Why Knowledge Is NOT Power

Knowledge is Important – and I think we all can agree with that statement.  Recorded history has shown us that our very continued existence as humankind is dependent on the success of gathering and disseminating correct knowledge.

This posting on Knowledge and Power is the first in a series of three I will be posting over the next 10 days.  I will inquire about this issue of knowledge and how it is used in our lives.

I am certain we probably are already aware of what I write – because it is so pervasive.  It is my hope over the next few days I can spark some thought to entice you to embrace possibilities in your life that come from the power in the knowledge you possess.

Let’s face it – everything we know and do is based on the transfer of that knowledge; and we as a human civilization have acknowledged and placed a high value on it.

As our civilizations grew, we became more and more obsessed with knowledge; and as a result, we created and developed systems and processes to maintain the integrity of knowledge.  We were organizing ourselves as societies and we recognized that; so these are some of what we created ways to do:

  • How to develop valuable knowledge,
  • How to validate its authenticity,
  • How we decide on the systems of organizing the information,
  • Ways in which to gather it,
  • The means of transferring the information,
  • The use of that knowledge,
  • and much, much more.

When this happened, we gave birth to the phenomenon of “Knowledge Is Power”.  We created a living social way of dealing with knowledge.  This is where POWER morphed from the “Physical” realm and into the “Intellectual”.

When we understood the incredibly immense power information held,
we then created systems to manipulate that information.

It is in these systems and processes where we need and want to better understand knowledge.  And … it is in these systems where the greatest abuses take place – especially by those who wield the most power.

Why We WANT To Know About Knowledge

 

Knowledge Has Been Bastardized

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER IS INFLUENCE

After the world woke up to how knowledge can be used, the use of knowledge was used and manipulated to focus more on achieving the ends of its intention.  On many occasions, the content of the information wasn’t/isn’t even important – it was the intention.  (I will provide examples below.)

Along the way towards progress over the last 10 or so centuries, we became smarter (and more scared).  A lot of that fear is/was rooted in the “fear of the unknown”.  So, what was the most natural reaction to face that fear: WAR, of course.  Then, as war became less of an annihilating proposition to protect our fear (after all, we are smarter, right?), we slowly began focusing our efforts on the power of information – or knowledge.  Hmmm … mind games were born.

As a result, we invested time looking inward into the human psyche and biological processes (along with art and music and literature) because we started to have more free time to think (rather than react).

AHA ! ! !

The social rules of “democratic” life were then conceived, developed, and directed by leaders who best became experts in understanding the myriad of possibilities in achieving power by using knowledge.  And what happened then:

Those rules favoured their own personal self-interests
(ie: influence) …

… then Laws were created to protect against
those rules and the people who dared to exercise them.

So what we have now is this graceful dance in society where we play the game of knowledge and power.  Those with knowledge become powerful and those without … unfortunately, no so powerful.

Here are some ways in which knowledge is used against us (and we accept it):

The first step in creating POWER from your knowledge:

WE FORM GROUPS

Knowledge is no good to anyone if it is not shared.

This is how power was exercised (and still used) to give leaders their influence.  Within these groups, individuals exercise their influence in their level of affiliation with that group.  We see it in:

  • Associations
  • Agencies
  • Syndicates
  • Unions
  • Teams
  • Schools
  • Governments
  • Media
  • Individual celebrities
  • Corporations
  • Clubs
  • Families
  • Sects
  • Religions
  • Gangs
  • and many other types of groups.

What gives knowledge it’s power in these contexts is in the value we’ve GIVEN these groups (either individually or as a society).  From that high value:

  1. We give them status and credibility.
  2. They exercise their power by having an effect on the actions of others.
  3. It is difficult to remove the group from their status group.

The Group holds the knowledge and decides how much is shared.

Knowledge as Benevolence.

In most instances, there is great value in the inquiry into the issue they are discussing, such as medical associations, or non-profit organizations, or philanthropists, for example.  They draw out the brightest and best to advance the interests and (financial) opportunities of their field of interest and their group.

Knowledge as Influence.

