Mankind tries to go beyond what he knows and pretends to understand and control god and the universe, praying for salvation rather than working earnestly toward it.
I believe in a number of limitations for humankind.
History shows me clearly that mankind is incapable of knowing, understanding, or describing God or gods (whether or not they actually exist) accurately. Our collective record so far is divisive, disruptive, and destructive to those outside the circle of those who pretend to be “in the know.” All attempts at describing God or gods so far have misled us into wars, disputes, and conflict both between and within dogmatic religions as well as between longstanding religious doctrines and well-proven scientific facts.
Whenever a person or group applies the labels “good” and “evil” to persons, places, or things, the effect is to curtail further understanding or insight and to avoid a clear and balanced view of things or people or ideas outside their group understanding. Again, history shows these terms to be consistently misused and misapplied and repeatedly misleading us into misadventures when a clearer and more balanced view might have worked toward more effective decisions. If there is a “good,” then it should be “good” for everyone in the long run, for the long-lasting health of our world and our solar system as an interdependent whole. I see no valid use of the word “evil,” and, as soon as it is used, understanding stops, things are unbalanced, and self-righteousness takes over.
Five hundred or so 12-step programs have, in the last century, clearly demonstrated for us that the same men and women who have an immense capacity for destructive, damaging, and anti-social behavior often have a similar capacity for kind, constructive, and helpful behavior; that the labels “evil” and “good” block seeing the other side or having empathy for a different point of view. They also show the value of empathy and understanding, amends (not just a “mea culpa” or “I’m sorry” but doing our best to right the wrongs we’ve contributed to), looking for our own culpability first, and serving others.
I believe in a balance between rights and obligations. The more rights or privileges one has, the more obligated one is to help others toward those same rights and privileges. This balance is most needed between groups of people such as nations, where the privileged nations must assume the burden of helping less fortunate nations – and I don’t mean sending them guns, ammunition, and land mines or threatening them with Weapons of Mass Destruction – and I don’t mean proselytizing them with our own religious views. The strategy of lifting up others was clearly effective after World War II, when the people of the United States befriended their former enemies, Germany and Japan, and all three prospered. It worked well in post-Apartheid South Africa as blacks included rather than excluding or oppressing their former oppressors. In the United States a century ago, men finally recognized the rights and privileges of women and both thrived.
This leads us to win-win solutions, which view “us” as everyone and everything, not just our congregation, our country, our race, or even our species.
Once our basic needs and our most pressing wants are met, it seems to me that we must pay forward that which the entire past has created for us and help sustain this abundance for our children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and their progeny. To hoard this abundance seems obscene to me. We’ve already won the historical lottery in the United States, having a standard of living that, for the most part, exceeds that of anyone in the past and most even in the present. When does the drive for MORE exceed the bounds of decency and rationality? To have an entrenched wealthy class that does nothing for its wealth, hiring middlemen to do their work for them, and an impoverished class that has little hope or aspiration seems to demean both sides providing no path to dignity for the wealthy or the poor among us.
When a business we own stock in forecloses on a family that had the misfortune to get cancer while leaving second and third mansions idle for most of the year seems to me an injustice that not only robs the unfortunate of dignity, but robs the wealthy of humanity, whether they know it or not. And it enshrines a system much like the Middle Ages where parentage divided us into distinct and permanently separated classes.
To American jurists, ownership is sacrosanct, a right of the highest order, but I do not agree with this assessment and I believe history proves my opinion. Certainly, families and tribes rarely follow this aggrandizement of individual or group entitlement over collective need, collective unity and collective well being. With artificial intelligence and automation making life easier, we need a way to pass this prosperity around rather than have it pool and stagnate in the deep pockets of wealthy families or wealthy nations.
However, we can’t just right this imbalance with new “Robin Hood” laws that take from the rich and give to the poor. Instead, we must provide clear and easily traveled paths to prosperity for all. This may be easy to say. I don’t think it’s impossible to do. It starts with establishing rights for all to good health and good education without excessive financial burden or financial ruin. It continues with ways to gradually and relatively painlessly redress the inequities of the past rather than reinforcing them generation after generation. And it must end with a decent life for all and decent and rewarding work for all who want to work. There’s got to be a better way than corporate capitalism to reward work and good stewardship without punishing those families consigned to perpetual poverty.
In the century since women were systematically excluded, we at least had a woman running for the Presidency and getting a majority of the popular vote! A century ago women didn’t even vote, let alone run for office or sit in responsible positions in the government.
Our election reform must go much further. First, we must all be able to look at all the candidates and pick who we want rather than select between two that professional politicians have selected for us. The electoral college is obsolete. The two-party candidates are supported on BOTH sides by the same wealthy factions that have dominated political dialogue for far too long. There is far too much money and far too little information for the voting public to make wise decisions.
While we’ve been campaigning against bullying in our schools for some time now, it still hasn’t dawned on us that nations shouldn’t bully other nations. In the last century, while we championed justice and equality within our borders, the United States and both its allies and its “enemies” have been regularly bullying the Third World and reaping the immense profits and intense loyalties that only war and colonialism seem to provide.
We here in the United States, one of the most naturally-protected countries in the world, spend more that the next seven countries of the world in what we call “defense” but which is almost all spent on armed troops on or near foreign lands, with weaponry which kills or maims anyone we deem an “enemy” or who gets in the way of what we want to happen.
We boycott the average people of many Third World Nations for decisions made by their leaders that displease us. And, while this hurts innocent people who can’t possibly change matters, we self-righteously make them suffer for what we see as misdeeds by their leadership such as building atomic bombs or wanting to right the wrongs brought about during the five hundred years Europeans stole land from indigenous people and then forced them to slave for the new “owners” or live in successively less-desirable locations and conditions.
A quite recent example of this is America’s unilateral invasion of Iraq, which led, almost inexorably, to 1.5 million Iraqi refugees predominantly from the well-educated and religiously moderate middle class living their lives out of suitcases and displacing, in turn, a lot of other Arabs in nearby countries.
This has led to turmoil in places as far as London and Paris and has done harm to almost all of humanity including the US taxpayers footing the bill and pretending these men and women were “protecting” us while they were profiting from our gullibility and grandiosity! It did make extra billions for Halliburton Corporation and other war profiteers, the one bright side of an ugly page of recent American history.
If God were watching over us protectively, I am POSITIVE that He would not be encouraging us to continue to overpopulate our world with humans. Any ecologist with even an ounce of scientific integrity would have long ago concluded that this infestation of mankind is completely out of balance with the rest of the environment.
It is CRIMINAL for the Papacy to continue to bias Catholics against birth control! We MUST stop creating children that cannot be sufficiently supported by their families or their environment!
©David N. Dodson, 2019, Phoenix, AZ