'I think therefore I am.'  Descartes            'I AM THAT I AM.'  Exodus.3.        'I am what I am.'  La Cage aux Folles

10 November 2010


The certainty of personal identity and alas, bigotry.

The Universe began with a Big Bang some 13,700,000,000 years ago. Half way along this created timeline our Solar System began to form out of the turbulence of the expanding gases.
The first fossilised evidence of life exists from way back 600 million years ago. It was not until 1 million years before I write this that man first stood on the earth. Slowly he differentiated himself from the other creatures and began to conquer his surroundings. Written records of our civilisation are less than a minute 6,000 years old and technology took off only just over a century ago and now appears to progress almost out of control. How small we are, but oh how important we feel. How possessive are we also of a small plot of ground on which we have left our footprint. We grasp fiercely our culture, our habits, our laws, our language, our appearance, our religion, our wealth and our perceived identity.
Xenophobia - a definition
Fear (phobia) of strangers (xeno-) and of the unknown. Both racism and homophobia are sometimes reduced to xenophobia. Dislike of foreigners. Often a dislike of representatives of a particular nation. The word Xenophobic is often used as a political insult against Racists, Isolationists, and Nationalists. All these things are strange concepts as it is said that it only takes the link of six people for us to be connected with every person on Earth. Six degrees of separation makes us all related in some way. I sometimes think this is an exaggeration because I do read a lot and know a little about the lives of the famous at least and it is so easy to find a step of often no more than three or four for me to connect to almost any writer, artist, composer, politician, actor or royal that I care to think about. No one is a stranger. They are all the friend of a friend or have at least met.
There are two main definitions of racism today. One of them states that racism is discrimination based on alleged race, the other - newer - one states that racism ought also to include discrimination based on religion or culture.
The word homophobia is a neologism coined by psychologist George Weinberg in his book Society and the Healthy Homosexual in 1972. It can be broken down into the Greek words 'homo' meaning "the same" and 'phobia' which means "fear". A precursor was homoerotophobia, coined by Dr Wainwright Churchill in Homosexual Behaviour Among Males in 1967
    So what is this entry about?  What is the great cause of war, of violence, of bigotry, of selfishness, of persecution, of fear and mistrust. It is our differences. Most people seem to love what is familiar and query what is not. However, it is our differences that add to our individuality. But what are the differences that matter. What we can not control we can take no credit for and what others can not control deserves no blame. I hope that it is what we do, what and how  we think, what we say and how  we behave to each other that defines our individuality. As Christ once said 'it is not what goes into one's mouth, but what comes out that defiles a man'. I accept that our soul or mind is bent some times by the impact of others or the whims of nature, but a true human has the choice to either let this affect them permanently or else  resolve, accept and maintain dignity. Memory is good and essential, but only if we use it for our benefit. If we use it to maintain bitterness we create a prison for ourselves. Such things are personal.

'We were slaughtered in a Dirphian gully, and our graves,
near Euripos, were paid for by our nation,
Justice. For in confronting the cruel clouds of war,
we gave away our years of lovely youth.'
Simonides - poet 556 - 468 BC
Often the politics, the beliefs, the nations or the smaller groups to which we adhere, appear to dictate an obligation to feel superior, or at least preciously different. Once I disliked being a Queenslander as opposed to feeling part of Australia as a whole. Now I feel like a member of the human race. If one day someone tells me of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe I hope that I can feel part of that as well. Life is precious and must be respected. Individuality is precious and must be respected. Nothing progresses unless differences abound, but it is our similarities that should bind us eternally. I don't want to wave a flag, I don't want to believe that being a Catholic is better, I don't want to feel that being white or male or tall or old or from Brisbane is better. It is unimportant for it just is. Who knows if the way I vote is better? Who knows what music is better, or what art, or which writer. Is my dog better then yours? Is my web site better then yours? Who cares. All that is, is. Certainly we think and try to improve what is unkind, unjust or even unattractive. This is part of natural selection. Certainly we want to make a mark, to succeed and our ego needs respect, but not at the expense of someone else.
    All the cultures of the world are available to us. Some people move cities, some move countries, some change religions, what was young soon becomes old and some even change their sex. Does it really matter that I was born in one particular place? Does it matter that I apparently belong to a certain race? What is that race? We all came from common ancestors, spread across the globe, were affected by the environment and adapted our appearance, our language and developed beliefs. Often the time we live in is also an element of our perceived superiority. In thousands of years to come what will a country, a colour, a party, or even a belief  mean? Many countries have gone and many are redrawn. Empires have risen and fallen, and today the same smug mistakes are made. Is any church or ceremony exactly the same today as centuries ago? Did the party you voted for exist in the time of your parents?  Some even fear intermarriage as if they are diluting the purity of a culture. Cultures change. All changes, because it is our nature. I hope that it is progress.
Fear, jealousy and hatred are the  hell of our mind.

