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Well, the annual orgy of religion and patriotism, two sides of the same coin, is under way. All across America, in cities and towns of all kinds, there will be flag-raising, parading, barbecuing, praying, wreath-laying, praying, flag-waving, and more praying – of the religious kind (e.g., “God bless the United States of America” or “Almighty God, we ask [insert juvenile ass-kissing here] in Jesus’ name, amen”) and the secular (“they gave their last full measure of devotion, courage, duty, valor, honor, blah, blah, blah”).

Gotta do it in person

All of this could be done once, in Washington, and anyone who wants could watch on TV. That would save a lot of flag-raising, button-polishing, and parading. The rest of us would not be inconvenienced by all the commotion. But no. Every community must enact the ritual, in some variation or other, but in person.

Anti-war summary

All of my virulent anti-war sentiments are on display in the “Not for my freedom” post (use the site’s Search feature to find it).

War is old men sacrificing young men (and now, women) for their vanity, ambitions, and ideologies. Soldiers – of all countries — are dupes for letting themselves get into combat. Or maybe they buy the whole heroism crock of shit. Or maybe they’re invulnerable he-men who like to shoot people and blow things up. But almost all wars are optional, irrational (“go murder that stranger”) and unnecessary (unless some other idiot starts it).

Well, it keeps us humans busy. What the hell would we do with our brief lives if we couldn’t be soldiers or jihadis, enmeshed in an insane hierarchy of command and control, with lots of loyalties and rituals to attend to day and night, lots of things and people to blow up, with definite enemies to fight because we are good and they are evil?

And let’s not forget: Once you get past a certain age, you’re almost guaranteed not to go into combat, and it’s a sweet deal – stars and badges and fancy hats and shoulder braids — after that.

Particularly shameful

Humanity’s worst impulses are on display on Memorial Day, but this one is particularly shameful to me, for two reasons.

The VA has been exposed in yet another scandal – or rather, we’re finding out about the continuation of one that won’t go away.

(It goes without saying that everything we hear about is just the tip of the iceberg. VA malfeasance and incompetence are endemic – this is the government, after all. The government has been screwing veterans on this issue at least since the 80s, and, as The Daily Show recently documented in just five minutes, it’s been screwing them in general since the Revolutionary War.)

It’s bad enough that, as we learned in 2007, conditions in VA hospitals are obscene. But the vets are made to wait for months for the third-rate care they do get. They survive the battlefield, only to die for lack of care back home.

And these VA mf’ers, in true corporate fashion, hold expensive conferences and get their bonuses; see http://www.wnd.com/2013/08/more-va-madness-bonuses-despite-dead-patients/

Glory and wreckage

Such glory going in! Crisp uniforms, gung-ho training, blowing stuff up. Saluting officers. Marching. Saluting the flag. Every unit with its macho motto and emblem. Sects within religions. Tradition! My Dad served! His too! Military insanity is hereditary.

And such wreckage going out. War leaves permanent scars. New wars bring new hell: Agent Orange, Gulf War toxicity, brain injuries, and always, with every war, the shell shock/battle fatigue/PTSD.

There is no healing most of these crushed and demented young people, high-tech prostheses notwithstanding. The last payment to a vet of World War ONE was in 1965.

It’s bad enough that these young lives are wasted. Four thousand Americans died in Iraq (not to mention 100,000 Iraqis), tens of thousands more maimed physically and broken mentally — and the place is still a violent shithole, just as bad as under Saddam. Mission accomplished.

What’s worse is the way the survivors are treated. The disparity between the attention lavished on recruiting and preparing them…and the miserable care they get when the war machine is done with them…is appalling and unconscionable. (They aren’t treated too well once the machine has them in its grasp – witness the scandals over inadequate body armor or the inhumane stop-loss program.)

Why doesn’t every Memorial Day speaker protest this outrage and roundly curse the VA for its heartlessness and incompetence? It would seem like the perfect platform. Why isn’t a vehement denunciation of the government’s mistreatment of vets a Memorial Day staple, shouted from every gazebo in every village square, year after year till something gets done? As a speechwriter, I’m keenly aware of the power of words to cause change. But I bet nothing will be said. They’re obedient to the end. Or maybe they just accept it as a fact of life – after all, it’s been going on since the country was founded (see above).

And Obama, political wimp that he is, won’t fire the VA chief and the top people at all the hospitals where this happened. For government officials to describe these problems as “isolated” is a perversion of language. “All-pervasive” is more like it.

He should also fire an army of useless VA bureaucrats (their records are still on paper, in boxes) and hire an army of doctors, technicians, nurses – you know, people who actually deliver medical care – and pay them REALLY well. Better yet, as has been suggested, close down the hellholes, give vets vouchers, and let them get private care.

Heard it first-hand

The other reason why this Memorial Day is so shameful to me is that this year I got to hear first-hand about the miserable treatment of veterans. I wrote a Memorial Day speech (it’s fun to bathe in opposites every now and then) whose central theme was the good works of homeless shelters and other service-providing organizations for vets.

From these small New England towns around me come the loyal and obedient young men, because they love guns, because they have no better options, because they’ve been brainwashed by dozens of Memorial Days…who knows?

They go off to whatever war the politicians have decreed. It’s all about the mission.

And to these towns they return, young and old, some crippled, some not, some homeless, all bearing the trauma of war so severe that (I learned from the speaker) none of them will EVER talk about it. My client knew people for years and never learned of their time in the military till he read their obits.

So horrible they can’t talk about it. Civilians wouldn’t understand. You could watch a realistic war movie to see what they saw – the gore is quite vivid these days – but that’s nothing like being there yourself. The terror, the explosions, the confusion, the blood, your friends dying and dying and dying. No wonder they don’t talk about it.

On Memorial Day there is a profusion of ritual and magic words and symbols. It won’t bring one of them back to life. And politicians continue to lie about their dying for “my freedom.”

Some years (to quote Charlie Brown), I just can’t stand it.

There is nothing that is too obvious of an absurdity to be firmly planted in the human head as long as you begin to instill before the age of five by constantly repeating it with an air of great seriousness.

– Arthur Schopenhauer

Followers of the riveting “Zachary’s Brain” series of posts will know that the narrative is not a Gothic horror tale…but something that is just as disturbing: resisting the religious programming of a child.

His step-mother, belonging to a vanilla-Jesus sect, got Dad involved, of course, because he wants to be on the right side of her, though while married to my wife, he was a lapsed Catholic, a confirmed skeptic/deist who refused communion and mocked the Pope.

So now there’s a lot of church in Zachary’s life – church activities, services, quite a bit of Christian BS. My wife weeps over the cruelty of making a child believe lies. And she acts. There is no WAY this boy is going to grow up into a Christian.

Counter-strategies

We know what they’re telling Zachary. It’s all there, in the Holy Babble. So we’ve adopted two strategies for what we call “counter-church” (”anti-” sounded too anti-), since we have him every other Sunday: one is reframing; the other is anticipatory information and argumentation. We told him of the cruelty and insanity of the Noah and Binding of Isaac stories. We’ve told him that one day, when there’s been lots of warm, fuzzy Baby Jesus, they will tell him about hell. And this is exactly what they did.

Because of our efforts, he already knew there was no such place. And even now we’ve been able to tell him that religious people’s preoccupation with death leads them to do all sorts of nutty things. He gets that, even at 8.

He notes that he gets in trouble by asking questions at church, whereas he learns by asking questions in school. Big difference.

Secular Sunday School

Especially when we have him on a Sunday, we try to do something counter-religious, the more heretical the better, as when my wife defaced and ripped up a hotel room Bible in front of Zach, and God, predictably, did nothing.

This last Sunday, I was intrigued by a graphic sent in by a commentator on an Atheist Nexus.

It compared “Atheist Reasoning”" with “Theist Reasoning.” Essentially, the atheist (make that “humanist” - I don’t like to be on the negative side of anything) reasoning has WHY? and HOW? in a circle in the middle, as the central questions. All intellectual activity around the circle — hypotheses, speculation, data-dathering, theories, etc. — is focused on answering these questions — on knowing. But to the theist, all explanations, questions, gaps, hypotheses, answers — everything — leads to GOD at the center.

Well, if all the questions are answered, how do you find out anything? You don’t. You remain primitive shepherds, or whoever founded your religion. And indeed, Jews who have long since stopped being primitive shepherds dress up and go to synagogue, there to read from a scroll and pretend they believe all those primitive-shepherd stories. Weird.

The Problem

At the bottom: DO YOU SEE THE PROBLEM? And indeed Zach saw it immediately. He’s 8, and he got it: If God is the answer to everything, how can his father make a living in a scientific profession, of which the Bible says nothing?

