Monthly Archives: October 2012

Sheer Plausibility

Sometimes, when we argue about or discuss religion, we get so caught up in intricate details  that we fail to recognize the simplicity of the core issue. It involves questions that a 5-year old would be inclined to ask, and yet we bypass it, digging for deeper levels of logic that will support our argument or belief. It is the question of plausibility, the honest evaluation of one’s beliefs under the umbrella of common sense. It is my perception that religious people usually fail to take this approach, as their search for truth is often flavored with a strong sense of emotional influence, directing them towards the answers they desire. Here, I will make a case for the significance and appropriateness of evaluating the sheer plausibility of one’s beliefs – independent of the emotional bias that fuels the engine of faith.

Being the religion I am most familiar with, and the one that is by far the most prevalent in America, I will use Christianity as the guinea-pig of my argument. First, let’s once again establish the criteria for being a Christian: first and foremost, one must believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ. This is the founding precept of the religion. Furthermore, one must believe that Jesus is the messiah, the Son of God, and representative of one-third of the holy trinity – the other two being the Father and the Holy Spirit. Although some liberal Christian thinkers now claim a separation between the miraculous aspect of Jesus’ life and the religion itself, I find it rather cheap to claim to be a Christian without attesting to the miracles that Jesus performed and was a part of. The claim that he was not involved in these miracles that transcended the laws of nature infers that he was not divine, which is the founding principle of the entire religion. Consequently, I find a belief in the miracle stories mandatory if one desires to call oneself a Christian.

Now that we have that settled, we can begin to make an honest evaluation of the plausibility that Christianity is true. Let’s start with one of the central claims that attempts to prove Jesus’ divinity. The incredibility of his life begins straight from the womb; Jesus is purported to have been born of a virgin. Since this claim is often brushed off without much critical thought, let’s take a moment to ponder it. His mother did not have sex. She did not go through the natural processes of bearing a baby that is required by nature. No, instead, God decided to secure the purity of his son’s mother and impregnate her through, well, we don’t know how. But since God did it, we don’t need to know. It goes without saying that this claim would be deemed absolutely absurd if not tied to the most popular religion in the world. And yet it is so widely accepted to believe this claim because, for some reason, God decided to make it happen this way. God: the lazy excuse we make for that which we cannot understand.

To truly grasp the magnitude of this absurdity, we must view it from the lens of modern-day intellectual reason. If God had happened to intervene in such a way in our current society, would it be accepted? Would people give the notion that a baby was born of a virgin a second thought if such news was circulated today? Of course not. This kind of information would be discarded immediately. Why? Because it is simply implausible, given our understanding of science. I think most of us would agree that this sort of thing simply would – could – not happen, let alone be accepted, in modern society. And the fact that these claims were made 2000 years ago does not in any way make them any more plausible than they are now.

So if such an event is clearly so implausible, what makes it so believable to millions, even billions, of people? Well, astonishing claims are given more credibility the further removed we are from the culture of the time period; the more time that has passed, the easier it is for us to believe. However, the interval of time being discussed should, if anything, only help us to dismiss these wild assertions. Think about it. The people who recorded these stories knew nothing compared to what we know now about the world today. Virtually nothing. The level to which they could be persuaded to believe, and more frighteningly, to do something, was preposterously high. And this is not surprising given their utter lack of understanding of what was around them. Since they did not possess the scientific explanations that we have the privilege of utilizing today, they were inclined to believe things that are unfathomably absurd. And they did – it is a salient characteristic of medieval times. So what makes being born of a virgin so different than any other fantastical claim that we so effortlessly disregard? Well, it is a religious claim, and as I will explain later, religion is given an unwarranted freedom to make historical and scientific claims that need no actual evidence to be accepted.

Despite the strikingly reasonable notion that such events were made up by a highly imaginative and irrational people, we continue to believe them. And the proposition that such stories were made up is so strong, in fact, that I am willing to deem it a historical fact. Here’s why: people in that time period were constantly connecting natural events to works of the divine. It was completely common for someone to claim such a miraculous occurrence and for it to be believed, because, to them, it was completely plausible; they did not know why or how the natural world worked the way it did, so their imaginative explanations for events are not shocking given the information available to them.

