G is for Gods and Religions

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A great source of comfort to some, a reason to go to war for others, or just a fairy tale?

Stephen Fry and Ricky Gervais have spoken far more.eloquently than most on the fairy tale aspect. What is significant is their position is one of tolerance, or even indifference. This contrasts sharply, in some cases literally involving sharp implements, with other more prescriptive religions. There is a with us or against us attitude with some religions that can only lead to conflict.

Religions are a sort of club. You agree to follow specific rules, you get some sort of reward. A lot of these rewards are a bit vague, and are only qualified for once conventional life is over. There are a few flaws in this, but religions have rubbed along for thousands of years on this vague promise with the good old carrot and stick. Happy ever after, if you follow these arbitrary rules, or eternal damnation. In some of the bigger religions, there is a fair amount of detail on the eternal damnation thing, presumably to make it sound as appalling as possible.

But it’s all so primitive. If you do follow the rules there is a  promise of serving some imaginary god like figure for all time under his or her benevolent gaze, or make for own choices and face the fire forever. Sounds like house servant or boiler keeper. Both are hierarchical positions, with you still at the bottom.  

Others appeal to more carnal aspirations, offering a vast number of inexperienced young ladies, at your disposal, to satisfy the most voracious appetites. Apart from sounding like a teenagers wild fantasy, it’s a bit harsh on the ladies. Where do they come from in this version? It’s not overly appealing for them, to be one of a collection of bags of flesh for a random male to abuse for eternity. How did they get subscribed into this story line?

At what point does anyone remember the sage advice, if its too good to be true, it’s probably not.

There is the small matter of proof. There is no record of a reliable witness returning from any of these reward or punishment centres. There are lots of documented near death experiences, where folk, who were presumably in significant pain and under the influence of a lot of medications, make claims of a long white corridors, calming feelings and so on. If you factor out a large number of me too claims, factor in the medication, and the also documented hopeless expectation of death induced calmness, that’s neatly explained.

I fully accept the comfort Religion brings to many people. It offers a codified life, which leans towards doing nice and civilised things, usually for the benefit of other people. Except the whole with us or against us, go to war thing.

I like the rules and safety net of modern life. I’m comfortable with the big rules about killing and stealing, being reasonable and mindful towards the needs of others as well as my own and so on. I am much less comfortable with big religions hoarding riches, slaying people who don’t agree with them, or agree to follow their choice of rules. It’s the big intolerance issue. I cannot understand how so many folk want to be in control of other people’s thoughts and actions.

My personal belief system can be summed up thus.

Firstly, life it is a result of a strange chemical reaction billions of years ago and then evolution happened.  

Secondly, If your alive, you will die, and the biological bits will break down and cycle through the planet again.

Thirdly, there is no master plan, stuff just happens.

Fourth and Final, always try to do the right thing. If the right thing is not obvious, try harder.

 

Ultimately, folk will do what they feel comfortable with or compelled to do. I do, and assume you do too.  

(Note, this whole alphabet thing is turning out to be more difficult than I thought. Pick 26 random topics and write most days. Good exercise, never again…..)

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K is for Kilter.

As in “off kilter” or “out of kilter”.

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When tired, or jaded, it is quite common to feel not quite up to speed with anything going on around you.

It’s a bit like the keyboard of life has shifted a few inches to the left, and your just not hitting the right keys. When your backspace delete button is almost worn out, and no matter how much you try, the word ordinary just looks wrong.

When you find you carefully parked car is now parked in a space that is only marginally longer than the length of the car, thanks to the actions of other drivers, and the ebb and flow of parkers. When you consider the possible 50 shunt maneuver to extract said car, then realise its longer on the diagonal, and ain’t going nowhere.

When you boil the kettle and then find there is no coffee in the jar, or pour cereal and find the milk bottle is empty.

When you haven’t left enough time to shave, and then find its the day you have meeting with the Boss. When you wash your hands, misjudge the tap, and cover your trousers in water.

You are out of kilter. It’s important to recognise this, and behave accordingly. Know that on these days, everything you touch will turn to sh1t.

There is no cure for this, it simply has to be endured, and consider damage limitation tactics where possible.

These days are not good days to do anything vaguely important. Try to avoid involving yourself in significant financial deals or new commitments. Order the house red at a restaurant, it will be drinkable and a safe bet. Avoid marriage proposals at all costs. Defer till tomorrow for better decision making.

The out of kilter day will involve spilling soup on your tie, leaving your glasses somewhere, forgetting your PIN number, and in extreme cases, wearing mismatched shoes.