Some months ago, we showed him pictures of Jews and Muslims praying. Clearly, they were convinced that their god was the right and only one. He brought this question back to his other home and was firmly told that the Christian god was the only one. End of discussion.

He once asked his Dad which version of history was correct, the Bible or evolution. The Bible, said Dad. In a couple of years he’ll be sophisticated enough to ask the follow-up question: then why do I have to go to school?

Anyway, he saw the problem. And he asked, in all innocence, “Can I take that page home to Daddy?” Certainly Dad would see the problem if presented so simply and eloquently.

Well, Zach, my sweet lad, Dad does see the problem. And like so many weak-minded go-alongs (including most of my family too), he prefers to ignore it.

Zach’s naivete at that moment was touching, heart-rending. But he’ll learn.

“All religions are the same. Religion is basically guilt, with different holidays.”
Cathy Ladman

“Praying is like a rocking chair. It’ll give you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.”
Gypsy Rose Lee

Church signs are a never-ending source of wonder and speculation for us humanists: assuming that there is nowadays an endless source of them (the Internet assures an endless supply of everything), how does the individual pastor decide what, if anything, to broadcast?

Most churches around here simply list their worship and Sunday school times, but the Hope Chapel in Keene NH displays a fascinating variety of messages. That pastor takes his signage seriously.
Sometimes he’s on-point with the season (START THE YEAR WITH JESUS; HAPPY RESURRECTION DAY). Occasionally he wanders off into marital advice: one side of sign reads DON’T NAG. SAY IT ONCE AND LET IT GO; other side says GENTLEMEN, TREAT HER BETTER.

The two-sided marquee, set at right angles to the road, doesn’t always work well with his message structure. You usually have to read both sides to get the whole thing, but you can see only one side when you’re driving by.

The Big Lie

The latest broadcast was just such a two-parter. And its message – either side — was so in-your-face that I pulled into the parking lot to read both halves.
One side reads HUMAN BEINGS WILL ALWAYS LET YOU DOWN. The other: JESUS WILL NEVER DISAPPOINT YOU. Of course.

What a profoundly bold statement of religion’s bogus bargain.

Let’s first dispense with “always” and “never.” Religion loves to deal in such absolutes; they make serious thought unnecessary.

The real world

In the real world, people do sometimes disappoint you. Bosses, spouses, kids, parents, everybody.

And yet, if you look at the real world, you’ll see that all of religion’s goodies – compassion, nonviolence (rarely practiced), tolerance (ditto), charity, forgiveness, guidance, even the big one, world peace – all come from human beings, or they don’t happen at all.

It’s simple. There will be world peace not when some imagined Messiah comes, but when people decide it isn’t worth it to follow the directives of insane leaders and go off to murder innocent strangers. There will be peace when people stop killing each over, mostly over religion.

A humanist tagline: “People — We’re all we’ve got.”

Unnecessary middleman

But religion inserts an unnecessary middleman between humans and morality, a spiritual wholesaler: the priest, the rabbi, the imam. The clerics will teach you how to be good people (presumably), as they teach you ritual, obedience, and intolerance.

As fellow heretic Loren Miller put it,

“The sad thing is that the church sign has it exactly right. Something that doesn’t exist can’t disappoint you, especially if you believe or are indoctrinated into such a stance, while people that DO exist may or may not perform to your expectations.”

Now that the clerics have got your salvation and eternal life tied to their version of the truth, it’s easy to believe in an Imaginary Friend who never lets you down. Like an inflatable doll, Jesus can be anything you want. You can actually buy porcelain figurines of Jesus helping you with your golf swing.

He will never disappoint. If things don’t turn out the way you asked Jesus to make then turn out…well, maybe you just don’t understand God’s mysterious workings.

Reality may disappoint, but it is REALITY. Fantasy may comfort, but it is FANTASY. This is the conscious choice made by every secular humanist — but ignored by every religious believer.

“The more you want people to have creative ideas and solve problems, the less you can afford to manage them with terror.”

Daniel Greenberg
Chairman, Electro Rent Corp.
Newsweek, 4/25/88

“American management, in the two decades after world War II, was universally admired for its strikingly effective performance. But times change. An approach shaped and refined during stable decades may be ill suited to a world [of] rapid and unpredictable change, scarce energy, global competition for markets, and a constant need for innovation.”

R.H. Hayes and W.J. Abernathy, Harvard Business Review, July/Aug. 1980.

