Posted by: JDM..... | January 31, 2013

There I go…

…taking myself too seriously again…

too serious_450

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Posted by: JDM..... | March 30, 2018

That Sudden Impulse…

AprilFool [2a]_

Posted by: JDM..... | March 22, 2018

Dangerous times…

and what needs to change…

We live in dangerous times, an observation that is difficult to argue with. Just a few weeks ago, on February 14, the news was dominated by the horror of another disturbed young person shooting up a school, leaving 17 dead. Then, from March 2 through March 21, a 23 year old young man went on a bombing spree in Texas for reasons as yet unknown. And on March 18, police officers shot and killed a young black father of two, unarmed except for his cell phone, in his back yard. The question is, what are we going to do about it? How can we end the pointless waste of human life?

When people encounter events or circumstances which fall outside the normal range of expectations, they are driven to seek an explanation that either moves the issue to within that range or that justifies its existence outside of that range. Such seemingly unresolvable inconsistencies are known as “incongruities”, and we human beings can’t tolerate them. Therefore, we can become creative in coming up with answers that put us at ease once again. In part due to the immediacy of the need, logic is not a primary concern, and we may be quick to grasp the first best answer to come up. The “Cliff’s Notes” approach to logic may prevail in the interest of expediency.

Scapegoats are born in this fertile arena, be they the human kind, the philosophical kind, or some other inanimate variety. In the matter of gun ownership, those taking up an anti-gun stance might blame the problems on the National Rifle Association or some other group serving the interests of the large population of gun owners. Particular individuals may be singled out because of their public standing and open support of some sort of gun ownership. Such scapegoat selection can be relatively selective, with the focus on points that seem to support a preexisting conclusion and the rejection of vague points or those that oppose their position.

Whether or not this process is reasonable would, again, depend upon who you ask. My personal answer to that part of the question is “no.” I don’t think it is reasonable, for some of the reasons cited.

* * *

Random bombings are another way that disturbed individuals vent their frustration and anger and terrorize the population. As with the shooting incidents, developing ways to stop the incidents requires that we first discover underlying causes and patterns of contributory circumstances that might help us to intervene and prevent future occurrences. With shooting incidents, the implements used, firearms, are an easy target, and many believe restricting ownership and use of those items will stop future events. Others oppose this manner of thinking, either because they believe it is more important to focus on the underlying causes first and the tools used secondly, or because they see it as a threat to the Second Amendment, or both.

The bombing incidents may be more complex but they still represent a person who is angry and raging for some reason and who has removed himself from civilization and the support and restraints it normally provides. Whether he utilizes known, traditional explosives or creative chemistry with regular household products, he builds a mechanism to serve his purpose.

A common denominator between the shooter and the bomber, it seems to me, would be the need to either find a way to help the person before his mental or emotional state reaches the breaking point, or to or figure out a strategy to stop him before he does harm. The latter is meaningless without achieving the former beforehand.

The most powerful and effective tools of all are knowledge and communication. Providing for the more widespread understanding of mental health issues would be a positive and helpful tool of prevention, combined with easier access to support.

Some rules and regulations around the access to and use of firearms are necessary and reasonable in a large and diverse society. By the same token, such rules and regulations should not be punitive toward the innocent. Statistically, the misuse of firearms is surprisingly small, and there are constitutional considerations that must be obeyed.

I am a life long gun owner, I enjoyed hunting for nearly 60 years, and interpret the Constitution and its Second Amendment conservatively, not necessarily as has been interpreted by others to fit the PC of the moment. The “Politically Correct” description or “PC” is a reference to the heavily “Liberal”, anti-gun opinions and politics of a large segment of the population, and should be respected as such, but it is not the law of the land. That limit should also be respected. The law of the land is established according to the Constitution of United States, which recognizes the opinions of all citizens, regardless of politic.

* * *

The bombing issue is neither so controversial as questions about guns and the Second Amendment, nor does it have a convenient “scapegoat” to distract from the most important part: prevention. But for the same reasons, perhaps it could provide a model for prevention that could be borrowed and adapted for the mass shootings problem.

