Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What do you think?

I say think and thought a lot.  Too much I know.  Blame Mr. Foster.  He was my 10th grade algebra teacher.  He never talked about thinking but he had, on his cork board, a big poster with one word.  With a blue background and big black letters, it said - THINK.

Truly, by then I didn't need much encouragement.  I had already begun to question some of the things I was brought up to believe.  Sure, Muslims were infidels.  But were Catholics and campbellites* and holy rollers* going to hell too?  Just because they weren't Baptists?  And what about those names?  Wasn't that the same as the jerk who had failed two grades by the 7th and lived just to torment us?  Hey fatty!*  Hey sissy boy!*  I think it was about that time I learned my first curse word - asshole.  But it was awhile yet before I began to think.

It was about the time I saw Mr. Foster's poster.  By then I had become aware of things like segregation and labotomies and hate crimes.  But it really didn't take much thought to hate these things.  Just a little would do.  Because society outside of my little backward part of the world had already begun to grapple with those issues.  So my first thought was that all you need do is accept change as it comes along, just stay current, just stay in
touch.

And that was fine for awhile.  But only awhile.  Soon there was this nagging realization that somewhere somebody had to think first - that nothing changed as long as everyone just kept up.  It wasn't good enough.  That society does not lead enlightenment, it follows.

Somebody has to look at integration and think and say that it is not enough.  Somebody has to empathize with the people and groups that suffer the humiliation of degrading names and say that's wrong.  Somebody has to say Muslims are not infidels.

I will throw in one caveat here.  There are some things I doubt I will ever accept.  For example, snake handlers.  I'm sorry folks but I can't wrap my arms around that.

So what is the point?

We have not reached the epitome of human enlightenment and understanding in August of 2013.  I am not sure we have even come close.  And here is the point - just because society deems something acceptable or unacceptable doesn't make it so.  We need to think, to examine our beliefs and not be satisfied to simply stay current.  And folks I may lose some of you here but I have to be honest.  That includes our religious beliefs.  My Father was a fundamentalist Baptist preacher, he practiced what he preached and in many ways he was a wonderful man.  In fact that is what was said at his funeral.  But there are many things he was wrong about and it was not easy coming to terms with that.

*I apologize for the names I've used here.  I felt I had no choice since I needed to establish a base for my argument.  And all of the concepts are things people have heard before.  I needed to refresh people's minds if possible so I decided once again to walk on the razor's edge.

23 comments:

ADRIAN said...

Another good read, it's a bit complicated before breakfast. It's a conundrum any time of the day.
I try and accept most things that come my way but it is often hard to do.
I don't believe in God so am spared the problems of deciding which God. This simplifies life considerably.

Andrew Leon said...

Well, I have a lot I could say, but it's late and I'm about to go to bed, so I'll just say that you've mirrored a lot that I've been saying on my blog for a long time, so, yeah: THINK.

David Oliver said...

Yes Adrian, that does simplify life considerably.

Mine is not simple yet but far more so than it was 30 years ago. I do believe in God but certainly not in any traditional way. I think he or it might be dark energy or some force we have yet to understand.

David Oliver said...

But I really did not mean this to be about God or religion per se except when it stands in the way of things that have been scientifically proven.

Gorilla Bananas said...

Campbellites and holy rollers - thank you for enlarging my vocabulary of weird names that don't sound very derogatory. Is it true that Baptists undergo full immersion in their baptisms? I'm not sure I could keep a straight face witnessing such an event. What's your opinion on speaking in tongues?

David Oliver said...

Well Andrew, there's not much I can say about your comment except thanks. There is likely a lot we could both say if we sat down face to face to talk.

David Oliver said...

Gorilla, I gave you the more educated version of Campbellite. We really called Church of Christ folks Camelites. Because down in my neck of the woods Campbell is/was pronounced camel. The name came from John Campbell I believe who established the church but I haven't actually researched that.

As for the Holy Rollers, that was the nickname for members of the Pentecostal Church. So called because they would sometimes get down on the floor and roll over I guess while speaking in tongues. Andrew can tell you a whole lot more about that than I can because I only know what I've heard and he's researched it.

But since you asked my opinion, here it is. I do not believe there is any such thing. I do believe people sincerely think there is. But people can convince themselves of all kinds of things. At some point didn't the Incas or Aztecs or some such tribe sacrifice young girls to their God? That is bound to have taken some mighty powerful believing.

David Oliver said...

Oh I forgot, the immersion thing. Yep, total immersion. At least they did when I was a kid and we didn't have those baptismal things or whatever they're called in a church. We had to go to the nearest creek or pond that was deep enough. The preacher would hold a handkerchief over your nose and mouth and lay you backwards into the water. He baptised you "in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost."

And no, he didn't just hold his hand on top of your head and duck you. :)

Yorkshire Pudding said...

"We have not reached the epitome of human enlightenment and understanding in August of 2013." I am sure you are right but it is so easy to buy into the illusion that humanity has reached its zenith in the here and now. Walking across mysterious Arbor Low the other day, I had the feeling that most of those ancient people would have felt that mankind had truly "arrived". Before electricity, before paper, before engines. On the other hand, perhaps they were right. Maybe it's all been downhill since then.

