Thoughts on Planned Parenthood and Late Term Abortions

I would be willing to bet that the vast majority of people who have late term abortions are not doing so due to medical issues. It is one thing for a woman to find out that giving birth may kill her, or that the child has issues and will go on to live a seriously limited life marked by never ending medical care, discomfort and pain.

But for a woman to decide she isn’t going to have the baby at a point that it is viable, simply because she changed her mind for whatever the reason may be- is murder.

I argue it is murder because that is how to law would see it if another person caused the end of the life. For example, say a pregnant woman is in her third trimester of the pregnancy visits a corner convenience store. A man walks in with a knife demanding all the cash in the register and her purse.

In the heat of the moment, the man loses his cool and stabs the woman in the stomach, killing the unborn “fetus.”  I believe this man would be charged with murder, would he not?

After all, this “fetus” probably had a name, the parents already knew the gender, and there was a room with a crib and rocking chair waiting on it.

So, is it not murder when the mother and a doctor decide to consciously end the life? Is there any difference?

I discovered recently that fervent defenders of a abortion will justify the act no matter how grotesque the current acts uncovered by Planned Parenthood and the medical practitioners working with them in fact are. I see them no less callous and inhuman as a firearms advocate group who may hold a rally in a neighborhood after a school shooting.

It is the same mindset. Just different interest groups.

Those who are quick to defend Planned Parenthood’s avocation of selling aborted baby body parts also like to point out how altruistic the practice is. We are helping researchers cure terrible diseases after all.

Maybe so, but last I looked, the person donating their body to science was supposed to agree to it before it being done. In the case of unborn children, they never had a say in the matter.

And to take the argument a notch further, the Third Reich also experimented on people, which helped advance medical science leaps and bounds. That doesn’t made what they did any more excusable or less disgusting.

I am not an abortion abolitionist. I understand that no two situations are the same. I understand there is an element of personal freedom involved. I also understand an outright prohibition would lead to far more dangerous, backroom procedures being performed for those desperate enough to seek them out.

But what Planned Parenthood and the doctors performing late term abortions and selling the body profits for cash are doing is wrong. It is incomprehensible. And the fact that most of these facilities exist in poor black neighborhoods also potentially makes it racist and a quiet form of eugenics.

If you find yourself one of these people, I challenge you to put the shoe on the other foot and think of how you feel about extreme guns advocates who show up in the neighborhoods after school shootings. I’d argue the recent acts of Planned Parenthood and the doctors who perform late terms abortions are much more grim and sinister.

-Holden

I Passed on a $50,000 Raise

I am proud of myself this morning. Proud because I feel like I am slowly becoming the man I aspired to be. A man who, when given the opportunity, will choose happiness, family, friends, and knowledge before money or the accumulation of more stuff. I believe this about myself because I turned down a new job, and a $50,000 raise, for these values.

The job would have made me the youngest person in such a position (that I know of), padding my bank account and my resume, but would have meant a lot of time away from my family and friends, giving up a few personal dreams (such as starting my own business and pursuing further education), and doing something I’m not very passionate about. I’ve never had to give up such a huge opportunity or such a large sum of money. I’m happy that when the time came I had the courage and discipline to do so.

I didn’t do it alone, either. I had people to speak candidly with. Friends and family who earnestly supported me and walked through the pros and cons of each opportunity. They probably didn’t know it, but their willingness and enthusiasm helped to show me just what I would be giving up. Just how great a community I would be giving up for a little prestige and money.

I didn’t give up long walks with my family every evening, I didn’t give up the international travel and leadership opportunities my current job provides, I didn’t give up my dream of launching my own start-up, I didn’t give up morning coffee talks with Holden, I didn’t give up spontaneous cocktail dinners with neighbors, and I didn’t give up my dream of higher education (in fact I start an MBA program next school year!).

When I read that last paragraph I realize just how easy a decision the whole thing was – even if it didn’t seem like it at the time. Perspective.

Land Lordin…

I am a land lord, but not really by choice. I bought a little house a year out of college at the height of the housing bubble (around 2007) at a steep price, then six months later, watched as its value plummeted to about a fourth of what I paid.

Now, 8 years later, the little old house in northwest Georgia sits at about 6/10th of the value I paid for it.

At the end of this month, I lose my golden tenants who I’ve had for most of the last two years and so the hunt begins for new ones. Oh joy…

You learn a lot of very valuable life lessons and sharpen quite a few business skills as a land lord. You learn to start recognizing interesting little social clues and personality traits that might tip you off as to whether a person is a potentially good or bad tenant.

You also learn to manage risk, or even more importantly, to become more comfortable with risk. You start weighing pros and cons, making judgement calls and even learning when to trust or not trust your gut.

But most of all, you learn to just be patient with both people and the process as a whole.

