REFRESHER COURSE ALERT!!!
Recently I got a friend request from a dude I recognized immediately as a nut. His Facebook icon was “Ted Cruz in 2016.” As I said, a nut.
Now, I should know better, but I could hardly turn down the chance to tell him he was an idiot before he unceremoniously “defriended” me could I? So I hit, the friend button and began a rather torturous journey into lala land or the land of the not-quite-right-in-the-head folks.
I picked up a good half dozen to eight “defenders of the stupid” and proceeded to get into a number of fights immediately. As one would expect, all the trite Fox/crazy right memes came to the fore. Since most of the arguments were on gun rights, I got the usual, “guns don’t kill people”, and criminals aren’t gonna obey the laws, and variations on those themes.
After lengthy logical argument and citing of actual facts, I was confronted with the usual right wing nothingness. One guy just posted funny pictures and called me Sherry McMoron and quote, “liberish”, as if that sealed the deal on my inconsequentialism.
And the point is, that when people are “out there in the ether” there is no point in argument. They aren’t capable of arguing, except for a “you stupid troll” between burps from the beer guzzling.
When you see somebody who is absolutely clueless, beware. You think you can patiently start at A and proceed slowly and deliberately to Z and when you are finished they will smile, and say, “I get it now. Thank you, I’m going to read more carefully from now on.”
But they don’t. They say, “you stupid troll,” and scratch their nether regions, smile and the mini thrill and reach for another Budweiser.
This will always happen no matter your level of debate and logic skills. And the reason is simple, if not understood by most. It’s not you. It’s not your argument. It’s their brain.
Study after study shows that the conservative brain is a brain that lives in fear of the bad world it is surrounded by. It cannot make sense of it all, and it feels threatened. Simple answers that package their fear and put it away is what they yearn for and gravitate toward. The are frightened and they are insecure in this big world. Small and simple answers that assure them that all will be right, captures them faster than any fact or logical deduction ever could.
They will cling to what is familiar, reassuring, and safe every time over logical argumentation that leaves them feeling insecure and unsure. It is not how they want to think, it’s how their brains function. It’s called compartmentalization. It allows the victim to ignore all contrary information and when necessary isolate contradictory beliefs behind walls that keep the conflict at a minimum. (I believe in creationism, while at the same time encourage my niece to get gene therapy for her cancer diagnosis, never bringing to the fore that gene therapy is a result of evolutionary biological research.)
Eventually we all come to realize that “there is no point” in arguing with such types, but we continue, at each new juncture, and with a different right wing nut case in the cross hairs, we fall victim to trying again. And we get the same result.
Lest we be declared insane for trying to get a different result from the same activity, we have to finally admit that such is a waste of time.
EXCEPT THAT. . . .
Facebook is a unique forum. We all have friends on Facebook, and they exist in a variety of forms–relatives, old old friends we have moved far from, new friends, eternal friends, coworkers, associates, church friends, organization friends, and the list goes on to infinity. These myriads of “friends” bring forth a variety of individual talents.
I am graced with some great Facebook friends and I owe them a debt of gratitude. They have taught me so very much. Their passion, while not necessarily mine, has served to inform me on many a subject I would be unaware of without them.
I would never know how cruel and awful housing small whales and dolphins in small tanks is, alone and without their families. I would never know about the issues regarding Monsanto, and Tyson and other vile corporate entities that endanger our health in the chase for the almighty dollar. I’ve had my theological foundation firmed, and loosened by a couple of theologians I know.
I could go on for a couple of pages. You see, I know all sorts of people in the Facebook way, and by and large, I’m enriched from the experience. The people I disagree with, remain small, but more importantly they are vehicles for dissemination.
Here’s where I tie this all together. . . .
While it is unprofitable in general to get into discussions with right wing crazies en mass, isolated encounters in otherwise friendly terrain, does serve a purpose. And that purpose is, they give one the excuse to lay out all the arguments that you can muster on an issue.
Rather than be the usual waste of time that we have encountered in large groups, in small ones, you don’t get overwhelmed. Much like big corporations make it hard to be sued by “papering” the opposing counsel with so many requests, demands, depositions, discovery, endless motions and so forth, when six or eight people are all ganging up on you, well, most people don’t have TIME to respond properly.
Responding improperly does more harm than good.
Why does this matter?
Because in every group, there are outsiders, people who live on the fringe, reading but almost never uttering a word. They are not crazies, but they aren’t politically aware either. They are busy living their lives, and barely bump into most of the political and social issues of our day. They do however, at leisure, read posts and comments, blogs and so forth.
