I’m Done Blogging

I’m done blogging. Apparently after yesterday’s post, I’ve been getting quite a few DMs telling me I’m only part of the “exile problem” if I’m not reaching out to those with a lower status than myself. Here’s the thing; if anyone actually knows me personally, they will discover that I AM ON THE LOWER STATUS classification. I have also worked with a number of charities from 2012 to 2014 including Amnesty International and the Salvation Army and am currently volunteering Monday nights in ministry. So please tell me again why I’m part of the problem when I’m writing from a perspective that’s right in the effing middle of it.

I’ve been thinking about stopping this for a while. If anyone reading this thinks I’m playing the victim here, I’m partly at fault for what I’m about to say. I’ve had it with rage culture and my responses to it through this blog are actually a big part of that problem even though I’m only getting around 70 reads a day. I’m stopping blogging because I’m just tired of what’s going on in the world and I’d rather be on the ground helping when I can rather than exercising the last drive I have to use my influence through writing or art. I’m tired of Mr Trump and Mr Trudeau’s incompetence and the overload of information that is constantly being flooded in the media wether it’s the Huffington Post, fake news from Liberal America, disgusting hogwash from Infowars, or lies about the autism spectrum from Life Site News. Unless I take more time to get my hands dirty than they already are, there’s no point to blogging what I have to say.

I’ll still post stuff here and there, but I’ll be doing a bit of re-branding. None of these posts will go away but the future ones will change. Hopefully the future will look brighter once I start posting again, but for now I need to get away from everything that is bothering me right now and just concentrate on doing what I can offline to make the world a better place.

Peace out.

Exile is Not The Solution to Social Problems

I’ve been seeing an astonishing number of concerning posts these days about people pushing what is essentially exile as a solution to a lot of our social problems.

Does an immigrant/refugee turn out to be a criminal? People say we should go ahead and kick them to the curb so they can go on killing people in another country. But should we do that instead of just locking said criminal up with the rest of the those who broke the law?

Does someone on welfare turn out to be a “leeche” living in Manitoba housing? People suggest we should shut down Manitoba housing and then ship those on welfare to every other province.

Homeless problem? Make homelessness unlawful and drop off homeless people all off at the border!

Seriously, this bothers me because I’m a disabled person who has to deal with people taking my quirks the wrong way because of Aspergers. This bothers me because I just barely avoid homelessness on some occasions because my so-called disability hampers me from getting a job. I just have to ask as tactfully as I can; “Canadian Social Media, what the hell is your problem?”

It seems like the nutty right-wing virus from kakistocracy has been spreading across North America ever since Trump and Trudeau took office. Maybe we should avoid electing people whose last names start with “T-R-U.” But that would be just as stupid a solution as what I just outlined.

Anyone proposing what’s in the above paragraph isn’t trying to fix any of our problems, or even wants to attempt to take these problems on as a humanitarian. All the bitter entitled second class wants to do is simply pass the buck or put the blame onto someone or something else.

The worst part of all this is that some of these posts are from those who call themselves Christians! WHY?!

It’s so easy to buy into a lie that just because we have a smartphone or an internet connection, we have the authority or even the ability to change someone’s confirmation bias.

 

First, here’s a big point for Christians to consider:

Regardless of any social issue politically speaking, Conservatives will eventually loose every single cultural war when they try to legislate and authorize their understanding of God’s morality unto others. I have personally tried to do this and have seen an entire decade of my life disappear before my eyes because of it. Christians who get pissed off because their country is shifting away from their understanding of God’s morality should read what the Bible says about idolatry. When we put nationalism before human beings, it’s equal to worshiping a golden calf. As the church, Christians need to stop spending so much time, energy, effort, and money calling out the speck in the government’s eye. Only after attempting and confronting planks in our own faces, Christians can actually take on humanitarian problems and have a greater impact on the kingdom of God they’re trying to build as a result. If anyone has read history books, accounts of the crusades, the life of Martin Luther, and has a completely clear understanding of how the New Testament church related to the Roman government, let them make a change in the world today. Do this and unity will prevail over exile.

Second, if you really can’t tolerate something, grow a pair and walk away:

Yes, I said it. I’m not just talking about the fact that we all have faults and fall short of God’s glory. There are some things where because of relationship dynamics, it’s not a time and place to pick fights or confront someone on an issue. There are times when because you don’t know the whole story, it’s best to walk away or focus on your own personal battles. Not everyone is cut out to be an evangelist, a counselor, or a hero. I’m not saying that we should let a rape or beating happen if it’s going down right in front of us. I’m saying that if I were to confront a homosexual couple making out in a church and I’m just another number who occupies a pew rather than a loving pastor or a respected elder in the congregation, that couple will never want to know Christ if I tell them to break it off just because it disgusts me (this is only the case if I was in the shoes of an intolerant Christian).  Online, it’s so easy to buy into a lie that just because we have a smartphone or an internet connection, we have the authority or even the ability to change someone’s confirmation bias. Offline, we think that just because we’re all equal in Christ, we have the authority to “lift each other up.” We don’t know everyone’s story or struggle or even if everyone around us is a believer in Jesus Christ or not. So unless someone is close to you, you have earned authority over them, or they’re a really good friend of yours, just walk away before you potentially emotionally or spiritually abuse them. This will essentially force them into exile.

