On Biblical Standards and Natural Understanding

The Bible is a volume of writings which were hand selected (and in some cases hand edited) by the early Roman Church in the 4th century CE, and subsequently deemed as the exclusive and sacred word of God. About a thousand years later, these same writings were divided and organized into chapters, verses, and into a two fold division of an “Old” and a “New” Testament. The earlier major section of these writings reflects the personal, social, and religious values of a relatively isolated, desert people of an era of some two millenniums past; whereas the latter section reflects the ethical values of the Greco-Roman era of a slightly later time. The latter section likewise seems to serve as the subtext for a 2nd CE struggle between two general factions of the then recently conceived religious movement known as Christianity.

Each of the two major sections of the Bible center upon creative tales and embellished claims of the development of a select chosen people of God into an influential and powerful collective. In the first major section, that collective was visualized as the great and powerful nation of Israel. In the latter section, the collective so visualized was the institutional Church. There is a sense of validity to the existence of the respective collectives themselves, though in each case the chronology of the claimed circumstances are debatable, and the actual extent of influence and affluence are seemingly overstated, that is if taken literally.

The writings of the former major section are primarily composed of ancient Hebrew mythology, poetry, preaching, and the biased, fanciful tales of the over exaggerated national empire heretofore mentioned. The humble state of the allegedly once significant people is attributed to sin and faithlessness of the people themselves.

Meanwhile, the latter major section (evidently written primarily in the 2nd century CE) opens with the narrative of a wildly popular itinerant preacher who captured the interest and following of the local peasants, who conversely drew the ire of the religious establishment of the day, and who eventually was executed as a blasphemer. This young cleric’s claims of an impending apocalyptic crisis, coupled with the conclusion to the narrative being an empty grave and a claim that he was resurrected, lead to ever evolving claims of immortality, ascension, and even deity.

Although the content of the biblical narratives are primarily mythical tales, nonetheless there is no denying their worldwide influence even to this day. The first major section of the Bible is the forerunner for and serves as the foundation of the three major global monotheistic religions; namely Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The latter major section though is primarily the domain of the numerous sects of the Christian religion. In this respect, the influence of these texts in a variety of cultures simply cannot be overstated or underestimated.

Perhaps the most profound such influences have been realized in the realm of social relations. The adaptation of ancient thinking and harsh standards to modern societies has involved a predictable share of problems and unfavorable influence. Unfortunately, a number of unseemly social and systemic issues which plague contemporary cultures have precedent in and therefore may be founded upon biblical ideology.

Such include:

Patriarchy, Sexism, and Misogyny.
State sanctioned murder (aka Death Penalty, Capital Punishment)
Theocratic justifiable murder
Infanticide
Genocide
Religious Bigotry
Institutional Slavery/Exploitation of Labor
Sex Slavery
Militarism
Imperialism
Colonialism
Homophobia
Xenophobia

This list is not necessarily totally exclusive, and by all means some the of cited issues may overlap with each other. For example, the Old Testament authorized (even commanded) that non virgin newlywed wives should be executed for crimes against Israel. Such would constitute both Misogyny and Capital Punishment, which are each social issues to themselves, but in this case, they clearly overlap. There are several other such instances, but this example suffices for the moment.

The presumption then that biblical writings are of a sacred nature unfortunately can leave the false impression that the thinking of the people and the way of life of those depicted in biblical literature are somehow just and correct simply as a matter of record. And so to many people, mere biblical statements and examples are their basis to justify debatable social practices. And so, one might quote “an eye for an eye” to justify Capital Punishment, or “if any will not work, neither let him eat” to justify cutting funding for Food Stamps, with no need for further deliberation or alternative considerations. There is undoubtedly a “the Bible says it, that settles it” mentality among a large demographic of our society, but such is based upon the heretofore mentioned presumption that biblical writings are sacred in and of themselves.

Now, to be certain as to the matter; not all Jews, Muslims, and/or Christians are bigoted, homophobic, or misogynists; and for that demographic of religious monotheists I have the utmost respect. It is not easy for a Christian to take a “live and let live” perspective with regards to the LGBTQ community while they hear homophobic propaganda from their Preachers, nor is it easy for peaceful Muslims to conduct their lives while being slandered for the deeds of extremists Islamists. But the fact remains that the social values of many monotheists; especially here in the Southern region of the US, are based upon the social values of a desert people from an isolated region of over 2,000 years ago.

