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When life hits us hard, when the blows and punches rain relentlessly down on us, when we are, already on the ground, kicked and kicked hard we ask: Why? Why o God? Why me? Why now?
Needless to say, we have no choice but to stand up and keep on going but still we ask those questions.
That’s called the problem of evil. How can a good, loving god allow this?
This is a tough question that causes many believers to lose faith in God and it is the most potent and yet the weakest weapon of atheists.
We think that life/God is not fair because we automatically assume that we are good and we deserve better but upon further reflection we can clearly see, if we are honest, that we have done some evil things in our lives. There is no one who has not done something evil at some point in his life. Of course some have done more evil than others but no one is completely innocent. So, it is unreasonable to expect that we deserve no punishment at all.
For the most part evil things are happening because God loves us so much that he gave us the greatest of all gifts, freedom.
He could have made us robots who are slavishly doing always the right thing but he loves us so much that he gave us our precious freedom.
Moreover, if we had not this freedom then we would never experience love.
True love is an act of free will. You cannot force someone to love anything or anyone.
By giving us this freedom God made it possible that we can choose evil rather than good.
That’s the reason why God allows man to do evil things.
But then there are these other evil things happening which we have a hard time coping with like a baby with cancer or entire cities wiped out by tsunamis.
As hard as it is for a theist to cope with that, at least we can be assured that God allows these things to happen because He has good reasons to do so even if we cannot know those reasons.
Everyone has to face the problem of evil in his life at some point in time but as bad as this problem is with God it is inifitely worse without God.
For an atheist there is no deeper reason why we are here in the first place. We’re just the product of blind natural processes and everything that happens in this world is merely the result of blind natural processes and there is no such thing as good and evil. In other words: All the pain and suffering is happening because it just was bound to happen. If you happen to suffer it’s just bad luck. You suffer for no good reason at all.
The problem of evil is a bigger problem for atheism than it is for theism. The atheistic world is truly an unjust, cruel world indifferent to the suffering of all its creatures.
But whether we are theists or atheists, the moment we are complaining that something evil is happening to us we are admitting that God exists.
Why? Because by claiming that evil happens to us we are presupposing that evil exists.
By presupposing that evil exists we are presupposing that objective moral values exist.
Objective moral values can only exist if there is a god, an absolute moral authority.
Otherwise everything that happens is relative to the observer. What one person considers as evil another person might consider as good.
That’s why the problem of evil is the most potent and yet the weakest weapon of atheists.
It’s the most potent weapon because it appeals on an emotional level.
It’s the weakest weapon because it fails completely on an intellectual level.
To even argue “I cannot believe that there is a god who lets such evil things happen.” presupposes the existence of God and the argument therefore fails completely.

At the end of the day there are only three options when we are confronted with the problem of evil.

1. Become an atheist.
2. Go over to the dark side.
3. Strengthen our belief in God and deepening our understanding of His nature.

Neither option can change or prevent the problem itself but option #3 is the best, most reasonable, most productive, most meaningful way to cope with it.
God is good, loving, just and merciful and everything that happens, happens for a good reason.
We cannot know what He, the creator of the universe knows and we cannot see what He in his infinite wisdom sees but we can know that He loves us all and everything that happens happens because he loves us all.

Occasionally we hear women complain that men don’t show their feelings.
Closely related to this is the question why men don’t cry.
No, it’s not because of the stereotype that, admittedly, some men are trying to live up to.
In reality there are good reasons why men don’t cry.
Yes, we have feelings but we simply make not much fuss about them.
Basically, there are four reasons for this.

1. Have you ever watched a boxing match?
What happens when a boxer sees that his opponent has a cut in the face?
He pummels precisely that cut in his opponent’s face in order to defeat him.
Very simple truth. Very brutal truth. We may not like it but that’s human nature

2. Equally simple and brutal is the truth that weakness invites aggression and that the weak are trampled down.
A man who is crying shows that he’s hurt. A man who is hurt is perceived as weakened. That makes it more likely that he becomes a target for those who are looking for easy prey.

3. More important than the first two reasons is the simple fact that making a fuss about your own feelings doesn’t change a thing. It may or may not provide temporary relief but it doesn’t change the facts on the ground. It doesn’t change the situation in any way. That’s why I prefer to take action or to work on solutions for the problem that caused the pain in the first place instead of curing symptoms.

4. Finally, more important than all the other reasons is this one: Love.
Men want to be strong and they want to protect those who they love or care about and they want to be a rock of stability (emotionally and otherwise) for  them. They want to be reliable and they want to be able to give confidence in the worst times of crisis and chaos. In short: Men want to be strong, protective, reliable, robust and stable for their family, their team and their country.

