you laugh? Does it scare you? Does it make you wonder what it would be like to be the one in that locker?

And if you’re a girl, and you’ve ever called someone fat, ugly, or said that a girl’s boobs were too big for her body – that is a type of bullying. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be that girl? If you are skinny, have you ever wondered what it feels like to be fat? What it feels like to know that you will be mocked, even if the weight is caused by something beyond your control?

If you are pretty and have called someone ugly, have you ever wondered how that person feels? Have you ever wondered how you would feel if someone called you ugly? How your stomach would sink with dread and horror because you did everything you could to make yourself pleasing to others, and yet someone still took the time to make the effort to tell you how ugly you look?

And if you’re a girl and have looked at girls with large breasts and made comments like “Her boobs are too big,” or “I bet she has a breast implant,” have you ever considered what it’s like to have large breasts? Have you ever wondered why girls born with large boobs are so shy about them? Do you know that girls with larger breasts worry about finding bras that will fit perfectly so that it doesn’t hurt them to walk? Have you ever wondered, if a girl does have a breast implant, what made her choose the surgery? Ever asked whether she did it to make her boyfriend/husband happy, instead of automatically assuming she must be a slut?

These are comments we all throw around without thinking. We don’t consider our words because we don’t think about how our words would sound said to us out of someone else’s mouth. If we all thought about how we would feel if someone else talked to us the way we talked to other people, I think we would all be a lot kinder a lot faster. Because the truth is, we are all often far more cruel than we are kind.

Update: New Article Posted

I was recently approved and selected as the editor of the Bella Online website for the Folklore and Mythology section. My first article has been posted: Prometheus and Coyote: The Theft of Fire. I will be adding at least one article per week, more if time permits. If there are any specific folklore related questions you’d like to have answered or just articles you’d like to see, please feel free to let me know, and I will add them to my list for article ideas.

 

My Reflection on Charlottesville

As someone who is simultaneously fascinated and horrified by war – as a history major, if it were offered, my concentration would be in war studies – what happened in Charlottesville is devastating and terrifying.
 
One man, James Alex Fields Jr., decided to escalate an already tense situation by giving into his impulse for violence. A woman, Heather Heyer, paid the greatest price for his actions, and several others were injured. Beyond that, thousands upon thousands of people have been traumatized. 
A video was released by VICE that shows quite a bit of what happened during the protest, as well as what was said:

The only person to blame for the death of Heather Heyer is the man who has been charged with her murder. That was sheer impulsive violence, and it wasn’t premeditated. That’s what it means to be charged with second degree murder – that’s what the killer was charged with.

Yes, there are people on the Alt Right celebrating and claiming gratitude – if you listen carefully to the comments that Cantwell makes in the video, he expresses a desire for an ethno-homeland. An ethnic nation. A white nation. A nation based on ethnicity. A desire for land.

In all the ethnic conflicts that have occurred across the globe, there’s a common inciting factor – a desire for land. For territory. Cantwell expresses this desire, and out of everything in this video, that sentiment is the one that terrifies me the most.

Because he sees other ethnic groups, other races, as posing a great threat to what he views as his own ethnic group. He is basically saying the US is being overrun by non-white people, and now white people have nowhere to stand – no home to call their own.

This is terrifying because people will listen to this. People will buy this. He’s selling a false promise of a freedom from fear, but there are desperate people – there are smart people – who will take the lines he is spewing and take them seriously. They will view him as a leader, someone to take their cues from, and this is so incredibly dangerous I don’t even know how to explain how dangerous it is.

Because Cantwell has taken the USA – a diverse melting pot (that’s what we’re supposed to be, with mixed races, mixed ethnic groups, mixed religions, mixed classes – strength in difference) and he’s divided it into two camps. He has taken the us. vs. them mentality that already existed (alt-left vs alt-right) and twisted it into an ethnic conflict  – white nationalists vs. every other race and ethnic group in existence. He has taken a political split and turned it into a racial and ethnic split.

This is how all wars start. 

Someone claims that a specific group of people has taken away their homeland and are actively working to keep that homeland from them. It doesn’t matter if there is truth to the statement or not – if enough people believe something, it becomes the truth they live. The truth they fight for. They truth they are willing to die for. The truth they are willing to kill for.

When people can no longer see the humanity in a person, they take up arms. They fight. They kill. They die. This event may be the beginning of one of the worst ethnic conflicts the world has ever seen – it has the potential to be far, far worse than the civil war ever was. When the civil war ended and Robert E. Lee surrendered his forces, President Lincoln issued a pardon. Because people are more than the causes they claim to represent, more than their political viewpoints, more than their ethnicity and more than their race. People are human. 

It is when humanity is forgotten, wars begin. It is when the other becomes the source of all the problems that war becomes normal. Our country has been sitting on the verge of an ethnic war for decades. This incident may have been the one that pushed our countrymen to their breaking point – fights will break out. Violence will become even more normalized than it is now. And it will become almost impossible to acknowledge someone’s humanity without being accused of being either a Communist or a Nazi. That’s the stage we’ve reached.

I won’t engage in this kind of violence against my fellow humans. I won’t stand for the incitement of violence against other people because their views are radically opposed to my own. I won’t condone murder. I won’t condone violence for the sake of pursuing a political or ethnic agenda.

I worship a pantheon of war gods, and I absolutely refuse to endorse this war. The only violence I’ll ever condone is those actions undertaken in self-defense or defense of family/friends from an imminent threat. If someone is attacking me physically, I will fight back. But I will never give someone the advantage of forcing me to punch first.

Even if I hate everything a person stands for, hate the ideology they support and the rhetoric they spew, I will not condone violence against them. If they commit a crime, then let them be judged by the law. Vigilante justice isn’t justice. It’s just another crime. Another act of cruelty.

In the coming days – and they are coming, anyone with even an ounce of sense can see that – I will do my best to provide a refuge. A safe harbor for all who need it. Regardless of your viewpoints, I will do what I can to be compassionate and kind. Hatred solves nothing – it does nothing but create more fear. And fear perpetuates violence in a way nothing else can. I don’t care who you are – if you have committed no crime, if you have done no harm – I will provide a space for you.

Because in all this insanity, I refuse to bow down to it. I refuse to be drawn into a war I didn’t ask for, a war I don’t support, a war that can and will destroy the country and people I love. So, if all you can spew is hatred for things you don’t understand or agree with, try on an empathetic pair of shoes and work on seeing it from the other person’s eyes.

In the end, we’re all human. That’s all we ever really have. I won’t let anyone steal my humanity from me. Now, everyone has to make a choice. You either have to choose a side and let yourself be riddled with hatred… or you can choose to step back and refuse to endorse violent conflict that will lead to war. Unless we step back and take a breath, gather our humanity and turn it into our shield… the place we are headed is all-out war. There is no getting around that.