This brings me to my main point. We must interpret history from the perspective of someone living in the given time period being studied – that is the only way we can honestly analyze any event of the past. Consequently, when people in medieval history attest to having spectacular visions, divine dreams, etc., we try to correlate it to something that realistically could have been occurring, given their prior biases, view of the world, and lack of knowledge. For example, a vision of Zeus lighting up the sky with godly fury could, to us reasonable people, be interpreted as lightning, given our understanding of how people in that day in age thought. This is accepted protocol for analyzing and interpreting history. So the claims that Jesus was born of a virgin and that he turned water to wine should be interpreted as the fantastical claims that they are – just as we would judge a Pagan claiming to have seen visions of Zeus – not as some sort of miraculous truth.

However, such claims are impossible to reject because religion is given a free pass historically and scientifically. The miracle stories are justified as true by believers merely on the grounds that God willed it, and these beliefs are accepted in wider society on the grounds that they are religious. If we were to evaluate the miraculous Jesus stories without any religious attachments or bias, however, we could easily find reasonable explanations for why they were written and make a more free-minded judgment on if such events even occurred – in one way or another – at all. But as it is, Christians are given unmerited freedom in choosing what is true and what is myth, and in accepting this freedom, they render themselves completely dishonest from a historical and scientific perspective. But again, religion is excused from the standards of reason that every other element of society is subjected to, and this is an outstanding intellectual travesty that I believe needs to be challenged.

I hope I have made it clear that history is interpreted in different ways for different time periods, given the conditions and availability of information that people were subjected to. For this reason, it is completely appropriate for us to label the miracle stories of Jesus as either pure works of imagination or, more generously, as an honest interpretation of events for which the witnesses (if there were any, which is unclear) did not have the tools to understand. The fact that we accept these ancient myths as intrinsic truths is far more shocking than we like to think, and the only unsurprising element of it derives from the fact that so many people buy into it. However, if we have any fiber of mental independence, we must dismiss these outdated beliefs and we must come to the realization that they simply cannot stand in a world of honesty and reason; our modes of evaluating history do not allow it.

It is also important to note that, despite some people’s desire to separate religion and science, religion makes inherent, inescapable claims about the laws of science and the capacity for them to be broken, i.e. the virgin birth. Claims such as these are not just religious – they are deeply scientific, asserting a capacity for natural laws to be transcended by a higher power. For this reason, we must hold religion to the same standards as everything else, demanding proof, and above all, sheer plausibility.


Does Religion Deserve Respect?

If you are a religious person, you might accept the fact that other people do not share your beliefs. And you can probably look passed your contrasting perspectives and get along with someone who does not agree with you. However, despite differences in opinion, you probably, at least, would demand respect – it seems a small and appropriate measure. But in the case of religion, is it?

I would argue, no. No respect is necessary for something which is founded upon the absolute absence of evidence. This view is bound to offend even non-believers, but consider this: do you feel the need to respect someone’s scientific theory if it has been proven wrong? No. It is discarded and done away with. If someone approached you insisting that the world is flat, you would likely label this person as crazy. If evidence does not support the belief, we disregard it in pursuit of the truth. And we certainly are not disinclined to speak out against such beliefs. 

However, it has been tabooed to speak negatively about one’s religious beliefs on the grounds that respect and religious tolerance must be upheld. In all other areas of life, though, no such respect is demanded. The only reason religion garners this undeserved respect is because a massive amount of people adhere to some sort of religious practice. People hold religion near and dear to their hearts, in many cases depending on it for happiness and fulfillment. This emotional attachment makes it a very delicate issue. However, it is time that we come to terms with the reality of the situation: religion is a subject that offers no evidential validity; therefore, it warrants no respect and should be treated in discussion on the same level as those claims which are bound by an equally low level of credibility, such as the notion that the earth is flat. 

You may be thinking that religious claims and scientific claims, such as the aforementioned one, cannot be compared in the same discourse. However, religion, whether intended or not, makes deeply scientific claims about how the universe functions, why it functions the way it does, and how humans should asses their conditions and live in it accordingly. The claim that God is the creator of the universe, is itself a scientific claim. It represents the notion that the universe was authored by a definitive entity, that there was a designer who put all of this in place. This demands scientific proof because it claims to know the origin of the universe – a universe that scientists are diligently studying, in search of its origins and further insight on how it functions. But religious people know how it started; and one day, if we do discover how the universe was actually initiated, religion will have to, once again, adapt to the knowledge of science that has repeatedly destroyed its claims about nature. 

