I chose the name of my blog, Simple Doubt, for reasons other than it was an available domain to purchase. It is meant to be the antithesis to the "child-like faith" mantra reverberated among the faithful. To have a simple, child-like faith, seems easy doesn't it? To me, it gives a vibe of an unfiltered zen-like bare-boneness that almost seems natural. Just as faith can be simple, doubt can be as well. We have all felt that prick of objection when hearing something weird, like when someone says Santa's Reindeer can fly because they eat magic corn. It is that fork in the road between objection, credulousness or something else. Simple doubt requires no leaps of faith, but allows for our natural instincts to decipher truth from error.
Believe it or not, I doubt more than just religion. I am highly skeptical of establishment or systematically organized anything, people
making extraordinary claims of any type, and unscientific Americans who have
simple answers to all of life's mysteries. I am sceptical of anyone claiming they are voting for god's candidate and extremely suspicious
of religiously-organized groups teaming with political parties. This has happened before and the result has never been non-murderous. I
jokingly tell my wife every now and again, that it is only a matter of
time before the church down that street kills me in the name of Jesus. I
just hope I don't joke myself into my worst nightmare and this actually happen.
I am also skeptical when an individual's solution to reduce national
debt and government spending sustainability is to cut "entitlements" for the poor and elderly; especially when these ideas are coming from
rich people. I don't think giving to the poor is what is sinking
America. I think wastefully bloated DOD programs and overpriced private projects
receiving government funds are deflating America's raft and stealing our paddle. I have formed my opinions from personal
experience and have seen the flagrant spending on both useless,
unmotivated, untrainable military personnel who fail to meet the lowest set
training standards day in and day out, and spending on ancient programs
formed out of the cold-war mentality. I was in the Air Force and was often
hand-selected to train fellow Airmen, so I have earned a right to this opinion.
I am also skeptical when the people who want to cut food, education
and help for the poor and less fortunate also claim to follow the
teachings of Jesus. I will focus on Jesus and the bible here, since he is the
"cornerstone" for the predominate religion of my culture. Here are some helpful reminders from famous versus claimed to be the words of Jesus:
"But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind." Luke 14:13 (ESV)
"Blessed are you who are poor, for yours in the kingdom of god." Luke 6:20 (ESV)
And a good one from Isaiah (Not Jesus):
"Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep
writing oppression, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and
that they may make the fatherless their prey." Isaiah 10:1-2 (ESV)
I'm gonna become a gospel thumping atheist for a second and give a
couple nuggets of golden truth. When I consider Jesus' words from
Matthew 22, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's" and the verses above I would
find it difficult to believe that Jesus would be voting to slice
precious money from the hands of desparate families needing to feed their
children - even though it is coming from a bloated government. Something
tells me Jesus wouldn't care. At my job I have heard the desperation in the
voices of many people who are disabled and cannot sustain employment - individuals who are losing their homes and living on the street. It
is at these times I realize there are entire lives behind the nine-digit social security numbers I deal with every day. Nine-digit numbers who have kids,
wives, homes and who are fighting homelessness and the bite of hunger all the while battling mental and physical illness.
I ride the bus to and from work every weekday and my initial
agitation from the longer commute has transformed into 2 1/2 hours of
religious experience every day. It is a time I can spend reading, thinking or just sitting and spacing out.
Last Thursday while waiting
for my bus outside my work, I was approached by a rugged-looking woman, who was
probably 55 or so. Her skin showed evidence of a hard life with probably some addiction in there somewhere. Her clothes were ripped and far
from what I would consider wearable. I don't know what her name was or
where she was coming from, but she told me she was going home and that she
always carried water to pour over her head on hot days. She asked me if I wanted some of her water and I declined; besides I was leaving a
place where we have the AC set to 72 degrees all day. If anything, I was content to have the sun warm me up a bit. She looked tired, and it
wasn't one-day tiredness either; her face showed a years-long tiredness - probably decades.
The bus was late that day, which allowed me to peer into this woman's
life for about 15 minutes. She didn't have the cleanest mouth. She
didn't seem to mind throwing in more than a few fucks, and shits and sons of
bitches in there. She mentioned that she wished there was some yard
work for her to do somewhere so she could get some food for dinner - man I
wished I had five bucks on me. The reality of her life hit me like a butt of a gun to the head. Realizing that no work was most likely not
going to find her that day, she said, "Oh well, I guess I'll just
starve." The bus finally came and she put in her few quarters and I swiped my 31 day pass. We didn't sit next to each other.
She got off at the next stop about a quarter mile up the road. I was a
little perplexed why she waited for the bus with me as long as she did, given that she was just on it for a minute or so. She might have just
wanted someone who wasn't going anywhere in a hurry to listen to her.
For some reason, I think that was worth the few quarters she paid to
ride. Right before she stepped off the bus she got my attention, waved
and said a loud "have a good evening!" I nodded.
It is eye-opening times like these that I am reminded of the poverty that exists behind the streets and in the alleys of our society; that there are people more vulnerable than myself struggling to survive. It is easy to become disconnected from the poor and view them as a degree or two lower than ourselves on the scale of humanity. I would never want to feel what a homeless person feels when one sitting in their cold A/C'ed car averts their gaze away from me - retreating back into their status bubble - that my problem is only as long as the red light.
I am more than confident that opponents of social programs that help
the poor could justify their position from scripture; pretty much
anything can, from slavery and racism, to love and community, you just have to
choose the right verses. The Tax Policy Center documents that the top
one percent of the population receives 23.9 percent of tax-expenditure
benefits. You don't even have to look into those numbers to know that something isn't right. To justify why this happens would sound very
much like explaining that the reason reindeer fly is because of magic
corn. It just doesn't make sense. I could understand if an untethered
materialist used every argument in the playbook to defund social
programs because he or she just wants more, but I can't seem to wrap my small
brain around someone who claims to be a christ-follower trying to defund poor subsides in favor of funding over-funded programs for the
Jesus was all about wining and dining with the poor, not about
forcing the poor to eat the crumbles that fall from their master's table. Call me a socialist, democrat, humanist, bleeding-heart or idealist
whatever. A little of each of these most likely make up my personal
pie. I am not ashamed to say we should help the poor over getting a new
fighter jet or new highway. I would rather work to get food into the
mouths of every person on the planet than argue why these people should just
get a job and stop leaching off 'Merica.
Of course we should
educate and equip poverty stricken individuals so they have the tools for
sustainable employment, but we still need to ensure they receive what they
need in the interim. It is what I would want one to do for me. Many times it isn't only the adults that are
sufferings to find employment or escape poverty, but the children of
these adults that are victims of their parent's ill fortune. To not
understand that poverty is inheritable and extremely difficult to
overcome is naive, but to think it is inescapable is lazy - there is a