i’ve reached the last page

A while ago I stopped putting poems on this blog, beginning a new blog at

https://wordartbyrawgod.wordpress.com

for my creative writing. But looking over some old poems tonight, I found the following poem that I thought I could better share here with you, the readers of my blog. It sort of, far-fetchedly, which rhymes with wretchedly, connects to my last two posts.

As introduction, I commend to you the novel Dhalgren, by Samuel R. Delaney. A dystopian novel of sorts, it follows the experiences of a young man coming to a city ravaged by riots, a city which has somehow become disconnected with known reality. In case you read the novel, I won’t tell you much more. But I will tell you, reading is as a rebellious youth in the 60s/70s, it made such a great impression on me, I wrote a work of poetry/prose based on the life of the fictitious anti-hero of the novel, mostly from the point of view of said protagonist. When I sent it out to try to get it published, I got backlash from certain editors who accused me of plagiarism. I thought it was a celebration, but that is water under the beaver dam.

The following poem is me writing as the character, and he has come to the last page of the notebook in which he has been writing poetry about the city lost in time. All of which is irrelevant to the poem, but I just thought I would give you the background because I felt like it. The complete work is called A Bouquet of Brass Orchids.

I’ve reached the last page

i’ve reached the last page of this book
and if i don’t write between the lines
this is the last poem i’ll compose
so i should make it sound profound

but what is there that i can say
to change this world in which we live
i don’t believe in god or hell
so all i have is you and me

is this perchance the gift of life
to realize there’s nothing there
except the love that one might feel
towards a person dear to them

i’d like to think long on this thought
but i don’t have the time nor space
suffice to say that were i wise
i’d say to you god bless the atheist

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WHY AM I AN ATHEIST?

Before I wrote the Preface to this post, now about forty-some hours ago, I had a certain plan in mind. I derailed that plan by writing more about my life as an xian than intended. My apologies to the blog-that-should-have-been. My gratitude to the blog-that-is. And, despite the fact I did not summarize that blog with a stunningly-amazing conclusion, I actually went through a bit of catharsis writing that Preface. I am a bit less conflicted today than I was two days ago.

So, I don’t know about stunningly-amazing, but I should have concluded something like (please know as horrid as I made my early years sound, they were actually more horrid than I could put into words) everything good that came into my life was because I caused it directly–by myself! My own decisions and the actions following therefrom were what saved me from a life of continuing the cycle that did not start with my father. He too had been mistreated and abused by his father, according to an aunt with whom I discussed this with years after he had finally died. No, this does not earn him my forgiveness. He did not have to continue that cycle, but he gave into it, and made no effort to change. That to me is unforgivable.

But, one more childhood statement, and it is time for me to move on. I did have happy times in those years, despite all else, as I spent a lot of time away from my family, places where I could be safe, and live for awhile without fear. Also, my two closest-in-age siblings, sisters, helped immensely, for we consoled each other in our misery. (I only learned, again, years later, that he sexually abused both of them, and likely an older sister too, after my mother died when I was just nine.) Had I known at the time, and understood what sexual abuse was, probably I would have killed him, or myself, and I would not be who I am today.

But I survived my childhood–god did not!

The change took years, and a lot of self-exploration and self-discovery, but it started in my youth, and I believe I am the better person for it.

Yes, I am an atheist. I can be nothing else, even while being so much more. Atheist is a label, not a necessary one, but one I am proud to wear. I took the worst life had to give me (as I insinuated, there are many things I did not tell you, because I am not looking for sympathy, merely stating facts) and came out the other side, scarred, but mentally and spiritually intact. I still suffer bouts of depression, anxiety, and PTSD, but even when those feelings take hold of me, I am a happy person through and through. I bewilder my various therapists by smiling and making jokes while talking with them about my childhood. One therapist went so far as to accuse me of hiding my real self behind those façades, but I disabused him of that theory. My happiness is genuine, and comes from having no delusions about life, or gods.

Again, why am I an atheist:

In no particular order, I am my own person. I rely on myself, and while I do sometimes disappoint myself, I never break under pressure. I am whole.

I blame no one but myself for life’s hardships. I could have given into anger or self-pity, but they do nothing for me. I am in control of who I am. I seek help when I need it, but usually I seek it within me. I allow other people to make suggestions, which I give serious consideration to before I accept or reject it (usually somewhere in-between the two), but I do it on my terms.

I believe only that which speaks to me, from inside of me. If it comes from outside of me, such as the ideas of god or morality, they have to fit into my life. I do not adapt my life to fit anyone else’s beliefs. They must ring true, to me. Because others believe something means absolutely nothing to me. Neither of the above examples fit into my life, not in those words.

I do my best to think without boxes. This is not easy in our world, there are so many many people and things that demand we think or believe certain ways or things. I try to always examine what limits or constraints these things put on me, and then work to overcome any barricades.

I once believed an adult when he told me I could not do something which I had been doing up until he told me I could not. He was a trusted adult, one whom I’m sure had no bad intentions toward me. But he had his own constraints, and he passed this one onto me. The thing became intentionally impossible afterwords, though I still have flashes of ability when I least expect them. Still, my life is sadder for having believed him. I wish I knew then what I know now.

