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December 13, 2011
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I have had several journals that started out with a sort of disclaimer or apology for being less than tolerant of religion. This time, I don't justify, apologize, or disclaim anything.

Nigeria, in the last decade or so has seen thousands of people die because they were Muslim OR Christian. They are killing each other by the hundreds with guns, machetes, or whatever means available. Women and children slain in their homes because they were a different religion. What possible God sees this as OK? OH…perhaps it's the god that commands his followers to kill thousands and thousands of people in the Bible. Seems like the same one to me.

There are property rights and what the government refers to as "indigeneship" in Nigeria. It means whoever was first to live on a particular parcel of land, has the rights to it. Add to this law of "indigeneship" the fact that Nigeria now produces a LOT of oil and you have the makings of a war. Ironically, the "democratic" government has embezzled four to eight BILLION dollars a year, so none of it goes to the Christians or Muslims anyway, but they kill each other over the prospect of owning some land and working their way up the loose ladder of politics.

This situation is tragic beyond belief. It illustrates the words of Voltaire,"If someone can make you believe absurdities, they can make you commit atrocities".  
I'm tired of hearing people say it "…isn't the religion but it's the people". It isn't guns that kill people… blah blah blah.
People desperately want to defend their "faith", desperately want to keep their comfortable beliefs justified, and deny the fact that their religion is at the root of ANY murder, bigotry, or hate crime. But there it is…over and over again in the bible, in history, and in present day Nigeria. The thing that I find most baffling is religious people's refusal to READ facts. I can never seem to get it through my head why someone would CHOOSE to be ignorant about something they think is important. But this is almost beside the point because the point is not WHETHER they believe or not, the point is, how do those beliefs allow or command people to behave?

Just yesterday I read this headline in the news:
"Homosexuality criminalized by Nigerian Senate: Christians, Muslims cheer"
It is now a crime to be gay in Nigeria. Anyone who dares enter into a same sex relationship or marriage faces a 14 year prison sentence. Any public display of affection between same sex couples results in a 10 year prison term. In addition, anyone advocating for gay rights or gay marriage gets 10 years in prison also. For these "crimes", one is handed a prison sentence and the Christians and Muslims CHEER! They fucking CHEER when two people who's only crime is to simply love each other, are thrown in prison. And if you think that kind of horror only happens in Nigeria, listen to Presidential candidate Rick Perry's "Strong" video clip on Youtube. How can anyone who CHOOSES to be this ignorant run for President of our country?

I'm sad, I'm sickened, and I'm broken hearted to see, in a modern world, this kind of religiously motivated hatred, bigotry, and homophobic paranoia create and pass these kinds of laws in Nigeria or anywhere in the world. Add to this tragic scene, the fact that in Nigeria you can marry a 13 year old girl. How is this possible? It's OK to violate a child but unlawful to love another human being if they are the same gender. THIS is a DIRECT result of their beliefs in their gods.

Set this against a background of advances in science where the Higgs boson or "god particle" is very close to confirmation, and we have such dichotomy that it strains comprehension. Scientists are able to make these discoveries, put a man on the moon, and send rovers to Mars, but we imprison two people for loving each other. In spite of the advances in every area of science and research, people still believe there's a guy in the sky watching us and judging our behavior and this sky guy tells his followers to kill anyone who doesn't share his beliefs, imprison others who love each other differently, but it's perfectly acceptable to violate a 13 year old child.

After my trip to Japan where I witnessed first hand the destruction of the tsunami, I have become even more a lover of life. ALL life. I have become more of a pacifist. I see no justification for killing another human being and no reason to believe in some guy in the sky who'd allow innocent children to be viciously drowned and swept away by a wall of water. No reason to believe in a supposedly loving power that would allow Miki Endo to announce over the loudspeakers of Minamisanriku to,"get to higher ground, tsunami warning" and then be enveloped by that very tsunami. This type of god must either be a loveless power or a powerless love…useless and pathetic as a candidate for a god in my book either way it goes. Christians love to say,"His ways are above our understanding" or "It must be for a reason". This COMPLETE surrender to unconsciousness, this choosing of ignorance, this denial of factual information flies in the face of all that makes us human and aware. It is the ultimate Christian denial of personal responsibility and it is THIS denial that allows murder, imprisonment, and hatred to flourish.

I dislike writing journals full of negativity because I am such a positive person. But those news headlines hurt my heart deeply. Because I came out of a deeply religious background, because I am now free of that blindness, and because I now celebrate the different ways human beings love each other… I MUST speak out. Shout out against what I see as evil and ignorant and speak up for love, peace, and understanding.

Therefore, my final observation is this… I know human beings will survive even the worst of natural disasters. I believe people will survive and learn from even the worst onslaughts from ignorant factions. Somehow we made it through the Inquisition (which no one expected! lol) (wonder how many people will get that reference?). I maintain the belief that some day, being gay will go unnoticed because it is no different than having red hair or blue eyes. WHO we love won't matter and THAT we love, will be celebrated. I choose to believe that some day Christianity, and hopefully all religion, will fade away as did the mythology of  the Romans and Greeks. We'll understand the consequences of building barriers between humans, we'll understand the cosmos much better, and hopefully our place in it. I choose to believe we'll learn to live in harmony with our planet and be better to Mother Nature and to each other. I lived to see the Civil Rights movement, but we have a long way yet to go.

