Friday, July 31, 2009

Good, Bad And Downright Mediocre

Only narrow-mindedness can ever afford us the view that things are actually better than mediocre (for the optimist) or worse than mediocre (for the pessimist). For if we take an extensive, wholly unbiased account of all perspectives simultaneously, it becomes patently clear the bad perfectly neutralizes the good.

It is only by espousing a particular perspective that one can ever find good in bad or bad in good, for example. But any single perspective implies limitation which means it can not point to an “absolute” truth.

The “absolute” truth, if you will, would be the entire collection of perspectives on any and every given matter represented on a continuum. This would entail seeing good in bad, seeing bad in bad, seeing perhaps even worse in something merely bad, seeing bad in good, seeing good in good, seeing perhaps even better in something merely good, etc. If all views are accounted for equally, bad cancels out good and as a result, there is nothing but mediocrity, rendering the totality of reality merely lukewarm.

Many aspire to choose, more than likely unconsciously, only those perspectives which see good in bad or see even better in something merely good. We call these fellow human beings optimists.

On the other hand, many identify with negativity, once again more than likely unconsciously, and as such conclude the opposite. They see bad in good or see even worse in something merely bad. We call these people pessimists.

And of those who see things stoically (those that see all perspectives), we call them philosophers.

The road to peace and happiness in this life is “choosing” the perspective(s) that best fit(s) one's ability to find solace in life's mundane and tragic necessities. On the other hand, philosophers see things stoically for the purpose of humbling those who arrogantly assume they possess the "absolute" truth, be it good or bad.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

From God Or From Self?

It seems backing one's agenda with God is essentially masking ego, or at least attempting to do so. For what is the difference in saying my opinions and convictions dictate my behavior and beliefs versus God's opinions and convictions doing so?

Many will of course say the difference is obviously that one set of opinions and convictions stems from self whereas the other set of opinions and convictions stems from God. But then why are all opinions and convictions from God not in agreement?* Presumably because they are not from God. They are from self!

In this way, it could be said that God's opinions and convictions only ever stem from any given person's ideas of what God's opinions and convictions should be. Which of course will be whatever the ego sees fit!

*Perhaps God DOES allow us to be mistaken? However, does it not seem those that acknowledge this seldom concede they themselves could be mistaken? How then are we to know who of us is mistaken and who is not?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Doomed To Be Hated 2

Barack Obama took criticism for giving the Queen of England an Ipod as opposed to something far more extravagant as is usual for a head-of-state. Should he have given her something much nicer, perhaps fancy jewels or some other priceless artifact?

On the other hand, if Obama had given the queen of England fancy jewels or some other priceless artifact, how does one suppose these same critics would have responded?

I have previously mentioned how hatred works (see Doomed To Be Hated) and in this case, the critics will always find fault with whatever is done or not only because they have set out to find fault in some way. And as I have said before, because there is no “perfect” answer to much of anything on this godforsaken mud-ball we call Earth, there will always be fault to find with any decision.

If Obama had lavished the Queen with luxurious excesses, I guarantee you these same critics would have waisted no time in pointing out how unconscionable this was especially given the current economic conditions and all the suffering many of his citizens are experiencing.

Once somebody is hated, this person is faced with a double-edged sword with any decision or action. How can Obama ever turn one of his haters into one of his lovers?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Matter Of Time

Does God lie inside time or outside time?

If it is supposed He lies inside time, mustn't He have originated out of something prior to His own existence? In this case, we are forced to appeal to something outside time to explain how He and time itself came about. But this would imply that God is not the "First Cause". Which implies He is something less than God. Hence, what many people believe to be God is not really God.

On the other hand, if it is supposed God lies outside time, this dilemma is avoided. However, another arises. 

How could He participate in temporal activities like healing, working or planning if He is not inside time? One might suppose God to be overly versatile and in being so lies both inside and outside time.

But at this point, He becomes so nebulous an entity that one could just as well say God is anything or everything for that matter. Which leads to the idea that even if God exists, there is no absolute way to view or define Him/Her/It?

The Value Of Understanding One Another

Two people with contradictory conclusions can be more alike than two people with identical conclusions.

For instance, let's talk about what to do with illegal immigrants already in this country. Jim and Sally both emphatically believe these people should be able to stay in this country. They conclude the same thing so they will probably be thought of as having similar ideologies, right?

Well, what if Jim is a "greedy" contractor who views illegal immigrants as nothing more than cheap labor with little gumption to revolt against oppressive work standards thus resulting in more profit and less hassle for himself? And what if Sally is genuinely sympathetic to the immigrants' plight and as such believes they should be allowed to stay? The two share no common ideology in this case. They only share a conclusion.

On the other hand, let's say Sally is talking to Bob and they are at odds over what to do with illegal immigrants. Sally believes they should be allowed to stay but Bob thinks otherwise. They must share different ideologies, right?

Well, what if each is motivated by sympathy to peoples' plight but assume Bob is thinking more that the sheer number of illegal immigrants in this country will “cannibalize” social services for the “legal” immigrants and citizens already here? In other words, they are both motivated by sympathy and mercy for people but are at odds over how to engender the desired good for society.

My underlying point is that it seems so often there is much argument concerning conflicting conclusions whereas I think these conflicting conclusions do not necessarily suggest difference in ideology or moral sentiments. But because this is thought to be the case, conflict ensues regarding whose conclusion is right.

And so fosters a lack of understanding which ultimately causes disharmony and precludes “us” from getting along. A primary focus of my viewpoint is that I care less what somebody believes and more why somebody believes.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Doomed To Be Hated

Especially as it pertains to politicians, many “decide” to hate once and for all, making it impossible for the hated to ever escape being hated. This is silly as it renders hatred frivolous, much like wholeheartedly believing something simply because it can not be falsified.

For could one not just as well wholeheartedly hate somebody simply because there can always be found "things" to hate about him? It certainly seems so.....but how?

In order to illustrate how, I'm going to present somebody who “hates” uncommonly kind people. We might suppose this person resents nice people because they highlight his meanness, something or other. What countermeasure can a nice person possibly utilize to curry favor with such a person? Might he try being mean? My bet is if this nice person shows any hostility, the mean person will hate him because he is mean. In this case, the nice person is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't! This is how hatred works!

Once one “decides” to hate somebody (oftentimes unconsciously), there can always be found reasons to continue to hate the person thereby reinforcing and perpetuating the hatred. At this point, the hated are forever doomed to be hated!

The Machine That Is Greed

Concerning the recent financial meltdown, who are we to blame? Of course we must blame somebody or at least something. And how could we not? Isn't this one of humanity's most cherished and, dare I say, obligatory pastimes?

How about blaming “greedy” executives? O.K. Now we seem to be getting somewhere. But deep down I can't help but think much of their greed is motivated and fed by a collective greed which includes, I am afraid, all of us.

What presumably would be the primary motivation for these upper echelons we so readily pin the blame on to engage in “greedy” practices? To maintain their jobs. And what would be the most fundamental criteria by which to “grade”, say, a money manager? His or her character? Integrity? Attractiveness? Alma Mater? Intelligence? Political philosophy? Sense of humor? Favorite professional football team? Religion? Sex? Sexual orientation? Not likely!

The only thing the majority of us gives a damn about in this case is his or her ability to produce return on our investment. Why? Because we like money! And why would we not? Money is good! It is the love of it that is a sin, supposedly. But where does this “love of money” begin? It is just like “greed”. It brooks no discrete, definable answer! Needless to say, if not for “fat” returns, we would all too happily withdraw our money and put it in the hands of somebody more capable, or should I say “greedy”.

Before one blames “greedy” executives for the ills of the economy, I feel compelled to ask this: would you willingly accept an 8% return on investment if you could easily obtain a 10% return on investment given the same (purported) level of risk? If you say yes, you are either in the minority or a pathetic liar.

So the fact that the typical person would promptly take his money elsewhere will likely encourage money managers, greedy or not, to “push the envelope” so as to increase returns to the max and make their customers happy. I say greedy or not because, obviously, for the sake of remaining competitive, would not a money manager be almost obligated to play by similar standards lest he be run out of business?

And so ensues an “arms race”, in turn seducing money managers to take ever riskier chances to compete with “the guy next door”. Then, KABOOM! An explosion of biblical proportions splatters, ahem, shrapnel of the stinkiest kind all over everybody! The proverbial shit hits the fan!

