The Philosophy of Others

Now I know Simone said that she was a student of Sartre’s philosophy, but I think she was in fact his mentor, and he was the student who only half listened to the teachings. Simone not only produced the initial work that Sartre then expanded on for his Being and Nothingness, but also he used many examples from her book to emphasize his perspective. Often times Sartre did no expanding his arguments beyond that particular example.

Her writings in Ethics of Ambiguity definitely highlight the depths of her differences from Sartre while carefully hiding her thoughts in obscure contrasts and word choices. In uses of the words tragic, joy, and nature she highlights things that would otherwise be passed over by others as typical adjectives and words in common sentences.

How do these words accentuate her concepts any differently than if another were to write the same words. Well, being that “nature” is part of the in-itself it really can not be a stand alone being so there for bringing it into the foreground to Sartre would be giving up your own freedom and be giving it to “nature.” Also joy is an emotion which Sartre seems to have a large problem with. Tragic implies fate, which for Sartre would be detrimental to his concepts in Being and Nothingness which depend on freedom from everything.

These concepts not only does she use in her text but she also is very passionate about her discussions on them. She argues that ethics and actions on the individual level are still conscious regardless of the aspect of God being in place or not.  She also discusses the paradoxical concept that once man considers himself free, he gives up the capability to wish.

Simone also discusses the concept of human spontaneity and the fact that despite it’s capability of being free, normally there is an intended direction that that being is striving for. That this intention to be free still hinders our freedom in the fact that any project we take up limits us on what projects we might have else taken up in its stead.

Sartre defines being as taking up projects and taking up projects to make yourself free despite any situation should in turn allow you to be free when that project is completed. But if this were the case, the next project taken up could define our being and again cause a lack of freedom.

Simone also argues disclosure is the path to finding freedom not simply defining what the obstacle is not. To list everything that something is not to determine its being just creates it, but does not give it the status of for-itself. You have to disclose it to the world to give it its being.

Sartre had a hard time arguing much of his concepts between the differences between the for-itself and the in-itself due to the conflict he perceived in having more than one for-itself in existence. He did not argue there was not the capability of being more than one, but he asserts that in order for two entities to be in one room, one must give way to being an in-itself for the for-itself to emerge.

This is also a topic that Simone discusses in Ethics of Ambiguity that expresses a conflict with Sartre’s book. She discusses fairly frankly in the fact that in order to become an in-itself the person who opts to do so, does willingly, and that it does not require shame to occur. This is a concept that Sartre depended on in his arguments to define the concept of for-itself and in-itself. To choose to give up your self at your own will, is a freedom and that in acting the right to do so is one of several things that not only did Sartre not discuss, but Simone seems to have a conflict with him not doing so.

Simone also touches on topics that Sartre does not that are very commonly seen themes in her book She Came to Stay. She points out the personalities and interactions with people and the 5 general stages of being and how they inter-relate. Subhuman, serious, nihilist, adventurer, and the passionate, express different aspects of being that Sartre vaguely touched upon.

Passionate is very closely related to the masochistic concept in the aspects of how they relate to each other, but Sartre leaves it as masochistic and sadistic as it’s opposite. He doesn’t discuss the concept that there is a concept of thought that can lead to or it can become after it has been satiated, which Simone calls the “serious” person.

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Torturing the Torturer  

Victims and those who commit the crimes against them are directly related. You cannot have one without the other and are dependant on each other to be. Sartre’s discussion on the concepts of freedom, oppression, and human nature will help explain and supplement much of this concept, but the tortured and torturer will give them a new light.

Anyone who has ever been tortured would argue that the gruesome acts done to them restrained them that would not allow them to be free. The physical state of being is definitely potentially a state of freedom that might have been subdued, but Sartre would argue that every being has the capability to recognize their freedom in all situations. “Therefore this suffering can not be in itself a motive for his acts. Quite the contrary, it is after he has formed the project of changing the situation that it will appear intolerable to him.” (B&N pg 562) This freedom is always present regardless of your physical state of being. The torturer can not invade the mind of the tortured unless the tortured chooses. Separation of the mind from the body is something that Sartre utilizes in justification that freedom is something that each person must possess in order to retain the for-itself.

Those who have been tortured would also disagree that they created the torturer. This perspective can definitely be understood as they had no direct relationship with the person. On the contrary, Sartre would argue this creation of the torturer occurs long before and escalates up to the point that the torture occurs. “Exploitation makes the exploiter dependent on the exploited… this dependence is at the heart of racism.” (Victory pg 75) Without some sort of conflict between the two to initiate the situation, neither the torturer nor the tortured could become who they do.

This leads us to the how the torturer becomes this vile creation. It is often said by the torturers that they do not know why they did what they did. Often times the torturers are declared by those who know them as acting completely out of their normal range of self when these incidents occur. But this is not to say they did not do these acts or to excuse their actions. This Sartre would explain as being part of an attempt to exert freedom. “The perpetrators… would like to convince themselves and their victims of their total dominance: at times they are super-humans who have people at their mercy, and at times they are strict and strong men who have been give in the task of taming the most obscene, the most ferocious, the most cowardly of animals: the human animal.” (Victory pg 67) The mind set of what occurs with those who are acting as torturers is that they are compelled to do such violent acts out of doing what is best for those whom the tortured are a threat to.

Torturers are often victims of older torture against themselves that these events now offer an outlet to exert their freedom; or offers a feeling that allows them a chance to regain their lost freedom and  they make a project to do so. “The sadist discovers that it was that freedom which he wished to enslave, and realizes the futility of his efforts.”(B & N pg 527)  This freedom is sought after and is the object which everyone desires to regain when they loose it. In the end the torturer feels no satisfaction in the torture because he realizes he can not enslave someone else’s freedom in order to regain his own.

This is not to say the tortured themselves are the threat but the class of people they are a member of, be it religious, racial or social standing based. Those who have been tortured often feel that the victimization has unjustly occurred. These events are not disputed as that the topic of torture is wrong but the events that lead up to the situation that occurred were just as immoral.

The two suffer torment together, be it the physical gruesome that the tortured often goes through or the mental anguish of the acts being done to someone by the hands of the torturer. The torturer has been convinced in his mind that there are secrets in this person and there sole objective has become to save others by extracting these secrets. “Useless violence: whether the victim talks or dies beneath the blows, the vast secret is elsewhere, always elsewhere, out of reach.” (Victory pg 73) The violence done by the torturer and taken by the tortured is futile, but at the time seems needed by the torturer based on the violence around them.

Opponents of the incidents of the torture that has occurred might argue that something has to be done and that those who did such things should be punished harshly. But those who find themselves in the position as torturers are often in a situation they are not prepared for. They have become members of a troop they did not enlist for and often really do not want to be a part of. “We would be fortunate if these crimes were acts of a handful of violent individuals: in truth, torture creates torturers… soldiers did not join an elite corps in order to torture the defeated enemy.” (Victory pg 70)

The events that occur between a tortured and the torturer are unpleasant for all involved, but Sartre sums it up well. “What is the use of troubling the conscience of the torturers? If one of them faltered, his superiors would replace him: there are plenty more where they came from.” (Victory 77) So despite the fact you always have you freedom, if it is used to extract a morality of those who are around you, you can not guarantee your project will be successful.
Works Cited

 

Sartre, Jean-Paul. Being and Nothingness. New York: Washington Square Press, 1956.