I told myself I was not going to write about GM, even though I spent eight years there, writing speeches for top execs. The company has enough problems right now without one more insider venting his spleen. Besides, it’s already been done, by my fellow speechwriter, the late and beloved Al Lee, who did a character assassination of the CEO I worked with; the book (Call Me Roger) sank without a trace.

But now I have to, because I read the heartrending story of Donna Gilbert, whose body was wrecked by a crash caused by a flaw in GM’s ignition system (“Woman journeys back from car crash,” Keene Sentinel, Apr. 27, 2014; by-lined Chris Mondics, The Philadelphia Inquirer). The company knew about it – for years.

I tried to stay out of it emotionally, even though this latest ignition scandal and cover-up have, incredibly, driven liberal Michael Moore — who’s hated GM for 30 years, ever since they ruined his idyllic home town, Flint, MI — to advocate capital punishment for the people at GM who let it happen! Continue Reading »

Happy 4/20!

“Thousands of years ago — in times we are fond of calling ‘primitive’ (since this renders us ‘modern’ without having to exert ourselves further to earn this qualification) — religion and medicine were united in an undifferentiated enterprise; and both were closely allied with government and politics — all being concerned with maintaining the integrity of the community and of the individuals who were its members. How did ancient societies and their priest-physicians protect people from plagues and famines, from the perils of impending military encounters, and from all the other calamities that threaten persons and peoples? They did so, in general by performing certain religious ceremonies.”

Thomas Szasz, “The Scapegoat as Drug and the Drug as Scapegoat, in Milton Friedman and Thomas Szasz, On Liberty and Drugs: Essays on the Free Market and Prohibition

I can only enjoy but cannot add much to the hoopla in the marijuana community about this date, a secular holiday, a date and time of day with meaning only to the stoner in-group. For reasons that are still hazy, 4:20 is the tokers’ tea-time. Perhaps that’s as much of one day of modern life as you can take without your weed. And on the date 4/20, the legalization movement, after 70+ years of pointless prohibition based on lies (among the early ones: pot supposedly made “Negroes” want to rape white women), re-energizes itself once again, with all kinds of optimism about decriminalization, though the Feds continue to fight on. Continue Reading »

“Imagine the religious principles which have, in fact, prevailed in the world. You will scarcely be persuaded that they are anything but sick men’s dreams.”

David Hume

Psrt I: The Non-Event

Another Passover is upon us. I’ve said just about all I can say about this holiday when Jews celebrate their founding myth, the central reason for their identity, the source of their bond with their deity (who delivered them but gave them plenty of hell along the way; he killed Aaron’s two sons because they didn’t do a ritual properly).

General comments are at http://thejewishatheist.com/?p=365

Note that in the Torah, Passover was not about slavery and freedom. That’s all modern, add-on hype. God did it all for his own glory – it says so, right there in the Holy Book. Continue Reading »

Happy Easter, bloody Easter

“In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,
You’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter Parade…

On the Avenue, Fifth Avenue, photographers will snap us
And you’ll find that you’re in the rotogravure…”

Irving Berlin

“They tried to nail him down, but he got away.”

Marquee outside church in Massachusetts

Well, it’s that day again, and our Greek Orthodox friends, as well as our Roman Catholic brethren and sistren, are celebrating the most bizarre and barbaric events, the darkest, ghastliest nook of their religion: Easter.

Easter, dating back to a 3,000-year-old pagan spring ritual, is now about blood, suffering, sacrifice, more blood and suffering, and — what people come to church for: religion’s heroin and cocaine — the defiance of death.

It is perhaps the most excruciating of ironies that “Easter Parade” was written by a Russian Jew. Berlin’s lyrics describe Happy Easter – smiling kids, new clothes, chocolate bunnies, egg hunts, everything at Walgreens is pink, white, purple, or yellow. My neighbor has a giant inflatable pink bunny on his front lawn. Continue Reading »

There is nothing that is too obvious of an absurdity to be firmly planted in the human head as long as you begin to instill before the age of five by constantly repeating it with an air of great seriousness.

– Arthur Schopenhauer

Followers of the riveting “Zachary’s Brain” series of posts will know that the narrative is not a Gothic horror tale…but something that is just as disturbing: resisting the religious programming of a child.

