some quotations

As you have guessed it already, I am reading Steve B Biko’s selected letters in I write what I like. The essays were written when our author was actively involved in black emancipation in South Africa before he was brutally killed by the apartheid regime. In this address to black ministers of religion, he writes in conclusion

[..]I would like to remind the black ministry, and in deed all black people that god is not in the habit of coming down from heaven to solve people’s problems on earth.

Even now, in the face of a mass shooting in the US where over a dozen children were shot dead, sending thoughts and prayers will not help. Enacting stringent regulations around gun ownership, addressing other societal pressures like racism, unemployment, mental health is what is called for.

Elsewhere, writing on African religion, we read

Another aspect of religious practices was the occasion of worship. Again we did not believe that religion could be featured as a separate part of our existence on earth. It was manifest in our daily lives. We thanked god through our ancestors before we drank beer, married, worked etc. We would obviously find it artificial to create special occasions for worship. Neither did we see it logical to have a particular building in which all worship would be conducted. We believed that god was always in communication with us and therefore merited attention everywhere and anywhere

He then says

It was the missionaries who confused our people with their new religion. By some strange logic, they argued that theirs was a scientific religion and ours was mere superstition in spite of the biological discrepancies so obvious in the basis of their religion. They further went on to preach a theology of the existence of hell, scaring our fathers and mothers with stories about burning in eternal flames and gnashing of teeth and grinding of bone. This cold cruel religion was strange to us but our forefathers we sufficiently scared of unknown impending anger to believe that it was worth a try. Down went our cultural values.

And I can’t agree more!

On metaphysical guilt

Steve Bantu Biko, in I write what I like, describes it as being

There exists among men, because they are men, a solidarity through which each shares
responsibility for every injustice and every wrong committed in the world, and especially for crimes that are committed in his presence or of which he cannot be ignorant

Biko

He then goes ahead to write

This description of “metaphysical guilt” explains adequately that white racism “is only
possible because whites are indifferent to suffering and patient with cruelty” meted out to the
black man. Instead of involving themselves in an all-out attempt to stamp out racism from
their white society, liberals waste lots of time trying to prove to as many blacks as they can
find that they are liberal. This arises out of the false belief that we are faced with a black
problem. There is nothing the matter with blacks. The problem is WHITE RACISM and it
rests squarely on the laps of the white society. The sooner the liberals realise this the better
for us blacks. Their presence amongst us is irksome and of nuisance value. It removes the
focus of attention from essentials and shifts it to ill-defined philosophical concepts that are
both irrelevant to the black man and merely a red herring across the track. White liberals
must leave blacks to take care of their own business while they concern themselves with the
real evil in our society—white racism.

Steve Biko

which, from what I read of some societies where racism is still a problem, almost rings true. But I could be wrong given that the problem of race did not have a long gestation period here, not that it didn’t exist at all. No it did. We have white neighbourhoods and African estates. There were miscegenation laws among other racist policies here too.

Some forgotten sayings of Socrates

The second year of this pandemic is coming to an end and if you are reading this, you are still alive having avoided death by the pandemic, death by the police and if you are a Kenyan death by a myriad of things from flash floods to hunger depending on where you live or how well you pray to the different gods. But before we get to the business of this post, I take this great opportunity to wish you all a happy and cheerful holiday season. Stay alive!

Leisure is the most valuable of possessions

There is only one good, knowledge; and one only evil, ignorance.

Riches and high birth have nothing estimable in them, on the contrary, they are wholly evil.

On why he was learning to play the lyre, he said, it was not absurd to learn anything that one did not know.

Those who bought things out of season at an extravagant price did not expect to live till the proper season for them.

What was the virtue of a young man? ‘To avoid excess in everything.’

Should one marry or not? Whichever you do, you will repent it, was his advice.

Young man, keep constantly looking at the mirror, for if you are handsome, you might worthy of the beauty, and if ugly, you might conceal the unsightly appearance by their accomplishments.

Some sayings of Thales

God is the most ancient of all things, for he had no birth

The world is the most beautiful of things, for it is the work of God

Place is the greatest of all things, for it contains all things

Intellect is the swiftest of things, for it runs through everything

Necessity is the strongest of things, for it rules everything

Time is the wisest of things, for it finds out everything

To the question, which was made first, night or day, he replied ” night was made first by one day”. What was most difficult? To know oneself; most easy? To advise others; most pleasant? To be successful.

