Posts Tagged ‘activism’

CAN CHARLES DARWIN BE TRUSTED?

April 3, 2014

Historical people, like the rest of us, sometimes contradict themselves and often change their minds over time.  It is generally fair to conclude what scientists say in their older age represents their true lifetime professional opinion, rather than what they might have said when they were younger.

Human language definition often changes over historical time and words sometimes develop multiple meanings.  To be fair and accurate, one must consider how words were defined when they were spoken, rather than how those same words might be defined today.  Careful historians apply a discipline called “philology” to help understand human language in historical context.

For example, broad-brushing the American founders as “deists”, a consistent bad habit of modern educators, is a historical lie.  The majority ascribed to some form of Christianity and, the very few who claimed to be deists apparently believed God hears prayers and interacts with human affairs.  There is no evidence any American founder was a deist as the term is normally defined today.

Charles Darwin, in the opening sentences of his final revision of “On The Origin of Species”, is humble enough to credit our Creator for being behind whatever universal processes and reality there may be. This edition was published about five years prior to Darwin’s death and thus, it represents a lifetime conclusion.

Some ‘scholars’ today, pretending they can somehow know Darwin’s intentions, claim that he only mentioned God to make his wife and family happy and to otherwise appease the religious leaders of his day.  Because Darwin throughout his lifetime consistently openly debated with religious leaders and others concerning his ideas, such a claim has no historical merit.  One might fairly ask, if we can’t trust Darwin regarding this most fundamental of human beliefs, how can we trust anything else he said?

Perhaps Darwin made no mention of our Creator in his first edition because the overwhelming evidence for creation was agreed to by the vast majority of scholars of his time.  Maybe only after the publishing of his theories had caused considerable controversy, did Darwin then find it necessary to place our Creator where he, like Einstein and Jefferson apparently believed God belongs, far above all human science, reason and understanding.

In a letter published two years before his death, Darwin strongly denies being an atheist, saying his mind was “mainly agnostic but not entirely”.  Because agnostic at that time sometimes referred to distrust in religion and human claims about God, rather than questioning God’s existence, Darwin could attest to our Creator and still remain agnostic but not entirely without contradiction.

Is it fair to pretend one of human history’s greatest scientists can’t be trusted to be honest regarding what he fundamentally believed?  Is it fair to just arbitrarily ignore various words ascribed to Jefferson, Einstein and Darwin because modern liars don’t like what they actually said? Is it fair to speak for historical people, rather than allowing their own words to speak for them?

Can Charles Darwin be trusted?  You decide.

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CAN WE AFFORD TO HOUSE THE HOMELESS?

January 11, 2014

It may sound callous and indifferent to say it would save taxpayers significantly to house the homeless. But we apparently live in a nation of many callous and indifferent people, who seem to think it’s in their own best interest to simply ignore the homeless.

Based on actual calculations by the state of Utah of how much it costs to arrest and jail the homeless and provide emergency room services, the average cost per homeless person to the taxpayers of Utah is over $16,500 per year. Utah has discovered housing the homeless instead, including the cost of providing a social worker, costs the taxpayers about $11,000 annually, a savings to the taxpayer of over $5500 per homeless individual.

Unlike many cities continuing to pour taxpayer dollars down the drain arresting, jailing and re-arresting the homeless, Utah has since 2005 began offering those without shelter an apartment and, the entire state is on pace to eliminate homelessness by 2015. While housing the homeless for no cost might not be the best idea, most certainly housing them for one-third of their income, regardless of what it is, would save taxpaying citizens significantly.

Not included in the above calculations, are many other additional not so obvious costs to taxpayers when cities refuse to provide affordable housing. Perhaps most importantly and least understood by American citizens in general, it is a well-established historical fact that pandemics and plagues typically arise among the poorest sections within large urban areas, where adequate shelter, nutrition and medical care is most lacking.

Scientists for several years have been warning that major plague is long overdue and could erupt at any time here in the 21st Century. Disease knows no economic or other boundaries and can quickly spread in all directions upward and outward. It isn’t an exaggeration at all to say that failing to provide adequate shelter, nutrition and medical care for everyone within our borders, is simply begging for national and global disaster to erupt. No one is safe from contagious diseases, regardless of how wealthy or insulated we may be, nor are any of our own children.

