Lack of apt expressions!

Lack of apt expressions can be though of as a great source of frustration among people. I recently saw a movie in which a psychiatrist explains expressiveness. He says, if we are angry, we have to express it. If we are sad, we have to express it. Same thing applies to happiness, determination and all sorts of other emotions we have. But, it can be fatal to a relationship if we don’t contain those expressions within socially acceptable limits. Hence the term “apt expression”.

Coming back to the topic, we are remarkably intolerant of others now a days. We fail to express ourselves properly and we get irritated when someone else expresses. I recall incidents were people have displayed silly attitude which are are carcinogenic to the mind. It becomes a cancer and eats the whole psyche. In fact I know a friend of mine who has been the victim of her own psychic cancer.

Are we biologically evolved to be selfish? I think we are. That is a survival instinct. But as Dr. Dawkins mentioned in his remarkable book “The Selfish Gene”, there is something called meme which is a unit of social awareness that also evolves overtime. And that meme has brought more insight into our minds than ever before. We are now able to surpass our own biological predispositions in order to have total control over our lives and our future.

But does this ability that evolved for the survival of society will eventually cut at the roots of humanity? May be if we let the meme evolve in anyway it likes. Am I prejudiced? I think yes and everyone I know are prejudiced one way or the other. The difference is that I admit it and others don’t. And that brings us back to the beginning of the discussion. Are we really expressing ourselves?

I must let the readers know that it is perfectly okay to be prejudiced. What is not okay is to express the prejudice in manners that are not acceptable. You can express your prejudice in subtle languages that others can accept. Thinking that another person will be offended and not expressing ourselves is unhealthy. It does not mean that we should blurt out at others in public. May be we can have a private conversation on the phone so that no one else has to know.

Expressions can have negative effects and are highly volatile if not handled properly. We were taught about adult ego during our personality development training program. It speaks about maintaining proper composure while talking to people. Whether this is practical or not is something I leave to the readers. But mind you, there are civilizations on Earth where people do follow etiquettes of respecting one another and obviously that civilization is not part of the Indian subcontinent.

End of Friendship?

The Wikipedia article on Friendship quotes the following statement by Patricia M Sias and Heidi Bartoo: “Friendship network is a behavioral vaccine that protects health and mental health”. They say that good friends encourage their friends to lead more healthy lifestyles, to seek help and access services, when needed, to enhance their friend’s coping skills in dealing with illness and other health problems and/or actually affect physiological pathways that are protective of health.

However, recently I noticed that the number of people I can call as close friends or soul mates have decreased. To check whether my observation is true, I asked some people I know about how they feel about it and not surprisingly they came up with the same answer. It was an indication that friendship was on the decline. I needed data to corroborate this and went through the Internet reading many articles some of which I have quoted at the end of this post.

Based on those links, the following could be reasons for this decline:

  • Dependence on family as a safety net
  • Dependence on a partner or spouse
  • Psychological and physiological regression
  • Attitude towards sexuality; especially homosexuality
  • Advent of the digital age which increased the hours spent on computers and internet
  • Patterns in the corporate work culture which increased the time spent at the workplace
  • Path dependency causing behavior to follow paths of countless decisions
  • Attitude towards atheism?
  • Intolerance and misunderstandings
  • Other miscellaneous reasons

These are not my opinions but I think my own views would fall into any of these. Friendship in my opinion has come down to the state of people being just acquaintances. And in the years to come, it is going to get worse. As Prof. Dawkins said: “People are remarkably intolerant”. And this remarkable intolerance is the byproduct of a rat race for which we ourselves are responsible. I don’t think social networking is doing anything other than being a medium of keeping people “in-touch”. And this “in-touch” which I define as “Internet-Touch” is not going to build any strong relation beyond casual acquaintances.

I do have a huge network of friends but how many will ever bother to come and see me if I am bedridden leaving all the others things aside? How many will I visit if I know that they are bedridden? The answer is close to zero! Recently I attended a marriage of one my college mates and I could feel the discomfort among my old friends who gathered there. None of them seemed to be happy that they got a chance for a get together and I did not have a clue why. May be they left their minds in their offices and came just for the heck of it.

According to C S Lewis, historically, friendship seemed to be the the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue. The modern world, in comparison, ignores it. We admit of course that besides a wife and family a man needs a few ‘friends’. But the very tone of the admission, and the sort of acquaintanceship which those who make it would describe as  ‘friendships’, show clearly that what they are talking about has very little to do with that ‘Philía’ which Aristotle classified among the virtues or that ‘Amicitia’ on which Cicero wrote a book.