—. “A Victory.” Colonialism and Neocolonialism. 2001: 65-77.

 

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Russian Childcare and Vaccination

Russian Healthcare & Reform
29 March 2006

Childcare and Vaccination

The comparison of the approach of Russian healthcare in regards of their children with the United States will show that the vaccinations are a necessity and in some cases lacking on the part of the Russian society. This will be described via a detailed listing of time periods when certain vaccinations are given, be reflected by the types of vaccinations and certain problems that have arisen from administering one type of vaccination over another. The youth of a child will determine their life and how they will live once they hit maturity. An unhealthy childhood can and will leave a life long impact and in some cases the lack of life to have.

To start with the discussion of the different forms of vaccinations and how they function is necessary. There is “killed whole organisms” which is used in order to make the organism completely harmless but allows the body to learn to recognize it and protect against it. This particular type is used when they make the vaccination against typhoid. This is a very safe but not always effective vaccination. There is a chance the body might not deem the threat as such and put it into its memory to be protected against.

Then there is the “attenuated organisms” which is a cultured form of a threat and is in a weakened state when given in the inoculation. This is how they design tuberculosis vaccination, BCG, which is a bacterium which has been known to cause tuberculosis in cows. This particular vaccination we will discuss in more detail later as that it is used in Russia but not in the United States. The downfall to this particular type of vaccination is the threat is still present to get the disease from the vaccination but is not strong enough in most situations to post any threat at all to the person being injected.

“Toxoids” are a type that has been damaged by toxins to weaken them to the point that the threat can not release the proteins that would normally trigger the disease. They allow for the molecule to retain some of its properties and epitopes so that the threat will be recognized by the defense system but at the same time weakens it to a point that it is not a threat. This is how the healthcare industry deals with creating vaccinations for diphtheria and tetanus.

 

The industry also uses a form of weakening process that uses the surface of the molecule to allow it to be recognized as a threat while added multiple forms of strains of threats to be within the vaccination so that many of the same threat are all recognized but not requiring an injection of each different strain. This process is used for Hepatitis B, Influenza and even with a multitude of the common and threatening strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae.

The “inactivated virus” is similar to the killed bacteria in that it contains a whole particle but has been treated similar to the toxiod so that the epitopes are still present and easy for the body to recognize. This is how the Salk (IPV) vaccine is made to protect against polio.

“Attenuated virus” is used in vaccines to provide a form of the threat but still a threat to ensure the recognition by the body’s defense system. Sadly these weakened forms of the virus, though very rarely, can revive to their full strength and it only takes on to cause the disease. This has been used in treating the polio virus through a oral vaccination which allows for other members of the polio family to be immunized against as well but because of this small but still potentially life changing threat, the United State uses the Salk vaccination over the OPV. This is also how the vaccination of measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) is formed.

The schedule on how these medications are administered determines how soon you are covered by them. That schedule is left up to the head of our country to determine but the World Health Organization (World Health Organization) determines what must be administered and keeps track of statistics on how many are complying and how well they are complying with this guide to health.

As you can see in the chart provided, there is some variation between countries on when they should be provided. The other difference between the Russian and United States is that the Russian immunizations are the base requirements according to World Health Organization. The United States listing is what is required by the state of Iowa before you can enter the educational system.

 

Russia Scheduled immunization United States (Iowa)
BCG Birth7-14 years
DTwP (Tetracoq)(3 dosages required) 3 months4.5 months6 months 18 months 2 months4 months6 months15-18 months4-6 years DTaP
  2 months4 months6 months15-18 months4-6 years DTaPHepIPV(combination option)
  2 months4 months6 months15-18 months DTaPHib(combination option)
  Based on risk HepA
HepB Birth1 month6 months Birth-2 months1-4 months6 months HepB
HIB3 dosages 2months4 months6 months12-15 months Hib
6-23 months24 months – 49 years>=50 years Influenza
IPV 3 months4.5 months6 months18 months20 months14 years 2 months4 months6 months12-15 monthsIowa requires at age 4-6 years IPV 
Measels 12 months6 years
MM 12 months6 years
MMR 12 months6 years 12-15 months4-6 years MMR
Mumps 12 months6 years
OPV 3 months4.5 months6 months18 months20 months14 years
  2 months4 months5 months12-15 months Pneumo_conj (PCV)
Pneumo_ps Based on risk >=65 yearsBased on risk Pneumo_ps
Rubella 12 months6 years13 years
Td 14 yearsFollowed by every 10 11-18 yearsBooster every 10yrs Td
Typhoid Based on risk
12-18 monthsAnd susceptible adults     Iowa requires another dose about 11-16 years Varicella

 

To clarify what these medications do for a child I will discuss the diseases they protect from and what their chances to cause permanent harm to their life.

DTaP and DTwP are two different forms of the same type of treatment for diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus. These three diseases are easily spread, the first two being spread by human contact and the third through a cut or wound on the skin’s surface. Diphtheria forms a thick covering in the back of the throat that can cause problems such as difficulty breathing, paralysis, heart failure and sometimes even death. Pertussis also causes problems with your breathing in the form of horrible coughing spells that can make it extremely difficult to eat, drink, and breathe at all. Pertussis can last for weeks and move into pneumonia, seizures, brain damage and even death. The third component, tetanus, causes excruciating painfully tightening of the muscles all over the body, but is nicknamed “lockjaw” due to the stiffening of a jaw can make it nearly impossible to drink or eat due to the inability to move the jaw or throat muscles. Death occurs in about 1 out of every 10 cases. These immunizations are not a permanent and boosters for the diphtheria and tetanus are given approximately ever 10 years. If you are exposed to threats, such as in the medical field or your work causes lots of abrasions, it is advised every 6 years.

The HepB vaccination is often advertised as the first cancer vaccination. This is because it can stop the virus that attacks the liver and in many cases leads to liver cancer later in life. Hepatitis B, which is how the vaccination got its name, has its highest chance of long term chronic damage if it can successfully infect infants and children under the age of 4. HepB is transferred via exposure to infected blood or body fluids. Most infection occurs in newborns due to infected mothers transferring the infection. The chances of a chronic infection drop drastically as children get older, so early immunization is imperative.

Hib is a vaccination that helps protect against a multitude of different threats while also minimizing potential additional threats which the Haemophilus influenzae often lead to meningitis. This vaccine also protects against pneumonia, pericarditis (an infection affecting the membrane covering the heart), and potential infections of the bones, blood and joints caused by bacteria.

IPV and OPV are two different forms of prevention for the polio virus. Unfortunately the OPV is highly dangerous in that it, as said before, can lead to getting the polio virus due to the weakened state but not dead form it can regain full strength and infect the person taking it orally. Polio is potentially fatal but is also life changing in that it can permanently paralyze if you do survive the infection. It has been found that IPV is much safer, but does not keep the virus from being transmittable in the case someone who is immunized with IPV does contract the virus but is not affected by the virus due to the immunization.

Measles, mumps, and rubella (also known as the German measles) are protected by the MMR vaccination. This is a very effective vaccination but is still necessary because these diseases are still prevalent in other countries. Measles is highly contagious and very unpleasant. The main treatment before was complete isolation and medication to minimize fevers, syrup to help with the coughing and lotions to combat the skin’s dryness and itch. Rubella is known as the German measles due to its similarity to the measles symptoms and unpleasantness to have. The rubella virus normally only lasts a few days compared to week long pains from the measles. Rubella was not as prevalent but when it did surface it would become a small epidemic. Mumps vaccination is also included with the MMR series to protect against a viral disease that attacks the salivary glands, causing fever and swelling. This particular topic will be covered again later in the paper for an example of the differences world wide and the potential harms. It’s believed that once having this vaccination the defense against these viruses is life long.

Pneumo_conj vaccination is short for pneumococcal conjugate which has been a leading cause of pneumoncoccal infections as well as a step stool for meningitis, ear infections and blood infections. These can cause permanent hearing loss, pneumonia, brain damage, and even death. Vaccinations start early to protect against this.

Varicella is a commonly known as chicken pox and was considered a “rite of passage”. This minimal annoyance at younger ages which is when it is normally contracted by residents did not warrant a vaccination until recently. Due to the large quantities of immigrants coming into the United States that had not been exposed to the chicken pox prior entry are often dieing from the exposure. At younger ages the cases are mild and rarely more than just dermal. As the age of the person exposed so does the chance of fatality due to its extreme spread. At older ages it has been known to get under the eyelids, down throats, up the sinus passages and into the lungs. With this level of exposure the inability to eat, difficulties breathing often cause death.

There has been a fairly steady decline of diphtheria in Russia, with approximately 505 cases in 2004. The measles took a huge hit in 2002 dropping it down to under 600 cases but as of 2004 there is approximately 2500 cases. Pertussis also has had a similar jump to the Measles. Rubella has been on a fairly steady decline over the last 5 years by almost 1/3 of its previous listings.

Tetanus is sadly not declining despite the fact they do immunize. The low numbers are probably the reason they have not increased the amount of vaccinations to be comparable to the five required dosages unlike their three required. The standard reported vaccination schedule according to what World Health Organization has been notified by Russian officials actually entails a fourth dosage at the age of 18 months. This information conflicts with the report on a Russian hospitals prenatal information site that states that World Health Organization only requires a total of 3 immunizations.

In the United States, the strain of diphtheria has been nearly eradicated with no reports of any cases in 2004. So far there have been no more than 50 cases of the measles in the United States since 2001, and compared to 1990’s near 28,000 cases, that is less than 1% of the previous infections. Infections with the mumps in recent years have actually been fluctuating between 200 and 400 cases per year. This year, 2006 will be a record breaker and I will discuss shortly what the potential reasons for this and explain in detail the issue at hand. Pertussis was actually slowly increasing until the year 2004. Unlike Russia the United States had an explosion but not to the extent Russia’s population did. There was 235% increase in the United States compared to the near 415% increase in Russia. Polio has also been nearly eradicated in the United States with no reports of infection since 1980. Rubella has fluctuated on a very minute scale over the last 5 years, with fewer than 25 infections per year reported. Tetanus as well has been a steady problem in the United States but its numbers are lower than Russia’s. Comparably the ratio of the United States population to the Russian would suggest that there would be need for an increase of necessity of an extra dosage implemented for Russia.

Now there are some who have suggested and even formed collations to argue that vaccinations are not worth while and that we should not do such things to our children. The following facts suggest otherwise.

  • Average annual number of smallpox cases in 1900-1904: 48,164.
    United States cases per year since 1950: 0.
    Worldwide cases per year since 1977: 0.
  • Average annual number of diphtheria cases in the U.S. in 1920-1922: 175,885.
    U.S. cases in 1998: 1.
  • Average annual number of pertussis cases in 1922-1925: 147,271.
    U.S. cases in 1998: 6,279.
  • Estimated average annual number of tetanus cases in 1922-1926: 1,314.
    U.S. cases in 1998: 34.
  • Average annual number of paralytic polio cases in 1951-1954: 16,316.
    U.S. cases of wild type poliovirus in 1998: 0.
  • Average annual number of measles cases in 1958-1962: 503,282.
    U.S. cases in 1998: 89.
  • The number of mumps cases in 1968: 152,209.
    U.S. cases in 1998: 606.
  • Average annual number of rubella cases in 1966-1968: 47,745.
    U.S. cases in 1998: 345.
  • Estimated average annual number of cases of congenital rubella syndrome in 1966-1968: 823.
    U.S. cases in 1998: 5.
  • Estimated average annual number of Hib cases before vaccine licensure: 20,000.
    U.S. cases in 1998: 54. (Barrett)

If you look at the time periods offered and then compare to the later dates and the amounts of people infected it suggests that that not only is there a need but as I said before many of these diseases we are immunizing against can be fatal or can lead to another disease that is known to cause fatalities. No parent wants their child to die. I doubt many of the people involved in these anti-immunization groups have children or have children that were not influenced by the shot in a negative way. In the discussion of the OPV I pointed out that there has been a very small percentage, but one to recognize that children were in fact infected with the polio virus because of regaining enough strength to pose a threat. As a parent, I recognize the risk and the factors that could cause my son to have gotten infected with the shots. But I also look at the statistics of how fast it can infect and even kill and the risk is worth it.

Now as said before, I was going to discuss the current issues of the mumps outbreak here locally. “300 confirmed or suspected cases of mumps have been reported in 39 Iowa counties since Jan. 1,” Courier writer Jens Krogstad says. It was posed in this article as well that there is potential that this strain that is affecting our state and now spreading out of our state boundaries actually came from the United Kingdom.

With the large amounts of foreign exchange students that come here to study and the many students that go over seas, it is quite possible someone contracted the virus and brought it back to expose the United States population. Ironically this strain is attacking primarily late teens and early twenty year olds. Similar age ranges to those of the college years, leading this assumption to be a strong possibility of being the starting point.

Many of those contracting the virus have been immunized and not actually contracted the virus itself, which means their body has a 95% chance of immunity to the measles, mumps, and rubella. Due to a close tie between the University of Northern Iowa and Malcolm Price Laboratory School the virus has since moved into this all age school. The close interactions with those from the University of Northern Iowa in most cases would not be a threat but as of the 6th of April, over half of the reported cases in the county were located at the university. It’s safe to suggest the entire population of children at this school have been exposed; due to the more recent exposure to the immunizations the younger populations are not suffering as extreme symptoms.

This, I have reason to believe, is because my son, Joseph, is currently suffering from some minor fevers and swellings on his throat that showed up early evening April 12th, 2006. Now being that they were hard to see I sent him to school the next day thinking they were gone and it was just a bug bite. Apparently they were not gone and the school had me pick him up and take him into the physician to have him checked out. They ran three different types of tests and told us it takes 3 days for the tests to be processed for mumps.

