Monday, December 8, 2008

Face Value

I have decided, from here on and forever forth, that I am only going to take people at face value.  I've come to the conclusion that I spend a large amount of personal time trying to determine a person's ulterior motives and personal feelings; is this person angry with me, is this person annoyed with me, does he hate me, or does he think I am untalented or not worthwhile?  And I say this with a certain amount of foresight into what is an essentially impossible undertaking.  I will second guess; I will try to ascertain a person's true emotions no matter how hard I try.  It is simply human nature.  But these are my reasons for trying to live so.
I have come to realize that my gut judgements are typically accurate.  There is a wealth of research into gut reactions, if you're interested read Malcolm Gladwell's Blink.  And I have to admit that I am usually accurate in my guessing.  
But that being said, when I think something negative about a person, I certainly don't want them to know how I feel, and I should respect the same want in my compatriots.  You have the right to dislike me despite my knowledge.  
There is a new show on TV called "Lie to Me".  It's about a man notorious for his ability to spot a lie, and his help is solicited by all sorts of police agencies and other people who need to come to the truth.  The point is that this man is able to tell what people are thinking, or more importantly, feeling, based upon micro-expressions and body language.  "If the emotion doesn't match the words, it's a lie."
But there is an obvious coercion that the man chooses to exert with his talent, he chooses to believe people's faces, instead of people's words.  But he allows himself the privilege of lying to his coworkers and friends.  He holds himself to lesser standards than others.  What's more, he is not happy for it, but somehow the quest for "truth" is more important.
And I have a certain obsession with truth myself.  The inner workings of the mind, how people really feel.  What part of inhibition is keeping them at bay, what is their secret analysis of their surroundings.  More importantly, what do they think of ME?  Think of the load off that would entail a constant knowledge of your standing in your friend's lives.  You'd KNOW if you were the friend everybody hates, or if people just plain out couldn't stand you.  
But it would have to be a two way street.  A single person with such an advantage is destroying the system and would take advantage of people to no ends.  And more than that, it's simply not fair.
And that's why I want to take people at their words.  Why I'd rather believe a lie than second guess.  They have the right to mislead me, like I have to them.  
But I would much rather you just tell me the truth; as much as you think that'll hurt me, it hurts less than never knowing.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Grudge

I have grown accustomed to people bickering; people growing angry and the eventual fallout.  And as much as I'd like to claim that there is some universal solution for once friends turning into now enemies, I don't really believe that is the case.  We, as human beings, realize that our own personalities are unique and that any amount of analysis will never yield complete results.  We are each of billions of separate energy beings that are unique, defined in minute but important ways.  Certain personalities simply don't fit together in this great puzzle of human interaction, certain personalities can degrade specific others unknowingly, and the eventual and natural reaction is to act out and break the ties that bind.
I believe the greater evil in this particular dilemma is not people eventually parting ways or having quarrel.  No one should force a relationship they feel disheveled and belittled within among friends or loved ones, and especially after attempts have been made to remedy.  But we hold the people we hate so close to our hearts.  We hold those little attributes up like wicked idols, letting them rampage the heart and mind.  We become possessed by our feelings of hate, and eventually can't move on.  
There is an Buddhist proverb that goes something like this:
Two monks on there travels spot a young women standing before a river.  She had two servants with her, and she showed a look of obvious dissatisfaction.  She was wearing fine clothes, and she didn't seem to know how to deal with the dilemma of crossing without her linens getting soaked and dirtied.  She seemed very crossed with her entourage even though they couldn't solve her troubles because of her enormous baggage.  The elder of the monks, seeing her distress, calmly took her on his back and crossed the river.  Upon the crossing the woman gave no sign of thanks, but walked away with all arrogance.  
When the two monks rejoin there travels, the younger monk spent his hours dwelling on this moment and the unthankful woman.  Finally, when he could bear to hold it no more, he said to the elder, "Why did you help that woman cross the river?  She was so mean and arrogant, how could you stand it?"
In his wisdom, the elder replied, "I laid her down hours ago, why do you still carry her?"
Why do we still carry the little grudge in our head?  We have the option to set her down and take the weight off the mind.  We have the option at every second, at every little moment of misery.
Not to say that it is easy.  It is hard to articulate, but we all seem to find a strange pleasure in our misery.  With a grudge it can be even worse, because hatred is a fire within us.  Hate makes us feel powerful, and self-pity, a common partner to hate in our personal grudges, makes us feel self-important; superior to the little ones around us.  I have dwelt in my own head long enough to know how good it feels to make myself a martyr.  But it stigmatizes yourself from the people around you.
And in truth, the greatest revenge is a life well lived.  
I would rather wake up free from all negative attachment every morning, and greet the love that I can choose to store in myself, and I'm working on it.  I want to surround myself with people I love, and cast the ones that cause me woe out of my subconscious to where they will not bother me.  Then I can be me.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Speak like a Child

