Thursday, September 13, 2007

Humility & Respect

I will not be at the commemoration ceremonies at Dawson today. I do not have the right to be there; I was not present 365 days ago when a monster opened fire on unarmed, defenceless students in one of the most evil acts I have witnessed in my lifetime – albeit remotely. The girl I love was, and she will be there today.

It is a terrifying thing that a single day can be forever tainted by the actions of a single man and I will not, as is my custom, oppose the social current with vehemence and anger. I have only sympathy & sadness & mourning in my heart, today. My memories of September 13th, 2006 are crisp, clear and unbearably painful even a year after the fact.

One would be right in asking me how, if I was absent from the events themselves that can possibly be the case. The answer is not so difficult.

I believed that the woman I loved was dead.

For two hours, when I could not reach her and no one I could reach had seen or heard from her – when her mother called me, looking for her – I feared the worst. I became lame, useless at work and inconsolable. My boss; a kind, sympathetic & intelligent man, allowed my professional delinquency. I spent hours that seemed like days making frantic phone calls, tracking down every soul in the school who might know where she, my girlfriend, really was.

I was rude & insulting to very many friends, that day, hanging up the moment I got an answer – always one that I didn't want – and barking questions at them without ever saying hello, or asking about their welfare.

I am happy to say that they have since forgiven me; I may not have been so kind. I am proud to know these people who've overcome an experience which could not have been less than an order of magnitude worse than my own, if that might illustrate how horrific a day 9/13 truly was.

I tip my hat to them. I bow my head to them. I give them my mourning & respect and humble recognition of their right to be on Campus today; it is not mine and I have no wish to claim it. The way that these people have handled themselves in the wake of this horrible tragedy is exemplary and embarrassing in contrast to my own wracking survivor's guilt.

We mustn't forget this day. We cannot forget the grace and serenity with which those who lived through the attack have overcome terrible emotional anguish to be able to function in a world that moved on before it had a right to.

Most of all, we must never forget that the man who attacked students and young adults on that day was an evil monster, that the ultimate responsibility for the tragedy falls with him and that he must never be made a victim of the same society that created the exemplary people he injured.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Take it on Faith

The argument that atheism requires as much faith as religion to espouse & accept is a worn one; it is a perversion of the logical abilities of the human mind and a statement of pure, unadulterated ignorance. The atheist position, for many (no one can suppose to speak on behalf of that many atheists, as such a presumption would require some sort of central dogma, asserting... Well... Anything) is one of skepticism, not faith.

Blame Francis Bacon.

The scientific method is not only applicable to questions of physics and chemistry and biology. Sociologists & historians have applied it to society & culture. The belief, at least in my case & that of many I've spoken to, is that it's time we applied it to philosophy, theology and, in short, to human life.

We believe in evidence, not in a blind, unquestioning way - do not misunderstand my use of the word belief - but rather with an infinity of questions; every piece of evidence must be scrutinized, it's contribution to the argument judged against the rest of the evidence and all anecdotal evidence must be dismissed as irrelevant and biased as it always is.

The scientific method, applied to the problem of theology, tells us that it is immensely unlikely that there is any deity at the controls of this universe. Do not misunderstand, by saying it is unlikely I'm not covering my ass, I'm being honest; science can never completely prove a negative statement, all it can do is state probabilities based on evidence. No one has crunched all the numbers as yet, because much of the data is either qualitative, or simply difficult to quantify, but the probabilities we're dealing with here are in the billions & trillions to one.

Essentially, the God hypothesis is impossible, not because we have faith that it is, but because we have been forced, by logic & reasoning & analysis of the available evidence to conclude that it happens to be that way.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Accommodating Accommodation

The debate is officially in full swing; ignorant bigots debating with religious fundamentalists can actually be spotted on city buses calling each other liars and making outrageous claims as to the nature of the administration of foreign countries they have either never visited or know only from the biased propaganda of their own home countries.

I know, because I had to crank the volume on my CD player (yes, I'm a dangerous anachronism) up to dangerous levels just to tune them out whilst I read a very interesting book by late history writer, poet & novellist Martin Booth. Unfortunately, concerned as I am for my own hearing, I had to tolerate some intrusion into my personal bubble and I did glean one thing from their conversation; Québecois absolutely refuse to accept that the "they'd do it to us so it's okay to do it to them" argument just doesn't hold any water.

There is an undercurrent of bigotry in this province the likes of which we haven't seen in a very long and which every one of them will deny vociferously with the tried and true claim of "I'm not a racist! Some of my best friends are muslims!" Sound familiar? People have been saying that since the civil rights movement gained enough ground to establish its own taboos & stigmas.

It's enough. We've heard enough. Culture is not static and the Québec's insistence that it must be is counter to the nature of the human being as a social animal. Protectionism must end because its continued existence is a threat to peace in our country. It's a threat to decency in our country. It's a threat to civility in our country.

So, as I've asked before, as I've pleaded with my readers & will continue to plead with all Québecois, please, for the love of Mill & Nietzsche & Stirner & Locke & all the glorious intellectuals of our great, western civilization, stop.