Why Are Atheists “The Enemy?”

I was just reading/listening to Teresa Macbain’s story–

http://www.npr.org/2012/04/30/151681248/from-minister-to-atheist-a-story-of-losing-faith

Religion so often does the opposite of what believers think.  It makes people intolerant.  Why does Teresa’s community that she gave guidance and counseling and encouragement and support to, turn on her this way and treat her like an enemy?  Do Christians view Jews as the enemy?  Or Buddhists?  Or anyone who happens to have faith in something else?   Then why are atheists the enemy?  And especially atheists who were previously Christians?

Tell you what, listening to Teresa’s story…struck a chord with me.  I haven’t become an enemy like she has.  I am not seen as a betrayer of the faith as she is.  But I have lost friends since I made it clear I can’t believe anymore.   I also find myself suddenly having to walk on eggshells worrying how much should I exult in this new feeling of freedom?  How much singing out and speaking out and shouting out with joy can I do before I am admonished for offending someone?

Really, all it takes to offend a Christian is to say the words “there’s no such thing as god.”  Say those words and they are offended, personally and deeply offended.

It’s not meant to be an offense.  If I went 40 years of my life thinking I have a horrible singing voice and always being ashamed to sing, afraid to sing…and then one day I’m told by a voice teacher I have a really great range and wonderful potential as a singer, I’m going to want to tell people.    The same is true if I go my whole life believing in something that makes me feel I can’t ever be good enough, that I was born corrupt and I need to do this and this and this to be good or to be loved…and then one day I find out it’s all a lie and I was born into this world exactly right and exactly as nature meant me to be–I would want to sing that news from the rooftops!  I’d want to  tell my friends, my family, people I care about whom I still see struggling in the dark.   And yet…it offends people.

No Christian, especially not the ones who live for Jesus and give their whole life’s work to serving Jesus like Ms. Macbain, want or ask to lose their faith.   It’s not a road believers take intentionally.  It’s a path they stumble on.

We’re not supposed to ask questions.  I know a friend who was kicked out of her church for asking too many questions.  Why is that?  If Christianity is true–if any religion is true–it should be able to withstand any questions put to it.  It should  not shy away from the new discoveries of science either, but rather welcome those discoveries as further proof of its unshakable truth.

Instead when I asked questions, the kind of questions that put parts of the bible or god’s actions or Jesus’ actions, into doubt, I was given the same pat answers: “we are finite beings; how can we possibly understand god?”  Or, “god works in mysterious ways.”  Or, “have faith.  God will reveal this to you in time.”

And then that time never comes.

I look at the bible and I wonder, how can this loving god that the Christians believe in order little children dashed to pieces or pregnant mother’s bellies cut open with swords?   How can this just and merciful god order a man stoned to death for picking up sticks on the Sabbath or…allow his followers to teach that women are worth only half as much as men and should be silent, should not wear jewelry or braided hair or… speak aloud in church, and daughters can be sold into slavery.

These are the questions that catch us unaware.  We are like everyone else, Christians going along with what we’re told, assuming someone bothered to do the research and confirm it’s all true.  We nod our heads and sing our songs and high-light the appropriate verses in the bible.   But then one day someone points out something in the bible we didn’t know was there.  Or maybe one day it suddenly dawns on us that it makes no sense that Satan would hate the people who deny god, his enemy, and would want to punish them.    Or that god would punish Adam and Eve so severely for simply being ignorant, for making a mistake, and not just them but all of humanity.

Atheists are not the enemy of anyone.  Atheists simply do not believe in the supernatural–and have lately been brought to the point that we aren’t so silent about it anymore after having to hear politicians who should know better declare our country a “Christian nation” when it’s not, or for that matter have  Christianity shoved in our face wherever we turn.  How does this make us bad people worthy of hate?  How does this make someone like Teresa Macbain worthy of being shunned by the very community she served and helped for years?

Once upon a time God created himself an enemy.  I’m not sure why.  A lot of pain and suffering would have been avoided if he hadn’t.   But he made Satan and then punished Satan for being made.  Sometimes I feel like Christians want to have an enemy too.  So they hunt down people who dare to not agree, and attack them, call them ignorant or evil–arrogantly tell them they’re going to hell–basically punish them for daring to be, just like gays, true to who and what they are.

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Christian Blinders

When a Christian spouts off about all the other evidences and proofs out there that a biblical Jesus existed, other than, that is, the four gospels written by anonymous church-hired writers in the New Testament, demand they kindly provide these proofs.  Are they going to list Josephus or other Roman historians that either did not live during the time of Jesus or did not actually write about him per se, but rather the appearance of the new religion Christianity.

It is largely accepted that the few passages in Josephus that mention Jesus were added in later, as the paragraphs are out of context with the sentences that come before and after.   And even if a historian is found who lived during Jesus’ alleged lifetime and did write about him, all that proves is that a person named Jesus existed.  I believe in that part of the world, it is not an uncommon name.

All I ask for is evidence.  Christianity lost credibility for me when I realized that the bible is not true.  When I figured out that there were verses clearly put into it not because they were god’s teachings but because some religious group wanted to dictate certain laws and rules over the common people, and especially to subjugate certain people, most especially women, as is typical of all man-made, patriarchal religions.

Once I figured out that some verses in the bible couldn’t possibly be from god or god inspired, then all of a sudden the entire book became suspect.  How am I, with my puny little mind, supposed to weed out what is really from god and what isn’t really from god?   Between that and the blatant errors in the bible (god the all powerful can’t smite chariots made of iron?  Hello???), the bible stopped being, in my eyes, anything real.

Some Christians readily admit the bible is nothing more than a fairy tale or myths–legends, etc.  But they still believe.  I fail to see how the religion can have a leg to stand on if the bible is not true, if the story of Adam and Eve and original sin is not true?  Without that story of original sin there ceases to be a need for religion, or god, or saviors.  There ceases to be a need for Christianity.  This is the only reason why the Christian bible still has the old testament included–because they need that all important absurd story of talking snakes and the original sin.

Talk to a Christian, they will tell you about Christian writers who disagree.  Well, no surprise there.  I say, read the testimonials of learned Christians–men and women who went to Seminary and taught this stuff and knew the bible inside out and STILL unconverted–lost their faith–stopped believing.   These are the people I would be interested in hearing from.  Not the people who just say the same things I had to hear over and over and over–repeating the same well worn pages and hi-lighted verses, and ignoring completely the other three quarters of this book.

Before a Christian has the right to tell me their god is good, they need to read the entire bible.  They need to tell me how a good and loving deity does what the god of the old testament does, and answer the illogic of an all knowing god deliberately creating flawed human beings, and then punishing them for being flawed.

Silent No More!

And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions. error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it. I deem the essential principles of our government. Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus, and trial by juries impartially selected.
Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801

“As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation.  But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?”      -John Adams, letter to F.A. Van der Kamp, Dec. 27, 1816

“The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity.  Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and whole cartloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity.” -John Adams

“The Bible is not my book, nor Christianity my profession.”
                        -Spoken by Abraham Lincoln, quoted by Joseph Lewis

“Religious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause.  Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by the difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be depreciated.  I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society.”
                            -George Washington, letter to Edward Newenham, 1792

“. . . Some books against Deism fell into my hands. . . It happened that they wrought an effect on my quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist.”  Benjamin Franklin
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Tolerance.  For three years now I have been an atheist, after over 35 years of being a born again Christian.  What have I had to learn like I never had to learn before?  Tolerance.

When I was a Christian I thought nothing of not only proclaiming what I believed, but arguing about it, vehemently, sometimes even rudely.  Everyone else’s beliefs were wrong and mine were right.  And often I had other people back me up on it too, because mine was the acceptable, popular opinion.  I was indignant if anyone disagreed.  I couldn’t remotely entertain the thought that I might be wrong, or that my mother could be wrong, or her mother, or the church leaders I had grown up listening to and believing every word.  And the BIBLE!  The unblemished Word of God.   His might–at my fingertips if only I believed hard enough.  The “good book” that Christians arm themselves with in defense against Satan. 

I remember as a child I had cards in a box and each card had a bible verse on it.  I would memorize the card, and once I did, I’d put it aside and then memorize the next.  Until I could say one verse after the next correctly, and in order.   I did this because the church I went to preached that Satan is repelled by bible verses.  So I learned them.    And they sounded right to my young ears.

And of course they did.  They were cherry picked for the impressionable young.  There was none of the darker verses found throughout the bible. Nothing about burning witches or about women being forbidden to speak or ask questions in church, etc. 

At bible camp we sang our songs over and over, both morning and night, celebrating, among other things, having been “washed in the blood” or being “under the blood”–(a hold-over from the blood baptisms of pagan Mithraism Christianity replaced–where followers stood under a grate while above them a bull was sacrificed.).  To this day I can sing every song we sang then–I remember every single word.  Because that is part of belief.  It starts out as an idea.  It is repeated in verse and in song.  It is memorized.  It takes root inside your head –becomes a way of thinking and habit…until you forget when it started or where it came from.  That’s when you accept it’s always been, and it is true, absolutely true, so true that everyone should know!   Or so I thought.  Someone at some time must have done their research to prove it’s all true–so I didn’t have to–again, or so I presumed.  I just…accepted that the bible was history, and the tales in it–about real people.  But really, were they?   Did people like Matthew, Mark, Luke and John… actually exist?  Jesus too?   No one seemed to question it in my little bible-camp world.  I never heard anyone at my church or at that camp question if these characters in this book ever lived at all?  No one asks this.  No one asks WHO exactly wrote the bible, or why, or who hired them to write it?  For what purpose?  What was the agenda?

As a Christian the religious holidays were wonderful. Filled with fellowship and wonder and reverence and even hope of the promise the birth represents, and the sacrifice on the cross represents.  I walked around with a cross around my neck.  I was never a bible thumper but I was a Christian and I loved getting the warm and fuzzy Christian spam emails I got, and if anyone asked me oh sure, then I’d talk about my faith because then I knew it was safe.  Here was someone who would agree with everything or most everything I did.  I could talk and they’d nod their head and then they’d talk and further feed my belief, strengthen my delusion that this whole thing really is true.

If i ever came across a Jewish person, or atheist or anyone who was obviously not a believer, like someone wearing a turban or veil, oooh, I’d feel indignant inside.  I wouldn’t want to start up a conversation with them because…well, two reasons.  One, what did they know?  They were the lost.  The unsaved.  The ignorant.   And two…they might know more about their religion or beliefs than I knew about mine and I didn’t want my precious beliefs I hadn’t bothered to research, threatened in any way!  I didn’t want to look foolish, or have to be put on the defensive or hear the painful words said that MY beliefs are not true!  I didn’t want to be insulted by hearing someone say my Heavenly Father doesn’t exist or his Son who DIED for my sins…doesn’t exist!  That kind of thing offended me, angered me, deeply upset me.  So I avoided talking religion to these people–and in fact avoided people like this completely. I even avoided reading any books or articles by non-Christians which might challenge or put into doubt for me, my “faith.” I didn’t want to doubt, or question. I wanted to be like a little child as the bible commands, and blindly BELIEVE without question as good Christians do.

