Monday, August 31, 2009

Questioning A Most Revered Friend

Capitalism troubles me. First off, what in God's green earth precipitated a highly industrialized country like ours to shift so much of its production of goods overseas? To get costs down thereby offering lower priced goods to consumers and greater profit margins to manufacturers. This noble intention was of course spurred on by hyper-competition, the essence of capitalism! After all, it is much cheaper manufacturing things in “decades-behind-us” countries where wages are much lower and unions nonexistent. This in turn gives us cheaper cars and goods.

But then what becomes of all our cities and more importantly our workers who are just so “wired” to work on assembly lines? The cities decay and the workers are then forced to find new skills based perhaps on service oriented tasks. This seems fine, except for the fact that it is now claimed we must maintain a strong manufacturing base if we are to uphold our position as the world's preeminent economy. So we say, let's bring manufacturing back

But with much higher wage standards in our society, costs will increase dramatically. How will we get them down? By procuring the services of 20th century's answer to the immorality of slavery. We'll get computers to do all the dirty work! In this regard, nobody has to pay a soul! Except the power companies and a tech nerd or two needed to maintain the computers. Isn't this ultimately what a genuine capitalist should hope for? A way to eliminate the need for employees and other "unnecessary" costs which will only ever disrupt his bottom line? 

Today computers are so powerful that it is not at all unrealistic to envision plants being operated solely by robots with perhaps a few rogue humans to prevent or address occasional malfunctions here and there. But what then becomes of all the ready, willing and able factory workers? Perhaps they will be forced to find jobs in the service industry?

But if computers can eliminate the need for factory workers, why would it end here? Perhaps today's in vogue service industry will be much more efficiently operated by computers making human beings nothing more than costly extravagances? (One need only take note of all those pesky automated call centers.....God curse them!) What then are these ex-service industry workers to do?

To me, capitalism seems to idolize personal gain at the expense of other human beings. This neither maddens nor depresses me. It just is what it is. I guess what bothers me most is that many people tend to, consciously or not, operate under the pretext that their capitalistic pursuits are not selfish.

I think it true to say that in spite of the fact that capitalism is ultimately driven by nothing but personal gain, it still seems to be a boon for humanity. Perhaps this is why many "liberals" seem to HATE it? For though capitalism doesn't give a shit about anybody or anything (except ITSELF/MONEY), it does seem to reduce poverty and suffering more than any other tried approach.

So am I implying capitalism to be the final chapter of humanity's pursuit of progress?

What do YOU think?

Before answering this, keep in mind that not so long ago, much of society thought (countless societies still DO) slavery was a boon for humanity. And presumably societies of antiquity (and of course MANY today) thought humanity was best served by women staying at home raising children and cleaning dishes. And what about many past societies (and of course, once again, many TODAY) that thought a man's greatest moral obligation and honor was his "barbaric" ability to eradicate other human beings? 

Apparently societal norms change over time? Perhaps, then, we should be a little more reluctant to espouse the virtues of capitalism as if it were the "final" moral solution for our progress?

A Verdict On The Issue Of Health Care

How could something like the health and well-being of our citizens be relegated to the arbitrary whims of bureaucracies? On the other hand, to view health care from the perspective of each human being's every specific need and desire, how are we to expect this kind of personal care to be at all affordable?

It is essentially a debate about treating health care in a utilitarian versus an emotional manner. This is difficult because though the well-being of human beings is perhaps the most sacred of life's issues, it, like any other difficult issue, has severe restrictions placed upon it because we live in a finite world. If only it was infinite!

Unfortunately, there is neither enough money, nor doctors, nor organs to be transplanted, etc. to meet every personal need and desire of every citizen such that we are all treated with the utmost care.

It may be difficult to stomach for many of you but the world does not revolve around you, your parents, your children or Grandma Gertrude. It might be true to say that your world revolves around them. The problem with this is that obviously we all have our own ideas as to whom and what the world revolves around, many of which are in opposition to one another as they are vying for the same limited resources.

