Through the Pinhole – a Poem

It is the smallest of windows

Wholly created, voluntarily accepted

Without a moment’s thought

Without a soul’s reflection

It is a single portrait viewing

The colors never fade, never change

Never adjust to the light

Still life in a perpetual state of fix

It is a changeless visage

Allows for only redundant interpretation

How oft can the brush stroke be dissected?

Countless opinions fight to death.

It is merely a pinhole picture

A finite vision carved from infinity

Chosen for its narrow path

Endorsed with eternal fear

It is a singular lens

Projected at grain of reality

Produces warped lines

Cages light in a prison

It is the smallest of windows

Wholly created, voluntarily accepted

Without a moment’s thought

Without a soul’s reflection


Chaos and Creating…..

One of my favorite professors EVER used to have us rearrange desks in  a classroom from straight lined columns to a mish mash of seating all over.  While we moved, she was heard yelling over the squeaking and clanging:  “Learning is messy and chaotic.”

I’ve come to understand that creating….anything…is messy and chaotic…from a small fiction short story to a web site designed for education…we creators live in a world of chaos….

I think my professor would be proud of my writing desk……

messy desk

Here’s to the chaos of writing and creating….Have a great week kids!

Frankie


Obsessed with Life, But not with Living

Have you heard about Cassandra?  She is a seventeen year old girl with lymphoma who is currently being forced against her will to 1)  stay in a hospital 2) receive chemotherapy treatments that can cause life long damage and infertility.

There’s a huge debate between her rights as a person who should be able to choose her own destiny and the medical necessity of extending her life because……, well……, life.

But the issue brings up a deeper point for me that I believe we need to consider as a society.

In this day and age, thank god, we don’t have to worry about dying from a simple little thing like a tooth infection or strep throat.  AIDS is very close to being lassoed and corralled and robots are helping with surgeries now.  Our medical technology is wonderful and as a wearer of digital hearing aids I am grateful for its advances.

Yet in our effort to maximize our lifespans, I am concerned that in the end we lessen the overall value and meaning of life.  You see, if just any life, as long as it is breathing is considered sacred then it seems we’ve crossed a line between what is beneficial and what is obsessive.

Is it life when a person is faced with nothing but doctors appointments and blood tests, day in and day out, sick to their stomach, pumping themselves full of pills to counteract the disadvantages to chemotherapy? Is it life when a young girl is left infertile and faced with decades of other biological consequences from the poison they are forcing her to take now?  Is it life when a soul is trapped inside a body that has no function and is completely dependent on others for its care?

I contend that there is a big difference between simply living in the most base sense of word as we are redefining it, which seems to be merely breathing, and in being effective, being able to appreciate each breath, and being able to control our own destinies.

If we allow our definition of life to include increasingly poor quality in the interest of longevity, then we lose respect for what it means to really live and what it means to be alive and living. Our time is too short as it is, do we want to water down its meaning as well?

My thoughts are with Cassandra and her family.  May they navigate this difficult time with grace and may they have strength to LIVE according their own terms.

Peace kids, and make it a good day to be alive.

Frankie


A Writer’s Family

I’m a big fan of the movie “Saving Mr. Banks.”  If you haven’t seen it, it is based on the true events of Walt Disney and ‘Mary Poppins’ ‘ creator P.L. Travers (played by Emma Thompson, who is brilliant in the role).  The movie focuses on the story of Mr. Disney and Mrs. Travers as they work through the creative process of making the movie, her passion as an author and his passion as a movie maker conflict throughout the entire film until Mrs. Travers finally signs over the rights of her book.

There’s a scene in the movie that includes a short conversation between Mr. Disney and one of the Sherman brothers.  Mr. Disney reflects that he understands Mrs. Travers’ dilemma; he too was in the same situation with Mickey Mouse as a young man without even a penny in his pocket. Someone wanted the Mouse, he recalls, but he couldn’t give it up.  “That Mouse is family.” he says with conviction.