They are not ideologically motivated. They are bright people, normal in every sense of the world except they aren’t much interested in the body politic or how it functions. Until it waylays them personally (and many it never will), they don’t get involved.
But, they do read. They do comprehend. They do get logic, and they do check out links. They will listen to a cogent argument and if not offset by superior information going in the other direction, they will agree with you.
They won’t deliver fliers in their neighborhoods or make phone calls for a candidate, but they will vote (if not too inconvenient) and they will vote consistent with the facts as they have come to understand them.
They are your audience always.
You have to trust that they are there. They are, I assure you. Every once in a while I get a message or email from one of them, telling me they have “lurked” for some time, and agree or have been led to agree to this idea or that.
Those are the people you are writing and talking to. They don’t have time to do the research you do, but they appreciate it. They can tell the difference between your citation to reputable sources and the other sides reliance on “common sense”.
They recognize that common sense to the right wing is akin to “what I want to believe is true because it makes me feel better.”
Your efforts are thus not offered in vain. Remember that you talk not only to who is directly before you, but all those who are within eye or earshot.
What it means for me personally, is to try to remember, (no matter how angry I often become at intransigent thinking), that calm, factual offerings are much more successful that bombast and snappy retorts that serve to explain only how loathsome the right wing fanatic can be.
So I thank all those who have taught me so much on Facebook. And I am thankful for Facebook which provides that unique platform allowing me a cornucopia of “friends” that insure a range of opinions, talents, passions, and hard facts.
The post is powerful, more powerful than you think. So do be mindful of the audience out there, ephemeral as it may appear. This is your job. They depend on you for accurate information on an unimaginably wide source of things. Surely you can offer your services on a few of them?
Make a difference!
It is said (or at least it should have been said) that the human brain is pretty much capable of coming up with anything. I mean we humans have invented the most amazing ways of torturing people and killing them off bit by bit.
Go into any supermarket and stroll down the soda pop aisle or cereal aisle and you can see that we can invent several dozen variations on a theme, making each appear fresh and new.
But I swear I cannot come up with a viable version of comedy that stresses conservative themes and is funny at the same time. It would be a bit like pushing matter and anti-matter too closely together. It just implodes.
What on earth is funny about all the things that the GOP is for? They are for cutting taxes for the rich. That’s gotten to the point that nowadays we are sending money to them since they “pay” taxes in the negative.
They are for trying to offset their growing state deficits by adding “luxury” taxes to food and other necessities, taxes that cruelly attach more to the poor than any other group.
They are for the life of the fetus, which is surely laudable if it were coexistent with care for pregnant mothers, babies, health care, and a host of services to support that fetus as it grows to old age. But they are not.
They are against government intervening in the lives of ordinary people unnecessarily. They call this regulation. But the forms they wish to dismiss are those that protect people from dirty water, dirty air, shoddy manufacturing practices, unfair labor practices that endanger and diminish people. They figure kids, rather than get a free lunch should sweep the school for their dinner.
But when it comes to regulating behavior, they can’t get enough of regulations. They want to and do, try to regulate every aspect of women’s bodies when it comes to reproduction and girls bodies too. They seek to regulate what women wear. They seek to protect the rights of others to treat fellow human beings badly based upon personal ideologies that they call a “religion.”
They seek to express American exceptionalism by meddling around the world, upping the ante everywhere, bloating defense budgets to accommodate their need to puff out their chests and “prove” America is better. At the same time, they protect themselves and their offspring from standing on any battlefield they create.
They seek to pretend that race and ethnicity no longer are of any concern in their America. They turn the page by flipping the equation such that anyone who brings up the issue is dubbed a “racist”. They employ a few dark faces, who for the price of personal fame, are willing to nod genteelly in agreement. They twist and cherrypick the words of great civil rights leaders and try to claim them as their own.
They live every day using every convenience devised by modern technology. They tweet and fly, pick up their fancy lattes, take their youth-enhancing shots at spas, drive computer directed cars, yet when it comes to any science that impinges on their gravy train of K Street lobbyists and the free-flowing money that is funneled their way, science becomes pure bunk.
They prefer stupid, cute-talking bobble heads to thoughtful men and women.
They prefer “common-sense” to education, except when they visit the doctor or the dentist or the accountant or the lawyer, or the airport pilot. Education is for elitists, who are people who want to be better than the average person, meaning they get embarrassed when they haven’t a damn clue what is being said.
