Tag Archives: american exceptionalism

Climate Change

Children stay home from school so mom and dad avoid the ICE men.

My, how the climate has changed.

I smile at the pretty woman with the beautiful, colorful scarves around her head, she smiles back.

We both know this small interaction is meaningful in a world where prejudice and profiling are becoming the norm.

Why do I feel as if I’m something special just for having given her my silent acceptance?

I can only say that it is because of the climate change.

City councils, county supervisors, debate and argue about whether or not to be a place of ‘sanctuary’.

Walls built, invisible or monolithic, to keep them out and keep us in,

Where contention and ideologies clash and drive us into just another desperate nation.

Wow, has the climate changed.

Sons disavowing parents, relationships rent over fact vs. fiction, journalism vs. propaganda, country vs. party.

Facebook friends blocked, or blocked yourself.  Twitter is a national diary, faithfully recording the reactions of a president and his populace.

Social media and media conflate our anxiety, smoldering anger gives way to hateful outbursts, violence, and abuse.

Damn, how the climate’s changed.

Uncertainty becomes a way of life, we once knew where we stood and we were really that exceptional, not anymore.

Gyroscopes of truths surround our thought habitat.  It is difficult to find our balance and so we become animals again; obeying instinct, forgetting reason.

No wonder fear is marketable, and so greedily consumed.

Have you noticed that the climate has changed?

Can we weather this storm and keep the damage to a minimum?

Will we find a way to overcome our fear and realize that we can stand together about certain things, that justice and human rights are non-negotiable?

Does the ship of our constitution have the wherewithal to navigate these uncharted waters with just a few frail masts and an even more frail wooden frame?

I wonder, these days, how we will survive this climate change.

 


No Religion: What’s to Believe In?

As we continue to progress as a species, more of us human beings are stepping from the dark archaic belief systems of religion to the bright confidence of knowledge afforded us by science.   But the shift from religion to non begs some questions:  What do we do with ourselves?  Where do we put our energy?  What’s to believe in? What becomes our focus?

From my humble perspective, it kind of seems that a default focus would be nationalism; belief in one’s nation and attention to its politics and social/economic issues.  From my humble perspective, we could use a boost in national attention to politics and social/economic issues.   But there lies a danger of jingoism, unabashed love for one’s country without regard for other nations, fervent almost blind belief that ‘my country is the best’.  In a time when we face global challenges such as health epidemics and climate change, we can’t really allow ourselves the pleasure of arrogance.  We must be able to cooperate, to admit that maybe another nation is doing something right and we might consider adjusting our own perceptions.  We are bound together by this planet and its natural laws, we have to work with one another in order to keep our species viable.  While some of our new found energy can and should be focused on national issues, it is necessary to strike a balance with how much energy we invest in our country – there are bigger ideas to focus on as well.

I heartily contend that the biggest idea should be humanism – a focus on mankind and our path of past, present, and future, our connection with one another as dictated by nature’s laws.  If we think about it, we only, always, have each other; and though cultures vary we cannot deny our bloodline and the truth that we are all brothers and sisters.  I believe we owe a certain amount of attention to our race based on this sole premise, with the spirit that we are inherently obligated as human beings to look out for our siblings. As mentioned above, our modern age forces us to examine physical global issues and international cooperation is paramount to finding solutions to these issues.   A humanist focus allows us to set aside cultural prejudices and adopt cooperative attitudes based upon the assumption that we’re all in this together.

Science appears to be the common ground for us all and I’ll assert that the growth of humanism will include many elements of the discipline.   Two plus two will always equal four and no matter where we go in the world we can speak that language to anyone. I am not claiming that science has all the answers although I’m close to agreeing with many modern thinkers who believe it does.  It certainly answers our questions best and provides a universal language with which we can speak to one another, culture set aside.   Besides providing a common language science provides a foundation for finding common solutions to the challenges we face together.  The discipline is a perfect fit with the tenants of humanism.

I’ll even go out on a limb and demonstrate that we already have a vision for the melding of science and humanism and how they work together by invoking the genre of science fiction film and writings.  There are several examples where science fiction has remarkably portended the future as far as gadgets and inventions are concerned.   Even George Orwell was prescient enough to understand that an entirely new language would evolve under political pressures.   Using science fiction as a barometer for the way humanistic tendencies might emerge, one finds an astonishing body of work that illustrates how political and even personal decisions are made based upon available evidence and facts instead of mystical, archaic texts. Pay attention next time you tune into Star Trek, or Dr. Who, or The Fifth Element.

