The Price to Pay for Paying Attention

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10408398.2020.1741505

While this research posits that abstaining from meat can be detrimental to your mental health, there is mention of factors that can muddy that a bit. Keep in mind this publication deals in research before published peer review.

Perhaps it is the ever present mental and physical stress of our ‘profit over people’ system. The mental issues they blame on lack of meat may have been there already and were the source of the change in diet. Might just be the result of a reality based outlook. The anxiety of being overtly aware of the plight of most people on the planet. Those with severe enough cases have a strong impulse to actually do something about it. Some just live with, either not knowing what to do or figure it is the price of being a normal caring person in our current self destructive world.

Many people choose to eat substantially less animal products because of negative factors associated with meat as part of the ‘normal American diet’. Might be the massive animal harvesting industry and environmental factors associated with it. Might be the death and cruelty. Maybe it’s the reality that most meat, food in general for that matter, available today is not produced in a sustainable and healthy way and does not contribute to good health. Much of this death and destruction ends up in the dumpster behind your favorite junk food eatery. Or absorbed into a market that produces far more food than is needed.

Whatever it is, some people are just naturally aware everyday of the depressing, joy killing, and otherwise soul crushing reality of the way our society operates. In a big way indicated by its continuing tacit approval of the continuing destruction of the planet we need to survive.

Much the same, I think, as the idea that those that don’t believe in god(s) are not as happy as those that do. Maybe non-believers just see a natural world where we have the ability to create a well adjusted highly functional society and it has nothing to do with the supernatural. It is up to us. There is no reason to think we will be rescued by some benevolent species that takes pity on our stupidity. Likely just the opposite, I afraid. It is a reality that can certainly effect your mental state everyday, like it or not, know it or not.

There is a mental and emotional price to pay for keeping honest reality in the forefront, in order to fight for a better world.

Just some thoughts.

American Greatness – Think Again.

A wake-up slap to those that think this country is, or was, anywhere near as great as we are led to believe, by the largest and most well funded propaganda machine on the planet, the U.S. Government, and their enablers.

I still hold hope that we can make even small strides forward despite the power and money amassed against us, but not betting anything on it. To be fair, we are certainly not the only player. We have, however, had more than sufficient opportunity to set humanity on a course that we could be proud to pass to the next generation.

We have the power, wealth, and talent to move in a positive direction. Yet, we have chosen to divide our world into the powerful and the powerless. While the talent that is required to accomplish such a feat is awe inspiring, it’s certainly disheartening. Allow those at top to get more and more, and those at the bottom to get less and less, while keeping those in the middle occupied by consumerism and irrelevant battles, as they choose ( subconsciously or otherwise ) which side they are on. While disaster capitalism and greed ( if they can be separated ) are international, this country has been a prime mover of so many negative actions over the last 200 years. Actions to slow progress and hasten a future that most would not look forward to, even if they had the will to speculate that far ahead. There is little evidence that we are getting smarter in ways that would allow us to make a more peaceful and sustainable world. Unfortunately, evidence for the opposite is in great abundance.

I would advise small doses of the videos below, as they may be counter to what you are being fed by our leadership, those that speak for them, and those that may have a selective and skewed outlook on what being a great country entails. Yes, they are depressing. Just not as depressing as letting the destructive ideas continue unabated.

The first by Chris Hedges warns that we are not only killing each other in the short term and killing our system, but also have set in motion our eventual destruction by killing our habitat. The second one by Aron Ra adds that we are indeed killing our liberty based society by what we allow our leadership to do in our name. The third, from Atheist Edge, how unlikely it is that god(s) will save us, based on past performance. Have a good cry, then stop participating in the destruction.

Sorry To Hear About Your Religious Symbols

I don’t think religions are going to appreciate having these symbols relegated to historical status.

Sympathies go out to religious people I know, since the Supreme Court ( SCOTUS ) determined the Christian Cross and the phrase ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’ to be secular symbols. In the case of IN GOD WE TRUST and UNDER GOD in the Pledge, “lost through rote repetition any significant religious content.”. An interesting read from a past SCOTUS Case. Establishment Clause cases are complicated, that’s why they make it to the top of our justice system on a regular basis. It is a gamble to force the government to choose between religion and the Constitution. While it may look like they favored religion, by allowing once religious symbols like the Christian Cross and the phrase ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’ to be put on public property, I don’t think religions are going to appreciate having these symbols relegated to historical status. While it is likely that some will be delighted with the additional public exposure, regardless of the cost, I think Religion will realize what a bad deal they got.