That was then.   Fast forward to now and I am an atheist.  Suddenly I notice how often people talk about their beliefs as if they think everyone agrees with them.  Suddenly people are making a big deal about whether our current President is a Christian or not–while I’m thinking, what difference does THAT make when most of our founding fathers were not!

Learning to not defend my new non-beliefs has been difficult, because I grew up quick to get indignant and angry and upset any time anyone attacked my Christian beliefs.  But to defend my new beliefs as a secular person who doesn’t believe…that’s wrong.  That’s offensive to the majority–to all those Christians who, just like it once offended me, get angry and upset and take it personally when they hear anything contradictory or like an outright challenge to their beliefs.   So really, it’s ok for Christians to broadcast what they think and believe and why.  That’s called witnessing.  It’s trying to spread the good news.  It’s a wholesome, happy message of hope.  A positive message. So it’s okay because since it’s so positive, how can it possibly offend anyone?  Right?

Well, it does!  I didn’t realize it’s a two way street, not just a one way street, until I found myself at an intersection and changing directions.  It IS a two way street and believe it or not, people who don’t believe in Christianity or the Christian god do still feel all the same burning passions inside them for whatever it is they do believe, be it belief in another religion, or belief in science, in evolution, in preserving the balance of nature, of being humane to each other and to animals.  Whatever the belief, it is close to the believer’s heart.

So when we have Conservative Republicans fighting to be nominated, and they’re busy vocalizing about how America is a Christian nation…which it isn’t and never has been…it basically says to all the rest of us who are not Christian, get the hell out, you aren’t wanted here.

There’s a Reason Rally on March 24th, 2012–a coming out celebration for Secularism.   Why?   Really, why?  What do people who don’t believe in God have to defend?  To cry foul over?   To get indignant about?

How about the fact this is our country too?  And we love our country too?  And we aren’t deceived by the bullshit they’re feeding the mainstream  that this country was founded by Christians–when we know perfectly well it was not.   This is our country too, and yet can a secular person, someone who does not believe in god or gods, have any hope of running for President?  No.  And how come that is?  Since when has the word “Christian” become the replacement word for words like wholesome, kind, compassionate, honest, ethical, caring, fair, gentle, forgiving, merciful, loving or good?

For a very long time people with no beliefs have felt no need to speak out.  For a very long time atheists and agnostics and pagans and heathens or whatever else you want to call us–infidels–whatever, have held our tongues and allowed the religious to walk all over those of us who don’t believe.  To silently smile and meekly try to change the subject rather than disagree and risk hurting someone’s feelings or upsetting someone.   But now we have the Religious Right trying to tell all of us that we are all of us Christians, and their puritan ideas of what is right and wrong, should be accepted by us all!   We’re back to that old song and dance again about how women should have babies if they get pregnant, whether or not they want to, and women should not have insurance coverage for birth control–which of course will mean so many more unwanted babies coming into the world with parents who can’t afford them.

I think it’s time to speak out.  I think it’s time that the secular population join together and protest our right to not believe, our right to not have to be silent just because our opinion is the less accepted, minority one, our right to not be governed by doctrine that seeks to keep our society in the dark ages, women under the dominion of men, and further allow our planet’s overpopulation crisis to multiply.

In my view such religious doctrine that abortion is murder (which the bible does not say, by the way), and the people or organizations like the Religious Right who seek to make war against women and take away their rights over their own futures–their own bodies, are one of the main reasons why  why our planet’s environment is so out of whack now–why we have too many people and not enough food–and why we have killer storms in parts of the world where they have never been before.

So it’s not just for the sake of our pride, and our desire to be counted as patriotic Americans too.  Nor is it just for the purpose of defending/preserving our human rights.  It’s for the sake of our planet, and for the sake of the advancement of science and understanding–the only weapons we have to defend ourselves, against ourselves.

Would This Feel Like Heaven?

This is something I often wondered growing up as I did, raised by a very devout Christian widow who…well…let’s just say it was very important to her that her children would go to heaven.   Which is why to this day I have never told my mom I no longer believe, and haven’t believed in what is now three years or more.

If I were to imagine heaven, it would be a place where there are no tears, no sadness, no heartache, no despair, no disappointment, no discouragement, no worry, no regrets, no hunger, no thirst, no loneliness, no yearning for things to be different.  Heaven would be all the best things I could ever imagine, like all the most breathtaking natural beauty the earth could offer, only so much more, the colors so much brighter, the sounds so much sweeter.  The air would be like standing in a grove of lilac trees, or in the center of a greenhouse filled with roses.  All would be so glorious you’d want to stand there forever, drinking it in, content to stay still in that moment forever.

As a Christian I had friends who were not, family who were not.  And it bothered me.  Really really bothered me.  My dad’s cousin Evelyn died, and she was an atheist who told me once to my face she had never sinned.  Because she did not believe in sin–which in her view was a man-made invention that made religion necessary.  So when Evie died, I was very sad.  I didn’t want to think of Evie in hell.  It upset me to think of such a wonderful loving lady in such a horrible place.

I have heard it said that hell is not what the bible describes in a literal sense.  Hell is to be eternally separate from God.  Hell is to be able to gaze across a divide at all the joys of heaven, and not be able to go there, not be able to be among all those happy people, but to be stuck forever and ever in a place apart from God.   That’s what hell is.

Now if I were one of those lucky people who managed to make it into heaven, and I looked across and I could see–or even if I couldn’t see, but I just knew, I had friends or family like Evie, in some other place, and they were suffering.  If I knew that because of choices they made in their life as puny and ignorant mortals they were doomed to be punished forever, unforgiven, to a place of despair, of sadness, of pain, of separation, of never knowing the utter bliss I was getting to enjoy…  Would that be very nice for me?  Would I be in heaven?  Would heaven be a happy paradise for me, if I knew across the divide there were people I knew and cared for, suffering–and doomed by my God to suffer forever?  Would that be a happy thing for me?

The only way I would find Heaven a happy place for me under those circumstances, would be if God made my heart very hard so I wouldn’t care anymore.   So I would regard those friends I once cared for and family I cared for as deserving to languish in agony and despair forever.   They would be like my enemy and I would feel how right it was for them to suffer for eternity while I enjoyed happiness beyond my wildest dreams.

If I had to have my heart hardened for Heaven to be a happy place for me–for me to no longer care about people I once cared for now having to suffer, how much more brittle and hardened would God’s heart have to be, considering he supposedly is merciful and “love” is one of his names?   For him to be merciful and loving by nature, and yet able to condemn billions of souls to eternal torment and still go on his merry way being happy in his paradise despite all that suffering going on….wouldn’t he have to shut his ears and harden his heart and cease to be merciful and loving?

He would no longer be a loving God.  He would no longer be a merciful God.  He’d be a cruel and unforgiving God–by so enforcing an eternal horrible punishment upon mortal beings who did for whatever reason, not jump through the right hoops while they were living, and so now they must suffer forever.

It would be different if the rule book were crystal clear and not subject to this interpretation or that interpretation.  But the rule book is not clear.  There are verses in the bible that contradict other verses.  The bible says Thou Shalt not Kill and yet time and time again God kills, or orders his followers to kill.   There is a verse that says not by works are you saved, but it is a gift from god, and there’s another verse that says good works are just a part of what you must do to have eternal life.  There’s a verse that says you should make it known what good works you do, and another verse that says you should keep it secret, and not boast.

Which verses are the correct ones, and which are not?  Why are there cities placed in the wrong countries in the bible?  Why was there a census mentioned in the bible shortly after Jesus’ birth, but the year is off–there was no census at that time per actual history?

If God’s good news is so important, so critical that the punishment is so horrible indeed for those of us who don’t hear or hear but don’t believe…then why isn’t God’s word perfectly clear?  Wouldn’t God insist on it being absolutely clear?  Without flaw?  Without human tampering?    And if our salvation is so important to God, why does he not simply make his existence fact, rather than keep us all guessing?   In all the world there is not one scrap of non-biblical proof of the existence of God, or Jesus for that matter.   Now if God is real, and if his good news is real, and if our salvation is so important to him, so we don’t end up in hell suffering forever while he, God, is forced to shut his ears and turn his back and never forgive–why isn’t evidence of his existence or Jesus’ existence, as plentiful to find as the bones of dinosaurs are?  Why doesn’t God appear and end the doubting that will ultimately cost so many eternal life?  Or for that matter, why did God make Lucifer in the first place, or human beings so fallable as to be capable of sin and then place them right where he knew his imperfect angel was lying in wait?

Or if God doesn’t want to appear?  If our salvation isn’t worth him revealing himself, why not perform the impossible to prove miracles really do happen?  Like, allowing the amputee who has been praying really hard, to have his lost arm or leg grow back?  Or give the woman who had her eyes gouged out by the chimpanzee, new eyes–regrow them in her head?   If God can do anything, these things would not surpass his power–and would leave very little doubt that the supernatural exists.  And yet he doesn’t.

Anyway, I have digressed and I’m sorry.  My point is, even if I were still a Christian, and even if I did make it into this paradise Christians look forward to.  It wouldn’t be heaven to me because I would know my Aunt Evie was being punished in hell–and she was a really neat lady who does not deserve torment and pain for all eternity.  So heaven would become hell for me,  knowing Evie isn’t there and knowing there’s nothing I can do to appeal to this merciless deaf God to hear her cries of torment and forgive.

That wouldn’t be heaven for me, and that would not be a god I would even want to follow.

REASON RALLY! I WISH I COULD GO!

The below article describes better than anything I have read  before, just exactly WHY I feel the desire to defend what I believe as a non-believer, and so I wanted to share.  Oh, and incidentally, I think it is WRONG that non-believers are deemed unelectable just for not believing in supernatural beings!

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/our-humanity-naturally/201203/reason-rally-secular-coming-out-celebration

 

Reason Rally: A Secular Coming-Out Celebration

Nonbelievers are finding solidarity like never before
Published on March 14, 2012 by David Niose in Our Humanity, Naturally

 

In a show of solidarity that would have been unimaginable even just a few years ago, thousands will be flocking to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on March 24 in celebration of secularity. The Reason Rally, a day-long event featuring notable entertainers and speakers and attracting busloads of nonbelievers from all over the country, could be a watershed moment for the secular movement. 

