Archive for September, 2008

Doctors and Lawyers

For the past several months, I’ve been somewhat intimate with lawyers on an almost daily basis. I remember being somewhat surprised at first that lawyers (at least in Israel) have a “lawyer”/”attorney” prefix to their name, quite exactly like doctors do.

So yeah, both of these professions are ancient, very respected, gods know it’s well paid (especially if you’re good) and most importantly, everyone, and I do mean everyone, needs them.

People are social and competetive, so they need lawyers.

People are aggregates of decaying biomass, so they need doctors.

There’s something amazingly platonic about these professions: If the slaughterhouse is closed, you go to a veggie restaurant. If you’re out of bread, you fix yourself a salad. There’s a variety of things we buy and consume that we can achieve in many, many ways, but the things lawyers and doctors give us have no substitute:

you cannot buy livelihood, you cannot buy life, you cannot buy justice.

But here you are paying a person to do his best to give you one of those.

There’s also one more thing that doctors and lawyers both do, but I bet that lawyers get a lot more training in it: they use inquiry and evidence.

Now, a bad doctor would simply have to spew out whatever textbook procedure he memorized and he probably saves a life. A lawyer isn’t that lucky.

Perhaps this reliance on inquiry is what makes doctors and lawyers be worthy of an honoring prefix: it is probably the most difficult job in the world, to constantly investigate and inquire and solve puzzles. These two both wade through the bogs of conflicting interests, hidden evidence, and most of all, their own limited intelligence.

Sure, there’s a lot of things that require talent and skill and hard work – but these things can be reproduced, especially hard work. Lawyers and doctors have to reinvent the wheel just a bit more every time they go to work. Every “product” they deliver is a complete work of art, a collection of their vast amount of knowledge and their inquisitive quest to get their job done.

A thing for Daddy

My relationship with father is similar to the relationship I had with mother when she was alive:

every day, I would do everything I could to stay away from him/her. I didn’t want to help, I didn’t want to talk, I just wanted to make the abrasion of responsibility to be as painless as it can be for today. The CODA duty is like water hitting a rock: it disintegrates you slowly and as you watch the cold water drop, you know that each one digests you one bit further to oblivion.

Dad went to a 4-day trip today with his girlfriend. The feeling I have now is not new. I used to feel the same when he and mom went to trips (obviously, I’m not feeling the same way towards his girlfriend). The thing I have for Dad for is that I love what he is, but I hate who he is. His personality is childish, annoying, manipulative, useless. But what he is, he is my father, he’s the helpless, puzzled giant who mirrored every helplessness I ever felt and into whom I reflected every fear I have ever had to endure:

I borrow his deafness and his stupidity and his inferiority because I feel deaf, stupid and inferior myself.

And when he goes away, I suddenly stop considering what a pain in the ass he is and immediately start swallowing the pill again that he’s just like me: self-serving, terrified, embarrassed about who he is and how he looks like and what he does,

and still shamelessly trying to make the best of it.

I got a thing for Daddy and it’s hardcore love. I can’t beat it with logic,

it always beats mine.

A new language is born

One of the things I find puzzling about Israel is that everybody in this country, or at least, the vast majority in this country use a language that a person practically made up about 150 years ago. This is a dazzling fact, but I think there’s something even more interesting underlying it.

It’s probably no secret that Jews have been using Hebrew for millenia, at least in prayer. We had religious commentators writing in Hebrew and Aramaic even during the middle ages, often in what appeared to be pure biblical Hebrew, although the language did not stay stagnant and apparently adapted to the times.

But still, until about 150 years ago, Jews have pretty much lost their native language and all Jews, of every part of the world, became, at least linguistically, native. Israel’s a hodgepodge of former speakers of Polish, German, French, English, Hungarian, Italian, Romanian, Russian, Arabic, Amharic (language spoken in Ethiopia), Persian, and more.

