What The Hell??

The old pagan myth of the concept of “Hell” was one of my earliest stumbling blocks when I was a Christian.  After believing in the existence of Hell for the better majority of my life, there came a time that I began to critique the very concept itself.  There are many things about the very thought that “bad people” and unbelievers will be eternally tortured that simply do not make sense.  At least such seems so to me after years of reflection and thought on the matter.

And so even before I abandoned faith and evolved into a skeptical aging Atheist,  I had already rejected the notion that there really is an eternal torture chamber which awaits the eternally damned who dare doubt the deity of Jesus or who dare live as they damn well please instead of bending the knee to Jehovah.  Allow me if you will to opine on the matter a might:

Firstly, it does not seem reasonable that people who never asked to be here in the first place would be subject to eternal torture for making the wrong choices.  It is not as though any of us volunteered to live as human beings, and then we were found derelict in duties which we had chosen to swear to uphold.  In fact, far from it.  Life is an involuntary situation in that not a single one of us asked to be here in the first place.  Frankly, each of us was thrust into life unwittingly and unwillingly.  The concept of eternal torture then seems a drastic and frankly dastardly measure to inflict upon folk who “did not measure up” to a position that they never asked for in the first place.

Secondly, it would seem that the results of the Creation indicate that God was irresponsible to have made us as he allegedly did in the first place. If the Bible story is true, then God initially made everything good, only to see it “go to Hell in a handbasket”!! (The pun is definitely intended).  If such be true, then who’s to fault?  Are the involuntary subjects in the grand social experiment ultimately to blame for the results?  Or is the all knowing Creator actually accountable since per the story, it was he who gave us the freedom to make the wrong choices in the first place?  Did not the all knowing Creator foresee the results?  Did not the all knowing Creator foresee the suffering which would result from his decision to create us as he did?  Did not the all knowing Creator then foresee the eternal torture of every individual who would ever eventually wind up in Hell?  In the light of the supposed nature of God as an all knowing deity who can foresee everything, and in the light of the dreadful results of the Creation, is not then God himself actually accountable  for the results, seeing it was He who allegedly chose to make us in the first place?

CONCLUSION:

My ultimate hope for all peoples; regardless of personal beliefs, is that no one would live in fear of being eternally tortured in an afterlife.  This life bears enough burdens sufficient to satisfy the concept of consequences for one’s actions without us having to worry about whether we will be subject to an eternal double jeopardy by being eternally tortured for the choices that we had made while living in this one life on earth.

Hell is a pagan myth.

Heaven is a speculative concept for the hopeful.

The here and now is reality.

Dave Henderson

Denison, Texas

On Fracking in Denton, Texas

The vote in November which may potentially ban Fracking in Denton, Texas interests me for a variety of reasons:

  1. I have two grown children who are Residents of Denton, and so it is possible that I may one day have Grandchildren who grow up in that fine community.
  1. I have grown to love the community of Denton over the past several years.  There is nothing more enjoyable to me than being on the Denton square on a Saturday afternoon/evening.  The atmosphere is so pleasant, and the people are a source of positive energy.  I truly dig the Denton scene!
  1. As a longtime resident of Grayson County, Texas; and in light of the fact that the Denton election could set a precedent for other Texas counties, then it seems to me that I do have a vested interest in how the democratic process plays out there next month.

And so with these thoughts in mind, I hope I am not too presumptuous to opine certain thoughts relative to the issue at hand.

Firstly, as to the potential effects of fracking in Denton:

The very act of flushing out potentially radioactive material which has been underground for millions of years and introducing these potentially toxic particles by bringing the fluid back to the surface can potentially lead to air pollution and contaminated water supply.

In addition, the fracturing of the earth itself, thereby opening unnatural veins without giving the soil time to shift and develop, may very well be the reason why there has been a shift in seismic activity resulting in an increase in earthquake activity in certain areas following fracking activity.

