Beliefnet Circle of Reason
Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 6:10 PM
Moral evil is abrogating the right of others to think for themselves. -- via Lindsay Tornambe
Dedicated to Lindsay Tornambe's and "C's" escape from the Finlayson, Minnesota, religious and child sexual abuse cult that trapped their families; and to Ms. Tornambe's realization that their escape wasn't simply from a religion, but from what traps many people regardless of their worldviews -- a moral evil she herself identified: "We didn't really have a chance to think for ourselves."
The Blue Ceiling, The Blue Sky
Grey clouds ushered the new employee into the bank.
His boss welcomed him, saying, "Innovate and you'll get ahead in the world!"
"The sky's the limit!" he exclaimed.
Saying this, the boss gestured up -- at the vaulted, white cloud-painted blue dome above the main lobby.
The employee wracked his brain for weeks to come up with an idea to save the bank money. But when he presented his idea to his coworkers and boss, they frowned and told him that the idea was unworkable.
And that he was a show-off.
He grew sullen, as his best ideas were ignored while the same poor planning that had kept the bank small was all that was permitted.
On his last day at the job, after packing his personal belongings, he overheard the boss tell a young, new worker, "The sky's the limit!"
While the bank guard, dressed in grey, ushered him out the door, cardboard box under one arm, he passed the new guy --who was staring up at the cloud-painted vaulted dome.
He paused and whispered in the new guy's ear.
"It's a ceiling."
Then he walked out into a true blue day.
Thus, make sure your blue sky isn't a blue ceiling.
April 19, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton, Executive Director, The Circle of Reason
If you justify violence as the will of Allah, you're remaking Allah in your own image.
Dedicated in admonishment of the aggression and terrorism by Boko Haram. Initiation of violence, and the subsequent undercutting of others' ability to use Reason, is not and can never be a moral political tactic.
The Totalitarian, The Free
Twin countries nestled against each other in the womb.
The first country, at the insistence of its army, installed a charismatic dictator.
Garbed in green fatigues, he told the people what kind of work they must do, and who would benefit from it.
He was overthrown and replaced by another dictator, who, regaled in satin robes, told them what kind of belief they must have.
He, too, was overthrown, and replaced by yet a third dictator, who, cloaked in a white hood, told them what kind of color people they must marry.
The country teetered like a refugee dragged on his final, long march.
And in the dark of night, fearing the knock at their door, never did its people know peace in their beds.
But the second country, at the insistence of its own charismatic leader, installed a Constitution of individual, religious, racial, social, and environmental rights, protected by a representational government.
Then the leader hung up his pressed suit and retired to his farm.
This country did not teeter toward enslavement and persecution of its people for what work they did, what belief they held, or what color they were.
It grew innovative, strong and free.
And in the dark of night, fearing no knock at their door, always did its people know peace in their beds.
Thus, one can be chained in many ways, but it is all one chain -- upon reasoned choice.
April 12, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton, Executive Director, The Circle of Reason
The spoils of war and deception spoil with the light of day.
Dedicated in admonishment of Russian President Vladimir Putin's undercutting, both by force and propaganda, of the will of the People of Ukraine toward self-determination.
The Powerless, The Powerful
A "right to vote" was enshrined in the Constitution of both neighboring peoples -- but immersed within a tortuous, dark palimpsest of corrupt laws.
In the first country, public officials, even the Presidency itself, were bought. Incumbency of the largest political parties was guaranteed by television ads -- which, through misdirection, calmed the people's concerns. Power, and immense, ill-gotten riches, were held in the grasp of a very few -- while many were poor, cheated of a day's pay for a day's work, and lived on acrid, despoiled land.
Its people stayed home and cursed, come voting day.
The second country, too, had been bought; its people, too, saw the poverty of their hardest workers, tasted acrid air and oily water, and saw the politicians and pundits shun all but the wealthy and a few token poor.
But its people fought back -- writing editorials, publishing alternative newspapers, talking on public television, and blogging on the Internet.
And come voting day all of them -- every one of them -- left their homes to vote.