And thus the conclusion of the matter at hand:

Shall we, as individuals and as collective societies, base our standards upon our own natural understanding of “right and wrong”, or shall we allow our natural senses to be influenced by ancient writings from harsh and somewhat barbaric cultures? Shall we trust our common sense and natural sense of compassion as a moral guide, or shall we trust the harsh standards of a people of antiquity?

I suggest that such queries are not so much a matter of faith or religious ideology, but a much more basic reality of natural existence and common sense.

As for me, I choose to trust my own natural understandings.

But to each their own.

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Reason and Compassion

There is a voice within,
Deliberating each moment.
The problem which is at hand,
Reasoning helps solve it.

There is a feeling within,
Which accompanies each encounter.
The older that I grow,
I’ve learned not to doubt her.

Reason and compassion,
Natural innate guides.
Experiences without.
Resolutions from inside.

On Compassion As A Moral Code

The intellect and sensitivity,
Natural guides for existential being.
Feelings are for ethical behavior,
The eyes are for the seeing.

Pain is bad,
Comfort is good.
Sensitivity is a guide,
To function as we should.

Why seek pain,
When comfort will do?
I have an aversion to suffering,
I can only assume the same for you.

The intellect and sensitivity,
Natural guides for existential being.
Compassion as a moral code,
The eyes are for the seeing.

On Suffering as the Measure of Ethics and the Existence of God

The question regarding the existence of a personal god must be discussed critically in the light of the ever present reality of suffering before the validity of the theory may be established. For since there is the evident reality of suffering; then the matter of whether a supernatural being exists would have to be critically examined within the context of such. Furthermore, the reality of suffering being self evident and all too easily established, then it seems only reasonable to begin by studying the matter of suffering, and then to measure the theory of the existence of God against such findings.

From the moment we are born, discomfort is our nemesis and comfort is our need. With each breath we take, from the moment of our birth, until the moment we pass away, each thought is to instinctively seek comfort and to avoid any degree whatsoever of discomfort. We cried on the day of our birth due to the discomfort of the pain of hunger, due to the discomfort of thirst, due to the discomfort of being cold, and due to the discomfort of our own soiled diapers. As adults, we adjust the thermostat in the morning when we wake up, and dress ourselves in attire suitable to avoid discomfort relative to the daily temperature. We do so because, like a dog who seeks shade in the Summer heat, we likewise have a natural aversion to discomfort of any given degree.

And so it is, that just as suffering is a natural reality, our most basic instinct is that of a natural aversion to discomfort of any given degree.

In fact, the depths of our aversion to suffering are by no means limited to negative reactions regarding merely our own personal discomfort. Are we not likewise distressed at the sight of or by the sounds of the suffering of even a stray animal who is screaming out in pain? (Note: Would not an exception to such be so extreme as to confirm the observation?) Granted, the question as to whether such reactions are a matter of an inherent or a conditioned response has of course long been a matter of philosophical debate. However; our distress in such scenarios nonetheless manifests a natural aversion to the suffering of others, just as we have an instinctive aversion to our own discomforts and pains.

The universal aversion of humanity to suffering then is a natural moral compass by which to measure “right” from “wrong”.

Every culture to my knowledge; whether secular or spiritually based, maintains laws relative to physical assault of a variety of degrees (Note: As with the individual, so with collective, communal humankind. For if there is a culture which would prove an exception in this regard, then such would likewise be so out of the ordinary as to establish the point at hand). These seemingly universal restraints against physical abuse then would seem to be founded upon and rooted in our natural aversion to discomfort and suffering. And so it is that societies are generally known to utilize the concept of suffering as a natural and therefore reasonable moral compass by which to measure “right” from “wrong”; at least in terms of physical actions.

Hence, the basic understanding of humanity as a whole is that in general:

It is wrong to hurt someone, in any shape, form, or fashion; and .
It is wrong to allow someone to suffer when we have the means to adequately address such suffering.

