Independence Day & Humanity’s Flaws

tattered american flag

As I sit here and work to type up a meaningful post on a conglomerate of issues in a chaotic country and world, with my shoulder pain, many thoughts go through my mind.

So many life-altering and difficult events have transpired so far this year. Most especially  the spread of the coronavirus, an economy teetering toward a depression, and the injustices that have existed in our country since its inception in one way or another, bubbling forth after the murder of George Floyd.

To top that off, I’ve forgotten several times that this is also an election year. My friend has reminded me at least three times in the past few weeks.

But what I see amid all of these tragic and chaotic events is a lack of nuance and looking at all the factors involved.

Instead, I see extreme views from every spectrum on the Covid issue, the destruction of statues issue, and the views of politicians.

I don’t want this post to turn into a novella, so I will attempt to make this as succinct as I can.

Regarding the coronavirus arguments. It’s frustrating to see so many people pick a side as if they’re rooting on a football team, digging their heels in and slamming on those who don’t agree with them, using extreme language like “communists” from one group and “selfish bastards” in the other.

Is there no middle or gray to this? In my experience, in just about everything in this world apart from God, as I’m a believer, is mostly in the gray.

Some comments on this coronavirus argument:

There is still conflicting reports on the health of masks. Not whether it keeps your spittle from spraying on people close to you, but rather if it is healthy to wear the same one all day, whether at a job or in a classroom/school–closed spaces. And if we’re wearing them properly. Scientists and doctors are still conflicted on this. Some say it’s healthy and good, others don’t. Therefore, it becomes a matter of which health experts you trust and/or believe.

The information that the sun’s UV rays kills the virus on surfaces in less than two minutes outside. With this information, I see no reason to wear a mask while walking outdoors or sitting outdoors from a distance.

I follow the requirements of wearing masks inside buildings, which makes sense. The reason this makes sense is because I’ve listened to many interviews with different doctors on the problems with ventilation within buildings. I’ve had this concern with nursing homes since this pandemic hit.

Can there be something done to fix buildings’ ventilating systems so that they’re cleaner? Why hasn’t somebody already come up with this decades ago? Certainly, there has got to be a way to make those systems cleaner and healthier for people working within those buildings and breathing in the recirculated air.

I know this isn’t an acceptable or tolerated view, but all views should be tolerated and given a listen with regards to doctors’ reports on medications that have shown good results in the healing of Covid patients. There are multiple reports from a top French doctor, doctors in Greece and other countries, as well as our own American doctors, that show hydroxychloroquine with zinc and azithromycin actually DOES help people suffering with Covid. You can check the many studies out there.

The discrepancy is in clinical trials versus actual use of it by doctors for their patients in real time. This is why some articles dismiss the potency of this treatment. But the actual evidence via doctors’ patients’ wellness after taking the medications early into their illness of the virus show non-disputable good results. Then again, with all the mixed reports, one is left again to select which health experts you want to trust.

One of the problems was during the lockdown, people couldn’t go to the doctor until they had symptoms, and by the time they got in to see the doctor, they were already at a more serious and latter stage of the illness. For the medications to work (and the dosages need to be way lower than the ridiculous 2400 mg/day, which of course, would end up killing anybody .. the acceptable dose is more like 400-600 mg./day), one needs to be seen earlier so that the medications can work properly. Obviously, they aren’t going to work on someone on the cusp of death on a ventilator.

Therefore, we should be using all medications that have been shown to help and heal people.

I think part of the problem is money and political bent, as well as maybe a bit of fear. A cheap drug that’s been around at least 60 years doesn’t do much for the big pharmaceutical industries. And nobody wants Trump to be right about HCQ (hydroxycholoroquine). If only people had the capacity to look outside their disdain for another human being and recognize when the information he shared from doctors is actually fleshing out to be correct. That it’s okay to say, “He may be right”.

That requires the nuance, moderate, objective viewpoint that is sorely lacking in this country.

One thing about ventilators. Unfortunately because nobody knew how to handle this virus since it was novel, new, they didn’t realize until a month or two later that ventilators were doing more damage than good.  Thankfully, I believe because WHO put out a notice of not recommending ventilators for treatment as the first resort, that I think regular oxygen was utilized, which may have been part of the factor for the plummeting in amount of deaths (around 90% less deaths) in the last month. Maybe that was coupled with the HCQ cocktail.

