Archive | Anger RSS feed for this section

Is Suicide Unpardonable?

6 Apr

I would like to open a discussion on the topic of a person taking his or her life. We call it by the term “suicide.” Of course, the suicide of Pastor Rick Warren’s son, Matthew, age 27, has spurred this post. Is suicide ever justified?

I am saddened about the death of Matthew Warren, and I am dedicated to praying for the family. I hope you are also.

Furthermore, let us make certain to spend a little extra time lingering over those hugs with our kids, and making certain to state our love in words and by actions. One never knows how long we have on this earth, which leads me to the next point.

The facts are that even with all of these loving expressions, we live in a world that is tainted by evil and sin. We live in bodies that are faulty, and riddle with chemical imbalances, at time. We also live in a world that clamors for our lives. There is no mistaking the fact that evil exists, and that some people are tempted to end their lives. The culture of death and abuse in which we live is pervasive. Many young people are not seeing their futures as full of purpose.

I am left to wonder the extent that biology plays into suicidal thoughts. I know firsthand the thyroid deficiencies that cause destructive thoughts and irrational behaviors. I am aware of the depression that haunts some people, due to chemical imbalances, bipolarism, or clinical depression. The threat of suicide by all should be taken seriously. There is the reality that the brain is affected by biology and chemistry, and emotions and the brain are connected.

When these connections line up and negative emotions emerge from angry moods and language of destruction, we all must listen. However, what happens when we are all blindsided by irrational acts?

Having said all of this, permit me to address some issues for conversational purposes.

First, Jesus, in offering up His life and being in command of the moment it ended, has been accused of suicide by some critics. I would like to know the differences between giving up one’s life by choice, and ending one’s life by choice. They are both ends of life by choice. Is it in the purpose that we consider one not as suicide and the other, as such?

Second, if a military person charges directly into the line of fire, we call this person a hero—even if it means his life is ended. Is this suicide to do so, knowing the outcome is sure death? On the other hand, again, is it in the purpose for which the life ended that allows the removal of the label of suicide?

Third, is it possible for a person to be in such a state that ending his or her own life is to be viewed as equal to sacrifice for a higher cause? Alternatively, is suicide a cheap way out of problems, purposeless, irrational, and devoid of anything heroic?
We struggle to understand reasons why people would be tormented by thoughts of death and destruction. Yet, if we trace the family history, it seems as if others in the family’s past have also committed the destructive act. Some argue this is a spiritual issue. Others argue it is genetic and that mental illnesses are passed on.

I think there is a sensible position in the middle, where both explanations might fit as reasons. Certainly drugs can cause a person to commit irrational acts—whether prescription or not.

This leads me to the ultimate question: If the last act committed by a Christian is a sin—in the case of suicide, which a crime against oneself and a sin to God, as well as the stumbling other believers—does this person find himself in the presence of the Lord, and ultimately heaven? I do not know the answer to this question. I did not originate life and I do not control its ends and eternality.

Additional issues for concern:

(1) How is killing others the same, or different from killing self?

(2) If suicide ever justified for the believer, if it means saving someone else from harm?

(3) Is suicide an unpardonable sin, since the person deceased cannot ask for forgiveness after the fact?

(4) Is there purposeful suicide to alleviate suffering, whereby the person saves others from having to deal with the individual any longer?

(5) If a physician assists in a patient’s suicide, by his or her choice, is that really suicide, or murder—or both?

(6) What reasons are there biblically, and what theological context is there, to say categorically that suicide keeps one out of heaven, or allows one into heaven?

I do not pretend to know everything, and I am neither a medical doctor nor a psychiatrist. Nevertheless, I have opinions. I shared some of mine. Now, I would like to know yours!

Anger Misses Out

17 May

Has our human anger kept us from the very blessings of God?

A quick thought for the reader’s consideration: Is our anger the very thing we choose, thereby missing out on God’s hand of blessing in our lives?

I was having this conversation the other day with my students about why it is that man takes most of the credit for discoveries and inventions, while God gets the blame for “acts of destruction.” It’s just not fair that God gets blamed for all the evil and bad things that happen in the world, while man takes all the credit for the good things. It is a cheap shot to blame a higher power, especially when that is the only time His presence is acknowledged.

Critics allow their anger to get in the way of that which is good in this world. God often emerges from the conquest of evil. But oo often we cannot get beyond the pain of the evil. Critics claim that mankind cannot be the blame for something that God allowed and could have easily stepped into the dimension of time to solve. But critics cannot have it both ways. Either God is present in time when good occurs, or He is not present in time when evil occurs.

Human anger is imperfect and misses out on things that are good.

