If Something Important Happens – You’ll Know.

A few years ago, Colleen and I canceled our cable television service, and gave away our TV. The original intent was to stop wasting our time watching crap and either talk or read more. The theory was sound, but ultimately the practice was a bit.. unrealistic (within months we were downloading our favourite shows and watching on the computer huddled around my 15″ monitor).. Today however, our TV is in the upper 30″ range (a freebie that replaced our 22″ TV), we still don’t have cable, but we watch the shows we want when we want via internet, and we watch movies. One thing we don’t watch is the news, we don’t get the newspaper either, and we’ll randomly do a drive-by on News.Google to see what’s happening.

A while back someone pointed out that the news is filled with sensational stories about bad things that happen. If something major happens that you truly need to be aware of – someone will let you know. Heck, they’ll let you know even if you don’t need to be aware of it.

Am I anti-news? No, not at all – I’m just anti-depressants and the news is one of the biggest ones around. Am I uninformed? Nope. If I need to know something I know where to look it up, I have family and friends who will keep me in the loop, and there is enough chatter throughout the office that will keep me well informed whether I want to be or not. Now, where this gets interesting is how you can know what is going on without actually accessing a news site.

I was rolling through the list of people who I am subscribed to and who are subscribed to my Twitter feed, and I was looking for people I should be subscribed to, who are subscribed to me, yet I am not subscribed to them. On a quick side note – Twitter, your interface could seriously use some work. After a couple pages of subscribers who I am subscribed to mixed in with a bunch of people I’m not (and have no intention of – unless there is a real full name associated with you account, I’m not likely to subscribe to ‘quickcash4u’ or some other crap like that), I came across TweetStats, which lead me to their main page. After doing some stats generating on my own Twitter activities (yeah, pretty strong at the beginning of 2008, and then everything seems to have died), I came across the overall trends section which gives a small snapshot of what’s going on in Twitterville:

tweetstats

Hmmm, I wonder what could possibly be going on in the world today… Christmas is the surprising trend today given that it was finished over a week ago, but I’m guessing that it’s people talking about their christmas vacation as they prepare to return to work (for those of us who had a nice long break and are NOT looking to return to the office tomorrow!). Without going to news.google, I’m pretty sure that the Israeli and Hamas are at it again in Gaza, the Colts and Chargers are playing (or just did play) a game, and Macworld has some news… verification with news.google… Hamas ready for bitter urban battle, Chargers shock Colts in overtime, and finally Apple fans pray for Steve Jobs surprise at final Macworld

We are inundated with news, about everything, from just about everywhere. So what’s my point, right? Do yourself a favour this year, read/watch less news (I’m not saying become more ignorant about the world you live in), instead, keep your eyes open for small updates from many sources to get the overall picture of what is happening (then drill in on specifics), and when something major happens, trust me, you’ll know.

Appreciation – Not Tolerance

Montreal - Tully

While looking up how to spell “religion” on Google (yes, the school system failed me and I use Google quite a bit to figure out the finer points of spelling – keeping in mind that Google kicks out atrocities like ‘color’ as opposed to ‘colour’ – but that’s another post. Seriously – it’s in ‘draft’), I came across “ReligiousTolerance.org”.

Ok, but back it up a step – why was I looking up ‘religion’? Well, I did a quick Google search for “William Tully” (don’t tell me you’re not looking up your own name!) and it would seem that because my blog posting frequency has somewhat diminished over the last while, the good Rev. William Tully of New York City has made up some ground on the search results.

See, back before I started my blog, my name never really showed up anywhere, and the search results were littered with references to The Good Reverend… As a devout (am I allowed to use that word?) atheist, you could imagine my surprise, right? Wait, no, if you’re not an atheist, you likely couldn’t – and we’ll get to that in a bit.

Anyways, I have nothing against The Rev, however, I do use him as an opposing benchmark while I figure out things on this here interweb.. (best Simpson’s quote ever: “Ooooh, I see they have the internet on computers now!” – too funny!). Think about it though, the one person who ranks on Google, with the same name as you, has the exact opposite views on religion as you. If it was an opposite view on say ‘cars’ or something, well who cares right? But religion? That’s one of the biggies that will be debated until Humans no longer exist.

Ok, so what do we have so far? Religion (my atrocious spelling), Atheism, The Rev, and ReligiousTolerance.org.

Whenever I see or hear the word tolerance used in the same breath as religion, it makes me laugh, simply because anyone who is religious in any form is automatically the least tolerant when it comes to anything but their religion.

A few months back, Colleen and I decided to go used book store hopping here in Toronto. Generally I like my books to be new, crisp, and smelling of paper and ink rather than some musty basement or a 20 year old ashtray, however, the curiosity of finding something unique usually lures me into the store.

One of the stores we went into was on Bloor Street, just East of Bathurst (don’t remember the name, but it’s pretty much a fixture of Toronto and can’t miss it when doing the tour). You end up going down some stairs from the sidewalk to enter the store. Once you do, you find yourself in this narrow, yet seemingly long book store which is packed with books and seems to descend well below the level which one would expect a store to go to. After puttering around a bit, I found myself on a mission of exploration to see just how far back this store went, and just how far below the Earth’s crust it descended.

I’ll tell you this, that the East side of the store goes WAY back, and down towards the end of this mine shaft, in the last traces of light from the entrance, you will find the section labelled “Religion”. 20 minutes later I found myself still flipping through and reading various pages of a Qur’an I happened to find upon my arrival. It was a quite new green, black, and gold, hardcover book with paper as thin as butterfly wings (couldn’t think of anything else thinner than bible paper and felt that I really shouldn’t compare the two being of two different religions). From what I could gather, the book was printed from back to front, yet the front of the book talked about the translation and gave a small map of the sections of the book – it just didn’t mention the book was printed from back to front. Rather confusing.

What I realized while walking down the sidewalk later (no, I didn’t buy it – couldn’t justify the $35), was that had I been remotely religious I likely would not have a) even picked it up, b) contemplated buying it, and c) would not have been able to see the beauty in the writing from an unbiased position.

If you are of religion, and you find yourself reading a text from another religion, at some point (and likely more than one) you will be in conflict with something that is written. The only way you can actually be in conflict is to be biased to your own beliefs. If you were not biased, you would not be able to be in conflict.

This raises the challenge in that you cannot fully appreciate one religion if you are a part of another. As an Atheist, because I am not in conflict, am I not able to appreciate a religion more than my religious counterparts? Now I’m not saying that religious people cannot appreciate another religion, what I am saying is that there is a self-imposed cap on the level of appreciation simply because at some point there will be a conflict of views (if there wasn’t, you would be a part of that religion which you are trying to appreciate and not the one you started out from).

So what, right? Well, really, all that is left is for religion to preach tolerance because that’s all they’re left with. They can’t fully appreciate another religion which they are in conflict in, so we all must tolerate the other ones.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather lead a life of appreciation of other views and beliefs than a life of forcing myself to put up with another religion (tolerate) because it conflicts with my own. Appreciation on the highest level is always better than just tolerance.