As I mentioned before, one of the reasons why we stay healthy is our relationships with others. If we tend to become loners  because we belong to a “modern society” where “individuality” is more important or “cool”, well I am afraid my friends, we are doomed. I cannot help thinking that we are heading towards creating a society where nobody would bother to use the word friend since it would have lost its meaning by then.

Any positive and negative comments are welcome.

Sources:

Wikipedia on Friendship
Article by
Dr. Henning Bech
Depression and
friendship

Article by
Janet Kornblum

Article by
Sebastian Mallaby

Friendship on
decline

Friendship under threat
Social networking
and friendship

Do good fences make good neighbors?

The subject of today’s post emanates from the idea of a poet of international fame. A 20th century American poet, Robert Frost wrote a poem “Mending Wall” which unveiled various social concepts prevailing in the world until then. The poem is a symbolic interpretation of the modern situation where national boundaries are fast disintegrating giving place to an international understanding, though at the same time, in certain quarters, militant nationalism is also showing up its head, thus cutting at the very roots of internationalism. The seeming paradox is at the root of human existence. If that be so, the predominant question that arises for consideration will revolve around a few points.

First, we must maintain self respect and respect others in the fullest measure. Second, we must keep our integrity and individuality and try to realize that others also have these traits. Third, as far as possible we must not interfere in the affairs of others unless we are requested for to interfere with. Fourth, what you expect of others will be expected of you by others and you should have the awareness of the same. The great leader, Mahatma Gandhi has said that he would welcome the culture of others but at the same time will not allow others to uproot his own. This is applicable in the case of an individual, family, society, nation or the world at large. If the above attitudes are maintained, it will make the social interaction easy and meaningful.

Now regarding the topic, I must say that a fence whether it is good or bad is meaningless because fences can separate but cannot have a harmonious unity. What is important is the conditioning of the mind of people rather than external barriers. Barriers are meant for people who tend to disobey. The national and international borders are meant to safeguard against those who violate natural principles. Therefore what is important is a harmonious understanding. Be it two neighbors, two individuals, to nations or two sets of nations.

Fencing in a vast field of vegetation can be useful for preventing stray animals. It may not be stretched to human beings of developed nations. Fences are burdensome. They are not to be thrust upon people. This post continues its quest to melt the barriers that separate humans just as the previous one did. I ardently oppose the concept of fencing for the welfare and well being of a civilized humanity.

Problems Freethinkers Face!

Very recently I observed something. I am also a member of Orkut and has been there for 5 years now. After I officially declared that I am an atheist, I added that part into my Orkut profile. I wrote that I am a querulous and outspoken atheist. Then I noticed that many people became suddenly cold. They did not reply to my scraps or messages. They did not ping me back in messenger when I ping them. Some even sign out when they see me. I was thinking what the heck was going on.

Then one day I received an email from one of my college mates. She just put this link in it and asked me to listen to it when I get time. It was some pastor speaking about God and bible. I listened to what the pastor had to say. Then I replied to her email asking her to read my Orkut profile. She replied stating that she did and that is the reason why she sent the link. I got pissed and sent her a “very nice” reply to which she just kept repeating statements like “God loves you”, “God is great”, “Jesus is the God of mankind” etc. I told her more about evolution and gave her the following links: How to convert and atheist part 1 and part 2. Finally she gave me this link and said that she is not trying to convert me into Christianity and that she just wants me to realize God. I told her that I have realized that there is no God but still I appreciate her efforts and as a friend of mine I suggest her to seek evidence.

The moral of the story is not just how insular conservative Christians can be. I realized one other thing. The people who stopped talking to me or became cold were also devout Christians and Hindus. It looked as if I hurt their years old beliefs. But I never told them anything. Just put some information on my profile. I believe that a person who accepts only a part of our personality is not a true friend. They have to accept us completely with positive and negative attributes. I do that with others.

Anyway, without deviating much, let me come back to the point. Most freethinkers face the following issues:

– Lack of societal acceptance
– Financial hardship due to lack of employers who are free from delusion
– Few number of friends
– Misunderstanding among relatives

The list goes on.

An atheist is considered close minded. People fail to see the bigger picture. There are religious people who embrace the scientific method but they want to look at it as a way to understand how God created the universe. I have issues within my family because of this. My mom says “No matter what you say, it is hard for me to accept that there is no God.” As I mentioned earlier, many of my friends left me because of my religious stand. The only ones I have either haven’t yet found that I am an atheist or are broadminded enough to accept me.

