Letters to Jonas: The Matrix of Man

Dear Jonas,

I should start by apologizing for taking so long to reply to your letter. The World seems to be spinning faster than ever lately, and finding time to write for writing’s sake has become particularly difficult as of late. Since your last letter, we have elected a white supremacist president, I have led a rally against the white supremacist president, I have assisted latinx students in resisting the white supremacist president, and I have talked and engaged critically at Freedom School with young black peers about how we could resist and survive a white supremacist presidency. With all this being said then, it is safe to safe to say – though the World may appear to be spinning faster – the World continues to spin the same. White Supremacy rules today as it ruled yesterday. Donald Trump doesn’t change that; he only accelerates it. A discussion on this acceleration may be justified, perhaps, at another time.

Aside from an introduction into the general times that we are in, this relates to some of the comments that you made in your letter. What particularly stood out to me is this:

You asked how I could consider myself Christian still. I still ask myself that. Of course, on one hand, the easiest answer is we’re all Christian inasmuch as we’re Western. And, while I think that to be at least generally true, I think it’s an exercise in avoiding the question.

First to answer in this way is not to avoid the question, it is indeed an answer to the question. But it is an answer that is simply incorrect. We are not all Western. I believe that this gets at the root of the structure of the West and why anti-blackness and white supremacy structures the foundational aspects of thought, and the Modern world. If Trump’s wall, if the rise of Eurofascism, if the perfection of slavery with the project of mass incarceration, if the election of Trump itself, provides proof for anything, it provides proof to the fact that we are not all Western. To be Western is to be Human, to have your humanity affirmed, your existence recognized. To live outside of the West, to experience life outside of the West, is to have your existence perpetually questioned or denied to you. Black bodies are those bodies that gave birth to the West through an accumulation of its death. Black bodies are womb-and-tombs, not Western. So the question is still returned to you, in a double, in fact, triple question: 1) Are you Western, like are you truly Western? 2) How can Blackness ever be incorporated into the ontics of a Western “all”? 3) How can you accept that Christianity is Western and that to be Western is to be Human and still accept Christianity? I, of course, am not trying to convert you (divert you, perhaps, is better wording); I am more interested in understanding how this notion that “we are all Western” is justified.

Additionally, I think that your disagreement about my conception of God is, in fact, an agreement. God is like Race. This means that God does have a referent to which it signifies, or to which the name of God is applied. There is no distinction to be made between the socio-institution and the facticity. God is discursively-instituted and factually real. God has Being, God is socio-linguistically-derived, God is objectively real, and God is paradigmatically constructed. However, that signification is not an unification. God is not One. God signifies something different for different people and different bodies and different ideologies, and all of these are real insofar as they create/enforce an action into the immanent World. For different bodies have different conceptions of Being, of Language, of Facticity, and of Historicity.

Lastly, on the difference between intersectionality and the Matrix of Man. I have thought extensively about what constitutes the difference between intersectionality and my concept of the “Matrix of Man.” And I have come to a bit of a conclusion. Intersectionality implies that who I am when I say, “I am a cisgendered, heterosexual black man who grew up in working-class black family in white rural America” is an identitarian claim. Intersectionality teaches that these are identitarian claims that are denied to me through the White Male construction of the Law. However, I wish to cast off the shackles of identity, but not in the sense that the Alt-Left, or better yet, White Marxist would like me to; or in the way that liberal Black folks wishing to frame the “Negro Problem” in terms of a struggle for Civil Rights do either. I want to contextualize my blackness, my cisness, my heterosexuality, my ableness, my working class background, my rural geo-location as positions within the Matrix of Man. I am in all these positions, these locations, across a spectrum of subjection, power and privilege. What separates this from identity is that identity implies a simplistic space-time frame in the position of a subject in relationship to World. Identity says: I am here, as one subject with multiple identities. But, no, in the Matrix of Man, I am in multiple positions in relationship to access and denied access to power and privilege. The Matrix of Man says: We are here at the same time (inside the same paradigm) phenomenologically experiencing that time differently because of our positions, and we are occupying multiple spaces – positions – within that paradigm. Blackness is the position of absolute dereliction. It is the position that gave birth to the universal, globalized “transatlantic” comprehension of the Matrix. It is what orients, structures, stabilizes, and gives vital energy to the Matrix. It is the Matrix’s condition of possibility.

