Religion


What Now?

I did not deny God’s existence, but I doubted His absolute justice.
- Elie Wiesel, “Night.”

I’ve been reading a few pages, each evening, of “Night” by Elie Wiesel. I can only take a few pages before I have to set it down. I inwardly shout, “Get out! Leave! Now! Run!” Night recounts Wiesel’s experience as a Romanian Jew during the Holocaust. It is profoundly sad. I can only internalize so much of his account before I become anxious and unsettled.

When I heard of the Connecticut massacre, of 20 children dying (seven adults, too) I was immediately sickened, physically nauseated by the senselessness of killing babies. You ask yourself, “How can this be? How can slaughtering innocence ever be contemplated, let alone acted upon? Why would this happen?”

That’s really not the question needing asked. But rather, how was this massacre perpetrated? (Answer: see assault weapons.)

The timeless question for our species is why is man so prone to violence, so willing to hurt and humiliate?

I was taken aback by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s observation on the Connecticut massacre that, “We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?” I found his comments both disgusting and surprising.

Surprising from the perspective that I thought, Huckabee, as an ordained Southern Baptist minister, would have emphasized that God is present everywhere and always. He suggests the contrary. That because prayers are not offered in public schools, what? Death and mayhem shall ensue?

As a non-believer in a personal god, I find such questions intriguing. In the 2011, visually stunning movie, Tree of Life, a character observes, “He sends flies to wounds he should heal.” He, of course, is God. It’s a legitimate observation to me. One, I imagine, discussed from church pulpits all over America last Sunday. It is a question that can only be finessed because that is exactly what the Old Testament God does time and time again.

It begs, however, the question, “Why?” I have questioned the existence of God ever since I was old enough to realize that really bad things happen to good people. Why? Where was God during the Holocaust? Or, during the Trail of Tears? Or, the Moro Massacre? Or, Sandy Hook Elementary School? Was God’s attention diverted, busy creating other universes? Discussing whom to smite with Archangels Gabriel and Michael? Was God on vacation?

I don’t think that is the case because if I were an omnipotent, omniscient, forever-always-present God, I would know that Adam Lanza would on December 14, 2012 systematically execute innocence. These children had no choice of “free will.” If I knew humanity was capable of the Holocaust, would I (God) not reasonably tweak ever so slightly my design of mankind?

Why were children massacred in Newtown? Because a mentally deranged man had ready access to assault weapons. He went off the reservation of “acceptable” human behavior.

No, a far better question is how was the act accomplished? To the degree we can identify and help the mentally ill is one issue, with what ease (how) we slaughter each other is quite another.
Happiness is not a warm gun. John Lennon knew that.

Mankind must remember that peace is not God’s gift to his creatures; peace is our gift to each other. Elie Wiesel

What now?

Whammy Burger Nation

The Platonic idealist is the man by nature so wedded to perfection that he sees in everything not the reality but the faultless ideal which the reality misses… George Santayana

Irony, of late, has garnered a bad name. Sincerity is the valued coin of the realm these days. And so it is with the burgeoning Secessionist Movement, where disillusioned Americans petition to withdraw from the Union. My inclination is to ridicule such sentiments particularly since the location of secessionist rhetoric is centered in the Heart of Dixie. I do attach racist and nativist underpinnings to the Secessionist “argument” but I think something else is going on as well.

An appropriate illustration of where a number of our fellow citizens find themselves (me, too, at times) is in our sympathy for the character Michael Douglas plays in the 1993 movie “Falling Down.” Douglas portrays a recently laid off defense contractor employee, William Foster. Foster is divorced, disillusioned, depressed and in despair. All he wants is to attend his daughter’s birthday party but has a restraining order against him by his divorced wife. Caught in LA freeway traffic, he abandons his car and begins the long walk across the city to see his daughter.

Foster has many run-ins on his journey crossing a modern American hell but the classic confrontation (for me) occurs in a fastfood restaurant featuring the Whammy Burger. Foster orders off a visual menu showing the quintessential perfect hamburger—The Whammy Burger—photographed to steaming culinary perfection. Alas, when it arrives, it is anything but. It’s pathetic. Soggy bread, wilted lettuce and a piece of meat the size of a burnt quarter. What happens next is what all of us have all dreamed of—Walter Mitty-like—doing. Worth a look-see.