People think that we want to justify our hedonistic lifestyle by saying that there is no God. But as Prof. Dawkins has already proved, we don’t derive our morality from religion. It is hard for these people to understand this simple fact. They get scared to death when they hear the word atheist. Some even think that we are carriers of devil!

My parents are yet to understand the real reasons for me to become an atheist. As I mentioned in my previous blog, I am happy that my master was able to accept my religious stand.

The bottom line is, free thinkers seem to be the most hated in the society. We are called “unorthodox”, “iconoclastic”, “hedonistic” and whatever bad “istic” that people can find in the dictionary. Very few come up and have a one-on-one discussion with us.

The only message I have for my friends is that, they haven’t got the slightest idea about who freethinkers are and what they are capable of. I think we have to wait until they find out.

Brain drain vs Globalization!

A few weeks back, one of my close friends asked me to comment on a blog he wrote in Blogger regarding the subject called “brain drain”. I don’t know how much the western world is familiar with it and its effects but what he was concerned about was that a lot of Indians are moving to developed countries in search of better education or job opportunities. Most of them never return and eventually gain citizenship of the respective countries where they migrate to. The ill effects of this is that the countries from where these people move out will be deprived of their intellectual faculties which will adversely affect the development of their nation.

I commented something in favor of what he told and he was very happy about it. But later on I just had a feeling whether I made a mistake by writing in his favor. Whether he was actually right. What made me think is the existence of an interesting concept called globalization. Why I call it interesting is that there is an underlying state, the state of being a human being.

Someone asked me once about my nationality. I replied : “I am a human being of planet Earth”. Isn’t that the best way of describing oneself? I think yes. And that is the subject of this post.

The place we live on Earth is subject to what we do there. And in order to be at a place to do something, there has to be a driving force. Something like a desire and in most cases it is either education or career or family backgrounds. And yes, there are other instances too which can be categorized as miscellaneous. Either way, the place we live depends on many different reasons.

When we expand this, the city becomes part of a state which again is the part of a country. Very few people expand it to the extant of continents or the entire planet especially when describing themselves. Now the question is why should we say that we are human beings of Earth. There are no aliens in touch with us to ask where we come from. But I must say that we need to have that in mind all the time. Whenever we proudly say that “I am an Indian” or “I am an American”, we should realize that we are part of a bigger world that that.

Having said that, does it make sense to complain that a person is migrating to another country? Certainly not. As atheists, we should not differentiate or categorize people based on religion, race, color, nationality, language etc. And when atheism becomes more widely accepted, when more people leave their religious faith, the concept of nationality in my guess will lose its meaning. When someone migrates to another place, he/she will have migrated to another part of Earth which is inhabitable. And the notion of selling someone’s brain to another country is meaningless because through globalization, every invention/discovery made for the benefit of humanity will obviously spread across the globe.

So it is totally unfair if someone says that there is brain drain and that wise people are moving out to different places. I must say that they have to move out. Every human being will have an intrinsic feeling or a dream about the kind of place he/she will be comfortable living and working. And I think each one of us should be allowed to be in places where we want to be. Just like Indians move to other countries, people from there can come and settle in India if they like it here and I see no harm in it.

I am glad that English has become the global language even though there are people who don’t use it primarily. And I believe that in another 100 years or so it will be the spoken language throughout the world. The reason is that the word nation will lose its meaning with true globalization and when that happens, there will be a requirement for a common language of communication and that I assume will be English. There will be a common currency everywhere. There will be a governing body ruling the entire planet something similar to what we see in Star Wars. There will be no more Indians or Americans or Russians. There will be Earthlings all around.

I imagine a world where there are no boundaries. Where people have the same tongue. Have the same meaning for brotherhood. A world without religion where scientific reasoning dominates. Where there is law and order and proper hierarchical government to implement it in order to secure all the benefits for humanity.

Now I think I can tell my friend based on what I just posted that even though he got his facts right, he is so terribly wrong. What he told makes sense only in the context of nation and when that disappears, brain drain will disappear too!

What makes youngsters frustrated?

Are youngsters in India frustrated? If yes what are the causes?Buddhists say that desire is the cause of all suffering. Having said that, can we live without desire? I don’t think so. Now is desire the cause of frustration for youngsters? Let’s have a look.In India, there is a huge population of youngsters. Every year, a significant portion of that passes out of educational institutions. They choose many different careers and live their life for a pretty long time until they look back at what they have been studying for in the first place. Have they chosen careers based on what they have studied? Have they studied what they wanted to study in the first place? The big question: Are people becoming what they want to be?

I think the answer is a qualified negative. I think most youngsters in India are not doing what they really want to do. Let’s pause and find out why.