They are all for individuality, and they mean that they will say that everyone is equal, and you can just do the best you can. If it don’t work out, why that poor house thing back in the twenties wasn’t so bad, and we got a lot of free road work done. See don’t you feel better knowing you are paying for your own gruel?
They want to, therefore, end social security, cuz individuals properly prepare for their own old age. John-Boy is remembered fondly and surely was going to care for his ma and pa. You don’t need medicare either since health care is no right but a privilege reserved for those who have managed to acquire sufficient funds to pay for it.
There is no need either for unemployment benefits because it’s your job to foresee that free markets might end your job. Worse, if you are so down and out as that, you probably are not of sufficient moral character to withstand the urge to just sit on your ass and suck off the rest of us anyway, and we can’t have that.
Food stamps? Hunger builds character. See the above regarding unemployment benefits regarding your unfitness for food.
Housing? Ditches are quite comfortable in summer I hear.
And let’s not forget the churches. Our fine Christian houses of worships are dedicated to helping the “truly” poor, whatever the hell that means. Not so much non-Christian houses of worship which are really just oxymorons, cuz that’s what my Jezus said, after all, somewhere; at least he implied it.
I mean two thousand years of working on that issue, is a good start!
Immigrants were us two hundred or so years ago, and that was fine. Everyone knows white trash from Europe beats red skins any day. And immigrants are really good at cleaning houses and mowing lawns and picking fruit. They don’t want hardly anything for the privilege. But too many? Oh now, that makes you an ALIEN and an ILLEGAL.
Those words are words of fear, because damn, I’m following all the good rules set up by my betters, and fuck, life is still not any better, so somebody is to blame, and my betters say it’s THEM.
So, we can hate us some Mexicans and, hell all of South America pretty much just cuz. But we will not hate the Cubans, at least the rich ones who escaped Fidel. They are not aliens or illegals, but good people who lost their wealthy land holdings and much to be commiserated with.
We can hate us some Arabs, as many as we want and wherever we want, because we just want their oil, them that got it at least. The rest? Who cares?
We can ignore all our history and all of the worlds for that matter just because it interferes with the narrative we have to tell ourselves today to get to sleep. I mean the past is the past, why dwell on uncomfortable things like slavery and partitioning and supporting dictators and crummy stuff like that. It just makes me feel bad, and, after all, we have to deal with TODAY right?
Let’s make history a quest to make our kids good Americans! And we know what will do that. Put God back in school! In fact, let’s turn over education our youth to private enterprise, cuz they will do the job better and cheaper! And they will never have an ulterior motive to teach our kids anything that was wrong, or quietly made themselves look like the best thing since sliced bread, will they?
Let’s continue to push for not letting those who think against us vote. Let’s continue to make judges do what we want them too.
Let’s put a gun in every graduate’s hand. And I ain’t talkin’ about graduating from college, or even high school. Grade school is old enough to understand proper gun usage. Carry it proudly son. It’s what the Founding Fathers wanted for sure.
This is what the Grand Overly Dead Party thinks. Now, if you can come up with how to make this funny, do tell. I can’t come up with anything. Not a damn thing. A wake? I can come up with that, but not comedy.
Cuz a girl’s gotta write since it’s my passion, and there is always the miniscule hope, (for we all know that it springs eternal) that some poor bastard out there who was “damn the President for dissin’ Christians” will awaken from the fog of dissonance and the clear bell of enlightenment will ring forth: “I was once stupid and now I am not.”
Such is at least my justification for this essay.
I just happened to be tuned in the other morning as the President gave the traditional speech at the National Prayer Meetin’ which is held annually in Washington where all the sinners come to pretend they are doin’ their very best to apply God’s law as they slip another check from Exxon-Mobile and JP Morgan, into their $3000 suits.
The President, as we all know, has pretty much given up on the idea that facts, and good logic will get him anywhere, and as of late has pursued a policy of “screw you, try to stop me” and a general “fuck you” to Congressional Republicans who are fresh off the latest round of “ain’t got no bootstraps with which to pay for healthcare? Well die, you dog, and make room for those who do.”
As every good American knows, there’s the guys in the black hats (bad) and the guys in the white hats (good) always near to the scene. America is built upon this scenario and we have all the cheesy old westerns to prove it. Let us introduce the latest and best entry into the black hats category. A group known as ISIS (not to be confused with an Egyptian god) or ISIL if you have a clue what Levant means.
