Archive for Philosophy

A Light Year Has Passed.

It’s been over a year and a half since I last blogged.

I’ve been depressed…I’ve been busy.  But most of all, I’ve been a bit lazy.

And don’t forget, a little paranoid, too.  The NSA’s data collection machine still keeps churning these minor blogs and websites in order to analyze us, and add more details to the massive files that Big Brother Sam–erm, UNCLE Sam has on all of us.

I don’t use Twitter anymore.  I don’t touch my Facebook if I don’t absolutely have to.

But…maybe here, I’ll drop a few tidbits of my self in order for the government Spy-ders (get it?) to pick up, and add to my ongoing file of anti-government, delusional, and conspiracy-theorist ramblings.

For example, recently, I had a conversation with a counselor about some deep-seeded Irrational Beliefs. And she gave me some papers to peruse. Here are a few interesting examples, taken from a book by Albert Ellis. Ten irrational beliefs:

1. It is a dire necessity for an adult to be loved or approved by almost everyone for virtually everything he or she does.

I mostly disagree with this one. However, I do believe that is a necessity to be loved…at least by someone, somewhere, some times. We need love in our Human experience, just as desperately as we need food to eat and water to drink. And the consequence of starvation of love is even more devastating than the consequence of dying of thirst or hunger. This fact can be seen in every broken home, every orphanage, and in every murder trial in the American courts to this day. When we are unloved, we don’t just die–and we do die, just a little inside–but we often take the lives or happiness of others with us when we break down. Lack of love can be truly devastating.

2. One should be thoroughly competent, adequate, and achieving in all possible respects.

No. Each of us have our gifts, and each of us have our own areas in which our strengths may shine. It would be wrong for a person strive to excel in an area for which his abilities are unsuited. Each person should strive to find the things that they are good at, where their talents and gifts make it easy to be competent, and thus they may achieve excellence and success. Not everyone can be a master in the arts, or an Olympic athlete, or an astronaut. But EVERYONE CAN EXCEL IN GLORY–in the field in which they are gifted. And every one of has Gifts.

3. Certain people are bad, wicked, or villainous, and they should be severely blamed and punished for their sins.

Now here’s a controversy. The real truth is that EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US ON EARTH at one time or another are bad. And each one will be judged!For all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God….” That just doesn’t leave anyone out, here! But, fortunately, we don’t have to be punished after our judgement…if we accept the Salvation of the Blood of Jesus Christ. I wish more people could understand the nature of sin, and the drives hardwired within each and every one of us that push us to rebel, reject authority, and ultimately make us bad, wicked or villainous–even the “good” people. For true “Goodness” isn’t found in the wealthy Philanthropists who build libraries and hospitals, but in the heart of every man or woman who makes the decision to stop hating, and just give a damn, even for a moment, about the people in need of a smile close at hand. Even a gentle reminder that somebody else cares, is enough to make the difference between a “villain” and a hero, in the heart of somebody having a bad day.

4. It is terrible, horrible, and catastrophic when things are not going the way one would like them to go.

Well…it is! I mean, for that brief moment when something goes wrong, it can be the worst thing to happen in the World! At least, in that tiny space in the World where you were trying to succeed. But…then you move on. You see, the difference here is that a person shouldn’t continue to dwell on a failure–we all fail in many ways all of the time, and bad things happen. Period. So, instead of dwelling on how catastrophic things are, I try to figure out how to correct whatever may be going wrong, and if I can’t do that, then I go and do something else instead. Even if I can’t get my way…I’ll try to get whatever I can. Then I’ll try to be satisfied with a world where only a few things can go my way.

5. Human happiness is externally caused, and people have little or no ability to control their sorrows or rid themselves of negative feelings.

Sadly, this more often true than not. We are all affected by the actions of others, even if some of us are better prepared to endure and/or resist this than others. Words hurt, and whether they lead to broken bones and bodies or not, we all internalize what other people do to us–or fail to do. That’s why it is so desperately important that everyone tries to be compassionate and caring to others in everything we do. Giving another person hope can actually cause them to offer hope and love to many others, and ultimately that love spreads through a community like this one, until we ourselves are feeling the same love and joy being given back to us. And although we have a great deal of control over our own thoughts and actions, how we are treated forms the very basis of who and what we are! As a wise man on Television once said, “We are all the sum of our tears….” And in order to rid ourselves of negative feelings, we must rid ourselves of negative actions. For this is what will ultimately come back upon us, and ultimately…make us feel bad.

6. If something is or may be dangerous or fearsome, one should be terribly occupied and upset about it.

No, I disagree. Yet, that seems to be the entire philosophy of government institutions like the FDA and NTSB. But the reality is, people die. People get sick and injured. And no amount of worry will stop it, and very few of our efforts will do anything to minimize or mitigate it. Simple common sense, in my humble opinion, is the only possible answer to danger and risk. Obviously, jumping off a perfectly good cliff or building is going to endanger a person’s life and health, even with a wingsuit and parachute properly packed. But simple steps can improve our health–like washing hands, fully cooking food, and looking both ways at an intersection. Fear and worry are not the answer to danger–action and vigilance are. It makes less sense to rip out all of the tall metal playground equipment that “might” hurt a few children every year, than it does to teach these children to be careful so that they won’t get hurt! After all…keeping kids safe WILL NOT teach them how to be safe when they’re old, and have nobody but a Government Agency around to protect them from their own ignorance. Think first! Then you can deal with life’s dangers….

7. It is easier to avoid facing many life difficulties and self-responsibilities than to take more rewarding forms of self-discipline.

Of course it is! It is always easier to do nothing. That’s one of the basic problems that I have, in fact. But just because it is easier, that doesn’t mean that it’s better. Far better–though more difficult–to lift a finger, and get things done. Personally, I think we all face the specter of “I don’t wanna!” when it comes time to do the things that we know we really ought to do. It’s a basic part of Human nature. But success cannot walk hand-in-hand with laziness. Sooner, or later, we have to face our responsibilities, and do those things we might want to just put off, or even forget about. Or else, we just have to live with the consequences of not doing whatever it was we needed to do. And as I can attest first hand, it is better to do what I need to do, and get it out of my way, than to live with the consequences. It is more rewarding, and ultimately better. But no…it is never easier.