I have discovered life. Life exists. So many people take life for granted, they are alive, and that is sufficient for them. Most people, no insult to anyone, think love makes the world go round. I know, for me, life is the prime factor. Without life, there can be no love. In fact, without life there would be no nothing as we understand it. What good galaxies of rocks if there is nothing to be aware of those rocks.

Above all else, in my experience of life, there is no possibility of god, gods, creators, omniscient beings, all powerful beings, or anything other than that which is. There is not one thing in my life that speaks to anything other than life. And should you say to me, god is alive, I shall not believe you. I have studied life from every angle I can think of, and I have learned one thing. At least in our version of reality (I am aware there are other versions than our own–I have experienced them!) life has certain characteristics that cannot be ignored, however inconvenient. The main one, life changes. I do not say this lightly, but in my experience, no life is ever completely stagnant. It’s corollaries are birth and death. To exist in our reality, all things must come into being somehow, be it mitosis, meiosis, from a spore, from a seed, or from an ova, all life starts somewhere. (And if you look closely, all things actually use mitosis and meiosis to grow. They are the basic building processes of life.) All living things also die. Death is a necessary part of life. Things stop living. And throughout the period between life and death, all things change. They grow, they take in sustenance, excrete that which they cannot use, and then do it all over again, until they stop living. And we take in ideas, by which we change or not, excreting those ideas that do not have meaning to us. According to those who believe in a god of some kind, gods do not abide by these characteristics. Except mythical gods, who did go through these processes, gods never come into being, and they never cease to exist. They do not eat. They do not pee or poop. They do not die. And above all else, they do not change!

This may sound childish to you, or simplistic, but do not let that fool you. If something is alive, it changes, physically, mentally, or spiritually. If something does not change, it is not alive. If a god knows everything, sees everything, is everything, it has no reason to change. It must be perfect as it is, and nothing, not anything, can be that perfect, for what reason would there be for it to live. All living things evolve in some way, sometimes too slowly for us to even see. And likewise, all living things eventually end their life processes. Nothing is indestructible. God does not fit any of these parameters.

Yes, I say I do my best to think without boxes, and you could look as these parameters as boxes if you like, but to me they are the facts of life.

And yes, (though I did not say it here) I believe our spirits (not souls) are eternal in our way of thinking, and our spirits change. They are not stagnant. They evolve.

Atheism itself for me is the next logical step after theism, though you may disagree with me. If you have theism, you must also have atheism. And thus I am an atheist.

PREFACE to WHY AM I AN ATHEIST?

I’ve heard this question before, and paid it little mind. Answers like “Why not?” or “It’s just the way I work.” come to mind most of the time. I’m sure you, since you are reading this post, odds are you, an atheist yourself, or at least a searching agnostic, have been asked this many times over by xians or people from other religious persuasions. But they seldom seriously want to know your answer, so why bother giving them a serious answer.

Yet, when I was asked this question the other day (in the comment section of a Word Press post by Saania Sparkle, I believe) I suddenly felt moved to answer it seriously.

What I am about to write, however, is not copied and pasted from that answer, which was written quickly with just a modicum of deeper thought. I actually want in this post to give it more attention than I think it generally deserves, and, at the end ask you, in your past or present understanding, what would you say to this question if seriously asked. I’ll bet, no two answers will be the same.

But before I can answer this question, I feel I need to start with its opposite, to wit: Why was I ever an xian? Please allow me to look backwards in my life. (I almost used the word reminisce but that implies happy remembering. My xians days were not very happy.)

My family were not church-goers. According to my father he was brought up Catholic, but did something to get himself ex-communicated. I had no idea at the time what that meant, of course, being a young child, but then I had no understanding of gods or religions at that time either, so I took him at his word. (He never did tell us what he supposedly did, but whatever it was I doubt he was ex-communicated, for that appears to be a very serious process. Knowing him now, deader than a door nail, I suspect it was just an excuse for not going to church on Sundays, though in the 50s he did go through the legal process of changing our surname for some reason, from the very Catholic surname Desmarais to the very non-dominational surname Miller. Again, no idea why, and no reason to want to find out.)

But, the thing is, when I turned about 5 years old, suddenly I was forced every Sunday to go to Sunday School. It was around the same time I graduated kindergarten, and started regular school (a year early, you might notice, through some kind of age-related administrative mix-up) and I thought the two were related. In public school I was being taught facts, so at Sunday school, I thought I was being taught facts too. (No, I doubt my thoughts were that advanced at the time, but I was quite precocious, so maybe I did, to some extent.) Anyway, I believed my teachers in both schools, and quickly earned attention from the authoritative adults around me. In other words, people were paying attention to me. At home, being the ninth of 10 kids, the tenth being still a babe-in-srms who was getting more attention than anyone, I got no attention from anyone, except that my father took the time to beat me every day whether I needed it or not! That kind of attention I did not need, or want.

The attention I got at those schools was different, everyone fussed about how smart I was, and that went to my head. I had never gotten praise before, not even from my mother, who was too busy raising 9 children (at that time) to notice she was mostly ignoring her ninth child. Praise from my father was unthinkable, he told me every day I was the dumbest–read stupidest (he thought the word dumb meant stupid, not unable to speak)–kid ever born. He hated my guts, at least that is how he treated me. (He did treat me with kindness, once, when I was about 8 years old, but not knowing he could be kind I did not recognize that until I was an adult, by which time I had removed him from my life. One day, in the almost 6000 days I was in his care! How generous of him. I’m sure he felt good about himself that day. No sarcasm here at all folks.)

