Featured

Ode to Cpl. Carlton B. Jones

Mr. Ta-Nehisi Coates recently added a National Book Award to his MacArthur Foundation “genius” award given to him in gratitude for telling rich white folks what they want to hear: unlike all other former slaves and their descendants in the world and throughout history, being black is a “struggle” that “black bodies” cannot survive without their help and noblesse oblige. In his acceptance speech, he dedicated the award to his deceased friend Prince C. Jones, Jr. with whom he has much in common. They both lived a life of privilege with little struggle in life (except for the beatings that Mr. Coates received from his father that he then dished out to the other kids in the neighborhood and his teachers); received much family, emotional, material, and financial support from their extended family and numerous friends all of whom were college educated; received excellent educational opportunities from their parents and the American education system; and then received a free ride to college. Mr. Coates spent five years of that free ride engaging in sexual conquests and then having a child (but at least stayed and continues to live with the mother) but never graduating. Prince Jones ended seven years of that free ride not by finally graduating but by intentionally ramming his jeep — that his mommy bought for him — into what he knew to be an unmarked police car resulting in his being shot to death by the police officer in the car. Prince Jones left behind a baby mama and a daughter — another fatherless black family. Given that Mr. Jones was twice arrested for beating the mother of his child including once when she was 8 months pregnant, with the addition of the multi-million dollar civil settlement from the offending police department some good may come out of his death after all.

 

What the “journalist” Mr. Coates almost always leaves out of his story about his friend Mr. Prince Jones, that he left out of his book except in a one-line passing side comment, and that he left out and always leaves out except as a cursory side comment in all of his discussions about Mr. Jones, as the Washington Post was at least honest enough to admit, is: “Black Victim, Black Cop, Black County.” The officer that shot Mr. Jones, Cpl. Carlton B. Jones, was a “black body”, the term that Mr. Coates uses in his book to refer to himself, to his son, to Mr. Jones, and to others of his “tribe” or “race”, terms that he uses despite claiming that such terms are the product or source of racism (he cannot make up his mind which). Cpl. Jones worked for and was trained by the “black elite” of Prince George’s County. This is one of the many dishonest exclusions if not outright distortions of Mr. Coates’ polemics that caused me to write the book Between the World and Us and that caused me to continue on into this blog.

 

But, to whom should I dedicate this blog? At first, as an act of irony, I was going to dedicate it to Mr. Coates’ grandmother who “cleaned white folks’ houses” in the same way that my poor, immigrant, uneducated white mother did after coming to this country as a refugee from communist Yugoslavia and a life of peasant farming going back generations. After cleaning their houses while also cleaning tables at restaurants for a few years, my mother was able to get a night job as an office cleaning lady that eventually led to the attainment of the holy grail of working class work: a union job (cleaning offices as part of the SEIU). When I was a younger man that could cry, it would bring tears to my eyes when I thought of how little I saw her during my high school years. By the time I got home from school, she had already gone to work. When I got up in the morning, she was sleeping having not gotten home until 2 or 3AM from work. I still remember a few nights when I was awake in my bed and she would quietly open my door and peak in just to see me. To this day, I do not know why I did not say anything or greet her. It just did not seem to be the right thing to do at the time. God, if I had a time machine, I would change those moments. Her cleaning lady job put food on the table, paid the mortgage, and avoided welfare for us during the years that my father was disabled from his construction laborer job and only able to find part-time work when he found any. She was glad to have the job and was good at her job.

 

The same must be true for Mr. Coates’s grandmother. Her hard work resulted in great success: his whole family including his parents and his siblings, except for Mr. Coates, are college educated and well off and thus have succeeded in the American Dream that he ridicules (his siblings work as engineers, lawyers, and business owners as did his father and mother).

 

As is true of all social elite especially writers going all the way back to Aristotle, Mr. Coates looks down on the menial, physical work done by his grandmother as demeaning. It is good enough for the likes of the poor such as my mother but not for his “gem of purest ray serene” to “waste [her] sweetness on the desert air.” Pride in one’s work and respecting the work of others, including the hard physical work in which the vast majority of humanity has toiled and is toiling, is to be restricted to the creative work of such geniuses as Mr. Coates and is not to be granted working stiffs with no hope in the present but only in the future.

 

However, I rejected such irony because such dedication would not be fair to his grandmother. If his story about her is true, which I doubt given Mr. Coates’ tendency to distort reality, no doubt she appreciates and wants her privacy in the same way my mother does. Though being a cleaning lady supporting your family is honorable work that should be a source of strength, social support, and an individual sense of worth as all work should be, it really is miserable work.

 

No, my dedication should be and is to the forgotten soul in need of much empathy in the Prince Jones half-story told by Mr. Coates: Cpl. Carlton B. Jones. Mr. Coates as with the vast majority of pundits these days gets rich sitting in the stands watching the gladiators fight life’s battles and then criticizes their technique, tactics, and strategy — another one of the privileges of life in the United States granted to Mr. Coates. This is a privilege not given to workingmen and women, white or black. This was not a privilege given to Cpl. Jones.

 

As a workingman, Cpl. Jones joined both the Army Reserve and became a police officer because according to his deposition he was “inspired by the vision of racial harmony invoked by Martin Luther King, Jr.” As many a workingman did throughout United States history, he joined the military and gave the rest of society a blank check for his life to use as it saw fit to defend the Constitution of which Mr. Coates is always invoking its protection — though never willing to risk anything to protect it. Regardless of how naive this inspiration was, I admire the willingness to do it as I did and am grateful personally that he as a “black body” did so regardless of the overall or ultimate ethical nature of the military. Having grown up in a segregated working class neighborhood that defended itself against all it perceived to be a danger to the little its residents had, all strangers or outsiders both white and black ones, the military was my first opportunity to work with and become shipmates with a “black body.” He and all other “black bodies” who joined the military throughout the years and became trusted shipmates and comrades did and do much to reduce racism in this country, vastly more than either pretend intellectual elites such as Mr. Coates or pretend warriors such as the Malcolm X’s and Black Panthers of the world too busy concentrating on their struggles for personal power to be mates or comrades to anyone else. Though I am not a fan of police officers, I do understand and admire his inspiration to become a police officer to put the bad guys away and to fight for truth, justice, and the American way of life.

