9 Sept 2011

My travel blog 2011-2

Travelblog 2011-2
Humanism is for the birds - by P.K.Odendaal - 28 July 2011.
Continuing my travelogue in Canada and the USA - July 2011. See Travelblog 2011-1 for first part.
I slept over at Alpena in Michigan - a town on the western shore of Lake Huron. At one of the many ports along this shore I noticed some black objects in the water forming a row. A person standing on the shore told me that it was buoys holding up the fishing nets, so I told him that they would never get away with that in South Africa. Lake Huron is so wide here that you cannot see the other shore - it looks like a sea and has an international boundary running in the middle of this sea. One can easily take a motorboat and travel from somewhere on the shore of Michigan to somewhere on the shore of Ontario. As the customs officials will not like this, I wonder how they are going to stop it other than getting some buoys to float them at the point where the imaginary boundary cuts through the water. I bet they will not have much time or inclination to search all my bags as they did at Port Huron - hanging in the water like that.

I am not going up to the north of Michigan as Pieter and I have covered that area with our Husky in the 2006 International Air Rally. In fact I still have some nostalgic memories of two incidents connected to Michigan.
In the first Pieter and I had to solve the following riddle : 'Fly to a place on the 110 radial and 94 nautical miles from the Escanaba VOR radio station and say what is strange about the transportation on this place.'  So we flew low level to this mysterious place, but being low, we lost reception of the radio beacon. How to solve that - easy - we climb to 8 000 ft and pick it up again. Careful now - on the exact place stated there is no land or transport and we find ourselves between two islands. This inaccuracy of position is typical of the French Canadian organisers for whom accuracy is of little importance, but we only found that out after we had had similar inaccuracies in the rest of the rally.  What to do now - easy - go to one of the islands and check the transport, so we go to the northern island and find no transport there - then again - easy - it must be the other island. When we get to the southern island - a very beautiful place called Mackinac Island and we find that there is no mechanical propelled vehicles - only bicycles and horse drawn carriages. So we solved the riddle. However it dawned upon me that it cannot apply to all the traffic on the island as there are aircraft taking off from the island and I cannot see how they take off without an engine - so typical of the inaccuracies we had to contend with - they could have said land transport. I wish they were so precise as the Dogsberry, the dumb constable in charge of the night watch in the Shakesperian play - Much ado about nothing - where he says that he is 'the cleverest of all people who are not more clever than he is.'
The second incident was in northern Michigan just south of Sault Saint Marie (pronounced Saw say mari). We received and instruction via Air Traffric Control that we must land at this very small airfield just over the border from S.S.Marie - they gave us the airfield code - so that we can go through customs. When we taxied up to the terminal building we saw two customs officials charging out of the building and yelling and waving at us - even before we came to a standstill. It looked to me as if they were intent on inflicting serious bodily harm on us. Pieter on the other hand thought that it would be better to stop at the refuelling bay, so that we do not have to start up again when we refill the aircradt. I shouted to Pieter to stop immediately, fearing that if he did not stop immediately, they would start shooting at us if we parked in the wrong position, similar to the policeman of Beki Cele shooting a white women for parking incorrectly at the police station (see my previous blog).
As they came nearer to the aircraft they shouted :
STOP !!!! ... and then ... SIT STILL !!!.
We were frozen in situ and I wondered whether I may blink my eyelids, when they yelled  that I should open the aircraft door.
WHERE ARE YOU FROM ???? from the arctic sir.
WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO ??? to south africa sir.

That was too much for them - who were we to poke fun at them. So it is interrogation and searching our bags over and over - finding nothing. It then dawned upon them that maybe , just maybe, we were telling the truth, as in fact we were.
After telling them of our adventure, one of them got very friendly and at one stage I thought he was going to give us the freedom of the United States or at least of some big city in it. The other however was adamant not to be caught off guard and remained inhuman.
I do not think I was ever as near to extradition to a far away place as that day.
I take customs officials as an epitome of inhuman human bureaucrats, but there are quite a few others of the same species like Speedcops and Criminals. I think they are a subspecies of the genus Homo Sapiens Sapiens, or maybe a sub species of a much earlier strain of Homo Erectus. I may be humiliating them unnecessary, for which I humbly apologize, but my point is - I need to address inhumane humans later in this blog and it seemed to me that htey would be  the most appropriate example. I may be wrong however and stand to be corrected. And why do I classify Criminals with them - simply because you cannot have these people (Cowboys) if you do not have Crooks Q.E.D.
As I travelled from east to west over Michigan I came to the beautiful town of Charlevoix (pronounced sjarlevoi). Their waterfront is awesome, but I could not spend too much time there. Charlevoix is on the eastern shoreline of Lake Michigan.
During these few days' travel I notice that I often take the wrong roads or the right ones in the wrong direction or the wrong turnoffs and I wonder why this is so, as in South Africa I never make a mistake with directions. Later I realise that it is the position of the sun, being always south in the northern hemisphere and north in the southern hemisphere, but try as I may I cannot get myself so far as to to reorientate myself through this 180 degree error. I find the error annoying, but also realise that in this way I see the wrong road twice - first by taking it and secondly by returning to the point I went wrong from the other direction. This wrong road then turns out be quite familiar to me - not being the one less travelled, and I take the spiritual and psychological significance of this to heart.
I take leave of Michigan as my mind takes flight in a total different direction as my heart and mind considers Humanism - why I would not know, but I know that I should  obey my mind and not my heart as "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? " - Jer 17:9. If my heart and mind agrees, then I know something is seriously wrong.
Agreed, my mind jumps off at a tangent and in the process takes many wrong roads, and it takes some effort from me and my heart to get it to go down the road less travelled.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