Alas, the “world's world” revolves around a collective One, many people and issues of which you could not care less about because they are not part of your world! But the problem with trying to approach health care in a utilitarian manner is that it will by its very nature foment accusations of being cruel and callous simply because this is perhaps the most emotional and fragile issue known to man. How dare we dehumanize our fellow brethren like this!

But to approach it in a purely emotional manner seems to necessitate astronomical expenditures of which nobody seems willing to take responsibility. How do we address this utilitarian/emotional dichotomy? Any response to this that places the answer “somewhere in the middle” simply obfuscates the problem all over again. The middle means a thousand things to a thousand people!

My opinion on this, depressing as it may be for many, leans more toward the “coldness” of utilitarianism. Of course this view will likely incite feelings of dehumanization, but I see this trend taking shape quite nicely in many of our other affairs, so perhaps this is our inescapable destiny?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Just The Way God Made Me

How did God fail me, one might ask? I would rephrase the question slightly. As in, how did my idea of God fail me? Because I believe whether or not a God of some sort actually exists, it is only one's idea of said God that can potentially offer life-altering benefits.

For me, in spite of the fact that I really believed (at least I think I did), this neither encouraged nor discouraged me from doing anything beyond which I would or would not have done anyway. For many, just the idea of a wonderful God cheering them on is encouragement enough to do amazing feats that would otherwise not be done. These feats then become the “proof of the pudding” that God had something, perhaps everything, to do with them. Voila, belief! But alas, this did not happen with me.

A quick appraisal of this may cause some to pity me because apparently my idea of God neither encouraged nor discouraged me from doing things I would or would not have done anyway.

However, I see something very encouraging and meaningful in this, to me at least. It suggests that I have only ever been myself, just the way God made me.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

God And Bioethical Considerations

The more I ponder the discipline of bioethics, the more I become dissuaded of the existence of God. At least a God that could reasonably intervene on our behalf such that He might be considered personal. The ironic thing is this comes in response to having read Francis Collins' “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief”. Ironic in that he is a self-professed Christian.

In the end, trying to “fit” a wonderful, personal God into the obviously callous and cruel nature of reality seems to necessitate absurd explanations as to why a child would be born with cystic fibrosis, something or other.

Concerning the discipline of genetic engineering, it would seem that God can choose to be either personal to the wishes of those who believe genetic engineering in all its grandeur is an affront to His authority or personal to the wishes of those who believe He has given us the fortitude and perhaps even His blessing to reverse these genetic “oversights”. In other words, he can't be personal to both.

With this realization, it becomes difficult to endorse the idea that God is personal to us all. Perhaps He is personal to NOBODY?

If one outright rejects this supposition, a challenging follow-up question to the notion of this Creator being personal is personal to whom? I have pondered this extensively and have concluded, perhaps regrettably to many, that the idea of a personal God does not seem to overcome simple scrutiny. How can God be personal to all of us when it seems the vast majority of our prayers and desires seem to conflict with that of other faithful followers? For instance, how would God personally intervene in the lives of countless God-fearing males all seeking the affection of the same God-fearing female?

If one chooses to overlook this “problem”, he is burying his head in the sand like an ostrich to deny what is perfectly obvious.

Alternatively, if one believes God is personal, this would of course imply that He is personal to him. Does this not seem of utmost arrogance? Where is the humility?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fairness Or Simplicity?

An unavoidable and unfortunate side-effect of drawing lines is that fairness and simplicity seem to be inversely proportional. As such, they work against each other. “But I want all of both,” it will be exclaimed like an obnoxious, spoiled child. But seldom if ever can something be simple without it being unfair. Conversely, seldom if ever can something be fair without it being complicated.

Of course many unfair issues in life are easily overlooked because they are relatively superficial not worth obsessing over. To digress slightly, it is important to note that what is superficial or not is ultimately opinion anyway. But bear with my terms for the sake of the argument. For instance, getting stuck in a “slow” line at the supermarket. It is unfair but simple: you just wait longer than somebody else should. Supermarkets could implement what would be relatively complicated protocols for fairness' sake, though who really cares about such trivial issues? But what about other issues which are not so superficial? Take the inherent problem with our tax code, most notably its complexity. It is overly complicated because, it is thought, its progressive nature makes it more fair (assume once again this is true for the symmetry of this argument, for I know many will disagree with this because of valid disagreements as to what fairness can entail).