I liken the Secessionist mindset to Foster’s viewing of the perfect Whammy Burger. In the back of the Secessionist mind is some ideal of an American golden-age, a blessed America, of that “shining city on the hill.” Yet the reality of our pluralistic democracy, with all our diverse constituencies vying for power and preference, well, it is a shockingly rude slap to the face to those who have an idealized (or infantile) conception of American history. As has been observed the making of slaughterhouse sausage and representative democracy have much in common.

Secessionists lament the loss of freedom. I am unsure of what loss they mourn. I recently attended a private Shoot’N’Annie along the St. John’s River with enough guns and ammo to have respectably defended Stalingrad in 1943. I do not see any loss of freedom when it comes to the Second Amendment. No one is requiring anyone to attend a specific church. You definitely can speak your mind in America.

No, Jepson, loss of freedom when it comes to taxes and onerous regulations (like being required to contribute to your healthcare). Ah, taxes and regulations. “Oh, wouldn’t it be loverly” to again have an American population of 3.9 million, as was the United States in 1787, with an entire continent at your feet, virtually vacant, to exploit. Just over the next hill, the long arm of “that” onerous government nonexistent.

America was never the “faultless ideal,” the most perfect of Whammy Burger Nations. And this, Dear Reader, is what is. A diet of illusion and ignorance are always menu options in a democracy. What’s the tagline? Tastes Great! . . . Less filling! Not very sustaining in the long run, however. For the individual or the nation.

It’s All Mirth To Me.

But you’ve got to try a little kindness
You show a little kindness . . .
. . . overlook the blindness
Of the narrow minded people
On the narrow minded street.

Glen Campbell

I get sorrow. I do. It’s part and parcel with being human. Lives abruptly end, rudely out of natural “sequence” (my incredible sister Susan for example, a son in Afghanistan or a child at birth). Floods (see: Katrina/Sandy) wash away our possessions (mom & dad’s treasured marriage certificate and photos – my gawd how young and beautiful and full of life they were!). Relatives/friends deconstruct in real time—over decades no less—sorrowfully sucking the joy out of daily life. Tragedy (sorrow) is one job loss, one car accident, one diagnosis, one fall, one moment away.

And then you die. I am 63 and by my reckoning I have 19 years remaining. And I am completely okay with that. My grandfather lived until age 83, my father until age 81. I’m splitting the difference. I’ve eaten far less red meat and consumed but a mere fraction of the whiskey they downed. Each generation, however, has its vices. I’ve also been exposed to far more pesticides and industrial chemicals/additives—we’ve all been—than our parents and grandparents. I will, however, be extremely disappointed (and will, indeed, rage) if I do not get my full 82 years. Give or take six months.

Intellectually, I am disappointed that this shell called Christopher Robin, like all human carapaces is built for speed (metaphorically speaking – our all too brief life spans) and not for the long haul (hundreds/thousands of years— as some trees for example).

My death does not in the least perplex me. I wish I could have it “all” but, alas, sigh, my end is knowable and certain. I entertain no fantasy of an everlasting afterlife sitting at God’s feet, in raptured bliss, singing hosannas to His splendiferous magnificence. That is so much nonsense (to me). Asserting there is life after death is a mythology, a bridge to get “you” through the darkness of that long night (the realization and disappointment accompanying the finality of individual human existence).

Some argue that in order to rein in humanity’s excesses, religion was created (by man) and the cudgel of “judgment” the ultimate instrument of control. What you do in this life determines the quality of your next existence. The Ancient Egyptians had Ma’at. She weighed souls in the underworld and a “feather” was the measure of whether or not your ultimate destination was paradise. Christian beliefs are essentially not much different.

It’s all myth to me. Or, shall I say, it’s all mirth to me.

