All we need is love, tolerance and inclusion

Art expresses reality sometimes with too fine a point…

Post 9/11 Thoughts

10th anniversary, it seems unreal that a moment in time that is so vividly recalled could be so long ago.

The particulars of where any of us was is less interesting than the sense of unreality, the astonishment of seeing other people going about their day as if it were any normal day – even though they were fully aware of what had happened, but apparently without consideration of what the events meant, could have meant, and still mean.

9/11 was not just putting the US on notice that it’s shores and people are within reach of any enemy of the American State – the USA’s collective bubble that war and it’s impact is something that occurs over there, somewhere else; that America can exist without suffering the consequences of it’s modern foreign policy or the stand taken by the founders in declaring the United States of America’s existence, the social experiment of the individual as the unit of consequence and not the family, the tribe, the community as defined by ethnic and cultural signifiers – of which, religion is a major signifier.

I think that this is why Americans do not learn about the wars with Canada in the 1800’s, or if they have, these are reduced to mere border skirmishes or Canada just being a staging ground and these wars were merely part of the war of independence from Europe. This way, they can pretend that they have never been attacked on their ground – never mind that it was Canada who set fire to the president’s home office and it was white washing over the smoke damage that the place became known as the White House. The name stuck, but the cause was forgotten and the  covering up reality with a bold mythos became the new reality.

So Pearl Harbour becomes the galvanizing and rallying moment – the first collective bruising and 9/11 the first peace time assault and wound. Deeper than the earlier cuts, because it was so unexpected, unprecedented, so from outside the bubble that it seems that it was more inevitable, obvious even, to all but those within the cultural bubble, that consequence free existence that is usually limited to only the most paranoid of dictators. Well, not counting the constant vigilance and paranoia – wearing enough on their own, even with being ended by the equally inevitable coup – which can be the only means to depose the exceptionally paranoid who seeks to destroy anticipated enemies.

Aside: I suppose that this is why the earliest myths are of kings putting babies to death, and in that seeking to eliminate enemies still in the cradle, only ensures their doom by the callousness of their actions – for how can a king be trusted to lead a nation, when he cannot trust babies.

Prophecies are efficiently self-fulfilling.

But, America is not North Korea – although, I have begun to wonder if it’s only because they have to hold elections every four years, so no particular person becomes entrench and embattled at the top – they still take turns while the population marches lock step in the cultural wars that never end, but are fought over and over and over again in new forum.

I saw a website once, encouraging pregnant women to drive in High Occupancy Vehicle lanes (HOV lanes) in order to challenge the law and assert that the unborn count as a passenger – a very novel and unexpected mechanism to challenge Roe vs Wade in traffic court. It actually took me a few moments to understand the concept, because at first, I wasn’t sure if it was a joke or not – Poe’s Law proves so true that there’s really no exceptions.

Which, makes for interesting analysis of 9/11 – on the heels of the suggestion that American foreign policy on Israel is to support that state in order to meet the conditions for Revelation – because then George W Bush’s failure to act on intelligence reports dating back to the Clinton ear, the US seemingly to allow 9/11 to happen without resistance, without attempts to mitigate, seems to start to make startling sense in a far more insidious fashion than even 9/11 Truthers could imagine…

Quotes depend on context, so, without apology to Margaret Mead

No matter what was intended, and who did or didn’t do anything and who sought an advantage and who sought to mitigate and who sought truth and who has tried to impose truth – there is truth to be gleaned – and that truth is that history has a way of coming to a head – whether it’s a slow rolling boil or a sudden burst of energy.

9/11 was a cumulative event and the first mass violent culmination of the clash between religious and secular thinking. Nothing in the history of religious violence could have prepared us for it – not even the crusades, witch trials or Inquisition, as these were all religion on religion violence.

There simply was not a secular world for religion to previously wage war upon – not until after the Magna Carta enshrined law and began the process of peasantry not being alive but for the whim of the King, not until after the founding of democracy and the individual becoming the unit of social consequence, not until humanist liberal thinking, which freed people from the social limitations imposed by accident or happenstance of birth, not until there was a secular world to attack.

Until 9/11, the attacks on the secular world were from within the democracy, the attempts by religious groups to blockade rational, secular and scientific education and thinking – and if not blockade it by banning thoughts from school, especially elementary school – since children are the future, with personalities firm and formed by 6 years of age and under the steep influence of formative experience – so getting them young is what brands the brain into consumer loyality, including the consumer’s marketplace of ideas. Where religion could not compete without massive peer pressure, apologetics and everyone playing nicely and pretending that there’s some merit, if not by sheer numbers of adherents as if, with access to education, economic participation and being of consequence that any followers would even be adherents – then at least through courtesy of respecting beliefs rather than respecting people’s right to – but not the actual belief.