And so, at the very least, the potential effects of fracking includes:

  1. Air pollution and air borne toxic dust particles.
  2. Contaminated drinking water.
  3. Increased risk of earthquake activity.

Now, in the light of these potential environmental risks and health hazards, certain questions come to mind:

Would it be socially  responsible to  ignore the potential environmental and health hazards of fracking?

Or rather would eliminating the possibility of potential environmental risks and health hazards by banning fracking be a responsible decision?

Furthermore:

Who stands to benefit from fracking in Denton?

Then again, who stands to be burdened with the effects of fracking in Denton?

And who leaves town with the profits from the fracking in Denton?

And again, then who is left to live with the potential environmental risks and health hazards of fracking in Denton?

And so I have to wonder:

Is the fear of litigation a sound basis for succumbling to the desires of those who would subject you and your children to the environmental risks and health hazards of fracking in Denton?

Or in fact, is the fear of potential environmental risks and health hazards for your and your children a sound basis for taking the precautionary steps against such by banning fracking in Denton?

Finally,

In the light of the potential environmental risks and health hazards, is fracking in Denton really the  responsible thing to allow?

Or in the light of the potential environmental risks and health hazards is banning fracking in Denton actually the responsible thing to make happen?

CONCLUSION:

Again, as an outsider it is not my place to presume to tell the good people of Denton what to do, nor do I have an actual vote in the matter.

But with all my sincerity, I believe that the good people of Denton would do themselves; their future generations; the entire State of Texas; and humanity at large a great social service by

VOTING FOR THE BAN; thereby maintaining a FRACK FREE DENTON!!

Thank you for your time,

Dave Henderson

Denison, Texas

daveylee1961@gmail.com

On Religion and Respect

The issue of Religion is not so very very difficult if we but distinguish between “freedom of” in contrast to “freedom from”; and “private right” in contrast to “public realm”; and commit to the respect of each on behalf of everyone.

For respect is the unwritten social contract which enables people of different cultures to live together in peace and harmony:

Every person has a “private right” to “freedom of” religion. The right of private worship is sacred in a civilized society. Thus; the practice of private religion must be free from State interference or social censure. So long then as no one is harmed in any way, each individual or collective groups simply must be free to worship as they wish without interruption or interference by the State OR BY ANY OTHER religious body, institution, or individuals.

At the same time, these being private rights, then the free exercise of one’s religion must naturally be restricted to the home and/or church building/grounds. Whenever religious relics, traditional teachings, prayers, adoration, singing, and otherwise are practiced, promoted on behalf of, or imprinted into the public realm or onto public property, then the rights of all non-religious or “different religion than” peoples have been infringed upon and undeniably violated. The restriction of the practice of one’s religion to the private sector is only practical in the light of both the nature of the freedom of religion and the neutrality of and therefore freedom from religion in the public sector.

Therefore, the “public realm” simply must be a “freedom from” religion zone. Neutrality in the public realm is the most practical means by which to protect the rights of and at the same time to respect the beliefs of all peoples. Neutrality in the public realm then is the proper means necessary in order to protect the private rights of religious practice, and at the same time to respect the faiths and philosophy of all peoples. Such neutrality then being an effort to give preference to none over any other.

Neutrality with regards to religion in the public realm then protects everyone’s rights, including all but not exclusive to any particular religious group and/or ideology. This is in fact to respect the faiths and philosophy of all peoples, in an effort to give preference to none over any other. And such is only right since the public sector belongs to the public at large. Thus, no person of one faith should have to read passages from the holy book of another faith inscribed on a public park bench. Furthermore, no parent of any given faith should have to subject their children to being lead in prayer by a Public School Educator which is directed to a different deity than that of that family’s religious beliefs.

Public neutrality is simply the most practical means by which to show proper respect for each person’s faith and beliefs.

CONCLUSION:

Respect is the unwritten social contract which enables people of different cultures to live together in peace and harmony.

As a matter of respect for each individual’s right to their own personal beliefs and private religious practices, society must never allow those rights to be infringed upon or denied.

