Howdy, ladies and gentlemen. I have a few questions to ask you today (please don’t feel obligated to answer; but if you do, I’ll be even happier than usual).
But first, a couple of recent news blips: several days ago an article I read at the Huffington Post claimed that Mel Gibson supposedly refers to Jewish people as “oven-dodgers.” To show that he too can be a mensch, Gibson has assembled a group of young, college-age Jewish baseball players and is forming a team: The Los Angeles Oven-Dodgers. Nice to see that he’s capable of tact as well as God’s grace. (Shhh–please don’t mention to Mel that Jesus was Jewish. We wouldn’t want him to get upset. By the way, did you see The Passion of the Christ? Oy vey! I wonder why Mel cast himself as the centurion who pounds the first nail into one of Jesus’ hands. Does he have a love-hate relationship with the bearded wonder?)
The other bit of news-related trivia concerns a headline I read on the front page of the International Herald Tribune, the global version of the New York Times, online. I can’t afford to subscribe to the site and the Times won’t let me read any more articles for free this month, so I couldn’t read the attached article, but the headline says it all:
“On Witness Stand, Norwegian Says He Would Kill Again: Demanding an aquittal, Anders Behring took the stand for the first time, describing his killing of 77 people last year as a ‘sophisticated political act.'” (Mark Lewis and Alan Cowell.)
Way to toot your own horn, Andy B.! What I’d like to know is why the “sophisticated” Mr. Behring didn’t have the decency to kill himself after slaughtering so many innocent people. I guess he only likes murdering people who haven’t done anything wrong. He’s either crazy, evil*, or both; I believe science has found that psychopaths are missing a vital portion of the cerebral cortex in the frontal lobe that provides the rest of us with some sort of moral compass, or at least the capacity to repent our own wrongdoing. So is it right to take the life of a serial killer? I vote “no,” but I can understand if any family members of his victims would like to see him fry. Should he be locked up for life? Why not send him on a camping holiday to Jupiter?
Now it’s time for the questions. I’ll try to restrain myself and keep my own comments and answers to a minimum for a change. I’d prefer, as the Onion would say, to know this: “What do you think?”
1. What’s the hardest decision you’ve ever had to make? How did you make it? Were you satisfied with the outcome?
2. What’s your definition of happiness? Is happiness a fleeting emotion or something deeper? Is it right to make your own happiness a priority in a world teeming with seemingly meaningless (or unmitigated) suffering?
3. Have you ever been genuinely hungry? Do you eat to fill your stomach or satisfy some other appetite? How do you decide what and when to eat? Are there any types of food you deny yourself for whatever reason? Which ones? Why?
4. How important is the acceptance or approval of other people to you? Why? Is there anyone you ever go out of your way to impress? How?
5. Would you describe yourself as an individual first and foremost or as a member of some larger entity, whether it be your family, love relationship, group of friends, company, community, religious organization, nation, or species? Why?
6. Which emotions do you have the most difficulty with? Impatience? Anger? Envy? Jealousy? Loneliness? Fear? What causes them? How do you handle them?
7. If you knew you could completely eliminate one negative or difficult emotion from your repertoire, would you do so? Why or why not? If your answer is yes, which one(s)?
8. What do you seek the most in a mate (meaning lover, spouse, etc.–in other words, the U. S. American meaning of the word, versus the British one)? Do you agree with the saying “opposites attract” or would you prefer to be with someone more like you than less?
9. How important is money to you? Do you find it easy or hard to be generous? Is it okay for some people to become billionaires? Should there be a maximum wage?
10. Finish the sentence: “I believe in_____________.” What motivates your belief?
11. If you don’t believe in God, what’s your main incentive for getting up in the morning?
12. If you do believe in God, why? How? Which one? Or do you believe in more than one? Which is your favorite? Why?
13. Do you believe in nature? Is it possible to believe in something that may ultimately be indifferent to you (including God and/or nature)?
14. Do you find it easy to laugh at yourself? Why or why not? In which situations do you take yourself the most seriously?
15. Which of the Seven Deadly Sins do you struggle with the most?
16. What are some of your prejudices? Are you able to play devil’s advocate when talking with someone you strongly disagree with, or do you have to stick to your guns? What do you imagine are the consequences of putting your opinions aside? Do you worry that someone might influence you to an unhealthy degree?
17. Do you read op/ed pieces only by people you’re inclined to agree with, or do you ever like to read things written by people you’re sure to disagree with? Why?
18. Do you ever associate with people whose views contrast sharply with your own? If so, do you strive to resolve your differences or accept them and “agree to disagree”? If not, why not?
19. How do you feel about having children? Would you like to have them? If so, how many? What kind of future do you think they would (or will) have? If you already have children, how do you reassure them that things might get better for them or in the world later on?
20. Is the human species on its way out, or will we survive the consequences of our own excesses? Do you predict that we will adapt to a “lower” standard of living (in the sense of one with fewer possessions or creature comforts), undergo some kind of global cataclysm that will thin our ranks, or mutate into friendly but efficient biotechnological hybrids? Or is there another possibility you’d like to propose?
21. What are a few of your cravings? Do you deem it healthier and wiser to satisfy them, or resist them? Why?
* Bonus Question: Does evil exist? Define it. Where does it come from? Does it stem from some mental deficit (as the case of Anders Behring suggests)? Ignorance? Pride? Fear? Hate? Insecurity? Stupidity? If it does in fact exist, are some people more evil than others, or are we all equally evil and some of us just act on our evil impulses instead of disregarding them? (If your answer to this final question is yes, please do me a favor and don’t murder me. Thanks a bundle.)
Please send answers to the questions, or post a few of your own where it says “Leave Reply” below.