Now, it doesn’t matter whether you are a man or a woman. Just answer this question: When chaos and hell is all around you who  do you want to have on your side? A man who is preoccupied with his own feelings or a man who doesn’t care about his own feelings but rather takes action and does what needs to be done? A man who cares for his own feelings or a man who cares about getting  himself and you through the chaos?
If you are totally honest with yourself I know your answer already.
I know one man who is the embodiment of ultimate manliness: Jesus Christ.
He knew what horrible pain was awaiting him and yet he did go ahead anyway.
He did what had to be done because of his love for us.
Even on the cross he did not care as much about his own pain and suffering as he cared about those who had crucified him.

Usually I don’t write about the man vs. woman stuff simply because I don’t find it worth mentioning.
That’s because it’s pretty obvious that Women are neither better nor worse than men. They are just different.
Both men and women are equal in their value but different in their nature. That makes a lot of sense because they are made to  complement each other. Because of our different natures we think and act differently and we have trouble understanding each other.
In our times men are frequently made to look stupid and primitive.
When life hit me badly two weekends ago I realized that there was one aspect of male behaviour that is often misunderstood, misrepresented and that it deserves an explanation because it shows the selfless, noble side of manliness.

As I’m writing this the full drama of the crashed Germanwings airplane unfolds and I can imagine the pain that the loved ones of all those who died must be going through. May God help them.

More Darkness

March 13, 2015

The Washington Free Beacon reports:

North Korea Dwarf Village Is Latest Human Rights Abuse

Little people sterilized, forced to live in remote area

BY: Bill Gertz
March 13, 2015 12:30 pm

TOKYO – North Korea’s communist government has created a dwarf village in a remote part of the country where short people it regards as undesirables are prevented from reproducing and forced to fend for themselves within the harsh Stalinist system.

The abuse of North Koreans who have dwarfism, a genetic condition that produces short bodies and disproportionate limbs, is the latest disclosure of widespread human rights abuses within the country. A U.N. commission report a year ago charged the regime with “crimes against humanity.”

Several North Korean defectors disclosed the existence of the village, called Yeonha-Ri, and said it is located in Kimhyongjik County, a border region in northeastern Ryanggang Province. The province is named after North Korea’s founding dictator Kim Il-Sung’s father, Kim Hyong-Jik.

Dwarfs are persecuted by the regime under a policy that combines Korean superstitions about physical deformities manifesting from personal or ancestral sin, and the hardline communist regime’s demand that all citizens must work, according to North Korean defectors.

Read all

 

Heart Of Darkness

March 10, 2015

Today an article in the Washington Free Beacon caught my attention.
The piece which I recommend to the reader tells us that North Korean soldiers, including elite troops, are now starving.
Of course, the civilian population is even more starving than the military.
Not only is the country the massive failure that any communist country is but it has so many soldiers that it has not enough farmers to feed them.

“Kim said the military, with 1.1 million active duty troops and 800,000 reservists makes up a significant percentage of the population but does not produce any food, so it faces chronic food shortages.”

I know that a brutal regime like North Korea can hold onto power for a pretty long time even if it’s civilian population is starving but is this not the time for the free world to bring this regime down?
Is this not the time to do everything to cause its collapse?
The fall of this regime would be a blessing for the West.
It would make the region more stable and a reunited Korea, modeled after the reunified Germany, would make it a natural ally of the West and would provide a counterbalance to China and Chinese expansionism.
It would also allow the US to reduce the number of troops stationed in Korea.
But even more important it would be the morally right thing to do because this is truly an evil regime.
Not only is the population starving and being oppressed while its “dear leader” is eating like a glutton, snorting cocaine and having fun with Swedish porn stars that are flown in just for him but North Korea is a country where the persecution of Christians is amongst the worst in the world.
According to Voice Of The Martyrs an estimated 30,000 Christians are tortured in four concentration camps.
This country whose leader is worshipped like a god is truly a dark place.
It is not only spiritually a dark place but it is literally, physically a dark place and the stark contrast between South Korea and North Korea can clearly be seen from space.
While South Korea is illuminated brightly North Korea is as dark as the sea that surrounds the Korean peninsula.
It is truly the heart of darkness.