Back to my story, and moving it along, I was persuaded at Sunday school to accept the Lord, my God, as my Saviour, and became an xian. I even told myself that made me a good boy, on Sundays, but that did not stop the Sunday beatings, or any other day’s beatings, either. Even when I prayed to God to stop the beatings, he ignored me too. My Sunday school teachers were gaga over my conversion, but no one else important in my life was. That was the first crack in my xianity, but in the great scheme of things it wasn’t a big one. I was a xian, and that was going to change my life.

I said above I was quite precocious as a child. I was a fast learner, and a good learner. I could quote scripture with the best of them. I read the Bible through from start of Old to end of New. I listened to what everyone had to say. And I learned to watch what everyone would do with the other six days of their weeks. The world was still dark or light at that time in my life, I took the bible literally. The Thou shalts and Thought shalt nots meant what they said, not what people decided or interpreted them to be. The biggest one, Though shalt not kill, had no basis in real life. Television was just becoming a big thing, and with me not knowing the difference between fact and fiction yet, I saw people being killed every day. Especially on the news, where there seemed to be daily reports on wars and insurrections, I watched people being killed, and God was not sending anyone to hell as punishment. If anything, the killers were being praised as heroes. Crack 2, slightly bigger than the first one.

Jumping ahead, the biggest crack yet came when I listened to my Sunday school teachers talking about going to heaven. They told me, in not so many words, that as long as you asked for forgiveness in church or Sunday school on Sundays, the other 6 days a week were virtually open game. I heard adults swearing, using the lord’s name in vain, lieing, stealing, all kinds of things, killing animals and plants without a thought about Though shalt not kill! Come Sunday, they prayed for forgiveness, and knew they were still going to heaven. In my little mind, if you were forgiven for something, and went out and did it again the next day, you weren’t being sincere, and you sure were not going to heaven, but straight to hell.

But I had been assured by my teachers, even my public school teachers, that heaven was a good place to go, and everyone should strive to be worthy of going there. So why were they sinning 6 days a week, and pretending they were so good on Sundays. It boggled my growing mind. I wanted to believe, I really did, but if I looked at the facts, as science told us to do, belief had a lot of problems.

So I started to look for solutions to my heartfelt spiritual dilemmas. And the first answer I came up with–had I heard of reincarnation by this time, or did I come up with this theory on my own, I’ll never know now. Too much water has flowed through the tap, open 6 days a week, closed on Sundays. (Do you remember when everything closed down on Sundays? So people could have time to go to church or otherwise contemplate the existence of god? If you were born after the 60s, this might seem strange, but hardly anything was open on Sundays, including grocery stores, and restaurants. Churches, and a few very essential services like hospitals and cops were all that were allowed to be open. It was a sin to do business on a Sunday. My how the world has changed. Money is now more important than your eternal soul, what a bunch of religious hypocrites!

But I was not there yet. I still thought there was a God, and a heaven. But I no longer believed in one life, and done for eternity. It only made sense, if god was a compassionate god as the New Testament considered him to be, not the angry demanding god of the Old Testament, he would not condemn a person to hell after just one try, because heaven would be a damned lonely place to be, all facts considered. I wanted god to be a compassionate god. No one else seemed to care. But when I started making such suggestions not only in Sunday school, but also in public school, I lost all those adults who had been praising me, and I was no longer wanted in Sunday school unless I recanted my sins. That I did not understand. Here I was, telling them the truth, and giving them a solution to the problem, but I began to hear words like sinner, blasphemer, infidel, and savage thrown at me, as they closed the door in my face. I was all alone. And no one cared.

But did this stop me believing in a god. I hate to admit, it did not. Yet!

The world is a lot different today than it was in 1962. Kennedy had not been assassinated yet. Why do I bring up such a bad memory? Especially since I am not even American? And there had been all kinds of history-changing moments before that? I can only speak for myself here (or anytime, anywhere for that matter) but on November 22nd, 1963, as I was riding my bicycle down a busy highway, a car pulled over beside me, the driver rolled down his window, screamed “Kennedy has been shot,” at me, then picked up speed and drove off. Hell, I knew nothing about politics at the time, had the barest inkling Kennedy was a President, that the USA was just a country that bordered Canada. But some guy I had never met and probably would never meet again, thought it was so important Kennedy was shot that he just had to tell someone, and he chose me. That too boggled my mind. But as events unfolded, I think I lost my innocence that day. Certainly, the world I knew changed!

Today, in 2021, as I write this post, we have a tool that was not available in 1963. It would not be available for almost three more decades. I have no idea when the internet was even invented, if that is the correct word. Discovered might be more appropriate. No matter, through the internet, the world is at our fingertips these days. Kids know so much more than I could ever have dreamed of way back when while dinosaurs dominated the earth. Or even farther back, when life still belonged to only one-celled beings, about 4.5 billion years ago. The universe had no idea what was to come, at least not the universe according to man, or biblical god. No one knew anything.

