Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Harsh Truth

Toby and Claire, you're right. There is a lot of beauty in this world, and much of it is concentrated in your respective filthy-rich first-world countries.  It might seem to cover this vast planet of ours when we drive down our nice streets through charming towns.  I, for one, sometimes forget how fortunate we are to be citizens of such civilized nations.  England and the United States happen to be the two most recent world-dominating powers.  North America and Europe collectively are home to only 15% of the world's population, but we own over 50% of its wealth.  It would make sense that we see beauty everywhere we turn.  Asia is home to over 50% of the earth's inhabitants, and owns 30% of its cash.  This leaves a whopping 35% of the earth (South America, Australia, and Africa) owning less than 20% of its remaining wealth.  Please take a moment to digest these figures.

It probably won't surprise you then to know that we, our European friends, and other wealthy first-world nations share the lowest infant mortality rates of anywhere on our planet.  England's is less than 0.5%.  Perhaps, Claire, your pregnancy might not have fared so well in Angola, where almost 20% of newborns die before their first birthday.  But since we're talking about Angola, lets look at some more statistics.  There, almost 50% of children under 5 are malnourished and over 25% will die before they reach that age; less than 40% of their population has access to clean water and proper sanitation; over 10% of children under 14 have lost one or both of their parents; over 30% of children 5-14 are working, and most can expect to die by the time they turn 42.  Is this the beauty you speak of?  This issue is not specific to Angola, either.  They are but a drop in a larger bucket of peoples who do not see the beauty you see; in fact, of the thirty countries on earth with the highest infant mortality rates, almost all are African.  To boot, these same nations have the highest birth rates of anywhere else.  So, if you run the numbers, its safe to say that there are a lot of unlucky parents in Africa, assuming they even survive long enough to see their children make it to their fifth birthday.

Why does your God turn a blind eye to these people?

Lets get back to the first world. We are rich. Our friends are rich.  Our neighbors are rich. Places we visit are rich. Even the places we visit abroad generally tend to be wealthy tourist centers.  We, the lucky civilization, sometimes have to really try to place ourselves in situations that aren't very pretty, but we all know that they exist.  

Why are we more qualified for God's mercy than anyone else?

It's easy to cite Africa, however, as a cesspool of despair, so why don't we talk about what we know?  

Hurricane Katrina took the lives of over 1000 God-loving, church-going, poor black people.  Did they not pray enough?  Claire, you say you don't go to church, but you're still alive.  Does this make sense to you?  This is the part where you say God works in mysterious ways.  

Los Angeles is a pretty enough place.  But the palm tree-lined streets of Hollywood are less than five miles from Skid Row, a world-famous human landfill where up to ten thousand under the age of 18 are addicted to crack or heroin and sell survival-sex for food and shelter, right now.  Is this what you mean when you say 'there's too much beauty in the world to not believe in God?'

If the terrible loss of almost three thousand innocent mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, cousins, and friends in the September 11th attacks is not shocking enough, consider the countless volunteers who worked tirelessly to clean up ground zero only to wind up with serious pulmonary diseases, sarcoidosis, and cancer as a result of their exposure to the toxic dust below their feet.  If I had a God, he would treat good people better than this.  Wouldn't yours?

Some children in your neighborhoods are born with birth defects.  Some wind up in trash cans.  I'm not sure what to call this but it isn't beauty.  This is reality, and it's happening right now in our beautiful isolated enclaves among a vast world full of misfortune.

I don't thank God that I am alright.  I am no more deserving than any poor Angolan child.  I am just one of the lucky ones so far. 


21 comments:

Sara Bill said...

wow. props, man. i agree 100%. glad i actually got to reading your blog after seeing you post about it a couple times. nice to know someone else shares the same views.

kd said...

In this era of complacency, I just wanted to say thank you for making me think about things, rather than just accept what I have and take life for granted.

Kathryn said...

'Without suffering, there would be no compassion'~ quote from a bad movie... but I think its pretty right on. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, God gave us free will, 9/11 was a result of that. We can torture eachother and kill eachother all we want, we can kill our unborn children, and even our children after they are born... We think and act for ourselves, God doensn't do it for us. We lie, cheat, steal, and God has nothing to do with how we behave.