The lineup for the day includes a mix of entertainers, public intellectuals, and representatives from various secular groups. All events are free. The band Bad Religion will be performing, and the crowd will also hear from comedian Tim Minchin, popular skeptic and debunker James Randi, and author and scientist Richard Dawkins. Lawrence Krauss, author of “A Universe from Nothing,” whose ideas inspired Miley Cyrus to tweet on the issue (thereby sparking a backlash from enraged Christian fans), will also be on hand, along with many others, to address the secular festival.

 The event is not a protest and certainly not a religion-bashing affair, but instead can be best understood as a coming-out party for an entire movement. This has caused some to belittle the rally, suggesting that demographic unity around the notion of disbelief is itself nonsensical. Such critiques, however, only reflect a failure to understand what fuels the modern secular movement.

It is very true that many Americans—even many who are themselves nonreligious—see the idea of personal secularity as somewhat insignificant. That is, even many nonbelievers rarely consider emphasizing their religious skepticism—their secular worldview—as a primary means of identification. Ask a typical American nonbeliever to describe her basic lifestance, for example, and she may use terms like “liberal” and “feminist” and “environmentalist,” and perhaps numerous others, before reaching any identifier that would raise the issue of religious skepticism.

For many in recent years, however, personal secularity has become an increasingly important aspect of their identity, a clear way of describing one’s basic lifestance in the midst of a political and cultural landscape that has become an anti-intellectual wasteland. As such, the Reason Rally, as its name suggests, can be seen as a public manifestation of the secular trend that vehemently opposes America’s descent into irrationality.

Ironically, the primary root cause of the growing secular movement is the Religious Right. Because politically mobilized religious conservatives have become such a visible force in America, nonbelievers increasingly feel the need to assert themselves as a demographic. Whereas America’s seculars previously went about their daily business without openly displaying their naturalistic, reason-based identity, this indiscreet approach has required rethinking in the face of religious conservatives constantly claiming moral superiority, attacking church-state separation, and tainting public policy . 

Indeed, as the Religious Right has consistently grown in influence for over three decades—to the point that religious fundamentalists are now routinely elected to office in much of the country and are even serious contenders for the presidency (while open nonbelievers are unelectable)—many who are personally secular have come to realize that they can no longer keep their religious skepticism in the closet. As modern America listens to high-profile conservatives talk seriously about limiting access to not just abortion, but now even birth control, the notion of reason has suddenly become important, an affirmative means of standing up and pushing back against faith-based absurdity.

Thus, the Reason Rally.

Some, still feeling uncomfortable with open displays of secularity, insist that we should go back to those days when religion was simply a non-issue, when polite public discussions avoided questions of religion altogether. The Religious Right, however, has made that impossible, and therefore those who are indeed secular are increasingly standing up to demand that the over-the-top exaltation of religion stop, that Americans carefully consider how counterproductive it is to stigmatize secularity in the modern world. 

Thus, the cry of the seculars: We don’t believe. We won’t leave. Get used to it!

Hang on America: On March 24—rain or shine—Secular Americans are coming out.

Pre-order Dave’s book, Nonbeliever Nation, here

Join Nonbeliever Nation on Facebook

Follow Dave on Twitter 

Dave will be tweeting from the Reason Rally all day on March 24

 

What Is Wrong With This Picture?

Some glaring problems with our society (meaning the good ol USA).

1.  Unequal treatment (the rich get tax breaks the rest of us do not).

2.  Failure to care for our elderly and worse, now it looks like Social Security is under threat of extinction too.  What is an older person who has worked hard their whole life to contribute to this society, to do when he/she can no longer work?  How is an elderly person supposed to survive without a job and please don’t tell me a retiree plan because people are living longer and cost of living keeps going up. I already know there is no way in hell my retirement plan will keep me from having to live in a cardboard box.  What kind of nation doesn’t care for it’s sick or elderly?  Inquiring minds really want to know. And hey, what about all the money I paid into Social Security…involuntarily…since age 15? Or is theft committed against me by my government somehow just…okay?

3.  Failure to care for the sick or injured poor.  Do we really grant care for our fellow humans, only if they’re the priviledged few?  Say I have no insurance or I do have insurance but I can’t afford to have much so any kind of illness or injury involving an inpatient stay will put me in huge debt for the rest of my life–which likely might not be very long if I have any kind of health problem that can be aggravated by the tremendous stress huge bills I can’t possibly afford will cause.

4.  Short sightedness re. the failing environment and not making this a priority.  Let’s see.  Every year the tornados and hurricanes and weird weather at all the wrong times, keep getting worse. People are dying because there are tornados now where there shouldn’t be or really big tornados where once really big tornados were rare.  Entire towns or cities are being wiped out.    So come on!  How much longer do we go on blindly pretending global warming doesn’t exist?   Is knocking down more trees and more deforestation a good response to this disaster?  Killing even more of the struggling natural world we have left?  Or hey, how about pouring more crap into our oceans–see how well that solves the problem?

5.  Obesity among the growing poor and increasing medical costs as a result.    Ever notice how the cheaper food at the grocery store is always the stuff they say is bad for you?  Canned food.  Processed food.  Stuff loaded with tons of salt, sugars, or stuff impossible to pronounce.  But hey, if it’s all you can afford you’re going to buy it right?  It’s that or walk around hungry because anyone notice the price of  produce lately?   Fruits. Grains.  Nuts?  The stuff that’s good for you?  So does it follow that the more poor people we have, the more obesity we will have (and more overweight poor people unable to afford decent healthcare) as the price of the healthy food climbs ever higher–which it will, too, guarantee, as the number of farms decrease, and the percentage of acreage available for farming becomes less and less and of course the natural habitat left becomes less and less as we humans go right on wearing blinders. After all, God will one day just fix everything, yes?

6.  Uncle Sam or someone/something else?  I don’t know but it sure seems to me we haven’t had an independent thinker as president since Bill Clinton, who I personally think did one hell of a good job. How sad that he was impeached for being a sleeze.  Last time I checked it wasn’t a person’s religion or morality I was voting for to run my country or make things right.  I could care less if my president has the morals of a gutter rat so long as he/she gets the job done.   Considering how we thanked Bill Clinton for getting our deficit down to practically nill–the humiliation we put that man through, it seems to me we deserve the substandard leadership we’ve had in the White House ever since. 

Does it matter who we vote for, really?   We put a Democrat in office–he wants to pander to the Left and abandon all those lofty dreams of yes we can he preached before being elected.  We put a Republican in office–again the left has its way, because money talks and money rules and I’m sorry but I think government has become its own special interest group regardless of who we put at the helm.   And that’s another thing.  Is there a point to voting anymore?   When a president can lose the popular vote–and still be elected?  What is the point?  I live in Washington State and every four years I hear the victor’s name announced before all MY state’s votes are counted.  How is this going to make me feel there’s any point–or any say re. what happens to my country that, I’m sorry, I’m beginning not to recognize anymore?

7.  Since when is discrimination RIGHT?     And yet it is, isn’t it?  My Bank of America branch here in Seattle is managed by a hispanic person.  Is it mere coincidence that every last person I see working at this bank is either Asian, or hispanic, or black?  In the last four or more years I have not seen one white person working there.   And at the restaurant where I work my second job, all the cooks, all the dishwashers–they’re all hispanic.  Without exception.  And if I complete a job application at Walmart or Fred Meyer, the application will specifically ask if I’m of hispanic heritage.  Uh, why?  If I say yes I am, will I have a better chance at getting the job?   If yes, um…why?  Seeing only hispanics working at Mexican restaurants and only Asians working at Asian restaurants.  Isn’t this discrimination against anyone else who isn’t of that heritage?  Why is this permitable?  Or how about those places that only hire you if you’re good looking or young?  I know of a restaurant that only hires young women for hostesses.  Pretty young women.  Isn’t this discrimination?  And why is this okay?

Why is it okay that we only see attractive news reporters and sports reporters on TV?   What if a really ugly woman wanted to be a sports reporter?  Or hey, how about an obese one?  Would she remotely have a chance?  And isn’t this discrimination?  I remember sitting at a bar once and the men near me were commenting on how the female sports reporter had put on some weight.  Think this would be something they’d notice if said reporter was a man?

And speaking of… in the US where there should be an equal opportunity for all to obtain their dreams if they have enough gumption for it, how come single people can’t be president? It really seems to me you have to have a spouse, don’t you?  There has to be a First Lady, after all, or hey, maybe someday, a First Man?   And have you noticed lately the emphasis on our president’s religion?  People wondering if he’s a Muslim or not?  What about this?  What if he was?  Are only Christians allowed to be president? Can an atheist be president?  Or a Hindu?  Or a Wiccan?  Or is the seat of the presidency reserved for a Christian butt only?  Again, I’d really like to know.  Because this too seems like discrimination.  I’m a single atheist woman who doesn’t look like Sarah Palin, and my chances of being president–absolutely NILL!  

So that’s all.  Just feeling like having a rant.  There’s so much more I could list and maybe I will later, that I see wrong with this culture, and also how we look at the world.  When I was in HS I wrote an essay on why I thought human beings will ultimately be the cause of their own extinction.  My belief in this hasn’t changed.  In fact it’s only grown stronger.   And mostly because we tolerate double standards and walk around with blinders on.

The Damage Myths Cause For Our Planet & All Life

I am trying really hard to avoid this current election because it angers me.   The conservative Christian and other groups that we are being told want to discourage contraception or eliminate it completely due to their own person “moral” objections, and in doing so create more unwanted pregnancies to then force women to have to bear for nine months….WTF????  And then what?  What will happen to all those unwanted babies?  Will all these people against women controlling their own bodies line up and offer to adopt?  Or will we see more children stuck their whole first 18 years in foster care, moved from house to house, subjected to carrying their belongings in garbage bags and never knowing what it feels like (many of them) to be loved?

It just floors me that people can be soooo short sighted.   I don’t care if some people believe the myth that a god is going to destroy the earth when it all gets just too bad, then create a new earth, a new Jerusalem for Christians (only) to inhabit for a thousand years, or whatever it is they believe.  It is MY world too.  I would like to live the rest of my life without the prospect of developing worstening claustrophobia issues everywhere I go.  I would like to see the natural world be allowed to continue, and enough natural habitat for other life besides human beings, to be allowed to continue.

When I was in High School I read about a study they made on rats in a cage and overpopulation.  I remember reading, the denser the rat population, the more the rats wanted to kill each other.   Below I found the following, which explains this more.   Yes I do think human beings should wake up to the fact we are also animals.  And this increase in rage we feel on crowded roads and in long lines and over-crowded side-walks–there’s a really big reason for it.  Why do we see more and more school shootings and mall shootings and seemingly normal people suddenly turning on their families, killing their spouses and children?  Is it oh, I don’t know, SATAN????  Or could it be human beings are just as likely to behave as other animals do when conditions become too crowded?

