Not One More

This one is a little tough to write. I’ve given a great amount of thought to whether or not I should even publish these thoughts, as of late I have seen such polarized thinking I have considered giving up any hopes of changing minds altogether.

You are doubtless aware of the killings in Isla Vista, a student community of Santa Barbara California. An incredibly disturbed young man stabbed his two roommates and a visitor to death,  then he drove to a sorority house (which refused to allow him entry) where a few women who had refused his advances lived. Stopped by a locked door, he shot three women across the street, killing two. He then drove to a convenience store, firing multiple rounds inside the store, striking one man multiple times lethally. Sheriffs showed up at the store and the young man fled before they could determine he was the actor. He drove about on the wrong side of the road, running down bicyclists and pedestrians,  firing at and missing at least three people before encountering a sheriff with whom he exchanged fire. He then ran down a bicyclist, and fired into a crowd injuring three people. He shot one more person before a group of sheriffs caught up with him. They fired several shots into his vehicle as he sped off. He struck one more bicyclist before crashing into some parked vehicles. When the sheriffs removed him from his car he was dead of an apparent self inflicted wound.

That is what happened. Six dead, thirteen injured. Half of the dead killed by stab wounds, some of the injured assaulted with a motor vehicle. Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown summed it up at a news conference hours after the incident “I think the problem with an incident like this is it is obviously the work of a madman.”

Comments from those who knew the killer ranged from “It wasn’t a surprise, I wish I could have done something to stop it,” to “There was nothing I could have done, he was a troubled kid.” His parents were devastated, joining with the families of the victims in their grief. While they had been quite aware of his issues, they were unaware of the depth of his illness. Authorities had seen “warning signs,” but he failed to meet the criteria for involuntary institutionalization.

Why do I speak of this subject on a Sunday?

You are likely aware of the story of Cain and Abel, children of Adam and Eve. A jealous Cain kills Abel, and when asked where Abel was by God in Genesis 4:9 Cain replies “I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?

Cain was punished, exiled to the land of Nod, but he was not killed, in fact God protected him saying in Genesis 4:15  “Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” Cain went on with his wife and procreated, founding the village of Enoch.

We are our brother’s keeper. It is natural for a parent to fail to see the sociopath child, I suspect every heinous villain in history has had his mother say “boys will be boys” about aggressive behavior. The rest of us do not have the excuse of parental ignorance. There is something we can do, and saying “I wish I could have done something” is perhaps the most pathetic of all statements. This young man was not an insane Norse warrior killing everything in his path. He was stopped by a locked door. He ran from confrontation. All that was required, all that was ever required, was for someone to stand up to him.

One victim’s father has made an effort to assign blame and responsibility. I understand his grief, and make allowances for his judgement. Elliot Rodger was a severely disturbed young man, multiple psychiatrists have stated so, everyone who had contact with him, even his parents, concur. The NRA and/or “greedy politicians” were not responsible for this young man’s actions, they did not place the knives, guns, and car keys in his hands. Sending postcards saying “Not One More” has not stopped the several hundred homicides that have taken place in the intervening month. Expecting “someone else” to solve the problem will only result in more victims.

“There was nothing I could’ve done,” the neighbor said. “Maybe I could’ve postponed it, but he was a troubled kid.” – See more at: http://thebottomline.as.ucsb.edu/2014/05/isla-vista-mass-murder-claims-lives-of-6-ucsb-students-13-injured#sthash.40rlGjCt.dpuf
I think the problem with an incident like this is it’s obviously the work of a madman.” – See more at: http://thebottomline.as.ucsb.edu/2014/05/isla-vista-mass-murder-claims-lives-of-6-ucsb-students-13-injured#sthash.40rlGjCt.dpufI think the problem with an incident like this is it is obviously the work of a madman.”
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown at a late-night press conference a few hours after the incident. “But I think the problem with an incident like this is it’s obviously the work of a madman.” – See more at: http://thebottomline.as.ucsb.edu/2014/05/isla-vista-mass-murder-claims-lives-of-6-ucsb-students-13-injured#sthash.40rlGjCt.dpuf
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown at a late-night press conference a few hours after the incident. “But I think the problem with an incident like this is it’s obviously the work of a madman.” – See more at: http://thebottomline.as.ucsb.edu/2014/05/isla-vista-mass-murder-claims-lives-of-6-ucsb-students-13-injured#sthash.40rlGjCt.dpuf
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown at a late-night press conference a few hours after the incident. “But I think the problem with an incident like this is it’s obviously the work of a madman.” – See more at: http://thebottomline.as.ucsb.edu/2014/05/isla-vista-mass-murder-claims-lives-of-6-ucsb-students-13-injured#sthash.40rlGjCt.dpuf
Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown at a late-night press conference a few hours after the incident. “But I think the problem with an incident like this is it’s obviously the work of a madman.” – See more at: http://thebottomline.as.ucsb.edu/2014/05/isla-vista-mass-murder-claims-lives-of-6-ucsb-students-13-injured#sthash.40rlGjCt.dpuf