Being a land lord who actually CARES is tough. I work so very hard to show compassion, to do a great job for my tenants and feel like I’m really providing them with just as much value, if not more, in return for them basically paying for my house that I no longer care to live in but cannot sell.

And I never forget that if I can work this all out, I’ll own a house free in clear by the time I am in my mid-40s. A house I could live in if times got tough. A nice supplement to my retirement… or hell, my retirement home someday!

But alas, being a land lord is not for the faint of heart. I have been lied to, stood up, cleaned up messes that are not mine and dealt with crap neighbors (and the city code enforcement officers by extension). I am happy to have had the experience though.

I am starting to truly understand how to get down to business while retaining my compassion and humanity. And this is a mix that I feel is becoming rarer all the time in our society.

Please wish me luck, soon enough I’ll have to select that lucky person (or hopefully a small family) to sign a lease with, and start all over again on the rollercoaster or land lordin…

-Holden

Identity Crisis

Sometimes I have a lot of difficulty defining myself.

Am I just a corporate slave? Another drone in the white collar, paper pushing workforce?

Am I just another average 30 something year old dude with a wife, two kids and a few cars in the garage?

It seems like I’m not doing a lot of the things I like most. I’m not really doing the things I love, all that often anymore.

I’ve taken on way too many expenses. My wife and I have build a beautiful family, we have nice things and possessions, great careers and positive prospects to just keep on moving up but we have enslaved ourselves.

Then I step back and start to feel like I’m bellyaching. I feel like I’m a brat.

The more I move forward in life, the more I realize I don’t care for most the people I encounter.

Where is the love of music and art? Where is the desire to travel or experience other cultures? Where does the worship of retail, new cars and shiny trinkets end?

I feel like my life is turning into a poor imitation of a top 40 radio station. The same dozen songs playing over and over, the over enthusiastic DJ and the endless commercials urging me to buy something else I really don’t fucking need.

This is so mundane. Why do we do this to ourselves?

Because it is comfortable and easy.

 -Holden

 

Thoughts on Ego and Self Improvement

I haven’t written anything here for a while. Mostly because I have been trying to take a more introspective approach to “journaling” by keeping a hand written notepad in my office.

Writing for yourself as opposed to an “audience” is quite different and in many ways, for me at least, more sentimental and casual. Physically writing things down seems more permanent – forces me to take my time – slow my mind.

Still – writing things down in any form is valuable. For example, flipping through the pages of my journal there are a few topics that come up again and again. Call it self-data-analytics.

1. Self improvement
2. Ego

For me these two topics are closely related in that they directly affect one’s ability to find and maintain happiness.

Take self improvement for example – Most of my entries on self improvement involve developing a greater understanding of fulfillment and “enjoying the mundane”. I try to focus on optimizing simple tasks like enjoying a cup of coffee, a long walk, or cooking dinner. Things I would have (and still do, most times) rushed though given my natural personality.

The entries about ego discuss how too much ego can lead to suffering. For myself, I’ve come to realize how my selfish ambition has the tendency to result in long working hours and stress. The consequences, left unchecked, cause more harm that help.

Sometimes I consider sharing these thoughts on this blog instead of my little diary, but it almost feels like a perversion of the points I’m trying to make. How can an amateur talk about ego on a public blog like people are expected to read and consider the writing with any level of seriousness? Seems egotistical and simultaneously oxymoronic (is that a word?).

I don’t want the undeveloped ideas I’m working through to come across as something other people should implement in their own lives – or even consider at all –  I don’t know that they should. On the other hand – maybe others are working through these same things and can offer valuable insight?

For now most of my thoughts will be relegated to the pages of my personal journal.

Empathy Versus Excuse Making

I want to share an email exchange between Holden and myself that I believe is valuable:

Holden’s Message:

Dear Atticus,

Is it weak to empathize with my wife and the man she cheated with?

The anger books and in fact, practice of medication itself from a Buddhist tradition at least, focus a lot on gaining empathy for other people and learning to understand other’s suffering. The Bible teaches the same thing. Jesus’ philosophy was to pray for your enemy and turn the other cheek.

I keep being brought back to the same shitty thoughts. Because of the insane detail I was able to get off my Wife’s phone, I know exactly when she was with him. I can literally go back and remember my entire days, all the things I did those days, the things she and I talked about.

I keep getting hung up on it. I take a few steps forward, then another back. To deal with the anger, pain, suffering, sadness, etc, I have used a combo of Buddhist and Christian ideas. From the Buddhist perspective, I work on meditating on the pain points until I gain comfort then I work to put myself in my Wife’s and John’s (they man she cheated with) shoes. I work to ease not only my suffering but my Wife’s and work to not cause John any additional suffering in his life by interfering with him (basically just letting it drop and leaving him be).

I work to understand what they must have felt, how my Wife must have felt, why she did what she did. From the Christian standpoint, I work to forgive and let it go. I work to empathize. But then I seriously question if I’m just making excuses for both of them. Wrong is wrong.