Ah, the timeless question. If there is no personal god, no life after death, how then shall we behave today? If I am not going to be judged—rewarded or punished—why act one way or another?

I find this question infantile. You don’t rape your neighbor’s daughter because you might go to hell?

We’re a young species, out of the trees, walking upright but for a brief few moments (relatively speaking). We’re (humanity) making it up as we go.

This Thanksgiving, let’s all pursue, as pragmatist Richard Rorty recommended, “The creation of a world in which tenderness and kindness are the human norm.”

Yes, as Otis Redding once so melodically sang, “Try a little tenderness.”

Make that your Thanksgiving grace. For all seasons.

All Aboard!

There is a part of me that wants to be more detached from the daily hub-bub of modern life. I don’t want to care so much about who won Tuesday’s election or whether or not the Florida Constitution is amended—again—by right-wing craziness. Obama-Romney? Tweedle-dee-Tweedle-dum. But, but, but he’ll nominate Supreme Court judges who’ll, who’ll . . . Yep, he probably will. Yet, as Annie sings, “The sun will come out tomorrow.”

I’ve been reading of late on Epicureanism. I recommend, my informed reader, that you do as well. The faithful are typically told to dismiss Epicurus and his philosophy as treacherous hedonism because of his emphasis on the pursuit of pleasure and happiness. Oooooh. Nasty, nasty. Pleasure and happiness. Nasty. Read last year’s Pulitzer Prize winning book for history titled, The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt. Quite an enjoyable read on how the West (Europe) was fortuitously reintroduced to Epicurus in the 15th century.

Epicurus was a 3rd century BC Athenian philosopher who advocated sensible approaches to living, one of which, however, I have a hard time following. Epicureans avoided politics (governance), that hot, tumultuous cauldron of public life. Epicurus recommended we literally tend our “garden” and avoid the meaningless distractions from that riotous mob forever barking nonsense at your “garden’s” edge. Mind your own business, be contemplative, pursue friendships, live moderately, happiness and pleasure are life’s legitimate pursuits, think/live rationally and do not fear death. That is quite a reasoned agenda. And, one sadly at odds with our increasingly superstitious and religiously reactionary times.

I am drawn by the idea of withdrawal from society or, rather, withdrawing from actively participating in the idiocy of my fellow man.

I am such a fatalist, at this point, concerning the environment of Florida, or of any of the, as yet, still pristine parts of Earth. For that matter, I am beyond weeping for what “we” are losing or have already lost. Everyday a new report is issued on the ongoing rape of the planet. If Republicans think—really?—that women experience illegitimate rapes, one can only imagine their explanations for the ongoing rape of our Mother Earth. Democrats are complicit as well in the desecration of the planet. It’s all a matter of degree, of proportionality. It’s all about jobs don’t-cha see.

As well it should be. Seven billion swilling at the trough today, another two billion predicted to arrive this century. 310 million Americans today, perhaps 500 million before 2100? Won’t that be just great, so environmentally healthy for North America? Sustainability? Why consider such nonsense?

Our industrial farming is poisoning our land and water and our agricultural practices are washing our topsoil at record levels to the sea.

Our military is a bloated albatross around our national neck but instead of lightening the burden we forever mindlessly salute the Stars & Stripes and look for other world “opportunities” to liberally impose democracy at the end of an American gun barrel.

I enjoy mindless bromides such as, “There is no I in Team.” Well, we’ve reached a point where, “There is no “WE” in America.” Our politics, our leaders, our policies are obscene.

Perhaps this is what fixes our interest and participation. With fingers splayed, we watch transfixed at this utterly fascinating train-wreck called humanity. Such art! Obscene? You bet! But, my gawd show me more.

Mr. Conductor, puh-leeese, punch my ticket through to the end of the line.

I’m going all the way! Woo-Woo!

I See Republicans . . .

Recall the 1999 Bruce Willis movie titled The Sixth Sense. Out of that quite good little drama came the now famous line, “I See Dead People. And They Don’t Like You.” That catchy expression morfed into many variations but my t-shirt favorite went, “I Hear Voices . . . And They Don’t Like You.”

I’ve been trying to understand what is going on in the Republican Party when it comes to women, their bodies, sex and fertility. It’s essentially a male run concern, the Republican Party, although you have a predictable number of Republican women serving as faithful acolytes. Outliers, if you will, at odds, in their solidarity with their American sisters at large.

American women who willingly participate in their own subjugation remind me of those unfortunate women who perform the barbaric female genital mutilations in Sudan and Somalia. No woman, free of male domination (thinking), would voluntarily oppress other women in such ways.

It is as if Republican men are ignorant of history. For past 8,000 years, the male boot has been firmly placed on the neck of females. I do not know if we’ll ever understand the historical origins of why men came to consider women as “less” than men, but it is undeniable that that is/was the case. Bigger, more ferocious, men like to dominate.

Religions, too, historically, have played a tragic role in the marginalization of women. Although, interestingly enough, it was Martin Luther who, during the 16th century Reformation, jump-started the change in the status of women. He advocated that women be taught to read (imagine that!) and he married (radical idea: a married clergy). Educating women (reading) was the game-changer, however.

Go back and examine the status of Western women even during our more enlightened times. They were hardly enlightened for women. Plato’s Greece, The Renaissance, The Age of Reason were all unquestionably oppressive for women. In 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft issued her now seminal A Vindication Of The Rights of Woman and the case for female equality was formally up for public discussion.

It took until the mid-19th century before British women could make any claim to personal property or even to her own wages. Reflect one second on this fact: the United States gave the right to vote to emancipated male slaves—SLAVES—decades before America’s daughters were afforded that right. That is how little women were considered.

There was a time in my grandmother’s adult life when she could not vote. Less than 100 years ago, American women could not vote. That is a nano-second ago, historically speaking.

The Republican Party is the party of female oppression. It revolves around who will control a woman’s sexuality and fertility. The Republican Party Platform (Mitt Romney & Paul Ryan) would have the government, for all intents and purposes, regulating and managing a woman’s uterus. Will our daughters someday—upon the onset of menses—be required to register their uteruses to ensure their compliance with state fertility laws?

Abortion, birth control, fertility, reproductive prerogatives are individual, fundamental female (human) rights. To interject the state into this dynamic is totalitarian and unacceptable.

Republicans would deny female autonomy, would continue to place the historical boot heel of oppression upon the necks of our daughters. Expect each American woman to think and act for herself.

I See Republicans . . . And They Don’t Respect Women.

Vote accordingly.

Putting the E in Human

Much has been made this election season over which candidate is telling the truth. Or, presenting “the” facts. I am not sure of the relevance of truth but I do believe uncertainty is critical in a democracy such as ours. Certainty cuts off dialog, limits conversation and is anathema to developing imaginative solutions to societal issues.

My favorite book of the past 20 years begins with, “About two hundred years ago, the idea that truth was made rather than found began to take hold of the imagination of Europe.” I highly recommend Richard Rorty’s “Contingency, irony, and solidarity.” His observation about truth being made rather than found crystallized for me a way of thinking about myself and my place in society at large.

I consider myself, philosophically, a pragmatist. Pragmatism was an early 20th century American philosophy that can, perhaps, be best summarized by “whatever works, is likely true.” As reality changes, so too, “whatever works.” Truth varies. Truth is changeable. No one possesses the ultimate truth. We should avoid seeking anything metaphysical, the truth of an idea is in its observable results.

Rorty was a pragmatist. He wrote, “Modern, literate, secular societies depend on the existence of reasonably concrete, optimistic and plausible scenarios, as opposed to scenarios about redemption beyond the grave.” Too much of our national conversation today is overly concerned with matters of faith and truth. Rather our conversation be a discussion of developing workable ideas to alleviate the suffering and humiliation of our fellow citizens.

Poverty, for example, confronts us all daily. Regardless of whether we are impoverished ourselves, it is hard to ignore the exit ramp veteran, hand out, dirty and demoralized. Or, the ubiquitous near toothless vagrant from public housing interviewed on TV about the recent mayhem besetting his neighborhood. Poverty is a factor of the human condition. Deuteronomy 15:11 says, “There will always be poor people in the lands.” That observation is as accurate today as it was when written thousands of years ago. But because poverty and despair are part and parcel of the human condition does not absolve our nation—you and I, America collectively—from pursuing solutions.