I did not know it was possible to not believe in god. Everyone I knew believed in god. Everyone I had ever heard of believed in god. (My world was very tiny, lol.) Atheism had not been invented yet, as far as I knew. But I also knew something was wrong with religion, and the only place I could look was in the library, our reservoir of all human knowledge. I had heard of Protestants and Catholics before, I was a Protestant living in a Catholic stronghold at the time, the city of St. Boniface, the biggest French community in Canada outside of the province of Québec. Catholic students had a class called Catechism Protestant students were not allowed to attend. At the time I was jealous, they got out of having to study chemistry, or physics, or worst of all, geography. I hated geography, the teacher was the most boring teacher in my world. I fell asleep in his class every day. They got to go to Catechism. Not fair. A few years later I learned a bit about Catechism. I was very glad I never got to go. Catholic nuns were a holy terror!

But I digress. I still did not know it was okay not to believe in god. I had never heard the word atheism. A few years past, and I discovered Science Fiction. I don’t remember which book it was, probably A Case for Conscience by James Blish, but I came across the word atheism, an ism that permitted people to not believe in god, and my mind was free to consider if I had to go on believing. The answer became “No.”

All that was the sum of my life up to then. Not the total sum, but a comprehensive summary given the space and time. It is time to stop for today. Tomorrow I enter the age of my rebirth. I hope you will be there to join me.

The Spirit of Christmas…. Trees

Once upon a time I believed to celebrate Christmas properly, I had to have a real Christmas tree. But why? What is so important about a real tree that each and every year, leading up to the Christmas season, a billion trees will have their lives cut short to satisfy some whimsical need to have a dying tree all dolled up in its funeral best to celebrate an event that happened over 2000 years ago, maybe!

For some, this celebration lasts a month or more, while for others they decorate their tree on Christmas Eve, and undecorate it on Boxing Day. For this a life was taken? This writer can no longer condone such action by remaining silent! Stop killing softwood trees for your viewing pleasure. Buy a human-made tree, and use it over and over and over. Save lives, don’t spend them basically uselessly.

Do you know that the average lifespan of a softwood tree like pine or spruce or hemlock is anywhere from 100 to 1000 years. A perfect tree that can overcome disease, bug infestations, and avoid fires can live for 5000 years. The average lifespan of a Christmas tree? 7 to 10 years. That is like killing human children before they reach puberty. Why are humans, Christian humans and their offshoots to be precise, so protective of human fetuses then so spendthrift with the lives of nature’s children?

And for what? What does a real tree have that a fake tree does not, except an agonizing and prolonged death in your living room or den. If you require the death of a tree to celebrate the birth of a man 2000 years ago, I think you are one sick excuse for a human being.

You may think I am crazy, or a scrooge, and you would be right on both counts. I am crazy about life, and hate that it can be cut short so wantonly. At least when we cut short the lives of living beings for food, we make use of them by eating their bodies. (I would much prefer we let plants and animals die naturally before we harvest them, or as in the case of fruits and nuts and berries just pick the seed pods and let the main body survive, which is ideal!) I do not like that we kill to live, but I cannot fight that.

I can fight to save the lives of a billion trees a year that are not harvested for food, but for useless (to them) celebration.

Please, think about the tree before you buy another real Christmas tree. You are wasting its life for your pleasure. Is that really the kind of person you want to be?

Maybe This Post Will Get Published…

I have started so many posts of late, but as you know, it has been a long time since anything got published. There are a couple of main reasons for this:

1) If I don’t finish it at one sitting, I lose all enthusiasm for whatever topic I was writing about, or

2) I just plain forget halfway through what I was trying to say, or what point I was trying to make.

So, really, this post is more of an apology to you, the readers, than anything else. Is it Alzheimer’s, or some other form of senility? Is it just the world is so screwed up these days that I wonder if it is worth my effort to try to communicate with others? Or is it just laziness on my part–I get bored with myself so easily these days? I really don’t know the answer.

Or maybe it’s Covid, but I really don’t think much of Covid, it is not a worry for me. I am not an anti-masker, though I occasionally forget to put my mask on, as I did today as the convenience store. I know Covid is not a hoax. I am just resigned to the fact my immune system has-been non-existent for so many years I catch any bug that comes within hailing distance of my lungs, and I will probably get this bug too. With my medical record, if I get it, most likely I will die. No big deal. I used to chain-smoke, knowing that would kill me someday. My choice of how I would die. I even smoked while running around a quarter-mile track trying to stay in shape. Yup, I knew I was killing me. Then I woke up one day and never smoked again, ever. No withdrawal symptoms, no cravings, no nothing. I didn’t even know I was considering quitting smoking. It just happened. That was 35 years ago. Now the odour of stale tobacco makes me sick. Well, so does fresh tobacco stink, but the stale stuff makes me wonder how I ever put that shit into my lungs.

Actually, quitting smoking was a spiritual thing for me. Life became more important than death. Not that I was afraid of dying, I dealt with that contigency when I was 19. That was when I had my LSD experiences, which I have written about elsewhere on this blog, and learned that life itself is eternal, not in a christian or religious way, just in a natural way. And certainly not in an ego way, ego only lasts along as the body does. Spirit is forever. So at first I chose to choose my manner of death, lung cancer. Then 17 years later, I chose life over death.

