Posts Tagged Founding Fathers
Self determination and autonomy have rarely, if ever, been touched upon really in terms of actual policy formulation aimed at granting and protecting and enforcing those rights until the second half of the twentieth century when notions of human rights were formulated after World War II.
Even the Founding Fathers of this nation did not believe in human autonomy for all, which is why women got to vote some 150 years after the foundation of this nation and thus after the Declaration of Independence. When that document reads “all men are created equal“, it really does mean all males. The Founding Fathers, in all their wisdom notwithstanding, did not recognize that women were part of mankind.
One of our – as human kind – most fundamental rights – which is a human right and something inalienable, irrespective of culture and country of origin – is the freedom to be autonomous and make decisions based on that autonomy. This is a very fundamental and important right that often does not get the important attention it deserves. Way too many people are comfortable with having that autonomy diminished or taken away from them.
Most, if not all, conflicts throughout human history leading up to today, in not only this very country but all around the world really, have been about controlling others by taking away their autonomy to choose for themselves how to live their lives, what to believe in and subsequently what choices to make.
Eric and Ruth Brown were not those people. They had a choice and the freedom to exercise that autonomy to make a choice.
Deformity and Suffering as the Creator’s Will
The couple from Nashville, Tennessee, believe that the genetic disorder that created a cleft in their daughter Pearl Joy’s upper lip and caused her brain’s development to stall in the first weeks in the womb, to be god’s will.
“Things didn’t go wrong,” an apparently delusional Eric Brown said. “God has designed Pearl the way he wanted, for his glory and our good”.
This delusion has sustained the Browns ever since ultrasound revealed that the couple’s third child has alobar holoprosencephaly, a rare genetic condition that’s almost always fatal. The Browns never considered abortion. They believe that Pearl is “fearfully and wonderfully made,” as Psalm 139 puts it, and god alone should decide when she lives and when she dies.
Pearl’s brain never divided into two hemispheres during her development in the womb, which means she is basically a crawling vegetable. ”We don’t care about those things. She is here, and her brain is telling her how to live“, says Eric Brown.
The Browns are holding on to dear life, literally, as they delude themselves into believing that as long as their girl is basically still warm she should live and that her life is wonderful and a blessing, even though she has seizures on a daily basis, has a weakened immune system and has been back to the hospital at least five times in the past three months. A simple cold could kill her but “that day hasn’t come yet“, her mother says. The Browns not only insist she is god’s gift, they also think Pearl is actually fighting.
Fighting for what is unclear. Is she fighting for a miracle? Is she fighting for growing up being normal after all with this disease poofing out of existence much the same way this Earth poofed into existence according to the Bible?
Even skeptical neighbors, friends and acquaintance have bought into the delusion, applauding the Brown’s decision.
Kristina Guisler, a friend from the MOMS Club of East Nashville, met the Browns in 2009. When she first heard about Pearl’s condition, she said she wasn’t sure the Browns had made the right decision by continuing with the pregnancy. She wondered what kind of life Pearl would have.
But seeing the love that the Browns have for Pearl has changed her mind and strengthened her own faith.
“It’s reaffirmed my faith in humanity and in the power of prayer,” she said.
The Browns aren’t the only ones suffering from serious delusions, Nancy and David Guthrie of Nashville faced the ordeal twice: in 1998 and 2002 when their son and daughter both died in infancy from a fatal genetic condition called Zellweger syndrome. In Gabriel’s case, the Guthries learned he had Zellweger while he was still in the womb.
“One of the things we learned is that great sorrow and great joy can coexist,” she said. “Because life in the image of God is so precious, there is great joy in having this one you love with you, even while there is great sorrow in knowing that this child might not grow old with you.”
I have read and seen religious people talk themselves into a whole lot of bullshit and delusions to make it through their lives, but this sure takes the height. What I find particularly disturbing is this:
“God has designed Pearl the way he wanted, for his glory and our good.”
So god, in all his wisdom and love, would afflict a child with disease, deformity and suffering? And being born with a horrible genetic disease that renders you nothing but an animated doll trapped in a painful and torturous existence at the verge of death is something god did for his glory? There is glory to be had from this? And said disease and deformity is for the good of the parents.