There is a requested quarantine of 5 days after the onset of symptoms being implemented. After speaking with a county health official on the 18th after a positive test result finally came back, I learned that they are actually requiring all swelling to be gone which in most cases 5 days is enough. Unfortunately, my son is home for his 7th day and the swelling increased in size due to a joyful and incapable-to-sit-still day occurred which used a lot of his energy to combat the virus. It is my understanding that the mumps incubation period is usually 16 to 18 days, although it may vary from 14 to 25 days. The health officials believe that the contraction of the virus occurred right around the time of the school’s spring break. To ensure it was not a public event he got it at they asked if he had been at any events during that time. To my knowledge there were no such events.

Mumps is contagious seven days prior to and up to nine days after the onset of symptoms. The movement of people in society makes this disease capable of spreading very easily and very fast, especially with the fact that there is such a long period of being contagious without any signs or symptoms for warning.

There is suggestion that this is a strain based out of Europe; potentially a super bug that has built up potency against the vaccinations. Now if this is the case it only proves my argument that there needs to be a universal standard that is absolutely being implemented across the world. The current standards appear to be working in almost all cases, but for the sake of the Russian population being sure to get all the vaccinations, not just one and call it good, is a necessity for the country to protect its place in the world. Without a population, there isn’t a country.

 

Krogstad, Jens Manuel. “Mumps Epidemic Continues to Spread.” Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier. 6 April 2006 <http://www.wcfcourier.com/ >

Downing, Eric. “Russian Vaccination Schedule”. 8 Jan. 2001. 17 April 2006 <http://www.russianadoption.org/Rusvac.htm>

Medem International Clinic and Hospital. Well-Baby Program. 2005. MEDEM International Clinic & Hospital.12 March 2006 <http://www.medem.ru/english/program/baby/>

World Health Organization. 2006. World Health Organization. 12 March 2006 <http://www.who.int/en/>

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccine Information Statements. 25 April 2006 Center for Disease Control. 12 April 2006 <http://www.cdc.gov/nip/publications/VIS/>

Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Academy of Family Physicians. “Recommended Childhood Immunization Schedule”. 1999 Iowa Department of Public Health. 17 April 2006 <http://www.idph.state.ia.us/isiis/99sched.htm>

Iowa Department of Public Health. “Public health officials identifying approaches to stop spread among Iowans”. 13 April 2006. Iowa Department of Public Health. 17 April 2006 <http://www.idph.state.ia.us/common/press_releases/2006/mumps_investigation_041306.asp>

Iowa Department of Public Health.  “Mumps Cases Continue to Increase”. 17 March 2006. Iowa Department of Public Health. 17 April 2006 <http://www.idph.state.ia.us/common/press_releases/2006/mumps_031706.asp>

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Parents’ Guide to Childhood Immunization” 2006. Every Child by Two. 17 April 2006 <http://www.ecbt.org/parents.htm#guide>

Barrett, Stephen M.D. “Misconceptions about Immunization”. 21 April 2001.Quakewatch.17 April 2006 <http://www.quackwatch.org/03HealthPromotion/immu/immu00.html>

Kids Health. “Common Children Illnesses and Infections”. 2001. Prairie Public Broadcasting. 12 April 2006 <http://www.prairiepublic.org/features/healthworks/kids/mumps.htm>

The Facts Will Speak for Themselves

The Azande and Salem societies have many differences and some similarities, but with a few changes with the Salem society things could have been a lot harder to escalate to the point they did. Both communities believed in witches; to the Azande witches are common occurrence and are discomfort to lives but their magic can be easily rectified. In Salem, to be a witch was a conscious choice and a threat to the community and their holy pact with their god. I feel its safe to say that the hysteria of Salem Village could have been minimized had their legal processes required more solid evidence.

Their legal process was not their only factor in what failed to stop the hysteria, but it was a large factor in what made it so easy to accuse and convict people of witch craft. The society of the Azande is not nearly as concerned with who the witch is but more in stopping the curses. In their society, being a witch is a congenital issue, like any genetic disorder. Either you are or you are not a witch; you can’t cure it – only suppress it into a state of submission. This process is quite similar to taking medication for HIV to make sure it doesn’t become full blown AIDS. It’s something of an inconvenience, but it is not something that completely hinders you from being a fully functional member of society and does not say that you are a bad person.

In Salem, to be a witch you must choose to be one and thus were going against the society to do so. The social structure was based on following the ways of their god, and in becoming a witch you turned your back on their societal ways and their religious practices to assist the polar opposition of their god. This choice of where you stood religiously also determined where you would stand socially. A “those who are not with us are against us” mentality was ready and only needed a gentle push from someone to move the concern into full hysteria. But there were some positive things that both societies did in handling the situation of witch accusations.

The Azande and Salem communities dealt with witches in a similar fashion; doing court proceedings with “evidence” from the spiritual and physical planes. The court proceedings were overseen by a head representative of the society who delivers fair punishments based on the evidence provided to them. Those in these positions were placed in this power by the social requirements. Azande had a birth determined status; in Salem it was a decision by the social group. Unfortunately, the Salem village community initially decided to allow the church to have a large influence over their proceedings. This decision escalated the concern of identifying witches into a religious manhunt of individuals who were not active enough in the society/church or did not meet the standards of the church representatives.

Initially, one of the problems Salem’s overseers made was allowing spectral evidence. This evidence was quite easily tampered with and also was based on only the afflicted’s accounts. “In the course of an extended dispute with a neighbor, she pronounced a curse upon her adversary…the spell was successful until the victim moved to another town.” (Weisman 139) This accusing party was expected to tell the truth in the court of law.

But had the specter appeared as someone else there was no check-and-balance system for validating or invalidating information from the other realm. In a case where one person was on trial and another was actually the tormentor, the accuser could identify the person on trial out of denial that the true tormentor would or could do that to them. For example, had “Fine Upstanding Citizen A” been doing the tormenting, a good citizen would believe it a “trick” or believe it impossible because of how “good” he was so the accuser would blame another for the apparition’s appearance being such. Lack of collaborating or disproving evidence made these trials very hard for those overseeing to approach in a fair manner.

Unlike the Azande, the Salem community had no concrete evidence that could not be tampered with from the other plane of existence. The Azande societal laws called for not only another person to be present to witness the consultation, but also many times there were multiple people consulting the poison oracle at once. “The operator does not moisten the poison till the rest of the party arrive.” (Evans-Pritchard 135) This put a control on the poison and how it was concocted so should all the birds live or die at a consultation; they can safely say that the poison was improperly formed. “…The failure of the oracle was attributed its failure to (1) the wrong variety of poison having been gathered, (2) breach of a taboo, (3) witchcraft, (4) anger of the owners of the forest where the creeper grows, (5) age of the poison, (6) anger of the ghosts, (7) sorcery, (8) use,” (Evans-Pritchard 155) making it explainable for errors and how they might have come about.

The other good thing about the Azande approach to consulting the other plane was their requirement of three major forms of validating proof. They were all of a physical form that could be used to argue for or against the accusations of a witch. The fact there was multiple options for dialogue with the other plane also played a role as an alternate source if an unlikely answer were to come forward. Giving a form of check and balance system. These forms of evidence were also physical so they could be provided to a court if there was any question of the validity. This allows the Azande to commune, as well as verify, what they are told for the courts to ensure that the other plane gets proper representation in the house of law.