But probably I am digressing from whatever it was was trying to write about today, which was just to actually publish a post despite my own inability to do so of late.

So, no, I am not dead. No, I have not caught Covid. No, I have not stopped blogging, yet. I just haven’t been able to complete a post. Now, today, I have,

Time Out for some Awe-Inspiring Photos.

Here are two pics taken in my back yard. The second one I get to see every autumn, and it makes the other seasons worth living through just to see this for a few weeks every year.

The first pic is total serendipity. I awoke at dawn the other day. My eyes opened onto this image coming through my bedroom window. I grabbed my tablet and ran outside to capture it for posterity. I hope you enjoy them both.

ANOTHER COMMENT LEFT ON A BLOG POST, This time belonging to a so-called Capitalist

*All following quotes are from the post to be found at https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/25195780/posts/23338

*”The low rate of infant mortality is a product of data manipulation.” Please explain to this 70 year-old socialist who has lived his entire life in Capitalist Canada, (the wannabe-USA’s little brother) how a dearth of traffic causes a low rate of infant mortality, and how THAT can be considered data manipulation? Methinks Lawson and Powell, and you, M. C., are the real people trying to play fast and furious to compare applecarts and atomic bombs! which cannot be done. “Why has Cuban socialism, like all other centralized socialist economies, failed? The authors present with great clarity [prestidigitation] the essential point….that socialism, even if run by benevolent despots and populated with workers willing to work for the common good, could still not match capitalism’s performance.” Again, you are comparing oranges with bikini boobs and bottoms where L&P&MC are the beer-drinking boobs as alluded to above. Who said Cuban Socialism has failed, and by what authority? Cuban Socialism has been working–by Cuban standards–for nigh-on 60 years without a citizen uprising, without income inequity, without racism and bigotry, without mass shootings, without pollution, without poisoning most of the potable water available in the nation, without getting into senseless imperialust [spelling intentional] wars, without massively-huge drug problems, without prisons so overcrowded with convicted criminals that judges have to pronounce lighter sentences just to clear their dockets so they can keep up with new arrests, without nation-wide unrest and protests, without BLM and cops run amok, daily rapes (#WeToo) and murders, without 2nd Amendment non-gun-control concealed-carry AK-47 laws and vigilantism do I really need to continue rubbing your noses in the stoopidity [Spelling also intentional] you call capitalist success and performance? What dodo-damned world are you living in? If you wanted to make some kind of point with your readership, you certainly chose the wrong example to prove your point on how much better off a capitalist nation is compared to a socialist nation. I spit on your and your drunkard buddies’ assessment of our world.

And, by the way, just because Hitler called his political system “national socialism” does not give it legitimacy as a socialist nation! It was, and forever will have been, nothing but ugly and racist NAZIISM!

TALKING TO ROBERT?

Robert–Reminds me of what wise old king Solomon once said, “there’s a time for everything under the sun” etc. – from Ecclesiastes 3. He goes on to include things like laughter and sorrow, war and peace…

rawgod–I don’t think there is ever a time for war. Having “god,” or Solomon, suggest war is okay is anti-life.

Robert–So war against the Nazis is wrong?

rawgod–The nazis starting a war was wrong. If Hitler had not started the war, if he had not been “given the power” to start that war, there would have been no war.

Robert–So you deny “god”‘s existence when convenient, and blame Him for “giving the power” when convenient. Does God exist in your mind or not?

rawgod–I never said the power came from god. The power, in this case, came from the German people. You want to belive in your god, Robert, that is your right. I do not believe in your god, and that is my right.

rawgod–To restart. Robert, you said, “So you deny “god’s” existence when convenient, and blame Him for “giving the power” when convenient. Does God exist in your mind or not?”
First, I do not deny your god’s existence when convenient, I deny his existence, outrightly, completely, entirely, for eternity. THERE IS NO GOD, ANYWHERE, ANYTIME.
But thank you for attemting to put words in my mouth that I would never speak. No god or other all-knowing, aĺl-powerful superbeing exists in my life, not just in my mind. Where did you read that the power Hitler took to do what he did came from your god? That power, as I said, came from those German citizens who were either blind to his intentions, agreed with his intentions, or did not stand up to prevent his intentions from ever happening.
In fact, I find it pretty astounding that you could think your god would grant anyone the power to do not only what Hitler did, or any other mass murderer has done since the beginning of life on earth, whether 6000 years ago, or 6 billion years ago. No one should ever have such power! Yet how many times has it happened in just the last 150 years, not the 4.5 billion years life as we know it has existed. I know some names of mass-murderers in the last 150 years, but actually lets go back to when Columbo arrived in the western hemisphere. Pizarro in South America; the leaders of what is now America who tried to commit genocide on my ancestors whom they called inhuman savages, giving them the right to slaughter them in the name of christianity; Canada, same thing; Hitler; Stalin; Pol Pot. They murdered on larger scales, but America has had how many postal shooting, and school shootings, and crowd shootings, terrorist murder plots, etc? Even Trump, who ordered the murders of Kashoggi, and Soleimani. These (above) are all people who were given the power, or took the power upon themselves, to destroy other living beings. I will only mention the murderers of the Dodos, or the buffalo, in passing, except to say those people who slaughtered the bison for their skins, leaving the meat to rot on the expanses of the prairies, billions upon billions of completely unnecessary and useless murders, all of them by mass muderers. (The ones who slaughtered the Dodos did it for the sheer fun of it. Dodo meat was inedible. What was the purpose of that?) You want to put all these murders on the non-existent shoulders of your all-powerful all-loving god? You should be ashamed of yourself, but if that is how you choose to live, sobeit. It’s your right.
I choose to blame the murdering people themselves who did these deeds, and lay some of the blame at the feet of the nations, the cutures, and the societies who bred them, including the religions who blessed their works. Funny how both sides of many conflicts claim their god’s approval in what they did, when they both worshipped the same god. And you wonder that I chose to stop believing in such deities, and theities? Who is the insane one here?
How, Robert, did you ever come to the conclusion the power I spoke of was coming from your god. Those were not my words, but it WAS your assumption.