All the credit, but none of the blame, huh? Hmmm maybe god is a Republican after all
But there is a broader canvas here. The above statement by the Browns is disturbing and akin to Indiana Tea Party Senate candidate Richard Mourdock’s comments that pregnancies stemming from rape, however horrible, are “something that God intended to happen” – as if rape wasn’t a crime and heinous act but just something in god’s secret and elaborate plan for all of us lemmings and for “his glory and the victim’s good.”
Does that mean rape itself is part of god’s plan? And genocide? And mass killing and child rape? Most religious people would say “no” (or maybe yes), which creates all sorts of contradictions because what they are saying is that the act of rape is not god’s will but the resulting child is. In other words, god would never orchestrate a rape, but would definitely exploit a rape to impregnate a woman.
That is amazing. Where do I sign up to worship this excellent decision-maker?
It is great that believing that there is a higher purpose to their suffering has allowed the Brown’s to not only justify their choice but also live with it this long.
Remember people believe in all sorts of stories and even lies for self preservation and to make it through the day and their lives. That is why we have religion in the first place. It is called cognitive dissonance, which is the term used in modern psychology to describe the state of “holding two or more conflicting ideas, beliefs, values and emotional reactions simultaneously. In a state of dissonance, people may sometimes feel surprise, dread, guilt, anger, or embarrassment. The theory of cognitive dissonance in social psychology proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by altering existing cognitions, adding new ones to create a consistent belief system, or alternatively by reducing the importance of any one of the dissonant elements.”
The Brown’s are engaging in precisely that. They are people of faith who believe that the deity they believe in does all things for a reason. Such a notion is an especially opportune world view when good things happen. When something horrible, such as the birth defect of their child happens, on the other hand, said believers are suddenly left in shock, asking themselves where the good is in having their own child be afflicted with such a condition. Suddenly, painful reality and the tenets of their faith are at odds. If god is all loving and all caring, how can he let this happen? That is where “filling in the gaps” comes in becasue the Browns are human beings who can only take so much pain before losing it.
How do they cope with it? They cope with it by attempts to reconcile the reality of their situation with what they have been taught god to be. Thus, they tell a lie to themselves. But they do not know it is a lie. It cannot be. If it was, that would bring down their entirely worldview and the reality they have created for themselves. Their self delusion in that regard is quite sincere. The Browns have to believe that this is all part of a grander scheme. This, in turn enables them to go through life without feeling hopeless and without loosing their faith and feeling let down by their grand and loving creator.
Delusion is a wonderful thing and nothing deludes more than religion.
The truth, of course, is that this baby will be confronted with a myriad of painful medical procedures that she will have to endure but not understand the need for. There are limits to the amount of painkiller an infant can be given. The question really is whether the child is having a quality of life that satisfies the child’s nature, or whether being kept alive on IVs, feeding tubes, oxygen and other meds is the truly loving and wonderful alternative.
And can you say this is what the divine intended when the only thing keeping the child alive is medical technology, not god? The parents might enjoy the love and care they are giving, but what about the infant?
Ultimately, the Browns are doing this to make themselves feel better. They think they are doing this child a favor, but they aren’t, they are only doing themselves a favor and justify their decision by making appeals to the grand schemes of a higher power.
The only victim in this process is Pearl. Her family is holding on to delusions to prolong the life of a vegetable. For Pearl living or not living does not make a difference. She doesn’t even know what and who and if she is. Her brain didn’t part into two hemispheres for cryin’ out loud. She is nothing but an animated doll and for her there is no difference between living and dying, becasue there is no “her” there. She is just a breathing shell.
The idea that you have emergency oxygen standing by makes one wonder about whose will we are talking about, god’s or the ego’s. Her family’s understandable efforts to cope with her condition by putting a pretty spin on it only trivializes her suffering. And theirs.
Not Just Faith But Choice
The delusion of the Brown’s view on this aside, the bigger question here is that of choice. The beauty of freedom is that people, including the Browns, can choose to believe in any number of lies to make it through the day and their lives. And their decision, whether I agree with it or not, is ok.
As long as the Browns do not say to someone else that this is why their child has been blessed with a deformity and death. they can believe in hob goblins as far as I – and reality – are concerned. Sure it is naive and ignorant to attribute any condition onto god, and I mean naive in the sense of immature, unknowing as it relates, but if that is what they need to make it through their lives, who am I, or anyone, to argue with that?