I think religion is fine and well.  But I think just the oppressive doctrine that wants to control not only the members of that religion but EVERYONE, is causing not just women, but all of us, immense harm by hugely contributing to a very overpopulated world.

On Rats:   http://culturechange.org/issue19/overpop_terrorism.htm

Overpopulation & terrorism: rats in a cage

by John Omaha

Many people will find it difficult to compare human populations to rat populations. Many humans will suffer for that cognitive impairment. When a pair of reproductively competent rats are placed in a closed space and provided with sufficient food, they will reproduce and reproduce until the space is filled with rats. At a critical density, wars break out. Some rats, alpha males, claim territory and defend it. Others attack. Sound familiar? Only difference between rats and humans is the language-making capability of the human left brain. We humans give names to our territoriesó “World Trade Center” is one. The right brain, impelled by drives and emotions, is the fundamental force operating here. The left brain makes “reasons” for what the right brain is going to do anyway. Some of these “reasons” are: democracy, Islam, God, Allah, terrorist, Third World, globalization.

 What we are seeing is the result of an exponentially increasing population. This is population biology at work. Anthropologists and population biologists studied all the wars in history for which adequate data were available. They learned that war breaks out when the percentage of the population consisting of single males in the age range 16-26 exceeds a certain fraction of the total population. Whatever Osama bin Laden may call it, whatever Al Fatah, or the PLO, or Jonas Savimbi, or Mexican President Fox, or the Australians who refuse to allow the Indonesian refugees into their country, whatever the East Timorese may call it, the Afghanis, the Pakistanis orwhatever name it is given is not correct; the correct name is overpopulation.

 And this is just the beginning. World population stands at over 6 billion now. Projections differ on how high it will go. At one point it was projected to top out at 15 billion. Then it was reduced to 13 billion. The latest numbers I have seen are 9 billion. This will happen in the next 25 years. What happens after that? Mass die off. Itís a fact of population biology. Eventually the bacteria on the Petri dish use up all the resources and die. We live on a spherical Petri dish. As groups led by alpha males come into unavoidable contact with each other, conflict erupts. Osama bin Laden is an alpha male. Yasser Arafat is an alpha male. The clerics of the Taliban are alpha males. God help us, our alpha male is George W. Bush. The attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and whatever was going on in Pennsylvania are conflicts between population segments assembled behind alpha males in an overpopulated, confined space, in which the segments are seeking to expand into territory that is resource rich compared to their own.

 Unfortunately, all the players are thinking from inside the box. Bush tells us we wíll find the terrorists and punish them. The terrorists are only the proximate problem. The terrorists are the vanguard of the real problem: the surplus billions of people on this spherical Petri dish. Only when the true problem is identified and addressed will we escape the inevitable fate of our species–a mass die off that will sometimes look like terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and will at other times look like AIDS and at other times like “ethnic cleansing” in Serbia. 

Control of our species reproductive drive is the central survival issue our species must solve if Homo sapiens is to be a successful evolutionary experiment. Solving the issue will require the cooperation of all human beings. We are not doing very well.

 John Omaha, Ph.D., is with Chemotion Institute: Treatment, Education & Research for the Ingestive Disorders P.O. Box 528 Chico, CA 95927 530-899-7719 E-mail: jomaha@sunset.net 

 

On Everything Else:    http://www.overpopulation.org/faq.html

1/3 of the population growth in the world is the result of incidental or unwanted pregnancies. December 28, 1998   from the Germany World Population Fund doclink
If fertility remained at current levels, the population would reach the absurd figure of 296 billion in just 150 years. Even if it dropped to 2.5 children per woman and then stopped falling, the population would still reach 28 billion. May 1998   Bill McKibben – Atlantic Monthly doclink

Population (in billions)   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Year   1804 1927 1959 1974 1987 1999 2011 2023
Elapsed   123 33 14 13 12 13 15+

doclink

At least 150 million couples throughout the world want, but do not have, access to reproductive Health Services doclink
For An Additional $1.63 Per U.S. Taxpayer Per Year, 11.7 Million More Couples Would Have Access to Modern Contraception doclink
By 2030, the world’s urban population is expected to reach 4.9 billion, while the rural population is expected to decrease by 28 million. September 2010   Population Reference Bureau doclink

  • 1983 Year that world grain production per person began to decline(ecofuture.org)
  • 1985 Year that humanity’s demand for resources first exceeded supply(mec.ca)
  • 1989 Year that world fish catch per person began to decline(ecofuture.org)
  • 1999 Year that the world population reached 6 billion (US Census Bureau)
  • 2012 Year that the world population will reach 7 billion(US Census Bureau)
  • 2050 Year that the world population will reach 9.2 billion(US Census Bureau)
  • 3 Days for the world population to increase by that of San Francisco
  • 6 Months for the world population to increase by that of California
  • 200,000 World population growth each day
  • 70 Years for population to double, in any country, at a 1% growth rate per year 2009   doclink

  • The richest 20 percent of humanity consumes 86 percent of all goods and services, while the poorest fifth consumes just 1.3 percent.
  • Only 17% of the world’s population lives in industrialized countries
  • The average life expectancy is 61, up from 40 in just 50 years. The numbers of people 65 and older make up 10-15% of the world population today and is expected to increase to 20-30% by 2050. 2009   doclink

1) The use of contraception among couples in developing countries has increased from 10% in the early 1960’s to 60% today.2) During this period, the fertility rate fell from about six births per woman in the mid-1960’s to below three per woman in 2000.3) Global population growth has slowed to an annual rate of 1.35%, the lowest in decades.4) Uncountable numbers of women and children have lived instead of died. doclink

  • The U.S. Census Bureau reported that hunger is a daily concern for 13.8% of Americans
  • There will be 125 million births in the world this year. By the time this group is ready to start school, there will have been another 625 million births.
  • Every 20 minutes, the human population grows by about 3,000. At the same time another plant or animal becomes extinct (27,000 each year).
  • According to the U.N., if fertility were to stay constant at 1995-2000 levels, the world population would soar to 244 billion by 2150 and 134 trillion by 2300.
  • The population of the U.S. tripled during the 20th century, but the U.S. consumption of raw materials increased 17-fold. April 2004   US Census Bureau doclink
End of this page in “Factoids” section, pg 1 … Go to page 1.. 2 3 4 .. 4.6

Does It Matter to You?

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions on Overpopulation

February 26, 2012   WOA website1. What are the biggest issues that arise from overpopulation, and why are they so bad?

a. Food shortages and associated malnutrition, susceptibility to disease, stunted growth and stunted brain power, starvation b. Peak oil, which greatly impacts food supply. c. Per capita water shortage and poor water quality, which greatly impacts food supply and human health d Climate change which creates hotter, more hostile crop growing conditions and flooding, also hostile to crops. e. Shortage of nonrenewable resources, particularly fertilizer, necessary for crop production, but also other resources needed for manufacturing, without which our materialistic civilization will grind to a halt. f. Environmental damage caused by the quest for more fossil fuels and essential metals, destruction of animal habitat caused by urbanization.

2. In the future, do you foresee it getting worse or better, and to what degree?

Going by a. Food shortages alone, it will only get worse unless we quickly stabilize population and find some as-yet-discovered agricutural advancement. The Green Revolution has petered out.

Overpopulation causes rural farming people to outgrow their lands, so the grown children move to cities. Urbanization eats up farmland, reducing crop production. Also growing seasons are becoming hotter, so many crops fail due to heat and drought. Overuse of the soils caused by overpopulation leads poor nourishment for crops and eventually desertification. Overpopulation draws on available water to the point that there is not enough to water crops. Aquifers are overdrawn to the point where they are not replenished fast enough.

3. Is there anything that you believe we can do to help lessen the effects of overpopulation on the environment and other animals?

Voluntary family planning and reproductive health care – programs providing services for voluntary family planning and reproductive health care have existed since the 1960s and they do work, having brought the world’s fertility rates down to 2.5. Girls education, forbidding early marriages, male involvement, and women’s empowerment is also needed to stop male preference, which results in higher birth rates. But these programs need more funding and we must push for that funding.

4. Why should people be concerned about overpopulation now, as opposed to waiting until it becomes more apparent?

Slowing population growth takes time unless we resort to drastic, ugly, highly unpopular solutions. We must increase funding for family planning now, because putting babies back in the womb, or even a worse alternative, is not an acceptable solution.

5. Why do you think so many people are ignorant on the topic of overpopulation and it’s effects?

a. Resistance to contraception and the belief that sex is only for procreation by certain Christian religions. b. Belief that population stabilization requires ‘population control’ – the One Child policy in China,for example. Not understanding that there are gentle solutions that will help people live a better life, and that people actually want, and that have been proven to work. c. Inability to connect the dots when 6 billion goes to 7 billion in 12 years and then to 8 billion in 13 years. Belief that ‘God will take care of it’. Cornucopian view of the world fostered by decades of technological advances and materialistic success has caused people to think that the world’s natural resources are unlimited. Forgetting that fossil fuels have allowed the West to advance technologically and live very comfortably, and therefore not really thinking to look at the dim future of fossil fuels.

6. Do you believe overpopulation, or the way we use resources is more of a problem, and why?

There is no doubt that, if the 2 billion people living very comfortably on this earth made sacrifices, then the 2 billion living on the edge could live more comfortably – IF (a very big if) it was practical to transfer the assets of the rich to the poor, and if the rich would willingly give up their comfortable life. Unfortunately many people use the excuse that consumption is a bigger part of the problem (they believe it is) to avoid dealing with population altogether.

Most frequently we hear about overconsumption in the West measured in terms of carbon emissions. However, we must remember that the critical path for humanity is the supply of food. Arable land is fast disappearing due to urbanization, soil erosion/overuse, and water shortages in both rich and poor countries. Both rich and poor countries will suffer, the poor first, but then the poor in the richer countries. Already the middle class is fast disappearing in the U.S., due to loss of jobs to overseas employees. So the U.S. is not immune to the impacts of food shortages.

Unfortunately, population is growing so fast that, whatever advances we make by providing more food to more people eventually ends up at a point where there is not enough food and starvation is nature’s way to equalize supply and demand.

7. When do you think the world’s population will stop growing?

At current fertility rates the world’s population will only stop growing if people die at a faster rate, which is what will happen when we run out of natural resources. No one has predicted when this will happen. Malthus is reputed to believe it would happen in the 1700s (that wasn’t actually what he said); Paul Ehrlich thought it would happen in the 1970s, but both did not see the technological advances that saved the world’s growing population. Unfortunately, this time experts say, it will take a miracle for everyone to survive the perfect storm of resource depletion that is coming.