Who will we blame? Whoever is caught with their pants down.

With this in mind, I often wonder how many of us might be at least as “greedy” as the ones caught naked? Perhaps the shit has not hit our fan just yet.

Who among us might be at least as greedy? How are we to know? Therefore, do not judge lest ye be judged!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Reflection On Perfection

Descartes came to the conclusion that because he had a clear and distinct idea of perfection, it was thus self-evident that such an idea could not possibly have originated from self. For how could any idea of perfection have originated from one who is imperfect, he thought? Therefore, he assumed his idea of perfection could only have been “planted” by God.

This thinking begs for a consensus as to what perfection is. Is it necessarily an objective, one-size-fits-all answer? Not likely. Perfection seems to me a totality of many peoples' oftentimes opposing perspectives.

For Goldilocks was happy with porridge neither too hot nor too cold. Neither was she happy with a bed too soft nor too hard. But this was only Goldilocks' idea of perfection. Obviously the mother and father bear had different ideas as to what perfection entailed. Likewise, my idea of perfection will not necessarily correspond to Descartes'. Or yours for that matter.

Perhaps they are all "perfectly right", though replete with contradictions? If this is the case, does not perfection seem to lose its meaning?

On the other hand, is there one out there arrogant enough to claim his idea of "perfection" is the one, true face of it? Surely so, as there are MANY out there that claim this. But how are we to account for the fact that many of these claims conflict with one another?

To restate, must perfection be an absolute, one-size-fits-all idea? If it is, whose idea represents its "true" face? If it is not, nobody will be happy with perfection because it would in this case be a “mixture” of everybody's oftentimes conflicting ideas of it.

Perhaps one who has a seemingly imperfect picture of perfection might just have the “correct” picture of it. Oh the irony!

A "Godly" Moral Paradox

Many of the devoutly religious seem apt to believe that being 100% certain they are right is somehow a virtue God respects above all else. I believe St. Paul, among others, encouraged this “Godly” stance. However, a “moral” contradiction arises.

If one is absolutely certain he is worshiping the one and only true God, where is the humility? Which stance might God honor more? Being absolutely certain or humbly conceding the fact that as much as one might really believe or at least really want to believe he is right, he could just as easily be wrong?

However unconscious it may be, I think many are reluctant to adopt this less than certain stance because they fear they would be “letting God down”. But without humility, what does this type of thinking systematically foster? Self-righteous superiority. This need not be blatant and obnoxious. I remember a “strong” Christian girl (please forgive me but this notion plasters on my mind a girl bench pressing 350 lbs.) at a party causally and without any doubt asserting how others of different faiths were “buying into a lie”.

It seemed so innocuous, as she was a very amiable girl whose only “problem” was that she was absolutely certain she was right. Nothing overly harmful about said comment. But ultimately it projected self-righteous superiority. Once again, where is the humility?

The Irrationality Of Guilt

Guilt is so oftentimes unconscious. I notice this with people that strive so much to be “selfless”, more than likely out of a sense of obligation. At some point, they “give in” and purchase something that is “obviously lavish” to them.

Why do I say it is “obviously lavish” to them? Because more often than not they feel overly compelled to “justify” said purchase. Without any sort of accusation, they begin defending it. “Well, I consulted God and He said I can buy this because I have so faithfully contributed to many worthwhile (translation: selfless) causes,” something or other.

If somebody is doing well for himself and wants to buy a $100,000 car and/or a $2 million estate, I say go for it! Why feel guilty? “Because obviously it is excessive and therefore unconscionable given the fact that there are starving children in Africa,” or so it is more or less implied.

But will there not be starving children in Africa or wherever else regardless? I can't help but think that if wealthy people walked everywhere and lived only in ramshackle dwellings, there would still be plenty of children in abject poverty.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Not All Freethought Is Free

Open-mindedness, to the ideologically certain, is a virtue until it strays from an already presupposed picture of what freethought can or must entail. Of course at this point it is not "freethought" because it does not allow thought to roam freely.

A Reflection On Personal Identity

You can not “try” to be yourself. You can only “be” yourself. Similarly, you can not express individuality by “trying” to distinguish yourself. This is simply following the convention of being different only for the sake of being different.

In other words, you can not find yourself by being different. You can only find yourself by being.

Many people follow a convention only to satisfy the ego's lust for identity in things outside of self. This is simply the ego seeking a false sense of self through “trying” to be different.

Is Man But Machine?

In many ways, it seems that as we progress technologically, our machines become more like us and we become more like our machines. Our purpose in life seems relegated to being nothing but vehicles to produce and consume “stuff”.

As confirmation of this, one might pay careful attention to the implicit or explicit indicator of a society's success which is almost always based on whether its economy grows from year to year. At some point in the future will we and our machines be one and the same? Or are we already?

The Collective Struggle Of Existence

It of course goes without saying that even if there was 1 society built upon 1 arbitrary yet coherent ideology, there would still be a collective struggle due to there being a finite supply of resources (mates, jobs, precious jewels and metals, fancy cars, oil, fame, etc.) It seems we were just “made” to be in a constant state of competitive conflict.

If there were an infinite supply of things, we would all presumably have everything we want. But would this make us (feel) happy and fulfilled? Probably not, as our happiness seems unconsciously built upon being above others because of the way we were “made” to be in a constant state of competitive conflict (this to me is a very justified evolutionary trait which is not so justified in today's overly prosperous societies where life-sustaining needs are met many times over). Hence our compulsion to “outdo” others or at least want to.

Apparently, if there were an infinite supply of everything, there would be no way for the ego to survive! On the other hand, if this had been the case, might we surmise the ego would never have existed in the first place? In any case, this is essentially what I envision heaven as, albeit figuratively. A place where Satan (ego) is completely vanquished.*

My opinion is Jesus was talking about this very thing (eradicating ego) but apparently it went largely unnoticed! For heaven to most people is implied to be a realm where NOBODY is suffering. We could conceivably do this today (to a much greater extent at least) but we are burdened by our own SELFISHNESS/EGO. Hence the belief that God will transform us after we die at which point we will FINALLY be able/forced to embrace an attitude that addresses suffering (like sharing resources when so many of us are overflowing with them).

But is this not the essence of SOCIALISM? Why then do we so vilify (especially the "conservative" religious among us) the idea of socialism as if it were some intrinsic evil? Why do people not acknowledge this CONTRADICTION?

Many will retort that socialism would leave little incentive to work causing the wholesale collapse of society leaving ALL OF US to suffer. HUH? How about being motivated to work JUST FOR GOD! Why then do we "need" excessive compensation above and beyond our basic needs? TO BE ABOVE OTHERS! Which is just what I would expect if evolution has shaped us over time to attempt or at least want to rise above others!

Once again, what about being motivated to work as hard as you can simply and only for God? Why then should it matter whether 95% of your income is taken and given to those that don't have it (including for the sake of argument people that don't have wealth simply because, God bless'em, they are stupid and lazy)? Because you are not motivated to do so for God, rather you are motivated to do so for YOURSELF (which of course includes collectives YOU identify with and support)! Please do not be ashamed.....this is how we are wired!

In the end, might the idea of heaven simply have originated to mitigate feelings of guilt due to all the cruelty and "unfairness" inherent in life?

*Would this be good or bad? Perhaps it would be both good and bad.....for it seems war would become a thing of the past (good). But then so would competitive sports become a thing of the past (bad).

A Humbling Realization

Many resentfully claim Barack Obama is heavily supported by blacks primarily, perhaps only, because he is black. So what? How is this any different a manner in which we all tend to make decisions regarding political candidates or anything for that matter?

Many commonly base decisions primarily or only on somebody's physical attractiveness, religious persuasion, support for/against gun control, support for/against the right to abortion, support for high/low taxes/entitlements (presumably driven only by how these issues affect themselves/their group(s), etc.

One could surmise all these reasons for basing decisions as patently superficial, or not. It depends on the perspective utilized. Ultimately, we all base decisions primarily on how it benefits us or the group(s) we most identify with. This is simply evolutionary group selection at play.

For Practicality's Sake Or For Tradition's?

It is being debated whether the Australian Parliament might end the practice of reciting the Lord's Prayer at the start of each session. It is a tradition more than a century old and as such many question its relevance in today's secular society.

But what puzzles me is that many traditions seem to be followed not because they are in any way relevant but because they are cherished traditions.

