Monday, January 18, 2010

The after life

I’m writing today about a subject close to my heart, as it’s the plight myself, and a lot of close friends are dealing with, on a daily basis, to start out I’m quoting a piece written by Jan Groenveld titled “The Emotional Pain Of Leaving A Cult” as she does a wonderful job portraying the pain and additional challenges leaving cult life presents.

“It Hurts
It Hurts to discover you were deceived - that what you thought was the “one true religion,” the “path to total freedom,” or “truth” was in reality a cult.

It Hurts when you learn that people you trusted implicitly - whom you were taught not to question - were “pulling the wool over your eyes” albeit unwittingly.

It Hurts when you learn that those you were taught were your “enemies” were telling the truth after all - but you had been told they were liars, deceivers, repressive, satanic etc and not to listen to them.

It Hurts when you know your faith in God hasn’t changed - only your trust in an organization - yet you are accused of apostasy, being a trouble maker, a “Judas”. It hurts even more when it is your family and friends making these accusations.

It Hurts to realize their love and acceptance was conditional on you remaining a member of good standing. This cuts so deeply you try and suppress it. All you want to do is forget - but how can you forget your family and friends?

It Hurts to see the looks of hatred coming from the faces of those you love - to hear the deafening silence when you try and talk to them. It cuts deeply when you try and give your child a hug and they stand like a statue, pretending you aren’t there. It stab’s like a knife when you know your spouse looks upon you as demonized and teaches your children to hate you.

It Hurts to know you must start all over again. You feel you have wasted so much time. You feel betrayed, disillusioned, and suspicious of everyone including family, friends and other former members.

It Hurts when you find yourself feeling guilty or ashamed of what you were - even about leaving them. You feel depressed, confused, and lonely. You find it difficult to make decisions. You don’t know what to do with yourself because you have so much time on your hands now - yet you still feel guilty for spending time on recreation.

It Hurts when you feel as though you have lost touch with reality. You feel as though you are “floating” and wonder if you really are better off and long for the security you had in the organization and yet you know you cannot go back.

It Hurts when you feel you are all alone - that no one seems to understand what you are feeling. It hurts when you realize your self confidence and self worth are almost non-existent.

It Hurts when you have to front up to friends and family to hear their “I told you so” whether that statement is verbal or not. It makes you feel even more stupid than you already do - your confidence and self worth plummet even further.

It Hurts when you realize you gave up everything for the cult - your education, career, finances, time and energy - and now have to seek employment or restart your education. How do you explain all those missing years?

It Hurts because you know that even though you were deceived, you are responsible for being taken in. All that wasted time ... at least that is what it seems to you - wasted time.”

The Hasidic sect more than other sects within Judaism is a full fledged cult, leaving its folds is a rare accomplishment, even for those that became disillusioned with its philosophy, most resort to a double life, not wanting to deal with the consequences of leaving.

What hurts is that, often times even those that had the courage to leave, are left with nothing after breaking away, they do not have the strength to move on with the challenges of regular life and especially the challenges specific to their situation.

There are groups that formed to assist in some of the challenges, giving a helping hand to ease the transition, kudos to them, unfortunately another grouping formed as well, groups that are formed based on a philosophy that enforces the misconception that its impossible to move on and have a normal life.

No benefit could be had from assembling on a regular basis to; grieve, complain, whine, reassure failure, and romanticize a life that was left due to a realization of its falsehood.

Are there things to be missed? Of course, the sense of belonging, the communal life, and spiritual expression, but there are other outlets for that, being nostalgic and feeding of, of something that is in the past, chasing something in the rear, is a deterrent to progress.

The emphasis should lie in the future, what’s ahead, yes the challenges are tremendous, life in itself presents challenges to all of humanity, coupled with the additions of the specific challenges, but time, the future, dedication, and hard work, provides hope and accomplishment.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The pursuit of happiness

“We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.”
Anne Frank.
Happiness is the state of being, we are constantly yearning and striving to achieve and attain, and is seldom acquired by most of us.

I did not do much scientific research on the subject matter, but I’ve accomplished this feat on a few occasions, therefore I want to document and share what brought me this happiness and how it was accomplished, or rather how I found myself being in that state.

As one of my favorite philosophers Albert Camus said” You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” Happiness is a state of consciousness, which happens in a void.

We do see people that are happier than others, that might indicate, that there are other factors, which are directly linked to reaching that void, resulting in happiness. They might be; a specific action that brings happiness, or by removing the factors that are in direct conflict with happiness. This is what I will try to focus on, rather then what happiness and its consistency are.

Reflecting back at some of my happiness experiences, I’ve realized that there is a common denominator, they are; being totally consumed, lose of inhibition, logic, and control. This would typically occur in the midst of experiencing; beauty, love, or passion.

Observing a child in play, it’s noticeable the state of oblivion, and total in total sync, it’s a state of raw emotion if they are satisfied with the action, the state of bliss and happiness will usually follow, otherwise anger will ensue.