Let's introduce the idea of the Fair-Tax. For it to work in its purportedly simple manner, it must brook few if any exceptions, otherwise it will swell into another bloated gazillion page encyclopedia of exceptions rather than a few simple rules. But without myriad exceptions, people will instinctively bitch and complain that they should not be subject to the same tax or burden as somebody else.

For instance, if the tax is fixed, whether I buy a bag of raw broccoli or somebody else buys a pack of cigarettes, this does not seem fair to me (and perhaps even the smoker) as it is likely he will pose a far greater burden on society than I myself will eating broccoli. Of course most will justifiably claim that we must implement exceptions that are “obviously” reasonable. But which exceptions are “obviously” reasonable?

If you have a difficult time responding to this with anything but a smug, know-it-all grim, does it occur to you that there exist so many special interest groups only because each believes wholeheartedly that its cause is sacred and hence “obviously” reasonable? Where must we draw the line on what is to be considered a "reasonable" exception?

For the fair-tax to truly be what is claimed of it, it must be both fair and simple. But this seems problematic because of the inverse proportionality of these two variables. Must not fairness yield to simplicity or simplicity to fairness? Resolving society's most pressing issues with both fairness and simplicity is wishful thinking!

Alas, we as a society are faced with the confounding issue of whether to aim for more fairness or more simplicity in our affairs . The consequences of disagreement over this manifest themselves in ugly ways. Of course this very dilemma crops up with reckless abandon on many other issues.

For instance, if many believe God will eventually send each of us to either heaven or hell, will He handle this task with simplicity or fairness? Simplicity would dictate He draw 1 simple line. If one is lucky, he will make it. If not, he will inherit hell as his eternal rest stop. What if you or somebody you really cared about just missed this cutoff into paradise? How might you feel? “Don't have a COW God, I mean none of us is perfect!”

Conversely, what if somebody you really did not care for just made this cutoff into paradise? Certainly neither of these scenarios would seem fair, to you at least. Of course presumably it will seem fair to others, especially those which just made this cutoff into paradise but whose purported “enemies” did not!

Now on the other hand, we might suggest God will lean more towards fairness, in which case He can grade each of us on a “continuous” spectrum or what many might relate to far better, a “curve”. But this would be beyond complicated so much so that it would make any conclusion as to how He would do so pure speculation. And it is all but certain ego would corrupt the “worthiness” of any conclusion anyway, for the express intent of “covering its ass” so to speak. By this, I mean individuals "reasoning" how they and their “select” loved ones will inherit paradise whereas others seen as enemies or wretches will not.

Another valid consideration, what is fairness? Many believe fairness should be predicated on judging wrongs. This would then necessitate we all be judged. But this once again would be incredibly complicated. How might God do this? Any answer to this just begs another question. How could anybody possibly know? Presumably believers of “perfect judgment” see themselves worthy of being overlooked, but how do they discern this? Is this necessarily right or fair? To them it is.

On the other hand, what if God judged nobody? What if His love and grace and mercy were infinitely sufficient such that He had neither the desire nor obligation to judge anybody? Believing an all powerful God will step in as a proxy for all the wrongs done against us and our select loved ones seems to be our way of assuaging the anger and despair which naturally arises from being wronged.

What if those who believe God will settle wrongs done against them and their select loved ones reconsidered? Would they feel compelled or even obligated to personally avenge these wrongs if they ceased to believe God would?

But getting back to the idea that God might judge nobody, this seems fair to me and perhaps others but I know it will not seem so to many others. Once again, herein lies the most fundamental problem we face in existence: the most difficult issues in life are trade-offs! There is no absolutely perfect answer as to how we should balance fairness and simplicity!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Personal God?

