Categories
Journal Politics

Influences

Tonight I watched a movie about delinquent high schoolers who were taken to an “Enlightenment” session where the evil principal put in brain implants to make them “good” students.

This got me thinking about influences or perhaps the more disparaging word called brain washing. We grow up surrounded most likely by a group of people that have the same ideas/values/norms and we become like them due to the environment. For example, we are taught to be patriotic to our country without question.

If we read the history of the United States and learn about Benedict Arnold, he will be called a traitor and we will think of him as such due to the teachings. However, as we become more critical in our literary analysis we learn that he could also be a “patriot” for Great Britian. He is even defined as a “traitor” in the dictionary. Since he is defined as such the opinions of those around us are supported by the information that surrounds us in a specific place which perpetuates our current thinking about the person in question. If the situation were reversed and Benedict Arnold was first on the British side who defected to the Americans, then he might be even called a “hero” in American dictionaries.

All information is thus filtered to fit the dogma, or idealism of the nation / religion to suit their teachings and it is very hard to see a situation from all sides since we lack a more complete source of information. Noam Chomsky also states that we ourselves filter information and are thus hurting ourselves. We will read newspapers and written materials that already support our view and even if we do read the opposite opinion it will not be with an open mind and we become actually incapable of considering that point of view.

What has helped me to see all sides came from my travels. I was able to escape an environment that taught specific ideas and during my stays in foreign countries I would immerse myself in the culture, language and thought. Yet, after taking the plunge there is no going back and becoming so immersed in the culture, my native one began to seem alien. Yet, the trick is to not far so fall in that we can no longer see the original side again.

For example, if one were to grow up in a religious atmosphere such as Catholicism, they will almost certainly be Catholic. They have never had the opportunity to open their minds or even genuinly consider the other religions. Therefore, the person in question will spend their entire life defending this faith since it is all they have ever known. The Church is a vast and great empire and should they go on to higher education it would be impossible to understand all the history, details, and origins of all they practice.

Some will go on to study another religion such as Islam and should they immerse themselves so thouroughly in it, they may even convert. They will feel as though their mind has been opened since they have escaped their original form of thinking and adopted a new one. Yet, it is my opinion that they should not stop there and continue along learning and thinking. It is easy to fall in this trap of feeling one has an open mind since they have freed themselves from the bonds of their original form of thinking.

Another example is Communism. Most Americans will see it as a dirty word. But how many have understood the mentalities of all the communists who gave their lives in wars? Do we really think that they would have fought and died for something they did not think was true and right? The person who holds this opinion then places himself above all the millions who thought the contrary as more superior and of correct opinion. In other words, this “thinker” is right and all the other billions are simply “wrong,” end of story.

To drive the point home, the religious preach tolerance, yet ironically they cannot be so. They will think those of other faiths as simply “wrong” and themselves as “right.” To them tolerance is not abusing the other faith but not accepting them either. To the Hindu, all other faiths are wrong and theirs is right. It is the same for the Catholics, Islamics and so on. In other words their mentality is “We are right, you are wrong.”

By traveling out of my original environment and honestly opening my mind to other cultures and forms of thought the world has become so complicated that I have given up any hope of ever thoroughly understanding it. It is interesting that the most ignorant of people will have all the answers, yet those that are thoroughly learned, will not have any answers.

So going back to the kids in the movie that were “brainwashed,” are we not all brainwashed in some form or another? We usually will be most patriotic to the place we are born, but for what reasons? We will usually follow the faith in which we are raised but why? A student of Communism will be Communist and a student of Capitalism will be Capitalist.

We are taught that it is a good thing to have an open mind, but to what extent? Surley once we question our teachers they will say we have opened our mind to far.

Finally, back to the filtering of information. As I have mentioned we all filter our own information from information which has already been filtered once due to the ideaology in which we live. The information is also filtered by the way we comprehend information which is in the form of language. The very language in which we think also is a big filter.

For example, in Japanese, one must consciously choose which form of politeness he will use and pronouns are not needed as to convey harmony with the group. In English, most sentences start with “I” “We” or some other pronoun. Therefore, when the teacher, explains an idea, the idea originated from the teacher and we will say “He explained…” Yet in Japanese it is possible to simply say “The idea was explained,” which thus makes it innately true. Perhaps this is a horrible example, but I feel as though I’m on to something here but cannot quite grasp the idea.