Sidenote: I want this blog to be a comfort for those struggling with autism, but I also want it to be a place where deeper thinking and deeper conversations can be initiated. That is the goal, not the change a person’s mind, or make myself look smarter than everyone else, or to have my readers agree with whatever I post.

Christians really need to learn to turn the other cheek:

If an immigrant is more qualified and takes a position you were trying to get with years of university or college, turn the other cheek and look for another job while waiting for another position to open up. I let a friend take a web design job I applied for. We’re still talking today and he’s giving me tips to make this blog better and better. If a person asks for change and they do look like they’re down and out, buy them something from Subway instead, and then walk away while turning the other cheek if they try to take advantage of you. If a person is looking for work and has a hard time finding a job, help them find a place to volunteer and then maybe something will come up afterwards. I recently had a conversation about knowing who the poor really are. It’s tough to determine who in North America is poor just because the definition of privilege in subjective.  People may have money but some of them are poor in spirit. They need help as well. Maybe money may not be the right thing to give. Try giving your time, your resources, eduction, or if nothing else…just listen to their side of the story and do your best to thoroughly understand what’s going on from their point of view before concluding they’re a con-artist.

I get that this isn’t always black and white, and sometimes a fight needs to happen if personal resources or a budget is put into harm by how much a person gives away. My point is that it’s better to understand where people of different social statuses come from before making a post that advocates a change in the way they’re treated. The unity that Christ is looking for is a culture that is centered around sharing the relationships and the blessings the rich and the poor can benefit from through the gospel. When anyone of any social class can share what’s in common with each-other rather than focus on differences (racial or any other dynamic),  unbreakable unity and friendships are established. It just goes without saying, yet reminders have to be posted or broadcasted again and again. It amazes me how people can take a simple commandment such as “love your neighbor as yourself” and complicate it with a whole bunch of grey complex issues such as unwanted racism, abortion, gun or birth control, and culturalism that can be tolerated. We all can build unity and avoid exile even though we can’t always agree on everything.

Lastly, instead of exile, let’s meet the people that are posted about where they’re at:

When a person is part of a vocal majority, it’s easier to speak. Sometimes the best thing a majority member can do as I said before…is just to listen.

Even if you may not necessarily sit down or hang out with someone who’s of lower status than you, there are a huge amount of ways a person can listen to those who are considered by society as “lower class.”

Instead of posting on social media about how “leeches” are stealing government money or how immigrants are stealing our jobs, how about getting the whole story by volunteering at a soup kitchen or donating to a food bank and personally delivering the goods? Instead of posting about how autistic children are over-vaccinated “wild animals” who need a cure, let’s celebrate milestones in their development such as their ability to say their first words if they can’t speak, or their ability to find something to be passionate about which will land them a great job. Instead of posting about how white people are racist and abusive, let’s post about solutions or environments where walls are torn down between minorities and “the white man.” This will solve many issues when it comes to exile.

I usually like to question a lot of things but this is one exception. The constant rhetoric of all these posts about exile is just a lazy and selfish way of actually trying to fix the problem. The reason that this type of social questioning will only result in a loop is due to the fact sooner or later someone else will also drop their problems from an entitled mentality on you. What will you as a reader of my blog do then if that happens?

Morality and Insurance

When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan. – Proverbs 29:2

So, let me get this straight, America. If a company owner doesn’t want to pay for insurance because their employee might use that insurance for something they find immoral, how far a leap is it to say that an employer should refuse to pay their worker any money at all because they think the worker is going to use some of that money that needs to cover housing food and bills for something they deem immoral?

Thinking about it, what’s the difference between paying an insurance company a premium where their employee might purchase birth control, an abortion, or Viagra and paying an employee a salary where the CEO knows for sure that employee is going to buy any of those things?

My point is that there are so many errors and issues with legislating morality in government and in the workplace. When we pass legislation, or the courts interpret laws in such a way that it begins to limit someone’s freedoms on moral grounds we are heading towards a theocracy under martial law. We don’t know everyone’s story. Some make hard choices to do what they can to get by. Others want to enjoy life the the fullest. We can only know so much about a person. A woman has an abortion because she literally cannot carry a baby because it will kill both the baby and herself. A woman also takes “the pill” because her skin keeps breaking out. People just snap and do awful things. It’s called life. Where does this all end? Will it ever end? This debate probably won’t end regardless of political leaning. And that leads me to the big question:

What is the point of manipulating another person’s morality? It only leads to chaos.

Employees are not kids to be babysat and employers are not their fathers, mothers, or guardians. Employers have no responsibility to employees outside of work. Employers are responsible for their employees on the job: safety, security, and paying them the wage that the employee agreed to when hired. What happens at work should stay at work. What happens outside of work should stay outside of work, unless it causes a woman not to do her job. I’ve never seen cases where a woman’s job performance was affected by the pill. If someone can point an example out that isn’t fake news, that would be worth discussing! Use my contact form!

If anyone is going to do something immoral or controversial, they’ll find anything or any way to commit the “crime” whether someone pays them to do it or not. If an employer suspects they are paying for someone’s abortion or a morning after pill, that’s a heavy weight to carry. However, if payment is going to someone’s birth control pills, it’s going towards a miracle called life that is probably not going to happen. All of this must be weighed. Since my wife works at a company with benefits, once we have kids, she’s going to have to decide what decision to make, even if marital counseling makes things more complicated (we aren’t going for counseling. I’m just painting a hypothetical picture).

As a Canadian centralist (who slightly leans to the left), I’m having a hard time understanding why America is deep into turning public health issues into moral judgements. As a North American society, we must learn how to separate national morality from the health needs of its countries. If health care constantly revolves around what’s right and wrong rather than the fact that it’s an absolute to do whatever we can to stay healthy, poverty, addiction, and unemployment will destroy society as we know it. Canadians who don’t believe me should try living on a Manitoba reserve in the middle of nowhere for a month.

Most of our moral judgements are against individuals in a multitude of stories and situations we don’t understand. An example is the “alcoholic loser” who has trauma from his past and no understanding of how to deal with it. It’s so sad that we have to watch him drink his life away not realizing what he needs is a purpose that gives his life meaning beyond the bottle. As an Aspie, I’m really angry with the lack of autism-support in Winnipeg because hardly anyone else understands the spectrum. Lack of understanding has lead to more of my kind being stuck at home addicted to video games in parents’ basements. Some organizations and anti-vaccine pushers fail to note that after someone with autism tries to apply for 50 jobs in a day, gets only one interview and blows it because he can’t keep eye contact, they’ll want to do nothing more than just sit at home, drink Labatts, and eat chips all day while waiting to die on the couch while watching Netflix. Something has to be done to keep people with autism employed. That whole conversation is another blog post.

Sure, we can’t save everyone, and that’s the worst part. Many have died in recovery, trying their best to make a better life for themselves but after slipping up just once, they lose their chance to recover.

Regarding birth control, I’m tired of hearing people telling me lies that “the pill” was causing little abortions. And now,  this “morning after” pill is the new abortion-drug everyone is judging. It’s not worth debating anymore. There isn’t going to be an agreement. Every confirmation bias will only be refuted by some new nutcase who wants to deny universal health care for everyone on planet Earth.

There’s also the issue of choice. I wouldn’t want someone taking away my choice to see a doctor or not or to eat healthy or not. And I especially don’t want to be told to choose whether or not I should think freely or not. That would kill this blog. Birth control is meant to stop things like HIV, acne, irregular cramps, and obviously over-population. If my wife suffered from health problems, I would be very depressed not being able to pay for it. If she suffered a long term yeast infection because I couldn’t pay to get proper care or go in for testing, I’d have a severe meltdown that would put me in a mental institution. In the end, morals that restructure health-benefits fail to do justice to the outside choices. An unwanted pregnancy or abortion rates are not the only things controlled by taking health care away or trying to close down organizations like Planned Parenthood. STDs are caused by skin-to-skin contact. Infectious diseases can also be exchanged by the pair of two shaking unsanitary hands. And don’t get me started on sneezing.

Bottom line, the health care marketplace needs to go, universal health care needs to take its place. Health insurance should not be centred around judgment and money. Employers don’t have the right to know what their employees spend their hard earned money on, even with the off-chance those workers may buy drugs, pornography, or spend it all at the casino. Holding off due compensation is illegal while firing an employee for actions on the job or how they represent their employer while not at work is a different story. Health based insurance coverage in the USA is a benefit. If employers don’t require people to follow a spending contract, they should never withhold benefits or wages based on their limited understanding of morality.

By the way, America, Canada has had free health care since the late 60s. We’ve done well for the most part. All base services are covered for everyone while extended services are provided by employers. Canadians can go to any doctor but because of certain jobs they also get around $350 toward massage and like $200 every two years toward eyeglasses if they need them. The best quirk of all is $2000 of non cosmetic dental services too. We Canadians will keep you in our prayers and hopefully when all this is over, your government will take a few pages out of our book.

