Digital Chum - Virtual fish guts and other nonsense

December, 2008:

Why the Blind Support?

Palestinian RubbleI have to admit that I don’t understand. I haven’t understood for a long time.

Why… why does the US always blindly support Israel no matter what it does?

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m certainly not suggesting that the actions of Hamas and the Palestinians have been any great representation of moral superiority… far from it… but Israel certainly is no better. I’ve heard people say that Israel is just protecting itself from Palestinian aggression, but the same has been said of the Palestinians (who certainly seem to have body count on their side of the argument).

Palestinians seem to have a reprehensible tendency to employ suicide bombings and somewhat random missile attacks (for which I’ll blame Hamas) which tend to predominantly kill and injure Israeli civilians. Israel tends to employ more targeted all-out military actions that kill dozens if not hundreds of Palestinians (including some civilians) and destroy buildings and homes with wanton abandon.

I cannot see how either antagonist in this conflict can, in good conscience, be supported, yet the United States continually and unequivocally sides with Israel. Yes, some officials call for bilateral cease fires and there are numerous impotent “peace plans” suggested and implemented, but all of them start from the assumption that Israel is the victim and deserves our unquestioning and unwavering support.

I fully admit that I am not as well versed in history as I could be in this matter, however I’ve been paying attention to the situation for some years now and I find both sides to be despicable. The history that I do know tells me that this entire situation is a petty religious conflict that has little to no possible chance of being resolved peacefully. Nor does it have a chance of being resolved militarily.

So why the support for Israel? Is it political fear of being painted as an anti-semite? Is it some sense of misplaced duty to uphold a 1947 United Nations resolution? Is it the lack of other allies in the region? Is it some ancient Biblical text promising the land to the Jews? I just don’t get it.

I’ve seen, read, and heard nothing that would justify the blind support of a country whose actions are just as disgraceful as those of their enemy.

Time to Relax

Well, almost all of the Christmas festivities have ended around here. We have a little more gift exchanging to do tonight and then I think all the focus goes to New Year’s Eve.

It’s a very quiet day today. I can almost hear Bill O’Reilly’s blood pressure dropping as he packages up his imaginary “War on Christmas” for next year. The various frenzies over religious displays are beginning to wind down, with people on all sides of the issue meandering off shaking their heads in disgust or dismay (or both). Christmas seems to bring out the best in some people and the worst in others.

Here at our house, however, Christmas just rocked. Everyone at the various family gatherings got along wonderfully and there wasn’t even an inkling of tension or annoyance (that I noticed, anyway). The people were fun, the food was great, the gifts were wonderful and, once again, my wife did phenomenol job with the decorations and the cooking… and all the other stuff that she does behind the scenes to make things go smoothly.

Now if I can just keep from gaining 10 pounds from all the leftovers in the fridge…

So many zombies. So little time.

Okay so maybe they’re technically not zombies, but they’re close enough. They’re more like infected zombie-like humanoids that voraciously attack you in swarms of blind, flesh-ripping rage. Yeah. Bring it on!

Thinning the horde is what’s been keeping me busy lately. Left 4 Dead is the game and the multiplayer aspect is just fantastic. Single player is fun, but just can’t compare to playing with a few other folks who talk and work together to survive and escape an area that’s been completely overrun with “zombies,” including some special ones with special powers that are disturbing, frightening, and fun all at the same time.

Ah… good times. Good times.

Left 4 Dead

Not the Best Approach

In Washington state, Olympia’s Legislative Building has a new display up for December along with a traditional Christmas display. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (of which I am a member) has been allowed to place an engraved sign for the month. The sign is in response to a religious group suing to be allowed to display a manger scene, which is now displayed in the building. The FFRF sign reads:

At this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail.
There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell.
There is only our natural world.
Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.

Now, while I usually fully support the endeavors of the FFRF and their actions that promote the separation of church and state, and I support the right to display this message when other religion-related displays are allowed, I just seem to think that the chosen wording was not the best choice.

Don’t get me wrong. I agree with the words and their meaning. I just think that it comes off as too confrontational and hostile to be of any benefit. It’s the type of wording that will elicit responses of equal or greater hostility. It immediately puts believers on the defensive. It immediately offends believers. It’s a negative message.

I think it would have been perfect if it would have glorified reason and the natural world without the second and fourth sentences. It could have touted the wonders of natural selection. It could have promoted freethinking and rationality. It could have lauded the benevolence and charity of the human spirit. Instead, it acts as a red hot poker of divisiveness.

The Foundation’s billboards and other signs do a better job of positive promotion. Their “Imagine No Religion” billboards and “Reason’s Greetings” billboards are perfect examples. Even the American Humanist Association’s ad that says “Why believe in a God? Just be good for goodness sake.” doesn’t convey the same confrontational tone.

Getting people to think about religion and why they believe what they believe is key. I truly believe that most religious people don’t think about it… truly think about it. It’s something that has been ingrained in them since they were old enough to understand words and it’s taken for granted. Most religious “study” is study of the Bible or of other holy books… the theology… and doesn’t address whether the basic premise makes sense or not. Having people start thinking about it at that level is what will open minds.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s latest sign stops it from happening altogether.