Tag Archives: evil

Karma smarma

7 Apr

Good afternoon boys and girls! Today I want to talk about Karma! Every once in a while I run into someone who proudly touts the fact that they’re a “big believer in karma!” This they usually do with a smile on their lips, a twinkle in their eye, and a bounce in their step! Yes sur-ree! They firmly believe in that warm and fuzzy notion that every good action done will be payed back in return!

And that’s about as far as their thinking goes.

But let’s follow this notion through to its logical conclusion, shall we? Now karma is originally from the Hindu faith, a main tenant of which is reincarnation. You see, karma has two parts to it:

A do good and good things will happen to you.

Do bad and bad things will happen to you.

“What goes around comes around” is a simple summation. With reincarnation, karma acts as a sort of moral equalizer, an assurance of justice in this life or the next. If you do bad things now, sooner or later bad things will happen to you; which brings us to kids with cancer:

Aw, don’t feel bad for this little guy! He’s getting what he deserves! He must have been a horrible person in a past life! So too were his parents! Wow, can you imagine how bad they must have been to deserve to watch their otherwise innocent child slowly die before their eyes? Payback’s a bitch ain’t it? Oh well, you know what they say, “what goes around comes around!”

Whenever someone says they’re a big believer in karma, they most always mean they only believe in half of it, the feel good half.

People who don’t believe in reincarnation, yet who still want to hold onto karma, often try to rationalize this conclusion away. In my personal experience, the majority of these types of people are the warm and fuzzy, liberal “spiritual but not religious” types. The problem is, without the cycle of rebirth, karma loses a lot of its ability to be a moral equalizer. Karma without reincarnation has no good explanation for why bad shit happens to otherwise good people early on in their lives. (Like kids with cancer). These people simply haven’t been around long enough to accumulate enough bad karma to deserve something so horrible.

You could argue that it is a result of the child’s parents’ bad karma, but that is beyond not fair to the child; and karma’s supposed to be all about fairness!

The other problem with the idea of karma sans reincarnation is (ignoring childhood diseases) the notion that you will eventually get what you deserve later in life. All you have to do is take one look around the world to see that that is blatantly untrue! Bad people get away with everything all the time! Just look at politicians, bankers, and child molesting priests! Stalin killed between 20 and 80 million people and lived a life of luxury and power till his last dying gasp. Evil wins every single day while the downtrodden and oppressed are distracted with movies and TV dramas where good always wins out in the end.

No, for these “spiritual but not religious” types their karma is a special karma, one tailor made for what they wish were true: To them, karma mainly focuses on paying back good deeds. In the rare times when it deals with paying back bad deeds, the farthest it will ever go is in giving a speeding ticket to that jerk who cut you off at the stop light. That’s it. No worse “punishment” for simple things that offend the believer in karma.

At best it’s very self-serving. At worst it’s an excuse to be apathetic about achieving justice.

 

What is your “better world”?

23 Feb

Everyone, be they liberal or conservative, want a better world for their children, they just disagree on how to go about achieving that. At least that’s what everyone says, but I feel there is a fundamental semantics issue here. What exactly does one mean by “a better world”? That saying assumes we both want the same thing in the end and that we just differ on the paths, but I think that is a wrong assumption to make.

What do I mean by a “better world” coming from my liberal atheist point of view? Well my better world would be a world where people don’t tolerate corrupt politicians who lie to them, where war truly is the last resort and not the first option. In my perfect world people’s lives would not be dictated by their neighbor’s religion. The government would not institutionalize bigotry, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, or impose religious doctrine. My perfect world would be a place where race, age, gender, sexual orientation, religious preference, etc would not matter. Sure if people wanted to take pride in some aspect of their identity that would be fine, but discriminating against someone for that identity would not be tolerated. My perfect world would be a world in which people were guaranteed the things needed to survive, like food, water, shelter, clean air, and medical attention, but where the safety net was not so comfortable as to encourage living off of it. My perfect world would be a world where people were able to speak their minds without censorship. My perfect world would be a world where the government did not try to control your body, be it what drugs you put into it, or when you decide to start a family. In my perfect world the government would work towards improving the lives of its citizens through a strong public education system and strong environmental protection. In my perfect world the rich would not be punished for being rich, but the poor would not be left to die either.

