Pardon Me

I have a bit of a confession to make.  About 10 years ago, I had a drug problem.  It progressed as one might expect, and, as a result, I ended up a convicted felon.  Stop for a moment, and think about those last two words.  I'm betting that, without even a thought, they evoked an immediate negative response.  It's not your fault.  We've been conditioned to respond that way, myself included.  The problem is, in a society where just about every human endeavor carries with it a zero-tolerance policy, it takes relatively little to become a felon.
When I first got out of prison, I was curious as to how I would be welcomed back into society, if at all.  So, I posted my background (anonymously, of course) on a number of internet forums.  I tried to make them as varied as possible.  I wrote that I'd recently gotten released from prison for drug possession, and that I'd done 2½ years for what the state deemed a "non-dangerous, non-repetitive" crime.

The responses I got were, for the most part, negative.  I expected that.  I did commit a crime, after all.  Though, in my defense, I can honestly say that I never committed any of the crimes usually associated with drug use (theft, fraud, domestic violence, and the like).

What I didn't expect was the level of venom associated with those negative responses.  Up to, and including, death threats (posted anonymously, of course).  What I learned from it was that, by and large, most believe that my debt to society will never be fully paid.  That even my small trespass warrants a lifetime of second-class citizenship, no matter how well I live my life from here on.

So, I've come to accept that because of my mistakes, there will be certain things I will never have in this life.

I'll never have a job that will pay enough for me to own my own home, or retire, or have anything other than basic first aid as health care.  I won't be able to buy my right to vote back, or own a firearm. (on that point, the only thing that would make me consider owning a firearm is the complete collapse of civilization, in which case, having permission to do so would be moot).

I've resigned myself to spending the rest of my days doing menial work in one service industry or another.  So be it.  In the scheme of things, I still have it better than most of the people on this planet, whose lives are often hard, brutal, and short.  So, if I'm to serve, I'll endeavor to do it well.

Back in the days of sailing ships, if a sailor was found guilty of some transgression, the punishment was  usually swift and severe.  But afterward, when the 40 lashes, or whatever were done with, he was once again a member of the crew, and the incident was never spoken of again.  It was simple economics, of course.  There were a finite number of able-bodied men aboard ship, so they were of value.   Now, there are more of us.  So many, in fact, that even the best of us are considered inherently expendable.

So, I have a question for those of you who would wish me, and those like me, dead; Those for whom the claim of good citizenship is marked by the simple ability to follow orders.  What happens when there are more of us, than there are of you?

Yeah, I don't know, either.

Infinitely Perfect

When someone asks me why I don't believe in God, my response is usually, "It's not that I don't believe in God, per se. I never even got to the point of not believing in Him".  There are a couple of other things I don't believe in, which, to me, precludes His existence.

I don't believe in perfection. In half a century of existence, I've never seen an example of it.  Nothing is perfect, nor should it be. Back when Persia was still called that, the rugmakers would weave one deliberate mistake into each rug on the principle that only God could make something perfect. Hence the term, Persian Flaw.  But the universe, by it very nature, is imperfect.  Perfection is what existed before the universe -- except that the words, "existed" and "before" really don't apply.  Let me try again. Perfection is nothingness.  In the absolute. An absence of both the light and the dark.  So, if God exists, it's a good bet he's no fun at parties.

You can probably guess the second item.  Forever. I don't believe in infinity. Again, no example to be seen anywhere in nature.  It's apparent from the previous paragraph that I believe that the universe began at some point. This belief is not borne of faith.  I believe it because I can do just enough math for it to become apparent to me.  Everything that begins, ends.  So too will the universe one day.  In about 5 billion years, the Andromeda galaxy will come crashing into the Milky Way.  It would be a great light show on Earth.  Of course our sun will be well into old age, becoming a red giant and enveloping Mercury, Venus, perhaps even earth, which will have been uninhabitable for millions of years by that point.  

Besides, think about the afterlife.  It might be fun for a few hundred years, maybe even a thousand. But even another plane of existence would begin to wear on one if it resembled this one too closely.  In order to make it different enough, we'd have to evolve into something as different from us, as we are from the atoms we are made of.  You can't think 11-dimensional thoughts with a three-dimensional brain, after all.  In essence, the very same thing as death.  Though, in this case, I think the simpler explanation prevails.