ink for thought: 01.09

Sunday, 25 January 2009

do you believe in karma?

I got stopped the other day by a girl wanting me to sign up to some charity. now I'm a fairly charitable person...but at the same time I'm broke, not only am I broke...I foresee myself being broke for some time to come. I don't really have a problem with this, in fact, I'm pretty chilled about it but it does mean I really oughtn't be giving away any new money on a regular basis.

when I tried to explain this to the eager charity worker she countered with 'do you believe in karma?' didn't take me too long to say no. I don't believe in very much to be honest and karma never did appeal to me.

but the question has stuck with me. days later I'm asking myself, what did she mean by karma? I mean, I believe in actions and consequence and if she meant that then we've pretty much agreed but if she meant that when you do good things, then good things come back to a kind of cosmic balancing act where all things exist in equal portions and reality as we know it is constantly in a battle to maintain its own equilibrium...then I ain't buying it.

if somebody out there can pin down what exactly karma is then please let me know. the way I see it, good things happen to bad people all day (and double on the weekends) where's the delicate balance then? and what about bad stuff happening to good folks? where's the karma in that?

I'm gonna get personal with this one because I know I say some cruel stuff sometimes. I've been known to be mean to vertically challenged people, sarcastic and not especially kind to domesticated quadrupeds amongst other short comings. but what karma says to me is that one day, bad things will happen to me as a result. period. well....what happened to grace? ya see, in my book grace doesn't give you what you deserve and mercy gives you what you couldn't earn.

I guess that's my main problem with karma. as far as quasi religious theories go I have to say that "shit happens" works much better for me. with karma there's no room for accidents. there's no understanding of mistakes. the human is elevated to a state of infallibility that no wrong doing can be forgiven and punishment looms over us all. that's a harsh way to live. besides, if I'm only doing 'good' stuff so that 'good' stuff can happen to me (I call that "the santa syndrome") then surely that doesn't count. does karma differentiate between actions and motivations??

no charity worker lady, I don't believe in karma. but can I ask you something as you stand there collecting money for unfortunate children who are beaten, abused and abandoned, the cancer patient who may never see their childs wedding day or even the mentally challenged, daily facing an onslaught we could never imagine, a war in their minds we could never begin to comprehend? if you believe in karma.....what did they do?

Saturday, 24 January 2009

how's that for enlightenment?

so let me make sure I'm understanding this....

a professor of education has stepped down from his position within the british academy of science...because he urged teachers to be prepared to discuss and debate the relative benefits and possible weaknesses of a theoretical explanation to our existence?

so basically, science has won a battle over curiosity. well done science! no longer will you be subject to the whims and fancies of the inquisitive. no longer will you be goaded into reaching further and further into the unknown. no longer will you be held responsible for the enlightenment of minds and the broadening of horizons.

finally, the search has ended, science has found out everything it has ever wanted to know and is content to simply congeal in its superiority, mold over and turn into dogma.

I'll come back to dogma in a bit, bugbear of mine that it is, but I have to ask...isn't debate and discussion, exploration and exposition the very foundation of science? isn't science about knowing clearly the dark mysteries of the universe? isn't the point of science to prove without a doubt that which defunct tradition, age old ignorance and (dogmatic) superstition have kept locked away?

surely if children go to school with errant beliefs and misguided convictions it is the teachers responsibility to educate them, but you'll catch a lot more flies with honey than with vinegar, and to suggest that teachers not be prepared to talk about creationism in it's various forms is to deprive students the opportunity to grow in their ability to think and deny science the ability to grow in it's understanding of the world around us.

it amazes me that when religious groups become this defensive about their deeply held beliefs the question always arises...."if you're so sure of what you know then why can't you debate it?"

well, I put that same question to the cowards at the Royal Society, and the relevant education authorities...if you're so sure, then why can't a child ask a question and expect a reasonable, fair and dare I say, educated, response from a teacher?

so the religion of the day is science. it's dogma shall not be questioned and it's decrees are absolute. it's prophets, adorned in the priestly robes of the high office of the lab tech, speak with the unerring voice of those truly attuned to the whispers of purest knowledge. and we, simpletons and plebs, the unwashed masses dare not contradict.

how's that for enlightenment?

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

it's a small world after all

I am constantly amazed at how small our worlds have become. we seem to have become intellectual xenophobes. spending each day in mortal fear of the unknown thoughts lurking behind the eyes of the unknown other. tight lipped and even tighter cliqued we circle the wagons and exclude any and all who don't fit into our increasingly small understanding of what it means to be.

From the rooftops we declare tolerance and acceptance, every mouth in the land sings 'welcome' but our doors remain barred to those that think, look or speak differently. we eye them with suspicion and mistrust. a mistrust born of a thousand not yet committed sins, borne on the wings of a myriad secondhand tales of unverifiable villainy.

Our specious salutations, fallacious fabrication of friendliness, nothing more than denials of our base nature, or even the nature of our baseness. we tolerate those that agree with us. with open arms we welcome those from whom we have never parted.

How small have our worlds become? so afraid are we that we harangue, insult and deride what we do not understand. we bolster our own insecurities with vulgar misunderstanding and pray fervently that no one sees through our facade to our fear. we are child like, running from the dark and hoping against hope for the light of day to release us.

perhaps one day our worlds will collide, perhaps the sound of a million smashing snow globes will shake us from this isolationist stupor, as we awake to the colour and vivacity that life lived in real communion with real people (not this masquerade of the make believe) can hold. perhaps...

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

on originality

it occurs to me that in the effort to break new ground, the rugged pursuit of the elusive original, we sometimes lose our way. our focus blurred by the intensity of our own intention. our stamina worn away by the monotony of the commonplace. we strive on through the everyday seeking that which will truly amaze, enthrall, captivate.

but, as the bard said, here lies the rub, for it is by the commonplace that the truly glorious is masked and everday we dwell among the breath taking....we need only look.

my dogma ate my homework, pt.1

I'm not a fan of religion. any religion. by and large, man made institutions, castles of cards made of idiotic traditions founded on rules and regulations created solely to bind people in fear and guilt. religion covers ignorance like a dirty bandage on a weeping sore.

that said I've had my full of the arm chair philosophers, word of mouth historians and the multiplicity of others claiming boldly 'religion has killed more people than all the wars in history combined!' really? come on, we've all heard enough politicking to be able to spot a whopping great pile of manure masquerading as fact, haven't we?

religion is a lot of things. worked into its design, into its very fabric, is manipulation and control through fear and ignorance. careful utilisation of these, facets, so to speak, has contributed to the amassing of great political influence among other things. and the overwhelming greed, that holds these structures together, enshrined in defunct doctrine and tradition, coupled with the paranoia that such institutions engender, keep the wheels turning. this isn't news to anyone.

but isn't this what religion was designed to do? religion is a tool. designed to make a few people very powerful (and/or wealthy) at the expense of the masses. at various points in the history of civilisation this ferocious avarice has came up against diametric opposition in the form of someone else trying to expand their fiefdom. it is inevitable. an old fashioned power struggle. simple as that.

but since when does the gun take responsibility over the shooter? and which courts try and imprison the knife? religion hasn't killed anyone. it can't. insidious as it seems to be, by it's very nature it is inert and incapable of independent thought.

so folks, let's be sensible. people kill people. people have killed people. and by the looks of it, people will continue to kill people. let's have fewer excuses and more transparency. and hey, who knows, we might even someday manage to stop killing ourselves.