ISIL is a slipshod group of thugs who claim a perverted understanding of Islam which they use to justify their attempts to take over the world. Since their threat is pretty much everywhere, that means just about everyone else gets to be the guys in the white hats, but Merika of course always has to lead, cuz we are the super, super white hats.
Anyway, if you hadn’t noticed, we have a fair share of Arab Muslims (and Arabs in general) who live in the US, and boy I sure wouldn’t want to be them, since Americans are flighty people who tend to assess blame against whole swaths of people since it’s just easier. We learned that from the movies too, where it’s often best to “shoot first and ask questions later.” Anyway, even the dumbest of President (that would be you Dubya) have realized that it’s really not a good idea to let the great stupid mobs of American whiteness carry on in this manner, and so they are always at pains of ‘splainin’ to the stupid white people that NOT ALL ARABS ARE MUSLIMS AND MORE IMPORTANT NOT ALL MUSLIMS ARE KILLERS. In fact the huge majority are not, but are just peace-loving, family-seeking individuals like you and me.
Now Dubya can say nice things about Arab Muslims, and even hold hands with them, and nobody thinks a thing bad about it. He can even share a short peck and not even be thought particularly gay. Just good old American manners.
And he can say all kinds of nice things about Muslims to remind dumb American white people that it’s never a good idea to paint a brush too broad.
“America treasures the relationship we have with our many Muslim friends, and we respect the vibrant faith of Islam which inspires countless individuals to lead lives of honesty, integrity, and morality. This year, may Eid also be a time in which we recognize the values of progress, pluralism, and acceptance that bind us together as a Nation and a global community. By working together to advance mutual understanding, we point the way to a brighter future for all.” Presidential Message Eid al-Fitr December 5, 2002
But when President Obama reminds us that there are bad people in all religions historically who have done really bad things
Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ. . .So this is not unique to one group or one religion. There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith. In today’s world, when hate groups have their own Twitter accounts and bigotry can fester in hidden places in cyberspace, it can be even harder to counteract such intolerance. But God compels us to try.
the hue and cry from the extreme right in this country rose like a phoenix, screaming that such utterly evil words had never been spoken in all of our democracy. Former Governor of Virginia, Jim Gillmore was “outraged” having never heard a more terrible thing from the lips of a President. Santorum and Limbaugh chimed in with their mortification of Christianity today being compared to the unspeakable ISIS killers. And on it went, the rallying cry being “this is not a moral equivalency!!”
And it was not suggested as such either, if you read the text.
It was meant to remind everyone that while the killings by ISIS are horrific, we as humans have been doing horrific things to each other since the inception of so-called civilization, and a good deal of it has been veiled in perverted religious beliefs. People find it most convenient to put on the mask of religion to disguise their blatant lust for power and to express their hatred and fear. It has always been so. ISIS is no different in that respect than all the others. It is no more heinous, no more bloody certainly, and no more representative of the faith it espouses than any of the others were.
A few examples should suffice.
African-Americans in this country were often burned at the stake during slavery and Jim Crow. If you don’t think it was done in the name of Christianity, then read the words of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stevens:
[T]he first government ever instituted upon the principles in strict conformity to nature, and the ordination of Providence, in furnishing the materials of human society … With us, all of the white race, however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law. Not so with the negro. Subordination is his place. He, by nature, or by the curse against Canaan, is fitted for that condition which he occupies in our system. The architect, in the construction of buildings, lays the foundation with the proper material-the granite; then comes the brick or the marble. The substratum of our society is made of the material fitted by nature for it, and by experience we know that it is best, not only for the superior, but for the inferior race, that it should be so.
It is, indeed, in conformity with the ordinance of the Creator. It is not for us to inquire into the wisdom of His ordinances, or to question them. For His own purposes, He has made one race to differ from another, as He has made “one star to differ from another star in glory.” The great objects of humanity are best attained when there is conformity to His laws and decrees, in the formation of governments as well as in all things else. Our confederacy is founded upon principles in strict conformity with these laws.
The charred body of Jesse Washington pictured above was in 1905 in Waco. The deaths of countless other African-Americans during Jim Crow by lynching, by the KKK (which always has a “Christian” front), occured. George Wallace invoked the name of God dozens of times in his 1963 inaugural address where he also famously uttered the words, “Segregation now. . .segregation tomorrow. . .segregation forever.”
The extreme Right-Wingers will tell you that the Crusades were wars of defense. Yet the arguable owners of that land were Palestinians and Jews. Muslims lay claim based on Muhammad. Yet Christians have no real claim certainly any greater than Jews or Muslims. All claim the area as holy. Yet when the first Crusade ended, the city of Jerusalem was cleared of all non-Christians, and by cleared I mean murdered. Jews who barricaded themselves in their synagogues were burned to death and survivors sold into slavery. All told the Crusades occurred over about 200 years, ending in 1291 or so.