For some, knowledge is used to exercise their influence/power on others.  For these individuals, groups were formed to raise awareness, create social change, entice action, among other activities within change agency.  They draw out the most compassionate and socially respectable who affect the majority of society. Their goals include making concrete differences in life.  Therefore, we see groups such as neighbourhood clubs, athletic groups, and other localized and accessible groups.

Knowledge as Assets.

Still for others, knowledge is just a tool to give people more time or money.  Knowledge is money and it is played in time.  For those who really see life as a game – knowledge is the currency.  Unfortunately, time has shown us where this area has been wildly abused.  As it becomes more available and validated, we have found many instances of abuses by institutions who were held in high esteem and value in their societies and circles.  Examples are found in the number of wrongful convictions discovered (DNA), or with countries trying to institute sedition laws, or when high-security information is leaked publicly about an entrenched group that cannot be denied (Vatican).

As we became accustomed to the whole idea of “knowledge is power”, we’ve mistakenly grown to give knowledge too much credit.  Up until recently, we’ve too easily accepted the standards of the use of knowledge because we never knew the unimaginable amount of information available.

The saddest (and damning) result is that Knowledge
has been blindly accept
ed as a form of Truth by many people.

But now, here in the 21st Century, we are now faced with (probably) the most significant change our civilization will probably ever experience.

The walls of secrecy, information manipulation,
and concentration are coming down.

(We’re just having a hard time right now
because we are in the middle of that destruction!)

 

We’re Using Outdated Rationale and Practices

People are still clinging onto old processes.

What is real information/knowledge and what isn’t real and believable?  The format of information – the digital transformation where it now all begins – has created the convenience of the transfer and manipulation of the knowledge, but we still want to hang onto the HARD COPY necessities of old and outdated practices.  Digital information is still an evolving phenomenon.

We have seen over time that all the greatest advances in the world have taken place when the availability and transfer of knowledge increased.  Look at the changes we’ve experienced such as the invention of writing tools, the printing press, morse code, telephone, television, and radio.

With these advances in society, and because of the acknowledged PRIZED value to society, the creation and transfer of knowledge gave us sets of rules of conduct and systems to manage information and ensure it’s integrity and value.  From these, we got newspapers, books, literature, movies, advertising, won wars, greater health, and so much more to list.

The sources of knowledge also changed.

Where and how knowledge is taken in has been overran by technology changes the information highway.  With the advent of computerization, the changes in securing the integrity of information has not been able stay up to pace with changes in technology.  We are not accustomed to the speed of taking in information as it comes to us today.  The same can be said for access to information; as it globally has never been so widely available before to us.

The Greatest Social Change Ever Experienced Is Upon Us

Today’s technology can be cause for confusion.

Technology can cause greater confusion among the masses because we are faced with thoughts (in the back of our mind) concerning what to read or view.  Is there too much information?  The quick pace of change has been overwhelming, and for half of society (mostly the older half, lol) – too quick.  We have never been exposed to such quick changes – we were brought up to establish habits and routines.

Issues of trust is amplified.

There are many sources of TRUSTED information in many formats from many places.  Skepticism among the general public (50% is under 30 years old) is increased because the established forms and sources of information no longer have their power.  Established media cannot control information any more because they themselves are being overrun by credible competition.

The model for sharing is not just changed – it is transformed!

Whereas, before it was:

  1. information came in,
  2. information-holder decided what was worthy of releasing for public knowledge (for whatever reason – mostly money!),
  3. the information was released (or not) and spurred public discussion, then
  4. they moved onto the next issue/story/problem/upset.

NOW:

The ability for true knowledge-sharing
is taking place
for the first time in civilized society;
AND it’s global.

SECRECY CAN NO LONGER BE ASSURED

 

Information is becoming more segmented and personal.

Where and how knowledge is used is now changing faster and has no current base from which to measure itself successfully without established credible systems and institutions.

  • Over 50% world’s population is under 30
  • Younger people have developed different needs and wants from their information.
  • Individual “Niche Expertise” is becoming the new frontier in information sharing and the systems of knowledge exchange.
  • Young people do not trust established sources of information.
  • Now we have “crowd-sourcing” or “group-think”


As I have noted, Knowledge is NOT Power.  There was a time when it was what made the world go ‘round; but with the events of the last 25 years, this is no longer the case.

