Radicals are gestated in sophistry.
Dedicated to the Hebrew University psychology study showing that agreeing with ideologues to an extreme level -- to the point of Argumentum ad Absurdum -- can trigger them to question their ideology. And dedicated in admonishment of biblical creationist Ken Ham's assertion that intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe is impossible because all extraterrestrial civilizations would be damned by God to Hell with no hope for salvation -- a stance which ironically may attain that extremity of absurdity capable of driving children away from fundamentalist religion.
The Human, The Sentient
One day a human looked up into the zenith of the heavens, arcing above her blue and green-swathed Earth.
She saw a small, cloudy galaxy far, far away -- Canis Major, pulled along like a puppy on a leash of a billion stars.
The human felt a lonesome chill in her heart, and heard a distant voice calling to her -- and wondered, "Is there anybody out there?" She devoted her life to listening to the radioed songs of the spheres -- listening for but one word, one tune, one message.
And she pointed her antennae to Canis Major.
But there was only silence.
One day, a million years hence, a sentient will look up into the zenith of the heavens, arcing above its small, blue and red-swathed world.
It will see a huge galaxy spiraling above it, so, so close -- the Milky Way, pulling its own galaxy into her vast, slow embrace.
The sentient will feel a lonesome chill in its center, and hear a distant voice calling to it -- and wonder, "Is there anybody out there?" It will devote its life to listening to the radioed songs of the spheres -- listening for but one word, one tune, one message.
And it will point its antennae into the arms of the Milky Way.
And shall hear.
Thus, we are not alone, and we have a purpose.
July 26, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
BE the change you seek in this world. -- via Gandhi
Dedicated in admonishment of the rejection of mass nonviolent coordinated resistance ("Nonviolent Jihad") by Hamas and the Palestinians of Gaza; of the failure of the international press to spotlight and endorse -- and of the U.S. and Israeli governments to confer diplomatic status upon -- imprisoned or exiled non-violent Palestinian leaders such as the "Arab Gandhi," Mubarak Awad; and of the failure of the Israeli Parliament to return encroaching West Bank Israeli settlements, as a fundamental moral imperative, to the peaceful Palestinians of the West Bank.
The Historian, The History Maker
Students attended University in an ancient Republic.
One classmate sat in the library day and night, reading of great leaders from prior generations.
His knowledge of them grew until, one day, closing his final biography, he said, "I will teach the histories I've learned."
He joined the very same University at which he'd been taught.
And, in the march of decades, he became a historian of note.
The other classmate also sat in the library day and night, and too read of great leaders from prior generations.
Her knowledge of them also grew until, one day, closing her final biography, she said, "I will emulate the histories I've learned."
She became a leader.
And, in the march of decades, she was elected to her country's highest office.
Thus, study history or make history.
July 19, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
One must never stoop to conquer.
Dedicated in admonishment of the kidnapping, involuntary commitment, and psychological and physical abuse of gay, mentally ill and doctrine-resistant teens in Evangelical Christian re-education camps.
The Blind, The Sighted
Eternal midnight enshrouded a clan who dwelled in a deep cavern.
Grasping sleeping bats or albino fish or frogs by the green light of phosphorescent algae, cooking them on steaming rocks, and sleeping in warm volcanic pools, their eyes became an appendage ignored -- merely a way to find the dimly lit, sleepy faces of their mates after they'd gorged on a meal, and otherwise as useless and superfluous as their two little toes.
But then a young woman of the clan rediscovered an ancient, narrow crawlway leading up and out of the grotto in which they lived.
Slowly, allowing the pain in her closed eyes to adjust as she crept toward the day, she exited the vast labyrinth of caverns that had been her home since birth.
She felt a cool, soft cushion beneath her hands and knees, and opened her eyes.
Beneath her delicate, bone-white hands lay a mat of what looked like thick, bright green hair.
She then stood erect, and raised her head.
In wonderment she stared at feathered, sharp-nosed bats painted in hues she could not name, at a whimsically-colored cavern roof so high that she could not see any of its walls, but only huge wisps and balls of steam floating beneath.