I CHOOSE to live positive. I CHOOSE to believe in mankind, in art, and in love. I see no other way to live. I see no other way to BE, than to spread peace and love where ever I go. In spite of what I see in Nigeria, I choose to believe it can't last. While I am just one person, I am resolute in my choice to live free and spread that same message. I'll continue to write, to donate time, and to use my skills to influence where I can.

So in this season… I will spend time reflecting on how fortunate I am and what a marvelous and wondrous world I live in. The best present I could ever have for Christmas, is the realization that I celebrated another year walking around this beautiful Earth. Happy for the gift of life… my life… and all life.

Happy Heinekens to you all.
  • Listening to: the hum of the G5
  • Drinking: Heineken
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:iconnirasix:
NiraSix Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
It's always refreshing to find out that we're not alone in our opinions :P Wonderful, really.
However, I disagree with all that final positivism. You see, for me, mankind is pretty much hopeless. Whether it is about religion or, for saying, earth pollution, people just refuse to change their point of view. It's much easier and comfortable to stick with what we learned as kids, even though what we were taught is all that wrong.
If there was such thing as gods, would they really want to save this kind of species, so arrogant and greedy? If I was up there, looking down on earth, letting men kill each other would probably be a nice way to save what's left of the earth... A god could always restart mankind from scratch, right?
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:iconcarmenveloso:
CarmenVeloso Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Featured: [link]
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:iconmusicandmotion:
musicandmotion Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2011  Professional Photographer
Are you a fan of the Simpsons? This quote will make you smile:
Superintendant Chamers: "Religion has no place in public schools the way facts have no place in organized religion."
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:iconpelicanh:
Pelicanh Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2011  Professional Photographer
LOL...good one
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:iconjsf1:
JSF1 Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition!
I do love me some Monty Python.
How many did recognize that?
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:iconpelicanh:
Pelicanh Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2011  Professional Photographer
LOL...not too many
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:icontremorfireheart:
tremorfireheart Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I must say that faith and religion made me into the man i am today, the reason i still am today(had a serious bout with depression).I have had prayers answered; everything from show me something so i will take you at faith hence forth... to the ridiculous request of please let lightning hit the school so we have the power go out and take the test tomorrow. I must admit I'm not a pacifist, I will train and take up arms to defend my life,my family and my friends, but im not a war mongerer.

The base of any violence is from displeasure, a lack of empathy, and lack of consequence. When we are hungry we will do things for food. The greater the displeasure(hunger pains) the greater risks we are willing to take (steal, lie , kill). When times are good we do not feel the compulsion or temptation as often. Once you feel the temptation though only two things truly stop you. 1. empathy and sympathy for the person on the recieving end of the violence. 2. Perceived Consequences of the action, usually from other people.

First let me say that you are exemplary in your empathy and sympathy towards other human beings. For you nothing else is required for you to avoid acts of violence. Most of the rest of society needs something though. We band together for safety from displeasure and this gives rise two things. First is politics- interactions and agreements between people. The problem being the more agreements made the more complicated the structure the more waste you have and as soon as you have more than two people a vote is needed and those in the majority(and thus generally able to impose the largest consequence) have the power. Also those who have achieved a status of power tend to try to secure their position, after all being able to do as we please with lack of consequence is generally our goal as a human being.

2nd is religion a bound set of rules to which you think the cosmos adhere to. Religion can be a good thing when it convinces people to act in a more tolerant way than they would have naturally. it starts out as a belief and then as it spreads between people, but they tend to modify the beliefs to suit their view points before spreading them. enough people together makes it a religion. It serves a few puposes generally. Something to cling on to when you have nothing else, that you will have rewards for empathy, and be an eternal boogeyman that imposes consequences that man can do nothing about. It tries to convince people of a looming consequence so that they will fear more than just human observation. That they will act in ways void of displeasuring others to avoid the bogeyman type consequences. the true consequences of the cosmos..... well take your pick, unfathomable to the human in totality or..... non existent. cliche' yes but no man can comprehend everything.

people imprison, torture and kill to impose consequences. alot of people will twist both of the above to try and justify or excuse their acts which cause displeasure for others, so that fewer others will not band together and in turn impose their own consequences on them. "If someone can make you believe absurdities, they can make you commit atrocities" is definately true. we have gathered more knowledge so that section has advanced more quickly than our ability to fight our inate natures.

God gives us all a calling. yours seem to be to teach of love and tolerance. Love and empathy are very important,So keep spreading them. I will continue to spread my beliefs as well. That there is a cosmic force that watches us. That it wants us to be humble, non judgemental and treat others with kindness and respect. That this force showed us his son as an example for our lives. That we should tend to the less fortunate and even do some when it's unpleasant. may we both get people to live more in tolerance, may your calls be heeded by the agnostic and may mine heeded by others who calls themselves christian for a more peaceful world.
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:iconartemisaesthetic:
ArtemisAesthetic Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2011  Professional General Artist
Your essence is exceptionally pure, as beautifully magical as love truly is. :heart:
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:iconhawk-619:
Hawk-619 Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2011  Student Digital Artist
Happy anything you celebrate theese days, mr Helms. Peace, love and Heineken :hug:
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:iconpelicanh:
Pelicanh Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2011  Professional Photographer
to you too!!! WOOOHOOO!!!
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