8. The past is all-important, and because something once strongly affected one’s life, it should indefinitely do so.

The past is who we are. Everything that touches us, from a mother’s touch, to biting words of hate, are a part of us, this is inextricable. But our actions are as important as our experiences, and we alone have the power to choose how we will react to–and ultimately process–the things that are done to us. It’s not a question of whether strong experiences will influence our future: They will! But we have as much say over what we will choose to become as the words of our friends and our enemies; because, remember, our actions are also experiences! We can act in any manner we choose, and in so doing, we can shape our own experiences; and these experiences, too, become a part of who and what we are! So in the end…we are a player in our own history, and probably the single strongest influence on who we really want to be.

9. People and things should be different than they are, and it is catastrophic if perfect to the grim realities of life are not immediately found.

Wow. I could probably write a book on the human catastrophe we are living in to this day. Maybe one day, I will. And, my God…the more I read this, the more true it seems to be! People and things really should be different than they are now; and the way things are, in this country in particular, really does fit the description of a catastrophe, in my opinion. And “perfection” is nowhere to be found. Oh, sure, I can find a bit of happiness every once in a while…but I never fail to be inundated with the stories of how bad things are, especially for my friends and neighbors. So while it’s not a personal catastrophe that people are raping and murdering each other in Chicago, or that the jobs are gone, or that men are violating Leviticus chapter 20 in San Francisco, or that another plane crashed, or a terrorist shot some people…well, it is catastrophe, and it’s a world-wide catastrophe at that! A singular and ubiquitous catastrophe called Sin. And I know, because I’ve seen it unfold, that the only way to stop this catastrophe, will come when Jesus Christ Himself sets his foot down on the Mount of Olives, and this hardwired drive in all of us to rebel, to separate, and to hurt and dominate others is removed from every living Human heart. Because only then…people will be different.

10. Maximum human happiness can be achieved by inertia and inaction, or by passively “enjoying oneself”.

Definitely not. Happiness requires exertion, that’s all there is to it. Each and every form of enjoyment I know about is an action, or part of an action, from playing sports to engaging in sex. Even typing on this keyboard, or lifting up a bottle of beer with friends is exertion. There is no “inertia” in joy. Passive action is empty–a strait face–never a smile. And, by inference, if we wish to achieve “Maximum human happiness”, we must deliver such happiness–through our actions! As humans, we have the power to make each other happy. But that doesn’t do anything if we just “leave each other alone.” The truth is, being alone can be one of the most unhappy experiences on Earth. So, to be happy, we get together. We act–together. And together–we achieve a state of Happiness. And so, in this, too, I could write a book on the ways in which we can act to produce “human happiness.” Perhaps someday, I will.

 

On a followup meeting, I was given a personality assessment, with the following results:

ISTP

Oh, yeah! That tells you everything you need to know about me. Uh, hum…sure it does. But I’ll explain it to you, before I go any further. The code means that I am Introverted, I rely on my Senses, I am Technically minded, and that I primarily choose to Perceive the world as it happens.

This is based on four scales that Psychologists use to analyze personalities. The first scale is Introversion versus Extroversion–the matter of looking inward for my sense of self, rather than outward. I’ll get back to that one; but the others are Senses versus iNtuition (they use the second letter to avoid confusion), Thinking versus Feeling, and Perceiving versus Judging. So, with four different scales, Psychologists can group people into sixteen different personality groups. But…there’s more to that scale than this. You see, I rated precisely 50% on the I/E part of the scale. That means that approximately 50% of the Human population is more extraverted than me…but then, again, 49% is more introverted! Yes, that puts me literally right on the borderline between inwardly seeing who and what I am, and outwardly projecting who I am! Neither introvert, nor extravert, or…more precisely, literally both! But also, I have a wide range across the Sensing/iNtuition scale, as–while I rely very strongly on my physical senses to understand the world, and my place within it, I also have a strong sense of intuition that I use–a sixth sense, as it were–to augment my sense of reality, yet be able to think beyond the physical limitations of what my other senses tell me. In a way, that helps me build a sense of the real world that is even more substantial than the physical brick, steel, glass, and asphalt that largely makes up this city of two to three hundred thousand. The only firm constants in this range is that I rely on Thoughts, and logical rationality rather than feelings and emotions, and I am more inclined to Perceive and observe the world, rather than to judge and arrange it.

So…here are some of the listed weaknesses–and the advice given to overcome those–for, really, all of my personality ranges, ISTP, ESTP, ENTP, and INTP.

 

For ISTP, the following problems emerge:

●          The ISTP gets “stuck in a rut” and only does those things that are known and comfortable to the ISTP.

●          The ISTP resists and rejects anything that doesn’t support their own experiential understanding of the world. If there is a conflict between their own way of life and something that they encounter, they don’t perceive that “something” in an objective sense. Rather, they reject it to avoid conflict and to preserve the sanctity of their inner world.

●          They choose to surround themselves with people who support their own way of life, and reject people who think or live differently.

●          They may become overly paranoid about social organizations and institutions trying to control them.

●          They may unknowingly or uncaringly hurt people’s feelings.

●          They may be completely unaware of how to express their inner world to others in a meaningful way.

●          They may be completely unaware of the type of communication that is often desireable and (to some degree) expected in an intimate relationship. If they are aware of the kinds of things that are appropriate to say and do to foster emotional bonding, they may be unable to appreciate the value of such actions. They may feel too vulnerable to express themselves in this fashion, and so reject the entire idea.

●          If pushed beyond their comfort level to form commitments or emotional bonds, they may reject a relationship entirely.

●          Under stress, they may show intense emotions that seem disproportionate to the situation.

 

To deal with those…I am given the following advice. These statements, and my responses to them:

 

Feed Your Strengths!

Come on! That’s good advice for anybody!

Face Your Weaknesses!

Ditto….

Talk About Your Thoughts.

Easy enough for a man who’s life is literally made up of Thought.

Don’t Be Afraid to Love.

Actually…I’m not. But…I’ll get into that in the next section of my Personality.

Respect Your Need for Action.