We once, too many decades ago, had a “War on Poverty.” Many argue it failed. It didn’t accomplish its goals. Poverty persisted. It was too expensive. The results were ambiguous. Besides, the Bible says, “There will always be poor people.” As if that is an argument for doing less.

So many clichés that do not really reflect the reality of being impoverished in America. “The poor need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” Or, “Being broke is a temporary situation. Being poor is a state of mind.” Or, “Our life of poverty is as necessary as the work itself. Only in heaven will we see how much we owe to the poor for helping us to love God better because of them.” What a crock. All of it.

The measure of a culture is how well it takes care of its least capable citizens (its children in particular). Because we once waged war on poverty—yet the poor remain—does not mean we do not pursue pragmatic approaches to alleviating the suffering in America. There are no certain remedies. But we must be relentless in our attempts.

To be truly human is to be humane. Make that truth, you.

I Am A Liberal.

I am a liberal. Probably not your typical liberal as I genuinely do believe, “The cowards never started and the weak died along the way.” That’s an unattributed observation describing American pioneers who walked alongside their Conestoga wagons to Oregon in the 1840s.

I am a liberal who does not want to support other men’s children. I don’t. Do not have children you cannot afford or are unwilling to parent. That goes for the women associated with such men. Do not breed unless you have the wherewithal to support your progeny. Have the decency and self-respect to take care of you and yours.

That said I am a liberal who believes everyone who is here today is part of the Home Team. Everyone. Addled homeless war vets, too.

Children, however, do not ask to be born to mindless, irresponsible, impoverished (fiscally, emotionally, intellectually) parents. They arrive and as such it behooves us (America) as a culture to make sure that their parent’s “shortcomings” are not visited upon their progeny. To break the circle of poverty, we must invest in America’s mothers and in prenatal care. We must provide (encourage) safe, accessible and affordable birth control to limit the number born to impoverished Americans. Nutrition, housing, healthcare and education for all our children are societal obligations. Half measures, as are readily apparent, produce stunted children, ensuring that the cycle of poverty is perpetuated.

I am a liberal who does not believe “jobs” is the answer to “all” our problems. Our environment is crumbling (melting if you will) before our eyes. The coming havoc that is on our horizon—once thought to be a century away—may yet arrive fully realized in my lifetime. Half of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is dead or dying from acidification and rising oceanic temperatures. The Northwest Passage we all learned about in grade school will soon be a reality. Imagine the day—that will arrive—when the waters from the Himalayan glaciers no longer flow into India and China. Imagine when the Colorado watershed cannot sustain the populations of America’s West?

I am a liberal and I do not care one iota what religious beliefs you embrace in order to make sense of our world of sorrow. I laugh out loud at Christians who say Mormonism is nothing more than a bizarre sect. That getting your own planet upon death is just too far out, yet God sending Himself to be tortured, to die on a cross for our sins, only to be literally resurrected is somehow more believable.

I am a liberal who does care, however, if your religious beliefs impair the national conversation by limiting the discussion of how we rationally, reasonably address issues of climate change, environmental desecration, population control and women’s rights.

I am a liberal who feels too much humanity, too many hungry mouths at the trough is not some divine plan but a catastrophe building upon itself. Why, if America has so many impoverished—even in the best of economic times—why is another 200 million citizens acceptable population growth?

I am a liberal who believes “humans” are shortly out-of-the-trees (so to speak) and that we are quite nasty little monkeys still learning how to live harmoniously together as a species.
If we worship anything, it should be in our ability to rationally construct a better future. For all Americans.

I am a liberal and that just may not be in our cards (future).

The Message Versus The Messenger

A gentleman provided a letter to Monday’s (10/01) Orlando Sentinel that read in part, “If it’s God’s word . . . there needs to be no discussion – end of story.” He closes with, “God’s word is final and supreme in the United States of America.”

