June 2010

C-Cubed: Utah Humanists vs. A Seceding State

The results of our poll on who will be staying in the hypothetical case of Utah seceding from the federally governed nation:

4 are outta here (29%)

1 feels it will probably have no effect and will be staying on (7%)

7 are staying and taking on the cause of reason (50%)

2 are already beyond Utah’s borders (14%)

Of course, the fact that 2 are no longer in this state (or possibly have never been in this state) is coincidental to this poll and does not, necessarily, show a worrying trend that “people are already getting out”.

When I sent out the poll I was thinking the group would lean more to A, so you surprised me. But then again, it didn’t surprise me. Thinking about this brings the same questioning when I think about break-ups of other countries. How, and why, did they dare to go it on their own? Aren’t you stronger commercially and defensively as a bigger nation? Like in the break-up of Yugoslavia or Czechoslovakia. I’ve traveled to Slovenia (formerly part of Yugoslavia) and they’re doing very well. Bosnia, not so good. The Czech Republic is faring far better than The Slovak Republic. Of course, many of these irreconcilable differences were from artificially created countries, people thrown together as political powers redrew country borders. We’re not in quite the same boat, right? Or is liberal and traditional-conservative the new ethnicity? Are we going to end up being irreconcilable? I guess we still have hope when rational humanists are willing even to stay in a seceded conservative state!

The Conversation for June:

If you could invite anyone, living or dead, to come speak to us at an upcoming humanist meeting, who would that be? I’m leaning towards Hypatia. She was a pagan Greek scholar, sought after for her wisdom. And a Christian mob killed her. I would love to hear her take on the rising “Christian” sect, as seen from her vantage point. I also really want to hear her opinions on how women fit in the world.

And who would you invite? Send your responses to Lisa@HumanistsofUtah.org for next month’s newsletter. The deadline is June 26.

–Lisa Miller

President’s Message

Every now and then I feel compelled to thank the Arts, all the members of the symphonies, operas, ballet companies, visual artists, you name it. The Arts obviously make life much more enjoyable. My gratitude to the Arts brings to mind, at times, another aspect of humanity, that of the vast range of human endeavors and accomplishments. Recently Amy and I attended the Utah Opera, and of course it was delightful. Such a human construct is of the highest merit in the realm of collective accomplishments.

Unfortunately, that “range of human endeavor” also reaches a low level in other areas. One of the flaws in human nature is in the area of management “ethics.” Many in management look almost exclusively at the profit line and also how to funnel as much money as possible to their own pocket and the pockets of their friends and cronies.

As far as this “greed” thing goes, I’m sure some of you are saying, “What else is new?” And to say greed has consequences begs the same response.

But the consequences can be so destructive and harmful that one almost stands in awe at the stupidity of some decisions. For example, the decisions of oil companies to save a few million dollars in their multi billion-dollar business, by eliminating redundant safety measures, measures that would have ultimately been beneficial to both the company (and its workers) as well as the environment. Even a small percentage of what they will spend on this recent oil spill/blowout would buy them a lot of safety measures.

I realize that I wrote a nearly identical message about the oil spill last month as it was in its early stage. But as I write this message, we learn that their latest attempt to stop the flow has failed and it may not be until August that it can be stopped, if even then. So I think it is a topic worth revisiting and I intend to continue on with some sort of an environmental rant fairly regularly in my monthly messages.

It is unfortunate that we allow a “corporate imperialism” (as I have seen it termed) to exist in this country; an imperialism that is headed by people who skipped out of any business ethics class and went straight to lying, cheating, and stealing. And then when they get caught they use their ill-gotten booty to hire expensive lawyers to fight for them in the courts for years. It is also unfortunate that we allow industries of various kinds to have what I see as some sort of “freedom to pollute.” Obviously we can’t stop all human generated pollution, but we could do a lot better.

Sometimes I try to make my point in the following way: what would happen if, I, as an individual, decided that I don’t want to pay for sewer and water charges and stop paying the bill? Additionally, I might decide to run my sewer line out to the gutter. Well, it wouldn’t take long for my neighbors and the government to put a stop to my actions, and rightly so. But in essence this is what large corporations do, fueled by the “greed factor.” As with pollution, the short cuts that oil companies like BP take are fueled the same way and end very badly, as we are seeing unfold in the Gulf of Mexico. We simply should not allow the bottom line in business to dictate in matters that effect public health and the health of the environment.

That’s enough of my rambling for now. I need to listen to Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” or something and I definitely need to get up into the Uintah Mountains and get lost among the rocks, lakes, and trees.

–Robert Lane
President, HoU