So, it would seem that a group of citizens in Ferguson, Missouri, do not like it when an agent of the local government charged with enforcing the peace allegedly guns down a boy who was fleeing for his life. Because when you strip away the layers of race, that is what you remain with: A boy who was fleeing for his life was gunned down by an officer of the law.
Once the dust settles, and saner heads prevail, I’m quite sure we will be subjected to lectures on how this is reflective of life in a so-called post-racial America, and how this is merely a facet of the complexity of race in this country, and so on, and so forth. But that merely strikes me as just another way of justifying—if not legitimizing—gunning down a boy fleeing for his life. You know, like they did in Florida not too long ago.
For what this proves is the lie behind post-racial America. We should all be unquestioningly horrified when a boy who is fleeing for his life is gunned down by an agent of the law, no matter the circumstance. But a not insignificant percentage of us—almost certainly white—will question why he was fleeing in the first place, as if fleeing is excuse enough to gun down a boy, and because, you know, he was black. They may not come out and say that last part (although some will) but they will certainly be thinking it.
Because the fact is that there is no post racial America. It was not post racial after we fought a civil war to free the slaves. It was not post racial after ending the Jim Crow laws and lynching. It was not post racial after the civil rights battles and desegregation. It is not now post racial after electing a black president. And it never will be as long as it is acceptable to gun down a boy fleeing for his life.
Too often, liberalism as an ideology is framed—and has framed itself—as being the polar opposite of conservatism. However, just because they are often competing world views does not automatically make them natural enemies. Instead of defining itself in such terms, liberalism would be better served by describing what it stands for instead of merely being counter-reactive to conservative ideals. This not only helps to rally the liberal cause, but leaves the door open for those who are conservative leaning to join in causes that make sense to them without feeling antagonized.
Through the wonders of TiVo, I have been getting caught up on Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Neil deGrasse Tyson’s phenomenal reboot of Carl Sagan’s original Cosmos television series. Highly recommended!
That being said, the season finale ends with a pull-back from the Earth as seen from space, with a voice-over from Carl Sagan as he quotes from his book Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. And as I watched the camera pull back and the Earth slowly retreat to a tiny, pale blue dot in sync with Sagan’s eloquent ruminations about life on our lonely little world, my ears caught a sentence that literally made the hair stand up on the back of my neck:
“Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.”
Religion is an attempt to define the unknowable: to place personality, qualities, and characteristics on that which cannot be explicitly qualified. Thus, no two religions will ever agree, because there is no way to prove whose interpretation of personality, qualities, and characteristics is right and whose is wrong. In the absence of this proof, all religions (even the lack of religion) are, by definition, simultaneously all right, and all wrong. In the absence of quantifiable data, one belief is no more correct, or incorrect, than any other belief.
So the U.S. Supreme Court has determined that hateful and often violent action constitutes protected free speech.
The U.S government and the courts have had a long, tumultuous relationship with the rights of the citizenry to participate in speech critical of the government and others, including the rights to assembly and freedom of association that allow the people to voice their opinions singularly or collectively without fear of imprisonment. However, a recurring theme in this right to protected free speech is that it is protected as long as it is executed in a peaceful manner. For the preservation of public safety, speech that is destructive, and assemblies and associations that are violent, are not generally considered protected. Thus, the passing of pamphlets is protected; the throwing of bricks and bombs is not.
Now that I have your attention, do you find the idea of requiring science to be taught by the church to be patently absurd? Ridiculous? If so, then why would you support the merging of the church and the state in a democracy?
Organized religion is, by definition, an authoritative power structure that is antithetical to the concepts of freedom and freewill required for a robust democracy. The founding fathers of the U.S. Constitution—all of them “Christian” men—knew this full well when they envisioned our democracy as a secular form of government, since no theocratic dogma with the power to do so has ever tolerated equal representation for a competing dogma, theocratic or otherwise.
It was just over a year ago that I kicked off this blog with the following quote from Saint Thomas Aquinas:
The name of being wise is reserved to him alone whose consideration is about the end of the universe, which end is also the beginning of the universe.
I then proceeded to write on a variety of topics—technology, politics, global warming, philosophy and religion, whatever—some of which I extended into multi-post series, and so on. And then I stopped for a little while. You see, I had started this blog to vent some things (much to the happiness of my wife, who was, frankly, tired of hearing me gripe about them), but as a side effect of venting, I eventually began to feel a lost sense of purpose. After all, those of us who take the time to start and write on our blogs are, to some extent, just yelling into the wind. And after yelling into the wind for a while, I began to ask myself: what’s the point?