When Saladin recaptured Jerusalem, only then were Jews allowed to return and live in relative freedom. This was in 1187, nearly a hundred years later.
They claim that the Inquisition was “political” as if that means something.
In fact the Inquisition was instituted by Pope Innocent III and set up by Pope Gregory IX. Confessors to heresy were burned alive. In 1242 the Talmud was condemned and burnings of Jews began in France in 1288. The Inquisition was begun in Spain for fear of “secret Jews” and the Conversos (those that had converted at pain of death in the first place and were suspected of retaining their true Judaic beliefs). In Seville alone more than 700 Jews were burned to death. By the time it ended in 1808, nearly 32,000 died by fire.
And the Inquisition was not just in Spain and France. It spread to Portugal and then to New World colonies and throughout Asia as well.
We need not but mention the Troubles in Ireland in which religion was the division between sides. Or that of India/Pakistan again, where religion affiliation defined the sides.
It is not that religion perverts human souls, but that some small sick group humans use religion to perpetrate their own evils upon the world.
President Obama, in the hopes of tamping down the ugly nativism that is so beginning to plague this nation with its ugly hate, attempted to remind us that we all have blood upon our hands. ISIS is but the latest in a long line of evil people doing evil things in the name of their perverted version of God.
** Let me recommend Jeff Sharlet’s book The Family which documents the shady and weird folks behind the National Prayer Breakfast.
**Also a great read is Karen Armstrong’s Fields of Blood which argues that religion has played a lesser role in most violence historically, however much it may have been the cover story. I’ve not read this but I’ve read others of hers and she is a uniquely qualified religious scholar who is highly respected for her scholarship. She was once a nun herself.
I’ll try to be nice here, but please don’t hold me to it.
First of all, fundamentalist Christians refuse to accept that this description to the left is actually what is described in Genesis as the structure of the earth and universe. As you can see, it is not a globe at all, but rather a series of pillars, o’er covered with a “dome” with water above it, and of course below. The sun and visible planets and stars are inside the dome.
If you read the flood stories, you will note that this depiction allows for the waters to both arise from the earth and the sky. It also accounts for the oft-heard phrase, “four corners of the earth”. The “earth” was actually a flat disk. This is acknowledged by Jewish experts who ought to understand their own texts better than others, one would think.
Since even the most staunch Christian fundie accepts the spherical actuality of the globe, you can see why they can’t accept this actual description of Genesis but must fudge it to account for reality.
My point is simply that fundamentalism is based in large part on a fanatical belief in the truthiness of a book, and it is a self-serving literal-ness at best. In this they are no different from other fundamentalists in other religions. As any Muslim will tell you, fundamentalist jihadists misread and twist the Quran in a similar fashion in order to get it to “say what they want it to say.”
Suggesting that all fundamentalists are cut from the same cloth, sets the Christian right on edge. They deny it of course. Indeed if you look at the Wikipedia entry on fundamentalism, you discover that it is not limited to even religion at all but pertains to any ideology which is reduced to an irreducible set” of precepts which cannot be deviated from in any respect. A strict literalism is imposed as to the agreed upon rules.
Bob Altemeyer has done some exceptional work in this area, and makes his main research “The Authoritarians” avail as a PDF file here. The Wikipedia entry, while certainly nothing but a starting point, has a fine bibliography to get your started located here. Psychology has done much work in the area and you might start with this Pathos article, which will lead you to books and studies. Another well-researched book might be The Fundamentalist Mind by Strozier, Termen, Jones, and Boyd. This should help get you started if you wish to learn more. Again, don’t accept my word for it, go to the actual sources.
My point is not to rehash what is common knowledge, among anyone who wants to understand why we are troubled in this country with a segment of society which continues to place it’s personal religious interests above the common good, and most would say common sense. It is rather to point out by the above, that these are not choices made by rational minds, but rather what certain brain configurations are prone to fall into. Since in most cases it is extremely hard to eradicate or upset these mindsets, the only solution is to be ever vigilant to keep them out of the decision-making arenas of our common lives.
This we have done a poor job of doing.
Since we believe that religion is a matter of personal preference, we are loath to interrupt those preferences by any sort of “test” to eliminate those belief systems that threaten us all. And I agree that we should continue to do so. But we must also recognize that there are those among us who want a world much different from the one we inhabit. It is their stated purpose and their heartfelt belief that we should all be forced if necessary to accept their world vision in the guise of a government reactive to their vision of God.