Only that the delusions of religious people are rarely confined to their own personal realm
And therein lies the fundamental problem with letting faith guide your decisions. Religious people place their emotions before their intelligence. The problem is that when people make important decisions based on a fantastical belief system rather than facing unpleasant realities that they’d rather pretend don’t exist, it can leave a lot of collateral damage that affects others. Just look at the recent assault on women’s reproductive rights callously championed by Republicans and conservatives based on their religious beliefs.
The Browns – for better or worse – had a choice with respect to keeping this child alive and caring for it. Ruth Brown could have gotten an abortion, but due to her personal beliefs she decided not to. She had a choice.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the kinds of policies Republicans push for and have partially succeeded in when it comes to granting women autonomy and the freedom to choose what they believe to be the best decision for them. The Browns were lucky that they were able to make the decision to have their the child without threats and pressure to obtain an abortion.
At the same time, remember that simply becasue it worked for the Browns and was the best decision they could make based on their lives, it does not mean it is the only right and honorable answer. A couple choosing to get an abortion should be able to do so without facing obstacles and judgment and shame just as the Browns. In short, the Brown’s decision to keep the child is not more admirable than the decision of someone else in the same situation to abort it.
In the end, it is all about choice and giving people the freedom to make that choice. In this day and age, it’s a true luxury to have one’s autonomy respected and your choices be your own. I wish lawmakers everywhere would make note of this because nothing diminishes an individual more than stripping them off autonomy.
In a gesture full of respect and concern for the American people, Paul Ryan – Mitt Romney’s vice presidential pick – gave said American people the finger by announcing that he would only release two years worth of his tax records to the public; the same amount of years that Governor Romney has released.
In reality, of course, Romney has only released his 2010 tax return and even those were missing half the information. He has also only given an estimate on his 2011 taxes – which he plans to fully publish (read: after his attorneys and PR folks fix and redact it) before the election.
This is a clever move. By stating that he will only release two years of taxes, “just like the Governor”, he is moving the focus of Romney’s taxes and his refusal to release more than two years, onto the broader debate of candidates releasing tax returns. This way, no one can accuse Romney of trying to hide anything because, after all, it was merely policy by his campaign to not release anyone’s tax returns beyond two years – not just Romney’s.
But the bigger problem that irks me is the attitude. The arrogance and the audacity to give the voter base such a condescending response.
“Here you go America. Stick this in your pipe and smoke it. I ain’t releasing shit to you. You can take it or leave it.”
This was a huge bird he flipped because by saying he will only release two years of tax returns Paul Ryan is basically behaving in the same condescending manner as Ann Romney when she said “you people” got all the info you need to crown us president and presidentette of this kingdom.
Ryan is basically telling us to go and shove it and be happy with whatever information he thinks we need to know and which he is willing to throw our way – and go vote for him already, dammit.
This kind of behavior is typical for Romney and his elitist, exploitative rich buddies who own football teams and elevators for their cars and have nothing but dangerous policies in mind with sinister outcomes.
They seem to think of the American people, the people they are working for and who put them in charge, as this nuisance; as this inevitable, annoying, pestering entity they have to unfortunately go through to get to what they really want to do: turn America and this government into nothing but tools to further causes that are detrimental for 99% of the population and ultimately the whole world.
Don’t think for one second that Europe’s economy going belly up had nothing to with the economic meltdown in the US.
The United States is Not a Corporation You Raid
Who do Romney and Ryan really think they are?
And what country do they think they are running for?
The United States is an idea, it is a vision -it is about democracy, autonomy and freedom. It is about tolerance and respect. It is about equity. It is about creating something above yourself for the greater good of everyone. Our Founding Fathers ran way from those shackles of the mind, soul and pocket to create a society in which all men are equal and can prosper and lead dignified lives. Not one in which a few enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else, ripping apart what they have, to suck the juice from the carcasses. That is not what America is.
It is not some company you raid and whose employees (i.e. the voting population) you discard and take away power from to obscenely enrich yourself and then insult them by calling yourself American and a patriot but them traitors and un-American for wanting access to health care, a job, an education, clean water to drink and clean air to breathe.
Mitt Romney is not a good American. He dodged military service with a deferment taking him to Paris. He has accounts invested who knows where around the world as though he were hedging his bet on the USA and he has a business career based not upon creating and growing domestic industry but in bankrupting companies and laying off its employees, sucking up their retirements and pensions to then line his own pockets.