The focus for developing a meaningful response to the bombing is pretty much restricted to mental health considerations and public awareness. Unlike ideas of “gun control”, It would be impractical if not impossible to try to quarantine all possible bomb making materials.

* * *

Just as one school shooting is one too many, one inappropriate or unnecessary use of lethal force by a police officer is one too many.

There was another one on March 18 in Sacramento, CA. Police were searching for a burglar. The police helicopter overhead reported an individual behind a house, the officers on foot spotted him, ordered him to the ground, and when he moved away instead, they unloaded 20 shots at him. Thus, a young father of two was gunned down in his back yard with a cell phone in his hand.

I have a couple of questions.

  • [1] Why was it necessary to fire twenty shots at the man?

  • [2] Why was it necessary to fire any shots at all, since the “suspect” was being sought for a non-violent crime and the officers had no reason to believe he was a danger to them?

This is not an easy situation to fix. Police officers do have a difficult job, and it can be life-threatening at just about any moment. They have to be properly equipped to do their job and to protect themselves and others when necessary.

Two things come to mind though, policy making and training. Senior officers and other officials set policy for how their organizations will conduct their responsibilities. Training instructs the rest of the personnel in those policies and the skills needed to carry them out. Matters of judgment and clarity of thought under fire are mostly up to the individual officers, with training and oversight also playing a role.

Another component of the policeman’s job should be accountability. When most people screw up on the job, paper or time may be wasted, but when a police officer screws up on the job, someone may die.

Training needs to be more than qualifying at the shooting range periodically. Most police officers are familiar with firearms and may have skills developed over a lifetime or through military training. Far more important should be ongoing education and training in human psychology and environmental awareness, as well as regular oversight to ensure that each officer is mentally and emotionally prepared for whatever he or she might encounter each day. As team members, officers need to be aware of each other as well, and to be vigilant for potential difficulties. Supervisors need to know what is going on with their charges. There may very well be procedures in place allowing an officer to “sit this one out” or to seek temporary reassignment when dealing with personal matters without fear of repercussions, and if not, there should be.

When unfortunate incidents occur and a suspect is shot or killed, as does happen from time to time, the officer is normally placed on leave or reassigned to a desk job while an investigation is conducted. However, an internal review is neither adequate nor fair. I believe the investigation should never be conducted internally and that the incident should be adjudicated in a court of law just as it would be if a civilian was the shooter. Any life lost deserves equal justice under the law.

Being afforded the shelter of claiming one was “in fear for one’s life” should not be a blank check. A police officer who makes a wrong decision or has an error in judgment should be held responsible and face the same charges as any civilian would. They are held to a higher standard, and should be.

An officer, if he is worthy of the uniform, does what he is trained to do. If he is trained to unload eight or ten shots at a suspect who fails to respond with military boot camp precision, whether the suspect is armed or not, he will do so. One could make a long list of examples. The bottom line is, he should be trained to use lethal force only as an unavoidable last resort.

 

~-~* * *~-~

 

Posted by: JDM..... | March 16, 2018

Economics 101…

Economics[16MAR2018]_002

Posted by: JDM..... | March 7, 2018

Our task is not to act correctly…

…but to act wisely…

I once remarked that watching the evening news can be like going to a one-book library, and that still rings true today in my opinion. Currently, of course, the One Book featured tends to be the recent killing of 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida by a disgruntled and disturbed 19 year old former student.

As I tried to absorb the whole story and to harvest essential facts from the cascade of presumptions, assumptions, and passion driven pronouncements of the various unquestionable, undeniable, indisputable truths vying for dominance, I found myself at a loss to formulate a satisfactory opinion on the matter. Every time I put together a couple of paragraphs, I realized that I was either straying or contradicting myself, a sure sign of input overload.

One thing I noticed as I began to critique the opposing viewpoints about “gun control” and the Second Amendment, was that my sincere attempt at building a rational analysis was skewed by my own innate biases and emotions, as was everyone else’s. I rolled my chair back, clasped my hands behind my head, and stared at the ceiling.