The court could have directly upheld the Constitution and recognized the symbols as substantially religious, and erected with the purpose of promoting a specific brand of religion. I suppose in a way, they did uphold the Constitution. They declared the symbols secular, so the issue of religious entanglement was moot. Dilemma solved.

It’s not all bad though. By deeming the symbol and phrase as secular, they helped to maintain the padding around the Constitutional line between religion and government. That means religious institutions can continue to get away with things like not having to report financial information to the IRS and reduced ( if any ) taxes on billions of dollars worth of church property. Well, not bad for Religion, the rest of us have to make up the tax shortfall. This is also briefly addressed in the link above. Like I said, complicated.

If Religion does not want to see its symbols and phrases treated in such a fashion, they could take the bold step of removing these symbols from spaces paid for with public money, in order to preserve whatever meaning they had before the Government was invited in for its 2 cents. There are countless private spaces for these symbols to occupy, in order to preserve their integrity. Or they could leave them up as a public secular symbol of a bygone era. I would advise the former. Either way, Religious symbols no longer on property paid for by all taxpayers.

Sorry for your loss, Religion. But, it is the government, what were you thinking?

John McClean

Midlothian Freethought

Another Midlothian Mirror LTE Rejected. (201909)

I submitted another ‘Letter To The Editor’ (LTE) to The Midlothian Mirror at the first of September. While the person I sent it to did respond thanking me for the submission, I have yet to see it appear in print or on the website. That person did not respond to my email inquiry to find out if it had been published.

My expectations were pretty low that it would see the light of day, but I wanted to give it a chance. The latest ‘Letters’ on the website ( that I could see) were from the first of this year. The print edition usually does not contain local LTE’s even though we live in a community that does not mind speaking up and the paper actively seeks submissions ( via a PO Box – how quaint ). What does appear in the print edition looks to be purchased from one of the news services. Only guessing either there is a shortage of local letters to publish or the letters that do come in are not published because of subject matter. It must be so bad that they fill the space from other papers. The last 2 weeks must have been especially bad, since the print edition from Oct 3rd and Oct 11th have the exact same letters printed from out-of-town sources. I am reminded why I only buy a few issues a year.

I can only guess that while they actively seek LTE’s, they censor what to accept to the extent that most people don’t qualify. Wonder what news we are missing, that may pull too many people out of their comfort zone?

Anyway, here is the apparently rejected letter.

Courage Comes In Many Forms

Reprint of a L.T.E. from 2005, response to those that felt pride in pushing their religion on a captive audience.

I can understand the pride that Elaine Davidson felt for the “booming voice that led the class in prayer” during the graduation ceremony (Opinion – Midlothian Mirror 8/31/05). It takes courage to stand up for ones principles. It also took courage to stand up to the majority with the American ideal that we respect others beliefs, don’t push our religion on a trapped audience, and reject the notion that ‘might makes right’. This event should have been an all-inclusive celebration of 12+ years of hard work and a moment to remember for everyone. Unfortunately many were made to feel excluded. This country is not about majority rule and I hope it never gets to that point. I feel pride for those that took the real risk and stood up against the majority for a principle as old as America. Courage does indeed come in many forms.

John McClean

Midlothian

Public School and Creation Museum

I may submit a ‘Letter to The Editor’ to Midlothian Mirror when I want to spend more time on their website looking for the place to post it. I suspect it is easier to find in the print edition. The original blurb is from, what looks to be, an outside news service. It was about FFRF sending letters to public school districts warning them of the unconstitutional nature of official trips to ‘Creation Museum’ and Ark Encounters’. In response, the ‘Parks’ are offering free admission to official school trips.

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Thanks go out to Freedom From Religion Foundation ( FFRF ) for reminding Public Schools that school sponsored trips to religious theme parks are not Constitutional, free admission or otherwise. ( Midlothian Mirror 2019-02-07 Faith Section ).

