Apr 25, 2015

Wars, Genocides, Natural Disasters, Pain and Sorrow, are all Part of the Human Condition as the Creator Intented

This week, many people are commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide by the Ottoman Turks. Should we care? Should we do anything about when similar events take place around us? What can we do? Is sensitivity enough? How about when an intervention is not possible for a variety of factors? These are all hard questions to answer. 

The largest Armenian church in Turkey today is St. Giragos which is also a cultural center since succeeding Armenian generations in Turkey have converted to Islam, either forced or in order to blend it and survive. This is by itself a lesson on the spread of religion.

A conservative (religious, social) would point out that humans are governed by "original sin," which basically means that humans have a bad quality in them--the "bad seed" can be seen religiously or symbolically. Therefore, the individual shouldn't have unlimited choices when it comes to morality and social mores. People don't know what is in their best interests. But, the fundamental question still remains, who designed humans? If it's evolution, then human nature evolved to adapt to the environment; scarcity of resources can result in "us versus them" behavior. But, if the grand creator is the designer of humans, then he has to be given credit for what his children do while he doesn't interfere.

When the Ottoman empire had practically collapsed, the Young Turks decided to ethnically cleanse the remaining territory as a way to preserve their country. So, intentionally, even enthusiastically they proceeded to exterminate the minorities. Not surprisingly, imams (religious leaders) instructed the uneducated and god-fearing populous that it was OK to kill Armenians, and generally all Xtians. Not all Turks participated in the genocide, but the idea of creating a nationalistic Turkey was the consensus. 

The Greeks in Asia Minor would later have the same fate, though the circumstances were different after the 1919-1922  war. Kemal Attaturk's army and the nationalists cleared Asia Minor of Greeks, and solidified the current borders of Turkey. War is dehumanizing; it can turn good people into savages. Religion can do this too. Yet, there are many stories of people from both sides that sheltered their neighbors from persecution and death. Humanity also has a brave, kind, altruistic, loveable side.

This morning, a big earthquake killed thousands of people in the Nepal region. Unlike war that can be seen as man-made, natural disasters, parasites, diseases that kill millions more aren't man-made. OK, maybe the adults deserve to die, because somehow the divine has deemed death is their punishment. But, how about babies, little children, the innocent? If all of them deserved to die, perhaps because they'd grow up to be sinners, then how about free will, choice, own volition?  All religions are big on people having to demonstrate their goodness. Otherwise it'd be pointless. A defective person would only do bad things; no choice, therefore, no personal responsibility.

This kind of intellectual pondering has no place in religion. Not if ideas, positions, moral stances are to be arrived by reasoning and rationality. Religion is divinely inspired, thus it cannot possibly be the creation of men, who don't have the capacity of infinite knowledge and wisdom. A few chosen ones are given the divine message in secret. The problem with this method of divinity is that even if we accept the message how do we know its true source? The gods have chosen to give conflicting messages to different peoples over the millennia. This is a conundrum for me. Any cursory comparative review of the religions shows how different they are, especially the farther apart on this globe they began. Proximity of start-up religions have similarities because people are influenced by each other. 

When there's unbearable sorrow, it's natural to seek comfort, a gleam of hope, somewhere, anywhere. Religion and the cultural associations it entails, provides such. When you lose so much, perhaps a loved one, you may seek comfort by an imaginary deity, that in the afterlife all this suffering will be gone, if, of course, you obey divine law. It's a bargaining, an almost foolproof construct, bathed in fear and sorrow.

But, what still amazes me is that after a big tragedy, where millions of people suffer horribly and die, almost all of them deeply religious, and the deity just sits up there observing and doing nothing, well, this is perversely wicked, immoral, unkind, and evil.   

Apr 13, 2015

What We Need is a Champion for the Middle Class and the Poor. Hillary Clinton Now Has to Articulate a Vision for the Future!

Hillary Clinton formally announced what it was already known. She wants to be a ..champion. "Your champion" as she put it. Yet, it's not all of us, because all of us aren't in the same place, on same plane, or even reality. Therefore, she can't be all things to all people; she better choose and choose well. 

