The Plurationalist Declaration
"I'm a Pluralistic Rationalist. As Plurationalists we believe in public commitment to more consistently use everyday reasoning, regardless of our worldviews."
The Affirmation of The Circle of Reason
We believe in the power of reasoning and logical minds, when present in sufficient numbers, to reduce and someday eliminate all ills on Earth caused by human irrationality -- to prevent war, government corruption, environmental destruction, institutionalized poverty and discrimination. Our purpose is to so change the world within the next 50 generations -- by encouraging people to commit to local congregations of faith in the ability of reasoning thought, action and communication to save our world and bring our next major step in moral evolution. We do not seek to make new speeches; we seek to be the air that carries all speech. We welcome all in practicing clarity of mind, regardless of present beliefs or creed, to The Circle of Reason.
January 1, 2000-2020 C.E.
The 3 Tenets of Reason
The 3 Guides of Action
What is, is -- Reality denied causes wrong action; Reality accepted causes right action.
What is not, is not -- Incorrect assumptions, non-reality accepted as reality, cause wrong action; Questioned assumptions cause right action.
What is or is not, is paramount -- Emotion unmastered by reason causes wrong action; Emotion's mastery by reason causes right action.
The 3 Paths to Right Action
Accept what is, reject what is not, leave open what may be.
Root out incorrect assumptions and their signpost -- contradictions.
Let reason, not emotion, be the final arbiter of your actions.
The 3 Paths to Wrong Action
Reject what is, accept what is not, reject or accept what may be.
Act based on unconsidered assumptions, and ignore their contradictions.
Let emotion rule, not simply inform, your actions.
The Paragons of Reason and Unreason
The Paragon of Reason -- Objective, Open-minded, and Equable.
The Paragon of Unreason -- Subjective, Close-minded, and Emotional.
The Meditation of Reason
In Reality's denial was I blind -- by Reality's Acceptance do I see.
In Assumption's acceptance was I bowed -- by Assumption's Denial do I stand.
In Emotion's surrender did I stampede -- by Emotion's Mastery do I stride.
By these three do I drink from the depths, tread beyond the horizon, and reach for the zenith of the World.
The Circle Thanksgiving -- A Pluralistic Thanksgiving
Let us bow our heads in contemplation or prayer.
We give thanks for the gift of the Mind, through which our purpose shall be envisioned.
We give thanks for the gift of the Will, through which our purpose shall be manifest.
We give thanks for the gift of the Heart, through which our purpose shall be ennobled.
And we give thanks for the gift of the Universe, through which our purpose shall be magnified.
So say we all.
Parables, Fables & Aphorisms Archive
Our archive of past weekly aphorisms and excerpted parables & fables for pluralistic rationalists from The Parables of Reason ©2007-2013, by Frank H. Burton, Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. Excerpts from this web archive may not be reproduced without written consent of the author, or reproduced in any form for profit. 100% of the royalties from future book sales will be donated to the non-profit The Circle of Reason to support its formation and sponsorship of local circles.
Aphorism of the Week: We are born fools, and without great effort fools we remain.
Dedicated in admonishment of President Barack Obama's ad hominem insulting of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Under any circumstances, an insult elicits irrational, emotional responses in its target -- even if the target is a world leader with Syrian and Iranian influence, UN Security Council veto power, exclusive access to the International Space Station, and nuclear weaponry.
Parable of the Week: The Barker, The Talker
None know the fount of the angelic and the feral.
One man blurted out everything on his mind.
No matter that among his thoughts, circling like ravens' feathers in his soul, were insults, slanders and blame -- the unwise, the inaccurate, the unnecessary, and the unkind.
No matter -- all blew out of his head, on the first breeze from his mouth.
To many, this man seemed more a barking dog than a human being.
Another man only tithed what was on his mind.
No matter that among his thoughts, growing like gemstones in his soul, were compliments, accolades and advice.
No matter -- only the wise, the accurate, the necessary, and the kind were quarried, like veins of opal, from the deep well of his voice.
To many, this man seemed more an angel than a human being.
Thus, tithe your thoughts.
March 22, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Break on the shoals of your dream.
Dedicated to the two dead and 23 injured SXSW musicians and festival attendees; and in admonishment of the perpetrator's allegedly gunning his Civic through the crowd to escape a police sobriety stop.
Parable of the Week: The Fawn, The Otter
By the bayou lived a Fawn and an Otter.
The Fawn perked up her ears and froze at the smallest crack of a twig.
Her heart leapt about inside her like a mouse in a cage, and her legs trembled.
She hid in the lap of the cypress trees whenever the sun burst from behind a cloud.
So did the Fawn burn the candle of her life -- until a hunter's rifle puffed out her tremulous flame.
The Otter cavorted and dove in the black marsh.
Floating on her back, she cracked open pecans on a stone perched on her belly.
She barked and loped to sniff out the cracking of a twig or the crashing of a tree branch.
She rolled in the dirt whenever the sun burst from behind a cloud.
So did the Otter savor the story of her life -- until a gator's maw snapped closed her final chapter.
Thus, be miserable and die, or be happy and die. Pick one!
March 15, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: We all see, but with different eyes.
Dedicated to women's right to individual and political self-determination, on International Women's Day.
Parable of the Week: The Seminar, The Ovarium
Nailed to the portal of the imposing granite hall were flyers for two lectures.
Two speakers were scheduled for that day.
The first raised one eyebrow archly.
"I've long planned for this. I'm going to instruct the masses about the cultural and economic consequences of commercial over-fishing."
The second speaker, rubbing her hands together, blurted out, "Oh, yes, I've dreamed of this day, too! I'm going to host a conference on fly-fishing!"
As the two speakers shook hands and entered their respective auditoriums on opposite sides of the hallway, the second speaker's auditorium began filling to the rafters with fishing enthusiasts.
Hanging on every word of their host, they queried, debated and commended her in excitement, when she discussed the most attractive fishing lures and revealed images of the most beautiful spots around the world to hook the perfect fish.
After the conference, the joyful fly-fishers, imbued with plans for new lures and visions of unimagined vistas, filed past the other auditorium.
Glancing in, they heard the droning voice of the first speaker -- accented only by reverberating echoes of fitful coughs from the few academicians who'd chosen to remain, and who sat almost alone in the cavernous auditorium.
Thus, eloquence sets fire to reason. -- via Favio Masulli y Becker
March 8, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: A prize of great value is not meant to be given away.
Dedicated to American Enterprise Institute Director Arthur Brooks, for calling for conservative-liberal dialogue to improve conservatism on behalf of the poor.
Parable of the Week: The Coal, The Flame
Lumps of rich, black coal lay in each hand.
One lump of coal was placed in a fire, and so grew red-hot, feeding the fire.
Yet no air was blown onto the coal, and the fire began to smother.
Slowly the coal darkened, until it was clothed in ash, with only a small ember of flame buried in its deepest crevice.
The other lump of coal was also placed in a fire, and also grew red-hot, feeding the fire.
Yet a gentle breath of air was blown over the coal, when needed, stoking its heat higher and higher.
From the coal's heart burst a brilliant gout of sparks and flame, igniting tinder that had tenderly been placed by its side.
Slowly the entire coal turned searing orange, the shimmering fruit of a burning bush.
Thus, tend your flame, or it shall grow cold.
March 1, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Self-defense is not aggression -- nor aggression self-defense.
Dedicated in admonishment of President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda's signing into law the criminalization of gay behavior; to his scientists' disregard of the scientific knowledge of epigenetics -- that complex biological traits are not purely genetic in origin, but due to fetal development influencing gene expression; to the Ugandan people's abrogation of common moral codes permitting freedom of adults' consensual behavior; and to U.S. Christian Evangelicals' encouragement of Uganda's predation on its own citizens, in the sheep's clothing of biblical puritanism.
Parable of the Week: The Insulter, The Debater
Paragons of rhetoric, they were nonpareil.
One of the brothers wielded sarcasm like a rapier.
Oft he exclaimed, "Do plan on suing your lobotomist!" or, "Are you a traitor or just a fool, to spout such hogwash?"
Although his debate coach often interjected, "You've still not made any point," or, "You've proven nothing with an insult," the brother would simmer -- steam growing behind his eyes -- until, with a burst of abandon, his black wit exploded once again into the faces of his agog listeners.
So did this brother become a master of the razor-tongue -- and a widely disliked and distrusted man -- by demolishing his adversaries.
The second of the brothers wielded reason like a forceps.
Oft he proclaimed, "Your point is unfounded, for these reasons..." or, "These facts support the need for change."
When others called his arguments "ridiculous" he smoothly replied, with a clear, slightly condescending gaze, "They are not only not ridiculous, but they are correct." The ensuing burst of impotent steam that issued from his opponents was, to him, a refreshing sauna.
So did this brother become a master of the golden-tongue -- and a widely respected and trusted man -- by arguing against arguments, not against arguers.
Thus, ad hominem is against humanity.
February 22, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Your existence makes you the hero of your own story, but only your actions make you the hero of the larger one.
Dedicated in admonishment of the beatings -- with nail-studded clubs and whips -- of gay citizens in Abuja, Nigeria, in the wake of the country's criminalization of homosexuality.
Parable of the Week: The End of Days, The Beginning of Days
People believed, in this land, that Truths were whatever they wished to be true -- if wished fervently enough.
They lashed the backs of their neighbors who didn't wish fervently enough or, even more maddeningly, didn't even agree with them about what was true.
As more and more people wished more and more Truths, neighbor fought against neighbor.
Throughout this land Truths spread like a stain of multi-colored oil on clear water. And the people extended to one another their right hands -- but hatred, war and destruction lay hidden in their left hands.
So approached the End of Days.
But in those End Days, a few people stayed their falling lash.
Lifting up their neighbors, they cried, "Truth is not whatever we fervently wish -- Truth is what it is, even if we wish it otherwise."
"Are not our 'Truths' really opinions, opinions we beat into others who reasonably could believe otherwise? Is not real Truth accepting this fact?"
More and more people encouraged the search for Truth, rather than the belief in wishes.
Throughout this land Truth spread as a wellspring of cleansing water. And people extended to one another both hands -- one in salutation, the other in understanding.
So did the End of Days become, in Truth, the Beginning of Days.
Thus, Truth always offers a new beginning.
February 15, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: >Change is the byproduct of altering one's own mind.
Dedicated to the U.S. Department of Justice's affirmation of equal federal rights for same-same and opposite-sex married couples; and in admonishment of the Nigerian government's negation of all human rights for same-sex couples and their supporters.
Parable of the Week: The Thrasher, The Swimmer
Home was on stilts on the riverbank.
The brothers, sandy feet perched against the porch screen, broke their placid gaze across the far banks on sight of an ice-cream truck tootling down to the small public beach among the distant reeds.
Using safety pins to clip dollar bills to their swim trunks, they dashed to the shoreline. The first-born waded in to swim directly to the far side of the river, but, behind him, his younger brother hesitated.
"Wait!" he cried, "what about the current?"
"Just swim hard!" the elder yelled back, then dove into the river, thrashing his arms toward the far beach.
But the younger brother saw how his sibling kept drifting downstream, and how he had to fight harder and harder to swim upstream just to keep traversing the river toward the far, sandy beachhead.
Turning, the younger brother ran fifty meters upstream.
Then he dove into the river and swam straight across, allowing the current to carry him downstream.
Splashing out of the water on the far side, he hailed the ice-cream truck driver and paid for two cones -- one for himself, and one for his waterlogged older brother, who only now was crawling on all fours, exhausted, onto the shore; and who, but for the bucktoothed stubbornness of youth, would surely have drowned.
Thus, don't swim against currents -- including currents of the mind.
February 8, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: There are usually two sides to an argument -- and you must consider both.
Parable of the Week: The Ant, The Cricket
In a small backyard dwelled an Ant and a Cricket.
The Ant's industry provided homes and well-stocked pantries for her large family -- while the Cricket's mellifluous song brought joy to all who heard it.
The Ant lived a long life of comfort, warmth, loved ones and many children.
The Cricket lived but a brief life. Yet in spite of his sad ending in hunger and cold, he gave to the Ant -- and to all who'd heard his song -- the memory of dulcet beauty and mystery in their lives.
Thus, industry and art both have value -- one to the body, the other to the spirit.