Everyone initially thought the pandemic would bring people together. That more outpouring of concern and love would blossom.

Perhaps that happened for the first month, but it fractured and has grown volatile since then.

We all are in this together, wanting treatments and medications that will help against Covid. Let’s keep an open mind, please.

Comments on the economy and injustices:

I believe these two subjects intersect. First off, people who are or were scraping to get by, to feed their families and wanted to re-open their small businesses should never have been ridiculed. If your children are hungry, near starving, would you say you’re selfish? How dare you? The one thing keeping you afloat in this money-centered society is about to go under, and you’re scared you’ll lose your life.

Suicides went up, as well as mental health issues. This can’t be ignored. It has to be taken into consideration, along with everything else.

woman on window sill sad

None of these problems are an EITHER/OR situation. Every aspect needs to be addressed and heard and dealt with.

The economy for the working class and middle class has been a true dilemma and struggle for many decades … at least 30-40 years now.

There is no denying the fact that the wealth in our nation has moved to the top and left most of the middle to bottom earners poorer. It has been shown the changes started in the mid to late 1970s. People’s wages stagnated and didn’t keep up with the increased prices of food, housing, etc.

Changes in our criminal justice and prison systems have caused more suffering. Our government never should have allowed private for-profit prisons. It’s been a horrible disaster and has ruined many lives since its inception. This, too, changed around the same time as the wages.

The militarizing of our local police around the country has also caused major problems. We need to go back to police as part of our communities, where they know the people in the neighborhoods and understand that Joe has Autism or Betty has bipolar. They need to be trained better in issues of mental health so that they treat those with mental health problems with compassion and humane treatment. And some police officers do. It’s not an all or nobody case. But the structure within the system isn’t strong on this.

This post is turning into what I didn’t want it to turn into.

But I must finish my thoughts on the movements to stop racism by some in the police and the overall embedded sickness of racism in our society.

As everyone knows by now, the horrible murder of George Floyd was the final straw for most African Americans and even for some whites. We’ve witnessed these inhumane acts against black people since cell phones could record them. But we all know these were happening before that throughout our history.

Therefore, all the protests and marches are justified.

protestors for Floyd

Then there was the looting and destruction of local stores, etc. Obviously, this isn’t right, and it was disturbing to watch. But what also went through my head was how desperate some of these people must have felt to do those actions. People who are starving sometimes steal food, for example. People are hurting and suffering and have been for decades–going back to economic woes and hardships. Couple that with racist actions, and I’m not sure what people expected would happen.

We also need to remember that the wealthiest people in the world, like Jeff Bezos, don’t pay federal income taxes while the rest of us in the middle class and working class do. And during this pandemic, I’ve watched reports showing how he and others in the top echelon have made out like bandits through a tough and heartbreaking time for most Americans, via the virus and shutdown. Therefore, although the loopholes and sneaky ways these billionaires work the system is considered legal, I do believe it is a type of looting of the masses below them.

Finally, the matter of the destruction of statues, etc. due to the reverence of the founding fathers and other well-known people in our history who had done things that were offensive or racist.

jefferson statue toppled

Sure. We can, and with some, should, take down the statues. We could put them in museums.

What we can’t do is erase our past historical mistakes or grievous errors. They will always be there and should be a reminder not to repeat these mistakes and to move forward toward a more just, healthy, and human-respecting society and culture.

A quick note. I don’t agree with Trump’s executive order in throwing people who topple statues into prison for a minimum of ten years. Again, the prison problem in this country is glaring. 

Onto this subject of statue removal.

Every person in this country, on this planet throughout our human existence, has flaws and is broken. Those who do good things are celebrated. Those who do bad are basically condemned. But everyone does good and bad things, if we’re being honest.

I also think we have to realize that yes, our forefathers weren’t perfect. They had slaves, some had mistresses, and probably did all kinds of other sinful behavior. Why? Because they ARE human like the rest of us. And what we know at the time is all we know.