These common understandings then form a natural basis for each person’s moral code. Now, as with most everything in life, the principles so stated must be governed by common sense relative to each specific situation. In that regard, there are of course exceptions to the first principle, but each such exception is nonetheless still based upon a natural aversion to suffering. For example, the doctor who performs surgery inflicts pain in the process, and furthermore knows that the person will have a degree of pain during the recovery period. Yet, the reason the doctor performs the surgery is in an effort to prevent suffering of a greater degree, or to even save the person’s life. Thus, although there is pain in the process, such is inflicted systematically in order to prevent further pain. Or the person who hurts someone while restraining them from inflicting injury upon another does so with the intent and purpose to prevent further pain and suffering. In fact, in such instances, the person inflicting the pain actually does so as a means to comply with the second principle as so stated. For in the case of the doctor, the means at her disposal to adequately address a person’s ongoing or potential pain is to perform surgery, even though that process naturally entails a degree of pain of its own. Or in the case of the person defending the person under assault, the means at his disposal is to restrain the person carrying out the assault, even though that act in and of itself may hurt the assailant in the process. Yet the suffering so inflicted under such circumstances, is clearly inflicted in order to prevent further pain.

Having established then undue suffering as the measure of “right” and “wrong”; we now turn our attention to the role of the Universe with regard to such. For the reality of suffering being ever evident; the role of the Universe in the process is key to understanding the nature of all things.

For I would suggest that the Universe is both an active party in afflicting humanity with all forms of undue suffering, and that the Universe nonetheless remains ever indifferent as to the effects so inflicted, regardless of how so extreme. As to the former, a mere newspaper or world news television should prove the point. Tsunamis, diseases, tornados, floods, droughts, fires, and any other number of “natural disasters” (aka in certain circles as “Acts of God”) manifest the active role that the Universe exercises in the affliction of humanity and all sentient beings with undue suffering. The fact that the tree that falls in the direction of the helpless child will do so without swerving to avoid inflicting the toddler with bodily harm, or that the body of water into which the small child falls will not transform to a state of buoyancy but will rather envelope the child and fill the toddler’s lungs to the point of a traumatic and painful death, or that the tornado will not divert its trek in order to avoid killing men, women, and children indiscriminately are but a few of several examples that the Universe is absolutely indifferent as to the effect of the suffering and the misery so inflicted.

The Universe then is indiscriminate suffering with indifference as to effect.

The fact that the Universe remains indifferent as to its effect upon sentient beings one way or the other, leads to one of two seemingly inescapable conclusions regarding the nature of the Universe:

The Universe is an impersonal reality; and thus unable to feel for the misery of sentient beings; or
The Universe is a malevolent personal being (or the agent thereof); and thus is
insensitive to the misery so inflicted.

The fact that Nature is seemingly devoid of any qualities of personality would seem to invalidate any theories of a personal deity of any given nature, malevolent or otherwise. The former theory however; makes sense in the light of the daily reality of indiscriminate suffering in an indifferent Universe.

And so, in the light of the daily reality of indiscriminate suffering in an indifferent Universe, I conclude that an indifferent Universe encompasses all reality, and hence there is no personal God.

Now, as I said from the outset, to me the logical course to pursue in ascertaining whether there is a god is to evaluate the theory in the consideration of the reality of suffering. Such is what I have done, hence in my mind the matter has been sufficiently investigated and the case has been adequately made that in the light of the daily reality of indiscriminate suffering in an indifferent Universe, there simply is no evidence whatsoever of the existence of a personal God.

Yet for the sake of social convention, I will consider briefly the Judeo-Christian theory that the Universe was created and is maintained by a benevolent god, as per the Hebrew Bible book of Genesis. As the theory is so commonly accepted in our society, I am compelled to address the teachings in the context of the current discussion. However; the same course of study will be pursued: The theory of a personal Creationist God by the name of Jehovah must be evaluated in the light of the evident reality of indiscriminate suffering in an indifferent Universe. Only then can we maintain the integrity of a sound discussion based upon fact and reality.

As I have already reasoned, since the Universe exhibits no qualities of personality, then there is simply no evidence to support the theory that a personal God exists and maintains or regulates such. Hence, I would suggest that the theory of Jehovah has already been sufficiently discredited on those merits. Yet a consideration of the Creation account of Genesis 1; assessed in the light of indiscriminate suffering in an indifferent Universe, even further tends to discredit the theory of Jehovah.

The Creation account of Genesis 1 and the reality of indiscriminate suffering in an indifferent Universe are seemingly irreconcilable concepts.