Many millions of federal, state, county and city tax dollars are spent in various ways on social outreach services and similar programs that would not be spent if there was no homeless population. And, many billions more are spent by private charities, where much of this is donated by taxpaying citizens. The total cost of private donations combined with various taxpayer funded social outreach programs, significantly adds to the cost of not housing the homeless.

With all costs included, it is at least 50% less expensive to house a homeless person, charging them one-third of their income, than to not house the same homeless person. American cities could begin buying up vacant homes and other structures and start housing the homeless, which would have the added benefit of reducing crime, stabilizing and driving up property values in distressed neighborhoods. Can we afford NOT to house the homeless? You decide.

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SHOULD WE BOYCOTT WALMART & EXXON-MOBILE?

January 11, 2014

There are sometimes well-meaning but misguided efforts pushed by various organized groups to protest high fuel prices, encouraging consumers to not purchase gasoline on a specific date. It is highly unlikely such token resistance will result in positive change.

Refusing to purchase gasoline for a day or, just not purchasing from Walmart for a weekend, is ineffective and a waste of valuable organizing time and energy. It will require significant economic threat to reform the greedy corporations currently holding a corrupt stranglehold on the American political and economic reality.

A much more effective way to protest is for consumers to target boycott Exxon-Mobil and Walmart, agreeing to purchase only from their competitors. American citizens could force significant reforms, just by agreeing not to purchase from the two worst economic enslaving human rights debasing offenders.

Anyone can protest and complain. It is quite another thing to act wisely to actually correct what is wrong. If American consumers had already united using wise activism, as demonstrated by Mohandas Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cesar Chavez, we could long ago have corrected several of our worst 21st Century problems.

Attempting to boycott every offending corporation on a widespread basis is an obviously impossible task. However, if consumers would join together and agree to permanently boycott just Exxon-Mobil and Walmart, until such time as they engage in reasonable human rights, environmental friendly and other fair and just practices, major reform in America could easily and peacefully be achieved.

That is all it would take. Target boycotting of salt by Gandhi in India resulted in substantial positive gains for poor people who were in effect, slaves of the British Empire. Target boycotting of city buses in Montgomery eventually resulted in a Southern president signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act. And, target boycotting in California by Cesar Chavez resulted in substantial wage and other improvements for migrant farm workers. 

Target boycotting not only serves to reform the targeted industry or company, it also serves notice on all other companies that if they fail to treat workers and consumers fairly, they will be next. There is no reason for violence here in the 21st Century, in order to achieve substantial positive human and civil rights gains. We the people hold the power of the consumer purse. As such, we have the power to bring greedy corporations and their corrupt political pawns to their nefarious knees, without firing a single shot.

Until Americans stop voting for corporate stooges, stop listening to divisive political and religious pundits and, start practicing wise united activism on a large scale, we will likely continue to march down a freedomless road to historical oblivion. It doesn’t take much courage to complain about what is wrong. It requires bravery and perhaps a little personal sacrifice, to stand up for actually fixing America.

Where are great leaders of heroism and sacrifice, like Gandhi, Parks, King and Chavez, when we need them the most? Should we boycott Walmart and Exxon-Mobil? You Decide. 

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IS THE GOLDEN RULE REALLY THE BEST IDEA?

May 28, 2010

What is today known as the “golden rule”, is found in similar form in at least 37 often non-connected cultures.  Thus, the laws of God are clearly written on the conscience of humanity, as the Bible claims and as Jefferson echoed in the Declaration of Independence.

According to Jesus, “Therefore, whatever you want people to do to you, do also to them, for this is the law and the prophets”.  The added, “for this is the law and the prophets” in the society of Jesus, meant similar to as if today someone said, “this is the foundation of human rights and the sum and purpose of all reason, wisdom, philosophy, science, education, morality and ethics.”  Is this really the best idea for achieving human rights in the modern age?