David Oliver said...

What an interesting thought! You might be right if you compare what that society could have been with what ours is today. In my mind some of what society deems proper now is not what is best for mankind, animals or this planet. It is to some extent based on corporations seeking higher profit, church doctrine, greed and list goes on.

The Crow said...

Good post, David. Much to think about, no pun intended.

Should Fish More said...

David, you touched on many things in this post, I'll just comment on one for the sake of brevity. Thinking. I'm taking this to mean critical thinking, examining an issue to see if it holds up to a evidence-based scrutiny.

We live in a somewhat bipolar society; we learn, hopefully, scientific thinking in school, while at the same time being asked to take many things on faith. Not just religion, though that's a good example, but also in deciding for ourselves many things. We're asked to believe that our leaders are acting in our best interest without being given evidence. "The NSA is acting in our best interest, I can't tell you how, that's a secret, but they are."

Being asked to accept faith-based teaching in our schools, a US senator saying he doesn't believe in evolution, a candidate for our presidency saying that his campaign wouldn't be bound by facts....we're encourage to accept without facts daily.

Looking at an issue critically, examining the premises, the pro and con arguments, and weighing the evidence takes time. And sometimes the evidence isn't clear one way or another. Often, in fact. And then we're left with 'perhaps, under some circumstances, but not in others.' And we're ill-equipped to deal with that, we want it simple. We want our information in 15 second bites, on a 3X4 smartphone screen.

I've seen on blog comments the acronym TLTR. Too long to read. What can one say to that? We're well down this path, and where it leads is unfortunate for a society.

David Oliver said...

Thank you Martha. A pun intended would be fine as well. I like puns. :)

David Oliver said...

Mike, reading your comment this time is very near like reading my own thoughts. There is a lot I could say but it would pretty much just be mirroring what you've said.

Kenneth Noisewater said...

We do still have a long way to go. I enjoyed this post.

I think your old school teacher's poster should be posted up most anywhere these days.

David Oliver said...

Thanks Kenneth. Yep, about the poster. I should probably put one on my front door just to remind people since I don't see them anywhere else these days.

A Beer For The Shower said...

I actually love this particular topic. It's so stupid and trivial when we throw around terms like "my God" and the very derogatory "YOUR God". Whatever God we come from, we all come from the same one, and splitting hairs means nothing. Just because I call him God and others call him Yahweh and others call him Allah doesn't mean we're all taking to different entities.

Also, I knew a girl in high school who was Baptist and firmly believed I was going to hell because I was in a slightly different sect of Christianity. Because even though we fundamentally believed the same things God is very big on splitting hairs over denomination.

This reminds me of a great joke from Emo Phillips. It's a long one, so I won't paste it, but I'll link it here. So true.

Emo Phillips - guy on a bridge

David Oliver said...

I knew sort of what was coming on Emo's joke but still laughed out loud at the punch line. Thanks guys, it was great!

Yeah, I'm past all that about who's right and who's wrong when it comes to churches/sects. People in the same church can't agree and I think that's why Emo's joke struck me as so funny. There was a big controversy in the last church I went to about rewards in heaven. Some thought the harder you worked for the Lord here on earth the bigger your crown would be in heaven. Some thought not, all crowns would be the same size. I assume that is relative to head size. They really didn't get into design or jewels...

Jenny Woolf said...

I used to think that things were getting better and (I don't know whether I was just young and naive) they did seem to be. But now it's all moving back again. Maybe human beings just go in cycles.

Nevertheless, read a bit of history and about what went on and things are still a whole load better now. I'd rather live now than in any other century.

Hope it stays that way!

David Oliver said...

Hi Jenny, thanks for visiting my blog. I had certainly rather live now than anytime in the past and if I could choose I would live a couple hundred years in the future! Because I think we might take two steps forward and one step (maybe even more than one step) back sometimes but we always progress eventually.

I took a quick look at your blog and I like it. Really pleasing picture you have posted at the heading. And speaking of heading I'll head back over there for a more in depth look.

Carol in Cairns said...

Jenny has a great blog David. I have been following her for a little while. On your dilemma, the word that comes to me is entropy. But the question is are we experiencing that or not? I think we are evolving as a species (and I say that without any scientific basis). I just listen to so much on the radio mostly these days (rather than TV) where we are trying to be more responsible, more aware. And maybe the only rule of thumb should be leaving things in a better shape than how we found them ~ for all things concerned. Too deep!

David Oliver said...

Yes there are lots of people on TV, the radio, on the internet attempting to convince us of their particular belief. In addition society dictates many rules of behavior. All I'm saying is none of it should be automatically accepted. People can and should think for themselves but it is most important to accommodate all life in that thinking, that society should be a broad umbrella capable of accepting a wide range of beliefs and actions rather than encouraging or forcing people to conform. The worst society that anyone can imagine for the future is where everyone looks and acts the same. But yet, none of us really want to be considered "different." That is one of the things I think we need to get past.

Carol In Cairns said...

Had to just pop back and see if I had said something offensive yesterday? Will be sorry not to see your comments on my blog. Thank you for visiting in the past.

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