Now if the populous were more aware of the actual conditions, the distribution of wealth, and what we're missing by not using our resources to benefit the 90% of the lower classes, then Ms. Clinton and most other leaders would be singing a different tune.


Anyway, there's a long way to go before the next elections, and hopefully this is going to be fun. There are several clowns who are throwing their red noses into the circus that's called the Republican selection process. Personally, I'd like to see a strong challenge to Hillary Clinton. It'll be better for her too. She's mostly vetted already--I don't expect big surprises to come out by her being more closely scrutinized now. The point is that she has to demonstrate that she has the energy to fight for the highest office in the land. She also has to have a vision for the future. It shouldn't be a coronation, nor a claim for tradition & the past--Bill Clinton's presidency happened almost a generation ago.

Apr 1, 2015

Back to the Dark Ages--A Republican Motto.

So, in my opinion, Carthage must be destroyed--Roman senator Cato the elder used to end every speech he made. Carthage was an enemy of Rome, but every time it was defeated, it rose up quickly, armed itself and the war cycle began again. Now, I'm taking the side of the Roman empire, but we should take similar action to Cato's when it comes to religion. We've got to break the spell. We deserve better than to be bound to immaturity, superstition, and, yes, evil.

George Carlin, a god of comedy
Indiana and now Arkansas are promoting law that supposedly safeguard religious freedom, when, in fact, these laws mean to give immunity to businesses that want to discriminate against anybody their holy faith dictates! We've been through this before, since the early days of our republic. Much of the discrimination was done by private businesses, but since the civil rights era of the latter part of the 20th century it appeared we're putting this evil behind us. But, of course, modern day conservatives, and the Republican party, are reviving discrimination camouflaged as freedom of religion. 

If racism, homophobia, and intolerance were all but dead, we would be debating such issues today in the US. There would be a few clubs or private organizations that would cater to the ingrates who are stuck in the dark ages. But, if a business is open to the public, it cannot discriminate, even if the owner has a strong case of a virus of the mind--religion. My employer should be allowed to take out blood transfusion from my medical plan, simply because he has a crazy religious belief that deems such procedure as immoral. Same with other coverage that modern medicine deems necessary for good health. 

Likewise, a restaurant, a movie theater, a whatever that is open to the public, cannot deny admission or service to gays, atheists, racial, ethnic, religious groups/individuals. A pharmacist should not be able to deny women birth control options because that idiot thinks his religion makes it immoral for single women to have sex.

We have to break the spell of religion, we'll be better off. It may be true that some immature people need religion in order to behave decently, though there are strong arguments against this view. If someone needs the fear of punishment in order to behave well, there are other ways to provide this motivational force outside the spell of religion. It is very sad that religiosity in the US is so high--much higher than in other advanced western-type liberal democracies. I would have no problem if religion was a strictly private matter. This is when the principle of choice, freedom of religion, own conscience and choice applies. But, unfortunately, stone-age beliefs are still holding our society hostage since there is a critical mass that carries this virus of the mind. 

Sen. Inhofe: Republican Neanderthalism?

We are still debating reality in this country! Issues like evolution, all sorts of science, the age of the earth, climate change, civil & human rights, etc, are somehow controversial ! Did you hear about Senator Inhofe (R-OK), who chairs the Environment Committee and also thinks that global warming is the "greatest hoax" perpetrated on humanity by.... Total nonsense. But he brought a snowball to the Senate floor to prove his point that the US capitol was "unseasonably cold" hence no global warming! Yeah and heehaw.....  Oh, it got better.... In order to rebut the criticism following this stupid stunt, he came back the next day armed with a ..Bible in which he found a passage that as long as humans walk this earth, God has promised that the ..weather will be just fine. Yeah, if only he was the only crazed one, but he is not. 

Now let's watch to see how many presidential candidates on the Republican side are going to support discrimination, outdated social views, superstition, prejudice, willful ignorance, anti-liberal values, policies that favor the elites, and a path to the "good ol' days"--regressing to the dark ages that is.