Beliefnet Circle of Reason
Sunday, October 5, 2014, 6:40 PM
We have conquered that which is without -- now we must conquer that which is within.
Dedicated in admonishment of U.S. hysteria concerning its non-existent epidemic of Ebola virus, while ignoring measures to halt its real epidemic of children's enterovirus.
The Fretter, The Solver
Laid off, two men trudged to the pub to nurse their ales.
The younger worker, looking down at his coal-blackened hands sadly, said to the other, "I've nae use for these anymore, except to lift a pint! What am I to do?"
The other, wiping the foam off his grey mustache, twirled its tips with his fingers, belched, and said, "Do anything you damn well want to! We've our freedom, laddie. It's not like we lost our hands, or our heads -- we only lost our jobs!"
Then the older worker stood up, threw a shilling onto the bar, hitched his overalls and cocked his cap.
"So, mate, better than worryin' it 'til we're six under, what say we start the rest o' our lives, eh?"
Thus, fretting is not solving.
October 4, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton, Executive Director, The Circle of Reason
Reason, like gravity, is the weakest of natural forces, but in the end creates suns. -- via Alfred North Whitehead
Dedicated to U.S. state-by-state efforts to counter federal prohibition of the medicinal and recreational sales of marijuana, both prohibitions causing death and misery -- one by allowing illness to go untreated, the other by creating black markets, gangs and crime.
The Terns, The Turn
Flocks of arctic terns took southerly wing with snowflake's fall.
Onward the terns flew into warmer days without cease, over the great Midwestern shield of the continent.
But then, with the dawn of a high sun, a flock scattered in twain as, right through their midst, dashed a young tern -- flying north!
The leader of the tern flock swerved about, and soon they caught up to the young tern.
"Hola, young one!" the lead tern yelled above the flutter of their beating wings. "Why fly you north?"
"Does a tern not migrate north?" the younger tern barked.
"Indeed, we do," the lead tern replied, glancing back at his flock to see them all still riding his tail. "But, young one, we think your season is turned around! T'would be safer -- and more fun, I assure you! -- to head back south this season."
"But it was way too hot down South! I almost died of thirst!" the young tern cried.
"Ah, so you've been on this path a long while, then. But trust us now, young one. The South will become cooler and wetter with the coming season. To the north you will find only death."
The young tern looked over at the lead tern, with mild panic in its eyes. "But I've been on my path so long! How can I just turn around and abandon it?"
The lead tern skeewed a friendly laugh, and replied, "Just follow me, young one -- follow us all!"
And the lead tern wheeled about in the sky, heading once more toward the noon sun -- and, among his flock, followed at his right wing a once misguided but brave young tern.
Thus, the life you lead now can yet lead elsewhere.
September 27, 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, September 21, 2014, 8:42 PM
To harm from faith is evil.
Dedicated to the Flood Wall Street protesters, and in admonishment of capitalists' refusal to accept the reality that fossil fuel use is fueling runaway global warming, and their consequent refusal to see that such willful blindness endangers the survival of our civilization and our species.
The Charm Bracelet, The Callus
During coffee break at the clothes factory, one's well-manicured fingers stroked the charms dangling from her bracelet -- the other's fingers rubbed a callus.
"My lucky bracelet will get me a promotion, and someday I'll run my own factory!" the first woman boasted.
The second woman had no money for even a manicure, let alone a charm bracelet. She'd saved her cash and invested it. She considered her lucky charm the callus acquired on her sewing hand from years of working overtime and over lunch breaks to make more money.
The woman with the charm bracelet often gossiped about the second woman.
"She's crude, with no charm! And look at her hand!"
But, since the second woman never spent much time on her coffee break or at the water cooler listening to idle gossip, she heard little of these insults, nor cared to.
Instead, she taught other industrious workers how to maximize their pay by sewing clothes in less time.
One day the foreman halted shop production and assembled the workers.
He turned to the woman with the callused hand, and said, "I am retiring, but I've watched your hard work, and the way you train the others. You will be our new shop foreman."
Then the retiring foreman turned to the first woman and said, "I've also seen your work, and heard your gossip and insults about those who've worked harder and saved their money."
He glanced down at the charm bracelet tinkling above her now sweaty, wringing hands.
"I hope your lucky charm is worth some cash. You're fired."
Thus, effort is rewarded more than luck.
September 20, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton, Executive Director, The Circle of Reason
Saturday, August 30, 2014, 8:36 PM
Indirectly known truths are convergences of multiple independent streams of information: If the streams aren't converging, aren't multiple, aren't independent, or aren't information, truth isn't established.
Dedicated to the 14 year-old inventor of Email, V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai.
The Aristocrat, The Inventor
Neath the rubber trees swayed pots of gold.
The plantation's hereditary owner was an aristocrat of fabulous wealth.
Living in an opulent palace with a mighty family crest emblazoned on its pediment, every day he hunted, golfed, or shopped for exotic tapestries and robes; and every night he hosted salons and balls.
Politicians and celebrities flocked to his plantation and ate of his roast duck, caviar and ancient wine -- and ate of his very presence.
So did Society men and women revere him -- even though his rubber went into the bullets shot from the guns of the junta that, with him, ruled those who slaved on his plantation.
The inventor lived in a two-room rental on the outskirts of the city, abutting the plantation shantytown.