Sincerely from a Friend,

John Gillespie Jr.

The American God and His Disciples: Reflections on a Theological Americanism

One of the final moments of the 2016 Republican debates that sent twitter into a frenzy was Megyn Kelly’s “dramatic,” cliff-hanging, pre-commercial statement saying, “We have to stand you by, because after the break, we’re going to let the candidates make their closing statements, their final thoughts, and . . . God.” This caused in an outraged as people poured out their 140 character hearts about the GOP’s public conversation about their private, “Christian” faith in a country that claims to have a separation of church and state. When Fox returned from the commercial break the question surfaced to the candidates [paraphrased], “Have any of you received a word from God on what they should do and take care of first when elected in office?” To the “secular progressives,” that Hillary Clinton apparently epitomizes, to the people of a different religious/spiritual persuasion than Christianity and liberal, progressive Christians alike, this question seemed irrelevant or nonsensical in any serious political setting, especially after the conversation on the #BlackLivesMatter movement was cut ridiculously short. However, this final question is enormously significant, to the nation and to this forthcoming progressive movements emerging within it, and cannot simply be pronounced as irrelevant, because it speaks so much to America’s understanding of itself.

This question shines a light on the American civil religion. Talking about the American civil religion, Robert Bellah writes:

“Though much is selectively derived from Christianity, this religion is clearly not itself Christianity . . . The God of the civil religion is not only rather, ‘unitarian,’ he is also on the austere side, much more related to order, law, and right than to salvation and love. Even though he is somewhat deist in cast, he is by no means simply a watchmaker God. He is actively interested and involved in history, with a special concern for America.” [1]

This austere, law-minded Unitarian God of the American civil religion has more than just a special concern for America. He ordained and prophesied America’s divine mission for the rest of the world. He sees America as more than just a nation of liberty and justice for all, but additionally, a nation of promise – a holy land. Therefore, “The will of the people is not itself the criterion of right and wrong. There is a higher criterion in terms of which this will can be judged; it is possible that the people may be wrong. The president’s obligation extends to the higher criterion.” [1] It’s seemingly a democratic theocracy wherein the people may elect, but only God justifies. Therefore, being the leader of America goes far beyond being commander and chief, it’s essentially being a prophet of a divine Americanism. This prophetic responsibility is no minor ordeal to a society totally devoted to this American God. The enormity of the ordeal lies in the Supreme Being who without him, “there could be no American form of government, nor an American way of life,” for, “Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first, the most basic, expression of Americanism. Thus, the founding fathers of America saw it, and thus with God’s help, it will continue to be.”[2] For, “God has led his people to establish a new sort of social order that shall be a light unto all the nations.” [1] Sounds biblical right? Bellah thinks the God of the American civil religion only has, “selectively derived from Christianity,” but it isn’t necessarily Christianity. But I’d disagree.

The Unitarian focus of the American God is a poor attempt at inclusiveness, and without a doubt, most Americans understand the evoked God as the Judeo-Christian God (hence, the twitter outrage).  Politicians openly identify as Christians, and mention the name of God, making it safe to imply that they’re talking about the God of the Judeo-Christian sort. Robert’s tone, which insinuates a minuscule amount of Christian influence (selectively derived vs clearly), most certainly doesn’t align with Ted Cruz’s response to the debate question when he remarks, “I am blessed to receive a word from God every day in receiving the scriptures and reading the scriptures. And God speaks through the bible.” This response, coupled by an applause, solidifies the American God in the Judeo-Christian faith. Bellah mentions the influence himself when he says, “The equation of America with Israel is not infrequent . . . [Hence, the American unquestionable alliance with Israel].” Bellah’s insistence that there is a clear distinct division between the civil religion and the Judeo-Christian God is an insistence that there must be state established religion in order for the civil religion to be Christian.  However, this thinking undermines the importance of ideology and culture in the formation of a country. The American God is not a substitute for Christianity, but instead it is acculturated Christianity whose Unitarianism is only adopted for the sake of a patriotic, unified American front. This God, Christian in its foundation, is tied distinctly to a theological Americanism. Christianity is the religion; American Christianity its theology. This theology mimics the distinction between religion and theology made by Pan-African Christian theologians like Edward Blyde and Josiah Young. Christianity is the inculturated religion; Americanism is the acculturated theology. Lewis Gordon writes of the Pan-African theologians distinction when he says, “The task of a good theology, Young argues, is acculturation—to draw upon, that is, the cultural formation that is already present.”[3] If this is true, then what social order is it that God has called America to shine upon all nations? What does this theology teach? What are characteristics of this American God? And what are its potential biblical foundations? And what about Him makes Him so appealing to right-wingers?