In the next posting, I will look at the current struggle for maintaining the status quo, and how it is being feverishly supported and maintained with much at stake.  It proves to be an interesting and eye-opening post.

See you then.

Advertisements

The Subtle Power of Media Abuse?

The media is powerful – you know it – I know it – we all know it.

We know their power is established in doing their work with honesty, integrity, and the highest degree of professionalism.  They’ve fought for the right to hold that esteemed position; and as a result, we (the viewers/readers/listeners) have come to expect the media to live up to their responsibilities that come with being a part of the industry.

Because of the acknowledged MAJOR role media plays in our lives, our societies have developed “checks and balances” consisting of agreements, guidelines, and laws that ensure the media honours the privilege of their position in society.  It gives us, the public peace of mind in believing “Big Brother” is being watched.

Sadly, it appears that over time, the public has come to unrealistically trust and believe the media’s commitment to “the truth”.  Sadder still, recent events in the last few months have had me wonder whether the public has been duped into this false belief.

– – –

Below, I list 4 examples of recent Media releases in the Toronto Canada market (within the last 3 months) that are at the very least, in very bad taste.  When you group the incidents together according to what they do (according to the ELM Test of Integrity), it appears to me to be almost heinous in the powerful abuses they exercise in their actions.

– . –

1 – TSN:  The Sports Network – a national cable sports channel

What happened:

There was a between-period segment where a number of commentators discuss issues and games based on their hockey expertise.  The bit was about supportive relationship between a budding young hockey star and the coach of an NHL team. It was an inspiring and positive report.

After the segment, the hockey panel went on to remark on inappropriate relationships with young athletes.  Because of what the NHL coach said, the panel made an inference of child abuse by an NHL coach by joking and commenting on the coach’s remarks that he had a good relationship with the young hockey star.

They further joked about it and laughed to give the impression that it was acceptable to laugh about child abuse.

Can you see the possible media abuse when I apply the “ELM Test”?

Ethical: They crossed the line when they brought in the issue of inappropriate relationships with young athletes when it wasn’t necessary.

Legal: They may have caused a legal issue by using the NHL coach as the butt of their jokes about having inappropriate relationships with young athletes.

Moral: They minimized the seriousness of the issue of inappropriate relationships with young athletes by making jokes about the issue.

As a victim and survivor of a sports coach abuse when I was a boy, I was very upset with the segment and how it was twisted.  I wrote an email to them (mid-May), but I did not receive a response. I then wrote to another news outlet – they did not respond either.

___

2 – CP24: CityPulse24 – Toronto local 24-hr all-news channel

What happened?

A “breaking-news” story came on the TV about two missing women. As is the standard protocol with news releases by the Toronto Police Service, they included information that could help identify the person that is missing.

The second woman broadcast included a description that seemed a bit odd.  Along with the usual information (height, weight, hair, etc), it included that the person was Persian. I wondered how someone would know how to identify a Persian, and if there was still a country named Persia.

After I did some research, I found out the name of Persia is no longer in use.  I also found out something else that actually scares me:

There was no Toronto Police media report about the missing person.

Actually, the media release didn’t happen until a few days later.

I wrote an email to CP24 asking where they got the reference to Persian, how it was part of the description, and it could be considered racist. They thanked me for my writing to them.

Can you see the possible media abuse when I apply the “ELM Test”?

Ethical: They crossed the line by adding something to the description that was never included in the first place. They manipulated hard news from the police.

Legal: How did they get the information from the Toronto Police Service? The official release wasn’t listed until a few days after the news first broke.

Moral: Was morally wrong to believe they can get away with misinformation.  There was no police report (yet the inference was so), and they intentionally made up information.

___

3 – CTV: CTV News Toronto of national media network

What happened?

There was a new news host on the program this particular evening. He was doing quite well until he got flustered.  When that happened, it only got worse.

After the break, the host introduced the weather person; and unfortunately got her name wrong.  After an embarrassing chatter to recover, the host then went on to compliment her on her beauty and the connection to her work.

The weather person handled it very well, and they moved on.

