The Value of Values Part 1: Identifying Your Values

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This blog has plenty of ideas, tools and so on on living happy but a person can’t really live a happy life without identifying their values.

What are Values:

Values are the things important to you in your life. There are two categories:

Physical: Anything that exists outside of your mind such as friends, family , your job, your sport or hobby.

Psychological/Philosophical:  These values are your emotions and principles. For example: Kindness and sharing, happiness, contentment, compassion, charity and generosity. These can also be political such as democracy or liberalism or a political/social belief such human rights or being pro-choice.

Identifying Your Values

There is a surprisingly simple way to identify your values. Just ask yourself three questions:

  • When were you the happiest?
  • When were you filled with the most pride?
  • When were you the most fulfilled?

Answering these questions can and should take time, be absolutely sure you were truly happy, prideful…etc. Once you have a list prioritize them and reexamine regularly. Mindtools has some excellent suggestions as well:

  • Be Willing to Be Surprised
  • Test Your Values. Just having your list of values from the top of your mind, might not be enough.  To get more clarity, you can test your values:
    • Is it truly YOUR value?  (i.e. is it internally motivated or is it external … a “should”)
    • Is it a means or an end?  If one value is simply to accomplish another, then look to the value you want to accomplish.  If you want economic security because you think it leads to freedom, then freedom is the one you value most.  This is important because there’s multiple ways to accomplish a goal and flexibility is key.  Know what you want, but be flexible in your approach.
    • Do your actions show your values?  Actions speak louder than words.
    • When were you happiest or most excited?  What was your proudest moment?  These highlights are a potential showcase of your values.
    • What do you regret the most?  Again, this is a way to figure out what’s most important to you. (source)

Your values should determine your priorities and how you live your life. It is also important to keep your priorities ethical, this won’t be difficult as no one values the guilt or other bad feeling that go with being leading an unethical life.

Here are some examples of values:

Once you have determined your values you can focus on goals, achievements and a lifestyle that suits them and end up a much happier person.

 

 

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You don’t lack religion, you lack empathy.

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I have had a few people ask me  ‘without religion and god what’s stopping you from murdering and pillaging?’ My response is always ‘Are you saying that without your religion you would be out murdering and pillaging?’   This sums up the moral debate quite nicely. Once you have empathy then, no matter what your beliefs are, your moral framework has all the support it needs.

The Vacancy of The Morality of Fear

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Everyday we try to be nice, we don’t steal or lie or hurt or make people feel bad, these moralities are common sense. We do this primarily because of our experiences (upbringing, education…etc.) and our conscience. Morality in a religious context is an issue complicated by fear and reward. Religions that use fear and reward to enforce morality lack integrity and the good feeling of moral behaviour based on compassion, love and intellect. Doing good is it’s own reward and science shows this:

    1. Lalin Anik, Lara B. Aknin. Michael I. Norton. Elizabeth W. Dun (45 sources)

      Conclusion: The evidence we reviewed is quite supportive: Happier people give more and giving makes people happier, such that happiness and giving may operate in a positive feedback loop (with happier people giving more, getting happier, and giving even more).

    2. Stephen G. Post (28 Sources)

      Conclusion: The principle has been scientifically established. The welfare of oneself (self-fulfillment) and of others (self-sacrifice) are
      inseparable and interrelated components of the healthy human personality in a healthy environment.

The evidence supports that doing good feels good what about motivation? Why is fear of God, hell..etc. an unhealthy motivation? Common sense tells us that fear creates undue anxiety and all its problems. Also using fear as a motivation is the way of bullies and dictators, it also creates resentment in the people being manipulated. Ultimately using fear as a tool enforce moral behavior is unhealthy and can lead to resentment, defiance and loss of control.

Research also shows that we shouldn’t need fear to enforce moral behaviour anyway. Moral Psychology has been separating ethical behaviour from emotion for decades. Empathy has also been shown to be a natural result of our evolution. While it is difficult and sometimes even impossible to separate emotion from decision making fear is most certainly the worst way to make a moral decision.

A question religious apologists often ask of unbelievers is “What is stopping you from murdering and raping and pillaging as much as you want?’ to which we ask ‘Are you saying that without God you would be doing those things?’  Humanists, atheists and other unbelievers believe that the primary motivator for moral behavior should be love itself when balanced with reason doing good deeds is its own reward (see above) and that can be achieved right here and now. It also takes courage to take responsibility for own actions (integrity).