Furthermore, religion sets itself up for failure when contending that God actively intervenes in the world. All three monotheistic religions espouse this. Christians go so far as to claim that God walked the earth as a human and performed miracles that defied the laws of nature. And here is where religion crosses the line. To say you accept the magic that Jesus Christ allegedly performed is to say that you believe that the laws of nature can, and do, get broken. And since God created the universe, it makes sense that he could break his own rules every once in a while. But again, we need evidence. If there is no evidence, there is absolutely no reason to accept, or even remotely respect, such a belief. And there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that such deeds are plausible by any means. 

When you accept God as an all-powerful ruler of the universe, you directly intertwine religion and science, whether you intend to or not. If God set the universe into action, established the laws of nature, and even intervenes on those laws as he pleases, then he is a figure that science must acknowledge, given that there were any evidence for him at all. These scientific attributes that God inevitably carries renders him eligible for criticism on scientific grounds. And unfortunately for the religious among us, there is not one bit of evidence for his existence. Therefore, in my eyes, he, and religion itself, deserve not one ounce of respect. 

Our Detrimental Attachment to the Constitution

Many American politicians like to refer back to the Constitution as justification for their beliefs. Since the Constitution was the founding document upon which our country has flourished, this is a reasonable position. Right? Well, actually, no. Sure, the Constitution, as well as other revolutionary documents of the late 18th century, was an ideological breakthrough. It brought enlightened ideas to the forefront of politics and served as a helpful tool by which to establish and maintain the nation’s integrity through the early years of the United States. However, as revolutionary as it may have been, it is undoubtedly polluted with racism and indelibly flawed with the undeveloped moral fabric of the time period. 

Certainly, it still serves as a beneficial framework for how the government should behave and what their role should be. And of course, the racist subtleties scattered throughout the text are dismissed in modern society and all but negated by amendments that ensure the equal rights of all persons. So where’s the problem? Well, the problem arises when politicians stubbornly cling to the literal meanings of the Constitution as a justification for otherwise dubious viewpoints and when they reference it time and time again as if it is a timeless, indispensable, and morally perfect work that must never be defiled. 

Example: Mitt Romney continuously justifies his view on gay marriage through his interpretation of how the authors portrayed portrayed marriage in the Constitution. It should be noted that gay marriage is a social issue – and if there is one element of the Constitution that we should be skeptical of, it is the social aspect. Simply put, human rights and moral common sense were completely underdeveloped at the time of its writing. The 3/5 Clause essentially reduced black people to only partially human, counting them as 3/5 of a person when recording taxes. Furthermore, the Fugitive Slave Claus demanded that enslaved escapees be returned to their masters if found. In its sister document, the Declaration of Independence, sexism litters the general language, stating that all “men” are created equal, cleverly excluding terms that would ensure the freedoms of everyone, rather than just white, property owning males. 

In summation, the Constitution includes both explicit and implicit examples of social discrimination, and even if you are not convinced of this, most of the people who crafted it certainly owned slaves, including two of our most heralded and glorified founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson – who likely had children born from illegitimate relationships with his slaves – and George Washington – who would bypass laws ensuring the eventual freedom of slaves in Pennsylvania by transporting them outside of state lines and then returning them once he could exploit the loophole. So why would we ever refer back to this document for anything related to human rights? It simply doesn’t make sense to seek guidance on social issues from something written in an era when such issues were disturbingly inhumane, even in this supposedly “perfect union.” 

The God Problem

An omnipotent God, as Christians, Muslims, and Jews alike claim to worship, is one whose capabilities are limitless. No power is beyond his reach. He is the maker of all things and harnesses the power to do anything he likes, whenever he wants. Unshakably perfect. Incorruptible. Almighty. And yet, not so much.