February 1, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: The freedom to dominate is not a freedom.
Parable of the Week: The Wolf Pack, The Lone Wolf
They lived to roam the hills of the midnight sun.
Together the wolf pack loped across the tundra in pursuit of adventure, and of prey. Their gazes darted back and forth among themselves, their hearts and thoughts in unison, their baying a chorus.
The pack was merciless to those wolves who, from the grey blush of age or the loss of vigor, fell behind. It turned upon them and rendered them, devouring their flesh, before running onward.
But one Lone Wolf was the strongest and most fearless of them all. Farthest-seeing, tallest-eared and keenest-nosed, he raced like the blowing wind, and leapt ahead of the pack, running free into lands far beyond the horizon.
In winter's long night, he called back to his mates, in a long, solitary howl, of the visions he had seen. And yet he ran onward, far, far ahead of the pack.
So did the time come when the Lone Wolf stopped -- to wait for the pack to catch up to him, to tell them of his visions and adventures.
As he saw the pack approach in the low-hanging moonlight, over the distant hills behind him, and heard their baying, his breath quickened, and he loped toward them in joyful homecoming.
But as he approached, the pack fell on him.
And rendered him, devouring his flesh.
Then, in uncaring ignorance of the visions that lay ahead, the pride of wolves ran on.
Thus, the pack cares not whether you run behind or ahead of it -- only that you run apart.
January 25, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2014 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Millennium: Even those who jump to their deaths find themselves screaming on the way down.
COR's Aphorism & Parable of the Millennium are dedicated in admonishment of the Terracide now being committed by the Global Warming Denialism of the U.S. GOP representatives controlling America's CO2 emission policies and post-Kyoto environmental treaties. Gentlemen, the scientists' clock is etched in tombstone: In just 15 years, Earth is likely doomed to burn. And no level of denial, no length of apology, no begged-for suppression of the hatred in the eyes of your grandchildren, who will be History's last judges, will release your blame, and yours alone, for destroying everything.
If you judge yourself human beings, rethink your denialism, and do it now.
Parable of the Millennium: The Seed, The Blossom
Small and exquisite, the Japanese garden was tended daily by a master gardener.
One spring day, as the master gardener was feeding his albino carp in the pond, a street urchin spied on him from behind a boulder.
The master gardener yelled over his shoulder, "If you plan to stare at me all day, help me work!"
So did the boy become the master gardener's apprentice.
Over the next week, the boy dutifully planted all different sorts of seeds wherever the master gardener instructed him to. But he saw only the soft dark earth covering the dormant seeds, and not a single plant. Red-faced with frustration, the apprentice eventually blurted out to the master gardener, "Sensei, how can I learn gardening? All I see is dirt!"
The master gardener looked long at the boy, and then said, "Very well. I will teach you the most important lesson of all."
The gardener opened two small pouches strung from his belt, and gestured to the boy.
"Come here and open both your hands."
As the boy approached with his hands outstretched, into one palm the old gardener poured a small pile of perfect, gem-like black seeds, and into the other palm he dropped a clump of rough, dirty-brown seeds.
"Plant these seeds, over behind that boulder where you first popped up! That will be your garden!"
"In what order or arrangement should I plant them, Sensei?" the boy asked.
"How should I know? It's your garden!" And the old man returned to stroking the heads of his carp, who rose like cream from the tea-brown depths of the pond to greet him.
The boy stared down at his palms, and, seeing the lustrous beauty of the small, black, pearl-like seeds, decided to plant those in a broad circle -- to surround the ugly brown seeds.
Later that month, the rains fell, and the Japanese garden burst with life.
But as the boy raced one morning to his garden to see his circle of blossoms bloom, he skidded to a halt -- in horror.
Before him rose a monstrous, stinking thatch of rotting black petals, coated in buzzing flies.
With a cry frozen on his lips, he turned in utter dismay to the gardener, who had been sitting on the boulder, waiting for him.
The gardener took one deep look into the boy's heart, and smiled gently. Then, reaching for his walking cane, with a swift whack he lopped off the festering blossoms -- to reveal a small patch of the most beautiful blue blossoms the boy had ever seen, sitting long forgotten in the center, where he had buried and forgotten the ugly brown seeds.
"Oh, Sensei, what have I done?" the boy sighed.
"You've learned the most important lesson of all, my son," the old man said, placing a hand on his apprentice's head. "And I'm not just talking about gardening."
Thus, learn what it is that you sow -- for you shall reap it.
January 18, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: The faucet is not meant to turn off when the hand is placed beneath it.
Dedicated in admonishment of the Federal judicial overturning -- on a technicality -- of the entire principle of Net Neutrality.
Parable of the Week: The Drain, The Fountain
Children dove into a swimming pool.
At the shallow end of the pool they found a hole, from which gushed a fountain of fresh, clear water.
One child stuck his head into the fountain, pressed his hand on its spout to make jets of water that he could shoot at his playmate, and pressed his back to the fountain so that his body flew forward across the pool.
So it was that the fountain became his favorite place to play.
But the second child had found another hole, in the very bottom of the far, deepest end of the pool -- so deep it lay below blue-green water.
He swam in circles far above this second hole, trying to get a better look at it.
"Why is it so deep and so quiet?" he wondered.
Finally, his curiosity irresistible, the second boy took a deep breath and dove, flailing his arms, to the bottom.
And once he touched bottom, he placed his hand over the hole.
It sucked in his whole arm, to his very shoulder.
Only with the strength borne of panic was he able to pull out his arm from the drain and swim away, to barely keep his life.
So it was that the fountain, too, became his favorite place to play.
Thus, life flows between us -- and you are either a fountain, or a drain.
January 11, 2014, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Year: Religiousness and Rationality aren't oil and water -- they're apples and oranges.
The Circle of Reason's 2014 Parable and Aphorism of the Year are dedicated to Pope Francis, for his recognition and defense of atheists' "conscience" and "doing good"; his call for Christians to turn away from ideology and prejudice toward open dialogue with atheists and non-Christians, to further community goodwill, tolerance, peace, charity, economic justice, and preservation of the environment; and his New Year's message that "we belong to the same human family and we share a common destiny...(which) brings a responsibility for each to work so that the world becomes a community of brothers who respect each other, accept each other in one's diversity, and takes care of one another." Peace and long life, Pope Francis.
Parable of the Year: The One Way, The Many Ways
Eating only of the fallen fruit of the trees and the milk of grazing goats, the small tribe yielded to other living creatures under all circumstances.
They dwelled in huts built only of fallen branches, twigs and leaves, and moved out if insects made their home there.
They had few children, because too many exhausted the natural fruit and milk supply, and tilling the land to grow more fruit trees, or fencing it to domesticate more goats, would evict wildlife into homelessness.
The tribe built a mud brick hospice for dying animals, so that each could die a natural death with interference from none. Some of the dying thrashed in pain, but the tribespeople felt they should do nothing to hasten their end.
Few plants and animals ever died at the hands of the small tribe. The tribespeople decided this reward was worth their sacrifice of good homes, large families, and ready food.
Across the river, a large tribe ate of the flesh of cultivated plants and animals.
Understanding that Man must consume either the leavings, or the essence, of life, they reasoned that the killing of plants or animals was necessary for their tribe to thrive, grow and explore -- because only a few could live on fallen fruit and milk.
Yet they bred the plants and animals in open ranges to grow strong and, while living, live well and in harmony with their wild neighbors.
The tribe killed only for food, not pleasure, and killed only what they bred, to not decimate wildlife and so harm other tribes or their own descendants. And they killed painlessly, with alcohol or hand-fed poppy bulbs, to prevent suffering.
They built a fired-clay brick hospital for sick animals to recover, and when animals were dying helped end their suffering.
Many plants and animals both lived with, and were later killed by, the tribe for their food. The tribespeople decided that the lives of these plants and animals were good, their ends quick, and their use for the tribe's survival justified.
One day a woman from the small tribe, rinsing her long hair in the river's delta shoals, met there a woman from the large tribe.
While the first woman bathed and the second bottled and inebriated a farmed catfish, they talked of their disparate lives.
Each woman saw the other's earnest belief, and heard the logical arguments of the other that her people's actions were right, not wrong.
Yet as the sun set beneath the distant hills, the women stared at each other, perplexed -- with halting glances at one's stuporous fish and at the other's protruding ribs -- and turned away.
Later, each woman approached the wise ones of her tribe and asked, "How could we both be right?"
The old wise ones gave them the same answer -- "Reasoning people can still disagree."
Thus, logic is the straight path -- but leads from many places.
Dec 31, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Denying our weaknesses strengthens them. -- via Harvey MacKay
Dedicated in the wake of the Target Holiday Data Breach, in admonishment of U.S. banks' refusal to join the rest of the world's countries in upgrading their antiquated, non-secure magnetic strip credit and debit cards to microchip smart cards -- saving their money only to enrich criminals, impoverish retailers, and harm millions of inconvenienced U.S. credit card and victimized U.S. debit card holders.
Parable of the Week: The Monkey, The Sloth
Rainforest carpeted the far horizons.
A monkey -- chattering, jumpy and impetuous -- oft made fun of a thoughtful and deliberate sloth.
"You are such a slowpoke!" the monkey yelled. "Can you do this?" And it back-flipped on a high branch over the shadowy abyss.
The sloth slowly turned one eye to the monkey and replied, "That looks fun; but you should also keep your tail wrapped around a side branch -- just in case."
The monkey laughed and hurled a dungball.
One morning a serpent slithered high into the tree where the monkey and sloth lived.
It coiled and tensed before the silent, watchful sloth.
As the monkey, on a lone branch beneath them, chattered for the sloth to run away, the serpent struck.
But the sloth let go of the branch on which it sat and fell away from the serpent's fangs, swinging down by one furry leg, which had been grasping a side branch.
The sloth's swing carried it back up behind the serpent and, reaching up with its heavy foreclaw, it simply snipped the serpent's stretched-out body in two.
As the fanged head of the dead serpent tumbled down toward the agog monkey, it startled and leapt high into the air -- but, not having considered the lone branch upon which it'd been hopping and prattling, the monkey grasped for another branch in vain.
Together, the dead serpent and the screaming monkey plummeted into the tenebrous mist far below.
Thus, thoughtlessness widens the hole through which the sands of our days pour -- let life pass as one considered grain after another.
December 21, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Reform can still be incremental; and incrementalism can still be reform.
Dedicated to the patience of Newtown, on the anniversary of the massacre of its children and teachers by a mentally ill gunman.
Parable of the Week: The Open Door, The Closed Door
Ruins of a temple to gods now lost stood before the brash explorer.
Therein lay a great hall, ending in two doors.
One of the doors, small and plain, was wide open.
The other, a large and ornately gilded door, was barred shut.
The explorer bent over and glanced beyond the small, wooden-slat door and saw but an empty chamber in which lay overturned a shabby straw basket.
"Bah!" his disgust echoed, in a procession of ghostly catcalls, through the cavernous cathedral.
He turned to the ornate, barred door with his crowbar.
Levering the heavy bar upright on its stony hinge, he quickly pulled the gilded door open, and ran into a large, dark chamber.
And promptly fell into a deep pit, to his death.
Slowly, the heavy bar tipped back and gradually pushed the gilded door closed, once more.
So did the temple's greatest treasure -- a yellow diamond as large as an owl's unblinking eye -- lie undiscovered in the bottom of the small, shabby straw basket, lying beyond a plain, wide-open door.
Thus, wise direction comes not just from open doors, but closed doors.
December 14, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Clouds of pollution are the incarnation of clouded minds.
Dedicated in admonition of the Chinese coal industry's choking of the cities of Beijing and Shanghai.
Parable of the Week: The Log Cabin, The Breadfruit Tree
Tropical breezes wafted the salt-encrusted beard of the castaway, who dwelled on his Lilliputian island with but one, sole companion.
A great, spreading breadfruit tree.
As the years passed, the man became restless. Idling under the shade of the vast tree and chewing on a breadfruit, he said to himself, "I am the master of this domain! I want to have a nice house to prove I am a landowner!"
These thoughts stewed in his mind, until, one day, he suddenly grabbed a sharp stone from the black sand and, raising it high above his head, split the breadfruit tree into lumber.