More an more, I want to be a child.  Don't misunderstand me, I have often been equated to be more akin to a middle-aged man, and I understand the connection made there as well.  I certainly don't act like most nineteen year-old boys, and it's something I'm not necessarily proud of, but aware of and certainly not bashful about. 
But I try to be like a child in that I want to look at the world every day as if it is completely new. I want to enter every experience as though it had the energy of a first meeting, and I want to learn like a child grasping at strings, trying to understand the universe through incessant questioning and unapologetic curiosity.
"This is what I am passionate about... it is this inextinguishable, undaunted appetite for learning an experience no matter how risible, no matter how esoteric, no matter how seditious it might seem." -Ben Dunlap
This is a quote from another TED speech.  Ben Dunlap outlines the lives of two great friends with only the common characteristics of a Hungarian heritage and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge even until their 80's.  I hope I am the same in my aged days, I hope my need for new knowledge and experience lasts until my dying days.
But more than that, I want to maintain a childlike curiosity because it is non-judgmental.  It is a thirst for knowledge without expectation, and without the inevitable falls and disappointments that come from living with it.  It is curiosity for the sake of knowledge alone, serving to explain the strange place we live in.  
I think it is disturbing we try to dampen this curiosity in youth.  As we grow older, we stigmatize mistakes in children through a broken education system and remove that which makes a child's mind so captivating.  Mistakes are not to be avoided:
"I don't mean to say that being wrong is the same thing as being creative, but what we do know is if you're not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original."- Sir Ken Robinson
Phrases like "curiosity killed the cat", while true in a certain way, also teach an untruth; that is that we shouldn't go out and look for ourselves, search for ourselves.  Give in to idle curiosity.  Let yourself make mistakes, but learn in the process.  If we assume that every mistake is a failure, than we have removed any hope for a beautiful tomorrow, because we will make many mistakes before the glorious future.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Synthetic Happiness

I know it's not really everyone's bag, but:

There is one inspiring bit from this video that I'd like to highlight, and that is the ability of the human being to create its
own happiness. I have often wondered how people in the lowest circumstances manage to maintain a sunny
disposition, and it is clearly as Gilbert explains; we as humans change our perceptions to have a preference for what
we have to live with, but when the choice is open, or the possibility for change is open, then it becomes more
difficult to maintain complacency with the current life.
But it suggests something somewhat strange...That happiness is detrimental to progress. It reminds me of a Martha
Graham quote, though it applies more directly to the artist;
""No artist is pleased . . . there is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a strange, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps up marching and makes us more alive than the others." 
When are content, there is no reason to change or progress.  We are happy with who and what we are, so there is no need for improvement.  When I have the option to improve, I cannot be content with my current status as either a musician or human being.
Hopefully though, contentment is not the only happiness we can find on this planet.  Maybe there is happiness in motion; a happiness not built from the where we are, but where we are going.  Maybe I can be happy that I am constantly improving, that my mind is soaking up new things and person improving in all the ways it can.
I guess you could call it a "derivative happiness", in that we can be happy with the slope of our progress.  (oh God.... I just geeked out so hard there.)
Because, now that I think about it, I could never be happy being exactly where I am.  Truthfully, it's not bad, but I could never live in this body and this mind without wanting to improve them.
And yes, decisions may be the antithesis of happiness, but I never had a choice but to thirst for something greater.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Why create dissonance in the universe?