I know you want me to appear to your friends and fellow-belivers as the flip-flopper, but I am cherry-picking nothing, while believers in the “One True God” cherry-pick the bible for those parts which they choose to accept, and ignore the parts they don’t like or believe. (Why else are there so many denominatons of so-called christian religions?) You are doing exactly that in this conversation. You opened the discussion to “beliefs of convenience,” sir, not me. Don’t get all upset over your opponent for using against you the weapons you brought to use against him.

Meanwhile, you used them under false pretences, not arguing against what I said, but against WHAT YOU CHOSE TO BELIEVE I SAID. Do you think I am just going to sit back and let you walk over me and be the good little boy you want me to be, or are you going to fight the fight you started, instead of running and hiding behind your mother’s skirts, and the fatherly robes of your religious leaders? I’ll tell you right now, you can only lose this fight, because you are dishonest, and you choose to obfuscate, but mostly because you do not know anything about your chosen enemy. This is the problem with the so-called war between theists and atheist, “you choose to believe what you have been told about your enemy,” while I, whom you think is your enemy, and while I may not be a friend, though I am not ruling a friendship out, I am just a living being, hoping you will give me the respect you demand I give to you, whether you deserve it or not. At this point you do not. You, as I was saying, think you know me. I do know you, to the extent that I used to be you. As a child, I believed all the things I was told, even as you still do. I believed there was a God, because I was told there was a god. I even believed that this god loved me, though he/she/it never told me that, always I was told by someone else, someone representing this god, but never by God. So, eventually, I asked, “Where is God?” I was given such answers as everywhere, in churches, in my heart even (how could anyone but me know what or who was in my heart), and the most common answer of all, in Heaven. What did someone in some heaven know, or care about little young me here on earth? He didn’t speak directly to me, he wasn’t willing to meet with me, have a conversation with me, or take a walk with me–not even through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. He never even bought me an ice-cream cone. Well, nor have you, Robert. (Is this where you got the idea, as expressed in your “next” comment, that I am “raging” against your god? Where is the rage? I find no rage here. Just reasoned discussion. If you see rage, or hear rage, or read rage, then you have a very pleasant, but wrong, image of what rage really is. Rage is never pleasant, to the ragee, or the rager. Yup, you seem to be wearing your rose-coloured glasses.)

Back to where were we, all I get from you are meddling, accusations, lies, and challenges, and I get no respect. You would rather believe the lies other people tell you, other people who do not know me either, than come to the horse to learn what is in his (my) mouth, than to listen to my truth. As I said, I’ve been you. I know how you operate.
Finally, now that I have calmed myself down from the outrage I aĺlowed you to make me feel, I will continue. But, first, tell me, please, Robert, if other people tell lies about you, or try to diminish you in front of your friends, how does that make you feel? Outraged? I don’t doubt it.
So, do you wish to continue this discussion, person to person, not theist to atheist, or even theist to atheist but still person-to-person, I am more than happy to oblige. (You agreed, so the conversation will contunue here, where other people can participate if they feel the urge.)

Robert–For someone you don’t believe in, you seem to have a lot of rage towards “god”. And for someone I thought was pacifist, to talk of a “war” between atheists and theists seems a bit strong. I would rather a conversation than a war, but I’m happy for to visit and comment on your blog, and I’m sorry if I’ve hurt your feelings. I come in peace, not war! Robert

rawgod–Please read what you write, sir. Everything you have written above is a question, or a negative statement about me. You misinterpret me, on purpose I am sure, to try to enrage me, to make me lose my cool and say something else you think you can jump on me for. I quote, “And for someone I thought was pacifist, to talk of a “war” between atheists and theists seems a bit strong.” “War” is but a synonym for conflict, it does not mean battle with weapons of destruction. How could you take my words, “so-called war between theists and atheists” and turn them into “talk of a “war” between atheists and theists.” That is an intentional misquote. You cannot even respect my intentional order of word placement. Atheists have no war with theists, but theists feel the need to war on atheists. You fear us, because we refuse to believe as you do. That creates doubt in your mind. How can anyone not believe in something so obvious as your god is to you? WHAT IF… No, don’t go there. There is no what if. Of course god exists. My mother wouldn’t lie to me. Would she? I mean, there is no Santa Claus, but, she wasn’t lieing, she was just enhancing my belief in my right to be entertained as a child. I mean, I always knew she was the Tooth Fairy. It was just another one of her many names. And she told me many stories about princes marrying princesses. She never once mentioned princes marrying princes. But I’m not a prince, I’m just her son. No, she never lied to me. Did she?

