Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Tolerance Project

I notice a lot of bloggers in the blogosphere do a lot of typing and talking. But I oftentimes do not see any action to follow-up all the hot-air. I do not wish to be one of those bloggers who only talks and types. I really have a driving urge to get out into the community and make a change. (Since I live in the deep south, this is not nearly as easy as it might sound).

So, in order to help fascilitate a change like this, one of my friends and I are working on something we've dubbed The Tolerance Project. I've decided that I will share the project in it's many stages. First, let me give you an overview.

The first thing that we are working on is a lecture for the Middle School Grades. This lecture will be about forty-five minutes, with a Question & Answer session afterwards. there are five public middle schools in our school system, plus the school that my friend goes to (A K-12 private school). We have already recieved permission for this lecture to be given to his school's Middle Schoolers. We will be inviting the principals (or perhaps the assistant principles) to watch us give our first lecture. The point of this will be for us to "sell" our idea. We will wish to give these lectures at the public schools as well. But we're almost certain that the principals will want to wath us in action first.

That is the first step in this project. Perhaps if we keep working at it, we can speak at more public event for the entire community. Perhaps at a local library, or something similar.

Here is a rough draft of our outline for our research paper that we are compiling for this project. Please take some time to read it and critique it.

Imagine: Working for Peace
The Tolerance Project

Question: “How can we use the ideologies and methodologies of past peacemakers in order to become more accepting of diversity, more tolerance and to live more wholesome and happy lives in regards to ourselves, our families, our neighbors and our world?”

Purpose: “To educate others in the rich diversity that exists on Earth as well as to promote tolerance of these diversities in the hopes that such tolerances will eventually lead to global peace.”

I. Section One (Introduction)
A. Statement of Purpose
B. Statement of Driving Question
C. Brief Overview of History of Human Peace

II. Section Two (Past Peacemakers)
A. Spotlight On: Peace Pilgrim
B. Spotlight On: John W. O. Lennon)
C. Spotlight On: Mahatma Mohandas K. Gandhi)
D. Spotlight On: Mikhail S. Gorbachev)

III. Section Three (The Future)
A. Diversity: What is it? Why does it matter? How will it make the world a better place?
B. Tolerance: What is it? What does it mean? How will it make the world a better place?
C. Inner Peace (Spotlight On: Peace Pilgrim)
D. Familial Peace (Spotlight On: John Lennon)
E. Neighborly Peace (Spotlight On: Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi)
F. World Peace (Spotlight On: Mikhail Gorbachev)

IV. Section Four (Conclusion)
A. Diversity: Why it matters.
B. Tolerance: What it can do.
C. Peace: A Long Term Goal and a Charge for Youth

Oh and as always: Please leave comments of your own opinion. If you wish for me to talk about something in a future post, please be sure to email me at Please include the words "Tolerance and Peace" in the subject line, so that it is not kicked back by my SPAM filter. Thank you.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Tolerance and Its Limits

A point was made to mean on my last post about tolerance and Fahrenheit 451. While I don’t agree with most that this person believes, I must address this issue.

When I started writing this blog, I never got around to defining what I meant by “tolerance”. I figured that ‘tolerance’ was a commonplace enough word that I did not need to define it for the purposes of this blog. I figured that intelligent people were well, intelligent enough to know what I meant.

However, a flaw was pointed out in this logic to me by a fellow-at-odds with my point of view. In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, the motive behind burning books was good and pure at heart. The purpose was to be completely Politically Correct. To not offend any person, party, or group was the goal of their burnings.

But in their goal to be ultra-tolerant, the people in the book forgot a few things.

First and Foremost amongst these forgotten things is that there are some things and groups that for which there can and should be no tolerance. Amongst these groups are child molesters, child abusers and rapists. For obvious reasons (and not-so-obvious ones that will be blogged about one day on this blog) these three groups as well as others immediately send out alarms of disgust and shock into most normal humans.

But things that people identify with, things like their age, religion, sex, race etc. These differences that a personal born with (and chooses as a personal preference for acceptable legal activities) are the sorts of things that are to be tolerated.

Behaviors that are illegal are illegal for one (or more than one) of three reasons. The first of these reasons is safety. This is the most common reason that an activity or act will be deemed illegal. It is for this reason that murder is illegal; to protect the rights of citizens against others. The second reason is proactivitiy against other illegal activities from taking place. A common example of this would be the banning of guns in public places. The third of these reasons would be basing them off of religious traditions.

The third reason is the stupidest reason in the world for a nation as diverse as the United States of America to base a law. I’m not talking about laws which might fight into all three categories or ones that fit into category three and another (No murder, being one of these examples). Not being allowed to have a shop open on Sunday (or on any other “Holy Day”) is forcing society into a set of dogmatically ordered rules of conduct that instruct people to do things that would in any other setting be called silly in a manner that (in any other context) is silly.