What is the imperative? To follow tradition for the sake of following tradition or to follow tradition only when deemed relevant to today's society?

If we uphold tradition only if relevant to today's society, why even call them traditions? Why not just call them “relevant practices”? Is not tradition almost by definition not practical, hence why it is referred to as tradition.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mirror Mirror On The Wall, Who Is The Densest Of Us All?

Most tend to look at a dog chasing his tail as being particularly dense. One might suggest the dog lacks adequate intelligence to realize he will never catch it which probably explains his "dogged" pursuit of it. However, this seems to be predicated on the notion that he necessarily intends on catching it. Might his ultimate goal just be chasing it as opposed to actually catching it? As such, might the dog actually be aware that he will never catch it yet continue the pursuit regardless?

Similarly, might a dog view us as being dense just the same what with our penchant for running on treadmills? Other metaphors to a treadmill could implicate all of us, I'm afraid. What is the point of trying to make more money to sustain a higher life style when in all likelihood this will only necessitate making even more money to support an even higher lifestyle ad infinitum? I can say this self-righteously because I am not motivated by money.

On the other hand, my desire revolves around an insatiable appetite for wisdom. But this is just like money to me. They are essentially the same. Both revolve around wanting to want. Is this not like chasing our tails? Or perhaps like trying to touch a mirage when we know it to be but an illusion? Or being motivated only to win when losing is at some point inevitable? This is akin to chasing a rainbow.

Maybe we are all dense?

Heeding Lessons From History

Many might claim that most if not all of my analogies are totally off the mark. I am much obliged to take this criticism. Being this as it may, I think what needs to be pointed out is that by denying the veracity of my analogies, we make ourselves vulnerable to not heeding lessons from history.

I think history can potentially be a wonderful guide for learning from past “mistakes” but it can only be so if we humbly recognize when we are repeating these “mistakes”. Do you see where I am going with this?

If one writes off all my analogies in a desperate attempt to defend his “rightness”, it is unikely any lessons will ever be learned, be them from me or anybody else.

We seem to have a tendency to deny that today is any different from yesterday making the study of history essentially worthless from a practical standpoint.

An Alternative To Incessant Fighting Over Ideology

The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is a great example whereby controlling thought (akin to Huxley's "Brave New World") could create a peaceful society, at least relatively so. Just “deprogram” all the contradictory dogma both have been indoctrinated with and simply replace it with an identical ideology into both populations. It matters little what it is so long as both believe it. You must worship Mickey Mouse if you want to be spared from a hellish eternity!

My prediction is they would instantly be more friendly to one another! I am not seriously suggesting this be done (assuming it is or ever will be possible), but am simply posing it as an alternative to incessant fighting and arguing over who is supposedly “right”.

Many will say this control of thought would be evil. But upon further reflection, it seems to be the awareness of having thought controlled, not the control itself, that makes it so evil. What if nobody knew thought was controlled simply as a means to get everybody to agree?

If one still thinks this would be a miserable reality, how is it any less so if by not controlling thought people continue to kill and maim each other over differences in "opinion"?

 It seems then that life is forever destined to have misery as company.

Speculating On The Origin Of Human Sacrifice

Suppose the act of human sacrifice becomes imperative for a tribe's survival. Initially, one might imagine numbers being drawn to determine who will be sacrificed. How awful this would be! Who would want to die only because there was not enough food? Presumably nobody.

Imagine at this point, an elder of the tribe comes up with a way to mitigate the difficulty of this decision. What if a superstitious belief were contrived whereby “volunteers” would be promised a wonderful afterlife and be honored here in this world for the rest of time? Do you suppose there would now be willing volunteers wanting to be sacrificed? Most definitely.

But what about tribes that still engage in this practice even though their survival no longer necessitates it? Well, at this point, it is such an honored and revered tradition that its practice is no longer out of practicality. Rather, it is done because the tribe believes it is actually true and is a way to cherish “honor” in society!

Many feel led to stop this type of “barbaric” practice. But if this practice is banned only because it is awful and ultimately built on a lie, what other practices built completely on superstitious “lies” ought we ban? Certainly most with strong religious convictions are not sacrificing others but should we necessarily pardon their practices? Is it true to say that religious convictions never cause death and destruction? Certainly not. Then perhaps superstitious beliefs of all kinds can actually sow conflict and result in death and destruction.

At this point, if we arbitrarily seek to eliminate certain “evil” practices based on superstitious lies, where must we end this eradication effort? Who is to say which superstitious lies are harmful and which are merely innocuous? Might arbitrarily eradicating certain practices, however “awful” they may be to “us”, be an affront to another society's freedom? At what discrete point must we curtail freedoms to prevent “crimes against humanity”?

A Divine Reflection

In a purely metaphoric sense, I think King Solomon may have “found” God by stumbling upon something seemingly unconscious and hard-wired into the human race. I think he became conscious of the fact that he wanted to want more than he ever wanted to have! This explains why he was never satisfied with all his wealth, jewels, concubines, gold, extravagances, etc.

Once again, reflect on this.....he did not want to have all this stuff, rather, he only wanted to want it all. Might this describe you?

I readily admit this applies to me with many things, especially my relentless pursuit of wisdom. Do not be alarmed or feel ashamed. It is just an unconscious compulsion of the human dysfunction a.k.a. the ego! It is, in my opinion, insanity.

Only awareness of this will ever avoid the dissatisfaction that is bound to stem from this! I believe this is why in Buddhism it is often said that true peace and contentment comes from not wanting.

How Will We Be Judged?

Will God judge us based on our intentions or on our beliefs and actions? In other words, does there exist an absolute standard by which He will judge us?

If it is absolute, He can not arbitrarily evaluate one person on his intentions and another on his actions. If this is the case, it is problematic when carried out to its logical ramifications. If God judges everybody based on individual intentions, I don't see how He could condemn an Islamic terrorist hell-bent on killing innocent people if this person genuinely believes he is doing so for God's glory.

On the other hand, if God judges us based purely on our beliefs and actions, He would out of necessity have to condemn a retarded cripple only because his misfortune, through no fault of his own, precludes him from harboring a cogent belief of any sort and from doing anything worthwhile for God's sake.

Now obviously many will arbitrarily claim He will judge some based on intentions and others based on actions and still others based on a combination of both. But how would anybody know by which standard he himself will be judged?

Where Lies True Salvation?

Is being forgiven by God the biggest obstacle we face in our quest for freedom and redemption? Or might being forgiven by ourselves be the even bigger obstruction? For without this, we can never forgive and forget!

Might forgetting very well be the ultimate segue to this freedom and redemption we yearn for?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Obfuscating Fairness

Canada's Supreme Court ruled that airlines must provide an extra seat for obese people on domestic flights. What about those clinically diagnosed with claustrophobia then? Might these people have just as valid a claim for an extra seat as obese people?

One might suggest only those obese through no fault of their own be eligible for this “perk”. Do claustrophobics anymore choose to be such? How would we determine whether it is through no fault of their own anyway? Only arbitrarily.

Furthermore, why should it matter whether it is their fault or not? If my appetite necessitates that I consume 2 entrees (if genetics had dealt me a 275 pound frame against my better wishes), then I must pay for 2 entrees! In the same way, if obese people require 2 seats, they should pay for 2 seats.

This seems unfair to many. But alas, life is unfair. The sooner one understands this, the more quickly this and other similar arguments become impotent.

The following analogy can shed further light on the absurdity of this argument:

If a person who has only ever aspired to be a brain surgeon just happens to be plain stupid (only because mom and dad, God bless'em, ain't too bright), should he be granted easy access into becoming a surgeon so as to avoid being unfair to him only because he is stupid through no fault of his own? I don't think I want this surgeon operating on anybody I care about.

Life is unfair. Get over it!

The End Of The Road

What is it about death that frightens people? Is it death or is it the dying? Might our fear simply be grounded in the possibility that we will not experience a quick transition to what I believe will be the only place of celestial peace? This seems rational. In this case, it is the road we fear, not the destination.

But who should actually be afraid of death itself? Religious people, especially the self-righteous type, typically believe in an afterlife comprised of heaven or hell. Of those that are self-righteous, where does one suppose these people assume they are going? Heaven, of course. So why should they be afraid?