Gasping for breath, she ran back into the depths -- following a trail of bat guano balls she'd dropped behind her while she'd climbed -- to tell her people of her wondrous visions.
She gathered them around a phosphorescent boulder, and, as their green-underlit faces chewed on bat wings and frog legs, she exclaimed to them -- her eyes, for the first time in her life, wide open in her face -- "I have seen visions!"
"Visions of a cave with a roof too high to see! Of bats that were not bats! Of colors that were not dim green or black! Of a land where a great phosphorescent boulder, too bright to even glance at, floats in the air!"
So did her clan roar with laughter, and ever after scoff at her wild stories and urgings.
Until, one day, she simply disappeared forever up her precious, unused crawlway -- while crouching, like the madwoman they all thought she was, to collect old balls of dried bat guano with each step.
Thus, vision provokes laughter from those who cannot see. -- via Plato
July 12, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions. -- via Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Dedicated in admonishment of the Huntsville, Alabama, and Rowlett, Texas, City Councils' respectively "disinviting" a Wiccan congregation's clergy, and a local atheist organization's founder, to present an opening invocation, in contradiction of the U.S. Supreme Court finding in "Greece, NY vs. Galloway" that the town of Greece did not discriminate in inviting those to give invocations, but rather "made reasonable efforts to identify all of the congregations located within its borders and represented that it would welcome a prayer by any minister or layman who wished to give one...So long as the town maintains a policy of nondiscrimination, the Constitution does not require it to search beyond its borders for non-Christian prayer givers in an effort to achieve religious balancing."
The Apples, The Oranges
He was a great religious orator, a Preacher of a particular religion that claimed absolute salvation for all who shared its beliefs -- and absolute damnation for all who did not.
Yet as the right hand mirrors the left, so too was there a great philosophical orator, a Mentor of a particular philosophy that claimed regard for all -- without regard to their religious or non-religious beliefs.
One day the Preacher and the Mentor espied each other across a fruit bin at a food market.
With a baleful stare, the Preacher pointed his finger straight down and cried, "Repent! Believe in God, or be damned!"
The Mentor pondered, then picked up two fruits and replied, "And which God is that? The God of apples or the God of oranges?"
"My God!" cried the Preacher, aghast.
"Exactly the problem!" replied the Mentor, as he put first one, then the other, fruit in his basket. "How tart we'd become, on a diet of only oranges. How cloying, were our bellies filled just with applesauce, apple pie, apple juice."
The Mentor then gently placed a third fruit in the Preacher's basket. "And on your exclusive diet, oh how sour have your followers become!"
The Preacher glanced down at the fruit.
It was a lemon.
Thus, religion is a garden of the spirit, to be tended in all its diversity.
July 5, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Be careful not to believe everything you think. -- via Jeff Herring
Dedicated to the Rationalist Society of Pakistan.
The Mite, The Flea
Pedagogue and Pupil strode an ancient acropolis above a teeming city.
One evening the Pupil, dismayed at his childish writings after a long day's lessons, pounded his fist on his robed thigh and asked, "Master, do our lives even matter? Are we not insignificant?"
The Pedagogue smiled, his cheeks and forehead crinkling, as he walked. He stopped and bent down to stroke the head of a passing puppy, and brushed his hand under the dog's belly. Then he held his hand up to his Pupil's face, illuminated in a wall's torchlight.
"Look in my hand," the Pedagogue said. "What do you see?"
The Pupil looked down at his master's open hand. "Master, I see nothing in your hand."
"Look closer," the Pedagogue replied.
The Pupil's nose almost touched his master's open palm. "Master, there's nothing there!"
The Pedagogue replied, "Did you not regard a Mite, chewing on a fleck from the dog's skin -- and a Flea, poised to leap?"
"No, Master," the Pupil replied.
Then the Pedagogue extended his hand, touched his Pupil's arm briefly, and pointed up to the darkening sky. "Regard the Cosmos, my Pupil."