The reason being is, that if there is an omniscient God who created the Universe, then that God would have known in advance what would come to pass as a subsequent result of that act. Jehovah would have had to have known about every moment of suffering that would have naturally been experienced since the moment that he made the decision to create the Universe. To be clear on the matter: The decision would have been his to make. No one would have forced God to follow through with that decision. God then would have willingly and with complete foreknowledge of the suffering that would come to pass made the decision to create the world, thus having created the circumstances that serve as the context for any and all suffering.

The questions that must then be asked:

What did Jehovah know?
When did Jehovah know it?

If in fact, Jehovah is an omniscient and omnipotent God, and if the record of Genesis 1 be true, then it is the case that He Himself is responsible for the premeditated act of creating the context of all suffering which would ever come to pass. Such being the case, I myself simply cannot reconcile the concept of a deity being benevolent, and at the same time having been responsible for knowingly creating the context of all suffering which would ever come to pass. Under such circumstances, then God could have prevented all suffering that ever would have come to pass by simply not creating the Universe in the first place. But by choosing to do so, then God becomes responsible for the inevitable suffering which only He Himself could have foreknown, and only He Himself could have prevented. Thus, by the premeditated act of creating the context of all suffering which would ever come to pass, then God instead manifests himself to be a malevolent being, rather than the benevolent God of the Judeo-Christian tradition (Incidentally, such is the very reasoning for the Christian Gnostic and Marcionite Christian teachings that Jehovah was indeed a malevolent being, and not the Father God of the New Testament. Although I do not adhere to such, the logic behind the theory is consistent in the light of indiscriminate suffering in a Universe which is indifferent to such misery).

In the light then of a Universe of indiscriminate suffering and indifference as to effect; then the words: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” would actually be an indictment of the most irresponsible and insensitive act ever recorded in history.

In conclusion, the ever present reality of indiscriminate suffering in a Universe which is clearly indifferent to such seems to encompass all reality. Furthermore, there seems to be no evidence to support the theory of a personal deity. Hence I personally do not believe in the existence of any personal God whatsoever. I believe the Genesis Creation story to be the Hebrew myth in a time when such myths were common to many cultures of antiquity. Finally, it seems to me that the best a person or a society can do is to seek comfort for self and others, and insofar as it is possible, to refrain from hurting anyone in any way.

Such as they are then, these are my thoughts on the matter of suffering, ethics, and the question of the existence of God.

Dave Henderson
Denison, Texas

A Moral Code Based Upon The Bible

When a society bases its moral code on the Bible, that society utilizes the moral code of the Hebrews of some two to three thousand years ago as its standard for right and wrong attitudes and activity. The Hebrew culture of some two to three thousand years ago was sexist and homophobic; and its national way of life was based upon imperialism, militarism, and institutionalized slavery. It would seem then that any culture which bases its moral code on the Bible would surely be destined to become a society which is sexist and homophobic; which would invade and control other cultures, and whose economy would be based upon the exploitation of human servitude.

The Natural Standard for Social Conduct

What is your standard with regards to your conduct towards others?

There are many cultural standards.

Religious standards.

Civic organization standards.

Family standards.

Legal standards.

Is your standard based upon religious principles?

Is your standard based upon the principles of a civic organization?

Is your standard based upon family codes of conduct?

Is your standard based upon whether such is legal or illegal?

Perhaps the code for your personal conduct is based upon some other standard I have not listed.

I would like to suggest that in spite of the many different and various standards at our disposal, that there is; inherent to each every one of us, a basis for a universal standard for our social conduct.

The moment we are born we communicate consistently with regards to this standard as such applies to us, and soon thereafter we show an external application with regards to the same.

I daresay that so long as we are in our right minds, we never depart from this standard for our conduct.  Or shall I say that this natural standard never departs from us.

The standard that I reference is that which is based upon our seemingly inherent and most definitely natural aversion to discomfort of any degree whatsoever.

Every new born baby that cries is expressing a natural aversion to discomfort.

That discomfort may be the twinges in the gut of hunger, the dryness in the throat of thirst, the aches in the gut prior to a bowel movement, or may even be the discomfort of the soiled diaper after the fact.

That discomfort may be the feeling of being cold, may be the feeling of being too warm, may be the feeling of being tired, or may be the feeling of being alone.

Regardless:

Baby don’t like discomfort!!