He built a log cabin from the tree's trunk and branches, and placed a carved tree-bark crest, with his name engraved on it, on the archway of his front door. He read his name aloud and then danced about his new house, taking care not to trip over the hoards of fallen breadfruits.
He then piled all the many fallen breadfruits into his new kitchen shelves, cupboards, tabletops and bins. And with an ache in his back, he finally sat down on his new, wooden bed with its soft mattress made of the breadfruit tree's broad leaves, and he was finally happy -- happier than he had ever been.
That is, until he finished all the breadfruit.
Thus, the world is infinite only in dreams. To live in the world, the world must live too.
December 7, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Acquisitiveness is an emotion, to be balanced with perspective.
Dedicated in admonishment of the forced servitude of retail employees on the Thanksgiving Day holiday, and of the Black Thursday mob riots.
Parable of the Week: The Yelling Man, The Reasoning Man
Anger was the cave dweller within the man who yelled his way through life.
He yelled at his son when the boy missed a soccer goal -- even though a small voice inside him said, "In truth, he and his team were outmatched this game."
He yelled at his field hands when the monsoon flattened their soybean crop, even though his small voice had said, "In truth, there was no way they could have saved this harvest."
As he barreled onward through his life, this angry man continued to ignore the small voice inside him.
Until one day it shut up.
For the dark remainder of his days, this man relished only in abusing all who crossed his path. But his pleasure was hollow -- because nothing ever seemed to go his way, and no man or woman called him friend.
Deliberation was the glacial spring within the man who reasoned his way through life.
He listened to truth's small voice -- and, in spite of his emotions, divulged only truth's words to his children and field hands, when they came to him in failure or fear. They were amazed that he always said the right thing, putting in perspective the hurts of the day.
As he reached outward through his life, the voice of truth grew in this reasonable man, until it spilled out of him like spring water, and nourished the same voice in all who crossed his path.
For the remainder of his days, both light and dark, this man felt the joy of clear and right actions taken, of the many things that went his way with effort and thoughtful persuasion, and of the many men and women who called him friend.
Thus, emotion unharnessed is the font of life's storms, and reason unleashed of life's balm.
November 30, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Silencing those who voice it cannot silence an idea.
Dedicated to JFK on the 50th anniversary of his assassination.
Parable of the Week: The Forceful, The Persuasive
Rulers of men oft rise at night.
Come into power upon the hastened death of his predecessor, he quickly cast off all whose ability threatened his supremacy. He declared himself king, and when he barked his imperial orders, those who disobeyed or hesitated were exiled or executed.
One day he was to receive in his royal court the Leader of a powerful neighboring country.
"This is a Leader?" the king asked, laughing, as his courtiers briefed him about the man he would soon meet. "He did not usurp power, but asked the people for it? He can be removed from power simply by a majority vote?"
He smirked. "And he has never held an Army commission, nor ever fired a gun! Hah!"
It shall be a simple matter to dominate this man in our trade negotiations, the king thought to himself.
As the Leader of the other country entered the throne room, the king ordered him, "Kneel!"
As the Leader kneeled, the king saw his face -- a face of complete calm and equanimity.
The king became angered. "Why aren't you afraid of me, little man! I could have you executed!"
The Leader replied, "So you could, but my people wish you to have this."
He passed a scroll to the king, who handed it on to his general and demanded it be read before the royal court.
Thus did the general read aloud the Leader's letter to the king -- who heard its words with growing incredulity and horror: "O King, we, the people of your neighboring country, have massed a great army and navy in support of our Leader, whom we love. Our economy is strong, and our armed forces are unified and at the ready in his support. We wish you well, but know that our Leader is to return unharmed, or your small military takeover will see this day its last day."
The Leader then said to the suddenly perspiring king, "It is my gift of persuasion that is my power. Using it I've led my people into prosperity. My might is their gratitude." Then the Leader gestured casually around him.
"Yet, look here, at the faces of all the men around you, O King. If gratitude resided there, indeed I would be afraid. But all I see is fear and hatred of you. In my country, these men would lay down their lives for their leader -- here, they will not."
The king, in his fear and rage, exploded.
"Kill him, and may war come!"
The king's general steeled himself, strode forward, unsheathed his sword, and, sinews steady, raised it high -- and brought it down not upon the Leader's neck, but upon his own king's.
After the thump of the head, the king's bejeweled body collapsed to the ground with the sound of dry leaves and tinkling chimes.
"Our King, the fool!" muttered the general, as he sheathed his bloody sword.
He turned to face the Leader. "If your people will agree to trade with us as peaceful neighbors, I will instate free elections for our people, too."
Thus, the power of muscle is weaker than the power of reason.
November 22, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: If warm, chop wood, carry water; if cold, chop water, carry wood.
Dedicated in supplication to the social and software architects of Healthcare.gov, to remember the importance of being adaptable.
Parable of the Week: The Fog, The Sun
Amid the ruins of a castle on a moor lived an old hermit and his young pupil.
One day the fog lay on the moor like a spent lover, and all was grey.
"See you the lowering fog, boy?" asked the hermit.
"Aye," replied the boy, "I can spy nary a foot beyond our keep, teacher."
Then his teacher asked, "And how is this fog like the lives of men?"
The boy pondered, then replied, "Teacher, I know many a man and woman, 'tis true, who can see no further in front o' their faces than we do now."
"Indeed!" the old man laughed. "But then, young one, what be the Sun that burns away the fog to show our far horizons?"
To this the boy only shook his head.
Gently the old hermit reached out with one long, withered finger, and tapped at the boy's forehead, and the boy felt the hermit's touch as if it were a droplet of flame.
"Here is your Sun, boy. Here is your Sun."
Thus, reason can lead to meaning and purpose -- by burning away the fog that lies ahead.
November 16, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Fear not remorse, for it is birthed in high expectations.
Dedicated to U.S. state-level civil rights- and economic- initiatives to decriminalize and cease imprisonment for possessing marijuana or other recreational drugs.
Parable of the Week: The Dodo, The Crow
In a verdant field surrounding a farm lived a Dodo and a Crow.
One year the farmland was sold. The Dodo and the Crow watched in silence from nearby bushes, while the old farmer glanced about at his past, stared down into his future, then slapped his straw hat against his leg like a horsewhip and walked away.
Soon came a horde of earthmovers crawling with construction workers, who ripped up the crops, trees and wild underbrush -- to build a parking lot and tract homes.
The Dodo ran about in circles. It squawked disconsolately when it saw its nest crushed by a tractor, leaving no underbrush to build anew. That night the cold winds came, and, to put the squawking Dodo out of its misery, a crew worker impulsively bashed in its head with his shovel.
The Crow, too, lost its treetop nest the very next day. As the gnarled old oak fell and was chipped into mulch by workers, the Crow circled, a cruciform spectre, in the desolate sky. But, unlike the Dodo, the Crow set out the next day to build a new nest, where he could -- in the very top of the riggings used by the construction workers. With the crops all now laid waste, the Crow consumed the bodies of the shrews and mice uprooted from their nests and crushed under foot or wheel.
So did the Dodo find a new way to die, and the Crow find a new way to live.
Thus, the erasing of one path limns another.
November 9, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: To spoil something, overexpose it.
Dedicated to the willingness, prior to any legislative mandate or ecological-pollutant toxicology report, of the CEOs of cosmetic companies Unilever (Dove, Ponds), Johnson & Johnson (Neutrogena, Aveeno), The Body Shop, L'Oreal, and Colgate-Palmolive, to phase out the use of plastic microbeads in their facial scrubs, and to replace their non-biodegradable plastic beads (which have evaded waste-water treatment filters and invaded the Great Lakes) with biodegradable sea-salt or crushed seed-based microbeads. Superb corporate stewardship is not incompatible with -- and indeed necessitates -- environmental stewardship.
Parable of the Week: The Moneyed Politician, The Lone Candidate
Voting was the pride of the tribespeople.
They called their leaders "the People's servants."
A tribeswoman saw one day that the law allowing pig farms to dump their manure in the village's stream saved money for the farms' owners but sickened the small children, and would someday sicken the entire tribe.
"It is time for me to run for leader, to repeal this law and help my tribe," she announced.
As a lone candidate she met -- one by one -- as many tribespeople as she could before Election Day.
But her opponent was a moneyed politician.
As lawmaker he'd passed the very same law the lone candidate sought to repeal. The pig farmers, who'd profited greatly when no longer required to cart away and bury their manure, lavished him with gold coins.
With this gold the moneyed politician paid for rallies -- hiring poor people to attend and cheer. He passed out free food. He printed pamphlets proclaiming he was "A Leader for All the People."
And he paid others to stand in the Village Square and heckle the lone candidate for her "ignorant" rejection of support for the pig farmers.
Come Election Day, the lone candidate -- and her dream of a clean and healthy tribe -- was defeated. The People indeed had had the vote -- but one dictated by enticements and advertisements.
Over the next decade, the tribespeople watched numbly as illness decimated them. Even the pig farmers eventually went bankrupt as the people -- their own customers -- fled to distant unspoiled lands.
During all those years, the lone candidate's voice went unheard -- for lack of money.
Thus, principal can make your decision, but only principle can make your decision right.
November 2, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: The wise recognize their idiocy.
Dedicated in admonishment of the decision of the Executive Director of South Carolina's Spartanburg Soup Kitchen to insult and shun volunteers to her charity who were atheists. Unlike the recent laudable outreach of Pope Francis to the atheist community, the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen Director's assumption that morality is not a human trait but only a trait of religion was false, derogatory, and even factually refuted by the very fact that the atheists who she turned away had volunteered to serve (and to do so even anonymously).
Parable of the Week: The Unkind, The Kind
Charity workers gave food and clothes to those with none.
The first charity worker, a devout man, instructed the beggars who came for a meal or shirt to first pray with him -- where he intoned, "Let us give thanks to the Lord, your provider and your soul's salvation."
Then his icy eyes, cracking open above his tightly clasped hands, glinted coldly at each beggar, as he sternly demanded, "Have you asked the Lord to save your soul?"
And only if the beggar said yes would he receive a meal or a shirt for his back.
The few who balked, or said they believed in no God, the worker sent to the back of the line to "think it over."
So did this worker's charity line slow to a trickle -- until few beggars even approached his table, heaped with food and clothing, where he stood like a crab poised for an approaching minnow.
The second charity worker was also a devout man, but felt it was not his place to demand anything from those with nothing -- and felt that all who came to him in need were kindred souls, no matter their beliefs.
He passed out meals and shirts -- and a quiet ear -- to all who approached him.
He asked from them nothing at all.
All of the beggars blessed this worker, either with their thanks, their prayers, or even their own volunteering.
So did this worker's charity line magnify, soon splitting into tributaries.
And at their headwaters stood his former beggars.
Thus, kindness flows from recognizing kindredness.
October 28, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Silence can roar.
Dedicated in admonishment of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Catholic Archdiocese's clerical leadership's suppression of recent allegations of priestly sexual misconduct -- seeking to protect the body of the Church at the expense of its soul.
Parable of the Week: The Small Soul, The Great Soul
Great Sky River flowed above two raven-haired women of a forest tribe, long ago.
One young woman lived her life back turned, instead of face on.
She combed her long, black hair to entice the young men, but cared nothing for what lay beyond the cypress forest, or the far shore of Great Sky River.
Over years spent neither exploring nor questioning, her spirit shrank into a hard little ball and died, long before the death of her body.
But the other young woman lived her life face on, instead of back turned.
She ignored her hair and the young men, at least long enough to ask, "What is beyond the edge of the cypress forest, and beyond the edge of the horizon?"
"Who lives on the far shore of Great Sky River, or at its headwaters, or its end?"
Over years spent exploring, questioning, and gaining in wisdom, her spirit swelled so, that it could no longer remain inside her body.
And she overflowed into her people -- living on as teachings long remembered, even after her body had long since died.
Thus, live on while your spirit is dead, or die while your spirit lives on.
October 19, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Ability may stumble behind the wings of vision -- but where better to hasten?
Dedicated in supplication to the website contractors of the federal and state online Health Insurance Exchanges, that they work not only industriously, but smartly, to identify and debug the software errors currently barricading most online applicants from successfully registering or applying for healthcare plans.
Parable of the Week: The Untested, The Failed
Mother and daughter sang in their dreams.
