Dr. Forbush Thinks

Look at the world through the eyes of Dr. Forbush. He leads you through politics, religion and science asking questions and attempting to answer them....

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

That Old Time American Principle

Peace Pumpkin

Not to long ago, we were a country that stood on principle. As a nation we were united to fight evil and prevail. We had a nation filled with men who would sacrifice every thing that they knew to win the battle against many forces of evil everywhere. But, it seems that we have lost that Great American Principle.

This was quite apparent last week when the Congress voted to call a genocide a genocide. Maybe we should have done this many years ago, but at least some of our leaders recognized that we could find some common ground and at least agree on something so obvious. Sometimes it takes some time to stand up for something that is so obvious. And, a majority, a large majority of Congress agreed on this matter. Some pain takes a bit longer to figure out and make the appropriate gesture. The Catholic Church only recently acknowledged the evil role that the Church played in both the Spanish Inquisition and the smear of Galileo. These things happened 500 years ago, 400 years more than the Armenian genocide and it was a good thing.

But, unfortunately America has lost its principle. A weak leader like George W Bush is more concerned about Turkey’s reaction to this recognition than he is of the moral principle behind the action. And, George W Bush has claimed to have moral principle. But, like usual, his actions speak louder than words. George W Bush is a man of principle for the new age. That is code for: He is a man of principle as long as it doesn’t interfere with his agenda. There was a time when a leader’s agenda coincided with his principle. But, we are now living in a new age where a personal agenda trumps principle. Oh, please give me back the old days when men lived by principle!

It wasn’t so long ago when we saw minorities being put down, kept from voting and placed away from the central society. But, everyday Americans saw this injustice and drove hundreds of miles to help these people rise up against their oppressors. This was a time when Americans had principles and they knew the difference between right and wrong. They weren’t simply concerned with their personal self interest, but they were concerned with the well-being of fellow Americans across the country. Moral principle was valued then and people took the time and money they had and used it to further the cause of American freedom. This was truly a time when we had American principle.

Injustice wasn’t limited to a single minority in a single region. When these Americans with true moral principle looked around they saw injustice in many places. People saw how large corporations used automation to systematically destroy our country and our planet. They dumped toxins into our lakes, rivers and seas. They pumped disgusting gases into our atmosphere all in the name of production. These corporations argued that they were benefiting the people by producing goods for the people at such a low cost that everyone could have anything that desired. But, the people argued back, “If you don’t have your health, then you don’t have anything.” This was a good old American value that I remember so vividly from the past. There are so few people today that care about health any more!

Today we have to fight a president tooth and nail in order to get health care to our children. Twenty-five percent of the adults in our country can’t afford to take care of simple health needs. And, when something tragic happens to them they go to the emergency rooms of our hospitals where they know that they can not be turned away. As a society we are paying many times what it would cost to take preventative actions before things would get this far out of control. Today we have a President and Vice President that are using all of their energy to save energy companies that want to continue to destroy our environment. The more we damage the environment, then the more it will cost to pay for the health care of the people effected by this. There was a time when Americans would see this tragedy unfold and they would mass in the streets and shout and stamp their feet until our leaders would listen. Or, our leaders would live by principle and feel compelled to pass laws to fix these problems. But, America no longer has these principles and they people no longer feel compelled to do anything but eat, drink, watch TV and play video games. Maybe they fall asleep from time to time, but that is always something that they feel compelled to do.

Somehow we have elected a president that is compelled by “principle” to honor a religious figure in the Dalai Lama in order to defend religious freedom and give the finger to China, but is afraid to acknowledge a hundred year old genocide because he is afraid of what Turkey might do. Since when are Americans compelled by principle to rattle the cage of the worlds most populous country, but they are afraid to stand for principle against a tiny backward third-world country in the Middle East? What happened to true American principle? Why has America become such a frightened little dweeb country? I remember, like it was yesterday, when Americans stood for principle and they weren’t afraid to back down from even nuclear powers like the Soviet Union.