Now that can be hard. I’m somewhat lazy, and even though I “Need” to get up and accomplish something, I often find myself reluctant to do so.

Recognize Social Principles.

Like…my social principles? It can be very hard to navigate the unspoken rules and protocols in social communication and cooperation.

It’s OK to Get Out of your Comfort Zone.

True. But it isn’t always easy.

Identify and Express Your Feelings.

I find that very hard, especially when I often find, in regard to many subjects, I have no feelings. Expressing my lack of empathy can, in itself, cause more problems than it solves.

Be Aware of Others.

There are two sides to this. Being aware that they are standing right there is easy for me. Obstacles form part of my hard reality, and must be accounted for. Being aware of the feelings of others is much harder for me, as I often fail to recognize social cues and facial expressions.

Assume the Best.

I can only assume both good and bad will occur at one time or other. While I always hope for the best, I know the worst is out there…waiting.

ENTP

My second strongest personality mode, revealed on a followup test when I returned home, primarily emerges when I am alone…in a world of familiar items and sensations, disturbed only by my own thoughts, the Internet, and…perhaps sometimes, my own loneliness. This is where my iNtuition shines brightly, and my thoughts turn to others–around me, or around the world–across that “border” into Extroversion.

 

For ENTP, the following problems emerge:

●          The inability to maintain a comfortable situation or relationship once its possibilities have been realized or exhausted.

●          A tendency to consider careful or meticulous thinkers as unworthy plodders or time wasters.

●          Blindness to the needs and feelings of others not directly involved in the ENTP’s current area of interest.

●          A lack of sensitivity to the feelings and ways of those who might need reassurance, security or commitment.

●          The inability to deal carefully and calmly with the finer details of a situation or work in progress.

●          Tendency to become overly annoyed by minor setbacks or small things that have to be set right before the goal can be realized.

●          A tendency to be arrogant or boastful, or to demean those who cannot see the same answers.

●          Can often find themselves in bad situations by too quickly taking a big step forward or by being “too smart for their own good”.

 

Notice here, that some of the “weaknesses” of an ENTP are actually the opposite of those for an ISTP? In both cases, I’d realized immediately that I didn’t really have these problems, or that they came up at a far lesser interval for me than for a strong ISTP or ENTP personality–a blessing, I suppose, for having a personality range that encompasses both sides of the Introvert/Extravert and Sensing/iNtuition divisions. To solve problems caused by inward thinking, I just slip over to outward thinking, and vice versa. By combining my senses with my intuition, I emerge with a fuller picture of my world than either component can present on its own.

 

The advice given for an ENTP, as well as my responses, are:

 

Feed Your Strengths!

Wow! Haven’t I read that somewhere before?

Face Your Weaknesses!

Again! Like I said…these are good advice for anyone…of any personality.

Talk Through Your Perceptions.

Yes. It’s sometimes the only way to make sense of them. That’s one of the reasons I blog.

Relax and Enjoy the View.

When the view is enjoyable. I do not enjoy suffering, especially the suffering of others.

Be Aware of Others.

As above…so here. I struggle with this.

Recognize Norms and Structures Are Necessary.

Necessary though they may be, they are not always good, nor are all of then good for us. I believe in Truth and Right, and many of the standards of social interaction and conformity are anything but.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone.

I do, when I can. But it isn’t easy.

Identify and Express Your Feelings.

Hard. Sometimes, that’s real hard.

Be Accountable for Yourself.

I will account for my actions. Or, I will be held accountable for them. That’s a basic tenet of the reality I live in.

Assume the Best, But Be Wary.

Now this, at least, includes the realism aspect that I depend on. Reality often sucks, and we cannot depend on “happy endings.” Only endings.

ESTP

Like ISTP, many of the same problems emerge, although some are resolved or mitigated by my broad personality range:

 

●          Can become morose or even antagonistic in situations offering little promise of advantage or the possibility to “do something.”

●          May be manipulative, taking advantage of other people’s weaknesses for their own gain.

●          May be unwilling or unable to plan anything in advance themselves, or to follow other’s careful plans.

●          Can be overconfident of their own cunning or ability, ignoring problems which eventually catch up with them on their blind side.

●          May find it difficult or be actually unwilling to follow through where an ongoing commitment is expected.

●          In relationship situations may be overbearing, demanding and/or uncaring of the feelings of their partner.

●          When alone or in reduced circumstances may be subject to dark or morbid feelings about themselves.

●          May be unable to maintain employment for any length of time, losing credibility with potential employers or clients by job hopping.

●          May become so engrossed in challenging activities that they lose all sense of proportion, neglecting themselves and their relationships.

●          Without challenges of their own, may become focused on the behavior of others, particularly that of family or employees, insisting that they live up to what the ESTP sees as the proper code or level of accomplishment.

 

As can be seen, most of the problems I face stem from my inability to feel, or from my unwillingness to plan and organize, rather than to passively Perceive. I am a Thoughtful Observer in this life, much more than a doer. So, here is the advice for ESTP, and my responses:

 

Feed Your Strengths!

Wow! Haven’t I read that somewh–

Yeah. And so I’m just gonna skip the ones that came up in the other two personality types.

Don’t Be Afraid to Show Emotion.

This is kind of like the version under ISTP, but as I have a wide range, I also do show emotion, even tears. And I’m not afraid to love–if it’s the right kind of love…with the right kind of person.

Recognize the Differences in Others.

I find it very easy to recognize that others are different from me…because I am so different. I have always been a person set apart from others, not only by my personality, but by my disorders, as well.

Be Aware that You can Fail, and that it is OK.

NOOOOOOOOO!!!

Oh, um…yeah, that’s fine. Of course I’m gonna fail! I’m human. Duh….

INTP

This is where my personality rests a great deal of the time. When I’m alone. When I contemplate my aloneness. When I contemplate myself. When I contemplate the universe…and it’s relationship to myself. And it is always here that I interact with God. Because God speaks to me from within. And because it requires intuition to be able to hear His voice at all. This is the personality of my Prayers.

All of the problems and advice given for the other three are either addressed, or not relevant–except one:

 

Listen to Everything.

Of all the advice given so far, I’d like to think this is the one I live by the most strongly. I listen to everything I can; then try to merge what I can confirm into a holistic world view.