Can you see the possible media abuse when I apply the “ELM Test”?

Ethical: Is it unethical to use something in poor taste (in this day and age) such as referring to a (co-worker and) woman’s beauty to recover.  What the heck was on his mind – and how did the weather person feel?

I didn’t find any other questions regarding this incident.  I was wondering how they would apologize or even if they felt there was something for which to apologize to the viewers.

___

4 – Toronto Sun: local daily tabloid newspaper

What happened?

I was reading the local newspaper and came across a photograph that didn’t look right. After further research, I noticed the “photograph” (as it was credited) appeared to be manipulated by creating an image from several others.

What caught my interest in this particular issue is that I was under the understanding that publicly published images has certain royalties, required credits, and correct information of the image.  This image was listed as a photograph when it actually was not.

So, if they are willing to take liberties with something as minor as this; how many other instances has there been in the past?  Do they often pass of images as photographs (and thereby deceiving the reading public)?

Can you see the possible media abuse when I apply the “ELM Test”?

Ethical: It appears the image has bee manipulated and has falsely given the reader the impression the image was taken as a complete shot in one take.

Legal: Given the issues with royalties and credits, I have to wonder if the image was created from just his shots or did he use public domain issues?  How can the photographer claim any credit for something that isn’t an actual photograph?

Moral: I don’t know if there is a moral dilemma with this issue other than the photographer’s own feelings.  Knowing that he did not create a photograph and only created an “image”, how does he come to terms with himself with the appearance of a fraud he is perpetrating?

– – –

In all of these incidents (as subtle as they are),

the players are all professionals;

they know the media rules and guidelines;

and yet, it appears they still chose to put their integrity

in jeopardy by not responding when questioned.

Values & Beliefs: The “ELM Test” of Integrity

Our integrity is all we’ve got.  It’s “our word”, a handshake”, a promise”, “showing up”, and many other acts we perform in our daily lives.

Because of this, our personal integrity is what we are measured against – and the most revealing of who we are being in that relationship.

We see it in the stories ordrama of our lives.  The Grey in our black and white world.

***

IntegrityWhenever I consider the actions of myself/others, I have this tendency to measure (judge) the motivations behind those decisions/actions.

Of course, I’m not talking about decisions to do everyday sort of things; rather, I’m talking about decisions/actions that make a relative difference in my life – especially when it comes to business with others.  I’ll explain further as we go along.

So, what is this “ELM Test” and how is it used, you ask?

ELM is an acronym for:

  • Ethical

  • Legal

  • Moral

Ethical:  working in accordance with fulfilling the principles of right or wrong (especially within a profession).

Legal:  a statutory obligation to exercising the principles of right or wrong.

Moral:  an individual conscious decision as a human being to live the principles of right or wrong.

***

The process when I use this is not only for my own behaviours, but also that of others in my ‘official’ or business relationships.

Personal relationships do not usually need the Test because they don’t involve legal or ethical questions, only the question of morality.  Of course, I wouldn’t want to chill with a Ponzi schemer or a wife-beater – that crosses the line for me.

The way in which I use this test is by questioning the motivation or logic behind my (our) decisions before I decide to take action.  By doing so, it keeps my integrity in check and lets me gauge my sincerity behind my actions.  (I am always learning about myself, too!  Ackkkkkkkk!)

.

If I profess to love people,
I better be ‘walking the walk
instead of just ‘talking the talk, right?

.

Now let me digress just a little (my little humanistic caveat).  I am by no means implying that I am this walking edifice of righteous indignation – not like I was 15 years ago when I was the top of my capitalist game.  Heck NO!  I am human too.

Like you, my dear reader, I make mistakes – and some of them intentionally.  That’s what we do sometimes.  Sometimes out of fear, sometimes out of ignorance, and sometimes out of spite.

.

Yup, we are always stretching the boundaries
of our moral compass – right?

And stuff will happen.  But …

***

When I enter a relationship, I feel I have an obligation to follow the ELM Test in order to ensure the best outcomes can be reached.  In other words – to get what I want.  There are many benefits:

  • it maintains a measure of respect and dignity for each other,

  • it allows us to know the boundaries of acceptable decisions/actions, and

  • it fertilizes the trust that is required for each other to be effective in the decisions/actions.