If God is all-powerful, why does he willingly allow so much suffering? Most monotheists will tell you that he gave humans free will, thereby excusing himself of all responsibility for the actions of his creation. However, there are many problems with the “free will” argument. First of all, free will is gradually being debunked by neuroscientists – meaning that the capacity for humans to make conscious choices is a mere illusion of the brain. If you don’t trust me, read neuroscientist Sam Harris’s book, Free Will. It is a very short e-book that is at the very least an extremely thought-provoking read. But we will leave the scientific stuff out, given that I am certainly no neuroscientist. So, for the purpose of my argument, let’s pretend that free will is in fact something we humans possess. If God is the creator of all things, then he must be held responsible for the very capacity for humans to make mistakes. If our own free will allowed us to make mistakes and evil was not existent before us, then technically we are the creators of evil, making us, as it would seem, equally powerful to God.

Now, I don’t think most religious people would espouse this belief. After all, it’s supposed to be our weaknesses as humans that cause us to sin in the first place. So if God made all things possible, he surely needs to be responsible for evil and suffering. If he is not responsible for the outbreak of evil, then he is not all-powerful. If he is responsible, then he is certainly not the perfect god religious people portray him as. Again, monotheists will almost certainly tell you that God so kindly endowed us with the freedom to make our own choices, thereby placing the responsibility to be moral on our shoulders. But it is the very capacity for making a wrong choice that represents the flaw in this logic. If God was all-powerful and truly created all things physical and metaphysical, then where would the choice to commit evil even come from? Clearly, this god either doesn’t exist or is terribly flawed. I prefer the former. 

The Opiate of the People

Never in history has a group of people been united and manipulated so congruently and effectively as Hitler’s Nazi Germany. As I briefly outlined in a previous post, Hitler used a national grudge and a vulnerable political state in order to enliven his people with a fierce sense of German superiority. At the center of his message was the elimination of social class within Germany – the idea that Germany was to have one body, one soul, and was to act as one nation under their mighty Fuhrer. All Germans were to surrender their selves for the greater whole of Germany, even if that sacrifice meant death; if one committed himself to such a sentiment, he would be eternally exulted as a German hero and live forever in the German spirit. By passionately promoting the purity of his people, Hitler united them under an appealing umbrella of equality, socialism, and a return to German relevance in Europe. He blinded his people into accepting corrupt ideology by giving them a sense of unity, comfort, and purpose. In the process, he nearly revolutionized and ruined western civilization. 

Purpose. Comfort. Linked to a cause far greater than oneself. All people united under the guidance of one powerful ruler. No wonder Hitler was so successful. The discourse used by Hitler and his supporters to reel in the obedience of the German people eerily correlates with the terminology one might use when describing the role of religion in the world. Karl Marx said, “religion is the opiate of the people.” Was Nazi dogma not the opiate of Hitler’s people? Were they not convinced to believe in something greater than themselves? So convinced they were, in fact, that they committed their lives to their country, determined to defend the body which rendered their existences purposeful and worthwhile, in hopes that their lives would transcend their years on earth. Similarly convinced were Christian crusaders who fought blindly and ruthlessly to protect the sanctity of their religion, motivated by the promise of eternal paradise if they fought in God’s name. Similarly convinced were the Islamic extremest suicide bombers when they flew their planes into the Twin Towers, fooled into believing that 72 virgins were awaiting them in the next life. And similarly convinced, though not to the detrimental extent of the previous examples, are the American people who openly accept religion as a means of reasoning for public policy.

Hitler used the tactics of religious faith in order to unite and take control of his people. His purification of race can be corresponded to the Christian idea of eliminating pollution from the Church in medieval times, justifying the murder of Muslims by claiming it was God’s will. Clearly, history has demonstrated that people are willing to commit heinous crimes under the justification of God’s will. Similarly, Hitler justified his extermination of Jews, homosexuals, etc. by using the racist ideology of Nazism which claimed that the ideal Aryan race was being polluted by Jews and other minorities. 

We know that Hitler’s holocaust was morally wrong in the same way that we know the Crusades were morally wrong. Common sense. Reason. Clearly, these events were not conducive to the preservation and happiness of human life. But we cannot assert their wrongness through religious means. After all, the Old Testament reveals a God who commanded the stoning of homosexuals – that god must have thought Hitler was right on the mark. Hitler’s manipulation of the German population represents something characteristic of humanity – our tendency to not think; our tendency to seek an umbrella by which we can all unite, and abandon common sense in favor of the ideas of that umbrella. It is reason, and only reason, that has caused social progress relating to human rights. Religion has stood in the way of such progress by allowing people to revert to the application of ancient doctrine to our own lives, thousands of years later. It creates a blatant obstacle to social progression, in that people are free to oppose certain essential liberties and equalities through the justification of religion. Though human rights has improved vastly over time, religion has stayed the same. People have not merely discovered a deeper truth to religion that they didn’t see before; rather, they have adapted their religions to the advancements that force humanity to alter its ways of thinking. Reason is how we have progressed and it is reason we can use in order to debauch the reign of Hitler. And what does religion give us? Nothing, but another reason to unite blindly under a manmade entity and to stunt the growth of humanity by providing reasons to do things that clearly contradict our common sense.