If one person or one group of people would like to do something (or not) do something (that is morally and legally correct) on a certain “Holy Day”, then bully for them. But when that person tries to force his or her beliefs on me or on a nation as a whole, they have crossed a lone.

I can think of very few things that intrude on me more and make me angrier than unsolicited proselytizing. Having an intelligent conversation about differing opinions on religion, politics, ethics or moralities if, of course, a different ball game. But when beliefs are being force-fed to me, I get angry, I get irate, and I get as intolerant as the sort of people who go around and force-feed their beliefs.

I suppose that I should wrap up this post soon. I’ve made my argument that certain groups are not deserving of tolerance and I’ve illustrated a situation in which (to me) a group that is normally tolerated loses that privilege. I would just like to add that the problem of figuring out tolerance’s limits for our society is not my problem alone. Nor is it the Environmentalists’, nor the clergies’, nor any one group. The problem belongs not to America, but to the world. This problem of intolerance and where it is appropriate is a world-wide problem that should be addressed in the near future. Also, tolerance cannot be had unless those in charge of our nation remember that democracy is not just about majority wins all. A democracy is about the majority looking out for the minorities’ rights. Otherwise it would just be two wolves and a lamb voting on what would be for dinner.

Please leave comments of your own opinion. If you wish for me to talk about something in a future post, please be sure to email me at Please include the words "Tolerance and Peace" in the subject line, so that it is not kicked back by my SPAM filter. Thank you.

Monday, June 2, 2008

In God We Should Not Trust

I've been waiting a while to pen this exact piece. This is for various reasons. One of the foremost of these reasons is that I was unsure of where I stood on the issue. But I have since resolved that personal dilemma.

I now know that I am firmly and whole-heartedly against the inclusion of "In God We Trust" on our national currency and of "One Nation Under God" in our pledge (even though the entire pledge is ridiculous in and of itself (but that's a matter for a later post)).

While the inclusion of these two very short phrases in our everyday lives might seem like a trivial and insignificant detail, it is actually the manifestation of a deeper exclusion inherent in modern-day American society. This is the tip of the iceberg of a terrible, heinous and near-national prejudice against a group of United States citizens (regardless of what George H. W. Bush thinks).

The exclusion of such a large group of citizens (and any size of group that is being oppressed or discriminated against is a large group) should bring images of "No Irish Need Apply" or signs on one group of bathrooms saying "Colored" and signs on another, nicer set saying "White".

And that is what these words are doing. These two phrases are giving a government-endorse message to atheists, nontheists, a substantial percentage of freethinkers, and even some agnostics that they are second-rate and second-class citizens. (As was already pointed out, some people (and even leaders) even use these phrases as an argument to prove that these groups are not really citizens).

How such an atrocity can be perpetuated in a country that is hallmarked as the "Leader of the Free World" and the "Land of Opportunity" is beyond me.

The condemning of any group of citizens to a lower standard than any other is not a democracy nor a republic. It is an oppressive state, regardless of how good of an illusion it might give of being a free and open society.

This heinous action has already gone on for half a century. Why should we not usher in the new decade with a new "national motto"?

A motto that would serve all the nation's citizens, like "United We Stand, Divided We Fall" or take the time honored words of American dignitaries like Patrick Henry ("Give me liberty or give me death!") or Benjamin Franklin ("There never was a good war or a bad peace") or Thomas Jefferson ("...deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...") or even the catalyst of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine ("You can't destroy an idea with an army.")

Would any of these proposed mottoes really be worse than the highly offensive and oppressive phrases that dominate our currency now? Do any of my proposed phrases discriminate against any groups in the way that the old ones did? Are these newer mottoes not fairer and more even-handed representations of our country? If there is something I missed, and I am offending someone by one of these proposed messages, please tell me. I do not wish to do so. I feel that the motto on our currency should be one that includes all people in the country. Citizens should not be afraid that their own governments are discriminating against them.

Please leave comments of your own opinion. If you wish for me to talk about something in a future post, please be sure to email me at Please include the words "Tolerance and Peace" in the subject line, so that it is not kicked back by my SPAM filter. Thank you.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Blogswarm: War in Iraq

This is a copy of a letter that I sent into the newspaper. If I have time to write another post abuot the war and elaborate on some points, I will be more than happy to. However right now I am unable to do this because I am in the middle of class.


Dear Mr. Editor:

Wednesday, March 19, 2008 marks the five-year anniversary of the beginning of Mr. Bush’s war. I find it loathsome, appalling and shocking that the American people have let the terror-inducing “War on Terror” continue for the duration of one year, much, much less five.

Those responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center were identified as being of Arabic decent. I have no doubt that today’s bigotry and discrimination towards all people who simply look Arabic. In comparison, note that throughout the duration of World War II and for decades afterwards, Oriental people and particularly Japanese people were subjected to the same unwarranted discrimination, including the American version of a concentration camp, set aside only for Japanese-Americans.