***

Here’s an example of how I recently employed the ELM Test:

I was recently looking for a job, and I wanted to work in a community organization doing outreach and providing support services like resume writing.  I found several opportunities (at least for summer work) that piqued my interest, so I applied.  Most replied and I went on a few interviews.

Keeping in mind that interviews are a good place and time to find out more about the agency as well.  I always want to ensure the agency is a good fit for me as well.  I always come prepared with questions for the interviewer as well as have word prompts to help me remember to make and note specific observations within the agency as it operates day-to-day.

I didn’t get a job.

I guess I could have been a little easier on my judgment of the agencies; yet, I wanted to work somewhere that was actually making some kind of difference.

After employing the ELM Test when deciding on these job opportunities, this is what I saw and determined from one of most obvious failures:

This agency’s main focus is to offer daily meals and snacks to feed the hungry, have a space to drop-in, and have access to free computers and telephone. The typical user is homeless, poor, hungry, speaks another language, men, recently landed, and between 30 and 50 years old.  The programs they offer are creative writing, painting, resume writing, how to find work, and how to write a cover letter to name a few.

FAIL ELM TEST
_______________

They failed their Ethical obligation to know the needs of the services users and offer them the programs and services they need.

To walk into the agency – and even to the untrained eye, it is obvious the service users are not in a position of using the above-mentioned services offered.  Besides language barriers, literacy is an issue.  Many are homeless and less-skilled.  Most were older men.

They failed their Legal obligation to use public funding to provide services according to the requirements from official needs assessments.

To hire staff to fill an agency need for funding does not give us value for the money we invest in human potential.  I witnessed a lot of casual conversations between staff (not with service users – they watch TV – in Spanish).

When the time came to offer the services, an announcement is made, a sheet of paper is checked, and the facilitator then goes back to the conversation at the front desk.

They failed their Moral obligation to reach into the lives of their service users and find out what they need and want to develop themselves as “productive citizens”.

Again, even to the untrained eye, it is obvious they are employed by the agency just to have a job.

.

Granted, government funding makes it impossible to find qualified staff because of funding restrictions; but at least those that do work at the agency must have some sense of compassion, integrity, or desire to help others genuinely in need The staff were just floating around looking busy, but really – they were not accomplishing much more than feeding the neighbourhood.

Given this is their main intention, they would be a better agency that address the main issues that confront the services so they indeed do make a difference – as intended!

Needless to say, I ran away from that agency.

***

I couldn’t honestly work for someone who is just playing the game of life.  I don’t want to just fill a hole – I want to make a difference in my little corner of the world.  From the results of their decisions and the actions the staff were taking, my observations compelled me to make a critical decision from this question:

Do I take the job and try to make changes from the inside,
or do I walk away and pick an issue where
I can invest my time and resources into something
that will actually achieve a difference?

I had to keep my personal goals in the social struggle in perspective – and I had to invest in my emotional balance, so I chose to walk away.

https://i1.wp.com/ezinearticles.com/featured/images/ea_featured_70_3.gif

Updated from 2009

Values & Beliefs: Is there Real Truth?

.

TRUTH!

That elusive amoeba promising something forever out of reach; yet, remains close enough to give us its sister: HOPE!

TRUTH!

This spoken declaration – this pretend game every organized group claims to own and behold.

TRUTH!

Applied in the reality of agreement.  The greater number of those declaring a statement as truth, the greater and more powerful the truth becomes.

TRUTH!

With agreement (and agreement only), comes a unified voice whose only aim is to convince others they own the truth!

TRUTH!

Handcuffs of human conditioning placing our values and beliefs into a negative-based system of “punishment or more punishment”.

TRUTH!

Disempowering when sought in the realm of morality and religiosity – with its rules, crimes, rituals, and exclusivity.

TRUTH!

An elephant in the room of those in a position of power whose responsibility it is to practice and live in the spirit as well as to the letter.

TRUTH!

That soothing and addictive elixir first nurtured at suckling.  We seek it because we were promised it.

TRUTH!

As it is.  It is so.

.