As I lovingly toil through the transcript of the fiction narrative I am currently working on, I have discovered that I understand Mr. Disney’s perspective.  We put immense amounts of energy into the creation of a thing as writers.  Our characters, the people that fill our pages become our ‘family’ in that they become part of us.  We worry about them as writer’s don’t we? We wonder about how they perceive the world.  We obsessively concern ourselves with what they’ll do next and WHY they will do it and then we worry about their reaction.   We shape their character as lovingly as a potter shapes a vase and are intimate with every detail of their lives. It is no wonder that they become family to us.

Here’s to the creative process.  Here’s to the beautiful characters we pluck out of the ether and breath life into.  Here’s to writing kids…….

Frankie


R.I.P.

Of all the cartoons and comments, this one struck me deepest.   May we never forget, as writers and creators, the power of the pen.  And may we be challenged by the life and tenacity of those who sleep now.  Peace kids….

Frankie

 

blood pencil


‘Tis the Season…. For Hero Worship  

For weeks Morcant looked forward to the Winter Feast and it was finally here.  The entire village was gathered around the fire, along with the neighboring villages that came to celebrate the Feast and welcome the New Sun and a new year, “Solstice” they called it.  He loved the big gathering, the tradition of special foods, and this year, because he was five now, he would be getting his first present.  He knew it would be a bow, that was always the first gift, but he was no less excited.  The five year old sat on one side of his mother while his two year old brother occupied part of her lap and suckled at the breast that provided both food and comfort.  “Sit still, and listen carefully Morcant,” his mother whispered, “Brennus is about to begin your favorite story.”

Brennus weaved a beautiful tale of the dark Night that grew longer and overtook the warmth and light of the Sun, and the Sun wrestling for rebirth, and the promise of new year.  Morcant sat mesmerized.  He thought of himself wrestling the same dark Night as the Sun and overcoming them with nothing but strength and a pure will.  The last thing he told his mother before he went to sleep that night was “I want to be like the Sun when I grow up and be strong and obercome ebil too.”

“Ah,” replied his adoring mother, “You have found yourself a hero I see, and a fine one at that.  But remember the real lesson my sweet Morcant, we must let the light inside of us always outshine the dark” And she tucked him with a kind of gentle muse that every mother possesses for her child.  “Sleep well my son.”

Several hundreds of years later, eight year old  Naevius was walking home from the village feast of Saturnalia, where they watched the Temple Priest unbind the god’s feet as a sign of freedom and then ate and drank with, well, everyone.  Endless shouts of “Io Saturnalia!” echoed everywhere.  Naevius was tired from the days of celebration, but the excitement kept him alert and full of questions.  The smell of evergreen wreaths (one of his favorite smells) filled the air as well as every door and window they passed, “Mother, tell me again the story of Mithras.”

“Ah,” she chuckled, “you’ve been listening to your grandfather I see.  Many of the old men still worship him.  Mithras’ story is that of a great hero, not unlike our own Saturn. He is the sun incarnate, protector, watcher of cattle and many celebrate his story at the same time as our Saturnalia.   Both are meant to mark the beginning of a new year because……?” she waited for Naevius to finish the sentence.

“Because the Sun is reborn after the darkest night of the year, promising longer days and warmth, and also giving us hope that all things renew themselves.” He responded without hesitation and with confidence.
His mother laughed out loud, “Well done, Naevius!” and she rustled his long hair, “But do not forget,” her voice changing to a somber tone, “the Sun’s rebirth also reminds us to allow the light within us to overcome the dark within us. This is the most important lesson.”

“Yes Mother.”  And they finished the walk home in a tired, content silence.

Over two thousand years later twelve year old Ava was riding in the back of the family Subaru en route to pick out their annual christmas tree.  She asked her mother a question that was bothering her since last week and the conversation she had with her classmate, Mayzee.  “Momma, what is the war on christmas?  Are there bombs somewhere that go off on christmas day?”