We have a society. Which is a subset of civilization. And civilization is a product of innovation which evolve with time. Civilization is not the work of a single person but of a whole society. Every individual contributes his/her part in it. We are now heading towards global civilization.

There are many consequences of this. As a whole, there are requirements in various sectors. And people are on demand at all times. Now the frustrations starts. When there are jobs, people tend to push youngsters into various fields despite what they really want to do. And there are some youngsters who don’t realize that in the first place.

They are made to study various courses. They are made to choose jobs that are suitable for globalization. They do these things in the first place but as years pass by, they find that they have made a grave mistake. They repent. They show that in their workplace. At home. Among friends. Everywhere.

Let take some examples. We have a concept called professional course. By definition it is something that makes a person capable of doing a professional job. Now what is a professional job? Anything can be a professional job. Then why this fuss? Why are people forced to become Doctors or Engineers? Are those the only profession?

This thought springs into existence when the victims of such indoctrination realize that they had made a mistake by not being strong.

They then decide that they are not going to do that with their children. They decide that what happened to them should not happen to their children. What will be the consequence? We will have a new generation where youngsters decide upon what they want to do and end up doing only those things that they are passionate about.

There will be peace and harmony among people. We will head towards a Type-I civilization as Dr. Kaku put it.

The Free Thinker!

I believe this is the right day to talk about atheism. Long time ago, when I was in my 11th grade, one of my teachers was teaching computer science. She was more eager to teach other stuff like “ignorance of law is an offense” rather than computers. One day she asked “How many of you believe that there is a force that governs everything?”. To this almost all members of the class rose their hands except three guys. I was one of them. She immediately asked “Why you three don’t believe?”. We started talking reason. We told her that there is no proof of an almighty and she was not ready to accept and was rather upset by it.

I was thinking why. My friends came up to me and asked “What man? Why don’t you have faith in God?”. My question to them was “Is it mandatory to have faith in God?”. I was so obsessed with reasoning that I stayed very close to my atheist friends.

Years passed and one day I thought “What if the theists are true?”. To test this, I spent many years studying a lot of stuff which I have mentioned in my previous blog “The wishful thinker”(http://www.thinkatheist.com/profiles/blogs/the-wishful-thinker). It was some sort of soul searching. What was the result? It reinforced my atheistic beliefs. I have always questioned the following:

1. God,
2. Devil
3. Religion
4. Life after death
5. Holistic healing
6. Dream control
7. Superstitions
………

And after my so called “soul searching” I still question these things.

My dear friends, free thought is great. It lets me look at life without rebuke. It lets me think perfectly because there is no self other than my biological self. There is no sense other than my 5 senses. There is no thought projection and ESP. What remains is the absolute biological brain intelligence which is great stuff if used properly.

I believe free thought has to be cultivated at a very young age. Children should be free to think and act without the barrier of religion in between their thoughts and their purpose. There are many people who hold on to scriptures and holding it up as cause bound truth. It is really that necessary?

We have evolved as the most advanced creatures on the planet. Does that mean that our species was created from no where and put on earth? Certainly not. Why should someone create a universe and earth and put living things in it and say that humans should govern all the other creatures? Is it some sort of time pass of God to sit and create and destroy stuff for no apparent reason?

Promotion of reason and free thought lacks rigor today because most atheists never come out in public. This mentality has to change. Since modern society is ready to accept any form of religion and many other concepts, I personally feel that atheists should start declaring within the public. It is very easy. All it takes is courage. We should let our friends know that we are atheists. At least some of our friends who are already atheists will open up and we can make them open up among their friends easily. When this happens, people will start thinking as to why many of us are atheists. Soon this wave will go viral and many people will leave their religions.

As I said, it requires courage. Because many religious fanatics are out there who threaten to cut our throats if we propagate atheism. But if we succeed in making at least one person leave his/her religion, it will be a great achievement for science and reasoning.

Such a revolution is necessary in this age where we see a lot of atrocities in the name of religion. There has to be more science being studied in the world than it is today. There has to be better understanding and fulfilment of life.

The Wishful Thinker!

Human Rationality
Human Rationality

In the following paragraphs, I would like to propagate rationality as a powerful tool for creating a new generation of human beings. Rationality as I know is the product of serious analysis and conclusions. Just as it is said about civilisation as the product of courage and innovation.