The American God is the God of American Exceptionalism. This God blesses America disproportionately to the blessings of other countries. For this nation, even in its disregard for the least of these in terms of healthcare, education, and incarceration rates, still remains the good and perfect gift from above mentioned in James 1:17. This God has placed divine providence on America to take on the white man’s burden, and this burden of capital imperialism, is assuredly similar to that burden which led Paul to be beaten, pelted, and shipwrecked. For when the Wall-Street elites and their political apologist boast of their capital gains and personal wealth increases, they boast in harmony with the boasting of Paul in suffering. This God has supported the increase in military war-hawking. For this nation’s destiny lies in fulfilling its prophetic role of guardian of the globe. This God does not consider the deceptive language that justifies every war under the guise of, “liberty and democracy,” to be deceptive. For the demagoguery is nothing more than the following of the sacred prophesy bestowed upon it from He who watches from above. This God has declared America to be a nation of moral righteousness. Its slavery redeemed; its dehumanization of its poor and working class persons excusable; its murder of black persons acceptable; its hatred of people of color justifiable; its voice an echo of the divine. This God has maintained, “Whosoever challenges the greatness of this nation faces damned excommunication! And they shall find themselves one among the ranks of demons with titles such as: communist, nigger, terrorist, savage, thug, or Muslim.” His cross is a sacred Star – Spangled Banner. His holy land is these United States and his brother-nation is Israel. His Pharisees are those begging for him to follow the remarks given by that love struck, homeless, Palestinian Jews that called for his people to stop their murdering, settle matters quickly before the law must be involved, turn the other cheek in the face of violence, love your enemies, give to the needy, and never store your treasures. And His salvation is given to anyone who believes in him, puts in the work, follows the law, and is afforded the proper institutional privileges and biases to successfully accrue wealth, prestige, and status.

The fact that this God “exist” and this God is the God of this nation – anything that goes against this establishment, anything that questions the holiness of the dominant narrative of this establishment, anything that reminds America that it is not exceptional, goes against this God. The #BlackLivesMatter movement is fighting against this God and his militarized holy “guardsmen of grace.” The feminist movement is fighting against this God and his disciples’ attempts to disregard the importance of affordable healthcare options for women, demean the lived experience of rape survivors, and belittle women’s request for equal pay across the country. The LGBTQ+ movement is fighting against this God and his disciples’ commandments that they harbor hatred and phobia of these persons. The labor movement is fighting against this God and his disciples’ sanctified positioning of capitalist elites as beacons of American individualism. The anti-neoliberal globalization movement is fighting against this God and his disciples’ permissibility of the exploitation of the poor persons of the world.  America is a country wholeheartedly devoted to the concept that their mission is a transcendent one, greater than themselves. A mission that goes beyond constitutional, democratic elements and enters into the divine. Any wrongdoing is not a wrongdoing. Everything American is righteous. This question asked on the GOP debate stage is important for today’s activist because it’s not just an irrelevant utterance of religion maneuvering its way into the political sphere. It’s an indication that we are not up only up against the white supremacist, homophobic, anti-black, capitalist, patriarchy power structure so duly noted in our leftist progressive conversations. We are up against the acculturated American God himself.

[1] Bellah, Robert. Civil Religion in America. Dædalus, Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, from the issue entitled, “Religion in America,” Winter 1967, Vol. 96, No. 1, pp. 1-21. http://www.robertbellah.com/articles_5.htm

[2] Einsehower, Dwight. Remarks Recorded for the “Back-to-God”Program of the American Legion.

http://www.eisenhower.archives.gov

[3] Gordon, Lewis. Africana Existentia: Understanding Existential Thought.