Personal to whom? To me? To you? To them? I do not believe any type of existent God could be personal. At least insofar as how we individually and, dare I say, selfishly define personal. And why would we not? Or rather how could we not? What is personal if it does not revolve around self? Ideas of a personal God then seem to naturally mimic our individual preferences and whims.

But this will often conflict with a collective concept of what is preferable and desirable for society as a whole which is the only type of view I could ever imagine a hypothetical God espousing. Otherwise, whose side might He be on when there is disagreement?

Do you not see how arbitrary any answer to this is? In light of this dilemma, is it now quite apparent God's view must revolve around a collective perspective?

So in essence, I am saying that our individual concepts as to what makes God personal are by definition very selfish! If God acquiesces to my personal preferences, how then could He be personal to somebody else with competing preferences?

In the quintessential competition that is war, for example, somebody wins and somebody loses. How could God be personal to both? Therefore, there seems to be a dilemma with the idea of a personal God.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Problem Of Free-Will

Why doesn't God intervene in the mind of a serial killer before he strikes? Because He gives each of us free-will to act as we may, it is thoughtfully reasoned. And this free-will is an intrinsic aspect of our nature which is ultimately what endows us with any semblance of humanity. Without it, we are just robots capable of doing only what God “commands” us to do. But if this is the case, how could God ever intervene in a person's free-will to thwart evil?

It is oftentimes claimed God intervenes to prevent evil from occurring but clearly He does not always intervene in our evil free-will pursuits otherwise there would be no evil. But if He only occasionally intervenes in our evil free-will pursuits, this sporadic intervention appears arbitrary. Being arbitrary, it is difficult to reconcile this to a God who is thought to be all good and always perfect. It seems this God could be at best nobly inspired but somewhat aloof.

There is something that struck me about the problem of free-will and how God might conceivably deal with it. Let's suppose a terrorist is threatening to blow up a building with children in it. Of course the authorities call in a set of negotiators to quell the terrorist's anxieties and plead with him to reconsider all the while the faithful are busy praying for the situation. In this instance, the terrorist stands down. Isn't God great? I knew God would act on the prayers and influence the conscience of the terrorist in order that he not consummate his diabolical plan! Might it also be suggested that the negotiators had at least something to do with this peaceful resolution? In any case, many view this as a "coup" for God.

But suppose the terrorist does not stand down and many school children perish in the blast (it's happened before). How could God let this happen? Well, you see, this is simply a product of free-will and humanity's “love of sin" running amok.

But if free-will ultimately trumps intervention by God, can we reasonably question whether God can ever intervene to resolve crises? Many implicate God's intervention to peaceful endings. But maybe the explanation for peaceful endings has nothing to do with God's intervention? This nicely coincides with situations that do not end peacefully where it is typically reasoned that God could not have interfered with the person's free-will and that is why said atrocity happened.

In the end, I have more peace believing happy endings and sad endings happen independent of God's intervention.

For more on the concept of free-will, please see blog entitled "Pondering The Variability Of Morality"

The Collective Struggle Of Existence 2

I want to discuss my idea of accepting what is. “Shirley you can't mean accepting everything just as it is,” Mr. Smith asks quizzically?

Firstly, I will respectfully ask him not to call me Shirley ever again! Secondly, what if I were to tell him that is exactly what I mean?

“Well that just sounds like a meaningless waste of a life, devoid of satisfying your wants and desires and hence accomplishing little or nothing,” Mr. Smith sadly reflects. Perhaps.

But the fact that few if any practice this philosophy of accepting everything exactly as it is inevitably leads to conflict. Why? Because the world we live in is finite and as such, there will be many losers for all the winners out there! This collective struggle explains why the world is exactly as it is.

My point in advocating a philosophy based on accepting everything exactly as it is is to expose what systematically stems from a philosophy that does not. Conflict and struggle over power, money, resources, ideology, jobs, mates, etc.

Many will point out that obviously we should accept some things as they are but not everything. The problem with this is that there is no consensus as to what exactly should be accepted and what should not. This being the case, there will be conflict and struggle regardless because many of the things some think should be accepted, others think should not which in turn creates conflict and struggle.

