Friday, January 29, 2021

American Christians Are NOT Being Persecuted

It always amuses me when many of my Christian friends who live in America, claim that Christianity is being persecuted in the U.S. just because... insert some weird reason here. Most of those reasons are the the opposite of persecution after just a simple examination, usually pointing in their direction as the persecuting force. The best example is the annual "War on Christmas" that erupts with a predictable regularity as we all start putting away Halloween decorations.

So, I was very happy to find this short and concise guide to non-persecution of Christians in America that can be used by anyone who finds himself or herself trying to argue with someone religiously persecuted:

11 Things American Conservatives Must Stop Claiming As Persecution

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

How Grand Conspiracies Threaten Everything

It's no secret that I try to follow skeptical way of thinking in my own endeavors on line and in real life. Given the amount of misinformation and fake news (real fake news) that is bombarding our consciousness  daily from all the feeds in social media, the ability to filter out that junk and try to stay sane and reasonable is extremely important.

Last year and the COVID-19 pandemic have just added to the insane amount of pure crap that can be fed to us every day, mostly from our own friends sharing weird, unverified, untrue and plain stupid stories. It also gave us a unique insight into their minds and ow easily some of them departed reality to land in the world of conspiracies and un-reality.

We all have also seen that this kind of mindset can have profound impacts on our politics (democracy even), daily lives and health. In the world full of reality and rational thinking, the pandemic would most likely be much less deadly and the politics much less stressful and hateful. Instead, we have the world where many deny the most basic facts, promote the weirdest ideas and theories, and are ready to underwrite tyrants and dictators, just to ensure their pet theory is vindicated.

This great article from Science-Based Medicine Blog underscores the issue above when it comes to the link between conspiratory thinking and medicine that we all desperately need to be well grounded in reality:

The Threat of Conspiracy Thinking to SBM

There is also a more focused article on vaccines on the same blog:

All science denial is a form of conspiracy theory

My own experience of the last year (I know, it's just an anecdote, not real data) agrees 100% with the articles above. Those in my small circle of friends (on line and off) that have been engaged for years in science denial on much smaller scale by fighting flu vaccines, selling weird and unproven remedies through various pyramid schemes and generally disagreeing with scientific knowledge, abandoned the world of reality this year. They joined hateful opposition to mask usage, denied the whole pandemic completely and then drifted full force into Q-Anon conspiracy, expressing more and more hateful views on line and in real life. Their complete lack of boundaries and readiness to attack even their close friends just for pointing out easily verifiable facts have proven to me how dangerous those conspiracy theories are. They can't be dismissed as "harmless" on line hobbies anymore and their main source - social media - must be held accountable.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

New Hope

Today is a good day for America. Not a miracle - those do not happen in politics - but still a good day, when a populist and an authoritarian, with no morals and ethical standing is finally replaced by a person with a long history of empathy, positive changes and ethical way of life.

As I said, I do not expect miracles. Ultimately we are responsible for our lives and, collectively, for where this country is heading, but there is hope in respect of science, critical thinking and morals exhibited by the incoming administration. There is hope in glass ceilings being broken today, there is hope in diversity of the new  cabinet and there is hope that we'll live with truth and not a never ending stream of lies we've gotten in the last four years.

Truth matters, science matters, rational thinking matters, education matters, facts matter.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

America Assaulted

With a shock and disbelief I watched the events from Washington D.C. that were unfolding on January 6th 2021. I was shocked because I came to this country more than 30 years ago, believing that this was the "perfect union", open to people of all origins, races and beliefs. I came with my own set of prejudices that were quickly challenged by the diverse interactions of New York City, and later by the experience of moving to Florida.

In 2008 I watched with hope and pride when the first African-American president was elected, hoping that one of the last  barriers was broken. It was disturbing and disheartening to see the exploding racism, hate, xenophobia and homophobia of the following years, which culminated in the four years of Trump's presidency. I saw close friends falling into the abyss of that hate, becoming openly racist, denying others the same rights and privileges that they enjoy every day.

Yesterday was the culmination of this process: hate was on full display, hate for anything different, unfamiliar...

One of the most striking images from the events of the last day was this picture from the Capitol:

Notice the shirt!!!

I visited Auschwitz twice in my teenage years, both times being completely devastated. The experience of seeing what mankind is capable of in the name of ideology is lasting and hard to overcome. And yet, this is the image from the US Capitol, a glorification of one the most disturbing and heinous crimes against humanity in our history. This is not someone deep in the woods, living the life of hate: this is someone surrounded by others in the moment. This is someone whose actions are being whitewashed by politicians and Trump supporters on  line and in real life even after the desecration of democracy we have all witnessed yesterday. I fear more dark days like that in the future. They will be with us until we are all unified in condemning not only separate acts of violence like the one we witnessed yesterday, but the entire culture of hate, racism, homophobia and xenophobia that still exists all around us.

Finally, I would like to end this rant with the words from a friend. He posted it on Facebook as a reaction to what had happened yesterday. As much as I can try to understand minority experiences in this country, I realize that I come from a privileged background (white male) and it will never be possible for me to see all the large and small injustices faced daily by those communities. His words speak to me and give me pause to make another small step to a better and more just world:

I watched many people condemn Kap kneeling and BLM protests over the summer but they had nothing to say yesterday... I watched folks cry that their freedom was taken away because they had to wear a mask. Yesterday you got to see first hand what your privilege looks like, and unsurprisingly you’re still in denial If you believe protesting police brutality is the same as an attempted coup, that is encouraged by the president.... you’re part of the problem If you see folks stating this was ANTIFA dressed up as Trump supporters (when trump encouraged this) and you don’t refute, you’re part of the problem Yesterday was exactly what Trump meant when he said “stand back and stand by”, but you still voted for him... you’re to blame for yesterday (miss me with economic reasons because folks used that in the 1860s as well) Brown / black folks would have been mowed down the minute they stepped foot on the Capitol steps.. Trump supporters talking about they’re tired of double standards! 😂 My parents had to eat at segregated restaurants and my dad was called boy even when he was serving in the USMC. You do not know what double standards are!! And yes you’re part of the problem Yesterday wasn’t surprising ... Trump’s political career kicked off by questioning the citizenship of Obama, yet you were ok with it.... You are part of the problem We are tired of this BS!!! If you want America to heal she needs to acknowledge her original sins and so do you!! This is what’s stoking all the fear and hate

Well said!!!