So, although I don’t like some of the things our founding fathers and those after them have done in history, I realize they are recognized for the good that they did. I also acknowledge this is part of our heritage and our American traditions, like them or not. And there are some things that I definitely don’t like about our culture’s imperialistic, prejudicial, and arrogant nature woven throughout the existence of the United States.

But if we’re honest, just like we may be members of a dysfunctional family, it’s the same for us as fellow Americans.

Many of America’s actions have been sinful and hurtful throughout our history, and we need those museums to remind us of where we came from if we are from this country, and look at its messy record, as well as the good in it and accept that it existed and still does.

We make changes through reforming our prison system, criminal justice system, foreign policy (which shows generally our racism from a global perspective that mirrors our domestic position), and many other institutions in our country. I’m not saying that’s an easy feat. It’s just obvious we need to do these things.

What is really lacking is a love for others. All the hatred and in-fighting and divisions have truly hurt my heart. We are not that different from each other. Political parties don’t matter. They are all the same. They shouldn’t be dividing us. We are all human beings, and nuance, gray, moderation, and taking time to ponder things should supersede partisan, extreme viewpoints from whatever side on whatever issue.

flashy love sign

All that’s happening in our country and around the world should be bigger than politics. It should be about softening our hearts toward each other and helping one another.

I’m not perfect and have many flaws of my own. Actually, I’m a pretty broken, messed up person.  I’m just sharing my thoughts on what I’ve been seeing, hearing, and feeling since this all started in early 2020.

On this Independence Day, I’m hoping to work together with my fellow humans through empathy and care to help change, for the better, our government’s broken systems and people’s broken hearts, one encounter at a time.

 

~*~*~*~

 

 

 

Playing God Frankenstein Style

 

pic of silhouette of frankenstein

(revised college essay from spring 2018 for blog material)

In Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein’s desired to be God in creating a new species of life, causing him to become enslaved to his passions of pride, vainglory, and lust for power.

The copious fervent scientific discoveries in Shelley’s era also produced prideful actions and lust for power, with disastrous results for Victor, his family, and the creature throughout and culminating at the end of the story.

According to the book, Path to Sanity, in Christianity, three core sins exist in every human being: pride, self-love, and vainglory. Humanity struggles to eradicate them from their minds, souls, and bodies.  These three give birth to all other sins, including a lust for power—a power to change the world, be unstoppable through nefarious and sinful acts, such as murder, hate, and judging other beings harshly.

In his teens, Victor Frankenstein was deeply fascinated with science, especially chemistry, and became obsessed with creating a new species, a new being, similar to humans, using human body parts from corpses he obtained from graves.  His obsessive actions are evident while he was producing this creature, saying, “My cheeks had grown pale with study, and my person had become emaciated with confinement” (Shelley 32).  His sinful passions had begun to consume him as he toiled in a dark and cheerless lab for hours on end, creating the creature.  Illness afflicted him.

Through his pride, Victor thought he could become God himself in creating a new living being (Hetherington).  Through this, a lust for power, like the power (minus the lust) God has in fashioning his creation, and vainglory in wanting recognition and fame for his earth-shattering work, Victor said, “Life and death appears to me ideal bounds, which should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world.  A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me” (Shelley 31).

His whole person—mind, body, and soul—was consumed with this endeavor, as he explained, “My limbs now tremble, and my eyes swim with the remembrance; but then a resistless, and almost frantic impulse, urged me forward; I seemed to have lost all soul or sensation but for this one pursuit” (Shelley 32).  Therefore, this passion overtook him and enslaved him (Reed), causing him to commit terrible acts, in which he elucidated, “Who shall conceive the honors of my secret toil, as I dabbled among the unhallowed damps of the grave, or tortured a living animal to animate the lifeless clay?” (Shelley 32).

graveyard

At certain times, he realized his passions were ruling him and causing him ailments, and said, “Every night I was oppressed by a slow fever, and I became nervous to a most painful degree; a disease that I regretted the more because I had hitherto enjoyed most excellent health, and had always boasted of the firmness of my nerves” (Shelley 33).

These sinful passions nearly destroyed him then, but he finally completed his creation, “on a dreary night of November, that I beheld my accomplishment of my toils” (Shelley 33).  Victor discovered he’d made a large, distorted, ugly creature.  He lamented, “I had desired it with an ardor that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and a breathless horror and disgust filled my heart” (Shelley 34).

