The First Steps to a World Without Money

 

The First Steps to A World Without Money

 

By RR Murchison

 

 

 

It wont take you long after you start reading this to realize that I am not an economist.  Like President Trump, I like to pretend to know more than the experts but realistically I am not sure I can legally fill out a will…that whole ‘sound mind’ thing really gets to me every time.  I wish I knew more but frankly whatever knowledge I have was apprehended on other people’s genius and recognition that just because a guy drives a cab or cuts hair doesn’t mean he or she is not smarter than the people who hide in the forest to get away from the trees.  Experts have the inane ability to reject common sense by saying stupid things like “If it was that easy we would be doing it already”.    Its been my experience that there are 2 arguments against doing anything and only one argument for.  The only argument for or against something that makes sense is “Is it possible?”.  When the answer to that question is “yes” then we must consider it.

 

Fundamental Truth

 

 

 

Money makes the world go ‘round.  It is a cliché but it is sadly true.  There is no function in society, no relative contribution to its detriment or its well-being that cannot be weighed, measured and valued.  Money can’t buy true love but it can buy some damn good acting from pretty much anyone who believes that prospering is better than just surviving.

 

To that end, we are all hookers under the skin.  While some of us may not do that in our homes or with our bodies but we have, no doubt, prostituted ourselves in the work place and in social interaction to further ourselves financially.  It is the way of things.  Everything and everyone has a value, a potential value and can be a value-added commodity.  Human beings in a market economy are only valued by their ability to generate or maintain income.  The second question after “how do you do?” in the market economy is “what do you do?”.  The relative consequence of answering that question determines your value to the questioner and ultimately to society.

 

If the respondent answers “I am unemployed” or “I am a housewife and care giver to two children” the relative value to the questioner is nil.  If, however, the respondent answers “I don’t do anything but spend my father’s money and he is a contract killer for the mob” your perceived value to the questioner increases.  The full-time care giver is considered a pariah by the questioner even though that person has been entrusted with preparing two elements to the future of humanity.  The child of the killer who does nothing but spend his father’s ill-begotten gains is treated with greater respect and admiration because he has access to money.

 

Our society which some say is supposed to be based upon values espoused by Jesus Christ is fundamentally flawed.  Or perhaps more accurately, supposed Christian values are flawed by Fundamentalism.  This type of fundamentalism shrouds itself in conservative morality, a morality that completely ignores the plight of the less fortunate as a group and some people’s fundamental truth that “God is Love” and that God alone is judge; and ‘if a man asks you for your coat you give him the shirt off your back too’. 

 

The conservative Fundamentalism may not have trouble with the notion that morality is based on loving God with everything that you are and loving others as you would like to be loved as they would see that as individual obligation superseding collective will.  The conservative fundamentalist ignores or rejects outright the passage in the Acts of the Apostles when St. Peter, the man chosen by Jesus to be the head of the church, said that ‘all goods owned by individuals who call themselves members of the church should be used for the common good of all.’ (Truly abhorrent behaviour to someone who believes that his or possibly her lot in life was a blessed right given by God). The Fundamentalist ignores St. Peter’s approach and wraps themselves in the capitalist mentality that exploitation and greed should be rewarded. 

 

 How did we depart from “no man can serve God and money?”, “Make friends with filthy mammon?” and “Money is the root of all evil?”   These are purported to be Christian values and yet have nothing to do with the values and principals of the economies of “Christian” nations around the world.  And we wonder why other faiths don’t understand our values.

 

It makes me wonder if anyone in Capitalist North America and western Europe could even understand an economy based upon actual Christian values.

 

 The Lie of Efficiency

 

During the Harper years in Canada, for example, it was plainly evident to me (Again not an economist…just a bitchy observer) that the government was doing whatever it could to maintain higher unemployment in the manufacturing sector in favour of the resource sector.  Higher unemployment is desirable for the Conservative as it drives down wage demands and is resultantly anti-inflationary.  Its cruel to those who yearn for employment to feed their families but effective at driving people from one part of the country to another as well as reducing the relative expectation of salary.

 

Business in general prospers as the echelon wages and bonuses increase while general salary expenditure decreases.  The bottom line looks so much better when you are paying next to nothing for labour.

 

Over the long term, it is self defeating, of course, as fewer and fewer people have the money it takes to drive the economy… which eventually hurts the bottom line for all those who benefitted from lower wage demands.  Many of those companies decided to further augment the bottom line by moving service and manufacturing to third world countries. 

