Thursday, February 11, 2010

On Athletes.....

A professional athlete is a professional athlete. He or she should not be taken to be anything more than this. An athlete with good character is incidental to what he or she is. I think it commendable to see athletes with the utmost in character grace a given sport, but that is not why I, or anybody else for that matter, should watch them.

I watch them strictly because they are good at throwing or hitting a ball, they can run like the dickens, they can shoot a puck at lightning speed, they exude almost inhuman hand/eye control, etc. They should not be viewed to see good character. Please, for the love of God, stop complaining about athletes' tacky behavior! Understand what they are and consider it mere happenstance if they possess good character! If you want a good role model for your impressionable children, seek elsewhere!* Find the “Mr. Rogers” of your neighborhood and have your young ones hang out with him! Of course I know you won't do this because he can't throw or catch a ball as well as the top athletes and as a result is pretty lame

So at this point it becomes clear you are not prioritizing your child's character development, you are prioritizing his or her development of athletic skills. And there is nothing wrong with this.

Many will likely be angry with this view. It will be claimed that there are plenty of athletes with exceptional character. It needs to be pointed out that I never claimed there were not! But like I said, this is incidental to why they are watched! If an athlete was not good at throwing or catching a ball or whatever else, would he still be watched? Of course not! He is watched only because he is a good athlete! His exceptional character is but a fringe benefit to his amazing athletic prowess!

If society claims it follows an athlete because of his first class character, would society still follow him if he was the same person minus his athletic ability? If society says it would not follow him, at this point it is clear athletic ability is the only reason said athlete is watched. Of course if he had no athletic talent he certainly would not be playing a professional sport and as such would not be in any position to be watched!

If society says it would follow him even if he was not an athlete, then this suggests spectator sports to be obsolete. For if first class character was society's only requirement for watching people, there would be no need to assemble in stadiums to watch athletes! We could much more easily and cheaply canvass our neighborhoods and hunt down people with first class character to “watch”.

Of course this is absurd! My point is it is athleticism not character that attracts us! If one claims he follows the athletes with the utmost in character, this does not mean he prioritizes good character, rather he simply prioritizes athletes that happen to have the most character. Referencing other writings of mine regarding ideals, I feel compelled to point out that prioritizing athletes with the most character should not be taken to mean prioritizing character. If it was, one should be compelled to watch anybody with utmost character! I suspect we would find most of the first class characters out there to be overly dull and boring! So why would we watch them?

Is my view negative? I don't think so at all. If one stakes his hope in athletes being first class characters, he will be let down frequently. This will inevitably lead to resentment, disappointment and complaining, in large part due to the ego asserting its self-righteous superiority. I see this as negative. Watching athletes for their abilities, and nothing more, I can turn the other cheek when they engage in tacky behavior. I see this as positive.

*Now it could be supposed that an athlete's contract requires certain behavior. In all likelihood though, this would simply require the athlete to abstain from "poor" behavior. Firstly, this would only serve to discourage poor behavior as opposed to requiring good behavior. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, anything designed to "manipulate" an athlete not to behave "improperly" would seem to undermine any notion of "good" character.

Once again, if it is good character you seek, please, steer clear of athletes!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Just Go Ahead And Do Whatever You Wish!

There are some religious crusaders that actually believe the deaths of U.S. soldiers are punishment for “our” tolerance of homosexuality. If this is the case, God's judgment appears very arbitrary.

This suggests to me that we should just go ahead and commit whatever misdeed we wish, because it is likely someone else will be left to deal with its consequences! Conversely, we will likely be left “holding the bag” for somebody else's misdeed just the same.

So if I were so inclined to murder somebody in cold blood purely for enjoyment's sake, perhaps a poor, amiable widow will be left to deal with the consequences of my egregious misdeed? This seems particularly absurd to me as it will hopefully be to others.

Most believe, generally speaking, that a man should reap what he sows. But in this case, God is just a “vending machine” judging favorably the good and unfavorably the bad. As it should be in my opinion.

You Might Want To Think Twice.....Or More.....Before Judging Others

How does one know if another is genuine? What does it even mean to be genuine? Following morality for the sake of behaving as you think others would want you to (including God) or following morality because it is perceived by you to be meaningful in itself?

Why do some naturally possess a forgiving nature whereas others can only muster up forgiveness out of a sense of duty? And still others can demonstrate forgiveness only by believing rewards will follow, be it here or in eternity?

Because I have no reasonable answer to this, I have absolutely no compulsion to judge others on this matter. What do you think? What might God think?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?

It is commonly claimed by the faithful that when things go horribly awry, God is not punishing us necessarily. But using this type of reasoning in a consistent manner, we are then forced to conclude that neither is God necessarily blessing us when things go well!

In the same way, if it is true that bad outcomes do not necessarily discount the existence of a good God then neither must good outcomes necessarily suggest the existence of a good God!

Furthermore, viewing God as blessing good behavior and punishing bad behavior is viewing God as nothing more than a "vending machine"!

One can avoid this “vending machine” dilemma if he does not believe God blesses good behavior and/or punishes bad behavior. But at this point, what would be the use of worshiping God if not for the assurance that we will ultimately reap what we sow?

Technology: Good Or Bad?

Many will likely be critical with the contention that technology is neither good nor bad. For how can it not be good that the lifespan of humans in industrialized societies at least has dramatically increased in just the last century, for example?

It is tempting to judge this as good but ultimately our judgment on any given matter is only ever based on something already known or experienced. For example, if the longest any human lived was known to be only 30 years, we would base our judgment on living approximately 30 years. If one attained this age or beyond, this would of course be deemed good. On the other hand, if the longest any human lived was known to be 200 years, a 30 year lifespan would seem tragically short and deemed bad.

It is enticing for the marginalized to see something “better” and label it good or for the fortunate to see something “worse” and label it bad, but this is only due to disparity. This disparity can be analogous to having something good taken away. Once it is seen what can be, this then becomes the de facto standard and of course there is a desire to attain or maintain this good thing.

But it must be pointed out that this thing is not really good. It is only relatively good. In other words, the thing just is.

I want to further express what I am talking about with what will no doubt be a very emotional topic. Let's suppose that due to medical technology, the infant death rate goes from 1 in 5 to only 1 in 5,000. This is good, is it not? But what if we subsequently came across a civilization that experienced an infant death rate of only 1 in a billion? Is 1 in 5,000 still good? What if your child was one of the 1 in 5,000 that perished?

In this case, statistically it is almost certain your child would have survived if the death rate was only 1 in a billion. As such, might you, or anybody else for that matter, now see this death rate as bad?

One might claim that only 1 in 5,000 is good because it is better than 1 in 5. However, when compared to a death rate of only 1 in a billion, it seems bad. Furthermore, it is tragic when any infant dies but is especially so when it is yours! So whether the death rate is 1 in 5 or only 1 in 5,000 or still more impressive only 1 in a billion, if your child dies, none of these is good. Conversely, if your child survives, none of these is really bad either.

Perhaps we could legitimately declare it good when no babies die. Then again, could infant death simply be nature's equilibrium so as to preserve the lives of the greatest number of babies and more generally, and perhaps more importantly, to preserve Life in general? Of course this principle will no doubt be hard to accept especially if your baby dies.

In any case, might it be suggested that nature seems to obey the principle of utilitarianism even with an incredibly delicate issue such as this?

One could similarly draw an analogy to the idea of promoting longevity as an intrinsic moral good. Should we adopt this imperative?* What if this places such a strain on society that it undermines the health and well-being of everybody?

Would it be better for people to live 1)marginally well for 150 years, 2)moderately well for 100 years or 3)phenomenally well for only 50 years? Once again, are the ravages of old age nature's equilibrium so as to best serve Life in general (the proverbial One)?

In summary, it seems wise to avoid imparting judgments and to just accept what is.

*Would those predisposed to boredom deem a longer lifespan good?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

OK.....I admit it.....I'm SELFISH!

I'm reading the newspaper and come across an editorial questioning how we should deal with the backlog of social security recipients in this fine state of Georgia. “I could not care less about this issue owing to the fact that it does not affect me one iota (at least not yet),” the thought occurs to me.

One might be quick to judge me as being selfish. And you know what? You're right! But ask yourself: is this any different a manner in which "I" justify my viewpoints on society's problems?

If you make incredible amounts of money, what are you going to care about? More than likely voting for a candidate that will keep taxes low to preserve your hard-earned money, something or other.

Conversely, if you make little or no money because of laziness or lack of skills or whatever other reason, what are you going to care about? More than likely the candidate which will maintain and/or create entitlements for you by taxing the “evil” rich.

If this is scoffed at because you rise above this selfish standard, yours is most certainly in the minority. But alas, it is not the minority view that “rules the roost” so to speak. It is what the majority does or thinks. 

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not judging those that think selfishly. This would include yours truly and why would I ever want to judge MOI? I am simply pointing out what is with no implication to what should be.

This not wanting to judge oneself is the principle reason judgment is so arbitrary and hence hypocritical

It is imperative to point out that this strict avoidance of self-judgment is almost always unconscious which is why most vehemently deny being hypocritical.

Alas, simply judge and condemn others engaging in selfish behaviors you do not involve yourself in and hide behind or attempt to assuage the evilness of the selfish behaviors you do involve yourself in.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Which Way Are We Going?

Are people these days getting either more religious or more secular? Many claim one or the other but why does it even matter? What would motivate religious people or secularists to believe either.

Might they believe or at least want to believe their view is dwindling in order to feel sufficiently threatened to justify parroting around doomsday propaganda and other such paranoid delusions?

Or perhaps they believe or want to believe their view is growing in popularity simply as a means to feel more “right” thereby emboldening themselves to go out and recruit others to their "sacred" cause?

My view as to why it might matter is because masses tend to act like sheep and as such, this might influence the herd to go where others are headed. In other words, let the masses determine the “correct” destination.

Ultimately I believe both religion and secularism are growing in the world (not the least of reasons being the increasing population and dissemination of ideas and information) but I think that because we are so much more global and multicultural today, polarity appears to be increasing only because we are living and interacting amongst different, competing cultures much more so.