Capitalism relies on markets and supply and demand, not bankrupting companies, mass layoffs and creating monopolies. Social drawinism is not capitalism. Vulcher capitalism is not capitalism.
Mitt Romney is not a patriot, he is a traitor. He is a parasite. Nothing in his business or personal life and choices suggests otherwise.
So… no more tax returns you fuckers. That is what Ryan’s response means. Nothing more and nothing less.
Having no inhibitions to benefit from a tragedy, such as the shooting in Colorado last night that left 12 people dead and more than fifty wounded, Representative Louie Gohmert from Texas used this opportunity to push his agenda of gun wielding religiosity on everyone by stating that the shootings were a result of “ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs.”
“You know what really gets me, as a Christian, is to see the ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs, and then some senseless crazy act of a derelict takes place,” Gohmert said.
He also questioned why nobody else in the theater had a gun to take down the shooter:
“It does make me wonder, with all those people in the theater, was there nobody that was carrying a gun that could have stopped this guy more quickly?”
He went on to say that “some of us happen to believe that when our founders talked about guarding our virtue and freedom, that that was important. Whether it’s John Adams saying our Constitution was made only for moral and religious people … Ben Franklin, only a virtuous people are capable of freedom, as nations become corrupt and vicious they have more need of masters. We have been at war with the very pillars, the very foundation of this country.”
He concluded that the shooting in Colorado was a “a terrorist act” that could have been avoided if the country placed a higher value on God.
Did I miss something? Was there a part omitted in the Bible that says “And the Christ did whippeth out his gat and did just righteously blow Judas awayeth”?
If a loving, forgiving Christian with a gun would have stood up and blown him away with the all loving god guiding the bullet through his Kevlar, that would have been divine intervention? Really?
Religious people never fail to amaze me with their capacity for unsurpassed, shameless hypocrisy. Especially in this country, I have never encountered such a truly callous group of cowards. In my opinion, evangelical Christians are just about the worst human kind has to offer.
The Founding Fathers did not say that we ought to protect our freedoms as laid out in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence with guns and violence. If they wanted people to walk around armed to the teeth, they didn’t need to write the Constitution of the people, by the people, for the people; they could have just declared martial law.
Secondly, one does not guarantee and secure the kinds of freedoms the Founders talked about with guns and violence. That was the whole point of the revolution and of walking away from the yokes of tyranny and oppression in Europe. America is an idea, a dream, a vision and it never included gun wielding jingoists with nervous trigger fingers running the country.
Moreover, Jesus never advocated violence: he was a peaceful man who believed in forgiveness and turning the other cheek. He did not believe or even preach in walking around with deadly weapons to take down opponents and threats. I am stunned this man claims to be a Christian since there is nothing Christ like in anything he utters.
Finally, does he or anyone really think that if everyone in that dark room had a gun, the outcome would have been better? It would have been a shoot-out of epic proportions with lots of innocents in the cross-fire, and the perpetrator probably would have been missed.
It is also ironic that he would say that more god in everyone’s life would have prevented such a tragedy, generally leading to a peaceful society, when in fact more people have died in the name of religion, with Judeo-Christianity taking a lead, than in the name of any other ideology. From the Crusades, to chasing of “heretics”, witch hunting and burning, religious wars for the past two thousand years, antisemitism, the killing of Native peoples, to various events in the twentieth and twenty first century, including the massacre in Rwanda, the occupation of Palestine, 9/11 and suicide bombers. This is in addition to policies enacted (covert violence as opposed to overt violence) that are informed primarily by religious doctrine, such as halting stem cell research that could save millions of lives, to defunding of Planned Parenthood whose primary work consists of disease prevention and health screenings and not, as the religious Right has been telling, abortion. For Gohmert to say that more god and religion would be better for everyone is beyond ignorant and intellectually comatose.
America: A Culture Obsessed with Violence
The truth is that America has an infatuation, an obsession, a fascination with violence, the culture of violence, the instruments of violence and war; all to to a degree that vastly exceeds that of any other developed country; actually any country. We love executing, we love going to wars, the DOD is overfunded, our gut reaction to any international incidence is bomb them to the ground, ask questions later. That is why on one talks about guns being bad. This is something not even Obama dared to tackle. And why? Because it is off limits, a taboo. God forbid, pun not intended, anyone limits the ability of Americans to own an arsenal of weapons and ammu to defend “freedom.”