Ava’s mother gave a small laugh and reflexively asked a question or two first before answering so as to get some context for her daughter’s infinite questions, “Where did you hear about that?” she inquired benignly.

“From Mayzee,” she replied with a straightforward voice, “she says that if I say ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of Merry Christmas then I’m participating in the war on christmas.  I didn’t know there was one.”

“I see” responded her mother slowly, giving her time to formulate a logical answer, “Well,  why are we so happy that Winter Solstice has finally come round?”

“Because it means the days will be getting longer again and we can play outside longer.”  Ava replied with just a hint of impatience.

“Right.  And while that was the original winter celebration, there are many other customs and traditions that also occur around the same time of year, and mostly for the same reasons.  What does your Uncle Jay say to you every year?”

“Happy Festivus!” Ava said in a booming voice to imitate her favorite Uncle.

“Exactly, it’s an old Roman celebration.  What does Auntie Sara’s family celebrate?”  the patient mother was leading her child through a thought process.

“Oh, what’sit called?  Hanashka?  Hankannah?” she asked

“Hanukah.” Her mother said. “It’s also known as the Feast of Lights  and remembers a time when their ancestors were freed from captivity.   There are many traditions that celebrate Light and Hope this time of year, most of them for the same reason:  The return of the sun. Which is why it’s quite accurate, really, to say Happy Holidays.   If you break it down slowly and change the ‘o’ to a long vowel sound what do you get?”

Ava took just a second to sound it out in her mind first and then she blurted out “Happy HOLY – days!”

“Right” said mother. “Now, let’s slow down christmas a little bit.  What if we said ‘christ mass?”

“Oooohhhhhh,” Ava said, the proverbial light bulb was coming on in her head now, “Mayzee said her family was going to go to mass on christmas eve.  It’s some kind of church service right?”

“Yes,” her mother confirmed, “it celebrates the birth of Jesus, the hero of their story.”

“But what about the war Mayzee was going on about?” Ava asked, certain there must be killing going on somewhere and she just didn’t know where.

“Well, followers of Jesus believe that there way is the only right way to believe so they think Christmas is only about Jesus, even though our ancestors were celebrating the rebirth of the actual sun for thousands of years before.  That’s why many of them feel strongly about only saying “Merry Christmas” and anything else they figure makes up a ‘war’ on their holy-day.

“I get it now……” Ava said with typical teenage hubris, “it’s not a real war but an imagined one.  Seriously, I thought it was a real war with real bombs and stuff.”  She finished.

“I can see how you can be confused.”  Said her mom understandingly, “Does it make sense now?”

“It does, I think.”  Ava answered.

“And what is the real lesson behind Solstice, Festivus, Hanukah, and christ – mass?” her mother asked, seizing the opportunity to remind her daughter, because she could never remind her enough, of the deeper issue.

Ava thought for just a moment, she was still working on the whole war that wasn’t really a war thing.

“The real lesson,” she finally began, “is that we must always strive for the light within us to outshine the dark.”

“Exactly,” said her mother with a proud heart as she parked their car at the tree lot.  “So, Happy Holy-days!  Now, let’s go get our christ-mass tree!”

 

May these next days be filled with warmth, hope, and beautiful memories for you and your family….

Frankie

 

 

 

 


The First Commandment: Thou shall be Ignorant

Right there in the very front, in the beginning so there’s no question of its importance, no room for misinterpretation, god commands his children NOT to eat of the tree of knowledge of ‘everything’* and thus the religion is bound and encapsulated within itself, with no outside influences – however sound their truths might be.

This thought struck me for the first time the other day and it intrigued me greatly because I immediately understood that it was important, no it was crucial to the religion to damn knowledge right off the bat, at its inception: That way there could be no question or curiosity from its followers and any thinking or contemplation done by said person is strictly limited to “a chaotically cobbled together anthology of disjointed documents, composed, revised, translated, distorted and ‘improved’ by hundreds of anonymous authors, editors, and copyists, unknown to us and to each other, spanning nine centuries,” as Richard Dawkins accurately describes the bible.

Now I am well aware of the ‘theological’ discussions regarding this particular transaction in the story of the garden of Eden, I was a christian myself for a long while.   Most interpretations use the story to set the stage for the rest of the bible, ie.  the fall of man, the failure of man to be perfect and hence the need for a redeemer.  Some say it defines man’s life cycle: pain associated with birth, toiling in the soil until death.  There is also significant discussion about whether the whole thing was a set up:  surely an omnipotent god just knew we were going to botch it? Yet, didn’t he have to give us free will at some point in order for us to have the ability to choose whether or not to obey him?  But if he was an omnipotent god wouldn’t he have known we would be unable to resist temptation?  Especially that all-too-human trait of doing exactly the opposite of what a parent tells us to do?  But then he had to allow us a choice….ad infin.

I say not one of those premises is the truth and they merely act as smoke screens.  See, if one is tasked with compiling a workable document for a fledgling religion as were the delegates at the Council of Nicaea under Constantine’s orders, then it makes perfect sense that a well refined story would be utilized at the very outset of the narrative which effectively deters its readers from ever wandering past the pages of that one quilt-worked book.  By so doing, the religion is then set up, indeed, mandated to refuse any other refinements or outside information.   Now the religious leaders have a captive audience.  Now can begin the building of a theological empire whose leaders are given carte blanche control over their flocks because they have been taught that information and knowledge is evil and suspect.

It’s been an effective tool.  The christian religion is entirely encapsulated and absolutely refuses any new information.  Check out what Copernicus went through when he observed that the sun did NOT revolve around the earth.  His successor Galileo was forced to recant his view about a heliocentric galaxy and not until 1992 did the church issue a formal apology on his behalf.  1992!! Darwin’s ideas have been similarly refused even though the past one hundred fifty years have yielded massive amounts of support in their favor.  Yet a christian’s response is almost robotic:  Doesn’t matter, got a commandment to follow, No. New.  Information!!!!!!!

How has that affected our nation?  Well, we have a large section of our population who are dutiful  christians and therefore make for paranoid, suspect, information wary voters whose only source of information comes from the church and select news sources that are proven horribly skewed.  I know ’cause I was once one of them.  Some of those christians have been elected to office and so we possess wholly ignorant politicians who are charged with making long-term policies without caring about facts, they blatantly admit it, and they careen forward recklessly, with blinders on.  So we will continue to suffer the effects of global warming because we cannot accept new knowledge as a nation. And we will continue to be left behind the world in terms of groundbreaking science research, education, and progressive social goals.  We can no longer claim to be number one as a nation on several levels simply because so many of us have obeyed the first commandment:  thou shall be ignorant.

It’s a damning, damning situation and there’s not much to do for it except plod along.  It doesn’t do any good to present facts, send links to verifiable resources, or emphasize one’s historical background in education.  Our brothers and sisters simply cannot fathom or manage any form of outside information or knowledge: they’ve been taught that its evil. I find for myself, that at some level this new revelation allows me to muster a great deal more patience towards my fellow humans. Awareness is everything sometimes. The best we can do is educate when the opportunity arises and try not to sound like arrogant asses at the same time (I know this can be a problem because I’m sure I’m not the only one who has to be conscious of it).

Despite the ironclad direction to remain naive, there are those brave enough to dare step outside the lines and let the road take them where it may.  I know because I was one of them – and every day more and more of us make the choice.

Imagine ….  a movie with a character living in animation until suddenly something makes her real and we see her foot emerge from the cartoon into real grass, experiencing real sounds, amazing smells, and beautiful, beautiful colors for the first time.  She feels the warmth of the sun on her face and the wind gently tossing her hair.  For several long moments we might watch her as the camera circles around her and we witness the overwhelming gratefulness she experiences as she takes in everything and smiles at her newfound freedom, no longer confined to the pages of someone else’s hand. Yes she’s a bit scared and we would see that she navigates through some bumpy roads in this new reality, but we watch her grow more confident each day.  And, at the end of a few years, we might picture her at her computer writing these words of truth:  Peace comes with understanding, it does not pass it.