Christian Sexual Ethics: LGBTQ+ and Christianity

This paper is a paper I wrote for a Women Studies Class at Towson University entitled: Christian Sexual Ethics. The class was an interdisciplinary class in which Christianity and its ethical beliefs on sex were explored starting from Paul to the New Evangelical Abstinence Movement. The essay will be broken up into two sections on my blog.

Part 1: Feminism, Rape Culture, and Christianity

Part 2: LGBTQ+ and Christian America

DISCLAIMER: As I am not a women nor a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I wish not to put a straight male face on the forefront of a movement that does not implicitly belong to me, but I wish only to add to the bulk of work of a pulsing community and critique commonly held Christian beliefs in order for the world to be a better, safer place for all.

The LGBTQ community’s mainstream battle for equality in the Christian community is one of justice. Their battle is one of civil rights, tied the freedom of being capable of expressing themselves as equal beings, socially and sexually. Homosexual love is not to be disdain and reprobated; it is to be accepted for what it truly is – love. But, homosexual love is a love that has received hatred by global, national, and local communities and this form of hatred must also be understood for what it truly is – vile and despicable discrimination. One of the main reasons dissent towards homosexuality is immoral because it is discriminatory. If discrimination towards people of color, low socio-economic status, and gender is deemed unconstitutional or unethical, then the same principle must be given to homosexuals. In a country that prides itself on freedom and equality, discrimination must be obliterated in all ways, shapes, and forms. “I have learned that sexism and heterosexism both arise from the same source as racism,” Audre Lorde says in There is No Hierarchy of Oppressions. The passionate struggle that comes from the fight for equal rights among the color lines and the gender lines is the same fight that must be had across the lines of sexual orientation if there is to be an end to oppression across the board. For discrimination has had adverse effects not only upon the lives of the oppressed, but also upon the lives of the oppressors as Audre warns, “And I cannot afford to choose between the fronts upon which I must battle these forces of discrimination, wherever they appear to destroy me. And when they appear to destroy me, it will not be long before they appear to destroy you” (There is No Hierarchy of Oppression).

                Some of the main arguments for the immorality of homosexuality result from arguments debating that homosexuality is not natural, and that homosexuality goes against what the bible says. Margaret Farley speaks of this when she says, “It [homosexuality] has been variously construed as a crime against nature, a sin against God, inherited physiological degeneration, and psychological illness;” and interesting enough she concludes by saying, “but also – at some point in time, including the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries – as a special gift, or as a simply an alternative orientation of human sexual desire” (Farley, 283). The argument contending that homosexuality is not natural, therefore it is not good, is illogical; for even if it was “not natural”, who is to say that our natural state is any good? Morality and laws exist for the purpose of controlling human nature (natural desires that in its remotest form is pure survival) or for the protection and security of human rights (rights that are not naturally created, but socially created). To naturally desire survival does not equate to an ultimate “good” therefore, it does not equate to a valid argument for the unethical nature of homosexuality. However, the naturalness or unnaturalness of homosexuality does not even matter. What matters is simply the humanity of the individuals who identify themselves as homosexual. It is a moral good to extend the general moral ethic, “Do unto others as you would wish to have done to yourself,” onto homosexuals and the entire LGBTQ community as well regardless of the natural or unnaturalness of the orientation.

Denying rights to homosexuals also comes from Christian rhetoric, “I can love the sinner, but not the sin,” – “If we were supposed to be homosexual, God would have created Adam and Steve, not Adam and Eve,” is a couple of the many phrases used by Christians to demean the LGBTQ community along with simply, “God hates Fags,” and bible verses like, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10: “Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” Professor Douglas speaks of the use of the latter method when she says, “By invoking biblical authority they place a sacred canopy, a divine sanction, over their views toward gay and lesbian persons” (Douglas, 90). However, even under the pre-supposition of biblical authority, discrimination against the LGBTQ community is not absolutely supported by the bible and it is still unethical. First reason for this logic is the difference in historical and current understanding of the meaning behind “homosexuality.” “The few texts that appear to refer to homosexuality offer problems of interpretation – whether because of ambiguity in the use of rhetorical devices and specific terms, or disparity between the meaning of same-sex relationships in the historical context of Paul and the meaning we assume for same-sex relationships today,” Farley says (Farley, 274). This ambiguity blurs the “definitiveness” of homosexuality being immoral by calling into question our current understandings of “homosexuality” and historical understandings of “homosexuality.” For if there is a difference in interpretation and the bible does not forbid homosexual practices as we understand them today, then all discrimination would be currently and biblically unjust. For example, generally contemporary Christians would assume that American slavery was unjust and non-biblical. Nevertheless, the bible does justify slavery saying [sticking with the New Testament], “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ,” (Ephesians 6:5). However, if you bring up this ironic contradiction between the bible and current understandings, most Christians will say, “Slavery during biblical times was different than slavery in America,” inferring that the past slavery was fine, but the new slavery was not right. The misinterpretation of the biblical meaning of “slavery” like the potential misinterpretation of the biblical meaning of “homosexual” are indicators that interpretive mistakes have been made in the past to justify oppression and can be reconsidered and redefined by the Christian community.