 

Unfortunately, as young idealists such as Cpl. Jones soon learn, it is not always clear who the bad guys are, and truth, justice, and the American way of life are not what Martin Luther King nor any other politician, white or black, makes them appear to be. As Clarence Darrow once said, “there is no justice in life, in or out of court.” As Mr. Coates’ journalism, books, and awards establish, truth is what those in power say is true — most of the time, in the world of the blind, the one-eyed man is not king but a danger to be eliminated. That aspect of the American way of life consisting of the High Noon image of a solitary peace officer standing up against the bad guys is an idealistic one but also a delusional one. As many a military veteran has learned and as Cpl. Jones learned the night that Prince Jones decided to ram him with his jeep, despite intense training, the facing of death and danger with rational reserve and then spitting in their faces sounds nice and looks cool on television, movies, and in the books by writers such as Mr. Coates who have never faced such a situation and most likely never will, but it is a completely different matter to face in reality. Facing what appears to be an attempt to kill by someone willing to kill is scary, especially the first time. If John Wayne or Russell Crowe faced Prince Jones on the night that Cpl. Jones did, perhaps they would have been able to transfer their screen persona into life and everyone would have survived completely unharmed. Based on my life experience, I doubt it. As many a man or woman in similar circumstances throughout history have done, Cpl. Jones got scared, could not think straight, and began to shoot wildly at his attacker. A mistake with which he must live for the rest of his life.

 

The undisputed fact about life is that if one tries to work, to do things in life, to actually fight the battle and problem that is life, one will make mistakes about which the critics such as Mr. Coates sitting in the stands watching can then critique, ridicule, write about, and be rewarded. However, my hat and dedication is to those in the arena fighting the battle that is life. Cpl. Jones seems to have disappeared from the county police department and I have not been able to locate him anywhere. No doubt, if he still is or ever was the idealist that his court deposition makes him appear to be, he is somewhere still suffering from the guilt of his mistake. He is doing so without the empathy of public sympathy but with the public humiliation of having his mistake constantly marketed and publicized by Mr. Coates so that he can sell books. Wherever he is, I wish him good hope. As a military veteran and thus as a warrior, he should not need and I hope he succeeds in dealing with his guilt without the publicity and public sympathy that Mr. Coates needs and craves. At least, as a fellow workingman, I hope that we are comrades in the never ending struggle with the powers-that-be that we are destined to lose — in this life at least.

Why does God hate the Poor: Who are the hated Poor? Part I

I need to step back a moment from the progression of this contemplation to clarify or define in some clear way who are the poor to whom I am referring so in case anyone reads these contemplations we are contemplating the same people. The only way I can make sure we have the same meaning of “the poor” is by exemplifying how I use that word and its usefulness to me. As I tried to clarify in other essays, though it is a good start to define the poor workers simply in terms of material poverty or as wage slaves, this is a very narrow view of reality. Many of the poor in the United States would be considered well-off materially in many other places in the world. Somewhere in the world, on average, every 15 seconds a child dies of preventable diseases including many resulting from malnutrition or contaminated food or water. Furthermore, qualitatively, as every historical study of the issue confirms, measuring relative to the material quantity or economies of their respective times or era, there is little material difference between the lives of workers stuck as wage slaves their whole lives in modern Technological Society and the lives of chattel slaves in past societies. It is still true as it has been true for much of the past millennia that 1% of the world still control approximately 80% of the world’s material wealth; we are all materially better off because the 100% is so much larger. There is still a lot of material and physical poverty in life but this concept of the poor is incomplete.

 

It is easy to start with a material definition of the poor, but it is a mistake to define or connote the poor solely in terms of material or physical poverty.  This type of definition relying completely on material poverty is not my definition nor is it the definition of Western theology when it says that we will always have the poor among us by which they mean both the materially poor and what they consider to be the spiritually poor. It is usually not even the definition used by atheists or other non-religious, at least not for those who have the empathy to go beyond their own delusional will-to-power to declare God dead so that they can replace Him with whatever new god they want to worship — because they lack the courage to rebel and reject God honestly. Good existential writers such as Kierkegaard, Camus, Dostoevsky, Herman Melville, and many other writers include among the poor those destined to have lives of powerless absurdity. Good existential writers are able to empathize with such a state of affairs. However, my concept of the poor is better brought out by considering how bad existential writers describe the lives of those who live in absurdity — bad existential writers such a Frederick Nietzsche and Jean-Paul Sartre and his girlfriend Simone de Beauvoir.

 
Consider the story of Nietzsche and the Turin horse. Supposedly toward the end of his life, Nietzsche was in Turin, Italy when he happened to see the driver of a horse drawn wagon whipping a horse to get it going. Nietzsche was so moved by this scene that he ran to the horse, hugged it around the neck, and started crying. His friends and family members had to physically force him from the horse; he had an emotional breakdown; and he then spent the remainder of his life in his mother’s apartment being cared after by his mother and his sister. The moral of this story according to the loving readers of Nietzsche is to establish what a sensitive person Nietzsche was and thus by implication show the subtlety and sensitivity of his writings and thus the subtlety and sensitivity of his loving readers. Yeah, right; why did not Nietzsche or his loving readers ever ask what happened to the horse and driver? Like Nietzsche, did they go on to spend the rest of their lives cared for by their mother? The movie Turin Horse by the Hungarian director Bela Tarr asks this question and his answer is they went to work and continued to work the rest of their lives. The driver and the workers are the poor of my question. Nietzsche and his loving ethically superior Dorian Gray worshipers are the rich.

 
Technological Society has replaced the horse by mechanical devices and thus has saved millions of horses from living a life of struggle serving humanity by denying them life since we no longer need horses. However, Technological Society did not do the same for the wagon driver; they are now Uber drivers and the struggle of life and class struggle continues as it must for history to continue.

