Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Inconstant Moon

I don't understand those drops the optometrist puts in to dilate your eyes. Fifteen minutes afterwards, you still look and feel fairly normal, but your eyes are still dilated enough that he can shine a light in, become intimately acquainted with your retinas, declare everything in order, and send you home. So they've done their job. But after another hour goes by, your head aches and you can't focus and you look like a freshly lobotomized Moonie.

I'm better now.

Speaking of lobotomies, yesterday I got to contemplating organized religion. We'd been talking about it a little at work. One of our three new hires has, not to jinx anything, apparently succeeded in getting her old job back, and should be leaving us in another couple of weeks or so. Our supervisor has been fairly understanding about this - not that she has a lot of choice - but she did cancel my coworker's enrollment for a job-related class next week that my coworker had in fact been looking forward to. If my coworker hadn't felt the compulsion to be totally honest with our supervisor from the very beginning, she'd still have gotten to go.

But my coworker - nice lady, don't get me wrong - is very religious, and doesn't believe in lying through commission or omission, under any circumstances, ever. So we were all standing around talking about how to balance virtue with pragmatism, and how to treat others in a Christian (or - for those of us secularists in the crowd, who have never quite understood why the most self-explanatory tenets of basic social responsibility end up being labeled as religious virtues, as though only the threat of eternal hellfire could possibly get people not to act like complete assholes - ethical) manner, without going too far and allowing ourselves to be taken advantage of by those less circumspect than we.

A great philosophical and/or religious figure like Christ exists as an ideal, of course. His behavior and teachings are meant to be striven towards, I'd posit, but not necessarily emulated by humans in our day-to-day existence; the idea being that the world would be a much nicer place if as many people as possible would go at least some ways towards tolerating unpleasantness without generating more in return. But actually to take this to the extreme, and say that you're never allowed to do anything to defend yourself, doesn't do anyone any good.

Besides, the Bible is famously fraught with mistranslation and questionable interpretations. Who's to say that "turn the other cheek" wasn't originally an exhortation to drop your trousers and give your enemies a rosy salute? That'd make for kind of a different religion.

I don't think that's what the Moonies were about. Too bad!

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