Selective Memory

September 11, 2001 was indeed a sad and tragic day that will haunt Americans for years to come. I mourn the loss of life and my heart goes out to those who lost loved ones. However, I cannot and will not jump on the rah-rah "Let's Roll" bandwagon of melodrama mixed with hawkish propaganda. 

If the lives of ~3000 who died at the hands of terrorist scum mean so much to us, why aren't we doing anything in Darfur, Sudan where tens – perhaps even hundreds – of thousands of people have died, are dying, and will die at the hands of genocidal scum? If we're so gung-ho about kicking Evil's ass, why didn't we do it in Congo , where millions died – not by a swift crash, explosion, or building collapse, but by starvation?

Before we get all Toby Keith about 9/11 again, let's have a reality check and decide whether America's innocents are more important to protect than any other country's.

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About Funky Dung

Who is Funky Dung? 29-year-old grad student in Intelligent Systems (A.I.) at the University of Pittsburgh. I consider myself to be politically moderate and independent and somewhere between a traditional and neo-traditional Catholic. I was raised Lutheran, spent a number of years as an agnostic, and joined the Catholic Church at the 2000 Easter Vigil. Why Funky Dung? I haven't been asked this question nearly as many times as you or I might expect. Funky Dung is a reference to an obscure Pink Floyd song. On the album Atom Heart Mother, there is a track called Atom Heart Mother Suite. It's broken up into movements, like a symphony, and one of the movements is called Funky Dung. I picked that nickname a long time ago (while I was still in high school I think), shortly after getting an internet connection for the first time. To me it means "cool/neat/groovy/spiffy stuff/crap/shiznit", as in "That's some cool stuff, dude!" Whence Ales Rarus? I used to enjoy making people guess what this means, but I've decided to relent and make it known to all. Ales Rarus is a Latin play on words. "Avis rarus" means "a rare bird" and carries similar meaning to "an odd fellow". "Ales" is another Latin word for bird that carries connotations of omens, signs of the times, and/or augery. If you want to get technical, both "avis" and "ales" are feminine (requiring "rara", but they can be made masculine in poetry (which tends to breaks lots of rules). I decided I'd rather have a masculine name in Latin. ;) Yeah, I'm a nerd. So what? :-P Wherefore blog? It is my intention to "teach in order to lead others to faith" by being always "on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful" through the "use of the communications media". I also act knowing that I "have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [my] opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and [I] have a right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward [my and their] pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." (adapted from CCC 904-907) Statement of Faith I have been baptized and confirmed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I, therefore, renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements. I hold and profess all that is contained in the Apostles' Creed, the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church. I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That is, I promote and defend authentic Catholic Teaching and Faith in union with Christ and His Church and in union with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter. Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown unto me at my Confirmation. I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces. May He take full possession of me for ever. May His divine unction cause my face to shine. May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart. May His understanding enlighten my darkness. May His counsel guide me. May His knowledge instruct me. May His piety make me fervent. May His divine fear keep me from all evil. Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it. Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Behind the Curtain: an Interview With Funky Dung (Thursday, March 03, 2005) I try to avoid most memes that make their way 'round the blogosphere (We really do need a better name, don't we?), but some are worth participating in. Take for instance the "interview game" that's the talk o' the 'sphere. I think it's a great way to get to know the people in neighborhood. Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhod? In your neigh-bor-hoo-ood...*smack* Sorry, Sesame Street flashback. Anyhow, I saw Jeff "Curt Jester" Miller's answers and figured since he's a regular reader of mine he'd be a good interviewer. Without further ado, here are my answers to his questions. 1. Being that your pseudonym Funky Dung was chosen from a Pink Floyd track on Atom Heart Mother, what is you favorite Pink Floyd song and why? Wow. That's a tuffy. It's hard to pick out a single favorite. Pink Floyd isn't really a band known for singles. They mostly did album rock and my appreciation of them is mostly of a gestalt nature. If I had to pick one, though, it'd be "Comfortably Numb". I get chills up my spine every time I hear it and if it's been long enough since the last time, I get midty-eyed. I really don't know why. That's a rather unsatisfying answer for an interview, so here are the lyrics to a Rush song. It's not their best piece of music, but the lyrics describe me pretty well.