Nor does ANYONE!!

As we develop, yet while still at an early age, most everyone eventually comes to feel a sensitivity towards the sufferings of another.  Even the sound of an animal in pain is the source of distress for most all of us, hence everyone at some point expresses the capacity to extend our natural aversion for discomfort to fellow beings.

Thus, a NATURAL standard is formed for our social conduct before we even deliberate the matter.

That standard being: It is naturally BAD for others to suffer, for the simple reason that it is naturally BAD for me to suffer.

It seems to me that upon examination, every standard which is a good standard is compliant to  this NATURAL standard.

In fact, I daresay that all standards for social conduct should be regulated by this natural standard.

For example, if a person goes by a standard that allows people to torture or be tortured, then that standard fails as a proper standard for that person’s conduct.

Or let us say that a person lives by a standard that allows people to suffer in poverty without being assisted while in their time of need, then that standard likewise fails as a proper standard for that person’s conduct.

Why?

Because:

It is naturally BAD for others to suffer, for the simple reason that it is naturally BAD for me to suffer.

Speaking for myself, I live by (or at least to live by) the following code of conduct:

  1. I attempt to avoid causing anyone undue suffering.
  2. I regard anything that does not cause others undue suffering as “right” (or at least “all right”)

For me, the question is never “is it legal”.

For me, the question is never “is is scriptural”.

For me, the question is always “will anyone suffer”.

Therein lies my code of conduct.

What’s in your conscience?

Dave Henderson

Be Good For Goodness Sake

Some folk believe in God,

For reasons A, B, and C.

Some folk reason and conclude;

Somewhat differently.

Some folk are good folk,

Just because they choose.

Some folk are good folk,

For fear their soul they’ll lose.

If good is what you choose,

Then good is what you’ll be.

Regardless of whether or not,

You believe in a deity.

No matter how you reason;

And ration your A’s, B’s and C’s.

Does not affect one iota,

Whether there actually is a G-O-D.

No matter how you reason;

And ration your A’s, B’s, and C’s.

Does not affect one iota,

Whether you are G “double oh” D.

Good without a god,

Is what I choose to be.

For goodness is a most noble,

And desirable human quality.

Dave Henderson

Denison, Texas

On Manifest Destiny

Manifest Destiny is the myth that with God on “our side”,  meanness is permissible and even the most cruel means to a desired end are justifiable.

The basic theory of Manifest Destiny is that “with God on our side” a given people can do whatever they want on the premise that by so doing they are fulfilling “God’s will”.  The end always justifies the means because the doing of the deed is allegedly the execution of “God’s will”.

The bottom line is the theory that war crimes and wicked deeds are justified so long as God is “on our side”.

Manifest Destiny is by no means a new concept.  The theory dates back as far as written history itself records beliefs in deities and regional conquests for gain.  The former has historically been utilized to justify the latter.

Manifest Destiny was the justification for the indiscriminate and inhumane slaughtering of men, women, children, and even animals at Jericho by the Joshua lead Israeli Army as recorded in Joshua 6 of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament)

Manifest Destiny was the justification of the slaughter of the Midianite men, women, and children; and the subsequent capture of the virgin girls to be taken as sex slaves by the Israeli Army as commanded by Moses and as recorded in Numbers 31 of the Hebrew Bible.

Manifest Destiny was the justification for the exploitation of the gentleness and the generosity of the Indigenous people of the Caribbean by Columbus when he stumbled upon the proverbial gold mine of the Caribbean Islands in search of the Americas.  Clearly, it was God’s will that Columbus get lost and land at the wrong spot, thereby allowing Columbus and his men to enslave the gentle natives to rape their own land in search of gold for Columbus to take back as a peace offering (bribe?) to the queen to pacify her and to justify his less than efficient navigational skills (Speaking of rape of the land, there was even more literal rape as well; but as we have already seen from the Old Testament, rape is by no means taboo when executing God’s will.  Manifest Destiny does allow for certain “spoils for the victors”; a concept that the biblical hero Moses had understood all too well).

Manifest Destiny was the justification for the slaughter of the Native Americans and the stealing of their land by the undocumented Euromaniacs who illegally invaded this land and immorally stole it from the Indigenous people whom they subjugated, slaughtered, and displaced.  Indeed our country itself was founded by illegal immigration and immoral means; but when God is on your side, the means of meanness are mere utility to the doing of His will.