Speaking in terms of just probability, the hijackers behind the 9/11 attacks represent a small percentage of the Arabic people. The same percentage of extremists that can be seen in almost every culture. But probability and statistics do little to curb the appetite for vengeance that such an attack procures.

The war on terror was started as a backlash against the travesty that occurred on 9/11. It was started to help prevent something like that from ever happening again. Instead of fighting terror, we have been fighting terrorism and terrorists. These are quite different from each other. While terror is a state of mind, an emotion, terrorism is an idea that uses that emotion to make people do what you want them to do. And terrorists are any people who use terrorism to their own means.

How can we fight a war against an abstract concept? How can we win a war against a state of mind? Is there any way to possibly succeed in our hopeless undertaking? This writer thinks not. This writer would venture to guess that the purpose of a War on Terror is not to win it, but to fight it forever.

But what instills terror into the hearts of people more than physical attacks, like the kind that happens during a war? There are very few things that this writer can think of. Rather than using negotiations and peace talks to their best end, this country has prematurely drawn its sword towards someone who might have been an ally. Instead of extending the open hand of reason and negotiation (principles that this country was founded upon), this country has closed its hand and driven a punch.

We are in a war that cannot be won, but do we have the dignity to admit that it was a fruitless endeavor from the beginning? Do we have the strength to admit that we were wrong? Or will we continue fighting; continue signing away our precious freedoms that are not rivaled around the world to empower the Executive Officer with ways that we are told will hasten the end of this
impossible war? Will we continue this until we become the very thing we deposed in Iraq?

If current legislation, like the hypocritically named Patriot’s Act, continues to take our rights away and continues to empower a new government that is founded upon a war, will we not come closer and closer to that which we opposed in Iraq; a dictatorship? This writer sincerely hopes that the American people will awaken from their American Dream so that they can see what horrors they have wrought.

The train we are on as a country is heading towards despotism and every citizen has a ticket, do we really want to go there, or should we change directions at the next station?


Monday, February 25, 2008

Let us bow our heads in thanks for atheists

I have been thinking about writing something like this for a few weeks now. However, this lady did a much better job that I could ever have done. Here is the article, copied verbatim from
I do not try to claim any authorship nor any rights for this article. I own some debt and a beat-up car. If you want to have either of them, don't go through the trouble of suing me, just email me at and we can talk about a trade or something... (This article is property of The Kansas City Star originally written by Linda Staten.)

MIDWEST VOICES: Let us bow our heads in thanks for atheists

The re-awakening of atheism in America is going to make for some very interesting times. Leaders of the Christian Right have spent years trying to cast themselves as the voiceless victims in a secular society, but the scapegoating is over. (Want to talk marginalized? How many atheists have there ever been in Congress or the White House?)
Nonbelievers know a lot about Christianity and Judaism, most having been raised in religious families. Believers, however, are somewhat less clued-in about atheists. Here are a few simple truths about who they are, and aren’t.
Atheists are well-behaved. Atheists seem to play well with others overall. They’re not in the news for getting caught doing things they tell others not to do. Most co-exist peacefully with believing family and friends. They pay taxes.
Atheists don’t start wars on behalf of atheism. They do join the military, however, and contrary to the cliché, they are found in foxholes. In fact, there is a lawsuit now against Defense Secretary Robert Gates and a major who harassed a group of “foxhole atheists” who simply wished to exercise their freedom of/from religion while serving their country in the Middle East.
Atheists have a thing for the American Constitution, particularly the First Amendment that separates church and state. They are secularists who support a government free from influence by any religion. They’re not anti-religious but nonreligious.
So when people like Mike Huckabee announce they want to “take this nation back for Christ” and make the Constitution fit the word of God, atheists worry, and feel that everyone else would be wise to worry along with them.
Atheists don’t take up much space. In fact, they only comprise 0.4 percent of the U.S. population, according to the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey, conducted through the Graduate Center at CUNY. (Agnostics would add 0.5 percent, the nonreligious 14.1 percent more.)
A total of 900,000 people isn’t even enough to fill 10 football stadiums, but evangelical leaders insist the godless are behind the decline of a whole nation. Uh, okay.
Atheists make good neighbors. Chances are, if you lived next door to an atheist, you might never know it. Atheists aren’t known for going door-to-door or shore-to-shore to un-convert people. They will help you even though there’s no heavenly reward in it for them.
Atheists will not infringe upon your life uninvited. On the other hand, you have to wonder about the neighborliness of certain believers when you see, for example, the miracle of the multiplying churches and neighborhood-munching mega-churches.
Thanks to the Religious Land Use law, passed in 2000, it’s lots easier now for religious groups to build more tax-exempt houses of worship, often against the wishes of neighborhoods which they burden financially and environmentally.
Atheists are lousy fundraisers. If you really want to raise a ton of money, oh, say on a weekly basis, don’t ask an atheist. Go to the folks with the know-how.
Televangelists raise almost $100 billion a year. In fact, they are so good at talking money out of people’s purses and bank accounts that six major Christian ministries are under investigation by the Senate Finance Committee.
These prosperity preachers tell their followers that God wants all of them to be well and be rich. (Serendipitously, God wants the preachers to have fancy cars, huge houses and the occasional Learjet.)
Atheists are the quiet type. Religionists have counted on atheists’ need for self-protection, but things are changing. Witness the popularity of Christopher Hitchens’ insightful book, god is not Great, the movie version of “The Golden Compass,” the mainstream media interest in the nonbelievers’ demographic.
There’s a new dialogue beginning between mainline believers and atheists, and among atheists themselves. While militant New Atheists fight on intellectual turf to replace dogma with rational thinking, humanists encourage believers and nonbelievers to get the moral work of peace, social justice and saving the environment done together.
Right-wing Christianity shook the atheist community out of its complacency with its relentless rhetorical badgering and attempts to co-opt the country. A missing piece of the real picture of America is finally being restored. Amen to that.
Linda Staten of Kansas City is a professional writer and former college instructor of ethics and comparative religion. To reach Midwest Voices columnists, write to the author c/o Editorial Page, The Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 6410