They believe in a nutshell that all laws must be referenced to a book, the Bible in this case, and that of course they will tell you what the Bible says should be the law.
You may or not be aware that James Inhofe, (R-Ok) is the new chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee. Inhofe has for years argued that climate change is a hoax. Inhofe has received, tens of thousands of dollars from fossil fuel interests to fund his campaigns. Of course he tells you that he is a true believer, and perhaps that is true. It is always hard to say. But in any case, the Senator is prepared to argue that 98% of the scientific community is wrong on the issue of man-made climate change, and that his fundamentalist-driven approach is true.
What Inhofe admits, is that it doesn’t matter if climate change is occurring. Man is arrogant to go against God in this matter. As his proof he raises Genesis 8:22 which is God’s promise:
As long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”
Of course they also interpret that “as long as the earth endures” involves a “self-correcting resilience” that they nowhere find in the bible, but assume.
What I am being asked to accept is that the US and by implication no one else, should do anything about the clear evidence of a catastrophe in the making because of what a few people who are in no way experts in either the bible or the science of climate have decided is best for us all. Are you willing to stake the lives of your children and grandchildren on their being right?
Is Inhofe any different from the thousands who have gone to stand upon hilltops on the appointed day and hour to await the second coming, always to return home at dawn, a home that often no longer is theirs since they have sold or given away everything to insure God knows them as the true believers they profess to be?
Are we to go instead to live in Chief Justice Roy Moore’s world in Alabama? Judge Moore tells the Governor in that state to ignore a legal judicial pronouncement from a federal court on the illegality of a gay marriage ban because the judge has determined that the bible told him otherwise, and by fiat he proclaims the federal court decision as “unconstitutional.”
So much for the rule of law. While running for governor himself, Moore decried evolution teaching as “distorting our way of thinking”. Yet, the electorate in Alabama saw fit to elect him as Chief Judge of their Supreme Court, making him the greatest interpreter of the law in the state. This is sanity?
My point is that these people are dangerous to OUR life. We can laugh at them, we can face palm their stupidity and their childish emotional needs all we want, but they have carefully and for the most part quietly wormed their way into positions of power within our country. They have infiltrated school boards, city councils, state legislatures, and obviously on into our higher governmental positions where they, armed with pseudo-science and pseudo-theology, restructure our laws to fit their kingdom to come as they view it.
We ignore them at our peril. If we don’t stand against this sort of soft-headedness, we cannot expect an electorate who by and large is too busy to think these things through themselves to do it for us. We will find ourselves soon before the modern-day Inquisition defending truth against a country that is now governed by a rabble of no longer able or willing to discern truth from fantasy religious fanatics. They are NO DIFFERENT THAN JIHADISTS PEOPLE.
You have been warned.
From an early age, I wondered about where I came from. Perhaps it is why fairy tales failed to trigger my imagination, for I took such things literally and soon discovered that they didn’t live up to logical expectations.
Take Santa Claus. I loved Christmas more than any holiday as a child, and of course I believed in Santa as all young children do who are raised in the Christmas culture. I was not plagued by older siblings who told me it was phooey, or well-meaning adults who “slipped” and brought that belief to a screeching halt.
No, I figured it out all alone, one pre-Christmas night as I lay in bed, trying to will Christmas morning a more hurried arrival. Ignore all that problem of reindeer and flying, and just how much any sleigh could carry, the time just made no sense. Even with a full 24-hours across the globe, Santa would have to travel faster than fast to visit all us boys and girls. I started with just my own “neighborhood” of about one square mile. Why it would take at least an hour, but even it only took 15 minutes to visit a few hundred homes, why there was the city, and then the state, and then all the states, and then ALL of Canada, and then Europe, and even those awful Ruskies had children, and that was a BIG country too.
Well, that is one story, but eventually that grew to all the other questions that needed answering about how the earth came to be, and how the moon came to be, and how humans came to be. I systematically investigated all these things from childhood to adulthood, getting more and more sophisticated answers surely. I became a student of sorts of astronomy and later cosmology, and paleontology. I read books about these subjects for fun, marveling at great mysteries.
I became of course no authority, and understood only up to a point, for sooner or later much of this turns into mathematical equations far beyond my learning. But I got the scientific answers for the most part. As I matured, and developed some sense of a spiritual life, God entered the equation as well, and over the years I discerned that these are really two questions. One demands reproducible proof; the another a philosophical elegance of argument.
