Khanism

Police

“We’re fighting them terrorists there, so we don’t have to fight them here,” is a common nonsensical catch phrase used in many variations during the Bush presidency from 2000 until 2008. In the past few years, the exact opposite has happened. United States policy and military training has left the war theaters of the middle east. With military style weapons and training given to SWAT teams in municipal police departments around the country, infantry tactics are often used domestically now against US citizens in non-violent drug crimes. In some cases, this has lead to accidental deaths, police brutality and the destruction of lives for non-violent peaceful citizens.

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Military

The concept of supporting our troops has become its own mantra in the United States. We talk about those who “sacrifice” and “defend our freedom,” in such that we should honor them for their service. We go as far as to place yellow plastic magnets on the back of our vehicles as a symbolic gesture of our support (with the money typically going to some manufacturing company in China). Even liberals have taken up the “Support our Troops” mantra by tacking on “Bring them Home” in a way to attach a degree of appeasement to the staunch advocates of continued war. But the reality is not some pretty idealized view of American bringing democracy and freedom to the world. The reality is that as a nation, we’ve accepted blanket statements and embraced nationalism without taking time to discern the facts of our history and understand all the wrong our government does in order to sustain our standard of living.

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Defined by Religion

I recently got into a fight with one of my closest friends. It was entirely my fault and my place to apologize. We moved forward together from this moment as friends, for which I’m glad. At one point she told me she hoped the grace and forgiveness she showed would reflect that of her faith as a Christian.

I would hope that as human beings, the compassion we show for others is not a dependence or reflection of our faiths. For all faiths have text that can be taken to invoke both acceptance and indignance, pacifism and aggression, condemnation and redemption, devastation and hope. Never should religious ideology define us as people, but rather we as individual should define the role of religion in our lives.

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Change and Growth

I had a professor for my Psychology of Growth and Development class who told us that as people, we must “…either grow or we die.” It’s a slight hyperbole, but his point is clear. Human beings are the most adaptable animals on our planet. Our abilities to grow both individually and as a society are what have helped us, as a species, both overcome and thrive in a constantly changing world.

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Doubt

Doubt is often given a negative connotation. Doubting ourselves or our abilities can hinder the potential of what we are capable of doing. But doubt is also important, if not pivotal, in learning more about our world and in seeking new ideas in science. Without doubt, we would never challenge that which is established in order to discover new possibilities. Doubt is the keystone of progress in science and it is also the antithesis of faith.

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Pale Blue Dot

The Voyager 1 spacecraft was launched by NASA in 1977. Its original mission was to visit and photograph Jupiter and Saturn. As Voyager 1 departed the solar system, at the request of Carl Sagan, NASA commanded the craft to take a photograph of the Earth from a distance of several billion kilometers. This photograph became the foundation for Sagan’s 1994 book Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. The following excerpt from the first Chapter in Sagan’s book offers one of the most amazing and humbling perspectives about the human race and our place in the universe.

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On Love, In Sadness

There is somebody out there for everybody. That’s the cliché, or a variation thereof, we tell each other during times of loneliness. And there is somebody for everybody, except for that one person. You know the one. That man or woman who totally screwed you over, who lied to you, who cheated on you and did everything wrong when you did everything right in that failed relationship. That person is without redemption, has no soul and is not deserving of anyone ever again. It’s similar to that person who cut you off in traffic. They are a horrible person who deserves to die, even though you’ve made the exact same mistake before while you were driving.

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Happiness

The crafters of the Declaration of Independence for the United States believed that all men had certain unalienable rights, that of “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Happiness is something that may not be unique to humanity, for as far as we can understand empirically, it seems that animals experience similar emotions of happiness and sadness. Nevertheless, humans are unique in that we have built a social construct around happiness and we can synthesize happiness no matter what our present situation.

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Afterlife

Death (n.) — the permanent end of all life functions in an organism or part of an organism

When human beings experiences death, all our functions of life end permanently. We can no longer think, act or make decisions that will affect the world. Everything that we were becomes a part of the past. We can discuss the contributions of those who have died, we can even write books about them and build monuments if we consider their lives sufficiently noteworthy, but their ability to contribute to the here and present now is at an end. All humans die eventually. You and I will one day cease to have the ability to use our minds, in conjunction with our bodies, to interact with this world.

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Time

One of the great unanswered questions in physics is that of how we progress through time. When we talk about space, our location in this physical reality, we can travel in any direction. An astronaut or cosmonaut in an orbiting ship or station can move in any combination of six directions in our three dimensional universe. But when it comes to the fourth dimension, time, we can only move at a constant rate and in one direction: forward. If we travel fast enough, we can slow down our progression through time, but only relative to others who are not traveling at the same speed. We can not move in the opposite direction. It’s a principal physicists agree upon, but we still don’t fully understand why this is so.

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