Then again, as a matter of respect to each individual’s right to their own personal religious beliefs, society should ever maintain an absolute and unqualified neutrality in the public domain with regards to any religious beliefs whatsoever.

For respect is the unwritten social contract which enables people of different cultures to live together in peace and harmony.

Dave Henderson
Denison, Texas

Your Problem; My Problem: Racism and The Police State

Your problem; my problem.

That is the nature of reality.

I am a Southern white male.

Proud of my heritage. Proud of my family. Proud of who I am. As I damn well should be. Everyone should walk through this life with their heads held high and their countenance in accord.

Whatever else we of humanity are; we simply are. Why not enjoy the experience of our random existence and like Minnie Pearl, just “be proud to be here”. There is nothing wrong with such a perspective, and everything right about it in my view.

But pride and self worth notwithstanding, there is a reality that simply must not escape me.

Whatever else we of humanity are; we simply are interconnected. Existence is a web. Everything and everyone existing at the same time are interconnected and share common ground if for no other reason than we all stand on and share the common ground of mother earth. If this era of instant global communication teaches us anything it should make us aware that we all share a common existence as inhabitants of mother earth in the way of communal humanity.

And how much more so do the common aspects of our earthly existence become real and practical than when considered from the perspective of the concept of “society”. The concept of society; no matter whether local, regional, or national, is a reminder that we of the human race are interconnected and interdependent whether or not we wish to acknowledge the fact.

That said, as this 53 year old Southern white male ages, I am becoming increasingly aware that the concept of “Your problem, my problem” is the simple nature of reality. I can ignore that reality. I can deny that reality. But I sure as hell cannot avoid living that reality.

And so with each passing day, and with each troublesome daily headline, I become increasingly aware that the problems of others are in fact my problems; even though their ideology or circumstances may differ from my own. Thus:

Your problem; My problem.

The Problem of Racism Is My Problem

First off, if you think that I am addressing a “problem of the past’; something that “used to be, but no longer is”; then with all due respect; whether you intend such to be the case or not:

You are part of the problem; rather than a part of the solution.

The denial of the reality of an ever present, ever real, and frankly “never went away” racism is the cornerstone of the the darkest of our society’s social ills (no pun intended).

For while many of we Caucasians of the 21st century have complacently patted ourselves on the back and assumed that the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and our slow but steady acceptance of interracial relationships has somehow enabled us to overcome the national sins of our ancestors; the real world of racism and fascism has waged on in the streets of the inner city. Now whether we just did not know or did not care to acknowledge the reality of life in the black community, the advent of the phone video, and the utility of Youtube has certainly opened our eyes as to life in the streets for the black community, and has allowed us to see for ourselves the degree of provocation and aggression which is exercised towards the black community on a daily basis.

Now someone might say Dave, why do you; a white Southern male give a damn about what happens to “black folk in the city”.

Well, firstly, everytime I see or read about yet another oftentimes unarmed black male shot to death (oftentimes with multiple gunshots) by the police, I know that the young victim is laying in a pool of blood which is the same color as the crimson red blood that flows through my own Caucasian veins. The fact is that any time a black male is gunned down in the streets, then another one of my brethren in the human family has gone by the wayside.

And so although I am a Southern white male; I am nonetheless deeply concerned with the recently revealed trend of the disrespectful and deadly maltreatment of the black community by certain over exuberant police officers. Again, I emphasize recently “revealed” for the simple reason that the maltreatment and murder of the African American male by white police officers is by no means a recent trend. The only aspect of this most serious of all human rights violations which is recent, is the capability of phone videos and Youtube to reveal to us all the living hell which is the life of the black community when subjected to the oppressive rule of tyrannical and trigger happy police officers whose methods of operation of patrol is to profile and whose means of dealing with the resistance which they themselves oftentimes provoke is that of brute force and public execution. Then, to add insult to injury, the tyranny of the fascist police officer is further empowered by tasers and tear gas, while an all too often apathetic and insensitive white community judges and criticizes the rage of the black community who are becoming increasingly frustrated at the paradox of living in a society which claims to be the beacon of freedom and security, yet whose streets are patrolled by deputized peace officers who all too often become armed assassins. This is a vicious cycle which has seen no end, nor are there signs of any changes to the positive contrary anytime in the near future, which only intensifies the frustration of an already disenfranchised and despondent sector of our social community.