New World Man He's a rebel and a runner He's a signal turning green He's a restless young romantic Wants to run the big machine He's got a problem with his poisons But you know he'll find a cure He's cleaning up his systems To keep his nature pure Learning to match the beat of the old world man Learning to catch the heat of the third world man He's got to make his own mistakes And learn to mend the mess he makes He's old enough to know what's right But young enough not to choose it He's noble enough to win the world But weak enough to lose it --- He's a new world man... He's a radio receiver Tuned to factories and farms He's a writer and arranger And a young boy bearing arms He's got a problem with his power With weapons on patrol He's got to walk a fine line And keep his self-control Trying to save the day for the old world man Trying to pave the way for the third world man He's not concerned with yesterday He knows constant change is here today He's noble enough to know what's right But weak enough not to choose it He's wise enough to win the world But fool enough to lose it --- He's a new world man...
2. What do you consider your most important turning point from agnosticism to the Catholic Church. At some point in '99, I started attending RCIA at the Pittsburgh Oratory. I mostly went to ask a lot of obnoxious Protestant questions. Or at least that's what I told myself. I think deep down I wanted desperately to have faith again. At that point I think I'd decided that if any variety of Christianity had the Truth, the Catholic Church did. Protestantism's wholesale rejection of 1500 years of tradition didn't sit well with me, even as a former Lutheran. During class one week, Sister Bernadette Young (who runs the program) passed out thin booklet called "Handbook for Today's Catholic". One paragraph in that book spoke to me and I nearly cried as I read it.
"A person who is seeking deeper insight into reality may sometimes have doubts, even about God himself. Such doubts do not necessarily indicate lack of faith. They may be just the opposite - a sign of growing faith. Faith is alive and dynamic. It seeks, through grace, to penetrate into the very mystery of God. If a particular doctrine of faith no longer 'makes sense' to a person, the person should go right on seeking. To know what a doctrine says is one thing. To gain insight into its meaning through the gift of understanding is something else. When in doubt, 'Seek and you will find.' The person who seeks y reading, discussing, thinking, or praying eventually sees the light. The person who talks to God even when God is 'not there' is alive with faith."
At the end of class I told Sr. Bernadette that I wanted to enter the Church at the next Easter vigil. 3. If you were a tree what kind of, oh sorry about that .. what is the PODest thing you have ever done? I set up WikiIndex, a clearinghouse for reviews of theological books, good, bad, and ugly. It has a long way to go, but it'll be cool when it's finished. :) 4. What is your favorite quote from Venerable John Henry Newman? "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." 5. If you could ban one hymn from existence, what would it be? That's a tough one. As a member of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, there are obviously a lot of songs that grate on my nerves. If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably pick "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" by Ernie Sands.

9 thoughts on “Selective Memory

  1. Pingback: Tailrank - Top News for Today

  2. Stuff

    I just want to share a prayer included in this morning’s Magnificat readings (I’m sure this is copyrighted – please see to subscribe to this excellent publication):

    “God of mercy and compassion, you see into those places in the heart that are carved out by pain and grief, those places that are darkened by hatred and destruction, those places that are deepened by compassion and love. Pour forth into all hearts the healing presence of your Holy Spirit, that we may love more deeply and more faithfully, so that the world will be spared the horror of which we are capable when we turn away from love. We ask in the name of him in whom all suffering humanity finds peace at the last, Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.”

    BTW – I have never gotten, nor will I ever get, all Toby Keith about anything for any reason whatsoever. 😉

  3. The Waffling Anglican

    “whether America’s innocents are more important to protect than any other country’s”

    I would submit that America’s innocents are more important for the American government to protect than any other country’s. There are reasons why our forfathers founded this nation state, and among them was the defense of their progeny. I would expect the Congolese government to be more concerned with protecting Congolese innocents than with my sorry posterior, and would expect the other governments other nation-states of the world to do the same for their citizens. if, due to our size, power, and prosperity, we can also do something to assist the Sudanes and Congolese, I’m all for it. Unfortunately, most of these people are victims not of foreign invaders but of their own governments, and it is generally considered bad form to go around invading and occupying countries that you do not perceive to be a threat. Just look at the flak we’ve taken for removing one of the world’s worst dictators from a nation we did perceive to be a threat.