Manifest Destiny was the justification for the cruel and lethal slave trade and the institutional slavery which resulted from the very process itself.  The ignorant theory being that people of color are inferior beings, and thus it was clearly God’s will that Africans be utilized to effect the means of superior minds in accord with the manifest plan of the Almighty God Himself.  (Even today, the ignorant and thoughtless statement is made that Blacks are better off now because they were brought to America from Africa as though institutional slavery and Jim Crow racism are somehow an “upgrade” and a justification for uprooting people from their homeland, inhumanely cramming them onto ships, then enslaving the ⅓ of the people who actually survived the trip.  The ignorance of those who maintain the theory of Manifest Destiny is all too oftentimes matched by the thoughtless and insensitive arrogance of the same).

Manifest Destiny was the justification for dropping the Atomic bomb not only once but TWICE on the same nation, killing almost a quarter of a million people, mainly innocent civilians.  When I was in public school I was taught that the killing of those quarter of a million people in Japan saved lives by ending the war, but only faith in Manifest Destiny could be so irrational.  The untold misery upon the Japanese people is still commonly thought to be a justifiable act of war by those who are able to justify in their own deluded minds such atrocities in the name of an allegedly benevolent God.

Even now Manifest Destiny is the justification by the radical Christian terrorists known as The Lord’s Resistance Army who have kidnapped, maimed, and  tortured in order to convert the people of Africa in their quest to impose the Bible’s Ten Commandments as the law of the land.  They have kidnapped girls in order to have wives, and they have murdered those who refuse to convert since their reign of terror began in the late 1980’s and continues even now.  And they do so because they believe that God is on their side.  In other words they believe that their barbaric deeds are justified as a matter of Manifest Destiny.

Even now Manifest Destiny is the justification by the radical Islamic terrorists known as The Islamic State who have kidnapped, maimed, and  tortured in order to convert the people of Syria and Iraq in their quest to impose the teachings of radical Islam as the law of the land.  They have kidnapped girls in order to have wives, and they have murdered those who refuse to convert since their reign of terror began about a year ago,  and continues even now.  And they do so because they believe that Allah is on their side.  In other words they believe that their barbaric deeds are justified as a matter of Manifest Destiny.

And so on and on the madness and the malevolence of the human race continues.  And so continues the theory that war crimes and wicked deeds are justified so long as God is “on our side”.

Perhaps such is merely the Manifest Destiny of humanity.

Dave Henderson

Denison, Texas

On Offensive Mascots

As of late, the topic of “offensive mascots” in sports has resurfaced, specifically with reference to the Washington Redskins. Although this topic oftentimes circulates, there seems to be very little action taken towards changing the name of questionable mascots. Yet the controversy abounds, as evidenced by the recent Native American demonstration outside the nationally televised Dallas-Washington Monday night football game in Texas.

Invariably, (and predictably) people tend to opine quite passionately on each side of this issue when the topic arises. The arguments vary from allusions to tradition and history by those who wish to maintain the “status quo”, to accusations of bigotry and racism by those who are calling for changes to be made. The “maintain status quo” crowd claims the groups calling for mascot name changes are being overly sensitive. The “make name changes” crowd claims that those who cling to questionable mascots are being insensitive.

Who is right?
Who is wrong?

Let us consider the perspective of “the maintain status quo” crowd.

I can well recall my perspective when I first became aware that there even was an issue relative to team mascots. I thought the whole debate was simply ridiculous. I had grown up a baseball fan, and in particularly was taken with Hank Aaron, the great Atlanta Braves slugger who eventually broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record. As Hammerin’ Hank neared the record, the role of the longtime Braves’ mascot Chief Noc-A-Homa took on a more than significant meaning to baseball fans of the early ‘70s. In fact, during the period of time en route to Aaron’s eventual overtaking of The Babe on the All Time Home Run list, Chief Noc-A-Homa was perhaps the best known and most beloved of all baseball mascots.

I had likewise attended Texas Rangers baseball games in my home community of DFW, and more than once I had the opportunity to watch them compete against the Cleveland Indians. It never occurred to me when I saw the Chief Wahoo caricature on the opposition’s caps that such was somehow insensitive or offensive. I merely wanted my Rangers to beat the visiting Cleveland club. The image of the Native American with the silly looking grin on his face was of no concern to me one way or the other.