Is empathizing in this particular scenario the correct path?

Anyway, just a thought. Not meaning to whine or rip off scabs on wounds that have begun to heal. It was more just a question I keep returning to that I wanted to share. I figured you might actually find it intriguing.

-Holden

My Response to Holden:

My Friend Holden,

I believe the portions of Christianity and Buddhism that you are referencing are the appropriate ones and perhaps the strongest assets both philosophies have to offer.

Forgiveness and meditation are tools that help you mentally adjust, not for your Wife’s and John’s benefit, but for your own healing. Ultimately you cannot heal and move forward without letting go of the past. You cannot let go of the past until you have forgiven. You cannot forgive until you utilize logic an reason to empathize and understand their situation.

This is the process – to gain understanding of all facets of the situation and become a master of it. Once you have mastered the situation, you can control it, let go of it, and move on. These are the reasons that forgiveness, meditation, and empathy are cornerstones of a healthy mind and spirit.

You shouldn’t make excuses for you Wife, but it is okay to empathize with her plight (for the reasons mentioned above). Excuses imply that you apply blame to yourself or on others and do not hold your Wife accountable while empathy implies that you hold her accountable for her actions, but apply higher game to truly understand the situation – thus have the capacity to move on.

Excuse making implies that you set yourself up to become a victim. Empathy implies a mindset of forgiveness, compassion, and maturity. Distinguish the two inside yourself during meditation.

– Atticus

Pillars of Self Improvement

As I alluded to in the previous post I am undergoing a personal transformation. Moving forward I have identified three pillars in which I want to focus my efforts. The Physical, the Mental, and the Emotional & Spiritual.

In my personal journal I broke it down like this:

Pillars of Consciousness

I know that each of these elements are tied together – meaning that you cannot be successful, say mentally and emotionally, if you are not also making an effort physically. For example, one thing I am trying to do is bring mindfulness to my diet. Not just by eating healthy, but by taking a methodical approach to choosing and preparing my food.

For example:

This evening I prepared Salmon with my wife.

We searched for the perfect fillet. We settled on one with a great silver skin and beautiful deep red flesh. We chose peppers and spices for our sauce. Smelling each ingredient and holding it directly to my nose. I could almost see what the sauce was going to look like. Red and creamy with small flakes of chili’s – delicious. (I normally run through this process without thought.)

Then while preparing the meal I took time to appreciate each component. We spent over an hour dressing the meat, preparing the vegetables, and cooking. Coating every inch of the salmon in an even coating of sauce before carefully separating the collard from their stem. Each time I took time to appreciate the direction and speed I separated the vegetables – in clean symmetrical lines running perpendicular to the leaf’s veins. The stems in one pile and the leaves in another.

The Result:

Taking time to be mindful of meal preparation meant I spent more time with the family, enjoyed the food a lot more (it was the best salmon I’ve ever prepared), and ate something very nutritious. In this way I combined physical (diet), mental (researching meal preparation), and spiritual/emotional (zen – enjoying the moment).

I hope to share these efforts a little more often going forward.

A Journey of Consciousness

I have been thinking a lot about happiness and longevity lately. Probably because of my knee and facing surgery and downtime.

I have an internal struggle with myself that pulls in two different directions. On the one side I have an unwavering desire for greatness (what greatness is I have not defined). On the other side I have the knowledge that happiness doesn’t necessarily come from being the “best”, but rather from ones own “higher game” as we’ve come to call it.

All of this causes internal conflict. Naturally, I want to be the best. I want to push myself. I want to do things better and beyond what others do. This has its pros and cons. On the one hand I am rewarded by the hard work with money, success, pride, and all that comes with it. On the other hand “burning hot” results in sacrifices to my body, health, family, and who knows what else.

The trick, it seems, is to find a healthy balance between longevity and personal challenge. Letting go of those things that hurt more than help.

For Example

For example, today I went to dinner with my neighbor who does Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He invited the gym guys over to watch the UFC fights. During conversation I learned that he has had two knee surgeries (the same knee surgery I will have) and currently has one knee that needs to be re-operated.

Frankly, he is in top physical shape. He is a 6′ 2″ and 200 lbs with hardly an ounce of fat. On the other hand – do I really want to be a 40 year old man with two knee surgeries under my belt and with aches and pains? What will that be like at 60?

All of the guys there seemed like good dudes with great attitudes and in great shape. Which is common in the BJJ community. As I move through this journey I want to take the best parts of this philosophy and keep it – while losing the bad parts.

Alternatives

I think I am approaching a time in my life where I need to consider a shift in my way of thinking and approach to overall health, happiness, and longevity – all without becoming luke warm or losing passion.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about is changing my workout routine and diet (which are both already pretty strict). Right now I’m too rough on my body and I could have better discipline with my diet. Going forward I want to switch to lower impact high result workouts. Focus on flexibility, strength and conditioning, eating fresh foods, and making sure I enjoy it. (All of this I’d like to discuss in more detail in later posts.

