Uncle Hyena (unclehyena) wrote,
Uncle Hyena
unclehyena

Musings

On New Year's Eve, I went out to get Chinese food for Dementia. We have been going to the same Chinese restaurant, more or less (it burned to the ground, disappeared for a year, and reopened in a new location) since we moved to Waukegan in 1992, and we have watched the owner's children grow up. We aren't terribly frequent customers, but we are rather memorable, and they know us. Their son Raymond is currently a senior in high school; he took my phone order, and was at the register when I came to pick it up. We exchanged pleasantries, and I asked him what he was working on; he said he was almost done with a series of short essays, and had only one to go that he had no real approach for. The assignment was to take two figures from history and have them debate some significant issue.

"One of my friends said I should have Abraham Lincoln and Adolf Hitler discuss Freedom, but I think that is too obvious," Raymond said.

"Not as obvious as you might think," I answered. "Lincoln wasn't really all THAT big on freedom in general." I thought for a moment. "Of course, if you want something that will really ruffle feathers, you could have Thomas Jefferson and Adolf Hitler discuss gun control."

Raymond blinked a few times, grinned, and acknowledged that that would be a really interesting topic, but maybe more work that he wanted to do. This segued into a short discussion of the Burr-Hamilton duel, the mechanics of flintlocks, and a rendition of the Man Who Fought Three Duels in One Morning.

"Sir, whatever you may be, you are certainly no coward." It's one hell of an exit line.

//

My friend Jemma recently posted a rant about the fact that organized religion, like most organizations, tends to serve the rich and powerful. This prompted me to write the following, which I thought I would share:

Several years ago, I heard myself comment that, "A moral system that depends upon a supernatural enforcer is bankrupt." That echoed for a long while, and I spent a lot of time looking for a system morality which did not depend on such an authority.

By and large I failed. One can develop a consistent moral structure without deity, one can even develop a personally satisfying structure. But I am strongly inclined to think that it is impossible to develop a COMPELLING moral structure without deity of some sort.
You don't need gods to feel guilty, but in the end it seems that you do need gods to build a convincing argument as to why the other guy should stop what he is doing.

This is why I ultimately went shopping for a deity who placed a premium on courage, because courage is pretty much impossible for the system to co-opt. Compassion (for example) can be turned into fascism, but while courage can be made to serve fascism for a time, the courageous person with inevitably rebel; a courageous heart is never truly tamed.

Uncle Hyena
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