Finally, even if Paul writes that homosexuality is wrong, and Leviticus writes that homosexuality is wrong, Jesus has said, “He who is without sin cast the first stone” (John 8:7). Therefore even if the Christian ideal is that homosexuality is wrong, it is not the job of the Christian people to cast their stones against the “sinner” – it is the job of God and God alone. Thus far, these arguments are all under Christian pre-suppositions, however, there is a separation of church and state and this separation calls and requires that our country is not run by religion, but by the state made up of the people. The people who are Christian, lesbians, gay, bi, queer, and transgender, all of whom deserve their human right to practice consensual sex, marry, and love as they please.

In conclusion, the world of sex has changed. It has become an existential exploration of others, of connection, and of love. It has become an act where consent must be given and diversity must be accepted in order to foster peaceful and non-oppressive standards. Marriage nor love is no longer needed for sex, consent is needed. Heterosexism is no longer justified and permitted, it is abominable and disgusting. The sexual sins of the past has been baptized anew into this new breed of free-thinking and free love where a man can lay with a man like he would with a women without discrimination and hatred and a women can show her body and freedom without fear of being coerced into sex. This is the new sexual ethic – one of consent, love, acceptance, and understanding.

Slaves of Thoughts and Political Peace

We must learn to be more rational and discerning in every situation, thinking beyond what we are supposed to believe, thinking freely, opening ourselves to the possibility of being wrong and perhaps, (even more frighteningly) the possibility of standing alone. For many must stand alone for political polarization to cease and for true critical free thinking to begin. The ability to think freely without the cage of authoritarian titles, the chains of dictating labels, and the tyranny of polarization is a necessary condition of finding free thought. Critical free thought and the transference of differing ideas with the means of understanding is important and significant as we search for peace in a world filled with new war, militancy and cyber danger.  It is fine to be influenced; it is fine to be inspired; but we must not let any one ideology become the law by which we cannot break nor critique under any circumstances. For when this happens, when unbreakable, non-critique-able laws of the mind emerge, the mind becomes a slave of thought. If what I believe in cannot and is not challenge-able, or malleable, then I must ask: Why is this belief so difficult to change? Is it difficult to change because of the stoutness of the belief or the stubbornness of my character? Is it difficult to change because of the strength of the idea or the strength by which I am willing to hold onto it? Disputes, confrontation, and war are the result of stubborn characters battling for the assertion of their strongly held ideologies. Discussion, conversation, and treaties are the result of critical thinking and the transference of ideas with an ardent desire of sending knowledge, understanding, and/or making peace.

Many slaves of thought are advocating throughout the political scene. These chained brains are from the left and from the right. There are some using their religion to assert the truth of their statements. There are some using their oppression to assert the invalidity of other’s opinions, experience, and knowledge. There are some using their privilege to devalue the experience of others, and there are some using their lack of privilege for their own ideological purposes. All of which may, can, and should be taken into consideration when one is analyzing what is the most truthful and what will bring the most happiness to the governed people – rich and poor, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, European, national and foreign, immigrant and native, etc. But, none of these alone should dominate in all aspects and facets of your thoughts and your politics. The world is a stream of colored thoughts, full of opinion and creative information. These thoughts are only waiting for your arrival in order to add to the dullness of an experience you might have disregarded. It is when your thoughts become dominated that you remain dull.