Here’s to knowledge and understanding kids; and let truth will out.

Frankie

* I choose to use the word ‘everything’ here since it more accurately depicts the gist of the commandment.  In research for this article it was asserted in several places that the phrase ‘good and evil’ is really used a merism…that is a set of linguistic opposites put together with the effect to mean not just the parts, but the whole. So the interpretation of knowing ‘good from evil’ is a bit off, it really means that adam and eve would have knowledge of everything, including good and evil.


Thanks Brittany, For Defining Life for Us….

There’s quite a bit of bruh – ha-ha going on about Brittany Maynard and her decision to end her life at her choosing rather than at the behest of a brain tumor.

She’s been labeled a coward.  A loser.  Ignorant.  And most of all godless (my guess is most of these accusers have not sat by the bedside of a comatose loved one and wiped the bile from their lips, change their soiled sheets, and clean their soiled bodies for days on end until finally the last breath is drawn).

Brittany’s decision gave me courage because it reaffirmed something I’ve long thought:  We define LIFE as a society not by quality, but by quantity.  Consequently, I propose, we cheapen life – and what it means to live.

The reasoning is based on the idea that if the sanctity of life is so broad that no matter how mal-formed, no matter how dependent, no matter how irresponsive, no matter if a life is more full of doctors and therapists and pokes and prods than actual living, no matter how tightly bound a soul might be within a prison of useless limbs and organs, then we do ourselves a disservice because we misplace the fact that life should also have a certain level of value – and health – if it’s to be truly cherished and worth something.

I originally took my cue for this thought from Nature.  Nature doesn’t really let the diseased or malformed or ill survive.  It can’t. Nature has high standards – grade AAAAA – when it comes to quality control, and it doesn’t fudge very often.   We humans forget this.  We’ve gotten far removed from nature and therefore do not necessarily act ‘natural’ towards life…or death.

The reaction to Brittany’s death exemplifies this.  We would condemn her to weeks of pain and suffering, loss of body control, loss of appetite, withering away, loss of consciousness…ad in fin….because it doesn’t matter her quality of life, only her quantity.   As Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, put it Suicide is not a good thing. It is a bad thing because it is saying no to life and to everything it means with respect to our mission in the world and toward those around us.”

Brittany wasn’t “saying no to life and everything it means” she didn’t have a life to say ‘no’ to.

Instead, she chose to say yes to life, but within the strict confines of quality control that Nature operates.  She chose to value life as having meaning and participating in it fully, instead of just existing for existence sake.

So thanks Brittany, for defining life for us by keeping a high standard of quality.  Your afterlife is secure.

Here’s to Life….healthy, full, and vibrant.

Frankie


An Earth Visit

Tsyllus stepped out of his TimeField Transport and took his first breath of Earth air.  Well, to him it was simply Planet st.042 located in the Stellar Formation xin, Galaxy Hrsollyn.  It was a bit of an outback planet, Universally speaking, and was therefore rarely visited by any alien life.  Tsyllus knew this because he was a TimePrince and therefore privy to all alien travel throughout the Universe.  At once.  It was a curse. He was visiting this particular planet because he heard tell (by some unsavory Woolysnx in some shifty bar on the mangy Planet Slaacp) that the inhabitants here had picked up the esoteric idea of a TimePrince.  Tsyllus wasn’t surprised at all that an obscure life form came up with the concept:   “We are, after all, connected.” he thought to himself, “We are all made of the same stardust material and we all possess the same stardust memories.”

He wanted to investigate what they teased out of the ether and how close they came to the reality; this meant an actual trip to Earth to study the imagined TimePrince and its creators.  He correspondingly landed in Trafalgar Square, just underneath one of the lion monuments.  He stepped outside to check his landing position, and taking a small remote control-looking device from his coat pocket he thought for a moment and then pressed a couple of buttons.  It took a few seconds, the Transport had to receive the code and then implement the program, but slowly the vessel seemed to disappear, its high-tech, shiny black rounded shell was blending in to the concrete base elevating the lion. Tsyllus had activated the camouflage program.