 

It really is even more self defeating as even fewer people have the money to purchase the products and services those same companies produce.

 

The sad part is, from a corporate value point of view, those same companies seem to be more efficient and making more as they quietly destroy the economy they claim to be part of.

 

“Efficiency” is the root of all corporate evil.  The Private Sector uses the word to justify mass lay-offs, getting rid of middle management and moving to cheap labour countries.  While the word should be embraced, its application has become a source of pandemic evil through-out the industrial world.  Nothing makes a worker cringe more than hearing that his or her company has hired an ‘efficiency expert’.

 

The public sector on the other hand has never been what one would call efficient.  Rather, that is a term used to get rid of enough low-level operatives so that the individual department can no longer fulfill its mandate.  The harsh reality of the public sector is that if there is to be a purge, the purge should really begin at the top.  Most of the higher-ups in the public sector have ridiculously high wages for the work they rarely actually do.  In my pathetic little province of New Brunswick, The Standing Committee on Public Accounts document, shows 1,664 employees in 43 departments, Crown corporations and agencies earned more than $100,000 in 2011-12…(There are even more now) that is frankly insane for a province of 700 000 people.  I would doubt there would be more than a few hundred people in the private sector making that kind of money…. we’re a poor Province.

 

Money Makes It Happen

 

The dependency on money has brutal limitations.  Even if our corporate masters would allow it, is there enough money for all of us to have a decent life?  According to some policy makers there isn’t enough money to make sure everyone in the world has enough food and water…or so we are told.  Those that make the cash say it can’t solve our homeless issues.  Around the world there are people desperate for medicines that we have in abundance and yet the desperate don’t have the money to buy them.  I guess this is Darwin at work? 

 

According to some news story I can barely remember, we might be able to develop (Or have developed?) plasma engines that could be installed in just a few years that would enable us to fly to Mars and beyond but we can’t because we don’t have enough money.  So, we have both the technology and the desire but we need the money.  We can’t feed the starving, we can’t give medicines to those who need it and we can’t explore the galaxy because the artificial wallet we make for ourselves doesn’t have enough fake money in it. 

 

Using the Cost-Benefit Formula

 

My father’s simplistic solution to that, still rings true for me today.  You own the mint, if you need money, print more!  No, he was not stupid.  He believed that if government applied a cost-benefit formula to its expenditures and eliminated the annual deficit in favour of a 4-year plan, the returns from wise investment would offset the seemingly crazy expenditures.  It would require a lot of political good will to implement and government courage unlike any we have ever seen.

 

The rewards, however, would be huge. 

 

The New National Dream.

 

To illustrate high spending with higher rewards:  Imagine high-speed rail crossing the second largest country in the world in less than 24 hours.  Its financially impossible now but if we could convince the International Monetary Fund and other nations to agree to let us pilot the notion of working on a 4-year cycle, we could see major projects approved just on their positive cost to benefit realization.  A closed-off-to-the-weather, near-linear mag-lev and magnetically-induced rail-line travelling at air travel speeds is possible.  It is just a matter of economic and political will.  Can you imagine something manufactured in Halifax arriving the next day in Vancouver?  Can you imagine people leaving Moncton and arriving in Calgary the next day having never left the ground?  It would change the dynamic of this country forever.  It would put an end to massive air pollution from short haul planes and jets and much faster than taking your car.  Heck it might pay for itself just from American travel tourism alone.

 

But we can’t because it would cost too much.  Yes, there is a significant cost benefit that might pay for itself over 20 years but no one cares about that because the initial capital outlay is prohibitive.    I know there is an Eskimo in Alert with a bag of chips saying to his only neighbour for hundreds of miles…” If I give one to you I gotta give one to everybody else.”

 

There is that problem with opening the door on extreme spending, that once you open it, it can’t be closed.   But I would suggest it might make the price of oranges a bit pricey {sky rocketing inflation by way of putting too much money into circulation in a short period} but if the end resulting revenue from taxes exceeds the short-term costs, it is well worth doing.  Isn’t it?

 

This would be the beginning of the end of the monetary system as we know it.

 

The numbers might be scary… a multi billion-dollar deficit for the realization of a few billion in returns over 4 years and only recovering the investment over 20 years.  It’s a risk that no one wants to take but I think it is the only way to move forward.

 

 

 

A GAIn for the Working Poor

 

(Yes, I know you’ve heard this a lot lately but I feel like I was among the first advocating for it so I want my version to be heard.  I first wrote about this in a paper I did in high school back in 1977 and I have been an advocate ever since) There have been pilot projects in Manitoba (late 70s early 80s as I recall) and recently in Ontario and in PEI.  It was a recommendation by the MacDonald Commission on the Economy circa 1982, became Liberal Party policy as Negative Income tax in 1983 or 84 but luckily for me Conservative Senator Hugh Segal created it in the late 80s.  I don’t care whose idea it was or wasn’t…its good government policy and is the beginning of not using money to cover basic necessities moving into the future)

 

There is no way to spend money on trains or anything else for that matter without addressing poverty. 

 

Put simply, a Guaranteed Annual Income provides a certain level of income to every man woman and child so that their basic needs are met.  It is the best way to make sure everyone has enough money to survive without the stigma of welfare and the short-term solution of unemployment insurance.

 

Arguments against it range from “if you pay people to do nothing then nothing is what they will do” and the (Former Prime Minister)Paul Martin Junior argument that there just isn’t enough money to give people an amount that would allow them to survive.  Ok, there are other more legitimate arguments as well.  It could be hyperinflationary as Loblaws, Sobeys and the landlords realize how much more they could be charging for food and lodging.  And, the provinces could fight it as it wanders into their jurisdiction.  For the latter, I have no answer other than we really need the provinces to be on-board as without them there really wont be enough money for everyone.

 

The primary conservative argument that if you pay people to nothing then nothing is what they will do is not borne out in the places that had guaranteed annual income.  Most Norwegians earn(ed?  I have no idea if they still have the policy) less from their jobs than they received from their guaranteed annual income and yet most went to work.  I refuse to believe that Norwegians have a better work ethic than Canadians.

 

I do believe that businesses that are generally exploitive and use turnover as a weapon might want to rethink that policy if the people working for them could get almost as much money staying home.  This too might contribute to inflation as a number of low paying employers will simply have to pay more to keep good people. I don’t expect the GAIn amount to be so lucrative that it will pay people to stay home but it might give them options where none exist now.

 

Far more problematic is the question of ‘would there be enough money?’.  The idea is to take all the social expenditures from welfare transfer payments, GIS, CPP Disability, certain health transfers, tax savings, Child tax benefit, GST HST refunds etc together with the cost of administering those payments and gather that all in to one cheque payable to all taxpayers who make $25,000 per annum or less.  I am guessing that without Provincial involvement, it would be about $18,000 for adults and 8,000 for children.  With the provinces participating I am hoping it will be $25,000 per adult and $10,000 per child. That is $4,000 more than the average full-time minimum wage.  The individual amount coupled with a spouse’s amount together with the amount for a couple of children, it could put an end to child poverty permanently.

 

It will be tougher for low paying employers to keep workers but if it’s a decent place to work, many GAIn recipients, if not most, will continue to work at their job regardless.  It puts a little balance in the workforce and it creates a more competitive environment for employers to get good people and keep them.

 

Changing Taxes

 

To facilitate the Guaranteed Annual Income and to make it worthwhile for those who benefit from it, there must be some major tax changes.  I would suggest a very nominal tax rate for the first $25,000 of earned income; somewhere near one half of 1 percent for the first $25,000 and then 35% of each dollar above it.  This insures that we’re putting money in the hands of the people who spend it without it breaking the bank to pay for the GAIn.

 

Maximum Wage

 

I also believe the time has come for us to say no to the moronic greed in the upper echelon of corporate Canada.  Anyone making more than a million dollars in a single year will pay a heavy tax penalty of 90% of every dollar more than that amount.  Sports professionals will be partially exempt and we will continue to allow forward averaging.

 

HST GST

 

There is no question the Guaranteed Annual Income will be a strain on the Government coffers.  To that end we must take advantage of what we hope will be increased consumer spending at the low end and raise the Federal and Provincial Sales Taxes.  The Federal rate should be in and around 10 percent.  This insures that the Government will get back some of what it added to the economy without taking it away before it is even spent.  Income tax on low income earners is an anchor to growth and it hurts children and the poor to benefit those who don’t need it.

 

How would it work?

 

Administration of the GAIn would be challenging but there are 2 methods that spring to mind.  One is make it universal and tax it back from those who don’t need it.  The other is to allow Canadians to apply for it as they need it.  For example, if Tom has a job that pays $20,000 he could apply for a quarterly GAIn cheque of $1250 and as his circumstances improve over the next quarters his GAIn cheque would go down. But if he lost his job or got his hours reduced he could apply for an immediate top up.  If he got overpaid over the course of the year it would be reflected in his payable taxes and his GAIn amount in the coming year might be reduced. 

 

The basic idea is to have a family of 4 make a minimum of $70,000 per annum.  25 thousand for each parent and 10 thousand for each child.  I don’t know how likely that is but its an amount worth shooting for.  Fundamentally (so to speak) the concept is low income Canadians would have enough to pay for food, clothing, lodging, communication and transportation.  While the $10,000 for each child may seem excessive but it would be taxable as it puts the mother and father over the tax threshold of $25000 and therefore taxable at the rate of 35%.  Health deductions might apply so we would leave it at the higher rate.

 

A World Without Money

 

I believe these are the first steps to removing money as the only way of determining value and measuring prosperity in a future world.  If we eliminate annual deficits by measuring a cost to benefit formula for government spending, we have exchanged the artificial value of currency for a longer-term value of return on investment.  I wont get into the obvious cautionary tale about what constitutes a solid investment. 

 

If we follow the basic formula that spending now returns enough by way of saving on future spending within 4 years {The Social Benefit Formula.  You feed a person today and it saves you on medical and/or policing expenses tomorrow} And the return on capital investment formula whereby there is sufficient return over a period of 4 to 10 years to get the money invested back and longer term to realize a profit on the investment. The value of money changes from something limiting and quantifiable to something limitless and stimulative.

 

Similarly, the use of a Guaranteed Annual Income reduces the use of money to a basic credit for the essentials of food, clothing, shelter, communication and transportation.  While one can make more than just the Guaranteed Annual Income and improve one’s quality of life, the basic standard is there and is quantified only by choice.

 

The only purpose for money at that point is the measure of advancement and the incentive to advance.

 

Perhaps, as we evolve, we will no longer need to measure success individually and collective prosperity will be our true measure.  Ok start naming all the successful communist countries….hmmmm. 

 

Yes, measuring prosperity by collective success could take a while before people could accept it and it would have to coincide with the general acceptance of a fundamental Christian view that “Whatever you did not do for the least of these my brethren, you did not do for me…”  but eventually people might see a world without money has to be better than rewarding greed and narcissism.  Perchance to dream.  Hmmm what would Jesus do?

 

-30-

 

 

 

 

 

Lilly The Cat

Lilly The Cat

By RR Fry

(Translated from a lot of meowing)

Since the Fat Man came back to live with me and the Treat Giver last February, I have made it a point to keep him awake as often as I can just to remind him how unwelcome he is in my apartment. The Treat Giver may think she owns the apartment but lets face it, I make her buy me food, I make her give me water, I let her make my bed which I allow her to sleep in and I make her clean my litter box…really, which one of us is in charge? The only reason I keep her around at all is for the treats.

The Fat Man on the other hand serves no Earthly purpose to me other than the fact I make him give me cold meats. I usually wait until his eyes are shut while he is laying his obesity on the couch and then I get 2 inches away from his face and scream with a loud meow…HAM! HAM! Until the massive monster wakes up, yells something back and then we repeat the process until His Fatness gets up and gets me ham. If he fails to tear it up into bite-size pieces or gives me the wrong cold meat I will relentlessly repeat the HAM HAM chant until he complies.

He’s not that bright so I have to show him each day where the Fridge is and point out where the ham is located. Honestly I really don’t know what the Treat Giver sees in him. I used to let him play laser pointer with me and I’d make him think I was chasing the light but really I was just testing to see how long it would take for his arm to give out. Then he said something stupid like ‘the batteries are dead’. The liar, batteries are like mice, they don’t die until you’re done playing with them.

Just to humour him I let him drag industrial strapping on the floor which I will chase and chase until he gets bored and throws it on the floor…like I would play with it by myself. I really can’t stand to see him not worshipping me so when he sits down at the computer, I’ll walk back and forth in front of his face occasionally stepping on the keyboard until he turns red with appreciation for my typing skills.

I wish I didn’t need humans but until someone can train another animal to do all I need to have done, I just don’t think I could live without them. They are hard to train. I can never seem to get them to open the window when I want them to. They seem to leave just when I was ready to allow them to give me some affection and they shower instead of bathing which prevents me from playing the water. I really hate that. Playing in bubbles is the most fun you can have without a half dead bird to torture..I mean play with.

Speaking of birds, I spend a lot of time looking out the window. I have grown quite fond of this Pheasant who walks by my window ’cause, lets face it, he’s too dumb to fly. I am trying to learn bird but languages are difficult when you only have one vocal chord. It was hard enough to learn how to say ‘Ham’ in the human tongue, Bird Speak has a whole set of other challenges. I’ve got the cadence down but I am pretty sure my tone is off because when I ask the birds to come closer so I can kill and eat them, they seem hesitant. This is even after I have explained that we all must follow our natures.

There are days when I wish I could go out and live like a hunter cat but whenever the humans have called my bluff and let me out, it’s a world of loud noises and cold weather. It may seem intriguing but what if I got locked out and I had to train new humans? Sounds like too much work. I’ll just go lie on the bed the Treat Giver made for me and wait for the Fat Man to go for a nap…I’m pretty sure there is more ham in the fridge. Besides I really can’t stand to see him relaxed.

Lilly is a cat with cow like markings who is a freelance writer and a feline food getting strategist in a Moncton apartment.

RR Fry is a Fat Man that Lilly allows to live there.

Understanding Clinical Depression

Understanding Clinical Depression

Is there any way any of us can understand people who are depressed? I have been an amateur psychologist and know-it-all for more than 25 years and even I don’t get it.

The simplest answer is…well… you can’t understand clinical depression unless you have it. If you can understand it …well you’re crazy. There is no rationale for clinical depression. It is not something you can snap out of. Its not the same as that day you could only get round hamburgers and you really wanted a square one. It’s not the same as when your pet hamster just simply refused to get on the wheel. I think JK Rowling described it best as a Dementor attack…it was like all the joy in life was sucked out of you and you’d never feel happy again.

Moreover it is like living in constant pain and you don’t know where the source is. You just want it to stop. You know there is no logical reason for it but it permeates you and it’s all you can feel. You have to make it stop. You convince yourself that everyone is better off without you and you have nothing left to give this world except more pain.

If you’re drowning in the Abyss and its not even midnight yet and all you can feel is the pains of life then you need to go see someone…now!

For some there are environmental causes, the loss of a loved one, unemployment, making a foolish mistake etc. But all too often it makes no sense whatsoever… you can be rich with everything to live for and want nothing more than escape from the pain. Depression is indiscriminate, it crosses all divides and makes life a living hell for those who suffer from it and those around them.

There is no power of positive thinking, no set of exercises or any short term therapy that will stop it. There is some hope in medication and on-going therapy but its not easy. To add to the complexity, I believe that for certain women the answer may lie in hormonal therapy as the fluctuation of hormones wreaks havoc on brain chemistry as in postpartum depression, menstrual cycles and menopause. I have no way of saying that is accurate for sure, it just makes sense to me. I am not a medical professional so the salt that I give is only available in multi grain.

The really crazy thing is that irrational behaviour cannot be rationalized. No one can or will understand why you feel the way you do because the way you feel is not normal. You’re smothering and all you want is a minute of free open air. It is there and you will find it but only those who live it or those whose job it is to help you beat it, can help you. Even then it might take time, going through different professionals, drugs and therapies before you get what you need.

For those who are depressed but not clinically….There is no doubt that for most people ‘life sucks and then you die’ is pretty much an accurate depiction of how things go. Life is depressing and there really is no value to it whatsoever….especially if you are that guy that just drove down Mountain Road at 35 klicks per hour. If you need to drive that slow then life is truly passing you by.

That being said there is an inherent value to life. If you live to yourself you die to yourself. If you live to help others then you always have something to live for. I don’t just mean swinging a hammer for Habitat for Humanity (although that is an awesome thing to do) but more helping provide for your family, being there for friends, and/or living each day to make life better for yourself or someone else by community involvement. It’s been my experience that these people have the most hope…for today and tomorrow.

Sadly for those who suffer from Mental Illness, helping others is often lost on them as they can’t see past the pain. Eventually, when they get help, the pains of life will give way to the joys of living. They can and will see a better tomorrow coming.

So if you feel lost and alone…you are not. There is hope and the only way to find it is to get help. If you can’t get help…well…someone has to write those damned Christmas movies where Santa needs you to save Christmas with a crippled reindeer and a mentally challenged elf. Until I started looking in to Clinical Depression, I used to wonder what kind of human being would write that stuff…and now I know.

 

RR Fry is a former broadcaster, producer, political aid and freelance writer living in Moncton.

Rules for Moncton Driving

They say sarcasm is the lowest form of humour. I can live with that. Having said that please remember these rules are NOT to be followed.

While I may find it a bit frustrating, these are the rules for driving in Moncton that I have observed over the years. Not observing some of these rules could prevent accidents and save lives so use caution:

Driving Rules:

  1. Men must wear a cap – you never know when a random baseball game might break out and no one wants to be unprepared.
  2. You must drive an oversized urban pick up truck that has never carried anything heavier than groceries. (2a)Your tires have to be wide enough that they don’t fit in between the lines and (2b)high enough to make sure your headlights shine directly into the eyes of oncoming traffic. (2c) You never carry anything heavy and no matter what the Mythbusters said about increased drag, (2d) you have to have a cover for the back that will never be opened.
  3. Never ever ever look in the mirrors except to fix your hat or adjust your make-up. [The fist rule of Italian Driving is the 3rd rule of Moncton driving…WHAT’S BEHIND YOU IS NOT IMPORTANT.
  4. Always too fast or too slow…nothing in between. If you accidentally see something behind you your top speed is 40 kph except in winter when its 60. If you think nothing is behind you (DONT CHECK) then the speed is 80 in a 50 zone and 135 on the highway or if followed then its no more than 80 kph especially on Wheeler Boulevard. Remember causing fast driver death is ok with law enforcement or the sign would say ‘Suggested’ rather than ‘Maximum’ 100 KPH.
  5. The left hand lever on the steering column sometimes called ‘the turn signal’ serves no purpose (or, if you feel you have to use it, you can switch it on after you’ve begun your turn so people who already could see what you were doing can know for sure). Remember using the turn signal before you apply your brakes will just let people know what you are up to and no one wants that.
  6. Driving for conditions might mean slow down when its slippery in some places but not here. Here it means drive as fast as necessary so there is no way you can stop in an emergency. People who slow down on icy streets and low visibility are just scaredy-cats who put too much value on human life.
  7. Remember if you’re driving a fast car, a motorbike or your hopped up truck…make as much noise as you can. People love that….especially girls who think ‘wow I can’t wait to be wolf whistled by that guy’. Go as fast as you can even if you’re only going ten feet to maximize the noise.
  8. Drinking and driving is always wrong but those rules that you said you believe in don’t apply to you…you’re a big guy, two or 3 might be enough to make some people a menace, but not you. Besides if anything bad happens you’re just thinning the herd…who needed that guy anyway?
  9. You bought that big truck for a reason…to drive on Elmwood Drive and Lutes Street and feel the roll of the waves ….but just the same, make sure you randomly jam on your brakes as if you had a truck load of eggs whenever you see a pebble out of place…The people behind you love that stuff.
  10. Remember how your Dad used to stop and help people…Never do that…They bought that Dodge…they knew what they were getting into…They deserve what’s coming to them
  11. Just like when you were in elementary school, never stay within the lines. Driving on or slightly over the lines maybe a little discourteous and perhaps deadly but that is what driving is for.
  12. No matter how many cars are behind you and how unexpected it maybe for them, always jam on your brakes and let the driver turning on to the street, out in front of you. Its courteous to them and completely discourteous to the people behind you…well done!
  13. The distance between you and the car in front of you is directly proportional to the desperation of the person behind you to get by. Block all turn lanes by at least three car lengths and make sure only you and the car in front of you make it through a flashing light.
  14. Always wait to see the whites of the eyes of the people coming up behind you in the passing lane before you pull out to pass that truck and then only overtake the truck by 1 km per hour…then pull in front of the truck and race the guy trying to pass you, it make for fun motoring for everyone.

    To sum up the rules of Moncton driving, be as discourteous as possible while maintaining a complete sense of obliviousness to the world around you. Or you could try something totally different and think about the needs of others on the road…Naaaaaah! Sorry, I forgot where I was for a second. Happy Motoring!

 

RR Fry is a freelance writer from Moncton and a former broadcaster, copywriter and political assistant

what is god?

What is God

 

What is God?  Well let’s start with what He, She, It is not.  God is not a book to be worshiped as the fundamentalists believe.  There is no Bible, Torah, Koran or any other book in the universe that contains God.  He is not on any page, or phrase or collection of books.  These books are just stories about what well meaning people like you and I think God is like.  There is no truth to it except the truth you find in them.  There is no validity to any of it.  Some of it is lies, some is truth but the bottom line is that you can’t find God in a book.  God never said any of the words attributed to him because it is tainted with the views of the writer.  Are the Bible and the books like it pointless to read?  No, they contain the threads by which the fabric of civilization is woven.  We are all bi-products of the base rules of conduct and demonstrations of sacrifice and compassion these books offer.

