Saturday, February 23, 2013

To Fear Or Not To Fear?


Throughout history, people have given up control of their lives to other people.  Those others tell us how we should live, and describe consequences for not living as they tell us to.  Yet often, they themselves do not live in accordance with what they tell us.

Preachers, ministers, priests, rabbis, imams.  Teachers, bosses, parents.  And especially polititians.  Let's call them "controllers".  That's really what they are.  Rare are those from the ranks of controllers are honest and honestly living as they tell us to live.  But controllers they are nonetheless, because they insist that what they tell us is the absolute truth, or some reasonable (or unreasonable) facsimile of truth.

Fear.  Think about it for a moment.  What are we afraid of?  What are YOU afraid of?  And what can we do to stop being afraid?  How can we end the ceaseless barrage of fear factors that keeps pounding against our awareness?

How many say that they are not afraid?  Does that lack of fear extend to defiance of what we call "norms"?  Consider some of the things we have feared: The Communist threat comes to mind.  So does the threat of hell and damnation from the religious establishment.  And currently there is the threat that, among other things, the government is going to "take our guns" or "destroy our nation" or some other such nonsense.

I'm reminded of Franklin Roosevelt's famous quote: "The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself."  This is the ultimate truth of fear.  Yet we keep giving ourselves to it, through our churches and synagogues and temples; through our schools and families and political leaders.  We're victims, not of the religions, the polititians, or any other so-called leaders, but of our own fears.  Fear of losing our jobs.  Fear of being broke.  Fear of being alone.  Fear of what the President might do.  Fear of eternal damnation.  All to keep us towing the line of whatever we've been taught to believe is true. 

Yes, you read that right: what we've been TAUGHT to believe is true.  Because we have been taught to believe what those leaders tell us.  We've also been taught to not bother thinking for ourselves.  And far too many are stuck in that paradigm, refusing to question our own beliefs about truth,  even when confronted by solid evidence that out beliefs are in error.

So how do we get out of that trap?  And it is a trap, because it denies reality.  ne way to start is to ask yourself, "Who benefits from this?"  As some would say, "Follow the money."  And there is truth in that.  But it's only the surface.  To look deeper, heck, even to look this deep, involves confronting our beliefs, examining them without bias and without emotion, both of which feed each other.  And that involves, in it's turn, what is perhaps our greatest fear: Accepting the possibility that our most deeply cherished beliefs are wrong. 

Yet that is exactly what we must do.  It is, in truth, exactly as Michael Jackson said in his song:  "If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make that change."

It begins with a very simple idea: We must love life, starting with ourselves.  But even more basic, we must simply love.  That is the only way for most of us to break away from fear.  In truth, it is the only thing that fear ... fears.


© 2013 Donald C. Rice Jr.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Is President Obama Muslim? Does it matter?

There's a video on Youtube that's being passed around claiming that President Obama "admits" that he's a Muslim.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Yet many people on the political right seem to accept that as truth and fact.  So I watched that video, and broke it down into it's separate "talking points".  And, as the song says, I've saved the best (and most important) for last, as it's the icing on the cake on this topic.

The video's claims are highlighted, and my response follows each one.

"Many other Americans have Muslims in their families, or have lived in a Muslim majority country.  I know because I am one of them."

Simple enough.  He has Muslims in his family, and he has lived in Muslim majority countries.

"John McCain hasn't talked about my Muslim faith..."

Again, simple enough if you look at the entire interview, or even take that part of the interiew in context, which the snippet in the video you posted doesn't.  The reference to his Muslim faith was a slip of the tongue that was corrected almost immediately.

"He recites the Muslim call to prayer in a perfect Arabic accent..."

I've known people who could speak languages other than their own perfectly. Even if it's true, this is evidence only that he has a facility with languages.

"He went on to say that the Muslim call to prayer was 'the prettiest sound on earth.'"

Subjective, but it is a very lovely sound, unless you have an ax to grind on anything related to Islam.  Then it only proves your own narrow-mindedness.

"Obama quotes from the Koran"

It's funny how the recording is cut off for each instance, as though the editor doesn't want people to know what the Koran says.  Chances are it's something very much like what the Bible says.  There is a lot in there that is very much like the Bible.  So how do we know that he wasn't quoting those partss, to emphasize our likenesses rather than our difference?  Because in reality, we are more alike than we are different.

"Obama praises and glorifies Islam"

Glorifies?  Not hardly.  For the most part, he's only talking about the actual history of Islam.  And the part where he's speaking to Iran is the same, with perhaps a bit of buttering-up to remind them of that history of accomplishment.

"Obama defends Islam"

Not defending Islam, but upholding American Muslim's right to their faith, along with a very apt and valid comment on religious bigotry, and a pledge to fight against narrow stereotypes.

"Obama declares America to be a Muslim nation"

No, he didn't.  He spoke briefly on the concept that Islam has always been a part of the American story (perhapsa bit of exageration there, but I think not), that if Americans who were muslim were the only ones counted, THEN (emphasis mine) America would be the largest Muslim country.

"Obama bowed to a Muslim king"

Gee, how does that compare to when G.W. Bush held hands with and kissed a Saudi king?  It's the CUSTOM in that country.  It comes under the heading of "When in Rome..."

"Obama in traditional Muslim dress"

Again, simple.  Paying respect to the leader of another coutry.  And it wasn't traditional MUSLIM dress, it was traditional AFRICAN dress of the AFRICAN country he was in.

"Obama visits a mosque"

Normally I'd say "big deal, I've visited mosques, Jewish temples, Catholic and other churches."  But if memory serves, that particular mosque is an historic site.  And if you notice, he was paying close attention to the layout, the architectural features; he was not there for worship.

"Obama sides with Islam"

No, he does not.  He only states, and I quote, "America is not, and never will be, at war with Islam."  He was correct.  We are not at war with Islam.  We ARE at war, if you can actually call it that, with terrorism.  And the Islamists involved in terrorism are miniscule compared to the number of Muslims in the world. We're probably in more danger from home-grown terrorists than any other; just look at the freaking school shooting and the police actions against the Occupy movement and other individuals for proof of that.

"I am one of them"

Gee, I heard him say "Thank you" followed by something in Arabic.  Since I don't speak Arabic, I don't know what he said.  But I'd be willing to lay odds on it being a form of salutation such as "goodbye" or something along those lines.

All in all, I find this video to be nothing more than rabble-rousing the uneducated masses who don'y understand how the world works.  I'ts sensationalism at its' worst, twisting things around to try to make Obama look like the worst preseident ever, when that is the furthest from the truth I've ever seen or heard.

Oh, and one other thing, that last point I promised, the icing on the cake?   It doesn't matter to me at all what his religious beliefs are. For all I care, he could be an atheist or even a satanist. The Constitution states quite clearly that there shall be NO RELIGIOUS TEST for the office of the Presidency.


© 2013 Donald C. Rice Jr.