My point is not to say one should or should not accept this or that. My point is that the inevitable result of people trying to change what is to what they think should be is conflict and struggle! I see this as neither good nor bad in itself. It just is.

However, the ramifications of this conflict and struggle will inevitably manifest itself in very ugly ways. Fighting, arguing, blaming, violence, vengeance, war, envy, resentment, espionage, treason, etc. This must be accepted with a philosophy predicated on changing what is to what each individual thinks should be.

This is why the world is exactly as it is! How could it be any other way?

The Dilemma Of God's Intervention In Our Affairs

Can God actually intervene in a divine or “absolutely perfect” manner when it seems much of our perceived reality is akin to a zero-sum game? More often than not somebody wins and somebody loses so how can God really intervene in our affairs perfectly?

If it is believed God providentially circumstanced a highly coveted job to Zach, this means Sally and many others did not get the job. So of course from Zach's point of view, God's will is perfect. But why would or perhaps should Sally and the others feel any obligation to share this assessment of God?

If they do believe that not getting the job is God's perfect will, then it is my opinion this belief stems from their inability to accept that they “lost” to Zach. And if they “need” to believe there is a divine reason they did not get the job, perhaps because God has something better for them, then so be it. But the idea of assuming everything that happens is God's “absolutely perfect” will doesn't account for the fact that there is no consensus as to what is “absolutely perfect” anyway. Certainly those on the losing side of a war are not likely to see their annihilation as being “absolutely perfect”.

Maybe the only way for God to “give” us a fulfilled life is not to intervene at all. As such we can be our true selves limited only by our own devices. In this case there can be no “favoritism” toward those more beloved which would better explain the apparent arbitrariness of who is “lucky” in tragedies, for instance. But the moral dilemma in God recusing Himself from our affairs is that His character appears suspicious at best when He fails to intervene in the abuse and torture of children, for instance.

I think the only way a “perfect” God fits into the context of reality is if everything was always perfect. But alas, this is clearly not the case. It is also interesting to question how “fate” is meted out by God. It seems common to believe that when good outcomes befall the faithful, this wonderful “gift” from God stems from faith and righteousness. But when tragedy strikes these same faithful, it is reluctantly pointed out that even they are not immune to tragedy. What gives? This is a situation where the idea of a wonderful God is not even in principle falsifiable because there is always a divine reason for any outcome, however awful. How about just accepting what is and not trying to find God where He very likely isn't?

Another primary reason I do not think God intervenes in our affairs is that it would likely influence our behavior such that we are not our true selves. At this point, I feel inclined to ask that if God “made” me to be a certain way, why would I want to encumber myself with dogma that can only ever be an impediment to who He “made” me to be?

Now I am not saying dogma will necessarily influence or manipulate one to be who he is not, but if belief has no influence on a person's behavior, what purpose does it serve? The only purpose belief seems to serve is to encourage a specified behavior in those that would otherwise not behave accordingly.

For example, take Christian dogma. One who practices the moral beliefs of Christianity may in fact benefit society but from a “Godly” perspective, I don't see any “meaning” in belief just as a means to “encourage” somebody to behave in a specified manner. Especially when so much of the time it seems we fail to act according to our supposed beliefs anyway! So why believe?

Ultimately, the person who should be most admirable in God's eyes is the person who has a heart of gold all the while believing “nothing”. Clearly his behavior stems from “who he is” as opposed to being rooted in the belief that his obedience will garner reward while his disobedience will lead to judgment and punishment.

The Duality Of Relativism/Absolutism

There is a blinding paradox inherent in the relative/absolute dichotomy. I do not believe everything is absolute. Nor do I believe everything is relative. I think most people would agree with me thus far.

However, the implication of both statements being true is problematic. If things are neither entirely absolute nor entirely relative, then it must be the case that some things are absolute and some things are relative.

But this just begs the question of what things must necessarily be absolute and what things must necessarily be relative? Well, it can only depend on whom you ask which ultimately renders everything relative. But one of my initial assumptions contradicts this conclusion!