And if you do make it home without serious injury, your car, the one that was physically impossible to move earlier, will now probably have a ticket on it.

STOP.

Leave the car and ticket where they lay. You have drunk most of a bottle of red, as your potential spouse fled in disgust or tears when your declined their proposal at the restaurant. Just go inside, re match your shoes, find some clean clothes for the morning, throw out the soup stained tie, they never clean well, go to bed and hope for a better day tomorrow.

Out of kilter days just suck. Try to avoid them.

W is for Watercolour

Not as easy as it looks. As an intermittent artist, progress is slow. Not surprisingly, having a full time life which keeps getting things added to do, means it is not really possible to focus on any one thing. But that is nowhere near my biggest failure….

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This partially stems from having a bit of a butterfly mentality, a constant sense of wonderment, and a nagging feeling that most of my file is behind me.

Despite this sense of not having enough time, I still manage to waste some. The phrase effective time management is overused and under done. It’s all about practice.

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I tend towards smaller watercolours, time and resources better served that way. The end product is hampered by a lack of talent, and a lack of understanding of how watercolour really works. Book learning is fine up to a point, YouTube has a lot of free tutorial demonstrations, but one day I will have to invest in some human tuition. Or Not.

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Some sources claim, or have made up a cool yet scary sounding number, that just ten thousand hours of practise separates the novice from the expert.

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So I checked the average life expectancy for a male my age, and adjusted for a few lifestyle and employment factors. I then checked again, as the first time round suggested I died a couple of years ago. Following the maxim of, third time’s a charm, didn’t make it much better. The only sensible option was to declare that set of calculations a complete load of bollocks, and ignore it.

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I am simply accountable to me, but would like to get better at this painting lark. Ten thousand hours better? No. Just better, possibly. Am I going to judge myself against anyone else?

Why would I?

Till next time folks…..

 

X is for Xenophobe.

This is a constructed word of the Phobic family. Despite the shrill media and minority voices, phobia is fear, not hate. To further complicate matters, the legislators have misused other constructed words, for example, Homophobic, as a term to sub classify certain offences. The intention is to give additional protection in law for groups who are really at risk or vulnerable, in this case, a group of people who are distinguished by their preference for same gender intimate relationships.

Xenophobe is deconstructed as Xeno, an old Greek word for stranger, and Phobe as above, or literally, fear of stranger.

Homophobe would be deconstructed as fear of human.

It’s no wonder the world is messed up.

We really are not that far evolved from primates, with their deep set behaviours around community and protecting themselves. Our primary means of communication is via a gap in the face which trebles up as a feeding hole, a breathing hole, as well as a means to communicate. This implies vocal communication was not an evolutionary priority.

Ancestral genetics is something else I know nothing about, but I would hazard a reasonable guess we were primates a lot longer than we have been humans.

Primate culture does not appear to have been big on stuff like poetry, introspection, critical thinking, or mass produced electronics.

So we find ourselves at a critical phase in the development of our species, when our ability to communicate effectively is severely compromised by an evolutionary design flaw, yet our ability to tinker and create as leapt ahead.

As a species, we have spread all over the bits of the world that are capable of sustaining us to whatever degree. That has to be considered a massive success. This is only eclipsed by fish, and other ocean dwellers (They win by default because there is more ocean than land).

We are very good at tinkering and creating, hence we have lots of things our primate ancestors did without. Many of these things are wonderous and helpful, like indoor plumbing and flush toilets, others less so. Devices capable of destroying a good sized city, in one handy package, are on the one hand incredibly clever bits of creative tinkering, on the other, utterly terrible.

So has our engineering ability exceeded our evolutionary development?

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We still share our speaking hole with its other functions, and geography caused some of us to develop communication in significantly different ways. Google claims there are over 7000 different languages thought and spoken across the world. The fact that even as an English speaker, which is a major Language, I am unable to communicate with over 60% of my same species, is a bit of a worry. 

Inability to communicate peaceful or friendly intentions creates fear, hence the word Xenophobia, fear of strangers.

It is a natural instinct. In times of shortage primates would have to compete for the same resources, their desire to live, to protect their genes, their offspring, did, and still does, lead to fighting and death. This is where xenophobia comes from.

It is a natural instinct to protect yourself from annihilation.

It can only be minimised by communication. If not by words, then by actions.

It is not to be confused with Nationalism, Patriotism, Racism, or intolerance.

 

Have a peaceful day..