Online check-in is a process which should genuinely increase the efficiency of the airport experience, thereby costing you less time. But what the airlines do is employ so few people to supervise the bag drop-off that there’s no time-saving at all for the customer. Because airlines have to employ more people to supervise the non-online-checked-in customers – otherwise the planes wouldn’t leave on time – the non-checked-in queues move far more quickly. They’re transferring their inefficiency to the customer, but what they’re also doing is transferring the labour to you and accumulating the surplus value themselves. (John Lanchester, London Review of Books , 2/29.12)
Bravo! Precisely. And this is happening in all types of business, not just the airline business. So what does a sensible person do? He/she goes into the garden, has a nice long chat with a friend, does some planting and watering at this time of the year, and maybe, if super-sensible, he/she stays at home and avoids air travel. This is the true Epicurean way. Unfortunately, no one can totally avoid the ruthless big company – but we can all try.
Pat Robertson claims that the tornadoes in the mid-West of the US may not have happened if people had prayed for divine intervention, “If enough people were praying He would’ve intervened. You could pray. Jesus stilled the storm. You can still storms.” He also told people who live in areas prone to natural disasters that it’s “their fault, not God’s.”
Of course he is partly right. The increase in natural disasters is due you CO2 emissions and human activity. But of course Mr. Robertson doesn’t believe in that. The determined hostility towards science on the part of the self-proclaimed “Christians” in large swathes of America is hastening the decline of the Unites States into a know-nothing country of gun-toting ignoramuses. And they don’t care.
Epicureans believe in science and ordered, researched discovery. Epicureanism is a rational, positive way of life that doesn’t blame a supernatural being for the unpredictability of Nature or for things caused by the greed and stupidity of mankind.
Pray as much as you like, but the ice cap is melting and there are better ways of dealing with it than on your knees.
Bart Centre, a retired gentleman in New Hampshire, started a service for Rapture Ready people with pets called Eternal-Earthbound-Pets.com . For $135 he would look after pets stranded when their owners are whisked up to heaven to sit on the right hand of Jesus. Unfortunately, Bart ran foul of the local Insurance Department, who wanted to know if he was operating an unlicensed insurance business. What started as a joke got somewhat serious.
Actually, he was running a hoax as the expense of the gullible, but a sense of humor is not something that is universally common. Government employees are carefully screened, especially at airports, to make sure they are in no way tainted by a spirit of fun or high spirits. Believers in the Rapture are likewise not known for any smidgeon of humor.
I applaud Bart, but I think the lesson is: don’t try to take money off these people. Do anything else, but don’t take their blessed money from them. This is what matters to them.
Epicurus looks as if he was a jolly fellow who enjoyed a joke. Just look at his bust (above). He would not have approved of Bart; Epicurus believed in living and letting live and would not have indulged in practical jokes at the expense of others.
If you are at all curious about Epicurus, Lucretius, or even philosophy in general, then I strongly recommend that you should read “The Swerve: How the World Became Modern” by Professor Greenblatt of Harvard University. It is not long, not a philosophy lecture, and is very well written and very interesting historically. Professor Greenblatt is a Shakespeare scholar, and his immersion in Shakespeare seems to have had its effect on his writing.
The book has been criticized for ignoring the science that emerged before the 15th Century, but that seems to miss the point (excuse me, critics!). The point is that De rerum natura by Lucretius changed the way that educated, book-reading elites of the Renaissance and thereafter thought of the world and the message of the Church, and encouraged the search for facts and truth. It does not take away anything from the early scientists, like Bacon.
Small excerpt from words of Dvorak’s “Stabat Mater” (truly wonderful music!), written by a 13th Century monk:
Fac me plagis vulnerari,
Cruce hac inebriari ob amorem Filii.
To translate for the non-Latinists:
Let me be wounded with his wounds,
Let me be inebriated by the cross and your Son’s blood.
The whole work is along these lines, gratifyingly in Latin. It needs no lengthy comment, except to say that Epicureanism is a happy, positive way of life, with love and laughter and no self-flagellation. It stands for moderation, kindness, good manners, thoughtfulness for others, empathy and good company. It has been painted as an empty void. No! It is the smiling face of modern humanism.