George W Bush once claimed that we were compelled to go into Iraq because of principle. Iraq never provoked us, and that attack had little to do with defending our borders. But, George W Bush told us that Iraq might threaten us in the future and this preemptive strike was some type of time bending defense of that future threat. And, in order to save us from the smoking gun of a mushroom cloud we were justified to attack Iraq and hang their leader. This was considered a matter of moral principle.

Over the past few years Turkey has been attacked by Kurdish rebels living in Iraq. These are real attacks where real Turks have been killed. This isn’t some strange bending of the time line. And, under the American doctrine of defense the United States of America would certainly feel compelled to attack these rebels if they lived on our border. So, Turkey would certainly be justified by American principle to follow the rebels back into Iraq after one of their “night raids.” And, Turkey passed a law condoning just that. Shouldn’t our principled president support such a principled and justified use of force for a real, not imagined, threat? But, our “principled” president condemned Turkey for passing this law. Oh, where have our American principles gone.

Please bring back the days of American principle where Americans stood up to its government when they knew that the government was wrong. Bring back the days when the people felt the American moral principle and acted on it.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Void

What is it that motivates us to live our lives?

Obviously not everyone has the same motivation - or do they?

Some people are determined to become wealthy. Others are driven to learn the secrets of the Universe. Still other travel the world looking for whatever thrills that they can find. The majority of humans, however, are merely driven to survive the trials and tribulations of everyday life.

If we take another step back and ask ourselves once again, what motivates these people to continue their unending drive to do what they do every day we may be surprised by the answer.

By the very nature of being human we have urges, emotions and desires that push us and our species to survive. Hunger pushes us to find food and eat it. The memory of hunger reminds us to store food for the future. Desire of the opposite sex urges us to procreate. Desire of friends and companionship makes a society stronger in order to defend itself against outside forces. The desire for comfort and warmth urges us to build shelters and protect ourselves from diseases and the weather. All of these urges come to all of us and we respond to them in different ways.

For the most part we are mainly concerned with survival. Most of the time most of us through out human history have been so concerned with simple survival that we haven’t really taken the time to ask the question - Why do we need to survive?

In some societies through out human history life has become easier for at least one group of people. When life became easier in Greek society the wealthy citizens of Athens used the surplus “free time” to ask this and many other interesting questions. The citizens of Sparta on the other hand used their free time to train soldiers to protect their way of life. These two major cities of ancient times are symbols for the two different ways to look at life. Sparta didn’t question the motivation of human survival; instead survival was assumed to be an imperative and military protection was the best-known way to achieve this imperative.

The philosophers of Athens asked this question over and over again. They asked the question in different ways. Somehow there is a feeling deep inside all of us telling us that we should survive, but we almost never know a true valid reason why that should be. After all, the meaning of life can not be answered unless we know why we were created. We can’t answer the question of why we were created unless there is a creator and the creator is willing to tell us why we were created. The puzzle goes on and on and it is difficult to find an honest indisputable answer that everyone will agree on.

This, of course, is the place where religion and science part ways. Religion asks us to make some assumptions that there is a God and that God created us. Science instead asks us to be skeptical and continue to ask questions that most likely can never be answered. As human beings the majority of us don’t put all of our eggs in one basket. This means that the majority of us don’t believe in religion to the exclusion of science, and we don’t believe in science to the exclusion of religion. So, most of us are comfortable with the idea that science can not answer questions regarding the purpose or meaning of our lives as individuals or as a society. Some people disregard those types of questions all together, others are happy to accept religious explanations. Either way, we all still have a feeling that what we do with our lives should serve some purpose, even if we don’t really know what that purpose really is. This is because there still is some desire within ourselves pushing us to survive and even thrive. We just don’t really know why.

Now, imagine yourself in the ideal situation. You have been born into a wealthy family and you most certainly will have everything provided for you for your entire life. You were “blessed” with parents that don’t ask anything from you and you are free to do whatever you like without limits. You don’t really need to study or work. You don’t need to think or read or question. You have three meals a day, a warm bed and much much more. So, what is the purpose of your life?

