Man, these Germans love to carbonate things. Water? Carbonated. Apple juice? Carbonated. I would kill for a big bottle of Poland Spring right now, as the water here is pretty sub-par. Almost all of the bottled water is "mineralwasser" conveniently containing a list of all the yummy extra minerals they put into it. Did I say yummy? I meant "tastes like corrogated steel." They all have this sort of metallic after taste that reminds me of pool water. Dirty, dirty pool water. Sorry... "Pulwasser."
Carbonation. The bubbles are the only things that I notice in a bottle of water, not the taste. So, I have taken to drinking only carbonated water. Let's see how long I can keep this up.
Recently I was thinking about the popularity of religion in American society, and, alternatively, the relative lack of it in European society. Well, not all European society. Certainly not Spain or Italy, but definitely France, England and Germany. I am aware that this is a real blanket generality, but I think its worthy of thinking about. What is the difference between all of them? My initial thought was that European cities are packed with the most extravagent cathedrals and churches... maybe the visibility of religious imagery in everyday life kind of makes people "bored" with religion. Do you know what I mean? Maybe having a history (and city) saturated in religiously oriented stories, imagery, and violence have made the current generation rebel against their past and distance themselves. But my theory doesn't hold up with the examples of Italy and Spain, where religion is an important part of life (from what I here. Again, I am in no way qualified to make these generalizations. They are just thoughts/theories.) I can say that Italy and Spain are certainly not as commercially successful as the other countries I have mentioned. Do you think that has something to do with it?
On the other hand, we have the US. I feel like religion is such an important part of our culture: from "In God We Trust" on the currency, to "One Nation Under God", to politicians having to prove that they are "Good Christians" with Good Christian Morals. Oh boy, how the presence of religion in US politics gets my spurs a' janglin'! Nobody could ever come out and say they are atheist and ever have a glimmer of hope for a political career. What they think and believe in unimportant. If they don't believe in God, they are an actual pariah.
Another example is that for me to express that I don't believe in God (Are You Serious Matt!) is a serious taboo. But why should I be ashamed to ask questions about life (questions that nobody can answer) and not blindly follow what is dictated to me? I guess I am under the impression that most people never actually chose to worhip within their given religion: converts being the exception. Hahaha, I sound like an angry punk kid, but I don't mean it that way. To clarify, for me, there could be a God, I don't doubt that.... but I just have not seen much proof for it. In fact, there is a lot more proof to the contrary (death, disease, famine, war, torture, suffering, accidental death, etc.). Maybe someday, if somebody gave me a really good reason, I could believe in God. Until that time, I..... am.... an..... atheist (or maybe agnostic. I never really understood the difference)! OH THE HUMANITY!
That quote conveniently leads me into my next point. I hate the idea that people do good deeds in order to go to Heaven or to make a god happy. Answering to a big man in the sky just seems so wrong to me. Good deeds should be motivated by a love for people, regardless of the pay off in the afterlife... or even this life! Being kind for the sake of kindness and the hope (dare I say "faith"?) that others can be motivated to do the same is good enough for me.
However, I do see the therapeutic effects that religion brings to some during difficult times. When the unthinkable occurs, perhaps the best answers lie within that which we cannot see nor totally understand.
Here's a pretty cool thought. Perhaps "God" is a set of universal morals. A set of morals that anybody, regardless of place of origin, color of skin, clothes worn, years of age, cultural and political history can abide by and strive for. A given would be not to kill other humans. Killing animals? Necessary and natural. Killing humans? There has got to be another way. I don't have the answer.
"Honor thy mother and father"? Hell no. There are some terrible parents out there worthy of zero respect and honor. I know how fucking lucky I am that I happen to have two incredible parents. Not all of us are so fortunate.
What about always helping others within your capacity? We can't expect everybody to give up all of our worldy possessions and move to Darfur to help stop the genocide there. We have families and people who depend on us here. But, at the same time, with Darfur for example, we can educate ourselves, influence our politicians, donate money, educate others, etc. For a smaller and a bit more practical example, helping others within our capacity means helping that old lady with her bags, being absolutely intolerant of racism, sexism, or bigotry (you don't need to go anywhere or give anything for that one, except to be vocal in its presence), help picking up the books that the student dropped, holding the door open for the man in a wheelchair, etc.
Help me out. What are some universal morals? Thats not even a good word for it. I wish I could say "universal goods" as in things that are "good". In fact, thats what I'll call it. Universal Goods. What do you think is a good one?
Ok, I am stepping down from the soapbox now. I totally went on a tangent and forgot the original question that I asked or topic I was exploring. Anyway, I want to hear what you have to say! Thanks for all the great comments everybody. Keep em coming.