This practice of approaching the spiritual plane for information beyond just the afflicted’s account gives a chance for a more balanced reference as well as a better chance of odds. With only one source being approached it is a 1:2 chance of a specific outcome. With two sources it makes it a 1:4 chance and with three it’s a 1:8 to get a specific outcome. A 12.5% chance to for sure get the same outcome versus a 50% sounds far more pleasant if your life is on the line.

A faith based society with no outlet for venting negativity or dealing with bad situations was a volatile situation waiting to explode. Increasing tensions, difficulty in communications, unsure status in the society both on earth and in the eyes of god, it was an unstable situation. The verification process of the Azande could have helped protect the citizens from mass hysteria; due to the religious extreme’s of Salem village, those who operated any form of protection or consultation of the other planes was a witch and there for a threat to their perfect society. And thus there was no saving them from themselves.

Caught in the Middle of a Moral Atrocity

Caught in the Middle of a Moral Atrocity

The Native Americans avoided being placed into slavery by proving “unfit” when the colonists first settled.  But they found themselves still amidst the battles over acceptance, slavery, and social injustice.  Though many were still treated with disdain, some Native Americans found the comforts of owning slaves a pleasant alternative to their daily hardships.  The choice of taking slaves was morally wrong from the modern stand point, but at the time was the most empathetic thing they could do.

Luke Valasquez de Ayllon kidnapped and transported large quantities of Native Americans to Cuba in a form of exportation slave trade as far back as 1518 (Brownell 121).  The idea of owning slaves to a Native American had to have been very distasteful to themselves.  Due to their traditions pre-colonization of the Europeans, the Native Americans did take captives as slaves.  Their society did not look at slaves as property or cattle as Seybert explains, “Although they sometimes exchanged enslaved Indians with other tribes in peace gestures or in exchange for their own members.” Their captives were treated in ways that were not as the slaves we now think of today.  But in our modern world captives went free after they were taken captive and slaves were indebted so there really isn’t a correct definition to fit those they had control over.

Holland Braund points out that the “Creeks did not equate slavery with race.”(601) The Native American attitudes on slavery were completely different than the Europeans perspective.  To the Native Americans pre-colonial times, the slaves were just war captives.  Most children and women who were taken captive during war were actually put into bondage to extend the family lines to make up for those they lost and have them participate in activities just as the Native American women of the tribe did..  Eventually the Native Americans would either release them back to their old tribes or consider them more family than slaves.

As the Europeans introduced the new forms of slavery to the Native Americans chose to sell their captives to the slave traders to respond to the demand for slaves.  The Apalachee Indians were nearly whipped out by the Creeks invasions.  Selling their enemies seemed to be the most profitable use for their captives rather than keeping them.  As time went on the Creeks also found that hunting escaped slaves was profitable as well.  Holland Braund documented that a gentleman named, “Taitt incurred many other expenses in connection with these slaves.  In addition to providing food and clothing for the runaways while they were in his possession, Taitt had to hire horses and guard, provisions for them, pay for handcuffs for several of the slaves and ‘reimburse the Indians for items the slaves stole’ while they were transporting…Creeks clearly had invited a very lucrative game.” With getting paid with each capture they would conveniently “loose” the captives and get reimbursed for recapturing them again.  (Holland Braun 614)o

Of the slaves the Native Americans took, at least in the beginning, the men were not asked to do fieldwork because that was considered a task that women did.  “Instead, male slaves cleared fields, tended cattle, hunted, and erected houses and other buildings.” (Holland Braun 622) They were treated similar to members of the tribe for the most part as they were not separated from the society as they were in the European house holds.

The legal status of the slaves in the south is very well put in Sirman’s documentation, “When these people [Negroes] are thus bought, there Masteres, or Owners, have then as good a Right to title to them, during their lives, as a Man has here to a Horse or Ox, after he has bought them.” (467) Slaves were treated as chattel more than human beings, socially and economically.  It is obvious that there was a social conception that there was no need for the European slave owners to be concerned with them or their well being anymore than there was for the animals in the barn.

The proof of this disregard for human life and lack of compassion for well being of the slaves is shown quite clearly in the listing of assets the deceased. The probates listings of what was up for auction when someone would pass away in South Carolina are an excellent example.  “The inventories always included the decedent’s slaves, which strongly suggests that in probate proceedings slaves were considered chattels rather than real estate or servants of some kind.” (Sirmans 462)

 

According to historians the first slaves didn’t exist in America until long after Luke Valasquez de Ayllon’s deportation.  But when they discuss the first slaves they are discussing the imported African slaves.  The exportation of slaves and the Native Americans that were held as slaves are not recognized as slavery in most references.  The Indian wars of the early 18th century combined with the growing availability of African slaves essentially ended the Indian slave trade by 1750.

Though the country was in turmoil over the topic of the slaves, the war over the Native American reservations land was still going on.  Many of the reservations were constantly battling greedy neighbors over their land.  In some places petitions were brought to court such as the Gregory Petition of 1843 (Hauptman 68) that suggested that there was just reason to remove land from descendants of intermarriages of free blacks and native Americans  because they no longer resembled the native Americans physically.  Of course there was no justification for this accusation provided but it was a starting ground of the destruction of many of the already depleting land that had once belonged to the few tribes that still remained.

There were some attempts to educate and civilize the Native Americans early on but the colonial attitude quickly became “The way of conquering them is much more easy than of civilizing them by fair means” (Boskin 13).  They had desired to eliminate the religious practices and envelope the society since they could not be conquered.

This lack of recognition and ability to practice their heritage not only separated the generations but also was causing social separation between those with similar situation.  There were laws put into action that punished those who chose to become interracially married with free blacks.  Giving them only a few months to be wed, then required them to leave the area.

These laws mainly hindered land owners from getting married and making more free blacks property owners.  This also provided a bonus for those searching for more property.  Anyone who did choose to marry and left town was no longer allowed to retain their rights to that land, making it became available for purchase.

Free blacks were almost as restricted as the enslaved ones.  They weren’t allowed to vote, despite their meeting the requirements of being male and owning land.  The right to bear arms was denied to the free blacks.  Not to mention that they could not serve as a witness in a court trial.  These rights that were available to all others were denied allowing for them to become more vulnerable and able to control.

There were also movements to disarm the Native Americans in 1857 (Hauptman 68) which was halted but prompted another movement to start a census to eliminate those who were ¼ blood or less from the reservations.  So anyone who was a grandchild of a interracial marriage would be no longer recognized as a Native American and would treated as a “free black” even though ¾ of them were still of Native American decent.  This designation of ethnicity Helped eliminate the reason for large spans of land for Native Americans.

The Underground Railroad was used to help free the blacks who were bound into slavery and needed freed up until the time of the war.  Some Native Americans chose to help in the freeing of the slaves, others were hired as huntsman to track down fugitive slaves and return them to their shackles.  At this point the physical body was an item for purchase and therefore the souls in those bodies suffered should their freedom be restrained.

The slavery of the Europeans was very common and very well known for excessive castigation.  The physical abuse and mental destruction done by the early colonists to their slaves was no doubt clear and concise example of abuse and inhumane situations.  But all the while it was accepted that the condition and health of the slaves were between the master and the slave.

