The first echoes of the Syrian Civil War in its present form sounded in March of 2011. In February of 2012 it reached a major tipping point, as major cities were locked down and besieged by regime forces.
Now let’s imagine what it’s like to be a resident of Homs. You wake up one day to plaster hitting your face, caught in the midst of a heavy artillery attack. The gun being used against you is most likely aSoviet M-46 firing a 130mm high explosive round. That’s about this big, and there are hundreds of them landing around you every hour at random. This is what that looks like. I’ve seen one hit a ten storey building. They turn half the structure to dust in an instant.
Maybe one of these lands on you, maybe one lands on your neighbour and thousands of shards of metal eviscerate you, maybe you just sit there all day watching the fireworks while you try to keep calm. But let’s say for argument’s sake you survive.
That was day one. You endure a year and two months of that, along with rocket attacks that eat city blocks and air strikes you can’t hear until they’ve struck. Every day your friends and family are bombed from the air, and if they pop their heads out to see the bombs they become bait for the snipers and tanks.
Oh, and there are snipers and tanks. The snipers are on every roof, and their bullets take with them about a pinky’s worth of solid concrete every time they hit the wall next to your head. If you want food, you have to walk down streets lined with corpses that all fell in a common pattern, hoping that the sniper is taking lunch because if not you’re going to join them. The tanks are mobile microwave ovens and the crew are paranoid that theirs will be the next to turn on. If they see movement, even movement that only exists in their own mind, they fire at it. Their 125mm high explosive shells are this big, and one of them will disintegrate much of your home if their barrel swings that way.
Now survive a year and two months of this. Of complete civil failure, with no police and no water and power being cut out every time a rocket or a bomb or a shell or a bullet hits the wrong something. Of unimaginable suffering, with the only men willing to treat your child for their shrapnel wounds under constant threat of targeted rocket attack by regime forces in their makeshift hospitals, with everyone you’ve ever known or interacted with being dead, dying, displaced, or crouched in the remains of their home like animals waiting to be one of the above depending on where the next mortar shell lands. Of knowing that the international community has written you off, that those fighting for you are corrupted by jihadists and left fashioning tanks out of scrap metal and playstation controllers, that if you pick up a gun you’ll be targeted by both armies and that if you don’t you’ll still be targeted by both armies as both see you as a collaborator of their enemy.
And with this in mind, you’re the lucky one. If you had stayed in your home village, yesterday the drug-crazed paramilitary forces of Assad’s psychopathic brother, the Shabiha, walked down the street lighting houses on fire and using machetes against anyone who was stupid enough to try to escape. They’re fueled by religion, politics, race, and their own insanity and when they enter a village no one else leaves it.
You’ve lived this long, seen so much unimaginable horror without a moment’s relief, and now you’re standing over the man who represents the force which took everything you’ve ever loved and gutted it with a smile. You have a knife. That’s how.
“We act out because, ironically, we think it will bring us some relief. We equate it with happiness. Often there is some relief, for the moment. When you have an addiction and you fulfill that addiction, there is a moment in which you feel some relief. Then the nightmare gets worse. So it is with aggression. When you get to tell someone off, you might feel pretty good for a while, but somehow the sense of righteous indignation and hatred grows, and it hurts you. It’s as if you pick up hot coals with your bare hands and throw them at your enemy. If the coals happen to hit him, he will be hurt. But in the meantime, you are guaranteed to be burned.”
Suppose that every memory, written word, and piece of technology on earth was destroyed at once, leaving humanity to start from scratch. Everything we have come to know about science would eventually be discovered again. Given a few thousand years, people would figure out chemistry, and rediscover all of the same elements we know about now. People would once again understand biology, including it’s evolutionary origins. People would eventually see that motions of other galaxies in the sky, and work out the details of the big bang.
This is the glorious part about science, it can and would all be replicated. I can assure you, however, that your story about a talking snake would be gone forever.