I'm tired of personal quibbles. I'm tired of people starting shit for the sake of starting shit, and I'm sick of people being so damn sure of their own set standards that they can't let people be people and can't let bygones be bygones. 
I have started to come to terms with the fact that there are no perfect relationships. There is no perfect compatibility in some special person waiting for your eventual arrival. For this, I'm grateful. No relationship should be one of perfect harmony; life would be dull and draining without some sort of opposition. Ultimately though, I am confused as to why people get themselves in such heated passion over opposition, why people can't allow people to believe differently than themselves.
There appears to be a breed of people; a kind of people that love to make dissonance in the universe. People that love to see people break, love to see an "enemy" in a state of anger, or love to create tension in the lives of others. And I do believe it is necessary on occasion; people sometimes need a wake-up-call to life, and sometimes the only thing to be done is to call on their fiery passion.
There is an addiction in anger.  I think we all have experienced this strange dichotomy; the pleasure of hate.  As long as the anger builds, as long as the heat is sustained, there is a righteous fury, a self-assured knowledge of your superiority to another.  It feels fabulous.
Until you come down.  Until you realize the wrong you committed as well.  Until you caused pain, and the pleasant heat subsides to cold self-loathing at the apparent insensitivity of your actions.  And I've been there so often.  I've said sorry with pleading hands and broken spirit, not a strand of ego left in my body because I have become what I hated.
So I don't want to create tension anymore.  I want to help resolve tension, but I don't know how.
Because, right now, it's easy to say these things.  It's easy to say that I will love everyone and I will accept everyone when it's only a concept, when the people I claim to live amongst are only blurred faces in my mind's eye.  I can try to live by the concept of a truthless world so that I can accept every truth as equal, never grow angry again.  But that's an impossible notion.  I would rather never speak ill again.  I would rather that my mouth only open for praise and glory and knowledge and laughter.  But I will slander again when someone steps on my toes.  
And I hope you can forgive me when that time comes.
Some close friends may remember me yelling in my most honest moments "everyone in beautiful".  And even now, I know I meant it.  And I still mean it.  And it is because you are beautiful that I owe you complete respect.  It is because we all have infinite potentials that we all owe each other complete understanding, that we all owe each other the opportunity to live and learn.  Buddhists bow to the potential Buddha waiting in their counterparts.  They respect what could be; the enormous potential and complete color and scheme and glory.  We should love, because we all have the potential to be giants.  And the giant inside deserves a universe free from the dissonance that destroys not only our adversary, but the potential in us.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Why I don't/ can't practice 8 hours a day

Note:  this one is more for musicians.  To be clear, what I am saying is what works for me, and is not a personal judgment on anyone else's practice habits or whatever.  I hope I don't come across as egotistical either, that is the last of my intentions, after snake-charming and bat-wrangling. Okay, that joke was unnecessarily cheesy.

