Life Driven Purpose, pgs 82-83

Feb 20, 2017

“The United States of America was no birthed in prayer, as the religious right repeatedly claims, It was birthed in protest. We kicked the king, dictator, master, sovereign, and Lord out of our affairs, turning government upside down, making “We, the people” the supreme authority. Our Declaration of Independence, which does not govern our country but did present the rationale for rebellion, states emphatically and unbibilically that the power of the government is not derived from anything other than “the consent of the governed.” American law is not based on any scripture. We produced a completely godless constitution, the first in history to separate religion and government. Written under George Washington, approved by the Senate, and signed by John Adams in 1797, the Treaty of Tripoli says quite clearly: “The Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” (What part of the phrase “in any sense” don’t modern Christian theocrats understand?) U.S. laws do not stem from commandments revealed by a cosmic authority or sovereign monarch. The constitution arose naturally from a group of people struggling to be free of authority, not to submit to rules. American citizens are not subjects. We are proudly rebellious people.”

–Dan Barker, Life Driven Purpose, pgs 82-83


Discuss!

21 comments on “Life Driven Purpose, pgs 82-83

  • “The Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” (What part of the phrase “in any sense” don’t modern Christian theocrats understand?)

    I like that ;). It would be good in some poster or an advertisement on a bus. 😉



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  • 3
    maria melo says:

    I didn´ t participate in the thread “Can the Electoral College system be Reformed?”, nor do I think I should, as far as I don´t feel I am sensitive to discuss it, but I am really puzzled by the fact (correct me if I am wrong): in a country that ONLY teaches children about the national History (nothing more matters than two centuries of History), why do people think that it´s a matter of opinion and no one listen to historians, no one makes of Historu and hisyorians a popular subject, there´s no academic authority on that matter, an official (ideological) version of History?



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  • 4
    maria melo says:

    I have researched and know now that in High School (4 years) US History and Universal History (History of Europe) is taught.
    The problem out there must be strident and agressive religion, that not happy to be celebrated in church on sunday, needs to eco in political sphere too (and biology classes).



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  • Hello Maria,

    can you tell me what do you mean by “no one makes historians or history popular subject” … I did not quite understood you… Do you mean history should be popularized or? I am asking because I don’t like history haha. In my opinion, it didn’t teach us anything moral or constructive. Well, it is all about wars, who killed who and when,… and why is to often forged 😉 . I think people should be better without that sort of history. History should be about human achievements in biology, physics, arts, etc. and not about distructiveness. There is nice French maxim that goes: Happy people do not write history. And I agree with that 100%. 🙂 .



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  • Modesti

    Well, it is all about wars, who killed who and when,… and why is to often forged ???? . I think people should be better without that sort of history. History should be about human achievements in biology, physics, arts, etc. and not about distructiveness.

    If there is one goal that history ought to share with science it is objectivity in the pursuit of truth. I can confidently say that science has objectivity as a high goal and has various checks and balances that guide us in that direction. There is a process of correction that can kick in and reveal bias and errors at least most of the time.

    I won’t speak so confidently about the subject of history because that is not my subject of study in my own education. I’m not sure that historians are under the same degree of scrutiny that the scientists are and that’s why I read history with the awareness that there could be a degree of bias in the writings of any historian. All I can do as an outsider to that field is to choose my books as carefully as possible and to entertain the thought that there is probably another book out there on any given subject that tells a very different story than the one I’m reading presently.

    For example, think of the history of the Middle East and you know that the story will be markedly different when told by a Palestinian author than when told by an Israeli zionist! Still, they both have the right to put their own interpretation of events out there on the bookshelves and film libraries as they do. I don’t say that this is a bad thing. How can we get a complete picture of historical events if we don’t have all stories from all sides? Again using the Middle East as an example, how can I understand the current behavior of zionists if I haven’t read anything (unpleasant) about what happened to the Jews in WWII ? One of the most difficult chapters of human history to read is also the very chapter that set the scene for a human rights catastrophe in the “holy” lands today. Another lesson we learned from that same chapter is that Fascism has a slow steady creep into a nation with what are predictable factors. These factors are very much on the mind of Americans here today and for good reason but how would we be aware of this if not for reading our history books in high school on that extremely uncomfortable, horrifying topic of WWII and the consequences of that?

