A Human Being is Not a Belief

Gorgeous spring day. Santa Monica. A temperate 70 degrees. The sun warm, not hot.

You spot an ice cream shop, and, though you weren’t thinking about it an instant before, it’s like a sign from the universe. There are a lot of things that could make this rare day of relaxation better, but, until you see it, you don’t realize how butter pecan in a chocolate-dipped waffle cone is at the top of that list.

Go toward it, You. Seize that ice cream.

No, stop!

You hear the cry, but a second too late. Spinning around, you see the cable snap loose from a ride on the pier. The riders are safe. You, though, you are seriously in the path of destruction. Dodging, you manage to spare yourself the worst of it, but you still feel the thick steel cut through your leg just above your knee.

Down, you go. There is no way you can walk like that. Gaping wound all the way to the bone, you are fully dependent upon others, and there are plenty of people gathering around, most to gawk, but a few brave souls do come near. Having to avert their eyes from the meatfest that is your injury, though, no one is willing to do more than dial 9-1-1.

“Out of the way,” you hear someone shout. “Let me through.”

‘Oh, thank God,’ you think, ‘it’s a doctor.’

When, at last, the man clears the crowd, though, he is not the doctor of your dreams, but the doctor of your nightmares.

“What in the hell are you doing with those?” Your gaze blurs as you look from the thick leather belt in one of his hands to the hacksaw in the other.

“I’ve seen this before,” the man says. “Dirty metal. You’re lower leg is already infected. If it spreads to your upper body, you’ll die. I’m going to stop the blood flow and take the leg off.”

Obviously, this is not the news you’d like to hear.

“Are you a doctor?” you ask with dismay.

“I believe I am,” the man responds.

“Wait. You believe you are, or you are?”

“I believe I am,” he says again, and by then you’ve lost enough blood to put a halo around the wannabe butcher and he appears Heaven-sent indeed.

“Hey, pick him up,” another voice comes suddenly your way. “My cab’s in the parking lot. Let’s get him to the hospital.”

“Do you think I’ll die before we make it?” you ask the cab driver, woozily watching the blood gush from your leg.

“Listen, Man,” the cab driver kneels down beside you, “I have no idea, but I do know there are two hospitals less than thirty blocks from here and the faster we get you to my cab, the faster I can get you there.”

With just enough wits to decide your fate, you consider the man with the saw might actually be a doctor, even as everyone gathered around points you firmly in the direction of the cabdriver.

What do you do?

It’s All in the Verbage, And Language Belongs to the Majority in Charge

It’s amazing how easy it is to make an oppressor feel oppressed. Those who feel compelled to keep others down, to maintain some sort of superiority over others, have this intriguing brain quirk that causes them to think, if they are not actively oppressing others, they themselves are being oppressed.

Equality = Unfair

I can only assume this is based in fear, a ‘kill or be killed’ mentality they feel constantly, though there is no battle.

They say things like gays are getting “special rights” by getting the right to marry.

These people don’t, of course, feel they have been given “special rights” by having the right to marry, because, as they like to argue, gay people can marry people of the opposite sex too.

Even when you explain to these people that they, too, will gain the right to marry someone of the same sex if they so desire, they still can’t wrap their head around the concept of equality. In fact, they believe others getting the exact same rights they have infringes upon their rights, regardless of the fact nothing changes for them at all.

It’s such a bizarre way of thinking, such the polar opposite of logic, I don’t try to understand it.

Right now, in the U.S., in multiple states, these oppressors are trying to “protect freedom of religion,” which I think the majority of sensible, intelligent people, Christian and non-Christian alike, can agree is not under attack.

Why wouldn’t they put a positive spin on their bigotry, though? It has, after all, worked multiple times in the past.

There is a reason the word “feminism,” which has never been a negative thing, has such negative connotations, why it has become synonymous with “man-hating,” while the word “misogyny” gets a more neutral reading, though there is no arguing the definition of the term.

There is a reason anti-abortion activists grasp at “pro-life,” though it is utterly ridiculous, because no one is anti-life or pro-abortion, and the terms “anti-choice” or “anti-abortion” would more accurately describe their side of the abortion debate.

Oppressors go after people with all their firepower with the intent of debilitating a group’s ability to advance. Then, when the group returns fire, oppressors say they are under attack. Often, a group doesn’t even need to return fire. Just taking the weapons out of oppressors’ hands makes them feel threatened. 

Everyone is Entitled to an Opinion

Really? Is everyone?

Is the plumber entitled to debate the dentist over whether to extract someone’s tooth?

Is the dentist entitled to debate the plumber over whether it’s time to replace the pipes?

Is the person who comes at you with the hacksaw entitled to the opinion he is a doctor?

There is a difference between thinking you know something and knowing you know something, though, am I right?

I don’t know. Am I?

Mental illness can make you think you know, make you think you’re not joking. It can give you a deep-down, absolute, sincere belief that you are a surgeon. It can give you absolute certainty you can fly. But you’re not, and you can’t. You are mentally ill, and, if you get the chance to act on your belief, someone is going to die.

“I hate New York City.” I have heard more than one person proclaim this. “I hate New York.”


“The crime. The immigrants. All the rude people.”

“You’ve been there?”

“No. I don’t have to go to know I hate it.”

Well, no, you don’t have to go to New York. No one has to go anywhere he or she doesn’t want to go. If you haven’t been, though, your opinion has about as much value as a penny in Canada. Because, while you don’t have to go to New York, you do have to go to New York to know you hate it. You can think you hate it. You can believe you will hate it. But you cannot know without stepping foot onto its streets and putting in time there.

It is impossible.

Ignorance is Arrogance, and Arrogance is Knowing

The human race is a rather curious conundrum. The same person who believes he doesn’t know how to take out his own appendix or build his own house, that knows better than to even make a suggestion because his lack of knowledge is dangerous, will believe he knows what it is to be gay. Or another race. Or another religion.

A man who doesn’t know enough about his own car to determine what needs fixed without a diagnostic test, because he is not a mechanic, that does not know enough about the internal workings of his computer to fix it, that cannot begin to understand the universe without years spent staring into the cosmos, can believe he knows the way the world, which, in his own opinion was created by an infallible god, is supposed to work.

People who do not fully understand the physics of a slinky think they can fathom the biology and spirituality and life energy of we human beings, with our minds that think such complex thoughts, our souls that feel such deep emotions, and our junk DNA, which makes up the majority of each of us with a still not-entirely-identifiable purpose. 

Straight-line evolution. Creation. The big bang of human evolution. Alien intervention. The advent of meat into the human diet. No one even knows how we humans have become what we have become. All these theories have proponents, because no one actually knows.

Understanding things that are foreign to us requires an open mind. In minds too filled with knowing, there simply isn’t room for a deeper understanding of life’s mysteries. These minds cling to what little they know – as we all know little – convincing themselves anything beyond their comprehension is simply wrong. That their wisdom is absolute. That their opinion is morality.

A human being is not an opinion.

A human being is not a belief.

A human being is a human being.

When you come at people different than you, people you do not understand, you are not fighting belief system against belief system. You are throwing your belief system at real flesh and blood people. People who bleed. People who hurt. People who cry.

Humanity and humility have the same root, because both are of this Earth, not based in some magical realm beyond it. Whether you know there is a god or you know there is no god, it’s all the same. It is the human condition not to know things beyond our comprehension, and there is no greater form of ignorance or arrogance than absolute certainty you know the unknowable.

The only true learning humanity ever experiences is through communion with each other. That is why we keep moving forward, why we have become more integrated. Because, when we go beneath our differences, not only do we see the cliche that we all do, in fact, bleed red, but we have no choice but to realize the vast majority of us want the same things – love, security, hope, passion, good health, the possibility that tomorrow will be better than today.

If you cannot see the beauty in that, the better in that, if you choose to fight on the side of maintaining our differences, of keeping the “wrong people” out, because you know they are wrong and you are right, I pity you, because your knowing has corrupted your humanity.

Quick! A man who believes he’s a doctor, and you now believe is a doctor, wants to take your leg off with hacksaw next to the Santa Monica Pier, while a hundred people tell you to go with the cabdriver to the hospital.

Belief or humanity?

One man’s conviction he is your only salvation? Or one man’s admission he knows only what he knows, the way to the hospital where there are those with certain knowledge?

If you think you know that much, give the man your leg, I guess. As for me, I will let the hands of humanity lift me, have faith in those who know they don’t know. Because, even if they are wrong sometimes, their hands are softer than the teeth of a hacksaw and they give me a 50/50 chance to stand with them again one day.

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