So I am just here wondering how many of us are carrying around internal anger and missing out on the good that awaits our relinquishing of the negative and self-oriented emotion.

Ownership of Human Life

1 Mar

Ownership of Human Life

By Ernie Zarra, Ph.D.

Competition has always been the bedrock of American economics. Adam Smith, political philosopher and economic genius of his day, wrote about the invisible hand. Within that discourse, he penned these words: “Profit is the motivator, and competition is the regulator.” How true. How true.

Profits. Profits are why most of us work. The notion that there is somehow a purist out there, akin to Mother Theresa, and works tirelessly, selflessly, or otherwise spending oneself for the sake of a higher purpose is more fiction than fact, I am afraid. In the words of Gordon Gecko, vis-a-vis Wall Street fame, “Greed is good.” Art imitates life and sometimes it is the other way around, in fact. Greed certainly is not good and is not about what is good. Greed is about “goods.” Allow me to begin with such a premise.

We all do things for “self.” Politicians who claim to have the American people’s best interests at heart, or claim to be doing the will of the people, are just plain rambling rhetoricians. Religious leaders whose gospel is about “American rights and civil discourse,” are preaching a religion of racial or political sectarianism. These are the “goods” from the systems in which this emerge, and they are self-serving. Such systems are fraught with competition, per se.

What I plan to address in the following is honestly controversial and might very well offend some readers. I apologize for any disagreement that might be taken personally. But I do not apologize for speaking what I truly and honestly comprehend as the truth. Truth never has to apologize. But honesty? It may have to be couched in apology after apology.

These past few years have pitted some very distinguished groups against each other. Most of these groups are concerned with issues of life–some for moral reasons, and some for monetary reasons. Some of these groups seek ownership of products through patents. All of the groups are seeking profits, in one form or another, including the storing and purchasing of human tissue and body parts. Many university and private research labs are seeking names for themselves, and make “no bones” about asking for federal funding.

Monday, March 9, 2009 President Barack Obama (#44) signed an Executive Order revoking the limitation of “Federal funding for research involving human embryonic stem cells.” (www.whitehouse.gov) What the president has done with this order is to pit life advocates against life advocates.

Recall, President George W. Bush (#43) signed a moratorium on federal funding of any new embryonic stem cells lines. He did not ban private groups or private money. Bush was pro-life and Obama is certainly different than Bush, in politics, decisions, and fundamental beliefs about life.

Essentially, Bush allowed the Clinton administration’s advanced research to continue only under private monies, while funding the Clinton’s existing embryo experimentation programs, when he took office in 2001. Federal funds did go to existing stem cell research at the time through the NIH (National Institutes of Health)—but not to any new stem cell lines of research.

Let’s take a brief look at the current president’s fundamental rationale for removing any barriers in experimenting with embryos in his executive order. First, Obama says he wants to “enhance the contributions of America’s scientists to important new discoveries and new therapies for the benefit of mankind.” Second, the president writes that he “is a man of faith,” and his faith is a driving for helping mankind.

At this point, many readers of this piece (making a great assumption here), are probably thinking I am against stem cell generation, harvesting, and research–including therapies derived from such scientific and medical breakthroughs and programs. Nothing could be farther from the truth!

I know many people in my daily sphere who are medical professionals. I rub shoulders in the real world with physicians. I pick the brains of scientific researchers. I have coffee with oncologists, and have met with and lunched with neurologists. Some of these and other medical experts are close friends. Several of these experts are religious, but not all. Some have deeper ethical beliefs than others, but so do we all. Just to assure the reader, I have done a little homework on this topic. Doctors and their profession is not so ideological so as to bypass financial and economic endeavors.

There is serious competition today between university and private research groups seeking to patent human genome discoveries. There is a “race to trace” the patterns of genetic structures. Also, the science world seems bent on patenting human embryos, which scientists fertilize in labs. These same embryos are stored in “embryo banks,” often the result of paid college-age donors’ sperm and eggs.

Europe, Australia, and North America continue to bring requests to own “human life” before their courts. The same is true for the proposition of human cloning. Human cloning has been billed as the “perfect fit” science. Allow me to explain.

If a person had a clone of himself, then any worn out part cold easily be extracted from a storehouse of parts, or a clone-bank, like unto what is already done with corneas, blood, and other organs that are harvested. Clones would make it possible to have a perfect fit for our own bodies, theoretically allowing for a personal warehouse for each of us.

With the passage of Obama’s order, the argument of removing barriers to science is one step closer to removing another barrier: human cloning. Some call this a “step in the right direction.” Others call it a slippery slope. I am in the camp of the latter. Science is never satisfied with status quo. Politicians politicize. Legislators legislate. Scientists scientize. Thus, professional and scientific competition is on! The race for patents and profits is a Gordon Gecko mantra made-to-order!

