Inhumanity Is All The Rage These Days

The logo from the Marvel comics The Inhumans

What is it about tragedy that brings out the worst in people?

I know what you’re thinking: Tragedies can also bring out the best. We have seen how America has banded together in the wake of the terrible devastation wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Jose.

But then, there’s the recent Las Vegas shooting.

I’m not going to go into the gory details here, but suffice it to say an incredibly evil man shot a bunch of people at a music festival, killing close to 60 and wounding hundreds of others before turning the gun on himself.

Once again, the reaction to this act of inhumanity is nearly as inhuman as the act itself.

No, you see, it wasn’t the killer who bears responsibility. It’s the NRA. It’s NRA members. It’s the Republican Party of the United States of America. It’s any lawmaker who didn’t vote to enact laws (that wouldn’t have made a difference anyway).  It’s anyone who supports the Second Amendment. It’s anybody who likes country music. It’s anybody who voted for Donald Trump. It’s Donald Trump himself (for God’s sake, the man is living rent-free in 60,000,000 people’s heads. Why does anybody let a politician control their thoughts and emotions?!).

The impulse to immediately start casting blame at people who had nothing to do with an act of violence instead of blaming the actual perpetrator is terrifyingly inhuman and evil. 

It’s sick and it’s wrong and it explains so much of what is going on in this country.

This attitude explains why there seems to be no hope of communication, no hope of reconciliation. One group of people wants the other to actually die.

How do you overcome this? How do you get over hatred, which seems to be one of the easiest, most enjoyable emotion to succumb to?

For starters, you have to imagine the other person as a human being with a soul and inherent worth. This might take a hell of a lot of imagination, but it can be done. And once it’s done, you start to extrapolate what would happen if this person were to die:

  • Do they have wife? Children? A family?.
  • Do other people enjoy spending time with them? Are other people relying on them?
  • How would other people’s lives be impacted if this person were to die?
  • What about the important people in your life? How would they be affected if you died?
  • How would you feel if someone that you cared for were murdered merely for their beliefs or opinions?

Really, it’s no different than the old cliche of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. These are really basic, human questions to act. And yet humanity seems in such short supply. Continue reading “Inhumanity Is All The Rage These Days”

Eight Insights About God, Man, and Creation from Moses Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed

Moses Maimonides - The Guide for the Perplexed cover

How does one “review” a dense, millennia-old treatise on Jewish philosophy and religion?

One doesn’t. But what one can do is share insights and particularly powerful ideas and concepts with another.

In The Guide for the Perplexed, written around 1190 in Moor-occupied Spain, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (aka Maimonides aka Rambam) writes to his student Rabbi Joseph ben Judah of Ceuta, to remove some of his confusions regarding certain aspects of faith and philosophy.

The Guide touches on many, many topics including:

  • The multiple meanings of Hebrew words and how to properly interpret the Torah (aka the first five books of the Old Testament)
  • Aristotelian philosophy: what Aristotle got right and wrong
  • Problems Maimonides sees with certain aspects of Islamic theology
  • The nature of God and proof of His existence
  • The nature of evil, and why it exists
  • Divine Providence
  • The nature of angels, prophecy (with a detailed discussion of Ezekiel) and dreams
  • Astronomy (as understood at the time) and the “spheres”
  • The purpose of God’s commandments

And yet instead of seeming disjointed, the Guide has as a constant thread two main themes:

  1. Discerning who God is and what He wants
  2. Achieving perfection, as much as possible, by coming to true knowledge of God

It’s heavy stuff, but it makes you appreciate the magic of the written word, and how one man’s letters nearly one thousand years ago still speak to us today, explaining mysteries and, as the title says, removing perplexities . . . or at least easing them and providing a way forward for further studies and thought.

Moses Maimonides statue Cordoba, Spain

Regular readers of Amatopia know that I am a Christian and don’t shy about writing on religious topics, so if that isn’t your bag, you have been warned. But even though Maimonides was Jewish, there is much overlap between Judaism and Christianity–same God, same creation stories, same traditions, similar rites (or at least the meaning behind them) and much of the same general theology and philosophy about God and man.

Obviously, Christians accept Christ as the promised Messiah and Son of God described in Jewish prophecy and Jews regard Him as a prophet and religious leader, but not Divine.

But the point remains: Christians can get a lot out of The Guide for the Perplexed. And even if you are not Christian, Jewish, or religious at all, Maimonides is a powerful thinker you will get a lot out of reading. Here are eight of my favorite takeaways from The Guide for the Perplexed:

Continue reading “Eight Insights About God, Man, and Creation from Moses Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed

Axiometry, Part IV: “The Right Side of History.”

On the right side of history

Yes indeed, here we are! Axiometry! Looking at commonly used sayings, axioms, and bits of conventional wisdom to see if there really is any wisdom in them . . . or if they’re just full of wis.

. . .

Okay, that one was a bit of a stretch, I know.

Today’s subject is a relatively new one, or one that we hear incessantly, especially in the incessantly obnoxious world of politics. I am, of course, talking about the expression–the very idea–of being on the right side of history.

Blech.

Okay, I kind of tipped my hand there, but let’s be fair: As always, I’ll be subjecting this cultural shibboleth to the same low-budget quasi-legalistic analysis that I test all of my axioms with. Hence the completely made-up neologism Axiometry,

(Technically it’s a portmanteau, I guess, but who cares).

Here we go! Continue reading “Axiometry, Part IV: “The Right Side of History.””