The good news is that fertility rates are coming down, just not fast enough. If they continue to come down at the same rate as they have been, then the worlds population growth rate will level off by 2010 at 10 billion. That is assuming too many people don’t die of starvation by then, in which case the population will stop growing sooner.

If fertility rates vary by just one half a child (average), we could reach 15.8 billion by 2100 and continue to grow – on the high side, or we could reach 8.1 billion by 2050 and start a decline. Since we went from 6 billion in 1999 to 7 billion in 2011 (12 years), I find it very difficult to believe we will wait until 2050 to have 8.1 billion. Unless we change our ways and increase funding for family planning programs.

8. What motivated you to become involved with the issue of overpopulation?

In the 1980s I noticed how crowded the roads were and whereas, 20 years before my family could go camping in the woods just about anywhere, we now had to make a reservation to camp. I started to become involved after my trip to China in 1995 where I noticed that the farmland I flew over had a whole village for every 40 – 100 acres, but in the U.S. there would be just one farmhouse for the same amount of land. And there were no vacant lots in cities like Shanghai – every space was taken.

9. What do you think is the main factor/factors contributing to overpopulation?

Lack of education and economic opportunity for women; authoritarian households where women don’t have a say about their own lives, their health care or how many children they have; child marriage; lack of maternal health care for women; cultural beliefs in rural areas that say many children are needed to take care of the land, not realizing that too many children will outgrow the land; male preference; contraceptive inaccessability; lack of educational opportunities to learn that smaller families are healthier and more economically feasible.

10. How does overpopulation effect a countries economy?

Overpopulated countries cannot build sufficient infrastructure or provide sufficient services for its population because there is too much competition for natural resources for people to earn enough to support a government. Over 2 billion people earn less than $2 a day.

When a population is growing, however – not yet overpopulated, and there is a high ratio of young people, and opportunities are available for these young people to become educated and have jobs, then an economy will boom. However, when these young people are old, and they will have likely lowered their fertility rate, then there will be more older people than young people, and the economy will suffer. On the other hand, if the country reaches a point where resources in the area are exhausted, and the country cannot buy its resources from other countries, then the country is overpopulated, and poverty will be the result.

11. Why do the most populated countries have their high populations?

High populations result when death rates are brought down while fertility rates remain high. Sanitation, pumping of aquifers, modern medicine, better ways of treating sick infants, and the Green Revolution have brought down mortality. Without a corresponding drop in fertility, population will grow.

12. Are there any solutions to end starvation?

The UN claims that farmers in Africa can be be taught better farm management. Africa is where the highest growth is. It remains to be seen if this will be enough to end starvation.

13. What types of diets have the least environmental impact?

Diets which use plants instead of animals; animals are ok if they feed on land or in water that cannot be used for crops. Some plant diets are better than others, using less resources.

14. Is overpopulation a problem that we need to be worrying about?

Yes, overpopulation is like a runaway train, and the longer we wait to do something about it, the harder it will be to deal with the impacts.

15. Do you feel like it is already a problem or something will happen in the future?

It is already a problem and getting worse. We need to do something about it now.

16. What is the biggest effect of overpopulation?

The most drastic impact so far is food shortages, with one billion people classified as ‘undernourished’ by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2009, and nearly a billion undernourished in each of 2007, 2008, and 2011. 3 billion people in the world today struggle to survive on US$2/day, and food prices are rising. The second and thirds impacts of overpopulation are Peak Oil and Climate Change. Some will argue that climate change is not man made, but it is indeed happening and causing crop failures. The world is producing less oil today than it did last year, and this trend will continue. Both peak oil and climate change result in less food to feed the world, peak oil because food depends on mechanized farm machinery and transport.

17. In what areas of the world is overpopulation having the biggest effects and how?

China, and India are seeing the biggest effects, mostly because of water shortages and deforestation. Africa will soon follow, particularly northern Africa where there is not enough water.

18. Have you been able to see the effects first hand? If so, what is it like?

I have seen deforestation in Nepal and Ethiopia. People have to walk further and further to find firewood. In Nepal they climb up in trees and chop out branches to feed the leaves to their buffalo and the wood fuels their fires. The trees look all mangled. In Ethiopia, people have to walk 3-4 miles for wood to fuel their stoves.

19. How does overpopulation differ here in the United State compared to other countries?

Overpopulation in the U.S. affects the world because the U.S. population exceeds its carrying capacity, getting many of its resources from other countries, often taking advantage of the poverty in the other countries by paying much less than the resource is worth.

20. Many people do not believe overpopulation is a problem. Do you think they are wrong? If so, why?

Many people do not understand the relationship between our Earth’s finite resources and humans existence. They believe that, if we are well-off, everything is OK. They do not see that we have already heavily borrowed against the Earth’s resources: water in ancient aquifers are being overpumped, oil that was stored in the ground for thousands of years is not being replenished. Ancient civilizations who became overpopulated did not see it either.

21. When do you feel overpopulation will grow to where it is affecting the lives of people all over the world?

It already is. The current economic crisis is due to our oil-based, debt-based economy having built up a large bubble and now it has burst. In addition, food prices are rising and some people cannot afford to buy sufficient food to feed their family.

22. What do you feel is the best solution for overpopulation?

Voluntary family planning and reproductive health care – programs providing services for voluntary family planning and reproductive health care have existed since the 1960s and they do work, having brought the world’s fertility rates down to 2.5. Girls education, forbidding early marriages, and women’s empowerment is also needed to stop male preference, which results in higher birth rates.

23. Are you doing things yourself to reduce overpopulation? If so, what are you doing?

I am doing the web page at overpopulation.org, promoting other organizations that work on overpopulation, doing slide shows, and supporting a couple of groups of population activists. I have also lobbied my federal representative and senators, and have put together a legislative briefing at the state level. I also do tabling on earth day, and I have been interviewed on internet radio. I donate to my favorite organizations that promote family planning and reproductive health.

24. What can people like me, an eighteen year old, do to help?

You can join an activist group, or do tabling alone if you can’t find a group. You can educate yourself on the subject and all the arguments and issues on the subject (I hope my website will help you there), and participate in letter writing and leaving comments on online newspaper articles about population. You can find WOA’s Facebook page (World Overpopulation Awareness), and share your activist activities with us there. You can look up Population Connection, and find suggestions of what to do there (one of them is making presentations to school teachers, who take the lesson to their students). You can hook up with the Sierra Club and join population activities there: http://www.sierraclub.org/population/

You can also help WOA – we have need of volunteers who do online help for WOA.

25. Why don’t we hear much about this issue on the news and such? It seems like something that should be dealt with immediately, yet i don’t see anyone in power taking action.

I come across over 20 articles a day on population, some of them in important places like the New York Times, the Economist, National Geographic, BBC, Scientific American, and so on. Today food and gas prices are rising, partly due to peak oil, partly due to climate change, partly due to seasonal fluctuation, but mostly due to a shortage of resources per person.

On the other hand, there are conservatives that do not believe in limited resources, overpopulation, “telling people what they should do in their private lives,” contraception, and abortion. Some of these people are in places of high influence, like the U.S. Congress, which has recently contemplated removing Title X funding from Planned Parenthood, claiming the money is going for abortions, which it isn’t. The money goes for family planning services (not abortion) and reproductive health services. These same conservatives control various media such as Fox News.

The United States and other countries HAVE been taking action on this issue for many years. Programs are in place for voluntary family planning and reproductive health, among others that reduce fertility rates. These programs have been instrumental in bringing down world fertility rates, which are now around 2.5 children per woman. But every year there is a battle over how much funding should be put into these programs by the U.S. doclink

Karen Gaia says: any suggestions for these FAQs are welcome. Send to karen4329@karengaia.net

More Faqs

November 23, 2011   WOA!! website – Karen Gaia Pitts1. What motivated you to become involved with the issue of overpopulation?

In the 1980s I noticed how crowded the roads were and whereas, 20 years before my family could go camping in the woods just about anywhere, we now had to make a reservation to camp. I started to become involved after my trip to China in 1995 where I noticed that the farmland I flew over had a whole village for every 40 – 100 acres, but in the U.S. there would be just one farmhouse for the same amount of land. And there were no vacant lots in cities like Shanghai – every space was taken.

2. What do you believe is the worst effect of overpopulation? Why?

By far the worst effect is the inability to feed every one. Overpopulation causes rural farming people to outgrow their lands, so the grown children move to cities. Urbanization eats up farmland, reducing crop production. Also growing seasons are becoming hotter, so many crops fail due to heat and drought. Overuse of the soils caused by overpopulation leads poor nourishment for crops and eventually desertification. Overpopulation draws on available water to the point that there is not enough to water crops. Aquifers are overdrawn to the point where they are not replenished fast enough.

3. What has been done/is being done to slow overpopulation? What would you do to slow overpopulation?

Voluntary family planning and reproductive health care – programs providing services for voluntary family planning and reproductive health care have existed since the 1960s and they do work, having brought the world’s fertility rates down to 2.5. Girls education, forbidding early marriages, and women’s empowerment is also needed to stop male preference, which results in higher birth rates.

4. When do you think the world’s population will stop growing?

At current fertility rates the world’s population will only stop growing if people die at a faster rate, which is what will happen when we run out of natural resources. No one has predicted when this will happen. Malthus thought it would happen in the 1700s; Paul Ehrlich thought it would happen in the 1970s, but both did not see the technological advances that saved the world’s growing population. Unfortunately, this time experts say, it will take a miracle for everyone to survive the perfect storm of resource depletion that is coming.

The good news is that fertility rates are coming down, just not fast enough. If they continue to come down at the same rate as they have been, then the worlds population growth rate will level off by 2010 at 10 billion. That is assuming too many people don’t die of starvation by then, in which case the population will stop growing sooner.

If fertility rates vary by just one half a child (average), we could reach 15.8 billion by 2100 and continue to grow – on the high side, or we could reach 8.1 billion by 2050 and start a decline. Since we went from 6 billion in 1999 to 7 billion in 2011 (12 years), I find it very difficult to believe we will wait until 2050 to have 8.1 billion. Unless we change our ways and increase funding for family planning programs.

5. What do you think is the main factor/factors contributing to overpopulation?

Lack of education and economic opportunity for women; authoritarian households where women don’t have a say about their own lives, their health care or how many children they have; child marriage; lack of maternal health care for women; cultural beliefs in rural areas that say many children are needed to take care of the land, not realizing that too many children will outgrow the land; male preference; contraceptive inaccessability; lack of educational opportunities to learn that smaller families are healthier and more economically feasible.

6. How does overpopulation effect a countries economy?

Overpopulated countries cannot build sufficient infrastructure or provide sufficient services for its population because there is too much competition for natural resources for people to earn enough to support a government. Over 2 billion people earn less than $2 a day.

When a population is growing, however – not yet overpopulated, and there is a high ratio of young people, and opportunities are available for these young people to become educated and have jobs, then an economy will boom. However, when these young people are old, and they will have likely lowered their fertility rate, then there will be more older people than young people, and the economy will suffer. On the other hand, if the country reaches a point where resources in the area are exhausted, and the country cannot buy its resources from other countries, then the country is overpopulated, and poverty will be the result.

7. Why do the most populated countries have their high populations?

High populations result when death rates are brought down while fertility rates remain high. Sanitation, pumping of aquifers, modern medicine, better ways of treating sick infants, and the Green Revolution have brought down mortality. Without a corresponding drop in fertility, population will grow. doclink

Questions on Food

November 21, 2011   WOA!! website – Karen Gaia Pitts1. How does overpopulation affect the food industry?

Overpopulation causes rural farming people to outgrow their lands, so the grown children move to cities. Urbanization eats up farmland, reducing crop production. Also growing seasons are becoming hotter, so many crops fail due to heat and drought. Overuse of the soils caused by overpopulation leads poor nourishment for crops and eventually desertification. Overpopulation draws on available water to the point that there is not enough to water crops. Aquifers are overdrawn to the point where they are not replenished fast enough.

2. Are there any foods that are able to feed the world?

Grains are usually the staple used to feed the world: rice, wheat, and corn in particular. But new strains are needed to grow in hotter climates, less water, and/or poor soil. If these strains are not developed by technology, there will not be enough food to feed the world. Today there are 1 billion underfed people in the world. This number is likely to grow if population continues to grow and a solution is not found.

3. Are there any solutions to end starvation?

The UN claims that farmers in Africa can be be taught better farm management. Africa is where the highest growth is. It remains to be seen if this will be enough to end starvation.

4. What types of diets have the least environmental impact?

Diets which use plants instead of animals; animals are ok if they feed on land or in water that cannot be used for crops. Some plant diets are better than others, using less resources. doclink

Population Control?

September 26, 2011   WOA websiteThe world is headed for disaster. If we don’t do something, nature will do something for us. Shouldn’t we be doing some sort of population control like what China did? Maybe a two child or one child policy for the world? doclink

It appears that the three of us are in agreement about the impending consequences of overpopulation.But we must understand the solutions.Fertility rates have been coming down for many years. They are continuing to come down. We are experiencing population momentum, which means that reductions in population growth lag behind reductions in fertility rates. China’s population growth rate is only 0.47%, and its population expected to peak in 2030 at 1.4 billion, then decline.The UN population projections had low, medium, and high scenarios, with the difference between medium and high or low only half a child in fertility rates.So it is EXTREMELY important to sufficiently fund efforts to make contraception accessible to all women of child-bearing age, and at the same time to empower women to make health decisions for themselves, because reproductive health is very closely tied to contraceptive usage. The latter includes such measures as eliminating child marriages, girls education, micro credit, and male involvement.All of these things are being done, and have been done, worldwide, since the 1950s, and have been very successful, but have lacked sufficient funding, which is frequently blocked by conservatives in the U.S. administration and legislature. This year funding is again being attacked by our very conservative legislature.Some people argue that these contraceptives are being forced upon third world women, but in 1994 it was decided that all attempts to meet targets and all coersion would be stopped and women would be encouraged to choose their own family size. It works out because women, on average, do not want large families as long as they can be assured there will be enough children surviving to replacement. In developed countries many women seem to want even fewer than the replacement level number of children. Women in the U.S. are producing 2.09 children on average, just a tad below replacement level, while women in other developed countries considerably fewer. The overall world wide average is 2.52 and comes down every year. Replacement level for all but countries with very female death rates is 2.1

Why is Population Ignored by Human Rights Groups and Democrats?

August 28, 2011   WOA websiteRebecca wrote:

I agree with you about overpopulation. I have no children and have my animals spayed and eat no meat, pork or chicken, leave my car parked, keep lights off, don’t heat or air condition (live in So Cal so that is possible) and don’t buy products excessively, try not to buy products that were tested on animals, clean with baking soda, put groceries in canvas bags etc- so in addition to not adding to population try to be fair about reducing my portion of carbon footprint.

But whenever I bring up overpopulation at Democratic or Labor meetings (not abortion, birth control, which is a two-fer because it also helps prevent spread of STDs in many cases) I get a stunned silence and no one will discuss it thinking they must have a white supremist in their midsts…though the competition for air,water,food, jobs and land has become fierce and is beyond a political party problem, has to have an economic impact too due to “supply and demand”.

I have written to television stations and asked them not to feature “octomom”, “kate plus 8” “19 and counting” etc and they ignore me too.

Somehow the idea of caring for elderly (albeit healthy) persons in excess in the population is considered anethma though one would assume excess children in the population also are being cared for..and also no one seems to get it that if elderly persons were spending less on chidlren being raised during their working years they could save more to take care of themselves in ol d age…

