Discrimination

Discrimination means to differentiate, which could have bad connotations, such as to treat individuals differently in a bad way based on race or sex or nationality or creed or religion or just about anything that comes to mind.  For example, blacks have been discriminated against in employment, voting rights, freedom, and many other rights simply based on their color.

However, discrimination has a good side to the coin if it is discerning differences to determine the best of a group of individuals.  For example, we discriminate when we compare Albert Einstein to other scientists because Einstein was different and thus we differentiate his abilities from others in a good form of being prejudiced.  Einstein should be separated from his contemporaries as being the best.

It is interesting to note that most people who claim that they never discriminate against Native Americans, Japanese, blacks, Jewish, Irish, or whatever group is in the “hot box,” are really discriminating because they have made race an issue.  Somebody who truly doesn’t discriminate doesn’t even notice the difference.  A man who says that he likes the black race just showed his true allegiance to his race because he didn’t say that he liked all races no matter what.  The soldier who goes to war with his brothers in arms from all different races and religions and sees no distinction is the true professional who does not discriminate.

So, is there a problem with the “Black Lives Matter” group?  They didn’t say, “All Lives Matter.”  Of course, black lives matter, but so do the lives of red, yellow, tan, brown, and white people.  Some say that blacks have been mistreated for so many generations that they should have the right to discriminate against others.  Well, let’s let the Native Americans have that right first.  And how about allowing the Jews to discriminate against Arabs?  Where does it stop?  We have to say that all lives matter to avoid any continuation of discrimination through “getting even” or revenge motivation.

The discrimination against blacks in the south roots itself deeply in the soil of slavery.  I watched many of these whites spew out their hatred, which was very similar to the hatred of the Jewish people by the Germans.  If you are down and out, you will look for somebody to make yourself feel or look better.  The poor whites in the south didn’t have much in their pockets, but they could always pick on a poor black person to make themselves better than somebody else.

In order to get past the terrible history of murdering blacks and Jews, we need to study our past to make certain that it does not reappear.  Rather than tearing down Civil War statues, it would be much more intelligent to examine the history of that war to prevent it from happening again.  It would be more important to learn that General Robert E. Lee was not in favor of slavery, but, rather instead, joined the Confederacy because he sided with his state, Virginia, over the union.  And when you study the history of General Stonewall Jackson, you learn that he opposed slavery and, in fact, taught blacks in his Sunday School classes.  Jackson was another Confederate leader who fought with Virginia rather than against her.  For you see, history is extremely important to ensure that we do not make the same mistakes.  The mistake made during the Civil War was in not declaring the war was to free slaves and nothing else.  State’s rights should never have been an issue.  In fact, if slavery had been the only issue for the war, Generals Lee and Jackson would have joined the Union side, and the war would have lasted for less than a year.  They were that good!

But emotions pour out when we discuss these issues and mad idiots like Hitler can take over crowds who feed on this adrenaline rush.  Tearing down statues usually is only a start.  Burning the history books and then other books is an intermediary step.  Then it is time to start rounding up the “bad guys and gals,” whoever that might be.  Hitler chose the Jews, but the next totalitarian leader may choose to imprison all the middle and upper class.  It would be like trying to predict the weather on a date next year.  Who knows who will be discriminated against by the totalitarian regime?

And I guess that is my point.  Extremists can discriminate against a selected group.  And then that group can get back at the world and discriminate against another selected group.  It is much like the father who abuses the son, and then the son abuses the grandson.  The discrimination perpetuates itself unless we stop and examine the history behind these extreme movements and learn from them so they don’t happen again.

God Is on Our Side

Bob Dylan wrote a song that included lyrics: “And the land that I live in has God on its side.”

Here are the lyrics:

Oh my name it is nothin’
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
I’s taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And the land that I live in
Has God on its side.

Oh the history books tell it
They tell it so well
The cavalries charged
The Indians fell
The cavalries charged
The Indians died
Oh the country was young
With God on its side.

The Spanish-American
War had its day
And the Civil War too
Was soon laid away
And the names of the heroes
I’s made to memorize
With guns on their hands
And God on their side.

The First World War, boys
It came and it went
The reason for fighting
I never did get
But I learned to accept it
Accept it with pride
For you don’t count the dead
When God’s on your side.

When the Second World War
Came to an end
We forgave the Germans
And then we were friends
Though they murdered six million
In the ovens they fried
The Germans now too
Have God on their side.

I’ve learned to hate Russians
All through my whole life
If another war comes
It’s them we must fight
To hate them and fear them
To run and to hide
And accept it all bravely
With God on my side.

But now we got weapons
Of the chemical dust
If fire them we’re forced to
Then fire them we must
One push of the button
And a shot the world wide
And you never ask questions
When God’s on your side.

In a many dark hour
I’ve been thinkin’ about this
That Jesus Christ
Was betrayed by a kiss
But I can’t think for you
You’ll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot
Had God on his side.

So now as I’m leavin’
I’m weary as Hell
The confusion I’m feelin’
Ain’t no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
If God’s on our side
He’ll stop the next war.

I believe that most Americans who believe in God consider Him to support their country.  I imagine that the Israelis consider God to be in their corner when they are fighting the Palestinians, and the Muslims think that God is on their side.

I was watching professional football playoff games today and noticed that many religious players thanked God for helping them make a touchdown or a great play.  I bet they feel that God is on their team’s side.

And even though it is wonderful to see so many people recognizing God, it bothers me that they appear to be confused about God’s role during our lives.  God gives us rules to follow and Jesus provided the Beatitudes with tremendous ethical teachings.  These are excellent guidelines… our moral compass that will help us navigate through our journey of life.  God’s words in the Bible help us make better decisions during our lives, but God gives us freedom of choice.