The Pupil looked up and stared at the stars -- but sullenly, just as doubtful of the world's significance to the cosmos as of his significance to the world.
The Pupil jerked his head back down as something bit his arm. He peered at his skin in the torchlight, until he saw a tiny black speck -- the Flea, placed there by his Peripatetic mentor's touch -- digging into his skin.
The Pedagogue beamed, and said, "Now what do you see?"
Thus, like insects we seem insignificant -- until we puncture the skin of the World.
June 28, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
The Years, The Momentum
Youth and elder, they found each other, joined by infirmity, sitting on a park bench.
In talking, they found they were both near the end of their days, from untreatable illnesses -- the old man's after a lifetime of traveling and seeing the world, and the young woman's after a brief time founding and working at a shelter for battered women and children.
The old man looked pityingly on the young woman, and asked her, "Don't you find it sad that you'll die so young? While I've lived so long traveling the world and seeing so much, that I've grown tired of it?"
The young woman looked at the old man with a small smile, placed her hand on the old man's shoulder, and then asked him, "Don't you find it sad that you'll die after so long a life spent as a spectator, without advancing even one other person's life?"
"Come! Work with me in the time we remain!"
Thus, measure your life not in years, but in momentum.
June 21, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
The Retreat, The Charge
Dark thickets and ravines shrouded the countryside.
Toward this spectral wood ran two young sisters, on an urgent task from the town to carry medicine to their grandmama.
But upon hearing a hooting owl and the rustling of animals in the murky undergrowth beneath the old, gnarled trees, the sisters skidded to a halt and froze, faces blanching.
Beyond lay only mist.
The elder sister, eyes wide and voice trembling, grasped at her younger sister's tiny hand and murmured, "We must turn back and walk around this woods!"
A hiss like the quenching of fired metal burst from her little sister's pursed lips.
"No!" she replied, with steel in her eyes and voice. "That was just an owl, and that rustling was probably rabbits!"
She stood rapier-straight.
"Our grandmama is ill! This is the only way to get the medicine to her fast!"
"I won't go, not this way!" the older sister cried. "Maybe we can search for another way through or around?"
"You know there's only one way!" the younger sister said with finality, and urgently reached for the medicine.
As her big sister, stomach clenched from fear and indecision, passed her the small package, the young girl held it close to her chest, took a deep breath, narrowed her eyes, and plunged into the dark woods to save her grandmama.
Thus, sometimes the only way out is through. -- via Robert Frost
June 14, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
The Fist, The Hand
A great commander assembled his lieutenants for war.
One lieutenant asked him, "Sir, your former compatriot and long-since foe has offered parley upon the plain of battle. Shouldn't we respond to his overture?"
"From this enemy? No," the commander replied.
Confused, the lieutenant asked why.
"You are new to my staff, are you not?" The commander rose from the head of the conference table, gesturing to the lieutenant to also stand, then walked around the table to him.
The commander reached down to the table, plucked an almond from a silver dish full of nuts, and offered it to the lieutenant.
"Have an almond, lieutenant."
As the lieutenant looked down and picked the nut from the commander's extended palm, the commander asked him, "How do you know when a former friend has become your implacable enemy?"
The lieutenant pondered, and then replied, "I don't know, sir."
"Eat your nut, lieutenant."
The lieutenant quickly popped it into his mouth and chewed it.
"You look hungry. Please, have another," the commander said as he picked up and extended to him a second almond.
But as the lieutenant reached out to take the second almond, the commander closed his palm around it into a fist -- which slowly reared back and then suddenly loomed in the lieutenant's surprised face.
The lieutenant found himself lying on his back on the carpet, blood dripping from one nostril down into his ear.
The commander dropped the nut, bent over him and solicitously reached down his open hand, saying, "Here, son, let me help you up."
But the lieutenant brushed away his hand.
The commander straightened, smiled with satisfaction, and said, "So, you do know, after all."
Thus, to become a fist, the open hand will first close.