I find the President Obama incredibly naive in at least two areas: (1) He thinks scientists and scientific advanced are both enhanced by ending human life, and (2) His faith causes him to overlook moral and ethical issues. His experience and decisions demonstrate that he is firs a man of politics. His sacrifice of morality and ethics is glaring.

Who or what gives any president the authority to determine that human embryos are a matter of experimentation? I know what gives him the power. But I am talking about authority. If he is a man of faith, I ask “what faith?” Faith in science? Faith is whom, faith in what, faith in what sets of beliefs? Valid questions–ALL OF THEM.

The reader has already picked up on the fact that I am against using embryos for scientific experimentation. Such experimentation creates niche markets and eventually such a supply is available only to elitists demonstrating the wherewithal of demand. So, what are the alternatives to this mad, competitive drive to own human property?

There exist at least eight stem cell therapies already–including the use of adult stem cells that come so very close to the stem cells of the embryo. The Bush moratorium in 2001 actually enabled scientists more broad discoveries and realistic therapies, than would have been discovered if everyone was focused only on the use of embryos for therapies. There is only a “promise of potential” in the use of embryos. Are the moral and ethical, political and fiscal costs worth the “possible” benefits, knowing we already have so much helpful therapy available, presently? I do not think so, for many of the reasons already stated.

Embryonic Stem Cells. Let’s review exactly what an embryonic stem cell is all about. At the point of conception (fertilization) between sperm and egg, a zygote is formed. Within 3-5 days, due to rapid cellular reproduction, the package of cells is supercharged and is programmed to continue rapid multiplication. Throughout this reproduction, the DNA is present for a complete human being, with all the earmarks of a potential living, breathing person.

At around the five day mark, these “super-cells” are not yet marked for any specific tissue, and have the potential to develop into any tissue, if manipulated. So, the issue of embryonic stem cell research, then, is about scientists intervening at the point of human conception. They then remove the super-cells from the “blastocyst” (3-5 day-old embryo), and discard the rest. They throw away, as waste, the parts of human life that are not “needed.” The theory behind the use of these super cells is that they would be introduced into diseased areas of bodies to grow new tissue, or support existing good tissue.

Because the size of what is being used is small, it is visually insignificant. No one has seen a soul, yet many of us believe the invisible to be quite valid and essential to human life. To many people in the United States, the soul is implanted at the point of conception, and “being-ness” becomes an reality. We must question that if the president is a man of faith, does his faith inform him about this dimension?

Alternatives to the Use of Embryos. Presently, stem cells are grown from blood, placenta, spinal fluid, organs, and several other areas of already, fully grown adult stem cells and tissue. Such donations of bodily material and fluids are not resulting in forfeiture of human life. These are donations that enhance life. Embryonic stem cell research pits scientists against human conception, and it is NOT a fair competition. Conceived human life always seems to lose against the “possibility” of saving the human life of one already born.

The president has pitted those with disabilities, illnesses, and diseases against those who would seek to protect embryos from experimentation and destruction. I can assure you I am not against science and I have empathy for those who are suffering. Again, I would like science to be free to find cures–not at the expense of the life of another, or human life at its fundamental source.

Destruction of human life–and everyone agrees that is exactly what is being done–for human life is unfair and unjust competition. It will result in economic monopolies. Whenever human life is seen as “property,” we lose our moral compass. Just the mention of the terms slavery, abortion–and now embryos–in the same breath, sends shivers down my spine. Involve the government in the same discussion and other historical contexts resonate.

I asked earlier where the president, a man of faith, got his authority to decide the fate of embryos. Solomon’s words are appropriate here: “No man has authority to restrain the wind, or authority over the day of death; and there is no discharge in time of war, and evil will not deliver those who practice it.” (Ecclesiastes 8:8)

The president’s naiveté, or his blatant disregard in not considering the depths of morality on the issue before the reader is in line with his style of political leadership-not his faith. Going into greater debt fiscally in order to climb out of fiscal debt is just plain dumb. Going into greater moral debt to climb out of what he sees as “8-years of failed political and moral policy” debt is even worse. If these are the principles of faith to live by, we might, down-the-road, very well have to apologize to other groups for their eugenics and fetal experimentations. I sure hope not.

In closing, the president’s actions of late have disenfranchised the three largest bases of religious groups in America. Roman Catholics, Evangelical Christians, and Mormons . . . add whomever else you will to the mix. Is this the man of faith and principle we are talking about? Is this the man of change?