The issue with being totally susceptible to emotion is; raw emotion swings in all directions the good and the bad, that’s why children are constantly thought to control their emotion, although it would typically be when it’s the bad sort, it would affect the freedom of emotion as a whole.

Another fact that affects a child like oblivion is; that children are typically cared and provided for, therefore there is no distraction, on the other hand adults have responsibilities.

Is it possible to control one direction of emotion and be free on the other? Is it possible to gain that freedom while having survival responsibilities? I don’t know the answer, but what I learned is the direction and distractions to the void that enables happiness, perhaps one day I’ll figure out the perfect formula, in the meantime I’ll embrace the journey and pursuit.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Religion as a basis for morality

In his book The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky writes the following “if god does not exist, everything is permitted.” According to Dostoevsky, and theists in general, once you remove God from the equation, there is no reasoning for morality.

The fear of the lack for a secular moral basis, is a big reason for the religious appeal to otherwise rational people.

After observing the behavior of both groups, the theist and the atheist, I’ve noticed that it’s simply not the case, and often it’s even the opposite, morality for religious people, tend to extend mostly to people sharing the same believes, and even then it doesn’t necessarily include business practices, or when it contradicts the individual’s self interest.

I recently came across the United Nations human development report, while going over the list, it was apparent that the atheistic societies, are ranked on top for gender equality, charity, and the least homicides, and the bottom is populated by the most religious societies.

The dileama of morality, why be moral, or why are we moral, is an ongoing debate within the philosophical community, almost every philosopher struggled with this question.
There are a range of different theories for morality; they include, morality being entirely influenced by exterior reasons, to it being an innate quality.

One of many, is the social contract theory by John Lock, according to this, it’s a choice society has made, for its survival, and comfort, (Lock used it first as an explanation for morality, Socrates and then Plato used it as the foundation for social law) and the Richard Dawkins theory, caring/sharing being innate due to evolutionary sexual selection.

I hope that at some point humanity will discover a conclusive reasoning for morality, in the mean time, I’ll focus on the phenomena of theists being less moral then their contemporaries.

First let’s take a look at the text that is supposed to be the moral grounds for religious morality, they include the Old Testament, New Testament, and the Quran, in there the danger of using god as a moral authority is apparent, there you get reasoning to kill in the name of God when the underlying reason is nationalism and ignorance; it’s the cradle of racism and bigotry.

The above is a testament to what happens when God is used in a subjective manner, to serve the needs of the day, God did not create the golden rule, and so didn't he order genocide, but only in the name of the organized ideal, the good and the bad has enough merit, to make its believers act in his name and only in his name, since otherwise this same individuals, wouldn't be able to morally justify, such immoral behavior.

It’s the same when it comes to personal moral reasoning, if you use God as a moral source, you are left with a subjective outcome, when the reasoning for being righteous in personal or business dealings, is because of the word of God, you will have the backing of God when ones subjective consciousness leads him to a biased outcome, even if it’s not morally right, and once you have god on your side, there is no need for second guessing you are not even allowed to.

On the other hand the theist who is moral let’s assume because of the social contract theory, there will be a constant measure for morality, does the outcome fit into the contract, and even if personal bias would lead to the wrong conclusion, at least there is no religious conviction, therefore he/she would constantly second guess themselves.

Monday, August 3, 2009

21st century contradictions

We live in a fast paced society, events, issues, and innovations [technological and scientific] diminish, vanish, and are rendered obsolete.

They are rapidly replaced by new circumstances, knowledge, and discoveries; it’s what we call progress.

I didn’t write for a couple of months due to personal challenges, and my last post seems to have been written decades ago.

Luckily there is evidence that these events and people existed and were in the limelight in the not so distant past, just Google the names Sara Pailin or Dick Cheney.

Sadly enough progress on the issues of Religion, Racial divide, or for that matter most issues that are results of ignorance, progresses in a much slower, or even at a backwards pace.

You could have a discussion today with a stranger on the street, and if you would close your eyes, you might experience a fast paced ride to the past, right into the middle ages.

The other day I was approached by a Jehovah’s Witness missionary, a nice young gentleman, who took upon himself to spread the word of God, to the unfortunate sinners out there.

At first I was repulsed and said no, but he was polite and persistent, an interesting combination.

Then curiosity crept in, why does he seem so confident? A want to make him question arose in me.
I decided to go for it, (I started out by asking him, what makes you so sure that there is a god, and your religion presents his word. Most of his explanations and proclamations, where prototypical religious dogmas and believes. Perhaps the whole debate should be dedicated for another post.)

In the middle of conversation I was shocked by his proclamation “did you know that the whole evolution theory was recently debunked, it was in the papers,” and quote “they found a fossil [presumably they are the scientists] that debunks it all.”

I opened my eyes looked around, I realized there are cars buses passing by, looked at him again, he was well dressed, perfectly groomed in short everything looked so 21st century, forward moving and yet his words, beliefs.

I realized that there are millions of people, who cannot and will not recognize, and accept all the scientific discoveries and revelations, progress that has been made especially since Charles Darwin introduced his book On The Origins Of Species in 1859, on understanding our origins, all the proof that our universe is billions of years old and that its constantly evolving and expanding through the force of nature, due to ancient believes and myths despite of clear proof to the contrary.