As for the countless countries, and people, who are less fortunate in this world than we are... their suffering doesn't prove to me that there is no God or that God is uncaring. This life is short, the next one is forever.

Meg said...

Even God doesn't believe in God anymore.

lisa said...

why do we (and i'm not saying EVERYONE but a huge number of people) turn a blind eye to these people?

in my worldview, i think these things you mentioned are absolutely tragic. i also believe that these are the things that grieve God. the Bible talks about the fall of man which also included the earth - when Jesus returns God is supposed to establish a "new heaven" and "new earth"... i personally know that God does not enjoy suffering or cause it to happen. i know He orchestrates everything for good even in the midst of despair. i have heard stories of hope in the midst of despair, and that to me is so admirable and inexplainable.

i believe that God has given us free will because of His love and allows us to use it, rather than control us. a lot of times our free will causes a lot of damage. that is why i believe God calls US to take action in these situations - to help, to love, to give, to serve, or to just be there to listen.

those are my thoughts; hope they made sense! it's getting late for me. thanks again for sharing your heart & thoughts - i particularly liked this entry!

Noelle said...

by punishment, it's saying all those terrible things that happen to people you speak of in your above article... those things you wonder why they happen... it's because of all the ignorant selfish dumbasses in this world; not god. He gave them free will to think and decide to be good or bad... hello you make that choice daily... and the shiity things that happen.. someone way back in the timeline somewhere fucked up, in which case shit got fucked up... no one in particulars fault, we all fuck up, we are human, but it's what we do with the shit we do wrong that counts.

do u give a fuck and keep livin without doin much about it
do u not give a fuck and keep killin(hypo speaking)
or do u give a fuck and make a positive difference?

Don't take this next second to blame your childhood. We all HAD FUCKED UP CHILDHOODS. If you were any sort of strong, you needed that strong of a lesson for you to learn compassion, and feeling, and actually do something amazing with those amazing emotions you might not have bared had you not bared such fright in your amazing life thus far.. if i died tonight i would be satisfied.. so should u.. .

The death of the people helping at ground zero did not come from God hating us, he didn't twist the knife a little harder. It's a deeper root than that. . Yes he created those people who fucked our shit up, but he also gave them free will to kill or love. They chose to be confused about the real facts of life, be insecure about they're own death, and therefore kill in fake religious self defense. They put "standing behind God " as a reason, but if they stood behind god, that would have never happened. Those are like the many FAKE christians who like to give us a bad name are what I call straight confused. They wouldn't know god if healed them straight in the face...

Claire Humpage said...

Again Mikey you seem to think i am blind to these things....that i think that just because I have my health as does my daughter, i must not be aware of these awful things. I can assure you i am more than aware. You want to know why i dont blame God....because he gave us free will. Humans are ruining the earth, not god....Our govenments could stand up and help out other countries, but they dont. Its not down to God its down to us.
Ok lets try this Mikey,
Your friend is a christian, muslim, etc. Their loved one is killed by a drunk driver while they are crossing the road......who should your friend blame, the driver? God? The Car manufactures?
Ill tell you who i would blame. I'd blame the idiot how through personal choice had too much to drink and then got in his fucking car.

Bruna de Souza Leão said...

Okay, this time I read everything and, honestly?

Your argumants and facts are correct, indeed, if we look this correct things and why none of Christians dont give a considered look at these social problems that happens in the world. Yes, but PEOPLE, not God.

Like Claire said, God gave us free will and I believe that as he gave us, he leaves us free to help others. I mean, instead of staying there, crying and blaming how God doesnt help us, or praying to the Christian God help them, when the fact they should help others.

C'mon Mikey, God has nothing to do with the problems of the world, but human beings are. People also wrong - as well Claire explained about the accident - blame God for reach event. The thing here isnt only look at what God does for us or doesnt.

And 'free will' that God put us is the fact we can choose, but that doesnt get rid of the consequences of our own actions. If God gave this right is because he loves us, and believes that creation of it, has something good. To make good choices, theses things havent happened.