A current hot topic is the Japanese textbook in which they say the Japanese “advanced” instead of “invaded” China. This really makes the Chinese and Koreans unhappy. But are not all textbooks written in such a manner? Is it possible to write an unflitered textbook?
To come to a point, and I do believe it is time for a point; what I have learned by traveling abroad is to look at everything with a critical eye. To do so I must release all that I previously held true and start again.

The easiest thing to release is religion and start again. If I look at the Catholicism in which I was brought up, I find it odd that there are still “sacrifices” weekly albeit symbolic. The congregation eats flesh and drinks blood, albeit symbolically. Would we not look upon our ancestors as barbaric if they sacrificed something, ate the flesh and drank the blood? But we are unable to see ourselves with the same critical eye. The Pagans also wore colorful robes, made alters and tried to correct illnesses with prayer. Yet the Catholic looks at the pagan as a barbarian and considers the priest in the colorful robes as correct while the pagan is just silly, when they DO THE SAME THINGS!

Of course the Catholic will defend his beliefs with arguments found in the Catholic Church!! Just like a Communist will defend his arguments which he learned in a Communist school. But of course these questions are all taboo and people who question have been put to the stake throughout history in the inquisition, the cultural revolution, the French revolution (We have no need for savants in the Republic!).

Questioning and learning is seen as good and right until you stump the teacher and then OFF WITH HIS HEAD. (And don’t get me started on this polorization in America with one “right” side fighting the other “right” side, were questioning is no longer acceptable “You’re either with us or against us.”

I have come to understand that religion fills a void. We as humans need to feel tha
t there is a divine being protecting us for if there were not, the vast emptiness of space would be truly terrifying. We would not know where we would go when we die and be again, terrified. So we look to comfort ourselves and reassure ourselves that we have meaning. We exult ourselves and say that this divine being created ourselves in his image. We call our bodies and the heavens perfect! If our bodies were perfect, then why do men have nipples, and wisdom teeth that cause excruciating pain? Space is also a place of extreme violence and chaos. Planets and stars collide and there is much destruction and rebirth. But when we put these questions to a religious academic and have him stumped, they can always fall back on “It’s a mystery.” Well ain’t that a relief. We can go back to bed feeling safe in the fact that “It’s a mystery.”

To fill this void we have created religion and from all the religions that have been created there can be only a few winners. Therefore, we look to these few winners as the correct ones since they have survived. Yet, a few must survive eventually but this survival does not mean they are correct, simply that they survived. In the book “Sermon on the Mount” the philosopher states that Jesus Christ is the most influential man in history which might be quite true and people use this argument to support their belief. Yet, one can also argue that again, a few people should be the most influential in history since everyone cannot be the most influential. This argument of simply being the most influential does not make it correct.

So once we have stumped the religious scholar, they will reply with, “Then what is the true answer?” and since there one cannot come up with the supreme truth the religious scholar will simply be comforted in the belief that his is correct like a baby nestling back into a crib, afraid of going out and on with life since the unknown is too scary a proposition for him.

In traveling abroad, I have taught myself to not be afraid of the unknown and what a ride it has been. I have gone into an unknown country and made it my home. The experience has been enlightening yet, the answers simply get further and further away the more I learn and experience.

Categories
Journal

Intelligent Design

Intelligent Design,

There has never been a conscious being that thought the gods did not look like him. Why would a conscious being consciously place himself in an inferior position?

Religion must fill a void, the void is the questions of where are we, why are we here, and a few dominant ones must prevail over the others. Therefore, we can say that it is inevitable that a few dominant religions exist since this void must be filled in people’s lives.

The Bible, or other religious texts mostly regulate behavior of people,, and there must be a lasting text which does this, since states rise and fall.

There is no ultimate truth that has been revealed. In the past, the church let their followers be ignorant since they were uneducated and perhaps could not understand higher ideas or teachings. As the congregation becomes educated, and mankind progresses, the previous teachings often are proven wrong but the Church then modifies the stories and logic change so stay within the parameters of the belief. The Church itself actually learns through the progress of man and when their previous teachings have been proven false, they either must modify them or exist in error.

For example, the church once taught and the “heavens” revolved around the earth. As mankind gains knowledge the Church was forced to change this teaching. Why does the bible not provide us with the knowledge of our surroundings in the first place? The explanation we received was that it was mans way of describing his surroundings. Yet we were also taught that it was actually God’s word through man. Does this mean that God was wrong?

If we consider the vast infinity of space and time we as human beings have only existed for a mere blink of an eye. Why do we consider ourselves to important as we will extinguish just as fast as we came into being.

Without religion man would be extremely frightened and lost. God must be created by man so he may think there is a divine being watching out for him which brings comfort. If by some means all religions were proved wrong then there would be mass panic and depression. This is the void that is filled with religion.

The Church is neither bad nor good. It does reach out to the poor and those participating in these works do so out of the goodness of their own hearts under the umbrella of religion. That is why the Church has been successful throughout the ages. It gives people something to believe in and that their belief is good. There have been times when this belief has gone too far which lead to the forceful conversions of people such as the crusades and the inquisition. But the Church must fight for survival just like any other religion or state. It must attack that which threatens it, just as in the counter reformation.

As the idea of God is the highest form of authority, almost all leaders throughout history have claimed to be god, be a partial god, or given authority to lead directly by God. Every form of Authority must have a higher form of authority which validates it. The mayor of a town is backed by the Governor of the State, who is backed in turn by the president of the nation. In a democracy the prevailing idea is that the president is backed by the will of the people, but still in this modern age, most presidents still find it necessary to invoke God’s blessing or will to validate the presidency such as the monarchies or Theocracies of the world do.

Categories
E-mails Japan - 日本 Việt Nam

E-mail to Dad 7.2.2004

Good Morning Dad,

I’m glad you like the books.  I’ve been reading a lot lately about space and
where exactly we are.  Living abroad has done so much more for me than
simply language.  I’m able to understand people, their influences and
mentality much better now.  Getting out of one’s normal environment really
makes one expand their mind and see life from a completely different
perspective. 

So I’ve been asking myself lately the age old philosophical
questions about exactly where we are and what our purpose is.  I see so many
people who simply drift through life with their main goal being money,
getting a certain position or providing for others and ask myself; is this
our purpose here?  So I’ve turned to space since humanity has made so much
amazing progress lately such as sending the rovers to mars and putting
telescopes such as Chandra http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/ out in space
that can take pictures of the farthest reaches of the universe and am
astounded. 

Then I turned to Hawking since no known person has the mental
capacity to understand our environment like him.  A good primer on Hawking
is on his simple website which has some of his (easy to read) lectures
posted on the internet. http://www.hawking.org.uk/home/hindex.html .

Throughout my childhood most people explained the not-yet-understood
variables of this life by using God.  Then throughout history, man has
slowly been able to remove the culpability from God to natural factors.
Through my reading of history, religious teachings and new discoveries, I’ve
started to put more of my stock in science then the naive explanations of
religious leaders who throughout time have punished people for not accepting
their teachings.  If the Church was a company there is no way I would invest
due to their constant retracting from the established teaching.  If they are
supposed to be the guardians of the “supreme truth” then they should have
had everything right the first time.  Enough of this nonsense of
“interpretation” which can be used to constantly change their views due to
new discoveries.  Anyway, being the intellectual you are, I thought these
books might interest you or at least make a good addition to the library.  I
hear that “A brief History of the Universe” is easier reading than “A brief
History of Time,” and may be the one to start with first.

Enough of that rambling, I’m writing most of these thoughts down in a book
that will not be completed until I’m at least in my mid thirties.  I’ve
posted it online and most of it is still unorganized and in need of
revision.  I usually have a thought and write it down quickly before it
slips away and then return to revise later.  If you have a chance, please
take a look.  It’s posted in the “academics” section of my website.

I agree with your advice about the job.  Since I now have until October,
I’ve slowed the job search a little.  Once the semester is finished and I’m
not swamped with homework, I’ll be able to concentrate most of my energies
on the search.  The name of the tobacco company I’m working at is called
“Intercontinental Trading Corporation.”  Their main competitor is the much
larger “Japan Tobacco,” but they are able to import many special products
such as Cuban cigars, Gualoise Cigarettes from France and American Spirit
Cigarettes from the States.  The reason I’m apprehensive about the job is
that in Japanese society it would become my life, and the employees like my
family.  I would be put into “their group,” and it would seem much more
“permanent” than what we are used to in the States.  They have not offered me
the position yet, but the manager has said (reliant on my Japanese skill)
that I’m the best candidate for the job because of my language skills.  The
job has not been offered nor filled at this point and I’m their official
English teacher at least until October 1st.  The employees really like me,
and I create a great atmosphere for them.  They all really enjoy the lessons
I provide and I’ve managed to motivate the entire staff to learn.  It’s a
pretty good feeling to be able to do that.