We are the first intelligent animals to know that death is inevitable and that will happen to us some day. It’s a scary thought. However, death may actually be the most beautiful thing we have. Right now we believe that we have one consciousness, but we don’t. Our consciousness is incredibly complicated. The brain has multiple neuronal groups, each responsible for a small part of our whole conscious. And each of those neuronal groups are made up of billions of individual neurons. When our consciousness is being expressed, it’s actually expressed through the firing of electric current through groups of neurons, so it’s always different every fraction of the second. We are actually continuously re birthing and dying in our minds, but our brain makes it seem as though it’s one continuous entity. It’s beautiful. We are merely constructs of the mind, and the mind is constructs of biology. Biology is a construct of incredibly complex chemistry down to the molecular level, and each molecule is a construct of the most fundamental physics that govern our universe, all gaining mass through the Higgs field that runs through the entire universe.
If you really think about it, our consciousness is based on physics, therefore it is physics. And since the universe is based on physics, then basically we are the universe. Each of us is just the universe expressing itself in different forms. And we are living during a very brief moment in time where humanity is discovering this truth, and has the scientific evidence to back this fact up (the Buddhists were right all along.)
You, yourself, are the product of billions of years of evolution. You budded off your mother, who budded off hers, who budded off hers… going all the way up to the first life form that existed on this planet. All the people that exist today are part of that line of organisms that never died, all those organisms that evolved through natural selection. Each of us can be traced back to that very first life form. I honestly feel amazed every time I think about this. And honestly, we all should. Evolution is a beautiful thing. And the most amazing thing about it is that it’s our work of art… Because we are the universe. We created ourselves. When we are studying atoms, we’re only atoms studying itself. We should stand in awe at our creation and look ahead at what we can continue to create in this brief moment of time that we have in this form. It’s amazing how we are wired to appreciate ourself, an infinitesimal beauty. It’s a gift that we are giving to ourself to admire.
And the most amazing thing is that we gave ourself the gift of what we perceive as consciousness, so that we can spend time appreciating our own existence.
If you enjoyed reading this, I suggest you watch:
Article here: chicagophoenix.com
So hmmm… What to do. On one side, this is good to hear. On the other side, Dan Cathy is a bigoted asshole and should be fired for what he said, and Chick-fil-A should make a public apology to the world, AND every cent they made on the “I am a Bigoted Christian and I hate FAGS day at Chick-fil-A” should be donated to LGBT charities.
On second thought, Fuck Chick-fil-A and Fuck those bigoted asshats that must always try to control others.
Do something. Or not.
Don’t bitch about loss of freedoms though unless you have stood up for something in your life.
Depression is a thing. OCD is a thing. Social Anxiety, all that shit. They exist. I’m not saying you don’t have them, but for the vast majority of people I know who say that they’re depressed, I have one response.
You’re not Depressed. You’re FUCKING BORED.
The human brain evolved over millions of years of running through jungles and fighting lions and killing shit. Today we sit here on reddit. Your brain doesn’t have anything to do with itself. There aren’t any lions. There are no more jungles. Our society has degraded itself into mental masturbation. Television, internet, media, movies, music. It’s just fucking playing with yourself.
We are bored, and we don’t know how to handle it. You think you’re depressed? Drop everything right now and go volunteer somewhere. Go feed the homeless, go to the wartorn starving heart of africa and build a fucking orphanege. You think you’re depressed? Go look an AIDS stricken ex-child solider in the eye, and tell him you’re depressed. Your problems? You don’t fucking have problems, man. You have no idea.
I challenge you, I’m calling you out. Go do something to make the world a better place for the people who have it worse than you. It can be something as small as picking up a homeless man and taking him to lunch somewhere. Or you can quit life and volunteer. And if after all that you’re still “depressed” at least you have done something to make the world a better place.
It’s like this. Your problems are fucking stupid. That’s the core of our belief. Your worries about if Becky thinks you’re hot, or how you spend too much time online, it’s fucking stupid. It’s masturbation. Go fucking do something. Go do something beautiful. Then you can understand what it means to not give a fuck.
(pulled from reddit.com)
That’s right. Enjoy it. Chow down. Get seconds and eat some more. Savor every bite.
But before you swallow, look at it. Get a real good look at that fried bird on bread. Take a moment to really take it in.
‘Cuz this is it. Your church leaders have failed you. Your politicians ignore you. The media laughs at your demise and mocks you daily.
Because you made fag sex your focus. All that insecurity about the life you chose, the company you keep, the future your ‘children’ will choose. And it comes to this.
A chicken sandwich. This is all the power you have left. A fast food sandwich. And you’re banking all the power you have left on expressing yourself through an ephemeral media event.