“Better.”  He announced to himself and, adding the command “Open Main Hatch” a panel of concrete opened up exactly like a door and Tsyllus stepped into his home. The hatch closed automatically behind him.   “Dlynnar, find local broadcast satellite A113, queue to program “Dr. Who.”

“Request received, finding local broadcast satellite A113, queueing to program ‘Dr. Who,'” replied Dlynnar, the mainframe quantum computer, in a pleasant androgynous voice.   He planned on watching every bit of Dr. Who and anything remotely Dr. Who related; he wanted to see what these aliens got right in the thing and what they got wrong.  He suspected the ‘wrong’ column would far outweigh what they got right, but he was inwardly thrilled that they even came up with the idea.  He wondered if they knew that TimePrince’s were a despised group and not typically amiable.

After hours of The Doctor, and a long tea in a small shop in Leicester Square, from where Tsyllus observed nearly every kind of human behavior and interaction, he was ready to make his report:

“Visit: Planet st.042 located in the Stellar Formation xin, Galaxy Hrsollyn, locally known as “Earth”, date 45 Meleni, year 70412.  Findings as such:

“The local intelligent life, calling themselves ‘humans’ are indeed an interesting and humorous population.  The first thing that impressed me was that I found their quaint bodies to be quite fragile and underdeveloped compared to most other alien life.  Just one small piece of metal slung from a projectile at mass velocity can crush their intelligence centers without resistance.  Indeed, this particular animal has no developed physical defense system such as an exoskeleton or telekinetic abilities to alter their surroundings or regeneration capacity of any kind, which leaves them extremely vulnerable to outside influences.  However, they fall quite short in soliciting appeal from any alien visitations due to their small mental and spatial capacities.  And yet….they seem to overcome their deficiencies in several clever and creative ways.

‘Humans’ have managed to build a variety of quasi-exoskeletons using the scant amount of metals found in their natural Planetary composition.  These exoskeletons include large land tanks, aeroplanes (what are Universally known as IPT – IntraPlanetary Transport) and water borne vessels, both surface hydro and sub-surface hydro.  One might wonder why the Earth creatures even build such protection if, as mentioned earlier in this report, it invites no other alien life form.  This is because Planet st.042 is still very much in its infancy with regards to Universal Awareness and therefore more focused on the varying differences amongst themselves.   Such a focus only sets the stage for intraplanetary warring, as typically seen on other Planets that are in their infancies.

In fact, there is still a large population on this Planet that still cling to archaic beliefs and have not yet progressed beyond Msoolyz’  famous “Illusionary Fixation” whereby their intelligence capacity is still underdeveloped and stifled by early “pre-consciousness beliefs of deism and egocentric thought processes” as Msoolyz states.  On the balance though, the Planet seems to be continuing along normal Awareness progress.  I would adamantly note however that much of their slow development is again due to the lack of any outside visitation or relationship; they have no reason to comprehend themselves as a unit without the face of an outsider to unite them.

Along with creative improvisations to protect themselves, I must also declare a high level of admiration for the human ability to imagine.  The fact that they were able to hone it on the concept of a TimePrince is testimony to their capacity to discern specific ideas and worry them to perfection.  In the case of comparing their version of a TimePrince with actuality, there are a few things eerily accurate.  There are obviously many gaps in these nuggets of truisms, however the ingenuity utilized to deduce what might be placed in those gaps is both entertaining and charming.

While they’ve imagined a TimePrince (their term is ‘Time Lord’) that is indigenous to a particular Planet and alien race, they imagine that everyone from that Planet is a ‘Time Lord.’  They missed the part where there are only a few of us born each generation with the ability to See and Intervene.   Yes, there is a certain amount of status with the gift, but the curse is much greater.  Torn from our families at a young age, denied any childhood privileges and raised by older generations of TimePrinces, our lives are solitary (Humans got that part right) and never our own.”

