The Problem with Faith.

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” – John 20:29

“The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.” ― Benjamin Franklin

In the wake of the recent election, many of us have been trying to figure out the “why” of the thing. Why did so many people vote, if they did at all, the way they did? Why, oh why, did they vote for him!? Well, many of his followers have stated loudly and often that they have faith that he will make America great again. Regardless of a total lack of specifics or any real proof of his ability to govern, fifty plus million people decided to put their faith in a man who lost a billion dollars in one year. This stupefying occurrence has baffled the so-called political experts and left the rest of us searching for that oldest of questions,

WHY?

The answer is that faith as a philosophy is intrinsically flawed, and those who practice faith as their primary means of decision making are behaving in an unjustifiable manner. A bit of a heavy-handed claim to be sure but in this time of unreason, with its distinct lack of rational decision making, we must search for the source of our many woes. After all, we can’t blame Trump for everything. At least not yet.

Let’s start with an agreed upon definition of faith. After all, if we can’t quantify what it is, how can we say that there is something wrong with it? My E-dictionary has the following two definitions:

1. Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
2. Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.
Two rather distinct interpretations of a concept, no? This dichotomy of meaning is part of the problem with faith. When I, an open Atheist, say that I have faith that America will eventually recover from the next four years of inevitable mismanagement and stagflation, I say this without any religious connotations. I do not believe that god will descend from the heavens and save us poor souls from the great evil that is the Trump administration. I have faith that the people of this country are essentially good, and I can back this up with facts. The fact that more than two million more people voted against Trump than voted for him. The fact that thousands of my fellow protestors are espousing love in the face of hate all across this country and the fact that America has survived McCarthy, Nixon, Reagan and two Bush’s and we’re still here. These are the secular and factual truths that I have, nearly, total trust and confidence in.
And yet, even with all this evidence, my faith in this country may prove false. That’s another pitfall of faith. Faith can be broken. People cheat on their spouses all the time. Lance Armstrong had more juice in him than the Koolaid man! So the secular incarnation of faith, like respect, must be earned. We need proof before we put our faith in something.
In the case of religiously orientated faith, this logical progression is unnecessary.  You simply need to believe in something or someone for it to be true. So Trump will make America great again because, well, he will. This is an example of circular logic, where the person starts with the answer that they’re trying to end with, and it’s this sort of defective reasoning that has led us to a Trump presidency.  What will he do to make America great? I don’t know, but he can’t make it great unless he’s president, so let’s put our faith in him, regardless of whether or not he’s proven capable of the task at hand.
Does this seem like a reasonable way to go about your life? Making decisions based on nothing substantive, on essentially gut reactions? I’m all for spontaneity and spur of the moment experiences, but as an actual means of governance?
I think not.
This bipolar understanding of faith as a concept is a major factor in why we as a nation have such difficulty empathizing with one another. Truth has become subjective. We shout our truths into an echo chamber of like-minded individuals. Our Facebook feeds reassure us that our respective viewpoints are correct, without bothering to fact check the source of these digital pats on the back. Without the ability to discern fact from fiction, to objectively view the world around us as it truly is and not how we wish it to be, we can never be free of the nonsensical trappings of our past, i.g. racism, misogyny, and tribalism.
We are one people, not just Americans, but humans. Religious faith has been used since its nacency to control not just the actions, but the minds of it devotees. And when you can shape the reality of the world around you, what’s to stop you from taking advantage of this power? The history of faith is chock full of abusive tyrants, genocidal conquerors and unholy despots who claim that their regimes are annointed by some god or another and therefore nothing that they do is wrong. When we allow this sort of baseless claim to go unchallenged, be prepared to face the always grisly consequences.
In this post-truth world we find ourselves in, it’s up to us to stand sentinel against this sort of predatory group think. Because if we stand idly by and watch our rights, and the rights of our less represented fellows, we are culpable in whatever comes next.
I have faith that humanity will not let this come to pass.
“It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners.” ― Albert Camus
Semper Pugnare Tyrannis
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The Problem with Faith.

A Privileged Bubble.

