Department Of Why Am I Am Not Writing “Done” In The Comments
Dateline: Tuesday morning. Moiself sees in a friend’s Facebook feed one of these kinds of posts – if you’re on Facebook you’ve likely encountered them:
“This is food for thought. You’re not the same again after cancer and treatments. With the side effects of chemo and radiation, you will never be 100% again because your immune system is weak. Ruins marriages, families, and relationships with friends. Because Ii the hardest moments you know who your real friends are or who the people are who appreciate you. Unfortunately, like with most friendships, Facebook friends will leave you in the middle of a story. They want a post to ‘like’ for the story, but they don’t really read your message when they see it is long. More than half have stopped reading. Someone may have already gone to the next post in their newsfeed….”
Here was my comment. 
OK, here goes: I have read this all the way through, but I am not writing “done” in the comments, nor am I copying and reposting the post.
Most of us on FB have seen these posts of awareness (for cancer, other diseases/injuries/afflictions, those facing economic hardship, etc.). And while I’ve no doubt that they are well-meant, I consider them to be the emotional equivalent of chain letters.
The writers of the original posts (whom I know is not you) include implied threats and “digs” (against the reader’s character and empathy) in these pleas for “awareness” – implications that how one responds to these posts is a litmus test of who is a real/true friend.
Here are some of the ones this post includes:
“… A little test, just to see who reads and shares without reading… I would like to know who I can count on and who takes the time to read this… So I’m going to make a bet, without being pessimistic. I know my friends and family will put it on their wall. You just have to copy….”
If the writers of the post truly “know” your friends and family will “put it on their wall,” why do they have to prod them to do so?
Whether or not you can count on someone in times of need has *nothing* to do with what they will or will not copy or post (or even read) on a Facebook feed. This is just another form of virtue signaling.
And the implication that people will read and not repost – “Unfortunately, like with most friendships, Facebook friends will leave you in the middle of a story. They want a post to “like” for the story, but they don’t really read your message when they see it is long” – is virtue-shaming.
Actually, the awareness post I refer to was mild, in the shaming factor, as compared with others I’ve read, which practically scream, “Oy vey, I’ll just sit here posting in the dark, knowing that few people will actually read all the way through because nobody cares….”
Now, I’ve nothing against someone advocating for cancer (or any other) awareness. But, why the emotional extortion? Why not just post whatever info you want to convey? Then, as with other social media posts that people like and/or find significant – from cat videos to political screeds – people can repost it if they deem it repost-worthy.
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Department Of What I Did Not Post In The Comments Section
One prays for rain, one prays for sun;
they kneel in church together.
Which of them, do you suppose
will regulate the weather? 
“I liked/reposted this.”
“I’m praying for you.”
Boys and girls, can you identify which of the above is the least effective action?
That’s right; it’s both/either of them.
Pleas for reposts, and their responses (“I reposted this!”) remind me of, “I’ll pray for you!” Reposting on social media, ala praying for something to happen, may get you to think nice things about yourself (or moiself, if I say that I’m praying/posting for you), but is ultimately ineffectual.
My learning that you have been diagnosed with cancer and are beginning treatment, and then my responding with, “I’m praying for you,” or “I posted about cancer awareness,” is a way to make us both think that I am doing something when in fact I am doing next to nothing. How’s about actually *doing something* you will need help with –
* organizing a meal delivery service and/or contributing meals for you and your family during your treatment and recovery “downtimes”
* giving your kids rides to school and extracurricular events
* “babysitting” you so that your spouse and/or kids can get out of the house, or hosting a family game/ movie night at their or your house 
* running errands (that you used to be able to do) for your elderly parent(s)
* being a “chemo” buddy (taking you to and from treatment appointments)
* taking you to medical and other appointments, and/or pick up prescriptions
* just sitting and talking with you, and, more importantly, listening…or spending companionate time in supportive silence
* taking you to or meeting you for movies or lunches or park walks or other outings, to get at least a temporary respite from the disease-takes-over-my-life mode
* arranging to mow your lawn/put out your recycling on trash pickup day, walking your dog, performing or helping with other household maintenance tasks
*running interference for you when well-meaning folks are driving you nuts….
Ah, but all of these things, and the other Life Stuff a (temporary or otherwise) sick or disabled person may need help with – these things take time and effort, and entail emotional (and possibly financial) involvement.
Posting/praying takes a microsecond of hot air.
Let’s say I get sick, and you mow my lawn…and you also pray for me (in private, thank you very much), asking your deity to heal me, etc.  As for the latter, please understand that you are doing it for yourself; but, that’s fine – whatever floats your boat.
For anyone who believes in the efficacy of petitionary prayer,  let’s say that you and I are having lunch in a taqueria, and you begin choking on your chalupa – really choking, as in, you’ve aspirated it into your windpipe. You cannot dislodge it, and you can’t breathe.
Would you rather I pray for you, or perform the Heimlich Maneuver on you?
Cheese and crackers; what a different place the world would be, if prayer “worked” ?!?! People pray for peace and healing all the time.
And when you examine the content of those prayers – particularly the ones for healing – it’s interesting to note the accommodations. For example, re the child with horrific third degree burns over 90% of his body, no one prays for their god to cause new skin to grow overnight for the child (although they may pray that the skin grafts take).
While many people of faith seem convinced that prayer can heal a wide variety of illnesses (despite what the best scientific research indicates), it is curious that prayer is only every believed to work for illnesses and injuries that can be self-limiting. No one, for instance, ever seriously expects that prayer will cause an amputee to regrow a missing limb.
Why not? Salamanders manage this routinely, presumable without prayers.
If God answers prayers – ever – why wouldn’t he occasionally heal a deserving amputee? And why wouldn’t people of faith expect prayer to work in such cases?