It actually turns out that a person does not need to be infinitely wealthy to experience this awesome freedom. In our American society today there are many people living in these exact conditions. These are not necessarily the wealthy, but the children of regular middle class people. Many of these children grow up with everything that they can imagine, food, a warm bed and a place to call their own. They are not asked to do very much and complain if they ever are. They get almost everything that they want and they sit around bored without anything to do. They watch TV and play video games for hours. Do these kids feel, know or understand the purpose of their lives? But, like all of us they still feel that deep down drive that they have some desire to fill. They just don’t know what it is. This desire is sometime described as an emptiness, a hole or a void. And, as humans we all search to fill that void with the things that we desire in the hope of filling that void.

From human instinct alone we know that we desire things that we are missing. We desire food when we are hungry. We desire water when we are thirsty. And, sometimes we desire these same things to fill that void of missing purpose in our lives. But, sometimes we can be fooled into believing that other things can fill that void. For example, drugs and alcohol may help us forget that desire which reappears when the effects of the drugs wear off. Others sometimes seek love to fill that void. And, in loo of love they find sex and lust instead. The problem is not that these things are evil, but rather the problem is that people don’t know what their purpose is and how to fulfill it.

Here is where religion offers a solution. Any religion will tell you that your purpose is to serve God, Whomever they deem to be that God. And, then the religion will prescribe how their particular God is to be served. The problem is so widespread and universal that is part of every religion. And the need to fill this void is so great that people will do almost anything in an attempt to fill this void. Cult religions thrive on this fact. But, other major religions use this human desire to fulfill the agenda of the religion in question. The question of whether God is truly being served is normally assumed by the majority of those who seek to fill this emptiness. “Love of God” or “Fear of God” are the profound forces used to keep those from questioning in many cases. Whether the religious purpose is the true purpose is not the point, because when a person feels that they are fulfilling a purpose the void becomes occupied and the need to fill it becomes less. Some will argue that only fulfilling your true purpose will fill the void completely, but since no one can truly know what that true purpose is this can only be left as conjecture. Some will argue that only a particular religion can fill the void, but the truth is that there are many very religious people still seeking to fill this void. The only way to truly fill this void is to become confident that you are truly fulfilling your purpose in the best way that you can.

You can acquire this confidence with or without the aid of religion. This confidence takes many forms. To some, it is called faith. This is the faith that you are doing what you need to be doing. But, it is also known a drive and desire. Athletes and Entrepreneurs have drive and desire to do what they do best by following their instincts. Scientists can remain skeptical, but they fill this void by continuously pursuing the questions that they ask. And, those that work to feed to poor and hungry know in their hearts irregardless of religion that they are certainly making the world a better place for the few that they can help. And their work truly fills that void.

The void is a search for purpose. And, as long as we live in an imperfect world there will always be a need. Finding and fulfilling these needs is the universal purpose that we all seek in the long run. We need to prepare ourselves so that when we find our purpose we take that opportunity and make the most of it. And, don’t worry, if you miss an opportunity another one will soon be on its way.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Disheartened but Not Enraged

For more than a year now the people of the United States of America have disapproved of the way that the Bush administration has run the country. The majority of Americans actually finally agreed that they didn’t like what the Bush administration was doing shortly after he was re-elected in November of 2004. The trend in the polls should frighten those of us that believe that Democracy is the will of the people. It was quite clear that Americans rallied around the flag after we were attacked on 9/11/2001. Once again after we sent our military into Iraq to conquer that country the general support for the president rose. But, the background support for the president has declined aside from those two events.

What could this striking data mean about human nature, politics and democracy?

What we should take away from this experience is that people generally don’t understand what they are told by politicians. It really doesn’t matter whether the politician is from the left or from the right, because people don’t understand the big picture.

How could I possibly come to this conclusion?

Well, part of the answer may be found in Paul Krugman’s column this week. Part of the answer may be found in the polling data that I mentioned above. And, part of the answer is found in understanding simple human nature of politics.