While a trip to the attractions mentioned ( ‘Ark Encounters’ and ‘Creation Museum’ ) could certainly be used as a learning process, we should leave that choice, and cost, up to the guardians of the individual student. Public School money should not be spent indoctrinating children to religion.

We could save a trip and have an open discussion about how likely or unlikely these exhibits are to depict actual events. We could openly and honestly debate which laws of nature would need to be overturned in order for the events depicted in the exhibit to actually be real. A forum where students are allowed to question those things that don’t make sense. That would be educational. Unfortunately I doubt an honest and open discussion is the intention of these particular attractions. Another reason not to use public money, there is little reason to think that either of these exhibits depict anything that is actually true.

John McClean

Midlothian Freethought.

Neutrality, Our Government and Religion

“Nothing stands behind the Court’s assertion that governmental affirmation of the society’s belief in God is unconstitutional except the Court’s own say-so, citing as support only the unsubstantiated say-so of earlier Courts going back no further than the mid-20th century,” Scalia wrote.”

What the courts have said, and yes their ‘say-so’ actually has weight of law, is that the government cannot show favoritism toward one religion, or another, or no religion, unless it passes certain tests, usually requiring some secular purpose. I suspect the justices would argue the accusation of ‘unsubstantiated’. Interpreted from the Constitution and quite substantial in its own right.

Justices can and have been on the wrong side of issues many times, that is the nature of interpreting founding documents when the founders are all gone. Times change, and it is up to them to decide what stays and what leaves.

The phrase “respecting an establishment of religion” is not so clear cut that it only comes into play if the government wants to actually create ( or sanction ) a national religion. In which one particular belief system is ok and the rest are second class, or worse. It has been interpreted to mean that the government cannot support or favor any particular belief system, it must remain neutral in those matters. It cannot promote or hinder the individual with respect to religion or lack of religion. The courts have the job of deciding what that neutrality should look like. The common sense answer would be to not support, either with money or power, any particular belief system. Neutrality. No religious symbols on public property, no religious reference on the money, no tax dollars supporting religion, no special privileges or tax breaks for religion, and certainly no religious coercion of children in publicly financed schools. I suspect if the public schools were to offer a true objective course on comparative religion, it could do so. I also suspect it would be the last thing the dominant religion(s) in this country would want. Talk about a generation of freethinkers.

Families are free to exercise their belief system at whatever institution they wish, teach their kids, give their money and time, etc. But the government should stay neutral. That is to avoid ‘respecting the establishment of religion’.

“Historical practices thus demonstrate that there is a distance between the acknowledgment of a single Creator and the establishment of a religion,” Scalia wrote in McCreary. “Publicly honoring the Ten Commandments is thus indistinguishable, insofar as discriminating against other religions is concerned, from publicly honoring God. Both practices are recognized across such a broad and diverse range of the population — from Christians to Muslims — that they cannot be reasonably understood as a government endorsement of a particular religious viewpoint.”

Justice Scalia may be right with respect to most religious observances in this country, but publicly honoring God and The Ten Commandments ( surely he can’t say that with a straight face ) only applies to the majority and that is exactly what the Constitution was trying to avoid, the majority deciding what religion is acceptable. He only reinforces the reason why the government must remain neutral. The Justice may have unwittingly became the poster child for the principle he was trying to refute.

And given the Establishment Clause is followed directly by the Free Exercise Clause (“or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”), one might also infer that the Founders felt that the ability to exercise one’s religion freely is a fundamental natural right. If that is the case, when it comes down to disputes over public displays of religion, it seems that the FFRF are the only party in these disputes actually threatening anyone’s constitutional rights.

Just the opposite, organizations like FFRF are working to make sure everyone, non-religious and religious, can practice their beliefs freely without government coercion.

The notion that the Constitution guarantees “separation of church and state” is an insidious myth, employed by militant atheists to keep Christian communities and individuals from celebrating their faith publicly.

The myth here is that this concept is to keep anyone from practicing their beliefs. Rather it is to keep that freedom safe. Perhaps a little reading on the works of Thomas Jefferson and others on their interpretation of the establishment clause. An ideal to keep everyone safe from the dominant religion using the government as a sponsor. Neutrality, plain and simple.