I found myself re-pioneering a well-worn circular path of my own making when contemplating the reinvigorated face off between those advocating a “gun control” response to the issue of firearm related public mass shootings and those rigidly protective of the Second Amendment. We each have our biases, for a variety of reasons, although we may not recognize our own as readily as we see those of others. I decided to look for a way to guard against those biases to which I am innately blind before offering a new opinion about the issue at hand.

This seems like one of those stories that the media, the public, and “experts” could undoubtedly chew on interminably, only to come up with the same old threadbare epiphanies we always seem to arrive at, I thought. Why is that, I wondered. Human behavior was my focal point academically and in most of my work environments over the years, so I decided to do a little research before blogging any analyses or opinions.

It wasn’t long before I ran across an article in the Harvard Business Review of February 2009 titled Why Good Leaders Make Bad Decisions, by Andrew Campbell, Jo Whitehead, and Sydney Finkelstein that seemed to offer some insight into the matter. Although written from a business perspective, the subject was examined as a question of human behavior and basic psychological principles, which is more up my alley.

I saw a relationship between the behaviors described in the article and those observed both locally and globally following virtually any social crisis such as acts of random public violence, like the recent school shooting incident.

According to the article, researchers have found that our brains are wired to be more reactionary under stress. I think most of us are aware of that, but I’m also rather certain that few of us bother to break that down into its component parts, consider how conclusions might thus be drawn, and recognize how that process affects decision making. In other words, in stressful situations, our actions will be more strongly dependent upon what the researchers call “Pattern recognition” where we tend to make assumptions based upon previous experiences and judgments. As part of this process, they say, we are subject to “emotional tagging” where our emotional information becomes attached to the thoughts and experiences our memories hold.  

As an example, the authors cite circumstances faced by a CEO when he had to choose between selling off a non-performing division of his company or bailing it out and sticking with it. The hook is that he had placed one of his long time loyal managers in charge of the operation.

Being aware of the normal, unconscious processes of pattern recognition and emotional tagging as sources of self-defeating bias gives one the opportunity to devise strategies to avoid that outcome and to make more productive decisions.

So, how could the CEO interfere with the natural tendency for his attendant biases to influence his decision making? For one thing, the decision makers, whether that would be just the CEO or a committee, should expose themselves to new and different information and analyses of the problem by involving people from outside their usual sphere of interest. Include time for debate and especially for confrontation of recommendations that are bias-based. Provide for “checks and balances” such as oversight. In matters of business, including a moderator might be appropriate, but in a Representative Democracy environment the opposite would be more appropriate and it would be best to limit the options for purely executive decision making.

Psychologist Gary Klein explains that our brains tend to leap to conclusions making us reluctant to consider alternative ideas. He described three circumstances or “Red Flag Conditions” which can cause distorted emotional associations which in turn can lead to perceptions of false patterns.

  • 1- The presence of “inappropriate self-interest”, being too close to the situation to be truly objective, makes decision makers more likely to see what they want to see.

  • 2- The presence of “distorting attachments” , being attached to people, places, and things involved in the situation, can influence one’s judgment.

  • 3- The presence of misleading memories, wherein one may have memories of similar situations, how they were responded to, and the outcomes, which can lead one to ignore or undervalue significant differences between “then and now.”

Having read the above reference article, as well as a few others, I thought it would be helpful to apply the observations to the current question about how we should respond to patterns of mass shootings and the issues of “gun control” and the Second Amendment.

I think it would be safe to say that one primary common objective is to reduce or eliminate incidents of mass shootings; another would be to develop strategies for improving safety in and around schools and other vulnerable public venues.  All suggested “objectives”, emanating from the citizenry as a whole, enjoy equal validity at this stage.