So, first of all we have to understand what politics has evolved into in the United States in this century. Currently we have 25% of the American people represented by the Republican Party in that these people believe that the Republican party will make their political dreams come true. Similarly we have 25% of the American people represented by the Democrat Party in that these people believe that the Democrats will make their political dreams come true. The other 50% of the American people don’t really believe that either political party will do much to help them but sometimes they will cling on to an issue that one party or the other party supports or opposes just like they do.

The 50% of the American people in the middle have been turned off to politics in general. They don’t see any hope of any solutions, because they see both political parties as looking past them and not listening to their problems. And, because they have no stake in the outcome of any of these political discussions, they loose hope in the political process. Many of these people don’t vote, or even register to vote. The two political parties are happy that these people don’t vote, because it keeps the balance between the two political parties relatively equal.

Occasionally a politician may become more populist and begin to attract a group of people from the middle 50%. Sometimes this support from the middle is enough to turn an election or two, but for the most part these people see no results from the hopeful candidate, and they drop out of the political process once again. A presidential candidate like Ronald Reagan was able to give hope to some of these people. However, a president like George W Bush easily erases all of those gains as and sometimes more by proving that nothing has changed even with all those nice words being spoken during the election.

But, this middle 50% isn’t the whole story. The extremist 25% on both sides of the political spectrum also play a role. This is because that 25% percent of true believers is not a hard and fast rule. That group can grow when there is hope that a political party can solve problems. But, that number can also shrink when it is certain that the party that simply serves someone else’s interest.

For example, when the Republicans adopted the anti-abortion rhetoric that attracted a huge number of religious extremists that believed that the Republicans could pass a constitutional amendment that would make abortion illegal. But, as it has become clear that the main goal of the Republican party is to make more money for the wealthy many of the religious extremists have begun to give up hope and move back to the middle 50% that don’t believe that politics can solve their problems.

Similar things have happened on the political Left when groups of environmental extremists wanted the Democrats to clean up our planet, but it became clear that most Americans weren’t willing to sacrifice their personal comfort to protect the planet. These people moved back into the middle 50% as they lost hope.

During the Bush administration we have this classic example repeated once again. People believed that the Republican Party could solve their problem after we were attacked on 9/11/2001. Many people from the middle 50% quickly cheered on the administration because they feared that believing that the job could not be done would be too painful. America is the land of denial when fear is at hand. If we believe that it can’t happen, then it won’t happen. Fortunately Americans don’t all live in denial continuously. Gradually Americans look around themselves and the see reality. And, slowly they fall away from the mentality of the herd. And, by the time the 2004 presidential election was upon us the Bush administration had about 50% support compared to the 90% support just after 9/11/2001. There was a small bump in support that only campaigning can do, but for the most part George W Bush’s support was falling, and it continued to fall after the election as well, as Americans pick their heads up and look around them at the problems that the administration caused.

The hardcore supporters of George W Bush has fallen to 17% now, based on the latest Rasmussen Reports poll. This number is lower than the number of conservatives, or people who call themselves conservatives. Obviously a fair number of conservatives have taken to the idea that George W Bush has betrayed the true conservatives. Richard Viguerie is leading this charge with his website ConservativesBetrayed.com. But, on Monday New York Times columnist Paul Krugman pointed out that everything that these conservatives are “shocked” about have there roots in previous conservative rhetoric. Conservatives want and inefficient government that is in debt and inept. After all, this only makes for proving their point that the private sector could do it better. There is no consideration to the fact that poor management can make these things happen at a very rapid pace. Cutting Taxes for the wealthy is what every conservative wants, as well as to use up the Clinton surplus to pay private contractors to fight a war.

The real point here is that Republicans have veiled their true purpose to keep the wealthy in control at all means behind their words of phony conservatism that people like Richard Viguerie believed. The truth is not that Richard Viguerie was betray with his notion of conservatism. It is better understood that George W Bush has done what conservatives before him have done. They speak a good game to get the majority to vote for them, then when they have power they disregard those supporters and they carry out the true agenda. And, they’ll keep doing that until they’re figured out.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Friday, October 05, 2007

Fear Not

In a continued look at values I thought that I might bring up the number one value that separates conservatives from liberals - fear.