I consider myself a pretty good musician.  There, I said it.  I have an ego, I'm biased, and I'm also kind of an asshole.  It's one of the few things in my life I'm proud of, it's something that makes me at least think I'm not the lowest shit walking around.  
But it's not like I practice eight hours a day.  In fact, I can't.  Not even for brass player reasons (ow, my lips hurt) or head reasons (ow, my head hurts.)  It's just I reach a saturation point where I realize that the next 45 minutes of practice will yield fractional results to the past 45 minutes.  
I try to live by the 80-20 rule.  It's applicable to most any life situation.  80 percent of humanitarian work are done by 20 percent of people, 80% of wealth is held by 20 percent of people, 80 percent of blog posts are done by 20 percent of bloggers. On a graph, it's like a really steep slope starting off, that trails off to infinity.  On an individual level, however, it goes more like the first 20 percent of your work, yields the first 80 percent of results.
What does that mean?  It means that the most important 20 minutes of practice are the first.  It means the most productive part of study is at the very beginning.  
So I don't go into practice with the mindset "I will practice for the next X amount of time", I go in thinking "I will practice X until I have reached my saturation point."  The saturation point is where the next portion of your practice session does not reflect the same amount of progress as the previous.  At that point, you either change what your practicing (stop practicing pentatonics and start practicing scales, concentrate on technical studies, practice more conceptually, etc.) or, if you've repeated this process with multiple subjects, put down the horn and walk away.
I don't feel good when I practice for 8 hours.  I feel good when I feel like I learned something I didn't know already.  I know enough people that put in long hours and have weak results to realize that more time is not always the solution, but the nature of that time you already spend.  I think people realize when they've hit that saturation point, when the practice they are putting in is inconsequential or even detrimental.  But the urge is to push on.  There is a general consensus among people that all we need to do is try harder, and we can get what we want.  But that's not how the world works, trying hard does not make you a success, it's the results that often come with hard work that do.  But sometimes the hard work is either unnecessary or unhelpful.  
I feel like we all keep pushing harder into a brick wall, thinking it will break.  The door is fifteen feet away, but were so enthralled by our "effort" and the good it can do that we ignore the door, we grind away instead of reassessing the wall, and how we could get passed with less toil.  
Always reassess, always reassess, always reassess.  Do nothing by rote.  Is this helpful?  If not, stop it.  If it is, put more time in on that.
I also tend to put in a lot of "off the horn" practice, just time considering the concepts in my head.  I remember first working on Cherokee in twelve keys; before I went to sleep each night I'd force myself to run the chords in my head.  It was difficult and slow at first, obviously.  Even after you consider the chords in terms of numerals (Imaj/ % / V-7/  V7-IV/ IV maj etc.) you have to be able to instantaneously translate that into a key.  So it's often better to spend time in your head practicing these little exercises than wasting precious practice time.  Then, on the horn it just becomes integration from the head to the horn, rather than learning it in the head and transferring it to the horn.  
 Yes, it makes me a pretty awkward person.  If you know me well, you've probably seen me doze off into la-la land in the middle of a social event.  It's likely that I'm, at that moment, practicing a tune in twelve keys, or a pattern, or scales, or arpeggios.  Or anything.  Or not even practicing, I might be thinking about some other concept that I happen to find intriguing.  Or I might be dwelling in a moment, looking for clues to the present.
And this is where I break off from practice and into just thought in general.  I don't understand how people "turn off" their heads.  I think every second spent with an empty mind is wasted, because so much of the world need only be thought about to be fixed.  Ideas are necessary for human growth, not pressing harder into the brick wall.
So just...think.  Please.  

Friday, November 28, 2008

The constant cynic

The "aware" become synonymous with the "cynical" as the world seems less and less welcoming. Why not, when all we see genuine uncaring and disrespect for life around the world? In the news all we see is floods and wars; in the streets, heartless masses unwilling to place emotional investment into the helpless, nameless stranger. 
This is where my views change from being those of a realist to some combination of pragmatism and optimism. I believe we are beautiful creatures. I believe mankind is good, that every man has the capability for divine kindness and every woman untethered compassion. I believe people are capable of acting not just out of self-interest, but in the interest of the beautiful whole. This is despite the obvious examples to the contrary; or maybe even because of them. 
I believe life is too painful second guessing ulterior motives, too damaging to believe that man is genuinely incapable of accomplishing anything outside of the realm of self-interest. So I choose to believe otherwise. 
Not to say that my optimism is a self-delusion; there are brilliant men and women and brilliant ideas. We live in a time of rebirth and great social change. There is reason to believe in the good. 

This video essentially makes my claim for hopeless optimism:

For those of you unfamiliar with TED, let me fill you in. TED is an annual conference where people from many facets of life come together and talk about ideas (those of you Campolindo natives from Brownlee's classes may remember seeing videos from TED.) They can all be found online at, and I suggest everyone takes a look. I will likely be dipping into TED for future note topics, so get used to it. 
Getting back to my point, I guess I'm just a sucker for the human spirit. I heard this amazing quote by George Santayana that goes, “The world is not respectable; it is mortal, tormented, confused, deluded forever; but it is shot through with beauty, with love, with glints of courage and laughter; and in these, the spirit blooms timidly, and struggles to the light amid the thorns.” What the quote seems to address is that the depth of the human condition lays in it lowest points. The greatest and strongest compassion, emotion, and spirit comes to fruition not in spite of, but BECAUSE of the weakness of man. 
We feel compassion for the defenseless, why? If we are self-serving, if we only look out for number one, why do we still maintain even a glimmer of pity for the weak, the poor, the completely overtaken and undone? This is why man will do so much more than survive; he has transcended our basic evolutionary instincts. We work to save the poor, sick, and needy. We don't leave the sick to die in the name of strengthening the gene pool, and we have no understandable reason other than what our heart and spirit tell us. We must. 
And so we face the great issues of our generation. They will tear us, break us, and push us to the ground, but the human spirit is too strong to be anything other than, not only victorious, but glorious in its nature and beauty and art. 
So, though mankind may be broken, evil, or weak, I choose to believe he is glorious and strong, good and pure in intent. I may be wrong, but I would rather be wrong, deluded, and sure of man's respectable future than right and a cynic for both the present, past, and future.

