About a year ago I started this blog. As I was setting it up I decided to find out about Testosterone Replacement Therapy. I even felt it was a way for me to deal with the lack of energy I was feeling. I have learned a lot in that year, about the human body, about sexual desire, and about myself.
For the past couple of weeks I’ve been feeling some of that lack of energy again. Like a year ago the temperatures here have been well above average, but unlike a year ago the air has been more clear as the huge wildfires of last year aren’t around this time. There have been some warnings of moderate air quality due to car emissions and how they react with sunlight in the heat but not the fine particles of smoke. I also think that knowing it is very possible lower testosterone levels could be part of it, but I don’t want to deal with the side effects of the shots has helped me push myself a bit to get some things done and keep exercising. I haven’t been working out like maybe I should, but I’ve not let it completely drop by the wayside.
So I’ve been working on just getting some work done in the yard and then vegetating in the heat for the afternoon. I so look forward to September being here as even well above average temperatures should be cool enough for me to start thinking through the day again.
After my rant in the last post about bigotry I’ve felt I have to find something positive to write about. I can’t believe the positive ideas started while reading AARP’s magazine for August/September 2019. A couple of weeks ago marks the 50th anniversary of Woodstock Music and Art Fair, otherwise known anymore as just Woodstock. It was billed as 3 Days of Peace & Music. That doesn’t sound like something historians would be making a big fuss about. Some of my parent’s generation made a fuss at the time but for many people it was just going to be a big concert. In fact for 13 year old me watching news reports I couldn’t believe what people were saying as I thought it was just going to be a big party. It seemed it was an unsuccessful concert as all order was breaking down. Unlike the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon about a month before that was so organized. I knew in 50 years people would be asking about what I remember about the landing on the moon but never figured Woodstock would be remembered in 5 years, much less in 50 years.
There has been some news coverage of the fact Apollo 11 landed 50 years ago. There has also been some news coverage of Woodstock now being 50 years ago. This magazine coverage, it’s more than just one story, is more in depth perhaps because it is trying to help people that were there and those watching the news coverage to process what went on.
Within a few days of reading the magazine articles I decided to read Cooper S. Beckett’s article about Naughty in Nawlings 2019 in ASN Lifestyle, an online magazine. As far as I know, Cooper really doesn’t care about fitting a mold. He wrote his views and then mentioned politics. My first thought was how we seem to have to get everything involved in politics, but then I read what he meant. For many people Woodstock was meant to be a big party and for many people NIN was meant to be a big party. They both have some political meaning also.
For some reason I’ve never had to define politics. In many ways I felt it just meant trying to be popular. When I looked it up recently I learned it is a set of activities associated with governance. The reference I often heard of “office politics” took on a new meaning for me as it meant more than being popular but means affecting the decisions being made in the office. I think part of my misunderstanding is that in offices, towns, counties, states, and federal governments too many people are “playing politics” to try to be popular, to feel people are looking up to them. There are some politicians that want good decisions being made, in most cases they feel they have the correct plan so they promote it. There are other politicians that just want the attention from the rally crowds, from the donors who help keep them in office, etc.
I came away from my reading with a couple of new things in mind. The approximately half a million people that showed up at Woodstock really did shake up the view of politics for some people. Some in power saw those activities as a threat, but those were people in whatever political office they held whether a government office or a religious office, who were trying to have personal power, popularity, or both. That half a million people, mostly seen as young hippie types, didn’t need to be surrounded by police or the National Guard to have only a few problems, if any. In fact the instances of police or National Guard interactions with these young people at other locations during that era often ended very poorly if the police or Guard didn’t keep themselves in order.
I have seen pictures of the Sexual Freedom Parade from NIN. It looks like a big party. I don’t see any police officers in the background, so if there were any there it was a small number compared to the people in the parade. Like those at Woodstock, who were saying things need to change, these people that aren’t following what some in power say they should be doing, are also pushing for change. In our democratic republic asking for change is a political action. It doesn’t need to be popular with all but asking for the freedom others have is part of the activities of governance put forth by the Constitution. The hippies back in the day were asking for far more freedoms perhaps than the people attending NIN were asking for, but they still were asking for freedoms.
Another thing I noticed in my reading came out of an article in AARP about Carlos Santana. He talks about learning to play the guitar. He was learning to sound like a guitar player his dad liked, but he also tried to sound like B.B. King and some others. Once he accepted sounding like Carlos Santana is when he became a true artist.
I’m not too sure that being me when it comes to how I express my sexuality makes me an artist, but it is part of the process of learning to be happy. My orientation may be to be attracted to my own sex and only one person. My orientation may be to be attracted to both sexes and many people. What we need is the freedom to explore and find out. There are a number of forces in politics that don’t want us to have those freedoms, yet I feel they are necessary if we are to maintain this democratic republic the framers of the Constitution gave us. My promotion of ethical actions in sexuality, whether they are monogamous, or non-monogamous, straight, gay/lesbian, bi-sexual, asexual, etc. is a political statement. It might not be based in law, at times it is, but it is part of the governance of the area I’m in.