His step-mother, belonging to a vanilla-Jesus sect, got Dad involved, of course, because he wants to be on the right side of her, though while married to my wife, he was a lapsed Catholic, a confirmed skeptic/deist who refused communion and mocked the Pope.

So now there’s a lot of church in Zachary’s life – church activities, services, quite a bit of Christian BS. My wife weeps over the cruelty of making a child believe lies. And she acts. There is no WAY this boy is going to grow up into a Christian.

Counter-strategies

We know what they’re telling Zachary. It’s all there, in the Holy Babble. So we’ve adopted two strategies for what we call “counter-church” (”anti-” sounded too anti-), since we have him every other Sunday: one is reframing; the other is anticipatory information and argumentation. We told him of the cruelty and insanity of the Noah and Binding of Isaac stories. We’ve told him that one day, when there’s been lots of warm, fuzzy Baby Jesus, they will tell him about hell. And this is exactly what they did.

Because of our efforts, he already knew there was no such place. And even now we’ve been able to tell him that religious people’s preoccupation with death leads them to do all sorts of nutty things. He gets that, even at 8.

He notes that he gets in trouble by asking questions at church, whereas he learns by asking questions in school. Big difference.

Atheist Bible studies

We also read the Bible to him: passages that describe how the earth swallowed people up or a mountain belched fire – and how these poor, ignorant shepherds thought it was God.

But there’s more: grownups STILL believe it! We give him examples of what they are required to believe.

We read him Deuteronomy 25:11, which says that a woman interfering in a fight and touching the other man’s genitals is to have her hand cut off. “Show no mercy.”

We told him about the Torah’s death penalties for adultery, homosexuality, practicing other religions, and disrespecting your parents.

We showed him the agreement between God and Abraham, in Genesis 17: loyalty in exchange for foreskins, including slaves. Owch!

God and penises

We asked him what a nutjob God would want with so many foreskins. And why he was so obsessed with penises. Why not mandate the amputation of a little toe? Because God wants to show you who’s really in charge of procreative power around here. And it’s not you. (On several occasions, God punishes women with infertility – closes their wombs, as the text puts it.)

This week, for some reason, the counter-church Bible reading was Jonah. Maybe he was getting it at church. Almost any excursion into the Holy Babble is a time-trip into another world. So it is with Jonah. Take a few minutes and reacquaint yourself with the stories people are required to believe — and to find meaningful and relevant! We read him an atheist version, which asked how Jonah could have avoided being dissolved by the fish’s gastric juices.

We warned him about the go-to argument he’s likely to hear: if God can make the laws of physics, he can change them. This is a shrewd way to fill in the gaps in stories with more stories. Zach should then ask, if he has the balls, “Well, why doesn’t God do any of that stuff anymore? [And later:] Is that his whole bag of tricks? Or maybe it’s just a story. [And still later:] Why doesn’t God punish Las Vegas?” Now that would get him in trouble — and it would show religion’s true colors. Zach will learn that when you are seriously invested in a story, you will go to great lengths to defend it.

The Jonah story is sort of Job-like. The poor guy suffers, then God forgives Nineveh anyway, after they even put sackcloth on their animals (3:8)…it’s all really stupid, as is the pissing contest between God and Jonah at the end (God wins). Oh, yeah, and Jonah actually prays to God while in the fish’s belly.

Dawkins’ question about whether religious programming is a form of child abuse deserves constant reconsideration. Growing up is complicated enough. Zach shouldn’t have to struggle through all of this.

“Examine the religious principles which have, in fact prevailed in the world. You will scarecely be persuaded that they are anything buy sick men’s dreams.”

David Hume

Another snake worshiper dies of snakebite. He refuses medical treatment. It’s against his religion.

See http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2014/february/snake-salvation-pastor-dies-rattlesnake-bite-jamie-coots.html.

How do you react, as a rational atheist skeptic? I turn to the comics, but not without a nagging feeling that something is grievously wrong with these people’s minds. A primitive obsession with snakes lingers in their neurology, just as we have vestiges of organs we no longer need. Do these people need to be locked up and medicated for their own good?

But as a libertarian, I believe in religious freedom, even if that freedom involves the ability to commit suicide by the object of your religion…and have it be OK with your religion.

I guess I side with libertarian psychiatrist Thomas Szasz. who believes that psychiatrists should definitely not be in the business of deciding who gets medicated and/or incarcerated. The crazy are entitled to be crazy, as long as they don’t harm anyone against his/her will. By this logic, as long as they don’t proselytize, and as long as they allow people to opt out, the harm is limited to a few lunatics acting according to their free will and taking the consequences.

