The Art of Disagreeing: Climate Change

             I’m going to propose an audacious idea and disagree with popular held opinions on Climate Change. Hold your tomatoes and let me explain. Pope Francis came out last week with an Encyclical (Papal document) on the environment. First I want to say that I love that Pope Francis is talking about the environment! I love that he is addressing issues that are relevant to Christians and non-Christians! And I love that he is advocating for environmentalism and treating our planet better! I disagree with most scientific opinions about Climate Change, (which really is irrelevant to the point I want to make… maybe I just love to disagree?) I believe that the threat of climate change is propaganda to scare us all into being more Eco-friendly. Ok…. You can throw your tomatoes now….

               Now with that said, do I believe the planet is warming up? Yes. Do I believe that  human beings have contributed to the warming of the planet? Yes. Do I believe that we need to change as Pope Francis says and treat the earth with more respect? Yes. However, do I believe that the main cause of climate change is human beings? No. I believe there are too many other factors Involved to say that with certainty. I believe environmentalist and the media have hijacked our role in climate change, and exaggerated it in order to scare us into making us more Eco-friendly. I believe it is the similar to Y2K, Killer Bees, Ebola, H1N1, SARS, Islam after 9/11…. I could keep going. In all of these cases the media took a real threat and blew it up into something to scare the masses. Now I could go find some research that is contradictory to the popular scientific theory but we all know you can use statistics to prove anything, so I won’t. Besides that is not the point I want to make. 

            Here is my real problem, we need to be good to the environment out of love for it, not fear of it. I don’t like scare tactics, even if they are true. I think this is at the heart of what Pope Francis is saying and why he brings in love of the poor into the discussion. Catholic social teaching says that the means cannot be evil even if it leads us to a good end. Scaring people into doing the right thing is wrong. I also believe that it can have negative consequences in the future. What if the earth starts to cool down for unrelated reasons? Can we stop being environmentally friendly then since global warming is no longer an issue? No! Saving the environment is equally as important as our motive behind saving the environment. It is the equivalent of saying, “You have to have a personal relationship with Christ, or you’ll burn in Hell!” Sure you are getting someone to a good end (a relationship with Christ) but you are using an evil method to get to that good end. We can see that this has backfired and I believe it is a major reason so many people have left christian churches.

  
               The idea that we do “whatever it takes” to get people to do the right thing is utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is when we only see the results and ignore the method. It is the greatest pleasure for the most amount of people, with no regard to how you get there. If your family is starving would it be ethical to kill the baker and steal all his bread? Of course not because you are committing an evil act in order to do something good. Taken to its logical conclusion you could say that a room full of canibles would have a lot of pleasure if they ate one person, but since it would increase many peoples pleasure a lot and only decrease one persons pleasure a lot, they should eat him because that would give the most overall pleasure. If we do good acts with good intentions, we will get good results. Scaring people into environmentalism ensures that it will be a fad; that people will eventually stop caring about it because they will stop being afraid. 

           The bottom line is, the only reason to do the right thing is because it’s the right thing! Every other reason to do something leaves us bankrupt. If we do the right thing for any other reason, those reasons won’t last and we will stop doing the right thing. When our actions are based on a motive that it is right, we can be sure that what is right will never change.

  

Note: I’d just like to add that Pope Francis is basing his information on the popular opinion of scientists. I think this is a good idea since it is wise to trust scientific opinion (unlike me). I don’t condemn him at all for doing so. I personally just have a strong mistrust in modern academia, especially science, psychology or philosophy. So really it’s not the Pope that I am disagreeing with, he has every reason to trust scientific opinion as do all of you. 

Advertisements

Men are Victims of Feminism

            In my first blog I commented on the school dress code story that has been sweeping the Internet. I focused on how men and women need to be co-responsible for not letting either sex be treated as an object. Some people might take it that I was “victim-blaming” i.e. that I am blaming women for men’s lack of self-control. The argument I’d like to make this week is that men are also victims in this story. 

  • Point #1 – Men and Women Do Not Understand Each Other

          Women do not understand what it is like to be a man, just like a man doesn’t know what it’s like to be a woman. The same way that I, as a White man, don’t know what it’s like to be a black man. We can empathize, we can imagine, we can sympathize but we can never really perceive something from someone else’s perspective.

              I have a feeling I’ll be using this meme again….

  •  Point #2 – The Sexual Desire of Men

            Women do not know how easily men can be sexually aroused. You’ve probably heard that a mans sexual arousal works like a light switch, where it can come on very quickly and go from zero to a hundred in an instant. A woman’s sexual arousal needs to be warmed up slowly like an oven (or so I’ve heard, like I said earlier I’m not a woman so I don’t really know what it’s like). So a mans sexual arousal needs something to trigger it and then his thoughts can start to race without him realizing it or having any control over it. Next thing you know the switch has been flipped and we are sexually aroused which effects our mind in incredibly powerful ways. In the context of the current discussion, can a woman’s shoulder be sexually arousing to a man? Maybe not on its own, but it can be a trigger for sexual thoughts. For a man practicing purity and trying to refrain from having sexual thoughts, it can feel as if we are bombarded by sexuality and we feel like victims of our own sexual desires. The only way for a man to practice sexual purity is to be preventative, which is very challenging in a world of short skirts, yoga pants and bikinis!

  • Point #2 – Men as the Victims

            A man cannot control the stimulus around him. If a woman wears revealing clothing in front of even the most chaste man, he can’t help but notice and inadvertently have his sexual arousal awakened. A man cannot control this natural, instinctual sexual desire, as it is an impulse that stems from our evolution. Men are victims of a woman’s choice of clothing. Also, both women and men are victims of what society deems acceptable for a woman to wear and of the fashion industry that makes the clothing. If a man is trying hard to be chaste but has to look at a woman wearing a short skirt, the man is also a victim. A man is forced to look at a woman and the way the woman chooses to dress effects the man. We can’t put sunglasses on that protect us from seeing something that awakens our sexual desire. We are victims of women who choose to wear clothing that was made to sexually arouse us. Sometimes this may be intentional on the woman’s part, and sometimes it may not be. This however, doesn’t mean it is ok for men to objectify women or to look at them as a sexual object of use. Men are still responsible for what they do with these thoughts, i.e. whether they let them be a distraction in class or not. Also, needless to say, men are responsible for how they treat women. 

  • Point #3 – We are Both Victims of Lust

               When we stop holding sexual purity (both mental purity and physical purity) as a virtue we lose the right to get upset at men for sexualizing  women (or vice versa!). As a society we do not hold sexual purity as a virtue anymore. In fact we look at it in disgust, as an archaic way of viewing sexuality. Because lust is a social reality between men and women, it takes both men and women to deal with it. As I said in my earlier article, men and women are co-responsible for dealing with the issue of lust. The first step is to condemn lust and uphold sacrificial love. We can do this by reinstating purity and chastity as a virtue, rather than a hinderence to our sexual freedom. Both men and women are victims of a man’s sexual desire, and both of us play a part in combatting sexual objectification of women, you can’t put it all on the man.

A man can try to control his sexual thoughts as best he can and with a lot of practice, he can become quite good at it. This practice of chastity needs to be encouraged and celebrated, by both men and women so that more men are able to control their sexual desire. Then, let us also encourage and celebrate modesty in order to help form chastity and purity (especially in men). What we cannot do is antagonize the sexual impulse of a man, (either through women’s revealing attire, or porn, or Miley Cyrus music videos) and then get angry when that impulse does what it has been trained to do. We need to value control over sexual desire in all cases if we want men to control their sexual desire in the classroom or in the workplace. So let’s do this by promoting chastity and purity especially in young men, and modesty especially in young women. Let us condemn the things that lead both sexes into lust and objectification of each other.

Caitlyn Jenner, Bruce Jenner and Happiness

  

                   

         Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner has taken over social media by having a surgery to look like a woman and Jenner says this is what brings him/her happiness. So then why would Christians not want Jenner to be happy? Why do Christians always seem to try to stifle people’s happiness whether they be gay, or want to have sex outside marriage, or want to drink to excess, or make us be virtuous which is hard and takes effort with little pleasure? Are we Christians Hell-bent on making sure everyone is miserable? Do we want everyone to give up on happiness or maybe just realize happiness is actually an illusion (similar to what Buddhists believe)?

 
             I think we have to clearly define what we mean by happiness because this is the crux of our discussion. Typically when we discuss happiness we mean something emotional. For example, 

  1. Jenner wants to go from a man to looking like a woman because Jenner believes he/she will feel happier as a woman. 
  2. A young couple wants to have sex because it feels good not just physically but it also emotionally, we feel “in love”. 
  3. Getting drunk makes us feel good because we have less inhibitions and more confidence to do things or say things we usually wouldn’t, which makes us feel more free.            

All three of these are examples of happiness that are emotionally based in different ways. In all three cases we perceive ourselves differently and perceive the world around us differently. This perceived new confidence is what makes me use that very vague term “feel”. We feel good, we feel happy, we think the world is better and we are better. 

  
                The problem is these feelings are merely perception and not reality. In reality nothing much has changed. When you are drunk you are still you and the world doesn’t change. Anything you have the confidence to do drunk you could do sober but you simply choose not to. If you have sex you are still you and the world has not changed even though it may seem that things are different or that you are different. Jenner has not changed and the world around Jenner has not changed. People don’t want to condemn Jenner because, “now she is happy!” The question is for how long does this emotionally based happiness last? With alcohol you wake up with a hangover, with sex the feeling wears off and you want to have sex again. With Transgender surgery, well the same thing happens…

Long-Term Follow-Up of Transsexual Persons Undergoing Sex Reassignment Surgery: Cohort Study in Sweden

Conclusions

Persons with transsexualism, after sex reassignment, have considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behaviour, and psychiatric morbidity than the general population. Our findings suggest that sex reassignment, although alleviating gender dysphoria, may not suffice as treatment for transsexualism, and should inspire improved psychiatric and somatic care after sex reassignment for this patient group.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3043071/

             This is the conclusion of a scientific study that looked at people who have had transgender surgery in the long term. The study suggests “psychiatric and somatic care after sex reassignment surgery”, but what about before? It makes more sense that the problem is in the brain not the body.

