Friday, November 27, 2009

Some Things That Pass For Logic I Don't Understand

Stupidity seems to be at an all time high on our planet. We live in a modern society, yet we still cling to ancient rules or patterns of thought as being truth. Many times, these "truths" are products of religious texts. Isn't it high time that we got past some of this? I'm not talking about throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There are some parts of religion that are helpful and maybe even necessary in our society. But there are some things that we need to take a second look at.

As a nation (the United States), we like to pride ourselves on compassion, understanding, ingenuity, and charity. But, we have done a couple of things over the past 8 to 10 years that are simply perplexing. Mostly done by a fundamentalist view of Christianity and a willing President, George W. Bush (a man I supported, and still hold in higher esteem than most). Our long held societal misconceptions also foster running in place over moving forward.

First off, it was criminal that Bush and the Republican led congress shut down federally funded stem cell research. Those who are opposed to abortion (and I am one) were the ones mostly responsible for the outcry that this research was killing off innocent life. Give me a break, already. Simply a case of those who are hungry for their beliefs to be law, feeding off of a political climate that was ripe for the picking. Yes, it's true that embryos would be destroyed in the research, but they are not taken from a woman, they are developed in a test tube. At the stage they are used, the embryo would be called a blastocyst and would be microscopic, consisting of about 150 cells. The cells have potential to become any sort of specialized cell in the body. Thus, studying their growth and manipulating that growth could lead to cures or advanced treatment of alzheimers, cancer, heart disease, brain injury, spinal cord injuries, burns, you get the point yet? No? Well, what it means is, taking that blastocyst, which is not a human life and is less advanced than a fly's brain (which has THOUSANDS of cells) and using it to possibly help real human beings. People like you and me. People like our children, parents, grandparents and neighbors. Developing healthy cells that can replace damaged or dead cells hold the key to a better way of life for us and our species in the future. This was a clear cut case of science, research, and the advancement of medicine taking a back seat to religous belief. Thankfully, President Obama had the good sense to over turn the ban by executive order. Personally, I may be contradictory in this given what you just read, but if people who profess to want to protect the sanctity of life want to be taken seriously, they should focus on more pressing issues like 2nd and 3rd trimester abortion. That debate is one that should be given full attention by both sides. Also, how can a person who raves about how precious life is, stand firmly behind the death penalty as a manner of punishment?

Another thing that was done in recent times was the decision by our country and its leadership *cough*, is to cut off funding to family planning groups in foreign countries that provide INFORMATION about abortion as part of its platform. I was and am a huge cheerleader for former President Bushs' support for bringing the African continent into the modern era in regards to AIDS treatment. It can be said that President Bush did more for the health and welfare of black people on the planet than any of his predecessors (even if you combine a few, and that includes Bill Clinton). But, to hold back US dollars based on groups merely giving information to people about abortion gears down what was and is being done. It doesn't help that a large portion of the money given to third world nations to help prevent AIDS has to go towards teaching abstinence. It's not that I'm against abstinence, but teaching those who are less educated than we are about safe sex and condoms should be priority number one. Because of our status as a Christian nation, we are going to possibly cause millions more deaths and problems. Sex education/condoms = BAD.......abstinence = good.........OK, go tell that to the parent of a 15 year old pregnant girl. And I'm not talking about a 15 year old girl in a foreign land. Education and responsibility can't be a bad thing, can it?

Lastly, how about gay marriage? This is a very hot topic in our political society today. I've never been in favor of "gay rights", simply because I believe we are all equal and nobody should get a special benefit because of their color, religion, or sexuality. Maybe it's necessary, but that's a debate for another time. My contention is, is that gay marriage will not rot society and send us to the depths of hell. Marriage is pretty much a religous institution. If a religion, denomination, or church is against gay marriage, simply don't allow it to take place under their sanction. But, so far as society goes, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists or whoever should not tell two consenting adults that they can't enjoy the benefits of a civil union. If my wife and I are united, under the law,  and enjoy state and federal benefits why shouldn't two men or two women? And I don't even consider their sexual preference. If two friends have made a commitment to one another under the law, that they will financially support one another, I think they should get the same tax shelter and rights as my wife and I. It shouldn't be an easy thing to enter in to, but it should be on the table. Will that be a popular sentiment? Certainly not. But think this through. Most homosexuals, are not these mouth breathing idiots that parade around half naked in parades a couple of times a year. No more than abortion doctor killing evangelicals or suicide bombing radicals represent Christianity or Islam as a whole. Most people want to love, be loved, and live a decent life. Our society is getting more and more complex. Earning a living is becoming more and more difficult and it's nearly impossible for the average family to survive on one income. Not to mention that there are countless kids that need to be in stable, loving situations that many homosexual couples could help out. (And for the record, I'm not even sure how I feel about gay adoption, but I'm at the least willing to discuss it) Why hold people back? Because some people believe homosexuality is an abomination (well that's what the Bible says)?

Are we really going to allow ancient documents to dictate our society overall? Can we afford that? We like to pound on Islam about being a violent, unforgiving faith, but certainly we can see the same things in Christianity. If we think homosexuality is a sin, then why are we not debating whether or not to put these people to death. Adulterers.....don't shun them, kill them. Those who don't observe the Sabbath? Don't look down at them, stone them to death. Wanna curse or hate your parents? That's OK....but you die. Unbelievers? Get in line, you go down next. Everyone knows why we don't do those things. Because they are absurd, illogical, and in contradiction to our humanity and sense of right and wrong. We have moved on as a species. Two thousand years ago, we thought the earth was flat, and that we were the center of the universe. We thought that "bleeding" a person with leeches could cure them of illness. We thought that mental illness could be cured by drilling a small hole in a persons skull. We thought people with Downs Syndrome were possessed by demons. Anyone still believe those things? Do any of you believe that eating meat on a Friday will send you to hell? How many of you believe that when you take communion you are ACTUALLY eating the body of Jesus and drinking his blood? How many people actually think the world is 10,000 years old (OK, except for Sarah Palin)? How many of you believe that Joseph Smith talked to God and was given the outline of Mormonism? Are you on board with Muhammad jumping on a winged horse and flying up to heaven?

If we can give up those things, why can't we take a more practical approach in other areas of religion? Especially given the dangerous world we live in today. People dying and killing for their faith is more dangerous than ever. We now have the potential to end millions of lives very quickly. There are folks out there who want to hasten the end of times, so they can see the return of their god. Isn't it time we stood back and took a critical look at what we believe and hold as truth? If one more person has to die, if one more child has to suffer disease, and if two more people who love each other are ostercized simply because of beliefs, that's too many. I'm sure I will get a couple of back slaps for this and probably a couple of mouth slaps. But, so be it. It's where I'm at, and I welcome dissenting comments. Knowledge is power and if someone knows something I don't, help me out.

"Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together right now"
Get Together---Youngbloods

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving and Thankstaking

Tis' the season for wishing each other well and being thankful for what we have. Most of us have been given great opportunity to flourish in our lives. Whether through education, friendships, family, or plain ole' luck, we have been put in positions to have success. We should actually start taking the time (if we don't already) and reflect on how much we have each and every day. Once a year is nice, but how about throwing, hard work, fate and luck a bone now and again?

Since most of you will be taking the time to be thankful for friends and family (which is great), I will take up the slack and do some thanking for things we sometimes don't notice in our every day life.

Here are things that I will be thankful for, on behalf of humanity, and many of these "thankings" go hand in hand.....

Pauley Shore is no longer a part of our celebrity culture.
Elizabeth Banks is.

The incredibly simple, useless, no talent of a toy, the Slinky isn't taking the nation by storm again.
DJ Hero is.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are losing games.
The Dallas Cowboys are not.

There will be no more Rocky sequels.
There will be a sequel to The Boondock Saints.

Don Rickles is still alive!
Jerry Falwell isn't.

Michael Jackson is as popular as ever.
Richard Marx is back to singing in high school gyms.

Parachute pants never made a comeback.
Mickey Rourke did.

Robin Williams has never done a nude scene.
Naomi Watts has.
Nicole Kidman has.
Charlize Theron has.
OK....better go ahead and stop there!

Nobody that I have known has died, and come back as a zombie.
I have yet to die.

Caller ID was invented.
The ability to ignore a ringing phone.

TiVo is taking the nation by storm.
VCR technology is dead.

Clay Aiken and Lance Bass being gay is not hot.
Anne Heche and Portia DeRossi being gay is hot.

And here is a list of honorable mentions to be thankful for;

chicken wings, Seth Rogen, The Office, The Godfather films, Christopher Hitchens, Frank Sinatra's music, Fenway Park, Freedom Hall, PS3, blu ray technology, pizza, Sixlets, Al Green,, having a job, funny friends, Woodford Reserve, Waylon Jennings music, flip flops, MP3, MP3 download sites, the Coen Brothers, boxer-briefs, marijuana, indoor plumbing, Paul Rudd, art that my kids make, times that I'm alone, and finally, sweet tea!

And finally, to end this on a serious note.....I am personally thankful that we have brave men and women who are selfless enough to serve their country and other human beings around the world. It can't be said enough that our nation owes a huge debt of gratitude to those in the armed services. If anyone needs a big "THANK YOU" today, it's those folks.

And so today, my world it smiles, your hand in mine, we walk the miles,
Thanks to you it will be done, for you to me are the only one. 
"Thank You" by Led Zeppelin