Politicians Are Actors

Diligently trying to follow the presidential debate word for word, I was hoping that this time, at age 20, some of the terminology and concepts would be familiar to me. And, I guess to an extent, I was able to grasp more than usual, but I still found myself trying to scavenge through a maze of concepts that I did not understand, and if anything, this debate only lead me to affirm my growing sentiment that politics is, after all the head-scratching and critical analysis, a circular subject. The same issues will be argued over and over again, while both sides smile pleasantly for the camera and, during their candidacy, will be the friendliest, most tolerant people on earth just to gain your vote. I feel that I could relate to these politicians more if they were not so damn perfect. I mean, really. They argue their points with proficient articulation and are scrupulous on keeping tabs on a squeaky clean public perception, never allowing themselves to show vulnerability or admit intellectual defeat. They present themselves as such super-human figures with such an unflappable sense of control, that I find myself feeling distanced from them. Watching them so calculatedly portray themselves as figures of such unbreakable conviction, and so blatantly act out a character that probably only represents a mere fraction of who they really are, only deters me from engaging in politics, because frankly, I do not want to be part of some circus show in which people feign as friendly, upright, and essentially perfect human beings just to feed me propaganda that has little practical value. How much of what they say do they actually mean, anyway? Are politicians not known to lie when it is convenient? Of course they are, because it is all about public perception, popularity, and power. Unfortunately, all of these factors play into the fact that I cannot get myself to trust our government.

Now, I am certainly not saying that people who are heavily involved in politics are wasting their time – everyone has their own interests and opinions. But observing the candidates on television just further convinces me that these guys are phony celebrities, who fool the public into buying into this petty, cyclical game. I guess I wish they would just lighten up. They crack jokes only when it is undoubtedly publicly acceptable, and probably only to gain brownie points in the personality aspect of the race. It just seems like too much of an act, a reality show; they are up there speaking gibberish while we sit at home and pretend we have an inkling of what really goes on in Washington (maybe some of us do and I am just an idiot, but for the purpose of this post I will assume that this is not the case). In a political science class I took last year, my professor nailed into our heads the notion that all politicians are actors – every single one. Now, I see that he could not have been more correct.

For all these reasons, I love when I see a candidate who comes off as genuine. This is essentially why I voted for Ron Paul in the Republican primary. My perception was that this man was fearlessly standing for what he truly believed in, regardless of whether or not it would win him votes. He was not afraid to be a little cooky and get a little worked up, and at the same time, he never failed to demonstrate his intelligence and try to articulate it in a way that the public could understand. I wish there were more Ron Paul-like politicians.

But, until there are, I will have to try my very hardest to give politicians the benefit of the doubt and ignore the terrifying voice in my head that tells me this is all just a more politically correct version of Jersey Shore. Which, by the way, is a show I will not miss when it goes off the air after this season.

Power: The Most Lethal Poison

One thing I find particularly fascinating is analyzing historical figures and events and observing the trends that have lead humanity to its highest and lowest points. Delving into the psyches of historical figures and investigating major events can be a highly intriguing and rewarding process because it allows us to contextualize the present and observe the development of humanity’s ideas. Recognizing how we have reached this point in history is essential to breeding tolerance and maintaining a reasonable perspective.

I thought it would be interesting to discuss the problem of power. In my opinion, the desire for power is the greatest cause for conflict the world has ever known. More specifically, the desire to exert one’s will upon someone else is what inevitably leads to trouble. This makes sense, too. When one person tries to impose their will onto a group of people, that person is looking for control, for power. Undoubtedly, the subjects of such a ruler are not going to be satisfied because their will is being devalued. Today, the advancement of human rights has lead to the institutionalization of equality for all, at least in the United States – we have finally realized that exerting power over another group will eventually lead to an uprising by that group and conflict will result. It is unfortunate that we had to kill each other so much in order to figure that out. 