Ironically, those Americans who are the most vocal “Christians” are the ones who have the greatest infatuation and obsession with the aforementioned. And Louis Gohmert believes that embracing this American Christian culture of violence worship will prevent massacres like this?
I say, fuck you Representative Gohmert. I’m not a Christian or religious so your comments mean absolutely nothing to me you political hack. Stop trying to profit from this tragedy by once again infesting the public with your backwards religious, “Judeo-Christian” beliefs – which you shouldn’t be doing anyway because your bony, bigot ass is paid for by tax payer dollars.
And for those of you who are unfortunate enough to be religious or Christian, I say: if you believe in a god, know that he’s telling you to stay the hell away from people like Gohmert. He supports guns, guns, and more guns. There is nothing intelligent, divine or Christ-like in what this guy says. He is part of the problem. There always has been and will always be the mentally ill who will murderously go off the deep end with little or no warning. The question is why does this society make it easier for them to accumulate an assault weapon arsenal than to own a car and get a drivers license. If that’s the way we want it, then this is what will, from time to time, happen.
Isolation, Poverty, Disease and Destitution: Native Americans and First Nations in the United States
It is really sad how Native Americans and First Nations are treated in this country. They had a conquering power take away their lands, ravage and decimate their race with disease and sickness, wash their mouths when they spoke their own language through government assimilation programs, forced adoptions, driven off to secluded Reservations in arid lands and now they have become invisible. Course: oblivion.
The Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota – “home” to the Lakota Sioux – displays the kinds of statistics that make you think you are in a nightmare of an impoverished developing country, and not right in the middle of the United States, one of the world’s richest and most developed countries.
The numbers speak for themselves. Pine Ridge Reservation is the poorest county in the United States with an average family income of just $ 3,700 a year. The unemployment rate is at a mind-boggling 80%, alcoholism is at a four time higher rate than the national average; it has also the highest rates of cancer and heart disease as well as diabetes, with almost half the population over the age of forty suffeing from diabetes; infant mortality rate is five time higher than the national average and the average life expectancy for males is 48 and for women 52 years, lowest in the Western Hemisphere other than Haiti.
A staggering forty-nine percent of the residents live below the Federal poverty level according to US census data. Here are some of the truly scary facts about the Pine Ridge Reservation:
• Tuberculosis rate on the Pine Ridge Reservation is approximately 800% higher than the U.S. national average Cervical • Cervical cancer is 500% higher than the U.S. national average
• At least 60% of the homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation are infested with Black Mold Stachybotrys.
•The school drop-out rate is over 70%
• “There is an estimated average of 17 people living in each family home( a home which may have two to three rooms).”
• 39% of homes on the Reservation have no electricity
• There are no public libraries except one at the Oglala Lakota College (in an area the size of Connecticut)
• Alcoholism affects eight out of ten families on the Reservation
These people have nothing: no hope, no prospects, no future. It is like they were thrown away and forgotten.
Everyone is focusing on the genocide committed against Jews or enslavement of Blacks – which are quite valid things to pay attention to – but no one talks about the continued genocide and atrocities, in the form of structural violence, committed against the Lakota in particular and all Native American tribes in general.
The Huffington Post reported that the Navajo have to drive 30 miles to just get internet connection. In fact, less than 10 percent of homes on tribal lands have broadband Internet service — a rate that is lower than in some developing countries. By contrast, more than half of African Americans and Hispanics and about three-fourths of whites have high-speed access at home, according to the Department of Commerce.
Without reliable access to the Internet, many Native Americans find themselves increasingly isolated, missing out on opportunities to secure jobs, gain degrees through online classes, reach health care practitioners, and even preserve native languages and rituals with new applications that exploit the advantages of the web.
Sonny Clark, 59, who lives in the remote Navajo town of Crystal, N.M., must drive five miles up the Chuska Mountains to get a cellphone connection, and 30 miles to Window Rock — where he works for the tribal government — to get online. He goes to these lengths just to stay in touch with his children, who live out of state, trading emails and text messages.
In the case of the Lakota, the government took away the sacred Black Hills from them and carved the faces of a bunch of men in there, honorable men, who nearly annihilated them but in the same breath wrote the Declaration of Independence claiming that “all men are created equal.” Well all, except for the Natives of course and blacks and any other race deemed unworthy.
And now this. Isolation, poverty, disease and destitution. I can see how history has rewarded them.