Furthermore, upon closer inspection of this circular nonsense, an obfuscatory corollary crops up. If everything is relative, then it would seem everything can simultaneously be absolute. Why must this be so? Well, if something is relative, could it not be represented by any value, even an absolute one? This paradox puzzles me.

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? It seems absolutism and relativity must be either both true or both false. Or perhaps they are both true and both false? But those statements are nonsensical at best or at least appear so. HUH?

Why Might We Seek God?

I believe the reason a person seeks God at some point in his life is grounded in a desire to get “outside” self and become connected to something bigger than his/her small insignificant self. I speak of those who seek God to distinguish them from those which had it “chosen” for them at birth or childhood.

By seeking something bigger than oneself, this usually signifies a desire to distance oneself from ego. But what seems to happen quite often is the ego unconsciously reasserts itself within the context of this new found relationship with God. It is very common for many to become so imprisoned by dogma that being who they are is less important than being “correct”. I will expound on this idea with something I personally experienced during which time I was a Christian with a very typical set of beliefs.

Homosexuality and abortion are 2 of the most egregious forms of sin in the eyes of many believers. So because of this, I felt compelled to see these things as “absolutely wrong” though deep down I sympathized with each. Most homosexual people I had come across were very respectful and thus my “I am” had no reason to be critical of them or their behavior. However, my dogma, which was essentially a manifestation of my ego, told me otherwise. This conflict was only overcome when I “broke free” of the dogma which imprisoned me.

On the other hand, abortion is a very explosive and complicated topic. It is really sickening for me to think about but I don't think this in itself qualifies me to deem it absolutely and utterly wrong. There are situations where abortion seems to be the “least terrible” choice.

The application of just a small amount of reason suggested to me that there are situations involving abortion, or any controversial issue for that matter, that have no good answers. Asking what an absolutely perfect God would do in such situations is irrelevant because oftentimes there is no perfect answer let alone any mediocre answers.

However, if one substitutes God with “ego” it becomes quite apparent what the perfect answer is. Whatever your ego tells you!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Mirage Of Moral Perfection

It seems to me an even trade-off concerning many peoples' desire to create a more moral society. As the system utilized to evaluate morality gets more stringent, it progressively exposes more of our individual and collective “flaws” so much so that it does little or nothing to change peoples' relative perceptions about morality. 

Figuratively speaking, suppose society “progressed” to a point where the word "fuck" was never, ever uttered again all because of the valiant efforts of the Banishment of Foul Language Society (BFLS). It seems we might be getting somewhere in creating a more moral society, eh?

But now as per my argument, the fact that "fuck" is never heard anymore is of no consequence in evaluating our “goodness”. What is today a fairly benign word, crap, becomes the new "fuck". Ideals change.

Remember, what should be never is because there is always another what should be lurking behind whatever is thought should be.

It seems the ego does not want to relinquish its feeling of moral superiority and does so by declaring things should always be something they are not and never will be!

The Anthropocentricity Of Environmental Conservatism

Many, not by any means limited to those strictly labeled environmentalists, believe it to be a sacredly humane cause to protect dwindling species. But which species are deemed worthy of protection seems so anthropocentric it renders its purported “virtuousness” very suspicious. We readily deem it morally upstanding to protect turtles, birds and many other cute as well as not so cute things, but what about viruses and bacteria which pose problems for “our” longevity?

Many might claim viruses and bacteria are qualitatively different because they are not on the same level as other organisms. And still others will point out the destruction they cause “us”. But ultimately this line of demarcation between what is or is not “worthy” of protection is completely stacked in “our” favor.

Furthermore, there is a stark difference between failing to protect certain species versus taking deliberate actions to eradicate others. Why the animosity toward most viruses and bacteria? And what about “pesky” mosquitoes, which among other things are carriers of malaria? Well, obviously we mean to eradicate them because they pose a threat to “our” survival and well-being and, dare I say, they pose “inconveniences” to our quality of life.