In two weeks no one will remember this, how you stood in line for a sandwich in hopes your little obsession might be noticed. And then it’s over.
The future is coming for you, for your family. There is no stopping it. You cannot resist the inevitable, you cannot depend on your church or your politicians to do anything but to keep selling you out.
All you have is this sandwich. Same-sex marriage will be a reality any day now, like gays in the military; the legal wheels are already in motion. Gays in your children’s schools. Gays on television and gays in the church and government. Because nobody with any real power actually cares what fags do. Only you.
(grabbed from a screenshot at 4chan.org)
‘Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.’
~ Barry Goldwater [R]
‘As soon as we realize it is within us to do such amazing acts and not endowed through some divine intervention the sooner we’ll strap ourselves in and start fixing all the broken shit in the world.’
~rza1m (youtube comment)
To everyone who opposes gay marriage and believes your bible gives you the moral authority to dictate the rights of others: Your children will look at you like we look at those who told blacks and women they didn’t have the same rights as white men.
You are on the wrong side of history and your bullshit will die with you.
‘Right now, it is raining methane on Titan. The planet Uranus, apparently trying to live up to it’s name, is orbiting the sun sideways, while Venus spins backwards. There are stars exploding, black holes gorging, galaxies colliding.
And here we sit, on a planet pock-marked by collisions, rocked by earthquakes, shaken by storms. A planet doomed to be fried by radiation as it’s magnetic fields collapse, until finally the sun grows into a red giant and leaves nothing of the Earth but dust.
Here we sit, glasses on our noses, inhalers in our pockets, braces on our teeth, waiting to die as our heart muscle expires, our cells decide to grow forever, or a blood vessel just pops, and sometimes in unnatural ways, too.
Here we sit, and some of us say, behold, look at the order of it all.’
‘The divorce between Church and State should be absolute. It should be so absolute that no Church property anywhere, in any state or in the nation, should be exempt from equal taxation; for if you exempt the property of any church organization, to that extent you impose a tax upon the whole community.’
~ President James A. Garfield
“These people who are making a big deal out of gay marriage? I don’t give a fuck about who wants to get married to anybody else! Why not?! We’re making a big deal out of things we shouldn’t be making a deal out of. They go on and on with all this bullshit about ‘sanctity’ — don’t give me that sanctity crap! Just give everybody the chance to have the life they want.”
If you were born in Israel, you’d probably be Jewish.
If you were born in Saudi Arabia, you’d probably be Muslim.
If you were born in India, you’d probably be Hindu.
But because you were born in North America you’re Christian…
Your faith is not inspired by some divine, constant truth; it’s simple geography.
“Jesus was a peaceful radical revolutionary, who was anti-capitalism, anti-death penalty, anti-public prayer, never anti-gay, didn’t mention abortion, long-haired, homeless, middle-eastern, brownskinned jew. You think the average fundamentalist knows that?”
Breathe. Please. Just breathe.
Make sure you’re alone at the computer so you can sort of meditate, just you and I and r/atheism in a room with you.
Close your eyes and imagine yourself, just your physical self, sitting where you are for five seconds and then open your eyes. I want you to notice something; you’re a human being.
I want you to look at your right or left hand, whichever is dominant. You can bring it to your face so you can see better. Look at the tiny little wrinkles in your hand and in your knuckles, every little fold of skin, every tiny minute detail. Look from the hairs on your wrist to the tips of the nails on your fingers. Just observe them. Imagine all the little cells and substances that make up your hand; the components of the bones, the skin, the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, the nerves, the keratin in your nails, and the other tissues that make up your hand.
I want you to think about your hand. Then I want you to realize something; at this moment, you are thinking. You are reading what I’m writing and comprehending and analyzing what I say. You are consciously and unconsciously evaluating the information I am giving to you. Your computer can’t do what you are doing at this point in time.
Think about your parents. Don’t dwell on anything negative, just a neutral image if you have to. Just the fact that someone, another human being gave birth to you. Think about the fact that someone gave birth to her many years ago, and someone else also gave birth to the person who gave birth to her. Think about how far back this chain goes. Great-great-great-great grandmothers, back to ancestors far in the past, back to common ancestors of the great apes, back to common ancestors among mammals, and chordates, and animals, and plants, and all living creatures. Think about how throughout that long lineage, you are carrying many of the same genes that all those ancestors before you had. Perhaps not a lot, but some at the very least, or at least some derivatives of those genes. Think about the genes that make up your body and how they differ from your relatives’ genes and your friends’ genes. You are a unique individual, statistically speaking. And there’s something else you should realize.