“It’s no wonder we are an unhappy lot.” Tsyllus thought to himself.  “Dlynnar, delete last to the word ‘Intervene’.”   He waited just a second and Dlynnar replied “Deleted, ready to continue Tsyllus.”

“Whilst this Planet has had scant alien visitors,” he continued, “the imagined life forms humans contrived are grounds for a Msoolyz type examination in their variations of form and character, and presented with an odd fixation on violent, often malicious life forms.  Perhaps this stems from their still primitive views and lack of knowledge thereof, I’ll leave the final conclusion for the experts.  It seems difficult for them on the whole to consider friendly visitors, which is most likely to occur as we all know.

Finally, and in attempt to end on a positive note (although I’ll admit a certain biased toward liking these harmless creatures) they have obtained a decent foundational grasp of space and time.  They are aware that there is probably other life in the Universe besides their own, they have probed neighboring Planets within their Stellar System and have worked the calculations out enough to understand that time and space are in no way fixed and linear but, to the use the words of their imagined ‘Time Lord’ a ‘Big blob of wibbly wobbly timey wimey ….. stuff.’  I myself am highly impressed at this grasp of time and space.”

“Overall, the inhabitants of Planet st.042 are a charming, if naïve, animal and I for one wish them well in their attempts to mature.  I have scheduled a revisit in millennia (Dlynnar, set the date for reminding please) and shall send an update at that time.   For now, this completes my report on Planet st.042 located in the Stellar Formation xin, Galaxy Hrsollyn.   Respectfully submitted, TimePrince Tsyllus.”

He took a deep breath and then addressed his computer, “Dlynnar, send report to the Pynndl council and set course for Planet Scaalp, I need a Norliss to drink before I lose my mind.”

Dlynnar dutifully replied, “Sure thing Tsyllus, sending report into council and setting course for Planet Scaalp, you need a Norliss before you lose your mind.  Estimated time of arrival equals 35 plincks, plus or minus 2 plincks. Allonsy!”


Declaration:   Atheist – No Small Announcement to Make in the U.S.

I was having a conversation with someone the other day; we were discussing the topics that I write about on this blog.  Obviously there is quite a bit of content about atheism (positively speaking) and religion (negatively speaking), I mentioned this to him “I write a lot about atheism, since I am an atheist.”   He responded to this comment by saying that, basically he was too, but he “just didn’t feel comfortable putting it out there,” for fear of backlash from family, friends, and this being America and all…..we then talked a little bit about how the term and those who identify with it are wholly misunderstood, somehow deemed evil, angry, hateful and without morals.  I would challenge us to readjust our thinking about the kind of people atheists really are.

One of the most common questions I get, especially from those who know my ‘christian up bringing’ background is:  “Why do you hate god?”  I respond with the truth:  there is no hate involved, only a logical conclusion reached by a few years of doing my own research and an understanding that science really does unlock the mysteries we are obsessively keen to understand.   “Besides,” I reply, “It’s difficult to hate something that doesn’t exist.  The same way I have no emotion towards Zeus or Mithras”

I suppose, by extrapolation, a perceived hate in god also translates to a perceived hateful disposition because one of the other more common misunderstandings is that atheists are unhappy and not at peace.   In fact, in my experience, the bulk of us seem to be utterly content in the life they lead and this is made especially more meaningful since we are well aware that this is our only shot at life and that in itself is cause for celebration.  (Not to negate the small percentage of the human population who are somehow miserable no matter where their deist preferences lie).  Truthfully?  It is my strong contention that peace comes with understanding, it does not surpass it. On the other side of the coin, I believe that religion itself can rob a person of their peace.  I remember the numerous conspiracy theories that blew through church during the Clinton administration.   I recall distinctly the fear instilled by the church about this or that issue and although I had ‘god to cling to’ I will confess to harboring a certain paranoia when I look back.  In another part of the world, a religion prevents successful healthcare because it ‘comes from the west’ and is secretly poisoned.