The two realities science, knowledge, and proof on one side, and darkness, ignorance, and superstition on the other, one progressing forward and the other backwards, the contradiction was very blatant.

I’m happy to report though, that when our conversation was over, that confidence was shattered.

Another recent event I was astonished by is the Professor Henry Gates arrest controversy.

Here we have our first African American president Barak Obama, and professor Gates who teaches at Harvard, Yale and other universities for over 20 years.

If the only conclusion individuals that are leaders of our society, to an arrest for something that has been reported as a burglary, is that it must have been an act of racial profiling, since the individual making the arrest is from a different racial denomination by, then how could it be that the same racial group entrusted them with the task they currently perform Obama as president and Gates as educator.

They wouldn’t have been able to be where they are at, should their understanding, on the state of our progress as a society been true.

Yet again a stark contradiction exists, some move forward and others by backwards.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The media and dick Cheney

On first thought those two shouldn’t be lumped together in one sentence, the media reports news, and Cheney is a politician, but there is a common denominator, both seemingly follow the same motto “the end justifies the means”.

How else could we explain the following?

Following the Charlie Gibson interview with Sara Pailin, the media mocked her as inexperienced for asking “in what respect Charlie”, to the question what do you think of the bush doctrine, but the truth is there is no bush doctrine at least an official one proclaimed by bush as his doctrine, Bush has announced different policies throughout his presidency, which include; encouraging democracy around the world, to secure ourselves from countries that harbor or give aid to terrorist groups, among others. Non as his official doctrine, see this article regarding the supposed Bush Doctrine.

Throughout the first couple of weeks when Pailin was announced as McCains running mate the media came up with different lies for instance the New Yorker cover showing Pailin looking for Rusia through her window, when in fact she had said something totally different [see full interview here] to squash her growing popularity.

The difference between democracy and dictatorship is in part having a free press, a media that could report the truth to the people, and let the public decide the direction they want their government to take.

We don’t need, the media to decide for us, and assist us in making the right choice by lying to us, using the same moral underline as dick Cheney, who lied when he wanted to go to war, because he thought that the war is important, they are not better than us the people, the American people have the capacity to make the correct choice when presented with the truth.

What we do need, is a media that will report the truth, in this case tell us what are the policies of those who want to be elected as our leaders, the American people have the right to choose the candidate whose policies they approve of most, we need politicians that tell us the truth about the dangers lurking on our country, and let the American people decide if its worth going to war.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Intelligent design, chance, and tail wagging, what do they have in common?

How our universe and ourselves came to be, is a question asked since the dawn of human history, but is it really something that we could figure out?

Mankind has tried to come up with different answers, some of them are more logical then others, and each of them serve different needs in our day to day life.

For instance the intelligent design theory: it tries to apply reason and compare our existence to our own creation ability, typically when we encounter a somewhat complex object or mechanism, we will assume based on prior experience and knowledge that it was designed through intricate thought out processes.

The chance theory: appeals to those that need an explanation how this intelligence that was theoretically able to create our universe came about, since absent an explanation, we are at square one not understanding how we came to be.

Fable creation: serves those who choose to close their minds completely and believe in the ancient ways of thinking and explaining complex things.

A pretext to a theory is either a need to explain a phenomena, that will be able to predict a future occurrence, behavior, or an explanation on how it happens and how it could be reproduced.

In order for us to have the ability to know and understand any given subject, we might start out with theory, but it remains theory until it could be proven by being reproduced or experienced.

To date there is no method for reproducing or experiencing the creation of the universe and life, there is nothing within the boundaries of this universe that has that ability.

Therefore coming up with theories on how our universe and ourselves came to be, at this point is no more than fable, conjecture, and speculation, that has been tweaked to serve the need of the creator of theory.

This is awesome

A US judge has thrown out a case against God, ruling that because the defendant has no address, legal papers cannot be served.

The suit was launched by Nebraska state senator Ernie Chambers, who said he might appeal against the ruling.

He sought a permanent injunction to prevent the "death, destruction and terrorisation" caused by God.

Judge Marlon Polk said in his ruling that a plaintiff must have access to the defendant for a case to proceed.

"Given that this court finds that there can never be service effectuated on the named defendant this action will be dismissed with prejudice," Judge Polk wrote in his ruling.

Mr Chambers cannot refile the suit but may appeal.

'God knows everything'

Mr Chambers sued God last year. He said God had threatened him and the people of Nebraska and had inflicted "widespread death, destruction and terrorisation of millions upon millions of the Earth's inhabitants".

He said he would carefully consider Judge Polk's ruling before deciding whether to appeal.

The court, Mr Chambers said, had acknowledged the existence of God and "a consequence of that acknowledgement is a recognition of God's omniscience".

"Since God knows everything," he reasoned, "God has notice of this lawsuit."

Mr Chambers, a state senator for 38 years, said he filed the suit to make the point that "anyone can sue anyone else, even God".