The interesting thing underlying this Babylon is that everyone ended up using the same language. Of course, practically every original language is still somewhat retained inside Israeli sub-cultures: Yiddish is still used within the ultra-orthodox communities, my girlfriend still uses Russian with her Moldavian parents, there’s a friend of mine who speaks fluent French and uses it to talk to both his father and his grandparents – but, and this is imporant, there was something quite unique that was born here, in this very century, that is basically a complete fabrication that I find amazing:

All Israelies, at least of former European descent, who are born in Israel, have the same accent. They sound the same when they use Hebrew, regardless to the fact that they may have retained their original language. A huge portion of the population is naturally bi-lingual, and amazingly enough, a lot of the bi-lingual individuals use a native accent in each language.

The true puzzle is, though, what exactly caused the generation of the true Israeli accent, this collective accent that was born in a country where most people didn’t understand each other until they all learnt together a language that some Jewish scholar invented 1.5 centuries ago. Was it a mainly Polish-Russian influence that caused it to be? A mixture of all languages? I vividly remember hearing tapes and radio from the 50’s and 60’s and everyone, obviously, was already mature and probably learnt Hebrew at a later stage in life – meaning that every single person had a different European accent (back in the 50’s, Jews in Israel were mostly former Europeans, the former Arabian Jews were just starting their return to Israel).

I think Israel, in this respect, is a fascinating linguistic experiment – an extremely heterogenous mixture of languages stirred in a country where the formal language is a rehash of an ancient language no one used for millenia that everyone has to study from scratch.

Pockets of Order

With much consideration to the tormented religious mind, I often contemplate what it means to think of our species, or life in general, as a pocket of order.

A lot of atheists who are into the evolution-creation debate probably know about the ancient and tired creationist argument about the second law of thermodynamics.

Now, I really can’t feel too comfortable talking about thermodynamics after I’ve interpreted and scribed for a deaf student who actually went to a TD course. There, I got a good glimpse of what thermodynamics actually is about and I wasn’t surprised to find out it doesn’t offer any evidence of any gods or creators.

But, I still have some idea of what this law is about, and I’ll put it out before this gets too messy:

the second law of thermodynamics talks about a quality or a physical entity called “entropy”. The thing really only makes sense physically if you take it into consideration with mechanical qualities in gases (although I bet the quality has some parallel in other phases as well). In short, entropy is just another variable in equations designed to predict the behavior of gases (that’s as far as I went in one semester, at least!).

The interesting part about the second law of TD is that it can be, in a not-entirely-figurative-way, a term used to denote a sense of disorder. That’s quite interesting, because it is actually a fact that in certain systems (ain’t going there), the amount of entropy always increases unless there’s some work/external energy or in English, “external factors” operating on the system. To put it in an example, if you take a low-entropy  gas and suddenly let it loose inside a large space/container, the atoms of the gas will, without interruption, aspire to become all messed up and pretty much evened-out throughout the space they’re situated in. The god of physics forgive me for the extremely loose and inaccurate description here. This can be called “disorder” because of a somewhat subjective definition for the word “order”, and in that case, I specifically remember what the professor said about “order”:

if you have a lot of ways of arranging a certain collection of atoms and, for some improbable reason (the improbable element plays a really important part here) – they tend to all arrange themselves in the same unlikely position – then the arrangement is considered ordered.

That said, order is nothing more than statistical euphamism designed to express improbable arrangements of matter in space.

The reason such arrangements, in the case of gases, for example, are improbable is because when there’s a large space for a collection of atoms to spread itself in, the energetic factors of each an every atom will always lead the atoms to be as evened out as possible as to minimize the amount of energy every atom has in accord to other atoms. This is just following a basic chemical and physical law: that atoms aspire to be in the lowest-energy conformation.  This is not some strange devil in nature that has strange whims – this is simply and observed and yet unrefuted reality – to be quickly discarded once refuted.

