Monday, January 02, 2012

Ah, no, I wasn't speaking specifically to you....

For those to whom this is not obvious, one’s Facebook page is a collection – a peg board of sorts - of all sorts of stuff; opinion, references to things, photos, shares, links. If one goes to a friend’s page, one must be prepared to see and read things one might not otherwise seek out.

Likewise, if one goes to a friend’s page - meaning one consciously clicks on that page or has consciously added that friend’s page to one’s own stream - one cannot complain about the information the friend posts. 

There are two choices; follow friends and suck it up or don’t follow them. Period.

Telling them what they can and cannot post – not allowed.

Inserting veiled threats? Also not allowed, juvenile and not intelligent….

Bottom line? You, dear reader, have the right to come here, read this and comment on it if you wish. You do not, however, have the right to not be offended by what is here (or on my Facebook, if you’re subscribed to my page).

You also don’t get any points for making the false assumption that anything I post is meant in any way to be ‘advice,' nor do you get to show off that you're belly-button-gazing by assuming I'm speaking to you personally. I am not. What I write and post is information and that is all it is (except in the rare occasion that I DO post something for a specific person - and they will absolutely know it is there for them). 

If you take to heart anything I write here, take it personally or are offended by it, that’s not my issue. You choose to read so you have the responsibility of dealing with the consequences of that choice.

I am well-educated and old enough to have had a life of experiences so yes, occasionally I do think I’m right about stuff and yes, perhaps more often than occasionally. But YOU dear reader, are in no way forced or coerced into agreeing with me or even reading what is written here….

This is the conversation that ensued from my having posted the above general interest article on my own personal Facebook. The commenter below chose to come to my page, read the post (which I did NOT write but with which I fully agree) complained about having read that article and then suggested that I was targeting them. Ridiculous. 

This person is a senior administrator at a school for gifted students, and occupies a prominent spot in the "should know better than to argue illogically" category.

To be clear, I in NO way coerced, cajoled, enticed, entrapped, dragged, induced, pleaded, begged or even invited the following person to come to my page, nor did I send the page or the link to them. They came upon my page by choice, so their implication, “you shouldn’t post stuff that makes me uncomfortable” is annoying. 

Here's the article; please read it.

I don't understand the need for provocation, unless you get a kick out of being a provocateur. Besides, isn't it a bit lazy, especially for someone who touts himself an Ivy League academic to use the Bible, a text that one doesn't believe in, to establish anti-Biblical "fact?" (Moi: the bible is excellent at disproving itself, for the record, so yes, many intellectuals use it in the way described here. The commenter is referring to Christopher Hitchens, who read – and fully comprehended -  more in his 62 years than 20 other people read in their lifetimes combined and was able to quote, reference, cross-reference, adjudicate, and elucidate the bible in an immensely scholarly way ….)

It's a bit like shooting someone for being an NRA member. You are better than this.(this, in case it isn't obvious, is a bit of a slam....and yes, it might be appropriate to shoot certain NRA members; particularly those who are unaware and uninterested in the NRA's political policies and bent).

Did you actually just say you don't understand the need?? Seriously? You don't understand the need for people to UNDERSTAND what they're actually doing?

People have the constitutional right in this country (being Canada, if anyone is interested) to believe whatever they wish. They also have a corresponding RESPONSIBILITY to understand their beliefs and by understanding them NOT to inflict them - and convolutions and outright falsehoods - on others, like me, who like FACTS and who don't wish to be marginalized, scorned, hated, mistrusted for saying "HEY, wait a minute, here's how this particular thing actually came together."

I understand the need for thoughtful conversation, which this isn't. I understand that people can understand what they are actually doing. I am pointing out that this comes across as provocation, no matter how well intentioned it claims to be. It doesn't come across as a serious exploration of anything other than "Aren't I clever?" (Merry Christmas, bitches???} And, going straight to "Are you advocating for a dictatorship/1984 style of Just Do What Big Brother Says???" is the presentation of a false dichotomy.(really?, when this commenter is telling me not to question things? um.... )

People have a constitutional right to believe what they want. I would suggest that a corresponding responsibility might be to have some respect and decorum with those, whom you claim to respect, who might have a different point of view. Who is being "marginalized, hated, or mistrusted?" Finally, by posting the original post, who is doing the inflicting?

‎1. This IS the basis of thoughtful conversation; however, these comments are very much an attempt to end that conversation. "You shouldn't challenge religion because it makes people uncomfortable" is not a valid argument. I refuse - and I cannot make this any more clear how MUCH I refuse - to be cowed into silence by the fact that some people will NOT consider what facts exist.

2. People MUST understand what they're actually doing, when what they do and what they think they believe informs so much of life and culture.

3. It is only provocation because people are so very, very unwilling to consider that their beliefs may not be grounded where they think they are. "I didn't know that," MUST also apply to people's belief systems. (I will add in here again that nobody is forcing anyone to read my Facebook posts. Provocation requires a different setting).

4. If your doctor came to you with all sorts of witch-doctory, which he/she believed in, was bonded to, which had been passed down in their family, and, yes, which they had the right to believe, and wanted to doctor you based on those beliefs, would you say "I must respect those beliefs?" I think not.

Beliefs are NOT protected from questioning or revision or termination when those beliefs are shown to be false. Otherwise, we'd still be sacrificing children to appease other gods. (This link is to an article that appeared today, widely in international news. The act is abhorrent, so all you Christians remember, before you start casting aspersions on these people, that child sacrifice is part of your tradition).

Religion and religious beliefs are NOT - and in no way deserve to be - protected from questioning. That people become so angered and uncomfortable and accusing when those beliefs are put to questioning indicates a certain fragility of those beliefs....