Jesus repeatedly told us to love one another. He did not say “hope things work out” or “wish for the best” or “wait for someone to do something.” He called us to action, the simplest action, the easiest action. Love. Love can be defined in many ways, but what is more simple than helping the injured soul? Action for young Elliot would have prevented his suffering, the suffering of his victims, and the suffering of his victims’ families. It was obviously not an easy choice, his parents could not bring themselves to it, the authorities required a more clear and present danger, but everyone knew he needed help. No one felt they were his keeper. For some reason it is more appealing to chase the evil giants than to deal with issues on a personal level. One approach works, the other never will.

Elliot Rodger was our brother. George Chen, Cheng Yuan “James” Hong, Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, and Weihan “David” Wang, were our brothers, Katherine Breann Cooper and Veronika Elizabeth Weiss were our sisters. The thirteen injured physically, and the thousands injured emotionally are our brothers and sisters. By failing Elliot, we failed all of them.

All it takes is a word or two, and enough love to intervene.

 

 

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown at a late-night press conference a few hours after the incident. “But I think the problem with an incident like this is it’s obviously the work of a madman.” – See more at: http://thebottomline.as.ucsb.edu/2014/05/isla-vista-mass-murder-claims-lives-of-6-ucsb-students-13-injured#sthash.40rlGjCt.dpuf
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Grey

If I say “black,” you know what I mean. If I say “white,” the same applies. If I say “grey,” there is a range of colors I may be referring to.

target-grey

I am an open minded person, always willing to hear new points of view and independent thought. I’ve run out of patience for people who parrot a point of view they do not even understand, people who can not produce an independent thought because they have not had a thought of their own in quite some time. This is the downside of the internet, people just repeating without understanding. The darker edge is people who repeat knowing the story is factually incorrect, but also knowing it is “believable,” in other words, no one will bother to check the facts. With their fingers on a computer, looking at the monitor, no one will check the facts.

Nowhere is this more evident than in American politics. With all our talk about freedom and free-thinking, outside of the two major political parties is a small fringe of groups too small to be significant in any way. Americans know that if they want to vote for a winning candidate, it will have to be a Democrat or Republican.

Take a breath. Why do people want to vote for a winning candidate? I don’t mean “Why would they want their candidate to win?”, I mean “Why is winning more important than representing?”. Isn’t the concept of democratic elections supposed to be finding a representative of your point of view? Voting used to be about expressing your opinion, but increasingly the winning side seems to believe the losing side no longer matters. That’s a baby step away from believing the voters don’t matter regardless of their vote, what is often referred to as a dictatorship. It’s not supposed to be all or nothing, don’t make it that way.

So in a country of three hundred eleven million people, there are only two opinions, and one of them is wrong. I can not be the only person who sees a flaw in that concept.

As the ability to see grey has diminished, the idea that all members of a political movement are exactly the same has flourished. No one thinks they are stupid, so the members of the other party must be stupid. Every last one of them. Why else would they have voted for that moronic candidate? They are not only stupid, they are vengeful, they hate my candidate and my way of life. They must be destroyed.

Facing a perceived life or death struggle, the truth takes the back seat, and then jumps out the window. Fair and open debate is unnecessary, in fact impossible, when your opposite is a stupid hateful sub-human.

