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7/3/12 questions and discussion

From: Jon A.
Sent on: Tuesday, July 10, 2012 5:13 PM
7/3/12 questions and discussion

1-is it better that religions hold together better than secular organizations?4
2-are professional/semi-pr­ofessional sports good for us?4
3-are the olympics good for us?4
4-what's the root of the controversy in America: Is it supreme court interpretation or legislative design that's responsible?5
5-how do we rationalize the bad things happening to good people?6
6-what's the difference between good and  bad stress?4


5-how do we rationalize the bad things happening to good people?6

Jim: it's a common thing, but it's personal to me right now. My niece just got lymphoma. She's like a daughter to me. How do people rationalize this? She's done nothing to deserve it. Looking at life through the lens of why bad things are happening to good people, we would all despair at the volume of it; there's so much suffering! What do I do? I restrict my scope -- I focus mostly on the people in my family/among my friends -- to keep from pessimism. The good in that sample is outweighed by the bad. So I keep it small.

Dick: time heals.

Jim: I have things from my past that I am still haunted by.

Jon: "comedy = tragedy + time". Apparently our species evolved its psychology to place greater emphasis on the well-being of those we are closest to. This makes sense if we need the groups we are a part of to survive. Interest in the welfare of other groups might even harm the survivability of our own groups.  

Jim: it's unworkable to worry about people beyond one's circle

Julene: empathy makes us hurt for others

Jim: but how do we weigh the good vs. the bad? My niece means more to me than all those starving kids in Africa.

Julene: kin selection is based on genetics, closely related.

John: is Jim asking why good people are given bad breaks?

Jim: in part. Most of us here have gone through our lives with good attitudes, so we have apparently accepted the bad. It's the only way it can be. What's our philosophy about badness?

John: religion has theodicy. Christians spend a lot of time thinking about it. It's Original Sin. Our inherent badness guarantees bad luck. Some think it happens in proportion to the bad we do in life. Pat Robertson/Jerry Falwell alternately claimed our sinfulness caused Katrina and 9/11. That is almost always is the reason in the old testament (minus the Book of Job). God's answer to Job is "who are you to ask?" The explanation for war and Hitler is the same; god didn't do that, sin did it. This explanation leaves out natural disasters. The last explanation given is that if these people stricken with bad luck were good people when alive, then they're going to a better place (heaven).

Jon: and you?

John: most of the suffering I'm connected with isn't physical (mental illness). Mental illness is hard to understand. 

Jon: are you willing to discuss your mom, how you feel about her mental health issues?

John: I haven't given it much thought. Her mental illness has always been there. Growing up with it I never could be certain how responsible my mother was/is for her illness.

Julie: control is less important than how we deal with its lack or abundance.

Jim: I wish prayer made a difference.

Dick: when Drue Sjodin was abducted and murdered people hated her killer. Several cases emerges thereafter that weren't as hated, was it because she was pretty, young?

Jim: recently a 6th grader put a video up on Youtube of his and his peer's taunting of their school bus monitor. It generated lots of disgust. Even the kids involved later lamented their involvement.

John: there's always more public grief at the death of a young woman, even more than kids. We feel more intensely about people in the prime of life and if they're physically attractive it's intensified. For example, the comparison between our reactions to Princess Di and Mother Theresa. Each occurred near the other yet Di's death attracted much more press/public interest.

Jon: 9/11 seemed to be an exception to the focus on one's small group (friends and family). I vividly remember how other western nations declared "we are all Americans now." In this case the group was those involved in civilization. All developed countries felt attacked by 9/11. I was amazed to observe my own reactions to that event. For the first time in my life I felt patriotic.

Jim: it was spectacular. 

Dick: gunshot injuries/deaths far surpass those deaths on 9/11 yet we pay little attention to it.

John: 9/11 was an attack that set off fear of the destruction of an entire society. That kind of fear can paralyze a society. Gun violence is not perceived in the same way. The context in which crime occurs, in which suffering occurs plays a role in our estimation of it. A woman killed after work in her company's parking ramp is viewed more sympathetically than is a woman killed late at night outside a bar.

Jon: blame the victim?

John: the pimp is engaged in an activity with death as an occupational hazard. A rape out of the blue is different than a drunken woman at a party. If I'm hanging around in a high crime area I bear some liability should something bad happen to me while there. 

Jim: if we look at the suffering of our loved ones we realize that safety illusory . Hemingway's book (John Donne's poem): Ask not for whom the bell tolls. This cancer of my niece destroys the safety illusion, if only briefly, for me.

John: the danger is if we think life is totally unsafe. It can lead to tyranny (see post Versailles Germany or Fascist Italy).

Brian: the energy in our lives (spirit) is a constant. We choose to be human yet sometimes we decide we've made a mistake and we want to return to our source (god). This explains to me what sometimes seems to be unfair death.

John: is dying good because we're returning to god?

Brian: it's my contention. God (energy) gives us these challenges in order to help us mature.

Jim: if there is a god and one accepts it, it's too convenient to me. My niece doesn't want to die. She doesn't want to return to god.

Jon: "the lord works in mysterious ways" or back to Job's asking god why he'd given him so much suffering. God's answer: who are you to even ask this question.

John: crisis can make one stronger.

Brian: this brings up the idea of separate realities. A down syndrome child, for example, will tweak our perceptions of the world.

Julene: it depends on whether one is up to the task of raising disabled kids.

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