Awareness: TOP 10 Lies We Tell Ourselves

We all know how life is – full of constant changes and challenges, responsibilities, and a faster speed of activities.  And it can be enough to drive us crazy because sometimes we just can’t keep up with it.

.Eventually, we have to choose – to choose if we are just going to throw up our arms and give in to the rats winning the race, or get whatever I can and let others find their own way, or maybe continue working towards fulfilling the urge of our personal essence even if it requires sacrifice?

For a lot of people (given the state of the world today), I think we just end up making excuses for not doing something, or continue to put it off.

Sadly, what is sacrificed first and most often is the very things that would make our life better.  You know, the secret hobbies, the book, song, or community project that you know would be a great contribution not only to yourself (through self-expression), but also to the recipients of your work.

Below is the Top Ten Lies we tell  ourselves and qualify them as legitimate reasons to continue the same old path wish and hope would change.

.

10 – I am going to die someday – way off in the distant future.

Does this gives me excuses to not get started on the things I want to do?

9 – I have total control over my life; and if I don’t, I can.

“I’ve got it all handled.” Hmmmmmm.

.8 – Life is supposed to be fair.

We’re told over and over the opposite. What am I to expect?

7 – Only the strongest or smartest succeed.

Well, I’m neither … so, help me find a rock to crawl under.

6 – Money is the ultimate root of the world’s evil.

… and who wants to be evil, right?

5 – I need money to make money.

If I want to make money, does that mean I am evil?

4 – It only happens to other people.

There are a lot of messed up people out there, right?

3 – It’s someone else’s fault.

They have all the money, looks, strength, and control (and luck).  Don’t they?

2 – I am not worthy (or deserving, or I am bad, etc)

When I was 6, I …

When I was 10, I …

When I was 14, I …

When I was 19, I …

… and on, and on, and on …

……

1 – I’m OK! Really!!!

I’m just having a bad hair day.

(Ya, right!)

.

.

How many of the above lies have You used to not be an expression of yourself?

.

.

Values & Beliefs: How Do We Make Decisions? – pt 1

Have you ever noticed that the longer we travel along this journey called life, there are moments from our past we can now distinguish as significant turning points in the direction our path leads.

.

     In hindsight, I get the sense that we can see crystal clear how such seemingly meaningless events and its ensuing decisions can significantly alter not only our focus, but also the created thoughts and meanings otherwise leading to different possible life-altering actions and results.

***

Except for the time I heard the Backstreet Boys’ angelic voices when I was rushed to ICU for my heart surgery, no trumpets or violins are heard to tempt the moment, no kind of aural sign to put the instant in perspective – just a somewhat nondescript decision to do ‘this’ instead of ‘that’. Those quiet moments, without fanfare or forewarning. Yet, as we become aware of those defining moments; we etch them in our mind for future references. (This is where my “Meaning-Making Machine” takes over.)

.

We generally tend not to give much thought to our many decisions we make, don’t you think? And here’s where I think we get ourselves into trouble – not always a bad trouble, but a trouble none the less.

.

So, now I am faced with a lot of questions that may challenge my current value/belief system I hold so dearly and strongly to my heart. Some things I now pose is:

1.   What does this say about fate or destiny? Does it negate these?
2.   Is there anything we can do about it?
3.   Can we benefit from knowing about this?
4.   So what?

In this post, I first want to look at the “so what” because it may help me/us understand the answers to the others.

***

We make thousands of decisions a day – from deciding to turn left or right at a corner to deciding whether to pee now or hold it for later. For the most part, these are small decisions that make little or no difference in our everyday efforts.

Still, these decisions are based on our priority goal of that moment.

So, sometimes subconsciously through habit of pre-defined thought and action, or trust, or because you are fulfilling your goal, we decide which way to turn on the street because you have to buy something before you can get home to pee.

Therefore, we decide to hold our bladder. You see, quite trivial and seemingly meaningless (sounds funny, huh?); yet they are based on what and how we make all of our decisions. Yes – the small ones and the BIG ONES!

If we consider that we don’t pay attention (having awareness) to own decision-making process, we can lose the power to make better and healthier decisions, and then miss out on making those decisions that further our life in a positive way.

