The biosphere and human civilization can not afford 4 years of inaction and reversals of the modest climate change policies that have been enacted over the last 8 years. We need a U.S. president, as well as a U.S. Senate and Congress, that will not only support policies like the Clean Power Plan and treaties like the Paris Climate Agreement we need one who will build upon them because the international community’s current commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions fall far short of what is needed to ensure, or even make it likely, that the earth of the late 21st century will be as biodiverse and inhabitable as the earth of the early 21st century. Obviously climate change isn’t the only important issue in this election but I think it’s the most important as well as the most neglected. If you take a few steps back and take a broader more long-term worldview I’m confident you will agree.
If you’re eligible please don’t leave this election and the health of this planet to chance. Be sure to vote and encourage others to join you in making sure climate change deniers do not get elected president, senator, or congressperson.
Another thing that was discussed in last night’s debate was Islamophobia so I wanted to briefly say what I think that is and isn’t.
Islamophobia isn’t wanting to keep people who live by their own set of medieval laws which make women second class citizens and make it dangerous to be gay, lesbian, or a freethinker out of your country; nor is it wanting to make it illegal for the people already in your country to wear burqas and similar identity concealing attire in public places and to dress children in such attire.
Islamophobia is wanting to ban all people who identify as Muslim from entering your country regardless of how they interpret and practice their religion. We shouldn’t be so afraid of being labeled intolerant that we tolerate things which should not be tolerated, nor should we place an entire broad and diverse group of people into one small box and label it based upon the most abominable members of that group.
Today in an episode of Witness they recounted a story of child abuse and cover-up in the Catholic Church. I wonder how many people would continue to stick with and support a secular organization with a deep rooted and dark history of child abuse like that? After that I read about the White House being mad at Israel for deciding to build more settlements in occupied land and just after they closed the deal on 38 billion dollars in military aid. I wonder how much money the U.S. would give Israel and how Israel would justify it’s settlements if it weren’t a Jewish state that based its territorial claims on religious text? I also wonder how strong U.S. support for Israel would be if so much of the U.S. electorate didn’t identify as Christian?
Today I also read a story about a Dutch tourist in Myanmar where it’s illegal to “insult religion” who just got sentenced to 3 months hard labor for unplugging a loudspeaker near his hotel which was blasting a Buddhist sermon in the darkness of the late night or early morning. I wonder how much hard labor he would’ve been sentenced to if he unplugged the loudspeaker a group of people blasting a secular sermon about the threat of climate change and the role and animal agriculture plays in it? I’m guessing the people blasting such a much needed sermon into the darkness of the early morning would be the ones arrested and sentenced to hard labor for disturbing the peace and disrupting the much needed sleep of hundreds of people.
Religion should not be elevated above morality, exempt from laws, or protected from constructive criticism the same way secular ideas and activities aren’t.
P.S. Yesterday I was speaking with a couple from the States who were visiting from China where they had been living for the past few years. The husband was teaching English in a school and the wife taught English at home via the bible. She told me her students all thought that the bible was just some mythology and didn’t know its truth and I smilingly told her I agreed with the students. She seemed a bit surprised that I’d politely just slam it on the table like that as I stretched my wrists after a bouldering session on the beach. I still find it funny when people assume that since I’m white and speak English I must be Christian and talk to me like I’m on team Jesus when the only team I’m on is team Earth.
After she responded by telling me how she was born into a god loving faithful Christian family and disagreed with my assessment of the bible we went on chatting and she told me they had nine children and she made sure to add that they were all theirs, none of that silly adoption stuff for this fertile couple. As if having one or two kids isn’t bad enough they had nine! Moreover they were all home schooled by a faithful Christian mother so I expect those nine will produce many more. Genesis 1:28 “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” With so many people with an arrogant and anthropocentric attitude like that no wonder humanity along with the rest of the biosphere is in the ecological mess it’s in.
P.P.S. Today I saw a monk on the bus who refused to hand his ticket to the ticket lady. Instead he handed it to a random five year old boy who was seated with his mother and then the ticket lady took it from him. It reminded me of a Swiss handshake story earlier this year in which a teenage student refused to shake hands with his teacher because she was a women. I wouldn’t try to force or even encourage anyone to shake hands with anyone else but could some of you devout men please stop acting like any contact or interaction with a women such as a handshake or simply handing something over to them has to have some kind of an underlying inappropriate sexual meaning to it. Grow up, because if I become a bus driver and there’s a lady collecting tickets for me and you refuse to hand yours directly to her because it violates your religious beliefs then you will not ride on my bus.
The world doesn’t need another alpha male with a tendency to speak before they think leading a country especially one as powerful and influential as the United States.
Rodrigo Duterte’s Most Contentious Quotations
Philippine President Sorry, Not Sorry He Cursed Obama for Criticism of His Killing Spree
The more you think freely and amass knowledge the more you realize that the religion you were indoctrinated into and the country you were told to pledge allegiance to are just one of many within our fragile biosphere and that blind faith in either of them, or in a charismatic leader that claims to represent them, is what most often gets us humans into trouble.
Create your own culture, be your own leader, and strive to set a positive example for others.
Freedom of thought/expression and freedom from the threats/violence of those who hold opposing views is a fundamental human right. When this sacred right is threatened in any part of the world as global citizens we should all take note and speak up. The government of Bangladesh must do all it can to bring these murderers to justice and prevent similar tragedies from occurring again in the future.
Bangladesh students protest after blogger hacked to death
I just tried to send this to the Bangladeshi embassy in D.C. but the contact form on their website doesn’t work so I sent it to the Bangladeshi consulate in N.Y.C. and asked them to please forward it. I’m telling you this is to encourage you to speak out when you hear or see things that you do not accept and would like to see properly addressed provided you aren’t in a position properly address them yourself.
P.S. Free Raif Badawi
Religions are a vague and self-contradicting mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly which are up for interpretation by people who seek to exploit the faithful and by people that can’t let go of the psychological crutch that religion is for them. While seeking to positively influence the faithful we must strive to embody the human dignity and high moral standards that can be and often are associated with secular lifestyles and to continually improve the human rights and high standards of living that can be and often are enjoyed by people living in secular societies.
We should also candid because regardless of which version of a particular religion a person claims to be practice if they practice it in a way that violates basic morality and fundamental human rights they must be called out and society must seek to outlaw such practices. There’s no validity in any argument which claims that if you aren’t “one of them” you don’t have the right to criticize their culture because as humans we not only have the right but the responsibility to criticize other humans for inhumane and oppressive practices which lower the moral standing of our species.
Although I’m really not a fan of religion I respect the right of anyone to believe in whatever hocus-pocus they please. However I don’t respect or even accept when parents, teachers, and/or other insecure and misguided adults try to impose this hocus-pocus on children by threatening them with beatings and/or eternal suffering in a place they call “hell”. Forcing toddlers to wear a hijab in the 38C (100F) tropical heat is bad however I think forcing children as young as 10 to wear a niqab is even worse.
As other children were swimming/playing at the beach it was sad to see two poor girls have to drink their bottles of soda and eat their fried chicken by strategically placing it under and up their beekeeper suits. Not only could they not go swimming they weren’t even allowed to eat their food the way humans have for hundreds of thousands of years and that is NOT from underneath a black sheet with eye holes. Moreover the two older women they were with weren’t even wearing niqabs just hijabs which still make me cringe but at least they allow a person to eat and drink and have a face in society.
I’ve seen local women in beekeeper suits before and as sad as it is I’ve never said anything however I can’t be quiet if I see skinny little 12 year old girls forced to wear them so I politely I told the two adults that it was pitiful and that kids should be allowed to be kids and when they do grow up to decide for themselves whether or not they want to go through life dressed like that. They didn’t appear angry about me calling them out but thought it was amusing that I actually stopped my beach run to do so. Not that I could see their reactions or they’d have the courage speak but I’m guessing the two girls agreed with my comments.
In last nights debate when asked “To whom and for whom do you pray?” part of Hillary’s long-winded response was “I pray for the will of god to be known so that we can know it and to the best of our limited ability try to follow it and fulfill it.”. One of humanity’s biggest problems is precisely that too many people are trying to follow and fulfill god’s will. How are we going to solve such a problem and eliminate groups like ISIS and Boko Haram with the same kind of superstitious thinking? We don’t need a president who thinks like a jihadist nor do we need one that also said it was hard to imagine living under the pressure of being in the White House without being able to fall back on prayer and faith, and that she prays on a pretty regular basis during the day because she needs that strength and she needs that support.