What about the less than righteous? Where do these people believe they are going? Either heaven or hell. Of those that believe they are going to hell, should they be afraid? Perhaps, but many of these people seem overtly proud about their belief that they will inherit hell as an eternal rest stop, almost as if they embrace the idea of it. So even if hell exists and is actually the place of torment and gnashing of teeth many believe, why should they be afraid if hell is embraced?

What about atheists? Well, these people in all likelihood believe there is no reason to worry about a state that will never be experienced. If death is the end of consciousness, what is there to fear?

It seems the only people that might have a rational fear of death are those that never allow themselves to be “good enough” and hence believe they will be punished in the "Great Beyond".

Friday, July 17, 2009

An Irritating Truth Concerning Double-Standards

Many are angry that black women (just an example) can make comments that white men could not hope to get away with without being burned at the stake. I wholeheartedly agree. However, I have a consciousness-raiser. After black women (or any other group implied in such a “double-standard”) have run the world for 2,000 years, we can be reasonably certain they will no longer be immune to criticism either.

Statistics: A Perverted Art?

In my own statistical test of other statistical tests, I have concluded there is a 95% probability that any given conclusion is 800% more likely to be complete bullshit.....though there is only a 20% chance of that when it is cloudy outside! Then again, if my test is typical of most then it is bullshit anyway meaning the other tests might very well be valid.

I'm being facetious to illustrate how statistics are so commonly perverted as a means to explain anything or everything. Do you want to presuppose legalizing guns helps or hinders society? Or how about "proving" global warming is predominantly caused by man (or woman)? Perhaps you want to conclude the opposite? Just selectively choose your data and variables and I'm sure you can “prove” either.

I believe one of the dangers inherent in most of these statistical tests is that it unconsciously encourages many to identify with and support only conclusions already believed or at least wanted to be believed. In this way, it inflates their egos by giving them something to feel “right” about.

“This statistical conclusion performed by The Institute of Environmental Fascists (IEF) confirms my suspicion about us being the primary cause of global warming, therefore it must be true”, says the man. “Oh really, this test performed by Fossilized Carbon Collectors' Institute (FCCI) suggests otherwise,” says another man. One can see the inherent bias of these silly examples and though they are a bit exaggerated, I think the point is made. 

People want to believe things in order to feel superior and righteous about their preferred causes. Perhaps their belief in the “truth” also gives them a sense of control they would otherwise be without.

Let's also suggest the potential for a self-fulfilled prophesy to transpire only because it is foretold by a given conclusion. As an example, I can't help but think how many hypochondriacs have been created only as a result of having an allergy test which “dictates” that a given person should react to a certain substance. Might a reaction come about purely or at least partially in response to the belief that it should or would?

With diseases, social problems, mental problems, environmental problems, blah, blah, blah. The issue I have with statistical tests is not the tests themselves, but rather the underlying assumptions and variables used to reach the conclusion(s) which are almost always chosen only to validate something already believed or wanted to be believed, thereby creating meaningless circular arguments.

Might Selflessness Be Nothing More Than An Illusion?

If evolution is true, why would we not selfishly strive for only those things that better us individually? Because we are a cooperative animal and as such, it benefits us individually even when we sacrifice for the sake of somebody or something else. So in a sense, little or nothing we do, even if believed to be done selflessly, is truly selfless. There is always a benefit for the sacrificer even if it is not obvious or consciously recognized.

For example, when one sacrifices his time to help somebody in need, it is a sacrifice of time and possibly money. But the benefits to the person sacrificing will typically outweigh these costs. It might improve the person's self-image by mitigating feelings of guilt, and as such, stress might be lowered thereby providing a benefit to the sacrificer.

In other words, most if not all altruistic acts are in some way a win-win scenario as both parties likely benefit. Some will say that laying down one's life for another is truly selfless. But almost always, he does it out of the belief that it will lead to some benefit in the afterlife and/or he represents a team or group which he is part of and as a result, even though he dies as an individual, he lives on honorably as part of the group he represents.

Would anybody die for the other team? Not likely. This is simply evolutionary group selection at play. People will act altruistically only when it benefits themselves or their group or some cause they identify with*. On the other hand, perhaps Jesus did die for the “other” team.

*Conceivably many of us might sacrifice for the OTHER team only to offer the illusion (to ourselves and/or others) that we ARE truly selfless. For example, if those that aspire to be selfless become conscious that their beliefs (esp. concerning God) are ultimately fueled by their own personal preferences, they may choose to believe that which they do NOT like to avoid the appearance of being selfish. However, the mere act of believing "selflessly" simply to conceal their innate selfishness is a personal preference and thus ultimately SELFISH! Might selflessness be nothing more than an illusion?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Circular Reasoning

Pertaining to peoples' definite claims about the nature of reality, it must be pointed out that whatever one is initially inclined to believe is, out of necessity, going to be the only logical conclusion. The reason this is the case is because fundamental presuppositions must be set forth to conclude anything which in turn necessitates the use of circular reasoning. One can only ever conclude the nature of reality based on his underlying assumptions

For example, we might ask that if God exists, how is His own existence explained? If one presupposes a hypothetical God is uncaused (presumably a believer of any God must), of course through “logical” reasoning it will be concluded that He almost certainly exists.

On the other hand, if one presupposes a hypothetical God requires a cause like everything else is thought to, he will conclude “logically” that God almost certainly does not exist.

Do people choose presuppositions exclusively because these assumptions support something they already or at least “want” to believe? Almost certainly, which is what makes it so difficult to objectively evaluate the veracity of these kinds of conclusions.

An unbeliever will likely be accused of choosing only those presuppositions which support his inclination to deny the existence of God. But a believer does just the same. Simply choose the presuppositions that will inevitably lead to the conclusion that God almost certainly exists.

What is my aim in this discourse? That there is no compelling reason to believe anything wholeheartedly. As I've alluded to on many counts, I don't have a problem with this. It does not matter to me whether God does or does not exist. I can live a fulfilled life with or without God or at least with or without belief in God. To allay the concerns of those suspicious that my lack of belief will lead me astray, do not worry! I have no compulsion to degenerate into a wretched, vile animal just because I don't believe in God!

I want to be forthright about something. There is nothing wrong with having beliefs. We are ultimately going to believe only what we want to believe. With this in mind, we must brace ourselves with the fact that many people are going to believe contrary to us. We should be humble and respectful and simply agree to disagree.

Infinite Or Absolute?

Does not the idea of a God based on absolutes restrict Him? How can this be so if He is infinite?

If it is supposed God wears a blue cape, this being analogous to an absolute, then He can not simultaneously don a red one. But if He is infinite, must He by definition wear the red cape along with every other color cape simultaneously?

People tend to harbor restrictive views concerning God arbitrarily. It is often implicitly stated that God can only do or think in a certain manner prescribed by me according to my interpretation of scripture or what feels good to me. But then, just as easily, it is declared that God is so beyond comprehension that one can never know how He might view another situation.

On the one hand, saying God is absolute on a given matter restricts Him thus rendering Him something less than infinite. On the other hand, saying God is vastly bigger than one can ever imagine leaves ideas about Him wide open.

This means many commonly thought absolutes can be less restrictive and, hence, something less than absolute. What is the most likely culprit behind those that are "absolutely" certain? Ego of course.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ego: Friend Or Foe?

Far be it from me to imply ego as intrinsically bad. It is not. However, with the exception of natural disasters and human “mistakes”, bad or “evil” only ever stems from ego.

On the other hand, perhaps we might say many of the greatest feats of humanity are only ever achieved because of ego. In this case, all or much of good stems from ego as well.

It would thus seem ego is neither good nor bad in itself. Rather, it just is. The problem, if you will, is distinguishing “good ego” from “bad ego”. But this discrimination is prohibitively difficult because it requires an absolute definition as to what is good and bad.

Certainly there would be consensus as to a serial killer's acts being “bad ego”. But what about a military leader who is confident and brash through which he achieves victory for his people? He has given them hope and prosperity for the future but has annihilated another country and its people by doing so. Is this “good ego”? I suppose it is if one is on his side.

What about a scientist who finds a cure for a deadly disease only by “cheating” here and there? What about vigilante justice of the JACK BAUER type? GO JACK! What about an athlete that inspires a whole society only because of his mind-boggling feats but is later found out to have doped to achieve all of this? What if a doped up athlete inspires a whole society only because of his ill-gotten abilities but is not found out? Are any of these examples “good ego”?