Countless means by which to achieve power have been used and manipulated throughout the course of history – slavery, imperialism, colonialism, sexual exploitation, government corruption, etc. However, as I am being currently influenced by a class on World War II, I find one influential figure as quite intriguing: Adolf Hitler. Hitler’s rise to power is fascinating because of his success in polluting the ideology of an entire nation and building a military that backed this ideology and who defended it with blind ferocity and striking effectiveness. His success, though, was eventually cut off – a testament to the poison that renders the inevitable downfall of the power-hungry. 

Hitler was able to claim his power by sweeping into the German public eye at the peak of their vulnerability. Being a convincing and powerful public speaker, he preached German superiority and roused his people with a dangerous sense of nationalism. Coupled with the sense of vengeance that Hitler provoked regarding World War I, the Germans had fallen into a hypnotizing trap, united in a sense of German pride projected as hatred onto its neighboring enemies for robbing them in World War I treaties. 

Once in power, Hitler’s vision of an Aryan race took center stage in the European world. In order for his cult of ideal humans to prosper, they needed space, which provoked him to seize his neighboring European countries, and, with a highly trained, disciplined, and prepared military achieving unprecedented success, his objectives appeared reachable. 

What is most interesting to me is the psyche of Adolf Hitler. What motivated him to commit such atrocities? It is my belief that, as an obsessive-compulsive person will stop at nothing to ensure the absence of germs on his/her body and in his/her environment, and itches for a sense of utter cleanliness, Hitler, as a result of several troubled events of his past, yearned to eliminate what he viewed as the filth of the world (Jews, homosexuals, etc.), and polish it with his ideal Aryan race. His narcissistic vision required an enormous amount of power to come his way. Catastrophically, it did. He fooled a vulnerable population into embracing his ostensible strength and confidence, and proceeded to spread his message of hatred and bigotry throughout the world. Unlike other corrupt, murderous dictators who eventually were overthrown in response to their imposed oppression, Hitler united his people into a disturbingly powerful machine and garnered the support of most of his people. Enthusiastic about his ideology, the Wehrmacht (German army) fought with a distinctive passion and ferocity. 

Had Hitler approached his goals with a bit less of a temper, he might have actually succeeded. However, here is where he reveals the inevitability of failure of those who feed off of power and prioritize it among all things. It was not for lack of military prowess that Germany lost WWII; rather, it was the impulsive, power-blinded strategical mistakes that Hitler made, which cost Germany the war. His decision to invade the Soviet Union and the United States thereafter created the two-front war that he had been trying to avoid all along. Additionally, his blitzkrieg combat strategy was bound to fail against the Soviets, whose population was so immense that they were capable of replacing fallen soldiers in monumental heaps. The Germans did, in fact, experience initial success against the Soviets, just as they did in Belgium, Norway, and France, but the Soviet manpower negated the Germans’ combat superiority and Hitler was not prepared to fight a prolonged war – his only hope was to destroy the Soviets in one grand sweep. 

Further more detailed mistakes contributed to the demise of the Nazis, but the point I am getting at is that power was the poison that eventually defeated Hitler. When you try to assert your will upon too many people, eventually, the others will gang up and overthrow you. This has been showcased time and time again throughout history; every great empire, seeking an all-powerful dynasty, has eventually fallen, as the masses have risen up and taken it down. Rome may have been the greatest empire to ever exist, but its expansion became so great that they had no choice but to militarize their states, and eventually, their attempt at total power fell out of balance and the empire deteriorated. The ultimate failure of the powerful probably heavily influenced the constitutional ideas of the United States and France in the late 18th century. Equality and liberty stood at the forefront of these ideals, taking power away from the government and putting it in the hands of the people. The incredible success and sustainability of the United States is a testament to the notion that if a nation is going to sustain itself, it needs to minimize the power of the government to the extent that it can effectively protect the people’s rights and ensure their security. It is encouraging to see the world beginning to recognize these ideals, that contradict power of any one person or group, and instead encourage equality. When power, being such a venomous evil, is set aside in favor of a collective equality, conflict depletes and productivity and prosperity follow, as people are able to work cooperatively without the threat of oppression and without the resentment that ascribed status causes among the unprivileged. 

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