When still a young, unmarried woman, the mother had practiced singing lessons until her voice was as beautiful as a songbird's.
Yet she so feared the scorn of others that, after sneaking into the back of the auditoriums during auditions, she stood mute, never stepping forward.
She took a husband and birthed her daughter -- who, baptized in lullabies, was the only audience to the gentle glory of her mother's voice.
The daughter, when still a young, unmarried woman, practiced singing lessons as had her mother, until her voice too was as a songbird's.
Yet she had heard so often of her mother's fear of scorn, and of her cowering in the dark recesses of audition halls, that on her own very first audition she marched to the stage, blurted out her name, and sang.
She was scorned.
But she sang before many audiences -- and scorn gradually transformed into grudging, then free, approbation.
She failed to scale that pinnacle of which both she and her mother had dreamed -- but still she was satisfied, for she had given her dream her very best.
Such satisfaction forever eluded her mother.
Thus, it is better to fail than to never have tried. -- via Theodore Roosevelt
October 12, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Absolutism is the greatest, yet most destructive, passion on earth. -- via Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete
Dedicated in supplication to the mainstream of the GOP Party in the U.S. House of Representatives, that they consider whether their goal of smaller, more effective U.S. governance will indeed be well-served by their Tea Party wing's distinct goal of defaulting and amputating the U.S. government.
Parable of the Week: The Winner, The Loser
None remembered how they'd crossed an ocean to find their home, this band of contented islanders who fished for their livelihoods.
The king of the islanders grew bored one morning, and decided to hold a race. He invited all comers to contest who could most quickly run all the way round their large island.
One by one or in small groups, the youngest and strongest of the men and women walked up to the huge boulder, half-buried in beach sand, marking the race's start.
But then a fat woman waddled up and joined the starting line.
Amid howls of laughter, the king turned to her with a frown. "Why do you join the contest, woman?! You will most certainly lose -- indeed, you are likely to come in last!"
The fat woman replied, "My goal is to finish the run, my King, not to beat the younger and stronger ones."
The king harrumphed, but let her stay.
He climbed high onto the rock in a circling cloud of dislodged seagulls, then stood, plucked from his head his straw hat with its king's garland of feathers, held it high above the hushed throng, and dropped it into the sand.
In a burst of cheers, the racers broke off the line in a fast lope, and quickly disappeared around the eastern cliffs -- all but the fat woman, who bobbed slowly far behind them.
After three hours, the first of the runners rounded the palm trees to the south, and crossed the finish line with legs pumping to the cheers of the islanders. Very soon the other racers streamed in, and were welcomed by the crowds.
But instead of moving off to the award ceremony and festivities, all the islanders, and even the racers, wanted to stay -- to see if the fat woman could really finish.
They danced and sang songs on the beach all afternoon as they waited for her. As the sun began to set behind the island hills, she finally appeared rounding the palm trees, bobbing steadily toward them.
The islanders and racers screamed in delight.
Even the king found himself running excitedly with his people to greet her, to cheer her on to the finish line.
Thus, to win a contest, know what the contest is against.
October 5, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Everything is becoming.
Dedicated to the rollout of affordable private health insurance markets for previously uninsured and uninsurable U.S. citizens and legal residents, variously known during its history as Dolecare, the conservative Heritage Foundation's Mandated Private Medical Insurance Market, Romneycare, Obamacare, and The Affordable Care Act.
Parable of the Week: The Plan, The Act
He was a man with plans.
Plans spun dizzily through his mind every day.
He talked constantly of how special his plans were -- of how important his plans would be, for his people, for the world, for the future.
And he talked of how he hoped to find time to write down and start his plans soon, or someday.
But one day -- a planning day, like all the rest -- his heart stopped, and he fell to the ground.
Silently, he took his plans with him into forever.
There was another man with plans.
They too spun crazily through his mind every day.
But this man saw that talking wasn't doing -- so he didn't boast about his plans, or claim them special.
Instead, he wrote all his plans down.
Then he took a deep breath every morning after awakening, and put his plans, starting with the most important, into action.
Some of his plans failed soon after taking wing, which he mourned.
Some he had no time to nurture, and passed on to others, whom he blessed with his best wishes.
Some of his plans never took wing at all -- for a star flies higher than any wing can reach.
But a few of his plans flew into action.
And they remade the world, better.
The day came that this man's heart, too, stopped, and he too fell to the ground, silent.
But his acts lived forever.
Thus, your plans die with you, but your acts live on.
September 28, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Don't exist in the past. Don't exist in the future. Exist now.
Dedicated in admonishment of the U.S. House of Representatives' insistence on returning to a past where the Affordable Care Act did not exist -- and, in attempting so, to injure America's economic health and future.
Parable of the Week: The Door, The World
Swooning in adoration of a beautiful girl from his village, a boy abandoned his father's house.
Loitering by the front door of the girl's villa, the boy bowed to her father at the entryway, and, seeing through it the girl smile radiantly at him from an atrium balcony, asked permission of her father to court her.
The girl's father scoffed, replying, "Boy, you have no family, no money, nor even yet hair on your face!"
Then the girl's father stepped out onto the front stoop of his villa, and, reaching back, slammed the entry door shut behind him.
The boy's last glimpse of the object of his infatuation was of wide eyes and a red mouth -- shaped, just like his, into a large, surprised "O."
Disconsolate, the boy hung his head, and pleaded to her father, "Now what do I have, sir, without her?"
The father laughed uproariously, and, reaching out to clap the small lad on the shoulder, turned him about-face, picked him up into the air, and tossed him into the street.
As the boy thumped to earth in a billowing cloud of dust, he heard a merry voice reply, "You've the rest of the world, lad!"
Thus, when one door closes, the rest of the world remains. -- via Parker Palmer
September 21, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Do not conquer the mountain -- just climb it.
Dedicated to the new U.S., Russian, and Syrian diplomatic initiative to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons.
Parable of the Week: The Lemming, The Eagle
Eaglets, their parents lost to a hunter's rifle, hatched in a nest at the top of a tall cliff.
They hatched into loneliness, their cries unheard -- save for the ears of a small lemming.
This mother lemming had co-opted and fur-lined the nest for her own brood - but, as all good mothers do, brought the eaglets half-chewed worms that boiled from the rain-soaked earth.
She and her growing brood cared for the chicks as if they were their own. But they did not know how to teach their brother eaglets to fly, not knowing themselves. So the eaglets clumsily hopped along the top of the cliff behind their adopted lemming family.
Sometimes the eaglets sat and gazed at seabirds wheeling above them in the sky.
"See how feathery and long their arms are!" one would say, "just like ours!" -- and both brothers knew something was wrong, but not quite what.
Then one day a great, inland wind blew over the cliffs to the sea, and the lemmings hunkered down in a thicket. But the two eaglets, now nearly full-grown, were too large to hunker in the thicket with them.
The wind caught in their feathers, and blew them over the cliff.
One of the brother eaglets curled into a small, still ball, like a lemming, and plummeted into the sea.
But his brother eaglet cast his fears, and himself, into the face of the winds, and opened wide his arms. As his wings unfurled to their full, majestic span, they caught the currents of the sky.
And, become an eagle at last, he soared over land and sea, soon to master all.
Thus, when pushed off a cliff, try to fly. -- via Babylon 5
September 14, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Act on impulse and reap regret.
Dedicated to the call to question past assumptions of the role of the U.N. versus the U.S. as the world's policeman, and the predisposition to use military action before exhausting all diplomatic and economic sanctions to enforce government morality.
Parable of the Week: The Sunflower, The Barrenwort
The Sunflower dwelt in a small, tree-lined garden.
It grew tall, sinuous and broad of leaf in the fulsome light of warm days, and seeded many children.
But some fell into shade, and the Sunflower's face turned away as those children withered and died -- from lack of a soupçon of the sun's brilliant tang on their yearning leaves.
The Barrenwort dwelt in the same garden, beneath the dark crook of a tree.
It too grew broad, ruddy red and majestic, its crimson bloom bathed in the cool light of the moon, and it too seeded many children.
But some fell into light, and the Barrenwort held dark vigil as those children were stillborn -- from searing sunrays on their tender leaves.
Thus, seek the soil in which you can grow.
September 7, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Shed new light -- or be a candlemaker.
Dedicated to the charitable fund-raining drive for homeless veterans, Blistering at the Margins, of the Flagstaff Freethinkers and the Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for Arizona, Serah Blain -- who is living on the streets with the homeless vets during the drive. Such dedicated charity by the atheist community will lead those who have wrongly presumed atheists are immoral to question the basis of their own morality.
Parable of the Week: The Negated, The Affirmed
It was her caste, in this ancient land.
But she believed -- believed more than anything in her young life -- that she was the true equal of any who trod the soil of their land carrying the red spot of the highborn.
Slavishly working into the night, she saved money to enroll in private school, because she was forbidden to attend a public one.
On the first day she boarded a trolley for school, the trolley soon filled with highborn.
Frowning faces with red dots glared down at her where she sat, and voices called a gendarme.
She sat still and calm, looking into all their faces, and then saw, peeking out from behind a saffron sari, the small, red-dotted face of a little girl. She smiled at the little one.
Then a gendarme pushed up to her, and yelled, "Untouchable, leave the trolley to make way for the highborn, who cannot sit next to you!"
The untouchable woman then looked the little girl straight in the face, and, instead of silently bowing and backing off the trolley, as she'd done countless times before, she straightened her back and said, "No. It is my right to sit here, as it is theirs to sit beside me."
Shock and anger erupted.
As two gendarmes hauled her off the trolley by her legs and arms like a sack of grain, she caught the troubled glance of the little girl, saw her pluck at her mother's shawl, and heard, "Mama, it's wrong to hurt the nice lady!"
And, as she sat in the dirt and looked up to see the little girl stare sadly back at her through a window of the receding trolley, she knew, knew, that she'd won a victory that day.
Thus, don't contradict who you are. -- via Parker Palmer
August 24, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Level is the path to the peak of Shambhala.
Dedicated in admonishment of the Egyptian military's and secular leadership's fall into the same trap as the theocratic elected government that preceded its coup: The inability to question the assumption that eliminating human rights can ever be just.
Parable of the Week: The Climber, The Precipice
Pride etched the stony face of a rock climber, who could scale the sheerest cliff or overhang using just her iron fingers and toes, and her iron stomach.
Cliffs from which most men turned away in fright she leapt upon -- her fingers digging into cracks too small to see from below.
Yet one day the climber chanced upon a precipice scoured by the breath of the underworld -- a sheer, volcanic glass wall so vertical and pristine, that she could see her own dismayed face reflected in its smooth black mien.
For days she camped beneath the black precipice, staring through binoculars for the slightest cracks and handholds, but saw none.
In desperation, she hammered spear-like pitons, but the wall merely sheared off clean facets at each hammer-blow. She made suction cups for her hands and feet, but even those could grip for no more than a few vertical meters the face of what seemed now to her a looming black obelisk -- her gravestone.
After many days sunk into depression, she awoke at dawn and saw the obelisk reflect the pink rays of the morning sun.
Suddenly she knew in her bones that this wall would remain, for all time, impregnable to her.
And in that moment the black wall suddenly transformed, behind her eyes, from a black gravestone into the shadow of her long-ago departed father, who loomed tall over her to shelter her from harm.
And so the climber walked away from certain destruction, standing safe on the ground.
Thus, a fall reveals a thing of value -- where solid ground lies. -- via Parker Palmer
August 17, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Hope is not a strategy.
Dedicated to the past EPA heads of GOP Presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush -- Bill Ruckelshaus, Lee Thomas, William Reilly and Christine Todd Whitman -- for their support of immediate Presidential Executive Action to reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions and support clean-energy industries, to prevent human-caused global warming from becoming "locked in" and endangering Earth's survival; and dedicated in admonishment of the modern GOP's global warming-denialism and consequent heedlessness of their potential commission of Terracide.
Parable of the Week: The Faith Healer, The Town Doctor
A rolling vista had long separated the faith healer from the town doctor.
But then the traveling tent rolled over it.
The faith healer filled his tent with worshippers every Sunday. Like storm-water eddying around a drain, throngs surged to touch his white, sequined jacket, and to see others cast off crutches and throw away eye patches -- although, oddly, the locals weren't acquainted with these who cried, "I'm healed!"