Similarly that sometimes people say "Oh God is good" I disagree. God is not good, God is Just. If He is Good, people who kill others and not feel remorse for it, would also be given much more than they already.

(sorry for my terrible English. I'm trying to improvise here. LOL)

MJ said...

Ironically enough, I was having a discussion with a woman the other night when I was out. She was very quick to show and express her love of God and the church. She told me that God will watch over and take care of anyone deserving of his love. I said what about the people in other parts of the world, like Africa, who have not been exposed to the idea of God. Her only reply was that if they were meant to have God's love...then he would show himself to them.

I was soo appalled at her response. Most people talk about God loving all of his "children"...yet he seems to care more about the ones who don't have to suffer. Or obviously to this woman, only to those who are lucky enough to know him. Apparently, Ignorance is Bliss.

Claire Humpage said...

Ok im getting annoyed....do you all truely think that I am ignorant.....if so then you are showing your ignorance.
It seems that you guys meet some christians and tar us all with the same brush.
If you meet a shitty person in another country, do you consider all the people in that country to be shitty?
Do you think all christian's walk around thinking 'hey im never going to lose a child, get cancer or die in a car crash because God loves me and i am deserving of that love'?
No, it doesn't work like that for all of us. I am a realist, you may disagree with that based on my faith but then as you do not personally know me.
I take responibilty for my actions and any decisions i make and i expect others to do that for themselves.
I am lucky that i was born in the UK, we have free health care and all get treated the same. If the same was done for every country then more children would survive as would adults. It can not be blamed on God, blame our stupid govenments.
It seems that for you to consider that there may actually be a God, then he would have to end all wars, save our planet, cure all disease and i dont know.....maybe answer your prayers to win the lotto?
How about you start preaching to every human to start taking responsibilty for their own actions.
Do any of you donate to poorer countries??? I do, i try and help and do my part. However the funny thing is not many people do.

Noelle said...
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xoTLExo said...

Oy vey... LoL

itookthewalk said...

I completely understand where you're coming from, Mikey. However, there really is no sense in arguing with someone who believes in God. Faith is the answer that trumps all of science. Your arguments are actually really impressive and interesting though, and I share almost 100% of your beliefs regarding religion.

Krystal said...

Personally I find it interesting how the Bible explains why suffering exists. It all leads back to the preservation of dependance on God. Christians teach that suffering exists for a few reasons - because we have sinned, because others have sinned, and my personal favourite: to bring you closer to God.

2 Corinthians 1:8-10

"...We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead..."

I always found this part of the teaching on suffering interesting and slightly appalling. So suffering can occur...terrible awful "sentence of death" suffering and the reason is so that we may be humble and learn to rely on God and not on ourselves?

So God allows suffering so that he can remind you that he's the Big Guy Upstairs? It sounds like an over-rated power trip to me.

Another example:

1 Peter 1:6

"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."

So the point is what? To test your faith. I've heard people claiming this before, "oh I'm sick with cancer...it's just God testing my faith." Ohhhh lordy is that the kind of person you want in charge of your life? I understand that without the bad things in life you wouldn't recognize the good things. And I understand the argument of "free will".But if God is so great...why would these be two good biblical reasons for suffering?

Do you think these are good reasons? To remind us how little and insignificant we are? And to see if we've logged enough prayer hours and hail mary's? So he didn't cause the suffering....he just allows it to occur for terribly selfish egotistical reasons?

xoTLExo said...

Mikey...

Just because a baby is born in Angola and doesn’t live long doesn’t mean that baby isn’t or wasn’t a miracle. All babies are miracles.


Hurricane Katrina didn’t take the lives of over 1000 people...the levee’s that man made that broke did, and then they went and rebuilt them. There’s weather everywhere, God doesn’t have to stop that, but maybe not building levees where ocean is SUPPOSED to be might have let over 1000 God-loving, church-going, poor black people keep their lives....annnd I believe most of them were warned to evacuate and they didn’t...so that’s not God’s fault.