Another piece I thought about one day
Perhaps I am as much a hypocrite as the next man. Perhaps I do not practice what I preach. Perhaps another crisis is looming ominously inside my ego. Today we recognise a racist bigot, a religious bigot or a sexist bigot and any 'understanding' person abhors such things. We will become aggressively intolerant of ignorance. So defined are our opinions that while advocating equality and tolerance we can slide so often into loud antagonism towards any deviations from our 'informed' opinions. Sometimes subtly, sometimes confidently we espouse what should be and what others should be and what they may do. Personal preference and taste is a subjective element of our makeup drawn from our past and modified by what surrounds us. Each of us is individual and none stand in the same place at the same time, but we assume to know what is correct for others and what others deserve. Today we are replacing many old prejudices with others. The body is the laziest choice for such discrimination. 
"He is too old." - "He is too fat." - "He is too bald." - "He is too skinny." - "He is too ugly."
Such statements are usually made about others or the choice of others. What I have learned is that a friend may find someone or something attractive and immediately we choose to state if we agree or not. What we forget is that it is their choice and not our own. Who cares if I fancy my friends choice of partner. It is their partner and not meant to be mine. Do the older, the fatter, the skinnier, the uglier have no right to be selected. Older than whom? Fatter than whom ? etc. Compare it to the universe and such miniscule differences in time or mass are beyond insignificant.
We all deserve to be able to love and be loved, to have sex, to have companionship. If the body is able to climb a mountain and does so, we present praise, if the body is able to have sex and does so we praise only the perfect and ridicule or even persecute those we consider unworthy.

In 1976 I went through a period of confusion and depression and needed to talk to someone so sitting at home, a little drunk one evening, I decided to go to the top and so I wrote a letter to the Pope (Paul VI). Within ten days I received the following reply. T
Click the image to read or see transcript below.
From the Vatican 3 April 1976  
The Holy Father has directed me to acknowledge the letter which you kindly wrote to him.
  His Holiness appreciates the devoted sentiments with which you addressed to him a request for his prayers. While a sense of unworthiness is indeed an essential attitude in the Christian life, nevertheless the Holy Father would remind you of Saint Paul's words in speaking of God's grace. "If it is certain that death reigned over everyone as the consequence of one man's fall, it is even more certain that one man, Jesus Christ, will cause everyone to reign in life who receives the free gift that he does not deserve, of being made righteous" (Rom 5:17). Praying that you may ever grow in the love of Christ, His Holiness paternally imparts to you his Apostolic Blessing.
I have pleasure in sending you a rosary which the Holy Father has blessed and which will be a reminder to you of his prayerful support.
                         With every good wish, I remain
Yours sincerely
                                        Mgr. G. Coppa

'Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumoured by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it'  The Buddha
A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not even worth glancing at, for it leaves out one country at which humanity is always landing. And when humanity lands there, it looks out, and seeing a better country, sets sail. -  Oscar Wilde.

Yoko Ono 'Mirror Piece -  spring 1964'
Instead of obtaining a mirror, 
obtain a person.
Look into him.
Use different people.
Old, young, fat, small etc.  

David's Song of Brotherly Unity
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard,  even Aaron's beard:  that went down to the skirts of his garments;
as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion:
For there the Lord commanded the blessing,
even life for evermore.
Click to enlarge
The greatest danger of  xenophobia is igniting our own destruction.

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