Saturday, April 22, 2006

Failure is not a given

I was recently involved in a magazine project that had great promise but egos took precedence over business and artistic sense.  The number of times people defeat themselves is amazing.  After thinking about this tendency I’ve come to the conclusion that while everyone wants success on some level, many people are simply afraid to achieve.  This sound preposterous but based on my experience, which is considerable, it is true.

Why would this be so?  The root of the problem probably lies in childhood and to some extent in genetic evolution.  The former I am fairly certain of the latter is purely a speculative thought.  Many, if not all, young parents are completely unprepared to raise their children.  Most seem to think that food, shelter, and discipline are all that is needed to fulfill their parental obligations.  Of course those are the basics but much more is required for the children to become successful adults;  that is decent human beings.  Unfortunately the young parents are themselves at sea with what to do once the result of sexual intercourse comes to live with them for the next 20 odd years.

The extent of discipline is loud “NO” and sometimes striking the child.  Both of these actions result in the child becoming insecure and doubtful of their worth.  I’m not one who thinks self-esteem is the responsibility of the schools; it belongs to the parents.  After all what should one think when the provider of life, love, and all the rest also assaults one?  There is another aspect of growing up that is ignored or falsely addressed; what is life about and how should one cope with it?  Most parents don’t discuss with their children how to deal with every day problems.  Perhaps this is because they are having difficulty themselves. Parents today have children’s lives so organized that they don’t have time to be children and so lose the opportunity to play on their on terms.  There are legitimate reasons for this state of affairs but they can be coped with in other ways.

The world is a dangerous place for children today, not that it hasn’t always been so, but it seems to be reverting in recent times.  Children should be protected but not overly so; they should be treated with respect and encouraged at whatever interests they show.  This is particularly true of reading.  Without the ability to read, understand, and question life becomes very difficult indeed.  To be able to comprehend the world and one’s place in it is a gift that is rarely given.

People go out in to society expected to have the skills to succeed; most do not.  The lack of such skills is evident in binge drinking, drug abuse, and malingering.  Confident people don’t need crutches. It might be said that this is false on its face because look at all the “successful” people.  That is a question for another time, simply earning money is not success.

People fail because they expect to, not because they want to.  Try it sometime, pick something that is not too difficult but is a bit of a stretch.  Go after it with confidence and determination, they result will be surprisingly pleasant.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

When religion is a bad thing

Religion can be a bad thing.  I have just been reading an article about how a centuries old culture is disappearing in the wake of the new fundamentalism being embraced by Muslims.  It seems that for at least 800 years Hindu, Buddhist, and Confucian traditions co-existed peacefully with Islam in Malaya.  Malaya, a Southeast Asian nation, is home to a majority Muslim population.  Now a situation has arisen where the democratically elected Muslim party has decreed that certain Hindu rituals are illegal and offensive to Islam.  When questioned about rationale for this decree the reply is that previously Muslims did not know it was offensive.  Does this sound familiar?

This problem goes deeper than just one religion dominating all others, a dream of all sects, but signals the erosion of a culture that will most likely disappear completely.  This is a trend that is more serious than the mirage of global warming.  This is only the first shot in the newest version of culture wars for which most societies are completely unprepared.  The result will be similar to the Islamic conquest of nations by the sword during medieval times.  More than likely there will bloodshed this time too.

In the United States the only thing preventing this behavior by fundamentalist or evangelical Christians is the constitution and the dislike of Christianity by the majority of the “thinking” population.  This will change as more Muslims find their way here.  In Europe the danger is the greatest because the numbers are already large and because the sophisticated Europeans cannot imagine such a disaster befalling them.  After all they are not any like the Asians who are superstitious and susceptible to such ideas.

Religions are proving to be capable of reverting to the political systems in which they originated.  Mankind’s fear of the unknown and the comfort of an afterlife will always prove irresistible to most; of course the beneficiaries of theocratic life are, as in any system, the leaders.  Mullahs, priest, popes, preachers, deacons, shamans, you name it their vocation is based on their desire to dominate and lead others.

Behavior is the surest guide to motives.  Be observant and careful.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Christian Evolution

The Easter Holiday is fading.  It’s ironic that Evangelical Christians, as they like to call themselves, feel that evolution is only a theory and one that can not be proven.  Yet their behavior is in itself evolutionary.  There is a strong push to rename Easter Sunday to Resurrection Sunday the idea being that too many non-Christians or lapsed Christians are enjoying Easter as a holiday and not a Holy Day.

This strategy goes back two millennia when the newly established Christian sect of Judaism began to gain strength in the Roman Empire.  In order to avoid or minimize persecution the early Christians celebrated the pagan holy days by re-naming them as their own.  This made it possible to have Christ’s resurrection coincide with the fertility celebrations of spring.  By co-opting the pagan events the Christians began a long history of taking what the existing religious base had to offer and incorporate it into the Trinity based promise of salvation.

Islam has done the same thing, on a much smaller scale, by claiming that Muhammad ascended to heaven after his death.  This is the same action ascribed to Christ which is known as The Ascension and is memorialized by holy days and by names of cities and people.

Back to the Christians.  I was raised, as I have said, a Roman Catholic.  I stopped practicing once I had mastered the drill.  I find that the church today has evolved and though I am conversant with the ceremonies and beliefs there are certain liturgical changes of which I was unaware.  Of course Roman Catholics are regarded by mainstream Protestants and Evangelicals as one step above Muslims.  All this Christian Love can be a bit tedious.

The very term Evangelical is a revision of historical Christianity and is an evolutionary path blazed by successful Protestants.  Remember that there were always heretics” even from the earliest days.  They were exterminated in the name of God’s love just as Muslims treat apostates today.  So now we find another step along the road of injustice for God’s sake.  Not only do we have a pagan Christianity with the Trinity, we have one that wants to further separate itself from the rest of the citizenry and then complain about the isolation.

I am generally a fan of the Fox News Network but find John Gibson and Bill O’Reilly presumptuous, bombastic, and disingenuous; particularly in their purported fear about the “attacks” on Christian Holy Days.