You’re nodding your head. You know people like that. Them.

It is us. All of us. If we do not engage in honest debate we are no better than anyone else. That is where I have drawn my line. Honest debate. I have a few fewer friends now, because I went through my list and removed the people who have chosen to repeatedly advance an argument they know to be false. Three liberals and one conservative, but it could easily have broken the other way, those are just the voices I tired of today.

The topics vary, but the opinions congregate at the poles. Global warming, gun control, the middle east, religion, sexual preferences, even the frequency of A4 on the musical scale. Yeah, there are groups who believe there is a conspiracy to remove humans from nature because the standard tuning is A4=440hz. All I’m going to say is (1) when anyone tells you there is a conspiracy, and it includes the 1829 Paris Opera and Hermann Goebbels, they have lost their minds. (2) Hertz is an arbitrary measurement, there is nothing inherently natural about any frequency. (3) Music is subjective, there is no objective measurement of good or bad sounds.

A gun rights group circulated a photograph of a modified AR-15, with a collapsible stock,  a barrel under fourteen inches including the suppressor, and a select fire switch set to “auto,” with the question “should you have to obtain a permit to own this?” Well yes, in line with the National Firearms Act of 1934, there are at least three prohibited features, but the responses ranged from “No” to “Hell no, never, kill the gun  grabbers.” Goodbye group, you do not reflect my opinion.

Sometimes it is just the blood lust, the desire to fight, that drives those wannabe extremists. One ex friend, a sweet, peaceful person, saw a government conspiracy in every dark corner. It didn’t matter which government, who ever was in charge was evil. An ice skater couldn’t keep up with her spins as Egypt changed hands three times last year. Cheering on anyone who would protest from her comfy dorm room, I never once saw her suggest compromise, no matter how much blood was spilled. That blood was on the hands of “the brutal oppressors,” but those same oppressors were the oppressed last week, and may again be oppressed next week.

Some of it is the anonymity of the internet. People who would never think of throwing insults with every breath face to face have no problem attacking the morals, families, or private lives of strangers on the internet.

I won’t do it. I will not be drawn in to dishonest conversations. I will not bang my head against the wall with someone who refuses to acknowledge the merits of a conflicting opinion (not agree with it, just acknowledge its merits). I will not associate with people who agree with my point of view, but engage in such tactics. I can not win an argument in which I lose my soul, no opinion is worth discarding your core principles.

There are some issues that are black and white, and I do have a few. This does not mean I can not have a friendly conversation about them, but if you do not share my point of view, I will not insult you, and I expect the same of my friends.

 

 

Chemistry

In honor of my father the chemist, I am reblogging this article from last year for Father’s Day.

KBlakeCash

I have this widget on my desktop, from Snapple. Every day it pops up with a new piece of trivia. Most days it leads to a search to authenticate the “fun fact”.

The other day was “Baking Soda makes a great scouring cleanser, and it’s naturally chemical free”.

Didn’t need to check this one. Sodium hydrogen carbonate (NaHCO3) is a chemical. Baking soda is free of any other ingredients.

Not that there could be any additives that would dilute the amount of chemicals in the product, Everything consists of chemicals, A newborn human consists of chemicals, about ninety nine percent of which are oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus. About 0.85% is composed of another five elements, potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium. The remaining 0.15 percent are trace elements, most of which are easily recognizable as lethal, too much or too little of anything is dangerous.

Chemical makeup of humansChemical makeup…

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Gun Rights and Wrongs

I am a strong supporter of the second amendment to the United States Constitution.

That does not mean I believe it is every American’s birthright to carry an AR-15 through the shopping mall.

Our right to bear arms has nothing to do with self protection, there are plenty of ways to fend off an armed attacker which do not endanger the lives of innocent bystanders. Our right to bear arms has nothing to do with hunting. Most gun owners would not have a clue about how to kill an animal, or what to do with a dead animal. Our right to bear arms has nothing to do with fending off foreign invaders, unlike Switzerland, although there are lessons to learn from the Swiss. Our right to bear arms is about our founding father’s distrust of government. In case of a tyrannical government the second amendment provides the ultimate “check” in our system of checks and balances. This is why I support the second amendment, and am instinctively distrustful of anyone who speaks about repealing it.