 
Sartre in his Being and Nothingness describes inauthentic and authentic living as a dialectic of freedom. As an example of inauthentic or bad faith living, he describes a waiter who is “play acting” at being a waiter. He is not complaining the waiter is being too patronizing, phony, or fake such as being overly polite and flattering to get tips but is actually complaining that the waiter is being too good at being a waiter. According to Sartre, being a waiter is just a social construct. It is not really what anyone really is and one should not see their self-identity or identify as being a waiter. According to Sartre, identifying oneself as being a good waiter is an means to deny one’s freedom; it is a means to replace authentic self-identity with a social construct because one is afraid of the freedom to be whatever they want to be. Thus, finding meaning in life as a really good waiter is an inauthentic life.

 
For Sartre and for many of his existential followers, the waiter is denying his freedom by trying to become a social construct. What Sartre is actually exemplifying — as did his girlfriend Beauvoir — is “play acting” at being a philosopher. If the waiter had the luxury to do so, the waiter most likely would live authentically writing pretend philosophy books while sitting in cafes drinking wine with his other writer friends and his girlfriend ridiculing those who are trying to do their job of serving them as best they can. Problem is the waiter does not have that option, he must work for a living and see meaning in that work. The waiter is the poor; Sartre, his girlfriend, and their worshipers are God’s beloved.

 
As I contemplated in other essays, as Wittgenstein’s Private Language Argument brings out, there really is no such thing as self-identity defined by a private language of an individual person. Language is a social construct and thus once we leave areas of pragmatical truth such as science, all descriptions are social descriptions not private ones. The poor and the workers who are the poor in my question do not have a choice of “self-identity”; they are what society says they are. They can fight against their social identity and try to change it but it is a fight they will lose and must lose because they do not control the strategy, tactics, armament, or the field of battle. Society and those who rule it control those and must. The Powers are those who have the power to control what ought to be and what ought to be said about what ought to be. Sartre and others like him have the power to define the waiter as inauthentic, play acting, or whatever normative description they have the power to make; the waiter is stuck with what life gave him. The Powers construct their own social identity and then like Sartre look upon hoi polloi around them as cowards who lack the courage to live authentically after having defined what it means to live authentically.

 
Thanks to the material progress provided by science and technology, we are likely to reach a point in the foreseeable future where material and physical poverty will not exist. Everyone will have the basics necessary for materially and physically having a healthy individual life and perhaps with only robots instead of other humans as servants. This future will result from the past suffering of billions of dead souls — approximately 15 souls for each one of us presently living. Is such future happiness worth the price paid by those dead souls? As Camus and Dostoevsky specifically write, who would dare to assert that eternal happiness can compensate for a single moment of human suffering? The same question can be posed for human happiness in this life. These writers used the example of suffering babies and children and even of purely innocent beasts of burden such as donkeys, mules, and horses who from birth are destined to live lives of struggle for their human masters and then die a lonely death as the lonely animals they are. Dostoevsky’s description of a man beating a horse to death in Crime and Punishment and of the hunting dogs killing a child in his book The Brothers Karamazov are examples that are hard to forget. If these books are too long, try the short stories of George Orwell such A Hanging, Shooting an Elephant, and Makaresh dealing with real-life events that he witnessed. These fictions and stories pale in comparison to real-life tragedy such as the siege of Stalingrad. The Powers of this future will accept happiness based on such a price. More likely, just as social justice warriors do now, they will accept their happiness not upon unity with the past or with a sense of loyalty to their fifteen souls but upon a Dorian Gray sense of moral superiority condemning the past as if it was made up of human idiots and assuming they could have done much better.

 
Are the Powers-that-be willing to accept the massacre of innocents as the price to pay for their eternal happiness? Yes, they are. That is why they are the Powers-that-be. The Powers build their happiness upon the past even when condemning the past so as to control the future: to control what ought to be to make a world in their image. The poor are those that cannot accept such a deal or are not allowed to do so or not even given the choice to do so.

 
Do not get me wrong. I am not ridiculing such a future. Personally, the so-called dystopia of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is a better world than we have now and better than most of the world that I have seen during my life. Given a choice between being materially rich but spiritually poor or being materially poor but spiritually rich, in my experience most people that have known physical poverty would choose being physically rich over spiritual richness. The reality of life is that money can buy love and happiness both in this life and in the next, but on its own love will only get you hate as the love/hate coin flips. However, this brave new world of the future for which my ancestors and I have fought and struggled to achieve, is it really worth what it took to get there? Does not seem worth it right now. The price for ending physical and material poverty seems to be workers who have lost the will to fight and are viewed as inauthentic waiters by those who also lost the will to fight but do not need to fight.

 
This is the substance of the problem and the nature of the definition of being poor and hated by God. God so hates the poor that the rules of the card game are set so that either the poor must endure the absurd meaninglessness of no physical and material power over their lives or endure the meaninglessness of a lack of a will to power for their lives while the chosen few Powers-that-be enjoy both material and normative power not only over their lives but over the lives of the poor. For most of humanity, it is either material poverty or spiritual poverty. It is one or the other. This is free will? This is worse than no choice at all. In the future, the poor will be defined not by material poverty but by a poverty of will; it will still be poverty.

 
God can do whatever He wants. She is doing it. So why does it bother me? Is it really envy that is my problem as the Bible says in the Parable of the Workers? Is it what Nietzsche called resentment: the herd’s envy of their betters? Should I just accept my fate in life? This is the final issue that I must face in defining and clarifying who are the poor in my question of why does God hate the poor.

 

Why Does God Hate the Poor: Can God Hate?

Now that I have ontologically defined love and hate and have considered the option of living without either, what about God? Does He love, hate, or exist in a passionless existence without either?

 

God by ontological definition is the reason there is something instead of nothing. So the element of existing and continuing to exist must be present. If He were to hate Himself, there would have to be another reason why there is something instead of nothing and that would be God. So we are back to the ontological proof of God’s existence. As discussed earlier, as an omnipresent, omniscient, complete being, She exists by necessity and thus is Her own meaning. Therefore, She does satisfy the three elements of love but only nominally in the same way that She has a will as we discussed earlier. He has to love Himself in the same way He has to will His existence. He nominally wills and loves. Just as God wills by necessity as a source of something instead of nothing not in a human sense of willing or wanting something we lack, God ontologically must love Herself because She must. God cannot hate Herself as humans can and do. This means that She cannot be passionless. Even if God does not hate, there will always be self-love in God. The more interesting question is can He hate others. He cannot hate Himself, but what about the something that He has created?

If we are all just thoughts in the mind of God, as some idealist and the pantheistic philosopher Spinosa and many Ancient and Eastern philosophies say we are then we should all share and know of the self-love that God has. In which case, I would not be asking the question that I am asking. However, I am asking it, and it is clear that God loving Himself is not a love present in all living things, at least not in humans. God’s self-love seems to be present in animals and in non-human life because they do not commit suicide nor suffer consciousness and perception of a meaningless existence. So in nature, the natural world and non-human life seem to be a reflection of God’s love and always have God’s self-love whereas humans on the other hand not only can lack it and contemplate suicide but actually lose it and commit suicide.

 
As I stated earlier, we can contemplate self-love rationally because our individual existence is the only knowledge we have. I know I exist simply by existing; what else exists rationally requires evidence or proof. When we go beyond existential attributes of our existence, we start contemplating matters “whereof one cannot speak thereof one must be silent” however we cannot because these are important matters. I will try to do the best I can without becoming fiction or pure aesthetics by not abandoning the three classical rules of logic: identity, non-contradiction, and the excluded middle. To say that we cannot speak of something is a contradiction because we are speaking about it. Thus logic to a limited extent is able to speak about that which it cannot speak but only to a very limited extent as we have been contemplating. However, if this ontological language violates these basic rules of logic, then just as for other logical statements, the language cannot be knowledge ontologically or otherwise and we are getting into aesthetics.

 
Since God must love Himself, if we are really just thoughts in the mind of God, this love should be evident in all of us. It clearly is not. The reality is and it is factually undisputed that God hates certain people, in particular the poor, and that this hate even extends to animals and other creations while He loves others. In reality, it is factually undisputed that He prefers certain lives to exist, to continue existing, and to have meaning and thus loves them while others He hates. So as much as I admire Spinosa, we have to reject his pantheistic view of reality.

 
It seems in my initial card game analogy is more accurate than it appeared to be at first. Somehow God, the reason there is something instead of nothing, set up the cards, card table, antes, and players; got the game started; and now is sitting back outside the game watching to see how it all ends though He knows how it all ends. God does love nominally. Furthermore, since reality establishes that He does hate, God does hate but not Himself. Somehow God was able to create something and then remain outside of the something created. How can He do this? On this question, we have truly reached an issue whereof one cannot speak thereof one must be silent.

 

However, the answer of how He does hate does not matter to a question of why He hates the poor. He can and does.

 
The concept of the Trinity just as polytheism — breaking up the reason there is something instead of nothing into many reasons — might have been created by Christian theologians and the rational mind of the religious as a way to get around this essentially amoral nature of God. God knows He is amoral as He knows everything. In order to reach an understanding with His human creations, God becomes human so on and so forth and this requires a Holy Spirit to mediate between the two. Does this Trinity and polytheism generally help us in any way on this issue of God’s hate of the poor? Not really, hate for the poor is still hate for the poor, but I want to discuss this option as a side issue for a moment before I continue with my questioning and contemplation.

Why Does God Hate the Poor: Can God Love? Part III

As a result of our contemplation of the question of why does God hate the poor, we have been able to define love and to define hate. Self-love is an act of the will by which it states I want to exist; I want to continue existing; and I hope for meaning in my existence. Once meaning is found, love is the pursuit of that meaning, and it can negate the first two elements. Once we have self-love, we can love others or things: that is we want them to exist; to continue existing; and to have meaning in life. Hate is the opposite of love. Hate is an act of the will stating that someone or something should not exist; should not continue existing; and should not have meaning in life. In order to love others or things, one must first have self-love because our existence is the only certain existential knowledge, but self-love does not necessarily entail love of others or things. One can love oneself yet hate.

 
Does this result mean that living with love or hate are the only options for human life? Pull out one of the three elements of love and we no longer have love neither self-love nor love of others, but we do have something. We can continue to exist without love. The same is true for the elements of hate. Something of this existence can be seen in the character of Meursault in Albert Camus’s story The Stranger. This character has given up hope for meaning in life and, therefore, does not love either himself or others. At certain points of the story, he has given up on the second element of wanting to continue to exist and lives in the moment of existence. Thus, he is not bothered by the death of his mother nor by a murder he committed without thought and without hate nor about his own impending death. He does not have self-hate nor hatred of others. He does not go beyond the moment. He has neither love nor hate. He lives a life without passion we would say. It is an existence without passion. Many theologians say that such human existence is not possible: that he is the lukewarm of the New Testament. As Jesus said in the New Testament, “So then because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

 

It may be true that a Christian life without passion is not possible, but it is certainly possible for life overall. It is probably the way animals look at life, without love or hate of it, that is without passion. As long as Meursault is conscious and approves of his momentary existence — that is he is conscious and perceives what is necessary to live physically — he can continue to exist this loveless and hateless life. Such an existence in fact may make him closer to our God of the ontological proof than any loving or hateful human being would be. He has his own existence and is satisfied with it. This type of existence is what God is: Her existence is Her meaning. I have defined God as the reason there is something instead of nothing, but it may be that He is nothing more than that. The universe definitely exists in this way without need of meaning and without need of passion. By just existing with an indifference to all and to all he does, Meursault is more in one with the universe and more in one with the wholeness of the one or the oneness of the whole or whatever it is the Buddhists say than anyone who loves or hates. The problem with Meursault existing solely in the moment without passion of any kind is that his life cannot lead to love, morality, good, justice, or any normative statements. At the same time, however, it cannot lead to hate, immorality, evil, or injustice. Furthermore, this indifference has its own eternity:

Death is not an event in life: we do not live to experience death. If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present. Our life has no end in the way in which our visual field has no limits. — Ludwig Wittgenstein at §6.4311 of Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

 

Concepts such as morality and ethics only come into existence when we accept the second element of love by wanting to continue to exist, and thus we need to create social norms to give us power to protect our existence. Living in the moment, one would not need ethics. One would not need morality. One does not need love. One does really need anything except one’s own existence and the physical means to maintain it. There may still be the will to power, but that is an issue for another day. Both love and hate have three required elements. Pull any of these out and you no longer have love or hate. But, there is something. There is a passionless existence; it is an existence consisting solely of the individual and the will to exist. A passionless existence without love or hate is still an option for human existence.

 
But is it an option for God? In which one of these states does God exist: love, hate, or indifference? I have framed the question at hand as one of God hating the poor but if it turns out He cannot hate the poor because he does not hate, it seems that I may be asking a meaningless question. I do not think so. The facts of reality establish that God hates the poor regardless of what my ontological reasoning may imply because this may be a matter of which we cannot speak rationally. I will have to contemplate this issue further. For now, on the issue of humans living a life of indifference, I end with a quote from Buffy the Vampire Slayer made by Angelus during the time he lacked a soul:

Passion. It lies in all of us. Sleeping. Waiting. And though unwanted, unbidden, it will stir, open its jaws and howl.
It speaks to us, guides us. Passion rules us all, and we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments, the joy of love, the clarity of hatred, and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we’d know some kind of peace, but we would be hollow empty rooms, shuttered and dead. Without passion, we’d be truly dead.

Why Does God Hate the Poor: Can God Love? Part II

“The mind has a thousand eyes and the heart but one. If the light of the whole life dies, then love is done.” So goes the poem by Francis William Bourdillon. Yeah. Right. Love always gets the good press and hate the bad, but in reality, especially for the poor and working class, hate is often a much more useful tool for survival in life than love. If the love of the Powers-that-be had their way for me, I would still be in the Navy spending at least half my life at sea risking it for their safety. Or worse, I would be working as a janitor back in my hometown or somewhere else as a poor humble servant of God in society while they run around gathering as much power as they can for themselves, for their children, and in the end still go to heaven. Religion and the Powers-that-be love the powerless, weak, and oppressed as long as they stay powerless, weak, and oppressed. Rationally controlled anger, hate, aggression, and ambition usually do more to help one work out of the working class or out of poverty than love unless you are some type of a politician, prostitute, or other willing to sell your soul for money and power.

 
I recently saw a documentary about Bob Gibson, a great baseball pitcher from the 1960’s whom I remember when I was a kid as someone who pitched with anger and aggression and did not hesitate to use a beanball when a batter was crowding the plate thus creating a high intimidation factor with batters. He blames his anger on racism. Yeah. Whatever. Racism is as good a reason as any to hate. Even if that were true, then racism is the best thing that ever happened to him. Without the anger, aggression, and ambition to defeat the Powers that racism gave him — unlike those who accepted it peacefully and tried to change it with love by turning the other cheek — he would have been just another wannabe fastball pitcher playing in sandlots somewhere with millions of others — black, white, or whatever — with nowhere to go. Everyone playing baseball loves the game, it is the skilled hatred of losing that gets you into the major leagues. Anger, aggressiveness, and competitiveness are what gave Gibson the ability to make it and survive in the major leagues as it does for any professional player. Anger, aggressiveness, and competitiveness are each accepted as a good for the Powers-that-be and as a necessary attribute of successful capitalism but somehow these attributes are seen as an evil for the poor and the working class. They are supposed to be humble and accept their lot in life. Racism breeds hate, but the rationally controlled returned hate and the fear it creates in the Powers — just as with class struggle — can beat it and eliminate it by making the Powers who breed racism too scared to promote it.

 
So what is hate that it gives it such a bad rap? Now that we know what love is, defining hate should be easy. It is the opposite of love. Self-hate is wanting not to exist nor to continue existing and having no hope of meaning in that existence. Once all three of these elements come together plus the opportunity to put a bullet in your head or in the head of others, suicide will shortly follow unless one of these elements changes. Hating others is wanting them not to exist, for them to stop existing, or that there be no meaning for their existence.

 
No ambiguity here. Hate, unlike love, is not ambiguous but is very clear and provides clarity for life. It is this clarity that makes hate such a useful tool in trying to survive and battle the Powers, if one can control it: that is avoiding having the three elements of self-hatred come together to the point of suicide. Unlike love requiring that one love oneself before one can love others, hate allows for the option of living while loving oneself but hating others. It is a much more versatile tool than love. One can will to exist, will to continue existing, and hope and have meaning for one’s life and thus self-love while at the same time hating others: 1) willing that they do not exist; 2) that they do not continue existing; and 3) that they have no meaning for their life. In fact, hate of others could act as the meaning that provides the third element for one’s self-love. So for love, you must love yourself before you can love your neighbor. But for hate, there is no need to hate yourself before you can hate your neighbor. You can love yourself and yet hate others. Hate is one side of coin with love the other.

 
So can God love? Or, more importantly given our topic, can He hate? Before we go on to those issues, I want to deal with some ambiguity in my contemplation and contemplate whether there is a third option between love and hate: indifference or amorality to both.

Why Does God Hate the Poor: Can God Love? Part I

Our consciousness and perception of reality reveals that God hates the poor. Can He love them instead? Can God love? All Western religion including secular religions such as humanism state either and usually both that God is love ot that love is the greatest virtue. Do either of these popular statements withstand critical analytical examination? Not really. This hype about love, especially by religion, serves to keep the poor happy and the working class in their place.

 
In my reading of history — for that matter in any reading of history — love such as love of country, power, money, tribe, and even love of family and love of justice have caused much more evil and suffering in the world than hate. Hate has rational limits. Few, if anyone, would risk their life for hate. Almost all who have or who can love would risk their life and that of others and outright kill others for the love of whatever it is they love. Hate may make you a serial killer of 30 to 40 people but love will make you a patriot willing to kill three to four million. Love is not necessarily a good. That conclusion seems to depend on what you love. Love of power is supposedly bad. It is considered bad for the poor. The Powers love the poor and oppressed but only if they are willing to stay poor and oppressed. The Powers worship love of power as a good despite sometimes pretending otherwise. Regardless, love of power is what drives human culture because history is class struggle, so pragmatically love of power may be called the ultimate good in terms of human culture surviving the power of the natural world always trying to kill us. Capitalism at least admits it considers love of power a good — as long as there are equal opportunity and struggle among the Powers which there never is.

 
Loving your neighbor — now called “the Other” by secular religion that wants to hijack Christianity without the Christ — as you love yourself is supposedly a good but what about the first necessary premise of that command: love yourself? In order to love your neighbor, you must first love yourself since your existence is your only certainty. However, self-love seems to be one of the most harmful evils that has caused just as many atrocities as love of power if not more. Then again without self-love, humans would have died out millennia ago. The ability to love oneself blindly regardless of any faults and thus to have hope for a better life is what allows the poor and working class to survive its miseries and the ridicule of the Powers around them constantly trying to demean their life. Supposedly, according to women at least, love and sexual love are distinct and being addicted to the first is good but being addicted to the latter is bad. You will have to ask a female philosopher to explain that difference.

 
What a mess this love issue is. In order to determine if God can love, we must first define love. We must first see if we can ontologically define love especially insofar as that word is used in respect to God. Self-love just as consciousness and my existence is one of the few items in the fabric of knowledge that are ontologically certain; we either have it or do not. Thus, we can ontologically — not just pragmatically — rationally contemplate self-love. As long as we exist and are conscious, regardless of what skeptical reason may say, we know and perceive self-love otherwise we would commit suicide. The Commandment to love your neighbor as yourself is more of an attempt to get humans to reduce their self-love than to raise their love of others. There is no doubt as to the existence and strength of self-love, so I will start by contemplating and defining self-love to see through the cultural and social smokescreens created to make self-love a vice for the working class and to replace it with all sorts of hype such as God is love or love is life in order to keep the poor and working class in their place.

 
The most basic element and requirement of a person having a use and of the usefulness for the word love and thus its meaning in self-love are that the person wants to exist and wants to continue existing. Love is an act of will saying I want to exist and want to continue existing. This does not seem to do it though. If I want to exist living as a heroin addict on the streets of New York earning money by being a prostitute, the conclusion would not be that I love myself but the exact opposite: that I have self hate and am trying to destroy myself. Just wanting to exist would not give much meaning to the expression “love your neighbor as yourself”. If I want to live as a prisoner in North Korea and want the same for my fellow humans, again, the implication is that I neither love myself nor my neighbor. Love seems to demand more than just existence.

 
Our present United States culture would say that the additional element that self-love demands in order to be love is individual happiness: that we want or will a happy life for ourselves — we have hope. And, thus, when we love others, it also means that we want a happy life for them. This emphasis on happiness seems to be nonsense and a modern cultural phenomena. For much of the world, individual happiness is not a possibility. Never was and never will be. That is why we are asking the question that we are asking. Yet all these people that really have no hope for happiness in life are still able to love themselves and love others. There is more to life than happiness. My favorite example of this need that goes beyond happiness in life is expressed by the eight points of the Maltese Cross establishing the required moral standards for the Knights Templar: faith, repentance, humility, fairness, mercy, forthrightness, honesty, and suffering. Happiness is not in the list of elements for self-love by these warrior monks. Of course, these eight virtues only have power and meaning because the knights expected happiness in the afterlife after giving up on happiness in this life. So we are back to the point that perhaps this additional element is happiness or a want or hope for happiness.

 
Some philosophers, such as for example Thomas Aquinas, have in fact concluded happiness as a required element for love: love consists of a desire to exist, to continue existing, and to want happiness. Happiness for Aquinas consisted of an afterlife with God. So as to the elements that define self-love, can it be be defined as a desire to exist and to continue existing plus a hope for happiness?

 
I do not think so. The greatest love is the love of one who sacrifices their life for another such as the soldier who falls on the hand grenade to suffer the entire blast then dies so that others may live. This act of love most certainly did not demand a desire or hope for happiness in this life. It is not clear it demands or requires a hope or belief for a happy afterlife. In the ancient world, the Greeks believed in an afterlife that consisted not of an eternity of happiness with a loving God but with Hades — the word from which we get our word hell. A life after death for the Ancients was simply to exist in a peaceful sleep with one’s ancestors unaware of any past or future but just peace after a life of struggle and war. Despite such a dismal view (from out modern perspective) of the afterlife, this view did not stop the Greek warriors at the battle of Thermopylae from sacrificing their lives to try to save their neighbors. Actually, those so called pagans with their belief in a Hades apparently had more love for their neighbors than modern Christians have either for their God or for fellow Christians. The Ancients fought to save their neighbors. Modern Christians with barely a whimper allow the modern warrior religion of Islam to tramp around killing Christians so as to trample out Christianity.

 
So maybe the third element that defines love is not a desire for individual happiness but a desire for the happiness of others. This would make some sense and explain a lot because as rational beings we know that the individual dies and always will die. Any hope for humanity to continue must be for humanity to continue not for any individual to continue which is impossible. But, now we are reversing ourselves on the logic. Love of neighbor cannot come first and cannot define self-love. As even the Christian Commandment admits, in order to love your neighbor, you must first love yourself. Ontologically, we know this must be the case. We have to stay focused on the ontological nature of the knowledge we are seeking. I only have true knowledge of my own existence. Everything else could be a figment of God’s imagination as idealists argue.

 
Love of neighbor must start with love of self. In order to define love, we first have to define and understand what love of self is. So back to square one. Love of self we know involves at least wanting to exist and to continue existing — the desire to continue existing plus a desire for something more. The something more is the open issue. The something more is not only the final element that defines love but is also the element that from the social perspective makes it a good or an evil; and, in the case of self sacrifice love, it is able to negate the first two existential requirements of existing and to continue existing. The only characteristic that I can contemplate that would satisfy these purposes is meaning. Self-love is: 1) the will to exist; 2) the will to continue existing; 3) plus the hope that my existence has meaning. If I find a meaning for my existence, that hope becomes real instead of just being hope thus the first two elements can be negated and I can fall on the hand grenade to save my comrades as an act of love. To love our neighbor as ourselves is to want them to exist, to continue existing, and for their lives to have meaning. If we decide on what that meaning is, it can negate the first two existential requirements for love.

 
Further, just as finding a meaning for life will allow for our self sacrifice of our own life for that meaning, love will allow us to want to kill and actually to kill our neighbors as an act of love to maintain that meaning. Thus, ontologically, love is: 1) the will to exist; 2) the will to continue existing; 3) plus the will that our existence has meaning. Love of neighbor or love of money is all the same ontologically regardless of whether ethics or morality calls one good or the other evil. This definition may not be very romantic or live up to the hype that love seems to have in popular culture, but that does not make it any the less true or less powerful. It is powerful enough for a person to sacrifice their own life for others. It is also powerful enough for a person to sacrifice others for that love.

 
What about hate? What is hate? Before we decide whether God can love the poor, I want to go on to define hate and then also see if there is a third option just as there is with morality: can God be amoral? Is there an option between or outside of love and hate?

Why Does God Hate the Poor: Does He Will This Hate?

Why does God hate the poor? Does he will His hate of the poor?

 
Almost universally among continental philosophers, they see the human will as the driving force of human nature. Among many it is also the driving force and even the substance and essence of reality. For example, the idealism of Hegel with its dialectical logic of the spirit of history eventually became both the world concept of the fascists and the material class struggle of the communists. For Schopenhaurer, man’s will was the substance and driving force of reality. For Friedrich Nietzsche, it was the will to power that was a driving force of nature and humanity. Even the leap of faith that is the basis for Kierkegaard’s Christian theology was a leap of the will. Existentialism depends on the will to give meaning to the meaninglessness of the universe in which existence comes before essence. However, other than the concept of ethics, there is probably no word that is more distorted and practically meaningless in the working class perspective of life — which is the perspective of these essays and this blog.

 
The word “will” as it is usually used and for which it is useful and therefore as is its meaning cannot be applied to God. Theological talk treating the will of God and free will as if they were the same type of word is one of the biggest cons by theology on the poor and the working class. To will something requires one lacks it and wants it. God is omnipresent, all powerful, and the source of what there is instead of nothing. He needs nothing. He is complete and whole, always was, is, and will be. Therefore, this meaning of will cannot be applied to God as an omnipresent all-powerful being because She does not need anything.

 
“Will” however also describes wanting to continue. At least for the moment, I am alive and want to continue living instead of committing suicide. This existential reality is different from wanting something such as meaning for my existence: the will that leads to hope. As Friedrich Nietzsche said, hope is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man.

 
However, at least this concept of will involving only existence does not entail lacking something and therefore, at least in theory, can be applied to God. Or can it? If God exists and continues to will his existence, such implies that He could commit suicide by not willing to exist. Ontologically, this seems to be a possibility. God got the poker game of the universe going but do we need Her around any longer to continue its existence? He is the reason there is something instead of nothing, but now that there is something, does the something need Him to continue? The Dealer calls the game but can we now change the dealer?

 
We are forgetting in this paradox our philosophy of language reality and getting caught up in our own words. These questions ignore the ontology that we are talking about because they assume or imply God acting in time. We exist. We continue to will our existence. One day we may not exist. We exist in time. Time is our relative perception of the possibilities around us and their coming to life around us. God does not exist in time. He is omnipresent by the definition of the concept of God, that is why we have the ontological proof for Her existence. The something that is now includes time because we our conscious of it and perceive it and thus create changing relationships based on our needs, but God has no needs and is the source of time and therefore is outside of time. By the definition of God, if She existed in time then we would have to ask why is there this something god in time instead of nothing. That would lead us again by necessity to the reason there is something instead of nothing: God — outside of time. Time is a meaningless word when applied to God.

 
Everything is a “now” to the God of the ontological proof — there is no past or future. The concept of will only applies nominally to God in the sense that He is the reason there is something instead of nothing. He wills the something and continues it by definition. But this use of “will” is not will in the sense of a choice. A choice would mean that God has options between one thing or another, that He is incomplete in some way, that He exists in time in some way. Only incomplete beings have options or choices because they are incomplete. That is not ontologically possible for the concept of God. As the ontological proof goes, God is the perfect omnipotent omniscient originator of the universe, the reason why there is something instead of nothing. There is nothing God lacks requiring a will for it. God does not exist in time, so He cannot will existing now and not later or vice versa. Thus, whether He wills the poor and His hatred for them are meaningless questions that only apply nominally to the question we are asking. Nominally, God does will the poor and His hatred of them in the same way that He wills all creation: by necessity.

 
In summary, we have reached a point of having numerous answers. In our contemplation of the question of why God hates the poor, we know that God knows and thinks about the poor and His hatred for them in an analytical completely ontological sense and wills it in the sense that His will is also his existence and by necessity the existence of something instead of nothing. The poor and His hatred of them are a necessary part of the something for which He is the reason that exists. Also we have been able to conclude that neither justice, morality, ethics, or fairness bars such hatred of the poor. The poor and God’s hate of them exists necessarily but why? Why not love them necessarily?

 
Before we go further to answer the question of why, there is the question of hatred itself. What does hate mean? Does God hate in the same way we hate? Does God love in the same way we love? Could He love the poor instead of hating them and treating them in the way He does? These will be our final questions on this issue.