June 7, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
A solitary fantasy can transform a million realities. -- via Maya Angelou
Dedicated to U.S. President Obama's Executive Office directive to begin his promise to reduce the severity of human-caused global warming by imposing limits on CO2 emissions from America's coal plants -- through policies including Carbon Capture, Cap and Trade, and Renewable (Wind and Solar) Energy Percentages.
The Ostrich, The Prairie Dog
Faraway lands sometimes have far and away the strangest of friends -- like the Ostrich and the Prairie Dog.
One day, a dust storm that raged from horizon to horizon raced from the Western Lands toward their small nesting area.
The Prairie Dog stood, yellow paws at attention by his side, and barked.
"Head's up! A storm is coming! A big one!"
As the air swirled brown with flying grit, the Prairie Dog scuttled to a shallow hole and stuck his little body in it, with his head peeking out to keep a wary eye on the storm passing overhead.
"Hunker down and head's up, Ostrich!" he cried over the howling of earth become air.
But the Ostrich did not hunker down with his head up. Instead, he stood up on his huge, grey-pink legs, spread his wings for balance, and then bent over and jammed his head straight down into the hole where the Prairie Dog crouched.
"What are you doing?" the Prairie Dog cried, pushing back at the bird's big head.
"I'm keeping my head down, aren't I?" cried the Ostrich. "Why do I have to look at such a frightening thing as that storm?"
"No, No!" the Prairie Dog cried to his friend. "Body down, head up! Head's up!!"
But it was too late. The Ostrich squawked as the blasting wind caught his wings and swept him away, never to be seen by the Prairie Dog again.
Thus, it is better to keep your head up than your head down, when storms brew -- and when do they not?
May 31, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
"Out" those who reason, and "ought" the others.
Dedicated in admonishment of the Sudanese government's criminal prosecution, and imposition of the death penalty, against a Christian citizen for her refusal to renounce Christianity. "Apostasy" is no crime, but a personal freedom.
The Seeker, The Maker
Sisters were birthed upon royal velvet.
In their land women donned the mantle of leadership, and the two sisters, who loved each other deeply, were destined to rule side by side after their mother, the queen, passed on the mantle of power.
The elder sister relished her role as a princess and heir, and learned all the tricks of politicking from her mother -- to gild her future throne, while setting it in laws and etiquette as rigid as stone.
But the younger sister, destined to advise the future queen, observed the people they ruled -- and saw poverty, misery, and unfairness. Yet when she asked her mother, the queen, why this was so, her mother always replied, "It's just the world we live in."
One day a prisoner was brought before the throne for judgment -- a man who'd stolen one loaf of bread to feed his sick child. When the queen sentenced the man's hand to be chopped off as their law dictated, her elder daughter stood by her side as the sentence was proclaimed, to learn how to administer justice. Yet the younger daughter could not bear to watch, thinking only of how, if the man had been given skills or a job, his thievery need never have occurred.
At sunset, as the axe fell upon the condemned man's wrist, she stole away from the palace and fled west into the darkness, in search of a better land.
But, over the years, no such land did she find.
Everywhere she traveled she saw injustice, misery and manipulation by rulers of those less fortunate.
Older now, and tired of her fruitless search, she returned to her homeland and rejoined her sister, who was now a powerful queen, and who welcomed her into the palace.
But instead of abandoning her dream, the younger sister encouraged the queen -- and later her eldest niece, the new heir -- to build schools and clinics instead of palaces, to hear representatives of the people, to abolish slavery and unjust punishment, and to make prisons places of redemption.
Over many years, her land indeed became that which she'd sought in her wanderings, and in her dreams, so long before.
Thus, be the change you seek in this world. -- via Mohandas Gandhi
May 24, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
To call ourselves Homo sapiens, we must walk the path of reason in place of emotionalism.
Dedicated in admonishment of the failure of U.S. immigrant parents to question, and of U.S. and state law enforcement to prevent, the female genital mutilation of infant U.S. citizens, by overseas "travel" of families for "vacation cutting."
The Stillborn, The Quickened
Dwellings were carved in the windswept cliffs of the desert.
Seers of the cave tribe had long foretold a child would be born to the chieftain -- one touched by an eagle, who would become the greatest leader of their tribe, bringing them the light of new knowledge, strength and peace.
Yet over the years no child was born to the chieftain, who grew old.
In his doddering years, the chieftain took a young wife after the passing of his mate of many seasons, and she became pregnant. The tribe danced in the chieftain's cave hut on the eve of the birthing, awaiting the coming of prophecy.
But the male child was stillborn.
In dismay, the chieftain and the tribe rent their clothing and cast out the young wife from the chieftain's hut. In pain from labor, she crouched in a stony shelter among lowest cliff caves -- where she soon gave birth to a twin child, a female. Bending over her baby, her mother whispered in her ear, "Your spirit name shall be Touched-by-an-Eagle, and will forever remain unknown to all but me."
The mother held her tenderly through the cold night.
The next morning, in disgrace, she returned to her own family's hut and suckled her quiet infant girl. Over the years, the now infirm chieftain oft stared angrily at the girl -- who, in spite of his anger, grew tall, raven-haired and swift, with the probing eyes of a raptor.
When the intent young girl became a woman, she chose not to take a husband, but studied the hunting ways of her tribe, and then fashioned a new weapon: short spears notched with eagle feathers, which flew straight through the air -- with an eagle's spirit -- into the hearts of their prey.
With these spears the tribesmen and women were also able to defend against their aggressive neighbors -- until peace negotiations became their enemies' only alternative to death.
And the young woman was the first to insist on peace. She led the way by befriending the women in the opposing tribes -- so that strutting men had no bed to sleep in until they'd calmed their minds and opened their fists.
So did the tribes merge into one great tribe of brothers and sisters.
And, when the time came to choose their leader, the combined tribe chose she who'd brought them the light of new knowledge, strength and peace -- she whose secret name was Touched-by-an-Eagle.
Thus, do not be stillborn -- quicken to your destiny. -- via Whale Rider
May 17, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Rather than preach the right answer, ask the right question.
Dedicated in admonishment of the Supreme Court's acceptance of government-public meetings being allowed to proclaim and practice the "majority"-approved expression of religious belief and worship. When the majority of the public someday changes to a belief different from that of the Court, will the Court retain this logic? And can any government long proclaim a religion, without soon working to establish it?
The Evil, The Good
She sought the source of Evil and Good.
The Seeker traveled to houses of religion, and asked the pastors, priests, rabbis and imams, "What is the source of Evil and Good?" They replied, "Evil stems from not believing in our God, and Good from believing in Him."
The Seeker traveled to lawmakers and dictators, and asked them, "What is the source of Evil and Good?" They replied, "Evil stems from not obeying our laws, and Good from obeying them."
The Seeker traveled to communes, and asked those gathered there, "What is the source of Evil and Good?" They replied, "Evil stems from property and greed, while Good stems from sharing and self-sacrifice."
The Seeker traveled to gated communities, and asked their owners, "What is the source of Evil and Good?" They replied, "Evil stems from sharing and self-sacrifice, while Good stems from property and greed."
The Seeker grew confused, and wandered for days into the countryside. She squatted by the side of a dirt road, and told herself, "I will accept the opinion of the very next person to walk by!"
She looked up the road and saw, emerging from the thrumming waves of heat and cricket song, a gnarled old man in a dusty straw hat, shuffling with a cane. As he passed near, she plucked at his sleeve.
"Old man! Please tell me! What is the source of Evil and Good?!"
In the silence of the crickets' stillness, the old man stopped and looked at her face, his squinty eyes as impenetrable as dark trenches in the earth. His mouth broke into a harmonica-like grin. "The source of Evil...and Good? If you ask me...think for yourself!"
"But you didn't answer my question," the Seeker lamented.
"Oh, I did, young one. I did!" said the old man, who winked as he walked away.
Thus, Evil is the unreasoning, Good the reasoning.