The Day After World Mental Health Day

Today is the day after World Mental Health Day. I’m not sure why I missed it. As someone who struggles with mental health and a disability myself, you are not alone in the fight. The struggle to keep it together in these dark and uncertain times is real or very difficult, but we are stronger in unity. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. It’s okay to cry. Asking for prayer in a safe place is a beautiful thing to do. As a matter of fact, mental health must be addressed more often. If it’s autism, Aspergers, tourettes, anxiety or depression; genetic or environmental, know that there is hope and that you will see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Mental illness is as legitimate of an illness as a physical illness and should be treated just as aggressively and without limitation as a physical illness. Unfortunately, there are tons of degrading, tasteless, and crude things people post on social media targetting autistic people. I oftentimes see people using autism as an insult to neurotypicals with social issues. How can all of us assume that is acceptable? It is disgraceful and takes nobody’s feelings into regard. I wish people would think about how the autistic community feels when spectrum-based insults are tossed around in regular conversation. The prejudice and discrimination which was considered history is still very prevelant today. Something needs to change. Awareness of neurodiversity needs to continually be brought to the table.

If you are on the spectrum or struggling with autism or Aspergers and reading this, stand up, and show the world the strength that comes from what may feel like a burden. Don’t face their ignorance head on. Show them through your daily life the strengths of autism. As a result, they will see how foolish and how large their own egos are. There are more people that have understanding and compassion than there are of those that are rude and despicable. Remember how many people accept you. Look at the glass that is half full not half empty. You are too good to even listen to them.  Focus on the people who encourage you. If it comes to extreme cases, let them also speak on your behalf.

As people become more educated so does their thinking and acceptance. It will take lots of time. Be inspired by yourself and the influence you have (as little as you feel it is). Eventually awareness and understanding will help make a difference for yourself today and for many others in the future.

If you or anyone need someone to talk to, send me an e-mail, use my contact page, or chat with me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and I’ll be happy to talk with you especially if it’s Aspergers related.

Happy Thanksgiving 2017: Things I’m Thankful For This Year

It’s been a rough month, but after taking a bit of a vacation, I can finally conclude my holiday with an encouraging post wishing all my readers and followers a Happy Thanksgiving!

While many times I constantly cry out for miracles in solitude, I try to thank the Lord for the blessing of each day as I take on life one day at a time. Thanksgiving is a time to take things down a notch, breathe in and out slowly, and meditate on all the things I am grateful for.

Cookies

Cookies are tasty, whether homemade or from Dollarama. I’m addicted to cookies. They’re sweet and give me a sense of everything making sense in the world after one or two bites into one. My favourite cookies are the chocolate ones that our roommate renting our basement makes that are soft and melt in your mouth. On a humorous note, I’m thankful I haven’t gone crazy yet during times I’m watching my sugar in-take or my weight and can’t eat as many cookies as I’ve wanted to in the past.

Buses

Sometimes I get really irate with Winnipeg’s local bus system. The buses are usually late, the satellite tracking app is constantly off, and many many times I can outsmart the automated transit route. Despite those obstacles, I’m at least thankful that I can get from one place to another in the city within an hour. Winnipeg is small enough to travel from place to place and large enough to house great restaurants, shopping areas, and coffee shops along the way.

Places to Walk Through in Winnipeg

When I’m not taking the bus, there’s a lot of things to see in Winnipeg. Great parks like St Vital and Assiniboine Park are filled with beautiful trees, duck ponds, a zoo, and great places to have a picnic and just enjoy nature. There are many places for people to ride their bikes and take a jog to exercise and lose some weight. I even walk around my own neighbourhood outside when it isn’t raining. Because of that, my doctor noticed I lost 10 pounds since the last time I visited him. That’s actually pretty awesome and I’m thankful I’m healthy.

Music

I’m particularly thankful for the invention of house, dance, trance, techno, and chiptune music. During hard times and lonliness in the early 2000s and in Brandon Manitoba when I lived out there, these overlooked genres of early EDM kept my spirits high, made me smile, and gave me energy to keep going through life with a tenacity that can’t be matched by obstacles such as credit card debt, friends that let me down, comments from haters in forums or social media, and situations in life that I just don’t like. My particular favourite artists to listen to are Daft Punk, Deadmau5, Avicii, and a whole slew of chiptune and demoscene artists that everyone reading this has never even heard of.

Musical Performances

I compose 8-bit music on a Gameboy. That may seem strange to some people, but I’ve had at least 5 performances sequencing music live with a couple of these little machines and a DJ mixer. So thank you to places like the Fringe, Canada Games, and my local open mic I visit for letting me share my unorthodox work openly. I hope I can encounter some new fans with those of you who enjoy what I do.

Survival

I’m thankful I actually live in a house with a heater and central air conditioning and not on the street going from hostel to hostel and asking for food. I’m thankful I have food I can eat even though it’s not in an abundance (we only spend $70 on groceries and eating out in a week). My wife is also thankful we now have a decent fully-repaired working shower. Otherwise, I’d smell like yesterday’s chilli.