    I realize that it’s vey discouraging to read about the stupid and bad behavior of our fellow humans here on earth. Reading and learning history causes this feeling and Science can do the same. This is what causes many people to reject the very material that we discuss on this site. There are certain well established facts about our own species that are unpalatable to the common folk. These are things that are are with us today that come from our deep evolutionary past. See the older threads here on topics like infanticide and anything on rape. Uncomfortable facts.

    So as our article above has presented, we do have a large segment of the American public that is either completely ignorant of the viewpoints of our founding fathers or they know it and have blocked it from their consciousnesses due to a conflict with their own convenient worldview. Have these people ever read anything on the history of Europe? The French Revolution? The Enlightenment? History of Britain – how the citizens came to take power from the monarchy and why that needed to happen? It’s just that I can’t possibly imagine how we can understand American history without also understanding what came before it on another continent.

    I certainly concede that the way history was taught in my schooldays had the effect of putting students to sleep more than anything. Most of the history that I do know, (not enough) was learned through reading books after my formal education was finished. As you say above, human achievements in biology, physics, arts, etc. are important and inspirational but if our goal is the best objective reality of the human condition that we can achieve, we must look at the good as well as the bad, whether it jives with one’s worldview or conflicts with it. It’s complicated. 😉



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  • LaurieB,

    I have manage again to express myself poorly, haha… . I like what you wrote. I supose I was thinking more of this class in school called history that is so narrow and all the time one hears war here, war there, revolution here, there… and so little about great civilization achivements, like those are not history :). I understand importance of being well read and informed, I just don’t like this monopoly on war that history classes have. Perhaps a different name for such class should be invented! 😉 …for war stories: his story, and for other, more civil and humane: her story (a bit of a joke that you probably recognize because Dawkins ones used similar analogy I think) 😉

    we do have a large segment of the American public that is either completely ignorant of the viewpoints of our founding fathers or they know it and have blocked it from their consciousnesses due to a conflict with their own convenient worldview.

    Uf, I am afraid that I am inclined to this second observation. 🙁 Unfortunately this filter of someone worldview always gets in the way distorting facts 🙁 . 😉



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  • 9
    maria melo says:

    I would like to kow if Modesty only thinks that his/her life is all about “happy events” (an “evenmential historigraphy” as fait-divers it would be, not abot structural causes I suppose).
    I felt sadness about Laurie B concerns. I´ve studied both, Anthropogy and History in their methodologies and object-which a science we were taught). Anthropology even has methods that seek to remind the “intruder resercher” to avoid his/her ethnocentric views (and Laurie B must be aware of this, as far as I remember that Laurie B mentioned that has been doing some ethnographic work within some traditioal people I guess –all social and human sciences are related, still anthropology is the most basic (usually historians know anthropology, anthropologists know History, sociologist know all social/human sciences, and in fact, History or Anthropology are not about jews, christians, muslims, science, myth, religion, politics, war and peace etc. but about ALL of these.

    I know a scientist that probably didn´t find the subject of History interesting (but funny) and she used to give her students a funny survey about some history facts that were “fait-divers-, perhaps the way she experienced History from an early age, but later in her professional life as a scientist she wrote a history book herself about a subject related to her scientific expertise field that is all but great in all aspects (literature, history and science). Well, I think is kind of interestng that I know a physicist who even writes prefacies for “History books”, not necessarly about science.
    I remember two historians discussing about historicalevents (from tv), one of them was an atheist communist(, the other one was a catholic priest, but I don´t think the religion of the catholic priest distort the historical facts. although they had heir opinions on the interpretation of events.



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  • History is written by the victors. Or at least, edited and published by them. So don’t expect some kind of Objective Truth. Evidence to the contrary of the victor’s narrative is going to be hard to find, it’s bound to have been deliberately obliterated. Extreme examples of this are the destruction of anything that doesn’t suit the current narrative of those in power (Buddhist statues in Taleban controlled areas, for instance), but that’s just the extreme end of the spectrum.

    Comparative History might be a good subject. Obtain (and translate as needed) history books from different countries and different eras, and compare side by side decade by decade. What do (for example) French history books written in the 18th and 19th century say about the developments in the New World? How does this compare with history of the same period as taught in modern schools in the USA?