This player here

"Is it not monstrous that this player here,
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
Could force his soul so to his own conceit
That from her working all his visage wann'd,
Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect,
A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
With forms to his conceit? and all for nothing!
What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,
That he should weep for her? What would he do,
Had he the motive and the cue for passion
That I have?"
-Shakespeare (Hamlet)

There are times in my life when I have felt like Hamlet, as I'm sure we all have.  There are brief moments where something demands a true emotional response, where love, life, and woe are strong enough that we should act in passion.  Those places where should do something rash, where we should scream and yell, punch and shove.  But we don't.  We convince ourselves, in a moment of complacency, that it is better to live with the current dilemma than create the situation necessary for change, better to avoid the awkward conversation and endure the constant feeling.  All while knowing the sting of the moment would be preferable to living in the sludge of constant less-than whole, the pang of missing, or the fury of the missed moment.
  But even more I am baffled by the Players in this world; those that act without hesitation, cry even when the pain is not there own, or even non-existent.  Making the greatest mountains out of the smallest tribulations and trials is there daily habit, and it pains me every moment.  Partly because their complaints wear on me to no end, but mostly because there passion is something I can't adapt, even when it counts.  
I live exclusively by rational thought and logic.  If I think my head is unfit to make the wise decision, I put it off until my mind is clear and my countenance prepared to make it.  
I think I am like Hamlet because I live in my head.  I presume there is an answer inside, deep down.  A clear answer, not wrought with the presumptions of ego.  And because I guess, and then second guess, and then question my guesses, and because I live so fully in my left hemisphere, where structure reigns supreme, my words come too late.  Like Hamlet, who caught his uncle through careful plodding, catching him in his moment of guilt before he could strike.
But most situations aren't so cut and dry as proof.  Emotions and how to act on them wisely, as much as you think and ponder, will elude true answers because there ultimately aren't any.  And when no answer is correct, why not act on passion for once, and just when it counts?
I guess, really, I just want to scream.  Not for no reason, but because there is good reason.  There is enough trial and tribulation and it's hard enough just to live without wanting to do something rash.  I just want to go in the streets, free from inhibition, and scream to the world until my voice is soar, my body trembling, and aggression let loose to the winds.
But that's not acting in anyone's best interests, is it?

Opinions and beliefs

"If you want the truth to stand clear before you, Never be for or against. The struggle between 'for' and 'against' is the mind's worst disease."