Korea seen from space

Korea seen from space. Photo credit: NASA’s Earth Observatory





Whenever Barack Hussein Obavez uses the phrase “Let me be perfectly clear” you can be almost certain that he is about to lie.
We have become so used to this guy telling even more and bigger lies than Pinocchio and Baron Münchhausen combined that no one in his right mind can trust him on anything.
In his brilliant speech before The House Bibi exposed yet another big lie by Obavez without calling him directly a liar.
For years Obavez kept saying that he would prevent Iran from getting nukes, that his policy was not containment, and that the  military option was on the table. He even used his infamous phrase “Let me be perfectly clear.”
So, let ME be perfectly clear.
He is a liar because he will allow Iran to get nukes.
The deal he wants to sign will expire after 10 to 20 years (most likely 10 years) and after that the Iranians will be treated like any normal country and they can build as many centrifuges they want and enrich as much Uranium as they want (No limits. No sanctions). This means that they can build as much nukes as they want in 10 years.
So, he will NOT prevent Iran from getting nukes. His policy IS containment and the  military option is NOT on the table.

In these times that try men’s souls I want, as an inspiration and as a message for us all, to post this message from the very cradle of the West. This is Pericles’ funeral oration at the annual public funeral for the war dead.
The speech was held at the end of the first year of the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC).
This speech speaks to me for many reasons. It is inspiring that the idea of democracy and the Western culture, conceived more then 2500 years ago, managed to survive and become dominant despite the incredible odds and near fatal catastrophes. These soldiers who fell thousands of years ago remind us that we must not give up the fight for the West’s heart and soul.
If the American reader sees parallels with Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address it may be because, as some historians believe, he modeled his speech after Pericles’ speech.

Pericles’ Funeral Oration as recorded by Thucydides

Most of those who have spoken here before me have commended the lawgiver who added this oration to our other funeral customs. It seemed to them a worthy thing that such an honor should be given at their burial to the dead who have fallen on the field of battle. But I should have preferred that, when men’s deeds have been brave, they should be honored in deed only, and with such an honor as this public funeral, which you are now witnessing. Then the reputation of many would not have been imperiled on the eloquence or want of eloquence of one, and their virtues believed or not as he spoke well or ill. For it is difficult to say neither too little nor too much; and even moderation is apt not to give the impression of truthfulness. The friend of the dead who knows the facts is likely to think that the words of the speaker fall short of his knowledge and of his wishes; another who is not so well informed, when he hears of anything which surpasses his own powers, will be envious and will suspect exaggeration. Mankind are tolerant of the praises of others so long as each hearer thinks that he can do as well or nearly as well himself, but, when the speaker rises above him, jealousy is aroused and he begins to be incredulous. However, since our ancestors have set the seal of their approval upon the practice, I must obey, and to the utmost of my power shall endeavor to satisfy the wishes and beliefs of all who hear me.

I will speak first of our ancestors, for it is right and seemly that now, when we are lamenting the dead, a tribute should be paid to their memory. There has never been a time when they did not inhabit this land, which by their valor they will have handed down from generation to generation, and we have received from them a free state. But if they were worthy of praise, still more were our fathers, who added to their inheritance, and after many a struggle transmitted to us their sons this great empire. And we ourselves assembled here today, who are still most of us in the vigor of life, have carried the work of improvement further, and have richly endowed our city with all things, so that she is sufficient for herself both in peace and war. Of the military exploits by which our various possessions were acquired, or of the energy with which we or our fathers drove back the tide of war, Hellenic or Barbarian, I will not speak; for the tale would be long and is familiar to you. But before I praise the dead, I should like to point out by what principles of action we rose ~ to power, and under what institutions and through what manner of life our empire became great. For I conceive that such thoughts are not unsuited to the occasion, and that this numerous assembly of citizens and strangers may profitably listen to them.

Our form of government does not enter into rivalry with the institutions of others. Our government does not copy our neighbors’, but is an example to them. It is true that we are called a democracy, for the administration is in the hands of the many and not of the few. But while there exists equal justice to all and alike in their private disputes, the claim of excellence is also recognized; and when a citizen is in any way distinguished, he is preferred to the public service, not as a matter of privilege, but as the reward of merit. Neither is poverty an obstacle, but a man may benefit his country whatever the obscurity of his condition. There is no exclusiveness in our public life, and in our private business we are not suspicious of one another, nor angry with our neighbor if he does what he likes; we do not put on sour looks at him which, though harmless, are not pleasant. While we are thus unconstrained in our private business, a spirit of reverence pervades our public acts; we are prevented from doing wrong by respect for the authorities and for the laws, having a particular regard to those which are ordained for the protection of the injured as well as those unwritten laws which bring upon the transgressor of them the reprobation of the general sentiment.