Community

I’m thankful that I’m able to be a part of something bigger in places around Winnipeg like geek conventions where I can take pictures of people cosplaying, where other chiptune artists can hang out with me at FanQuest, where video game enthusiasts can bond and compete against each other over HALO or Super Smash Bros. I’m also thankful for small groups both at church and GeekdomHouse.com where we can discuss life and our favourite TV shows with theological and philosophical observations and without judgement (of the media we consume as well as eachother). I’m thankful I can be part of an acapella group. Even though my singing is nasty, I’m thankful God’s given me the ability to write music, and share it with them along with my minor role as a beat-boxer! Thank you all for including me! I am truly grateful!

Freedom

Of course I’m thankful for democracy, the right to vote, and an environment where I can respectfully disagree with leaders and still honour them. But after the events of November last year in the USA, I’m even more thankful that as a Canadian, I can express my opinions, blog about autism and Aspergers, and talk about my struggles without fear and in a fashion that my friend calls “no holds bar” or not holding anything back. I’m thankful that there are safe places to be myself and not to be judged. I’m scared to be 100% real, but I’m thankful I have the freedom to improve my communication skills.  Many people died or were beaten to a pulp to earn this freedom or to advocate for it. Being half white/half Filipino and struggling with a disability would have costed me a lot before I was born. I’m fortunate I never had to go through any of the physical pain just to be free.

My Wife

(sorry no image; she doesn’t want her face posted on my blog)

Over four years ago, I married a wonderful beautiful woman. She has constantly been there for me through the thick and thin. She has seen my struggles with Aspergers first-hand and treated me with respect and loyalty ever since we started dating in 2011. She’s honest, hardworking, non-judgemental, passionate, and probably one of the smartest people I know. She has set me completely free from having a “Christian us vs them” mentality towards other people and has helped me to love and accept the unlovable. We’ve had our differences, fights, and emotion and spiritual struggles. Yet we’re still together. I haven’t always loved her the way I should have, but I’m thankful that she still does things to make me smile and work towards another day. She’s the best thing that’s even happened to me and I couldn’t ask for a better companion, helper, and lover of my soul. I love you, darling.

And Oddly Enough, Aspergers Itself

I’ve said it many times. Autism is just the fact that a brain is wired differently. Even with meltdowns and not being about to handle certain senses, my strengths also stem from the way my brain is wired. My programming skills come from easily being able to implement patterns and systems (and that’s not just in math). I can be honest without hesitation I can remember things long term, recite critical portions of conversation back, and notice small details that slide right past my wife and a few of my friends. I may not remember exactly how Bible verses are worded, but I can definitely recall contexts from what God has shown me through revelation. My so-called disablity is not scary nor does it need to be healed. It is a part of who I am. God made me this way, and I’m thankful for how he uses Aspergers to show Himself to others. I may not understand how God does it (maybe sometimes I even don’t want to know). I’m just thankful I can make a difference in the world around me, as quirky and as crazy as I can be sometimes.

Just Indifferent: Christianity and the Human Condition

I’ve realized something about myself that really needs work. I really hold a grudge against those with an anti-Conservative viewpoint. I used to hate Catholics and now I’m just indifferent. I hated how teenagers smoke drank and had sex with each other like bunny rabbits, and now, I’m having a hard time loving sinners and hating sin. In other words, I still struggle with hating people. I try to forgive, but it’s a process that can take decades. I used to throw tantrums when people censor me, now I don’t care if I’m heard or not. I watch TV shows or listen to music that makes me feel dirty and guilty afterwards, yet it’s not what goes into a man that is unclean but what comes out is unclean (Matthew 15:11). Now I’m at the point where I can watch anything except rape, cult rituals, and certain scenes in movies with people swearing in tirades. And yet, even I swear too much offline sometimes.

I’m a strange man, yet I believe in God. How can I live with such a double standard that’s so hard to even let God correct? In other words, how can I be human when deep down, I want to be a hard robot that can systematically walk away from my mistakes and move on? Who I am is in between what I want to be and what I am.

Welcome to the human condition. It’s worse with Aspergers. I may just have to keep incing forward, even if I have to crawl. If I keep looking at my mistakes and not forgiving myself, I’ll be stuck in them and honestly never be corrected. Luckily, I have a loving wife, siblings and a few close friends to keep me on track. I also think that blogging about this publicly keeps me accountable as well.

Honestly Broken

“There is more hope in honest brokenness than in the pretense of false wholeness.” – Jamie Arpin-Ricci

Hello, my name is Aaron and I have a problem. I’m a computer/media addict. I’ve been binge watching a lot of Netflix shows and have also been getting into some of the Arrow-verse series in large marathons as of late. The truth is that my musical writer’s block and a lot of the recent daily socialization that is required in my life has been wearing me down to mental and even physical exhaustion. Sometimes live performances at an open mic combat the pain with a high, but that euphoria soon disappears and leaves me with a couple of hours on Tuesdays to vegetate before I go to work until Saturday nights, slaving in an environment where I need constant bathroom breaks because I’m really nervous around people.