Not to say opinions and personal beliefs should be discarded easily. Opinions and beliefs, these are important. Much more important than we ever would believe based upon the carelessness with which we choose to collect and express them.
I believe what Sent- Ts'an truly meant was not for men and women to live in a state of limbo, never determining their own beliefs for some fear of a truth that is contrary to ones own. Opinions are important; opinions indicate our passion. Opinions decide where our values lie, how we will live our lives in support of our own personal ethical codes. 
But we must come to terms with the truth; that being that there may well be no truth. That, as much as your mind may come to a specific conclusion, as whole-heartedly you believe in your personal "truth", it is nothing more than an opinion. We wield opinions too quickly, we unsheathe words like running to combat 'gainst some dangerous foe.
Harboring beliefs creates judgments, causes wars, and fosters deep resentment in those who "know" but fail to convince others of their "knowledge". As Rufus (Chris Rock) puts in Dogma, "I think it's better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier. Life should malleable and progressive; working from idea to idea permits that. Beliefs anchor you to certain points and limit growth; new ideas can't generate. Life becomes stagnant." 
And this concept is not just applicable to faith. Richard P. Feynman notes in his book "Surely you're joking Mr. Feynman!" how many times unfiltered belief in previous "truths" can dampen growth towards new physical discovery. (How I wish I had the book with me to look up an example!) Previous data can be incorrect; statistical anomaly need not be the 'cause of either stagnancy or continued steps in an false direction if we are willing to consider the possibility we are wrong, or that the data presented to us is wrong.
I like to think my dad is a smart man, and he once said "If you don't understand why someone would feel differently than you, you don't understand the issue." And I believe that. Or rather, I think it's a good idea. I think that too often we judge the opposition without determining why they should feel differently. It's not about doubting our own opinions, but acknowledging that there may well be no truth. And when there is no truth, an opinion is both empty and dangerous. We must take a side, always. Passionate living dictates it so. But when we blindly follow our own compatriots without sizing up the opposition, who knows the danger in the ensuing battle? So don't stand at the sidelines waiting for the victor, that is the cowards way out, but neither would I become a slave to popular opinion or my own miss-judgements.
To many, the idea of a truth-less world is scary. The concept of universal right is comforting, and we find great solace "knowing" that our opponents will be punished in times to come for their transgressions. And maybe their is a universal right, but it is not our place to judge. On this planet, the only "truth" I acknowledge as necessary is that we should not impair the rights of a fellow human being. There is a sort of symmetrical beauty in that idea, and it ensures that all human beings share similar rights. 
But what I guess I'm really trying to preach here (as hesitantly as I say "preach") is a genuine open-mindedness. Yes, maybe there is truth. But what Schrodinger seemed to indicate (taken greatly out of context) is that when we don't know if something is X or Y, it is both X and Y. And as much as you may believe it is X, it may well not be. So why not consider, even for a moment, the notion of a contradictory truth? If everyone were more willing, more steps may be taken, more fights avoided, and greater harmony enabled. Maybe, this is really just an idea.

Fear and inhibition

Is fear necessary? Is inhibition a positive tool in our society? Is the fact that we as human beings care enough about the opinions of others to radically change our own behavior a social good?
I do believe so. I think my actions make that clear. The reason I think out every sentence, why I put such a strange weight on correct words in correct order with correct inflection is merely to ensure that my meaning is not misunderstood, and involved parties typically unoffended.
The fact of the matter is, when I hear someone say, "I don't really care what people think about me," I get scared. I am frightened our society is moving towards something other than conscientious action. When people don't care about what people think of people, we grow dangerously close to acting not in the interest of the whole, but only in the interest of the self.
Though, ultimately those who say such things do not truly lack caring for the opinions of others, but want to be thought of as someone who doesn't care.
But there is a certain drawback to thought in action. Acting with inhibition is weighty. It's comparable to our own bureaucratic system; we may act, but typically long after the time of its usefulness is passed. I cannot say how many times I have spoken too late, or not at all, and realized the correctness of my thoughts after the fact. But that is just the extreme of my own behavior, which I have known for some time to be a hinderance. Malcolm Gladwell talks about the importance of first impressions in his book Blink. He explains how often time our first impressions can be just as viable than our long term ones.
But this is reassessed in the context that sometimes our first impressions are wrong. Sometimes snap judgments are clouded by situations we could not grasp, sometimes there is personal emotions that cause us to lack general good wisdom. It would be best to realize when these are present, and realize long-term judgement would be a wiser course.
I tend to subscribe to the idea of a "middle-path" in all things. I hope people are conscientious about their actions, that there is some small and nagging voice in the back of the head urging caution for the sake of overall good. But don't let fear of personal dejection subtract from the meaningful input you can add to the world. Haha, I'm kind of preaching to myself right now. Don't I know it's the truph though.

