Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Eight Facts

I am not much of a fan of the blog style of chain letters - the type that involve completing some task then assigning a number of other bloggers to do the same thing.

However, I had been tagged a few times to present 8 random facts about oneself. And, I thought that the exercise might be useful.

These are not actually random facts. They are things that I thought might provide a useful context to my writing. I have ignored most of the other rules as well.


(1) I have never believed in God . . . not really. I grew up with the attitude that back in ancient times people used to make up gods to explain things that they did not understand. However, we don't do that stuff any more. By 'we', I meant everybody. I was seriously of the opinion that nobody took this God stuff seriously. Rather, people pretended there was a God like they pretended their was a Santa Clause - because it was fun. Children have such wierd beliefs. When it came to "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance and "all men are created equal," I simply looked at the fact that the latter said that all men are created equal, and that the founders only meant white men. Obviously, they did not get everything right. Nobody believed that only white men were equal any more. Yet, that did not keep the Declaration of Independence from being important. Nobody needed to believe that humans were 'created' to be equal either. The core part of the Declaration . . . the important part . . . is the part that says, all . . . are . . . equal. That's all anybody needs to understand.

(2) When I was 11 years old, I found out how wrong I was about nobody taking this god stuff seriously. I had started a new school. It became known that I did not believe in God. I didn't think anybody really believed in God so I probably made some casual comment. Things instantly went sour. Friends came up to me to tell me that their parents would not let them hang around with me any more. The school bullies made me an instant target, and had the support of the school. For example, one day, I returned to my home room after recess, to find my desk tipped over and all of my belongings scattered about. This happened on a regular basis. I decided to prod the teacher into at least saying something and said, "Not again." The teacher then made a comment to the effect that the students shouldn't do this. The important thing to note is that the teacher was already in the room when I walked in to find my desk tipped and my stuff scattered around the floor.

(3) One ally that I had during this time was as much a fundamentalist as one could imagine. He was being subjected to the same treatment as I was, because he had epilepsy. He would have a seizure two or three times a week in school, so this made him the object of a lot of cruelty. He told me his beliefs, but never tried to convert me. During lunch in the cafeteria, he would give me the food he was not permitted to eat, and I would trade him what he could eat. One fortunate aspect of this relationship was that, at age 11, he was over 6' tall. So, he provided somewhat of a buffer against some of the violence. They would taunt him, but they never got too close.

(4) My parents required that I stop seeing this fundamentalist friend. Now that I am older, I think that they were aware that things were not going well with my life, and thought this friend was the cause. After all, I spent all of my time with him, and did not socialize with other children. Obeying my parents' prohibition meant that I had nobody to talk to.

(5) The worst of this brutality happened when I was 13. The city had a swimming pool 1 block from the Jr. High School, so for half of each school year 'physical education' class meant going to the pool every day. Sometimes, the teacher would give us free time. One day, the teacher announced free time just as I had finished my dive off the diving board. The result is that I was caught in the deep end of the pool by several of the students who had a habit of tormenting me. They said that they were going to baptize me and pushed me under. And they held me there. When I could not hold my breath any more, I screamed for help. However, screaming for help while being held under water doesn't carry very much. Fortunately, when the students saw all of the bubbles, they let me back to the surface. From that point on I pretty much hid from everybody - not by actually hiding, but by making myself inconspicuous - unnoticable.

(6) The only job I have ever been fired from was for reasons of ethics. I was working for a think tank. I was told to put things in a report that was not supported in any of the research I had done. Nothing contradicted it either. I refused to put the information in the report. They refused to continue to give me money.

(7) When I told my boss that I was going to go to graduate school to study moral philosophy, he offered me a raise of my regular income plus 15% of the gross to stay on and run the company. I refused. I wanted to go to graduate school and study moral philosophy, and no amount of money was going to keep me from that. I have thought about it a few times. If I had accepted the offer, I would likely be much wealther than I am today. Yet, to have had the money without the education - without the things I learned in graduate school - would still have been a much poorer life.

(8) One of my current past time is online role playing games. If there are any readers playing Lord of the Rings Onlinel, if you were to visit the Landoval server, you may encounter a halfling named Meadowlark. If you do, then stop by and say hello.

No comments: