So AtheistLady76 posted the pic below on her twitter timeline. She got it from BetterOffDamned and its actually a quote from David G. McAfee but I credit her anyway cuz she’s my source and I like to give credit where it may or may not be due, just to do my small part to keep reality confusing for you.
Now, understand I see captioned stuff like this all the time, and I could probably do a blog post about any random one that I see, but this one kinda got my attention, cuz it said in very few words what I have unsuccessfully tried to explain in the past, and what I will probably unsuccessfully try to explain in the words below. Believers often try to use the seeming obsession some atheists have with their religion, as somehow reinforcement of their own interest. Well obviously they must be on the right track if other people persist in opposing them. However, this attitude is just as mentally deranged as an arsonist embracing the power of fire, and then thinking all those sweet red trucks with the blazing sirens joining them for their every worship at the altar of the flame but be in support of the fire gods. The physical and emotional damage the fire causes is incidental to these keepers of the flame.
I really wish I’d thought of this analogy first. Now, an Abrahamic Believer (jew, christian, muslim, pick your poison) would immediately fail to see this analogy. An arsonist is different from a believer in The One True God. Think of all the good that (insert your religion here) has done for mankind. Let’s ignore any bad stuff that might have happened and focus on the positive. Accentuate the positive, delineate the negative, is how the old song used to go.
Only, fire does that too. It causes terrible destruction but it also cleanses the landscape and makes room for life to start anew and fresh from scratch, and maybe this time it’ll even be better. Fire can be controlled and tamed to heat homes, cook food, light our way. So what if the occasional arsonist uses it to scam their insurance company or take revenge on neighbors? Accentuate the positive about such power and delineate the negative.
Still see a difference? Then you’re mad. “Oh but MY beliefs are different! They don’t apply here!” Put a fork in it. You’re done.
Prior to seeing AtheistLady76’s little picture, what I was trying to use as an analogy will pale in comparison, but I’m gonna try to use it anyway, cuz I already wrote parts of it, and just re-edited it a bit in light of this firestorm analogy.
I was thinking about this very concept the other day when I heard about that paralympic runner from South Africa Oscar Pistorius who just recently shot his girlfriend four times inside his home with a gun. When I first heard that I thought, what could possibly possess a man to throw away all of his happiness like that? If they’d had a domestic dispute, surely just killing her in cold blood wasn’t a bright way to resolve the situation. Any man in his position would know the entire world would notice him, having just recently received such intense notoriety. It’d be like if Charles Lindbergh had attempted to kidnap his own son.
But I was jumping to conclusions. I didn’t have all the facts, and cuz I’m not personally in Africa investigating the case, I’m likely never to learn all the facts. What follows are not facts, but my interpretation of what society laughing refers to as “news” nowadays, and much of what I deduce will be proven wrong soon after I’m done posting this. I know little more about this news story than you do, or can, if you bother reading a newspaper or watching CNN.
What I can glean thus far from the same news feeds we all have at our disposal, Pistorius is a bit of a gun hobbyist, and had boasted having pulled out his gun at least once before in his home thinking a prowler had broken in. Allegedly he’s even tweeted about this before. Pistorius has an alarm system in his home and it was triggered, but later was found to be false. Nobody was hurt, but someone could have been. If this were fiction and not ‘news’ one could imagine that was foreshadowing. Pistorius could have taken that false alarm as a hint that perhaps he should rethink his strategy of home security, but apparently he didn’t, and was known for pulling out his gun any time he felt his life, property, and/or loved ones were in danger.
Again, we don’t have all the facts. Presumably, Pistorius has had no more or less training with a firearm than any other average person who might purchase firearms legally to protect one’s own home. Surely he’s had no police training. In my personal experience, an untrained, well-intentioned man with a gun is more dangerous than a trained man seeking to do harm intentionally.
Like here in the southern United States, many Africans wield firearms as par for the course of surviving in society. It’s firmly believed by many that an armed society is a more polite society, and if you have the ability to quickly dispense of intruders, you and your family are more safe than if you did not have such power at your fingertips. Gun ownership is common here in Texas, and from what I’ve read they are just as avid about it in South Africa. Particularly in gated communities like the one Pistorius reportedly resides.
Another thread on this loose tapestry are many reports from family and friends that Pistorius was a bit of a mouth, and sometimes would argue with his loved ones and say things that perhaps he didn’t really mean. How many times has one person said out loud they wished another loved one dead? “I hate you,” many a lover has said to each other. This too is common. “I’ll kill you,” with a half-assed attempt to wrestle on a table in a bar is not unheard of behavior, especially if emotions get heated and alcohol was involved.
There have been reports Pistorius fought with his wife and sometimes they got kinda emotional. The prosecution plans to use these events as motive. Pistorius’ response has been to cry openly in court and let’s face it, who can blame him?
Now maybe he did kill his lover in cold blood. Four shot at near point blank range, and then he made up a story saying he thought someone broke in. Any number of scenarios can come into play here. If that is the case, then he believes he can get away with it by lying to the world, but secretly he also believed his lover deserved to die. If that’s true, my analogy will still stand.
But despite my pessimistic nature, I imagine a different scenario. Pistorius had worked himself up into a bit of a frenzy over the years. He’d heard reports of other households being burgled, and he imagined many times ways of being able to get the upper hand on perpetrators invading his home. He took all precautions he could reasonably manage, but despite one or two false alarms, he’d never actually experienced what it would be like to be so invaded, so violated, and how would a man react in such a situation? Would he throw down and prove himself a man? Get everything right and be labelled a hero, or would he panic in that moment of decision and be killed himself over cutlery and the new entertainment center?
Perhaps Pistorius decided if ever this event occurred, he’d shoot first ask questions later and not run the risk of being the one on the floor when the police arrived. He’d protect his home and those he loved, and he’d do it without regret or remorse.
One day, he hears a noise in the other room. Isn’t expecting anyone in the house at the time. He takes out his gun, goes to investigate. Someone surprises him as he turns a corner and he just shoots: BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM. His girl falls into his arms with a very confused look on her face, and Pistorius’ life is now nothing but regret and remorse in the seconds it took for him to pull that trigger.
A court will decide whether or not he deserves to be punished, but the truth is, his own beliefs have already punished him more than any human being alive or dead can ever do. He believed he could save himself and all he loved by hiding behind the barrel of a gun, and his beliefs, as it turns out, do not mesh with reality.
Perhaps you believe, when your life is violated, you’ll get it right. Maybe you’re right. Maybe you’ll be less brash, more intelligent, more lucky, less cocky. Maybe you will learn from the beliefs of those who have failed and your beliefs will triumph.
They’re still beliefs. They’re still not built on facts. It feels good to hold a gun in your hand. The power it represents. The force it delivers. It’s like being a god. It’s not. Gods aren’t real, and neither is that security you believe you have when you wield a gun.
But just cuz fire can harm, does that mean we should dismiss all the times it goes good? Aren’t the scars and the blisters and the deaths and the deforestation and the property damage worth the cost of cooking our food, warming our homes, lighting our way?
Do firearms get it right more often than they get it wrong? Does fire? Does your god?
And one last thing while I’m on the subject of Firestorm The Nuclear Man, I miss Ronnie Raymond and Dr. Martin Stein. Firestorm was at its best back in the 1990s, before Stein got cancer and Ronnie got serious. Then some Russian dude showed up, and last I heard Ronnie’s ex-girlfriend Lorraine Reilly was sharing the body of Firestorm with some new kid. Darn shame. I miss the old days…
Confused, aren’t you? I shoulda just stuck with the Better Off Damned picture that AtheistLady76 showed me and shut up after that, shouldn’t I have? I never know when to quit.
I can’t believe this. I just scanned this again and totally forgot to put back in here WHY my thoughts on Oscar Pistorius reminded me of AtheistLady76’s little picture. That got edited out when i moved things around in earlier drafts and in my head, and so now I’m putting it back in.
Someone could listen to me talk about Pistorius and wonder how i could take EVEN THIS and see that the problem isn’t gun control or home break ins or poor laws or not enough police or a thousand other things. I blame it on belief. It all comes back to belief. Why am I soooooo obsessed with belief?
I’m a firefighter in a firestorm. That’s why. And so are you.
The problem isn’t what we believe. It’s that we believe it, and before turning a corner and shooting four rounds into what we see, we don’t verify it with actual facts. My assumptions about Pistorius could be totally erroneous. Hopefully a jury of his peers will find the truth and judge him on that.
I don’t believe anything I say here. And neither should you. You should challenge every word. Likewise, you should challenge every word you tell yourself.