I had a guy in one of my classes say that he was going to start wearing one of those  red Trump hats around now that he is “our” President. His implication being that those who of us who are still upset by the outcome of the election can just go ahead and shut up about it. When I replied that those hats have become a symbol of hate, akin to wearing a KKK hood in public, he laughed me off and said that I was stupid for even comparing the two. While I’ll admit that my statement was a bit hyperbolic, not all Trump voters are racist’s, I don’t think that it was without merit. Americans who proudly don that stupid looking, made in China, cap are declaring something to everyone around them. They might say it’s pride in their candidate, or their party, or their religious beliefs; but for hundreds of millions of their fellow Americans, it stands for something else entirely.

It stands for hatred. Bigotry. Homophobia. Theocracy. Fascism. To name only a few.

When I see one of those caps, I can’t help but judge its wearer. I don’t know this person, but I immediately assume that they are either one of two things: ignorant or a racist. And by making this snap judgment of a complete stranger’s character, I am acting no better than the vile white supremacist who hates a person of color for nothing more than their skin tone. And that’s an unacceptable way to behave. I’m not a prejudiced person. I like to think that I grant every person equal respect. But unlike some people’s wealth, respect must be earned.

If I meet someone who casually drops racist epitaphs in my midst, because they assume that my fair skin means that I share their disgusting views, they’ve instantly lost my respect. This is how civilized society is supposed to work; someone does or says something horrid and the rest of the society reacts negatively to their wickedness. That way there is some sort of accountability for one’s words or actions. Unfortunately, we live in a social media-driven world, where people routinely espouse the most horrific shit imaginable without fear of recourse. In my opinion, this culture of anonymity, of not having to back up your words, has played a major role in the outcome of this election.

There are people casually dismissing the hate speech of their candidate, and now one week and 200+ reported hate crimes later they’re still denying that their candidate and his little hats stand for something sinister. How can a rational person ignore such an obvious correlation?

It’s either clinical denial or they live in a privileged bubble, through which nothing they disagree with is allowed entry.

There’s a great episode of 30 Rock where Liz’s handsome boyfriend, played by Jon Hamm, finds out that he isn’t actually good at anything and that people have been letting him skate by because of how handsome he is. Alec Baldwin’s character, Jack, informs Liz that this anomaly is known as “The Bubble.” This is the case for millions of middle-class white people in this country. They may not believe that their vote has lent credence to xenophobia and racism, but that’s exactly what they’ve done. They are simply oblivious to the type of systemic racism that has now become mainstream under this new President-Elect.

For further proof of this fact, you need look no further than Trump’s newly appointed chief White House advisor, Stephen Bannon. An avowed xenophobe and anti-Semite will be whispering sweet nothings in the ear of the most powerful person in the world for the next four years. Allah help us.

To all of you, happily residing in this seemingly impregnable bubble. I’m sorry that you grew up on an ethnically stale culdesac in a white-bread suburb, where the only minority you ever saw was the guy who cut your grass every week. I’m sorry that you don’t have any gay friends. You’re missing out. I’m not sorry for your inability to know what it feels like to be called a spic, kike, nigger, faggot, or any of the other horrible things people like me have been called by people like you. I envy you this. At the end of the day what your candidate has validified is the dehumanization of millions of people. It’s suddenly okay to think you’re better than someone simply because you burn quicker in the sun. That’s not just offensive, but categorically un-American.

So the next time you try to call someone stupid for relating one of those little hats to hatred, pause to consider who it is spray painting neo-nazi graffiti on synagogues, or spewing racial epitaphs at minorities on twitter, or beating to death a 24-year-old Saudi exchange student because of where he happened to be born. Try explaining to the family of Hussain Saeed Alnahdi why their son was murdered in Wisconsin on Halloween. Could it be that your candidates anti-Muslim rhetoric was exactly what some murderous little bastard needed to get it up and finally kill someone? You know, someone who didn’t look or speak like him.Someone who fell outside of his happy, privileged, bubble.

It’s time we burst this bubble for good.