This is who I am. This…is what I do.

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A Response to Anger Management – or – What is Self-Worth…WORTH?

So, here I am…back to Blogging.

The SASS is Back.

Today, I attended a class on Anger Management, and our instructors went over the “A B C D”s of anger events. Now, I’m attending this class, not because I necessarily need it, but…well, it’s free for me, and it couldn’t hurt…and it could even help me become a more even-tempered person than I am.

So…. Our instructor presented a few scenarios in which anger might result. Let’s say, for example, I call up my good friend(s), and ask if I can hang out for a while. Well, my friend is busy. He can’t hang out with me. How does this affect me? Maybe I’m put off. I feel rejected. I think my friend has his priorities wrong. Or maybe, I just feel that I am worth LESS to my friend than…whatever it is that certain friend is doing.

And therein lies the seed of feeling “Worthless”…feeling rejected, snubbed, and lonely; this can lead to anger; and this (taken to extremes) could even lead me to going postal on an innocent parking meter somewhere! (Okay, no, not really….)

But more importantly, this scenario points up a few areas of false thinking that are taking place. One is that a friend “Values” someone or some thing more than me. Another is that the friend has (intentionally or not) snubbed me in favor of his current plans. Unfortunately, I’ve actually been on the receiving end, where this latter was actually the case. But then, those were never really friendships in the first place; and the ones who’ve done that to me generally have no desire to have anything to do with me to begin with.

And still an even more damaging false thinking is that my “worth” is somehow tied to anything my friend (or enemies, or acquaintances, or anyone else either, for that matter) says or does when I happen to want a few hours of pleasant company. It’s this very false thinking, in fact, that can lead to depression and suicide, as well as anger and domestic or workplace violence, stupid reckless behavior, drug and alcohol dependence, and innumerable encounters with the long arm of the law. All because our “Worth” is measured by outside forces, such as a friend’s current plans for the day.

Interestingly, our instructors gave us a variation on that scenario: say for example her daughter was sick and needed to be rushed to the Emergency room, just as her friend calls and wants to go shopping at the mall. Now, we can understand, the friend is lonely and needs company; but I think we can all agree that the child is much more important. Not only is the illness a very urgent situation, but (I certainly hope) most or all of us would readily put our kids ahead of our friends and acquaintances! But the point that struck me in this example was that the child’s NEED was greater!

Here is a variable that not many people think about when they try to balance the relationships and situations in their lives! What needs more attention? Will that friend die, if he/she doesn’t get to go to the mall and check out the latest fashion trends? Probably not! Unless they’re suicidal; and then maybe a hospital stay might be a better solution for the friend, also. But the sick and suffering child is in a life threatening circumstance-immediate, and desperate. The needs of that child very obviously outweigh the needs of that lonely friend.

In fact, in this past week, I have personally experienced the calculated weight of a variable need. Somewhere around Saturday night, I slept wrong, and hurt my back. I was in excruciating pain all weekend, and even part of Monday. On Sunday morning, a friend of mine called me, with an emergency. His cat was ailing, and he needed a ride to the Pet Emergency Center here in town. Without a thought, I knew that the need of this friend (and his cat) for emergency care was greater than my need for rest and recuperation. I jumped out of bed (screaming as I did so, incidentally), dressed, and crawled painfully into my car to rescue my friend and his poor ailing cat.

Sadly, the kitty was too sick to save without spending nearly $3,000 or more on treatments (The price of a used car, in fact!) and my friend had to have her put to sleep, instead. I comforted him as well as I could…(without being touchy-feely, of course), and I took my friend home to grieve.

Despite the pain I was feeling, my friend’s needs were clearly greater than my own.

But by Monday, I still wasn’t fully recovered. Now…on Mondays, I usually hang out with a group of friends that play Dungeons & Dragons, a tabletop role-playing game, that gives each and every one of us a nice break from the harsh reality that most of us face in the rest of our daily lives. And one of those friends faces a very harsh reality, indeed: my friend George is currently staying in the local Hospice House, slowly dying of Cancer. The rest of our group gather with George by the fireplace, and there we live out a fantasy of epic adventure slaying dragons and rescuing fair damsels, all while forgetting-just for a while-how sad and lonely the rest of our lives can get. But remember…I was still in pain, and needed to recover, myself. So…I called up each of my friends, and I apologized that I wouldn’t be able to join them; and I made a special point to call George, and apologize to him and wish him well. Then…I laid back down in bed.

You see, in this case, my needs were greater. I’m feeling much better, now.

And this has given me a much better perspective on the way people interact with one another! You see, most people only think about what they, themselves, are feeling about a given situation or event. Yes, they may consider the feelings of others, or try to see their point of view; or, they may try to intercept their path to anger through a number of different techniques; but is it possible they may actually be missing the entire point altogether? What if, instead of an emotional reaction…we were to consider the needs of ourselves and that person we’re interacting with, and ask, “is his/her need greater than mine?” Maybe the friend in the first scenario isn’t rejecting the offer to hang out because he/she “Values” my friendship less…but because someone or something NEEDS his/her attention more! Thus, my “worth” is not a factor in the friend’s decision, and my Self-Worth is not impaired just because the friend saw to the greater needs in his/her day.

So that’s it! “Count the NEEDS!”

By considering how greater need affects the the actions and decisions of those we interact with, we can remove the stimulation that leads to anger when things don’t go our way, and still enjoy our time with people when things do go our way!

It may be a simple as counting up…what really counts!

——

And speaking of needs…I need to address one other topic that came out of that class today.

While considering scenarios that lead to anger, and the false thinking that may trigger the anger itself, I threw out the scenario of freeway driving. I think we all (those of us who drive, anyway) have experienced an event where someone cuts us off in traffic, or crosses lanes without looking or signaling, or makes rude and obscene gestures, or…any number of other annoying and dangerous acts that it is possible for drivers whom we consider less capable than ourselves to perform.

And…one of the “False Thinking” things that I put up into the discussion was, I often feel that other drivers are…: “STUPID!”

Well…okay, while it is true that not everyone is Stupid…I argued that each and every one of us…ISSTUPID…at one point or another in our lives. YES, NO EXCEPTION, PEOPLE! I even include myself in that description; and upon leaving the class for that day, I lived that very example! I did something stupid while driving.