Friday, February 15, 2008

Blogswarm ~ Five Years of An Illegal War

I'll type a little introduction about this. Basically, the idea behind this is that we are five years into an illegal war. I will be posting on the five-year anniversary (March 19th) of the beginning of Bush's vendetta. I might do more posts about the War between now and then, but I will be posting an outraged "letter" to those in charge about how the war is illegal.

Please urge your friends who blog to do this also. Please urge them to help bring an end to this heinous crime.

Of Religion and Faith

Apart from our use of fire and our own consciousness, Religion is the only thing that separates us as humans from other animals. I have never heard of an animal that sops what it is doing five distinct and separate times a day so that it can talk (telepathically, no less) to a city that is several thousand miles away. I have never heard of any animal who is circumcised by its birth-parents, without a say in the matter. Nor have I ever heard of an animal who tells another animal all that it did wrong that week in an effort to please an invisible man in the sky.

All three of these are religious activities. All of these are activities participated in by the three monotheistic religions. All three of these are a waste of otherwise valuable time.

Now, while having your own personal faith might be good for you, it is no the only way to do things. And while your way might work for you, nobody is more qualified than another person to tell whether or not it will work for said other person.

In short, I am "pro-Private-Faith", but "Anti-Religion". While faith might give people the social and moral stability that they need and crave, religion propogates stagnation. If some people wish to meet once a week, twice a week, or once a day then it does no harm to me. But when these meetings start to encourage people to convert others, to actively try and convert people, then these meetings are harmful to me.

I am all for Freedom of Religion, but in the end, when one person infringes upon the rights of another, the first person's rights end where the second person's begin.

I do, however, feel that nothing should presently be done to end religion. I feel this way because of two reasons. The first is that doing so would be bringing an injustice against theists.

The second reason is that the current trend in the world is for atheism to spread. This is happening because atheists are going out and spreading rationality, it is also because rational thinking is starting to spread. (On the notes of atheists "converting" people, I've never heard of an atheist doing anything more than a persuasive argument to try and "convert" someone.)

People are not tied to racks and stretched until they admit that they are fools and that they should start thinking rationally. Wars have never been waged for rational reasons. A society has never been hurt because its citizens became too rational. Nobody has ever disowned his or her child because he or she was not an atheist.

As said before, atheism is the next, logical step in an evolving society. The more dependent on science a society is, the more prone to atheism it is.

Please leave comments of your own opinion. If you wish for me to talk about something in a future post, please be sure to email me at Please include the words "Tolerance and Peace" in the subject line, so that it is not kicked back by my SPAM filter. Thank you.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Why Won't They Let Me Say What I Wanna Say (in a Meaningful Manner)?

Poor Mike Gravel. Poor Ron Paul and poor Alan Keyes. Poor Kucinich and poor Edwards.

I was looking through the Sunday paper in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution and I noticed in the politics section (Page F3) that they did this lovely little chart that puts, succinctly, in black and white, the candidates and their views. And it's all very nice, it helped me better understand some of the stances on the issues, because I unfortunately missed some of the debates.

Except, Mike Gravel and Ron Paul, both of whom are still very much in the race were not represented on that page. Neither was Alan Keyes. In fact, on the entirety of the page, Paul, Gravel and Keyes were not mentioned.

It is a shame when people who are running for the most prestigious office in the country are not given fair time and not given fair representation for that race because they do not have the same amount of money as everyone else!!

Here it is Super Tuesday, and here in Georgia everybody that I ask (with very few exceptions) knows all about Mitt Romney and his many wives (a joke people I know that he doesn't practice polygamy). They know all about Mike Huckabee and Senator Clinton and Barrack Obama (well, they think they do.... They believe he's a Muslim). But almost no one that I talk to knows who Mike Gravel is. They've heard of Ron Paul, but do not really know his stance. And until today, I did know who Alan Keyes is.

Today is the vote for the party in twenty-four states. Today is the caucus and the primary for almost half of the nation. And the media still has not given fair representation to these men. Does anybody remember taking history in school? Anybody remember the main reason why America revolted against the British regime? Because of unfair and unequal representation!

Why have Mike Gravel, Ron Paul and Alan Keyes not been given the same time as the other "major" candidates? The answer, I fear, is the same as it always has been. This is not a race for the best candidate. This is a race for the rich candidate who happens to be best.

The media's disinclusion of these distinguished and outstanding men is an outrage to the very principles that this nation was founded upon. Our school-children are taught that this is a free nation, that people can be whatever they wish to be in this nation. But this apparently is not true if the media will not include somebody in a debate or in an article in the paper solely on the grounds that he or she does not have the same amount of funds that the other candidates do. Are we going to continue to allow school-children to grow up in a fairy-tale of "do whatever you want" only to have to face the cold, hard truth of "money is king"?

(In the beginning, I mentioned both Dennis Kucinich who, until he dropped out of the race, suffered the same problems as Mike Gravel, as well as John Edwards who, among other reasons, suffered the same fate. I felt that these two men, although they are out of the race, still deserve mentioning in a blog of this nature.)

UPDATE: I was informed by a commentor (thank you BradFinAtl) that Ron Paul actually raised more funds than any other candidate on the Republican side.(Source) This shocks me, because he is not allowed to show his opinion near as often as Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani (before he dropped out), Mitt Romney, or John McCain are.

In some ways, this dispproves me saying that the media will only allow someone to participate in debates and will only give "equal-time" if they have enough money. However I agree very much with the commentor. I believe that not only do you need the money to be able to support a campaign, you need to be liked by the mainstream media. Even though Ron Paul raised the money, he did not make the cut in saying what the media wanted him to. He is too far away from the center of the political map to be liked enough by the mainstream media, even if several citizens like him.

Please leave comments of your own opinion. If you wish for me to talk about something in a future post, please be sure to email me at Please include the words "Tolerance and Peace" in the subject line, so that it is not kicked back by my SPAM filter. Thank you.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Media, Conservatives and Terrorists ! Oh My!

I'll start this post with the note that my grandmother is a die-hard conservative. She knows that I am liberal, but not that I am an atheist. She knows how I feel about a good number of issues because we frequently discuss them. She and I recently went out to lunch together. We got into a discussion about the presidential election, as is bound to happen these days. The Primary is Tuesday here in Georgia, so she is really coming down to whom she wishes to go and vote for. I, unfortunately, will be too young to vote in both the primary and the real race this year. Next year, I will be old enough to vote in local elections, and I will definitely be old enough to vote in the next presidential election. She is backing Mike Huckabee because she agrees with him because he is a "moral and honest man" and because "he's a Baptist preacher". I really do not like him because he wishes to shred the Constitution for his own ideals.

But she said something about Mitt Romney that amused me quite a bit. We were talking, and she was giving her short synopsis of all of the different candidates. She said, "And Romney, well he's strong on the military issue. We need a president who will be strong on the military issue like he is. I mean, we have all these terrorists running around."

And that struck me as a little odd. How is it that the conservatives have so swallowed the media that poor old grandmothers can be convinced that there are terrorists lurking in the shadows of everywhere that they go? Or, as my grandmother would say, how have the terrorists so swallowed the media that their deeds run rampant on every channel you turn to?

It is just a little odd, I think, that the conservatives are running out of methods to make people support their war. They have had to resort to two methods that I've seen. The first is the "Well, if you don't support the war, you're not patriotic" method. This method is a mud-slinging and uninformed method. (How is killing people patriotic?)

The second method that I have seen them use is to grapple with the media and to resort to scaring people about the war. If people are convinced that terrorists are everywhere, they are more likely to support the War Against Terror. Well I'm not convinced of either.

I believe that terrorists have existed since pretty much the beginning of the human race. We just called them priests to begin with. As long as someone is willing to die to further his or her cause, there will be terrorists. ("Imagine.... nothing to kill or die for/And no religion too.") Since terrorism has always existed and likely will always exist, it seems foolish to declare a war against it, doesn't it? I personally think that the War on Terror will be just as successful as the War on Drugs and Abstinence-Only Sex-Education.

A country cannot declare war against a material object. The object firstly has no will to fight back, but secondly has no means to fight back. You can declare war against the users of drugs, but I agree with Mike Gravel in his saying that drug-addicts are not criminals, they are people with problems. They should be treated as people with problems, not as criminals.

If you declare a war against terror and then the media uses terror to rally support against the terrorism, do we still call it hypocrisy? Not in America, we call it the “American Dream”. (And like George Carlin said, they call it the American Dream only because you have to be asleep to believe it.)

Please leave comments of your own opinion. If you wish for me to talk about something in a future post, please be sure to email me at Please include the words "Tolerance and Peace" in the subject line, so that it is not kicked back by my SPAM filter. Thank you.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Same-Sex Marriage=In God We Trust?

If you recall, I argued for the fight against having the word "God" on currency and in the Pledge of Allegiance. I started my argument by acknowledging that it was, in fact, a petty fight. However I also acknowledged that it was a breach of civil rights and that it was an injustice. All injustices must be righted, I then reasoned. Well, I found a wonderful video on youtube ( ) that made me realize how petty a fight the current fight about marriage is. Same-Sex marriage bothers some people, however the word "God" bothers some people.

The only difference between the two that I can see (after a few hours of thinking about it) is that the people who are against same-sex marriage are arguing that if we allow same-sex marriage, all sorts of terrible and perverse things will start to happen. They argue that if we wish to allow same-sex marriage, we are not only going against the Holy Word of God, but we are going against nature. They argue that we will be falling into a terrible, immoral way of living.

Well, to hell with them! In essence, I think that if two people want to commit to a stable, monogamous, life-long relationship, they should be allowed to, regardless of sex, race, creed or age (with obvious restrictions to minors (they are not old enough yet to make that sort of decision, even if they are allowed to make an opinion about it)).

The Government is not there to dictate morals. They are there for two purposes. The first of these is to keep themselves alive and to earn money for their employees. The second of these purposes is to protect their citizens.

So, if the argument over the word "God" in the Pledge and on our currency is a small and petty matter, so is the issues of gay marriage.

Please leave comments of your own opinion. If you wish for me to talk about something in a future post, please be sure to email me at Please include the words "Tolerance and Peace" in the subject line, so that it is not kicked back by my SPAM filter. Thank you.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Religious American Elections....?

As much as I hate to admit it and as much as I am against it, religion plays a very large part in American politics. As appealing as Thomas Jefferson's "wall of separation between Church and State" is, the idea has not caught hold on the masses in the freest country in the world. As tolerant as people have become towards the black community and towards women, tolerance runs thin with non-theists and atheists.

Poor Mitt Romney is having a hard time getting votes because he belongs to the Church of Latter-Day Saints. Mike Huckabee is raking in the religious right's vote hand over fist. Barack Obama is doing well, despite having his religious preference questioned (the average, uninformed voter (e.g. my father) believes him to be a Muslim) is doing well in the race. In fact out of the four major (or at least, major in my mind) remaining candidates (H. Clinton, B. Obama, M. Huckabee, and M. Romney), only one does not have his or her religion acting with or against them.

I personally dream of one-day going into politics (something I believe that I have shared with this blog before). However, if I do not start to disavow myself as an atheist, I probably will never get elected into anything more than perhaps City Council-Member.

"In a free and open society," begins a famous speech by former-President John F. Kennedy, and while President Kennedy was speaking about Secret Societies, I am speaking about free and open societies. I personally do not believe that any society can be called free and open until all creeds and all faiths and all "races" (do not agree with labeling different humans as belonging to different races, but more on that later) and both sexes and all people regardless of disabilities and all people regardless of sexual preference (with regards to protect children and all people who wish to infringe upon somebody else's rights) are accepted. (I just re-read that and it makes no sense, so I am going to recap it below.)

I believe that a society cannot be called properly free and open until all people's regardless of any differences are accepted. This acceptance, of course, stops when one person wishes (and tries) to infringe upon the rights and freedoms of another person.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that, although America has come a long way in the fight for Civil Liberties, and that it has come a long way in the fight to give every man (and woman) his or her rights, the country has not come far enough.

"How many years can some people exist before they're allowed to be free?"goes the old Bob Dylan song (Blowin' in the Wind).

All I can say in answer to this question is that it won't happen until those people fight, tooth and nail, for their freedom. Whether they fight non-violently (as Gandhi did) or violently (the Civil War), they still must show that they do not support the offenses being brought against them.

They must show that they are resilient and they will not stand injustice. A people who are not free and are being oppressed must show it. They must show the hardships they are forced to bear.

The writer's of the groups, the painters, the composers, all of the artists should join arms to show to terribleness of their oppression. Any political leaders that the group has (whether the political leader that agrees with the group because he or she is in the group or because he or she sees the oppression does not matter truly) must use all their political influence in effort to liberate the group. Every layman who belongs to the group should incorporate its message into his or her everyday life.

In the end, conciousness must be raised. No longer do we say "chairman" but instead we say "chairperson" because we do not wish to be considered sexist by society. Feminists have even changed the way that we as a people think.

If atheists could do this, we could change the way that freedom is viewed.

Please leave comments of your own opinion. If you wish for me to talk about something in a future post, please be sure to email me at Please include the words "Tolerance and Peace" in the subject line, so that it is not kicked back by my SPAM filter. Thank you.

Friday, January 25, 2008

We Trust Whom?!

I'm sure that you've seen the debate of In God We Trust and the Under God almost everyone has an opinion about it, so I think I'll share mine.

The first thing that anyone who is against removing these phrases from nationally-approved and regulated entities (namely, the Pledge of Allegiance and our national currency) points out is that this is a petty and tiny thing. While we could (and perhaps should) be working on cures for life-threatening and life-debilitating diseases, we are actually fighting over twenty letters, six words. Is this small-scale battle really unimportant? Why are we doing this petty bickering when we could join together and do something about the terrible-ness of the world?

My answer to this first issue is that yes, this is a petty battle. Yes, this is small. But it is no more small than feminists insisting that "chairman" should become "chairperson". The purpose of this battle to raise awareness and to change the way that people think. If the way that people think can be changed, then in the end how they treat other people can be changed also. While the injustices that atheists, agnostics and non-theists face are not near as bad as those that were faced by the African American community nor those faced by women nor those faced by the Jewish community for centuries, the injustices that atheists, agnostics and non-theists face are still injustices. In my country, atheists are currently the most hated groups. According to one survey, people would rather vote for a black, a gay or a woman than an as-qualified atheist for public office. I plan to go into politics at some point in my life, but if I wish to do that in my own country, I will have to renounce any and all ties that I have to the non-theistic community. So while this is a petty issue, in the end, it comes down to making all (wo)men equal, as it is put down in the Constitution of the United States of America.

The reason that the majority of Americans are fine with this injustice is that it is their belief and their world-view being promoted. If our currency said "In Allah We Trust" and the Pledge said "One Nation, Under the Prophet (May Allah Rest His Soul)" then the Christians would feel just as oppressed as a large number of non-Christians and non-theists do. But, several people (myself included) believe that although the religious right is not correct, they do not know any better. A good number of the evangelicalists were raised in their religion and have never had an outside view of it. And likely never will.

Let me give you an example. I raised the Easter Challenge in class to one of my more skeptical friends. The class in question was an honors class, so I figured that the people in there are more open-minded about things. A good 'ol Southern Baptist overheard our private conversation and had to butt in. So, I brought the challenge to him, and he could not fathom that there were contradictions in the Bible.

So, while we should be fighting bigger battles, any injustice is an injustice, and all injustices should be righted. I feel that putting these phrases in our Pledge of Allegiance and on our currency is showing preference to theists over non-theists. Even if you can argue that the arbitrary "God" on this money and in the pledge is a God for all faiths, non-theists are left out.

Please leave comments of your own opinion. If you wish for me to talk about something in a future post, please be sure to email me at Please include the words "Tolerance and Peace" in the subject line, so that it is not kicked back by my SPAM filter. Thank you.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


So, yesterday I went on an epic-rant about education and things as such.

Today, I was proven right in a discussion with one of my "friends" (we're friends, but not very close friends at all).

He was talking about why one of the other people in the class and I always have in-depth conversations and the like (this friend is a true "Christian".... he doesn't judge anyone else, has never tried to even convert me. He wishes to understand my choice in being an atheist, but he and I never try to sway the other onto "our" side.) So he asked something along the lines of "Why do you two waste your time trying to figure things like that out?"

I answer first, "Waste.... our.... time?"

My friend caught up soon thereafter, saying "What do you mean by that?"

The other guy kept on, saying how it was a waste of time to worry about philosophy and the like. How a lot of people "waste" their lives looking for new elements and things like that. How we don't think about "important" things.

And I looked back at him and said, "What do you mean as 'important'?"

He couldn't answer, so I took it back up and asked him again, "I don't understand what you mean.... these things are important to myself and _______. Please tell us what you find important, and maybe we can find a reason to why you do not believe that our important things are not important."

It was quiet for a few moments, so my friend and I continued our argument about which side we would take during the "Fall" from Grace (assuming that Satan actually exists and all that jazz).

Later on, halfway through my brilliant (albeit half-stolen) defense of picking up Lucifer's side, he interrupted us again with basically the same question.

Please leave comments of your own opinion. If you wish for me to talk about something in a future post, please be sure to email me at Please include the words "Tolerance and Peace" in the subject line, so that it is not kicked back by my SPAM filter. Thank you.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Education's Turmoil

There is a problem with education in my country (the United States). The problem is that it doesn't happen. People in this country are very happy to take whatever someone tells them and believe it all day long without ever trying to find out if it is true.