Through his use of his prideful will, Victor lusted for power, and the result was an imperfect creation and his own disappointment in this, which now enslaved him to these passions.  This being for which Victor fled from the lab after seeing it come alive, would be a constant reminder of his egregious error, a lesson on what happens when one desires to be God and asserts one’s arrogant will over His Will (Reed).

chains of bondage from sins

When Victor abandoned the creature to wander about ignorant of the world and its inhabitants, like a newborn baby, the creature, desperate and lonely, killed Victor’s youngest brother, William.  Victor blamed this horrible act solely on his creation, saying, “He was the murderer!” (Shelley 46).

Eventually, Victor showed some remorse when a family friend, Justine, was accused and executed for William’s death.  He said, “The fangs of remorse tore my bosom” (Shelley 52).  He realized he was partly to blame for the murder because of creating the creature, but he still wasn’t aware that the brunt of the blame lay squarely on his own shoulders until later in the story.  And even as he discovered this, his bondage to his sinful passions had not been loosened.

He continued to blame the creature more so than himself until the creature murdered his best friend, Henry. He told Henry’s lifeless body, “Have my murderous machinations deprived you also, my dearest Henry, of life?  Two I have already destroyed; other victims await their destiny” (Shelley 118).

The weight of his actions in producing the creation finally sunk in.  It was only through the tragic losses of his loved ones that he truly acknowledged his damning and culpable behavior, because his sinful passions reverberated throughout the universe affecting  humanity in the world.

After the creature murdered Victor’s wife, Elizabeth, Victor determined to terminate the creature because he believed that was the only way to end the killings, but he never caught up to the creature, as the latter’s strength and quickness exceeded his own.  Victor never truly recovered mentally and physically from his ailments and misery. His bondage to his sinful thoughts and actions stayed with him (Reed).

When Victor abandoned his creation, the creature trekked around the Swiss Alps and beyond.  He learned to read and about the nature of human relationships by observing for months the De Lacey family in their mountain cabin.  He took to gathering wood for them in the middle of the night so Felix, the young man of the house, would find the bundle of firewood by the cabin the next morning.  In showing his generosity, the creature revealed a soft side, a compassionate heart for others that were not of his own species.

The creature learned to read through listening to Felix teach his girlfriend, Safie. He read Milton’s Paradise Lost and the Bible and found he somewhat related to Adam, God’s first human creation, but also to the fallen angel/devil because both were banished by their Creator (Ryan).

However, the creature realized even “Satan had his companions, fellow devils, to admire and encourage him, but I am solitary and detested” (Shelley 85). No one else of his species existed. He was utterly alone, and when the De Laceys found him in their cabin pleading with the blind elder, Mr. De Lacey, they screamed in horror.  Felix struggled to remove the creature from their house.  Minutes later, the creature left of his own volition, wounded and hurt by their harsh actions (Shelley).

Throughout his trek, villagers gasped, shrieked, grimaced, and covered their faces when they’d seen him.  Compassion and love weren’t present in their hearts.  A total outcast, the creature belonged to no one and nowhere (Sarkar).  Victor, his own creator, mirrored the villagers’ behavior.

Feeling isolated, alone, hated, and disgusted by all humans, the creature cried, “All, save I, were at rest or in enjoyment:  I, like the arch fiend, bore a hell within me; and, finding myself unsympathized with, wished to tear up the trees, spread havoc and destruction around me, and then to have sat down and enjoyed the ruin” (Shelley 89).  He vowed to inflict pain and misery on these heartless beings.

The villagers’ actions toward the creature’s hideous appearance (Sarkar) violated two vital tenets of Christianity—love your neighbor and do not judge others.  Because the creature looked weird, ugly, and different from themselves, fear took hold of them, and they judged his outer appearance without learning of his inner heart. Out of this ignorance, fear, and lack of love to befriend the creature, hate grew inside them.

The sinful passions of Victor coupled with the villagers’ hatefulness and judging behavior destroyed both he and his creation.

love one another pic don't judge pic

In the era in which Shelley’s Frankenstein was written, a relentless burgeoning of scientific discoveries occurred, one of which was medical advances in which the European society saw as a type of panacea for life’s problems. They adopted a utopian view of the world, and pride took over in the medical and scientific communities (Allen).