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  • 12
    maria melo says:

    History is written by the victors. Or at least, edited and published
    by them.

    Interestingly enough-or perhaps not- I begun to read the book “The Growth of Biological Though” by Ernst Mayr (a few years ago actually and never concluded), and I am not going to make exact quote, at least now (as I feel I am lazy and tired after a 11 hours of work with 10 minutes to have lunch), but Ernst Mayr writes about the importance of the historical narrative of “low social classes”´ (labor social classes I guess) instead of the narrative of “victors”, kings and politicians (that´s old fashion in historiography), shall I repeat again that even the labor classes conditions have historical importance too? (my professor of History, a man in his 70´s that still active teaching and researching used to tell his students.including me- about his findings, he found out thar workers in some factory worked under the pressure of a weep, about the social conditions before the existence of a welfare state,
    The side of the “loosers” is also documented by anthropologists as far as sometimes there are meetings in universities that gather prationers of traditional medicine for instance (that would make scientists laugh).
    If you´d know an emblematic portuguese sculpture, you´d find funny that a man that was by no means gentle is represented as gentle and as a dreamer, when in fact he was greedy (the the historian that made such an inspiring portrait , was protected by the man he portraited.



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  • 16
    maria melo says:

    How does this compare with history of the same period as taught in
    modern schools in the USA?

    One would be making history at the same time, I guess.



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  • Modesti (others)

    I’m glad you clarified your position, Modesti:

    ….I suppose I was thinking more of this class in school called history that is so narrow and all the time one hears war here, war there, revolution here, there… and so little about great civilization achievements, like those are not history….

    To block out the reality of history, or to study only happy things in history, is like blocking out all the unpleasant things in the history of our own lives – including what happened yesterday. We must not insulate ourselves; that is a recipe for disaster.

    I would say that there are modes of relationship to history, and some are more useful and advantageous than others. Antiquarianism has its place but it does not augment one’s zest for life. An exclusive fixation with the horrors throughout history, or fixation with a single horrifying period of history engenders gloom and moroseness. I like the idea of reading history for inspiration and fortification. That is what Nietzsche called the “monumental” mode of relationship to history. And it is good for the personality, and augments rather than diminishes one’s zest for life.

    But nothing must be avoided. We as a species must never forget, or shut the door on the past! (No, I am not alluding to the Nazi holocaust; I am alluding to the entire history of man’s inhumanity to man.

    The obliteration of history is fodder for totalitarians. Psychopaths feed off of in an eternal present. For the psychopath all one’s “sins” are washed away in the moment of action. His own history, with all of its failures and shame, are, for a moment, obliterated. And this goes hand in hand with the absence of critical distance amongst Americans in general – not just psychopaths – and this is part of our national disease.

    A glorified past and the false promise of great things to come is easier to sell to people with no sense of history and who are dissatisfied with their lives. It serves the same function as astrology.

    One of the reasons why the US is more violent than other countries is because we are more severed from the past. When I am in Rome or Florence, or anywhere in Europe, I feel I am in a healthier, more humane, environment. Many people on this site, who live overseas, have asked why America is so backwards. Compare Rome or London or Paris to a typical American city.

    Mailer on totalitarianism:

    “The essence of totalitarianism is that it beheads. It beheads individuality, variety, dissent, extreme possibility, romantic faith; it blinds vision, deadens instinct; it obliterates the past.”

    On totalitarianism and architecture:

    “Totalitarians who distorted the search of modern architecture for simplicity, and converted it to monotony.” This new architecture, this totalitarian architecture, destroys the past. By dislocating us from the most powerful emotions of reality, totalitarianism leaves us further isolated in the empty landscapes of psychoses, precisely that inner landscape of void and dread which we flee by turning to totalitarian styles of life.”



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  • Cont.

    Corrected quote:

    “Totalitarians […] distorted the search of modern architecture for simplicity, and converted it to monotony. This new architecture, this totalitarian architecture, destroys the past. By dislocating us from the most powerful emotions of reality, totalitarianism leaves us further isolated in the empty landscapes of psychoses, precisely that inner landscape of void and dread which we flee by turning to totalitarian styles of life.”