Sometimes, atheist hate is perceived by many where really a passion for the truth is the compelling force behind our actions. For instance, we will petition for the ten commandments to be taken down in courtrooms, or sit out the pledge of allegiance in schools, or refuse to include the words ‘so help me god’  in our  reenlistment oath – not because we are evil, not because we are hateful, and not because we are angry.   We do these things to raise awareness to the obvious breech of our nation’s constitution:  that no preference is given to any religion.  It’s simply a matter of exercising our pragmatic right to call out a social injustice and violation of the law.

For those who are raised in closed, religious environment, legends abound of the misdeeds and immoral acts atheists are ‘known’ for.   I had a friend and her lovely little family over for thanksgiving dinner last year.   They are former members of that-one-religion-that-doesn’t-celebrate-holidays-or-birthdays and this was their first thanksgiving or any holiday dinner they’d ever attended.  After the feast, an afternoon of football, visiting, and pumpkin pie, she looked at me and queried, “This is it, fabulous food and football?  No baby sacrifices?  No bloodletting?  No dancing naked around a bonfire?”  We laughed at her joke and I responded that “nowadays, we tend to keep that stuff to just once a year, at winter solstice.” (festivus is celebrated much like thanksgiving, the exceptions being prime rib for dinner instead of turkey and A Christmas Story marathon – completely lacking in blood sacrifices….)

Lacking religion, or a belief in a deity, is usually and also equated with a lack of morality, and I would contend that this is perhaps the biggest misconception of all.   The reality is that the burden of morality is probably greater for an atheist.   We have nothing to blame our goodness or weaknesses on except ourselves.   We accept a deep level of accountability for our actions and typically are motivated to do good just because it’s the right thing to do, rather than expecting some promise of eternal reward in return – neither are our good deeds motivated by fear of being punished if we don’t do them.  We have a sense of camaraderie, in that all humans are connected and are brothers and sisters who share a moment in time together.  We don’t cheat on our spouses because we are bound by some command or fallible piece of literature, but because we take our vow to be faithful seriously and we wish not to cause pain to our mates.  For a real study in the ‘moral’ and ‘religion’ connection, check out those countries where religion is quite the minority, their crime rates are actually lower.

Then there’s the point to be made that religion itself is not so ‘moral’ after all.  Within the realm of christianity, the catholics are dealing with one kind of horror, while protestant churches allow known offenders back into the pulpit.  And, sadly, more and more often there appear headlines of pastors or youth pastors abusing their positions of authority.  Islam’s recent violent surge has all but shattered its claim of being a peaceful religion.

The bottom line, straight out truth is:     Morality is not confined to religion.

“What about love?” they’ll often ask, “How can you really know love if you don’t know god?”

Two responses:  One – god isn’t necessarily all loving himself.  One only needs to look around at the injustices that occur on a daily basis in our world, and yet ‘he’ doesn’t intervene.  I mean, does it make sense that an omnipotent god would curse part of this rock and its inhabitants whilst conveniently blessing another to the point of overindulgence?  Two – religion doesn’t have the monopoly on love.   The dedication and passion I have toward my husband are wholly voluntary, I don’t need to have some outside love to validate or motivate me to love him.  I love him because of the connection we share and the chemistry we create together.   Furthermore, he has confidence in that love because he knows it is purely motivated, not borne from some obligation to a historical manuscript.

A capacity for love, a passion for justice, a logical conclusion, and morality are not limited to the four walls of any church, mosque, or synagogue.  These characteristics are borne of conscious decision, an open mind, and a desire for truth.   These are the earmarks of atheists.  Eventually we’ll have developed a healthier perception about atheism.  Then we can be free to announce our un- belief with confidence and without prejudice.  In the meantime, we’ll go on living our lives and making a difference in the lives of others.

Rock on kids….

Frankie


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