...Robert Frost
What is Humanism ? I think to love and respect humans. Oh - what a noble and commendable cause.
Then tell me why the world is filled with Inhumanism ? Oh - because humanism is a pipe dream - it cannot be realised or sustained for long. Also because it stands per definition in direct contrast to religion and God, in which a stick in the mud, like myself, still believe in.
Ok, there were excellent humanist philosophers like Thomas Paine, which I admire, but his fate tells the story of the acceptance of this doctrine.  There were only six mourners at his funeral of which two were black. The Christian Churches refused to bury him, and ultimately he was buried under a tree on his farm. The other most excellent One was killed on a cross.
And why does humanism not survive ? Lets make a small test :
Humanism is treating all humans equally well - with love, respect and compassion - regardless of their status, creed or condition. And this is where I and the rest of the human race all fail the test, as the first priority in our lives is to set our own self interest, safety and survival first in our lives.
If I take my wife as an example of someone I love, and I take an Al Qeada operative as someone I detest, I must be able to treat them both the same or equally well. That person who can do this must still be born - someone who is totally selfless and puts the safety, happiness and interest of all other humans (even if they are his enemies or he detests them) above his own - I know of only one such Man - He  was born in a manger and died on a cross 2000 years ago.
So Humanism must necessarily fail. Watch out for those so called humanists who are con artists and who use it only as a stepping stone to their own well being and interests. You see and hear them everyday as they expound the virtues of the items they want to sell to you, to improve your quality of life, but they omit  to mention the packet of money they are going to make out of you.
And now I am going to take you down the garden path of philosophy. Why do I say that ? Because that is where most of the philosophers took us the past 2400 years, with the possible exception of two - Plato and Socrates.   
Are you sure you wish to caution me against my misguided effort in making an excursion into the realm of philosophy ? Then I must remind you that it is common practise for fools like myself, to rush in where Angels fear to tread.
As far as I am concerned, there was only one real philosopher namely Plato, who said everything worth saying about philosophy, and it came upon generations of philosophers after him, to become philosophers just by quoting him. The contribution of Socrates is more in the field of logical thought (called the Socratric Method) and I do not classify him as a true philosopher.
Do you not agree - or shall we enter into debate about the so called greatest philopsopher of all time, Aristotle, who took mankind down the garden path for 2000 years, before we were able to prove the fallacies of his hypotheses. Or shall I quote Nietsche, who with his philosophy of Nihilism destroyed many of his followers before he self destructed by way of suicide. I can spend some time on others like Buddha and his non-existent Nirvana (sorry for the tautology of the last - it was not intended) or Mohammed, bringing a religion of self redemption which can never work for Inhumans,  or more recently people like Machiavelli with him Inhumanism, egging on rulers like Kings into cunning, amoralism, and opportunism (which took a world war to stop). I think of Isiah Berlin who I find totally pointless as the philosophy he stands for. I can go on - almost ad infinitum. Can you tell me of any philosopher who changed or improved the fate or life of mankind to the good, apart from the greatest of all philosophers - Jesus Christ.
Shall we all then be inhumane out of necessity? No never - none of us should be, except those mentioned customs officials - and everyone should strive to be like Jesus Christ - but that takes some doing. After many years of trying this, I have not even skimmed the surface and find myself, time and again, failing this test, but still - I will never give up this quest. I must admit however that the violent society I live in, does make it very difficult to show progress as I find myself continually switching off my heart and my conscience in the face of so much poverty, hopelessness, grief, self destruction, corruption and crime.
Take Somalia for instance - the most violent society in the world. Six million is busy dying of famine. As if this is not enough, Al Qaeda is fighting a civil war against the country's government forces to kill off many of the rest - real Nietchian if you ask me. Where do you begin - where do you end - and do you think a visit or the money of Bono, and others like himself, in order to gain popularity and avoid taxation in the process, is their solution - for sure not . Sorry Bono,  I might be wrong, but time will tell.
My point is - what can I do to avoid the destruction of that nation if they themselves are not interested in saving themselves ? Become a Humanist - I ? Never !!!!
And if Humanism is unattainable, what is ? And what are the alternatives ? Christianity as practised by the Church?  I do not think so. We were handed down a philosophy in the New Testament as pure, simple and perfect as can be had on Earth, but the Catholic Church (the largest Christian Church on Earth) has brought mankind into bondage and even killed more than a million people in the process. And then I am not even taking of the millions who lost their lives in conflicts started and fueled by the Jesuits. No thank you, sir !!!
Can the world be healed ?  I do not think so, but there was one exception ages ago where a town infested with crooks saved itself from total destruction. I think our Earth is infested with too many crooks to make a turnaroud.
Oh my !!!! This is now gotten so heavy, that I can't even proceed with writing it. Could it be that I am becoming a Humanist ?

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