But there are many insects and animals, poisonous snakes for example, that pose problems for “our” longevity but I don't see a global campaign to rid the world of black mambas. Many might naively claim these organisms have just as much “right” to partake in the game we call life as any other organism. In which case viruses and bacteria should also have a “right” to live in order for this argument to remain consistent. Some would go slightly further by arguing that we must “respect” dangerous as well as non-dangerous species because they are part of the balance of “our” ecosystem.

Well, if this is true, why not “respect” the viruses that cause AIDS and malaria? Might it be possible they provide some life-sustaining balance for “our” survival and perhaps other creatures as well? The fact that many people die from these 2 viruses reinforces the utilitarian manner in which nature functions. A relatively small few are routinely sacrificed for the betterment of the whole.

My point is that there seems nothing genuinely “virtuous” about protecting species arbitrarily because it best serves only humanity's needs and desires. Isn't selflessness considered a virtue? Then perhaps we should think less selfishly and think beyond only our needs and desires?

Will someone please stand up for AIDS and malaria! They just want to exist like we do!

Who Doesn't Like Buffet Lines?

Many, especially those of narrow-minded persuasions, claim an “anything goes” approach to religion and truth is akin to picking and choosing from a buffet line. And this is certainly true. But it must be pointed out that even these narrow-minded types are ultimately forced to pick and choose from the same buffet line.

For instance, most Christians do not obsess over choosing what to believe regarding post-tribulation vs. pre-tribulation. But is this not picking and choosing from the buffet line by implying this issue to be superficial and hence unimportant? Maybe it is of utmost importance to God as I am sure a select few would claim? Who really knows? Nobody!

As such, one can only arbitrarily assert that as long as you believe “this” or “that”, the “other” things are superficial and hence unimportant. Religious and other peoples' views on sexuality, acceptable occupations, capitalism, socialism, baptism, political views, environmentalism, racial issues, etc. vary much like all of our plates do in their content as we walk away from the buffet line.

The question is, do these views stem from God or self? If they are from self, this easily explains why so many views are in opposition to one another. On the other hand, if they stem from God, maybe they are all right.

In which case, why do we argue so passionately in favor of "our" individual views if all of them are equally valid? Alternatively, if one view is the pure, unadulterated truth, which one then?

Winning Isn't Everything

Why is it so important which team wins? Why not just accept and embrace whichever team wins? Why can't we all be happy for the winning team? In fact, why limit our happiness for the winning team? Why not be happy with the winning team? Why show partiality? Presumably, each team is just as deserving as the next and, therefore, whichever team wins is the rightful winner. In this way, what is, it seems, is exactly what should be.

Now I am not against winning. I like winning like everybody else, but if I do not, it is of little or no consequence as I still have my identity in myself as opposed to having my identity in being a winner or loser.

I think the insidious effect of this identity in winning or losing (think politics among other things) is it unconsciously encourages the ego to create enemies where they are not. It's that evolutionary mindset hardwired into each of us that tells others you're either with me or against me!

Sadly however, once an "alleged" enemy has been created, it is too late. The "alleged" becomes an enemy by definition. The ego then valiantly “stands its ground” through arguing, fighting, hating, resenting and/or harboring distrust which only serves to perpetuate this friend/foe dichotomy leading to much disharmony and destruction.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Malady Of Ignorance

Ignorance is not a crime in itself. It does, however, seem to foster it. How?

Ignorance commonly creates hatred or distrust as a by-product. This can then breed any number of crimes.

On the other hand, much of this hatred and distrust breeds no actual crimes. Does this necessarily make it harmless?

I think “secretly” harboring hatred and distrust is very insidious. Jesus taught that “sin” or any other such undesirable action must originate as a thought. Much like those below any hypothetical “line of greed”, it seems many of us have hatreds or distrusts that “evade the radar” as it were.

However, these “thoughts” can actually have a very dangerous effect on society only because they go largely unnoticed. They foster tension that can not be pointed out or “diagnosed”, much like a disease that has no apparent origin.

Would Have, Could Have, Should Have!

Do animals, other than us, ever have regrets? Suppose they do not. In which case, this “thought experiment” just might shed some light on what we humans burden ourselves with so frequently.