As for Skid Row, well...Getting addicted to crack or heroin is your own choice, not God’s. If you’re stupid enough to do drugs because your friend told you it was cool or for whatever reason people get into drugs and now you can’t work because of it, that’s your own fault.

God gave us free will, and the terrorists who flew planes into the side of the twin towers were doing it of their own free will. Why, I don’t know, but God cannot control what a person does... well, he can, but then you wouldn’t have free will.

Whoever dumps a baby in a trash can...well, not saying it was right, but that’s just the way life works sometimes. It’s rather disgusting to throw a baby in a trash can, but I can’t control what another person does. Neither can God because he gave us free will.


You’re lucky I like your band so much or I would’ve given up on this a looonngg time ago!! LoL

My only point is, stuff happens...the world isn’t perfect, no one can control that, neither can God. God is there to help you get through the stuff when it does happen, but he’s not there to fix everything. Life still happens, no matter where you live. People can try and help make it better, though like what Claire said.

solamentebeth said...
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solamentebeth said...

My comment got all messed up so here's a repost:

Oh man. I spent about six months living in Mexico a study abroad group from the University of Utah--obviously almost all Mormons. The roommate I was assigned to live with was a return missionary who had served in Canada. We had this very discussion on many, many occasions. I would ask her how it is that her Mormon god chose to bless me with an upper middle class upbringing, a spoiled american chick studying spanish in mexico, while in turn HE gave that five-year-old child a life selling chiclets and cheap trinkets in the streets. And her response was always something about, 'it's a test of faith and everything in the afterlife will be fixed and blah blah blah,' which from what I could see, and still see serves simply as an excuse to remain indifferent.

I spent countless hours trying to explain to her that it was BECAUSE we were so affluent that we could afford to spend our time contemplating the existence of god and forming political ideologies instead of merely trying to survive and take care of our families.

It’s instances like this and what you’re discussing that make the long hours of studying to become a doctor worth the effort. I hope I can maybe make things a little easier for at least a few people. But the overwhelming truth is that I have opportunities that most people in the world can’t even comprehend.

When I was still Mormon I got into a shouting argument with this guy in Sunday school who said, verbatim, “People who are poor simply don’t work hard enough.” I dropped off the book “The Working Poor” at his home and stopped going to church after that. I find most religions to be laughably insulting to anybody's intelligence.

I guess what I’m trying to say in this long-winded comment is thank you for your blog, and for your opinions. I appreciate anyone who uses their circumstances as a platform for spreading truth and irrefutable logic.

Noelle said...

your blah blah section cut out the explanation. it may be blah blah to you, but your reason is blah blah to me. you see it's clearly DIFFERENT STROKES FOR DIFFERENT FOLKS. People's opportunities stem from a deeper root like i have said before. you wanna blame someone, why blame someone you don't believe in? that's not fair. the deeper you dig for the truth the more you will see the freedom people truly have to fuck others people's path up. it's US WE HAVE TO BLAME FOR SUFFERING. we hurt one thing, a domino effect occurs. Spauning an effect no one likes. how can we fix it?? the more love spread in the world, the less hate we will have... peace, love, and soul.... spread it on yo's

beth said...

Noelle, I can't respond to something barely legible... You could maybe rephrase your comment/s so I can understand what exactly it is you're trying to convey.

Noelle said...

i'm not sure if i can phrase it so you will understand. it's how i talk. it's how i feel. I will try and re -phrase...


basically you can't blame anyone... life is free. we are free. people made this world how it is. not the person most people blame but don't even believe in

noellehere said...

" AT THIS AUSPICIOUS PERIOD, THE UNITED STATES CAME INTO EXISTANCE AS A NATION, AND IF THEY'RE CITIZENS SHOULD NOT BE COMPLETELY FREE AND HAPPY THE FAULT WILL BE ENTIRELY THEIR OWN." GEORGE WASHINGTON (THE COOL ONE WITH WOODEN TEETH) 1775

P.S. I'M NOT A SPELLER, I DON'T SPELL CHECK. I'M NOT GOING TO EITHER. THAT'S ME.