Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

The True Meaning of Freedom

February 11, 2018

Ask most Americans what they like most about the United States and they’re likely to say it’s a free country. But some people regard freedom from a personal perspective; they are blind to the freedoms of other people. The most blatant example of this is slavery, which lasted way too long. But diversity is also important, and the United States is a diverse country. And too many people are either blind, callous, or self-righteous when they trample on the freedom of other people.

Prohibiting abortion is perhaps the most blatant example of the disregard for the beliefs of others. As was mentioned in previous healthy memory blog posts, unloved children impose costs on society besides the personal costs of being forcefully brought into this world unloved. It seems that a major activity in which some religions engage in is being judgmental. Google “Judge not that ye be not judged,” and you’ll find citations from the bible. You’ll also find different interpretations from ministers and religious scholars to justify their being judgmental. Some will express alarm at the Islamic concept of sharia. They would likely argue that here there should be a separation of church and state, but some influenced parishioners to vote for Trump so he would appoint Supreme Court justices that would overturn Roe v. Wade making getting abortions more difficult. This is hypocritical, Churches are exempt from taxation, but is this proper when they do engage in political activities? These same churches exert pressure on congress to preclude birth control support to poor countries where a primary problem is overpopulation. These religions exacerbate problems and create unnecessary pain and suffering.

Consider what Dr. Frances writes on this topic in “Twilight of American Sanity: A Psychiatrist Analyzes the Age of Trump” :
“Jesus was one of history’s most forgiving people—but he could not tolerate religious hypocrisy. Here is a sampler from his many denunciations: “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites.” “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” “You hypocrites! These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” Jesus could accept abortion and he could accept homosexuality, but he could not accept the hypocrisy and lack of charity so baldly displayed by the radical religious right. Faced with Jerusalem versions of Trump, Jesus unceremoniously kicked them out of the temple. He declared that “passage to heaven would be as difficult for a rich man as a camel going through the eye of a needle.”

It is informative to contrast the two political conventions. The Democratic convention had themes of love, diversity, and helping people. The Republican Convention featured fear, hate, and the admiration of Trump. Apparently the majority of Evangelicals attended the Republican convention, and apparently they voted heavily for Trump.

So Americans need to remember that freedom is wonderful, but an important part of one’s personal freedom is the respecting of the freedom of fellow citizens. On both a personal and national level, being judgmental is bad.

© Douglas Griffith and, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Thinking About Politics

July 11, 2017

This is the ninth post in the series The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone (Unabridged), written by Steven Sloman and Phillip Fernbach. Thinking About Politics is a chapter in this book.

HM remembers when the Affordable Care Act was being debated, a woman was asked what she thought about it. She remarked that she was strongly in favor of it. However, when she was asked about Obamacare, she said that she was strongly against it. Such is the state of politics in the United States. A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation in April 2013, found that more than 40% of Americans were not even aware that the Affordable Care Act was Law (12% thought it had been repealed by Congress—it hadn’t.)

Drs. Sloman and Fernbach write that public opinion is more extreme than people’s understanding justifies. Americans who most strongly justified military intervention in the Ukraine in 2014 were the ones least able to identify Ukraine’s location on a map. A survey out of Oklahoma State University’s Department of Agricultural Economics asked consumers whether the labeling of foods produced with genetic engineering should be mandatory. 80% of the respondents thought that it should. But 80% also approved of a law stating that there should be mandatory labels on foods containing DNA. They believe that people have the right to know if their food has DNA. So these respondents thought that all meats, vegetables, and grains should be labeled “BEWARE HAS DNA.” But we would all die if we avoided foods that contain DNA.

We all need to appreciate how little we understand. The authors write, “Taken to its extreme, the failure to appreciate how little we understand combined with community support, can ignite really dangerous mechanisms. You don’t have to know much history to know how societies can become caldrons in an attempt to create a uniform ideology, boiling away independent thinking and political opposition through propaganda and terror. Socrates died because of a desire for ancient Athenians to rid themselves of contaminated thinking. So did Jesus at the hands of the Romans. This is why the first crusades were launched to free Jerusalem of the infidel, and why the Spanish Inquisition drove Jews and Muslims to convert to Christianity or leave Spain between 1492 and 1501. The twentieth century was shaped by the demons of ideological purity, from Stalin’s purges, executions, and mass killings to Mao’s Great Leap Forward: the herding of millions of people into agricultural communes and industrial working groups, with the result than many starved. And we haven’t even mentioned the incarcerations and death camps of Nazi Germany.”

The authors write, “Proponents of political positions often cast policies that most people see as consequentialist in values-based terms in order to hide their ignorance, prevent moderation of opinion, and block compromise. They note the health care debate as a perfect example of this. Most people just want the best health care for the most people at the most affordable price. This is what the national conversation should be about how to achieve this. But this might be technical and boring. So politicians and interest groups make it about sacred values. One side asks whether the government should be making decisions about our health care, focusing the audience on the importance of limited government. The other side asks whether everybody in the country deserves decent health care, focusing on the value of generosity and preventing harm to others. The authors say that both sides are missing the point. All of us should have similar values: we want to be healthy, we want others to be healthy, and we want doctors and other medical professionals to be compensated, but we don’t want to pay too much. The health care debate should not be about basic values, because in most people’s minds basic values are not the issue. The issue is the best way to achieve the best outcomes.

Ideologies and ideologues are the bane of effective government. They constrain alternatives and blind us to obvious solutions. As mentioned in the second post in this series, other advanced countries have effectively addressed the problem of healthy care with a single payer system in which that single payer is the government. There are already proven examples from which to choose. But in the United States, ideology has deemphasized the role of government, and the single payer system is regarded as a radical solution.

© Douglas Griffith and, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.