A secondary concern relative to the plight of the now publicized aggression against the black community by our public servants, is the precedent being set by a lack of accountability of the racist and fascist police force for their crimes against humanity. This aspect of police brutality should be regarded as a matter of concern for all peoples, black or white, because with each case of a deputized peace officer being allowed to murder with no accountability whatsoever further precedent is set for a socially accepted police state. This we simply cannot abide.

Frankly, how short sighted for those of us who are not directly affected by this inhumane maltreatment to not realize that police brutality which is simply swept under the rug by a corrupt system of cover up sets a precedent for a militant and militarized policing of our ENTIRE society.

So long as the police are allowed to randomly ask for ID, damage personal property, torture by taser, beat, and/or shoot unarmed black males with NO accountability, then EVERYONE’s basic rights are in peril.

So long as the police are allowed to tear gas, torture by taser, beat, and/or shoot peaceful demonstrators who are rightfully assembling based upon the most basic of all rights of a free and civil society to assemble and protest as a means of collective communication, then EVERYONE’s basic rights are in peril.

CONCLUSION:

Every person is due the respect worthy of their very existence.

The African-American community has yet to be able to assume that natural right.

No one should live in fear that their living or yet unborn male sons may be provoked, bullied by, and shot by armed assassins whose responsibility is to “keep the peace” rather than to provoke and incite.

The African-American community has yet to live without that fear.

The basis for a free and civil society is that of the freedom to live and move about in our homes, neighborhoods, and even elsewhere without the fear of harassment or being oppressed by representatives of the state.

The African-American community has yet to be afforded that freedom.

In a free and civil society, everyone should have the right to assemble and collectively communicate their most heartfelt concern to the state specifically and to society at large without fear of being oppressed and attacked by a militant and militarized police force.

The African-American community has yet to be afforded that collective right.

As a 53 year old Southern white male, it may appear that the problems of the African-American community should not concern me.

But rather they must. They simply must.

If for no other reason than the interconnected nature of our human existence, but mainly because it is the right perspective to maintain:

Your Problem; IS My Problem.

Dave Henderson
Denison, Texas
existentialviews@gmail.com

(Note: This is the first of a short series of articles dealing with the concept of “Your Problem; My Problem”. Next: “Your Problem; My Problem: Homophobia and Misogyny”. Dave)

On the Flaws of “Founding Father-ism”

It seems to me that “Founding Father-ism” as I call it, is fundamentally flawed in several ways.

By “Founding Father-ism”; I refer to the practice of referencing “the Founding Fathers” as a source of authority to guide contemporary thought or practice. Though on the surface, referencing the Founding Fathers as a guide for contemporary practice and social philosophy may seem practical, yet I suggest that upon critical examination and scrutiny such is not actually the case.

“Founding Father-ism” is problematic in that such assumes a unity among the aforementioned, when anything but was in fact the case.

Especially the Constitution itself was a source of hot debate, as evidenced by “The Federalist Papers” among other Constitutional era writings. Consider that it took two years after the convening of The Constitutional Convention in order to secure the minimum quota of nine states (out of 13) to ratify the Constitution as the law of the land. Even then, there were many private citizens and public dignitaries who succumbed to Constitutional authority begrudgingly and hesitantly. For good reason, our Constitutional era was labeled “The Great Experiment”, and so it continues to be.

“Founding Father-ism” is problematic in that the Founding Fathers were limited by that which limits us all: They were limited by their humanity.