Anyway how do we get this idea across and make it “cool” like recycling to say “three is the new large family” and encourage people to stop at one or two?

~~~

Dear Rebecca,

Thank you for your thoughtful remarks and commend you on your lowered footprint.

Overpopulation has certainly acquired a dirty name, and I think due to lies spread by religious conservatives who believe sex is for procreation, contraceptives are abortifacient, and abstinence is the only good birth control. They think anyone who promotes family planning is evil and must be racist, and they make huge efforts to spread that opinion far and wide. On the other hand, the women of these same religions are using contraception, almost as much as the general population, so maybe we can push for a connect between these women and their priests and husbands.

So I always examine religious objections and detractors and am always looking for evidence to counter whatever misrepresentations they may put out.

In addition, most people do not see the big picture, or at least do not want to think about it. Peak oil and food shortages will affect us all, but people tend to think that their life is secure and nothing will happen to them, so we sound like we are Chicken Little saying the sky is falling.

Then there are those who blame the huge consumption of the Western world for the world’s problems, but in fact, even poor rural people’s lives are not sustainable unless some miracle of technology comes along (the Green Revolution is done what it can, mostly). And it isn’t a problem of distribution because a) it has been found that if you feed a population, that population grows some more (it is only sustainable if people can feed themselves), b) transporting food to famine areas is good for real emergencies, but because of peak oil, is not sustainable as a long term practice.

And where population is growing the fastest – in Sub-Saharan Africa for example, it can be seen that life is already unsustainable in many areas there and I print stories about that.

And I always find new and interesting articles on sustainability (there are plenty of them) that will help prove the point that humanity’s footprint is not sustainable.

I am happy to find so many news articles that reinforce the idea that we are indeed headed for trouble — I am not happy about the bad news, but glad that there are so much in the news.

I agree with you about the elderly. I am a senior myself, but longevity is part of the problem – it adds to the number of people on the planet. If people continue to live longer and longer, at some point we would have to give up having children altogether. Personally I would prefer to give up when I get past a certain point of decrepitude, and let some youngster take my place. We can’t afford to nurture young children and educate them in order to pass on our civilization (hopefully a less destructive one), if at the same time we taking care of so many old ones – I’m thinking of the large number of baby boomers the U.S. now has, compared to the number of working people.

I would not focus on the octomoms because the fertility rate is coming down in the world, and has been at replacement level for some time in the U.S. Instead I would work on the large numbers of unintended pregnancies and meeting the unmet need for contraception, and teen pregnancies, and child brides in the developing countries, and educational soap operas in areas where fertility rates are high due to cultural preferences, and male responsibility.

Fertility rates are coming down due to efforts starting back in the 1950s, and continuing today. Average today is 2.5. But funding has not been adequate and we now need to put about $12 billion towards the areas mentioned in the preceeding paragraph.

Karen Gaia doclink

On Expecting People to Have Fewer Children

May 16, 2011   WOA websiteI have been thinking a lot about population issues lately, and wanted to hear some advice from you. The single worst thing someone in America can do for the environment is to have a child. How can you reconcile talking about this with people without offending them and making them feel persecuted for having children? I feel like this issue really should be discussed more, but I am afraid to say something and hurt someone’s feelings.

I know you have done population activism for a while, so I was wondering if you might have any advice for discussing the subject without acrimony.

Thanks,

Autumn

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hi Autumn,

The average fertility rate in this country is about at replacement level. Immigration is the biggest contributing factor to U.S. population, but that does not add anything to the worldwide population, except where it takes the pressure off the resources in Mexico and Central America, which leads to higher birth rates there. Also, immigrants soon assume consumption levels higher than where they come from, but it is difficult to fault people for wanting to achieve a ‘good’ life. If it were not for immigration, our growth rate would be zero, and our population stabilized.

It would be good if Americans dipped down to below replacement level, but this can best be done by addressing the unmet need for contraception. 1/3 of the births in the U.S. are unintended. The teen birth rate in the U.S. is the highest in the developed world. Concentrating on teen pregnancy and fighting the abstinence-only mentality, and using more role models (both good and bad – if done the right way) on television – this will go a long way towards reducing our birth rate.

I no longer get excited about people having 6 or 13 or so kids. They are in a very small minority. Many people have only 1 or even none. It averages out. Many developed countries have such a low birthrate (Spain has a fertility rate of 1.4) that there is concern that they will be sustainable economically. Some even fear that their country will become one of old people, with not enough young people to reproduce. This is a real concern.

In the U.S., our baby boomers are retiring. We will have a huge amount of resources going to old people, and maybe not enough going to the education of our future adults. But of course, having larger families to take care of all these seniors would be a disaster – a giant Ponzi scheme.

Recently attempts have been made to defund Planned Parenthood because some legislators think it does abortions on federal money. The federal program Title X grants money to Planned Parenthood to be used for family planning, but excluding abortions. Planned Parenthood gets less money from Title X than their costs for family planning (excluding abortions), so none of Title X money goes for abortions. There are many Catholic and Evangelical Christians who are against contraception. It is their hidden agenda to make contraception illegal.

So I think where we can do the best good in the U.S. is by making sure that there is sufficient funding for programs that provide contraception, family planning, sex ed, girls self esteem, and male responsibility, which is what Planned Parenthood does. Also social media role models, like televisions’ ’16 and Pregnant’, should continue.

The biggest population growth is in Africa and Central America. Africa’s population is expected to triple by 2100. This is where we need to concentrate with programs like the ones suggested for the U.S. above. Because they are developing countries we also need to add education for girls, raise the age of marriage, and provide microcredit for women.

These programs have already been successful for over 50 years, but funding is inadequate. We need about $2 billion a year for these programs, so little if you compare it to the $2 billion a week that we spend on war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The same kinds of people who stand in the way of contraception and sex ed in the U.S. are the ones who stand in the way of funding for international family planning.

Regarding reproductive health: when more women survive childbirth, they are less likely to think of themselves as baby machines. It gives them some respect getting health care, which saves many lives. Also, when a woman has her postnatal visit, the midwife asks if she wants to space her births, which she almost always does, so that’s when she receives contraception. In, fact, that is almost the same way I got started on contraception, after Rose was born and modern contraception was new.

Anyway, what we need is advocacy for funding – there are many opportunities if you are interested. doclink

Frequently Asked Questions

May 2011   WOA website – asked by Codey1. Is overpopulation a problem that we need to be worrying about?

Yes, overpopulation is like a runaway train, and the longer we wait to do something about it, the harder it will be to deal with the impacts.

2. Do you feel like it is already a problem or something will happen in the future?

It is already a problem and getting worse. We need to do something about it now.

3. What is the biggest effect of overpopulation?

The most drastic impact so far is food shortages, with one billion people classified as ‘undernourished’ by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2009, and nearly a billion undernourished in each of 2007, 2008, and 2011. 3 billion people in the world today struggle to survive on US$2/day, and food prices are rising. The second and thirds impacts of overpopulation are Peak Oil and Climate Change. Some will argue that climate change is not man made, but it is indeed happening and causing crop failures. The world is producing less oil today than it did last year, and this trend will continue. Both peak oil and climate change result in less food to feed the world, peak oil because food depends on mechanized farm machinery and transport.

4. In what areas of the world is overpopulation having the biggest effects and how?

China, and India are seeing the biggest effects, mostly because of water shortages and deforestation. Africa will soon follow, particularly northern Africa where there is not enough water.

5. Have you been able to see the effects first hand? If so, what is it like?

I have seen deforestation in Nepal and Ethiopia. People have to walk further and further to find firewood. In Nepal they climb up in trees and chop out branches to feed the leaves to their buffalo and the wood fuels their fires. The trees look all mangled. In Ethiopia, people have to walk 3-4 miles for wood to fuel their stoves.

6. How does overpopulation differ here in the United State compared to other countries?

Overpopulation in the U.S. affects the world because the U.S. population exceeds its carrying capacity, getting many of its resources from other countries, often taking advantage of the poverty in the other countries by paying much less than the resource is worth.

7. Many people do not believe overpopulation is a problem. Do you think they are wrong? If so, why?

Many people do not understand the relationship between our Earth’s finite resources and humans existence. They believe that, if we are well-off, everything is OK. They do not see that we have already heavily borrowed against the Earth’s resources: water in ancient aquifers are being overpumped, oil that was stored in the ground for thousands of years is not being replenished. Ancient civilizations who became overpopulated did not see it either.

8. When do you feel overpopulation will grow to where it is affecting the lives of people all over the world?

It already is. The current economic crisis is due to our oil-based, debt-based economy having built up a large bubble and now it has burst. In addition, food prices are rising and some people cannot afford to buy sufficient food to feed their family.

9. What do you feel is the best solution for overpopulation?

Voluntary family planning and reproductive health care – programs providing services for voluntary family planning and reproductive health care have existed since the 1960s and they do work, having brought the world’s fertility rates down to 2.5. Girls education, forbidding early marriages, and women’s empowerment is also needed to stop male preference, which results in higher birth rates.

10. Are you doing things yourself to reduce overpopulation? If so, what are you doing?

I am doing the web page at overpopulation.org, promoting other organizations that work on overpopulation, doing slide shows, and supporting a couple of groups of population activists. I have also lobbied my federal representative and senators, and have put together a legislative briefing at the state level. I also do tabling on earth day, and I have been interviewed on internet radio. I donate to my favorite organizations that promote family planning and reproductive health.

11. What can people like me, an eighteen year old, do to help?

You can join an activist group, or do tabling alone if you can’t find a group. You can educate yourself on the subject and all the arguments and issues on the subject (I hope my website will help you there), and participate in letter writing and leaving comments on online newspaper articles about population. You can find WOA’s Facebook page (World Overpopulation Awareness), and share your activist activities with us there. You can look up Population Connection, and find suggestions of what to do there (one of them is making presentations to school teachers, who take the lesson to their students).

You can also help WOA – we have need of volunteers who do online help for WOA.

I hope I have been of help.

What do Bigots Dream?

Just thinking about orders or organizations like the KKK.  Just the fact that people of equal beliefs (in how the world SHOULD be according to their view) exist in numbers great enough to form whole organizations. That’s scary. That’s a lot of hate.

To the members of the KKK specifically I would ask… why?   Nursing hatred is an accurate term because hatred needs to be fed.  And you feed it from within.  It depletes you.  It needs energy and fuel, and it needs to grow to survive.  Where there is hate it is next to impossible for love to exist.  Tenderness.   Caring.  Compassion.  Because hate hardens the heart, and burns away every other feeling.

That said, I’m trying to imagine this glorious utopia that would exist if such a group had its way.  Seriously.  This is just what I’m imagining a bigot might want to make his country his own again, and of course in the below example my bigot is a white male because I’m imagining he is KKK.   As I hope most of us understand bigots can be either gender and come in any color.  But what I see of hate spam email I sometimes get….a lot of it expresses indignation by whites toward non whites or people of other ancestries/languages.

So ok, what would be the possible changes we might see if the KKK or people like them (skin-heads, the more extreme conservative Christians, etc.,) could have their way.

Well, all or most people who aren’t white enough would be kicked out of the country, for starters.  Doesn’t matter if your grandparents or even their grandparents were born here in the good old US.  Doesn’t matter if the only language you speak or have ever learned is English and you have a respectable job in a nice neighborhood and drive a nice car and your kids are straight A students in school.  You’d be out.  Sent packing.  Because your skin isn’t white.  Because you clearly are therefore UN-American.

Doesn’t matter if you or your mom or dad or their parents fought or maybe even died fighting for this country in a war, either.  You’d be pointed in the general direction of the country where your ancestors are assumed to have originated from and you’d be told to “go home.”  Most likely you’d be allowed to pack a few suitcases but, really, with the guys swarming around your yard in white cloaks and throwing bricks and burning crosses, and brandishing guns & threatening your children, how motivated would you be to abandon your stuff to save yourself?

That’s if you’re lucky.  Some might not be so lucky.  Some might be told they can only stay if they give up their right to person-hood, their right to consider themselves human beings.  They’d be told you can stay but you’ll live in only crappy neighborhoods, only allowed to earn under minimum wage (if that) and be limited to menial labor type jobs, and you’d only be permitted to breed in small numbers.  Your kids, if they are allowed to learn to read or write, would never make it past the six grade, and certainly any hope of college would be cease to be.   You of course would not be able to use the same doorways as white people, or drinking fountains, or even go into many restaurants you used to enjoy.

Again, that’s if you’re lucky.  Perhaps those guys in white cloaks would deny you even the chance to live in slums and live independently.  Perhaps instead you’d be reduced to being thought of as livestock and forced to work for free, facing the terrifying possibility of being whipped or beaten to death or lynched or burned or have your ears, fingers and genitals cut off if you should try to run away.

As for women, well ladies, forget being able to vote.  Why would we need to, anyway, right?  We have our husbands to do it for us.  Or at least the 50% of women in this country who happen to be married do.  I’m sure we’d lose our right to own property.  Perhaps we too would be denied a higher education.   Certainly we’d be denied enough right of person-hood to have any say over what happens to our bodies.  We’d be forced to carry babies whether we want to have a baby or not.  In that way we’d be breeding stock, and of course this is a good thing because it would mean more white babies in a world where white people are (horror of horrors) fast becoming a minority.