I’m sure some think I’m some kind of deviant for promoting sexual activity and information for people who many call senior citizens. I’m not breaking a law at the current time, and I’ll participate in the political processes to keep it legal. I’ll make political statements by telling people that this wonderful thing we have as humans isn’t just for reproduction. It helps us bond with each other. I have a right to bond with whomever consents to bond with me. If I make a promise to one person, then it is between that person and me for how long that promise is for. If I choose to have multiple partners, I need to be sure they know I’m active with others so they make an informed choice. It is really no one’s business how many partners I have, except for those partners.
The politics, governance, of the area I live is highly affected by stands taken by one certain religion. Years ago they took a stand against Proposition 8 in California, claiming it was a moral issue, not a political issue. They also ended up getting fined as a non-profit for some of the political activity they participated in. I think part of it is they want to define the word “moral” in their way.
Years ago I sat in a training of teachers because the PTA wanted us to teach “morality.” Most of the faculty was very nervous about this situation. To them morality meant following what that predominant church said to do. The person doing the training, who was a resident of the communities feeding our high school, defined it as “doing the right thing, not causing harm to another and lifting others up if possible.” One of the sources I looked up today gave a very similar definition of morality then the second definition had to do with following a certain code or set of rules with ethics listed as a synonym. So to me being moral is doing good, not harming others, lifting others up when possible. It is not meeting some arbitrary code. Ethical to me meets a code, but the code is agreed upon by those following it. It could be professional ethics, it could be the ethics of a club, or ethics of a government.
National politics is the method of defining the ethics, laws, of the nation and implementing those agreed upon actions. Morality is doing good to others. So what is ethical non-monogamy and how is it political? What is ethical monogamy and how is it political?
Ethical non-monogamy would deal with having multiple sexual and/or romantic partners that have all agreed to some ethical standard. That standard could be a group marriage with no sexual relationship with anyone outside of the group. It could be an open marriage where a couple are living together with their finances interconnected but one or both are free to have sex with others within certain rules. It could be a swinger couple who trade partners with other couples and never meet often enough to get the “feels.” As long as they stay within the rules they set up, it is ethical. It is political in that it has its own governance in setting those ethical standards. It is also political in that many others would want to impose something else on them and ethical non-monogamists have to actively protect their rights to make these choices. Sometimes they make them in private as they really are no one else’s business, but they make these choices.
Ethical monogamy to me is ethical non-monogamy restricted to one couple. In other words, the couple communicates and sets their own ethical standards. Some call some of these relationships monogamish as they may permit members to flirt with others but no deeper interactions. Some would limit interactions with others, but as long as both agree it would be ethical. It needs to be done as a free choice. I also think these people would respect the right for others to choose other types of relationships. This relationship style would be political because it requires communication and agreement to reach its ethical standard. I think those skills would extend beyond the couple to help support those making other choices.
There are forms of monogamy and non-monogamy out there that skip the communication and agreement steps. To me these are not ethical models as there is no agreement as to any standards. Some of these relationships do not run afoul of the law but I have serious doubts they raise the people to their highest potential. Some run afoul of other people’s rights, such as rapists violate other’s right to choose, and therefor run a foul of the law. I realize rape isn’t really a sexual act but uses sex to exert power over another, but for many years it was considered impossible for a husband to rape his wife. This would not be non-monogamous but would definitely be unethical and immoral. Women speaking up about it moved it into politics.
I wondered if I could find an example of the other side. Someone moving ethical monogamy or ethical non-monogamy into the political realm. A simple, quick Google search gave me an article from less than a month ago of a vote in Fort Wayne, Indiana to ban a swingers club. In that case the ban didn’t pass, but it was kind of close, if I read the facts of the article correctly. At least one council member toured the facility to see for himself it was clean and secure. He also mentioned there were no police calls to the area stemming from it being a swingers club. For him to mention that means it had been brought up before in considering the ban. It sounds like things had gone into the bigotry of saying they are swingers, they must be violating laws and attracting crime. So for now those folks will continue to have a place for a groovy time.
Those hippies from all those years ago showed some ways to live moral lives that didn’t necessarily follow the same standards but tried to lift others up. It is a really difficult thing to accomplish and many of the communities Woodstock came to represent are no longer to be found, but the spirit still exists. Naughty in Nawlins is one of the current groovy places but isn’t for everyone. That is the political statement I feel continues to need to be made. We should be free to choose what we want as long as we are not hurting others.
We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden
Whether these words are sung by Crosby, Stills, and Nash or by their author Joni Mitchell they continue to have relevance in my life 50 years later.