Surgeons and anatomists made significant strides in fighting off many diseases that had been unsuccessfully fought in the past.  They started to question the origin of human life.  This became a hot debate in the scientific community, called Vitalism, which questioned humanity’s origin and the possibility to create it.  Victor Frankenstein asked those questions himself, saying, “Whence, I often asked myself, did the principle of life proceed?” (Shelley 29-30).  Shelley’s character echoed the thoughts and voices of the scientific community in that time and place in which she lived.

Just as ethical questions have been raised over embryonic stem cell research and cloning in our modern day, in Shelley’s day, some people were uncomfortable with Vitalism and what it produced.

The ethical question of playing God was a concern in the late 1700s and early 1800s in Shelley’s era.  To what lengths would the surgeons of her time go to discover medical advances? In order for them to continue their research, they needed subjects to test and dissect.  These surgeons used the dead bodies of criminals.  Grave robbing became prevalent then.  The corpses were stolen from their graves for research (Allen).  These doctors had no respect for the dead because in life those people had committed crimes.

Because of the fervor of relentless scientific advances, these surgeons and anatomists’ desires grew into obsessions, and ultimately passions of pride and murder.  When a shortage of corpses of criminals happened, these doctors and scientists stole corpses of law-abiding citizens from their tombs (Allen).

Eventually, there were reported stories, such as one about a surgeon who was “caught buying corpses that had not been robbed from graves, but in fact murdered for the purpose of experimentation” (Allen).  These appalling stories sometimes ended up in the literature of the era.

Shelley’s Frankenstein certainly reflected these events through Victor’s obsession and willful pride to create a new species of being through digging up bodies from graves to use for his creation.  His lack of respect for the dead also reflected these real life events, where in the text, he says, “A church-yard was to me merely a receptacle of bodies deprived of life,” and says he visited “vaults and charnel houses” (Shelley 30).

These scientists and doctors allowed their pride, vainglory, and lust for power in determining the life and death of other people’s lives, to overtake their sensibilities.  In addition, in Shelley’s era of Romanticism, people looked upon nature as holy, beautiful, and mysterious in a somewhat religious sense.

thomas cole voyage of life youth painting

(Thomas Cole’s The Voyage of Life: Youth (1842)

Wordsworth, the poet, expressed the desecrations of graves, bodies, and murder in his poem, “The Table’s Turned,” saying, “Sweet is the love which nature brings/Our meddling intellect/Misshapes the beauteous forms of things/We murder to dissect” (Allen).

Shelley’s Frankenstein illustrates the consequences of the sinful passions of attempting to be God, as Victor Frankenstein toiled to mimic in creating the creature. Lacking love, humility, and repentance, his passions brought he, his family, and his creature misery, torment, and ultimately death.

~*~*~*~

 

Works Cited
Allen, Stephanie.  “Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ is a Cautionary Tale on Monstrosity of Which
Humans are Capable.” Oxford Royal Academy.  22 January 2014. https://www.oxford-royale.co.uk/articles/shelley-frankenstein.html. Accessed 21 March 2018.
Hetherington, Naomi.  “Creator and Created in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.”  Keats-Shelley
Review, vol. 11, 1997, pp. 1-39.  http://knarf.english.upenn.edu/Articles/hether.html.
Accessed 21 March 2018.
Reed, John.  “Will and Fate in Frankenstein.”  Bulletin of Research in the Humanities, vol. 8, 1980, pp. 319-38.  http://knarf.english.upenn.edu/Articles/reed.html. Accessed 3 April 2018.
Ryan, Robert M. “Mary Shelley’s Christian Monster.” The Wordsworth Circle, vol. 19:3, 1988,
  1. 150-55. http://knarf.english.upenn.edu/Articles/ryan.html. Accessed 19 March 2018.
Sarkar, Proshanta.  “Frankenstein:  An Echo of Social Alienation and Social Madness.”  IOSR
Journal of Humanities And Social Science(IOSR-JHSS), vol. 9, issue 3, 2013, pp. 29-32.
http://www.iosrjournals.org/iosr-jhss/papers/Vol9-issue3/F0932932.pdf. Accessed 22
March 2018.