We’ve come a long ways since the days when science and religion walked the same path of curiosity together, searching for answers to the same questions.   At some point their paths split and one has gone on to answer those questions with solid evidence.   As we continue to progress as a species and more of us also leave the anachronistic beliefs behind, we are faced with the necessity of filling the void.   Humanism does so with a neat and comfortable fit.  Here’s to our future and the place that Humanism has within it.

Yours,

Frankie


Citizen of the Empire

“Bomb them all, let god sort them out!”  that’s my mantra,

Because I know I have the biggest and the best

Military in all the world.

Bigger than the next  six nations put together

So big that we have bases everywhere

So big that over half my tax dollars support it.

“Bomb them all, let god sort them out!” that’s my mantra

Because I blindly believe in a thing called

American Exceptionalism

And that means I am certain my Nation is the best

We have the best democracy

We have the best food

We have the best of everything

Don’t we?

“Bomb them all, let god sort them out!” that’s my mantra

Because I am ignorant of my own Empire

I do not know that we’ve meddled

I do not know that we leave destruction in our wake

I do not know that we are suspect

Wherever we go

I do not know that ‘they’ are wary of ‘us’

“Bomb them all, let god sort them out!” that’s my mantra

Because they’re barbarians anyway

They don’t follow the correct religion

They eat strange food

They have weird customs

They are not worth our time

They’re Towel Heads and Sand Niggers all of them

“Bomb them all, let god sort them out!” that’s my mantra

Because my vision is short-sighted

And my compassion follows a narrow road

My ears hear only war drums

My heart feels insecure pride

I am safe in this land – what do I have to lose?

“Bomb them all, let god sort them out!” that’s my mantra

I am a citizen of the Empire.


Sorry Bibi, You Didn’t Fool All of Us

Lots and Lots and Lots of murmurings and postings about Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his visit to the United States, especially his address to the nation’s Congress yesterday.  He may have felt like he overcame a great political coup in order to stand in our hallowed halls – oh wait, he did – and he may have felt welcome by many of his U.S. supporters who applauded his walk to the podium, and he may have reveled in the pats on the back and the congratulatory handshakes when the moment was all over….but he didn’t fool all of us.

See, here’s what some of us know about Bibi.  We know that he’s made life a living hell for millions of our human brothers and sisters living in the West Bank and the Gaza strip.   We know that his own nation is in economic peril because he’s chosen guns over butter.   We know that he’s cried wolf’ over Iran’s nuclear arms for over a decade now. We know that he’s got a fairly decent stockpile of nuclear weapons himself, something about a pot calling a kettle black. We know that our own problems with Iran go back over half a century to our placement of the puppet Shah and any dealings with them must take that particular history into consideration.

So whilst he was speaking, many of us couldn’t hear him because the war drums he was beating drowned out his words and made them impossible to hear. We could hear them from him and we could hear them from our own because we know that many of our own leaders are chomping at the bit to have another war started.  We know that war is profitable for them.  To many of us, Bibi’s rhetoric is as inane and ignorant as theirs – we’ve heard it all before you see.

Probably, in the long run, not much harm will come from all the fuss and the Prime Minister will go home to an uncertain re-election and the exciting memories of moment he spoke to our Congress.   But if I could have him take away one thing from his visit here, he should understand that he didn’t fool all of us.

Isn’t it about time for another Enlightenment kids?

Frankie


Half a World Away…

We are all the same, you see, there is no us and them.

Half a world away

A man wakes at four thirty in the morning

He prays to his god that this day

He might find the one ruby

That buys his family out of poverty

Half a world away

A mother cradles her infant child

Her breasts offer little milk

Food is scarce in the refugee camp

And her other children must eat as well

Half a world away

A nine year old boy walks

With his father and uncle

To the coal mines of India

Wages are low, he must work also

He is not the youngest

We are all the same, you see, there is no us and them.

Here in my home town

A man wakes early in the morning

And puts a gun to his head

He hasn’t found work for years

He can endure no more

Surely they are better off without him

Here in my home town

A mother leaves her children alone

She must work, they must eat

She cannot afford a sitter

Protective services arrives

They are a family no more

Here in my home town

A seven year old boy

Runs errands in the back alleys

Of a forgotten block in LA

His boss is a drug dealer

His errands are white packets

We are all the same, you see, there is no us and them.

What man does not desire to provide for his family?

Which mother would not her own meals for her children?

How many childhoods are stolen because of economics?

Half a world away, or here in my home town.

We are all the same, you see, there is no us and them.

author’s note:  the scenarios used in this prose are real.   a recent study released revealed a high increase in suicides in the u.s. due to long term unemployment issues.   here’s to thinking….and to those who struggle along side us – half a world away.    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.