Tag Archives: Politics

What Does My Atheism Look Like?


While I was writing my last post, I kept thinking back to it in terms of my atheism. As such, I thought I’d write a similar post about my atheism.

As an atheist, I don’t need to say more than “I don’t believe in any gods” to justify it. That is the definition of atheism. It’s what makes me a member of the group known as atheists. But it is not all that my atheism is. This is because my atheism has led me to other conclusions, as have the people that I associate with as an atheist.

Were I an atheist outside of the atheist community, I think I’d be justified in saying that my atheism is nothing more than my disbelief in gods. But I am not outside of the community, so my atheism has become more. For example, before I became an atheist, I believed in many supernatural things. I thought that my house was haunted and magic was real, as well as my basic belief in God, angels, and the devil. But I’ve rid myself of all of those beliefs because I’m an atheist. If I don’t believe in gods, why would I believe in ghosts? Shouldn’t I apply the same skepticism to both? So now my atheism isn’t just about gods, it’s about the supernatural as a whole.

My atheism also led me to a community of people who have formed my beliefs about various things. I wouldn’t have said that I was anti-war when I was a believer, but I would now. This is because I’ve had deep discussions about current military actions with my group, and we have all been fairly skeptical of what has been going on. We may not see the problems as individuals, but we do as a group because we apply skepticism to what we are told, and even to each others’ beliefs. I’ve also become much more interested in activism. This interest stems from our openness to talk about any and all issues. I’ve learned more about abortion, feminism, rape, racial discrimination, politics, etc as a result of my atheist community than I have from anywhere else. They are the ones who convinced me to openly call myself a feminist, to protest pro-lifers, to care more about voting and the various political parties, and to speak out against discrimination of any kind. I doubt that I’d be as active as I am without them.

All of those things aren’t necessary of atheism, and they aren’t themselves atheism, but they were developed out of my atheism. They have become parts of my worldview, as atheism has, and they are both separate from one another and connected.

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Pro-Life Terrorism


Rachel Maddow reported on the history of violence within the “pro-life” movement. There has been a number of members responsible for a lot of terrible things. One group tried to keep people out of an abortion clinic by parking cars in front of the doors and trapped themselves inside the vehicles. That same group later held celebration for someone who a year earlier murdered a man who was trying to get a doctor into the clinic safely. There have been a number of murders. There have been bombings. There have been people who attempted to crawl into the buffer zone to physically stop people from entering the clinics. Sadly, many aren’t happy with holding signs and yelling at people. Many are willing to do whatever it takes to stop people from having abortions.

But, despite the history of violence, the US supreme court doesn’t believe a buffer zone is necessary. Do they not care that women and doctors could be in danger? Are they trying to make it easier to make abortion illegal?

I’m so glad I live in Canada…

http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2014/06/27/maddow-the-long-history-of-violence-in-the-anti-choice-movement/


On Politics


Stephen Harper has been the head of Canada’s government for over a decade. I was a teenager when he came to power. I have voted federally twice and have never voted for Harper. I am not a Conservative.I do not like many of the party’s platforms. But I find Stephen Harper’s government problematic more so because of Harper than because it is a Conservative majority.

Stephen Harper seems to have little respect for the environment or for the people of Canada. He has a tendency to put corporations ahead of the people. He has caused science libraries to be shut down and he has silenced the scientists of Canada. He is allowing oil companies to hurt our environment: “Canada’s carbon emissions will soar 38% by 2030 mainly due to expanding tar sands projects, according to the government’s own projections.” I find this to be very problematic. Without scientific data it is easy to cause unnecessary environmental disasters like oil spills. It is also harder to share the data, which means that our scientists take longer to make important discoveries. And it hurts our education system because students aren’t taught about recent scientific advancements. As for the harm to the environment, that’s just bad for everybody. Personally, I believe that either his evangelical background or the evangelical backgrounds of a number of his backers is responsible for his disregard for science and the environment. I’m going by what I know about American politics to make that claim.

To add to the problems I see with Harper’s government is Harper’s apparent disregard for the Canadian people. In 1997, Harper said “I was asked to speak about Canadian politics. It may not be true, but it’s legendary that if you’re like all Americans, you know almost nothing except for your own country. Which makes you probably knowledgeable about one more country than most Canadians.” This was said to a group of American visitors to Canada. So according to Harper we, as Canadians, know nothing about our own country or any other. What does this say about Harper? To me, it says that he thinks we are stupid and easily manipulated. Perhaps that is why he thinks that he can get away with destroying our science and our country. In the same speech he said “[Y]our country [the USA], and particularly your conservative movement, is a light and an inspiration to people in this country and across the world.” There is no question that Harper idolizes the American government. Otherwise he wouldn’t be trying to turn Canada into another United States. This scares me. We are not the United States. I do not like how the United States is run. It is a failing empire. One should not attempt to build their country to be a model of a failing country. Canada should be emulating the countries that are doing better than us on the world stage. The countries with better education, better life-expectancy, better science programs, etc.

