The western curse

THE banalities spoken about God are often linked with global suffering, the death of children etc.

Clearly the Earth is in agony. But it doesn’t help to explain it away by blaming God, or to claim the death of children proves he couldn’t exist.
The suffering reinforces extreme reactions.

Many people who do not believe in God in the first place seize on the death of children as further evidence that he does not exist.
In the East, there has not been much anti-religious defiance in the form of “How could God do this to us?’’. It’s a Western curse.

Destructive earthquakes regularly take place in Bangladesh and India, but Westerners show little interest in them.
Undeserved pain, disease, and death are daily facts of life for hundreds of millions of people on the planet. Billions of people, rich and poor, weak and strong, have suffered and died senselessly.

More than 29,000 children die every day as a result of avoidable diseases and malnutrition. That’s one child dying every five seconds or more than 10 million children a year in a world in which there is an excess of food.
In Sierra Leone, one in four children die before age 5. In Iraq, one in 10 does not make it to a fifth birthday. Across the globe, poor care for newborns, malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and measles snuff out lives of the very young.
One in 12 children worldwide die before they are five.

So the issue isn’t why God did not intervene to save everyone, but why we humans seem to care so little about each other.

But imagine a world of no suffering from natural disasters, where God steps in every time one of the tectonic plates in the ocean comes loose, or whenever a storm or earthquake threatens a human being. There would still be immeasurable suffering because we would cause it ourselves.

The world has certain imperfections built into the natural order and we have to live with them.

Vincent van Gogh said once that he was interested in painting “not blossoms, but blossoming’’. So, it seems at times, is God.

This world is no paradise, but it is, for the moment, the only home we have. We should take better care of it.

Advertisements

21 thoughts on “The western curse

  1. The Western curse – seems the more we have the more we have to fear to lose. Like a spoilt child we hang on for dear life to what we have in our possession because “it’s mine and I’m entitled to it”.It seems the more we have have the more oblivious we are to those that have not.

    Like

      • Your right Dabs. I think I get a bit disheartened that most of this stuff barely rates as NEWS any more. I’m stumped that 200+ men can be lined up in a trench and executed, but that story comes a sad third place behind the Essendon FC saga and some other relatively small local issue.
        But yes, top rank of the exceptions have to be Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is getting HUGE funding from other philanthropists of wealth and ploughing it in to health, education and infrastructure to the most impoverished countries on the planet – there’s hope for us yet.

        Like

      • Though for years I agreed with your sentiment above, the odd thing is that my current position and age has given me a different perspective.
        It really does appear, speaking from my own local more recent experience, that the more one has the LESS likely they are to be afraid of losing it, and the more willing they are to share ~ and even take some chances they’d never have done before. (like putting up needy people in their homes since the nights have turned very cold: and even leaving them in the house alone for hours, or lending them the car to go to a job interview or whatever.)
        I’m firming to the idea that it’s not actually the amount of money one has than engenders a sense of sharing and trust, but more a getting away from the ‘System’s’ manipulation of what you can do with what you have by indirectly decreeing how much you can lose.

        It’s too complicated for here, but an example is that most people ~ in thrall to the System (and particularly the Debt Machine) ~ never have much over at the end of the month, and ANY loss is a major setback. They’re hooked into the machinations of forces beyond their control, and naturally afraid of taking a chance. In ANY way.
        eg. imagine how vulnerable someone would feel if they fell behind even for a couple of months in their payments on a $400,000 mortgage. ….the odd $5k is enough to nullify their entire life’s efforts because they’re so tightly budgeted. A few people I know who live in $120k house know no such fears, and are, consequently much more open-handed and open hearted.
        ….and ironically, because of that there’s far less (or, rather, they’re confident there IS much less) risk that the people they give a hand will abuse their trust.

        As I say, too complicated for here, but has become very apparent to me.
        (the other side of that coin is the mutual helpfulness of the very poorest ~ like the streetkids or park-dwellers ~ and for the same reasons: they’ve shaken off the dependence of a system that keeps ALL it’s victims on a short leash.)

        And it’s often the very same people that show genuine concern for abused and mistreated animals. I had a kid living here for a while who’d been sleeping in a sleeping bag on the ground next to his tiny car because a hungry dog he’d picked up was taking up all the room in the vehicle’.
        I could easily afford the few extra dollars it cost to let him get his act together (thanks to the shock-horror Capitalist Stockmarket!), and felt not the slightest apprehension at letting him have the run of the house; why would he abuse something he was getting the free use of? Or steal the towels available at the RSPCA Op-Shop for fifty cents a pop?

        ‘Tain’t always what one expects or is accustomed to taking for granted.

        Like

  2. Indeed.
    “But it doesn’t help to explain it away by blaming God, or to claim the death of children proves he couldn’t exist.”
    I never blame god: that’d be stupid since he doesn’t exist…And I don’t need the death of children to prove that ‘god doesn’t exist’. Lack of presence establishes that.

    But as I sometimes point out, if god DID exist no-one with any sense of common decency or compassion would want to know him.

    “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
    But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

    Like

    • So to you, Dabs, the non-existent God is “he”, the all powerful male Jehovah? Or the, still male, benefactor we often see in the N.T.?

      What if God was the universe, in which we live and move and have our being? What would you EXPECT of such a God?

      It’s a real question, can you answer it?

      Like

      • I tried to keep it short!

        The universe as god? I have no problem with that, but can’t imagine why you’d want to call it god or anything else.
        Or why you’d want, or feel you were entitled ~ let alone empowered ~ to domesticate it and bend it to your Will or favour.
        I think the ‘personalisation’ of IT is a direct result of homosapien’s vast insecurities, and that those insecurities are a direct result of homosaps’ single evolved survival edge: the human brain; specifically the power to anticipate: to see into the future in a way that no other known organism is able to.

        I DO wish you’d take up my offer of reading ‘African Genesis’. Ardrey made a living as a playwright, and had communication skills I could only envy.
        An excerpt relevant to your question:-

        And so I return to my second assertion, that civilisation is a product of evolution and an expression of Nature’s most ancient law. Far antedating the predatory urge in our animal nature, far more deeply buried than conscience or territory or society lies that shadowy, mysterious, undefinable command of the kind, the instinct for order And so, when a predatory species came rapidly to evolve its inherent talent for disorder, natural selection favoured as a factor in human survival the equally rapid evolvement of that sublimating, inhibiting, super-territorial institution which we call, loosely, civilisation.

        (Then he goes on a bit about the effect of civilisation in conflict with our animal heritage.)…Then:-

        But the choice is not ours. Never to be forgotten, to be neglected, to be derided is the inconspicuous figure in the quiet back room. He sits with his head bent, silent, waiting, listening to the commotion in the streets. He is the keeper of the kinds

        Who is he? We do not know. Nor shall we ever. He is a presence, and that is all. But his presence is evident in the last reaches if infinite space beyond man’s probing eye. His presence is guessable in the last reaches of infinite smallness beyond the magnification of electron or microscope.
        He is present in all living beings and in all inanimate matter. His presence is asserterd in all things that ever were, and in all things that ever will be.
        As his command is unanswerable, his identity is unknowable. But his most ancient concern is with order.

        You may sense his presence in a star-scattered sky as silenced you stand on a lonely hill. There above you floats tha Milky Way, your galaxy, your celestial home. And there, beyond Andromeda’s faint indication, floats your nearest brother in space. Twenty-six quintillion miles away revolves your galaxy’s twin in all manner of description and behaviour.

        You may sense his presence in the kind of matter called helium, that has always and will forever behave according to the rules and regulations of helium. You may sense his word in the Second Law of Thermodynamics, or the patterned behaviour of brook trout in a clear New Zealand pool. You may feel his command in the choice of the reed bunting to defend his territory before his young; or in the pause of a jewel fish that saves his dinner and his small fry too. You may find his word in the forms of cities and symphonies, of Rembrandts and fir trees and cumulus clouds. You may read his command in the regularity of turning things, in stars and seasons, in tides and in striking clocks. Where bursts the green of an apple-orchard, all of a springtime day, there passes his presence. And here, too, he passes in the windy fluttering of scarlet leaves and the calls of the harvesters.

        Where a child is born, or a man lies dead; where life must go on though tragedy deny it; where a farmer replants fields again despoiled by floods or drought; where men rebuild cities that other men destroy; where tides must ebb as tides have flowed; there, see his footprints, there, and there.