5. Are you saying that my posting interesting information on MY feed - which one can subscribe to or not - is 'inflicting?' Are you suggesting I censor myself so as not to offend those who have every right to read or not when absolutely no offence is intended? Are you seriously suggesting that in the area of beliefs; that I never post anything that might challenge?

I will tell you quite categorically, that will NOT happen. Facebook - and my blog - are both opt-in and no, I'm not putting any disclaimer on either of them.

The FACT is this particular holiday IS a remake of SEVERAL earlier, pagan festivals. The FACT is that early christians reviled this holiday nearly across the board and there are still many fundamentalist christians who do not celebrate this holiday at all for these reasons and who think it an abomination that any christian does celebrate it.

The FACT is this holiday was not celebrated at all prior to 1850 and not established as a holiday until 1870 - and that shortly after that, people who sell stuff realised an opportunity to sell more.

The fact is, IF the main character existed, he absolutely was NOT born on December 24th or 25 and the fact is that several other 'gods' were alleged to have been born on the same date by the same method, so there should be some scepticism about the entire story.

If these realities are offensive to some, then I suggest those some should take a long hard look at WHY. It is not intelligent to cover one's eyes and ears and holler "DON'T SAY THAT! DON'T SAY THAT."

I am always confused and often shocked by how vehemently people will defend things which they also refuse to understand.

Religion and beliefs of ANY kind are not sacred ground, not in general and not on my page. If it doesn't stand up to scrutiny, perhaps it should be reconsidered. That applies to every other aspect of life and it does, despite the suggestion here that it shouldn't, apply to religions as well.

Whether I challenge beliefs and traditions, and whether I respect those beliefs and traditions has absolutely nothing to do with my respect for PEOPLE.

I respect my friends very much and my respect for them is in no way tied to their beliefs or their faiths - or lack of. (To be clear here, my respect for my friends in no way necessitates a respect for what they believe. Bullshit is bullshit regardless of how lovely is the person spouting it).

That respect does not necessitate my censoring myself - and those who respect me shouldn't ask that of me and I don't ask it of them.

It's my failure. I just can't make the argument so that you get my point. I don't want to stifle your free speech; I just want you to be considerate of those to whom you speak about very personal things. I have always admired your intelligence. I believe the Taoists, however, when they suggest that intelligence, unlike wisdom, is temporary and fleeting. Wisdom, on the other hand, has endurance and resonance, but can only be achieved when intelligence is combined with empathy.

The important thing here is this: I am not addressing anyone or speaking 'about' or 'to' anyone. I am commenting on, or posting information. Unless I post information directly to someone or on their wall, the information I put on my feed is GENERAL and not directed to ANYONE in particular.

I would not walk into anyone's church and start pointing out the fallacies of their faith. On MY Facebook feed, anyone who reads my posts is coming into MY 'church'...

I also want to point out that I refuse to use the term "You" in any other capacity than the general; otherwise, it comes to personalising a general commentary.

I understand that people have PERSONAL religions or beliefs but that reality does not preclude the other reality: that I have a right to comment, that those beliefs are just that - beliefs - and that people have a responsibility to know what they're talking about if they're going to get all up in arms when they read general information of the "Hey, did you know?" variety.

And I totally agree with the idea of wisdom vs intelligence. Which is why I understand the difference in respecting my friends for WHO they are, REGARDLESS of WHAT they believe.

Like I said, I adore my friends and my acquaintances because of WHO they are, how they live, how they treat their families and friends etc; and I am very interested in what they believe.

I am usually pretty confident that my friends and acquaintances are wise and intelligent enough to make the distinction between the who and the what. I also know that my friends and acquaintances - and most people for that matter - are good people regardless of religion/beliefs.

What I will never understand is the very common reaction to new information, where it pertains to religion and beliefs, of "how dare you," and "you have no right," and "you must be angry" or "you must have had some trauma caused to you," rather than, "I didn't know that."

I think those reactions come very much from the person not making necessary separation between who they are and what they believe - they take it as if information is about THEM when it is absolutely not. I would say, however, such reactions might reasonably be considered indications of such a person's insecurity about their beliefs.

This is why the question, "If all religions and their characters are myth, are you still the good and moral person you are now?" must necessarily be answered "yes."

That "yes" is why I am astounded by such angry reactions to information.

The fact remains that religions - all of them - are based very much in myth and also very much in the writings of tribes from 2000 years ago and, in the case of christmas, VERY much manipulated by certain forces that have obvious presence.

One cannot stridently demand that 'christ be put back in christmas,' when that is a very modern concept in the first place. A simple reading and comparison of the first four gospels will very quickly reveal how much of the modern christmas 'tradition' is a recent structure.

I should make it absolutely clear here that I have no dislike or opposition to the holiday. There are all sorts of social, psychological and physical reasons for a celebration in the dead of winter. However, I detest the commercialism and the coercive parts of the 'christmas' celebration - the expectation that one has lights on the house and a tree in the window and that one wears red and green and buys gifts for strangers and spends way, way too much money and is perpetually happy. I'm not a sheep...

It bothers me not at all that others choose that route but it is fraudulent to demand others recognise one's tradition when one doesn't understand the tradition and its roots oneself....

It does, however, piss me off to no end when people make judgements on my character and intelligence - and when they suggest I am unwise - because I have done (nearly six years') research into what I grew up believing, my own religion and my cultural heritage, and what my family has believed for TEN GENERATIONS, and post information on my own public feed.

And it bothers and astounds me that people are, in 2012, so inflexible and unwilling to understand the foundations of their traditions and resort to covering their eyes and ears and stomping their feet rather than taking the intelligent step to "I didn't know that."