    At the risk of being tacky, if one is not willing to let it all hang out to protect the little American girl next door from getting blown up by some jabbering nut job, then how genuine is one’s vocal concern for the well-being of the Starving Armenians?

  4. The Waffling Anglican

    FD – Darfur and the Congo are both pretty far off most people’s screens. I suspect a large part of the reason is that most people have never heard of Darfur, and couldn’t find the Congo with a map, both hands, and a technical manual. “Out of sight, out of mind,” is a pretty foundational human response – it is less an attitude than it is normal mental functioning. I recall that people got into a sufficient furor to force an American intervention in Somalia when the famine there reached the nightly news on a regular basis*. If the reporters gave a rat’s patootie about, say, Darfur, I suspect there might be a greater response. Whether anything truly constructive could be done, given the realities of Sudanese scociety, is another question. NATO got the Serbs out of Bosnia with a bombing campaign (of questionable justice), but Serbia is a relatively modern country. To pacify Sudan, I suspect one would have to occupy the place – not a happy prospect.

    *Ironically, one can make the case that the American experience in Somalia was one of the more powerful factors in leading to 9-11.

  5. howard

    Some of pragmatic concerns you bring up could also apply to the situation in Iraq. And while many argue for the justice of going into Iraq, the arguments all require a long chain of logic (weaving a path through extensive nation-building in multiple Middle Eastern countries, a dubious exercise that’s come back to haunt us more than once before), unless one believes the failed theory that Iraq harbored terrorists prior to all hell breaking loose, in which case there isn’t much logic to be found.

    And to take your closing Somalia suggestion a step further, one can also make the case that our experience in Iraq has been one of the more powerful factors in encouraging global terrorism.

    All of which conveniently avoids the heart of Funky’s original question – to which I’d simply reply, we’re a notoriously selfish society in almost every aspect. Why on earth would you expect the average American to give a damn about people halfway around the world when they’ve got “necessities” like cable bills and car lease payments to worry about? It’d be nice, but I’m not holding my breath.

  6. Jay McGinley

    Yes, you are correct. We are inconsistant. We live by double, tripple… standards by which we judge.

    Let us reject the multiple standards. Let us judge OUR OWN actions relative to Darfur (I’m not kidding) by the standard,

    “Do unto others ALL that you would have them do unto you.” Every ethical and religious tradition has such a rule. With 4,000,000 lives in the balance in Darfur, wouldn’t this be a good time to play by the rule? Yes.

    Jay McGinley
    Day 105 24/7 DC Vigil
    Day 35 Hunger Strike (54 days so far this summer, with breaks)
    Arrested Sept 9th at White House with 29 others from Save Darfur.

  7. Rob

    There’s something to human psychology that affects the way we interpret emotional events. Those that we have a connection to are weighted heavier than those we have no connection to.

    On 9/11, I think far more about the 40 passengers and crew — and even the 4 hijackers — than I do the thousands of the WTC or those at the Pentagon. My work at the morgue affects me that way.

    When I think of hunger, I think first of the homeless in Pittsburgh. Most of the ones I knew as a paramedic are now dead. Yet they, in their homelessness, had more than the people in the favehlas of Brasil that I saw. And the slums of Brasil, which I have been to, hit harder than the starving of Dafur, which intellectually I know is far worse.

    I’d like to think it balances out. The sum, over the world’s population, of the concern for a particular situation times the response (response should be a function of wealth — I don’t expect the folks of Dafur to help with the recent situations in my own family) would equal the need. People nearest respond the most, those furthest away the least, but the sum would be the need of the population affected.

    That’s what I would hope. That’s not what it really is, but that might just be a need for better PR and news gathering.

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