That puts even more subectivity to the term “order” – it means that the order we’re talking about follows from a definition of improbability based on our ignorance of situations in which matter does not follow the laws of physics that we know of. Order is nothing more than a convenient way of expressing a phenomenon in reality as we know it. There’s nothing about this term that means “special characteristics in life”. The “order” we have has nothing to do with the “order and discipline” that exists in, say, armies, goverment, police forces, etc. Even that “order” is nothing more than an abstraction to explain away certain obsreved patterns.

The reason I’m going through this whole caveat is because I’m fascinated with what this whole “order” thing really means: it means that us living creatures are doing something that is physically unlikely in a closed system. It is, of course, 100% likely in a non-closed system, in which tiny pockets of order are formed in an ocean of disorder.

My mind really starts sailing off when I try putting it into a more poetic use:

I think about the course of human history and the fact that even today, when there’s regulation books in the amazon river, civilization is still a tiny pocket of “order” in a messy sea of chaos. The order that exists in civilization is, of course, nothing like the order that exists in gas atoms. Actually, even though I didn’t go that far in the material, the TD professor said that things get really wobbly when you get the liquid and solid phases and eventually even to describe simple conditions, you need statistical physics to reach convenient approximations.

So it’s really stupid to actually draw evidence from thermodynamics to anything us humans do. Which is not what I’m doing in this post.

What I am doing is trying to make a poetic comparison between the two:

The order in our lives, expressed in the comfort that today and tomorrow are not going to be too drastically different from each other, the knowledge that it is quite unlikely for us to get killed or to lose a family member or a loved one, and that if something bad does happen to us, then someone’s going to pay for it.
Of course, even in the western world, it’s not like that. I’ve lost loved ones, I’ve had todays extremely different than their respective tomorrows, and sometimes life is indeed turbulent and unpredictable.

However, in many places in the world, even right now, people are whimpering in fear just like their animal counterparts in the wild. Women who are constantly raped know that it can happen again and no one’s going to help them. Men and children will be attacked, their family members will not be expected to survive – they live in a chaotic world with no rules or even a slight attempt to enforce them.

And I consider the kind of world I live in, with blogs and police forces and lawyers and imaginary lines in the sand that people actually do not cross to be as unlikely as a pocket of order. I consider it a rather striking simile that it is unlikely to have this kind of law and order anywhere in the world and it is much more likely to be utter chaos.

For the better part of human history, people have been obeying the laws of the jungle to survive. Of course, this has become much more refined in the modern world: people are not killed, they’re bought. People are not tortured into faith, they’re brainwashed or even simply tricked into faith – all for the personal gain of the leaders who perpetuate these faiths.

So the course of human history eventually bubbled enough steam and on the mountains of corpses of the past grew a world of smiling, fat, self-serving average folk who think they got the world by the balls and that everything’s going to be okay.

But this “okayness” is, again, something very unlikely. Like in TD, to perpetuate such “order”, you have to put in a lot of “work” into it. I consider the order that I enjoy so much to be the product of a lot of hard labor for a lot of people who want the same thing. It’s a win-win deal. In Israel, every person serves in the army for 3 years and that way we don’t get thrown into the ocean. In America, people pay taxes, obey the law, or are forced to obey the law by the hard work of the government and law enforcement agencies. The order is perpetuated by the muscle of those who desire it.

But the idea that this is a permanent situation is an illusion -we will always have to work to live in such a sheltering environment and we will always have to deal with the challenges the future brings to keep this “order” alive. This order could slip off our fingers any moment, any minute, and throw us into the dark ages. Our women raped, our men murdered, our children enslaved – the easiest way and the stupidest way to get personal gain out of other human beings is simply to steal them or remove them – and without working hard for a rational and moral humanity, that’s exactly what we’ll end up getting.

A very important question

Is Barack Obama a MUSLIN?

I’m just as shocked as you are.

“Intelligent Science” – part 2: Randomness? Not a chance.

In the link presented in the previous post, Eric Kemp argues in length why science and, well, reality itself – is a problem for atheism.