    History is written by the victors.

    I have an old and dear friend who is a distinguished professor of South African history. This criticism might be a bit passé. I’ll ask him if he agrees (when he starts speaking to me again).

    9:23! I’m late for Maddow!



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  • “I would like to kow if Modesty only thinks that his/her life is all about “happy events” (an “evenmential historigraphy” as fait-divers it would be, not abot structural causes I suppose)”.

    No. 🙂 What I ment is that history classes are rarely about anything else but wars or conflicts, and ghastly human behavior toward others (which are unhappy events). Those events are usually results of ghastly individuals with their longing for power. As I understand this French maxim, there is no ‘happy’ history. (because happy history is not written by and can’t be written by ghastly and monstruous people seeking power). Happy people do not write history. They do not have to. They live in a present, they do not have this longing to leave mark behind them, to leave monuments of their existance. 😉 As much as I have seen, only people who wants to dominate others have this need to leave mark of their power and importance. Oh, I hope I will be able to explain my view. haha.

    But, I would like to see more objective history classes in school. The ones that do not focus itself on revolutions and people arguing who stepped on who (so to speak). I think from antropology pupils would learn more than out of that narrow history lessons. 😉

    Also I would like to say something about that “winners write history”. I am afraid, I would have to concur with that. LaurieB mentioned how :

    For example, think of the history of the Middle East and you know that
    the story will be markedly different when told by a Palestinian author
    than when told by an Israeli zionist! … Again using the Middle East as an example, how can I understand the current behavior of zionists if I haven’t read anything (unpleasant) about what happened to the Jews in WWII ? …

    I understand you. And I understand that one have to be sceptical while reading it. I mean, if Palesinians told “their truth”, and Israels “their truth”… where is the real truth? 😉 Because they both are “winners” in their heads, and they both teach their children that kind of history. It is also a question if some journalists, or whoever (from outside) would be able to find the real truth. 🙁 first, because of different truths out there, and secondly, because of earlier “truths” that exist around, that are written by “winners” from past). But I do know what you mean when you say you read it ‘cum grano salis’ ;). Mee too.

    I think that winners write history, and it is exactly because it is so, it is perpetuating. Because, after a time, some unhappy looser (from a party that lost) will rise to “correct history” to his likeness. And this deranged people with “their truth” on the mind will gather more of the same people, arm them, and ups… you have war on your hands again. After this winners who will write their history, would come next one who would like to correct their history, and so on.

    That is why I like that French maxim that happy people do not write history, and do not like history as it is thaught in school today. 🙂



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  • There is a lot of history that is just bad history. There are good historians and there are propagandists and liars. This is true of every field. People will distort history, science, current events, the news, literature, Shakespeare’s plays, whatever they can, to indoctrinate people and to push their agenda.

    I think there’s been an effort to correct this. The “losers” (as opposed to the “winners”) are not necessarily better historians just because they “lost.” They can be incompetent and agenda-driven too.

    DeVos with her voucher program will make this worse.

    Vouchers undermine accountability for public funds. Private schools have almost complete autonomy with regard to how they operate: who they teach, what they teach, how they teach, how they measure student achievement, how they manage their finances, and what they are required to disclose to parents and to the public.

    Vouchers do not reduce public education costs. Actually, they increase costs, by requiring taxpayers to fund two school systems: one public and one private.

    And vouchers do not give parents real educational choice. Participating private schools may limit enrollment, and in many cases may maintain exclusive admissions policies and charge tuition and fees far above the amount provided by the voucher. Unlike public schools, private and religious schools can discriminate in admissions on the basis of previous academic achievement, standardized test scores, interviews with applicants and parents, gender, religion, income, special needs and behavioral history.

    Let’s keep public money in public schools.

    —Joanne McCall (Vice President of the Florida Education Association)



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  • 21
    maria melo says:

    I would like to kow if Modesty only thinks that his/her life is all
    about “happy events” (an “evenmential historigraphy” as fait-divers it
    would be, not abot structural causes I suppose).
    Me

    Correcting the French term “histoire événementielle” or “evental history”

    vs “Longue durée” (French) or English: “the long term”


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longue_dur%C3%A9e



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