Post # 276  OF TEDDY BEARS AND BIBLES

The continuous record of progress in the ascent of mankind (and society) from the paleolithic era to the present, would inarguably appear to be commensurate with the rate of decline in superstitious belief. As eons of time passed,  earthly phenomena, thunder and lightning, plague, successful or failed crops, change of seasons, extreme weather, childbirth, life and death, were subjects of empirical experience, by reason of which man began to acquire, and accumulate, rational explanations; these usefully supplanted former legendary lore which, universally,  attributed causation to some supernatural agency.

Our Founding Fathers, several of whom were sincere Deists, bearing in mind Europe’s history of religious repression and injustice, desired to create a secular nation, featuring an unassailable mandate of separation of church and state. It is to be noted that there is absolutely no reference, whatsoever, to a deity in the Constitution (except the guarantee of freedom of belief). They also feared that the inclusion of religion in the foundational philosophy of the new republic, would run the risk of the undemocratic influence of religious zealots.

The early archetype of the ideal citizen of the new republic, was a self-made, self- educated person, who was successful by means of his diligence and pursuit of knowledge, fame and fortune. Thomas Paine described the latter part of the 18th Century as the “Age of Reason,” wherein a citizen’s intellectual capabilities was his primary judge.

The struggle to attain the goal of enlightenment, sadly, continues to date; the Scopes “Monkey Trial” in which the “blasphemous” teaching of Darwin’s theory of evolution, was prosecuted by the State as a criminal offense, was as recent as 1925. At the present time there are a great many citizens who we have impatiently described as “flat earth people,” who, stubbornly cling to their beliefs in traditional, but disproven or irrational dogma, publicly denying evolution, as well as matters of serious existential concern, such as climate change.

It has been our consistent position that evolution’s truly generous gift of an advanced brain to mankind, carries with it the (grateful) obligation to make use of it to one’s fullest capability, in the pursuit of enlightenment. The atavistic dependence on irrational superstition is an unforgiveable impediment to the dedicated march of mankind toward a just and rational existence; from a morally responsible sense, it is a betrayal of his anthropological duty.

There persists, in this modern day and age, the atavistic belief that the Bible (Old and New Testament) is the primary authority respecting human life and is a reference to be consulted for ultimate answers to mundane and existential questions. Initially, it may be noted that every recognized religion (and perhaps certain cults) has its own distinct book of inherited “ultimate truths” which seems to demonstrate, respectively, major differences in precept.

The declaration that the holy scriptures contain life’s ultimate truths and is to be consulted on a regular basis as the guide to proper living is, apparently, grounded upon the belief that it was written with the inspiration and guidance of the Deity. The men who wrote the (very many iterations) of the Bible, and who “wrote with the inspiration of the omniscient Deity”, declared that the Sun orbited around the Earth [many were burnt at the stake for espousing the accurate, but blasphemous, heliocentric theory.] The Bible, in its “infallible” language approves of slavery, capital punishment, xenophobia, warfare, revenge and a servile place of women as compared to men.Further, It is worded in archaic obtuse language, readily capable of subjective interpretation, as necessary,for self-serving rationalization.

We sincerely do empathize with the many people who employ the Holy Book for needed comfort; life can, indeed, be difficult and disappointing, even tragic; the irrefutable, ever- present awareness, of our universal mortality is, objectively, very troubling. May we be forgiven if we, with due respect, use the metaphor of the common Teddy Bear, used by toddlers for comfort at bedtime, to portray the widespread use of the holy book for the acquisition of courage, or as a reaction to tragedy. At the risk of an accusation of being pedantic or lacking empathy, we are obliged to recommend the more rational and effective, reliance upon experienced wisdom, and on the comfort of close friends and family, rather than on any physical object of superstitious attribution. The recommended source of human comfort appears to be mature and certainly more in keeping with a rational acceptance our natural plight as mortals, but, all the same, as highly developed, healthy and, most importantly, rational beings.

-p.

Post # 275  (poesie) AUTUMNAL EXODUS

Moist ethereal breezes intimately whisper
Cooling balm to sunbaked foliage.
Trees, now attired in military raiment,
In styles bespeaking revolutionary riot,
Proclaiming in eye-sparkling manifesto,
The swift advent of seasonal overthrow.
-There’s no time to lose!

Boughs strain heavy with seasonal fruitage.
The bounty, tho’, forsaken by large mammals,
In search for safer havens
Alas, no time for juicy gorging,
Time’s to be spent for seasonal survival.
Smaller ones, storing food, burrowing deep.
Instinct warns, dalliance spells disaster!
-We must not tarry!

Winged creatures depart aloft
Huge flocks with little hesitation,
Escaping to safer geography.
Could one but hear beneath the forest floor,
The excited chatter of woodland critters,
Anxiously nose-wrinkling rodent reconnaissance
-Is there yet time?

Darkening clouds bespeak woodland calamity
Soon, winter gales, storms, sheets of ice,
Snow, that covers safe niches and hide-outs,
Cold that delights in shivering death.
All must forsake the Fall magic.
– And again, we will be ready!