My point here is simple: The “Founding Fathers” were no better or worse, smarter or naive, biased or unbiased than anyone else. They were simply people, and thus given to error and poor judgment, just as we all are likewise so. This point may sound basic, yet herein lies one of the fundamental flaws of “Founding Father-ism”: The assumption that those early dignitaries were somehow more enlightened or intelligent than anyone else. Such is simply not the case.

“Founding Father-ism” is problematic in that many of the Founding Fathers were guilty of endorsing and participating in extreme violations of human rights.

Keep in mind, that the Founding Fathers included those involved in many of the various aspects of slavery, and there is no reason to believe that they would willingly have abolished the inhumane practice. In the light of the fact that to the Founding Fathers, the phrase “All men” actually referred to all white land owning males over the age of 21, then they can hardly be regarded as a reliable standard as to social values.

“Founding Father-ism” is problematic in that the Founding Fathers were limited by 225 years less experience necessary to guide many social situations of the 21st Century. In this regard, their input in many contemporary circumstances is as impractical as would be our input into the affairs of a society of the mid 23rd Century!!!

The Founding Fathers had no way of conceiving of Finance Capitalism or Multilevel Corporations on a scale known exclusively in our contemporary era.

They had no concept of AK47’s, Nuclear Weaponry, school shootings or even Climate Change.

Ours is a different world than theirs, ours are different issues and affairs than theirs, and ours frankly is a more educated and experienced perspective than are those of the Founding Fathers.

Conclusion:

“Founding Father-ism” is a mode of thought and presentation of argument which functions by catch phrases and references to people who have been dead and gone for well over a Century, and whose values we have had to improve upon time and again in an ongoing quest to be a humane, civilized, and respectful society.

To that end we must always be true, and by no means should the writings of folks who never even saw the effects of a school shooting, an airplane, or a nuclear bomb restrict our judgment in dealing with social problems and issues of the 21st Century.

On The Need For Resistance

Generally and historically speaking, those who benefit from social injustice in this country have not been known to make the changes necessary in order to transition a morally deficient system or practice into that of fairness and equal rights, without being absolutely forced to do so.

Slavery in this country did not end due to the proactive remorse of those who were benefiting from the degradation and exploitation of their fellow being.

Slavery ended because those who were benefiting from a moral wrong were forced to do the right thing, and against their will at that.

Child labor in this country did not end due to the soft hearts of those who were working 9 and 10 year old children full 10 hours and more shifts for their own personal profit.

Child labor ended because those who were benefiting from an immoral wrong were forced to do the right thing, and against their will at that.

Women in this country did not gain the right to vote because misogynistic and patriarchal men suddenly saw the error of their ways, thus proactively and voluntarily allowing women the right to become a part of the political process.

The patriarchs and misogynists who had prevented women the right to vote in this country were forced to do the right thing, and against their will at that.

African Americans in this country did not gain the right to equal education and equal public rights as most every other race because the white public suddenly felt remorse for centuries of social oppression of the black community.

African Americans in this country secured the right to equal education and equal public rights because racists and bigots were forced to the the right thing, and against their will at that.

Our national history is such that moral progress comes about because and when those who are benefiting from social injustice are forced to do the right thing.

Furthermore, (and perhaps most importantly) social progress and just amends have almost always been precipitated by pressure from the oppressed upon those who benefit from social injustice.

When and only when the oppressed speak out and resist being the victims of social injustice, then and only then has there tended to be necessary social change towards realized social justice.

Our nation’s history being a matter of record and reality, there is no reason to assume that those of our society who benefit from social injustice will ever voluntarily and willingly give way to a system of social and economic justice, unless they are absolutely forced to do so.

And on the same premise, we would be naive and foolish to assume that social and economic injustices will ever be set right unless and until the victims of social and economic justice continue to speak out and collectively resist those who exploit lives and daily labor for their own benefit.

We must continue to speak out.
We must continue to write.
We must continue to protest.

