the untouchable smile – {QP3}

From a new and genuine friend. His social philosophy and mine are one.

The Neighborhood

{press play}

When I look out at the people and they look at me and they are smiling, 
then I know, that I’m loved. That is the time that I have no worries, no problems.– Etta James

untouched smile the Smile Collection

the Quest for Peace entry Three {QP3}
QP1/Violence – QP2/The 5 Reasons We are Our Brothers Keeper

The smile. A mood lifting, contagious reaction, free to give, and beautiful to receive, gesture and expression. How we love when babies smile.  It is the one sound or expression they make, that lets us know everything is okay. A natural reaction, it is created with ease. A frown creates tension, and if our Grandmothers are correct, hold on to one long enough, and it will become your permanent expression. Smile, and less an occasion or two,  the person you smiled at, will smile back at you. Smile in the mirror…

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GITMO: An Enduring Symbol of Conservative Shame and Dishonor

I have written much about the meaning of empathy and benevolent reciprocity. This entry is about what these concepts are not.

Guantanamo Bay prison Camp (Gitmo), located at the southern tip of Cuba, is a major source of frustration for me. The Bush Administration brought deep shame to the U.S. with their Gulag Archipelago of torture camps–torture of suspected terrorists, many of whom were completely innocent, having been the victims of the U.S. policy of handsomely paying “snitches” to finger people with terrorist links. Quite obviously, many thusly accused were those with whom the “informer” had a personal grudge and had no connection to terrorism at all.They were well paid simply to get rid of someone they didn’t like. Quite a temptation, wouldn’t you think?

Image from Salon.com

Image: Salon.com

Today, with 154 untried prisoners in perpetual political limbo, Gitmo still stands as a black symbol to our shame. Conservatives blocked President Obama’s two attempts to close the camp. On his first day in office, the president signed an Executive Order to shut down the camp and try the prisoners in the U.S. The conservatives squealed like angered chimps, leaped about, shook branches, and then blocked funding for the shutdown and transfer. This inhuman action has continued, along with fighting and blocking other policies and legislation, and it is all with pointed political purpose—to make the president appear to have broken his promises, turn the voters away from him, and thereby regain power. For the conservatives, it’s all about politics and power.

Patriotism is defined, in part, as devotion to one’s country, especially the ideals set by its founders. George Washington, for example, after capturing 1,000 Hessians at the Battle of Trenton, ordered that they be treated with the same rights for which our young nation was fighting. After the Battle of Princeton, Washington wrote of the prisoners; “Treat them with humanity, and let them have no reason to Complain of our Copying the brutal example of the British Army in their treatment of our unfortunate brethren…. Provide everything necessary for them on the road.” 

By continuing to honor this concept of kind treatment for our enemy prisoners, we gained the moral high ground around the world. We were highly respected for this, and a few other nations soon followed. We were leading by example! This is why, in the closing days of WWII, German troops went out of their way to surrender to U.S. troops instead of the Russians.

Will conservatives in this nation ever wake up and realize that their “leaders” are not patriots and certainly are not honorable men, but turncoats to the values that made our nation great? Will the conservative base ever be able to put themselves in the place of an innocent prisoner, tortured and held for life without trial? Think about it. What a living hell it must be. Where is the humanity? Where is the empathy? Where is our honor?


— Max T. Furr is author of The Empathy Imperative, a philosophical novel based on the epic struggle between religion and science, and brings the true nature of justice, mercy, and love into sharp focus.  What sort of world would a truly benevolent god have created?

HOMOSEXUALITY: Perception and Fear v. Reality and Reason

I have been arguing that universal empathy is the only path to peace and that organized religion builds walls that block the path. Few subjects make my case better than this one. Around the world in many countries, social and political forces work feverishly to suppress homosexual behavior. In the U.S., religious/social conservatives try to establish laws against same gender marriages.

In at least 10 countries, homosexuality may be punishable by execution. Why are homosexuals so feared? Homosexuality isn’t a disease, communicable or otherwise. It affects no one detrimentally.

Among the most favored arguments is that everyone’s sexuality is a choice. Yet, if you ask, I suspect most heterosexuals will deny they’ve ever been romantically attracted to their same gender (I’d love to get comments in this particular assertion).

Still, I can judge with certainty, only one person–myself. I’ve never been romantically attracted to another male. Am I to assume I am different from most folks? Are all conservatives, who make the choice-argument, really bisexual–equally attracted to both genders? I think not.

I offer four rational arguments that I hope most readers will spread:

1) Natural Law: When their biblical argument against homosexuality does nothing to convince lawmakers to make laws against same gender marriage, social conservatives turn to the deceptive and bogus “Natural Law” argument. They claim that in order to determine how humans are genetically programmed–how they should naturally act (unspoken: according to God’s Law)–we draw our conclusions from nature. Yet, it appears that few religious conservatives know much about nature.

The Catholic Church is a good example, as well as conservative Justices on the Supreme Court of the United States (and most in Congress). The Roman Catholic bishops, when Illinois legislators approved civil unions in 2011, said “Marriage comes to us from nature. . .That’s based on the complementarity of the two sexes in such a way that the love of a man and a woman joined in a marital union is open to life, and that’s how families are created and society goes along. … It’s not in our doctrine. It’s not a matter of faith. It’s a matter of reason and understanding the way nature operates.”

Never mind the thinly veiled and false statement that “it’s not a matter of faith,” just a modicum of research would have told them that their uninformed opinion is not the way nature operates. It took me about five seconds to find the facts. Same gender attraction and sexual play occurs naturally in many species besides Homo sapiens. Among the best examples is the bonobo, sometimes called the pygmy chimpanzee. Research on this can easily be found online.

2) Science: A phenotype is a genetic trait that manifests physically (easily seen by the eye). A genotype is a genetic trait that manifests psychologically–a predisposition to certain behaviors, such as sexual attraction (heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual).

      a. Phenotype: An estimated 1 in 4,500 infants are born with ambiguous genitalia. This is a condition in which the gender of a baby cannot be determined, having both male and female reproductive organs. This situation can become tragic when parents decide which gender they believe, or want their child to be, and then order the surgery. As the child grows, he/she discovers that the parents made the wrong choice. The question now becomes; Would religious conservatives deny that person’s right to pursue happiness by marrying a person of the same (apparent) gender?

      b. Genotype: Recall that “genotype” is really all those genetically predetermined behavioral characteristics of any person. Therefore, the genes predisposition a person to be romantically attracted to the opposite gender, the same gender, or to both genders (think of the indisputable variations in phenotype).

3) Strict Constitutionality: The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment forbids the government from making laws respecting an establishment of religion. This is made applicable to the states by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Anti marriage laws are based solidly in religion. These laws represent government recognition and support of the theological belief of an establishment of religion, and are therefore, strictly unconstitutional. To fully understand the intent of the Establishment Clause, see Thomas Jefferson’s The Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom. This is the document from which the Establishment Clause was crafted.

4) Reason: Religious conservatives are often complaining that the government should stay out of their lives. They call it “intrusive government.” Yet, they are quick to use government as a blunt instrument with which to bludgeon the rest of society into living by their religious beliefs. This should be pointed out by people of empathy at every opportunity.


———————————
What is wrong with allowing every citizen, in this “land of the free,” to seek happiness according to the dictates of his or her own conscience–the same right social conservatives claim for themselves?


— Max T. Furr is author of The Empathy Imperative, a philosophical novel that brings the true nature of justice, mercy, and love into sharp focus. It must be read with an open mind. What sort of world would a truly benevolent god have created?

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