The people, realizing they had suffered from a mass illusion of powerlessness, never again cursed the government they had themselves permitted all along -- but threw it out and elected true representatives.
Thus, your vote is absolute power incarnated -- or absolute power abdicated.
April 5, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton, Executive Director, The Circle of Reason
Sunday, March 30, 2014, 7:00 PM
Strong cloth is woven from many threads.
Dedicated in admonishment of medically-uninsured young adults of the Millennial Generation who are declining to buy cheap medical insurance by March 31, through the U.S. Affordable Care Act. Taking responsibility for your own healthcare also means not bumming off your fellow citizens' wallets to pay for it after you go bankrupt from unpredicted injury or illness.
The Riverbank, The Flood
Fertile delta meandered beneath the feet of two young farmers.
One bought a farm on the green banks of the river, and profited enormously from its cheap cost.
The other visited his friend's sprawling farm. Bare feet on green grass, he walked to the banks of the mighty river, pondering its iron, foam-crested turbulence. Then, lacing on his shoes, he hiked south closer to the city, where the river was channeled through the verdant plains by levees and canals -- and there he bought a small farm, where he barely scraped by due to the farm's expense.
The first farmer chided the second about his expensive, tiny farm.
But then the rains came unceasingly -- and the mighty, life-giving river swelled in its banks. To no avail the first farmer tried to protect his farm and his family from the torrent of rushing, blue-grey water, as it billowed over the low green banks -- and all was swept away to ruin.
So did the first farmer come to fear the river and its surges.
But where the swollen river had been leveed and channeled, the second farmer's land and family remained safe on its banks, and his small farm thrived.
So did the second farmer come to appreciate the river and its levees.
Thus, let joy flow, but not flood.
March 29, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton, Executive Director, The Circle of Reason.
We are born fools, and without great effort fools we remain.
Dedicated in admonishment of President Barack Obama's ad hominem insulting of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Under any circumstances, an insult elicits irrational, emotional responses in its target -- even if the target is a world leader with Syrian and Iranian influence, UN Security Council veto power, exclusive access to the International Space Station, and nuclear weaponry.
The Barker, The Talker
None know the fount of the angelic and the feral.
One man blurted out everything on his mind.
No matter that among his thoughts, circling like ravens' feathers in his soul, were insults, slanders and blame -- the unwise, the inaccurate, the unnecessary, and the unkind.
No matter -- all blew out of his head, on the first breeze from his mouth.
To many, this man seemed more a barking dog than a human being.
Another man only tithed what was on his mind.
No matter that among his thoughts, growing like gemstones in his soul, were compliments, accolades and advice.
No matter -- only the wise, the accurate, the necessary, and the kind were quarried, like veins of opal, from the deep well of his voice.
To many, this man seemed more an angel than a human being.
Thus, tithe your thoughts.
March 22, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton, Executive Director, The Circle of Reason.
Sunday, March 16, 2014, 2:54 PM
Break on the shoals of your dream.
Dedicated to the two dead and 23 injured SXSW musicians and festival attendees; and in admonishment of the perpetrator's allegedly gunning his Civic through the crowd to escape a police sobriety stop.
The Fawn, The Otter
By the bayou lived a Fawn and an Otter.
The Fawn perked up her ears and froze at the smallest crack of a twig.
Her heart leapt about inside her like a mouse in a cage, and her legs trembled.
She hid in the lap of the cypress trees whenever the sun burst from behind a cloud.
So did the Fawn burn the candle of her life -- until a hunter's rifle puffed out her tremulous flame.
The Otter cavorted and dove in the black marsh.
Floating on her back, she cracked open pecans on a stone perched on her belly.
She barked and loped to sniff out the cracking of a twig or the crashing of a tree branch.
She rolled in the dirt whenever the sun burst from behind a cloud.
So did the Otter savor the story of her life -- until a gator's maw snapped closed her final chapter.
Thus, be miserable and die, or be happy and die. Pick one!
March 15, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton, Executive Director, The Circle of Reason
We all see, but with different eyes.