Of course the argument rages on, with fundamentalists entering where they do not belong, and atheists peppering them with irrefutable logic at most turns. Both are wrong, because as I said, one does not really relate to the other except when one (the fundamentalists) demands that the Bible be used as a scientific text, and the other (the atheist) insists that all believers are fundamentalists.
Science, in the area of cosmology does posit that there may be unknowables, forever unknowable. Brain scientists question the ability of the brain to know itself in all it’s complexity. There may be limits therefore to human knowledge. If there are, then God has the place of “unmoved mover” as Aristotle suggested.
Fundamentalists fundamentally don’t understand or don’t choose to understand things like the 2nd law of thermodynamics for instance. Sooner or later, in an attempt to sound scientific, a fundamentalist while draw herself up and point out that Darwin’s evolutionary theory violates it. Now, if pressed, she would not have a clue as to why, but she read it somewhere in one of her “how to stump your evolutionary friends” and prove Darwin wrong. Of course it does not, because entropy only works in closed systems. The earth is not a closed system because it is being bombarded continuously with solar radiation (energy).
This is only their second best argument, for their first is always, “if we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” Well, my fine airhead, it’s because we didn’t evolve from monkeys, and nobody ever said we did, except another uninformed fundamentalist. First, we are related to apes, not monkeys (and there is a rather big difference), and second we are not evolved from them, but actually share way way back, a common ancestor. We both branched off in different directions (picture the fork in the road), one leading to life in the savannah and mountains, another covering the earth and developing bigger and more complex brains.
Why do I rehash all this?
Why because there has been a significant breakthrough as of late. And it’s worth your time to learn about it. The results are far from in, and it may not prove to be what the author thinks it may be. But it has the scientific world of evolutionary biology and probably physics as well in a tizzy as other research facilities begin the wonderful process of devising experiments to test out the new hypothesis.
As people like myself, and hopefully you as well know, evolutionary theory does not purport to explain “how life began” a common mis-argument of the fundamentalist sort. Such a thing is called abiogenesis. Evolutionary theory has to do with how species change over time due to natural selection. However, a rather smart guy has offered an explanation of “how life began” in a sense, and it involves that 2nd law we talked about earlier.
He posits, by way of mathematical equations, that replication of cells may be a response to infusions of energy (the sun) into the primordial soup. In other words, life arises as a methodological answer to the desire to “even” out or reduce the heat of the energy. Because the 2nd law suggests that energy dissipates across the spectrum of the system seeking equanimity, replication of cells actually fosters that law England claims.
If this is true, then it is the underlying foundation of Darwin’s theory, and of course it means that life is what is to be expected in the universe, and not at all a rarity.
Of course, not everyone agrees that Jeremy England is right.
That is what science is all about. There is and will be, as I said, plenty of testing and experimentation to determine whether his hypothesis is correct. But it’s exciting news to anyone who, like I, is always wondering and asking “how and why”.
*Do read the article. It’s not that long.
“I’m done,” he announced.
I nodded without paying much attention. If you ain’t there yet, you will learn as a sane woman that much of what men say is not worth listening to, so all that waiting with baited breath (what the hell does that really mean anyway?) has long passed me by and I automatically search for certain key words to hear before I engage fully in “listening” to my spouse.
“No more news for me. I don’t care. I don’t care what the Republicans do, I don’t care what Congress does or doesn’t do about anything. I’m done with it all. Today was it.”
This brought me to attention, since I just barely, through the usual fog of interfamily discourse, sensed a certain turning point in life issue here.
“What’s up?” I cautiously inquired.
“Fox is in a fit because the president has come out against Christie and Cuomo and their plans to quarantine aid workers returning from Ebola-stricken nations.” (actually he said something like Fox is having a fucking melt down because Obama said they were nuts for locking up people because they MIGHT be sick). Call it poetic license or anything else that suits ya, I’m writin’ it the way I wanna.
I nodded, since I would assume Fox to take no other position. The equation is simple enough. President says X, Fox says, FOR SHAME YOU BASTARD! Nothing new here.
“Ya see,” he says, “if Obama had been the one to quarantine these people, they would be screaming that he is locking up innocent Americans and depriving them of their rights, and FEMA camps, HELLO, just like we been tellin’ ya.”
“Yep, you are probably right,” I mused. That would be true too.