The town doctor -- cotton jacket frayed but washed bone-white and carefully ironed -- was a gruff man and a poor talker. But he'd delivered most of the townsfolk into this world, and saved more lives than most men ever get around to.
One Sunday, a middle-aged woman from the next town, who'd tumbled down her mossy porch stairs and cracked her leg, hobbled on a makeshift crutch to the faith healer, and begged him to heal her.
The healer, after quickly double-checking a list he was palming, ignored her plea, moving on toward a man on crutches beside her. But the woman clutched the hem of his jacket, sobbing, "Please, healer, don't abandon me!"
The healer turned back to her, brushing her hand from his jacket. He placed his palm on the top of her head, closed his eyes, and, after a short pause, withdrew his hand and uttered in a stern voice, "Ye have little faith, woman! Come back when you have more!"
Demolished, the woman hobbled out of the tent into the street, and wept.
The doctor, out walking his rounds, saw her crutch and approached her. Ignoring her tears, he squatted down and took one measured glance of her purple and black shinbone.
He stood and turned toward the tent, and what had been grim in his face became baleful.
Then he looked at her sternly - just like, she remembered, her long-dead father, hoisting her underarm as she dawdled on their walk home from the river.
"Ma'am, that leg of yours is bent -- you need to have that break reset, and soon, or it'll heal wrong." And he led her to his office, sedated her, straightened her leg and set it in a cast.
In time she was healed.
Thus, reality is not the only path -- but it is the only path forward.
August 3, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: To create what will be, you must know what is.
Dedicated in admonishment of U.S. President Obama's deletion of "whistleblower protection" from his public website of campaign promises, and his defining of U.S. journalists receiving whistleblowers' leaks as "criminal co-conspirators"; and of the U.S. military's contention that whistleblower Pfc. Bradley Manning gave "aid to the enemy" by providing WikiLeaks diplomatic communiques on corrupt leaders (whose leaks helped spur the Arab Spring) and "classified" Army videos of U.S. drone airstrikes showing the indiscriminate bombing of hundreds of Iraqi and Afghani civilians (including journalists, women and children). The People are never the Enemy, nor should ever be blinded to the unjust acts of their servant, the government.
Parable of the Week: The Falsifier, The Truthsayer
King for the all the seasons of a man's life, the ruler kept two advisors.
One advisor, panicking as drought, famine and invasion drew nigh, could only utter when standing before the king, "Milord, I see, uh... a time of rainfall, plenty and peace!"
The other advisor, seeing the same coming drought, famine and invasion, spoke truth to power, saying, "Milord! I, too, fervently wish for rainfall, plenty and peace -- but our wishing for it will not make it one whit likelier to happen."
"We must plan for drought, famine and war, my King -- for if we do not, we will all surely starve, or have our throats slit open for our last crumbs of bread!"
So did the king build a reservoir for the receding river waters.
So did he fill his granaries for both his own people and for their neighboring peoples.
And so, when drought did come, there was water and food for all until the rains came again -- and peace for all in his kingdom and beyond.
Except, of course, for one wandering ex-advisor.
Thus, a lie is murder, by killing another's reality -- and suicide, by killing your own.
July 27, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: There can be no demagogue in the service of reason.
Dedicated in admonishment of the Dubai, UAE courts' imprisonment of raped women for "having sex outside of marriage" -- revealing the willful unreason of a "justice" system so tainted by theocracy and misogyny that it refuses to accept the reality of physical coercion.
Parable of the Week: The Blindered, The Open-Eyed
Bestriding golden wheat and gnarled olive trees sojourned a man and his pair of mares.
Both horses were spirited, and difficult to break to the chore of pulling his carts to the village market.
One mare, however, allowed him to strap blinders on her great, brown head. The vision only of the road ahead pacified the huge horse, and she would settle down and pull the man's cart all day long and into the night.
"With those blinders and a feedbag strapped to her neck, she's hardly any trouble at all anymore!" the man crowed to his neighbors.
But oh, the other horse! She tossed her yellow-starred head and golden mane to and fro, whenever the man came near her with the blinders.
She refused to wear them at all.
When yoked to the man's cart, she panned her head back and forth, and her great body immediately followed, veering off the rutted road to explore, disappearing over the hill to see what was beyond -- all the while dragging his bushels of wheat and jars of olives.
Finally one day, as the man loitered, foot in creek, with his friends, the mare reared high, snapped her harness, and bolted straight off -- to far-distant green mountain pastures and streams.
"Damn her hide," the man always intoned to his friends in his later years, staring angrily off to the distant mountains.
"If that mare had just kept her eyes glued to her own hooves, she'd still be hauling my goods even today."
Thus, eyes open! -- via Star Trek: Voyager
July 20, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: The lure may be emotion, but the hook must be reality.
Dedicated in admonishment of GOP state governors' dissembling and retraction of their word not to sign into law any additional religiously-motivated GOP restrictions on the constitutional right of women to reproductive medical services, including abortion and birth control pills.
Parable of the Week: The Anglerfish, The Rattlesnake
Fiery dunes subsided into the cool waves of the sea.
There, where desert sand meets water, met a snake and a fish.
"Hola!" yelled the fish from the foamy surf.
"Hola," murmured the snake from a tall dune, in return.
"You sound dejected, my scaly compatriot," said the fish.
"Indeed," hissed the snake. "I am hated and feared, even though I'm shy and retiring!"
"How could that be?" asked the fish.
"Because of this!" cried the snake, whipping up into the air his tail -- upon which thrashed a rattle. A noise like spilling skulls and bones filled the air.
"Ah, life is indeed unfair," the fish agreed. "Hah! You are hated and feared -- by the very ones whose lives you and your rattle spare!"
And then the fish raised from his head a lure, and lowered it thrashing into the surf. In an instant, a shrimp pounced on the lure -- and in one snap of his huge jaws, the fish bit the shrimp in half.
Shrimp legs spewing from his maw, the anglerfish roared with laughter at the aghast rattlesnake.
"While I, I leave none alive to hate or fear!"
Thus, dishonesty lures to destruction -- as honesty wards from destruction.
July 13, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Doubt is the robe of wisdom, unconsidered dismissal the cowl of fools.
Dedicated in admonishment of the U.S. government's secret acquisition and storage of the phone and internet activity of all its citizens. Such a data repository merely needs the election of an amoral chief executive to jeopardize the American people's freedom.
Parable of the Week: The Ignorant, The Aware
Libraries were as rare as unicorns, in the tiniest of villages where two young men lived.
But one of the young men was brash.
He oft bragged of many travels -- though he had ne'er set foot beyond the valley.
He oft proclaimed his wisdom concerning far-off happenings -- happenings about which he knew nothing and assumed that nobody else knew a whit more.
Over the years this young man grew to become a fatuous, pontificating fool.
The other young man was quiet.
He oft was reluctant to pontificate on things he readily admitted he knew little about.
He oft wished he could read, to better learn about far-distant lands and their happenings, but, as there was neither library nor books -- nor even so much as a teacher -- in their hamlet, he contented himself with learning lessons from life.
In time, he learned much about honesty -- and grew aware that ignorance was no sin, to be hidden in silence; nor a trait to pretend one had surpassed.
Ignorance was the place from which to ask all questions.
Over the years this young man grew to become an ever-wiser man -- who spoke little, but rightly when done.
Thus, strive for awareness, even if only of one's own ignorance.
July 4, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Small steps still descend.
Dedicated to the legal executive actions of U.S. President Obama to immediately counter the impending climatic devastation of global warming being myopically ignored by the GOP; and in admonishment of the gutting of the Voting Rights Act by the current conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court and the immediate myopic adoption by GOP-controlled state legislatures of racially-discriminatory voter ID and gerrymandering laws conceived to hinder the votes of African and Hispanic Americans. By emotionally denying the reality of their present and falsely assuming they can recapture their past, the GOP's actions will ultimately cripple it as a major party.
Parable of the Week: The Mirror of Sadness, The Mirror of Joy
It reflected the images of a soul's buried sadnesses and joys.
Many came to the mirror to see what hid within. A few, so very few, saw secret joy in the mirror, and went away with lightness in their steps and their smiles.
But most who stared into the mirror were horrified to see only sadnesses deep within it. These lost souls, staring at a rotted void, stumbled away from the mirror, many never to return to look at their true reflection again.
But a few, a very few, of the lost souls came back -- again and again -- to see exactly what the mirror revealed.
Gradually, with each disappointment, each horror, each agony debrided and chiseled away, they began to feel an indifference to sadness, and to feel in its place a yearning for hope.
With each visit to the mirror, they saw buried, then more revealed, the stanchions of happiness within the rotted catacombs of their soul.
Over the years did these brave ones, lost but for their single-minded refusal to shut their eyes, weld joy from incarnations of sadness.
Thus, you are the incarnation of emotion and mind -- but only one shall rule you wisely.
June 26, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Reason is the lens through which emotion must be focused.
Dedicated to the women of the U.S. Armed Forces and U.S. Congress who seek to eliminate rape in the military, and in admonishment of commanders and congressmen unwilling to acknowledge the depth of the problem by removing sexual assault prosecution from a still-misogynistic and dismissive chain of command.
Parable of the Week: The Bacchanalian, The Stoic
In an ancient archipelago of city-states lived two philosophers.
One philosopher was a Bacchanalian, who encouraged all to follow their emotions wherever they led.
He proclaimed, "Your past and your future are a fiction! Yesterday is dust, and tomorrow may never come -- so revel today!"
Yet, one day, when an invading armada had the run of his city-state, he lost his head from his neck -- after he was found, by invading soldiers, passed out drunk and naked in his villa, wine dribbling from his slack lips.
The other philosopher was a Stoic, who encouraged all to govern their emotions so that only the mind led.
He proclaimed, "Your past and your future are a biography! Yesterday happened indeed, and tomorrow will certainly come -- so think today!"
And, on that day when the invading armada tried to overrun his city-state, they were repelled by a well-set ring of traps and fires, and by a well-trained group of young warriors from his villa -- while he stood in command of all.
Thus, be the master of your emotions -- or the master of ruins.
June 15, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Life is the intersection of purpose and randomness.
Dedicated to the microventure philanthropy of the lenders, loanees and middlemen whose confluence of ambitions created Grameen Bank, Grameen America, Kiva and Kiva Zip.
Parable of the Week: The Spattered Paint, The Mandala
From the West an artist visited an ancient monastery in the East.
The monastery's head monk asked him, "May we see an example of your art?"
The artist obliged. Opening his steamer trunk and unrolling a bare white canvas, he laid it out flat on the stone floor, and unscrewed tubes of different colored paints.
Then, dipping his brush into them, he closed his eyes tightly shut, flicked his wrists and spattered the paint all over the canvas.
The monks bent over and stared a long while at the random colors and shapes, murmuring and nodding their heads. Then the most aged among them smiled and said, "Lovely! We too, have a very similar form of art! Come see!"
The artist and monks all filed into a small temple room behind the aged monk, who stepped aside and pointed to another monk on the floor, putting the final touches on an intricate, multi-hued mandala, made of individual grains of colored sand.
The Western artist stared down at the mandala, a work of near unimaginable labor, complexity and rigorous geometric order, and looked up at the old monk with confusion in his face.
"Old man, this work is nothing like mine!"
The old monk exchanged glances with the monk on the floor, who, just having finished the mandala, bowed deeply to it, then to the artist, and then reached out his hand and scattered the sand image with swirling arcs of his arm and robe.
The wise old monk then turned, beaming, to the artist and said, "It is now!"
Thus, within seeming chaos, purpose can lie buried.
June 8, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: The scoliosis of civilization calls us to stand.
Dedicated in admonishment of Opus Development Company's intention to profit from building multistory "condo hotel" style off-campus housing for wealthy University of Minnesota students -- by demolishing part of their historic "Dinkytown."
Parable of the Week: The Flies, The Cowbird
Dappled black and white, the huge cow was the most prized of all a farmer's small herd for her rich milk and gentle ways.
Come summer, the monsoon rains swarmed, and with them came swarms of insects.
The poor heifer was tormented by biting flies, who sucked so much of her blood that her milk became thin, and her disposition angry and plaintive.
The farmer cried in his dismay.