As for the job search, there is such a feeling of excitement and opportunity
here in Asia (especially China) that is lacking in the rest of the world.
Vietnam is slowly transferring power from the war generation to the new young
generation of entrepreneurs.  Due to the Vietnam (or American war) your
generation was mostly wiped out and the country is mostly young.  They are
opening up their markets from the communist grasp, and the young people are
starting their own businesses.  My friend Phuong, was able with the support
of his other young friends to establish his own computer company and even
became a congressman.  When I’m in HCMC (Saigon) I feel that these young
people are establishing the new order and in the future will be the big dogs
of Vietnam, unless they are crushed by foreign powerhouses.  They are weak
compared to the mammoths of US companies and it remains to be seen if they
will survive once Vietnam joins the WTO.  Either way, if I’m lucky enough to
secure a job there, I think I would be protected due to the fact that I am
an American, who understands and glides easily through cultures.  I simply
just need to get my foot in the door and due to the confidence I’ve gained
through the opportunities you’ve provided me, I’m positive that I’ll be
successful.  I just need to get that damn foot in the door.

I’ve written a novel so I’ll end here.  I promise I’ll make it back sometime
this year so we can get out and get that beer at which time I hope that I’ll
be able to give you a run for your money intellectually.

Thanks again for everything,

Categories
Japan - 日本 Journal

We are too arrogant

We are too arrogant.  We believe we know what is needed to be known, yet we wallow in our ignorance refusing to admit to ourselves that we are insignificant beings with a barely a fraction of all knowledge that there is to be learned or discovered.

I cannot know without being shown or taught.  Until know, my brain has never spontaneously generated the answers I seek.  I had to read it from a book or be taught.  Like many, I have been taught many false teachings and read many lies.  It took the comparison of vast amounts of information and deep reflection to realize these first teachings were the sloppy strokes of an ignorant painter.

 I did not know there was a Japan until someone told me there was a country called Japan.  I did not know that my country was America until I was told.  And I still do not know where I am, who I am, or why I am.  Why do I not know this extremely important fact.  It is like awaking in the middle of a journey, with no recollection of how I got here or where I am going.  There are prophets, laymen, and fools along the road all trying to give me the answer in different tongues, and with different beginnings and endings.  Why should I believe the one who called to me first when the second, third, or even fourth may be just as correct.  Perhaps none of them are correct, and just as a traveler must rely on his own sound judgment and instinct, I too must tread carefully and choose wisely to whom I will listen. 

Finally, I do not know my place in the world, or what this environment is that surrounds me. Where am I know, where was I before, and where will I go? 

Religion is candy for the adult.  Religion assumes that the human cannot behave himself by his own will, and therefore must spread the fear of everlasting punishment to keep these animals in line.  The Christian does not do good because it is inherent to him.  No, he does good in order to gain a reward after death. 

The true kind man gives without hope of reward.  In fact he believes that he will get no reward yet, gains satisfaction in simply helping others for the sake of seeing their smile.  He does not know what will happen after he dies and he worries little.  He knows that he has the time in his hands now to do what he will and it is his own personal choice,, without the bribe of heaven or the fear of hell that he helps others.  The Christian must be bribed. 

The Christian rituals are absurd.

IF there is a supreme being of the universe,, why should they care if we do without a certain food, or abstain from a certain drink during a specific time of the year.  We place entirely too much importance on ourselves,, and how arrogant we are to think that a Supreme being would care so much about us.  How silly is the idea that if we successfully abstained from our favorite food that the ultimate being is going to look down on us and give us some sort of point and add it to our tally of good and evil deeds.  This is ridiculous, yet it is what I have been taught my entire life. 

WAKE UP,, AWAKEN,, throw out what you have learned and learn again with a clear conscious.  AWAKE!

THE MENTALITY OF THE PEOPLE.

How would we know if Jesus came back or not?  It would take him coming down on a cloud,, but even then the population would consider it a hoax.  Jesus could go to the Vatican and the Vatican would probably have him killed or jailed since he would be a threat and an end to their power. 

What would it take for the true Jesus to convince the people?  He would have to make day turn into night, be killed and come out of his casket,,,, and even then , the people would doubt.  How frustrated Jesus would become in our society!  The best he could hope for it to be invited on a talk show and then abused by the host for our entertainment.