Now…before I get into how a stupid act becomes “I am stupid”, I ought to explain that, when it comes to language, and the ENGLISH language in particular, I consider myself a PURIST. I use words with their purest, and most undistorted meanings possible. When words become so distorted and polluted that they no longer convey the meaning I need to express…I find clearer words to use!

So, follow, if you will, my use of the term “Stupid.” Stupidity, is both a condition, and an action. If I-or others-perform an action that I consider to be “stupid”, then I am acting “Stupidly.” The condition of acting stupidly is synonymous with the act of “being stupid.” Yes, that is one of the definitions for “stupid” given in any good English dictionary. Therefore…if I am BEING Stupid…it follows (By definition of “IS” and “BE”) that for that brief time, I AM…STUPID! Does it not? Of course it does!

So…by virtue of the very nature of those of us in the Human Race, I postulate that each and every one of us, at one time or another…WAS STUPID!!!

I mean…it’s what we do. I am no exception!

Case in point…upon leaving the class for that day, I lived that very example! I did something stupid while driving. I was waiting to make a left turn onto Sprague Avenue, one of the busiest streets East of downtown Spokane, when I saw a possible opening in the Eastbound traffic. I knew that the light a block West of me was going to change, so…when I saw a small hole in the Westbound lanes, I gunned it! Well, I knew immediately I was being stupid. I mean, the car coming up behind me in the nearest lane couldn’t have been more than a few car lengths from where I crossed over into the outside (far) lane! I’m grateful my car has good acceleration and guts, or I might have caused another Spokane Traffic Statistic! But…he didn’t slam into the back of my bumper; though I probably gave him one hell of a scare. I certainly gave myself one hell of a scare.

What I did…was STUPID. It was reckless, thoughtless, dangerous…and unnecessary. Well, as Forrest Gump said in that famous movie… “Stupid is as stupid does.” And our good English dictionary confirms that it also follows, as stupid does, so stupid is. In that act of careless driving…I was…pretty stupid.

This is what it is to be Human, everyone. We all to stupid things. We also do things that are pretty cleaver at times, too. So I feel justified, in my precise, and unflinching English, to say to you all, that each and every one…at one time, or another…has been stupid, smart, jaded, innocent, obnoxious, helpful, WRONG, (and right, naturally)….and a great many other conditions that really just come with the territory-the condition of being HUMAN!

Really…it’s what we do! I’m right in that boat there with you. No offense implied or intended.

SASS has Spoken.

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Teaching Our Children Well

Recently, a woman posted an article about teaching children to do things that they may not like. Like eating their vegetables, or staying out of traffic. Or going to church. And yes…it’s important to instil in young children the importance of doing things that they may not like. But…I think there are often better ways to do that. Well, here’s part of what SHE said:

“My parents forced me to eat three times a day growing up. No joke. Three times. Every. Single. Day. And it wasn’t always stuff I liked, either. Matter of fact, I complained a lot about what my mom made. “Ewww, gross! Sauteed zucchini? Seriously? Mom, you know we hate this stuff!”

So as I approached adulthood I made an important decision. Since my parents forced me to eat while I was growing up, I decided I was done with meals. Oh, here and there I’ll eat out of obligation. I mean, family traditions like Thanksgiving and Christmas, yeah, I’m there. But daily eating? No way. I’m done.

Set in any other context, excuses people make for not going to church sound completely ridiculous. But set in the context of Christianity, people say these things in all seriousness while others nod sagely in somber agreement.

My son told me a few weeks into school that he didn’t like the teacher. He wasn’t getting excited enough about learning, and he didn’t really feel connected to the other kids in his class, so I told him he never had to go back to school again. Who wants to waste their time going somewhere where they aren’t being fulfilled?

We’ve never forced our daughter to stay off the road when playing. We don’t want to restrict her imagination. We allow her the freedom to make her own choices in life.

Okay, Ruth. Come on. That one was just ridiculous. No loving parent would ever say that. That’s a safety issue- a matter of life and death.

Exactly. And that’s just my point.

Church isn’t a place you go to get pumped up about life. It isn’t entertainment like a movie or concert. It is literally a life and death matter. Eternal life. Just as a loving parent wouldn’t allow their child to wander in the road or to quit school, a loving Christian parent also does not give the option to their children about going to church, learning Bible stories at home, and praying together.

Do your kids always jump for joy when they hear you say, “Time to get up! Let’s get ready for church!” No. They won’t. Do they get excited for school every morning? Hardly. But you still make them go. Why? Because you are the parent and you know what’s best.

Even when they complain, you serve them healthful meals and limit their junk food intake. You set boundaries for their own safety when playing outside. You insist they go to school because you’re looking at the long term picture. And you are right to do those things. How much more so are you responsible for doing all you can to secure their eternal well being?

Yeah. Life or Death. ETERNAL life. Or Death forever and ever.

But still…there are those who will rebel against whatever our parents make us do. I, for one, refuse to dry the dishes. Oh, I have no problem WASHING THEM at all! In fact, I’ll gladly dive into that warm soapy water (We don’t even HAVE a dishwasher!) and wash every dish in the house…but then they can sit in the drainer and ROT for all I’m willing to do. Why? Well, because my mom forced me to dry the dishes.

EVERY. PHREAKING. TIME!

Rebellion is a part of the Human Soul. There is a REASON why God sent the Tempter into the Garden, to try to get even ONE of his subjects to eat off of that Special Tree. That ONE, CENTRAL, PRIME FOCUS of the Garden of Eden, planted where they simply couldn’t MISS the damn thing!

In my opinion, that’s reason enough to try to give kids a REASON to want to stay in school, to want to eat their veggies, to want to watch for traffic…or especially, to WANT to go to church, and learn about the Baby Jesus.

I don’t know about you, But I DID jump for joy when my parents told me it was time to go to church! I used to LOVE to go to Sunday School with my friends, or to sing with the adults to “Rock of Ages” and “Amazing Grace!” Oh, sure…I generally fell asleep during that old boring SERMON…but then, that was directed at the adults, anyways. I already HAD what I came for. Baby Jesus was right there inside me, watching over me while I slept.