Those of our country who benefit from a system of social and economic injustice simply have to be forced to do the right thing, even if it is against their will to do so.

Don’t ever give up, and don’t ever give in.

An Ode To The Arawak

Several swam out that day to greet,
The ship that sailed in from the sea.
Like a welcoming committee,
Greeting aliens from a distant galaxy.

Their kindness and gentleness,
Were met with violence and force.
All impending afflictions and brutality,
Were in the name of God and flag of course.

There were women who were raped.
And the men were enslaved.
Those uncultured heathens soon learned,
The way civilized people behave.

The quest was to find gold,
To take back to the Queen.
The natives were forced to dig in caves.
While being bullied and treated mean.

If any enslaved laborer failed to produce,
A quota of gold that would satisfy.
His hands were simply cut off,
And he was allowed to bleed until he died.

The misery and the suffering,
The massacres, tortures, and the rapes.
Were so much to bear,
Many sought suicide as an escape.

O if only the natives had understood,
Their noble place in world history.
Surely then they would have been proud,
To endure a purposeful misery.

O if only the natives had understood,
And come to the realization,
That their suffering was justified,
In the name of God, and Western Civilization.

Several swam out that day to greet,
The ship that sailed in from the sea.
Like a welcoming committee,
Greeting aliens from a distant galaxy…..

On Public Meetings and the Right to Pray

I offer this recommendation as to the proceedings of any community meeting (City Council, School Board, etc).

Let each meeting be opened with a prayer addressed to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ by a Christian Minister or a representative of the Christian community.

Followed by a prayer by a member of the Jewish community, addressed specifically to Jehovah.

Followed by a prayer to Allah by a member of the Muslim community.

Followed by a tossing of bones or the taunting of a political opponent with a gris gris by a member of the Voodoo community.

Followed by an oration by a member of the Asian community to their deity, accompanied by tossing salt in each corner of the room if necessary.

The Hindu and any Native American representatives should be permitted their moment of public prayer and/or meditation whichever the case may be.

A member of the Zen Buddhist should be allowed equal time to sit/meditate, with the burning of incense as desired.

And then the Satanists should be allowed to pray to Satan, any Pastafarians should be allowed to call upon His Noodleness for guidance from the holy buffet in the sky, and by all means the Bokonists should be allowed their time for public oration (No public rubbing of bare feet without a Permit,for there simply must be SOME sense of order!)

Of course, the Humanists should be allowed time to make their plea to the crowd, as the Humanist would seek only the guidance of clear minded humanity in search of communal good for the business at hand.

Speaking of the business at hand, once each group has been adequately represented by a public prayer and/or plea on behalf of their religious/social view, then FINALLY let the meeting be called to order and the business at hand be discussed, deliberated, and decided upon.

HOWEVER, time must be allowed at the end of the meeting for the Christian, the Jew, Muslim, the Voodoo-ite, the Asian, the Hindu, the Native American, the Zen Buddhist, the Satanist, the Pastafarian, the Bokonist, and even the Humanist to have the opportunity for a closing prayer/oration/meditation; whatever the case may be.

Now, I only offer this format as a suggestion.

Of course, there is an alternate thought:

Call the community meeting to order, discuss the agenda and do the bidding of the purpose of such a “meeting of the minds”, and when done, go home, all the while leaving prayers and religious practices for private homes and private meeting places where such belong.

Just a thought.

A Call to Harm

The right to pray for the successful extraction of pertinent information from the enemy by our enhanced interrogation personnel (aka: Torturers); and the right to pray for the steady aim of our snipers as they cut unsuspecting people down dead in their tracks, and the right to pray for the success of our trained assassins in the execution of their sworn duty, and the right to pray for a direct strike by our drones as they eliminate overpopulation in rural villages by killing men, women, and children alike; and the general right to pray for “our side” to prevail with blood on our hands and praise for God on our lips; must ever remain the sacred right of all peaceful and spiritual peoples; from coast to coast.

Amen.