But the flies still came.
Then, one afternoon, arrived a dull little bird.
It alighted in the meadow before the huge cow and stared up at the cow's pained face, while she stared back angrily at its tiny brown head and black eyes.
Then, to the cow's amazement, the bird hopped up onto the top of her nose!
The cow mooed in anger, but then the bird plucked away and gulped down a fly that had been itchily sucking on the cow's forehead, and then continued plucking off flies wherever they had alighted on the cow's hide.
In gratitude, the cow contentedly settled down, to days filled with healthy repasts of hay and grain -- while the cowbird settled down, on her back, to days filled with healthy repasts of flies.
Thus, seek symbiosis -- not parasitism.
June 1, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: To be a leader you must act like a leader.
Dedicated in combined congratulation and admonishment of the Boy Scouts of America's acceptance of gay scouts, but continued bans on gay scout leaders and on atheist scouts and scout leaders.
Parable of the Week: The Surefooted, The Halt
Legs flailing, a child was born.
The child slowly learned to walk, his first steps halting and wavering.
As the child grew into a proud man, his steps became surefooted and straight. The man quickly pushed through all obstacles in every path he took.
But the ticking of years rushed forward like an accelerando metronome.
The man grew older and more infirm. He walked again as a child, his steps retreating and swerving as he maneuvered around the obstacles in his path.
After a spring morning's rainstorm, the old man haltingly walked to the store, avoiding puddles and fallen tree branches.
He asked himself sadly, "Does my gait differ, now, from that of the infant I once was?"
As a child he had lurched about like a baby bird, with little thought to what surrounded him. As an old man, he saw, his steps were similar, but with a hawk's awareness.
But then the old man realized something new.
Even as a powerful young man in the prime of his life, he had not possessed the wisdom of creaky bones.
He looked down at the puddles of slippery mud and the brittle, sharp branches at his feet.
"As a young man, I splashed through these puddles and crashed through these branches in my straight lines and unquestioned paths -- I never even considered their dangers as I barreled right through!"
The old man laughed.
"Even as a man, I was a child!"
Thus, the correct steps may well be halting and wavering -- not surefooted and straight.
May 25, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: We have conquered that which is without -- now we must conquer that which is within.
Dedicated in admonishment of the Obama and past administrations' oversight of its Veterans Affairs Disability Claims Office, which unfairly delayed injured veterans' disability compensation claims; its Internal Revenue Service Determinations Unit, which unfairly investigated the tax exempt status of conservative political non-profits; and its Justice Department, which unfairly investigated the phone records of the Associated Press.
Parable of the Week: The Dishonorable, The Honorable
Poverty and integrity was the cursed gift of their parents' fallible guidance and infallible love.
Yet the brothers' gift was soon broken.
A clumsy merchant on a high balcony spilled a pot of silver coins over their very heads.
One brother chased down most of the coins, battling off as many grabbing thieves as he could, and, hailing the frantic merchant from below, returned to him all that he'd collected.
The merchant gave him in return his effusive thanks, but no more.
Yet this brother's integrity remained of one piece that day.
What stood unbroken in him reflected the light of others who came his way, and so did his integrity spread forth among men.
Yet the other brother, on that fateful day, also saw the silver coins fall like rain from the balcony, and also dove to collect them, but returned not a single one.
Instead, with a muffled gasp of pain, he turned from the gathering crowd, from the merchant and from his own brother -- and slipped the pile of silver coins he had scooped up into his coat pocket. Then, with the quickest of the thieves, the second brother stole away, never glancing back into his brother's or the merchant's eyes.
This brother's integrity fractured in two that day.
Later, lying about the source of his new horses and saddles, then of his new young bull, then of his stocks of cured meats and fine wines, his integrity fractured into a thousand shards.
He found himself not one person whole, but become hundreds of persons -- each mirroring a false expectation, a fabricated past, a risen-again excuse, to each new traveler who'd heard and wondered about the source of his sudden wealth.
So did the dishonest brother lose, with his integrity, his soul -- as its fragmented shards were ground to dust beneath the feet of all other men.
Thus, integrity is the soul's mirror of reality -- do not break it.
May 18, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 1, "Reality's Acceptance"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Immorality is to coerce a sapient.
Dedicated to the Minnesota State Legislature, Minnesotans United For All Families lobbyists, and forward-thinking Minnesotans who codified into law the equal human right of all loving couples to be married, regardless of their biologically-determined sexual orientation or identity; and dedicated in admonition of all fundamentalist religions' attempts, whether today or a half-century ago, to impose theocracies that guarantee discrimination in place of representative governments that guarantee equal rights.
Parable of the Week: The Sand, The Stone
Two great cathedrals were built, one upon stone, the other upon sand.
The first cathedral stood for all time, a monument to its architects and masons, and to their indomitable spirit.
Yet the second cathedral, as beautiful and magnificent a monument to its builders as the first, began within a few short years to tilt, and then to settle into the sand.
As the decades and centuries flew by, it rocked back and forth, settling deeper and deeper, the sands slowly pouring against, shattering and running through its stained glass windows and arched doorways.
So did this cathedral subside under the bone-white sands of time, until, one day, the very tip of its tallest, most wondrous spire was all that still defied its sandy grave -- and none came to marvel, but only to regret.
Thus, even the most beautiful belief comes to naught if it stands not on solid earth.
May 11, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 2, "Assumption's Denial"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Labor without progress is slavery.
Dedicated to Jason Collins, the first active NBA player to come out as gay; and to NFL football player Chris Kluwe, who lost his job as Vikings punter after months of speaking out as a straight man for equal marriage rights for the LGBT community.
Parable of the Week: The Keeper, The Caged
Two men lived in cages.
The first man was grey and toothless. Years before, his jailers had given him a set of keys to his prison.
Yet he had so come to fear the world outside, that he kept his keys to freedom in the pocket of his prison garb, too afraid to even handle them.
Thus was the first man the keeper of his own cage.
The second man was as ancient as bones.
Yet since his youth he'd railed against his imprisonment, considered it unjust, and never ceased plotting ways to break out of his cage.
He sought, above all else, to carve a key to his prison, and dreamed of great embarkations, for that day when freedom alighted.
Thus was the second man less caged than the first -- for he did not fear freedom, and his cage was not of his own making.
Thus, fear of change is a prison. Break out.
May 4, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason © 2007-2013 (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), by Frank H. Burton.
Aphorism of the Week: Hell has two doors -- a way in, and a way out.
Dedicated in retrospective accolade to PEPFAR, former President George W. Bush's AIDS- and malaria- prevention initiative that saved 7 million lives in Africa.
Parable of the Week: The Rabbit, The Frog
Underneath a highway culvert lived a Rabbit and a Frog.
Every day cars rushed by overhead like the rush of the culvert's creek after a long rain. But at night the highway was often calm.
One such night, in black, starry quiet, the Rabbit and the Frog hopped up the gravel embankment to the middle of the blacktop, and sat watching falling stars.
The Frog croaked loud and long for a mate in the woods beyond the culvert, while the Rabbit nuzzled the air.
Suddenly a distant pair of stars low on the horizon loomed large and bore down on them with a deafening roar.
"Ruck...Truck!" erupted the Frog, and then, pushing off with his huge legs, leapt far through the air, a goggle-eyed green and white flash in the onrushing headlights of the 18-wheeler.
As he landed in the weeds and gravel beside the highway, the Frog looked back and saw his friend, ears rigid and staring into the headlights, frozen with fear and indecision.
"Ruckit...Buck it!" the Frog yelled.
But, unmoving to his end, the Rabbit was crushed under the wheels.
Thus, the first step is the easiest one not to take.
April 27, 2013, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), Copyright © 2007-2013 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.
"Parable of the Week" excerpts from prior years will be available in the forthcoming book, The Parables of Reason, ©2007-2014, by Frank H. Burton, Executive Director of The Circle of Reason, the world's first society for pluralistic rationalism.
Hall of Shame
The Circle asserts these are humankind's most irrational blind spots in our new millennium -- blatant failures of reason or oversights in rational ethics that our grandchildren will someday look back upon with disbelief and shame. COR asks you to investigate, question, and then choose where you stand on whether we as a society should relegate these activities to history's dustbin:
Climate Change Denialism Causing Runaway Global Warming (Terracide)
Agribusiness Pesticides (Bee & Flowering Plant Extinction)
Consumer Destruction of Natural Habitats, Ecosystems & Endangered Species
Non-Recycled Soft Toilet Paper, made from Harvested Old Growth & Virgin Forests
Military Bombing Test Range Pollution
Murder of Albinos for Body Parts
Execution of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgender Persons
Gendercide (Selective Abortion & Postpartum Infanticide of Female Children)
Judicial Execution (Capital Punishment)
North Korea's Communist Regime
Political Execution, Imprisonment & Oppression
U.S. Rendition to Third Countries for Torture
Political or Theocratic Totalitarianism
Theocratic Execution, Imprisonment & Oppression
Execution and Imprisonment of the Non-Religious
Execution of Adulterers
Virgin Rape as Disease Cure
Female Genital Mutilation
Banning the Right to Die
Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children
Theocratic Justification of Child-Beating
Baad (Retributive Child Abduction)
Imprisonment of Sexually Trafficked and Child Prostitutes
Imprisonment of Adults for Consensual Sexual Commerce
Imprisonment of Adults for Consensual Drug Commerce
Imprisonment Rather Than Treatment of Violent Paranoid Schizophrenics
Drug Prohibition and Ensuing Black Market & Gang Warfare
Faith Healing, Witchdoctors & Alternative Medicine
Factually Incompatible Theocratic Dogma
Theocratically Enforced Celibacy, Childlessness, Poverty, Self Injury & Tithing
Health Care Insurance Denial
Healthcare-Associated Infections from Providers' Septic Habits
Women's Education, Voting & Work Bans
Occupied Territory Voting Bans
Gay Equal Rights & Marriage Bans
Government Ban on Legal Transgender Reassignment Without Surgery
Short-Term Profit Incentives for Business Executives
Government & Government-Sanctioned Private Arms Sales to Dictatorships
Endangered Species Killing for Body Parts
Legal Government Bribery
Congressional Insider Trading
Insider Trading Via Non-Public Congressional Interviews
Anonymous Corporate Political Ads
Government-Controlled News & Propaganda
Propaganda Disguised as News or Facts
Free Press Equal Treatment of Propaganda and Facts
School Creationism & Intelligent Design
Astrology, Soothsaying & Spiritualism for Profit
Social Acceptance of Emotive Appeals Contradicted by Data
Social Acceptance of Ad Hominem Attacks
Hall of Fame
The Circle asserts these are humankind's most rational forward steps in our new millennium -- the achievements of reason or advances in rational ethics that our grandchildren will someday look back upon with relief and gratitude. COR asks you to investigate, question, and then choose where you stand on whether we as a society should disseminate these activities worldwide:
Women's Equal Rights
Gay Marriage & Equal Rights
Civil Disobedience Movement of Same-Sex Couples Seeking Marriage Licenses
Nullification of the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)
Legalized Assisted Suicide for the Terminally Ill
Argentina Law Legally Recognizing Gender Change Without Requiring Surgery
Drug Use Decriminalization
Universal Health Care
Tobacco Warning Labels
Mosquito Net Donations to Third World
Healthcare Provider Septic Habits Ban
Micro-Loans for Third World Entrepreneurship
Child Labor Ban
Third World Internet Access
Political Recognition of Global Warming
Alternative Energy Development
Recycled Paper, Metal & Plastic Products
Endangered Species Protection
Interfaith Dialogue Movement
Pluralistic Rationalism (Plurationalism) Movement
We are pleased to present these links of interest to those wanting to learn more about or volunteer to encourage reason, charity and truly inclusive fellowship in society:
Secular Bible Study (Theists + Atheists Reasoning Dialogue Fellowship)
First Minneapolis Circle of Reason (Transbelief Reasoning Dialogue Fellowship)
NY Salon (Raising the Level of Discussion of Our Culture)
New Stoa (Online Modern Stoic Community)
True North Groups Institute (Endorsing Business CEO "Clarity Circles")
The Garrison-Martineau Project (Believers/Nonbelievers Empathetic Dialogues)
Cirkel van Rede (Dutch Circle of Reason Daughter Site)
Star Trek "Kolinahr/IDIC"-Inspired Monastic Training
Don Lindsay's List of Fallacious Arguments
YourLogicalFallacyIs (Fallacy Explanations and Examples)
The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
Unitarian Universalist Association
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community ("Love for All, Hatred for None")
Atheists for Human Rights
The Daniel Pearl Foundation (Promotion of Cross-Cultural Understanding)
The Coexist Foundation (Promotion of Inter-Abrahamic Faith Understanding)
Tony Blair Faith Foundation (Promotion of Interfaith Education and Collegiality)
The Tandem Project (Call for U.N. Binding Resolution for Freedom of Religion & Non-Religious Belief)
Beliefnet (Commercial Multifaith and Interfaith Web Community and Forums)
Interfaith (Non-Commercial Interfaith News and Dialogue Forum)
United Religions Initiative
Saint Paul Interfaith Network (SPIN) & Mid-Day Interfaith Dialogue
Marnita's Table (for Intentional Social Interaction)
Malala Fund (Support for Girls' Education Worldwide)
"WE DO" Campaign for Southern Equality (Same-Sex Couples' Civil Disobedience by Asking for a Marriage License
Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons
Human Rights Campaign (Working for LGBT Equal Rights)
The Matthew Shepard Foundation (Replacing Hatred Against Gays with Understanding)
The Foundation For A Better Life (Inspiring Positive Values)
The Whitman Institute
Starfleet (The International Star Trek Fan Association, Inc.)