This is “red meat” rhetoric of a Bible literalist. I sometimes fanaticize about publically debating such an individual (Possible topic: “Is a belief in a personal god necessary for living an ethical life?), but then realize what would be the point? I’d stand-up and give what I believe in and why (something along the lines of the Crash Davis, “I Believe In. . .” speech from the movie Bull Durham). The opposition would stand and say, in essence, “Cuz the Bible says it’s so.” I’d offer some facts (science/logic/history). He’d respond with dogma/scripture/faith. And, as is said, “never the twain shall meet.”

He’d leave the debate thinking me a “damned” apostate and I considering him little better than the village simpleton.

One of the real joys in living in 21st century America (the West) is we can experience our individual lives (generally speaking) without fear of censorship or repression by the state. Believe what you will but mind your own business – that’s the ticket to a free society. Unfortunately, my conviction of “Believe what you will and MYOB” bumps into the prescriptive dogma of the religiously certain. You see this when it comes to such issues as stem cell research, abortion rights, birth control, Gay rights, Gay marriage, women’s rights, censorship, climate change, population control, stewardship of the Earth, etc. And, unbelievably, facts are irrelevant.

Facts are irrelevant? If I were to characterize one of the most troubling changes in America during my lifetime it would be the diminution of fact as the basis of discussion and public discourse. I believe as Daniel Patrick Moynihan observed, “You’re entitled to your own opinions. You’re not entitled to your own facts.”

Here’s the crux of the challenge facing America. We’ve substantive problems needing to be addressed. We know what they are. Poverty. Opportunity. Racism. Education. Economic viability. Sustainability. Infrastructure. Environment. Imperialism. Healthcare. And on and on. The polarization we see in America has a number of explanations but one of the primary reasons is, again, as Senator Moynihan pointed out, “You’re not entitled to your own facts.”

Oh, I can hear the objections now, “Jepson, who died and made you Pope? Such that “YOU” get to determine what is fact?” I don’t. But I will rely on learned, scholarly minds, scientifically-based research and reason to make a decision or formulate public policy. And here’s the rub, whether you are conservative or liberal in perspective, who “gives” you the facts is often as important (sadly so) as the facts themselves.

In other words, the messenger is as important as the message. Imagine if Billy Graham’s last words to the faithful were, “God wants you to cherish Mother Earth as fervently as you love God Himself. The environmental desecration of the planet must stop today. It is sinful not to.”

Or, if Bill Clinton said, “We need to means-test Medicare.”

Opinions—even ones we don’t like—should stand on their own merits (Just the facts, Ma’am.). Sometimes, however, they are more palatable when they “stand” on the shoulders of those we already believe.

What’s Wrong With Republican Men?

What is it about “modern” women that Republican men just cannot seem to stomach? Is it that women have minds of their own? Is that it? Or, is it that they have bodies Republican men want to manage? What a shame, huh, that “those” bodies come with minds unfortunately attached, well, at least in Republican circles.

Republican autocrats, ur, excuse me, Republican politicians nationwide feel they are on a quest to save women from themselves. How so, you might legitimately ask? Women have bodies, their own for example, that they simply cannot mange without the “authority” of the state. Ironically, tragically, that is the Republican position.

The typical American woman is incapable of managing her own body. Because of this obvious “biological” fact, Republican public policy argues that the state (government) is morally obligated to supervise “her” fertility, “her” sexuality, “her,” in other words.

Big Brother may be dead in the old Soviet Union but is alive and well in the American gulag (gutter) of Republican politics.

I return to my opening question, what is it about women that Republican men simply cannot tolerate? Is it that women are, in fact, too stupid to manage their own lives, their own bodies? Is that it? Women are simply too stupid. Or, is it that women are obviously too emotional to handle that task? You know, women are so awash in “monthly” hormones, well, their judgment, empirically impaired. Or, does Republican misogyny stem from Biblical pronouncements such as Genesis 3:16-19, “Your husband shall rule over you.” Husband, state, what’s the difference? Get a bridle on that gal.