        He does not care about you, or about me, or about man for that matter. He cares only for order. But whatever he says, we shall do.

        ***

        Oh, and to answer your question:- I’d expect nothing of such a ‘god’; IT has provided the opportunities, and it’s up to me to make of them what I can or want to; the same as every other creation of the IT god: dogs, cats, wombats or rhodies.
        Even goldfish, geese, giraffes and godbotherers.

        Like

      • “The universe as god? I have no problem with that, but can’t imagine why you’d want to call it god or anything else.” Firstly because it has attributes of God. It is infinite, omnipresent, and unknowable. It is probably omnipotent, and, who knows, perhaps omniscient. But it’s not necessary for me to think of the universe and decide to call it God, if someone had (mistakenly or not) already described it as God.

        “Or why you’d want, or feel you were entitled ~ let alone empowered ~ to domesticate it and bend it to your Will or favour.” Where did you get that idea? Ludicrous, surely.

        “I think the ‘personalisation’ of IT is a direct result of homosapien’s vast insecurities, and that those insecurities are a direct result of homosaps’ single evolved survival edge: the human brain; specifically the power to anticipate: to see into the future in a way that no other known organism is able to.” I could agree, at least in part..

        Despite all the above, I have experience of Being, which I am a bit loth to call God, but is the essence of everything I would expect from a God who is my Guardian and my Guide. For want of a better term this is to me my guardian angel, who does God’s will, and has an understanding of God beyond my abilities.

        “I DO wish you’d take up my offer of reading ‘African Genesis’. Ardrey made a living as a playwright, and had communication skills I could only envy.” If only I could get a copy. A library visitor will be designated to me in a few months. Reading your excerpt, re ‘the inconspicuous figure in the quiet back room’, “He is present in all living beings and in all inanimate matter. His presence is asserted in all things that ever were, and in all things that ever will be.
        As his command is unanswerable, his identity is unknowable. But his most ancient concern is with order.” I think it is just your own personal choice to NOT call this presence God.

        Like

      • Wouldn’t argue with that:- “I think it is just your own personal choice to NOT call this presence God.”
        That’d largely be because ‘IT’ has nothing in common with the human inventions commonly and severally ‘known as ‘god’.
        I’d deliberately not call it Prime Minister or Sir Humphrey Appleby, either: and for the same reasons.

        But, typically given homosapiens’ small stature and understanding in the scheme of things, you say “….it has attributes of God”, and thus betray your biased mindset….. which is confirmed by your lower-case ‘it’ and capitalised ‘God’. (why capitalised if it’s not ‘his’ name?)

        A more realistic/objective way of framing the comment would be:- “god has attributes of IT, whatever IT is”

        And you totally ignore the absolute difference ~ which makes the two ‘entities both incompatible and incomparable:- The fundamental ‘purpose’ of ‘god’ is to care about you, chastise you and correct you; and above all to ‘love’ you.
        (ie. he’s a domesticated deity.)
        That’s in absolute and direct contrast, opposition, to the (lower-case) ‘figure’
        which Ardrey uses as an expedient icon. And, further, it’s stipulated that ‘he’ DOESN’T care about you or me or mankind.

        ‘He’s’ just a presence. Unmistakeable but strictly non-interfering and providing no avenue of appeal.
        (Picture a zipperful of pubic hair.)

        The context of the whole book makes that much clearer ~ as if that were necessary ~ and the same metaphor is used in in another of his books.
        (The Social Contract, which IS available online:-
        http://www.ditext.com/ardrey/contract.html

        Like

      • ps I enjoy Ardrey’s style, and read it for pleasure; but you can get a fair idea of his premise and conclusions by reading the first and last chapters. Everything between that adds fleshto what leads directly from start to finish.

        I’d be interested in hearing if you can find any perceived flaws in it.
        (Unlike, of course, the bible ~ which depends on flaws and anomalies to prove the need for faith.)

        Like

      • “That’d largely be because ‘IT’ has nothing in common with the human inventions commonly and severally ‘known as ‘god’.”
        I agree that many have made God in the image of mankind, but many others call God unknowable, probably Jews do more than Christians. But note Paul’s use of the term ‘unknown god’.