The Logic of Surak
World Future Society's Forecasts
Projections: A Futurist at the Movies
The SETI Institute (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence - Hat Creek Radio Observatory Project)
O3B Networks (Internet Access for the Third World -- the "Other 3 Billion")
The Gutenberg Project (Free Classic Book Downloads)
Wikipedia (Free Web Encyclopedia)
Reporters Without Borders (Defending Press Freedom Worldwide)
Novayagazeta (Russia's Last Free Press)
Snopes (Refuting Rumors and Urban Legends)
Media Matters For America
Jefferson Action (Citizen-Politician Debate Minus the Attack Ads)
The Coffee Party USA (Truth and Civil Dialogue in Politics)
WATCH (Public Monitoring of the Court Justice System to Increase Safety for Women and Children)
HAI Watch (Healthcare-Associated-Infection Information & Education)
Chidren's Healthcare is a Legal Duty (CHILD) (Protecting Children From Abusive Religious or Cultural Medical Neglect)
Yuwa (Indian Girls' Self-Empowerment Through Team Soccer)
Project Kindle (HIV/AIDS Children's Camps)
KIPP ("Knowledge is Power Program") Schools -- Successful College Prep for Underserved-Community Students
Shining Hope for Communities (Free Girls Schools and Community Centers in Africa's Largest Slum, Kibera)
Make It Right Foundation New Orleans (Restoring Homes to Hurricane Katrina Evacuees)
Children's Defense Fund
Jean Cadet Restavek Foundation (Rescuing Restaveks, or Child Slaves, in Haiti)
NotMYkid (Teen Behavioral Health)
Darkness to Light (Confronting Child Sexual Abuse)
GEMS: Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (Fighting Imprisonment of U.S. Children Coerced Into Prostitution)
Bombay Teen Challenge (Rescuing Sex Slaves from the Red Light District of Mumbai)
The Rebecca Project for Human Rights (Legal Advocates for Public Policy Reform for Vulnerable Women and Girls)
Hands On Twin Cities and Hands On Network (USA)
Fruits of the City (Volunteer Homeowned Fruit Tree Pickers for Food Banks)
Loaves and Fishes
Habitat for Humanity
AccountAbility Minnesota (Volunteer Accounting and Tax Assistance)
National Bullying Prevention Center
The Tyler Clementi Foundation (Preventing Cyber Bullying and Suicide of LGBT Teens)
KiVa Anti-Bullying Program (Training Onlookers to Withhold Peer-Rewarding of School Bullies)
Jeremiah Project 51 (Parents Helping Parents Eliminate School Bullying)
Kids Good Manners DVD (game show-style teaching manners, self-discipline, sportsmanship and honesty)
Girls Circle (Facilitator-Guided Girls' Reasoning Dialogue Groups)
Boys Council (Facilitator-Guided Boys' Reasoning Dialogue Groups)
Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
MAD DADS, Men Against Destruction-Defending Against Drugs and Social-Disorder and Minneapolis MAD DADS (Visible Fatherly Presence in Drug- and Teen Gang- Ravaged Neighborhoods)
Social Venture Partners International (Venture Capital for Philanthropies)
Do Something (Volunteerism Clearinghouse and Local Volunteer Search Site)
The Southern Poverty Law Center
Books for Africa
The Peace Corps
The Earth Corps (Training and Networking for Global Service)
American Refugee Committee
The Center for Victims of Torture
Nechama (Jewish Response To Disaster)
Give Us Wings (Helping Third World Villages Help Themselves)
The Grameen Bank (Bangladeshi Micofinancier) and Grameen Foundation USA (Third World Microfinancier)
The One Acre Fund (Agribusiness Assistance Turning African Subsistence Farmers Into Entrepreneurs)
War Kids Relief
Global Polio Eradication Initiative
Smile Train (Training Local Doctors Worldwide in Cleft Lip and Palate Correction)
Nothing But Nets (Donate a $10-Mosquito Net to Save a Person from Death by Malaria)
Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres)
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
International Campaign to Ban Landmines
Lifestraw (Donating Personal Drinking Water Purifiers to Prevent Cholera & Dysentery)
Free The Slaves (Eliminating Worldwide Slavery and Human Trafficking)
Community of Veterans
Support Your Vet
Hire A Hero (Finding Jobs for Veterans)
International Atomic Energy Agency
Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI)
World Institute for Nucelar Security (WINS) (Best Practices Forum to Prevent Atomic Theft)
Human Rights Watch
Middle Eastern College for Reconciliation and Development (Teaching Arab and Israeli Children Civil Engagement)
Scholar Rescue Fund
The African Union
The United Nations
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)
The National Institute of Mental Health
The Nature Conservancy
The World Wildlife Fund
Ducks Unlimited (Wetland Conservation)
Evangelical Climate Initiative
Carbon Capital Fund (Carbon Footprint Calculator and Personal Carbon Offset Purchasing)
GreenDisk, Inc. (Technotrash Recycling)
Marcal Soft & Strong 100% Recycled Toilet Paper
Recycles.org (Used Computer & Office Equipment Donation to Nonprofits)
Recycle City (Environmental Protection Agency Instructional Website)
Nissan LEAF (Zero-Emission, 100 Mile-Range Lithium-Electric Automobile for Five Passengers)
General Motors Volt Car (Zero-to-Low Emission, Indefinite-Range Lithium-Electric Automobile with Gasoline/E85 Generator Assist After 40 Miles)
Toyota Prius Plug-In Conversion (100+ mpg Hybrid+Battery Conversion Kit)
A123 Systems (Plug-In Hybrid Car Lithium-Battery Conversions)
Transit for Livable Communities (Bus and Light & Commuter Rail Advocacy)
Windsource (Example Wind Power Subscription)
The Bonobo Conservation Initiative (Preventing Chimp Extinction)
With regret, we have excluded the below charitable links due to their discriminatory practices in hiring or service. With your help (by petition or withholding donations) we hope to one day endorse these organizations:
Catholic Charities (retracted policy allowing adoption by same-sex couples)
The Salvation Army (instituted policy denying employment to gays or lesbians)
The Boy Scouts of America (instituted policy denying membership to non-theists and gay leaders)
The Circle of Reason receives no financial incentive from any organization listed among its Links.
Make It So
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The Circle also encourages you to check out our Links -- unaffiliated dot-orgs we think are helping bring about more rational stewardship of our society and our planet.
The Circle is also organizing its own unique programs -- E-mail us to join:
1. StrikeForce -- Most bad events in the world are the consequences of our own actions magnified by 6.6 billion others acting in the same way. To remind us we all need to go "on strike" to avoid doing the things that, when done en masse, harm society and our planet, we are sponsoring the Circle StrikeForces, including DrugStrike, BingeStrike and its "242" (Two Drinks for Two Decades) celebration, BullyStrike, CliqueStrike, SlurStrike, CheatStrike, TrashStrike and PetrolStrike.
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3. Bad hominem Campaign -- We ask the public to question its long-cherished assumption that emotive, ad hominem attacks are moral; The Circle of Reason asserts that, because such argumentation seeks to persuade only by evoking emotionality, it is indeed not moral and should be frowned upon in civil society. So the next time you see an insult masked as an argument, stand up and speak its true name -- immorality.
4. The Dialogium -- Most people ignore soapbox speakers. It takes a patient, reasoning, and where possible even facilitative, strategic approach to open and then widen avenues of reasoned discourse between those of very disparate beliefs. The Dialogium is The Circle's unique forum for facilitative, reasoning transbelief dialogue, encouraging more reasoning, open-minded leadership of the disparate groups represented among our membership and within the broader community.
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In the soil of every belief can be inscribed a common circle -- wherein stand the reasoning.
As an international organization for pluralistic rationalism (plurationalism), The Circle of Reason sponsors or endorses local circles of reasoning dialogue and fellowship between those with disparate beliefs and backgrounds.
Local Circles of Reason are literally neighborhood congregations whose very assembly across the gulf of human difference evinces a communal belief in the power of logical and reasoning thought to transform our world and help humankind attain its next major step toward moral and philosophical maturity.
There is no creedal test, nor any tithing or membership fee, to be a Member of The Circle of Reason-International or of a Local Circle -- theist or atheist, conservative or liberal, rich or poor, you are welcome.
To find (or startup) a Local Circle of Reason, E-mail us your name and your city, state and country of residence.
If you're the first in your community to join The Circle of Reason, ask our assistance in organizing a Local Circle in your city as a Meetup.com group -- we'll cover the Meetup Organizer's fee! Local Circle meetups for reasoning dialogue should practice plurationalism by whom they invite (everyone), what worldviews they accommodate (all), what membership fee they levy (none), and what leadership they practice (consensus). Local Circle meetups are held at times not conflicting with Friday Prayers or Saturday or Sunday Sabbath ceremonies.
The Circle of Reason, as a sponsor of inter-belief dialogue and fellowship, seeks neither to convert people to any belief nor to deconvert them from any belief, but to encourage all to use reason to guide their beliefs, and their practice and communication of their worldviews. Local Circles are thus encouraged to be founded in and sponsored by (and between) neighborhood churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and atheist/humanist groups, between all tribal groups, and between conservative and liberal political groups, while welcoming members of every (and no) tribe, faith, belief or creed -- so that in reasoning dialogue and fellowship we all may learn how to combine our diversity of worldviews without dogmatism, aggression, coercion, or invective.
Finally, if you're not sure about joining the pluralistic rationalists of The Circle of Reason, google Star Trek's Vulcan "IDIC" symbol of diversity+logic and ask yourself, "What Would Surak Do?"
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Gather in, speak out, listen up, get down.
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And you want to do it online?
Then you're looking to join one of COR's "Virtual Local Circles":
1. Facebook Circle of Reason -- FCOR was "ungrouped" by Zuck's mandatory Facebook Group Archiving in 2008, but has since re-launched; join this online COR group to read updates on The Circle and to find reasoning friends from all corners of the planet. (FCOR Facebook Group relaunched March, 2008)
2. Beliefnet Circle of Reason -- Check out BCOR's "Timely Topic" forum posts to read online members' past reasoning dialogues on religious, interfaith and secular issues of their day. (BCOR launched April 2008)
3. The Round Table -- Pull up a chair to The Round Table, COR's own ad-free webforum. (CORRT awaits seed members in 2013; login and post about why YOU decided to join The Circle!)
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Join FCOR, BCOR, CORRT or G+COR...and own your future.
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Reason, like the sun, burns away the fog that lies ahead.
Want increased clarity about a big decision in your life?
Willing to help another through an important life choice by simply -- and only -- asking questions to help them perceive the realities, assumptions, and emotions that underlie their dilemma?
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To begin or join a real-world Clarity Circle, E-mail us your name, city, state and country of residence, for assistance in setting up a local Clarity Circle Meetup.
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Our archive of past Opinion-Editorials from The Circle of Reason and links to news editorials on pluralistic rationalist methods. Excerpts from this web archive may not be reproduced without written consent of the author, or reproduced in any form for profit.
"Stop Equating Trivial Things to Nazis or Hitler"
Frank Hornstein, Minneapolis Star-Tribune | Updated January 23, 2014
Minneapolis Star Tribune "Op-Ed" Article, by a Minnesota State congressman, Rep. Frank Hornstein, whose four grandparents were all murdered by the Nazis, on making our "civil discourse" healthier (and not trivializing the Holocaust) by refraining from "equating an opponent or issue to Nazi Germany."
"UN Says Lag in Confronting Climate Woes Will be Costly"
Justin Gillis, New York Times | Updated January 16, 2014
New York Times "Environment" Article, on how "foot-dragging" by "coal-mining states and GOP members of Congress" in battling reduction of fossil fuel emissions is ensuring runaway global warming that within 15 years will have become unremediable by future technology and/or capital -- that CO2 climate change denialism is committing terracide."
"Women Writers Awash in a Sea of Toxic Internet Misogyny"
Russ Douthat, New York Times News Service & Washington Post | Updated January 13, 2014
New York Times Op-Ed, on how "female writers come in for an extraordinary amount of abuse online...including graphic threats of sexual violence, rape and murder," from males -- whether the men are theist or atheist, conservative or liberal -- and on the need for males posting online to practice self-policing, to "cleanse the Internet of the worst misogyny."
"'Philomena' Actor & Atheist Steve Coogan Claims All Are Fallible"
Interview Article ("In 'Philomena,' Steve Coogan rejects comedy that is cynical and ironic") by: Colin Covert, Star Tribune | Updated November 30, 2013
Star Tribune Article and interview with Actor Steve Coogan, who uses the film "Philomena" to "explore issues of faith long on his mind: his anger at the church as an institution, his respect for people of faith, and his own atheism," and who, opining on the universality of human failings of reason, says, "I think it's important to always question your own thought processes. It's important to know that we are all fallible whether we are religious or not."
"Pope Francis States Ideology is an Illness and Calls for Greater Openness"
Op-Ed by: Pope Francis, Vatican City | Updated October 17, 2013
Radio Vatican Homily, on the "serious illness...of ideological Christians," and how if through ideological rigidity and hostility a Christian has "closed the door to others" and "chased away the people," he "becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith."
"Let's Ditch Analogies That Live in Infamy"
Op-Ed by: Frank Bruni, New York Times | Updated October 7, 2013
New York Times "The Opinion Pages" Article, on how "hyperbole and hysteria make any constructive debate impossible," and why we should "ditch analogies that live in infamy".
"Pope Urges Dialogue with Nonbelievers in Letter to High Profile Atheist"
Article by: Francis X. Rocca, CatholicHerald.co.uk | Updated September 12, 2013
Original Op-Ed ("Pope Francis' Letter to the Founder of "La Repubblica" Italian Newspaper") by: Pope Francis, Vatican City | Updated September 11, 2013
Catholic Herald Article, and Pope Francis' original Vatican City Op-Ed, calling for "sincere and rigorous dialogue" with non-believers, both to counter the assertion that Christianity is necessarily an "expression of darkness of superstition that is opposed to the light of reason," and to assert that "dialogue is not a secondary accessory of the existence of the believer: it is, instead, a "profound and indispensable expression...of faith is not intransigent, but grows in coexistence that respects the other."
"Town Halls or Town Hells?"
Op-Ed by: FRANK H. BURTON, The Circle of Reason | Updated September 3, 2013, 6:19 PM
Minneapolis Star Tribune "Letter of the Day", on "bad hominem" in town halls.
"The Vulcan Inaugural"
Op-Ed by: FRANK H. BURTON, The Circle of Reason | Updated Feb 2, 2013, 6:00 AM
Maybe Michelle Obama's bangs are a sign?
Barack has been dubbed our first "Vulcan President" -- not because Michelle was seen parading in a Vulcan cloak and bangs, but because as President and man, Obama appears committed to emotional mastery in service to politics.
In a seemingly throwaway line in his Second Inaugural Address, Obama enjoined, "For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate."
Irrationality Beyond Politics
But our first-ever Vulcan leader may himself not have realized those words' broader portent: Reasoned debate -- and, more generally, the everyday application of reason itself -- isn't just essential for the next "four years, and forty years, and four hundred years" of politics, but is essential for humanity's maturation into a fully sentient race.
Absolutism, spectacle and name-calling are symptoms of a congenital illness -- humankind's current inability to automatically and consistently be rational. What is, is. What is not, is not. And what is or is not, is paramount. Not consistently adopting those axioms of reasoning living will harm us more than the most violent video game inveighed against, or invented, by the NRA.
When we deny facts, adopt unquestioned assumptions, and argue emotively rather than rationally, we crash and burn -- causing the arteries of America to grind to a bumpy halt.
A Throwaway Line?
Obama's most memorable Inaugural quote noted our struggles at Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall, to call America to new destinations in equal rights; but his one seemingly throwaway line calls us to do something even more important -- to pave the rutted road to those destinies.
So why do we overlook this line from Obama's Inaugural address? Perhaps because both Obama and We The People still share the wrong assumption that people are usually reasoning folk needing no prompting to master our "Inner Klingons." True, we all reason well -- when nose-to-nose with reality. (Think Debt Limit, or Hurricane Sandy and Governor Christie's waltz with Obama.) But the rest of the time, when reality is at one remove? Where polar bears dig through garbage in distant Churchill, gay coworkers are denied marriage applications, and unseen Dreamers labor in our kitchens and college libraries? Not so much.
But in politics, at least, an awareness of the need for communal commitment to reason is dawning. In addition to his inaugural call for reasoned debate, Obama previously hired Republican Jim Leach as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Best known for his "Civility Tour," Leach recognized as eloquently as his boss that "ad hominem" is "bad hominem" when he said, "Little is more important...than establishing an ethos of thoughtfulness and decency of expression in the public square. Words reflect emotion as well as meaning. They clarify -- or cloud -- thought and energize action, sometimes bringing out the better angels in our nature, sometimes lesser instincts."
So maybe Obama's "throwaway" line isn't so throwaway, but one to be remembered -- as well as one by which to remember him.
Obama: Liberal or Pluralistic Rationalist?
Our own society of theist, non-theist, liberal and conservative rationalists will remember President Obama not so much as a "closet liberal" who in his second inaugural finally came out for progressivism, but as our nation's first "pluralistic rationalist" President, who came out for the dawning awareness that our maturation as a sentient civilization will soon depend on our realizing that self-delusion and name-calling instead of fact-checking and reasoned debate is more than a First Amendment-permitted political preference, but a dilemma of human morality and survival.
The Morality of Reason
Someday denying facts, accepting unquestioned assumptions as facts, and emotively beating back facts will no longer be welcome in the parlor rooms of civil society, but relegated to conceptual zoos -- where our denialists, dogmatists, and sensationalists will as always be free to continue burrowing, howling, and screeching, but where such irrational utterances will be ignored by the (in this case rounded) ears of We The Sentients.
And as First Among Sentients, Barack, in spite of his round ears, has now called attention to our need for such a "Human-to-Vulcan" social evolution. President Obama's "throwaway" inaugural line is not one to throw away.
Live long and prosper, Barack of Vulcan.
Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., is Executive Director of The Circle of Reason, the first international society for pluralistic rationalism, recently recognized as a "promising practice" by the Pluralism Project at Harvard.
"Atheist Has Faith in Power of Dialogue"
News Article by: Daniel Tran, The Monash Weekly | Updated July 6, 2012
Monash Weekly Article, on the value of including atheists, and reasoning secular viewpoints, in interfaith dialogues.
"A Godless Proposal: A Kinder, Gentler Atheist"
Op-Ed by: Def Shepherd | Updated December 20, 2011
Defshepherd.com Op-Ed, on discouraging atheists' "scorched earth" approach to communicating with theists, and encouraging their "engaging others in polite discussion (as) much more effective than an aggressive onslaught of condescension, ridicule, and judgment."
"Jon Stewart's Speech to The Rally to Restore Sanity"
Speech Transcript by: ebookbrowse from "C-SPAN Video" | Updated Oct 30, 2010
The Rally to Restore Sanity Speech Transcript, on the value of reasoned, civil dialogue over shouted invective.
"E.J. Dionne Welcomes Jim Leach's Call for Civility"
Op-Ed by: EJ Dionne Jr, The Washington Post | Updated Nov 30, 2009
Washington Post Article, on the value of civility in politics.
The Pointy Ears Awards
The Circle of Reason lauds these public figures as honorary plurationalists, for calling for reasoning dialogue across disparate beliefs, accepting reality, questioning assumptions, or mastering emotionality.
Al Gore (2009), Global Warming Anti-Denialist & Nobel Laureate
Jim Leach (2009), GOP Congressman, NEH Director & Host of "The Civility Tour"
E.J. Dionne (2009), Op-Ed Writer ("E.J. Dionne Welcomes Jim Leach's Call for Civility")
Gary Trudeau (2009), "Doonesbury" Editorial Cartoonist ("Reasonists" strip, Sep 2009)
Tom Erlich (2010), Op-Ed Writer on Political Civility
J.J. Abrams (2010), Movie Director ("Star Trek"), on Disregarding Worldviews to Work Together
Jon Stuart (2010), Comedian & Organizer of "The Rally to Restore Sanity" (Oct 2010)
Neda (2011), Martyr for Iranian Civil Rights (Mar 2011)
Wael Ghonim (2011) Google Exec & Egypt Arab Spring Multicultural Leader (Feb 2011)
Jake Reitan & Rev. Amy DeLong (2011), Religious LGBT Civil Rights Activists (Jun 2011)
Bill George (2011), Author, Medtronic CEO ("True North Groups" Founder, Sep 2011)
Patrick Kennedy (2012), U.S. Congressman ("Piers Morgan Show," CNN, Jan 2012)
Olympia Snow (2012), U.S. Senator & Bridge Between GOP & Democratic Legislators
Ruth Marcus (2012), Op-Ed Writer ("A Campaign Isn't Just for Gaffes," Washington Post, Jul 2012)
Chris Stedman (2012), Author of "Faitheist" & Proponent of Theist-Atheist Dialogue
Barack Obama (2012), President of the United States ("Second Inaugural Address," Jan 2013 & "Mandela Eulogy," Dec 2013)
Todd Steifel (2012), Freethought Activist & Patron (Dan Merica Interview, CNN, Jul 2013)
Cara Santa Maria (2012), HuffPo Correspondent ("Where Does Morality Come From?", Aug 2012)
Hillary Rodham Clinton (2012) U.S. Secretary of State ("Live in an Evidence-Based World," CNN, Feb 2012)
Malala Yousafzai (2013), Pakistani Leader for Worldwide Girls' Education (2013)
Pope Francis (2013), Bishop of Rome & Proponent of Theist-Atheist Dialogue & Reason-Compatible Faith (Sep 2013)
George Takei (2013), Actor ("Sulu") & LGBT Activist, on Combining Diversity (IDIC) ("Fangasm," SyFy, Oct 2013)
Sheldon Whitehouse & Harry Reid (2013), Senators & Global Warming Legislation Proponents (Nov 2013)
Steve Coogan (2013), Atheist Comic and "Philomena" Actor, on Respecting People of Faith & Questioning One's Own Thought Processes (Dec 2013)
Michael Roan (2013), Co-Founder of the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, and Founder of The Tandem Project -- Calling for U.N. Binding Resolution on Freedom of Religion or Non-Religious Belief, and Encouragement of Interfaith/Intercultural Dialogue (Jan 2014, posthumous award)
Arthur Brooks (2014), American Enterprise Institute Director, on Calling for Conservative-Liberal Dialogue to Improve Conservatism for the Poor (Feb 2014)
David FitzSimmons (2014), GOP State Representative (R-MN), on voting for Same-Sex Marriage Rights in Minnesota while knowing it "possibly was going to be a vote that would put me out of office" -- as it did. Upon losing his GOP Party endorsement for re-election to MN state district 30B (Albertville) due to his vote, he said, "I would do it again. If you don't try to do what's best for your constituents, it's not worth being in office anyway." (Feb 2014)