I personally am still in high school, so I get to see first-hand the youth of today having a hard time thinking critically. I am in almost all AP (Advanced Placement, it's college-level work) and honors (higher than normal work, but not quite college-level) classes. However, I have a few classes with the "normal" students.

These classes involve "Business Law", "Engineer Drawing", and "Algebra II". In these three classes, I get to mingle with the normal-level students (as well as some upper-level students in some cases). Seeing these normal-level students in action astounds me almost every day.

These students are part of what I propose as being the 90% of the world that society will not allow to think. Onto this theory of mine: I believe that society as a whole will not allow more than 10% of its population actually know what the hell is going on. At least, not a normal society. Some places actually encourage free-thinking and critical thinking.

This 10% usually ends up being the lawyers and the judges and the CEO's and the other "leaders". Some of them go on to be bums with dreams (artists, musicians who are never "discovered", et al), but overall these people end up being the successful leaders of society.

The 10% generally, however, limits the rest of the society's ability to critically think. They do this for various reasons. One of the most obvious that leaps to mind is that they wish to retain the power that they have carved out for themselves. Those who have power are afraid to lose it the old Sith maxim goes.

The problem with this model for a democracy (or a republic) is that well over the majority (think 90% instead of the magic 51%) is not able to make an educated decision about who should be running the country.

The point I am trying to make is that in a republic like America, we should allow more critical thinking and more individually tailored classes to help educate the masses.

I know what it is like to be talking to somebody and make an allusion to something (a Greek myth or one of the founders of this country or anything like that) and have the person stare blankly at you, only to, a moment later, say "Huh?! You shouldn't use such big words with me."

Would increasing that 10% to 20% be such a bad thing?

Would further increasing it later to 50% (through gradual steps) be a bad thing?

I have never before heard of a society who fell into decadence because its members became too enlightened or too open-minded, have you?

Please leave comments of your own opinion. If you wish for me to talk about something in a future post, please be sure to email me at Please include the words "Tolerance and Peace" in the subject line, so that it is not kicked back by my SPAM filter. Thank you.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Two "M's": Mythology and Morality

As an atheist, I understand the importance of ridding the world of religion. I also understand the non-theistic world's view on religion and why it is poisonous (Christopher Hitchens' god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything). But as a former theist (or perhaps I was a make-believe theist.... there will be more on this topic in an up-and-coming post), I also understand the comfort that religion can provide. The simple things, such as "having your place in the universe" as well as the large things like having your place in society.

Joseph Campbell argued in The Power of Myth how having these mythologies as a society helped to show our place in that society. Myths helped to show that we are a part of the larger whole. While the importance of feeling as though you are a part of the larger whole can be debated, in the end, having your place and knowing your part make for living life much easier.

However, Campbell also goes on to say that today's society has lost its myth. America has no mythology of its own anymore, no rituals in which it can partake. And without these rituals, we develop into terrible people who cut off our hair so that a drug test is impossible.

So, it comes down to it, is Campbell correct? Do we as a society need a mythology, even if it is a complete metaphor and is understood completely as a metaphor, or can we live in a world that has no rituals, where even the judges have lost their robes and the president is only a (wo)man?

If we atheists get what many of us want (for religion either to completely be destroyed or be completely secular-ized), will our society still have moral standards? Will it have the same level of moral standards? Will it have less? Will it have more?

I suppose that my opinion of the matter is that we are inherently good, until corrupted and indoctrinated by terrible organizations (like churches), and since we are inherently good, we will attain more a greater moral basis when we lose these organizations with an unhealthy obsession with how many times we say our prayers each day, with what we do in the bedroom (or where ever else you like to have sex), with how many times a woman must be beaten with a stick before she is considered clean enough to ask to be cleansed by a priest (with a mustache and testicles), and with saving every single soul, whether that soul will be a rapist or a saint. (I use the term saint just to mean somebody who is extremely moral, Thomas Jefferson, though undoubtedly a deist (and probably an atheist), is a saint.) I feel that once these unhealthy obsessions are removed from society, many terrible perversions will also be removed. Even if it takes a few generations.

Please leave comments of your own opinion. If you wish for me to talk about something in a future post, please be sure to email me at Please include the words "Tolerance and Peace" in the subject line, so that it is not kicked back by my SPAM filter. Thank you.

A New Start

Well, here is a start, I suppose, to a new blog. I hope that I can keep this one as active as some others that I read. When it comes down to it, I don't really know why I am starting this, except perhaps as a place to record my thoughts and observations about the world.

For the record, I am a liberal atheist who happens to live in the Deep South Bible Belt. Intolerance runs rampant here, but I am unsure if it is the same everywhere. So there you have it.

If you wish to get my word out (please) to other people I would love it if you pass my link out.

And I swear that the next posts will be better, if not daily.