Even the battles over slavery raged through the houses of the government over where the lines of society should be drawn.  Senator Wilson of Massachusetts expressed clearly how the concept of slavery itself was destroying the laws and regulations they were attempting to write, “Slavery is the prolific mother of those monstrous enactments.  Bid slavery disappear from the District of Columbia, and it will take along with it this whole brood of brutal, vulgar, and indecent statutes.” (Wilson 51)

The concept of slavery in and of itself has been a crucial creation of many empires.  Sadly our country is one of those ones that wronged people by enacting this heartless custom.  Even though this war and the actions of these people from so long ago seem so distant in our memory, it wasn’t that long ago that people were items on a shelf waiting for someone to purchase their rights and existence.

Even today we have examples of slavery and the social attitude on slaver in our entertainment.  In Star Wars series one of the main characters is a slave himself.  His son is born free but purchases slaves for their farm.  Even though the son purchases android slaves he still represents a good respectful owner who cares for his slaves as though they were employees.  In many scenes there are examples of brutality of slaves expressing that there are bad slave owners but some good people had slaves too.  The Native American’s that had slaves might have owned them but they treated them like unpaid employees.

 

Works Cited

Boskin, Joseph.  Into Slavery: Racial Decisions in the Virginia Colony.  Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, Inc, 1979.

Brownell, Charles de Wolf.  Indian Races of the North and South America.  Hartford: Harlbut, Scranton, & Co., 1864.

Hauptman, Laurence M.  Between Two Fires: American Indians in the Civil War.  New York: The Free Press, 1995.

Holland Braund, Kathryn E.  “The Creek Indians, Blacks, and Slavery.” The Journal of Southern History LVII 4 (1991): 601-636.

Wilson, Henry.  History of the Antislavery Measures of the Thirty-seventh and Thirty-eighth United States Congress, 1861-64.

Seybert, Tony.  “Slavery and Native Americans in British North America and the United States: 1600 to 1865” http://www.slaveryinamerica.org/history/hs_es_indians_slavery.htm

Sirmans, M.  Eugene.  “The Legal Status of the Slave in South Carolina, 1670-1740”.  The Journal of Southern History (1962): 462-473.

Aztec Religion

El pantheon de Aztec era absolutamente grande y variado.  Había dioses relacionados con la creación del cosmos, a la fertilidad, a la regeneración, a la muerte, a la guerra, y al alimento sacrificatorio del sol.  Los dioses tenían diversos papeles y también fueron representados en diversas maneras.  Los dos dioses a quienes los dos templos más importantes del mundo de Aztec eran dedicados eran Huitzlopochtli (el deity supremo del Aztecs asociado al sol y al fuego) y Tatloc, el dios de la lluvia, que entre otras cosas fue asociado a fertilidad.

 

El pantheon de Aztec fue organizado jerárquico con los dioses que ocupaban los varios niveles verticales mencionados arriba.  La capa más alta fue ocupada por “Ometeotl” que era varón y hembra, representando por lo tanto el principio de la dualidad.  El aspecto masculino de Ometeotl, llamado nuestro señor de la subsistencia tenía con todo dos aspectos nombraron Ometicuhtli y Tonacatecuhtli.  El aspecto femenino, llamado “nuestra señora de la subsistencia” tenía también dos aspectos nombrados Omecihuatl y Tonacacihuatl.  Este par generó a cuatro niños (dios Tezcatlipoca rojo – espejo que fuma -, dios Tezcatlipoca negro, dios Quetzalcoatl – plumed la serpiente -, dios Huitzi Lopochthi – pájaro del tarareo) que crearon el universo y sus leyes.  A pesar de su importancia, no adoraban a estos dioses tanto como los dioses relacionados con los cuerpos celestes y con la fertilidad.  De importancia particular era el dios del sol sin quien no habría mundo.  Según el un mito de Aztec, un dios se sacrificó en un fuego de modo que él pudiera hacer el sol;  sin embargo una vez que él hubiera hecho el sol, él no reapareció hasta que lo alimentaron con la sangre de el resto de dioses.  El mito del nacimiento de los provids del dios del sol el baisis de la práctica de la muerte sacrifical, incluyendo muerte sacrificatoria humana.

 

Los rites y las ceremonias religiosos donde relacionado con los varios aspectos y necesidades de la vida de Aztec.  La adoración fue hecha con las ofrendas, rezos, realizando los actos simbólicos, juegos, sacrificios.  Los rituales diarios fueron asociados al alimento, y a thanksgiving.  Las ceremonias fueron realizadas en los templos que podrían ser redondos o pyramidal.  Unido a los templos había cortes para el juego de la bola (tlachtli), las piedras sacrificatorias (techcatl) y otras áreas especiales para las diversas clases de rituales y de ceremonias.  Aunque los rituales diferenciaron de lugar al lugar que siguieron una estructura básica que consistió en la preparación que ayunaba, la purificación y las ofrendas después de lo cual vinieron el sacrificio de la sangre que era un acto de la importancia importante para el Aztec.  Para ellas no podía haber nueva vida sin muerte.

 


The Aztec pantheon was quite large and varied. There were gods related to the creation of the cosmos, to fertility, regeneration, death, war, and the sacrificial nourishment of the sun. The gods had different roles and were also represented in different ways. The two gods to whom the two most important temples in the Aztec world were dedicated were Huitzlopochtli (the supreme deity of the Aztecs associated with sun and fire) and Tatloc, the rain god, that among other things was associated with fertility.

 

The Aztec pantheon was organized hierarchically with gods occupying the various vertical levels mentioned above. The highest layer was occupied by “Ometeotl” that was both male and female, representing therefore the principle of duality. The male aspect of Ometeotl, called our lord of subsistence had yet two aspects named Ometicuhtli and Tonacatecuhtli. The female aspect, called “our lady of subsistence” had also two aspects named Omecihuatl and Tonacacihuatl. This couple generated four children (God Red Tezcatlipoca -Smoking mirror-, God Black Tezcatlipoca, god Quetzalcoatl -plumed serpent-, God Huitzi Lopochthi -humming bird) that created the universe and its laws. Despite their importance, these gods were not worshiped as much as the gods related to the celestial bodies and to fertility. Of particular importance was the sun god without whom there would be no world. According to the one Aztec myth, one god sacrificed himself into a fire so that he could become the sun; however once he had become the sun, he did not reappear until he was nourished with the blood of all the other gods. The myth of the birth of the sun god provids the baisis of the practice of sacrifical death, including human sacrificial death.
The religious rites and ceremonies where related to the various aspects and needs of Aztec life. Worship was done through offerings, prayers, performing symbolic acts, games, sacrifices. Daily rituals were associated with food, and thanksgiving. The ceremonies were performed in the temples that could be round or pyramidal. Attached to the temples there were courts for the ball game (tlachtli), sacrificial stones (techcatl) and other special areas for the different kinds of rituals and ceremonies. Though the rituals differed from place to place they followed a basic structure that consisted of preparation- fasting, purification and offerings- after which came blood sacrifice that was an act of major importance for the Aztec. For them there could be no new life without death.