Such is the perspective of the unaffected and the historically biased with regards to racial insensitivity. Unfortunately, such is the perspective of conditioned ignorance which can lead to selective insensitivity.

I myself unwittingly maintained a historic bias with regards to racially insensitive mascots and logos.

My historical bias was of course that of a sports fan. My perspective was to view mascots such as Atlanta’s Chief Noc-A-Homa and Cleveland’s Chief Wahoo as merely an aspect of the sports fan experience. I never would have thought to associate Chief Noc-A-Homa’s Tee Pee in the stands as making fun of or insensitive towards the Native American people. Nor would I have thought of the silly grin on Chief Wahoo’s face as somehow disrespectful towards or demeaning of Native American persons. But the reason for my clueless perspective was that I was viewing such through the prism of a sports fan with no depth of thought as to unintended effect.

But my thinking on the matter was likewise clouded by yet another historical bias. For my historical bias as to offensive mascots was not only that of a sports fan, but likewise my historical bias was that of being the product of a less racially sensitive time than even now.

Granted, the ‘60s and ‘70s (my school years) were times of growth, maturity, and progress with reference to race relations. Yet, those were likewise times of awkwardness, frustration, and insensitivity towards minorities as caucasians and minorities alike adjusted to the concept of social equality. Now in some ways these were mere “growing pains”, yet there was an undercurrent of a more problematic nature which made the transition uncomfortable and in some cases unbearable for minorities in general. There were doubtless positive strides made towards social equality, but looking back I think we were more slow to be SENSITIVE to the feelings of minorities in the process than we likely realized. Frankly, there was a sense of condescension as minorities were allowed to “come on board” so to speak, that left an impression that we caucasians were doing some sort of favor for African Americans and others by accepting them onto the same side of the street, into the same public schools, and yes; even into the same public restrooms. Consequently, there was undoubtedly an intensified frustration for minorities who were being “allowed” into a mainstream public, when that public included restaurants with names like Sambos and where influential city personnel and public officials had lawn ornaments of little black boys with white hats and silly grins.

The transition of race relations in the ‘60s and ‘70s was frankly slow and tedious, and our thinking was unfortunately still clouded by an assumed superiority and a sometimes unintentional yet nonetheless ever hurtful insensitivity to people who had been subjugated and separated for no fault of their own save the ignorance and arrogance of our own forefathers.

But that was then, and this is now.

Frankly, the times of unintentional insensitivity are times of the past. As lame as the excuses were then, there simply are no longer viable excuses for vile conduct. We caucasians have had plenty of time to finally grow up and get over our assumed superiority over the minorities of our society.

It is time that we stop telling others what is and is not offensive, and time for us to LISTEN to others as they ENLIGHTEN US as to the realities of insensitivity and inappropriateness.

It is time for us to accept that ours is not to assume that we know what is and is not acceptable, and time for us to LISTEN to others as they ENLIGHTEN US as to what is and what is not appropriate.

I am convinced that the burden of responsibility is upon society to listen to AND to defer as a matter of respect to minorities with reference to any and all mascots that they deem offensive, and make the necessary adjustments post haste. If that means that the name Redskins needs to go the way of the name of Sambo’s, then so be it. If that means Chief Wahoo needs to go the way of racist lawn ornaments then so be it. If that even means that mascots such as Chiefs (my favorite NFL team as it were), Braves, and Warriors need to go by the wayside as well, then so be it.

The responsibility is not for minorities to “grow up by giving in” to the will of the caucasian driven society, but rather the time is come for society to be sensitive to and willingly defer to the feelings of all people.

The place is not society’s to dictate to minorities what should and should not be offensive to them. Rather the time has come for society to be sensitive towards the feelings of all people and acquiesce to those who request change as a matter of respect for their heritage and their culture.

Frankly, the time has come for a culture which claims to be founded upon Christian values to practice what their principles preach. It is time to “do unto others as we would have them do unto us”.

It is time to stop hiding behind lame excuses of pure intent, and time to make respectful changes necessary to demonstrate pure intent.

It is time to be sensitive towards the feelings of others.

It is time to actually care about the effect that our social actions have on others.

It is time for our society to grow up and do the right thing.

Dave Henderson
Denison, Texas

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.