Two replies to my earlier Blog, “We are alone on the earth as the only surviving member of the Genus Homo.”

One:

Didn’t Jesus know this, —that we all, and not just our fellows, in his case his fellow Jews of ancient Palestine, were one people? He may not have understood then as we do now that we were and are alone on the earth as the only surviving member of the genus homo, cousins if you like, all descendants of our African ancestors.

In any case Jesus’ words as written down in the Gospels by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, picture the men and women of his own time, the Jews, Romans, Greeks, and the others, as being in their essential human qualities, in their humanity, all the same. No where does the man Jesus give any importance to their ethnic or racial, or other differences.

We might rightly ask, why have we gone on ignoring this message, of the unimportance of physical or racial differences?

Believers and non-believers, both, go on making the mistake of stressing their particular beliefs, or non-beliefs, rather than being primarily concerned, as was Jesus himself, with how we treat one another. Who cares a fig about what they believe or do not believe, when it has always been what they do, how they live, that it’s all about?

Throughout our history there have some believers and some non-believers, those now we would call secular humanists, who have understood the importance of how we treat one another. But too many even of them continue to make the mistake of claiming to know, the ones that there is a God and the others that there is no God. It never seems to occur to either group that there is no way they can know anything at all about God, and certainly not whether or not he exists. This observation, or as I would like to say, fact, alone accounts for the continuing power of the Bible’s Book of Job.

Why haven’t both believers and non-believers realized that if there is a God he would probably be most interested in how we lived with and how we loved one another, and not at all in what we might make of him, God, neither in our thoughts, nor in our prayers.

In my opinion the power of prayer continues to be much overvalued. It’s as if we went on betting on a horse that had never won, to everyone’s agreement, a single race. For in fact, how many prayers have ever been answered? And in any case of what interest could our prayers ever be to any God?

There is just no evidence that God has any need of us. And neither is there any evidence that we need him. Whereas there is plenty of evidence, more than enough, that we need one another, and why isn’t this what gets all our attention?

Two:

This one in regard to the differences of which I spoke earlier, in regard to the words race, ethnicity, religion, culture and others, that in our usage of them we have been led on to stress our differences, creating thereby brutal oppositions and rivalries, and ultimately to our killing one another.

In regard to the subject France has just outlawed one of these words, race, making it now a crime to use that word in penal law. France’s National Assembly has decided, we’ve been told, to drop the word “race” from the country’s laws.

That may be the first word to go, but there are others, will the politicians stop there? And anyway, can it be done, can a problematic word be banished from the language by a vote of the ruling Socialist Party, by the stroke of President Hollande’s pen? Can the simple prohibition of a word that has accounted for untold suffering and huge numbers of deaths in the past prevent additional suffering and death in the future? You would like to think so.

In any case, it’s always an interesting question, how much does something, good or bad, depend upon there being a word for it? Or if there is no word is there no thing out there that the word would represent? If there is no word for what we’ve always called racial differences, such as skin color, physical prowess, brain power, etc. does that mean that we will stop separating people by such differences? Probably not, but perhaps it could be a step in the right direction.

According to the writer of the article in the Times the “move” in the French Assembly was “aimed at undermining the bogus foundation of racist ideology.” The word race, it was said, had no scientific basis and from now on the words racial and race would be dropped from articles in the French penal code, and when necessary be replaced, perhaps, by the word ethnic.

There was plenty of reaction as reported in the French press — “You don’t change reality by changing words.”  “We should also ban the word ‘disease’ and we would suddenly all be healthy.” “There’s no connection between the two — Diseases exist, human races don’t.”

And there were the words of President Hollande, himself, “There is only one race, and one family, the human family,” much like what I was trying to say in my Blog.

Alana Lentin and Valerie Amiraux, writing in The Guardian, cautioned that, “Not talking about races does not lead naturally to the demise of ‘race thinking.’” Again, that interesting question. Does not using a particular word, not talking about something, lead to the end of that something?

In regard to what I’d been saying in the comment above about believers and non-believers, might not having a word for God do away with God? Maybe, because God is not a single entity, and having just one word does make it perhaps into something it’s not.

I’ve always believed that the Greeks, and many non Greeks, or barbarians, and many American Indian tribes, had it right. There are many Gods. For clearly the word God stands for many things, many different things, and serves many people, many different people. And not having a single word to represent so much might keep us from adopting the single idea of one true God. For hasn’t the latter expression, the one true God, leading to my God vs. your God, much like the single word race, also brought about mostly untold suffering and death to the world’s peoples?

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