Where did you hear me “rage” against your god, Robert? Please send quotes. I raged against you, for believing lies about me, lies “other people” told you. But you’re not god, are you. At another time in my life, after I had stopped believing in religion but while I still maintained the possibility there might be a god, I would have said, yes, you are god. All of us are god. But that was another time, in another place. In my “now” world there is no place for god, or time for god. I am too busy being me.

As for thinking you can hurt my feelings, you don’t have the power, or the right to hurt my feelings, without my permission. For awhile I allowed you to make like you hurt my feelings. This was necessary, for I needed to TRY to show you how you were disrespecting me, but that was a waste of ten minutes of my life, because you will never understand how you are disrepecting me. I am an atheist, you have to disrespect me, or I might start to become human to you. Only Christians are human, everyone else is a savage beast, so to you I am a savage beast, yet one who can reason and even use the same language as you, written and spoken, but that is meaningless. I am a savage beast.

For now I will let you go on thinking you come in peace. You need to have some fantasies, after all. Take care. I will await your response in my “comment” area, and if I can figure out how to add it right into my post, I will do that.

For now, Robert, adeiu, and sweet dreams.

TEN COMMANDMENTS, AS ORIGINALLY CHIPPED IN STONE

If you believe in the One God, please stay away for your own spiritual well-being. 

1. Thou shalt have no gods before me. After me, I don’t care. I’m Number 1.

2. Thou shalt have no graven images of me. Do you know what I look like? I don’t know what I look like. I haven’t invented the mirror yet. Maybe soon.

3. Thou shalt not take my name in vain. If you want something, ask for it. If I want you to have it, I will give it to you. If I don’t think you need it, and I’ve pretty much already provided you with everything I want you to have. Forget it. 

4.  Remember the Sabbath day. In English, that’s Saturday. Not Sunday. Not my day. Saturday, that day belongs to me. Keep it holy. 

5. Honour thy father amd thy mother, if you know who they are, and if they deserve it. If they don’t, screw them.

6. Thou shall not kill another living being, of any kind. Unless they are a Gentile. You can kill Gentiles, if you think they deserve it. Be careful, I might be watching. And I might disagree.

7.  Thou shalt not commit adultery. If you are married, keep it in your pants. If you’re single, wear a condom. I cannot protect you against those kinds of diseases. By the way, if it aint born yet, it aint born. Read the recipe.

8, Thou shalt not steal. Everything already belongs to me. If you need it, just take it. Otherwise, leave it for the next person. 

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against me. Remember, I am your neighbour, wherever you are. And I know the truth. Do you really want to test me?

10. Thou shalt not covet that which is not yours. What you have came from me. It was meant for you. Don’t get greedy.

If you believe in One God, please stay away for your own well-being.

A Bitter Gertrude Reblog: Diversity Training Will Not Save You

I copied this post today because I thought it spoke well to the present race situation, not only in the USofA, but all around the world. Also, because Bitter Gertrude does not allow comments on her blog. I know I wanted to comment, and I am sure a lot of her other 6125 followers did too.

But first, she said:

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Every company, every school, every nonprofit is scrambling to hire a “Director of Diversity” or relying on their current one to navigate them safely through this crisis. Nearly every organization has felt the need to respond in some way. White-run organizations– including police departments all over the country– are promising further “diversity training” for their staffs. The problem is: Diversity training doesn’t work.

Why it doesn’t work is not the fault of the DEI [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion] professionals working in the field. Quite the opposite. The problem is how we– especially white people in positions of power–approach the issue of racism. We think of it as “a problem” that can be “solved.”

White supremacy is not a workplace issue that a diversity specialist can “solve” for you. It’s a systemic cultural issue that manifests in the workplace [and society] in the same way it manifests everywhere else.

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A group of young Black people wear masks that say “I CAN’T BREATHE” as they attend a protest in Chicago. Photo by Nam Y. Huh.AP. Source: “Do the Work: An Anti-Racist Reading List” by Layla F. Saad.

Upper-level management is almost entirely white across the US, and white people don’t think of ourselves as “racist”– we think racism always lies somewhere else, with someone else. We think of it as a relatively simple issue– we’re “not racist,” so Jerry in Legal can just stop being racist by following a few simple guidelines and the problem will be “solved.”

We think this issue is about how individual white people treat individual people of color, and while that is absolutely one aspect of this, it’s not everything. You can fire a racist cop or a racist politician or a racist investment manager, but the replacement is just as likely to be racist– intentionally or unintentionally– if you don’t address the underlying issue of systemic white supremacy, and you can’t do that if white people aren’t willing to do the hard work involved.

Diversity training is an invitation to begin that work, not a “solution” to racism in the workplace or otherwise.