Similarly, I want to boost my efforts on learning, culture, and relationships.

Pride, Ego, Spirituality, and Learning

I want to expand my mind and lose pride and ego. I think my pride and ego sometimes get in the way of doing what I really want. By that I mean that I want to do less of what is expected by society and more of what I truly want to do. Typically, I have been pretty good at doing that, but I want to double down on my efforts here.

I want to stop caring so much about “things” and find what really makes me happy and dedicate my life to it. I want to focus on being content while also striving to expand my personal philosophy.

And I don’t mean by just being a minimalist, but I mean by truly being content. I want to focus on little things more and derive pleasure from them without rushing through or skipping. For example, when I made coffee today I focused on each step (grounding the coffee beans, spooning the grinds into the coffee maker, the smells, the appearance) and enjoyed it as much as the beverage itself. I want to expand this methodology into all aspects of life.

I’ve already started this journey mentally. Reading books about great men and various philosophies. I hope to stumble upon a few people and philosophies that I truly admire and relate to then at that point take a deeper dive into those schools of thought.

I wan to be conscious. And my journey beings now.

iPhone Generation and The Long Game

Run 4.2 miles. Immediately following Holden and I get coffee at the local coffee house that is a half mile walk from my house. We don’t buy anything fancy, just a strong cup of coffee. It cost $2.00 even.

The coffee shop is  trendy (call it hipster-esque) with local art hanging on the walls, a starry night themed study room, and a barrister with a handle-bar mustache. One painting always makes me shake my head because it looks like a beautiful painting of a young girl that someone scribbled over top with purple crayon. Art.

My community is a pretty interesting mix. There are lesbian couples, a mysterious guy in great shape that curls rocks in his front yard, a few veterans, accountants, religious, atheists, old people, and young. There are antebellum homes, American flags, and an art/farmers market every weekend.

Holden and I sit in the trendy little coffee shop – mostly empty on a rainy morning. We still have our workout clothes on and talk a little too loudly for a near-empty coffee house. We feel free to speak our mind and pay no attention to the patrons at the next table. They pay no attention to us either.

These are my favorite kind of mornings. Holden and I chat and boost each other’s ego then laugh about it. Casually praising the other, but in a natural and healthy sort of way. We talk about personal growth, family, travel, and life. Our talks are, in many ways, an extension of this blog.

Even as we finish our coffee I enjoy the thought of the half mile walk back to my house.

Holden and I have been friends for nearly a decade. We have traveled to the third world, helped each other through relationship problems, and personal growth. In fact, this is the longest friendship I’ve had to date (I’m 27). It has taken a lot of work for both of us, but like any craftsman, the result (and journey) has been worth the effort.

Which brings me to my point:

I want to teach my daughter (and anyone else who will listen) the value of time well spent. I feel like most people want instant gratification. Holden and I call it the “iPhone generation” (a term we coined over coffee). The value of the “long game” (also coined over coffee) has been lost.

Everything I value in life was developed over years and decades. None of it was given to me. And everything I worked for and continue to work for I appreciate on a different level than those things that were handed to me. It is a unique type of appreciation that is only privy to those who have the experience of having done it. (Which is also why I’m beginning to realize the value of experience and age.)

It’s like reading a good book rather than watching the movie. It took a few days or weeks to get through the book. You spent time with it, developed a relationship with it. You can watch 6 movies in a day on Netflix and forget which before you go to bed. The “long game” is a good book.

These are the differences between sitting in a coffee shop talking about life with your best friend and liking a photo on Facebook.

The Value of Time Alone

For the past five years I have spent time writing everyday. A lot of that writing happens here on this blog and a lot of it happens in a personal journal I keep on a bookshelf at home. My journal is a small black leather bound notebook I bought for myself a few years back. I’ve since filled two or three of these little notebooks and always purchased the same one.

About a year ago I wrote in my journal that I was concerned that my wife and I were not communicating enough. I wrote down the reasons I thought we didn’t communicate and the places in life we were missing the opportunity to have an intimate conversation.

I remember writing in my journal:

“We sit in front of the TV at dinner and we play on our phones before bed. We don’t try to ignore each other, but after a few shows it’s suddenly time for bed. We check our emails then go to sleep. I wonder what she’s thinking…maybe nothing…I’m pretty much brain dead the whole time. We should talk more.”

After that my wife and I decided to have “No tech” dinners and evenings. Instead we sit around and talk, clean the house together, cook, and eat dinner. Just opening up a couple of hours to communicate with each other made a positive difference in our relationship.

It is interesting how small changes in your daily habits can change your life. All because of little time alone with myself.