Here is a fact: You are a product of nearly 5 billion years of biological evolution and adaptation. You are here because you are a success, and you exist because you deserve to exist. Every cell in your hand is operating under that principle, and is trying its best to make you survive, to make you into the best human being you can be. Every cell in your body knows that you have a tremendous potential to become great and do good things. Think about how incredible it is to have a brain. Imagine how strikingly powerful and capable it is in its abstract processing abilities, despite its flaws and limitations. It’s staggering, isn’t it? That’s you, and that’s your own capacity. As a human being, you can use your own brain and your own two hands to improve your own and everyone else’s life by thinking, solving problems, constructing solutions, arguing for rationality, and helping those around you. You have some tremendous goddamn potential.
We at r/atheism don’t believe in a god or gods. We don’t need to study catechisms out of fear, regret, guilt, hatred, jealousy, deference, pity, or any other reason. We don’t need to confess every transgression against our fellow men and abuse our psyches trying to reconcile imperfection with ideals. The reason: we realize that we are human beings. We are the product of five billion years of evolution out of harsh, unfriendly environments and limited resources. As a result, while we are incredibly powerful creatures, we are also very fallible. But we don’t have to be defined by these fallibilities. We make mistakes, but here’s another fact: We are designed to make mistakes because we are a product of an imperfect process. That doesn’t make us worthless or pointless. That gives us a challenge to overcome. And we will succeed no matter what because we are goddamn brilliant and our genome is brilliant and our cells are brilliant. Extensively flawed, yes, but also brilliant, and if I wasn’t already clear enough, our existence has enormous potential.
But our potential is locked inside, and there’s really only two keys that unleash it: complete luck and hard work, and you’re better off placing your bets on the second choice. Your grades are slipping, man, and its not entirely your fault. But the blame game is irrelevant here, the point is that it’s a problem that needs fixing. You need to make high grades if that’s your priority. Take another 5 seconds to close your eyes and imagine what you want to be when you grow up. If you don’t know what you want to be, then pick something cool and draw on that just for the moment, like an astrophysicist or a professional tennis player. Your grades are probably going to need to be high in order to achieve what you want, even for an athletic goal (it’s easier and more secure this way in the long run). You want something, and low grades are in the way. That’s a problem, because you’re a human being. But you also have a solution, because you’re a human being. You’ve got hands and brains, and you can employ them however you want; let’s use them for constructive ends, like bettering your grades. You just have to exert willpower to stay away from unproductive activities on the computer and make yourself put in time and energy toward studying, and there are people who can help you do that better than I can. And at the same time, we can use your resources to improve your physical health, and then your mental health and self esteem. Because we are a goddamn civilization, and we can cooperate with others to solve problems we can’t solve entirely on our own. Because the payoff will be vastly worth the input effort, even if it takes time. And the best part is that you don’t need to condemn yourself with destructive religious zeals that were forced into you to do it. You can live happily as an agnostic atheist, as much of r/atheism can demonstrate, and you will certainly be more fulfilled if you appreciate yourself for what your evolutionary success and your intrinsic capacity are worth. And if you ever doubt that you are worth anything to a society, read this again and just think about what it means to be an evolutionary success, and what it means that you are alive while literally quintillions of potential possible human beings weren’t.
Don’t waste your opportunity to live and do something great. You can never make a mistake so terrible that it warrants punishing yourself by giving up the one thing we must cherish most: our humanity. Because you’re pretty goddamn brilliant for a chimpanzee, and I think that with proper guidance and some support, you can accomplish a lot of great things, with or without a religion if you need or don’t need one; that’s your choice.
As life forms in an otherwise empty universe as far as we have seen, we need to preserve the things that we have in our advantage in order to enjoy the limited time we have in this world as much as possible, and I think r/atheism, some good, dependable friends you can rely on, and a little bit of courage and persistence will let you do just that.
-sincerely, the rational human race.
“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”
~ Isaac Asimov
“Like every other man of intelligence and education I do believe in organic evolution. It surprises me that at this late date such questions should be raised.”
~ President Woodrow Wilson in 1912