“Well, it’s the last straw, the camel’s back is broken. I’m no masochist. I’m 64 years old. What is this government going to do to me that I can’t live through at this point? Why pollute my mind and peace of mind with such crap? I read WorldNewsDaily every day, and watch the crazies throw poop at each other from inside their cages and call it entertainment. I read Townhall and Daily Caller, and Blaze for the same reason. I’m constantly overwhelmed by how stupid these people are, with few of them even capable of understanding the most basic of arguments on anything. Why they all take oxygen I’m sure, because not a one of them has sufficient brain cells to engage in breathing without help. So I’m done! This is pure torture to the human soul.”
I write about politics and I basically argue that it is a basic requirement of a citizen to be informed and to vote. So I was forced to confront the issue of whether it was really okay to be a low-information citizen or not. Certainly I argue that more knowledge is better, but I can sympathize with the concept that politicians as a rule today are a rather seamy sort of lying blood sucker. That said, can we expect anything better if we don’t participate?
One is faced clearly with a dilemma. On the one hand it is said that Tea Baggers are rather more “informed” than the average person about political issues. But on the other hand, plenty of reputable studies indicate that Fox watchers are by far the most misinformed of citizens. While it may seem that this is contradictory, it truly isn’t.
It’s quite one thing to know that a subject exists in the world, and quite another to know any truth about that subject. Case in point. Fox viewers (aka typical tea imbibers) know that we have no Surgeon General presently occupying the post. In that respect they may be among say only 30 percent of Americans in general. But if you were then to go further and ask, why don’t we have an SG, you would get from the Tea Fool that it is because Obama’s nominee wants to destroy our 2nd Amendment rights, and therefore the GOP has blocked his nomination.
That is patently false. The nominee has evinced an opinion that gun violence is a proper study of health care in America. There are a volume of doctors and other scientists in the field who agree with him. Congress has for several decades explicitly denied the the budgets of the SG or the CDC for that matter as to an studies on the subject. End result, the SG has zero ability to either “take away” anybody’s 2nd Amendment rights, or even to investigate the issue. Thus it cannot be a REASON to block his appointment.
Thus we can see that in some cases, it would be much better to have no information than purposeful disinformation of which Fox News and it’s ilk are so famous for.
As to the average person, I would suggest, that most are exceedingly low information citizens. While the most prominent “political” party is now “Independent”, that is just a label that means in essence, “I have not thought even enough about any issue to decide on a party.” At least the Green or Socialist, Libertarian, or even Anarchist has done that.
However, it cannot be said from this analysis that people shouldn’t vote unless they can present a modicum of basic knowledge (as some Fox commentators are now arguing). Although their targets are always the poor and brown skinned, there are I suppose some on the left that bemoan from time to time that people who are essentially Tea Party stupid are out there electing their political equivalents to state and federal office. On the whole, the low information voter does reach the right result, even though they may not know why.
Basically, by one’s twenties, one knows what kind of person one is. One is either a citizen of the world and sees us all in this together with the need to work together for the benefit of all, or one sees oneself as part of a tribe, whose only concern is with others of their kind. Most anybody with a few brain cells can tell which party is which based on that simple analysis.
So I have no fear that the Contrarian will falter in his allegiance to the basic principles he has always espoused and vote accordingly. He will continue to read the paper and no doubt will pick up more than enough from me to ensure that he is still wildly above the average when it comes to political knowledge.
And he points to a real issue for me. It is painful to do what I do. My heart is wrenched again and again at what I see as wonton disregard for the rights of others and a very real turning away from helping with basic issues of food, housing, education and health care as basic rights entitled to by all. It hurts deeply to watch the GOP demand that people have a job before they can eat when there are not enough jobs. It is all well and good to create a worldview, and a religious one to back up to that world, as a means to make you feel comfortable with who you really are. It’s quite another to foist that twisted worldview on the rest of us and demand we live by it too.
I am sick to death of so-called religious people (who are not in the least) misusing MY faith as means to justify their own selfish fears about the world and their own inadequacies. If you are unable to handle your homophobic fears that deep down if unleashed you too might harbor a “crush” on someone of the same sex, or once did, hey, deal with it. Don’t re-interpret texts in a sacred book so that you can feel okay in your repulsion at your own “tendencies”.
So I get the desire to dump it all in the nearest trash can and spend the remainder of one’s thinking life pursing things that make one happy and peaceful. I do. And I think that a person has the right to opt for that. And some days I do opt for it.
But politics is as are most things, a jealous lover. She calls me back. Perhaps one day too, I shall be able to resist her siren calls. But it is not today.