America is a big country, with cities more populated than some nations. A lunatic fringe of three percent would give us more crazy people than the population of Belarus or one hundred ten other countries. Nine and a half million crazy people can do a lot of damage, but they are a fringe, representing no mainstream group. It is no more accurate to judge the entire gun rights movement with the actions of a few crazy people (armed with big scary high powered weapons) than it is to judge scientists by the actions of Al Gore (armed with big scary high powered publicists). In addition to the lunatic fringe, there is the other fifty percent (or more) of the population that lacks the intelligence to understand the issue of gun rights. This group is spread evenly between pro gun rights and anti gun rights groups.

I saw an interview with a woman following a demonstration by the “Open Carry Texas” group. Open Carry Texas members carry long guns, usually “assault rifles,” in public. The woman said “I don’t know if the person with a gun knows how to use it.” I know. They don’t. There is no reason to carry a long gun for self defense. By applying the wrong tool to the task, you are demonstrating that you do not understand the tool and/or the task, so no, you do not know how to use the rifle. You are a danger to others. Using the incorrect interpretation of the “Stand your ground” laws that is prevalent, I would have reasonable fear that you are a danger to my life and would be entitled to use lethal measures to remove you as a threat.

Back to Switzerland. With a population of under eight million and a mandate for gun ownership, they possess 45 guns per 100 people compared with America’s 88 guns per 100 people. In Switzerland firearms training is mandatory. In America the rate of homicide by firearm is 2.97 of every 100,000 people, in Switzerland that rate is 0.77 of every 100,000 people. Now factor in that the rate of homicide by firearm is slightly higher in Switzerland (72%) than in America (60%) and you see the problem is not firearms, it is violence in general. We have forty times their population, and one hundred sixty times their homicides by firearms, while we have fewer homicides by firearms as a percentage of total homicides.

Homicide Rates in Switzerland and United States per 100,000

Homicide Rates in Switzerland and United States per 100,000

We are a violent society. Ending gun violence might cut our homicide rate in half, but I am not sure a murder victim cares how they are murdered.

Perhaps if we were to teach respect for human life, our homicide rate could drop by half without infringing on a basic constitutional right. Perhaps if we were to infringe on that right in ways other than banning weapons, ways that would remove weapons from violent or unstable people, we could reduce our homicide by firearm rate by seventy five percent. If we did both of these things, it would appear we could reduce our overall homicide rate to fall in line with the level of “Civilized” we wish to project.

Contrary to the rhetoric, the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is not a good guy with a gun. All it takes is a good guy (or girl). If we would arm our children with confidence and self defense tactics, they would be less likely to be victims of violence, and more likely to be able to end violence.

Or we could just argue about things we cannot change, and keep killing each other.

Control

As a young person I accepted the common opinion I was a master of the universe. Not only could I do anything I wanted, I could do it well. I loved the stress that crushed other people, stress was like amphetamines for me, it made me sharper and more focused.

As the story goes, “Speed Kills.” I’ve lost my taste for stress. I’ve become a softer, more gentle person. Sometimes I miss the razor’s edge, but the benefits of slowing down and accepting my place in the universe more than balance the loss.

relax_nothing-is-under-control

 

When Emma was ill, I recognized that my ability to bend reality to my desires was an illusion. I took some solace in not being responsible for everyone’s happiness, I never believed I was a God, but when I could not repair the person I cared most about I suddenly felt as if I could repair nothing. For a while I could not, but that was just the depression talking.

Accepting that we have no real control is not easy. We think we make decisions, but in reality our best laid plans are as effective as a pinball choosing its own course. The difference is that a pinball does not regret its path. It bounces from bumper to bumper without a care. We beat ourselves up, knowing that if we had not stopped for coffee we would have not been on the road when the dog ran across in front of us. The point is, we didn’t know the dog existed when we stopped for coffee, we were happy that we were running early and could still get to work on time.

We do the best we can with the information we have, with the person that we happen to be, at the point in time we make the decision. I recently listened to an audiobook, “Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division,” written and read by Peter Hook, the bass player for Joy Division. If you’re unfamiliar with the story, Joy Division was a rock band from Manchester England. Ian Curtis, the lead singer, was a brilliant artist, who happened to have epilepsy along with the other pressures of being a brilliant artist. On the eve of their American tour, Ian committed suicide. There are many reasons Ian may have had to commit suicide, but the fact is he did it on his own. It really can not be blamed on any other person, but there are several people who feel guilty about it. You can hear in Peter’s voice the questions that are still rolling around in his mind, several times he says “We should have done this differently.” But he was not the fifty eight year old man he is now when those decisions were being made. He was a twenty four year old kid on the brink of rock stardom. In one well reasoned passage, he ponders how touring America would have affected Ian, concluding that they were all doing what they were supposed to be doing as talented performers in the creative experience. They weren’t doctors or psychologists, they were band mates holding each other together.

There is a line in the song “Held In The Arms Of Your Words” by the band Tired Pony, “every mistake that we’ve made is at peace cause it lead us both here” which describes how I have come to look at the past. Should I have married my first wife? If I hadn’t, three beautiful human beings would not have been born, if I wouldn’t have followed her back to the Pennsylvania where she dumped me with nothing, I wouldn’t have been in Bloomsburg where my second wife happened to be spending the summer, and followed her back to Philadelphia, and my youngest child would never have been born. Not being in Philadelphia I would have never met Emma, and that journey led me to where I am now. None of that would have happened if I had said “No, I’m staying in California” to my first wife. All the wonderful and horrible experiences would be replaced by other wonderful and horrible experiences.

This year I’ve lost a few friends and family, I don’t hear comments about how sad it is they left so young very much anymore. Mortality is less of a surprise, and most of us have realized greatness does not come from climbing Everest, it comes from climbing out of bed every morning. It comes from smiling in the midst of adversity. It comes from acknowledging we are not the best or worst at whatever we’re doing, we’re just trying to be the best we are capable of being.

Life is finite. We don’t know how much time we have, but we should know there is not enough time to regret things we have done without malice. We cannot change the past, we can only learn from it, and if there are to be regrets, they should be when we do not learn.

 

 

 

 

Father’s Day

Today, 8 June, the second Sunday of June, is Father’s Day in some parts of the world. In America we celebrate it next Sunday, 15 June, the third Sunday of June. I will be taking that day off, but will probably repost a blog I find significant.

Father’s (Fathers, Fathers’) Day is celebrated throughout the world, on dates spanning the calendar. It celebrates many different aspects of Fatherhood, but I’ll be focusing on Father’s Day in America.

As in many counties, it started not as a response, but as a complement to Mother’s Day. It was initially conceived in Spokane Washington on June 19, 1910, at the YMCA, by Sonora Smart Dodd, who had been born in Arkansas. Her father, the Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who raised his six children there. The holiday met resistance from Congress, which felt it might be commercialized (and we say they never get anything right). In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day. Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972. Personally, I feel that speaks volumes about the forgotten parent. Father’s Day was officiated during the birth of “Women’s Lib.”

The role being a father is a tough gig. Unlike being a mother, the male has the choice to be present, so every father is a volunteer. The balance of love and discipline is often difficult for children to see, until they become parents themselves. Societal prejudices have shaped the perceived role in ways that do not reflect reality. Being male, I have only been a father, and I would never judge the role of mother on any balance, both roles are exceptionally complex.

In some countries, Father’s day is seen as a celebration of immediate fathers, but is often celebrated at the eldest grandfather’s home. It is a celebration of fatherhood, and fatherly bonds across generations.

My relationship with my own father has had its ups and downs, but I never stopped loving him as a father. My relationships with my own children have had their ups and downs, but I never stopped loving them. I assume it will work for them as it worked for me. In more ways than any child can imagine, Father’s Day is a day in which fathers take pride in their children.

My children may not realize that it is their independence I admire most in them. I see myself in them. Each of them different, each displaying a different character trait of mine.

On our first summer vacation in Belgium, there was a terrible storm. The garage and basement took on about a foot of water, and as the storm passed, Lieve and I went down to move the water to the drains. The garage had a lip of cement at the entrance, with a large drain was just on the other side. Lieve’s father took a hose and made a siphon.

Lieve turned to me, lifting one knee and grasping a fist in the air with the other arm said. “My dad is a physicist” with such pride I was moved. He didn’t see it. I’m sure my father knows as little of my pride in him if measured by such moments. Both fathers know that love and respect is there, and that’s a large part of being a father. Missing some of the grand moments, but remembering all the small ones, some the children didn’t even realize had taken place.

This year, on the day before Father’s Day, my youngest daughter, Meghan, will graduate from Drexel University with a degree in engineering. She’s certainly at the top of my mind right now, but no child is ever a favorite.  My oldest daughter, Devon, is making a life for herself and my grandson Tommy in Colorado, having made some difficult choices in her life she remains strong. My eldest son, Leyland, is making a career in the Air Force, and married just last year. My youngest son, Nolan, is making a living as an artist in Huntsville Alabama, moving from media to media. What better Father’s Day gift than to have four successful children?

I was touched by a photograph of a friend and his son at a graduation ceremony last week. The mutual pride glowed through the image. That’s the way we would like it to always be. Being a father is seeing that picture when your child says they hate you, remembering how you said the same words to your father, and knowing their child will say the same words to them. Seeing past the moment, knowing the picture is how it really is.

 

 

 

 

Future Archaeologists

Archaeology is the study of past civilizations, based on artifacts left behind. A great deal can be learned from past civilizations, but if there are future civilizations, what will they be able to say about us?

When we sent Voyager out into the universe to introduce ourselves to the the unknown, our “calling card” consisted of technology that was out of date before the spacecraft was out of our solar system, a phonograph with instructions on how to listen to the recording. Were Voyager to one day return to Earth, would the current civilization be able to decipher the message? Would your child know what a phonograph is? Considering a recent video of children trying to figure out what to do with floppy discs, I wouldn’t expect too much. We can’t even replicate the Space Shuttle, our best minds conceding it is “too complex.”

The Voyager Phonograph

The Voyager Phonograph

What of our civilization will remain in a thousand years? Even plastic, which is our most common artifact, degrades in a thousand years. Unless we break away from our egocentric concept that there will be no breaks in the continuity of society, there will be no books or films, which would require archival preservation, and should an all out collapse take place, everything stored electronically will vanish. We have systematically erased our history, converting our fragile “hard copies” to ethereal digital versions, changing our digital media from the semi permanent optical recordings of DVDs to strings of electrons on flash drives, hard drives, and now “the cloud,” which is as stable (and secure) as it sounds.  We are barely one electromagnetic pulse away from the dark ages.

The steel of our buildings will decompose in a few decades, but the glass will last for thousands of years. Will some future archeologist piece together the mass of shards were once a skyscraper? With porcelain being almost indestructible, will they puzzle over all the bathroom fixtures? Perhaps it is fitting that the toilet will be the most common artifact remaining in two thousand years.

Our modern pyramids, buildings of concrete, are becoming scarce in the landscapes of steel and glass. Our homes are increasingly built of wood. The remnants of twentieth and nineteenth century buildings may provide evidence of a once great civilization that disappeared.

When we look at recent civilizations, I am reminded of extinct Native American tribes, whose demise can be traced to their deforestation of the local environment. When it took longer than a day’s walk to collect firewood, the Pueblo died. Will a future anthropologist be able to figure out we consumed the resources that provide electricity, and having stored all our knowledge on electronic devices, were left with no past, and thus no future?

We, and by “we” I mean twenty-first century humans, will be forgotten. All of our mistakes will be remade. Perhaps the future Einsteins will not build nuclear weapons, but my greatest hope is that survivors of this civilization will turn away from technology and embrace the simple life they will be forced into, living in small social groups and building upon the lesson that bigger is not always better. Perhaps our progeny will be a nobler species, Homo Sapiens Supra.