Republican men nationwide, it would appear, are on a mission from God to save women from themselves. Interesting, however, America is not a theocracy.

What is it about female sexuality that so absorbs Republican men? Why would any reasonable, sane man have the temerity to think that he can legislate what a woman does with her body? Birth control? Abortion? Family planning? If and when to have a child? If and when to have a “fourth” child? These are so inherently personal, individual matters that it boggles the mind as to why Republican men are so intent on introducing the state into such private business.

Perhaps, as has been observed, all American women should incorporate their uteruses, then maybe Republican legislators would keep their hands (laws) off them. Are you laughing yet?

No. Because you have a Missouri Republican U.S. senate candidate (Todd Akin) arguing last week that, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down.” This Republican despot, ur, excuse me, honorable six-term member of congress was explaining why he opposed abortion rights even in a case involving your raped daughter and if, gosh, she unfortunately found herself pregnant.

Golleee, Gomer, I wonder what an illegitimate rape feels like?

I do not have a complete answer (Do you?) as to why Republican men do not sufficiently respect women to allow them the management of their own bodies. I do know that for the past thousands of years men have treated women like chattel, property to be managed and disposed of at will. It has only been in the last 200 years that there has been any movement for female equality.

Perhaps Republican men today are the last gasp of a dying, reactionary order. For our daughters, we can only hope.

Can We Talk?

When did it occur to you that maybe, perhaps, humans weren’t so good for the planet? This is not a particular popular subject in Republican circles for two primary reasons. One is religion, the other is money. But both, however, are based on exploitation.

In Genesis 1:28 it is noted that God instructed Adam and Eve to, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

In the 1960s and 1970s a certain religious system developed out of that Biblical command called Dominion Theology. Regardless of your specific Fundamentalist beliefs the earth is an orchard to be plucked. Some mix in (of course) that diabolical Satan. In the mean time, if Earth is left a plundered, barren desert, well, it’ll all get worked out after the Rapture.

A much more time-honored justification for raping the planet is based strictly on the economic behavior of greed and profits. Exploiting the environment is hardly a new human phenomenon. Whenever or wherever humans have concentrated the environment has suffered. There have been countless historical extinctions (or near extinctions) tied to overpopulation, land exploitation and inclement weather. From the Tigris-Euphrates River valley civilizations to China to Easter Island to the Ancient Mesoamerican cultures, humans have come and gone predicated on ill-informed behavior and poor decisions.

We might cut our ancestors a little slack because they did not have our extensive knowledge, based on science, of exactly how inter-connected human behavior and the environment truly is. That cannot be said of 21st century mankind, however.

It dawned on me when I was in my 30s of exactly how lethal humans are to our planet. We are the first generation of human beings to fully comprehend that we are unequivocally murdering our Mother. We are causing the extinction of countless species. It was recently announced that within my daughter’s lifetime all the coral in all our seas will be dead. Go ahead, shed a tear. Gone. I am confident much of the world’s rain forest will be logged. Every month it is said China brings on line yet another coal powered electrical plant with the resulting environmental degradation.

The question becomes, “What should we do about it?” Actually, a more honest question is, “Is there anything we can do about it?”

This is where I differ with my more optimistic friends. Oh, humanity will survive, of that I am confident.

This is the problem. Every attempt at a realistic planet-wide environmental solution to limit climate change and species extinction(s) will essentially be met with one word: jobs. We’ve billions of human beings here and billions more on the way, all requiring housing, food and clean water (that’s at a minimum). Add any modern amenities (AC, color TVs, cell phones, cheeseburgers, a Prius or toilet paper) and for every human added, the planet incrementally suffers. It’s a fact, Jack.

One of the best scenes in the movie “The Matrix” is when the villain, Agent Smith (ironically, a software program) compares humanity to a virus, a disease organism that would replicate uncontrollably until our environment (Earth) was destroyed. Which, if art imitates nature, pretty much sums-up our future.

Is that, indeed, Earth’s prospects? With the two types of Republicans in control, any different outcome is, well, doubtful.

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