And we have not forgotten to provide for our weary spirits many relaxations from toil; we have regular games and sacrifices throughout the year; our homes are beautiful and elegant; and the delight which we daily feel in all these things helps to banish sorrow. Because of the greatness of our city the fruits of the whole earth flow in upon us; so that we enjoy the goods of other countries as freely as our own.

Then, again, our military training is in many respects superior to that of our adversaries. Our city is thrown open to the world, though and we never expel a foreigner and prevent him from seeing or learning anything of which the secret if revealed to an enemy might profit him. We rely not upon management or trickery, but upon our own hearts and hands. And in the matter of education, whereas they from early youth are always undergoing laborious exercises which are to make them brave, we live at ease, and yet are equally ready to face the perils which they face. And here is the proof: The Lacedaemonians come into Athenian territory not by themselves, but with their whole confederacy following; we go alone into a neighbor’s country; and although our opponents are fighting for their homes and we on a foreign soil, we have seldom any difficulty in overcoming them. Our enemies have never yet felt our united strength, the care of a navy divides our attention, and on land we are obliged to send our own citizens everywhere. But they, if they meet and defeat a part of our army, are as proud as if they had routed us all, and when defeated they pretend to have been vanquished by us all.

If then we prefer to meet danger with a light heart but without laborious training, and with a courage which is gained by habit and not enforced by law, are we not greatly the better for it? Since we do not anticipate the pain, although, when the hour comes, we can be as brave as those who never allow themselves to rest; thus our city is equally admirable in peace and in war. For we are lovers of the beautiful in our tastes and our strength lies, in our opinion, not in deliberation and discussion, but that knowledge which is gained by discussion preparatory to action. For we have a peculiar power of thinking before we act, and of acting, too, whereas other men are courageous from ignorance but hesitate upon reflection. And they are surely to be esteemed the bravest spirits who, having the clearest sense both of the pains and pleasures of life, do not on that account shrink from danger. In doing good, again, we are unlike others; we make our friends by conferring, not by receiving favors. Now he who confers a favor is the firmer friend, because he would rather by kindness keep alive the memory of an obligation; but the recipient is colder in his feelings, because he knows that in requiting another’s generosity he will not be winning gratitude but only paying a debt. We alone do good to our neighbors not upon a calculation of interest, but in the confidence of freedom and in a frank and fearless spirit. To sum up: I say that Athens is the school of Hellas, and that the individual Athenian in his own person seems to have the power of adapting himself to the most varied forms of action with the utmost versatility and grace. This is no passing and idle word, but truth and fact; and the assertion is verified by the position to which these qualities have raised the state. For in the hour of trial Athens alone among her contemporaries is superior to the report of her. No enemy who comes against her is indignant at the reverses which he sustains at the hands of such a city; no subject complains that his masters are unworthy of him. And we shall assuredly not be without witnesses; there are mighty monuments of our power which will make us the wonder of this and of succeeding ages; we shall not need the praises of Homer or of any other panegyrist whose poetry may please for the moment, although his representation of the facts will not bear the light of day. For we have compelled every land and every sea to open a path for our valor, and have everywhere planted eternal memorials of our friendship and of our enmity. Such is the city for whose sake these men nobly fought and died; they could not bear the thought that she might be taken from them; and every one of us who survive should gladly toil on her behalf.

I have dwelt upon the greatness of Athens because I want to show you that we are contending for a higher prize than those who enjoy none of these privileges, and to establish by manifest proof the merit of these men whom I am now commemorating. Their loftiest praise has been already spoken. For in magnifying the city I have magnified them, and men like them whose virtues made her glorious. And of how few Hellenes can it be said as of them, that their deeds when weighed in the balance have been found equal to their fame! I believe that a death such as theirs has been the true measure of a man’s worth; it may be the first revelation of his virtues, but is at any rate their final seal. For even those who come short in other ways may justly plead the valor with which they have fought for their country; they have blotted out the evil with the good, and have benefited the state more by their public services than they have injured her by their private actions. None of these men were enervated by wealth or hesitated to resign the pleasures of life; none of them put off the evil day in the hope, natural to poverty, that a man, though poor, may one day become rich. But, deeming that the punishment of their enemies was sweeter than any of these things, and that they could fall in no nobler cause, they determined at the hazard of their lives to be honorably avenged, and to leave the rest. They resigned to hope their unknown chance of happiness; but in the face of death they resolved to rely upon themselves alone. And when the moment came they were minded to resist and suffer, rather than to fly and save their lives; they ran away from the word of dishonor, but on the battlefield their feet stood fast, and in an instant, at the height of their fortune, they passed away from the scene, not of their fear, but of their glory.

