When I was 15, my parents saved enough money to send their oldest son across the ocean to their place of origin: Macedonia.

I have many memories of that trip, good and bad and horrible. I remember only two horrible memories and lots and lots of the other kinds of memories.

I want to tell whoever is listening about the horrible one that bothers me today.

I was 15 and very naive. In the middle or last half of my trip, I decided to go alone somewhere on the bus that came by my parents' village that I was visiting. Most likely the nearest big town called Resen, but I don't remember exactly because of the horror I was subjected to. Of course nothing really bad happened, but as a kid from a different world, I was horrified, scared, dumbfounded, and feeling host of other emotions.

I was at the bus stop with a great bunch of people all waiting for the bus. We waited for what seemed to an impatient teenager a long time. The bus finally came and all the people rushed to door to the bus. I ended up in the middle of the crowd at the beginning, but because I was trying to become part of a line, I ended up almost not getting on the bus. The people crowded each other like sheep entering a corral. No order. No common courtesy. No apologies for pushing their way past me. My mouth was definitely opened in fear and not understanding the whole time getting on the bus and most likely a long time on the bus as it drove toward my parents' village. I wonder how many Americans have had an experience like that, let alone when they were 15?

Now, 31 years later, I understand what happened and why it happened and why it horrified me.

The US of A has been the leader of scientific advancement during most of the 20th century and I was "lucky" enough to be born and raised in the US of A in a time when the US of A was fighting against things that I now blame religion for. 

I visited a world that was only beginning to feel the benefits of science ever so slowly. They had hot water tanks, but could only turn them on during the hours that the electricity was turned on every day by the municipality. The kids I hung around with never played in the dirt and dust. Want to know why? They could only take a shower or bath once a week or so, so they had to stretch out the time they were clean as long as they could. And somehow they always looked dirty. I, the spoiled American teenager demanded a shower every day and I got it and that just made me stand out even more. American jeans, smelling clean, hair not greasy like the others. I think you get the picture. Here in the US, I was a poor kid on welfare, but in my parents' village, I was the extremely rich kid and as a result, the only kid who would hang around me the most was the outcast of the village. My second horrible memory was something that kid did.

That kid and I had a falling out, so I went to the town on my own on the bus when I became horrified for the second time.

The Macedonian language has God's name in the word that means rich as in wealthy. That made me think about religion's influence in Macedonia and the US. In the 20th century, the US made huge strides in science because they were so afraid of being destroyed by powers greater than themselves. That fear had the unintended side effect of making the lives of normal Americans better. More food, better medicines, leisure, etc. But my parents grew up in the 40's and 50's and they lived like the stereotypical view of the hillbillies of the Cascade Mountains of the late 1800's. And to make it worse, they lived inside of the Communist Block. My father risked his so called freedom to escape to the US.

Religion had and still has a great hold on the normal people of Macedonia. When I buried my father there in 1991, I did not get on a bus the whole time so I don't know if they still get on buses like a flock of sheep entering a corral, but the people were still very religious and very poor.

The promise from the church there is if you do not want to suffer any more, you have to be with God, so that you can be the opposite of suffering which the church flaunted in the faces of the ones providing the opposite of suffering to the clergy. Have you ever seen a Macedonian Church? Gold everywhere. They preached for the common people to be God's sheep and they, in my honest opinion because of my bus experience, they took it literally.

One day last year and a few times since, I asked my mother to compare her life growing up there in the 40's and 50's with her life here since she came here in the 60's. I suggested and she emphatically agreed that her life now is drastically different from her life then. I also pointed out that her life then was not very much better than all the people who lived from 2 thousand years ago till the year 1900. And when I asked her to compare her life then with her life now, it is a different planet.

Religious people waited 2 thousand years for God to provide meat, to cure many horrible diseases, to provide less suffering (not the eradication of suffering like they should have), etc. I suggested to my mother that science provided so much more than what she and those before her asked God for. 

And I ask you who are still reading, I suggest that if people forgot about God like they forgot about the Egyptian Gods that Egyptians worshiped 5000 years ago, people may actually have a chance to eradicate suffering altogether everywhere on this planet. God and money are on one side of a two sided coin which has suffering on the other side. Remove God and money from the planet, and you will see suffering eradicated. You will see a world that the common people have asked for over and over from God, but God always said they can have it after they die. Science will provide that world while they are alive so that they can enjoy it. All it will take is for the common people to realize that the elite and the religious do nothing but put up walls so that there are us and them, so that when the common people say we, they also mean not them. Science proved that we is all there is. There is no them (yet - had to put my plug in for extra-terrestrial life) unless you artificially label a part of us as them. The elite and religious are us as well, so don't label that part of us as them when you do what I am asking about below.

I will end this with a question:

When will the common people take back what God has taken from them? 

Cane

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Comment by AtheistTech on August 15, 2012 at 12:42pm

Oops,

I forgot to provide a specific solution to contrast against what i call a vague answer.

Here is another poor attempt on my part:

Solar cells that can be painted on the sides of buildings.