Eric starts off with a nice quote by Bertrand Russell, completely ignoring the fact that Russell is not “the prophet of atheism”, his opinions do not in any way define the opinion of all or of any atheist. I guess that as a member of a death cult that puts a magical godlike human (that would be Jesus Christ), there is some disposition in Eric to assume that all “followers of atheism” (a ridiculous idea by itself!) would follow the words of “one atheist prophet”.

Well, sorry, Eric, I’m an atheist, and I didn’t go to “Atheist church” to become one. I just read a few books. It’s a lot easier (and cheaper) than getting seminary indoctrination.

In any event, Eric writes and quotes Russell as follows:

The universe came about by random forces.  In fact, randomness can be the only thing that is assuredly true about the universe.  The famous atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell put it:

“Academic philophers, ever since the time of Permenides, have believed that the world is unity . . . The most fundamental of my intellectual beliefs is that this is rubbish.  I think the universe is all spots and jumps, without any unity, without continuity, without coherence or orderliness . . . Indeed there is little but prejudice and habit to be said for the view that there is a world at all.”  (The Scientific Outlook, pg. 98 )

Let’s suppose, for a minute, that Eric is correct. Bertrand Russell, or as we Atheists call him: “The Man”, believed that the universe was created by random forces. Okay, what of it? I don’t know much about Bertrand Russell. I gained my atheism without reading a single word he wrote. I just adopted a way of thinking that works in the real world – the scientific method. That said, I have never given randomness the revere that Eric casually attributes to me (and my fellow “atheist kin”!).

The only way I distinguish between randomness and causality is, well, as anyone who is sensible, atheist or not, does: it’s called “statistics”. And even before I learnt some formal statistics on my own (I’m actually only going to start doing a formal course in statistics this semester, so you could say that I have no “formal training” in it yet). But I digress.

In any event, I did learn about probability and chance. I know that certainty of causal connections between correlated events has to do with strong correlation. After a certain, and somewhat subjective “line in the sand” has been reached, correlated events become causally connected. If I drop a hundred apples and a hundred of them fall, then the fact that there’s a 100% correlation between dropping apples and apples falling leads me to believe that there’s a causal link between the two.

Now, regarding the universe, now we’re talking about a much simpler scenario. Since we’re only dealing (I mean us so darn-empiricist atheists) with visible events, let’s take a look at the event “the creation of the cosmos”.

No one was there during the creation of the cosmos, of course. But it is quite evident, since we all live in the universe, that the universe is here. Thus, as far as I’m concerned, the probability of the creation of the universe is 100%. It happened, either by creation by a God/Gods that hasn’t revealed himself (and has given me no reason to believe in Him/Her/Them) or by an accidental cosmic fart by some great majestic cosmic being that likes to play darts and sometimes has universes as flatulence.

In any event, the existence of the universe is proof that it didn’t come here by chance because, well, it’sout of all the universes that could have been created (one), there’s one visible that’s been created. That’s a 100% success rate for our universe. Go universe! /sarcasm (Yeah, this is just a joke, I know that this paragraph is pure bullshit :-P)

The important thing here is that Eric seems to misuse the term chance or to abuse it by not defining it well. Since the only thing we can do as far as statistics is concerned is use all the instances of universes created we’re able to spot (i.e, 1) and all the instances in which it could not (i.e, 0) – then we can assume that there’s 100% probability of the universe being created. That’s the only way you can use the term “chance”, and the reason I never used it this way is because it’s a ridiculous, stupid, pointless way of using it. It doesn’t offer any interesting insights about the universe. It also goes to show that I believe in the exact opposite of what Eric is talking about. Don’t let the Atheist inquisition know.

No, seriously, now. I can’t say and I refuse to say that the universe was or is a product of random chance or some divine or even a natural cause. I simply don’t know and this fact, in no way whatsoever, prevents me from being an atheist. Since any Abrahamic God failed to present itself, I can with 100% safety deny any of their existences. Of some unknown, un-identified cosmic creator puffing the universe into existence and leaving no observable traces of his existence – there can be only denial until this entity shows itself. The only thing I need in order to be an atheist is the lack of evidence for any God or Gods. I don’t need randomness and I don’t need “Cause”. This makes Eric’s entire post completely meaningless, as it attacks a ridiculous strawman.