 Would have, could have, should have! Certainly this type of thinking can be used to make wiser choices in the future, but how much of our regret is only ever used to make ourselves miserable?

In this sense, regret is nothing but a distraction from experiencing and enjoying the Present moment. Which in the grand scheme of things is all there ever is.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Paradox Of War

I've never understood the idea of following rules during war as if this was some “Godly” virtue to uphold. After all, the general goal of war is to annihilate the “bad” guys or force their surrender.

When the “good” guys criticize the “bad” guys for not adhering to said rules of war, I can't help but be puzzled. War does not seem inherently moral and therefore I am very suspicious of any claim or insinuation of right(eous)ness within the context of war.

So why would anybody attempt to find right(eous)ness within the context of war? To assert the ego's superiority in right(eous)ness thus providing moral justification for it. But obeying rules makes it very difficult to win when the “bad” guys do not, so it seems as if “dirty” tactics must be employed in order to remain at all competitive.

Many will protest this because it necessarily involves unfair and cruel strategies. This implies there exists some righteous manner in which to approach war. But I do not believe there is. Refer to the beginning of this discussion and notice the circularity of this argument.

And herein lies the dilemma. I am not saying “we” should never go to war. I simply reject the idea of proclaiming or at least implying right(eous)ness within the context of war and recommend doing whatever need be to win if winning is the ultimate goal. Suffice it to say, I don't think any entity would willingly engage in war if victory was not its ultimate goal.

Now I will ask this of myself. If I was in a situation where I had to fight in a war, would I use “dirty” tactics such as using a child as a shield to tip the scale in my favor? I believe strongly I would not. But why would I not as per my prior argument? Because it is not in my nature to do such a thing. My reason for refraining from such “dirty” tactics is not because I am consciously or unconsciously trying to figure out a “righteous” manner in which to partake in the war, rather it is just not in my nature to do such a thing.

Furthermore, if I had to fight in a war, my ultimate goal would not be to win. Rather, my ultimate goal in a war or in life generally is to just "be myself”. That is why I would not likely use “dirty” tactics. And that is also why I would not be a devoted soldier ready and willing to unquestionably follow orders. Albert Speer and other Nazi officers were strongly condemned for using this excuse!

Concerning war, the paradox is thus: wars are only ever fought over conflicting moral imperatives but the mere act of war is so immoral it becomes complete madness to try to “force” moral imperatives immorally!* War is an evolutionary mindset built upon a contradiction. It is the pinnacle of insanity!

*Perhaps it would elicit less disagreement and anger by suggesting that when uncalled for (this itself seemingly dubious in many instances), war is neither "moral" nor "immoral" as opposed to suggesting it as altogether "immoral". The point of restating war thusly is to make clear that those "forced" into an uncalled for war are NOT "immoral" (necessarily, at least), rather they are neither "moral" nor "immoral". Notice this still precludes any entity from ever claiming right(eous)ness within the context of war because it can only be right(eous) when it is moral. Since morality is precluded within the context of war, it can never be said that the action of war is right(eous). It can at best be neither "moral" nor "immoral", at worst, altogether "immoral"**.

**It seems so unfair to deny an otherwise "moral" entity from being so within the context of an uncalled for war. And of course, it is. Much like the entire class "suffering" for the adolescent antics of a few "immoral" classmates, so too do "innocent" bystanders "suffer" when dragged into conflicts they did not ask to partake in. Lest you forget, LIFE ISN'T FAIR!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Pot Calling The Kettle Black

Many on the conservative “right” exasperatingly claim how the liberal “left” controls the media and by doing so instill nothing but fear in their constituents concerning what the “other” side is doing to destroy society.

But are not the pundits on the “right” claiming Barack Obama will create a fascist, totalitarian society instilling fear in their constituents just the same? It seems the pot is calling the kettle black.

This kind of double standard is inevitable when minds become completely ensnared in political ideology based on absolute beliefs. When it is believed a single perspective can effectively address every difficult issue we face as a society, it is impossible not to succumb to this kind of hypocrisy!