Those solar cells will collect light from the sun and convert it to usable electricity.

That is a specific solution. It tells you what will do the job, how it will do the job and how to implement it.

Say technology will provide each house with usable electricity is a vague answer to me.

Sorry to disagree.

Comment by AtheistTech on August 15, 2012 at 12:35pm

Well, James,

I am not saying I am an expert. I will take a stab at providing second (or third or 20th) hand knowledge which I believe to illustrate that money is bad, but not prove it.

With money, there will always be the haves and have nots. Some people will have more and others will have less or close to nothing. It does not take an education to accumulate and horde money, but the fact is that a person who does accumulate much money is held in high esteem and most of the have nots dream that they someday will become a haves.

That simple yet revealing observation is summarized here: Money produces a division between groups of people.

And if you remember what I wrote in my original blog post above, we need to get rid of them and become only us.

Comment by James Yount on August 15, 2012 at 12:21pm

Again you've failed to provide proof that money is the problem.  I would say the evidence is to the contrary.  The best countries in the world compete in the global market.  The poorest ones really don't.  Money is not the problem.  Ignorance and the lack of a representative government infrastructure are.  Western ideology leads to a more civilized world.  That includes the monetary systems so that we have a way of equating goods and labor.  You can't just say that money is the problem and give an example of a country that lacks money as the proof for that.  It only proves my point.

And I'm not sure why you think technological advancement is a vague answer.  Growth in technology equals better living conditions.  So the countries that encourage technological growth and provide an infrastructure for their citizens to contribute to it always have the richest/most prosperous citizens.   

Comment by AtheistTech on August 15, 2012 at 12:09pm

Hey James,

You have just stated the obvious. Technology (in today's world) requires money and not to be suppressed in order to progress. I agree that science and technology is the answer, but it is such a vague answer that it is practically useless.

If my question is a bad question (I knew it is as a wrote it), then what question(s) are the right ones?

I do not think I have anything to offer either, so don't feel bad if you don't have anything to offer, but I hope to set an example and actually try to find something in me to offer.

Here it goes: What if money (and bartering) and religion were removed from this planet? We would need a system that kept track of who needs what, wouldn't we? Technology could keep track.

We would need to provide not only existence, but actually quality living to all people. That would require current medical, agricultural, environmental, engineering, and lots more disciplines to  continually progress.

We would need to find environmentally safe sources of energy for our machines and toys. 

We would have to find solutions for cleaning up the previous century's accumulated pollution such as CO2, drugs in our ground water, toxic chemicals in concentrated pockets in our environment, radio active waste disposal, etc.

We would have to find solutions for managing people with special needs such as people who tend toward anti-social behaviors.

We would have to re-invent our world and then come up with a way to implement that new world with the least amount of casualties.

We will have to do the impossible, but I say it is not impossible. I say the first step is to get all people thinking about it frequently each month, or week, or day.

We will find the scientists who will find the answers we need even if they are among our children.

I have always believed we have all the time we need, but as I get older, that belief is slowly fading.

Comment by James Yount on August 15, 2012 at 11:25am

It's not logistical to change everything at once.  The only way would be to wipe out all the people that are teaching bronze age nonsense and start over.  That's not feasible or moral so we're left with education and science until the god of the gaps has nowhere else to run.  Technology is the answer.  We fight over food, land, raw-materials, and religion.  Technology and knowledge will eventually solve all of those if it continues to progress.  There is no 'right now' solution.

Comment by AtheistTech on August 15, 2012 at 11:17am

Thanks Tammy,

My only response is a question: What will get all us humans on this tiny little planet we call Earth to change our values and change them all at once?

"Here comes the flood" oops I mean "Here comes the Sun"

Cane

Comment by Tammy S on August 15, 2012 at 10:48am

When education is seen as basic human right. When intellectualism becomes the focus of praise and adoration rather than physical prowess. When we learn to value one another as necessary to the survival of the 'whole', perhaps then we can finally put God to rest.

 

Thanks for the post, I greatly enjoyed it!

Comment by AtheistTech on August 15, 2012 at 9:54am

Hey James,

I do NOT say these people that I am about to suggest to you to look into have all the answers, but  I think they are on the right track.

http://thevenusproject.com/

I dare anyone reading this to come up with something by using what the very successful businesses push their employees to do: Think outside the box"!

Comment by James Yount on August 15, 2012 at 9:49am

Many African countries.  The people don't have money and they don't have representative governments in many African countries.  It's savage and tribal.  Without money, you need a barter system.  Barter systems fail in a modern society.  There are so many problems with barter systems.  No money and no government equals anarchy.  There isn't an ounce of data that shows that anarchy is a good system for anyone.

Comment by AtheistTech on August 15, 2012 at 9:48am

Hey John,

As most religious art and creations, that was very beautiful as you might expect from philosophers. We need concrete answers, and I am very dubious that we will get them from philosophers.

That said, I loved it!!!! It made me feel... just like religion has the power to do...

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