Lord Krishna as Arjuna's Charioteer
Lord Krishna as Arjuna’s Charioteer

At an early age it was easy for anyone to inject the concept of the supernatural into the mind since the child doesn’t know. I remember listening to how Lord Krishna masterminded the outcome of the war of Kurukshetra or how prophet Mohammed tried to unite the Arabs under a new understanding or how Jesus Christ died for the sins of others. I remember listening to how Buddha did this and Jain did that etc etc. There have been a lot among other things. Some enormously detailed to incredibly goofy. For instance stuff like if you bathe in the water of river Ganges, all your sins will be washed away etc.

Armageddon - A form of Doomsday!
Armageddon – A form of Doomsday!

I started questioning these things deep within my mind without letting it out in fear. But finally it had to come out. Science has become so advanced that it is practically impossible to conceive a concept of an almighty. There are millions of other possibilities for existence. Evolution for example is the best way of describing how life came about the way it is. Someone with proper sense can understand it. I started wondering why people stick so much to their religious beliefs thinking that on the D-Day someone is going to come and save them. As far as I know, everyday is a D-Day because we make so many decisions for our future all the time that each day becomes a Decision-Day. We know that the earth is 4.5 billion years old as compared to the creationist view of 6000 years.

Image of Guardian Angel
Guardian Angel by Raven

I used to pray during my exams. I used to pray hard. But what is the use if I haven’t studied a bit? There are stories about people who passed exams without studying a single word. They claim that some sort of guardian angel was there to help them. St. Don Bosco is an example. I must say that those claims are just claims without any scientific basis. Similar is the claims of miracle healing and alternative medicines. Just listening to it will make you ask how. People may ask then why is it found to be working. I ask them why it doesn’t always work? To this simple question I get an answer with a very confusing word in it. Faith! Now what is that thing? Belief without evidence? Belief without questioning? Or is it something else?

Image of Faith
Faith!

People say that faith will heal. People say that miracle healing occurs because the patient has faith in the healer. What kind of a medicine is that requires a patient to have faith in it to work? Let me quote a situation here. A person meets with an accident. He goes into coma. We administer medicines and put him in observation under modern medical equipments. After a few weeks he may or may not wake up. Now my question is did the person have any idea that he was being treated when he was in coma? The answer is no. He just revived because of modern science. Now if someone says that he prayed for him or did some stuff like Pranic Healing, the whole idea becomes hollow because they themselves have told in the first place that such things don’t work without the patient having faith! Similar arguments can be given for stuff like Faith Homes of the Pentecostal mission.

Image of Kirlian Aura Photograph
Kirlian Aura Photograph of a lady

Now coming back to other things like Kirlian photography. You place an object in a magnetic field and then expose a photographic plate and you see a field around it. It has been proven that it is not the alleged aura of that object. But people of alternative medicines say that it is indeed the aura. There are other systems of belief like the Silva Method. What they say about the mind is right. There are different levels of it. But what they say about ESP is not right. It is some sort of fluke that they arrive at conclusions. I have tried that thing myself. It has worked for me a couple of times but most often it does’nt work.

Image of Tai Chi Symbol
Tai Chi Symbol

In martial arts, we have a concept called Chi or Qi or Ki or Prana or Jeevan depending on the system of practice. It is another meaningless concept. We indeed regulate some power. But that power is not the alleged Chi. It is some sort of muscular force that hasn’t been examined thoroughly. People may ask what makes me an expert in all these. Well I must say that for the past 9 years, I have been involved in research into all these systems. I have learned different styles of Karate, Kung fu, Reiki, Acupressure, Numerology, Palmistry, Silva Ultramind ESP, some religious practices and little bit of astrology and so on and so forth. If I challenge something, it is because I have studied that in the first place.

Image of "The Creation of Adam" by Michaelangelo
“The Creation of Adam” by Michaelangelo

Evidence after evidence we have proven to the creationists that there absolutely is no God and that any belief system without proper scientific base is void and useless. My wishful thinking is that any established system should be analyzed using the best possible scientific approach available. If a system works, we need to know exactly why it works and what we need to do for that to always work. People who practice Tai Chi or Acupressure should find out what exactly happens at the level of muscles, bones, blood vessels and nerves rather then sticking onto concepts like Chi, Meridians, Vessels, Chakras, Channels and Pressure Points.

Image of Innocent Children
Innocent Children

My wishful thinking is that children are brought up outside the so called shelter of religion and belief systems so that they think rationally and understand the marvel of nature. I think atheism is a very good concept with enormous possibilities to awaken the human mind to its full potential. After all the brain is a biological computer. Why do we need an external programmer when we can manipulate its power ourselves? My wishful thinking is that the world soon undergoes scientific enlightenment and come up with stuff that works 100% so that we can nourish and nurture a new generation of civilized humanity!