 

Clockwise, the days of the Aztec Calendar are as follows:

Twenty Days of the Aztec Month

  1. Snake – Coatl
  2. Lizard – Cuetzpallin
  3. House – Calli
  4. Wind – Ehecatl
  5. Crocodile – Cipactli
  6. Flower – Xochitl
  7. Rain – Quiahuitl
  8. Flint – Tecpatl
  9. Movement – Ollin
  10. Vulture – Cozcacuauhtli
  11. Eagle – Cuauhtle
  12. Jaguar – Ocelotl
  13. Cane – Acatl
  14. Herb – Malinalli
  15. Monkey – Ozomatli
  16. Hairless Dog – Itzquintli
  17. Water – Atl
  18. Rabbit – Tochtli
  19. Deer – Mazatl
  20. Skull – Miquiztli

 

Religion was extremely important in Aztec life. They worshipped hundreds of gods and goddesses, each of whom ruled one or more human activities or aspects of nature. The people had many agricultural gods because their culture was based heavily on farming; also they included natural elements and ancestor-heroes. These gods included:

CENTEOTL, the corn god.

COATLICUE – She of the Serpent Skirt.

EHECATL, the god of wind.

HUEHUETEOTL, “the old, old deity,” was one of the names of the cult of fire, among the oldest in Mesoamerica. The maintenance of fires in the temples was a principal priestly duty, and the renewal of fire was identified with the renewal of time itself.

HUITZILOPOCHTLI, (the war/sun god and special guardian of Tenochtitlan) the deified ancestral warrior-hero, was the Mexica-Aztec patron par excellence. His temple (next to that of Tlaloc) on the Main Pyramid was the focus of fearsome sacrifices of prisoners captured by Aztec warriors. Victims’ heads were strung as trophies on a great rack, the Tzompantli, erected in the precinct below.

MICTLANTECUHTLE, god of the dead.

OMETECUHLTI and his wife OMECIHUATL created all life in the world.

QUETZALCOATL, (the god of civilization and learning) “quetzal (feather) serpent,” had dozens of associations. It was the name of a deity, a royal title, the name of a legendary priest-ruler, a title of high priestly office. But its most fundamental significance as a natural force is symbolized by the sculpture of a coiled plumed serpent rising from a base whose underside is carved with the symbols of the earth deity and Tlaloc. The image of the serpent rising from the earth and bearing water on its tail is explained in the Nahuatl language by a description of Quetzalcoatl in terms of the rise of a powerful thunderstorm sweeping down, with wind raising dust before bringing rain.

TEZCATLIPOCA, (god of Night and Sorcery) “Smoking Mirror” (obsidian), characterized as the most powerful, supreme deity, was associated with the notion of destiny. His cult was particularly identified with royalty, for Tezcatlipoca was the object of the lengthy and reverent prayers in rites of kingship.

TLALOC, the rain deity, belonged to another most memorable and universal cult of ancient Mexico. The name may be Aztec, but the idea of a storm god especially identified with mountaintop shrines and life-giving rain was certainly as old as Teotihuacan. The primary temple of this major deity was located atop Mt. Tlaloc, where human victims were sacrificed to fertilize water-rocks within the sacred enclosure. In Tenochtitlan another Tlaloc temple shared the platform atop the dual Main Pyramid, a symbolic mountain.

TONATIUH, the sun, was perceived as a primary source of life whose special devotees were the warriors. The warriors were charged with the mission to provide the sun with sacrificial victims. A special altar to the sun was used for sacrifices in coronation rites, a fact that signifies the importance of the deity. The east-west path of the sun determined the principal ritual axis in the design of Aztec cities.

TONANTZIN, “honored grandmother,” was among the many names of the female earth-deity.

TEZCATLIPOCA, an all-powerful god; Tonatiuh, the sun god.

XILONEN, “young maize ear,” and Chicomecoatl, “seven serpent,” were principal deities of maize representing the chief staple of Mesoamerican peoples.

XIPE TOTEC, the god of springtime and regrowth.

XIUHTECUHTLE the fire god.

Being

Being Existential

“A being who is not what he is and is what he is not”

To think you have individual thought is not possible because as a child you learned that this is this and that is that. You were taught that you do not defecate in your pants because you are supposed to use the potty. It is NOT your idea to do so yet you do it every day. On the other hand you do not think yourself to be like someone you despise because they have qualities you don’t have. But at the same time they despise you for despising them, so therefore you have mutual dislike. There for you have similar qualities and are THUS you are alike.

So what you think you ARE, you are not; and what you are NOT is what you truly are.

 

My attempt at trying to understand the existentialist perspective on the quote in the first line.

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Judeo-Christian God’s Apparent Position on Polygamy

In parallel cultures simultaneous in time with the Old Testaments happenings are texts with clear discussions of approval on polygamous activities, such as how a first wife should interact with the following wives in Buddhism’s Kama Sutra. What I have not seen is a clear discussion on whether the Judo-Christian God approves of polygamy? I do believe that the Old Testament contains detailed information that provides a solid foundation that God must either consent to or be impartial to this subject.

Polygamy was fairly common in the early centuries as that it was custom to take second wives in the cases of barren first wives or heirless estates or female prisoners of war on as concubines. “When you go out to war against your enemies, and the LORD your God hands them over to you and you take them captive, suppose you see among the captives a beautiful woman whom you desire and want to marry, and so you bring her home to your house: she shall shave her head, pare her nails, discard her captive’s garb, mourning her father and mother; after that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife.” (Deuteronomy 21:10-14) It was believed that as long as you could support your wives, then it was feasible to marry a multitude of women.

In Leviticus the LORD advises Moses is to inform to the people who are following him of what the procedures of their new life shall be in regards to sexual procedures, what is not appropriate, and what will be the consequences of those actions. “The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: I am the LORD your God. You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you… None of you shall approach anyone near of kin to uncover nakedness: I am the LORD… You shall not uncover the naked­ness of your father… she is your mother… of your fa­ther’s wife… of your sister, your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether born at home or born abroad… of your son’s daughter or of your daughter’s daughter… of your fa­ther’s wife’s daughter, begotten by your fa­ther, since she is your sister… of your father’s sister… of your moth­er’s sister… of your father’s brother, that is, you shall not approach his wife; she is your aunt… of your daughter-in-law: she is your son’s wife… of your brother’s wife…” (Leviticus 18:1-16) In this passage he focuses on the personal family lineage of the person committing the sexual act. The only act that is not specifically spoken of is that of seeing the nakedness of the father, himself. Which in turn that lack of mention negates any wrong doing that might be considered in part in regards to the acts of Lots daughters to keep his family lineage going.of a woman and her daughter, and you shall not take her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter to uncover her naked­ness… it is depravity. And you shall not take a woman as a rival to her sister, uncovering her naked­ness while her sister is still alive. You shall not have sexual relations with your kinsman’s wife, and defile yourself with her…  You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. You shall not have sexual relations with any animal and defile yourself with it, nor shall any woman give herself to an animal to have sexual rela­tions with it: it is perversion.” (Leviticus 18:17-23) This passage says nothing in regards to polygamy yet it discusses what is in inappropriate actions with other’s families and also even discusses outside of the human race. It would be expected that if anywhere this would be a perfectly sensible place to make notation of what would be in improper in God’s eyes.

