Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

Open Marriage

I’ve been meaning to write a blog about open marriage for a while.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to post it on this blog or an anonymous blog I maintain, and I decided I wanted to share this openly. (If you read both, please don’t reveal that here.)  It’s a sensitive topic, and I’ve waited so long to write about it to make sure I said exactly what I wanted to say.  I want to say why this topic matters to me, even though as anyone who knows me is aware, my wife and I are now, as we have been through out our marriage, sexually monogamous.  We have every plan of being so for the rest of my military career (to do otherwise would be a violation of the military code of justice, Article 134).

To understand why open marriage matters me, you have to know a little bit about me.  A man is the alloy of his past.  I am not just an atheist.  I am an atheist who used to be a Christian.  It is doubtful to Christians, I’m sure, that a man who can look at a sunset and say honestly, he sees no fingerprint of the Almighty, once believed that in the same God they do, and did so with all his heart.

I was never good at it, but I sought Christ and to be his follower with all my heart. Despite my later de-conversion, I was as sincerely a Christian as I could be.  God ways were at the core of everything I thought, and when what I wanted overpowered want I knew I should do I felt an agonizing guilt.  Thus at the advanced age of 12 I decided I needed to start looking for a wife!

It was only logical. The Apostle Paul said in First Corinthians 7:9 it is better to marry then be consumed with desire for sex, and around puberty I was consumed.  The fact I was 12, unemployed, and hadn’t even started (let alone finished) highschool wasn’t import.  God said it was better to marry then to burn, so I needed to marry.  This was especially important since I looked lustfully at women and masturbated. To obey God fully, I needed to poke my eyes out and cut my hands off.  (Mathew 5:27-30). I felt terrible for so lacking in faith that I couldn’t make myself obey God with regards to mutilation.  By seeking marriage, I was able to obey God, yet not hurt myself.

I thought I would never be able to wait till I got married.  When as a young man, I was in my first serious relationship (that is to say one where the woman was in as big-a-hurry to get married as I was) I was able to refuse her. Later, when I would meet the woman I would later marry, I found a new dimension to desire that I hadn’t known before.  We were both interested in the institution of marriage to get sex, so desire was obviously a component, but there was something else.  There was this feeling that I was incomplete and I wouldn’t be complete until I was with her. You’d think that would have made us hop in the sack, but actually it made it easier to wait, because it was something special and we didn’t want to wreck it.

Like all good Christians, waited till we were married.  It was (and is) groovy and I don’t regret it waiting for it.  The thing is, both of us approaching marriage as God’s blessed vehicle for sex, we didn’t really get the intimacy aspect of it.  We’d wanted sex so much, but we’d wanted it as novelty, the way person wants to drive car they’ve only read about.  It took us years to understand the intimacy aspect, the way you could love someone so much that you needed to be part of them in the most intimate way possible.  When I’d first met my wife, as a product of my Christian upbringing, I didn’t understand how you could feel love and lust for the same person at the same time.   Eventually, I would understand the line between merely hungering for sexual release with someone I cared about and needing to drown in her soul.

What of open marriage? Well, my story begins, as I’m sure many men’s do, with my wife’s best friend.  She wasn’t just that though. She was one of my best friends too. She was an aunt to our child.  She called me brother and I called her sister.  She was family, by choice and not by chance.  She was part of our life, we all loved one another.  I’d been terrified at first, when I realized I loved her, but how could I not? My wife loved her, she loved my wife, she loved my daughter, my daughter loved her.  What was I so scared off?  Scared of getting hurt? Of disappointing God or myself?

I turned to the Bible, seeking to understand God’s heart about love.  What I found was that what made the church different was love. The Bible never says “don’t have close relationships with people of the opposite sex you aren’t married to” that’s a decision the church has made because often such relationships often end badly.   Being who I am, that wasn’t enough for me. Morality means doing whats right, regardless of the personal cost.  Doing whats right only when its costless is the morality of a sociopath.  God commands us to love on another.  So…I did.

It was beautiful.  I hurt when she hurt. I was happy when she was happy.  She was a little ray of sunshine in our lives.  A source of continual surprise to me was that I had no desire to have sex with her.  It turned out I could love a woman and not be consumed with a desire to screw her! I was ecstatic to learn that.  It was wonderful to learn that I wasn’t as broken inside as I thought.

She was a very physical person.  She hugged a lot, play fought a lot, flopped onto one of us on the couch a lot, and all the normal things that people who love each other do.  It was all just good, clean love.  When I finally realized I did want to sleep with her, it was such I totally different feeling then I had expected that I didn’t know when it had started.

I didn’t want to screw her.  I didn’t want to ruin what we had or even just have a sexual release with her.  I just wanted all of her.  As a young man I wanted sex with a woman I loved as a guilt free upgrade from Rosie Palm.  As a man who had been married for several years, I wanted sex with a woman I loved because of the incredible power that sex has to bond people who love each other together.

I knew such an act would be a sin, of course.  Though the Bible does not forbid polygamy, the Bible does say you must follow the law of your land (Romans 13:1-4) excepting when it tells you to sin (Acts 5:29).  Polygamy is illegal in the US, so it would be a sin to do it.  What I also knew was the desiring her was not a sin.  I didn’t want anything wrong.  I wanted to be more deeply bonded to a woman I deeply loved.  As I had felt that for my wife, I felt it for our friend.  My wife and I talked about it, frequently.  When guilt snuck up on me, she would remind me there is no such thing as a bad feeling.  Feelings are good, it’s the actions we take that are good or bad.

Eventually, this feeling became so strong that I had to tell her about it, not because I expected her to be comfortable with it, but because there comes a point where if something is on your heart, you have to share it with the people you love.  To do otherwise becomes a sort lie by lifestyle.  Though I didn’t want tell her, I told her.  Knowing it made her horribly uncomfortable which was fair and reasonable.

What wasn’t fair and reasonable we her insisting the desire was wrong.  I didn’t mind being told “no” or “Ew gross”.  I minded very much being told that I was somehow broken for wanting to be deeply connected to a woman I was in love with.  We worked things out but, not perfectly.  At some level, she thought I was a pervert for desiring her.  When the person you love looks at your insides ands sees damage in the places that make you love them, well that hurts a lot.  We drifted apart over the years and my atheism (when I de-converted) broke her heart and scared her.  As an atheist, I wasn’t just a man who desired her, I was a man who desired her and no longer had the holy spirit to help control his lusts.  Again we tried to keep going…but in the end it just hurt too much.  We got sick of hurting each other, and parted ways (mutually and peacefully) each hopping the other person would change.

So, in the end, loving two woman (even though I was only sleeping with the one I married) didn’t work out.  Nor do I think it works out for most people.  Why, oh why, would want to talk about this?  Because I loved.  Most relationships don’t “work out”. Very few of the people we are friends with are going to be there forever.  People move. People change. People grow.  People live and people die. That’s life, and life is better when we love.

I feel for her because I let myself love her.  There is an easy solution: I would have never wanted to make love to her if I hadn’t let myself love her first.  I could have had safe, empty, riskless, shallow “friendship”.  Instead I let myself love, and that love and my honesty about it ultimately cost me the friend.  But I would have never had that friend in the first place if I had never loved.  The three of us had a great three years together.  I wouldn’t trade that for three years of nothing with no heartbreak at the end.

I loved courageously.  It was beautiful. I won’t do it the same again, and I highly, highly doubt there will ever be another like her again.  I will probably die having never made love to any woman but my wife, and I am totally OK with that.  It’s just, I understand now how two people could love someone else so much, that they want that person to part of their marriage.  It was so great, even in the little, chaste way we experienced it, I would love to meet a person like that, even as I am at peace with the fact the chance of it is nigh impossible.

October 27, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Christianity, Government, Politics, Religion, Self discovery, Slice of life, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Feminism and me

So, I mentioned previously that I am trying learn about feminism.  My wife is taking a minor in woman’s studies for her associates degree because (aside from the fact she is truly interested) it’s a study path that gives her the most credits transferable to her bachelors in political science. So, I’ve been reading her textbook and some of the recommended supplementary reading.

So, here (at my currant level of ignorance) is my opinion of feminism.  First off, I think feminism makes a lot of valid points.  It asks questions that it wouldn’t occur to most people to ask.  For instance, most people are probably aware that women, in general make about 75% of what men make.  Some people are aware that women primarily make less because they work less hours, for fewer years, with more frequent career and work site changes.  Adjusted for this, you would find that women make 93% of what men make.

Feminism, looks to the fewer hours, for fewer years, with more frequent career and work site changes and says, but why? Because we have a two tier job market: One tier for people who have no other imperative responsibilities but servicing the job (most of whom are men), and a second tier for people who might need to change hours, or be absent from time to time (most of whom are women).  Now, lest you think the first tier exists to provide good employment, it doesn’t.  The high wage earning man can be fired at any time.  No, the first tier exists to service the industry, and the second tier exists (with poor wages) to subsidize the industry of  first tier and not the people in it.  Factories can’t keep churning if the (predominately men) on the line have to nip off to pick up sick kids.  Nope, thats the woman’s job.  Women make less because if they don’t take crappy jobs that let them take care of the kids in addition to work, their husbands will get fired.

Bravo feminism! I would have never noticed that on my own.  The perspective of women showed me something I, as a man, would have never thought of.  It turns out that there is a lot more flexibility of hours (and far less hours all together) in Germany and France, and better social protection (ie, getting paid even when you can’t go to work) yet according to the UN and CIA those countries have as-good-or-better a standard of living as the US.  So, a system with less hours, more flex, and more social protection doesn’t even have to hurt.

But then, I randomly run into these perspectives, under the umbrella of feminism, that are just bat-shit insane. Notably, that Marxism could fix everything if it was just given the right chance, that the phrase “blaming the victim” is a magic spell that can be invoked in any context to absolve the victim of any responsibility whatsoever* and that a the media, and not a person’s choice to believe all outlets of the media are a fount of truth is the cause of bad self image.

*I note here, there in some cases the victim has no responsibility; Rape is such a case. Child abuse is such a case.  Poverty is not. Poverty has many causes, some are systemic but some are personal.  The people of the US, and the government they elect has not even scratched the surface of the systemic causes of poverty, but that policy failure does mean that we can ignore the personal issues.

I am glad there are feminists out there, and their probably needs to be more.   I think feminism is imperative to the healthy functioning of democracy. If I had a sum of money to give away, I could give it to some feminist agencies with clear conscience.  I support the goals of the movement.  I support the spirit of the movement.

But if Marxism is the answer, what was the question?

October 18, 2009 Posted by | feminism, Government, Politics, Religion, Self discovery, skepticism, Slice of life, Transportation, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Health-care Debate IX

So, I was asked on the last post, what DO I support…

I believe in freedom, as defined by the Wiccan Rede: “If it harm none, do what you will.”

One of the freedoms we have is to buy and sell and start and stop business.  That’s a free market and it works like this: if there is demand, then the market supplies it.  The higher the demand the higher the price.  This makes sure the supply is never exhausted, because the higher the demand is the more the supply is rationed by price.  Its self regulating, efficient, and simple.  The only problem is amorality: the free market only follows the back half of the rede “…do what you will.” and completely ignores the the first part.  It’s self regulating nature does not include moral regulation. The free market is just a tool; it can be used for constructive or destructive purposes or for just sort of plodding along.

If all free markets were perfect markets, the market would need little moral guidance.  Simple things like: “You can’t buy or sell people” or “Only certain parties can buy and sell substance X” would be all the morality the market would need.  Perfect markets mean all actors are rational, there are no hidden costs, and the buyer and the seller both have all the information they need to make a rational decision.  The problem is, “free market” means free to be a perfect market, or a highly imperfect market.

Remember that a perfect market requires rationality of all actors?  What about when the market actors are highly irrational? In a disaster the price of staples tends to skyrocket in a free market.  Now, in a perfect market this would be a good thing.  Raising the price would ration access to the supply, ensuring that vital commodities only go those who really need them and preventing the exhaustion of supply.  Unfortunately, the first thing to run out at ground zero is rationality.  The people who can afford the goods at any cost by all of them (far more then they need).  They sit on top of their horde, and no one else gets any.  (This is why the government often controls prices and access to goods in an emergency.).

In fact, I think I can make the case that irrationality is the cornerstone of the free market.  There is no real, functional difference between a Chevy and a Pontiac, but people pay more for the Pontiac because they are irrational.  People pay hundreds of dollars for Nike shoes that cost the Nike corporation a few dollars to produce because they are irrational.  Brands, in general, are irrational.  People will tell you “I like this brand because it stands for X,Y, and Z.”  Actually it doesn’t.  Every brand stands for the exact same thing: money for the owners.  That’s it, nothing more nothing less.  Various CEO’s have actually been taken to court for trying to say they had a responsibility besides money for the owners.  The stock holders always won.

Because of irrationality, the free market fails to do what the perfect market does: lower the price to the lowest level the producer can sustain.  Instead, the free market produces a ladder of products with the cheapest and lowest quality going to the poorest and the most expensive and highest quality going to the rich.  In most of what we do, this is perfectly fine.   Jim Beam bourbon is about $15 a 3/4 liter.  Jack Daniels about $20, and thats just fine.  I absolutely support a free market for booze, because it’s not something anyone actually needs anyway.  I support a free market most of the time.  When it evolves to a perfect market thats even better, but often people are too bloody irrational for that.  That’s fine too. Freedom means the freedom to be irrational.

I think, however, that health-care is good case for government involvement.  This is because the ladder will apply to health-care.  The rich will get the very best doctors, and the poor when they can afford them at all, will get the very poorest.  I think that such a situation is immoral.  It’s fine and dandy for the rich to get the best houses, cars, TV’s and booze, and the poor to get the worst.  It’s not so fine for the poor to get the worst health-care.  I think it is immoral for people to have to die or suffer just because they are poor.  I also think, in general, it is immoral to take people’s money even if you are doing it to help others.  In the end, I think it is more wrong to let the poor suffer and die then to let the rich keep what they worked for.

Thus, I support a national health care plan.  Research shows the single payer model to be the most cost effective, so that is the model I support.  So, would I vote for the Obama plan were I allowed to?  Absolutely not.

Any program which requires a large, strong, national government must be in violation of the constitution, if not in letter, then in spirit.  As a result, it will be a bass-ackward band-aid whose form is characterized by what is necessary to pass through the constitution and not what is best for the American people. I cannot support any national plan, or any national goal, in the absence of 4 things: a new constitution, Condorcet voting, proportional representation, and a national assembly.

The current constitution is made for a weak, small federal government.  If we need national health-care, and I think we do, we need a new constitution which produces a cohesive, rational, strong, large, federal government.

Condorcet voting: a strong, national government and the constitution which allows it can be a great assistance to the people, or an unholy terror of the Soviet type.  The only way to keep the government, by, for, and of the people is democracy, and Condorcet voting is, frankly, more democratic.

Proportional representation is the same.  It gives more voice to more people, and helps keep multiple parties.  Condorcet voting is pretty useless if there are only two contenders for every election.

Finally, a national assembly.  National programs need to be overseen by leaders elected nationally, not a national collection of leaders elected locally.  All legislators need to be elected by Condorcet voting, and the Senate needs to be elected in a coast-to-coast popular election.  Baring these changes, placing the national health-care in the hands of the existing system would be a cure fare worse then the disease.

Remember the bridge-to-nowhere? Get ready for the hospitals for no one.

October 12, 2009 Posted by | atheism, Government, Pharmacology, Politics, Religion, skepticism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Health-Care and Socialized Medicine (Health-Care IIX)

I am a member of the US military. It’s not something I talk about on my blog a lot because there is not a lot I can say about it.  I can’t say anything that would reflect poorly upon my branch, the Air Force, and it is important that in any political or religious thing I say that I make very clear what I am saying is my opinion alone, and does not in anyway constitute an Air Force or DoD agreement or disagreement with my point of view.  Further, I cannot reveal any information that about what I am doing at work that you wouldn’t get from the base website, because I could inadvertently reveal sensitive information.  (My job isn’t that cool; I put gas on planes, but that’s the policy.)

The above paragraph is over 100 words.  It’s a pain in the rear to throw that boilerplate on any blog I do that mentions work, but this subject is important to me so I believe it is worth the hassle today.  So is it clear to everyone this is my view and in no way reflects the views of the Air Force? Good. I want (surprise!) to talk about health-care.  You see, when I get sick….

I go to a medical clinic which belongs to the government, whose every operational bill is paid by the government, and I see a doctor or nurse in a government uniform, whose every paycheck is signed by the government.  He or she writes me a prescription which I take to the government owned pharmacy, and the pharmacist, wearing a government uniform, who is paid by the government takes the pills the government paid for, and gives them to me.  And I never, ever, see a bill.

Now, there is a name for the sort of medicine where the government owns the hospital and everything in it, pays all the employees, pays for all the drugs, and never charges the patients anything, regardless of income.  It’s called SOCIALIZED MEDICINE.  So, if socialized medicine is so bad, why does the military have it?

The number one answer I get is that we in the military deserve our benefits. (Implying, I guess, that the unwashed, unpatriotic masses at home don’t, but that’s not my point.)  My somewhat biased opinion is that the US military deserves the best health-care available. And the statistics say we have it…and oddly enough that we are very happy with it, and don’t want to have to pay our own way, or have to find which of hundreds of competing hospitals has the most affordable rates, or read hundreds of pages of insurance documents.   The service members I know, don’t want more competition, or a system in which the service members who make the most, get the best care.

How un-American of us.

October 9, 2009 Posted by | Government, Pharmacology, Politics | , , , , , , | 2 Comments