Life v. Life . . . a Barack Obama special edition of “I can do what I damn well please, and there ain’t nothin’ anyone can do about it.” Well, game on, Mr. President. I am glad you have put down the cigarettes. Now it is time for the teleprompter to hit the road.

 

Have We Lost Our Minds? (Warning, Graphic)

20 Jan

The title, alone, of this blog might imply something that I do not mean for it to imply.  But really, can I control that?  Should I always be on the lookout for words and phrases that are metaphorical, allegorical, humorous, and even a bit sarcastic?  Do I have to have government to police my every word?

Some of the words that follow might offend someone just because they appear in digital form.  But put away your political correctness for a second and pretend you are reading your favorite novel, or watching Chris Rock.  If anyone is offended because I argue for these specific words not to appear in texts, and ask for them to be stricken from literature, then you are missing the point.  Be warned the following is very graphic.

If we are about policing what is in literature, then please ban Toni Morrrison’s The Bluest Eye.  It is vile and full of racial epithets, including the portrayal of a black man who rapes and molests children.   This book was on the California recommended reading list for high schoolers in literature class.  If the censor police get their way, then I hope they strike out all offensive terms, including:  “white boy,” “honky,” and “cracker” that appear in them.  I do not care, then, what the historical context is.  It’s the same with the words “negro” and “nigger.”  Words like “mick,” “dago,” “whop,” “chink,” “gook,”  and all sorts of other very hurtful derogatory words should then be removed from all literature and people should be punished for using them.  [Side note:  What is strange is that many of these slang terms show up as valid words on a spell checker]

Any word that connotes anything against one’s race, or ethnicity, or nationality should then be banned from use and people using them should be disciplined.  But wait a second.  Do you agree with this?

Can’t I, as an Italian, refer to my goombah as a “dago,” or a “guinea”?  What if he is acting retarded?  Am I not able to use that term?  Is it not acceptable for Blacks to use the term “niggaz” within a racial clique?  What about homosexuals referring to each other as “queer,” or saying, “You’re so gay!”  Folks let me in on a little secret.  The answer to the blog question posed above is “Yes!”  We have certainly lost our minds.

Allow me to move from one facetious discussion to another.  What in the world is going on with the First Amendment police in this nation.  Are we really not allowed to use terms like “Crosshairs?”  Should David Bowie change his name?  What about U2, that Cold War relic?  For crying out loud, I have crosshairs in my telescope and binoculars.  Does that mean someone is going to beat a NASA official over the head with a refractor?  Do we have to worry about a terrorist attack upon Griffith Observatory?

I drove my wife to Target the other day.  Oh my goodness!  I wrote the word “Target.”  Someone might think I am talking about guns and bullseyes.  BULLSEYES!  Oh my gosh!  How insensitive to the animal.  We should ban all references to animals.  No rabbit’s feet.  No one should come out of his or her shell.  It might be too traumatic.  PETA will sue us and then the fur will surely fly.  Oooopsie.

In politics, we cannot refer to “killing to bill,” any longer.  People might think that such incendiary rhetoric might very well place former President Clinton in harm’s way.  HARM’S WAY . . . Yikes, did I just write that?  Shoot, man!  Whoa.  I just used either a photo or gun metaphor.  We can’t take the bullet train.  Might be deemed a weapon.  If you are not aware, I have going to the gym a lot since June and now I have some serious guns.  Ooops!  Holy smoke!  Sorry Pope Benedict.  OK, how about “Holy cow!  Thanks to Phil Rizzuto, we have come to hear this in our sleep.  But we can’t use the “Scooter’s” term, because it might offend someone in India, or make a Hindu feel out of sorts, by referring to a cow.

FOLKS WE HAVE LOST OUR MINDS.  Pejorative term use does not make someone a hater.  It makes him a victim of his culture–yes, a victim!  And how could anyone, at all, hold victims accountable.  How insensitive and lacking in compassion, huh?

If that standard was applied, there goes most of all Rap music and many cable programs.  But what is fair is fair.  If one group can refer to members in its own group by terms they consider offensive when used by others, then they open the door for others to think it is all right to use as well.

So, let me ask you a question or two–and I am being serious here.  First question:  Does Tiger Woods get a pass when he uses black pejoratives with his black friends, or does he get “nailed” (uh oh!)  because he is only 1/2 Black?  He is also 1/2 Thai.  If President Obama used a racial pejorative, would he get “crucified”? (Messiah-talk)  He is only 1/2 Black as well.  Do you see the folly of all of this?  By policing everything, it has actually made things worse.  There is a double-standard in this nation.  Anyone conservative or Republican–or at least not in support of leftists–is labeled and called all sorts of vile names.  The media plays up these labels with a grin.  Yet, left-wingers get a pass, as if nothing was wrong with their words.  I have to tell you that my colleagues and I point these things out all the time.  Most students laugh and see exactly what is going on.