I suppose it might depend on whether one believes the ends justify the means or perhaps the means justify the ends. But once again, these guidelines themselves are wholly dependent on what is considered good and bad anyway.

In summary, ego will achieve ends considered both good and bad. Likewise, ego will operate under means considered both good and bad. But ego seems neither good nor bad in itself because it only ever has one master: itself. In other words, ego does not exist to better or worsen society. It simply exists to better itself.

The Shortcoming Of Absolutes

Each thought must carry with it only one of many perspectives. As such, a single perspective by its very nature implies limitation. Which means any given perspective and its associated thoughts can not be absolutely true. 

For example, one might suggest the absolute truth of the sun "rising and setting" every day. But this statement is not absolutely true. Surely an observer on a planet three million star systems away would not agree, let alone an observer merely three star systems away. It is relatively true based on the perspective of one who happens to reside on an arbitrarily named planet known as “Earth” in an arbitrarily named galaxy known as “The Milky Way”. Certainly our truth of the sun "rising and setting" every day is not false, but then neither is it absolutely true. Any other interplanetary observers might experience a daily "rising and setting" of a nearby star but certainly not our star.

I thoughtfully quoted "rising and setting" to make a most important distinction. This expression is merely metaphoric as the sun neither rises nor sets in a literal and hence absolute manner. It is but an illusion created by the Earth's rotation.

Yet another distinction to point out is that technically even this metaphoric "rising and setting" every day is problematic. What about observers on the earth's poles during the height of their summer and winter months? Their sun either "stays" risen or "stays" set, this of course being the same sun all of us more tropical types observe. At this point, even the absolute truth of the metaphor is lost.

Another critical distinction to make is that there is nothing absolutely true or real about a day. It is just a relative construct. Presumably, no other planet rotates around itself in the same amount of time.  Additionally, the earth's rotational speed is slowing down which means the amount of time it takes to rotate around itself is NOT absolute!  It's actually increasing every day!  Imperceptibly, to us at least.

In summary, our perception of the sun "rising and setting" every day (this itself a metaphor which cannot hold absolutely true even for Earth's inhabitants) is certainly not false but then neither is it absolutely true. Such is the case with most claims of “absolute” truth.

I will admit, it seems absurd to see things as absolute. Then again, it seems equally absurd to see things as relative. There seems to be an irreconcilable paradox with the absolute/relative dichotomy*.

Many will be annoyed by my "nitpicking" of details. Most overlook or discount them out of the mistaken belief that they are frivolous. However, as per the aforementioned discussion, they are absolutely (a self-professed contradiction, but only for effect) pertinent to any reasonable argument. Any conclusion based on the false notion that variables are necessarily absolute misleads people into believing they can account for all truth with their individual perspectives.

I will end with one of my favorite Kurtisms: do not overlook the profound wisdom of scrutinizing trivial things as this becomes a stepping stone to critically evaluating far bigger things.

*see link that follows for clarification

The "Evil" That Is Profiling

Profiling seems to be viewed as one of the most egregious forms of discrimination these days. I have even heard of credit card companies lowering credit limits on certain customers who shop at certain retailers.

What is the purpose of profiling? Is it for the sake of discriminating maliciously? Blindly following the claims of any number of activist organizations, one could naively be led to believe this to be the case. But generally it is done to save money and time on research in order to make viable decisions regarding each person or situation.

When I turned 16 and got my driver's license, my insurance was twice what it was for my sister! It was so unfair and discriminatory. I was outraged! I was just as responsible and just as good a driver as my sister when she got her license. How dare they have the audacity to charge me double! But this is where profiling is the only viable, perhaps even obligatory strategy in dealing with matters such as these. I knew I was responsible and hopefully my parents and closest friends would have agreed just the same but how would an impersonal insurance behemoth have known this? This is why profiling is necessary.

Unless they performed an in-depth interview and perhaps even attempted to really get to “know” Kurt by assigning a truant officer to observe me for a year, what could they possibly have known about me? Little or nothing! They employ actuaries who pore over statistical trends which point to tendencies certain types of people or situations will more likely than not follow. State Farm did not know me. All they knew was that I was a 16 year-old Caucasian male. From that, they generalized that I would be like other 16 year-old Caucasian males they insured. We could say from their limited research, they concluded I would be approximately twice as likely as my sister to file a claim!

Profiling against people of certain sexes, races, religions, etc. is oftentimes a necessary evil. Even if one argues that certain types of profiling are above and beyond what is necessary, this is arbitrary. In any case, how do we determine the types of profiling that are acceptable or not? Life is unfair. Get over it!

Abusing Humanity

Might one look at today's society a hundred years from now and accuse it of having been abusive? HUH?

Today's society is so inundated with advertising. Why or how could this be abusive?

What is the ultimate purpose of almost all forms of advertising? To promote or reinforce the fallacy that one will only ever find his identity with “stuff” found outside himself. The absurdity of this is that only within self can identity ever be found.

The Matrix

Imagine, as many do, that there exists a God with an agenda of some sort. Might this be construed as a form of coercion and manipulation? If not, why should it be anymore construed as coercion and manipulation if everything was created to serve an earthly ruling order? What is the difference?

Many will claim the difference is that a world controlled by God is divinely inspired whereas a world controlled by human beings “wanting” to coerce and manipulate, unconsciously even, would not be divinely inspired. Hence the reason this would seem evil.

But even in the case of God, there is no consensus as to what is or should be the world's “divine” path to follow, obfuscating that which might be considered divine.

Does God aspire to create a conformed or tolerant society? Does He prioritize human beings or ecological balance? Does He embrace self-reliance or dependence on Him and perhaps others? Does He advocate capitalism or socialism? There is no consensus on Who God is or at least Who He should be. Therefore, it is hard to imagine how a being thought to be divine could actually be so.

Many argue passionately how God “sees” things yet often find little common ground with one another. Who, if anybody, might be right? There is no way to know. If it is the ego which makes our convictions absolute and “divine”, then everybody can be right in spite of opposing views!

Once again, it is easy to see the immutable principle behind this: much in life is a zero-sum game. In any given situation or policy, it is likely somebody will win and somebody will lose. Many things are the way I like. Many other things are not. In the end, I find peace and joy accepting both the things I like and the things I don't.

A Worthy Contribution To Society?

Should we instill our children with confidence and self-esteem? This seems to be a worthy contribution to society, but how far should we take this? At what point might this instillation become detrimental? Does it not seem some kids are too confident of themselves? Have you ever seen kids that project superiority?

I believe what should be ingrained in children more than confidence and self-esteem is respecting others. Jesus referred to this as “putting others above yourself”. The problem with prioritizing your kids' confidence and self-esteem is that this ultimately puts it above respecting others. And as I have alluded to before, if one believes their children should have the utmost in confidence and self-esteem above all else, they will at times subvert sensitivity and decency toward others.

Furthermore, I believe instilling your children with the ideal of respecting others will systematically lead to a positive self image, in turn engendering confidence and self-esteem. Might many peoples' confidence and self esteem be built upon the fallacy that they should be better than others? Might this very well explain why many feel obligated to be better or at least appear better than others? Because of low confidence and self-esteem?

In this case, the very thing instilling confidence and self-esteem is supposed to prevent (low confidence and self-esteem) is the very thing it invites! This is not unlike many things in life. Oftentimes, wars are waged supposedly for the sake of peace. Retribution is doled out supposedly to stave off further “wrongs”. Do they tend to be effective? If anything, they are effective at magnifying the very problems they are meant to eradicate.

The Root Of All Evil

Accepting what is will not necessarily preclude things from getting better anyway. It just means our primary focus is not on changing what is to what should be. An analogy to this is how evolution seems to promote “changes for the better” unconsciously or involuntarily.

I strongly believe because our hyper-driven society is so fixated on achieving goals in themselves that the ultimate moral imperative is lost. What is, or at least should be (I am well aware of my implicit denial of what is) the ultimate moral imperative? To make the world a more pleasant experience for everybody and everything.

If one's primary focus is achieving in itself, decency and sensitivity toward others will often be subverted because it gets in the way of an ultimate goal. I believe if everybody became aware of the destructive nature of their ego, the world would systematically become a much more inviting place!

Evil stems from neither religion nor lack of religion. It stems from unconsciousness to ego! Many non-believers and believers alike have big egos and will therefore sow disharmony and destruction just the same. Conversely, many believers and non-believers alike do not have big egos and will therefore sow harmony and peace just the same.

To the overly prideful atheist or overzealous religious hawk, neither belief nor lack of belief in God systematically leads to evil. Each leads to evil only insofar as how one uses ideology, or lack thereof, to inflate himself above others. For though good will be sown in the world only because of belief, bad will also be sown in the world only because of belief. Conversely, for though bad will be sown in the world only because of disbelief, good will also be sown in the world only because of disbelief.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Playing God

As we figure ways to quell or at least moderate the debilitating effects of diseases and birth defects, might we be playing God? If so, how do we justify it? Is He happy about this? Or merely indifferent?

If we are not playing God through our intervention, what might this be construed as then? How is this any different from the idea of “custom designing” babies, a.k.a. Aldous Huxley's “Brave New World”? What if God has things just as they are because He wants things just as they are? If all outcomes, both good and bad, are God's will, then perhaps we should just let the chips fall as they “will”.

Now many will of course claim that “designing” a perfect baby is wrong but to “fix” a “broken” one is encouraged, perhaps even obligatory. However, what if at some point in the future, a “broken” baby is one who today would quite comfortably be considered perfectly acceptable? Is this speculation unreasonable ? I don't think it is in the least.

This once again points to the lack of any absolute standard in which to determine whether a baby is in an acceptable state or not. What is the minimum state of a baby such that in one situation we can engender changes by justifiably “playing God“ whereas in another we can not justifiably “play God” because this would most certainly entail vain pursuits sure to anger God?

I have discussed previously that as we progress technologically, socially, morally and perhaps in any and every other way, it seems we get farther and farther away from “perfection”. I do not think we are actually moving farther away from perfection, rather I think we just become evermore aware that we are much farther from perfection than previously thought.

Furthermore, as I have exhaustively argued in other writings, I think perfection is in principle impossible to achieve! Hence the reason we will never attain perfection. Kind of like the wisdom of one who knows he knows very little as opposed to one who thinks he knows much but actually knows very little. If there is no absolute way to determine whether any particular person's playing God is acceptable or not, perhaps we should let either everybody or nobody play God?

A Double-Edged Sword!

Is the President's ultimate responsibility to protect and defend his citizens from attack or to defend the Constitution of the United States?

For the naïve that assume the 2 are necessarily interchangeable, might there be situations where they are mutually exclusive to one another? If protecting and defending citizens requires the torturing of captives to gather intel, the Constitution must be subverted. On the other hand, faithfully upholding the Constitution of the United States by not torturing prisoners to extract necessary information will likely lead to the extermination of many of its citizens.

How do we approach this dilemma? There is no good answer for the idealist looking for the absolutely “right” answer! What would God do? That is impossible to answer. However, if we substitute God with ego, it is easy to see what the absolutely “right” answer is. Whatever any one person's ego says is the absolutely “right” answer. But the problem is there will never be a consensus among competing egos!

Whatever decision is made will be altogether loved, hated and viewed indifferently.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Incessant Wanting

I always want more wisdom! This is the same as always wanting more money! Except that it entails wisdom, not money! It seems we always want more of something. Be it fame, sex, money, influence, godliness, righteousness,'s all the same. Wanting to want! The fundamental insanity of the ego!

I readily admit that as much wisdom as I already possess, I will never be rid of my want for more! How is this any different from wanting more fame or sex or money or influence or power or even godliness and righteousness? Seemingly not much! Certainly these pursuits produce a wide range of effects on society, from terrible to wonderful, but they are all ostensibly based on wanting to want more than wanting to have!

What could be insane about wanting to want any of these? There is no finality! In other words, it never comes to fruition. It is like tomorrow. It never is! In my opinion, this is the principle reason we always think something should be other than it is! It implies an incessant wanting to want.

Why might this be? Perhaps this keeps us busy? In other words, because we Homo sapiens have “progressed” so much, we have to keep ourselves constantly challenged. And what bigger challenge might there be than wanting to want! It is unquenchable by definition because once you have something you want, you can no longer want it because you have it!

Once again, the fundamental problem with this is that we are never where we want to be. Is this good or bad? It is likely neither good nor bad in itself. It just is. If other less aware animals knew what we human beings obsessed over, might they have pity on us? Why can't you humans ever be completely fulfilled and content exactly where you are?

Blasphemy Of The Masses

Many believe it is blasphemous to equate God to a de facto vending machine. As in, “God, I'm going to be really good and in return I want, nay I expect a red Ferrari and a hot girl! On second thought, make that a super hot girl!”

But those critical of this type of thinking go on to do just the same, however subtly. How so? Well, by what protocol do the most fervent believers, or anybody for that matter, wish God would use to “regulate” the outcomes of tragedies? If one is faithful/good, God should spare him. On the other hand, the less faithful/bad should slip from God's saving grace.

To digress slightly, if the faithful are spared and the unfaithful are not, where is the grace? In any case, it is wished that God would “look over” the faithful/good like a devoted shepherd. This wish implies that God is or at least should be a vending machine. One should be spared because he is good. On the other hand, it is easy to wish for an evil wretch not to be spared because he is bad. Put in the proper amount and you will receive your just reward. Put in too little and you will receive your comeuppance.

This is of course not how things work in reality, at least not always. In instances where God seems to apportion fate by this wished for protocol, many are happy the faithful/good are spared but not the unfaithful/bad. But what about the many instances where, sadly, this wished for protocol fails miserably?

For instance, many wonderful people fail in spite of their efforts and many terrible people succeed in spite of their wretchedness. Why doesn't God always honor the wishes of wonderful people who expend tremendous effort in their endeavors? Conversely, why doesn't God always sabotage the wishes of the most determined wretches?

In instances such as these, it appears God is not a vending machine but it causes a dilemma nonetheless. If God is in the business of sabotaging the wishes of the good and endorsing the wishes of the bad, how does this make Him good? Of course many will resolutely claim God only allows these unfortunate outcomes, He does not instigate them!

Quibbling over this detail, however, does not mitigate the dilemma at hand. He still appears to be one “o” short of good. Of course it could easily be claimed that neither wretched people succeeding nor wonderful people failing has anything to do with God. But then why should it be any more assumed that God's hand is involved in wonderful people succeeding or wretched people failing?

Whatever the case, this assumption essentially implies God is or at least should be a vending machine. And why should He not? What is the point of “worshiping” said God if He is not a vending machine?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

This Works, That Doesn't

It is often claimed by politicians, especially during campaigning, that they will do away with programs and policies that “do not work”. What does this mean? How is the determination made as to a program's or policy's efficacy? This once again is totally subjective based on different peoples' perspectives and above all else opinions.

Many will say being overly “generous” with entitlements for the poor does not work. But if one is poor and lazy, how does this not work for him? Typically we as a society evaluate a program's or policy's viability based on utilitarianism. A given program might serve its constituents exceptionally well, but if the costs of this program are too high for the number of people it benefits, it likely will be construed as something that “does not work”. 

But this type of thinking is merely arbitrary because it is not always followed. Oftentimes, we will pay anything to get back prisoners-of-war or kidnap victims, for example. But this is not utilitarianism, rather it is emotions that account for this type of response.

So how do we determine whether to base difficult decisions on utilitarian principles or emotional responses? How can this line be drawn but arbitrarily? Requiring buildings to have handicap access is likely driven by emotions as the cost of implementing these standards almost certainly outweighs the utilitarian benefits.

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not against basing decisions on emotional foundations. Neither am I against basing decisions on utilitarian principles. I am simply pointing out that there is no imperative as to what should be done in any given situation. It is but subjective based purely on competing opinions no doubt shaped and motivated by how these issues affect us as individuals and as groups we represent. This seems selfish. And it is! It is nothing but evolutionary group selection. This is nothing to feel guilty about. It just is!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

True Forgiveness

What is true forgiveness? To me it is accepting ill treatment from somebody by totally and completely putting it behind and not dwelling on it, realizing the action was committed because of unconsciousness to ego. Some people who might otherwise avenge wrongs done against them reluctantly leave the judgment to God and call this forgiveness. But I reject this claim! I think forgiveness with the belief that God will eventually “settle” matters is not forgiveness. It is merely retribution by proxy.

The ideal way to look at wrongs committed against us is well expressed by Jesus during his last breaths. Speaking of those responsible for his predicament, he asks the Father to forgive them, for they know not what they are doing. He obviously realizes these people are unconscious. This is the essence of forgiveness in my opinion.

I have to ask myself if I am capable of “truly” forgiving. What is required of me to demonstrate this kind of forgiveness? It is almost as if the only way to attain such peace from wrongs done against me is to not care. Not care about what? How about protecting my ego? When we are taken advantage of, the ego is under assault so it feels entitled to defend itself by exacting revenge in some way, be it through thought or action. If one cannot advance in life without getting over wrongs committed against him and has a compulsion to harbor ill thoughts toward wrongdoers, it is a strong sign the ego is in control. Think about it. If somebody is taken advantage of, is he still not the same person? Of course. He is and only ever will be exactly the person he has always been.

So not being able to forgive is a sign that the ego is in control, and therefore, the person has staked his identity in ego, not his true self. This, as I've said before, is the fundamental “problem” with humanity. As long as the ego is in control, things will never change. There will be no lasting peace, political compromise will be impossible, there will be lack of understanding amongst one another (and no desire to understand), fighting over ideology will be rampant, the list goes on and on. And I think where this leads to is the wisdom of accepting things as they are. As long as you reject what is, there will be much conflict and struggle for peace within.

I believe the essence of what Jesus is talking about in weakness being strength and strength being weakness is the following: "the world" defines strength by identification with the ego. Jesus' view on this axiom is diametrical. True strength comes from detachment from ego. Only then can the essence of your “I am” surface.

Things That Make You Go Hmmm.....

I recently perused a story in the newspaper about a pastor in Louisville inviting "responsible" people to bring their guns (unloaded of course) to church to honor the Fourth of July and the Second Amendment. This seemed particularly asinine to me.

Why do I say this? Well, which segment of the population tends to be the most overzealous supporter of “gun rights”? The overly paranoid of course, those that believe armed perpetrators will likely show up anywhere at any time. In other words, the very people that would likely bring their guns to church upon their pastor's encouragement.

But what happens if an armed perpetrator were to show up during this church celebration of “gun rights” and begin to shoot the place up? Will not these overly paranoid advocates of “gun rights” all bearing their unloaded guns* be completely impotent if they are unable to thwart this perpetrator only because their guns are unloaded and hence useless?

If defense is one's primary concern, is not the whole point to carry the gun loaded everywhere at all times? If not, what is the point? If I had to harbor a guess, it is ultimately ego showing off or desperately trying to. I have no affinity for guns but am neither for nor against “gun rights”. But why would an overly paranoid citizen ever carry his gun unloaded? For safety reasons maybe? This then seems to be a tacit admission that guns are overly dangerous. So why ever carry one? Sheer madness!

*Of course many would likely flout the pastor's demand to bring their guns unloaded, but at this point the gun holders would be disobedient. Are we not supposed to be obedient to authority figures, especially those ordained by God Himself? So why go to church to honor and worship “the Man upstairs” if they are going to deliberately subvert the pastor's will in essence mocking God's authority?

Who Am I Not?

Your identity lies not in a race, a nationality, an ethnicity, a culture, a religion, a sexual orientation, a sex, a skin color, a flag, a piece of land, a team, a name, a college, a fraternity, a sorority, a car, a house, a fashion, a brand, a hairstyle, a profession, a label, a God, a girlfriend, a boyfriend, a spouse, an ideology, a political party, a talk show host, a loss, a win, intelligence, stupidity, fatness, skinniness, beauty, ugliness, cuteness, baldness, wealthiness, motherhood, fatherhood, rightness, wrongness, sickness, healthiness, victimhood, and so on ad infinitum. Your identity lies within you.....

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Heavenly Realm

Heaven.....a literal place thought to exist beyond and transcendent to this realm. Why must it be literal? Perhaps because many feel compelled to envision an ideal society the likes of which will probably never be experienced here. But still, why must it be literal?

If one were to envision this “Great Beyond” as merely metaphoric, might this actually encourage him to “build” heaven here? Or at least try? In this case, why wait for it?

Heaven, in the mind of many, seems to be a place of homogeneity where everybody is worshiping the same God, the same ideals, the same politics, the same this, the same that. This seems very arrogant and boring, in my opinion. I see God as being the totality of every religion, every philosophy, every political viewpoint, every perspective, etc.

Why is it that many think heaven to be a place where everybody bows down to their religion, their philosophy, their politics, their perspective, etc? Probably because it caters to their INDIVIDUAL perspectives*.....this is nothing but EGO.

Might this nicely explain why many seem apt to believe that heaven will be experienced only in the “Great Beyond”, i.e., after we die? In this way, it is never incumbent upon them to exude humility and understanding and admit that they might not have the “absolute” truth of everything or anything for that matter. This humility would likely lead to tolerance of different ideas and create a less hostile world thus potentially leaving the coveted “Great Beyond” within sight. Behold, heaven!

*see link below for corollary

Thursday, July 9, 2009

More Uncertainty!

Difficult lines must be drawn but many will not like them! I will attempt to explain why this is so.

For instance, concerning tax breaks, it seems obvious to most that those of limited means with many hungry children to feed should be entitled to tax breaks more so than others. But what if you were just beyond any given line of entitlement? What if your income and number of children just missed this “line”? Would you not feel cheated? Perhaps you think the line should be drawn to include you? Trouble is, there is always another unlucky bloke who happens to be just beyond this new line of entitlement leaving him feeling cheated just the same as you were before!

There is a seemingly never-ending succession of "yous", at least until everybody is entitled to said benefit. But of course this will never happen because we as a society can ill afford to offer entitlements to everybody. (also problematic with this approach is that it would simply be a case of "robbing Peter to pay Paul" in turn being ineffectual in redistributing wealth) Things will seldom if ever be “fair” drawing lines because they are by their very nature predicated on discontinuities. But most of life's matters can not be treated as such. Rather, most of life's matters tend to be based on continuities.

For instance, where does an embryo become a living, breathing human being? Clearly, it is not a living, breathing human being at its insemination (this being the left end of the spectrum) but clearly it is a living, breathing human being when it comes out of the birth canal (this being the right end of the spectrum).

Does it ever become a living, breathing human being? If not, is it always a human being or is it never a human being? This is silly, as a small clump of cells certainly can not be a living, breathing human being but I'm pretty positive I am a living, breathing human being! Perhaps it is both human and less than human all the while being neither? This exemplifies what is known as the “barber paradox”: if it can not be human, it must be human. Conversely, if it must be human, it can not be human. Is the set of all sets that are not members of itself a member of itself, or is it not, and if it is not, is it?

On the other hand, if it becomes a living, breathing human being, at what discrete point does it become so? It does not seem to at all but it must. If there is a discrete point whereby an embryo becomes a living, breathing human being, all we can be certain of is its uncertainty. I am using this example as a way to demonstrate the difficulty of drawing 1 absolutely right line in any given situation!

In any case, it appears people instinctively like to draw absolute lines, in all likelihood because they are slaves to their egos' pursuits. The problem with this is the lines themselves are arbitrary because lines are ultimately predicated on discontinuities whereas issues in life, especially the most difficult ones, are predicated on continuities. Therein lies the root of all (intelligent) controversy!

It is tempting to believe there is a discrete point whereby a fertilized egg becomes a baby worthy of protection. Just the same, it is tempting to believe there is a discrete point whereby a person is becoming of a given entitlement. But this is all opinion no doubt shaped by each person's perspective. Project this argument on all issues in life, especially the most difficult ones.

Can we all just learn to get along with all of our differences by realizing nobody is “absolutely” right?

Might Truth Be Like Quantum States?

I have found more truth asking questions and introspecting than I ever did trying to find “absolute” truth. Trying to find “absolute” truth is an endeavor destined to fail because it inevitably winds up skewing one's objectivity in one way or perhaps many.

Might the search for truth be a bit like Heisenberg's uncertainty principal? Truth, like quantum states, is very elusive. It is not possible to know with certainty both the velocity and location of a given particle because the mere act of measuring one skews the “truth” of the other. One can know completely either of the two or know a little something of both but he can not know both with certainty.

If velocity is like relativity and location is like absolutism, let's attempt to find “absolute” truth. How would one do this? That's easy! The precise measurement of a particle's location/absolutism will produce an “absolute” truth. But only at enormous cost. For he will now forgo any knowledge as to the velocity/relativity of the particle, thereby making it erroneously appear as though its velocity is zero and hence not relative in the least. In this case, it seems clear that whatever truth is found is absolute and unquestionable.