Prop 8

I can't help but realize how much of a bubble the Bay Area is, even within California. I was shocked to hear proposition eight passed; that surprise could only be the result of spending my life around a certain breed of people and a certain amount of liberalism. 
I spent the majority of my time since that decision questioning the reasoning that caused this decision. Going back to my dad's favorite saying, "If you don't understand why someone would disagree with you, you don't understand the issue." I didn't understand the issue, and I may still not understand the issue, but if there is anything I want on this planet really badly, it is understanding.
I have come to the conclusion, at least among the religious audience, the issue comes down to a crisis of faith. The one I can speak of, at least with moderate comfort and confidence, is the crisis that becomes the contributing factor in the role of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in prop 8. 
One extremely evident part of the Mormon church is its "All-or-nothing-at-all" mentality. Most Mormons will agree with me on that and even claim it is a positive part of the church. There is no half-way Mormon, you have to take it all. The doctrine is the doctrine, if you believe in Joseph Smith as a prophet of God and you believe in Jesus Christ as your lord and savior, there is no leeway on any book, any doctrine, any belief. I've had real Sunday School lessons on this topic, straight out of the manual.
As a sort of contradiction in this view, the church suggests that all members search for their own answers through prayer and study. The twisted contradiction lies in the expectation that we will all fall upon the same answers.
I say that this all leads to crises of faith because, when you believe everything must be true, or nothing is true, then you can't take a little bit of stormy weather when your faith is questioned. I believe the people who lack real faith are not the Mormons who turned away when Monson asked for full support on prop 8, but those whose light couldn't stand a couple of questions; who couldn't live through an honest personal evaluation of beliefs. "Do I believe that two men deserve the right to marry?"
I grew up questioning; really questioning. Yes, my answers were different, and yes, my LDS connections are all but broken as a result. But ultimately, my ties to the church have not become null because of the church or it's views. My pragmatic view-point is again a facsimile of my father's; ultimately, all that matters is how your faith affects your life. And it was affecting me positively for so long. Occasional disagreements aside, the church was fulfilling a large part of my spirit, was preaching overall togetherness, and made the teachings of Christ real; attainable. 
No, it is not the organization that pushed me away, not the beliefs (which ultimately boil down to true Christian behavior) but the people. The people grow spiteful, people grow so wrapped up in doctrine that they forget what the real important teachings are. Marriage should be between a man and a woman? Why do you spend your time discussing what is ultimately a technicality in doctrine when the important teachings are so much more clear? You judge a man for loving a man, but you forget that you shouldn't judge. Stop telling other people what they need to do to be better people, and worry more about what you need to do to be a better person. 
I don't mean to be attacking. Please, I hold no grievances with individuals. All people are beautiful, and I mean that without hidden agenda, double-meaning, or irony. Life is too short to spend any time hating anyone for any belief. Especially considering that hating someone for a belief gives that belief power and influence. Hating is caring, and it's only when people care about a belief that it can have influence. 
I have already said in previous notes that beliefs are harbored too quickly, that beliefs are given too much power. Are we expected to die for beliefs, are we going to really carry on in the same manner as the Crusades? Beliefs shouldn't ultimately be the only influencing factor in our actions, but our logic and our perception as well. Take in those beliefs and pass it through the fine microscope of the mind. Does this look right? Or, more importantly, does this look like something that you agree with? 
This is my personal view. Take it or leave it, disagree, I don't care. I just enjoy being heard. These are just my beliefs, and they have no power unless you care about what I say.
There are large groups of people who believe that being homosexual is a lifestyle choice, that any gay man or woman could opt for their "correct" partner. While I disagree with this whole-heartedly, I understand easier how this could lead to a "pro eight" type agenda. This, at least, still comes from the belief that people could find love and marry if they were so inclined. 
But LDS members don't believe that. They believe it is a predisposition within a person; God made them that way, genetics made them that way, whatever. Ultimately, it wasn't a choice. And when it's not a choice, that means that predetermined disposition is the only place for a person to find love. A gay man can only find true, romantic love with another man. And there is an implicit denial of love by suggesting a gay couple cannot marry, and I do believe no person would suggest that anyone is undeserving of love. Just living is difficult enough to make all people deserving of love.
So, my personal view is that all people deserve the right to marry. 
I will close by recapping what has already been said so succinctly, so many times. Proposition eight is a direct violation of a person's right to marry. This is also direct violation of a separation between Church and state. You can think what you want, you can claim what you will, but your church needs to stop pissing on my state.
Because whatever you believe, all that really matters is what it makes you do

My Blog

Welcome.  This is my blog, I'll be dragging some stuff over from Facebook notes in the next couple of days, and then hopefully get to writing some new stuff.  Thanks, it should be up and running soon.