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This is Important

by on October 4, 2016

                                                                This is Important

                                                                by Marco M. Pardi 

“Most people go on living their everyday life: half frightened, half indifferent, they behold the ghostly tragi-comedy that is being performed on the international stage before the eyes and ears of the world.” Einstein. Out of My Later Life, 1950

All comments welcome.  To those readers who have been hesitant to comment or ask questions, please be assured you may do so freely. In recent days several new people have signed on as followers, enabling them to comment freely, and it is hoped they will. All previous posts are open for comment by clicking on “uncategorized”. Reader participation keeps this site vibrant. MMP

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My usual response to the statement, This is important is to ask: To whom?  From that I can gather preliminary information for the next question: Why? My entire career, in its several manifestations, has been one of not just listening to what people say, but examining why they say it. 

In a complex society we are surrounded by issues all the time.  But if you have trouble focusing, you can always be sure U.S. presidential election cycles will make every effort to guide you, like it or not.  As late as today I’ve looked over a couple of dozen national polls asking what is important in this coming election.  The lead issue is the economy and jobs.  Terrorism, health care, immigration, and “social issues” rotate for second place.  Quite possibly, “social issues” is code for the racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and outright Fascism embodied in one current narcissistic buffoon of a candidate.  As such, it would gloss over the precise distinctions people would be forced to make if they actually thought.  Thought.  Who has time for that?

How people rank order their perceptions of importance has long been of interest to me.  Looking more deeply, how far beyond the acquisition of what is important, or the resolution of an important issue people actually think, is also of great interest.  Most people have heard the admonition, Be careful what you wish for.  But how many think of consequences, especially when those consequences largely apply to other people?  And how many actions and tactics toward achieving an “important” goal are based in unexamined beliefs and their attendant feelings?

Without devolving into unnecessary rhetoric it is fair to say the economic model of capitalism is parasitic, not symbiotic.  In a finite resource world the accrual of capital – surplus, profit, gain, or some other label, comes through denial of the stipulated resource to others.  A capitalist hopes to be the parasite, not the host. 

But the concerns tallied in polls are in the aggregate.  How about the individual level?  I think it is reasonable to assert that control over the functions of one’s own body is about as individual as one can get.  Yet the issue of reproductive choice is aggregated into the “social issues” box, along with restroom choice and other such burning issues.  To better understand those who strongly advocate control over someone else’s body, those who would legislate what choices cannot be made, it is instructive to examine the basis for their sense of importance.

First, the claims made about fetal experience of pain go directly against the findings of medical science and are of a caliber which would fail a simple high school biology class. But those medical findings and the logic of disembodied neuronal response to stimulus are based on thought. The driver in the Pro-Life group is feelings, not thought. And the feelings are based in interpretation of “scripture”, which is itself remarkably silent on birth control and abortion.  However, there is a real world cultural basis for the interpretations and resulting feelings. 

Analysis of the cultural imperatives and the demographics of 1st century BCE (Before the Common Era) through the 5th century CE (Common Era) in the Roman Empire tells us that prolific child bearing was “a duty” of married women.  Presumptions of generating troops, or carrying on the family name aside, the harsh reality was the mortality rate for children birth through age 10 was 50%.  And, that’s for successful birth.  What are now preventable childhood diseases killed a multitude of children. The death in childbirth rate was apparently high, but impossible to calculate.  Furthermore, infants born “weak”, unwanted, or deformed were almost always “exposed” – that is, placed in the city garbage dump.  This was so common it was considered a source of “free slaves” for those willing to take the infant and raise it in their household. Thus, the Replacement Reproduction calculus (ZPG – Zero Population Growth) was: A woman should bear  5 – 6 children assuming minimal impact of diseases, and as many as 9 children in years of plague, famine, or other environmental pressures.

Only very recently in human history have we developed the social and medical resources and programs to dramatically reduce the birth to age 10 death rate.  Yet, even here, economics looms large.  The population hit hardest with the costs of child rearing is the economically disadvantaged, largely minority in make up. Yet, with an almost 100% overlay, the Pro-Life people support the political party rabidly dedicated to the severe reduction or elimination of the very social and medical resources and programs which have brought the birth to age 10 death rate from 50% to where it is today. Several States, with Texas significantly out in front, divert tax money intended for social, medical and economic support of the disadvantaged to “Pregnancy Crisis Centers”, misleading operations which present outright false information to women who, shown by their very attendance there, are often too distressed to make clearly thought out important choices.  A common “alternative” presented to the struggling family by these “Centers” is to put the child up for adoption.  Is this the new city dump? Ask yourself the comparative chances a Black male infant has of adoption compared to a White male infant. Of course, this calls for thought, and thought is anathema to the Pro-Life crowd. Indeed, only a very little thought is needed to realize this crowd is not Pro-Life, it is Pro-Birth.