Harper troubles me. His version of Canada troubles me. I feel as though I have been watching my country crumble around me. For as long as I have been able to vote I have watched my country crumbling around me. And yet I have studied Canada’s rich history. It is not without its problems, but Canadian history has made me proud of many of the achievements of my country. I am glad that I was born here. But more and more I am not sure that I want to die here. I truly hope that Harper is not given a fourth term as Prime Minister. I am hoping that the Liberals or NDP take power. And I hope that which ever one of those two doesn’t get the PM seat gets to be the opposition.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jan/14/canada-carbon-emissions-2030-tar-sands

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/research-cutbacks-by-government-alarm-scientists-1.2490081

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/health-canada-library-changes-leave-scientists-scrambling-1.2499217

http://thetyee.ca/News/2011/03/23/StephenHarpersEyes/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Prime_Ministers_of_Canada_by_religious_affiliation

 


Why Universities Need Funding


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Here is an article that I recently wrote. I can’t help but feel that it is important to share it:

“I am a fifth year university student. I expect to graduate next year. Let’s face it: whatever changes are made to the university now won’t really affect me. But they will affect the lives of future university students for better or for worst. And they will also affect Canadian society as a whole. This begs the question: how are Canadians affected by lack of funding and funding cuts to universities?

Let’s look at some of the positive things that universities do for our society. There are many such advantages. For one, university graduates are more likely to have health insurance provided to them by their employer. This saves the government money in a number of ways: people with health care have less health issues, the government doesn’t have to pay for any treatments and medication, and the children of the university graduates will likely be healthier than their peers. University graduates will also likely get jobs that pay more than their uneducated peers, which means that they will have more money to put into the economy. They also put more into the economy by paying higher taxes. Moreover, university graduates are more likely to vote at 78% of graduates voting verses less than 60% of non-university educated people.

All of the above benefits directly affect our society. However, there are also more indirect effects on society which can be correlated to having a university educated populace. One such benefit is the fact that university graduates are significantly less likely to go to prison than those with no university degree. University graduates also tend to be involved in their community and volunteer more. Furthermore, university graduates are less likely to be unemployed. Finally, university helps get rid of gender disparities where employment is concerned. 58% of undergrads are women, which means that women are far more likely to be able to enter career fields that are traditionally male dominated fields, and they are far more likely to gain higher positions and make more.

It is quite clear that Canadians as a whole benefit from having a university educated populace. But what does that have to do with funding? There is a major problem with how funding works where universities are concerned. Universities, like grade schools, are either public or private. The public universities, like the University of Calgary, benefit from government funding. But they cannot survive on government funding alone, especially when the government keeps cutting their funding. So universities get money in other ways. We are all aware of the tuition hikes that occur when funding is cut, and many courses and faculties can be cut or changed too. But universities do still get funding from private donators. This, however, is problematic. Why? Because private donators can direct the funds that they give wherever they want. This means that a university can find itself in a position where a new building, which is completely unnecessary, is being built for one faculty, while another faculty is forced to cut courses and let professors go, or maybe even join another faculty. In Alberta, it is the oil and gas companies who have the most to offer, and the most to gain, when it comes to donating to universities. So, who benefits? The engineering and business students. And who suffers? Everybody else.

This isn’t to say that there is a problem with oil and gas companies investing in students and universities, but other fields are important too, and we are ignoring them. It is common to hear people complain about students getting degrees that don’t benefit anyone and won’t make them money. Parents often tell their children to go into programs that will have immediate benefits on their financial situation. So what are the benefits of other programs? Well, two obvious programs that get ignored in Alberta are education and medicine. What are the benefits of getting an education degree? Teachers educate the next generation. They are responsible for ensuring that our future contains educated people who impact society in all of the ways listed above. No, a teacher is not going to strike it rich, but they are incredibly important for creating a healthy society. Medicine is another obvious area. We need doctors and nurses to be well educated so that they can do their jobs effectively. Why would we not fund the programs responsible for turning out the people who keep us healthy?

The less obvious programs are harder to justify to people who don’t already accept their worth, but they do, nonetheless, have worth. History is often thought to be useless. People will say “what can you do with a degree in history?” Well, let me see…um…I can run the country. Yes, that’s right. I can go into politics and eventually lead a party and become prime minister. Michael Ignatieff is a historian. In fact, our political leaders have had various types of degrees that are not funded: law, economics, political sciences, and general Bachelor of Arts degrees. The sciences are also underfunded. Science is important for many reasons: science gives us the technology we use to communicate more effectively and entertain ourselves, science gives us medicine and lets us lead longer lives, and science is how we know about the world we live in.

We need all of the various university programs for various different reasons. We do not live in a world where we can sustain our society and our people with just two career paths. We cannot hope to survive with just business people and engineers. We still need people to grow our food, and people to make sure that our land can keep producing said food. We need people who can build our houses, and people who can create sustainable equipment for building our houses with. We need people to create and administer our medicine. We need people to educate our children and ensure that our society will survive into the future. We need people to run our country and our provinces. We need people who will keep our culture alive and keep us for repeating the mistakes of the past. We need people to report on current events to keep us all connected, and we need people to keep our technology up to date and working. In short, we need diversity. We need people to go into all of the degree streams. And we need all of the university programs to be funded equally. We need money for building repairs, to pay professors, to get access to as much knowledge as possible to better educate the students, for needed educational technology, and for various other reasons.”

Sources:

“Statistics Canada takes a closer look at those who don’t vote”: http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/canada-politics/statistics-canada-takes-closer-look-those-don-t-182841085.html

“The many benefits of a higher education”: http://www.ashtoncollege.com/the-many-benefits-of-higher-education/

“Trends in Higher Education” : http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CDQQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.aucc.ca%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2011%2F05%2Ftrends-2011-vol1-enrolment-e.pdf&ei=QwLmUsjWMtTooATK-oCwDA&usg=AFQjCNFWjREM3-zt2i4CbBzZqii52qak5A&sig2=TFdxpeJ-mTarNT1FG-WBbQ&bvm=bv.59930103,d.cGU

“What difference does learning make to financial security”: http://www4.hrsdc.gc.ca/.3ndic.1t.4r@-eng.jsp?iid=54


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