The Paradox of Manhood: Thoughts on “Red Pill,” Mastery, and “Being a Man.”

Men: Are you a “cuck”? Are you a “beta”? Does the life you’ve been living got to go?

Have you been “red pilled,” or are you still “blue pilled”? Is our increasingly feminized society beating you down? Are you a victim of circumstance? Do you even know what the hell it is I’m talking about?

I described the “red pill” in my post “World of Illusions: 5 Lies We Tell Ourselves (And What to Do About Them)“:

[“Red pill” is] named after a scene in the popular sci-fi movie The Matrix, which came out when I was still in high school and good God do I feel old. Anyway, the idea is that everybody else is duped and that you are not.

Being “red pilled” isn’t necessarily a bad thing in my opinion, but it can lead to blind spots because

it creates a false sense of security whereby one thinks they are always right. Since few things are “always right” except for the fact that nobody is ever “always right,” this creates dangerous blind spots. You might reject, or not even seek, evidence, or take potential risks seriously, because you already have The Answer.

Lots of men–especially younger men and those burned by divorce, infidelity, or the law stripping them of their rights to see their children–describe themselves like this, seeing the “true” nature of women and the system, and acting accordingly. They also tend to wear fedoras and–

All right, enough snideness. I’m not going for the low-hanging fruit. You might think it hypocritical that the guy who wrote about men being trapped in a cage of safety or being afraid to take risks is poking fun at the men’s right movement or whatever you want to call it.

morpheus-the-matrix-red-pill-and-blue-pill

Well, for starters, I sympathize a lot with these men and their movement. It is a rational, foreseeable reaction to insane third-wave feminism run amok. So I hope that they take the jokes in the spirit in which they are intended.

Second, I’ve never accused women as a whole of being responsible for the degradation of manhood, or the ruination of Western civilization. After all, a lot of men have a vested interest in this as well. Divide and conquer so you can grab power, whether it’s by race or by gender or any other way we distinguish people and pit them against each other. The kicker is that the people who push these destructive ideas and foster animosity and distrust between men and women usually don’t even live the way they expect us to. What hypocrites.

But I’m going to speak to the men, because it is a gender I have more experience being. And while I have some sympathy with men’s rights activists and the MGTOW (men going their own way; that is, men foregoing women, sex, and reproduction as a way of protest) movement, on the whole it makes me sad.

Yes, a lot of laws and societal norms are stacked against men’s interests, but this is not the work of womanhood as a whole. It’s the work of activists, men and women, who want to reshape society into something more in tune with their personal political beliefs, many of which go against human nature. And second, I feel for guys that have had a bad experiences with women–we all have–but it makes me sad because to give up on a relationship and potentially having a family is very tragic indeed.

Also, it’s sort of the thinking that the stereotypical man-hating bull-dyke radical lesbian feminist decried by the men’s rights crowd is presumed to think, turning to that life due to bad experiences with men.

Anyway, as somebody who has teetered on this edge of “going his own way,” only to reclaim himself, and also as an older member of a generation struggling to know and understand what “being a man” means, I’m here to share the insights I’ve faced in my struggles. And I can boil it down into three key points:

  1. Don’t be a pleaser
  2. Become a master
  3. Women are not your enemy

Continue reading “The Paradox of Manhood: Thoughts on “Red Pill,” Mastery, and “Being a Man.””

World of Illusions: 5 Lies We Tell Ourselves (And What to Do About Them)

We are awash in illusion. Today is no worse than yesterday in this regard, except now there is technology which can help push this illusion to ever greater heights of realism.

But worse than these are the illusions we create for ourselves. It’s bad enough that the world at large is trying to trick us, isn’t it? And yet in many ways we are our own worst enemies.

There is so much about our lives that is up to random chance and statistical probabilities. The rest of it is really up to us. And yet we handicap ourselves by spinning elaborate webs of self-deception that might help us navigate the world, but don’t really do anything to make our lives, or the lives of others, any better.

I’m no genius, but what I am is a flawed individual just like you. Here are five common illusions we create for ourselves, based on personal experience, and what we can do about them. Continue reading “World of Illusions: 5 Lies We Tell Ourselves (And What to Do About Them)”

Spitting Girls and Jane Austen: A Tale of Miscommunication

It’s funny how often life imitates art. Or maybe it’s the timeless, universal nature of good art that brings to mind past instances in your own life that resonate with what you see or hear or read. Whatever the case, I had this experience recently and it brings to mind a story with a lesson from my own past. 

As I’ve written before, I recently started reading Jane Austen for the first time. These moves are full of insights about human nature, but this one from Pride and Prejudice stuck with me. 

You don’t need plot details other than that two characters are taking about mistaken affection, and how men often are not aware they are acting in a flirtatious manner:

“We must not be so ready to fancy ourselves intentionally injured. We must not expect a lively young man to be always so guarded and circumspect. It is very often nothing but our own vanity that deceived us. Women fancy admiration means more than it does.”

“And men take care that they should.”

Now I’m not a dating guru or a pick-up guy or whatever. I’ve been married for six years to a woman I began dating in 2007, and only had two serious long-term relationships before her (one for five years, the other for ten months). Hell, I didn’t even have a girlfriend until I was 19, so take my advice with a grain of salt. 

But young men need to be careful of how they act around the opposite sex, as it is very easy to send messages you don’t even realize you are transmitting. Let me explain.  Continue reading “Spitting Girls and Jane Austen: A Tale of Miscommunication”