Why Does God Hate the Poor: Does He Know and Think About This Hate?

Why does God hate the poor? Does God know He hates the poor and does He think about it? As we contemplate the issue of God’s hate for the poor, you must continually remember and keep in mind what our concept is of God. It is the God of the ontological proof: God is the answer to the question of why there is something instead of nothing.

 
As shown by Descartes, other than the knowledge of our own existence while conscious of it and the ontological existence of God, we have no rational knowledge we can call truth as that word is classically and usually defined: knowledge about the world that is indisputable in all possible worlds. All rational truths are pragmatic and the word “true” is merely a “syncategorematic term” as called by the Scholastics as the philosopher Hilary Putnam sarcastically calls it. For example, saying “it is true the car is green” does nothing to the sentence “the car is green” other than allowing us to transition from talking about green cars to talking about sentences about green cars. Twentieth Century philosophy has successfully shown that the old distinction between synthetic and analytic truths in reason is no longer valid nor sound. All rational knowledge is ultimately synthetic. That is, its initial foundation is in our consciousness and perception plus our sense experience interaction with the world and our intentional synthesis of the struggle between these two forces.

 
This is even true of mathematics that used to be considered an example of undisputed analytical truth that is true in all possible worlds. Despite the protests of rationalists and idealists and of philosophers and most mathematicians who say they discover mathematical truth independently of the world, the reality is that no one discovers or has discovered mathematical truth a priori or simply by thinking about it without sense experience interaction with the world as a foundation for that discovery. Geometry came into being as a result of the need for ancient Egypt, Samaria, and other ancient cultures’ need to measure and describe land for tax and sale purposes. Algebra came into existence based on a need for traders on the spice routes to keep track of their accounts. Reason is a tool for solving perceived problems. Once this tool develops basic rules for solving problems, through induction and deduction or other logic, it can derive an infinite number of variations and inferences from those premise rules to become analytic knowledge or tautologies that are true in all possible worlds once the initial premises are accepted. But such does not change the initial synthetic nature of that knowledge that can change if the assumed premises are changed.

 
Reason is the mind’s tool for solving problems. Truth and knowledge only exist pragmatically. If a statement works to solve a problem, it is true until it stops working, at that point it becomes false. Scientific statements can only be proven false but never true. That is why they are scientific statements instead of statements in practically any other field that are never proven either true or false.

 
However, reason is not the only possible source for knowledge. We know it is not because reason contradicts itself when it makes a statement as I just have that it is absolutely true that all truth is relative. By stating such a conclusion, reason states there is absolute truth and contradicts itself. Reason, unless dealing with pragmatic truth, always winds up contradicting itself and therefore proves it cannot achieve knowledge of any truths other than pragmatic truths. We exist, therefore we think. Once we know we exist, then through the ontological nature of such existence we know God exists: a reason for there being something instead of nothing. What about God? Does He know things in the same way we do, purely by interaction with the world and the need to solve problems caused by that interaction? Does She exist, therefore She thinks? Does She reason to solve problems while thinking of Herself and while perceiving reality?

 
We cannot ontologically apply the meaning of the word consciousness to God in the same way that we apply it to ourselves or to the animal world or to any life. We are not a necessary being that is the reason for there being something instead of nothing. He is. God is. We exist, therefore we think, because we may not have existed before and we may not exist later. It is possible that we think while not conscious of existing. For example, we know there exists something we call subconscious thought that we cannot talk about. Is a misnomer to call it “subconscious thought”. Since we cannot talk about it, it is not really thought. Thought and language are the same thing. “When I think in words, I don’t have ‘meanings’ in my mind in addition to the verbal expressions, language itself is the vehicle of thought.” — Ludwig Wittgenstein. It is simply one of those things “whereof one cannot speak, one must be silent” of Wittgenstein. However, we never are silent and always try to talk about it anyway because it is so important in life. Without talk, we know it by action. It is often pragmatically better and faster than conscious thought, such as when athletes go into the zone and become the ball or whatever they are doing or when mathematicians come up with intuitive creative proofs out of apparent nothingness.

 
However, for us to know we exist, we must first exist. This is not the state of affairs of God. His existence and knowledge of His existence cannot be separated. Otherwise, He would be in the same position or in the same state of affairs as us and will need a reason for existing instead of not existing — which would be God. So for humans, the knowledge or absolute truth we have is that if we exist then we think, that is, the logical statement if a then b. For God, knowledge is simply the principle of identity. Existence equals thought, a = a. Unlike for us, in which all knowledge is synthetic, God’s knowledge and thought are all analytic.

 
The best way to view this problem is to go back to our earlier poker game example. Reality is a poker game in which God created the cards, bets, ante, game rules, and thus all the probabilities and created the players and then let things play out. In substance, He is not the game and does not control the outcome, though in essence He is the game because He can do or He can think all the probabilities and knows how the players will play and thus the winners and losers and the eventual outcome. The players are desperately trying to figure out what hands will be played but never can figure it all out. That is why life is a gamble. The players are in the game therefore they think synthetically. They induce and deduce to try to win as they are destined to try to do. Meanwhile, from the first ante, God standing outside the game knows every hand and outcome because He can analytically figure them out. He knows it all while simultaneously the entire time the players are ignorant of the outcome.

 

This concept is beautifully expressed in the prologue to the Gospel of John. “In the beginning was the Logos and the Logos was with God and the Logos was God.” Logos is the word from which we derive our word logic. In some translations, Logos is written down as “Word”, “Word” is used for Logos. Either way, whether you use Logos or Word, this prologue is consistent with our ontological proof for the existence of God and is a beautiful shorthand expression of it.

 
So does God know He hates the poor? Yes. Does God think about hating the poor? Yes, in the sense that He knows about everything. Knowledge and thought are the same with God, always analytic and tautological in the mind of God.

 
The next question is the Will of God, the Will of God is something that religion is always talking about. Does God will His hate for the poor?