Wednesday, October 31, 2007

you don't know me very well, do you?

LOL! There's nothing like someone telling me to shut up to incite me to Sing louder. I'm honored that you would take your time to read what I blog about, and that it moved you to leave your comments. Thanks! What concerns me is your tone. I don't know what I ever did to upset you so. I'm not hurting anyone. My whole point in every one of my posts is that anything that hurts anyone else also hurts me. It seems so utterly obvious, this Golden Rule thing. It's all that really counts, you know?

here's how it works:
We start with what we know. What do I know? I know that I am a thinking thing. I know that I experience certain perceptions of things that exist apart from me. But I do not know that objective reality is actually there, all I know is that I perceive it to be. I see it, smell it, hear it, etc. But those perceptions occur subjectively, within that part of me that does the thinking. I know from experience, that I seem to interact with this objective reality. There appears to be some sort of cause and effect relationship. In order to most effectively interact with this objective reality, I must first assume that it is real, objectively, apart from myself. I take a leap of faith in believing this is how things are, but there is no basis for that belief other than expediency, pragmatism, because I have found through my experience that it is most useful to me to believe it is so.

With this in mind, I can now take a look at this objective reality, learn more about me through my interactions with IT. I see things that benefit me, I call them "good," and things that harm me, I call them "bad," but those things themselves are neither good and bad, that is just a label I give them, part of how my thinking me makes sense of the world. Good and Bad are judgments I make about things, as those things relate to me, personally.

Since I have chosen to believe that I am part of some objective reality, I must recognize that anything that hurts any part of this existence also hurts me and can thus be labelled "bad" - my experience verifies this to be true in every case.

I get to determine for myself what things I call "good" and which ones I call "bad" - not anyone else! Nobody knows better than I do what is good for me and what is not. I know to notice when things hurt me, and do something about it, so that my experience may be called a "good" one. In my own life, it is when I allow others to decide for me that I have a "bad" experience. If you are not liking the experience you are having, take a look at the choices you have made, or allowed others to make for you. Therein lies the answer.


Jen-Jen said...

Very succinct. I like that Thoreau quote, pretty cool.

Jen-Jen said...

This is a kind of tongue in cheek article:

stacy said...

c&p of the article linked in the comment above:

Why George Bush Should Be Hanged

by Robert Payne

Nothing surprises me anymore about the Bush Administration and the depths it is willing to sink to in order to justify any action. The New York Times reported October 4 that in 2005 the Bush Administration drafted secret legal memos stating that certain techniques--water boarding, freezing, head slapping, etc.--may be used on terror suspects held in United States custody, in effect reversing its 2004 statement to the contrary. President Bush continues to assert that these techniques are not torture and furthermore are within legal limits prescribed by law.

What we have is a semantic game where the White House and its acolytes say "we do not torture" all the while using their own legal opinions to justify such practices. For instance, waterboarding--a technique that simulates drowning--is recognized to be an act of torture under the statutes that define such practices. While the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) indicated that this technique is no longer used, the Bush administration continues to maintain its legal right to use water boarding and other degrading, dehumanizing techniques under the guise of protecting America. Were the president actually concerned with protecting America, a good place to start would be following the laws that dictate proper treatment of detainees outlined in the Geneva Conventions.

In 1945, the United States and the other industrialized nations became principal signatories to a series of documents (31 in all) known as the Geneva Conventions. A major tenet of the conventions was to prevent what the committee called crimes against humanity, which are acts that seek to remove from other human beings the basic rights, dignity, and respect that each person should be accorded simply because they are a member of humanity. Torture is explicitly forbidden under the Geneva Conventions (Article 5, Declaration of Human Rights: "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment") and countries that practice such techniques are criminals under the statutes.

Furthermore, Article Six of the United States constitution states that any treaty signed by our government becomes the law of our land. ("This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land.") Therefore, the Geneva Conventions are a part of American law and as such our president--were the Geneva Conventions taken seriously by our government--should be hanged as a war criminal.

However, as with most things, the United States government refuses to apply to itself the same principles it applies to everyone else. Is there any question as to why we are so loathed?

--Robert Payne is a high school social studies teacher. He lives in Tacoma.