Upon closer examination, most of the so-called “golden rules” found in other societies, including the one attributed to the Jewish teacher Hillel, are considerably different than that taught by Jesus.  A similar one to Jesus is found in a saying attributed to Mencius.  But unlike Mencius and all of the other known sages of history, only Jesus gives this positive, pro-active version the all-important status of being the foundation for all that matters towards positive human enlightenment and achievement.

So-called “golden rules” found in most societies instruct us not to harm others as we do not wish them to harm us.  But Jesus teaches us to reach out and help other people, even if they do not first help us. Consider how much less effective it is to tell a child not to harm someone, than teaching the same child to pro-actively treat others as they like to be treated.  For example, is a homeless widow better off if someone just doesn’t harm her or, if someone provides her food and shelter?  Isn’t it far more effective to teach us to help each other than just saying we should do no harm?

Some modern intellectuals claim we should instead, treat other people as “they” wish to be treated.  This supposed “improvement” contains at least two significant flaws:  1) It is rather difficult to know how another person wants us to treat them unless we first befriend them as we wish to be treated.  2) If we treat others as they wish to be treated without any measurement against our own well-being, we will soon be extremely tired, penniless and destitute.

Today, the term “empathy” is favored by many, apparently because it is less religious sounding than the idea of loving our neighbor as ourself.  Although it is a good idea to empathize with others, is this idea really an improvement over teaching us to pro-actively love our neighbor as ourselves?

Is the Jesus version of the golden rule the best idea?  Does anybody else have a better idea for curing what ails a race called “human”?  Do we want less than the best for our children?  You decide.

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DOES BELIEF IN GOD CAUSE WAR AND OTHER HUMAN OPPRESSION?

April 20, 2010

Is it really accurate, as some intellectuals claim today, to blame belief in God as the cause of war and other human oppression?  Is this any more correct than blaming science and education?  Isn’t it more honest to instead, blame people who mis-use technology and belief in God for their own nefarious purposes?

Obviously, someone can aim the fickle finger of fate at war waged in the name of religion.  But, even before the invention of the wheel leading to ever-improved knife, spear, bow and chariot design, human science and education has been intricately entwined with waging war. Military applications have long been interlaced with government-funded science, education and modern space exploration.

Consider the Manhattan Project, nuclear missiles and space-ray weapons.  And, the rise of oppressive imperialism alongside industrial age invention; the American, French, Russian and Chinese revolutions; WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq.  Incalculable human oppression has been aided by science and technology and, waged in the name of nationalism, democracy, capitalism, communism, socialism, fascism, anarchism and other intellectual idealism and often, just plain old fashioned human greed and lust for gold.

Arguably because of their belief in God, billions of people have helped the sick, poor and oppressed masses throughout the ages.  Consider names like Isaiah, Socrates, Jesus, Gandhi, Albert Schweitzer, Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez and, celebrities like Danny Thomas, Jerry Lewis and Martin Sheen.  Consider the Union Rescue Mission and LA Mission on Skid Row in Los Angeles.  Throughout the European “dark” and Middle Ages, many individuals, including some popes, established public hospitals, housing and bread lines.

Consider modern electricity, medicine, surgery, global travel, computer technology and other marvels of a 21st Century age of science and wonder.  And to be fair, weigh this in the historical balances against WMDs, global mass pollution, depletion of fisheries, rain and other forests, fresh water pollution, mountains of garbage and cesspools of toxic waste left in the wake of the “Age of Enlightenment”.

Why is oppression waged in the name of Christianity, Islam and other religions any worse than that waged in the name of manifest destiny, communism and fascism?  Is human oppression a result of sincere belief in God?  Or, is it rather, a result of human beings wrongly using the sincere beliefs of others for their own devious purposes?

Isn’t it more likely that we all contribute to the negative downside of human history, whenever we fail to treat other people as we ourselves, wish to be treated?  Isn’t it more accurate, as Jesus pointed out and as Freud, Jung and modern behavioral science agree, to blame the “seething mass” of irrationality and frustration buried deep within individual human beings, as being the real cause of our problems?

If we are going to rationally and fairly blame something as being the “cause” of our problems, maybe it’s wise to first take a good look in the mirror.  Does belief in God cause human oppression?  You decide.

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