             I believe Gender Identity Disorder is a real thing, and that it is very serious. However, I don’t believe the best solution is any kind of surgery. If someone feels that they are truly a bird deep down and wanted to graft feathers into their arms and fashion a beak to their face , would we let them? If someone wanted to cut off their limbs because they felt they were truly an amputee, should we chop them off? This may sound like a ridiculous analogy but BIID is a real disorder that was covered by the National Post.

Body integrity identity disorder (BIID, also referred to as amputee identity disorder[1]) is a psychological disorder wherein sufferers feel they would be happier living as an amputee. 

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transabled

The key to all this depends on our definition of happiness. If happiness is not the emotionally charged good feelings that we experience, then what is happiness? The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it nicely,

“The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for.”
– CCC 27

If we believe God is our ultimate happiness then no merely physical things will ever make us really feel any different, not alcohol, not sex and not surgery.

  
             I write this because I care about Bruce Jenner (and yes I’m going to call him Bruce now). He deserves to be happy, but not a superficial, fleeting, emotionally based happiness. He deserves to be truly happy, not just feel happy and I believe the only way for him to find that is to find God. I hope and pray that the journey he is on through this sex change thing eventually leads him back to God. I think one thing we have to remember as Christians is that just as physical appearance doesn’t define who you are, neither does the morality of your decisions. When we speak of Bruce Jenner, we must remember that he is on his own faith journey and that it is God’s job to draw Jenner to God. Some people need to do something that we may see clearly is completely wrong for them, but they need to in order to figure themselves out and find God. Let us focus on our own lives, our own relationship with God so that we may be able to find that true happiness and share it graciously with others, especially those who are unhappy.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

            With the discussion on dress codes in school, but more so with the larger rhetoric about “my body, my choice”, I’d like to express my opinion on the subject. The basic theme I continually hear suggests that “Men should be solely responsible for treating women with respect.” I’d like to start by saying men are responsible for treating women with respect, but not solely. A teacher in a classroom deserves respect from their students because of who they are i.e. a teacher. Women (and men) deserve respect because of who they are i.e. a person. However, when a teacher is in a classroom, although the teacher always deserves respect, they do not always get respect. If you saw a teacher who had a class out of control and the teacher just continued to teach as if they were all behaving, you would say that it is at least partially the teachers fault for not controlling the class. Of course we would think that the kids should behave and of course it is ultimately their fault for misbehaving, however we would also say “they’re just being kids and the teacher is not doing anything to help the situation.” What we mean by that is that it is in a kids nature to be loud and active if they are not being properly disciplined by an authority figure. Furthermore, it is the teacher’s responsibility to demand respect from the class. 

 

            Similarly, if a man looks lustfully at a woman it is ultimately his fault, but not solely his fault. It is in a man’s (and a woman’s) nature to see a member of the opposite sex as a sexual being, because… we all are sexual beings! As Saint John Paul II said in “Love and Responsibility” 

“Unfortunately man is not such a perfect being so that the sight of the body of a person, especially of a person of the other sex, awakens in him only a disinterested fondness that is followed by simple love for that person. Actually, what it also awakens is “desire,” i.e., a wish to “use” that is concentrated on the values of sexus while disregarding the essential value of the person. And this must be taken into account.”
– Karol Wojyla, “Love and Responsibility”

Since we are sexual beings, we must act accordingly. This means (both men and women) recognizing our sexuality as something very real and very powerful. 

  
            

         Therefore women DO have a responsibility to try to avoid awakening a man’s natural sexual desire by exploiting their own sexuality. Conversely, it is the man’s responsibility to keep his sexual desires in check (and vice versa!). What it really means is that men and women are co-responsible for respecting each others dignity. Being co-responsible is what equality is really about, which is why I cannot subscribe to most forms of Feminism. Recently it has felt as if the prominent form of Feminism that is taking over the media is the kind that blames men for everything and women don’t have to take any responsibility. I believe this is what the whole issue of dress codes in schools is really about. I (ironically) have no respect for a woman who paints FEMEN across her bare breasts and runs around screaming obscenities about how they want to be respected. I do have respect for a woman who uses her position of fame to speak her views civilly at the U.N. like Emma Watson did (even though I might disagree with some of her views). I have respect for Taylor Swift who said in an interview that she recognizes that the way she dresses has an influence on young impressionable girls. 

            If women want to be respected, if they want to be seen as a whole person and not simply a set of body parts, then they must demand respect from men. Demanding respect by taking more clothes off or starting a Facebook petition (because those always go somewhere…) is not what I am talking about. Demand respect by helping men respect you. Cover up parts of your body that might lead a man into looking at you only as a sexual object and not as a person. Don’t dangle a steak in front of a hungry lion and then get mad at the lion for desiring to eat the steak! Women, if you want to be seen for the beautiful person you are, for your personality, for what’s inside and for what is deeper than your physical appearance, then show that off instead of your body. I can’t promise every man will respect you, (some will never and that is a very important issue that needs to be dealt with) but the men who are real men, the men who matter will have the chance to see the deeper, more true you.