(Sam Harris, “Letter to a Christian Nation“)
Why, in all of human history, there is no record of (anyone’s) god ever healing an amputee by regenerating a limb, or changing a Down syndrome child to one with a normal chromosomal profile? If a god is said to have intervened, it is only in situations that can be otherwise explained as natural phenomena.
( For more on this illuminating topic – which you should ponder if you haven’t previously, especially if you think you believe, in some way, that prayer “works” – check out https://whywontgodhealamputees.com/ . It’s a fun site delineating why petitionary prayer is superstition, and also raises other questions about religious tenets. )
Now, I’m not knocking all kinds of practices which come under the category of prayer. As freethinkers wiser than moiself have pointed out, if contemplative prayer focuses your mind and helps you establish objectives, then it can be a beneficial practice. However, meditation is just as good if not superior for those goals; also, it has the added benefit of non-delusion – you don’t have to pretend that some supernatural being is paying attention. 
“If you talked into your hair dryer and said you were communicating with someone in outer space, they’d put you away.
But take away the hair dryer, and you’re praying.”
( Sam Harris )
Coming back to the thing about petitionary prayer: moiself thinks it is actually obstructive, in that is that it provides the illusion of having done something when in fact you’ve done next to nothing, other than mumble select phrases or entertain some thoughts. And what might be called “secular prayer” – liking or posting on social media – can fall under that same category.
The following is from professor, author, educator and speaker Dale McGowan’s (erstwhile) blog, The Meming of Life 
When someone asked Humanist Rabbi Adam Chalom to pray for a friend who had breast cancer, Adam said, “I have a better idea — give me her phone number and I’ll call her. Talking to her to lift her spirits and make her feel less alone and more cared for will do much more for her than talking to anything else.“
This was from a piece Adam wrote in the Chicago Tribune’s blog (“The Seeker“) a couple of years ago. And he went on to make an especially good point:
“The Humanist world has recently sponsored a counter-program – the National Day of Reason, which celebrates the power of the human mind to understand and improve the world. But I have an even better idea. While reason is certainly a worthy value to celebrate, the secular counterpart to ‘Prayer’ is not ‘Reason’ – it is Action. “
The counterpart to prayer is doing something.
There are secular equivalents of prayer. Facebook is full of them. I’m sure there are people who “like” 50 humanitarian causes a day, achieving that same illusion of having done something. And like the prayer, I think that self-satisfied illusion often keeps the liker from actually doing something. It relieves the pressure, gives that little shot of dopamine, makes us feel ever so good about ourselves. Of course, there’s a whole neologism for it — slacktivism.
My take-home is that secular prayers, if they go no further, are no better than sacred ones. Action, real action, is still what matters.
* * *
* * *
Department Of A Really Frustrating Phenomenon
Dateline: Last Friday, driving to the coast. I press the seek button on my car’s radio, and it lands on an oldies station. After just a few seconds my brain recognizes the intro to a song moiself hasn’t heard in *decades*: Glen Campbell’s “Honey Come Back.”
Now, the late and sometimes great Glen Campbell recorded a lot of fine songs, but that insipid, self-pitying, talk/sing tale of lost love is not one of them.
Here’s the thing that drove me bonkers after the song began playing (well, other than the song itself). A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (freshman year, UC Davis) I got an A in my calculus class. Today, if you put a gun to my head – and I really hope you wouldn’t – with the idea of forcing me to solve the most basic calculus equation, I could not do so. But I can recognize the opening strains of Honey Come Back. How pathetic is that?
* * *
Punz For The Day
Country Music Edition
Which country music singer’s name do you say
when you’re moving furniture past someone?
So, why does Keith Urban sing country music?
Why is country music is like a vacuum?
As soon as you turn it off it stops sucking.
Technically, aren’t all national anthems country music?
* * *
May your brain store memories of both higher mathematics *and* banal oldies;
May you avoid the temptations of slacktivism;
May you talk into your hairdryer, beseeching it for…whatever…just because you can;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 As should be obvious, I have not included all of the post, although I reference certain portions of it which are not included in the beginning excerpt.
 Variously attributed to Anonymous.
 When one member of a family has cancer or another chronic or debilitating disease, *every* member of the family “has” that disease, to a lesser extent, and they’ll need to get out and have a break from it.
 Although, being all-knowing and such, this deity already knows the illness I have and what I need to recover from/deal with it – right? – and shouldn’t need you to beg about it.
 “Petitionary prayer is a specific form of prayer aimed at making requests of God….for answers to life’s questions and concerns….also pleas for God to be the sole responsible agent to act on behalf of the one who is praying. Petitionary prayers can be offered on a small and personal scale for oneself or for others, or they may involve requests on a larger scale that concern changing undesirable circumstances within society or, indeed, the world as a whole. ” (Center for christogenesis)
“Traditional theists believe that there exists an all-knowing, all-powerful, perfectly loving, and perfectly good God. They also believe that God created the world, sustains it in being from moment to moment, and providentially guides all events, in accordance with a plan, towards a good ending. Historically, most traditional theists have believed that God sometimes answers prayers for particular things…..these prayers are referred to as ‘petitionary prayers’…. (Oxford Handbooks online, “Petitionary prayer” abstract introduction.)
 Nor will you have to deal with the cognitive dissonance which will arise when, despite knowing that Jesus is quoted as declaring (in Matthew 18:19), “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven,” and despite you and a friend agreeing that BillyBob should be cured of his Necrotizing Fasciitis and thus y’all consistently and sincerely pray for this to happen, BillyBob continues to suffer horribly, then dies.
 As best as I can remember (apologies for any misattributions).
 Kudos for those of you who made it past the first verse.
Jan 24, 2022 @ 09:22:49
Good analysis of the whole mess.
Jan 24, 2022 @ 10:04:26