Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

thanksgiving-snoopy2

Thanksgiving

The Holiday founded in genocide

Hallowed by Civil War

Covered in Gravy

And drenched in the blood of (delicious delicious) poultry genocide

My favorite holiday

My mom always makes me a pizza

For the dinner

Because I am picky

And she loves me

Full

Drunk

Fun

Sleep

 

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poetry

Moments Upon Waking

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So numb that it is raw

The world

Those moments when upon waking

You feel as though the end of everything

Is just at the end of the hallway

Of the present moment

An acute fear of perpetual awareness of the moment of the realization

That you will die or that you are in the process of dying

Being alone in everything while in company

Unable to purge the thoughts of eternal suffering

And perpetual awareness of the self as a thing in pain

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Atheism, Philosophy, Reason, Religion

Persona and Power: Religion in Civil Society

hannaarendtsudomenica16ye8

Today two citizens of a town called Greece took their case to the Supreme Court. These two citizens, one a Jew and the other an atheist, have experienced intimidation and hate at the hands of their Christian neighbors for daring to protest the theocratic imposition of an opening, Christian, prayer at every community town meeting. They had brought their business to this civic institution but felt intimidated and scorned by their fellow citizens and the officials elected to serve them when they refused to participate in a prayer that, in violation of the Constitution and the philosophical foundations of this nation, cast the entire proceeding in a Christian light. According to the two citizens, Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens, and the facts presented to the court very prayer for nearly a decade was given by a member of Christian clergy, with mentions of “our saviour” and “lord” and have included passages from the Bible and the Lord’s Prayer. This incantations often end with a chorus of amens.1

Every citizen of the United States should be appalled by this sort of subtle violence perpetrated against fellow citizens who do not conform to what the (ever shrinking) majority see as immutable reality. The women have said they have received threatening letters, ominous phone calls, have experienced acts of vandalism on their property and homes. They have even been told to stay away from future town meetings. The message sent is one of hate and intimidation and is one step below physical violence. In many ways this sort of theological violence is even more damaging and insidious as it attempts to claims as it s own the very mechanisms that are meant to guarantee freedom from fear, intimidation, and equal access to the services offered by a government that is paid for by all citizens.

This violence attacks at the very consensus at the center of the United States experiment in secular governance. Of course this consensus has always been tendentious at best and often the veneer of secularism disappears the farther one travels from centers of national power and federal government reach. Christians see their influence in the wider society slowly eroding around them, crumbling into the dust that can easily be swept into that oft mentioned bin where such systems of control are destined to rest. Fanatics are most powerful when they are attempting to shore up the crumbling foundations of an established owner. They are able to appeal to the sense of fear and panic that comes when the customary levers of control begin to stick and fail to bring about the same results that become familiar and therefore expected. The opening prayer at the Greece town hall meetings is a relatively recent invention, brought about most likely as a token response from the Christian powers that be that they were indeed still in control. There is no tradition in this act. There is not even the half-hearted attempt to include other religions in the theocratic and political power display after the fashion of the US Congress. “Our Saviour” blessed what can only be seen as “our” meeting in “our” government. And if you do not believe or do not choose to participate in this arbitrary display of power and prejudice then you will be excluded and alienated from the very government you help to fund and create.

The early whispers from the Supreme Court are not promising for those who wish to see the secular consensus preserved. The self and media styled moderates hem and haw about process and difficulty in compromising, the liberals sit alone and impotent, and the conservatives pontificate about the plight of public religion and the kooky sects that hilariously wish to be involved in civil discourse and society. Scalia chuckles about how to accommodate “Devil Worshipers” and “Pagans”, convenient and mocking stand ins and for the real issue at hand, which is the real and violated opinions and rights of a Jew and an atheist.

But why are we, and our dark, id like reflection the media, surprised that this is going on? There has never been a moment in US history where the rights of religious minorities or non-believers have gone uncontested, unviolated. Christianity in the US, first Protestantism and increasingly Catholicism and Fundamentalist iterations of both, is not so much a simple religion as a system of power. It is a convenient mask for the plans and schemes of business interests, government powerbrokers, and entrenched class prerogatives. Hannah Arendt, a philosopher who chose to largely withdraw from the public sphere and its constant set of contradictions and violent betrayals, spoke to a Danish audience on the occasion of her being awarded the Sonning Prize about the concept and origin of the term persona. She relates how it originally referred to both the voice of the actor in a Greek theatrical production sounding through the mask they were assigned as a part of their role on stage, and the mask itself. Arendt explains how the Romans took this concept to mark as true and fully represented citizens those who would wear the persona of one who would adhere to the norms and the beliefs of the society at large. To participate in this civil masquerade was, and remains, to acknowledge its power and its prerogative. To perform the role expected of you is the only route to complete and total acceptance into society and its obligations and opportunities. She goes on to say that her only wish, as a person deserving of rights, liberties, protection, is to move about in society without this required persona in her “naked thisness”, herself as she is to herself and without reference or compliance that declare themselves to be in control of the access to society and its systems.2