I’m probably about to cross a line where I share too much information but let’s be honest; this very shame often pushes me deeper into myself. After that, it soon begins to poison me emotionally. Being able to blog about my own brokenness with genuine vulnerability when it is hard for me to express it in person due to AS can be healthy a lot of times. It’s an important step towards finding a sustainable and manageable life in the future. It also keeps me from feeling sorry for myself and also accountable with those who read posts like this. Don’t worry, though, I try not to mention names in this blog or post pictures of other people unless they’re known by the general public. I won’t go into details of my sexual history or the abuse I went through in my past. But I will say enough if it leads to encouragement of those few who actually come in contact with this blog.

If I were to be completely honest, I don’t want to live on this planet anymore. I want to live another life; a life where I was able to make money and have more of an influence on man-kind. I want more control over my circumstances than my struggle with autism to have control over me. All I can feel is internal conflict. Me versus myself. Me versus machine. Me versus humanity, and in return, mankind versus me. The struggles just keeps going on. I’m not suicidal but I lack so much wisdom to the point where I don’t see a future for myself here anymore. Burdens just constantly keep piling onto my back.  I just feel like I’m crawling through life, barely breathing. The mountains in front of me are just too high to climb. I just need to know that God’s grace is really as sufficient for me as He claims it is.

I need a break from this blog for a bit.

Economically Speaking

I’ve had enough of this economy. Economically speaking, I see no future in normal job hunting methods using Indeed, local job banks, handing out resumes, or working with employment agencies (especially considering how unequipped they are in dealing with people struggling with intellectual disabilities). Thanks to the rapid expansion of the internet, EVERYTHING in the city that pays well is going from print and hard manufacturing to freelancing and work-at-home occupations. That may be just Winnipeg. Our homeless on the streets are starting to increase, newly landed immigrants get jobs before our own citizens (I’m not racist, but there needs to be a balance between helping refugees and working with the citizens that were born in the true north strong and free (Justin Trudeau, I know you’re reading this)).

The way I see it, there’s only two solutions to this problem; start an online business or move to the country and just pick-up something simple in a grocery store or small office with thankfully an almost stress-less environment that would accommodate my Aspie quirks. I’m not looking to get rich. I want a car to get around easier. It’s nice to have some extra cash to take my wife out for a nice dinner at The Keg without my parents having to pay for it. I will eventually need money to upgrade my musical equipment and this blog. And I want to travel and play my music at shows in Europe.

Working at home allows me to establish a proper routine without work schedules from stupid-ass call centres being all over the place and messing up a routine that works for my and the missus. Working from home allows me a flexible schedule to get my chores around the house done properly within that routine. Working from home allows me to travel when I want (although my wife would have to schedule different things). To work from home would mean that I can work as hard as I want and be rewarded for how much mental sweat I metaphorically squeeze out of my brain into zeros and ones that would result in living a life where no one has to worry about job security, pension issues, or the stock market crashing. On top of all that, we can use extra money we make to help other people such as organizations we support, or churches that need to reach darker corners of the world to build communities there for Christ.

I’m still investigating options. Whether it’s Fiverr, Zazzle, taking up Google Play app development again, or resuming Amazon Affiliate Marketing, I’m diving in. I’m done with working my ass off since 2009 to get two college degrees only to be left pursuing the 9 – 5 lifestyle from other companies since 2014 and then only getting stuck with part time or casual work that feels like consistent whips to the back. All this just because I’m slowly being driven to insanity by the impairments of autism. I’m taking the rest of my life into the hands of both myself and my loving wife and we’re going to make damn sure the last 3 years of our lacking marriage doesn’t happen again.

What Brooks Gibbs Gets Wrong About Free Speech

I came across a disturbing video defending free speech. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences.Brooks Gibbs is a motivational speaker and a self-proclaimed passionate student of “peace.” His special interests include emotional toughness and, ironically, the Golden Rule. His videos are used by schools worldwide and he’s been hired to speak at more than 1,500 school assemblies. He gets really serious about emotional toughness here and it’s important to acknowledge that while it’s a given to be strong, it’s not good to keep emotions inside for too long. There may be good intentions behind what Gibbs is saying, but there is so much logic that is flawed that it has to be debunked. Here’s what I’ve figured out:

1. Words actually hurt.

If words didn’t hurt, rap wouldn’t have made so much money in the 80s and 90s. Poetry would be meaningless. Mental illness wouldn’t be at its critical height as an issue. Psychologists and counselors would never make money if words didn’t hurt. Words do in fact hurt. How others see the pain in words being hurtful is irrelevant. The Bible says the tongue can bring life or death (Proverbs 18:21). We’re human. That means we’re imperfect, vulnerable, and broken. I try my best not to be sensitive, but that doesn’t mean I get to generalize my experience and demean what other people feel. When someone says “you hurt me” or “that hurts” nobody can render the feelings subjective by saying “no it doesn’t.” If what Gibbs’ saying is not to let that hurt fester into deeper wounds, then that should be made clear, because I agree with that. A hurtful statement should never stop anyone from living life to the fullest. Learn to spell it out better for students.