We make so much out of racial and ethnic nonsense.  We have so many multi-cultural and multi-racial families and marriages today, that we are so unlike the past it isn’t funny.  So, we need to relax on policing the terms and focus on underage drinking, or MTV producing kiddie porn.  You want to police something, go after MTV.  Scumbags!  Did you get what I was “aiming” at?  [Let me interpret:  “bag of scum”]

We have culture, media, literature, and political double-standards to thank for it.  We have writers, comedians, and entertainers, who think they should get a pass under the First Amendment, but the average person can’t get the same pass.  Why is that?  Answer?  We have lost our minds.  In so doing, we have lost our moral conscience as a nation.  When we are allowed to elevate anything about our oneness as Americans, we get what we deserve.

As an educator, I have to deal with so much of so-called daily cultural fallout.  Try explaining to a student why two kids can say things to each other, and nothing happens to either kid–especially when one of them is only 1/4 like the other!  Go ahead, I dare you.  Kids see through it all.

Is it racist for a Mexican student to call a non-Mexican by a Spanish slang term?  And what if the non-Mexican calls the Mexican an English slang term, and the English-speaking kid is Caucasian, or Asian?  Sheesh.  There is not even a Mexican race, yet they have racist clubs on school campuses:  LA RAZA (The Race).  Anyone want to call them out on that?  Si or no?

What about two girls talking and referring to the other as “a ho.”  This is a black term for a whore.  What about calling someone a “bitch”?  Is it all right for girls to use these terms, and not guys to use them?  Gay men are called whores, sluts, and a few other choice words–and they are using these terms toward each other.  If they call each other these words, should nothing happen?  name-calling and nicknames, cultural terms and slurs have always been around.  Use of these terms do not make a person an instant hater of an entire group of people.  It makes them stupid, boorish, and many other things.  Just by calling someone a name, like a “hater,” does not make a person a hater.  If one name-caller is wrong, so too is the retaliating name-caller.  How can they be stopped?  Government intervention?  Or people going right to labeling someone a “phobe,” or a “racist”?  We have lost our minds.

Name-calling and slurs are the basest form of hurtful terminology.  They are used by people who should learn a higher vocabulary.  These words are meant to hurt, meant to cause shock, and meant to demonstrate power.  We suffer from what I call a “retaliation ethic.”  It is what my dad phrased as, “Tit for tat.  You killed my dog, I’ll kill your cat.”  He was definitely old school.  The modern ditty goes a little like this:

“Tit for tat.”  Interpretation:  “Stop talking about my body breasts and my body art.  What are you a gawking stalker?  I will sue you for harassment.”

“You killed my dog.  I’ll kill your cat.”  Interpretation:  “Animal hater, you are!  You make Michael Vick look like a saint” (I mean Eagle).  🙂

We have lost a lot of our sense of civility because the language patrol wants to make big issues our of words.  I could go into how today’s kids have no idea the baggage that comes with terms, and how name-calling does little to educate them about the reasons why words may be hurtful.  But I won’t.  As an adult, I am not in favor of anyone telling me what words I should and should not use, because they might offend someone.  I can choose for myself to uplift people, or not.  I know what’s right and wrong and do not need the “word police” to step in to hold me accountable.  We have not only lost our minds, but we have lost our sense of playful humor, in a general sense.  All I know is that if people are willing to kill each other today over the use of one word, or the use of words that imply hunting, shooting, targeting, and the like, then families are not doing their jobs, first of all.  How is calling someone a racist going to help to stop true racism in this nation?  It is often retaliatory and meant to harm another.  Whatever happened to turning the other cheek?  Would Dr. King approve of such accusations to hurt others?

OK my fellow doofuses and dopes, I think that about says it all for tonight.  I hope you are not too stupid to catch my drift.  Hope no one was hurt by the real use of these terms as descriptors.  If you were, I will first say, “I am sorry you were hurt,” (some apology huh?)  Now shuddup!

In closing, I have to admit something.  I am an old white dude, who cannot jump, cannot dance, cannot sing, cannot do much of anything anymore.  I am old!  Uh ohhhh.  For those of you who are now getting AARP, let me put it to you this way–in all caps–so you can hear me:

CAN WE ALL LIGHTEN UP PLEASE?  [No, I am not talking about a person’s need to go on a diet.]

%d bloggers like this: