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Five Things and a Question

Frankly, I hate this game, but Kenza tagged me to do it, and Kenza is a friend I can’t very well refuse! So let’s get it over with, and if anyone ever asks me again, I’ll be able to say, “Done that.”

  1. I cut my own hair, and have for the past ten years, ever since a really bad haircut forced me to redo everything as soon as I got home. The only exception I made to this was in Morocco, where you can still find barbers who know what they’re doing. If you want a good $2 haircut, go to Morocco. Otherwise, use a mirror.
  2. I threw away my TV when I was seventeen and never looked back. Since then it has been my goal, rarely fulfilled, to live in a house where no one has a TV. For economic reasons I tend to live with roommates. They say, “I keep the TV in my room,” but they still bring it out when friends come over. They say, “I only watch videos a couple of times a month,” but once you have a TV, it never stays silent for long.
  3. I was a member of the Republican Party for about six weeks in 2000. George W. Bush faced a primary challenge from John McCain, and at the time McCain looked like an open-minded fellow with whom I could agree with on a lot of issues. (He’s worked hard since then to change my mind, but that’s another story.) Al Gore already had the Democratic nomination locked up, so I switched parties just long enough to vote in the California Republican primary. McCain lost and withdrew from the race. Bush and Gore faced each other in November, in an election decided by Sandra Day O’Connor. I returned to the Democratic fold as soon as the primary was over.
  4. I was once in jail for two days as a member of the “UC 38.” UC is the University of California, and 38 of us were arrested for blocking a sidewalk in a protest against investment in apartheid-era South Africa. I sat down with the others because seemed like a fun thing to do. We were held for a few hours and released. Eventually they put us on trial, and we had the choice of six months’ probation (which means not getting arrested again for six months) or going to jail for two days. Most of us chose jail, and we were locked up with the pickpockets and sidewalk drunks. The worst thing I remember was the music! Romantic pop music blasted through the speakers from 8:00 in the morning untli 10:00 at night.
  5. I use only two medications, asprin and garlic. I take about six asprin a year, usually all for the same headache. I eat garlic a few times a year when I feel myself coming down with a cold. This usually helps keep the cold from getting worse. I don’t like being sick, but when it does happen, I prefer to let my body treat itself. So I curl up in a ball and try to sleep through the misery. Once the pain starts to subside, I go out and order a coffee.

Since I hate this silly game, I’m not going to tag anyone else. Instead, I’ll propose a game of my own, or rather, a philosophical challenge. If this goes well, I’ll do it more often. I found this question buried deep in the comments to this post. The answer was obvious to the person who asked it, but frankly I’m not so sure.

What good does it do to believe in something, if one doesn’t believe in the universality of one’s belief?

In other words, is is possible to “believe in something” such as the truth of one’s religion, or the idea that a man is made for a woman and not another man, or the superiority of a democratic system of government, without believing it applies to everyone? What do you think?


Comment from Massir
Time: January 14, 2007, 08:09

J’ai aussi répondu au questionnaire de Kenza. Ce n’était pas facile, mais c’est quand même amusant!

J’ai tout compris, jusqu’à ce que j’arrive à ta question. Trop difficile pour moi en anglais.

J’essaie de traduire pour voir si j’ai bien compris:
“A quoi bon croire en quelque chose, si on ne croit pas en l’universalité des ses croyances?”

Waow, question bien dure. Mais tellement vraie!

Comment from Myrtus
Time: January 14, 2007, 09:28

That’s alright eatbees, I get the hint, THANKS! (;

Comment from Yahia
Time: January 14, 2007, 10:20

Well that’s a tough one… :]

Comment from Liosliath
Time: January 14, 2007, 14:54

My husband and I discuss this a lot – we’ve decided that it IS worthwhile, because in the end, only your actions are the ones you’re responsible for. We actually despise universality, because in his experience, that results in fellow Muslims telling him that he’s not practicing Islam correctly. (Which is a post in itself, because most of them are hypocrites, anyway.) In mine, I feel universality is responsible for the missionary mindset, which is an insidious disease that should be fought at every level.

Comment from eatbees
Time: January 14, 2007, 17:57

@Massir— You’ve done a good job of translating the question. Now take a stab at the answer—answers in French are welcome! Arab proverbs also welcome, if you explain them.

@Myrtus — I don’t get it. What am I hinting about? I didn’t mean it!

@Yahia — Whenever I get you to comment here, it makes my day! Now think it over and come back!

@Liosliath — I notice you REALLY hate missionaries! Do you have some issues? Don’t tell me your folks were missionaries…!? Or maybe you dated one…!? Did your high school boyfriend run off with Jesus?

@everyone — I’ll help get this rolling. To me “belief” means “lack of knowledge.” If you know something (“My mother is in the kitchen”) you no longer “believe” it, right? Belief is personal, a hypothesis, and ulitimately needs to be confirmed against reality or thrown away. Since the unknown is always infinite in relation to the known, we can never be certain about our knowledge, and need to remain open to changing it as new information comes in. I look at belief as a desire for knowledge and consider it beautiful for that reason. But belief should remain humble and not try to pass itself off as knowlege, since absolute knowledge is unattainable for humans. For me, even if the Qur’an fell from heaven into the ear of Mohammed as is claimed, it’s still just a hypothesis that needs to be tested against reality (God’s REAL revelation) or thrown away. Belief is belief because it’s not universal, not because it is.

Your turn!

Comment from Myrtus
Time: January 14, 2007, 20:40

aaaw eatbees don’t worry, that just my small attempt at being an evil wiseass. It was actually ME who was hinting… didn’t know that I tagged you too. (:

Comment from eatbees
Time: January 14, 2007, 22:35

Hey, I scored a “twofer”!!

Comment from Kenza
Time: January 14, 2007, 23:20

Hi eatbees and thanks for playing the game even though you hated it (sorry I didn’t know, I found it fun to do and just wanted to share :) )

as for your question woooo it is tough

I’ll try something but in french

La foi n’a jamais été quelque chose de 100% rationnel, quand on commence à croire à son universalité alors on la fixe, on la fige et elle ne peut plus vivre.

les croyances, la foi en quelque sorte doit rester libre de cette fixité, elle doit être confrontée aux doutes, aux autres croyances, aux différentes réalités et c’est juste de cette manière qu’elle peut ou se renforcer, ou évoluer ou mourire. Ceci dit lorsqu’elle reste figé comme une vérité universelle à ne plus discuté, elle pert sa notion de croyance et devient (du fait qu’elle ne découle pas de la rationnalité) une pseudo vérité que l’on subit et que l’on fait subir en lui enlevant ce qui en faisait la substance.

c’est toujours aussi interessant de te lire et puis merci de me compter parmi tes amis :)

Comment from Liosliath
Time: January 14, 2007, 23:52

Issues? Perhaps. I also can’t stand organizations like these – No, my parents weren’t missionaries, and I’ve never dated any, ew. OK, I’ve met one missionary I liked, but I think that was a fluke. (and it was a female roommate, not a romantic partner) Have YOU participated in any missionary activities, hm?

As for my own beliefs, I’m more of an agnostic theist than anything – simply because the existence of God can’t be proven. I see evidence of him every day, but it’s not scientific.

Comment from eatbees
Time: January 15, 2007, 00:28

@Kenza—”Hated” is too strong a word, of course. I enjoyed writing the “Five Truths” (like a Maoist manifesto) but you should know that I’m the kind of person who enjoys going against the crowd (that isn’t #6, many people know it). I didn’t own a pair of jeans until I was about 20 (that’s #6) for exactly that reason. You just got caught in the trap! No need to apologize, for you it was a pleasure.

@Liosliath—”Isreality”? I see your point, these people ARE icky. On the other hand, they can be fun to play with, like a cat plays with a mouse before killing it. I once invited two Mormon missionaries into my house, and turned the tables on them. “Have you ever read any Buddhist scriptures? The Baghavad Gita? There are so many great scriptures, it’s hard to know where to begin!” They soon realized they were in over their heads, and moved anxiously to the door.

Comment from Yahia
Time: January 15, 2007, 16:11

Well well, first thanks for your answer.
Now for mine, I’ll have to say the question is very very wide. Also, I don’t see what’s the point of asking it.
Maybe you should find out why you’re asking this to yourself before trying to aswer?

But for me anyways, I don’t believe in any universality (maybe I don’t _get_ the word as I should). I believe in one thing because I’m personally convinced with it. I stick with it, but — I believe — I am always open for discussion.

So finally, I think it’s possible to believe in sth when you don’t believe in its universality. Each human is unique, and because everything we think of, every choice or decision we make, it’s always guided by subjectivity.

Comment from eatbees
Time: January 15, 2007, 16:37

@Yahia — Just to be clear, this is not “my” question. I found it in the comments to a post by Nadia of Agadir, defending the humanity of a friend of hers who is gay. The commenter was saying that he believes being gay is against nature and against religion, and he asked his question rhetorically—meaning he already “knew” the answer. He was saying, “What is the point of my believing in the Qur’an if I don’t also believe it applies to everyone?”

I don’t agree with him. That’s why I put the question here, to see what others might have to say. I’m sorry if I didn’t make the context clear, so it came off as too general. It is really a question about imposing one’s “value system” on others. Should we condemn gays (or Muslims, or people who tell jokes) just because we, ourselves, wouldn’t do this? Can we still “believe” without trying to convince others?

Comment from Yahia
Time: January 15, 2007, 20:03

Aah! so say he talked about Coran…
I personally believe in the Coran because most of its facts are convincing, but have to admit that some things are still confusing in it, and don’t accept them as-is.
For the gay people, I think we shouldn’t, because one isn’t responsible for its genetics nor for its education whether received from his parents or external environment.
This takes us very deep Eatbees… All in all, I do believe in my ‘stuff’ without convincing others.
I also think that even two close persons, married why not, can have different beliefs and live with that.
What about you?

Comment from Liosliath
Time: January 15, 2007, 20:19

Hm, I like your killing analogy – I used to play with them, now they just sicken me. My father still tries to trick them sometimes – particularly Jehovah’s Witnesses that visit.

Comment from eatbees
Time: January 15, 2007, 21:49

@Yahia — Exactly! I like the Qur’an, I study it, I reflect on what it says. If something in it troubles me (why such angry language? why all the threats?) I try to understand it. I compare and contrast with other value systems, other beliefs. I think this is what God would want us to do. Isn’t this why we have intelligence?

I think creation is too diverse to say, “One rule for all times, all places, always the same way.” I trust God’s creation, which is always changing, always evolving, more than any book. If you want to know what God is thinking, go outside and look around! Life too beautiful, too miraculous, to fit in a book of rules.

To answer your last question, if we needed perfect agreement to live together, humans would have destroyed each other long ago!

Comment from Antibush
Time: February 12, 2007, 16:38

Bush goes ballistic about other countries being evil and dangerous, because they have weapons of mass destruction. But, he insists on building up even a more deadly supply of nuclear arms right here in the US. What do you think? Why has bush turned our country from a country of hope and prosperity to a country of belligerence and fear.
What happened to us, people? When did we become such lemmings?
We have lost friends and influenced no one. No wonder most of the world thinks we suck. Thanks to what george bush has done to our country during the past three years, we do!

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