Dedicated to women's right to individual and political self-determination, on International Women's Day.
The Seminar, The Ovarium
Nailed to the portal of the imposing granite hall were flyers for two lectures.
Two speakers were scheduled for that day.
The first raised one eyebrow archly.
"I've long planned for this. I'm going to instruct the masses about the cultural and economic consequences of commercial over-fishing."
The second speaker, rubbing her hands together, blurted out, "Oh, yes, I've dreamed of this day, too! I'm going to host a conference on fly-fishing!"
As the two speakers shook hands and entered their respective auditoriums on opposite sides of the hallway, the second speaker's auditorium began filling to the rafters with fishing enthusiasts.
Hanging on every word of their host, they queried, debated and commended her in excitement, when she discussed the most attractive fishing lures and revealed images of the most beautiful spots around the world to hook the perfect fish.
After the conference, the joyful fly-fishers, imbued with plans for new lures and visions of unimagined vistas, filed past the other auditorium.
Glancing in, they heard the droning voice of the first speaker -- accented only by reverberating echoes of fitful coughs from the few academicians who'd chosen to remain, and who sat almost alone in the cavernous auditorium.
Thus, eloquence sets fire to reason. -- via Favio Masulli y Becker
March 8, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton, Executive Director, The Circle of Reason
A prize of great value is not meant to be given away.
Dedicated to American Enterprise Institute Director Arthur Brooks, for calling for conservative-liberal dialogue to improve conservatism on behalf of the poor.
The Coal, The Flame
Lumps of rich, black coal lay in each hand.
One lump of coal was placed in a fire, and so grew red-hot, feeding the fire.
Yet no air was blown onto the coal, and the fire began to smother.
Slowly the coal darkened, until it was clothed in ash, with only a small ember of flame buried in its deepest crevice.
The other lump of coal was also placed in a fire, and also grew red-hot, feeding the fire.
Yet a gentle breath of air was blown over the coal, when needed, stoking its heat higher and higher.
From the coal's heart burst a brilliant gout of sparks and flame, igniting tinder that had tenderly been placed by its side.
Slowly the entire coal turned searing orange, the shimmering fruit of a burning bush.
Thus, tend your flame, or it shall grow cold.
March 1, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton, Executive Director, The Circle of Reason
Self-defense is not aggression -- nor aggression self-defense.
Dedicated in admonishment of President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda's signing into law the criminalization of gay behavior; to his scientists' disregard of the scientific knowledge of epigenetics -- that complex biological traits are not purely genetic in origin, but due to fetal development influencing gene expression; to the Ugandan people's abrogation of common moral codes permitting freedom of adults' consensual behavior; and to U.S. Christian Evangelicals' encouragement of Uganda's predation on its own citizens, in the sheep's clothing of biblical puritanism.
The Insulter, The Debater
Paragons of rhetoric, they were nonpareil.
One of the brothers wielded sarcasm like a rapier.
Oft he exclaimed, "Do plan on suing your lobotomist!" or, "Are you a traitor or just a fool, to spout such hogwash?"
Although his debate coach often interjected, "You've still not made any point," or, "You've proven nothing with an insult," the brother would simmer -- steam growing behind his eyes -- until, with a burst of abandon, his black wit exploded once again into the faces of his agog listeners.
So did this brother become a master of the razor-tongue -- and a widely disliked and distrusted man -- by demolishing his adversaries.
The second of the brothers wielded reason like a forceps.
Oft he proclaimed, "Your point is unfounded, for these reasons..." or, "These facts support the need for change."
When others called his arguments "ridiculous" he smoothly replied, with a clear, slightly condescending gaze, "They are not only not ridiculous, but they are correct." The ensuing burst of impotent steam that issued from his opponents was, to him, a refreshing sauna.
So did this brother become a master of the golden-tongue -- and a widely respected and trusted man -- by arguing against arguments, not against arguers.
Thus, ad hominem is against humanity.
February 22, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton, Executive Director, The Circle of Reason