Which is why religionists seek to “teach the controversy” – since this gives the appearance of ideas being at least equally valid even if they are not in fact equal. But, the religious ideas are not valid and have no claim to be considered valid on the face of them.

If we learn anything from 9/11, it’s that religion cannot be at peace with any competitor and that as long as religion has any share of the public square, there will be violence and cost to society.

What’s needed is a massive shift in thinking – religion is the new smoking.

It’s okay to be religious, but there needs to be a secular disincentive to allowing second hand religion to be imposed on or impact others.

The problem is less the extreme fundamentalists and more the moderates who by virtue of giving any credibility to religion, gives rise to the fanatics who are grounded in the moderates.

Without religious moderates, fanatics would be unvalidated, unsupported, unfunded, unprotected, unvarnished and without the veneer of respectability, of crediblity and of consequence that the moderates provide.

Education is the key – good science education, solid critical thinking skills and humanist approach to each person’s achieving their potential.

Isolation and homogeneous experience is the enemy of reason – if each of us believes that all other people are the same and we are the only ones who think or feel or beleive something contrary to the masses – we are isolated and alone – but, the more people and cultures we expose ourselves to – the truly universal things – the need for survival basics aside, but the need to love, to be loved, to be secure, to create, to endure, to thrive, to laugh, to be.

We are all people with the same needs and drives – but we need not all be the same – which is what religion would have us be – to be and live according to one idea, to be all the same in service and worship to something that is not proven to be real, that we are asked to accept on faith alone, on nothing more than the word of people now and through history who have benefited monetarily, socially and politically….

People who would convince the masses that the best reward is awaiting the people who suffer, who accept their lot, their station, their place in the world – this place being the bottom and as a follower…

Religion is an effective tool to control the masses, but the world is no longer run by a handful of kings and priests – there are 7 billion people, all of whom are deserving of more than playing atmosphere and extras – the story of the world is in that cast of hundreds of millions, billions – and not the handful of people who sought advantage or were born to advantage.

Religion is no longer the best tool in a world where literacy isn’t the exception, where the ability to control reproduction and infant mortality, change fatal illness and epidemics into manageable illness, where more people live in urban than rural areas and the fruits of our labour is no longer the fruits from the field.

Human scale is no longer what we produce with our manual labour, but has shifted to what we can imagine and bring about – human scale is the human mind – unlimited and unfettered. We are capable of paradigm shifts without a clutch.

9/11 was such a shift.

We have only to determine the direction of the collective acceleration and not just allow shift to happen.

religionophobia

If 9/11 taught us anything, it’s that we can’t afford to pretend that religion has merit or is a force for good in the world. We must no longer be willing to coddle religious sensibilities.

Religion is about dividing people between the real true believers and everyone else who’s lesser than; and since all religions claim to be The One True One, and there’s nothing to recommend one over any other – we need to put them all aside in favour of social justice and equality. Secular law under which everyone is equally deserving and has equal access to the law.

People are afraid of Islam because of the anticipated violent response and Christians complain bitterly about their sensibilities not being catered to because we know that they don’t respond violently. It’s as if western Christians are jealous of the fear Islam is inspiring because Christians know they can’t get away with a violent response – and this suggests that if they could get away with it, that they would respond violently.

Christians live in the secular world which will not tolerate religious violent protest – while Islamics tend to live in theocratic countries where such public expression of their intolerance is acceptable, even mandatory.

But the reason that Christians don’t, is because they live in a secular society not a theocratic one. They have things to lose in a secular society that are just not considerations in theocratic ones. Christians would lose their freedom and possessions for behaving violently – they would lose their affluence and influence – which is an important distinction.

In secular society, anyone can prosper – and it’s that prosperity that makes people behave and adhere to the rule of secular law.

Christians are entirely free to behave violently, they are just unwilling to do so for fear of legal consequences – so they turn their response to censorship and shoe horning their religion into the secular law. Which, if successful, would turn the western secular society into a theocracy, in which everyone loses much, but especially non-Christians or the not righteous enough or right kind of Christians.

So, it comes down to Christians wanting to be able to live in a Christian theocratic society were they are not mocked or they are at least able to respond to the mocking with violence.

And, athiests are people without theism, full stop, no replacement. Some may go so far to say that there’s no god, but that’s farther than atheism is, which is to be simply without faith – people who argue that atheism is anything else is attacking strawmen.

We are all atheist to all religions except for the one any person believes in and full athiests go that one more than believers do. Believers are atheist to all religions, save the one that they were most likely raised in, perhaps one they later were drawn to, but one nonetheless, while full atheists have none and no more.

The mechanism that’s at work for people to not mock those that we can reasonable predict will respond with violence is not fear, but rather, safety and concern for life.

We in the west are not the ones who bear the burden and cost of Islamic riots – people over there pay the cost of our mockery. We do not wish to cause needless suffering, loss of life and/or damage to infrastructure.

Moreover, atheism is rejecting theism and as such, has no need for martyrs when atheism is based in reason and logic. Having no need of martyrs, means that atheism does not attract the fanatic element that is common for religion.

Another key difference between theism and non-theism. Non-theism is about living and living well – while religion is about death and the afterlife – and so martyrs are needed, even mandatory.

If people can’t see that logic and reason are the basis and means for a good life all on their own, if they cannot understand good from bad morality and resultant behaviors, if they cannot see that the quality of life matters more than quantity of life….

Then I guess the rational, free thinking, skeptical, logical people need to keep doing outreach and education – to keep fighting that best of all fights – the fight for life, for liberty and equality – must continue.

Or there’s no point to human existence, if we can’t continually improve our lots and civilizations.

 

 

The Burnings Continue

Pastor Terry Jones, Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida and Future Book Burner

Book Burning

The only censorship that I can support is for a person wishing not to be exposed to something they find objectionable is for them to simply avoid it. Censor their own access to the objectionable book, movie, TV show, artwork, idea or whatever.

Religions have a long history of burning what they object to – from witches to books to music recordings.

Christ Community Church members burn Harry Potter and other books

Even as an atheist, I find it disconcerting that an American Christian group is intending to burn the sacred text of another religion. But not really surprising.

Which makes me wonder why any religious person bothers atheists at all – surely it must be easier to convert a believer of one religion to another than a non-believer into a believer of one or another. It’s the other religions that are competing for same pool of believers, after all; atheists don’t recruit.

In many ways, becoming an atheist is very much like coming out queer.

The culture that any of us have grown up in has a majority of heterosexuals and believers in one religion or another. It can be a difficult process to realize that you are not in the majority on either or both counts and it is a difficult process to come out as either or both.

Easier now for people since there’s more people who are publicly atheist or queer. Overall, you have to have a self awareness and be strong enough to be honest about who you are to people who reasonably need to be in the know.

It’s funny to me that in the US, an atheist stands are far less chance of being elected to public office than a gay or lesbian politician.

But I digress…

Book burnings are not an effective means to eliminate ideas – largely because the publicity around the burning event draws the idea into the public sphere. People who would have been indifferent now become curious what’s so offensive about the book, movie, music – and hopefully, will seek out the objectionable material to decide for themselves.

Aside: I own many gay and lesbian books just because they were banned by Canada Customs. It’s not likely that I would have bought many of them had they not been placed on a shelf near the front door of Little Sister’s with a sign that read “Canada Customs doesn’t want you to read these books.” Tabooness is tasty.

Much like the way that protesting a movie increases the box office, book burnings are more likely to increase sales and discussions. If only for the copies bought to burn.

Nazis cleansed "un-German" thoughts into a roaring fire on the Opernplatz in Berlin. May 10, 1933

More than helping spread the “objectionable” idea, the burning of books should be intolerable to anyone not stranded and lacking any other kindling for a fire.

Ideas that are accessible to the masses is an important measure of freedom and rights in any civilization; even bad and offensive ideas. Maybe even especially bad and offensive ideas.

It’s important for people to be exposed to a variety of information, if only to allow a person to defend their beliefs against that information.

That we are in a time period where uneducated amateur opinion repeated often and loudly is deemed on equal footing with educated professional opinions is disturbing. There’s a place for them in public discussions – heck this blog is full of amateur opinions – but not on equal footing.

Aside: This is why Intelligent Design shouldn’t be taught in biology any more than Holocaust Denial should be part of the history class.

But more than the access to ideas and drawing awareness to the material being objected to, is the larger message of hypocrisy.

Any religion or it’s sub-versions demands special consideration and even reverence for their own sacred texts, dogma, rituals, symbols and hierarchy of authority — even from non-adherents. Most religions include the concept of “doing unto others”.

For one religious group to burn the sacred text of another religious group demonstrates the selfish, delusional and hypocritical nature of religion and it’s adherents. Or maybe they believe in “doing unto others before they do unto you.”

Quoran burning is permission to Bible burn.

These same people would be infuriated if any group or individual decided to have a bible bonfire.

Burning Beatles records in Waycross, Georgia. 1966.

As appalling as book burning is to me, I recognize that sometimes people can only understand why an action or behaviour is bad when they are the target of it. Although that’s still not a guarantee that they can turn it around and see why others object to being so treated.

I regret not having a Bible to BBQ for filming and uploading to youtube – but perhaps someone else might and send in the link.

No size spoonful of sugar would help that medicine go down.

Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Canton, North Carolina burnt non KJV Bibles last Halloween