But that’s the point! As adults, we do things for our kids, and make them do things they don’t like, knowing they’re better off for it, but what do we do to make our kids UNDERSTAND THIS? I would much rather my child gets a cut or a bruise one in a while, and learns to be more careful, than to protect them from every bump or scrape and have them wonder what happened later in life when they’re dying from some stupid, avoidable mistake! The same can be said for school. Why force a kid who hates it to go? Make it FUN so that they’ll WANT TO GO! That was the beauty of Sunday School out at the old Clayton Community Church. We had so many activities and arts and crafts to do that learning about Jesus was as much fun as playing Kick the Can! I learned to love my Veggies by having a grandmother who was a professional cook–and knew how to flavor them so that I always WANTED to eat them! Carrots, and beans, and broccoli…cabbage, cauliflower, even BEATS! I love the way my grandmother used to cook beats! (And I still have her recipe, by God!)

Rebellion…. Let’s face it, the same drive that makes us rebel against Authority (Including GOD’S Authority) is the very thing that makes it possible for us to exist as Individuals in the first place! It’s why God sent the Tempter to Eve, and why He put the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” in the Garden in the first place! WE ARE MADE TO REBEL. But…as Parents, we can USE that Rebellion to our advantage, and to the benefit of our kids. Let them learn what happens when they make mistakes. They lean a lot faster, believe me! You can tell a kid to stay away from a candle flame…and he might…for a while. But after you scold the kid while putting salve on his newly earned burn mark, you can bet he’ll REMEMBER to stay away from that candle in the future! And if you can make a GAME out of obeying you…like, say, when you want Junior to clean up his room, for example…THEN he’ll learn to LIKE doing what’s best…and DO IT WHEN HE’S GROWN! God how I wish MY mom had done something like that. Thank God the old Community Church got it right…and I got Right…with GOD.

We always remember the stuff in our lives that really sucked. And most of us go quite the other way. But for the things we remember fondly, we hold onto those. There is no cause to rebel against the things we love. And that is why they last longer..

 

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What In The World Is Wrong With Islam?

Recently, I commented on a forum that asked, ”

Islam is the religion of peace…..any objection ?! 

Oh, yeah…I had a BIG TIME objection:

If the terrorists in the Middle East ever actually PRACTICED Islam, or at least the form of Islam given to the Prophet Muhammad by Gabriel the Archangel, there would BE PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST!

In fact, if Islam were ACTUALLY PRACTICED, instead of this horrid CULT that usurps its name, there would BE NO TERRORISTS!

Another user replied to this….

OH REALLY? Theres a difference between the government and its people… So get your facts right

And then well, I went off…..

Unfortunately, in BOTH Iran, AND Saudi Arabia, the religion DIRECTLY controls the government; and did so in Afghanistan until we invaded. And in ALL THREE CASES, the FORM of Islam practiced by the controlling powers (Shi’ite, and Wahhabi, respectively) are very, VERY far removed from the form practiced by Muhammad and his followers 1300 years ago.

And the Taliban’s form is even further removed from Shi’ia–including probably the most extreme form of Sharia law ever practiced in modern times.

Look, Muhammad lived in a world dominated by Arab Sikhs: warring desert warlords who treated everything as property, especially their women and anyone and everything captured in battle. They practiced brutal slavery, were viciously racist, paranoid, and xenophobic. Children wee publicly auctioned off, executions could occur on the spot without trials, and if one did’t have money, they were essentially either a beggar, a thief, or a servant. NONE of the “Human Rights” we speak of today had any bearing on the reign of the Sultans of the Arabian Peninsula.

Muhammad revived visions of a world that would NOT be dominated by despots and slavers. A religion in which the poor and desperate could be elevated to the level of even the greatest Sultans. Not unlike the teachings of Jesus, in fact; but tailored to the mindset of people who’s current religion descended from Hinduism.

That’s right! HINDUS!

Islam was, at it’s core, the philosophy of Christ given in a form that made sense to a Hindu–as opposed to Christianity, which was tailored to Judaism.

Now, that being said…Muhammad lived in a world wracked by almost constant war. And this philosophy of Freedom and Equality he was bantering about became a threat to the Sikhs and warlords of his day. Of the many battles Muhammad is known to have fought in, very few were initiated by Muhammad and his followers; and even those that were, Muhammad fought to break the strength or supply lines of enemies that had already attacked him! You see, folks..Muhammad and his followers were PEACEFUL! Or, at least, they WANTED to be peaceful! And the scriptures Muhammad was GIVEN were words of peace, NOT WAR! Unfortunately…the Arab World in the Seventh Century was anything BUT peaceful.

Anyways…getting back to my original point…after the death of the Prophet, Muhammad’s followers broke apart into different factions…many going back to their Arab roots! These people re-introduced practices that God had subtly urged them away from, such as forcing their women out of positions of authority, and resuming their violent wars against one another. They resumed their Antisemitism–essentially, a family feud that goes all the way back to the descendants of Abraham and his brother Lot–more than 2,700 years long at the time!

Today, although there are some Arabs practicing a more peaceful and tolerant form of Islam, most continue their hatred of their ancient enemy Israel; many thousands believe that the only certain way to enter heaven is to die in a Jihad; and Muslim parents to this day hold a strict reign over their children’s lives, even going so far as to make arranged marriages for their young daughters or murdering those who are believed to have dishonored the family. And NONE OF THESE PRACTICES were ever given to Muhammad by the Archangel Gabriel! NONE! NOT “Female Circumcision.” This predated Islam by hundreds of years at least! NOT Slavery! THAT practice was common from before the Great Flood! I mean, there are HUNDREDS of things that Muslims do, that THE QURAN ACTIVELY DISCOURAGES!

We cannot call any of this “True” Islam! The TRUTH of Islam may have been lost almost as soon as it was set to paper, and that’s really a shame, because Islam WAS a religion of Peace! And the Arabs WERE learning to live in harmony, not only with each other, but also with their neighbors weren’t Arab. But…today the middle East is filled with terrorists who want me exterminated, racists who want Israel annihilated, and men who treat women even worse than they treat their farm animals!