We must politicize the people. But we must not polarize the people. We must politicize them to be critical consumers of knowledge. This means introducing our children to all of the opinions of the world and allowing them to discern for themselves what they believe and why it is that they believe that. Doing so erases the victor as the only writer of history, and teaches that history is a tale of two cities (or more). When the politicized people fall blindly into a label and follow blindly into the ways of a sole political, religious, or social position then, humanity releases. We become laws and not limbs – inflexible versus flexible. We become a category and categorization takes away the complexity of the human who in various situations will act differently, think differently, and believe differently. This is not true for all things and all situations, but openness is significant for when the time arises, and peace will only come from opposing what is believed to be what you are supposed to believe. It is crucial that when we begin to think critically we understand that all true critical thinking takes into account the opinions of all sides and understands the purpose or logic of the opponent.

It all comes back to being. Being has no boundaries except for those which we makes for ourselves. Your identity is a journey, and there is no journey more vital than the journey we must take with the people who are most different than ourselves. Who you are is just as much who you’ll become as it is what you are today. Therefore, we must think freely and we will never become a slave of thought.

My Solid Philosophy

What is a “solid philosophy”? A solid philosophy is an actual oxymoron. Contrary to any dogmatist, objectivist, empiricist, and on, this solid philosophy found its home in radical absurdity, skepticism, and ecclectism. The world should not be defined by our own experiences only, for there is so much more to know, to question, and to understand. In fact, anyone who has tried to force their definition of the world down the throats of others have typically found themselves marked in history as slaughterers and imperialist. Is it safe to say that the slaughterer, he or she, would not be capable of feeling what it was like to be the slaughtered (even if he or she does eventually get slaughtered themselves, could they ever feel what it was like to die the same way the man/woman that they slaughtered was)? Is it safe to say that the imperialist could never be inside the shoes of the colonized peoples that they they’ve encountered? Is it safe to say that a man who has yet to feel, see, know, or understand everything and everyone is not capable of producing a truly “solid philosophy”? An objectivist must assume that they can be placed in the same shoes of every one who lives, but this is imaginary! I could never leave this body and I could never absolutely hear the forthcoming thoughts of another one’s minds nor feel the forthcoming emotions of another one’s “spirits”.

This is why we should permit and hear theology (so long as it does not attempt to destroy those who disagree, or convict those who disagree) and this is why we should permit and hear science (so long as it does not misconstrue the masses into believes that it is a messianic philosophy and the only one capable of furthering the world into something “better”). To the scientist: Who is to say that one does not feel God? It has been observed that there are religious people who fervently believe that there is a God dwelling in their bodies, pressing them forward, giving them purpose, and directing their lives. With causal thinking, it is safe to say that we can observe them enough to see some people have, in a sense, “transformed” their lives into something else. I would say so, and I would say that science has never, and can never invalidate a God. To the theist (speaking predominantly to the Christians, as they are the religious system I am most familiar with): Who is to say that science has not helped or shown beneficial contingencies for our world? If there are some “facts” (truths) brought to the table, why shouldn’t you listen in order to learn, and develop a broader understanding of our deceptive world? Everything that one believes may be valid. Especially, since we are only one and could never be another.  So, are we to exist as solipsist? Absolutely not! On the contrary, we should exist as radical subjectivist understanding that my way may be a way, but never the way; understanding that my way may also be the way of contemporary scholars or thinkers, but it may also be considered too “traditional” in some distant future, or absolutely false as well. Every philosophy may be valid as long as faith exist, since everything is faith. We only perceive the world, and only perceive glimpses of “truth”; if truth even exist.

So then, what is my “solid philosophy”? It is a wandering in the philosophical woods, an observation of every branch and an understanding of the labyrinth of life as having unknown twist and turns at every corner. I take note that the world is absurd, and I may never truly comprehend it, thus making me a skeptic of many things until I come to my own understanding of it, then, I apply it to my own subjective eclectic taste. A solid philosophy is an oxymoron in the sense, that it is not solid upon sturdy foundation, it is solid upon fluid foundation; it is a boat stoutly pressed on an ocean. It is subject to change, subject to growth, and subjective. These thoughts are my own, these opinions are my own; we can debate them, we can discuss them, we can fight for them, and we should at minimum attempt to understand them; so that even if we disagree, we can attempt to be at peace with one another. Peace comes from understanding. Harmony comes from understanding. However, this is my belief. This is my solid philosophy, for today, until I think otherwise.