Of course, fear is a value that everyone shares. Fear is nature’s effort to make us cautious and prompt us to preserve ourselves. Fear keeps us from jumping off high places and killing ourselves. Fear keeps us from eating poison mushrooms, being bitten by snakes or spiders, or being attacked by bears or lions. But, if we allow fear to take control of our lives we may become frightened to try new products, foods or ideas. And, the over riding tenant of conservative values is to prevent things from changing. The fear of the unknown urges the conservative to stick with what he knows.

On the other hand, progressives seek the new ideas that will make life better. There are risks with new ideas. The progressive is willing to take the risk because he or she has the courage to change. There is comfort in knowing what to expect. There is fear in taking a risk to try something new. But, progress can not be made by doing the same old song and dance.

The funny thing about conservatives is that their common tie is in their fear. But, many conservatives act fearless in order to hide their fear. The high percentage of conservatives in the military is reflected in this fear. Psychologically they choose to face a fear - the ultimate fear - the fear of death. They chose to face this fear in an effort to immunize themselves from all of the other fears they have.

Obviously in reality a person is generally afraid of some things, and not afraid of other things. Most people are not purely conservative or purely progressive. Some people like the way the old ball park was before they built the new one, not because they fear the gods of baseball will make the home team lose, but instead because they were familiar with the old ball park. The new ballpark is an unknown and they fear that they might not be able to find their seats or the concession stand. For the most part, most people end up liking the new ballpark and not worrying about these things.

Conservatives tend to be on the side of issues that they fear will change the status quo. Some people will fear that change for one issue and not fear the change for another issue. But fear itself is the key determining factor as to which side of the issue you fall. If you fear change - then you are on the conservative side of the argument. Of course there are legacy grudge matches that have been lost by conservatives. In these cases the conservatives want the world to revert back to a time before they lost the battle. And, some of these grudges have been held for hundreds of years. But the origin of the argument will be found in fear.

This is why fear always seems to work for the conservatives. Fear is a tool that can be used to rally the troops on the conservative side. Fixing a problem with new ideas takes courage. Fear encourages one to fix a problem with force and violence. It takes courage to talk to the enemy. It only takes fear to rally the people to fight the unknown enemy. Standing up to fear might take bravery, but what you do when you stand up to that fear takes courage.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Thursday, October 04, 2007


Back in May I wrote a bit about values. It’s hard to believe that I wrote it almost five months ago, but I remember it as if I wrote it yesterday. I was thinking about values again recently, I remembered what I had written, and I began to wonder just what values the conservatives treasure when they claim to be about values.

As I pointed out when I first wrote about values, everyone has values. The most selfish value that most everyone has is to value their own life. The truth is that the question isn’t whether someone has values or doesn’t have values. No, everyone has values. The question is the priority of those values. Some people place the value of their own life above anything else. Some people place religion above their own life. Some people place country between the two. No matter what the order of these personal priorities, all people have values. The question is, “what is the priority of those values?”

There is an ideal view of what priorities “a God Fearing American Patriot” should have. But there are quite a few distinctions and intricate details of these “priority of values” when a person begins to think about the details. Does a person need to be religious to be an American Patriot? Should our priority be to put the government above our own life, or is it our country as community that takes this priority? Can one fight for one’s country and still oppose the government that is directing the war?

These questions are asked by many Americans, regardless of political party. Many conservatives desire small government, because they fear a government so strong that it demands a place in the order of values. Some conservatives argue that they want to retain their “right to bear arms” in order to defend themselves against a government that may have acquired too much power. Similarly liberals demand to right to question the decisions made by a government that they disagree with. They want to put their bodies out there on the line to prove to the world that there are people in America that disagree with the idiotic decisions made by an unenlightened government. Both conservatives and liberals should be able to agree that the value of government should not be placed above the value of the country as a collection of its citizens. This is often a difficult concept to understand because the government is often envisioned as the embodiment of its citizens.