Have a day full of wisdom

On human intelligence or lack of it

I cant recall who it was that said he is displeased by anyone who doubts that we are intelligent or who compares our intelligence to that of other animals. Though I like what Plutarch wrote

For I do not believe there is such difference between beast and beast, in point of reason and understanding and memory, as between man and man.

Plutarch

but the most relevant to this post is

The man from Mars who saw how men suffered in the last war and how frantically they are preparing for the next war, which they know will be worse, would come to the conclusion that he was looking at the denizens of a lunatic asylum.

Norman Thomas, 1935

I just finished reading AC Grayling’s An enquiry on war where he reviews many topics around war such as what causes war, justifications for it, future of war and such. My contention and I think Grayling would agree is that as long as our nation states continue to build arsenal in preparation for war, we cannot claim to be intelligent. In a world where there is starvation, homelessness, disease, poverty, it is insanity to keep spending trillions of dollars on armaments. It is madness. Blind folly.

Maybe some day war will end and until that day, we must remember that man is only capable of being intelligent but may not be intelligent, yet.

on Jesus Christ

In yesterday’s post or link, Superman was leading in the battle of the heroes. This quote from Ingersoll is a good addition to the debate

“Why should we place Christ at the top and summit of the human race? Was he kinder, more forgiving, more self-sacrificing than Buddha? Was he wiser, did he meet death with more perfect calmness, than Socrates? Was he more patient, more charitable, than Epictetus? Was he a greater philosopher, a deeper thinker, than Epicurus? In what respect was he the superior of Zoroaster? Was he gentler than Lao-tsze, more universal than Confucius? Were his ideas of human rights and duties superior to those of Zeno? Did he express grander truths than Cicero? Was his mind subtler than Spinoza’s? Was his brain equal to Kepler’s or Newton’s? Was he grander in death – a sublimer martyr than Bruno? Was he in intelligence, in the force and beauty of expression, in breadth and scope of thought, in wealth of illustration, in aptness of comparison, in knowledge of the human brain and heart, of all passions, hopes and fears, the equal of Shakespeare, the greatest of the human race?”

Col Robert Green Ingersoll, About the bible

things people have said

it would be better to destroy every other book ever written, and just save the first three verses of Genesis

William Jennings Bryan

If Jennings was granted his wish, what would become of Paul? Of the talking donkey? Of the fall of man? Of the Abrahamic land grab and all those fancy stories told in the bible? Does it mean that only the first three verses are indisputable and the rest being noise?

If there is a contradiction between a definitive [Koranic] text and conjectural science, then the scientific theory is refuted

A speaker at the First International Conference on Scientific Miracles of the Koran and Sunnah

think about this for a moment. you are doing research and then you check your results against the Koran and they contradict the text of the Koran. You don’t even have to publish your findings. They are refuted for all time.

All quotes are from J Rauch’s Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought

religious disservice

It is Monday, Easter is around the corner and maybe it is time for some sermons. I have been rereading Okot p’Bitek’s Artist the Ruler: Essays on Art, Culture and Values which I highly recommend, if you can find it that is. He quotes Eric Mascall who wrote

It has been emphasised that Christianity is historical in a sense in which no other religion is, for it stands or falls by certain events which are alleged to have taken place during a particular period of forty eight hours in Palestine nearly 2000 years ago.

Eric Mascall, inaugural lecture

Okot continues to say after this that all sorts of strange things happened during these few hours

  1. how for one do you interpret Peter’s so called denial? Why should a rugged fishermen deny his friend
  2. did Jesus ever claim to be king?
  3. who were the other thieves who were hanged on either side of the Christ?
  4. when some fellow, Joseph of Arimateus took Jesus’ body, was he really dead?

Elsewhere, he quotes from Rene Fullop-Miller’s Lenin and Gandhi

It is truly sickening….God creating: is this not the worst type of self reviling? Everyone who occupies himself with the construction of a god, or merely agrees with it, prostitutes himself in the worst way, for he occupies himself, not with activity, but with self contemplation and self reflection, and tries thereby to deify his most unclean, most stupid and most servile features or pettiness.

Lenin in response to Alexei Maximovich’s god-seeking

Have a pleasant Monday, will you.