There is also a rarely examined undercurrent of feeling directed particularly at women: You wanted to play, so now you pay. A distressingly large proportion of the American population still accepts the allegorical Adam and Eve account, presenting the female as the temptress or at least the mentally and emotionally inferior of the species.  The condemnation of the female to the pain, and even the mortal risk of childbirth is seen as her due. And, incredibly enough, a large proportion of the American population wants to impose its feelings on the health and welfare of women and children, banning contraception and abortion even in the cases of rape and incest.  What has long amused me are the twisted turns and deus ex machina devices used by Bible literalists to explain how Adam and Eve, with one surviving son, went on to found the human race.

A recent major book has elucidated how people, voting for what they think are important issues, vote based on their feelings not on their thinking.  But that doesn’t go far enough.  Their feelings are based on the often misinformed and outdated thoughts of others, enshrined in some tomes declared to be sacred despite the endless errors and contradictions. This applies as well in concepts of threat.  The term Fascism elicits in many people feelings of “boots and salutes”, the images from WWII era newsreels of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.  Few seem to know Mussolini himself captured the axiomatic foundation of Fascism in his statement: “Fascism is corporatism.” And fewer still seem to know that “Trickle down economics” is Fascism in its purest sense.

In the same way, the term Communism elicits feelings associated with the old Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Cuba and other State level societies which called or call themselves Communist – or now, Socialist.  But calling one’s self something does not make one that something.  The totalitarian dictatorships just cited bear no resemblance to the communal gathering of the Apostles as “they came together and gave as they were able and took as they had need”.  No attempt at communism has ever developed and succeeded above the Band level in society, such as the band of apostles.  Yet, like Pro-Life, and Freedom, and other simple to say labels, it took on a life of its own driven by feelings, not thought.   

Of course, it would be possible to go through the litany of issues important to people, but even the internet has its limits. (I heard those sighs of relief) But I’m open to thinking about any issue you propose, even if it means bruising a few feelings.

 

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20 Comments
  1. Ray Rivers permalink

    Best line of the year – “it is fair to say the economic model of capitalism is parasitic, not symbiotic.”

    Ray

  2. Thank you, Ray. Coming from an economist of your high standing, I take this as a compliment. Marco

  3. Michael E. Stamm permalink

    Excellent post on all counts. One of the great failings of democracy–“the worst form of government in the world, except for all the others”–is that it not only allows but in practice encourages people to vote based on emotion and not on reason. I agree with Ray about the line about capitalism, but be careful; in our world, speaking that way is a form of heresy far more serious than any criticism of religion (well, western religion, anyway). And that heresy poses a mortal threat to people who have far more invested in capitalism’s continued existence than they ever had in that of any church.

    • Thank you, Mike. Your advice is very well received. Keeping silent is a virtue for too many of us in our “free” society. As you know, I like to challenge borders. But one day it may prove harmful.

  4. Marco, if you watched the VP debates last night, you probably heard Mike Pence (R) call a fetus a “child.”

    When I read this blog entry yesterday, I had the thought that I would like to ask Biblical literalists why they condone pain-reducing drugs (such as epidurals), and other medical advances during labor and birth. Shouldn’t the pain and risk simply be endured, since this was the “curse” upon women?

    That was a question that would have gotten me into trouble in Sunday School.

    • Thank you, Dana. I watched some of the debate, but could not tolerate three people screaming over each other. This seems to be the accepted format in television talk shows, but I have no appetite for those.

      I entirely support your citation of the apparent contradiction in “easing the pain” of a process “declared by God” as rightfully painful. You and I would have had great conversations while sitting together outside the Headmaster’s office.

  5. “Confirmation bias occurs from the direct influence of desire on beliefs” and of course when you add shame and guilt you have the perfect storm. When the collective confirmation bias cannot be ascertained, the resulting “fremdschämen” occurs and the result is lashing out against the very idea that threatened their bias.

    • Well said, Candice. And throughout the process you describe in believers there is not a shred of thought, just feeling. Feeling is a dangerous basis for social power.

      So glad you are back, and hope you are doing well.