To be continued …

.

.

Values & Beliefs: Humanism As A Religion?

I read an article on the American Humanist Association blog “Brainstormin” about God coming to Earth and finally showing himself to humankind.

I was really confused how the conversation centred around
how atheists and believers (religious people) would have quite a go.

I didn’t quite understand all the rukus about someone else’s beliefs – especially since we Humanists tend to not bother with those kind of problems and just love people regardless.  Anyway, the following is my response to the article (and some other people’s comments):

.

As a recent self-discovered Humanist, I am confused.  I am (and always have forever been) a lover of people – regardless of who they are.  I almost get a sense there is a bigger question (with very interesting answers) this article brings that may need to be addressed – if we truly are Humanists.

Keep in mind that, as mentioned, I recently discovered my philosophical leanings towards Humanism; so I may raise a very basic ‘tenet’ of Humanism. For the past 30 years, I had always considered myself exclusively an Existentialist (without knowing it) operating in the world as a lapsed Catholic using all the good parts of Christianity without believing the magic.  I have worked in several industries, including government and the military; and I always found myself coming back to social and human services.

***

My most recent college studies as a community developer, I found Humanism; and I realized I had a philosophy with which I could identify and consider part of my ‘belief system’.  And what made Humanism even better was the implicit understanding that we love and believe in each other as human beings – regardless of our personal foibles, problems, and ways of expressing ourselves.

The more I am cognitively aware of my Humanistic practices in my everyday doings and beings, the more I realize how difficult it is to live the philosophy.  I sometimes have a private chuckle to myself when I make the comparison between Christianity and Humanism in my daily activities.  When I am doing something easy (such as being friendly to someone I want to speak with), I congratulate myself for my Humanism and openness with others.  When it is a difficult decision (such as choosing not to speak with someone because they have a shady past), I catalogue it under my former Christianity because I could easily excuse it for some kind of reason – any reason that sounds plausible intellectually.

Yet, in my Humanism, I feel empty.

          I have come to understand that as a Humanist, we love people.  Regardless of ugliness of humanity we are fed every day (media, entertainment, etc) and conditioned to accept as the default behaviour of people as a whole, I always thought we moved beyond the noise of civilization and stayed focused on what mattered – people and life and living and loving – without conditions.

So please forgive my ignorance for the following questions:

Why are we concerned with “what” others believe in?

Wouldn’t it be more fruitful and in line with our Humanism to try and understand what it is about the magic of religion that have them believe in the unbelievable?

When I think about the above scenario, my first thought is “so what?”.  I am not going to go gaga over a spiritual being who has a reputation of being all powerful and loving yet lets the world go to hell.  If anything, I would question his motives.  My second thought would be to try and figure out how to persuade him/her (if in human form) to cure the human physical illnesses of the world as the first priority.  The pain and suffering of cancers, etc are truly ‘ungod-like’ and sinister.

The next, and most important thought I would have, is to be in dialogue with God to have her/him convince the world of how organized religion has ruined his/her intentions in giving us this ‘love moral’.  The God would convince the world that S/he is actually a Humanist and used that philosophy as the blueprint and purpose of all Humanity from the outset

S/he would have to convince the world that when religion became organized (because the founding leaders discovered the power of belief), it became bastardized.  As soon as the human frailty, paternalism, and powerlessness emerging civilizations got added, the goals and results of their teachings became part of the problem of civilization – not the solution.  Hence, we have different religions that all purport to have the answers with ‘their’ solutions.  Sad, isn’t it?

As I said above, religion IS a Humanism.

Only when it is used as a religious practice does it become skewed because it takes the focus away from loving and praising all there is that another human can offer to focusing on worshipping ancient objects and metaphors that were meant for teaching purposes only.

I stay away from religion as a belief system, but it doesn’t mean I stay away from the people who worship Gods.  Heck, I sing in a church choir (and not even from the denomination of my past) for the sole purpose of singing. I don’t participate in the service.  I just love singing.  I like the people because they love singing too.

To end this diatribe, I would ask this:

As Humanists, can we forget about the noise of what people are doing and just love them?

Can we get beyond dealing with the results of actions and focus on the causes?