Such was the end of these men; they were worthy of Athens, and the living need not desire to have a more heroic spirit, although they may pray for a less fatal issue. The value of such a spirit is not to be expressed in words. Any one can discourse to you for ever about the advantages of a brave defense, which you know already. But instead of listening to him I would have you day by day fix your eyes upon the greatness of Athens, until you become filled with the love of her; and when you are impressed by the spectacle of her glory, reflect that this empire has been acquired by men who knew their duty and had the courage to do it, who in the hour of conflict had the fear of dishonor always present to them, and who, if ever they failed in an enterprise, would not allow their virtues to be lost to their country, but freely gave their lives to her as the fairest offering which they could present at her feast. The sacrifice which they collectively made was individually repaid to them; for they received again each one for himself a praise which grows not old, and the noblest of all tombs, I speak not of that in which their remains are laid, but of that in which their glory survives, and is proclaimed always and on every fitting occasion both in word and deed. For the whole earth is the tomb of famous men; not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions in their own country, but in foreign lands there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men. Make them your examples, and, esteeming courage to be freedom and freedom to be happiness, do not weigh too nicely the perils of war. The unfortunate who has no hope of a change for the better has less reason to throw away his life than the prosperous who, if he survive, is always liable to a change for the worse, and to whom any accidental fall makes the most serious difference. To a man of spirit, cowardice and disaster coming together are far more bitter than death striking him unperceived at a time when he is full of courage and animated by the general hope.

Wherefore I do not now pity the parents of the dead who stand here; I would rather comfort them. You know that your dead have passed away amid manifold vicissitudes; and that they may be deemed fortunate who have gained their utmost honor, whether an honorable death like theirs, or an honorable sorrow like yours, and whose share of happiness has been so ordered that the term of their happiness is likewise the term of their life. I know how hard it is to make you feel this, when the good fortune of others will too often remind you of the gladness which once lightened your hearts. And sorrow is felt at the want of those blessings, not which a man never knew, but which were a part of his life before they were taken from him. Some of you are of an age at which they may hope to have other children, and they ought to bear their sorrow better; not only will the children who may hereafter be born make them forget their own lost ones, but the city will be doubly a gainer. She will not be left desolate, and she will be safer. For a man’s counsel cannot have equal weight or worth, when he alone has no children to risk in the general danger. To those of you who have passed their prime, I say: “Congratulate yourselves that you have been happy during the greater part of your days; remember that your life of sorrow will not last long, and be comforted by the glory of those who are gone. For the love of honor alone is ever young, and not riches, as some say, but honor is the delight of men when they are old and useless.

To you who are the sons and brothers of the departed, I see that the struggle to emulate them will be an arduous one. For all men praise the dead, and, however preeminent your virtue may be, I do not say even to approach them, and avoid living their rivals and detractors, but when a man is out of the way, the honor and goodwill which he receives is unalloyed. And, if I am to speak of womanly virtues to those of you who will henceforth be widows, let me sum them up in one short admonition: To a woman not to show more weakness than is natural to her sex is a great glory, and not to be talked about for good or for evil among men.

I have paid the required tribute, in obedience to the law, making use of such fitting words as I had. The tribute of deeds has been paid in part; for the dead have them in deeds, and it remains only that their children should be maintained at the public charge until they are grown up: this is the solid prize with which, as with a garland, Athens crowns her sons living and dead, after a struggle like theirs. For where the rewards of virtue are greatest, there the noblest citizens are enlisted in the service of the state. And now, when you have duly lamented, every one his own dead, you may depart.

Ephialtes 2.0

March 1, 2015

There are not many cases where a man becomes so emblematic of something that his name becomes a synonym for that which he represents.
Sometimes his name becomes not only a synonym but it replaces the original word entirely.
Such is the case with the name Ephialtes. Those who are familiar with history and king Leonidas’ famous last stand at the battle of Thermopylae will recognize Ephialtes as the name of the traitor who told king Xerxes about a little known path that Xerxes’ troops could use to attack king Leonidas from the rear.
Since that time the name Ephialtes has become in the Greek language not only synonymous with nightmare but in modern Greek it has replaced the original word completely.
In fact, if you enter the word nightmare in an online dictionary the only result you’ll get is Ephialtes and very very few modern Greeks can tell you what the original word was.
With the impending sellout that a deal with the modern Persia would represent I wonder whether future generations would use the name of the current US President in a similar fashion.

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