But, the value of community should be placed above the value of self. Often a fight to the death is the only protection that a community has for its survival. If the community surrenders to its enemy the citizens may survive, but the community and culture become assimilated into the community and culture of the enemy. Individuals survive, but the culture dies.

For some, community extends to their religious community. In the United States there has always been a gentlemen’s agreement that for the sake of the country as a whole we don’t question the details of a person’s religious life. If the person can function in our society as a whole, then it doesn’t matter what a person believes on a personal level. For our society to function, it is important that personal religious beliefs do not interfere with the total functioning of the society as a whole. For example, a religious belief of killing all non-Christians would not be tolerated by the society as a whole, because this belief would interfere with the functioning of the greater society. So, for the good of the total community it is understood that some religious ideas must not be tolerated by the society as a whole.

Many people will still profess that they value religion above everything - their highest priority value. This works, as long as all of their religious values do not interfere with any other citizens. This value suddenly becomes a problem when a religious person determines that it is his personal priority to impose his personal belief on other members of the community by virtue of religious directive. Now, this wouldn’t be an issue if every religion had the same priorities, or if every citizen were a member of the same religion. But, in reality in a diverse country like the United States of America this is impossible. Therefore, when a group professes that their personal religion is valued as a priority above the nation as a whole, as many religions do, there is bound to be a conflict with the society as a whole at some point. When two different and contrasting religions offer the same prerogative to the point that each religion believes that the survival of the religion is valued above life itself, then the atmosphere is ripe for violence and maybe even war.

The interesting and dangerous truth is that many religious conservatives proudly profess that they value God first, Country second and Family third in their list of values. God’s laws outrank the country’s laws by the nature of this declaration. Unfortunately when two different religions, for example Islamic Fundamentalists and Christian Fundamentalists share these same values, then violence is bound to develop. On the other hand, if community is a shared number one value arguments will still happen, which is natural, but community would be encouraged to circle the wagons and defend itself when a rouge religious element develops. Other religions would be protected if this were the shared value in the community. Unfortunately many people continue to teach their children these dangerous “family values.”


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A Sad Saga

Conflict is ever present throughout the world. Besides the Pax Romana, I don’t believe that there has ever been a period of time when the world was not in conflict. The only reason for this peace, was because the power of Rome was so strong that no one attempted to challenge their control. It wasn’t because everyone liked the rule of law or the fairness of treatment of people through out the world. Often the reasons for conflict are religious, but sometimes people fight over resources and what they believe is their way of life. Often one group has held its opposition under control for so long that they become frustrated and revolt in violence. Sometimes a group sees that the group across the river or mountains has plenty of resources that they feel should rightly be shared. Maintaining a regional euphoric nation of supremacy often tramples on someone else’s vision.

For more than twenty years the government of Sudan waged war and about 2 million people were killed as a result of selfish aggression. More than 4 million people were displaced and moved across the borders into the neighboring countries.

During this conflict one group of boys traveled across Sudan to Ethiopia in order to escape the death and persecution. Nearly all of these boys were orphaned, as their parents had been indiscriminantly killed. The boys needed to learn to fend for themselves and figure out how to survive. The journey continued after they had found their way to refugee camps. International aid groups distributed these boys through out the world; 3800 went to the United States. And their journey continued, because the life of an immigrant to the United States isn’t always milk and honey. In fact, finding jobs proved to be quite difficult.

One of the leaders of these lost boys, Beer Ayuel, did find a job where he could use a rare skill in this country - the ability to speak multiple languages. He took his ability to speak Arabic and applied for a position at L-3 Communications, a New York-based company that provides translators and other services in Iraq. And, 17 days after arriving in Iraq he was killed.

A more complete story can be found here.

After telling my wife this story she had the perfect reply - “Bush is an Idiot!”


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit