Cruelty and Morality – Conscience #3

 

I am delighted that today will inflict ‘Conscience #3′ on you.

 

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The Invention of Hell

I know some of you believe Hell is a real place that has existed since time immemorial.  I don’t.  I believe Hell is a place invented by humans trying to make sense of an unfair and capricious world where seemingly bad people triumphed and good people met disaster too often.  How does it all even out?  There has to be a place that those bad people go after death to make it fair.  That place is hell.

Hell on Earth

Since those same moralists don’t actually know for certain that there is a hell as evil as they want, they make sure that those they hope are going there suffer along the way. There are of course the usual, time honored punishments of burning at the stake, drawn and quartered, etc.  But that is for one individual.  Far worse is when the moralists devise a hell on earth for an entire population.  There is the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide, the Armenian genocide,  the Cambodian Khmer Rouge regime, just to name a few from the past 100 years.

Why Do People Do This?

How does a person,  government or a whole nation justify something like this?  They justify it by saying these people deserve it because they are immoral and sinful, thus less human.  In their moralistic hunger they have rationalized the most barbaric behavior imaginable.

It’s not just in history and it’s not just in some foreign land. Being a self-righteous moralist, especially an uneducated and zealous one, is a very dangerous thing everywhere.  Look around you in your own life, watch for it. You will see it. And when you do I hope you stand up and fight it.

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Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman

Quote by Bertrand Russell, 1872-1970, British Philosopher

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“The infliction of a cruelty with a good conscience is a delight to moralists. That is why they invented Hell.”

Remembering and Forgetting to Remember – Conscience #2

 

Let’s be clear and don’t forget, today is day #2 of our Conscience series!

 

Forgetting to Remember - Conscience #2

 

The virtue of a bad memory

This morning I happened upon a Facebook post by a muse and friend of mine, Angela Huckeby.  This is what she wrote:

Tonight’s reflection:

Dates and anniversaries of sad occasions.

Sometimes I wonder if it is a coping mechanism that I have acquired after a few small tragedies, but I have no idea what date ANY of my family members passed away on… Or the dates of my divorces… And most days I can’t even remember the date of my second marriage.
Selective memory, I’m sure.
Seem odd? Probably.
The thing is, I have become a master at NOT dwelling on the past. I’m sure a little bit of dwelling can be healthy, but I see so many people in absolute heartache each year over the anniversary of anything that caused them pain.
What’s the purpose of such torture?
I see no point. Remember the joy and live and love in the now.

Where We Store the Big Mixing Bowl

Angela’s reflections show a different side to the virtue of a bad memory than the one mentioned by the quote author, Mark Twain.  He is humorously pointing out that it’s pretty convenient to forget our ‘sins’.  But Angela is telling us how beneficial it is to also forget our sorrow, pain, resentments, heartaches.  

Now, the truth is we don’t really forget them. What we do is put them away in the far back of a lower cabinet, as we do a big mixing bowl we only use once a year.

We know those things are there, we know we can feel them and remember them again if we want. But we have done our constant remembering, our wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth.  We are wrung out and gnashed out.  Now we know we can put the memories way out of the way and we won’t lose them.  We know we can bring them out if we ever need to.

Not a Sin Excuse

There is a peace in that. If you haven’t felt that peace, maybe there are some memories you need to store away. Not so you can excuse your ‘sin’ in the present, but so you can live and love in it.

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Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman

Quote by Mark Twain

Reflection by Angela Huckeby.  Angela and I became friends when she agreed to pose for my ‘Velveteen Women’ project back in 2011.  A four panel photo-collage with her as the subject was included in the exhibition at Living Arts in Tulsa in 2012.   Scroll down to see all four panels.

 

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Artist and Muse

 

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Short Short Stories From the Cemetery

The Super Hero

 

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Earlier during my cemetery walkabout, right as the sun went down, I happened upon a lone superhero starting her overnight vigil overlooking the city. She was strong and disciplined. I asked her how she got to be a superhero. She said she always wanted to be one and found that the local university had it as a major. She graduated in 3 years with a major in SuperHero Studies and a minor in Civil Engineering. Her day job is with the Army Corp of Engineers.