Trouble is, somebody else can just as easily measure the particle's location/absolutism in exactly the same manner but come up with a contradictory assessment regarding the particle's “absolute” location. The explanation for this disagreement is that the particle actually has a velocity and hence its location is seemingly relative to any given measurer and time. In other words, because the person and the time of the measurement is different and the measured item actually has a velocity, it will not be in the same position as it is for any other measurer.

This will cause disagreement between the two as both are presumably unaware that the particle has a velocity and hence is not in an identical location at any given time. Each measurer then erroneously believes he is in possession of the “absolute” truth as to the particle's whereabouts at all times.

It is my contention that ego tends to creep into any “honest” assessment of truth. Reason being, the ego's ultimate aim is not, perhaps surprisingly, to find truth. Rather, its ultimate aim is to find an “absolutely right” answer, however arbitrary, to inflate its sense of superiority by being absolutely right.

The issue with finding truth always revolves around fundamental assumptions. Why choose one over another? It can only be arbitrary to individual preferences. If one wants to believe the world is ultimately good, he might assume a good God exists Who out of necessity must be uncaused, this itself another blind assumption. On the other hand, one could just as easily believe the world is ultimately not good and assume there is no God or at least no good God. Of course neither view is provable nor disprovable! They are nothing but assumptions!

Another might just as easily see the world as being equally good and bad (of course this being merely relative to somebody's chosen perspective) and conclude the world is neither good nor just is. Would this world be atheistic or would it be “ruled” by an indifferent God? Either could be assumed.

Alternatively, one could just as easily measure completely velocity/relativism and conclude that there is/are no truth(s). Might the true search for truth be inspecting ourselves? What outcome might this have on the world? What if everybody were to partake of this endeavor? Could this be the beginning of the end for the ego? What might happen concerning violence and war or perhaps between their far less dramatic yet insidious siblings, argument and conflict over seemingly petty things?

Who Or What Killed Friedrich Nietzsche?

It is often said by easily offended religious people in response to Nietzsche having said God was dead, that God then killed Nietzsche. But God did not kill Nietzsche. Nietzsche apparently died of an unknown illness, possibly syphilis. Furthermore, if God actually did kill Nietzsche for his seemingly irreverent remark(s), how would this make Him good?

Killing somebody simply for making an offensive comment (more than likely just an innocuous comment interpreted offensively) sounds decidedly like a human response to an insult. This is simply the ego “protecting itself". Would not a great, glorious God be above this seemingly childish type of response? Why would anybody feel an obligation to avenge insults? Because the insulted has staked his identity in something other than himself, in this case a thought. How could God stake His identity in anything but Himself? Furthermore, if God does in fact exist, why would He have felt compelled to strike Nietzsche dead for a comment that is not even true?

I would have to imagine a sufficiently glorious and powerful Entity would be aware enough of His identity such that He would not have to resort to striking someone dead only because this person “thought” God was dead. If He really is wonderful and powerful and completely fulfilled, what need would God have to punish anybody? And for what?

Many people impart their egos on God such that He is “forced” to serve their whims. On the other hand, if God is a slave to His ego much like we tend to be, then I am afraid we are all in big trouble!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Satan.....The Ultimate Scapegoat?

In my opinion, the idea of Satan is contrived to explain the many problems of the world beyond our control and, more importantly, to diffuse blame for humanity's problem. What problem? I suggest the fundamental “problem” with humanity is EGO. Each of us has one and it is just something we have to accept and, dare I say, appreciate. It is a “gift” we have as a result of our self-awareness.

When one is conscious, it is apparent the ego is nothing more than the animal instinct within each of us hell-bent on competing, dominating, feeling superior, prettier, wealthier, better, smarter, wiser, more right(eous), etc. And this is fine. After all, this drive enables us to travel along the “frontier of progress” like no other animal ever has. At least here on Earth! But as such, we are aware beings capable of seeing the havoc this type of egoistic behavior commonly leaves in its wake. Just look around the world and see the corruption and disharmony throughout.

The ego needs to see things as absolute in order to feel right at the expense of others who are wrong and it unconsciously wants enemies because it helps the ego feel good or at least better about itself. For example, wars are only ever fought because each side believes it has the truth or moral imperative. “God and His principles are on our side!” it is often declared. But if there is an absolute way to look at God and His principles, why do we not all reach the same conclusion(s) about God and His principles? If He is there but fails to make it perfectly clear who is right, why would I or should I feel compelled to believe He is good? Each competing side believes God and principles are with it and, as such, I find it difficult to demonize the “incorrect” side if it honestly believes it is right.

Furthermore, depending on the perspective embraced, there is no absolute method to evaluate who is right and who is wrong anyway. Therefore, it doesn't matter to me whether one side is correct and the other incorrect, whatever that might mean. As long as each side believes it's correct, I can not label one righteous and the other evil. When one is conscious, this is readily apparent.

The way I see it, one can only do evil if he consciously recognizes it as such. If an unconscious person does something evil, the worst I can say about him is that he is unconscious. The problem I have with labeling him “evil” or in any other negative way is that it will only serve to aggravate him thereby creating more conflict and disharmony. The problem is not that he is evil per se, it is that he is unconscious. Evil is simply a manifestation of unconsciousness.

The idea of Satan is among other things simply a by-product of competing egos unconsciously proclaiming their righteousness by demonizing others simply because they disagree.

Is Technology A Blessing Or A Curse?

Does technology really improve our lives? I think it is essentially an even trade-off. It seems to me that for every 10% increase in productivity due to technological advances, we as a society effectively increase the burden placed on ourselves by 10%, possibly even more. In this case, we get nowhere or possibly even surrender “progress”.

Some may disagree and point out how technology has made traveling and communicating much more efficient and, hence, has greatly contributed to productivity and happiness. But if we never had any of this stuff, we wouldn’t know what we were missing and might be just as happy, perhaps even more so. What about medical advances? Well, even if the average life span of a human, which is now about 80 years, was only 30 years because we never progressed technologically, what “better” standard would there be to compare our “mere” 30 year lifespan to? We would only ever expect to live approximately 30 years which would seem a relatively long time. Aunt Selma lived 35 years! Wow, 35 years! She must have had good genes! If we only lived 30 years, we might make better use of our more limited time anyway.

Unable to avoid digressing, I feel compelled to ask what a better use of time might mean? Spending more time educating ourselves? Spending more time with family? Spending more time away from family doing life saving volunteer work? Spending solitary time reflecting and getting to know oneself better in order to harmonize with the world more effectively? It’s all relative to each individual.

Now, it is crucial to note the difference between never having had something and having something taken away. Once we have a piece of technology, it is prohibitively difficult to part ways with it. If we try to imagine what it would be like abandoning all the “amenities” we have thus far accumulated, we will undoubtedly fail. This would likely seem very regressive and uncivilized.

The only way to experience what I am talking about is not to have had it in the first place. One might draw an analogy to this idea with the biblical story of Adam and Eve. They were instructed to keep away from the forbidden fruit lest they face negative consequences. But of course being curious and suspicious that God was trying to withhold from them knowledge in order to impede their “progress”, they capitulated to their temptation and imbibed in the forbidden fruit. Initially, they probably felt good about their rebellion. They likely felt empowered, the fruit (analogous to technology) “tasted” really good, etc. But there was a price for this new found “freedom”. They became aware of their nakedness and were ashamed.

Their reality went from one of freedom and innocence to one of feeling ashamed and regretful of the circumstances brought on by their own doing, similar to how many of us long to have the simpler lives we once had. Oh how nice it would be to go back to the days before television and video games and other such mindless “electronic entertainment” and play outside instead! Why do we tend not to? Why do we not just go back to our simpler lives? Because as I've alluded to previously, once a can of worms is opened, it is prohibitively difficult to get its lid back on.

What is my point here? Ultimately, I am saying that every decision and choice one makes in life is simply a trade-off. One will never have it "just right". We can get some of this only by giving some of that. It seems much of the time our attempts to fix circumstances cause more damage only because we do not properly account for these associated trade-offs. It is hard to believe and especially difficult to live by the overused expression the grass is always greener, or at least appears so, on the other side. In the end, it seems paramount to accept what is.