Saturday, January 21, 2006

Healthy Cynicism

Unfortunately, I know how to read. Unfortunately, I do read. Here are a few of the things that I’ve read lately. In a few moments, I’ll tell you why I use the word “unfortunately”.
  • The John Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research reports that the rate of firearm homicide in the United States is nineteen times higher than that of 35 other high-income countries combined. In the most recent year for which data are available, handguns killed 334 people in Australia, 197 in Great Britain, 183 in Sweden, 83 in Japan, 54 in Ireland, 1,034 in Canada and 30,419 in the United States.”

  • The International Red Cross, Amnesty International, and the Pentagon have gathered substantial testimony of torture of children, confirmed by soldiers who witnessed or participated in the abuse. In addition to personal testimony from children about physical and mental mistreatment, a report from Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, formerly in charge of Abu Ghraib, described a visit to an eleven-year-old detainee in the cell block that housed high-risk prisoners. The general recalled that the child was weeping, and “he told me he was almost twelve,” and that “he really wanted to see his mother, could he please call his mother.” Children like this eleven-year-old have been denied the right to see their parents, a lawyer, or anyone else, and were not told why they were detained. A Pentagon spokesman told Mr. Hersh that “age is not a determining factor in detention.”

  • . . . This is especially disturbing, since U.S. intelligence officers estimated to the Red Cross that 70 to 90 percent of the detainees at this prison were held by mistake.

  • In rejecting or evading almost all nuclear arms control agreements negotiated during the past fifty years, the United States has now become the prime culprit in global nuclear proliferation.

  • More than seven Americans out of a thousand are now imprisoned – most of them for nonviolent crimes. This is the highest incarceration rate in the world, exceeding Russia’s former record of six per thousand.

  • A New York Times article reveals that Canadian and European young people are about equally active sexually, but, deprived of proper sex education, American girls are five times as likely to have a baby as French girls, seven times as likey to have an abortion and seventy times as likely to have gonorrhea as girls in the Netherlands. Also, the incidence of HIV/AIDS among American teenagers is five times that of the same age group in Germany.

I use the term “unfortunately” because these and many other things that I read have led me to ask a question that I can’t answer. Question: “Since we are a Christian nation and since we seem to lead the world in stupidity and some forms of evil, does being a Christian make a person less intelligent, less compassionate, less Christ-like?”

Normally, I try to portray a positive side and there is a positive aspect here but, first, let me tell a truth. The truth is, I’m a cynical son-of-a-bitch. I take comfort in this. If I wasn’t cynical, irritated and angry then I would be uncaring, lack compassion and be a horrible person. I take comfort and hope in my cynicism. I feel good about myself because I question the government, religion and the current situation in the U.S. Now, don't read this to mean that you're uncaring or a horrible person if you're not cynical. Our personalities are different. I'm talking about myself, my reaction and my way of dealing with life.

I don’t want to leave you thinking I’m against Christianity. I’m not. In its theoretical form, I find much that I admire. Unfortunately, there’s something wrong, demonic and evil in the current marriage between politics and religion.

I know some Christians who exhibit a spirit that challenges me, gives me hope and causes me to temper my cynicism. Natala has a post that paints a picture of her spirit – the spirit that I admire. Here’s a portion of one of her posts. Follow the link to her blog for the post in it’s entirety.

questions

i know the answers
that you will give me
because i was
once you
in a way.
i question
to understand
(section omitted)

i do not question
to make you angry
to challenge your faith
to tell you that you are wrong
i question
because i want to know
(section omitted)

tell me what it really is
that you feel
what it really is that you think
be honest
(section omitted)

if god is
as big as you claim
then let god
contain my questions
(section omitted)

if you don't know
simply tell me
that you do not know
because i do not know the answers either
and perhaps if we were honest
we would be able to find the answers
together
just let me question
and do not be afraid
(section omitted)

open yourself
and i will do the same
and perhaps together
we will begin to understand

7 Comments:

Blogger Anvilcloud said...

America is a difficult phenomenon for many other to come to terms with. It's difficult for us to reconcile touted Christian values with much seemingly non-Christian behaviour. I say that as an observation and not as a judgement.

1/21/2006 11:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally, I do not conisder America a "Christian" nation. Perhaps it once was. According to history, it seems it was founded that way. Where did we go wrong? Humans are no different than animals in many ways. We want what we want and we can't say no to ourselves. Pure simple human greed is what I believe is the very basis of our demise. How many professed Christians actually live like Christ? How many will sit with "sinners". How many love the "unlovely". How many love unconditionally. Most parents don't even love their children unconditionally. But I take hope in God and God alone. If I watch other "Christians" I am consumed with anxiety, depression and frustration and hopelessness. But if I keep my eyes on God and what He alone has done for me, I am sustained. America a Christian nation? I don't think so!

1/22/2006 05:47:00 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

There is no doubt that tragety is in the world.

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

We bring in the world's people, we have a huge population..can we do better? Yes. Should we do better? Definatly.

The United States.. which is me. Which is everyone who lives here.. is not stupid. We as a country have values, and beliefs. We don't speak as one mind, nor does any country.

The US leads the world in charities, we lead the world in missionaries, we could do better..absolutly. But women can read and write and go to school..in what was oppressed countries because of the efforts of the american people. Children are getting fed because of the efforts of american people.

So if my friend you choose to see the bad, also see the good.

All those statistics mean to me is that we need to do more work. And I believe we can .. as a world community.

1/22/2006 08:16:00 PM  
Blogger The Michael said...

In my blog, you will witness many rants against Christians and Judao-Christianity in general. However, let it not be misunderstood that I have a bone to pick with Christians specifically or with their faith in the God of their bible. At work, one of the finest ladies I have had the pleasure to know, who has been one of my supervisors, if one of those rare examples of the professed Christian who walks the walk rather than talk the talk. I would think ANY religeon would proudly claim her as one of their own by the example she sets daily by her personal behavior, without any of this self-rightous self-glamorizing that I dispise in so many so-called religous people. Sometimes I hope there IS a heaven, just so that this woman can one day be rewarded in the manner she deserves, yet I feel in my heart that BOB has that all taken care of.

1/22/2006 08:58:00 PM  
Blogger Smarts said...

Staggering!

Today is federal election day in Canada. I fear a right-wing conservative is going to rule the roost for the next 4 years. They veil their darkness in the light of Christian values and their message has been preached from the pulpit for the last 8 weeks. The leader's true agenda is not far from America's Republican party.

'May you live in interesting times.' God forbid.

Great post. You have a knack.
:)

1/23/2006 05:16:00 AM  
Blogger anonymous julie said...

How is anybody supposed to work with the first statistic - how does that work out per capita?

Nuclear proliferation? Ehm, details to back that claim?

I don't know how to answer the other statistics. American culture of late is about me - at your expense, if necessary. (Nonetheless, I would like to secede from the planet...) Despite all this, hordes of people would rather come here than stay where they are - somehow, this is better.

It bothers me to no end that the best functioning system of government is congruent with efficiency (and ideally with fairness) while the best way for an individual to live centers around love, kindness, mercy.

1/23/2006 07:53:00 AM  
Blogger Gaye said...

Healthy cynicism is a good thing; without it we would all be a mass of followers unwilling to question anything.

1/23/2006 04:22:00 PM  

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