  6. Mark Dohle permalink

    I think emotions are high on both sides of the abortions debate Marco. I am against any law that will forbid abortions, since even before Roe and Wade, there were many illegal abortions every year. Abortion on demand does have its problems. When women and men brag on national television and on the internet that they got an abortion because it would interfere with there careers does cause me pause. Human life from conception until natural death needs to be protected. Now we have a culture that wants to take away that protection. Letting people die in peace, which we do here in the Monastery is different than having a doctor ‘put them out of their misery’. The ramifications for me are scary.

    Most people who I know who are pro-life are nothing like the above, yet I know there are those who are like that, who are scary in how they present their pro-life stance. I talk to many women who have had abortions, of all religions backgrounds or none and they carry a heavy burden of guilt. I feel great compassion for them, for from the way they talk they had no support from family or the father, in many cases they are the most blameless of all. Men are often the guilty party. The so called ‘player’ mentality and double standard towards women probably needs to be looked at more than the whole abortion issue. There seem to be fewer men, true men today.

    There are no easy answers to this question, but there are also atheist, agnostics and liberal thinking people who are pro life and I believe in the future people will look back in horror at some of the laws we have and are pushing for. If not, then I don’t want to be part of that world.

    Also, Christians of all denominations get abortions as well……so it is a mess I believe. I am not trying to change anything, I do believe that many of the movements today are short sighted and will only do more harm to the fabric of society. All I can do is to seek to do the best with the small piece of the world I live in.

    I agree about capitalism, when greed is the motivating factor, it can only bring more harm as well. I think we need a mix of both. Allowing people to create jobs and income, as well as having protection for the populace……our societies can be cruel places, that need not always be.

    Thank you for your post, I don’t always agree my dear friend, but you do make me think a bit…or a lot..

    Peace
    mark

    • Thank you, Mark. I often think of you when I consider this, and related subjects. Of course, I may be mistaken when I think of you as a very unusual person among your peers and even society at large, a person of great intellect and of great faith. The very fact that you engage with rather than retreat from the soul wrenching issues of human society speaks to me of an integrity and an endurance that I am not sure I would have.

      I infer from your comments that you fully see the difference between acting in accordance with belief and acting in accordance with law. And, you see the inherent issues when someone else’s beliefs become the laws which govern your actions. The inner processes by which you navigate the world as you experience it are inspirational to all, believers and non-believers alike.

      • Mark Dohle permalink

        Thank you Marco for responding. Yes I see the difference. When religion becomes a political power then it loses it’s salt……if we want to change our society, then we Christians have to change instead of pointing fingers at others. The fact that we lost our way is one reason our country is in such a mess…..there are many factors for sure, but I believe that is one of them.

        Peace
        Mark

  7. My Journey Out of Darkness permalink

    The part about whether or not an embryo or fetus feels pain is very important. People do not know or understand what a child in the womb is capable or not capable of feeling. I was a miscarriage and my mother suffered greatly during her pregnancy with me. She worried more about whether I was also suffering than her own suffering. The truth is that an embryo and/or fetus only feels pain if the Spirit chooses to incarnate into the body at that time. My brother and I, both miscarriages, chose to ride alongside our mother instead of incarnating into our bodies. We did not feel pain! My mom just did a sigh of relief. Many Spirits know if they will be aborted or miscarried. Usually they choose not to incarnate into the bodies in these cases. If they choose to incarnate, it is for the reason they need the experience for a Spiritual growth reason. – Tina

    The issue of thinking for oneself is very important to both my mom and me. We need to learn to think for ourselves. You cannot make informed and important decisions unless you think for yourself! These blog pieces of yours are very important, Marco! – John

    I really enjoyed this piece! Actually, I enjoy all your writings! As I said, Marco, I feel as if before you came into this life you noticed people could not think for themselves and chose to do something about it. I cannot tell you how many times you have caused me to take into consideration why I think/believe or say what I do. This is a very important concept that everyone must learn.

    I have a trouble with the bible. People are always throwing bible verses at me as “proof” of this, that or the other thing. When I ask what makes this solid “proof” they tell me because god wrote the bible. When I ask what makes them so sure that god wrote the bible they tell me because it says so in the bible. I have trouble with this because it is not solid proof for me. It is merely going in a circle of nonsense. The mere fact that in this antiquated text god is depicted as unloving, vengeful and prejudice causes me much suspicion. Also, I cannot get my head around the worship of a deity thing. It makes no sense because I feel is lowers one self worth, which is counterproductive to why we incarnate!