Although branded an atheist by the usual suspects, Epicurus did believe in the gods. However, he also believed that they ignored the doings of mankind. They sat there on Mount Olympus squabbling among themselves or seducing one another (whatever). and thought men on earth not worth their consideration. Good plan. It would have been hard work.
And as far as I know they are still there, although the current Greek troubles may have persuaded them to relocate from Mount Olympus. One could speculate that Ares, god of war and armaments might by now have modernized his bow and arrow. He must be quite pleased about the never-ending wars currently proceeding. On the other hand, Hera, protector of marriage, must be wringing her hands in dismay. Likewise, Artemis, goddess of chastity. But neither goddess seems to be able to do much about it. And no doubt Aphrodite is having her hair permed as we speak.
So they are not much of a powerful lot, although recent geophysical eruptions around the world and pillars of fire etc. in the American mid-West do make one wonder if Zeus is sending us some sort of message. (Cue for wiser persons than me to tell us what it is).
So the hands-off approach of nearly all recorded gods (none excluded) seem to suggest that Epicurus knew more than the hordes of muftis, mullahs, swamis, priests, popes, vicars etc that have assumed positions of leadership in our society over centuries.
If I am wrong, please send a thunderbolt.
“Seek pleasure and avoid pain” is one of the chief teachings of Epicurus, twisted ruthlessly by his philosopher rivals and later by the Christian church when it had achieved temporal power. Epicurus believed in modest living – having sufficient security and sufficient pleasure, but never too much. He was accused of having orgies and living riotously. If having a bowl of lentil soup and a philosophic chat with a person of the female persuasion is living riotously, then the accusations were wholly correct. The truth is that he hated all extremes of behavior. By seeking pleasure he meant spending time with friends in the Garden, eating and drinking modestly, and avoiding disagreeable people. These included the rude and vulgar, the violent, the bullies and extremists of all stripes, those set upon power, fame and putting other people down, and those lusting after too much money, and too much sex and too many possessions. Can apologists for Christian churches truthfully deny that this is a rather sensible philosophy? Please comment!
I stand accused of straying into current affairs too much on this blog. However, were he alive today I have a suspicion that he would be appalled at the antics of the bankers and the super-rich and the pell-mell fraying of the social consensus.
Epicurus believed that war and conquest invariably bring with them unexpected consequences. While nations wage war in the name of “security”, very often everything is going to hell (so to speak) in a handbasket at home. Epicurus was against wars, especially those of choice. Often they are promoted by those with an agenda. He didn’t mention this agenda because in his days a soldier had only a sword or a spear, armour and maybe a horse, but today (were he alive) he would no doubt point to the war profiteers who have a vested interest in more and more armaments , and having them used, of course (they wouldn’t go into the field of battle themselves, oh no!).
Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, is leaving. At 61. A church leader is actually retiring and not dying on the job, and at a time of life which I consider middle-aged! Popes have to die or be assassinated.
Secondly, the subtext is that he has had enough of the politics and nastiness in the Anglican community over acceptance of homosexuality and the ordination of women. Williams, an academic, seems a nice, gentle sort of fellow, who will be nicely at home in a Cambridge college. He calls the Pope his “friend”, a friend who has made a takeover bid for right-wing Anglicans to cross over to the true church. Who needs “friends” like that, or the neanderthal attitudes and back-biting from his “flock”? Sensible man.
The relationship of this to Epicureanism? Epicureans believe in living, loving and letting live. They have no problems with people who were born with this or that sexual orientation, and were they interested in having priests to tell them what to think (which they are not), they would welcome a female perspective.
This is my own take-over bid to match Mr. Benedict in Rome! Think for yourself and be an Epicurean. You don’t have to join anything, pay anything, listen to threats of the hereafter, just live happily, modestly and without fear. This is the only philosophical or religious group not after your money!
God has apparently given us humans the ability to think for ourselves and to work out what seems reasonable and sensible and what seems not. If this is the case what is the justification for religious dogma? Or, to put it another way, why are Roman Catholics told that if they do not follow the decisions of the infallible Pope they are at the very least committing a mortal sin and be consigned to hellfire in the life hereafter? Either we are free to make our own decisions or we are not.
If there is a God who knows our every thought and who has designed us as we are, why does he seem inconsistent and muddled on this matter? I am very confused. Would a Catholic solidly versed in dogma and the right way of thinking please explain?
This is not a Jesuitical debating point - I really want to know.