Those are some of the things I have in mind when I think of a “better world”.

Yet when I listen to conservatives, their “better world” seems so….evil to me. I know it’s not nice to paint it like that, but it just honestly does feel like the antithesis to everything I hold to be good and right.

The trickiest part is how they will often use the same words I do when trying to describe a better world, but by observing their actions and how they vote, I’ve come to understand that there is at the very best a serious semantics issue.

I will put this bluntly. Based off of my observations their “better world” appears as follows:

A place world where only landowners have the right to vote, a world where everyone is assigned strict gender roles and forced to conform to them, a world where white men dominate and control every aspect of society, a world where the power of big government is used to police your bedroom and your body. A “better world” where minorities and women know their place, serving white men; a world where the government is the tool of the rich and powerful and where the poor are left to starve off and die for lack of medical attention, shelter, food and water. A world where public education is non-existent and where all the taxpayer’s money is spent buying bigger guns with which to kill people different from the white men. A world of order, control, and conformity, not diversity, change, and uncertainty.  A world where superstition and religion reign supreme, where the existence of fact is denied. A world rife with sexual repression and discrimination. A world where the environment existed solely to be exploited for profit until it was destroyed.

I’ve acquired this impression of conservatives after having watched them fight tooth and nail against promoting equality among the sexes, races, and genders. Throughout history they have always stood against anything that gave power to people other than straight rich white protestant men. They always vote to cut funding for schools and art and to use that money to make bombs. They fight any legislation that would prevent businesses from raping the environment that we all must live in. They fight against anything that would give aid and comfort to the poor who desperately need it, yet they will die defending the richest millionaires in the country. They always seem to fight against immigrants and anyone who is not white. They fight to enforce and institutionalize discrimination, they fight to enable big government to tell you who to love, who to have sex with, when to have children, where to go to church, what to read/watch/listen to in the media, and what to put into your body. They do all this while chanting “personal liberties” with a straight face. They claim to love democracy and yet they cheer people like Joyce Kaufman when they say “If ballots don’t work, bullets will!” and people like Ann Coulter when they say “We need to put more journalists in jail!” A better world would be one where people resorted to murder if they lost an election; where freedom of speech was non-existent and journalists who disagreed with you were thrown in jail??? Sure Kaufman and Coulter are just two people, but they do not exist in a vacuum. Their ideas have sway with a large group of people in the conservative party.

It just feels evil to me, pure evil. I’m not saying that conservatives are evil, I know plenty who are honest genuinely nice people, but I’m very puzzled as to why they think this would be a “better world”. I feel like I’d end up trying to argue axioms with them like suffering is bad.

The human body and the holocaust

13 Sep

I have a feeling this will be another strange post. You see, I’ve just spent the night watching more foreign films dealing with beautiful people fighting, loving, and dying amid one of the darkest periods in human history; and it’s 3am, I’m exhausted.

Allow me to let you in on something a little personal: I often spend time thinking about the human body. No, not in the way you’re thinking a normal 20 something guy would think of human bodies, particularly female bodies, though that is a part of it. Most of the time it’s more of a detached, clinical observation; though to be honest it’s a mix of both, sensual and clinical. The whole thing is somewhat mystical to me, the way you might lie in bed examining the body of a lover; slowly gliding your fingers over their skin, taking note of the texture, the rise and falls of their curves, the soft malleability of their flesh, or the strength and elegance of their collarbone.

The paradox is intriguing to me. While the human body can be a graceful work of art, almost ethereal, at the same time it can be gritty and dirty; unkempt hair, sweat, grime, blood. Without proper grooming and hygiene, we can be a real mess. But the dualities don’t end at aesthetics. While the human body can be soft and delicate, we are able to build powerful machines and structures out of steel. Though we lack thick protective skin, or claws for self defense, we make up for it with tools and ingenuity. To highlight this contrast, imagine people going about their jobs, yet doing so in the nude. (And please leave the crass sexualization for the children, that’s not what I’m going for here) In the middle of a hard, sterile, mechanical environment we have these soft and delicate bodies that created it. It’s hard to try and explain this through words. What I’m trying to express is a thought that is very sensory in nature. Trying to translate how a thought feels, tastes, sounds, and looks like is hard to translate into text, so lets move on.

Maybe it’s the humanist in me, or an extension of that mystical feeling I feel about the human body, but we really are fascinating creatures. Yes, a machine can do something a million times with laser precision, but humans are just so versatile. While we divide up into various social and economic classes, and vary in degrees of intelligence, we all have basically the same potential. For example, the janitor who cleans a building, their job does not make them any less of a human than the CEO of the company they work for. If you took that janitor and trained them intensively, they would be able to do the things the CEO does, it’s just a matter of education and training. (Now obviously janitors don’t become CEOs, but that’s a symptom of society and some starting off in more advantageous positions than others, not because there is an inherent difference between people)

So where does the holocaust come into all of this? Well since I look at the human body as works of art, and value the potential of every human being, the holocaust is something that deeply interests and disturbs me. The wholesale, systematic slaughter of millions of people… It’s just beyond me. I may really hate somebody, but I can’t escape the fact that they are human. I still see them the way the curious lover does. Thus it’s beyond me how you could hurt something like that, let alone pack millions into freight cars and slaughter them.

Seriously, what’s going through this soldier’s mind? How can he not see that the mother and her daughter that is is about to murder are people? It just baffles me. People have been committing atrocities like this for millenniums, it still goes on today, though not as grand and mechanized as in the 1940’s.  How can we live with ourselves? I think most people just ignore it or put it out of their minds. I’m not sure we are able to fully comprehend the horror of what we do to one another. I’ve heard stories about soldiers who liberated the death camps, how many of them could never sleep well for the rest of their lives, how some could never forget the stench of the mountains of dead. I think to fully comprehend the horror would destroy you. My thesis advisor in college was a holocaust historian for a while. He had to stop because it was destroying his humanity just talking about it. He said he went numb and the numbers and atrocities blurred together, that if he hadn’t changed subjects he would have committed suicide.

How are we capable of such acts? How can we do such a thing to something a beautiful and amazing as a human being? I guess it’s also part of our duality;  we have the capacity for great goodness, and the capacity for unspeakable evil.

The dangers of a god based morality

11 Jul

I have a feeling the majority of people know that they don’t need a god to be good. They know that killing, lying, and stealing were wrong long before it was written in the ten commandments.  There are, however, people out there that feel that without a god telling you something is wrong you couldn’t make that decision yourself, or that it would be worthless. These people really scare me. They live by a completely god based reality. Whatever their god says is right is right, whatever it says is wrong is wrong. If the their holy book said “Blessed is the one who sacrifices puppies to me” then you can be damn sure they’d be killing Fido every Sunday. To these people who live by a god centric morality the only thing that keeps them from killing, raping, and stealing, is that they think an invisible man in the sky will punish them for it. To admit that you wouldn’t do these things even if you knew for sure there was no god would be to admit that morals don’t come from a “holy” book.

To exacerbate this problem, many of the people who do believe in the god-centric form of morality subscribe to the iron age desert god of the bible. Some will say “oh, but god is love!” but if you read the bible you will quickly run into atrocity after atrocity. There is a lot of morally repugnant things god does in there. He commands blood sacrifices, forces abortions, condones incest, commits a number of genocides, the list goes on. The value he places on an individuals life is pretty low.  Apologists have spent centuries trying to work out complicated explanations for why god does some of these horrible things. Yet despite all their complicated answers, the simplest one is true: the god of the bible is the creation of numerous men from various iron age cultures. They wrote their views into the bible and created a god in their image, their misogynistic bloodthirsty image.  The old testament just reads like a laundry list of who’s beating up on the Jews, and how they’re all going to die because of it. The god is envious, paranoid, and egotistical, just like the men who created him.  Now take a character like this and apply his “morality” onto the world in the 21st century. You have a recipe for disaster, and indeed that’s what we see everyday. In the past century we’ve developed the technology needed to exterminate all life on the planet many times over. Can we really afford to entertain people who still hold iron age views on morality?

Why get dressed up for church?

11 Apr

Growing up I hated having to get dressed nice early every Sunday morning for church. I would ask my mom why we had to get so fancy just for church and she would reply with something along the lines of “we have to look nice for god.”

At the time that made sense to me, but now, looking back, it’s not very convincing. Why does it matter to god if we get dressed up all fancy? He already knows how pious or impious we are in our hearts; fancy clothes aren’t going to fool him.

The reason everyone gets all dressed up for church is simple. It’s a display of wealth. For the longest time, church has not only been about religion, but it was the main social gathering. In ye olden days, people would go there to socialize, gossip, and meet potential spouses. Church was where you were most public, where you wanted to show your status in the community.

Religious leaders are no exception. The most obvious example of ridiculous wealth being used as a display of status is the Catholic Church.

Need I say more? (And yeah, that’s the extreme end of the spectrum, but there still is a lot of gold in regular catholic churches)

Now,  a big part of the protestant reformation was aimed against exactly this kind of opulence and shameless display of wealth. While most protestant churches are definitely much simpler and plain than catholic ones, they don’t get off the hook completely.

Mark 10:25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God


Why did god allow the earthquake in Haiti?

8 Feb

As everyone knows the earthquake in Haiti killed hundreds of thousands in seconds, devastating the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Whenever something like this happens, people often ask “Why did our loving god allow this to happen?” Most religious people try to answer that with several possible yet unsatisfactory rationalizations. “It’s god’s will, it’s for the greater good, it’s to teach all of us a lesson, it’s so we will know how much god loves the rest of us, it was the devil and not god, it’s a test of our faith, etc, etc.”

These are all really poor explanations, and none of them true. Why did the earthquake in Haiti happen? Simple. Because Haiti is on a fault line between tectonic plates. Those plates shifted 10 miles away from Port-au-prince and 5 miles underground. It just happens. That’s what tectonic plates do. If we had perfect data measuring the currents of liquid magma causing the plates to move then we could have known exactly when, where, and how bad every earthquake would be. Same goes for every other natural phenomenon. Unfortunately we don’t have that data. Science is getting closer every day to getting it, but this takes time. Take god out of the picture and you stop making excuses for why bad shit happens.

The natural state of things

29 Sep

It’s so hard to do anything, there is so much resistance to everything. Water will eventually wash away soil no matter how hard the soil tries to resist. It’s the natural state of things. Buildings will eventually crumble and fall, it’s the natural state of things. Everyone you love will eventually die, it’s the natural state of things.  The universe will eventually spread out and cool down into cold dead nothingness, it’s the natural state of things.

There are just so many things that if left by themselves will revert back to the natural state of shit and nothingness. It’s a fight to do anything. Even gravity is against you. I put a pencil on a desk and it rolls off and falls, and so I must bend down and fight gravity to pull it back from its natural state. I know that sounds trivial, but it’s the little things that get me down.

Day in and day out, not getting anywhere, it’s a struggle just to get out of bed. My body aches and I’m tired, I’d much rather revert back to being in bed, but I must fight the forces trying to keep me down to go out and perform meaningless tasks.

I used to be all “I want to save the world and help people”, now I’m not sure. It seems that the world is just spinning down the drain, and any attempts to make things better are ultimately pointless. So why fight it? Things in life are naturally shit. Starvation, suffering, and death are the natural states for millions around the world. Masses of people will naturally do stupid shit, like vote republican. Why fight it? Yes they will do stupid stuff, and yes they will suffer for it, but they are so fickle and possess such a short term memory that they will continue to repeat the same mistakes and expect different results. It’s just natural for them. Shit is the natural state of things.

As much as it seems reasonable to just go with the flow and be evil, I can’t. It’s my natural state to be a good person, and so I lament all the shit in the world, but I feel unable to do anything to stop the natural state of things. I think I would be happier if I was indifferent to other people’s suffering. It would make living in this world as we slowly circle the drain easier.