The reason atheists (of the scientific inclination, anyway) believe in natural laws is because natural laws have been observed and are self-consistent. A lot more that can be said about any sky-fairy conjured by desert-tribes thousands of years ago. Or for that matter, Urban Greek scholars even more than 2000 years ago. None of these myths are consistent in any other way except for a plagiaristic kind of way. The natural truth, however, has always been consistent. Every single ancestor of mine may have never met any single ancestor of some Yang guy living in China as the 200th generation of his line. Every single one of us believed that the sun existed because it consistently presented itself every morning.

And such consistency is all I need to “believe” in science, and the lack of which is all I need to discredit any God.

On a much, much lighter note – WTF?

Okay, I know my job takes me to odd places at times, but this… THIS is just TOO FUCKED UP

I had to transcribe THIS PARTICULAR GOAT:

This guy’s mad as a spoon. I wonder what the fuck he’s on about. 😐

At least this is work I’m finally allowed to talk about.

The suicide attempt and 18 months of infedility

Growing with two debilitated parents, I’ve developed an enormous empathy, verging on admiration, of weakness. This is only natural when the people you first learn to depend on are people you, in a very real sense, can’t. Mom and Dad’s deafness has led me through life constantly reaffirming what I know, terrified of the next step, terrified of having no guidance, of having to guide the ones who are supposed to guide me.

This predicament had its upsides, too. Having an enormous dependency on fluency, literacy and maximal utilization of my mental faculties has led me to obsessively cultivate skills that every average person can if he’s pressed against the wall. It is a fact that I stubbornly reiterate to anyone who not only bothers to reach out to me, but to also exhibit admiration to my unusual skills – that I am not gifted in any way, I am not more intelligent, probably am less intelligent, and am not talented more than anyone else. It’s usually the other way around.

So I grew up with thick skin, I forced myself to learn, to train, to adapt to a reality in which I not only had to fight and fight on my own to make it in a hostile environment, I also had to look up for mom and dad. At some point in my life, being my parents’ son became more than just a burden, it became somewhat of a pathological neccessity.

When mom finally died, it came as something that was so mind-boggling and unacceptable after all those years of spitting blood to preserve her infirm, ever deteriorating body. When I finally went and looked at that corpse, something in me truly and potentially irreversably snapped:

I lived with mom and dad and managed to overcome more and more responsibilities, as they grew older and in mom’s case, sicker and sicker. But I never wavered, I persevered.

But when I was faced with mom’s corpse, my mind did a routine action: it tried to make it right.

And when I realized that this was a dead body and not something I could in any way change, that relentless, bullet-headed, infinite hope simply gave in. My entire moral backbone just snapped at once. When mom went, so did my ability to be of any use to anyone. I became, for more than 18 months, something that I never was:

I cared for nothing, I cared for no one. I was interested in two things: dying, and that day when I lost half of everything I had.

So I started detaching myself from friends, stopped caring for my commitments, I stopped feeling empathy, ceased honoring relationships. I betrayed and doublecrossed and squeezed everyone’s ability to adhere to me on the basis of the man I was until I was left with almost nothing, and then:

I turned to hurt, in ways unimaginable, the person I cared about the most.

At that point, I quit college, closed myself in my room and realized that the tiring quest of liquidating everything I had is almost complete. At that point, I took an overdose of pills, ran away into a place no one could find me in and waited.

Lying on the sand gave me some time to think. I knew that if the overdose won’t kill me, I’ll simply have to find more intricate ways of ensuring my death. By that time, I was truly willing to die. I lost all my friends, the person I loved the most hated me, and my dad truly gave up, he couldn’t see his son dying anymore, especially not after looking up to me all those years, using me as ears and protection.

After a few hours I came back home, the pills didn’t kill, although they made me feel horrible for a few weeks. It was a failed attempt, but a damn good one. In the following weeks, while my family rushed me to a psych ward (where I was diagnosed with PTSD), I spent time researching a clean, clear-cut means of killing myself, and this was undergoing serious planning until something rather strange happened that suddenly, somehow, jerked my entire twisted mentality back to where it was the day before mom died. I called it “the Efes”, or “zero” in Hebrew. Because it was an event that was so powerful that it felt as though something that was born on April 1st, 2007, when Mom died, was completely destroyed.

After I started having panic attacks about a few days after the funeral, I started recieving prescribed anxiolytics. One of the drugs I recieved was an anti-psychotic called “Resperidal”. Resperidal had the quality of pacifying the body so violently that taking it sometimes led me into self-induced, 20-hour long comas. It also had the rather nasty side-effect of producing a rather horrible panic attack as soon as I woke up. The scariest part about Resperidal is that when I actually woke up and panicked, it wasn’t because of Mom or being afraid to lose my girlfriend or Dad or anything. It was pure, unadulterated fear. It’s as though somehow the drug managed to put every single nerve in my body on a stretch and cause me to feel terrified because of something I cannot identify. It was a chemical ghost, terrifying, invisible, incapacitating.

Then one evening, about a week or so before I planned to perform a much more elaborate suicide, I had a severe, mind shattering panic attack. It was so intense and so powerful that I had lost all capacity of judgment and simply took every anxiolytic I had. I simply didn’t care – I just wanted it to stop. So, what actually happened is that I took about eightfold the standard dose of Resperidal, which shut me down like a steel hammer.

When I woke up, I woke up in Hell. I woke up delusional and horrified. That burning sensation of fear that follows taking one dose of Resperidal was powered up until the sensation of dread became so intense, that I began hallucinating. I’ve never experienced true delusions before, since I never took drugs or had any mental illnesses. I saw darkness in a lit room. It was as though everything I’ve seen was somehow dying and fading away. For the first time in more than a year, I couldn’t even panic, I simply started sobbing hysterically as soon as I understood that I’m awake.

Since my dad’s deaf, he couldn’t hear anything coming out of my room,  so basically, during that time, I was crying hysterically for, I’m not sure, about 6 hours straight, much of that time my dad being in the other room. I remember a dark light becoming darker, so I assume that morning and noon came and became evening and night. At one point or another I began feeling sure that Einat’s dead. I started calling her name and signing it over and over. At some point my dad came to my room and saw what was happening. I know this because he’d told me that I signed him insane things. I also remember being sure that he was standing next to me in the hospital.

At one point, even though it was dark, dad noticed I was signing Einat’s name over and over again, so he told me to talk to her or meet with her. I don’t know if dad eventually brought her up to her computer or she just happened to be around, but after all those hours of hysterical, manic sobbing and delusions, Einat got online. When she appeared, I wrote to her that I can’t live without her now that she’s dead. She was, obviously, baffled by this and turned on her webcam to rather bluntly show me that she isn’t, in fact, dead.

And then something very strange happened. When I saw her beautiful, pristine, perfect face, it all fit together. When I saw her smiling at me, after all I’ve done to her, after all the pain and anguish I felt that day, something snapped backwards.  It was the experience of feeling so horrible, so unimaginably bad, to “boil” emotionally in the same way I did in the hours before mom finally died and this time – with a different “ending”, that’s clicked my incapacitated mind into place. This time, the pain and misery was pure, it wasn’t a result of bottled up horror at the proposition of a vital person’s death – it was completely custom-made terror. This time – instead of losing the person I loved, I got her back.

So when I saw her face and her smile, something undescribable, an eternal noonday demon, a face in the dark that never turned away – simply disappeared. It was like having an arrow stuck inside of me and feeling the agony of the wound without ever dying, and somehow, at that moment, someone just pulled the arrow out of me.

Ever since that day, I ceased, not gradually, but abruptly and completely, to have panic attacks. I stopped feeling terrified, hopeless, weak, pointless. I felt exactly as I did when mom was alive, except that she isn’t and wasn’t. I came back.

Of course, ever since then I’ve been building it all up from scratch, but at least Einat’s by my side. I got back to training, got re-admitted to college, majoring this time not only in Biology, but also in Israeli Sign Language. I started to rebuild.

Epilogue:

Up to this day, I got a steady income, school’s in a month from now, I write, train and am taking care of dad again. It’s lonely “up here”, since I really did ditch all of my friends and there’s no one left besides Einat, amazingly, since I hurt her the most. Even so, I feel the same elevation as I’ve always had being the son of Mom and Dad – that being weak and outnumbered, alone and ignorant – is a lure to fight and an invitation to fight harder and to reap greater rewards.

It is true that there is much to rebuild, even after all I’ve accomplished since the Efes, but after all of this – I know that I will never be broken in that way again. I will never allow something to turn me into a traitor, a criminal, a shadow of a man.

Not everyone gets a second chance.

A human tragedy

Lady Justice in bronze

Lady Justice in bronze

Last night I was working on a transcript of a another serious crime. The Israeli court of law, probably like most courts of law, deals with various types of crimes and usually handles them differently. This particular crime is the second severe crime that I was to “witness” as a scribe.

The first time I worked on a serious offense left me digusted and shocked at the evil that humans are capable of, and the ability of lawyers to defend even the most vile criminals.

This second case intrigued me because of a much more depressing reason.

Like I said, I could lose my job and be prosecuted if I actually write about what happened, but fortunately, the actual event is of no consequence to the conclusion I drew out of it.

Firstly, I want to note that this particular crime is so heinous that I wouldn’t be able to talk about it with the soft-hearted anyway, and I ain’t sure about the “hard-hearted” either. The really bowel-churning thing about this case, however, is really not the actual crime.

Let’s put it like this:

Human beings are amalgams of emotion. Sometimes we find ourselves incapable of controlling our emotions, sometimes we find ourselves incapable of thinking straight because our emotions cloud our judgment, make us hesitate too long or in some cases, push us to make rash decisions and act recklessly.

This is only human. I can easily forgive a word said in anger but I will never forgive a cold-hearted sin. Human emotions are often good enough an excuse for me, especially when they cannot be controlled and are the result of external factors. If someone has a shitty day and takes it out on me a bit, I recoil, and completely ignore the unwarranted personal attack. People sometimes need our help the most when they’re being nasty to everyone.

That said, the tragedy I wish to write about in this post is the fact that it doesn’t, in fact, require people to be evil in order of them to do evil things. I see “evil” people, disregarding the somewhat subjective and complicated definition of the word, as people who perform evil deeds without a hint of guilt. With malice, with an utterly greedy and self-centered motive and with unhindered intent.

These are people who have, for some reason, made the decision long ago to take what’s not theirs from people who can’t defend themselves or what they own. These people do not see themselves as evil. They see themselves as smart enough to know how to get richer on the expense of those who can’t keep their wealth.

The case I painstakingly transcribed yesterday was not about such people. In fact, it doesn’t even matter which side was “right” on the subject, because in any case, the assailant was this particular brand of “evil-doer” that I’m lamenting about here. There was a crime that was committed not because a person was evil. In fact, the person committing the crime was probably a good person, by any definition of the word.

The truly tragic element in this whole wretched story is the fact that powerful, innate, and incontrollable emotions held the people involved hostage, and twisted their minds and eventually, their actions, in such catastrophic measures as to motivate them towards doing horrible things to each other.

Love, for example, is an emotion that is sometimes so powerful, it can backfire on either side of a loving relationship when things go awry, as they sometimes do. In cases like this, perfectly normal people are perpetrators of a crime.  (in this case, I will disclose that a large number of character witnesses were shocked at what happened and testified in court that the people involved are not the kind of people who’d they ever thought will be)

The truly amazing thing is that it is even a fact that in this particular case, the aggressor had no prior criminal record. This is a case of something that erupted with volcanic fervor simply because of bottled up, incontrollable, and most importantly, human emotions.