2. People want to be respected.

Nobody is saying that everyone has to be nice. People just want to be able to go about their business and be treated with respect. Respect is not a huge thing to ask of people. A statement saying “When you believe that you have a human right that everyone must be nice to you, you’re setting yourself up for failure.” is a statement defending idiots. People have the freedom to say what they want. In fact, I hate censorship. The first amendment exists so everyone has a free voice. But the question is whether the first amendment covers hate speech or not.That being said, as individuals, we are not required to tolerate hatred in any form.

3. Free speech works two ways.

If someone is going to defend a person’s right to verbally abuse someone (which is really unsettling about this clip) then it’s a bad idea to condemn a person or group of people’s right to be offended.

4. It’s important to know the difference between hate speech and real free speech.

Nobody is actually calling to cut a well-known version of free speech down. Real free speech includes the freedom of choice to express social communication or connection or a concern about something. Hate speech is a form of speech with the intent on destroying a person’s ego, bullying a group of people, chipping away at a person or group’s reputation, or to put it plainly, being a dick. People are encouraging each other to stop supporting hate speech. And how do they condemn hate speech? With free speech.

5. No one has the right to be disrespected.

Just because Canada or the US or most European countries are free, does not mean people have the right to be disrespectful. That is flawed logic. A free country means we have the right not to put up with disrespect. We may not be able to stop people from being emotionally destructive or abusive, but that doesn’t mean no one shouldn’t try.

6. Tolerance always has issues.

Rewarding disrespectful behavior with a positive response in no way guarantees that it will stop, especially if we never take a stand about how we don’t like it. That is a huge problem with tolerance. Choosing to tolerate hateful speech will get a lot of people into serious trouble. We can’t just expect people to react by saying things like “Oh, well you’re a fool but I won’t do anything about it because that’s your right.”

Change happens when people stand up and do whatever they can to promote an environment that’s emotionally healthy (not a safe space but a tactful environment). Change happens when respect is a core foundation that holds community together. And finally, there’s no completely free speech that benefits every single person. The free speech we think of comes with a price. Speech in any community has its constructive criticism, its disagreements, its encouragement, its discipline, and its love. Once hate and discrimination is mixed in with that speech, the freedom disappears. And that disappearance is why words can be hurtful.

Open Doors, How Charity Operates, and Social Media Outrage

Note: I wrote this before drinking coffee. If some of the sentences don’t make sense, I apologize. I mean every word I said though.

So the meme is finally challenged after Hurricane Harvey. Years ago, someone created a familiar meme referencing Lakewood, one of the biggest churches in the United States, headed by a rich pastor named Joel Osteen. Due to it’s huge size, the meme creator challenges Christians to build communities that fight social injustice and help the poor, down-and-out, and the needy. With churches these large in North America, they can house at least two to five thousand people. So, where is this referenced Lakewood church located you ask? That’s right! It’s in Houston Texas! The epicentre of the hurricane that is not only flooding Texas, but social media commentary as well.

I personally had to endure Mr Osteen’s preaching while taking Master’s Commission years ago. I looked at this three-piece suit pastor with a huge Bible held high in his hand and believed that one day I would become a successful speaker like he was.

Then after flashing that shiny “Benedict Cumberbatch-ish” signature smile, he started speaking.

He talked about faith the size of a mustard seed and how with that small amount of faith, I can overcome obstacles in my daily life while making a difference in the world for Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, what Osteen failed to mention in that sermon was that Jesus was using sarcasm with his disciples because they wanted to smite non-believers with superpowers from heaven (I had to figure that one out myself by researching Jewish culture and the depth of Jesus’ character using a huge multitude of mixed sources). Perhaps one has to pay to hear that part of the message. Or maybe Osteen says something like that in his book “Your Best Life Now” (I doubt it though).

Before I digress too much, I don’t want to be judgy of the way Lakewood handled turning its church into a homeless shelter, but I already did judge him. It’s difficult not to judge a televangelist when all I’ve experienced since leaving Masters was years of pain, suffering, deeper spiritual discovery, and growing up in faith and experience. Those experiences and a deeper intimacy with God have brought a new mindset where I have to take life on day by day without denying that the struggle is real. Mr. Osteen’s messages aren’t very deep or challenging at all, they paint life with spiritual sunshine lollipops and rainbows, and give Christians the sense they’re easily entitled to blessing, healing, prosperity, and emotional well-being. Compared to a lot of the other lessons God has taught me since 2012, these mindsets are actually much more destructive than helpful. And it attracts a lot of people who go to his church. Most individuals attending for the first time aren’t satisfied with what they have, and after going through their own pain while trying to live up to Osteen’s teaching will not be satisfied with what they want if they do get it. One of the biggest things God has taught me was that having “my best life now” is secondary to being loyal, obedient, and faithful to Jesus Christ and responsive to the Holy Spirit while struggling hard with Aspergers and autism. Yup, I digressed too much.