Every day he taught the poor children who slaved among the rubber trees; and every night he created new uses for the gum that dripped from the rubber trees.
After years of effort, he created a sterile powder to stanch the bleeding wounds of the injured. This brought him a measure of wealth, but not enough to interest politicians and celebrities.
Yet the poor -- who saw him heal the lashes on their backs inflicted by the aristocrat's cronies, and sate their starving minds with his teachings - revered him.
Thus, neither thief nor inheritor of wealth revere, only its creator.
August 30, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Sunday, August 24, 2014, 6:28 PM
Not all who wander are lost. -- via J.R.R. Tolkien
Dedicated to the Community Ambassadors of Saint Paul, MN, who take to the streets to positively interact with and mentor at-risk youth, heading off social confrontations or potential run-ins with the police, and offering connections to jobs, skills training, college programs.
The Warrior King, The Car Salesman
Power once strode an ancient empire in the body of a warrior.
In merciless campaigns, he rode his steed over the steppes, wielding a bloody spear.
He conquered and pillaged the lands surrounding his ancestral birthplace -- and in time became king of all he surveyed.
The stories of his terrible exploits passed into history, then into legend -- and then into dust.
Millennia later, in a modern city, power again incarnated.
In the body of a man who, though dreaming of ancient adventure, was a car salesman.
When not kowtowing to prickly, disdainful customers -- who looked up and snickered at his tight necktie, and the bulging sports coat constraining huge muscles -- he imagined galloping down upon them bareback, his pony-tailed hair free in the wind and a curving sword in hand, lopping off their heads.
Customers complained about him -- although all they could say was that they felt a chill, whenever his brilliant-green eyes alighted upon them.
So, in time, was he fired from his job as a car salesman.
Yet he found a way to stride through his modern world.
Accepting that pillage and plunder were criminal and dishonorable, he became a soldier and peacekeeper.
Although he never became a warrior king, nor passed into legend ere into dust, he found his place in his time.
Thus, do not yearn for the best of times -- do your best in the time you are given. -- via The Lord of the Rings
August 23, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton, Executive Director, The Circle of Reason
To win a rational argument by evoking emotional irrationality is a sadly pyrhhic victory.
Dedicated to "T'Pring," Star Trek actress Arlene Martel.
The Literal, The Intuitive
Detectives were dispatched to the home of a missing person.
The junior detective was young and eager.
Briefly perusing the missing man's home, he noticed no signs of an altercation. "My husband's suitcase and clothes are gone!" his wife cried. Leaning deep into the junior detective's chest, the young woman sobbed.
"My husband's been so unhappy after losing his job, and with his responsibilities as a provider!"
The junior detective consoled her, breaking away only long enough to jot in his notebook that the man had deserted his wife.
The senior detective was an older and slower man.
He looked closely at the woman's face, and asked, "Where do you think your husband is now?"
For an instant, as he watched her eyes dart toward the backyard, the detective felt a deep chill. Then the woman looked down at her feet, sobbed, and cried, "He's just vanished...oh, we loved each other so much!"
The senior detective walked into the kitchen for a glass of water, and, as he drank it, stared out the back window into the dark backyard.
"'Loved,' not 'love,'" he murmured.
In the bedroom, he confirmed the man's clothes and suitcase were missing.But in the bathroom, two toothbrushes still lay on the sink.
When next he returned, with a search warrant, the senior detective found the missing husband and his suitcase of clothes, spread beneath a bed of newly planted roses in the backyard.
Thus, emotions must be clues -- and you a detective.
August 16, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton, Executive Director, The Circle of Reason
Saturday, August 9, 2014, 5:45 PM
Might makes no right.
Dedicated to the fortitude of Iraq's Yazidi people; and in admonishment of ISIS' genocidal invasion of the Yazidi religious community and abduction of Yazidi women, in contravention of the teachings of their own Prophet.
The Wasp, The Ant
Droning wafted through the forest as the Wasp hovered, searching.
It found a caterpillar feeding on a large leaf.
Flying down and landing on the caterpillar's back, the Wasp stung it. The caterpillar fell to the ground, unmoving.
Then the Wasp laid its eggs inside the caterpillar to incubate its young, who slowly consumed the caterpillar from the inside.
The newborn wasps broke out from the caterpillar's body and flew toward the sky, in search of more caterpillars as hosts.
As the wasps grew in number, the caterpillars grew scarce, until few wasps or caterpillars lived.
After one of the last of the wasps fruitlessly searched for prey in which to lay its eggs, it fell to the ground, dead.
While its body mouldered, a skittering noise approached it from below. Two antennae reached up and sniffed the mildewed chitin; then the Ant brusquely moved on, searching.
The Ant found a small cave in the rich soil, and then skittered up to a partly eaten green leaf, whereon it found an aphid.
The Ant bent down and, caressing the aphid's back with its feelers, picked it up gently in its jaws and carried it back to the cave, to live in comfort.
Each day the Ant brought the aphid a piece of leaf to eat, caressed it, and drank its sugary droppings. The Ant grew strong and laid a colony of its young, all of whom marched out to find and breed more aphids.
As the ants and aphids grew in number, the forest teemed with their colonies.
Thus, to use others destroys all -- to work with others renews all.
August 9, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton, Executive Director, The Circle of Reason