I’d say too there’d be no inter-racial marriage anymore–in fact anyone of any other color just looking at a white woman would probably meet with a terrible end.   But would there even BE people of other races allowed to live here anymore?  Possibly not.

Let’s see.  What about the pros to living in this country once all the UN-Americans are driven out or taken control of?  There’d be less people here for one.  A lot less people.  Your opinion would again be the voice of the majority.  You could decide who gets to be successful and who does not.  Male only clubs would thrive once again and women would be denied the chance to play most sports.  White males would have their land of opportunity for ALL back but for only themselves to enjoy again.   Everyone else would be put in their place.   Children would address adult men as “sir,” and little girls would only be allowed to wear dresses and only cross their ankles.

As for gays, sorry guys and gals, but you’d be out too.  But in a much more permanent way, I’m afraid.  Because, you see, you are an abomination in the eyes of God, so you’d be perfectly okay to slaughter on sight–in fact they might put a bounty on you to encourage your demise until you return to hiding in closets and pretending with all your might to be something else.

Witches too, I’m thinking, would be in danger, or really anyone with a faith that isn’t the national religion, which of course would be Christianity in its most conservative form.  The bible would be taken literally.  Women would not be allowed to speak in church or instruct or have any authority over men (sorry Sarah Palin).   Women who committed adultery (or raped without crying out in a city) would be killed or severely punished, while the men could do whatever they please….

Hmmm.   Have I left anything out?

Of course I’m exaggerating here.  But by how much?  What do bigots dream?  If this country is so not right to them, what would they change about it?   What would they want to keep the same?  How far back in time would our society plummet?   What would be required to make them content?  I’m pretty sure i can safely bet that English would become THE only language permitted.   Of course if you’re lucky you might still be allowed to speak your native tongue in the privacy of your own home.  I’m also pretty sure discrimination would be okay to openly demonstrate/practice again.  Women would go back to having lower wage secretarial type jobs.  And as I said above, minorities would find their rights greatly diminished–assuming they’re even allowed to still live in this country.

So ok, this is getting long.  I was just in the mood to have a rant this morning and now I have.  Yes, I am white and yes, I also sometimes find having to hear Spanish and other languages being spoken around me rather annoying.  But nothing in this world remains the same.  It’s too bad that it can’t be the way it was–back in the day when immigrants came to the United States to become Americans rather than be whatever nationality they are, here.   Used to be immigrants would gradually learn the national language and become, well, Americans.

Perhaps this newest wave will too, eventually. At one point when Europeans first came here, Irish, Norwegian, German, etc., they too spoke their own language and were discriminated against by others who did not.  How many generations passed before they were mostly speaking English too?   I like to think that the great melting pot is still what it is, and we just happen to be seeing a new wave of first generation immigrants coming into our country.   Do we open our arms to them and adapt, which is what America has been tooting its horn about that this is what our nation stands for?  Hoping they too will make some effort to adapt to us rather than try to replace us which may be how it also seemed when the first non-English speaking Europeans came here?   Yes, our country will change.  Nothing stays the same, ever.  We have new cultures now pouring into the mix.  But this is America.   Land of the Free, Home of the Brave, and the equal chance to pursue happiness for all.

Or I would like to hope.

Two Kinds of Human???

I’m not going to bore people with long paragraphs copied and pasted from other websites written by people who actually know what they’re talking about.  For me it’s an interesting subject and so I’ve read up a little.  If you want facts rather than my just throwing out thoughts of things I’ve read, there’s this thing called GOOGLE.  You can Google the various words for one kind of human.  They range from psychopath, sociopath, antisocial personality disorder.  If you want the facts, and why the terms referring to the same personality type have changed over the years, you can read about it too, like I did.

So here are my thoughts about the two kinds of human that exist.   Most of us know there are two kinds.  We don’t need some psycho-babble label for it.   There are givers and takers.  I think we’d all agree on that–I’m sure every human being has met both.  So what makes a taker a taker and a giver a giver?  And what about users?  Are they just like takers, or…something else?

Not to say being a giver is always a good thing.  A lot of givers give in order to get, whether it be a thing, or a feeling, or attention, or love, or shelter or security, or children, or whatever.  A lot of people with low self esteems are givers–perhaps because they feel they have to compensate for not being enough.  I do that myself, and have done for years, making me a prime target for…that other kind of human.   But I digress.  Some people feel they have to give to fulfill their part of a contract or agreement.  For example. say I’m married to you so we have sex (or at least early on we do until I tire of it), even though I don’t like sex and could live the rest of my life without it.  Yes believe it or not, some people, men and women alike, don’t like sex.  But they want to be married, they want love, they want a family and all the joys that come from having a family and companionship, so…they put up with the sex.  They learn to enjoy things about it like…being close to the person they love.  But the act itself…they could take or leave.

That’s a giver giving because he or she believes it’s part of the arrangement.  Part of getting what they want means giving what the other person wants.  The bad thing about this kind of giving is eventually the giver gets tired–and then perhaps that happy situation starts falling apart.

There are also those really wonderful noble people who truly love to give purely for the joy of giving and not to get anything back or achieve any agenda.  This is a rare type of giver.  Most people who give, if they are going to be completely honest with themselves, are giving hoping for something, whether it be a closer friendship with someone, or to show someone they care, or to repay someone for a kindness given…something.  Most people give for some kind of reason, and some are very good reasons.  Giving to the poor or less fortunate.  In cases like this what do you get?  You get the happy feeling that comes from knowing you helped someone.  Same thing when you find a hurt animal and rush it to the vet.   You’re not going to get anything for the act of kindness…you might even have to pay a hefty vet bill for an animal that isn’t even yours.  But you get that feeling, and to some of us that feeling is a wonderful reward.

So what are takers?   I think the line between giver and taker is rather blurred.  A giver can also be a taker, if my above thoughts are correct.   Any time I give hoping to receive or achieve something, in that way I’m passively being a taker.  I think all of us are takers to some degree, just like I think all takers can also be givers.

So are there two kinds of human, or are we all capable of being both at any given time? Well, I do think we’re all capable, but I also think from what I’ve read, there are significant differences between the person with (most modern term for it) antisocial personality disorder, and well, the rest of us.

In the cetacean family there are two types of killer whale.  The Orca, which is the whale you see mostly along the Puget Sound here in Washington State, or at Sea World, unfortunately, where these massive creatures will hopefully teach our young to appreciate the beauty and value of other life forms.  But there is also the Sentient Killer Whale…and I’m hoping I have the term right.  It’s been a long time since I took that cetacean class at the UW.  Again I digress.   Sentient killer whales travel in pods that are more like wolf packs.  Or they might also hunt alone. They prey on larger baleen whales, and on seals or sea lions.  Red meat is part of their diet.  Whales of this sub-group of Killer Whale, again if my memory serves me, swim virtually silent in their pods, whereas the Orca pods like what you see in Free Willy communicate back and forth as they travel along.

Are there predatory people and people who unwittingly transmit signals they are easy prey?  I believe so.  From what I read of persons with antisocial personality disorder (and there are different levels to this from mild to extreme), they are either lacking in a conscience or are deaf to it.   When I say conscience I mean that little inner voice that tells us something is right or wrong, and makes us feel badly after we unwittingly or deliberately hurt or wrong someone.

An extreme example of someone without a conscience–Albert Fish the cannibal from the early 20’s who preyed on and ate little children.  He is what inspired the Hannibal Lector character in Silence of the Lambs.  Add to this list any person who goes around brutally killing or raping people…likely this is a person who sees weaker people as prey or mere objects to use or manipulate, or enjoys feeling power over another person.  This is the classic psychopathic personality people think of when they hear the word psychopath, and why the term has been changed because, probably 90% or more of people with antisocial personality disorder live next door, or work on your same floor, or ride in your carpool, or go with you on hunting trips, or drive your Taxi cab or style your hair or meet you at the bar to play pool.   Sociopaths, or the more recent term antisocial personality disorder, are users, as opposed to just takers.  We’re all takers, just as we’re all hopefully givers, even if sometimes for self serving reasons.  But users?  People who prey on the gullibility of others, take advantage of the desire to help that some of us have, or do good to prove our worth…these are the psychopaths who live among us every day.  They are con artists.  They are parasites who find lonely women (or men) to befriend and let care for them, buy for them, do for them.  They are people who marry the older wealthy widower or widow for the money and then somehow manage to walk away with their pockets full.

A great example of a lesser sociopath, and by lesser I mean one who isn’t a serial killer, read or watch “The Stoning of Soraya M.”  If you can stomach it, that is, and it’s a movie I watched that I will never watch again.  Soraya’s husband is a monster.  Literally.  If there is a word for the slime around the base of toilets, that would be him.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Stoning_of_Soraya_M.

There are lots of examples of users.   The guy who gets a girl drunk (or visa versa) and then works for an hour to guilt trip him or her into having sex, or the person who convinces you to take him or her home and then you wake up in the morning and find your apartment’s cleaned out.   Users like what you have and want it, so they pretend to be your friend.  They let you assume what isn’t true, and let you come to trust what shouldn’t be trusted, and then they walk away laughing, leaving you feeling like a fool.

And they don’t feel guilt.  You can cry and try to make them see what it’s done to you, their actions, and they feel nothing.  They don’t understand, quite honestly, what the big fuss is, or why you’re upset.  Their conscience is clear–because they don’t have one.

So that’s my little thing about the two kinds of human.  I don’t know if really there are two kinds.  But I do know I read that something like one in every three men tend to have some degree of antisocial personality disorder and one in every five women.  So the people like myself with low self esteems wanting to please please please in order to have friendship, caring, love…really need to ask ourselves what signals we are putting out there.  Do we walk around with a big SCREW ME OVER neon sign on our foreheads?  How much using do we have to endure before we realize that it sucks to be someone’s prey and it’s better to be a little less trusting–a little more lonely.  Sometimes lonely is better than giving your trust to a sociopath.  Yes, really.

Bigotry–Being Uncomfortable About Someone Different.

Bigot   “One fanatically devoted to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics and intolerant of those who differ.”  Such is the definition of the word in my badly abused and taped together Webster’s II dictionary.

Pretty much we all know what a bigot is, or what bigotry looks like.  But I had a friend yesterday point out something to me–bigotry I am experiencing personally in my life, toward me.

When I think of a bigot I think of someone intolerant of someone of a different race, or religion or sexual preference.  People tend to shun, avoid, stereotype, etc., people who look or think or act differently.   Differences they don’t understand make people uncomfortable, and rather than feel uncomfortable which is often unpleasant, people try to avoid contact altogether with that person or persons, rather than try to understand, and in working to understand, learn tolerance or maybe even appreciation for what is different.

People who are depressed are different.  We don’t think the same, or react the same.  We behave irratically or are overly emotional sometimes.  We might blow things out of proportion, or just seem whiny or petulant or childish.  We might be high maintenance or act like drama queens.  We might be needy or fearful or paranoid or laugh at the wrong times, or cry at the wrong times.  Because depression is a chemical imbalance–it alters how efficiently our brain processes thoughts and feelings.

Meds do help.  Talking over our problems help.  But this is a physical illness, not a series of bad days or just not loving ourselves enough.   We can’t wave a magic wand and say ok I”m normal now.   Some people with depression have to battle it all their life.  For others it comes and goes–people have episodes.   Not everyone knows it when they have depression.  In fact sometimes the ill person is the very last to know.  All they might know is, it’s harder to get out of bed.  It’s harder to deal with social situations.  It’s harder to multi-task.  It’s harder to care about one’s appearance or eating healthy food, or going to the dentist twice a  year, or keeping the house clean.  It’s harder to smile.  It’s harder to look someone in the eye.  It’s harder to believe you are likable.  It’s harder to believe you have any worth.

Little things happen that add to this belief about self too, and the self esteem does, over time, slowly collapse.   The person perceives they are different–they perceive that others around them are being treated differently than they are.  They start to understand they are not someone people want to talk to, or be close to.  They are being avoided.  They are being shunned.  No one seems to like them.  What friends they did have, don’t want to deal with them anymore.  

All these things only add to the problem, create more unbearable hurt on a person already in pain.   This process of being avoided by others–being seen as different because your demeanor is not the same–isn’t this a form of bigotry?  The person with depression experiencing bigotry for making people uncomfortable because of being sick?

Bigotry hurts, in all it’s forms.  No one asks to be sick and everyone who is sick is trying very hard, every day, to feel better.  A society that shuns the ill because they make the healthy uncomfortable…all that does is make it harder to be ill, and harder to get better.   Depression is an illness and it’s one that’s unfortunately here to stay.  There are some really wonderful, loving people in the world that suffer from this illness.  People with good things to offer.  People with something to say and plenty of love to give.   By shunning anyone for being different, we are, as a society, not only making the hurt so much worse for the person or persons, we are cheating ourselves of the potential, the treasure that might be lurking just under the surface–if only we offered a hand instead of turning our backs.   In every garden a seed has the potential to grow or die–and that potential is up to the gardener.   Not all gardens are blessed with healthy soil.  Some seeds are sown in rocky soil, or sandy soil, where the ability to flourish is harder.  Do we give up on those gardens?  Pull those plants that have to struggle more to bloom, or let the weeds choke them to death?  Or do we give a little more work, a little more love–sprinkle on a little more fertilizer so that garden too might bloom and bring smiles to those who see it?

Our society is a garden.  We can help it grow or let it die.  Whatever we decide, starts with how we tend the flowers.