-p.
(Leonard N. Shapiro, Sept. 2018)

 

Post # 274        A SUDDEN RELAPSE

An observable portion of the American population has lately manifested the classic symptomology of reinfection, or relapse, of a dread disease, which was optimistically assumed to have been in gradual remission i.e., the grimly persistent and chronic disease of racial prejudice. Because we view bigotry as a psychological and social pathology, we have chosen to [metaphorically] express ourselves, in this  note, with the use of clinical language. It does seem evident that the societally incapacitating presentment of bigotry, is not adequately described in mere terms of perverse inclination or inadequate ethnic experience; it is rather, a life crippling pathology for the hater, and as well, the innocent target of his neurotic hatred.

American history reminds us that, not so long ago, the enslavement of black people was seen as an acceptable and normal part of American society; the institution was approved by the express words of the Holy (and infallible) Bible, and, as well, the great majority of white society; the latter, most especially, in areas of America where cotton was farmed. The “revered” Supreme Court of the United States, the Constitutionally designated, final arbiter of justice, declared, in the mid 19th century , (Justice Taney) that blacks were (merely) agricultural equipment; it therefore ruled (Dred Scott case) that a runaway slave be restored to his (“its”) “owner.”

Following a tragic and extremely bloody Civil War, waged principally to end slavery, it took considerably more than a century, for Congress to enact (civil rights) legislation which, by its provisions, articulated the (for its time, radical) philosophy of our founders,  that “all men are created equal.” It is a disgrace that it took a great many years and much heroic sacrifice, to establish the very “humanity” of black Americans, viz., the recognition that they enjoyed equitable inclusion in the category of, “all men.”

Subsequently, there was slow, but  discernable healing in the universal recognition of the person of color as an equally worthy American citizen, and a general disapproval of public behavior or speech, which was seen to evince prejudice towards black Americans; illustrative examples are: widespread condemnation towards white people who use the “N” word, as well as,  acts of discrimination in academia, the workplace and societally, generally. We appeared to be on the road to recovery and a lasting cure.  Our nation has experienced a memorably great black president, black judiciary, black governors and legislators, black intellectuals, academics, authors, artists and scientists. The realization of the ideal of an interracial society was, at long last, appeared well on its way.

We recently felt compelled to express our feelings concerning the word, “tolerance,” which we feel, undeservedly purports to define an admirably healthy quality. Our review of definitional authorities, confirmed our unorthodox distain, for this popularly loved, but not adequately analyzed word. The definitional concept as advised, seems to stress the virtue of a permissive attitude toward “others.” Our post, titled, “TOLERANCE, THE BADGE OF BIGOTRY”, expressly deplores such false presumption of virtue; demanding to know, from what source does the “tolerant” person derive authority to make the virtuously withheld expression of judgment? True personal virtue, we submit, would be the enlightened understanding that there is no cookie cutter standard extant, and therefore, [no category of] “other.” We would prefer the aspiration to words expressing  “acceptance” and hopefully, “friendship,” in the hopeful expectation that healing from the primative malady of discrimination was imminent.

We have, also, noted our shock and chagrin at the surprising elevation to America’s historic Oval Office, of an ignorant, egotistically adolescent, former game show host. His deplorable behavior and actions, since taking office, have been no less than embarrassing and confusing, nationally, as well as on the world scene. To our present point, he has proven himself to be a classic bigot, among other ways, by his public statements and acts, included in which, are subtle winks and shocking “dog whistle” messages to his base, thus giving tacit, Presidental approval to their hateful prejudicial behavior as well as fraternal thanks for their loyalty. This is yet another, of many illustrations, of the universally unhealthy partnership and empirical intimacy between ignorance and bigotry.

Trump’s flat earth, low information supporters are especially receptive to such needed symbiotic exchange of approving sentiment. It is to be realized that this sub-group of unsophisticated bigots, have no personal basis, whatsoever for self-esteem, except for their obligatory, belief in the alleged superiority of white over darker epidermis.

We are very concerned about the fraternal exchange of code words, constituting “dog whistle” messages, or “winking,” approval, tactically transmitted from the President of the United States, to his hate-mongering base. This pernicious practice is contagious and metastasizing. In the campaign for the Florida Governorship, the Republican candidate, referring to his black, well- educated and attractive candidate, employing similar dog whistle language, pointedly remarked that his opponent is “articulate,” suggesting to  fellow speakers of the exotic language of “dog whistle, the rarity of a black, well- educated citizen. This was no ignorant unintended oversight; we are advised that this Trump-like (and Trump- loving) Republican is a graduate of the finest eastern ivy league schools. Our reserve of patience was then completely exhaust when that candidate then warned the southern audience of the danger of  “monkey government.”

In the coming elections, local, state and federal, we would urge all responsible and concerned Americans, irrespective of past political affiliation, to value our unique, (but vulnerable) republican democracy, as necessary, over partisan precedent, and cast their vote to bring to a halt, this relapse of an entirely shameful and nationally debilitating disease.

-p.