Archives for posts with tag: religion

White crossThe way this video from April 2010 unfolds is deeply disturbing, especially considering it happened to a citizen who was entirely correct about this session of the Hawaii State Legislature breaking the law (by not maintaining a separation between church and state). What’s more they then charged him with disorderly conduct, yet he wasn’t breaking any law by speaking out non-violently in the senate chambers. Even the courts agreed with him. This is disturbing for two reasons. Firstly, occurrences like this are hypocritical in the extreme, coming from a nation (USA) who invade other countries without UN authorisation, and retrospectively take the moral high-ground by thrashing around “news” articles demonising religious (non-Christian) extremists for trampling civil-liberties, in a last-minute attempt to drum up sympathy for their illegal “wars” when no OBLs or WMDs magically materialised on request. The second disturbing aspect is that this is yet another example of how heavy-handed violence from authorities is becoming almost a daily occurrence in the US recently, especially in the years since Bush Jr staged his little Cowboys & Indians farce (which is surely no coincidence). It seems a new kind of slavery is rearing its ugly head across the “Land of the Free”…

My guess is that the reason we are seeing a general increase in wild and erratic behaviour from authorities in the USA is because the fundamentalists are panicking, as their beloved hegemony is now sinking fast – due to the Euro becoming a logical alternative for the international reserve currency. This spells disaster for the US because their empire has primarily been built on the seldom-mentioned fact that (due to the US historically being the prime consumer of oil), US dollars have been the international reserve currency since 1945. This has allowed the US to continually spend far more than it earns while the rest of the world has had to earn far more than it spends. What’s really silly is that logical solutions (which could still avoid the US economy belly-flopping into the gutter overnight) have been floating around for a long time now, like installing a dual or triple OPEC oil transaction currency standard (US dollar, Euro, Yen/Yuan) as proposed by William R Clark back in January 2003. Even countries less sympathetic with the US want the US economy not to fail catastrophically, because they know the ripple effect would cause a global recession/depression (far worse than the present one) as a consequence. The problem is that the neocon Axis of Authority firmly embedded at Washington (visibly, and insidiously) will never let that happen, even if Obama begged them, ultimately because they’re greedy and myopic. They’d rather take their country down in flames than let go even an inch of their beloved yet illusory status as “Economic Superpower”.

It’s interesting too that religious fundamentalists in the US are showing the worst lack of self-restraint. I would have thought that they should follow their own advice about “trusting in God to provide”, if they really believed what they were saying, yes?

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When people ask me:

“What religion are you”

I usually start by mumbling something vague about being “spiritually” motivated in my approach to everyday life, but not aligned with any particular religious spirituality or manifestation thereof. When people then stare at me as if I’d just coughed up a particularly complex hairball on their carpet, I usually clarify with something like:

“I don’t claim to know what exists and what doesn’t, and beyond that I would be wrong to say I was utterly convinced of the existence of one god or another (or several), or conversely to claim to know that all apparently religious phenomena are nothing more than absurd imagination. This means that your question is impossible for me to answer honestly, whichever way I spin it.”

Usually people then say something along the lines of:

“Oh come on, that’s just a cop-out because you don’t have the courage to say you believe in one thing or another. Which option do you think is more likely than any other?”

At this point I usually consider starting a debate about how many Sunday churchgoing “believers” actually live and breathe their religious beliefs relentlessly, 7-days-a-week, without hesitation, doubt or distraction… but then decide against it, because that usually just descends into unsophisticated nitpicking. Instead I usually reply more-or-less with:

“OK, if you pressure me to give myself a label by stating what I believe is most likely of all the systems of concepts I have come across, I would have to call myself an atheist.”

Usually at this point, once people have regained the ability to breathe after their shock at my sheer audacity and insensitivity for mentioning the A-word without even coughing into my handkerchief self-consciously afterwards, I find myself thinking about something which to me is far more important than what I believe (or disbelieve), and that is how I believe. I always strive to believe anything within a certain context, which is beautifully summarised by Albert Einstein:

The only justification for our concepts and systems of concepts is that they serve to represent the complex of our experiences; beyond this they have no legitimacy.

Namely, I strive on a daily basis to respect any other person’s right to believe differently, and also to respect their potential to convince me I am “wrong” (relatively speaking), particularly if they introduce new facts which replace any prior assumptions I might have made. I always struggle to remind myself that it all boils down to guesswork and approximation (sometimes informed, sometimes not). Regardless how certain I may feel about some things, I always think:

“allow new information the opportunity to revise your opinion”

To me that just makes sense. Then I think about how often I see friends and colleagues who are self-proclaimed “believers” of various religions and creeds, and who browbeat each other and enact shallow façades in which they pretend to engage in dialogue, as a mere excuse for taking turns to blow their respective trumpets, and to glare contemptuously at the “opposing” party who is so obviously “wrong”. This is the point at which I start to feel a boiling frustration at the fact that I am often seen as the “bad guy” and the “uncaring one” with regard to spiritual/religious matters when in fact I often feel I have more respect and sensitivity for the various people’s beliefs than they have for each other’s…

Then I remember there are people like Gandhi, sometimes. And people like the ones who maintain this refreshingly sensible website, which reminds us what terrorists really are and what they aren’t, and that terrorists are not the same things as religions & countries. Then I have hope.

© 2009 This RSS Feed is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Greece License. If you believe the version of this material which you are reading infringes this license, please send details to rowanthorpe(at)gmail[dot]com so legal action can be taken immediately.