God did not teach you this! You have taken these things into your faith, for that, you are guilty of HERESY!

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A Legend In His Own Time

Three days ago, the world lost a great man. Nelson Mandela, a legend in his own time, probably did more to engender Equal Rights for blacks than nearly any other man in history; INCLUDING Abraham Lincoln!

Now, I need to preface that; you see, the last time I made a statement like that, I drew alot of angry criticism. Our Prsident Lincoln did what he did to ensure the FREEDOM of black people in America. Not equality…oh, sure, he gave them the right to vote and all that; but then it took more than another HUNDRED YEARS before America rid itself of our own version of Aparteid! True, without Lincoln, there may never have been a Nelson Mandela…or if Lincoln hadn’t set the stage by freeing the slaves, South Africa might simply have executed Mandela, as an unruly (and unsellable) slave. But, what Lincoln did, was only part of the process.

What Mandella did, he did in a single generation. He, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., believed in a world in which color was NOT a determiner of quality. Today, if you tell a soccer player in Africa that you don’t like him because he’s black, it is his WHITE teammates who’ll rip your head off, even before the offended player can tell you he forgives you. In Johannesburg, you’ll find poor white people and rich black people, both–side by side with their counterparts. In short, South Africa is a model that the entire world looks up to.

In Europe today, there are black people, white people, Asian people, and others in every sort of industry, and at every level of government. Why is it that, parts of THIS country still struggle with the same? In the American South, bigotry and hatred still drives entire orders of people. Neighborhoods like Harlem in New York, the French Quarter in New Orleans, Chinatown in San Francisco, and even the many Indian Reservations of the Native American peoples show our differences and divide “Us” from “Them”. Yes…we have an African-American president. Finally. But it happened SIXTEEN YEARS after Nelson Mandela became the first black president of a Democratic Nation ON EARTH!

Abram Lincoln did NOT do that. He may have made it possible…but Nelson Mandela made it happen. Even Martin Luther King didn’t do that; instead, King became a Martyr, and the violence between the races continued on, in some areas, even to the present day. And maybe even in South Africa, the work isn’t finished. But I have not heard of a South African KKK, or an Aryan Nations. Not recently anyways. Not since Nelson Mandela united a people. There was a man who changed, not only his own country, but much of the world, as well. Even we, in America owe him a debt.

Don’t tell me this person, or that President, or some king, or whatever did much for Equality. Nelson Mandela did more for equality among the races of humans than anyone I’m aware of, and he did it world wide. Our history in this country shows a people who have fought the idea of equality tooth-and-nail! We owe alot to to this man, and I think we should honor him as much as we honor our own heros and legends, for a legend he was. Farewell, “Tata.” May you walk among the green fields with your brothers and sisters forever and ever. And one day, may we finally take the lessons you taught us to heart.

SASS has Spoken.

Good day.

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But Why Is There A Universe At All?

Physicists and Cosmologists find themselves in a Quandary. Rather a big quandary, actually. Wherever they look, throughout all the Universe, or across the particles in their Accelerators, we keep discovering that the Universe seems to be finely tuned to grant us our existence. Even more, it’s finely tuned to grant Human existence.

For example…I’ve recently learned that, in Solar Fusion, the normal products of the fusion of Helium, Boron-8, and Lithium-5 (from Helium+Helium and Helium+Hydrogen, respectively) are themselves very unstable, and break back down into plain ol’ Helium again very quickly. Unless the core reaches about 10 million degrees Kelvin (as it can only in the final stages of a star’s life.)  At that point, matter is energetic enough fuse Boron-8 with another Helium atom to form Carbon-12 (which is stable), or to fuse a Helium and a Carbon-12 nucleus together (Or, two Boron-8 nuclei) to form…Oxygen-16!

Wait…Carbon?  And Oxygen?  The two most important elements in the Universe…for biological animal life?  Yep!

And that’s not even the half of it!  In fact, throughout the cosmos, scientists are staggering across dozens of cosmological values, from the strong and weak Nuclear forces, to the binding energy of Gravity, to the Cosmological Constant itself that…if they were any different, our universe simply couldn’t support life!

Being Scientists, of course, these people are looking for an explanation as to why everything in the universe seems so Perfect to support our existence (anything that doesn’t rely on the theory that it’s “all because God wants it that way,” of course!) In 1973, Brandon Carter suggested the anthropic principle to explain that…essentially, if the Universe was not perfectly lined up to allow for the existence of life as we know it…we, uh, wouldn’t be here TO KNOW IT.

And…he had a point, of course. But, then, some people have criticized the principle, stating that it’s too ‘Easy,” too pat, or that it doesn’t really explain anything.  In fact, Wikipedia says this:

All versions of the principle have been accused of discouraging the search for a deeper physical understanding of the universe. The anthropic principle is often criticized for lacking falsifiability and therefore critics of the anthropic principle may point out that the anthropic principle is a non-scientific concept, even though the weak anthropic principle, “conditions that are observed in the universe must allow the observer to exist”, is “easy” to support in mathematics and philosophy, i.e. it is a tautology or truism. However, building a substantive argument based on a tautological foundation is problematic.

But really, as observers, we can be reasonably assured that,

  1. All observed values of physical and cosmological quantities will be values that are compatible with the existence and evolution of Carbon-based life forms, and,
  2. the Universe will be observed to be old enough to support the idea that Carbon-based Life could have already been formed.

This is the Anthropic Principle in a nutshell, and the physical reality that we are here, and we can observe the Universe around us both ensure that each of these points must be true! So what else is there? Well, the scientists can’t seem to get past the the idea that all of these perceived variables in cosmology and physics are just so Improbable!

Yeah…that’s where I was going with this. The Universe is Highly Unlikely, therefore, it must not even exist. No, it exists. Well, we gotta Blame somebody! I’m voting for a GOD.

Now, don’t get me wrong. While I personally consider myself a Christian, and while I enjoy a personal relationship with an extra-spacial consciousness that I believe to be God, I want to stick with the Scientific principles that these primarily secular men and women seem to insist on. If there is a problem with the Universe seeming to prefer our existence over non-existence, why shouldn’t the solution be some principle condition or active force that actively promotes our otherwise unlikely existence?