I don’t want a president who needs that strength and support, I want one that has their own strength and relies on the support of advisers, experts, and the people; not on supernatural beings who depending on a president’s mood might give them the strength and support to drop bombs on innocent people like the children of ISIS members that Trump said he’d kill and who would inevitably die in one of Cruz’s proposed carpet bombing runs. Speaking of Cruz he just had a very good weekend beating or tying Trump in 3 of 4 states. Remember that Hillary loses to him in most of the polls. Not only do I not want to risk this I don’t even want to risk her running against Trump who polling projects her to beat but not by nearly as much as Bernie who can inspire a larger voter turnout and get votes from people across the political spectrum.
If you haven’t watched Pushed to the Edge I strongly recommend you do before reading this. It’s available on YouTube and the Channel 4 website. Continue reading
Yesterday in New Jersey the roof of a church collapsed onto a group of Sunday churchgoers. One person was seriously injured and about a dozen had minor injuries. According to the NPR News Podcast I was listening to on my way to buy vegetables the Mayor said something like “God was watching over them because it could have been much worse.”.
As any freethinking person would I thought if god was looking over them then why did he let a roof fall on their heads. After doing a search I discovered there have been a lot of church roofs falling on a lot of peoples heads. I’m not implying that there’s any connection, I’m just saying people in an old church worshiping god are no less likely to have a roof fall on their heads then are people in another old building worshiping the devil.
However could you imagine if the roof of one of those atheist churches collapsed and injured people. What do you think a frighteningly large portion of the U.S. population, and world population, would be saying then? Perhaps something like “That’s what happens when you try taking god out of the church.”. I bet an incident like that would help many reaffirm their faith as so many unrelated but desperately rationalized events and occurrences do.
According to a recent Pew report on religion the portion of the population that identifies as atheist, agnostic, or unaffiliated is projected to decline as a percentage of the total population over the next few decades. The good thing is that unlike religion the ability to reason isn’t spread by having children and brainwashing them therefore we freethinkers don’t need to try and breed our way out of this crisis all we need to do is continually speak out and set good examples which encourage those born into religions to think for themselves.
When they do they’re almost certain to come to the conclusion that we’re one species of many living within a fragile biosphere whose fate along with our own depends on our actions. Not on ghosts, not on gods, and not on people who claim to have links to them, but on us, the greatest of the great apes in the sense that we’re capable of the greatest evil as well as the greatest good. I hope this report will turn out to be way off in its projections however that depends on the work of you, me, and all the other people who have replaced superstition with freethought and recognize the supreme importance of human, social, and environmental health.
Where I live on the Kra Peninsula there are these awesome bananas which in Thai are called Kluai Heen which translates to Banana Heen. Most people around here feed Heen bananas to the poor birds they imprison in little cages which spend their days jumping from one side of the cage to the other probably imagining what it would be like to fly again. Because they lack of empathy and apparently have nothing better to do many of the local men often bring these poor birds to poor-bird-in-cage competitions where they see whose bird can cry “Let me out of this cage so I can fly!” the loudest.
Since most people consider them bird food when people see a foreigner eating a hand of Heen bananas they’re a bit surprised. In the area I’m referring to people do eat them but it seems rarely unless they’ve been cooked. One day I was looking to buy breakfast from a roadside fruit stall and I saw a hand of ripe Heen bananas in the back. I asked if I could buy them and she said they weren’t any good. When I insisted she said I could have them so I started eating my banana breakfast. I rarely eat bananas for breakfast as I prefer more juicy fruits in the morning but that day I was happy to make an exception.
After eating one and confirming my prediction I told her they were awesome and offered her to try one but she gave me a slight “surprised/you’re crazy look” and refused. She said they were no good because those bananas have to be cooked before you can eat them and only birds would eat them like that. I asked her if she had tried ones that are ripe and she said “No.”. So I asked her how she knew they were no good and she said “Because my husband told me.”, so I asked her if he had tried them and she said “No.”, so I asked how would he know and she said “The elders told him”.
The point of this post is to remind anyone who reads it not to blindly accept the assessments of perceived figures of authority and instead think for yourself, do your own research, and when applicable/safe do your own experiments and who knows maybe one day it might even score you a free breakfast.
Patriotism is the power to deceive oneself in the face of injustice.
Faith is the power to deceive oneself in the face of evidence to the contrary.
The first was in a podcast regarding offshore drilling near a mans home. He said it didn’t bother him and “I don’t think the government is in control of the environment, I think god is.”. In other words why bother regulating things that will have negative environmental impacts when in the end it’s the big man up in heaven that decides the fate of this planet.