What do you think?

NOTE: I post this every Groundhog Day. I have since learned that the movie has been the subject of many philosophical discussions, in journals, in classes, on the Net, and elsewhere. There have even been different estimates of the number of “days” Phil spends in Pennsylvania. But different minds can approach the same subject differently. I don’t know how many, if any, others have the same approach as I. So please read on.

Now that I’ve shed my skin completely,
One true reality alone exists.”

Zen saying

Zen monk: “How should I escape birth and death?”
Zen Master Shih-kung: “What is the use of escaping it?”

“In this world, we eat, shit, sleep and wake up. After that all we have to do is die.”

Inkyu

Once again it’s Groundhog Day, which was nothing more than a rather witless locally-oriented celebration (and an American example of the widespread, traditional pre-scientific practice of using animals’ behavior to forecast the weather)…until Harold Ramis’ brilliant movie of the same name. It became — and still is — my all-time favorite message film.

Groundhog Day explores the everydayness of life with an ingenious premise worthy of Kafka, Camus, or Ray Bradbury: an arrogant newsman from Pittsburgh (Bill Murray, named Phil, as in “Puxsatawny Phil,” the groundhog) finds himself trapped in Puxsatawny, PA, where, over and over, he wakes up at 6:00 a.m. to Sonny and Cher singing “I Got You, Babe,” and he and his producer (Andie MacDowell) and cameraman have to do the same local-color Groundhog Day story, day after day after day.

At first he can’t believe what’s going on. When he does catch on, he uses his newfound “power” to learn more and more about an attractive local woman (who’s always meeting him for the first time) and get laid. Of course, that’s what any guy would do.

Coping strategies

He then decides: what the hell? He becomes a libertine, a freedom-abuser. He consumes large quantities of sugar; he smokes. He even tosses a live toaster into his bathtub.

He realizes he can do anything – even kill himself — and still wake up to Sonny and Cher the next morning. There’s no way out.

So bit by bit, his coping strategies turn positive. He starts to acquire wisdom. His Groundhog Day broadcasts become more thoughtful and philosophical. He starts to take piano lessons (every lesson is the “first” one for the teacher) and gets better and better. He rescues people from predicaments that he knows are going to happen.

He makes many attempts to bed his beautiful producer Rita (Andie MacDowell) and, after many slaps in the face, sheds his arrogance and snarkiness, becomes a real person…and one day awakes to Sonny and Cher – with Andie in bed beside him. Something has changed!

Existential message

Think of it: you will awaken tomorrow morning, with the same fundamentals all in place: the same mind in the same body with the same partner (or no partner) beside you, in the same house, with the same job and relatives. The people around you will continue to be who they are. If your boss was a demented tyrant yesterday, he/she will still be one today.

The macro environment changes a little, but it doesn’t affect many of us directly. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, politicians will preen and spar, insane religions and political doctrines will still have the same powerful grip on the human mind. Muslims will still be killing each other, Christians will still be trying to take over the US, and people of all “faiths” will continue to believe literally in their holy texts.

Ancient superstitions and rivalries will be as strong and destructive as they were yesterday. The battle between scientific truth and religious fantasy will continue unresolved. At least a dozen Muslims will blow themselves up, and Americans will continue to die in foreign wars. A maniac with an automatic weapon will slaughter a dozen or more defenseless people.

People will continue to blather about saving the planet even as they destroy it. Politicians will promise change, but the only change will be that government will get bigger, and there will be more war.

Reactions to life

Marvelously predictable, isn’t it? And we react just like Phil – we can’t believe it (SURELY my wife/kid/boss/situation can change; it MUST!). We can’t believe there’s no way out.

We try all kinds of things to get away from it. We go to bars, football games, churches, and casinos. We run away to addictions of all kinds. Anything to “get away.” We even try to kill ourselves, quickly (suicide) or slowly (drugs, alcohol, work).

But perhaps on Groundhog Day, we can realize, as Phil eventually did, that through it all, the only thing that we can certainly change is our own mind and behavior. Like Phil, all we can do is keep at it until we get it right.

__________________

Alan M. Perlman is a secular humanist speaker and author — most recently, of An Atheist Reads the Torah: Secular Humanistic Perspectives on the Five Books of Moses. For information, go to www.trafford.com/06-0056.

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