FIRST DEGREE MURDERERS
I'm not a religious person and I bear no animosity for those who are. Every human being on the planet, even atheists, has some sort of cosmic consciousness. From the nothingness of Zen Buddhism to the complexity of the Quran, humans are sentient beings who experience self awareness.
I don't practice any religious discipline. My code of conduct, my ethical behavior, and my philosophy of life aren't driven by ceremony or anxious prayer. I feel no need to follow the pedantic lectures of the clergy or assert that inside my bag of skin, bone, and muscle is a mystical identity called the spirit that rises to the sky when I die.
Religion has been the genesis of most of the world's wars. One man's God is another man's enemy. One man's belief is another man's blasphemy.
Many religions insist their dogma is the only way to attain eternal life and that all other teachings are either false prophesies or outright treachery. They're convinced that martial condemnation or death is the only way to rid the world of infidels and persistent sinners.
I know many wonderful Muslim people who are no more violent than a flower blooming in the sun on a warm day in the middle of July. They don't proselytize or demand obedience to a sacred teaching. They're kind, intelligent people who happen to bow to a deity not much different from the god worshipped by Christianity. They memorize much of the Quran and abide by its teachings.
The Quran is also used to interpret sharia law.
Some Muslims, not all, construe portions of the Quran as encouraging violence against infidels. One of the reasons for this is that many disturbed Muslim clerics wish to attract more birds to their flock. They preach the excesses of Western culture, particularly those behaviors that conflict with prohibitions spelled out in the teachings of the Prophet. It’s also a convenient method of recruiting younger, angrier, and disenfranchised Muslims. It's not much different than the tactics used by rabid Christian preachers to shame those "guilty” of ignoring God's word by committing acts of contrition and humbling themselves before the invisible savior who lives in the sky.
Just as the Quran is an ancient tome, so too is the Judeo-Christian Bible. Devotees of each are taught early on that their worshipped beings, God or Allah, will bring their wrath down upon those who are non-believers or transgressors. When either deity doesn't appear interested in, or doesn't avenge as expected, believers interpret this as a sign that it's up to them to prove their devotion, whether it's sacrificing their first born by laying them on a slab of stone and stabbing them to death, turning sinful cities of abomination into dust and ash, or bombing innocent people, It's all done in the name of their god. These acts also ensure, in the older scriptures, that those who carry out these executions will be eternally exalted after they die, either by romping around with young virgins or serving their Lord in a sky blue land of blissful milk and honey.
These irrational beliefs and devotions are toxic to the human community. Proving your faith by slaughtering others is both delusional and homicidal. Just because some people seeking deadly vengeance answer to a higher authority doesn't make them exceptional human beings.
It makes them first degree murderers.
RIDING AND RENTING
I live in a moderately priced rental loft in a converted mill building that's the perfect setting for a Stephen King novel. Haunted by large sepia toned photographs positioned on each floor, from the days when the mill was actively turning out textiles, the building reeks of its infamous industrial heritage. Long, silent hallways host evenly spaced red doors behind which residents hide their lives.
Most of the people living in my building are an odd collage of middle class single people and young couples. From UPS drivers and retail personnel to college professors and administrative assistants. Most of us living here also appear to have dogs, including me.
There are two parking lots. One in front of the building and one in the back. A concrete and brick garage with open portals is provided for both inclement weather and for those who prefer having a roof over their vehicles. It's also convenient for those of us with motorcycles who want their bikes kept dry when it rains and a place to keep them sheltered from harsh New England winters.
I drive an economical, three year old Ford Fiesta which gets amazing gas mileage and doesn't bust my budget. It may well be the most inexpensive three year old car on the property.
I say that because I see flocks of new BMW's, Porsches, thirty eight thousand dollar four door custom Jeep Wranglers, powerful Mercedes coupes, Jaguars, new Ford F150's, and an exotic line up of imported, and expensive, SUV's. Some people living here have two cars, most of which are priced above the thirty thousand dollar mark. Almost all the owners of these vehicles dress casually when they leave for work or when they return at the end of the day. There aren't many doctors, hedge fund managers, or executives living in my complex.
What I don't understand is, that even if these new vehicles are leased, the monthly payments on them would put a significant dent in the average middle class salary. Maybe that's why they choose to live in an apartment complex instead of buying a house? They'd rather have the ride and rent than pay the mortgage.