The conclusion from this case is that no matter how good you are, no matter how loving, caring, gentle, thoughtful and peaceful you may be, you are subject to the same emotional constraints that every human being is subjected to. Because of that, every man is a potential criminal. Every man can be shaken up so bad as to do horrible deeds he will later live his entire life to regret. I should know.

I remember constantly reminding and reiterating to myself throughout the script that I am NOT like this. That I will never inflict such violence on anyone, no matter what provocations I will have to endure or what kind of emotional torture will motivate me towards acts of anger and violence.

But at the end of this horrible case, I figured that I truly don’t know. When mom died last year, I did some horrible things to everyone I cared about (and some people I didn’t care about) simply because I was bottling up emotions and was suffering so bad from PTSD that I was completely powerless to stop my journey of self-destruction. My escape of self-destruction, actually, is still somewhat of a miracle. I might write a post about that some day.

At the end of this case I figured that no one can really tell what’s his breaking point. No one can really tell what kind of pressure can be applied in order of which to make a person like him or herself become violent, become a thief, become evil. There might be a certain emotional volume in every person that will deluge his senses with grief and anger in a way as to transform a perfectly sensible, good person into a thief or a killer, and this is a fact that I found truly troubling about this entire case.

That there are evil people and evil deeds happening in the world is not particularly new to me, and even though this crime was heinous, I’ve heard, read and witnesses evil enough to swallow the information without much emotional contusions. The truly heartsinking element to this story is that yes, for some given value of emotional torment: It could have been me doing the crime, it could have been everyone.

So the moral of this tragedy is that perhaps it is best to prepare for times that test us and specifically, test our limits. We must constantly remind ourselves that regardless of a possible turmoil – whether it is the infliction, even of death, of someone we love, be it betrayel and acts of aggression, physical or not, by someone who hold most precious – we must never reduce ourselves to violent beasts. Traitors are to be scorned and neglected. Killers are to be subdued and are to receive due trial.

But we must never let the beast take over, because once that wall breaks down, it all breaks down, and eventually we’re going to look at the mirror after we’ve turned into the unimaginable and see a monster staring back at us.

Welcomed to the Atheist Blogroll – annoucement

I have recently been added to the atheist blogroll. Before I’ll write a tiny snippet of my own about this blog’s addition to the blogroll, I want to paste the annoucement Mojoey graciously proposed here:

Obsessed With Reality has been added to The Atheist Blogroll. You can see the blogroll in my sidebar. The Atheist blogroll is a community building service provided free of charge to Atheist bloggers from around the world. If you would like to join, visit Mojoey at Deep Thoughts for more information.

So, first of all – if any Atheist bloggers happened to read this blog (it’s less than a month old, so I doubt it there’s much readership here) – I highly recommend adding yourself to the Atheist blogroll. I’m frankly honored to be a part of such a community and I’ll probably be sniffing around the atheist blogosphere a lot from now on.

Second, I should probably write a page, and not a post, about what this blog is actually about. It’s apparent in some posts and in the “about me” page that this blog is about Atheism, but frankly – it’s not just about Atheism. This blog will be full of favourite bits of Biology, dealings with creationism, both in Israel and abroad, science in general (and as I wrote, biology in particular), a lot about the deaf culture, particularly the Israeli deaf culture (this is probably not going to be a huge nexus of interest for the atheist blogroll, but it is a personal issue for me) – and probably an occasional post about martial arts, a field I have been occupying in for more than a decade.

I’m a bit busy with work right now, but I’m going to put some effort into writing a proper post/page about the subject, and I should also try and figure out how exactly do I insert the blogroll in my sidebar – for now, I’m just going to put a link to the blogroll until I figure out how to use a more sophisticated widget.

Cheers, and here’s one for rationality, reason, and most importantly – the freedom of thought.

No Gods, no Masters.

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