The French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955) described a force which he called the “Omega Point.” This Omega Point, he postulated, is the supreme point of complexity and consciousness. It exists, in some form outside the observable universe, unbound by time, space, or distance, and yet–as an active force–propels events in the Universe towards an eventual state of highest complexity, highest consciousness, and highest energy. It both initiated the formation of the Universe, and defined its Parameters. It continues to affect the participants of that Universe, including both living beings and non-animate matter. And, the Omega Point is both Trancendent (i.e., it Predates, and is not dependent upon the Universe) and Personal (i.e., it is an intelligent being, and not an abstract idea.)

Now, here is an idea that scientists may be able to sink their experimental teeth into. Already, they are finding little bits of strange behavior that suggest an intelligent principle may be at work in the world of Quantum Physics. And…scientists cannot seem to explain why life has evolved into more and more complex forms over the observable geologic history of this planet, when the third principle of the Law of Thermodynamics states that all things should tend towards Entropy…and Death.

Now…another philosopher, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, suggested in his Principle of Sufficient Reason that…nothing is without a ground or reason. Everything, or at least everything in this universe has a cause…something that made it to be true. For example, when we observe chemical reactions in a lab, there are physical laws that govern when and how those chemicals react. When we observe particles in a nuclear reactor or an accelerator, ditto. And, when we observe the movement and evolution of stars and galaxies, there is a physical reason for all of the things we observe…and a reason for things we don’t seem to be able to observe, too!

This same fact is true for all of the observed “Variables” that govern the physical “laws” of our observable Universe. Some “Thing” made all of those properties take the values we’ve found. Scientists do not seem willing to accept that some form of conscious mind may have had something to do with the values we find in physics and cosmology. But, if random chance had any real part in the multitude of variables physicists are finding, then either the odds against our Universe ever coming into existence is rapidly approaching Infinity-To-One, or….there must be an Infinite Number of Universes in existence in which we simply cannot exist!

Neither of these possibilities seem to let the scientists off the hook. Random Chance for the possibility of our existence gets more and more implausible with every experiment and observation they make. Why can Scientists not seem to accept that something Intelligent might actually be at work? That God is Self-Evident has been my belief all along. The more people do to try to explain a Universe without Intelligent Design, the more they seem to find one that simply Can’t Exist.

Well, WE EXIST, PEOPLE! It’s time to accept that We Exist because He Exists. God is not lurking just beyond the Last Theorem. He’s sitting right there in Plain Sight in every rock, every tree and flower, in every burning sun, and in Every Living Thing! God is In the Universe! And every number and constant state they find Proclaims HIS Existence! It’s time to accept the role of the Creator in the formation of the Universe.

SASS has Spoken.

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Death in the Family

As a Christian, or…at least as someone who follows Jesus Christ, reads the Bible, and tries very hard to Love my fellow Humans, (and damn, it’s hard to love all of my neighbors…) I have some rather unusual views about Death.  Specifically, about the death of young children.  Of course it is a tragedy when a child dies; especially when one is abused and murdered.  But the Bible has good things to say, when a child happens to die.  It tells us that they are innocent, and that they are beloved by God.  He will take them home to Himself, even if their parents are not good.  Even if they’ve been naughty, young children are not held accountable for sin!  Not like we adults are.  So…naturally it causes me some distress to talk to other Christians about a particular subject:

ABORTION.

Yes, that’s the act of a pregnant woman going to a doctor–or other person–and having her unwanted child…KILLED.  You see, most people I know, who are strongly religious, are rather violently opposed to Abortion.  And for that matter, I Personally HATE Abortion, and those who perform it or seek it!  But I have another point of view.  The same merciful God Who cares for murdered children cares for the unborn in the same manner!  What do I care if some woman who never knew God sends her unwanted baby back to Him?

Actually, I’m going to take this subject even farther.  You see, at one point in history, the Jews of ancient Israel were faced with an even worse situation.  Yes, WORSE than Abortion.  In a neighboring kingdom, the prophets of Ba’al, an ancient Demon, were routinely sacrificing children to their god…by throwing them alive into burning pits!  The Jews wanted to do something about it, but God told them otherwise.  In fact, He told them to stay away from the worshipers of Ba’al altogether.  And once again, He assured them that each and every child has His blessing.

As adults, we have no such assurances.  Today, we can turn on the news to see dozens of reports of murders, rapes, acts of arson, armed robberies, and even wholesale ritual torture, all committed by countless masses of evil people of the sort that once burned babies to honor a Demon god.  Oh, and did I mention that some of those want an abortion?  Really, in the eyes of God, there’s not much difference between aborting an unwanted pregnancy, and throwing a living, breathing child into a bonfire to burn to death.  Including the nature of the people who commit these acts:  unsaved souls who’ve never experienced the love of Jesus.  Nobody who truly loves Jesus Christ would think of doing such a thing.  Either thing.

But those we force to be born to such women can…and often do!  The fact is, the KIND of people who would seek an abortion have never received the Holy Spirit in the first place–even those who profess to be Christian themselves–because the soul of a person with the Spirit in their hearts would never WANT to have an abortion!  And that means, that (should we manage to prevent an abortion from happening) the child born to such a woman is being raised by a parent without God, very often in a broken home, and (in many cases) learning to be the same kind of people who would rob, rape, murder, or have Abortions themselves!  And those kind of people have no place in the Heaven of a God of Love.  They’re going to Hell.  All of them.  And with very few exceptions!  Jesus Christ HIMSELF warned us that the way to salvation is narrow, and few find it.  Even for Christians, there is no guarantee our children will follow us by becoming disciples of Christ.  How much less likely is it that the product of an unwanted pregnancy will find God?  I think you only have to watch the evening news to see the answer to that question.

This actually means that aborted fetuses are better off, most of the time.  Which begs the question, “Why are we Christians really trying to keep the UNSAVED from killing their babies?”  Let them go!  Why force these women to bring more rapists, murderers, drug addicts, gang members, and other enemies of our God into this world?  Hell, let the pagans burn their babies!  The babies will go to Heaven!  The Pagans…are already DAMNED!

Stuff that into your Thinking Pipe and smoke it!

SASS has Spoken.

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