Something to think about,

“Men are born free, yet everywhere are in chains.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)

Semper Pugnare Tyrannis

 

A Privileged Bubble.

Don’t let hate win. Again.

I’ve been struggling with the results of this latest American election for the past week, with little success. I’m angry. I’m hurt. I’m scared. Not just for my own well-being, but for that of my gay and minority friends and family. People are being attacked. People have been killed. And all I keep thinking about is how it’s only going to get worse from here. More people of color are going to be disparaged simply because of how they look, or what language they speak. People are going to be attacked because of which religious faith they happen to have been born into or for their lack of any such faith. All of this because some ignorant people voted for a thin-skinned megalomanic. They have validated hate. They’ve made it okay to call a person a nigger in public. Again.

After all the progress we’ve made, this is what America has become.

I grew up in South Florida, where KKK marches were not unheard of. Even in such an ethnic melting  pot as Miami, we were accustomed to the rebel flag flapping behind some diesel powered compensation wagon. And yet, I always assumed that these were the outliers. That the vast majority of white Americans did not hate me because my parents weren’t born here. That if push came to shove, they would stand by the American principles of equality and compassion. But I was wrong. The minority voted. And millions more, who may not actually share this same hate-filled world view, voted with them. They voted for a man who admits to hating brown people. That provokes violence against Muslims with his fearful rhetoric. Who has sexually assaulted dozens of women. And you, the so-called morally superior religious right, have anointed this man the defender of your faith. Hypocrites.

How could any decent person even consider voting for such a man? I hesitate to even call him a man. Because a man doesn’t rape. An animal does. A man doesn’t hide behind thinly veiled contempt for minorities. A coward does. That’s what you’ve just elected to the most prestigious office in the nation. A cowardly animal incapable of self-control. And you find this admirable? The lone wolf anti-politician whom you all seem to think is somehow qualified to lead our nation, to say nothing about our military, based on what? His reality TV experience? And you sit there on your threadbare couch and smirk at the sight of millions of Americans protesting this outcome. Because we’re what, sore losers? Our entire world view was just shattered. The country that we believed stood for hope and equality, has just kicked us in the stomach and loudly proclaimed that if you’re not a straight, white, Christian, then you don’t belong here. That this isn’t your home anymore. Imagine, if you can, how that makes us feel.

For those like me who thought that the people of this country would never allow such a testament to hatred and intolerance take power; we were naive. We underestimated the fragility of the underrepresented white voter’s morality. It’s apparent now that they would vote for Satan himself if they believed he could give them a better job. Or maybe that’s an oversimplification of a hundred years of systematic stripping away of white opportunity, primarily by those in the Republican party. The same party that was just hijacked by a corporate sociopath who could not care less what happens to the people who just voted for him, I might add. Do you honestly believe that he will suddenly bring back the jobs that people just like him have been shipping overseas for decades? Does voting for him make you feel empowered? Like you haven’t been since the fifties.  Is that your excuse for voting for such a monster? Nostalgia?

Whatever your rationality, you’ve chosen to stand with a bigot. A mean little man who is so lacking in substance that he’ll do or say anything to get what he wants. More money. More power. More attention. And you’ve hitched your poor disenfranchised wagons to such a creature.  What’s worse is you’ve unwillingly saddled the rest of us with this moron. The millions of us who don’t happen to live in your privileged little bubble must now suffer, both emotionally and physically, through at least four years of theocratic rule. Through cronyism and incompetence. You’ve taken this country back by fifty years, all so you could feel superior again.

I hope the momentary fix was worth it because, for the rest of us, it’s unacceptable.

To my fellow devasted souls out there, stay hopeful. But also stay angry. Use that anger to fuel the engine of change. Get out there and protest. Volunteer, write, act, sing, voice your opposition to hate in whatever medium you can. We have two years until the midterms. Do not stand idly by and let the winds of hate blow this country onto the rocks. We are all accountable for the outcome of this election, and it is our duty as Americans to right this great wrong.

I love you all, stay strong and stand up against injustice wherever it may raise its ugly head.

Semper Pugnare Tyrannis.

 

Don’t let hate win. Again.