Having developed a list of “objectives”, the next step would be to come up with a list of “options.” A number of people want “gun control”, and espouse options that focus on the regulation of who can obtain, possess, and use firearms. Some of their suggested options at this point include [a] increasing or expanding the current background check system, [b] raising the age to 21 for the purchase of certain firearms and ammunition, [c] banning certain firearms and accessories (high capacity magazines, bump-stocks, etc), and [d] amending the Second Amendment to reexamine and redefine “the right to bear arms” and set parameters around who can own, possess, and/or use specific arms or specific classifications or types of arms.

A contrasting viewpoint focuses on achieving the objectives of reduced violence and protection schools and other vulnerable public venues while at the same time protecting against perceived threats to the Second Amendment, and aggressive regulation of who can obtain, possess, and use firearms and accessories. Their suggested actions at this point include [a] arming selected teachers and other school staff; [b] eliminating “gun free zones,” as some feel that such designation presents an open invitation for potential shooters; [c] examining existing laws and regulations to ascertain what is working and what is not; [d] developing strategies to improve aspects of current laws not working as intended or as desired instead of passing new laws or supplements to existing ones that aren’t working.

Regardless of one’s position on the subject, it would be helpful to develop a neutral framework within which to examine the situation and draft suggested courses of action, while minimizing the potential influence of personal biases and giving opposing viewpoints equal consideration

My biases
I hunted for some sixty years and have owned one or more firearms for most of that time span. I no longer hunt, but I do own firearms and support the NRA. Politically, I tend to hold Libertarian / Conservative values. In college, I favored correcting the inequities in our society that were given so much attention during the sixties, more or less along “classical liberal” lines. However, I have never agreed with the “neo liberal” philosophy that favors centralization of power in the federal government and a prescriptive approach to resolving perceived or actual inequities. More on that another time.

My opinion
I believe we should follow the framework of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as they exist, according to the spirit in which they were written and subsequently amended. We need to be extremely careful about creatively reinterpreting those documents to make them support certain political positions. This is not to diminish in any way the value of any particular political views, but they tend to be fluid and ever-changing. The Constitution, on the other hand, has survived intact for 231 years so far, with a few amendments along the way. Amending the Constitution is an important option to ensure that it remains relevant, but for the same reason that process is not taken lightly and is not designed to be easy to do.

Already, actions are being proposed on the basis of political value rather than on the basis of viability and compatibility with the Constitution.  I suspect that ideas involving the selective imposition of increased age limits on certain purchases would run into serious challenges on a number of points.  I can’t imagine a 20 year old coming home from the Middle East with one leg and a chestful of medals being told he’s not old enough to purchase or use certain firearms.  Any age limits tend to be arbitrary and subjective anyway, so they should at least be established rationally and not on the basis of emotion or political currency.  

I find the incidents of public violence extremely disturbing, and it tears me apart to think what it must be like for a parent to lose a child, or for anyone to lose someone they love in such a way. These traumas heal slowly, if at all, and they always leave scars.

I want people to feel safe, but I also want my grandson to grow up in a country that is as free as, or freer than the one I was born into. Liberty is paramount and should never be pawned in exchange for promises of “safety”. Freedom and safety are both crucial to life, but balance is equally critical, with the emphasis on freedom rather than safety.

I don’t have to worry about being savagely murdered in my home or fields as some of my ancestors were, but we have dangers of our own in present times. My ancestors learned, however that becoming overly dependent on, or obedient to government for day to day matters over and above the general defense, can be a fatal error. It is why we were given a system of self governance to live under, if we choose. Freedom includes the right to be wrong, the right to be unpopular, the right to hold opposing views, and to be considered offensive. It also includes the responsibility to safeguard those same rights for others, all inclusive.

We have had to adapt, innovate, and grow as our population has grown astronomically and the world has changed. Unfortunately, human nature, opportunity, and hasty decision making has sometimes led us to chip away at the checks and balances built into the Constitution, resulting in a progressively larger, broader, and more elitist government, and a less independent, more compliant population.

Thus, when we find ourselves facing difficult challenges that require new considerations of our safety and freedom as we do when a disturbed or evil person shoots up a school, it is important that we are able to make rational decisions that will work rather than impulsive ones driven by anger, fear, or passion that may exact further collateral damage to our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

~-~* * *~-~

Posted by: JDM..... | March 6, 2018

Oh, yeah…by the way…..