 

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The Zombie Pirate Queen

 

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During my cemetery visit I also met the Zombie Pirate Queen. She was desperately looking for something more to eat. I pointed her in the direction of downtown, telling her the bar scene was hopping there and she should find someone to her liking. She thanked me and ran off, but not before giving me her business card, telling me to let my wife know she sold Avon on the side and could give her a free makeover.

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The Night Ninja

 

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I was taking a leisurely midnight stroll around the cemetery when I saw Jack and the Night Ninja doing a bit of competitive grave robbing. I told them they could get a lot more work done if they worked cooperatively instead, which they did. In the end they made their deadline and planned to meet later at IHOP for breakfast.

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The Night Ninja skulked around me for a while after she was done grave robbing. She wanted to know why I was taking photographs and if I worked for the NSA. I told her no, but I was lying. I finally got her off my back when I gave her a coupon I had to Ulta and told her they had a 50% off sale on eyeliner.

 

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Unfortunately for the Night Ninja she never did get to have breakfast at IHOP with Jack. She instead met her demise at the hands of the Corpse bride who, in spite of being all in white, surprised the Night Ninja while she was checking her Snapchat. The Bride had just been left at the alter and hadn’t eaten all day so Night Ninja had an unfortunate end.

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Sally and Jack

 

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I met Sally in a corner of the cemetery where she was waiting for her blind date. She had been set up by her Sorority sister, Drusilla, with her younger brother. She was quite scared of being alone in the cemetery and was happy to know there were others around. When her date, Jack, showed up out of the dark, hand first, she got so scared she peed a little.

 

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Later in the evening I saw Sally and Jack enjoying a romantic moment sitting on a tomb.  Jack had a big smile but Sally was worried about finding a bathroom.

 

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The Lady in Black

 

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When I arrived at the cemetery she was the first person I came across.  But she said nothing, she just looked watched me as I passed.  Wherever I went, she was nearby, ever silent, ever watching.  After the night was over I finally got up the nerve to talk to her.  I asked her what she was doing in the cemetery.  She stared at me intently, never blinking and said, “I am your eternal witness that these events were real.”

 

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© 2014 Marty Coleman – All Rights Reserved

Buffers and Blinders – Conscience #1

 

It’s been weighing on my conscience to do a series on Conscience so here is #1

 

Conscience #1

 

Rationalizing

Some say humans would not be moral without God, that that is where our conscience comes from. I don’t tend to believe that, I think many non-believers are quite more and conscientious.  But I do think there is a basic understanding of right and wrong in most of us (barring mental illness for the most part) and that we know when we aren’t doing right.  We may quickly rationalize not doing right, after all most of organized humanity has rationalized incredibly immoral behavior, but deep down we know what we are doing is wrong.  

Guilty Before or After?

Not wrong enough to change mind you, but wrong enough that if you get caught you will immediately be repentant and contrite, apologizing profusely.  Yes, you are doing all that because you got caught, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t feeling the immorality of what you did. It’s just that the switch was turned on for you to feel that immorality without the buffers and blinders of your rationalization.

Where?

So, where does our conscience come from? Is it inherent or learned, from a God / spirit being or society or?

What do you think?

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Drawing by Marty Coleman

Quote by H. L. Mencken,  1880-1956, American journalist and critic

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CHiT|CHaT&11

 

Tonight I am going to be part of CHiTCHaT&11. It is a program put on twice a year by the Young Architects Forum of the AIA of Eastern Oklahoma.  The post care below explains how it works.

This is the reason I did the drawings on Architecture last week. I am showing them in my presentation.

 

CHiTCHaT postcard

 

I have been practicing my timing yesterday and today. Luckily the slides automatically advance so I don’t need to worry about going to long. I just need to work on fitting everything I want to say into 20 seconds per slide!

If you are out and about feel free to come by and sit in on our presentations!

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Here are the Architects and historians I’ve written about so far:

 

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Here are some of the products available from this presentation

 

 

 

 

 

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