May 10, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Herding is not the same as leading.
Dedicated in admonishment of Boko Haram's acts of murdering and raping students, terrorism, and other human rights violations, all in the name of religious fundamentalism (acts which would be called "medieval" except for the fact that Muslim society and education was the most advanced in the world during the actual Medieval era); and in admonishment of the failure of Nigeria's leaders to create a bulwark against Boko Haram recruitment, through providing educational and economic reforms to improve the lives of its rural citizenry.
The Way of Taqlid, The Way of 'Aql
Proudly the tribe reigned over deserts white with sand and spotted with black pools of oil.
Although war had been thrust upon them since the grey dawn of history, until peace was a fleeting memory, among their number had lived mathematicians, astronomers, scientists and librarians -- who had saved the foundations of the Edifice of Man.
Yet, when Man learned to transmute the black oil into gold, and when the hearts of many claimed the garden from which all men arose, the land and the tribe were torn with strife 'ere unseen.
Two youths lived in that place and that time.
The first youth grew to hate all who, long before, had oppressed and driven out his people. Hearing the cries of zealous religious scholars for jihad, one sunrise after prayers he said to himself, "I will do as my scholars preach, for surely they know best, while I know so little."
Imitating so many before him, he strapped on a bomb and blew himself up inside a schoolyard, killing the children of his enemy.
Following the way of Taqlid to his murderous death, his face, in its last moment, was sadly alight with expectation.
The second youth also grew to hate his people's lot, yet saw the children of his oppressors in a different light -- as people like him, trapped by both circumstance and belief.
Whenever hatred and the call to jihad surged in his breast, he recalled the terror in the faces of not only their tribe's children but of the children of their enemy, and his struggle turned inward. He, too, prayed to Allah, but said to himself, "As the Prophet used the way of 'Aql -- of intellect and mind -- to restore our tribes to faith, so too must my shoulders carry the weight of interpreting his teachings; I must use my own intellect and mind."
"And my ijtihad, my inner struggle, tells me that murdering others is not the way to paradise, either here on earth or in the heavenly presence of Allah."
So did the second youth start a madrassa, which he named The Lifting of The Black Stone, to teach ways of peaceful cooperation and non-violent resistance taught by Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, Muhammad, Sumayya, Bahá'u'lláh, Gandhi, King, Milk, Romero, Mandela, and Suu Kyi.
And his madrassa gradually restored to his people their once and future path of logic and questioning -- the only way to transform enemy into ally; the way of war through peace.
Thus, the true jihad is ijtihad. -- via Irshad Manji
May 3, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
The handmaiden of faith must be doubt.
Dedicated to the bipartisan effort of Minnesota state GOP and DFL legislators to end firearm ownership by legally-convicted stalkers or domestic abusers, and to disallow firearm possession for people under temporary restraining orders for alleged abuse; and to the law's spearheading by two ex-"street-cop" Legislators, one Republican and one Democrat: Rep. Dan Schoen and Rep. Tony Cornish. Also dedicated in supplication to the NRA, that they consider following the lead of the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, which dropped its initial objection to the bill and agreed with the principle of "making sure the guns get out of the house" of domestic abusers.
The Engine, The Driver
Three race cars sat on the track.
The first race car was but a shell on wheels, its engine removed. The driver pushed the eviscerated car to the starting line, hopped into the seat, grabbed the wheel -- and bobbed back and forth behind the steering column like a wind-up toy. The eviscerated shell of the racer rocked gently on the asphalt.
The second race car was a Formula One racer, with a massive engine -- but no driver. The racer idled in neutral, its throbbing engine powerless to budge it even one inch.
The last race car was a small convertible with a four-cylinder engine, but a capable driver. As the green flag fell, he gunned his engine, shifted into first, and leapt down the racetrack, rubber burning behind him on the road.
In seconds he was gone -- riding a cloud of white, beyond the far turn.
Thus, emotion is our engine - but we must remain the driver.
April 26, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
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 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
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.
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.
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.