The books are not God but they contain instructions on how we are to be god-like in how we deal with one another.  The stories about Jesus, for example, offer more than rules about not hurting each other, they talk about helping others especially those who are less fortunate.  They talk about compassion and self sacrifice, making friends out of enemies and offering us solace that as we suffer, good things will come.

It talks about the pretence of piety and how no one is without sin so we should not judge each other or be hypocritical.  Important words that people often forget when they talk about the evils of religion. Words written by men that have lasting benefits to all who hear them and use them in their daily lives.

Stupid stupid stupid men with no understanding of words, translation, or even black and white phrases like “Love God with every measure of being that you have and treat each other the way you want to be treated… on these two commandments hang ALL the Law and the Prophets” have chosen to turn the Bible into a rule book of don’t do this and don’t do that.  They subvert the Love with penalty because to them God is angry and vengeful and mean.  They don’t want to hear God say “well I don’t like everything you did but I still like you anyway.”  They are self loathing creatures who want vengeance from God for all the laws they were afraid to break.  Although Jesus did promise vengeance, he offered forgiveness for sin.  Who faces the wrath?  “Whatever you did not do for the least of these my brethren, you did not do for me.”  In other words failure to show compassion is a major mistake.  Isn’t funny how the stupid stupid stupid men spend a lot of time taking about sexual evil and yet they don’t even mention that not helping others is pretty much the worst thing you can do in the sight of Jesus.

Christianity has been destroyed by these men.  They have created enmity between Science and Religion holding that the two are mutually exclusive.  Science is the study of the unseen as much as the seen…there is no conflict as we are both pursuing truth.  True the metaphysical and the physical are at different ends of the spectrum but they are both part of God and Science. For example, the stupid stupid stupid men would have you believe that Creation and Evolution are at odds with each other and yet we know the Bible says that God formed man from the dust and isn’t that exactly what Evolution says?  The real trouble comes in terms of time frame  that creation occurred over 7 days but Jesus says, “a day is a thousand years and a thousand years but a day in the Kingdom of God”  Time, therefore, is irrelevant in an eternal reality.

Ok so who or what is God?  God is the essence of creation and the unifying force in the universe. He, She, It  lit the match that started the Big Bang.  The immensity of God can not be perceived or understood.  There is no book that can hold it.  There’s no story that can adequately explain it and no words can describe it.  As the amoeba is to us so are we to God.  Does that mean that God is too immense to hear our worries and cares?  The short answer is yes but just as the Entity has infinite size and power; it also created us to be self aware. We might be less than bacteria but just as bacteria can destroy life and cause pain, I think our presence is felt.  We are more than the sum of our human parts because we perceive the possibility of a soul.  There is a bit of the Entity in all of us and we must therefore be part of the Entity itself.  We are cognisant of truth and we have the ability to define it.  So we have the power of God.

So the essence of Divine Truth is that God exists, it is aware of us because we are small parts of a larger being.  So is there an all encompassing ultimate truth?

I think there is but it might be disappointing:  As God created us through an infinite law of cause and effect giving the appearance of random happenstance and yet we exist.  So too must we create God out of our infinite desire to define purpose and truth.  Put simply, we create God in our own image to be the God that created us.

Therefore no one who believes in something is wrong.  No one who doesn’t believe is wrong either since God is infinite and indefinable.   Our approach to God is individual and personal.  Our belief system maybe common to others but in the end our relationship with the Divine is ultimately self defined.  We are products of our upbringing and common understanding but no matter how common the faith we have notions of  a different God.  God would never forgive this or God’s mercy will forgive me of that etc.

So you make God, You made God and God is as you define him.

I wish the light was shinier and the truth more eloquent but in truth there is one God and yet billions.  One light one truth and yet more than any can count.  Put even more simply you will be judged by what you and no one else believes because God is in you and you are in God.

My God allows me to say that Jesus Christ was so close to Devine truth that he was the Son not so much for the stories of his ridiculous miracles but because he said “Consider the Lilies of the field how they neither toil nor spin and even Solomon in all his Glory was not arrayed as one of these…so if God so clothes the grass of the field which today is and in the4 morrow is thrown in to the oven, will he not so much the more clothe you…oh ye of little faith.”

One of his followers then defined him and said, “God is Love”.  That is the God I believe in.  He is not vengeful or bitter but kind.  It is a simple truth and the words, written by men, make me believe.