We can only hope that the court will see that the best interests of society are served only when the persona demanded by the prevalent religion or political powers that be is set aside in favor of a equal and benevolent silence on all matters theocratic. We can hope, but we must not pray.

1. “Town Divided As Prayer Case Heads to the Supreme Court” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/06/nyregion/town-divided-as-prayer-case-heads-to-supreme-court.html?_r=0

2. Pages 12-14, Prologue, Responsibility and Judgement, Arendt, Hannah, Random House, 2003

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Philosophy

Outline for a Feasible Utopia: Part I

futurist3

Scenario: Humanity has reached a point as a species where they are capable of mastering their own bodies and environment to a point where complete social, political, religious and ethnic harmony has been reached. Human beings no longer fear war, famine, disease or a lack of basic resources. The population has stabilized to a much more sustainable 2 billion people. These people are spread out in 100 population centers of 20 million, each with an equitable and sustainable amount of natural resources.

 

Each center, called a Region, is administered by a representative body that consists of 2000 individuals voted for at 2 year intervals who each serve one term that cannot be repeated. The people vote directly for the representative individuals and they pass laws on a simple up or down majority vote. Each Region is further divided into 100 Segments, each with a population of 200 thousand. These Segments are administered by a representative body of 200 people that functions in the same way that the Region representative body does. There is no executive official or branch and the judiciary is staffed only by those voted into their office by the people after being nominated by the Law University at which they were educated. Voting is administered through a computer system that allows every person over the age of 14 in the Region one vote on every issue or candidate, and each person over 14 in a Segment will be allowed to vote on issues and representation pertaining to their Segment.

 

All people are educated in a local school from age 10 to 18, with an option at the age of 18 to leave schooling and join a trade. Students are educated in mathematics, the sciences, civics, philosophy, history, art, music, writing, and rhetoric. Psychological examinations and consultations along with the skills and interest will help the students determine what area of study they would like to pursue. Entrance into a University at the age of 18, assuming one does not choose to leave school and apprentice in a trade, is automatic upon successful completion of basic schooling. Successful completion will be determined by the grades of the students seen in context of any mental, physical, emotional, or otherwise mitigating handicap the child may have and also with an eye towards the interests and skills of the individual child. No child will ever be denied entry into a University who has not received the complete and unbiased assistance of the school and its staff. If a child is not deemed able to attend University for any reason they will be given whatever assistance they may need in placing themselves in a trade or in the case of a more serious mental or physical disability they and their families will be provided with all necessary aid and assistance needed to care for the child throughout the course of its life. All local schools in a Segment will be given equal resources and training to meet the needs of their student body.

 

University education lasts from age 18 to 25, or earlier depending upon successful completion of the chosen curriculum. Each Segment has 3 Universities, one a Liberal and Creative Arts School, one a Technical School dealing with the Biological, Physical, Medical, Agricultural, Engineering, and Computing Sciences, and a Law and Civics School. All Universities are run by the people of the various Segments in trust and all official decisions pertaining to the administration of University are voted on by the people. The various departments of the Universities, and the content of their curriculum, will be administered by graduates of the University. For example, graduates of the History program will vote on who will run the departments and subjects making up their program and on what will or will not be part of the curriculum. This will be the case throughout all the disciplines with consideration given to the unique circumstances of each discipline. It will also be graduates of the various programs who will review and publish studies and papers pertaining to their discipline.

 

No person is allowed to go without clean and comfortable housing, no person is allowed to go hungry or to go without necessary health care both physical and mental. No person is allowed to live without the ability to explore the world around them or to travel to wherever they need or desire to go. No person will ever be treated as less than a whole and unique human being; this is true regardless of sex, sexual orientation, physical appearance, age, health, size, ability, intellectual and/or physical, or personal belief, so long as these beliefs do not infringe upon the needs and health and safety of others. One will be judged only on their ability to execute their chosen profession or field of study to the satisfaction of the requirements thereof and/or on their treatment of their fellow human beings.

 

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