We make choices throughout our lifetimes, not God.  We have free will, so we should not blame or praise God for those things that happen during our lifetimes.  We should simply thank God for creating the universe and giving us an opportunity to live in it.

Yet, we do blame God.  Many Christians think of God as being most important during their lives, rather than their afterlives.  I believe this is a major mistake.  If we get lung cancer, we ask God why He did that to us, forgetting that we chose to smoke a pack a day for over thirty years.  And some deaths occur because of poor genes or bad luck or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  God does not pretend to cause or prevent these deaths.

Thus, it is not logical that God is on your team’s or country’s side either.  During war, many soldiers take solace in their religious beliefs, and this is very important in order to keep their sanity during such a hellish, surrealistic environment.  But that doesn’t mean that God sided with the Allies over the Axis powers in WWII.  Even though Hitler was more evil than good, God did not allow him to be assassinated during the attempts on his life.  History is filled with evil leaders who were not stopped by God.

Nobody knows what will happen over the course of our lives and certainly nobody knows what will happen after we die.  But I believe God’s primary purpose is for the afterlife.  If you believe in the Law of Conservation of Mass and Energy then you know that all the mass and energy in our universe can neither be created nor destroyed.  Any creation had to occur outside our closed universe.  God, as the Creator, is logically outside our universe, existing in His universe.

As I said, I have no idea what will happen after death.  If you die and you are no longer aware of your environment, then there is no afterlife and you don’t need to worry about anything.  Everything will cease when you die, and there is nothing more.

In this scenario, your body will decompose and the matter that once was your body will be recycled, but your thinking existence will come to an end.  Actually, this would be the best situation for us.  But I believe that nothing is destroyed within our closed universe, so our thinking probably will continue after our temporary shells of a body give out.

If you die and are still conscious, then more than likely you will be either in God’s world or in a transition zone leading to the Creator’s world.  If you are still thinking, then you need to reach out and embrace God, unifying with Him.  This is when you need to have God on your side, because we know nothing and God knows everything.

Even though I do not know for certain what will happen, I have a gut feeling that there is no “our” in the afterlife.  So God should be on “your” side, not “our” side.  In other words, it may be only you, your thoughts, and God.  God must be on your side or you will be completely alone in a chaotic underworld that will devour your thoughts, leaving you adrift in a dark world of eternal nightmares.

We can only see about 4% of the universe, and we only know a small fraction of that 4%.  We need to rely on the Creator of this universe, who knows everything about it and beyond.  I suspect that since we know so little about the universe, we will be lost without God.

Love and Hate

Love and hate are both four-letter words.  Sometimes they have other similarities.  Love can turn into hate and hate can return to love.  How can this be?

Well, both of them are extreme emotions that many times spring from relationships.  The most basic explanation is that love occurs when the relationship is good and hate develops when the relationship sours.  So are we talking about the same emotion, distinguished by whether things are going well or not?

It’s not quite that simple.  Some people love and hate from afar.  A stalker may be initially attracted to a beautiful lady, thinking of his feelings as love for her.  But the stalker may eventually realize that he can never have her, so his feelings turn to hate.  The poor lady may never even know anything about this guy until he appears out of the dark and kills her.

Some people hate others based on race, creed, or religion.  If you are poor, you can hate the rich without knowing them.  Thus, these forms of hate are not based on personal relationships that have gone bad.  Many times, hate is a way for the oppressed to compensate for their positions in life.  Hate also can become a super-glue for political parties, gangs, and peer groups.  What better way to cement individuals together than by hating another group?  Hitler understood this very well.

Love and hate, although very powerful initially, typically are very temporal emotions, because extreme emotions can burn out fairly quickly.  They can disappear as quickly as they appear.  But there are exceptions to this.  The hate between Arabs and Jews has been going on for hundreds of years.  This is not going away because the Bible makes the Jewish people the chosen ones and the Koran does not.  The hate leads to terrorist acts that beget more violence.  It has become a “never-ending story” of hate.

However, these problems can be resolved over time when reasonable leaders are in charge of Arab countries and Israel.  An example of this was Northern Ireland and England.  The terrorist killings had gone on for decades without any end in sight until the leadership of those countries recognized how the acts of terrorism were tearing the economy of the two countries apart.  Reasonable leaders found an economic compromise that has held the peace for many years.

Does that mean that the leadership in the Middle East is unreasonable?  Well of course it does.  But which comes first:  reasonable leadership or stopping the terrorist attacks?  The leaders say that they must respond to the terrorist attacks, and since the terrorists are not reasonable, they cannot be reasonable.

There is a problem with extremist thinking.  It is important for moderates to exert more control in the world.  Generally, moderates do not choose to get involved with extremists.  They patiently wait for the extreme positions to dissipate.  But moderates must take a stand against terrorists and extremists before they polarize the world.  The thing that makes moderates apathetic is that they believe that since terrorists and extremists are in the minority, they can never take over the world.  Hitler is the ultimate example of why this is the wrong way to think.  Many extremist minorities have taken over countries throughout history.  Stalin just killed millions of people who didn’t do what he demanded.

There are many countries in the world who do not want terrorism to expand into their areas, so they should be willing to form a worldwide coalition to eradicate terrorists and extremists throughout the world.  The terrorists and extremists cannot stand up to a worldwide force that joins hands to crush them.

Perhaps we would be better off by not emphasizing extreme emotions like love and hate and instead by becoming a more thoughtful, moderate world.