Passion or Lack There Of
When I first made a post online to try and get recruits for this project, Buckeye70′s reply struck me right away. He said that he wasn’t really passionate about anything. However, he did say that he DVRs CSPAN for fun and likes to listen to extremely knowledgable people talk about things. This seemed interesting to me. Even if there isn’t anything in particular that he is passionate about, I figured that I could still learn a lot of things from a guy like this.
His self-description almost fits him perfectly. He said that he “prides himself in knowing a little about a lot of things” and I can inform you that he knows a lot about a lot of things and a little about all the rest of the things. Buckeye70 is one of those guys that you can just sit down and talk to about anything. He is extremely well read and is obviously an intellectual man. When we played with the idea of passion, he told me that a passion in his eyes is something that you put everything you are into it. It’s something that you just feel like you are destined to do and at the end of the day, this one thing is receiving most of your energy. In his life, nothing fits this category. However, he does really like photography. In college, he pursued a photojournalism minor where he learned the basics about how a camera works and how to adjust specific settings to get the shot that you want. Today, he takes his camera with him pretty much wherever he goes. He showed me a sampling of the pictures he takes and I must say, some of them are pretty amazing, but to Buckeye70, it isn’t about taking the best possible shot or making sure that the photograph is perfect. He takes pictures because it’s therapeutic in a way and he can relax and get out of photography exactly what he needs. He doesn’t need to fully pursue it as a passion to achieve the relaxation aspect.
Another thing that Buckeye70 loves doing is learning. As I mentioned earlier, he DVRs CSPAN on the weekends because that channel will feature some author talking about a non-fiction book for an hour and he finds that stuff intriguing. He also reads a lot of books and articles online. Buckeye70 is always in the search to understand life around him. The minute he hears a term or concept on TV with which he is unfamiliar, he will pull out his iPod and search it on Wikipedia. He said that sometimes this gets him stuck on 6 hour Wikipedia binges where he just lets his curiosity continually click on links so that he can better understand all of the components of the original Wikipedia page. He said that he can start with something as seemingly boring as salt and learn all about ancient cultures and economic habits of the past. Wikipedia is a vast resource and Wikipedia binging is a great way to learn. Besides Wikipedia, Buckeye70 listens to various Podcasts and browses Reddit in order to boost him knowledge. Reddit in particular has some great communities underneath the layer of crap that makes the front page. Some examples of Reddit communities, or subreddits, to which Buckeye70 is subscribed are ones like /r/AskAnAmerican where foreigners share culture and ask about American culture, /r/Freethought which is kind of self-explanatory, and /r/DepthHub which touches on extremely deep topics and encourages intellectual conversations. While Reddit can be used as simply a mind-numbing time filler, you can use it in a similar manner as Buckeye70 in order to fill your brain with knowledge and join active conversations on subjects that expand your knowledge-base.
Buckeye70 and I spoke for an extremely long time on the topic of religion. Buckeye70 is an open atheist and he made the point several times during our conversation about how he looks down upon religious folk to a certain extent. Though I’m not a religious person myself, I tried to see it from a religious perspective for the sake of good conversation. Admittedly though, Buckeye70 was able to combat my every argument. I’ll give a couple distinct examples of things I can remember off the top of my head.
One thing I asked was “Why does it matter that people are religious?” Buckeye70 argued that it doesn’t really matter and they can believe in their fairy tales all they want, but they should not a) Try to push it on him or b) Let it harm society. In most cases, they are failing on both accounts. A lot of Christian organizations especially make spreading the word of Christ a huge deal. As far as harming society goes, a recent bill in Texas passed that says Creationism, a belief system that has been scientifically proven wrong, will be taught in Texas public schools. Another example that he gave is that when you believe that there is an afterlife, why does this life really matter? This gives rise to people not taking care of our planet because it is just a transition location. Another thing that really frustrates Buckeye70 about religion is ignorance. You can argue religious aspects of life all you want, but there are some scientific facts that simply cannot be argued. Fundamental Christians, in Buckeye70′s opinion are complete nut jobs. It doesn’t make logical sense that they could be correct in any sort of manner. Buckeye70 believes that religious people lack the ability to think logically because if they could think logically, the would make the obvious choice to disregard everything they’ve learned about religion. On a related note, people that say “I’m sorry you’re an atheist” or worse “So why do you even have morals if you’re an atheist?” also make him angry. He said that if you even take a look into the bible, you’ll find that the Christian God is hardly a moral God.
Again, I argued that not all Christians are to the fundie extreme. “What about the religious folk that simply choose to believe in something rather than nothing?” I asked. He responded by saying that it’s an untestable hypothesis and by the scientific method, not valid. The scientific method says that a hypothesis must be testable in order to be valid. Still, I wouldn’t let up. “But, we don’t know that we are right. Why do we assume then, that everyone else is wrong and that there is nothing out there? Should we factor in that possibility?” He said that we aren’t making a claim and therefore we don’t have to provide proof for that claim. The religious are claiming that there is something, so it is up to them to then to find evidence to support that claim. Scientifically speaking, Buckeye70 was certainly in the right mindset and I couldn’t argue much further with his facts and reasoning. However, I did mention that I don’t like to judge people based on the fact that they go to church or have certain religious beliefs. I think there is a point where you have to accept that it’s okay that people think differently. Buckeye70 admitted that he has been struggling with this himself lately and it’s something that he is working on.
When we started talking through the idea of accepting that people have other opinions and ideas, he said something that resonated with me. He said that he tries to look at them and see where the flaw in their logic was or see why they think so obviously wrong. I think that mindset is exactly what prevents him from truly accepting everyone. You cannot simply assume that you are right 100% of the time. I know that this is something that I struggle with because my ideas and opinions are most often based on logic and reasoning and it’s hard to argue against that. However, I think that it’s necessary to open up and consider that the other person may be right. When you’re such a logical thinker though, it’s hard to think that this may be the truth. I was able to get Buckeye70 to say that he believes that he is 99% correct. He’ll give them that 1%.
On the subject of religion, he recommends this talk by the late and great Christopher Hitchens.
A Last Note
I just wanted to note that because Buckeye70 was older than the current demographic of people that I have been meeting with, he certainly had a lot more experience to speak from. This lead to three and one half hours of incredible, intellectual, and inspiring conversation. This blog post is in know way an exhaustive list of what I gained from speaking with him. I just wanted to list some of the points that fit the structure of this blog and that stood out to me strongly.