I originally wanted to talk about how charitable organizations work. Note that I’m speaking from experience as a call-centre worker taking credit card donations for The Salvation Army Canada over the phone.  I was constantly bombarded with calls rebuking The Salvation Army for not accepting any other donations except money. It’s important to understand that when a  disaster hits, travel and shipment of goods or supplies for survival become unpredictable.  Trucks and cars will hit trees or pieces of buildings that block various critical roadways to certain destinations resulting in slower traffic and shipments. Flying supplies in bulk have to go through various screening and vetting to prevent terrorism on top of keeping goods safe for flood or hurricane victims. Every charitable donation accepts money first because money is easily transferable via digital bank accounts, Paypal, or money orders. When that money is transferred in a matter of seconds, intact places close to a disaster with abundant supply of what people need can accept the money quickly and as a result, ship the paid supplies to the injured and starving parties of a disaster in a matter of hours. When donors of food, clothes, or even medicine hear that from me while I’m on the phone with them taking their credit card info, they get extremely upset, hang up, and sometimes are even more harsh than all the social media posts tweeted out by Tump-supporters and “Liberal babies.” This is why Lakewood updated their webpage first with a form to donate towards relief for Hurricane Harvey first before officially announcing doors were open.

Another issue is crowd control. If Lakewood opened up their doors, a huge crowd of people barging into the church like it was Black Friday would result in injury. As a result, a meeting had to be held to decide how to properly handle the large crowds of people that are coming in who are starving, injured, or possibly dying. Volunteers had to be delegated tasks. To make sure everyone’s doing their job, management strategies had to be employed. I wish the process would be sped up, but organization has to be firm and well in place to ensure no lives are lost. I’m sure Jesus and his disciples had a system in place when giving out five loaves and two fishes, but unfortunately, even Jesus himself couldn’t help everyone physically while He was on Earth even with all the miracles He performed. Neither could Lakewood even with its doors wide open. Not everyone makes it. I don’t agree with how God runs the show like this either, but that’s life.

However, I can understand the rage behind social media when it comes to the way Lakewood runs. My issue with Lakewood’s handling of the issue is with communication. They mentioned their acceptance of various non-monetary donations on Twitter before officially tweeting less than 24 hours ago they were receiving people who need shelter along with coordinating with the city of Houston. If I was running from a natural disaster, the first thing I’d be thinking about is hiding safely under a roof that will keep me from getting hit from debris (or in other cases hail) flying in the wind.  Food would be second. Clothing would be the last thing on my mind when trying to find a place of security from weather.

In social media, timing is everything. Posting at the right time helps to avoid controversy. The rage from social media was rising even quicker than the floodwaters. As confirmed by a Fox News broadcast, Lakewood didn’t see it coming, but as a Christian, one of the first things that popped up in my mind as Harvey unleashed hell was what Joel Osteen was doing for his congregation and if his church doors were open. I even tweeted my discontent at the lack of news sources (tweets now deleted). Lakewood should have been aware of the backlash they would have faced since they may have gotten a lot of criticism for “Your Best Life Now” and some of Mr Osteen’s sermons for Christians that left some of his congregation starving for a deeper relationship with God and not just something to feel good.

I’m not saying all this in criticism of Lakewood Church. Many companies with the ability to support others just aren’t that quick on the draw when it comes to their connection with people, both online and offline. This is the case with organizations like Catholic Relief Services, The Humane Society of the United States, and The Red Cross. When it comes to spreading news of humanitarian causes, this needs to change. The bar is much higher than a lot of companies think. Social media isn’t a playground and it shouldn’t be the troll-infested battlefield it is today.

There are sheep and there are shepherds. Being prepared to face the farm animals who communicate hate, controversy, accountability, and a need for honour requires armor, preparation, strategy, a really long stick, and tactful response. I’m not just talking about Hurricane Harvey or the exhausting threads of outrage culture. I’m talking about life itself. If Joel Osteen’s Sunday sermons can teach us how to fight in a hard struggle with God by our side and how to properly respond to life’s obstacles instead of how easy it is to obtain blessings that we want right now, many more Christians will be able to take on the Hurricane Harveys in their own lives. Maybe this natural disaster and social media backlash will help Mr Osteen write about how content we should be with what we have so we’re satisfied with what we want. I pray this happens, but I’m not confident that it will.