Saturday, July 09, 2005

What I Believe

Nietzsche, Einstein, Gandhi, MLK, JFK, Kubrick, and Hawking, respectively

Who I Am

- I come from a long line of hard-working Midwesterners, mostly farmers. German primarily. Each with an independent streak and impatience that alternatively makes us gypsies (my dad), volunteers(my grandfather in the Peace Corps ... in his 60's!) or entrepreneurs(myself). I was the first one to ever graduate from college.

- I grew from a sci-fi reading, new wave listening nerd in high school to a philosophy reading, industrial listening nerd in college. I'm now a combination of both with a mix-in of political reading and jazz listening.

- I believe that you are not necessarily the views and opinions of your parents (or shouldn't be). You appreciate their love, their sacrifice, their ethics but ultimately we all have to be our own person.

- I'm a contrarian. I'm not afraid to be the dissenting view, the devil's advocate. I like making people examine why they believe the way they do.

On Heroes:

- I'm not into hero worship but I believe in the power of words ... the thoughts they represent. These people affected me because of what they said: Gandhi, MLK, JFK, Nelson Mandela, Stephen Biko, Nietzsche, Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking

On Movies, Music, Pop Culture:

- I believe that Kubrick is the best director ever. His movies, especially, 2001, A Clockwork Orange, and Doctor Strangelove are among the most brilliant, observant and timeless movies ever. And they influenced me profoundly.

- I believe that all good music, books, movies, etc. must say something about the human condition or society. Some of the books that influenced me: 1984 by George Orwell, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown, All the President's Men by Woodward and Bernstein. All of them read by me when I was still in high school but they are as relevant now as they were then.

- I believe that all good humor is political and ironic in nature: from Python to Jon Stewart. That is why many on the right don't find it funny. They don't understand they are the subject of the satire.

On Sports:

- With all due respect to Mark ... I believe that baseball is the one true sport. And Bull Durham is the best sports movie ever.

On Politics/Society:

- I believe that people are inherently good, but as they say in the Italian Job, "I trust everyone, I just don't trust the devil inside them."

- I believe that people will defy their own self-interest. My parents are 60, uninsured, with no retirement plan, yet will still vote Republican.

- I believe that too many people are afraid to question authority, afraid to think for themselves. People want to believe in something and will take as gospel (pun intended) anything that is said to them. Politics is being preached in our churches. Religion is being preached to us by our politicians.

- I believe that this country's current level of patriotism is jingoism. Blind nationalism is a scary path. I believe that questioning your government is not only a right but is patriotic.

- I believe in the Age of Reason, that the Enlightenment and the principles it brought forth are a pretty good starting point for any society.

- I believe in the Bill of Rights.

- I believe in a liberal arts education. An appreciation of the arts and music is essential to enlightened thought.

- I believe that racism is the product of ignorance. Of all things, racism is the one that I fathom the least and the one that I will absolutely not suffer by anyone.

- I believe that we are in a time of "gee-shucks, proud-to-be-a-redneck ... a stage of vague American values and anti-intellectual pride." And it starts at the top.

- I believe that apathy is the biggest threat to a free society. A forum where dissenting opinions can compete on equal ground is better than one where the "run-away bride" and Michael Jackson take time away from Iraq and Darfur.

On Religion:

- I consider myself a humanist, an agnostic, a thinker. My grandfather is very religious. My parents, for a time, were mildy so while I was being raised. But at no point was I a believer. A skeptic at age 5 and a trouble-maker in bible class, my curiosity and inquisitiveness precluded me from any future involvment in organized (or otherwise) religion. I respect and appreciate Native American spirituality ... but not in the godliness sense, but rather in its appreciation and harmony of nature.

- E.M. Forster: "I do not believe in Belief ... Tolerance, good temper and sympathy are no longer enough in a world which is rent by religious and racial persecution, in a world where ignorance rules, and Science, who ought to have ruled, plays the subservient pimp. Tolerance, good temper and sympathy - they are what matter really, and if the human race is not to collapse they must come to the front before long ... Faith, to my mind, is a stiffening process, a sort of mental starch, which ought to be applied as sparingly as possible."

- I believe, like Nietzsche, that "Christianity teaches men how to die but not how to live".

In General:

- I believe that the unexamined life is not worth living. So many of us walk around in a haze ... blessed with not the slightest lick of self-awareness.

- I believe in personal responsibility.

To quote E.M. Forster again:

"The above are the reflections of an individualist and a liberal who has found liberalism crumbling beneath him and at first felt ashamed. Then, looking around, he decided there was no special reason for shame, since other people, whatever they felt, were equally insecure. And as for individualism - there seems no way of getting off this, even if one wanted to ... The memory of birth and the expectation of death always lurk within the human being, making him separate from his fellows and consequently capable of intercourse with them. Naked I came into the world, naked I shall go out of it! And a very good thing too, for it reminds me that I am naked under my shirt, whatever its colour."


dbackdad said...

Please read the starter of this thread at:

Great White Bear

His post, as well as those who have commented on his blog, are all very worthy of your time.

greatwhitebear said...

Wow, really excellent and insightful! I think this has turned out to be a really good way to get to know the people who visit with each other through their blogs better.

And incidentally, has Kevin Costner ever made a bad sports movie?

tshsmom said...

Great post! I share a lot of your "anti-heroes". We also share a common high school reading list. Perhaps my niche is hippie/nerd?

dbackdad said...

"For the Love of the Game" may be the only mediocre one, but I still liked it. But the rest, "Bull Durham", "Field of Dreams", "Tin Cup" are classics.

Laura said...

Another Sunday-School troublemaker! Very cool.

Bull Durham is a great movie.

You'd like the book I'm reading called Freethinkers: The History of American Secularism. She goes into not only the origins and development of freethought, but connects it to our present state of as you say "proud to be a redneck". Very interesting.

dbackdad said...

I have not read that book. I will have to check it out. Thanks!

vern said...

I have not ever read this page, but I did tonight and had to comment;

I am very proud to be a redneck.

However, I think the term redneck has been reverse co-opted to describe the brainless, backwards country fucks who think it's ok to "beat niggers and faggots" so long as you are doin' it "fer Murka!"

I am not one of them. I am, however, very proud to be a redneck.

dbackdad said...

Believe me, I come from the finest Midwest white trash stock. My folks proudly consider themselves "rednecks". Redneck doesn't imply intolerance. It's just those that couple it with willfil ignorance.