OscarsDiverse(final)]

Posted by: JDM..... | February 18, 2018

About “mass shootings”…

 

What do we do?…

The question is…

How Can We Develop an Effective and Constitutionally Valid Response to Mass Shootings?

Before we can come up with a rational and effective response to a problem, we have to define the problem, which is not likely to be as clearly understood as we might like to believe.

While the differing perspectives and opinions may never actually agree, they can and must find actions they can agree to take and to not take.

At the present time, passions run high and most people have their feet firmly and immovably planted on what they KNOW, beyond any shadow of doubt, is the ONLY rational an moral idea about what should be done.

VIOLENCE

Violence is not a new phenomenon in the United States or in the rest of the world either. Also, firearms have, for the most part, almost entirely replaced earlier tools of the trade such as bows and arrows, spears, big sticks, rocks, and so forth. Like other implements of death, they all have had other uses as well. Lizzie Borden’s axe has historically been thought of as a tool for cutting wood, at least in western societies, although certain models have in the past been designed to inflict harm and were used as weapons of war.

The argument that many ordinary tools can be used to maim or kill has merit, but there is little argument that guns have come to be viewed in the twenty first century mostly as evil implements of mayhem and murder. Except in the hands of the military and law enforcement. Militarily, the United States has been involved in armed conflicts for 93% of the 240 years we have existed as a country. With less than a handful of exceptions, those involvements have taken place in other countries around the world, and whether or not our participation was justified is a matter of politics and opinion. In addition, and perhaps as a spin-off from those involvements, we have become a global leader in the manufacture and sale of tools whose sole purpose is to kill. Furthermore, the United States is said to have the world’s largest military budget. War has become quite profitable and is the focus of some of our largest corporations.

The arms race of the fifties and sixties, which grew out of mutual fear between the USA and the USSR has become the arms race of today, which is an economic competition between the USA and Russia for the global weapons business. Obviously, both countries have a vested interest in continued conflicts.

Law enforcement has undergone an alarming transformation over the past twenty years, particularly since September 11, 2001, having replaced the traditional “Officer Clancy” persona in many areas with what looks more like a military assault team.

When the military ensures that it is armed to the teeth, it’s called “defense”, which is partially true and is, in fact, the government’s primary job.  When the local police are similarly equipped, it’s called “protecting the public”, but it was not that long ago that when a military style intervention was needed, the National Guard would be summoned.   Full on, zero to one hundred responses require more thought and aren’t as likely to be spontaneously over-used under such circumstances,   and the difference between the police and the police state remains clear.

As an aside, I worked on a locked psychiatric unit at the local hospital for several years, until I retired.  Before that, I had worked as a counselor with the substance abuse program.  Some of the patients and clients with whom I worked could be volatile or violent, much like many of the people encountered by the police, and yes, on a few occasions they turned out to be armed.  Nevertheless, on no occasion did I cause harm when de-escalating a volatile or dangerous situation.  In fact, at one point I taught non-violent intervention and restraint methods.  Occasionally, we did have to call the local police to take control of particularly dangerous patients who were out of control, but the most aggressive action I ever saw them take was the use of pepper spray.  I shared in that experience once as I was trying to restrain the individual at the time the substance was unleashed.

Yet, with all of this armament and weaponry, the mere possession of a firearm by a private citizen is looked upon by some with a jaundiced eye as a potential felony, or at least a misdemeanor, or maybe a fine if all of the requisite paperwork is not in order. Those whose personal values and politic reside on the more conservative side of the divide interpret the Second Amendment as having been written to ensure that the citizenry would always have the means to defend itself against their own government should it ever become oppressive as had the British, or if it should go rogue in some other way.

The more “liberal” perspective has come to view the government as a positive force rather than a potential threat, and they favor strong centralization of power and authority in the federal government. Many on this side of the controversy favor varying degrees of “gun control” with a heavy emphasis on federal regulation of who can own and use firearms, what kind of firearms should be permitted, and so forth, essentially rendering the Second Amendment a protector of the government against the potential threat of the citizenry instead of the other way around. That, to me, is a scary prospect.

I would suggest that the largest faction includes both those who like to target shoot occasionally, or hunt deer and small game in the fall, and those who are not gun owners, have little or no experience with them, and don’t like the idea of private individuals owning them. Some of the more passionate on both sides of the issue energetically gather statistics and data that support their preconceived conclusions, while others try to remain more true to the scientific method as it applies to basic statistical analysis.  This can be a challenge when one has a measurable bias regarding the outcome.

The shock wave of the senseless murders of 17 people at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida will be with us for a while, and the philosophical divide over Second Amendment issues remains raw and pained, as it always is at such times. Protests and demanding crowds with hand-made signs are more numerous and energetic. Those who disagree may tend to grit their teeth silently, perhaps feeling as though their failure to hate guns makes them the enemy. Yet, most likely they are as shocked and dismayed by the mass shootings as their neighbors on the other side of the room.

Now is not the time to make iron clad and decisive moves regarding gun ownership. It is a time to be aware of one’s environment, of course, a time to investigate and collect information.

The first thing that must be done before there can be any chance of an equitable and constitutionally valid response to the issue of public mass violence involving firearms is we must resolve the “divide” and find ways to listen to each other for nuggets of wisdom instead of word-filtering for potential turds. There is a common need and a common goal, but neither has been defined yet.

Demands for “gun control”, or turning a deaf ear to those words, provides no useful information to help the process move forward. Action requires specifics, something more than just thrashing about hoping to connect with something. The challenge is to discover or develop specifics that are mutually acceptable to those who differ most sharply.

~-~* * *~-~

 

Posted by: JDM..... | February 11, 2018

In Case of Emergency….

In Case of Emergency_[FINAL]

Posted by: JDM..... | February 3, 2018

Spirituality…,

and the Word of Man ….

I recently encountered a blog describing a classic “failure to communicate”, and as is so often the case, this collision of minds occurred on the field of religion. In this instance, the issue was more specifically “spirituality”. One seemed to associate spirituality with the suppression of the self while the other saw it more as a celebration of the self. Perhaps neither fully understood what the other was saying.

My personal views would tend to hold that spirituality isn’t necessarily either suppression of or inordinate focus on the self, but rather an understanding of the self both as part of a whole and as a singularity. I see these as different aspects of the same concept.

When it comes to the revered writings that are the centerpiece for western religions, I see them not as the output of some deity but as the Word of Man. I have a somewhat simplistic little ditty that suggests “Man created god in His own image,” wherein the transposition of capital letters is intended to be clever.

I have come to think of myself as a “spiritual” person in some ways, but not in the more popular, “crunchy-granola” sense. This view grew out of my progressive rejection of religion in the traditional format. As with certain presentations of “spirituality”, where the underlying point has become obliterated with self-serving ego masturbation, so has organized religion tended to bury the treasure under the manure pile sometimes.

Literacy is a somewhat new phenomenon, not quite up there with NASA, but “new” anyhow in a relative way. Up until a few hundred years ago, just about the only people who could read and write were the clergy and then professional scribes. For the rest of humankind’s history, whether one adheres to the 6,000 year version or one with several more zeros attached, teaching and learning were accomplished with storytelling. As anyone who has ever done the “story passed around the campfire” exercise has probably noticed, such tales begin to wag themselves pretty quickly, and we’re only talking about a time span of 30 minutes or so. Hundreds, or even thousands of years could presumably wreak havoc with any attempt to pass it forward. I would suggest that even the underlying principle suffers death by asphyxiation in due time. Why else would we have so many differing concepts of “God” and what He-She-It-They have been trying to convey, with each simultaneously pushing the wrongness of homicide and rationalizing the rightness of exterminating all who fail to believe robotically in their particular “True” knowledge of all things deific?

Okay then, just how do I define “God”?

First of all, I don’t tend to use “god” as a proper noun, so I don’t capitalize it.

Second of all, I don’t know where, when, why, or how to describe or explain such a mysterious entity, power, force, concept, or whatever. If that which is referred to as a “god”, at least in the Judeo-Christian sense, is to any degree as described, then any knowledge or understanding of it should be far beyond my capacity. Who am I, a mere planet bound upright biped of limited intellect and longevity, to presume to not only define and describe this “god”, but to actually speak on his-her-its behalf?

I came to understand that my relationship with such an entity is as that of a child and a stern parent, which injects a certain limit to my ability to attain actual adulthood. In almost all cases, my primary responsibility is to “obey”. That which I am to “obey” is delivered indirectly, however, relayed from The One to me by some form of “clergy”. I find it interesting that these “clergy” are actually empowered by their followers rather than by the traditional and alleged source of their wisdom and authority.

One of the factors which makes it so difficult to try to explain or understand this human phenomena that is a nearly universal aspect of human civilization and its ever-changing societies, is that it is essentially a function of human psychology. We come to perceive things, to process those perceptions into beliefs, and to behave accordingly. An unanswerable question, for one not guided by some sort of clergy and their teachings, could be: if there were no human beings, would there still be a “god”?

It has generally been believed that humanity, from its earliest forms, has looked to some unseen power to explain his own existence and that of everything around him. My understanding is that the more formal organization of deity identification and influence, especially the revolutionary idea of a single “god” of everything, developed with the beginnings of agriculture and the static communities that replaced the nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle for the most part.

One admittedly simplistic but not necessarily misstated idea is that a different form of leadership was needed in such environments, which gave rise to the appearance of “priests” on the scene. Priests not only served the growing settlements as shamanism had, but supposedly served to oversee the food stores and at some point became the supposed liaisons between the people and deities they looked to for protection and guidance. Consequently, the priest began to acquire levels of authority and power not enjoyed by their shaman predecessors.

Our modern western societies and cultural traditions grew out of such beginnings, as did the societies and cultures of other populations and regions. The world and the ways of the human species have changed immensely over the intervening thousands of years, yet the core of our understanding of our origins and our relationship to unknown, supposedly celestial” powers has retained the “parent-child” nature. .

Men and women of exceptional intellect have found ways to reconcile the most precise science with the various concepts of a Supreme Being. I find that interesting, though somewhat baffling, yet that does not mean I see the two as mutually exclusive.

So, returning to the question of how I define “god,” I conceive of such an idea as being a part of each of us, plus the unknown and, for now anyway, the unknowable. I don’t equate “faith,” which is of the heart, with “knowledge,” which is of the intellect.

I don’t know the ultimate answers regarding what created me, us, our world, our universe, but I would like to. I know that when I encounter unresolvable challenges or unpleasant realities, my mind and heart turn to that unknown and unknowable, wishing for rescue or at least peace of mind and heart. Eventually, they come, but from where? There is no dramatic bolt of lightening, but over time, I find my way. The question is then, was that change given to me, or did I find it within myself? Do groups function in the same way, and if so, what does that mean?

There are, of course, other theories as well. Many people suggest humanity might have originated elsewhere or might have been the result of some alien colonization, but that would only shift the question to the issue of our predecessors’ origins.

In conclusion then, I would have to say that our various religions have given us structure and principles to help us survive and prosper, but human nature also includes an element that may center around exploitation and conquest. We aid and cooperate with those with whom we share common interests, or who serve our purposes rather than oppose or compete with them. Both our positive and negative natures have grown out of or been facilitated by our religious quests. We do, after all, seem to exist in a dichotomous dimension where good and evil can occupy the same space at the same time. Why should we differ?

Thus, my answer to the question of “what is god” can only be “I don’t know; let’s find out.”

 

~-~* * *~-~

 

Posted by: JDM..... | January 25, 2018

Congress fiddles….

USCongress [FINAL-1]

Posted by: JDM..... | December 19, 2017

TwoGuys_TwoLogs[3]_001

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