Nowhere in these passages of Leviticus does it discuss that a second wife is not permitted. One would expect that if God had an issue with polygamy it would be noted here or in Leviticus 20:10-21 that discusses what should transpire when God’s laws are broken. Textual documentation of God calling for the burning in the case of depravity; committers of adultery, perversion, and abominations are commanded to death; the act of bestiality demands the death of both animal and person; seeing siblings naked or having sex during a menstrual cycle require separation for society; lying with a parent’s sibling or living sibling’s wife is subject to punishment and life long childlessness. Nowhere here does it express any suggestion that God disapproves of polygamy. Which in turn leads me to point out that were it not for polygamy that some of the great men in Gods holy lineage would not have been born.

In the Old Testament there are many examples of men who had they not been polygamous, some of those heirs that do Gods will would have never been born. The first man mentioned in the Old Testament that had two wives was Lamech, Adam and Eve’s great great-great-great-grandson, in Genesis 4:19. Granted had it not been for Able’s untimely death, Seth would have not have been planned to be born. But being that Lamech was the descendant of Cain, his recognition as a holy lineage probably died the day Cain killed his brother. But there are others who are recognized in the book as well that are more respected.

Genesis 38 contains discussion of Judah and his son Er who died before his wife Tamar could bear Er an heir. Onan, Judah’s second son, refused to insure the family line and God struck him down for his actions. Before Judah’s son Shela was of childbearing age, Judah lay with a prostitute or so he thought, who was in fact Tamar. Tamar kept personal items of Judah’s to ensure “payment” for his lay, which was her salvation when she was found to be with child and in “violation” of her marriage agreement. Upon recognition of who the father was of the twins Tamar was carrying, all was “forgiven” and Judah recognized his error. The first-born child was Perez, David’s predecessor. Perez, according to the last verse of Ruth, was David’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather. The next heir of polygamous birth in the Old Testament was in Ruth, the son of Boaz.

In Ruth, Boaz also took a second wife to gain land and an heir which he approached the cities participants for permission. “I have acquired from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and Mahlon. I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, the wife of Mahlon, to be my wife, to maintain the dead man’s name on his inheritance.” (Ruth 4:9-10) Not only did he gain permission from the town elders the union also was blessed by all who were present. “May the LORD make the woman who is coming into your house like Rachel and Leah who together build up the house of Israel…”(Ruth 4:11) This blessing and this union would have in fact a very profound effect on Israel, for from this marriage a child was born to Ruth, whom Naomi cared for as her own. This child was named Obed, the grandfather of David, THE King David. Without this union, yet another second marriage, King David would have never been born.

God speaks often of King David in the highest regard, as over and over again kings who followed his reign are compared to him and how his kingdom ran. He, himself, had multiple wives whom bore many children to him. He was respected and honored by God so far that God gave David’s descendants, to some extent, forgiveness for their disrespect of God solely because they were his heirs.

David was told that his heir would build a monument to God for worship to Yahweh, and that God would care for him as his own son. “When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings. But I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me, your throne shall be established forever.” (2 Samuel 7: 12-16) The son who became king was not of David’s first wife, nor was it the first son with another. That son was the child of Bathsheba, who became David’s wife after her husband died.

Bathsheba’s first born with David died at God’s hand not because he took her as an additional wife, but because he committed sin against her husband and took his one wife when he already had the many he inherited with the throne. “‘The rich man had very many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought… Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or heard to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.’ … ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from the hand of Saul; I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom… You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife… Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD, the child that is born to you shall die.’” (2 Samuel 12: 2-14)  David laid night and day on the ground praying that God would forgive his actions and spare his first born with Bathsheba, but after 7 days the child perished. But after the first-born was lost he brought a second child into the world, that child was Solomon, which was the son who became king.

King Solomon was said to have had 700 wives of royal standing along with 300 concubines. “King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women.” (1 Kings 11:1) These women of royal standing might have been meant to ensure that there would be a solid reason to not be attacked by the other local factions. These unions were not offensive to God for the fact of polygamy, but immoral in fact for that many of these woman were of other provinces, and therefore of other religions. Polygamous religions that God instructed David’s predecessors to abolish but didn’t and therefore God desired his descendants not acknowledge.

God did indicate to Solomon of his objection to the religious conflicts that having polytheistic wives in a monotheistic home. “…from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the Israelites, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you; for they will surely incline your heart to follow their Gods”; Solomon clung to these in love.” (1 Kings 11:2) The awareness that these women would hold true to their father’s God and their children were brought to know their Gods before that of their father troubled David’s God. If the genealogy of King David did not grow to respect and love the God of their ancestor, then he would have no choice but to remind them of the one who saved their predecessors. When God fell out of their memory before God punished the people until they remembered Him and then rewarded them. God feared he would again have to punish the children of the man who he held with the greatest respect. Because of these women God forewarned Solomon about, his greatest fear came to be true: that the wife’s were of polytheistic background and would lead the Davidic family astray from the God’s devotion.

Time and time again God speaks of actions that he is displeased by: family relations, inter-religious relations, same-sex relations (specifically said male but it is unclear if female is included as well). Never once is he angered by the action of polygamy except in the case of King David’s wife Bathsheba; which his anger was that of David’s taking another man’s bride after having him murdered. Which in reference to the 10 commandments Moses brought, that would be a large sin on King David’s behalf. I would have to say that if God is not in favor of polygamy, he is definitely indifferent to it, as long as the marriage does not break the codes and laws he has set for mankind.

The New Oxford Annotated Bible. Coogan: Oxford University Press, Inc. 2001.

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Lao Tzu

It is believed that Lao Tzu was born between 604 and 570 BCE [McDowell: 339] in Ch’u (present-day Henan Province) and lived from approximately 570 to 490 B.C.E. His name, Lao Tzu (), translates as “old master” which sometimes leads him to be referred to as Lao Tan or Li Er.

Lao Tzu was the head librarian of the imperial archives for House of Zhou in Luoyang. With this station he was surrounded by thousands of ideas and thoughts of all the scholarly people before him on history, philosophy and literature offering him insights and wisdom unavailable to most others.

Accounts say that with Lao Tzu’s distaste of the government’s techniques of administration and with the House of Zhou beginning to decline Lao Tzu decided to leave civilization. Legends say Lao Tzu composed the Tao Te Jing at the Great Wall as he was about to leave for some unknown destination beyond through the Han Gu Pass. The guard Yin-his, a friend of Lao Tzu’s in some references, asked him to leave a written notation of his thoughts on the Tao for preservation.

There are many legends in regards to Lao Tzu as that little is known for sure of his life. It is argued that multiple people under a single pen name could have authored the Tao Te Jing. Another legend says that Confucius was drawn to Lao Tzu to learn from his wisdom; that after Confucius’s encounter with Lao Tzu, Confucius was said to have compared Lao Tzu to his students as a flying dragon that was “un-trappable.” [The Tao]

The Tao, http://www.thetao.info/tao/laotzu.htm

McDowell & Stewart, Handbook of Today’s Religions; Here’s Life Publishers, Inc; San Bernadino, 1983.

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