Universal Truth and Other Lies

As you can tell by my often cherry  disposition, I have a lot of unmanaged physical and emotional pain in my life.  I’ll start with the chronic illnesses Emphysema, Diabetes and High Blood Pressure and Arthritis in the joints in my back.  Relax, this isn’t a pity party, I just mention that to excuse my bad behaviour and to say, that in spite of all that I am less comforted by spirituality than ever, even in my earlier less pain filled life.  So when I am writing about spirituality, I am not writing about something that I find emotionally comforting or even  promising.    It’s a simple source of looking deeper into life.

A big bang doesn’t satisfy me….I have to know who lit the match.  If something as immense as the creator of the universe, caused, through evolution, beings to become self-aware, isn’t it reasonable to assume that the creator would be aware of them?  If we can accept that, then it’s not a big stretch to think that if the beings truly screwed up their understanding of truth, he might walk amongst them as one of them and offer a better explanation rooted in compassion rather than dictation.

The first thing we have to consider is that faith, religion  and belief are all separate topics.  The Bible is not an authoritative source of Universal Truth.  It is fundamentally a book written by men about who they think is God.  It does not offer scientific evidence or concrete verifiable evidence or even accurate history.  It is what it is, a story about some guy named Yahweh Tetragrammaton and his kid Jesus.

Is it lies?  Yes! But it also contains truth.  Like all good stories it contains a lot of hyperbole.  The miracles probably happened but  in a very minor way.  I am sure Jesus did feed a lot of people with very little and I am sure that Lazarus probably seemed dead when he was brought to life.  Am I suggesting he was not Divine?  No I am saying that his divinity was not established by miracles.  Am I saying that miracles don’t exist?  Not at all.

Every day of my life I get a chance to make someone laugh and in that laughter they get a moment of joy and in that moment of joy they find solace and peace and in that moment they truly discover God.  That is a Moment of Eternity…that is a miracle coming from a man  who lives in relative agony.  When you cut your finger, blood cells crust over the cut allowing the epidermis to cover the broken area and in a few days you can hardly tell where the cut was…that is a miracle…that through hundreds of millenia we have adapted this incredible healing power.

The problem with organized religions are that they have stopped searching for truth and started selling the lies they know.  Real religion is a constant state of discovery and continual redefining of truth.  It evolves and grows and never finishes discovering who and what the Truth is.   Defining God wasn’t supposed to be easy.  There is no accurate rule book…no set of rules to play by that if you do them, God will find you perfect.  Jesus calls this sort of sin based definition of God as hypocrisy.  “Hypocrite …take the huge sins out of your own eye before you even think of telling someone else about their sins. ”  He even defined god-like behaviour as doing things for others…”whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me.”  He and Moses both referred to the essence of true religion  as being to love god and love each other the way you want to be loved.

The plain reality is that the Universal Creator is  far too complex an entity for us to define in any one book.  Although John comes close to offering the most satisfying definition for me, “God is Love and he that abides in Love abides in God and God in him”

So then are we just the sum of our human parts?  Is there more to life than this? Are we mortal or are we eternal?  Contrary to fundamentalist and Roman Catholic belief, Jesus did not just show up to add new rules and make life more difficult.  Rather his focus was establishing eternity and opening up the doors to everyone that wants in.  This eternity is not locked in the space-time continuum.  As  he said, “A day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is but a day in the kingdom of God”  So time is irrelevant.  To reach it, one must die.  On the cross he said to the other condemned, “Today you’ll be with me in Paradise.

But does eternity exist?  It does. It’s in everything we see and do.  Humans  evolved from the  life elements found in dust and when they die they are transformed back into dust.  But what of the soul?  Do we have one and if we do what does the soul transform into?  The only empiracle  evidence of a soul is in the electrical  impulses of a dying person seem to live on for a time after the body is dead.  Eternity is necessary to establish some form of justice…some measure of fairness to life.  Sure he was born rich and lived a pretty cushy existence but its easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of god.  The existence of an afterlife is an inherent promise of religion.  Without that, life would be enormously unfair but with the promise of paradise for the good and eternal retribution for the evil, life seems a bit more palatable.  But what evidence is there that when we die we just cease to exist?  There is none there either…its just easier to understand logically.

If we listen to Jesus he promised reward for enduring the sufferings of this present age.  “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” and again to his fellow condemned, “Today you will be with me in paradise”.  The dust we are made from and the dust we become after death is the same substance that was at the beginning of the universe…so we are already eternal.   Then it comes back to the original supposition, if we are made to be aware of the possibility of a god, there is an equal chance that he/she/it is aware of us.  That we are all part of a mystical body of truth and our physical beings limited by linear time, are in fact vessels that prevent us from joining  an eternal truth.