In Part One, we had a group of notable thinkers testify on the state of mankind, arguing that we humans, for all our knowledge in other areas, have not and do not make collective moral progress. I thought they made strong arguments, and they are all individuals I enjoy reading. I clumsily labeled them the prosecution, which is unfair because they believe that their views provide hope for the future and support our need to reason. They believe that not appreciating our constant demons or understanding the imperfections of man creates fundamentalist beliefs – be they religious or political — that bring on the very destructive tendencies they oppose. In summary, they believe collective moral progress is a myth and a dangerous one. A belief in moral progress they believe begets utopianism and tyrants.
Before having equally intelligent thinkers make the case for the defense that we have and do make moral progress, allow me to say one thing: “Burning cats.” Yes that’s right: “Burning cats.” Continue reading →
Farmhouses were once so close together that a traveling salesman could make a living in the country. I saw the very end of that, at least in the great Midwest. Now it’s road-to-road farming – no trees, fences or animals. The wonderful creeks where I hunted the great catfish are filled with suds and foam. Today, a door-to- door man would starve or at least run out of gas. Half the kids in my class wore Future Farmers of America jackets. Today that would be one lonely club where I came from.
I learned a lesson from a bible salesman who came by one day. It must have been one of those lazy August days, and my car was broken down. He explained to me that the more rudely he was treated during a pitch the more he knew he was going to make a sale — guilt or something combined with his talent. But, I have found that phenomena to be true in private and corporate life. No, I still did not buy a bible from him – already had one.
But the most irritating door-to-door visitors were the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I must have been pretty bored the day I opened the door to chat religion a bit (still an obsession). That was my first mistake, as once the Witnesses start talking they feel they have a responsibility for your salvation forever, and they don’t give up easily. But, by far my worse mistake, was informing them that I was born a Catholic (a “cradle Catholic” (if you know the term). If you have never experienced this, believe me, Catholicism sets them off. There are probably many reasons for this. Perhaps the church burned a bunch of them, which would not be unusual. But I think the real reason is that relatively speaking Catholics don’t read the bible. They don’t. And until the folk mass, they sang like shit, but that’s an aside. Unless you are in Rome, lets leave the singing to the Baptists. OK? Continue reading →
Beyond the obvious (e.g. loving our loved ones) few of our beliefs are constant in life. So if you look back at your life and identify a view that for some reason has been a thread, a second skin, it can be comforting. I hope you have such a north or south star. This is assuming you are not a serial killer from an episode of Criminal Minds, which I suppose could still be comforting — at least to you.
I have one constant view that, except for those hormonal true believer moments, has shadowed me most of my days. That belief is that people who have all the answers cause most of the problems. It is more than a casual belief; it has for me held firm enough that I have fought over it, figuratively speaking. And, I have probably come close to catching a left hook from some cretin whose DNA was seriously damaged by whole grain liquor or inept rattle snake handling. Continue reading →