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Tuesday, May 29, 2007
  Religion as a cause of violence
I listen to an interesting Podcast today, a lecture by Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor on the topic of Religion and Violence.

As a result, I've come to a slight softening in my opinion of religion as a root cause of violence and shifted the blame a little deeper.

If this topic is of interest to you, I'd strongly recommend listening to the podcast, here's my summarized thought:

Religion is not directly the cause of violence, however, it has and continues to be used as a divisive instrument, to divide an otherwise united humanity. Ultimately the root cause of the violence is seemingly a deeply psychological need for humans to divide others into in-groups and out-groups, this was seemingly a trait selected for by evolution, tied into our tribal evolutionary history. Religion has tended to be a very useful and effective tool for creating division as it has several unique features: Religions are typically mutually exclusive (one cannot typically belong to more than one), religions are self-justifying, while religions may not implicity encourage violence, they can be used to moralize violent behaviour against out-groups (of other faiths) by framing them as being evil (Look at how that tactic was used by the US Government in framing the perpetrators of 9-11, "the axis of evil", thus justifying their own war against Iraq.)

The solution: Focus on the common elements shared amoungst humanity. Realize that aligning ourselves on opposite sides of a problem is never a long-term solution. Have groups work together to solve the underlying social, economic, or other problems that cause challenges in our world.

Easy peasy...
Monday, May 28, 2007
  Vegetarian Update
As I mentioned about 3 weeks ago, I'm experimenting with going vegetarian. Here are some of my thoughts and experiences from the last 3 weeks....

- I certainly haven't been 100% veggie... I'd say over ~ 20 days, I've probably had no meat whatsoever about 14 or 15 of those days... I've had a Big Mac (on McHappy Day), actually I had another Big Mac when I took the boys to visit Ron at McDonald's. I've had Chicken 2 or 3 times as well...
- Aside from those Big Macs, I'm not really craving beef or pork at all...
- The veggie burgers from Harveys and A&W are fantastic
- I have had some trouble with energy levels, not sure if I'm not getting enough iron, or enough protein, or what, but I've certainly felt a drop in energy. Particularly yesterday playing soccer, I ran out of energy sooner than expected and it took me nearly half the day to get feeling decent again.
- I've subscribed to a vegetarian tips RSS feed and put a vegetarian book on hold at the library, in line w/ my philosophy if I continue to read about and learn about being a vegetarian it will help reinforce my goal and help me to succeed.
- I plan to be more disciplined at taking my daily vitamin, this might help w/ the energy issue and potentially any other meat-related nutrients that I might no longer be getting.
  Kickin' it...
I've joined a mens competitive soccer league for the summer... Had a 'try-out' yesterday morning and did enough to be selected. This will be a somewhat new challenge for me... I haven't played competitive outdoor in about 3 years.

I think this will be a good boost for me to really get back to hitting the gym and building my endurance back up. It'll also keep me from have that extra 2 or 3 beers on Saturday night...
Monday, May 07, 2007
  New Life Goal - Becoming a Vegetarian
I've been pondering over this one for a while now, ever since hearing ethicist Peter Singer interviewed on Point of Inquiry. Clearly there are health benefits associated with cutting out meat, certainly red meat, from ones diet, however, Singer argues that we (people living in Wealth Democracies) should become vegetarian for moral reasons.

He posits that it is reasonable to assume that based on the size of the brains of cows and pigs, based on their behaviour and on our shared genetic code that they do, in fact, have a certain level of conciousness, a certain subject experience. Certainly not on the same scale as ours, but he figures that conciousness is not an all-or-nothing thing. If we agree that it's possible, or probable that these animals do FEEL something, know or feel the difference between the extremely poor living conditions of a factory farm animal vs. living outside in the a more classical farm setting with big open fields, etc, if they do feel the difference, then it's certainly not morally right for us to treat the millions or billions of animals per year in such a horrible way.

He makes a very compelling argument and so I'm starting on the road to vegetarianism. It just seems like the right thing to do.

I'm not going cold turkey or anything... In the same way that I've been trying to make 'better' food choices with my new diet, I'm going to try to make more vegetarian choices when possible and gradually move to a completely or almost completely meat-free diet.

Today was a bit of a milestone, I didn't eat any meat at all today! I had an english muffin w/ peanut butter & a coffee for breakfast, sort of grazed through the day as opposed to eating a full lunch - had a banana, an orange, a cereal bar and some rice crackers, and then a 12" veggie sub for dinner.

Anyhow, we'll see how it goes - I went grocery shopping tonight and the only meat I bought were some really yummy sounding chipotle turkey weiners... I bought lots of bean soups, veggie chilli, chick peas to go in salads, etc, so that I can get my protein in...

We'll see how it goes, wish me luck!
A personal blog by John Walter.

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I think a lot. Some people say I think too much... However, I don't want to be seen as being aloof or pretentious, it's just that I really enjoy philosophical questions and deep thoughts. That's not to say that I don't find pleasure in more down-to-earth or trivial things, like beer and soccer :) I'm happily married with 3 wonderful children. I'm a partner in a technology services company based in Toronto. Myers Briggs says I'm an ENTJ

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