White people– especially white liberals who consider themselves “woke”– imagine diversity training will be our moment to stand up and denounce the racism of those bad people somewhere else while our Black colleagues clap. The moment we realize that this work demands examining our own complicity and the ways in which white supremacy has shaped us as white people, we react defensively, even angrily.

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What white people imagine diversity training will be like           (Pictured: A white woman with blond hair and a bright blue dress [Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in HBO’s Game of Thrones] is held aloft by a crowd of people of color dressed in earth tones, all reaching for her.) Let me tell you two brief stories about diversity training.

I once worked in an extremely liberal workplace in an extremely liberal area. The org, despite its progressive identity and location, had never done any DEI work in its history, and there were some resultant problems. Three women of color & I co-founded its first DEI committee. I believed most of these progressive white people would embrace the journey ahead and we would Get Things Done. I was spectacularly wrong.

Most white staff were defensive; several were openly hostile. Many were offended at the very idea they might need diversity training. One of the worst offenders flat-out refused to attend; in staff meetings, others crowed about their hostility to the trainers (“I really got her!”) or pointedly stated that the “ideal community” was “homogeneous.” White leadership protected and defended the bad behavior. Eventually, the hostile work environment forced all four of us out.

What a child I was. This was before Robin DiAngelo’s book [White Fragility] came out, and I was still under the naive impression that progressive white people would “be better.”

Those employees (with one exception) sat through those diversity trainings. They sat through every single one. And it did almost nothing. The average retention there of Black staff is two years.

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You may have already heard my second story: A few days ago at a protest, police in San Jose, CA shot their own diversity trainer at point-blank range with rubber bullets for daring to try to stop them from continuing to fire on peaceful protesters. They illegally aimed for his groin and ruptured his testicle. Witnesses captured the moment on camera, confirming that the trainer was standing, hands up, in broad daylight, speaking calmly. And they shot him.

I don’t doubt that this man, Derrick Sanderlin, is an excellent diversity trainer. What I doubt is that the cops who shot him had any interest in taking that work seriously. Yet the SJPD, just like the org in the first story, just like almost every company and organization in the nation, have “diversity” listed as part of their mission.

“Diversity” isn’t the same as “equity.” A “diverse” culture can still be a white supremacist culture. Whatever you think the presence of Black people will do for your org, it’s not going to happen if they know you’re hostile to their truth.

A universal truth of teaching is that you can’t teach someone who doesn’t want to learn. Diversity training  is useless if white people are not willing to accept that we’ve been just as impacted by white supremacy as people of color. We have to be willing to accept that our culture relentlessly produces and promotes racist ideas, and we have to be willing to fully accept that people of color are far more adept at identifying and defining them. And while this post is about racism, please remember that the same can be said for women and sexism, [LGBTQ2S and homophobia,] trans people and transphobia, people with disabilities and ableism, and so on for all marginalized groups.

White people must listen and believe when people of color identify for us the impact white supremacy has had on them. After that, cleaning up our mess is our responsibility. People of color, diversity trainers, and anyone else can suggest solutions all day long but it’s our individual responsibility as people– not just as working professionals– to act on those solutions.

Overthrowing systemic white supremacy is a revolution that starts in your own heart and mind. It’s a lifelong process of anti-racist work. Each new day will bring a new realization of a racist concept you have been taught that you need to confront, examine, and work against. That feeling of defensiveness is your clue that you’ve hit paydirt. Whenever there’s a discussion of race or racism, and you feel defensive, you’ve found an area that needs work. It’s your job to stop yourself from reacting defensively and do the anti-racist work required.

There’s no Certificate of Completion. That Certificate of Completion you got for doing your workplace diversity training is nothing but an invitation to reconstruct your own humanity, and that work will never be done.

The work is all there is. It’s one foot in front of the other, and you will fail. We will fail. But we must keep trying. To pretentiously quote Samuel Beckett, “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

The stakes could not be higher. Lives [and people] are counting on us to do this work, and those lives matter.

[As the boy’s sign above states: ALL LIVES MATTER!]

[Anything in square parentheses above are my additions.]

rawgod’s commentary:

As I said above, Bitter Gertrude has stated the problem well, but it is still not enough. Systemic Racism, otherwise known as Organizational Racism, is almost entirely INVISIBLE to white people. To start, show me a white person who does not believe that people of colour can cure racism without white leadership? (This has already been disproved in apartheid South Africa!) There are many reasons why this is believed to be true, 1) because it was white people who explored the world, killing aboriginal people wherever they were found, enslaving them, raping them, and whatever else they did; 2) the richest nations in the world are white (not noticing they made most of their wealth off the backs and bodies of people of colour; 3) most white nations have more stable and less corrupt governments than poorer nations with lots of people of colour.

That is just a start. And the main gist of those three ideas is that people of colour are not able to govern themselves, they have little power compared to white people, and because white people will always win armed confrontation between races. Those ideas, built right into whites from their earliest days, even though few realize they have them, are what systemic racism is all about. Whites just believe they are better.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some white people who realize these racist ideas, but if they encounter these kinds of treatment of people of colour, they keep their mouths shut if they are alone. They know how dangerous white people are, and they don’t want to involve themselves in other people’s problems. As Bitter Gertrude said above, not confronting the problems is not being anti-racist, it is being covertly racist. Whites too fear racists. They have a lot to learn.