When I’m raising my children, my job is to get my children to act in ways that are moral when there is no fear and no reward, but to do it for the sake of doing it. When you add everlasting life as the reward, and everlasting torment as the punishment, there can be no morality. We need to treat each other well because we love each other, and not for reward or punishment. – Penn Jillette

When one considers religions so often also use guilt as well as fear and that moral behaviour existed long before and despite religion then we see that religion’s grip on morality has been lost. Instead we suggest that we let our love and our rational faculties be the motivator. We can reap the rewards of being good right now knowing that we did it for the right reasons.

 

The Shame of Body Shaming

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As a humanist I can not imagine making someone feel badly,  especially for something like weight or height or some other result of their genes, their health and their circumstances but this is an all to common occurrence. In fact ‘fat’ has become a dehumanizing insult, ‘Fat’ is the new ‘ugly’. People in western cultures have a new and terrible way to drag other humans down: ridiculing and bullying based on their body. This is particularly nasty when one considers how many reasons a person may be overweight.

Body Type:

  1. Ectomorph:  Ectomorphs are skinny with a small frame, light build, small joints and lean muscle. Usually they have long thin limbs with stringy muscles, narrow shoulders with a fast metabolism making this body type the most resistant to weight gain.
  2. Mesomorph:Mesomorphs have a medium sized bone structure, athletic body, and they typically have a considerable amount of lean mass.
  3. Endomorph: Endomorphs have a larger bone structure with higher amounts of total body mass and fat mass, and this extra fat seems to resist most efforts to get rid of it. The endomorph body type is solid and generally soft, and gains fat very easily. Source and More Info

There are numerous other causes for a person to be overweight:

  • Energy imbalances can cause overweight and obesity. An energy imbalance means that your energy IN does not equal your energy OUT. (.I.E. lack of exercise).
  • Medical conditions: Some genetic syndromes and endocrine disorders can cause overweight or obesity.
  • Several genetic syndromes are associated with overweight and obesity, including the following.
    • Prader-Willi syndrome
    • Bardet-Biedl syndrome
    • Alström syndrome
    • Cohen syndrome
  • Endocrine disorders: Because the endocrine system produces hormones that help maintain energy balances in the body, the following endocrine disorders or tumors affecting the endocrine system can cause overweight and obesity:
    • Hypothyroidism. People with this condition have low levels of thyroid hormones. These low levels are associated with decreased metabolism and weight gain, even when food intake is reduced. People with hypothyroidism also produce less body heat, have a lower body temperature, and do not efficiently use stored fat for energy.
    • Cushing’s syndrome: People with this condition have high levels of glucocorticoids, such as cortisol, in the blood. High cortisol levels make the body feel like it is under chronic stress. As a result, people have an increase in appetite and the body will store more fat. Cushing’s syndrome may develop after taking certain medicines or because the body naturally makes too much cortisol.
  • Tumors. Some tumors, such as craneopharingioma, can cause severe obesity because the tumors develop near parts of the brain that control hunger.
  • Medicines: such as antipsychotics, antidepressants, antiepileptics, and antihyperglycemics can cause weight gain and lead to overweight and obesity. (source)

All of these are out of a person’s control and don’t take into account lifestyle, cultural upbringing and other life situations a person may be in that has lead them to be overweight. For example some people use food to cope with the bullying they are receiving to begin with.

“The next time you see a fat person, you don’t know whether that person has a medical condition that caused them to gain weight,” Thore added. “You don’t know their mother just died. You don’t know if they’re depressed or suicidal or if they just lost 100 pounds. You don’t know.” (source)

This short list should show why shaming someone for being overweight is so ignorant. The same rules apply to being underweight, tall, short or the multitude of other physical reasons people bully and torment other people for. The lack of empathy and understanding in body shaming is staggering. It can have disastrous consequences such as depression, social anxiety, low self worth,  Anthropophobia (fear of people) and other social phobias, eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia and suicide.

The problem is compounded by electronic communication and cyber-bullying which provides a bully with a virtual anonymity.

Also cultural glorification of unrealistic standards of beauty such as being skinny or big breasted for women or being muscular and have a a full head of hair for men. Beauty standards  very from culture to culture  as well.

In short regardless of what shape or condition a person’s body is in shaming a person for their body is uninformed and cruel. If anyone ever calls you fat in a disrespectful way you are well within your right to retort with an F-Word of your own.

 

 

 

Dear Vatican, We Haven’t Forgotten

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With so much Trump, Syria, North Korea and so on it’s easy to forget why many call for the Vatican’s dismantling. Since it’s inception the Vatican has been a center of hate, greed and violence.

Historical Crimes:

  • Crusades: For more then 500 years militant Catholics waged war on Muslims, The Jewish, heretics and pretty well anyone different from them. Millions died, including innocent men, women and children.  The Fourth Crusade alone has a death toll in the thousands.
  • Inquisitions:  in 1232 Pope Gregory established a tribunal whose goal it was to suppress heresy and thus began another few hundred years of violence, subjugation and torture.
  • Pogroms:  In addition to the massacres of the Crusades of which the Jewish were a part of the Jewish also faced regular prosecution and violence from the Catholic church through the centuries. (religious tolerance.org)

the Jews, by their own guilt, are consigned to perpetual servitude because they crucified the Lord…As slaves rejected by God, in whose death they wickedly conspire, they shall by the effect of this very action, recognize themselves as the slaves of those whom Christ’s death set free…” Pope Innocent III, 1205 AD

Nazi Complacency: The Vatican’s relationship with the Nazis during WW2 is no secret.  In fact an agreement called ‘Reichskonkordat’  signed by both the Nazi Germans and the Vatican laid out a formal relationship between the two. The agreement between the them made no mention of the Jewish so it’s hard to say if the Vatican was turning a blind to increasing persecution of the Jewish in Germany at the time or if it just didn’t care. German schools were run by the Catholic Church around WW2. Many of the ways the Nazis persecuted the Jewish mirrored Catholic Church techniques used centuries before. Never once did the church ever officially condemn the Nazis. The Independent did a great piece on the increasing evidence of Vatican complacency of antisemitic Nazism.

Homophobia: The Church has a long and sordid history of homophobic hatred. Allowing, even officially sanctioning all forms of persecution, torture and death.(source). Even today the Vatican still views homosexuals as suffering from some kind of ‘moral disorder’.

HIV in Africa: Before 2010 the Catholic Church was vehemently against condom use in any situation. The preaching against and condemnation of condoms in Africa resulted in millions of Africans getting sick with the disease. They even went so far as to say condoms cause HIV by lulling people into a false sense of security.  Christopher Hitchens said this when he confronted a Vatican cardinal in 2011:

“I think it will one day be admitted with shame that it might have been in error to say that AIDS is bad as a disease, very bad but not quite as bad as condoms are bad or not as immoral in the same way. I say in the presence of his grace and I say it to his face the preachings of his church are responsible for the death and suffering and misery of millions of his brother and sister Africans and he should apologize for it, he should show some shame.” -Christopher Hitchens

Residential Schools: Shortly after settling in North America, violently stealing native territory and murdering, starving, kidnapping and torturing their men women and children the church setup residential schools. The schools stole children from native tribes and forced them into a program intended them to assimilate them into European culture.  This part of the effort to eradicate a culture they viewed as much lesser then their own was brimming with hate, violence, neglect and sexual abuse. Though the Catholic church oversaw three-quarters of Canadian residential schools, it was the last church to have one of its leaders officially address the abuse. (source and brief history)

Sex Abuse Scandals: Several years ago investigative reporting revealed a widespread problem with sexual abuse of children by priests and covering up by Vatican Officials. Typically once sexual abuse was reported the church would simply move the offending priest to another region. Even Pope Benedict himself was caught actively encouraging his bishops to make very effort to keep the scandal within the church. A Google search reveals the depth and scope of the scandal of which only recently did the Vatican begin changing it’s policy to properly address the issue and punish it’s offending priests.

Church Wealth: The Vatican is a multi-billion dollar organization. The entire Vatican city and all the Church property, valuables..etc is worth billions more. Praying for the poor and hungry is just immensely hypocritical while this fact is true.

The Vatican lost its moral authority centuries ago., if it  even ever had it. Throughout time it has been guilty of murder, torture, robbery, rape, greed, lust,hate, subjugation and all of the things it hypocritically preaches as immoral. The Vatican continues to be mired in homophobic hatred, misogyny, greed and other scandals. They come out with apologies far too late and do far too little make amends. The Vatican would like us to forgive and forget but no moral person can do that, its too late for that. The only right thing to do now is for the Vatican to shut its doors and spreads it’s wealth to those in need and until that happens we will not let them off the hook.