As with anything, the journey to that day will be difficult for those who resist change. Considering ourselves as merely modern Cro-Magnon, another step in the evolutionary chain, is more soothing (to me) than thinking we are the very best we can possibly be. Because we are not. We are not capable of destroying our world, but we are very good at killing each other. It appears to be our goal.

 

A difference of opinion

 

The Ichthys is a symbol in Christianity, from the Koine Greek word for fish, based on Matthew 4:18-19:

18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

During the time of persecution by the Roman Empire, the Ichthys was a symbol used to mark meeting places, and even as a “salute”, to covertly distinguish friends from persecutors. If you recall the television program “The Prisoner,” you might recognize the symbol.

The Ichthys salutation

The Ichthys salutation modified to mean “I’ll be seeing you”

 

In the last few decades, the symbol has been re-popularized, initially as a bumper sticker or medallion quietly acknowledging Christianity. Not willing to let a private expression of faith go without an argument, several groups decided to mock the Ichthys, creating their own variants.

 

Evolution of the Ichthys

Evolution of the Ichthys

If you know so little about both Christianity and evolution you believe the two are in conflict with each other, you might find some of the more aggressive variants (none of which are shown here) as expressing something you consider to be “truth.” The truth is, by displaying a “Darwin Fish” you have expressed your general ignorance and arrogance. Christ had nothing to do with creation. That was his father, God, who gave the people sixteen centuries before Christ a story of the creation of Earth they could understand. There is no rational reason to believe that the creation story in Genesis reflects the actual or complete mechanics of the creation of the universe, but it does follow the path that scientists believe took place. Some people might feel that lends some veracity to the story. Other would prefer to pick apart the story for what is left out. If you think Genesis is a science book, you missed the point, regardless of your religious beliefs.

In a recent conversation about arrogance, one contributor displayed both his arrogance and ignorance as he attempted to preserve his point of view with something that no doubt sounded wise and noble to him by saying “it should also be noted that respecting someone’s right to have a belief in something is a given. But it in no way means that the belief itself, especially one that is considered to be the cause of much damage and suffering, should be respected. Indeed, it becomes one’s duty to hold it up for ridicule and scorn.”

I can respect someone I don’t agree with, but when you feel it is your duty to ridicule and scorn someone’s beliefs, you are not in any way respecting the person, their right to have the belief, or the belief. Trying to sugar coat your arrogance only makes you appear more arrogant, as if the foolish Christian can not see through your self deceit. Very little elicits more pity than a fool who genuinely believes he is wise.

If you choose not to believe the Judea-Christian beliefs, so be it. You are not alone, roughly two thirds of he world’s population is neither Jewish or Christian. However, very few people actually believe there is no God. If you wish to express the superiority of your views that no God exists, even claiming them to be backed by science, you might want to consider the meaning of both “Atheism” and “science.” To say you believe there is no deity, none at all, because you have no empirical evidence of its existence, indicates faith. You believe in something you can not prove. Were you to have any understanding of science you would know that the absence of empirical evidence of something does not imply the actual absence of that thing’s existence. There is no empirical evidence of the existence of electrons, yet we are all certain they exist. Intellectual honesty would require a thoughtful person who does not believe in a deity to accept the possibility that a deity might exist. Such an intellectually honest person would call themselves an Agnostic.

If you call yourself a Christian, there are rational discussions to be had about your beliefs, such as “why you think you are in a position to judge other people.” If you call yourself a Muslim there are rational discussions to be had, such as “why do you believe you should kill people who do not share your faith.” If you call yourself an Atheist there are rational discussion to be had, such as”Why do you have faith in something that can not be proven (there is no God) yet feel you can judge others who have faith in something that can not be proven (there is a God).”

We all have differences of opinion, and if we are secure in our opinions can discuss them without insulting other people’s opinions. People who feel they can simply shout down any opinion that is contrary to theirs lack security in their beliefs, whether they be the Westboro Baptist Church, the Taliban, or Atheists. They are all equally annoying to those of us who have explored our spirituality and can express our beliefs rationally.

Secure in our beliefs, most of us can take a joke. I might even put this medallion on my car.

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