Discernment

How to judge character in one easy lesson.

The fact that Nicole doesn’t see the difference in these two situations without somebody offering her a lengthy explanation in the rule of law and human society tells me all I need to know.

And this would apply equally as well if the lower photo was of George W. Bush instead of Barack Obama.

She doesn’t already know.  She is in her forties.

I was in my early forties, so I was Nicole’s age, when I began to deconvert from religion.  Nobody could have convinced me of anything at that point.  No amount of pleading, or of explaining, nothing would have made any difference.  Most people, by the time they reach 40, aren’t going to change.

I deconverted because I began to ask the questions and find out the answers.  I did it entirely on my own.

Until and unless she does that, there’s no hope at all.

No wonder she and Joe have problems getting along in society.

0

Lucky

My initial reaction to reading this was “Good golly, is it possible to mangle the English language any more than that?” and “Would somebody please give Joe some tutoring in the use of prepositional phrases?”

My second reaction was “Well, there’s another threat of bodily harm.”  So I’m putting it here because that’s what it is.  A threat to hurt me, physically hurt me.  Joe wants to hurt me physically because I said mean things on the internet.   I’m sure I called him a “pussy” and a “coward” and therefore he is going to kill me.  That’s what deadly force means.

But then I caught the whole “their (sic) fucking lucky” stuff.

And yes, I am fucking lucky.

Out of all the times and places where I could have been born, I was born in the United States in the twentieth century and I was born white (white privilege is morally wrong but it is real).  I was born to parents who had flaws, for sure, but who believed strongly in providing me with a decent home, good nutrition, medical care when necessary and a good education.

I had to pay for my college education myself, but at no point in my early years did I ever once consider not going.  It was unthinkable.  That would have been like thinking that I might not brush my teeth, or that I might rob a bank.

I am lucky because I managed to ditch Boyfriend A and Boyfriend B, be ditched by Boyfriend C, and then hit the jackpot in the marriage lottery.

I am lucky because Dave and I both have enjoyed good health all our lives thus far. Even if we developed some dire problem now, we’ve spent decades as healthy adults.

I am lucky because my husband has a super-strong work ethic, and was reared by a mother who countenanced no nonsense when it came to pulling your own weight.

I am lucky because we have spent 46 (soon to be 47) years as a partnership of equals, one where my desires and goals and dreams have carried just as much weight as his do.

I am lucky because even though we were only able to produce one child, he was a genius.

I am lucky because even though our one child has died, he was our best friend. He loved us enough to want to spend time with us, and he knew that he was loved in return.

I am lucky because Nathan chose his friends well and they have been beyond good to us in the wake of his death.

I am lucky because Dave and I were able to both retire at a young age, and we face our sunset years with a reasonable level of financial security, thanks in part to the US government (Social Security) and the US economy (our own investments).

I am lucky because due to that early retirement, we have been able to travel a lot, not only all over North America, but also to many foreign countries.

I am lucky because even though I was immersed in a lunatic religion as a youngster, I was able to escape.  Not many people are able to do that. Most remain imprisoned for life.

I am lucky because Dave joined me in the escape from religion.  Many people who leave are faced with the loss of their most precious relationships as a result.

I am lucky because when I come up with hair-brained schemes (“let’s move to Alaska” or “let’s buy a small farm with a milk cow” or “let’s go on four cruises back-to-back”), Dave will join in enthusiastically unless I’ve gone completely off the rails (“let’s go to Atlanta and demonstrate and get put in jail” – I didn’t do that one).  And when he has his own plans (“let’s get a new tractor” or “let’s buy a Freightliner to pull our RV”), I’ve embraced those as well.

I am lucky because both Dave and I were encouraged all our lives to do new things, to cut new paths, to gain knowledge and put it to use, and we did just that.

I am lucky because we get to serve the finest cow in North America.

Some of this luck was of our own creation. But a whole lot of it, probably the majority, came about because we were incredibly fortunate and were simply born to the right people at the right place at the right time.

Yes, I am lucky. So are you.  What is sad is to be born with such fabulous advantages and throw them all away because you refuse to work, refuse to learn, refuse to listen to anyone else, and refuse to progress even slightly, and instead spend your entire precious life looking around for somebody to blame for all your own failings.

Not long after Nathan died, Dave and I went to Washington, DC to a convention of atheists. We, again, were incredibly lucky, because four men were in attendance during that week and they would never get the opportunity to engage personally together again.  Called the “Four Horsemen,” they were Dan Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens.

I am lucky because one night there was a cocktail party which included just a few people and Dave and I were in that bunch, which means that we got to meet those four men and have a bit of a conversation with them.

That’s me with Daniel Dennett, who is a very nice guy as well as a very smart one.

Imagine, if you will, the four people on earth who you admire the most, or maybe the four rock bands you adore, or your most loved ball team, and imagine that you get to go meet them personally.  That’s what this was like for me.

I am lucky because during that convention, Richard Dawkins read a much-loved quote from one of his books. I have a copy of the book, and have worn out the page where that quote appears.  The passage gave me comfort in those awful months right after we lost Nate. When Dawkins got up and began to read, I had to put on my sunglasses so people wouldn’t see me crying.

The quote is on the side bar of this blog, but here it is again, because it’s about being lucky.

We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here. We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?

Richard Dawkins, from Unweaving the Rainbow

0