        Acts 17:22-28
        “22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.” He was asking them to worship an unknown god, an unknowable god.

        Re capitalisation Dabbles, you yourself have posts here where you have by your own admission struggled with the work of capitalising some – you were glad to get back to just lower case. Also, you commence sentences with a capital letter, because this is common usage. So please cut a bit of slack for me and for common usage.

        Consider that a ‘biased mind set’ may also rather be a referral to a common mindset rather than a bias towards it.

        And who says “The fundamental ‘purpose’ of ‘god’ is to care about you, chastise you and correct you; and above all to ‘love’ you.
        (ie. he’s a domesticated deity.)” ?
        That is a conception of some, but not for instance those who Samuel Clarke wrote of:
        “The Notion of the World’s being a great Machine, going on without the Interposition of God, as a Clock continues to go without the Assistance of a Clockmaker; is the Notion of Materialism and Fate, and tends, (under pretence of making God a Supra-mundane Intelligence,) to exclude Providence and God’s Government in reality out of the World.”[2]
        And once again you are discounting aspects of God as seen by non Judeo-Christian faiths.

        I do appreciate your taking of time to reply’ just a bit disappointed in the splitting of hairs. 🙂

        Like

  3. ??? ” imagine a world of no suffering from natural disasters, where God steps in every time one of the tectonic plates in the ocean comes loose, or whenever a storm or earthquake threatens a human being. There would still be immeasurable suffering because we would cause it ourselves. ”

    Q1….Sez whose Crystal Ball?
    Q2…But, granted the assertion, are you suggesting that because we cause “immeasurable suffering” it’s OK for god to do so too?
    …or even let it happen assuming he could prevent it?

    Like

  4. “Let me tell you something… before I die I’m going to figure out how God made the world… E=MC2 ”
    Albert Einstein
    That’s it? Gee thanks Al
    Still … they say to keep wondering and learning is a sign of intelligence, as opposed to those who profess to know everything,and are as dumb and boring as hell.
    If you get my drift.

    Like

    • ??? I thought EVERYbody knew ” how God made the world” Jimbo.
      By accident.
      He was trying to make spaghetti-sauce, but misread the ingredients-list. 😉
      (Got hold of ‘The God-Father’ ~ explains everything.)

      Like

      • Gary Larson first got wind of it when he heard about a dyslexic jewish kid who kept blowing up his bedroom (with BigBangs, presumably) because he couldn’t get his third-grade science project to work.

        The assignment was to create a duck………

        Like

  5. Some people do feel more than others, and it’s all in their genes
    Gabriella Munoz
    Wednesday, 25 June 2014

    A new study has found that some people have a greater emotional sensitivity and are programmed to better recognise and understand what others are going through.

    If you can’t help but cry every time you go to a wedding, or if you think that handling so many emotions all the time is really hard work, you may belong to the 20 percent of the population that has high sensory processing sensitivity (SPS), an innate trait associated with greater empathy.

    Dr Elaine Aron from Stony Brook University in the US has created the highly sensitive people (HSP) concept to describe those who are emotionally reactive, pay very close attention to little things and process information more thoroughly. Along with social psychologist Dr Arthur Aron and a team of researchers, she developed a test to see if indeed HSP have a more intense reaction to others’ emotions.

    The researchers recruited 18 married persons with either high or low SPS, and scanned their brains using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while the volunteers saw pictures of sad or smiling strangers and/or family members.

    When the HSP subjects viewed these images, their brain activity increased, particularly in areas associated with awareness, action planning and processing sensory information. The mirror neuron system, which is strongly associated with empathetic response, showed increased activity as well. The brains of non-HSP didn’t show increased activity in these areas.

    “We found that areas of the brain involved with awareness and emotion, particularly those areas connected with empathetic feelings, in the highly sensitive people showed substantially greater blood flow to relevant brain areas than was seen in individuals with low sensitivity during the 12-second period when they viewed the photos,” said Dr Arthur Aron in a news release. “This is physical evidence within the brain that highly sensitive individuals respond especially strongly to social situations that trigger emotions, in this case of faces being happy or sad.”

    The study was published in the journal Brain and Behavior.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s