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September 2008

Obama vs. McCain

I’m not going to waste my time arguing why every single American ought to be voting for Barack Obama in 2008. I think the choice is so entirely clear that, if America fails to do so, it knows exactly what it is choosing and, therefore, deserves exactly what it would get under John McCain.

There was a time, between the year 2000 and 2005, when I felt it was every thinking-person’s responsibility to fight the propaganda, nationalism, and the big lies put forth by our Corporate-controlled government. In doing so, my hope was that we would one day have a clear choice...a Party and a Presidential Candidate more-or-less funded by the people who would actually bring about the changes so obviously needed (developing alternative energy, ending the Iraq War, paying down the national debt, healthcare for all, improved educational opportunities, etc.). My dream was that, if only there was such a Party, such a politician, and if the media was somehow forced to treat that person in a more-or-less fair way, then the people would see what has been lacking all along and would find it in themselves do the rest – to make the right choice.  

In my wildest dreams, I never imagined we’d be looking at this reality by 2008. Barack Obama is that person and the Democratic Party is becoming that party. What I’m saying is no secret. By now every person in the modern world has had more than enough opportunity to see who Obama is in contrast to John McCain. Furthermore, every American has had 7 years to see exactly what the Republican Party is…to see and feel the direction the world is going under its policies.

If America doesn’t make the right choice this November, there is truly nothing that can be done to help these people. This time I actually believe that they will.

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Why do bad things happen to good people -- a favorite rhetorical question of many. But is there an obvious answer?

To even ask the question assumes some sort of religious worldview because the underlying assumption is that there is a higher power watching over everything we do, say, and think. It assumes that, if we are “good” (if we live in accordance with our faith), we shall not be punished.

The safe, political, and obvious answer is that bad things happen to everyone. But I’m going to go a step further and argue instead that, the more an individual looks to faith, the more bad things happen to that individual. To put a twist on another favorite religious cliché, everything happens for a reason. I mean that literally – there is a good reason why so many bad things happen to “good people”.

The more religious a person becomes, the less he or she relies on the gifts nature has given us to navigate our existence. The extent to which one looks to faith is the extent to which one loses track of logic and common sense. When one spends his or her time attempting to define God, one loses sight of the reality that surrounds us. The extent to which one believes God is controlling our lives is the extent to which one believes we have no control of our own lives.

To rely on faith to navigate the sometimes overwhelming challenges of life is to navigate the highway, on cruise control, with your hands off the wheel…to drive in a way in which you are far more likely to crash.

It is really as simple as this: nature has given us (has evolved in us) an ability to minimize (though certainly not eliminate) negative consequence. The further we develop the potential of our minds, the more we can learn to anticipate the likely consequences of our actions and decisions.  It, therefore, follows that when we further develop our potential as human beings, we are able to make better decisions and avoid more negative consequences.

Religion also tends to make people close-minded and fearful of new ideas and experiences. This leaves the faithful inexperienced and forced to fumble with things which open-minded people are intimately familiar with. It almost goes without saying that, when we are more open to life’s experiences and less fearful of them, we drastically improve our survival skills and; as a result, fewer bad things are likely to happen.

So it's not enough to be a good person.  To avoid bad things happening to us, we need to become more rational, experienced, and intelligent.