    I think you are aware of the strong feelings I have about the government controlling our lives. I do not believe that is the purpose of government. I also do not believe that we live in a free society. People who think we do are living an illusion. Controlling a woman’s reproductive rights is way out of line. Being a mother is not a duty. It is an honor, privilege and joy IF it is your choice to be a mother. Forcing motherhood or fatherhood on anyone is wrong and is extremely harmful to both the parents and the child. If I were the child of a woman who did not want to be a mother, I would much rather have been aborted and in the Spirit Realm where I belong. I know that due to my abilities this is easier for me to say than most. I feel that reproduction has no place in politics or social issues. It is a private and individual situation and is one of the many things the government and other busy bodies in the public need to keep their noses out of. – Michelle

    • Thank you, Michelle. You have presented many thoughts and comments deserving of close attention. I appreciate your opinion regarding my being on this planet; I have always put it down to my father and mother having unprotected sexual intercourse

      Sadly, while the issues you raise are entirely valid and compelling, I don’t expect a resolution in my lifetime. But, perhaps that would put me out of business. .

      • My Journey Out of Darkness permalink

        However you perceive it is perfectly fine! The fact that these issues will not be resolved in our lifetimes is sad; however, because of people like you, I am seeing the beginnings of change. Having it occur during my lifetime is not as important to me as I can see that it is beginning to change. These things, unfortunately, take time.

      • Thanks, MJ. Foremost in my mind are my daughter and grand children. I have submitted questions for the candidates including: Given the reality of climate change, what special plans have you made for your children and grand children while so many others die?

        So far no one has had the gonads to present the question.

      • My Journey Out of Darkness permalink

        Sad to say, I am not surprised that they have not had the gonads.

  8. My apologies for taking so long to reply; sometimes I tend to overthink things, and sometimes I don’t know what to think at all. This is a little of both, I suspect.

    The socio-political climate in which we live has me scratching my head. The government has its finger in far too many of my personal pies, as it were. I certainly don’t want a bunch of strangers deciding whether I am legally allowed to end my own life, or what type of birth control may be used by those who are still young enough to need it. Abortion is not a choice I believe I could make, and I certainly don’t approve of it as a substitute for responsible sexual behavior, but I do see the validity of it in certain cases.

    Separation of church and state was always more an ideal than a reality, but lately it has become more delusion than truth. The truth, as I see it, is that any time you add the human factor to an equation, your answer is going to be skewed by beliefs and feelings. It is the rare person who can put these aside in favor of reason. I am not claiming to be that exception, but I do try to make sense of what is behind all the rhetoric. I am frustrated, horrified, and disgusted by all I see happening around me, and terrified of what may potentially come after. Fasten your seat belt, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

    • Thank you, Rose. Your presence answers a concern: How well you came through Hurricane Matthew.

      Yes, I’ve know a couple of women who treated abortion as a form of birth control, and gave them some very harsh words. But that was all I could do, and that’s for the best. I could not charge them with infanticide and imprison them, imprisoning their other children in their fate as a consequence.

      And, you rightly raise the issue of control – to the extent we may have it – over our own final demise. Again, I share with you the desire to determine my own circumstances to the best of my ability. There actually was a time when suicide fell under criminal statutes. Hard to see how to prosecute that. Now, it is still taken by many as de facto evidence of mental illness. Yet I know of no professional who would have pronounced Brittany Maynard as mentally ill.

      You may not see yourself as the exception who can consider issues rationally. But I would nominate you for any and all of the finest Ethics Boards in the land.

      • Thank you, Marco; I have often said that you have a better opinion of me than I have of myself. I woke up early this morning with this rant on my mind. The point which I failed to make is that certain behaviors should belong only to the person who makes them. I have a right to my opinion; to state it, and even to act on it when it affects only me. What I do not have is the right to force anyone else to think or feel the same, and I certainly don’t have the right to force anyone else to act in accordance with my belief. Neither should the government have that right. It’s become a real push me- pull you, with some rights being “given”, while others are being taken away. I fear what the government will try to do in the next four years, especially if “the Donald” is elected. They’ve spent eight years blocking any good that might have come from this administration; they will do the same if the Democrats retain the presidency.

        Make no mistake about it; either way, the partisan hell this country has become will only get worse, no matter what happens in this election. I love my country. I’m fond of our government when it works properly, but I hate politics!

      • Thank you, Rose. I share your distaste for politics. Once again, I managed about 15 minutes of the “debate” last night before my blood pressure indicated I should leave.

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